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Showing posts from November, 2012

A Legacy Buried, But Not Gone: The Importance of the Ancient Near East for Modern Religious and Political Life -- Sightings

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The ancient Syrian city of Aleppo is much in the news these days as it serves as a center of opposition to the Assad regime.  It's a city that has a long and illustrious history, though it is not as well known to us, or at least wasn't until recently.  In this piece, University of Chicago Ph.D. candidate reminds us of the important connections ancient and modern have with each other, using the ancient history of Aleppo as a starting point.  Study of the ancient world, indeed the study of history, does have value.   ****************************** Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion The University of Chicago Divinity School Sightings  11/29/2012 A Legacy Buried, But Not Gone: The Importance of the Ancient Near East for Modern Religious and Political Life -- Sam Boyd Once upon a time, in a far-away land, there existed a large kingdom. The king’s name was Yarim-Lim, and he was king of the Yamkhad dynasty, the capital of which, Halab, rivaled the capital of the other emp…

The Day of Redemption is at Hand -- A Lectionary Reflection for Advent

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Jeremiah 33:14-16
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
Luke 21:25-36
The Day of Redemption is at Hand
Advent has once again arrived.  We’ve completed another cycle and are ready to begin another cycle in our journey of faith.  We start with a sense of expectation, anticipation and hope.  Those of us who have taken this journey before know what to expect, but that doesn’t mean we must become complacent about the journey.  We can, if we choose, embrace the journey and its story with the same expectation as that person taking it for the first time.  So, with Charles Wesley we sing:
Come, O Long expected Jesus, born to set your people free. From our fears and sins release us; Christ in whom our rest shall be. You, our strength and consolation, come salvation to impart; Dear desire of many a nation, joy of many a longing heart.
The season of Advent announces that a new day is dawning, but it also reminds us that it has yet to arrive in its fullness.  There is more to come, so don’t be satisfied with the present …

Postcards from Claremont #14 – Thankfulness (Bruce Epperly)

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In this, his 14th postcard from Claremont, Bruce Epperly, in the spirit of Thanksgiving (the celebration just past), offers up words of thanks and gratitude for all who helped make his time in Claremont a blessed experience.  During this season of teaching, Bruce has been focusing on Process Theology, which he believes offers the contemporary church and world a way of engaging God's abundance.  May we all share in this word of thanks.  Now Bruce isn't finished -- he's got a few weeks to go, but I want to extend my thanks to him for sharing his thoughts and insights each Wednesday for the past fourteen weeks!
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Postcards from Claremont #14  – Thankfulness Bruce G. Epperly
In a few days, I’ll be returning to Claremont after a few days at the American Academy of Religion Meetings in Chicago and nearly a week at home in Washington DC. Now, in the final weeks of my Claremont adventure, I have much for which to be thankful.
Gratitude is at the hear…

THE REDEEMER DRAWS NEAR -- An Advent Reflection

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Today I'm drawing from many years in the past, to a sermon I preached for the first Sunday of Advent in 2000, while serving as pastor of First Christian Church of Santa Barbara, CA.  The gospel for that day is the same gospel as for this coming Sunday.  Since we're doing the Hanging of the Greens on Sunday, and I won't be preaching, I can at least share this message from a previous year.  May it serve as a blessing as you prepare for the coming of the Redeemer.
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Luke 21:25-36

The time is near.  The scent is in the air. Christmas is on the horizon.  Yes, Christmas items appeared on store shelves when the Halloween goods came off and with Thanksgiving the Christmas shopping began in earnest.  Many of us have just about wrapped up our Christmas shopping and we have begun to listen to our Christmas CDs.  The Christmas events have already begun:  Brett and I went to the Christmas Parade Friday evening and we all went to a Christmas concert last nig…

Whatcha Buying on Cyber Monday? I've got some suggestions!

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It's Cyber-Monday, a day to do your holiday shopping on-line.  And of course there are lots of options out there.  But may I suggest a few of my own books:


Now you could buy Rowan Williams' book Faith in the Public Square, and as the retiring Archbishop of Canterbury he has some cache, but especially if you're an American, I'd suggest checking out my version of the story.   It also has the title of Faith in the Public Square.  It contains more than fifty brief reflections originally published (with some modification) as op-ed pieces for a local newspaper.  It should serve as a great conversation starter at the dinner table!  And it's only $6.99 on Kindle, Nook, and I-books.



