Bible: You are not the worst thing you have done

Jul 8, 2019 by

You are not the worst thing you have done. These are the words that pervade each moment of my time with the women at the North Carolina Correctional Institute for Women. Our congregation has volunteered at the...

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Bible: Congratulations! Jesus says

Jun 24, 2019 by

For most of my life I read the Beatitudes as instruction, a mild if not righteous scolding. What if, instead of new commandments for people to follow, the Beatitudes are a description of the people Jesus sees...

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Bible: Hold fast to the body

Jun 10, 2019 by

What does it take to believe? Perhaps it is a body. The writer of the letter to Colossae is filled with longing. “I am struggling for you”; “I am with you in spirit.” His letter pours forth with the...

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Bible: Literal, symbolic — or both?

May 27, 2019 by

“Take, this is my body”: These words are the crux of contention, the source of division for any hope of a shared communion practice in the universal church. What did Jesus mean? Did the bread become his...

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Bible: Together — root, trunk and branch

May 13, 2019 by

Last fall I grafted a half dozen varieties of apples onto my apple tree. I’m a poor and inexperienced grafter, so not surprisingly only a couple of them took. I discovered one in the spring — a stout...

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Bible: Mountains below the surface

Apr 29, 2019 by

One thing I love about Kansas is the mountains. Oh, we have them all right. They’re just buried under 600 feet of Harney Silt Loam. These Kansas mountains, called the Nemaha Ridge, are composed of massive...

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Bible: Want proof of the resurrection?

Apr 15, 2019 by

Oh, for a video camera trained on the tomb on that original Easter Sunday! How perfect it would be to witness the grinding of the grave stone, the genuflection of the soldiers, the gleaming of the...

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Bible: What’s your alabaster jar?

Apr 1, 2019 by

While the chief priests and elders schemed to kill Jesus, a woman entered Simon the leper’s house and blessed him with costly perfume. “Why this waste?” said the disciples. “This ointment could have...

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Bible: To cure, cleanse, exorcise — and resurrect

Mar 18, 2019 by

A Peruvian pastor friend tells the story of leading a group of young evangelists out to some remote villages along the sinuous mountain roads of the Andes. When a lamb darted in front of their van pursued by...

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Bible: You’ve already been called home

Mar 4, 2019 by

When the State of Illinois decided to expand I-74 just north of our family farmstead in a multiyear spate of civil engineering angioplasty, my father decided to move our house. This was no small feat. Our...

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Bible: Because Jesus is true

Feb 18, 2019 by

Sometimes I talk to my seatmates on the plane. Sometimes I don’t. But when the young woman next to me had a panic attack brought on by her just-discharged-from-Afghan­istan post-traumatic stress, how could...

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Bible: The past that guides the future

Feb 4, 2019 by

We don’t often have the chance to witness mass religious festivals of a kind seen regularly in some parts of the world. They are unforgettable: the Muslim hajj, the Easter throngs in southern Africa or the...

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Bible: God in the fortress — or the slum

Jan 21, 2019 by

A famous impressionist artist once said, “I know what I’m looking at, but what am I seeing?” This inviting question leads to the heart of Psalm 48. At first glance, an ancient traveler approaching the...

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Bible: Threatened with the Resurrection

Jan 7, 2019 by

The late Vincent Harding, an African-American scholar and civil rights activist with Mennonite connections, recounted a visit to Guate­mala to witness the turmoil and suffering of its oppressed indigenous...

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Bible: The peril of being a winner

Dec 17, 2018 by

From his vantage point at the dawn of the second century, the author of James casts an eye across the churchscape of his time, taking its measure. He is unsettled. And with good reason. He sees the exiled,...

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Bible column: An all-in kind of love

Dec 3, 2018 by

Crack the first windows of your family Advent calendar and you will soon enough hear Mary and Zachariah and the angels in lyric worship and praise. The hour of promise come ’round could only ever begin that...

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Hearts joined in a bond with heaven

Nov 19, 2018 by

Hear the opening lines of Deuteronomy 6 and you cannot escape a feeling that you have stumbled on some center pole of sacred story, a great stake having been driven to the core. It’s as though you find...

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Falling asleep in God’s lap

Nov 5, 2018 by

Confession: I am not always the world’s most observant person. Friends once rearranged half the items in my office as a joke and were quite disappointed that I never knew the difference. Still, I’m fairly...

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Bible column: Blessing for the bold

Oct 22, 2018 by

Many Christians I know cannot stand Jacob. In technical terms, he’s what’s known as a “grade-A slime ball.” He steals from his brother, lies to his father, tricks his uncle and sleeps with his true...

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Bible column: Miracles, if we’re paying attention

Oct 8, 2018 by

At my church we recently concluded a sermon series in which we answered questions submitted by the congregation. One of the submissions read, “Do miracles really happen?” I regularly talk with people who...

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Bible: Under water, the death that saves

Sep 24, 2018 by

A classmate once told me the biblical story she found most irredeemable was that of Noah and his ark. When Joshua slaughters cities in God’s name, you can always blame Joshua. But who do you blame when God...

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Bible: The ‘party of one’ problem

Sep 17, 2018 by

The first thing “not good” in creation (presumably excepting the snakes) was a human being alone. This should probably not be surprising, from a Christian perspective. After all, humans were made in the...

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Bible: Go ahead, mess with perfection

Aug 27, 2018 by

In the beginning the world was a blank canvas. Then God flipped on the studio lights, stepped up to the easel and threw God’s self headlong into creation. For days, even ages, God worked without rest, lost...

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Bible: With love, our divisions fall away

Aug 13, 2018 by

These texts from Paul provide an excellent coda to our conversations about ethics, justice and the Christian life. Although Romans is rightly considered Paul’s most important theological writing, he most of...

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Bible: Generosity abolishes judgment

Jul 30, 2018 by

For the final sessions of the quarter we turn from Jesus’ teaching to the Apostle Paul’s. Yet the basic picture of Christian faith and life remains mostly the same. In the first part of his letter to the...

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