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Showing posts from September, 2019

At the Cradle of the Zwingli's Reformation

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I have been visiting the Swiss city of Zurich, as part of my River Crossings sabbatical. Zurich is where Ulrich Zwingli presided over the opening of the Swiss Reformation. Zwingli doesn't have the same fame as Luther or perhaps the influence of Calvin (except for the Reformed view of the Lord's Supper). Zwingli's reforms came a few years after Luther, but in many ways he went further than Luther.

The picture above is of the Great Minster (Grossmunster). It is the church over which Zwingli
presided when introducing his reforming views in the early 1520s. Zwingli's reformation was more thoroughgoing than Luther's. This was especially true of his view of the real presence in the Eucharist (strongly memorialistic), but also with regard to music. Zwingli is reputed to have taken an axe to the church's organ (ironically the church now hosts organ recitals).

While Zwingli sought to purify the church of the encrustations of Catholicism, he refused to go move into a r…

Chaos and Endurance -- Sightings (Martin Marty)

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We seem to be living in chaotic/disordered times. The political sphere is increasingly polarized and disordered. This pours over into the religious sphere, where we as congregations and religious leaders must decide how we respond to the "issues" of the day. Martin Marty has been observing things for many years and has a keen eye for the connectors. Here he speaks to the concepts of chaos and endurance. One gives us pause for concern and the other hope. I invite you to read and respond.


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Preaching to Teach (Richard Voelz) -- A Review

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PREACHING TO TEACH: Inspire People to Think and Act (The artistry of Preaching Series).By Richard W. Voelz. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2019. Xxx + 103 pages.
The word “teach” might conjure in your mind a lecture. It might involve an act of imparting information that will eventually land on a test. In an age when education at all levels seems to be driven by measurable "outcomes," which normally means doing well on tests, it's understandable that we might find ourselves thinking in that direction. When it comes to preaching as teaching, what comes to mind? Does it suggest something rather dry and boring, perhaps offered in a monotone voice droning on and on (remember the teacher in The Wonder Years)? That is not what Richard Voelz has in mind as he prepared his book Preaching to Teach.As the subtitle suggests, he envisions something that will inspire people, both to think and to act.
The book Preaching to Teachis the latest contribution to Abingdon Press's "The …

A Prophet of Doom? A Lectionary Reflection for Pentecost 14C (Jeremiah 4)

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Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
11 At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem: A hot wind comes from me out of the bare heights in the desert toward my poor people, not to winnow or cleanse— 12 a wind too strong for that. Now it is I who speak in judgment against them.
22 “For my people are foolish, they do not know me; they are stupid children, they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil, but do not know how to do good.”
23 I looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light. 24 I looked on the mountains, and lo, they were quaking, and all the hills moved to and fro. 25 I looked, and lo, there was no one at all, and all the birds of the air had fled. 26 I looked, and lo, the fruitful land was a desert, and all its cities were laid in ruins before the Lord, before his fierce anger.
27 For thus says the Lord: The whole land shall be a desolation; yet I will not make a full end.
28 Because of this the…

Time at the River’s Edge -- A Reflection

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I’m on sabbatical for the next three months. The theme of the sabbatical is “river crossings,” but as I’ve entered this season I’ve discovered that there is meaning to be found not only in crossing rivers, like Joshua and the people of Israel crossed the Jordan, but there is meaning to be found simply spending time at the edge of the river.
As I began looking for resources that would aid my reflection I’ve come upon a variety of works that speak of rivers and their meaning. Among the books I’ve been led to is Akiko Busch’s book Nine Ways to Cross a River. In the course of the book, Busch tells stories of swimming across rivers, from the Hudson to the Connecticut. Her stories invite us to consider the value and importance of rivers, sharing how many of the rivers she has swum across were once too polluted to enter. Fortunately, steps have been taken to reclaim them—thus we must protect the Clean Water Act and not allow the current administration to weaken the rules. But that’s for a di…

America's Holy Ground (Brad Lyons & Bruce Barkhauer) -- A Review

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AMERICA’S HOLY GROUND: 61 Faithful Reflections on Our National Parks. By Brad Lyons and Bruce Barkhauer. St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2019. 256 pages.


I grew up about an hour south of Crater Lake National Park. If you’ve been there, then you know it’s a magnificent sight. The water is such a deep blue that it draws you into its depths (even if you’ve never been down to the shoreline—I’m not sure why we never took the journey down to Cleetwood Cove). I’ve been to a few other National Parks, but there are many more to go (when I’m 62 I can get a lifetime pass, so National Parks are on the retirement bucket list). Although I've been to my share of cathedrals and temples, nature does have a unique way of declaring the glory of its Creator. We are fortunate that persons of foresight have chosen to preserve some of our most beautiful and inspiring places for posterity so that we might share in God’s bounty.
America’s Holy Ground is a fitting title to the book that Brad Lyons and Bruce Bark…

Tangled in Apocalyptic Thought -- Sightings (Daniel Hummel)

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Is the end of the world near at hand? Apocalyptic language is rampant in our times, with a President who is often spoken of in "biblical" terms by his admirers. Then there is the environmental crisis looming, which often takes on apocalyptic tones. So, what should we make of all of this? For a brief, but helpful look at the apocalyptic tones of our time, one might consult this Sightings article by Daniel Hummel, who has studied American dispensationalist evangelicalism and its implications. Having been drawn into the web of dispensationalism as a teen reading The Late Great Planet Earth, but weaned off it long before the Left Behind novels came out, I have a sense of its influence not only on religion but politics as well. This is a nice introduction, and a good way for Sightings to return for the fall. Take a read and offer your thoughts.