If you're into praying the Lord's Prayer, and many of us use this prayer on a regular basis, perhaps it's time to do a bit of reflecting on its meaning.  Now, you could read John Dominic Crossan's book on the Lord's Prayer --The Greatest Prayer: Rediscovering the Revolutiona…

What Kind of King Are You? -- A Sermon

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John 18:33-37

The election season is over, so isn’t it time to get on with life. After all there’s work to be done.  Remember there’s that fiscal cliff to resolve, immigration reform to tackle, and then there’s the ongoing implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  Besides all of this there are roads and bridges that need to be built or repaired.  The laundry list is long and getting longer.  And that’s just the stuff on our government’s plate.  As for us, the Christmas shopping season is racing into top gear!  
Although we all seem to enjoy complaining about politics and politicians, isn’t it human nature to complain about the people in power.  At least in this country, if you don’t like ‘em, you can toss ‘em out.  Though with gerrymandering that’s sort of difficult! 
But, what if we lived instead under the rule of divinely sanctioned hereditary monarchs.  Wouldn’t that be better?  Although there are those who raise the cry Vox populi, vox Dei.  That’s Latin for “The Voice of the peopl…

LIVING COUNTERTESTIMONY: Conversations with Walter Brueggemann -- A Review

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LIVING COUNTERTERSTIMONY: Conversations With Walter Brueggemann. By Walter Brueggemann with Carolyn J. Sharp.  Foreword by Samuel E. Balentine.  Louisville:  Westminster John Knox Press, 2012.  Xi +199 pages.


        There are figures in every field of endeavor who seem larger than life.  They seem to stand apart and above the rest.  It’s not that they’re celebrities, but they have left their mark on life, and has a result they've influenced and impacted many people.  When you have the opportunity to meet and even enter conversation with them, they become more human and accessible, but in the end you know you have been blessed to have shared in the conversation. This past summer I had the privilege of participating in a conversation with Walter Brueggemann, one of the foremost and influential biblical scholars of our day.  His books line the shelves of many a preacher, including my own.  He is a preacher’s scholar, a person able to push through the minutiae to the heart of issues. …

Holy Days (Pope Benedict XVI) -- Review

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HOLY DAYS: Meditations on the Feasts, Fasts, and Other Solemnities of the Church. By Pope Benedict XVI.  Edited and Annotated by Jean-Michel Coulet.  Introduction and Annotations Translated by D.C. Schindler.  Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2012.  viii + 86 pages.

For many Protestants the Liturgical Year is a rather new invention, but for Roman Catholics it has set the cycle for spiritual life for centuries. The number of feasts, fasts, and solemnities is vaster among Roman Catholics as well.  When the Liturgical Renewal Movement hit Protestantism in the 1950s and 1960s it began to loosen up long held views that whatever was Roman was bad.  As a  result we began to learn from Rome and as a result deepen our own spirituality.
Pope Benedict XVI is a more traditional Catholic, and many of us outside and inside that church have despaired at what many see as retrenchment and movement away from the reforms of Vatican II.  That being said, our disappointment with the d…

A Thanksgiving Prayer -- All Good Gifts

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It is Thanksgiving Day, and we can give thanks for all of God's wondrous gifts.  I've always loved this song from Godspell, which is based on an old Thanksgiving Hymn.  I found this at YouTube, and the visuals are a worthy accompaniment to the music.
Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!


If Jesus is King, How Does He Reign? -- A Lectionary Reflection for Reign of Christ Sunday

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2 Samuel 23:1-7
Revelation 1:4b-8
John 18:33-37
If Jesus is King, 
How Does He Reign?
As the church celebrates Christ the King Sunday (Reign of Christ Sunday), it faces a question – what does it mean for Jesus to reign?  Isaac Watts’ hymn, which my congregation will be sharing on Sunday, declares that “Jesus shall reign where’er the sun does its successive journeys run; his love shall spread from shore to shore till moons shall wax and wane no more.” Is Watts equating reign and love?  Can we abide such a definition of the reign of Christ?  Pushing further, are we ready to affirm that Christ does reign?
            A monarch from the 1st century CE was of a different breed from most of today’s monarchs.  Modern Americans likely envision kings and queens existing in the image of Elizabeth II, a figure head, who has no real power, except that of personality.  We have Presidents here – they have great power and are often spoken of as being the “most powerful person in the world,” but whatever p…