Cross River with Care

I'm on my River Crossings journey. It is good to remember that we should always cross wisely.  Crossing near a waterfall isn't wise. Better to find a gentler crossing.

With that in mind I invite you to reflect on Psalm 46, which speaks of a river that makes glad the city of God. The above picture of Salt Creek Falls in Oregon is turbulent waters but has always made my heart glad.  Below Psalm 46 is a picture of a gentler river that also makes my heart glad.

Psalm 46To the leader. Of the Korahites. According to Alamoth. A Song.1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very presenthelp in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.Selah
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of the city;it shall not be moved;
God will help it when the morning dawns.
6 The na…

Drinking from the Water of Life -- a River Crossings Sermon (Revelation 7:9-17)

Note:  Since I'm not preaching today due to my sabbatical, I thought I might share this sermon that speaks of the Water of Life. The picture above was taken of the spring that serves as the headwaters of the Sacramento River and is located in the Mount Shasta City Park, which is where I am spending this weekend. Therefore, this sermon seems a fitting #RiverCrossings message.  

Revelation 7:9-17

On this fourth Sunday of Easter we continue our journey through the Book of Revelation. When we last gathered, we found ourselves standing before the throne of God. We were singing praises to God and to the Lamb who was slain. This morning, we again find ourselves standing before the throne of God. We look around and we see a great multitude that is drawn from every nation and tribe and people and language. Together we declare that “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 
There is a company of people robed in white garments standing in the midst of this mul…

Outlandish (Derek Penwell) -- A Review

OUTLANDISH: An Unlikely Messiah, A Messy Ministry, and the Call to Mobilize. By Derek Penwell. St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2019. Xviii + 158 pages.

Who was Jesus? That is a question that has been asked in every age, and differing answers are offered in every age. The famous quests for the historical Jesus in recent centuries have often given us pictures that are more reflective of who we are than who the Jesus who lived in the first century might have been. Nevertheless, since Jesus remains one of the most influential figures in history, we must continue asking the question, recognizing that some answers are better than others and that any answer we give is at best an approximate one. It is with that caveat about the challenges of searching for the historical Jesus that I approach Derek Penwell's bookOutlandish.
The subtitle of the book is revealing. It suggests that the Jesus we will meet in this book is, first of all, an “unlikely Messiah.” Jesus probably wasn’t what most of his c…

Bloom Where You’re Planted - A Lectionary Reflection for Pentecost 18C (Jeremiah 29)

Jeremiah 29:1-7 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
29 These are the words of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining elders among the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. This was after King Jeconiah, and the queen mother, the court officials, the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the artisans, and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem. The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah son of Shaphan and Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom King Zedekiah of Judah sent to Babylon to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. It said: Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there,…

On the Pilgrim's Trail with the Magi (A River Crossings Reflection)

My sabbatical, which is themed River Crossings, though I'm only beginning my second month of the journey, has taken on a sense of pilgrimage. As Diana Butler Bass wrote many years ago in a couple of her books, including Christianity for the Rest of Us, we can go through life spiritually as either tourists or as pilgrims. In our recent trip to Europe, which began in Zwingli's Zurich and ended after days on a river cruise in Amsterdam, we did the tourist thing, but as for me, it was also a pilgrimage. I I knew I wanted to visit Zwingli's church, but I found myself in a number of other spots that took on a pilgrim's sensibility. Among those places was Cologne, Germany. Cologne is home to one of the largest cathedrals in Europe. As I noted in an earlier post on my River Crossings journey, in visiting the Cologne Cathedral I was visiting a site that claimed to hold the bones of the Magi, the three wise men of Matthew 2. 
2 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in …

Advent Devotionals for 2019 from Westminster John Knox Press

Advent is close at hand. Congregations and individuals will be looking at ways of observing this important four week period that leads into Christmas. Because of the increasing commercialization of the season (not that it is a new phenomenon), finding ways of slowing things down a bit is helpful. This year Westminster John Knox Press has published two resources, which are different in their purpose but are connected so I’m reviewing them together. Both resources can prove to be helpful, but one offers a weekly devotion/study and the other is daily. Depending on your needs, both have value.We’ll begin with Cynthia Campbell’s Christmas in the Four Gospel Homesand then move to N.T. Wright’s Advent for Everyone.
CHRISTMAS IN THE FOUR GOSPEL HOMES: An Advent Study. By Cynthia Campbell. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2019. Xii + 102 pages.

Each Gospel tells the story of Jesus in very different ways. In fact, they each start the story in different places. As we discover …

Remembering Gandhi in a Critical Age -- Sightings (Russell Johnson)

Like many great men and women in history, there is both fact and myth surrounding their lives. My son is working on a thesis dealing with hagiography, so I've had some conversations of late about that reality. When it comes to Mohandas Gandhi, his life and message is shrouded in hagiographic terms. Nevertheless, while not everything we've been told is true and while he was, like all of us, a flawed human being, he has something valuable to share with us. In this Sightings essay Russell Johnson, a Fellow at the University of Chicago Divinity School, offers us a look at what Gandhi offers an age that is deeply embedded by a critical worldview. Gandhi could be critical, but he also offered a constructive vision, at the heart of that vision is the belief that love is stronger than hate. It's a message worth considering, is it not? With that in mind, as this is the 150th anniversary of Gandhi's birth, I invite you to read and consider his legacy and message for today.