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Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

January 1970 Archives

For a Saint Named Betty

For all the saints, who from their labors rest, Who Thee by faith before the world confessed, Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed. Alleluia, Alleluia!… Betty died peacefully in her sleep last week.  She was 88.  I had coffee with her husband […]

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“Supply-Side Jesus”

Al Franken was more creative than I am this morning.  Besides, the “gospel” in certain politicans’ rhetoric about how to fix America’s unemployment crisis really does resemble this sometimes:  Like the other day when Rick Perry told the New York […]

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Walking With A Limp

Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.  When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled […]

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What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Another in my on-and-off-again, feeling-less-creative-but-more-convicted series, “What’s Wrong With This Picture?”  This is compliments of friend Jennifer Berkowitz via Facebook:

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5 Ways to Stay Spiritually Grounded When Fantasy Calls

Addiction and fantasy can often go hand in hand.  An alcoholic friend of mine will often say that there are times when he “gets stuck in his head.”  I know what he means.  While I have never craved the bottle, […]

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The Difference Between Grace and a Sears Appliance Warranty

The $400 Kenmore Inteli-Clean vacuum cleaner I bought last year as part of a crusade on dog hair and allergens is on the fritz.  Again.  When I turn it on, it squeaks, moans, whirs, shakes and does nothing. If Jesus […]

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Wanted: A Few Salty Men and Women

“For everyone will be salted with fire.  Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it?  Have salt in yourselves, and be at  peace with one another.”  Mark 9:49,50 This passage is weird in […]

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Weird Jesus Sayings Continued…

 Yes, I haven’t forgotten.  After a brief hiatus we’re continuing our exploration of the weird  things Jesus said.  And, there are plenty of them.  We’ve only scraped the surface in our big  dig. Thus far we’ve asked the questions that […]

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Reclaiming Two Bad Words

The other day Anne Graham Lotz spoke with NPR about her journey as a woman who has faced resistance in her vocation. The preacher, author and daughter of the famous evangelist, Billy Graham, says she is privileged to wear the […]

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The Spiritual Practice of Getting Lost

“Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be…mistreated four hundred years. But…afterwards they will come out with great possessions.”  Genesis 15:13-14 Have you ever been lost? If not, you […]

Great Expectations

 We all expect things out of the cards we have been dealt in life.  We expect to find  the right someone and be married for life.  Or to land the job that will finally make  us happy.  Or to live […]

Injustice in Global Perspective

A friend forwarded on the following letter from a leader in the Coptic church in Egypt who will remain unnamed.  Five days ago authorities killed 26 peaceful protesters, most of them Christians speaking out against a recent deadly attack on […]

What Distinguishes the Suffering of a Follower of Christ?

Most of us at one point or another have asked the question, “Why does God allow suffering?”  Frustratingly, the Bible I read never gives an answer.  Suffering is simply a given.  A bit like the bumper sticker, “Shit happens.” Except […]

“SLOW CHURCH ZONE”

“Speak softly and carry a big stick,” goes the African proverb.  I think of it every time I jog past this sign near my house.  Because if there were ever a place where many of us have felt like we […]

Confession of a Yard Sale Junkie

I confess I’m a yard sale junkie.  On most any Saturday the signs in the neighborhood trigger those irrepressible hunter-gatherer instincts. In no time I am digging through other people’s junk looking for treasure. It is amazing, too, what turns […]

Jesus Walks On Water

Remember the crazy story about Peter and Jesus walking on water (Matthew 14:22-33)?  To refresh our memories…Peter and the disciples are out in a boat in the middle of the night when Jesus appears, taking a little stroll on the […]

Mess Happens

A friend likes to say, “Small people, small messes.  Big people, big messes!” Have you ever wondered where God is in all of it? One of my favorite stories from Scripture is of the woman at the well (John 4). […]

Damaris Who?

Her name was Damaris.  Ever wondered about her?  She appears in the form of an afterthought, (one of Luke’s “oh, by the way” comments), as one of the “few” who believed upon hearing Paul’s speech in the Areopagus (Acts 17:22-34).  Some biblical […]

Surprised by Grief

Not too long ago 29,000 Somali children were reported to have died from starvation, the crackdown in Syria and bombings in Libya continued, and the unemployment epidemic in our own country persisted in the face of debilitating squabbles in Washington. […]

What Jesus Really Said at the Last Supper…

according to artist Sister Louisa, whose irreverent humor I encountered the other day in my favorite greasy-breakfast joint:

“Imperfection,” a.k.a. “Perpetual Progress”?

  Epektasis: it may sound like a venereal disease, but it is actually Latin for “perpetual progress;” and it has been around since the fourth century whenGregory of Nyssa coined the term as a way to explain his understanding of true perfection […]

The Gift of Failing

Garrison Keillor read this poem by Wendell Berry on yesterday’s “The Writer’s Almanac”: IX. I go by a field where once I cultivated a few poor crops. It is now covered with young trees, for the forest that belongs here has come back […]

Beyond the Genesis Curse: Lessons from Childbirth

Tucked away in the apostle Paul’s first letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 2:15) is the strange declaration that “women will be saved through childbirth.”  The New Revised Standard translation puts it this way:  “Yet [she, the woman] will be saved through childbearing, […]

Unsure What You Believe?

When in doubt, use a flowchart…. (This handy diagram comes compliments of a friend who found it floating in the blogosphere.)

James Bond Spirituality

I have a weakness for James Bond flicks.  Apparently the poet May Swenson does, too.  Her below poem, compliments of The Writer’s Almanac, provides a helpful framework for thinking about a recent church worship experience and its implications for Christian spirituality: […]

The “Terrible Thing” About Hope

The other day I was listening to an NPR interview with the writer Hisham Matar, whose latest novel,Anatomy of a Disappearance, draws from his own experience.  Matar’s father, a dissident under the regime of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, mysteriously disappeared […]

Freedom of a Christian

The sixteenth century father of Protestantism, Martin Luther, knew that human beings simultaneously crave and rebel against freedom. We find it difficult to be free even when freedom is the very thing we are in search of: we enslave ourselves and […]

Field Notes on Grace

Here is a conversation starter:  Where did you last experience “grace” and what did it look like? In the spirit of Stanley Hauerwas’ latest book, Working with Words, which is one Christian theologian’s exploration of language about God, I want to propose a […]

Words for a Dying Friend

Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho.  There the Lord showed him the whole land…Then the Lord said to [Moses], ‘”This is the land I promised on oath to […]

Beyond Tribalism

These days my denomination, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), finds itself bracing for the possibility of further membership losses with more congregations jumping ship- this after a majority of presbyteries voted to remove the constitutional requirement that all ministers, elders and deacons […]

“What If God Was One of Us?”

I heard this song sung by Alanis Morisette the other day on the radio.  It’s actually a wonderful reflection on the doctrine that makes Christianity so distinctive- the notion that in Jesus Christ God became “one of us,” laying aside […]

Matzo Ball Love: Weird Sayings Continued…

“‘Go!  I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.’” Luke 10:3   “These were his instructions:  ‘Take nothing for the journey except a staff- no bread, no bag, no money in your belts.  Wear sandals but not an extra […]

Playing Host to Our Demons: Weird Sayings Continued…

“When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it.  Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’  When it arrives, it finds the house swept […]

Jesus as Renaissance Man: Weird Sayings Continued…

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth onto an old coat.  The patch will simply pull away from the coat, and you’ll have a worse hole than you started with. People don’t put new wine into old wineskins, otherwise […]

Was Jesus Racist? Weird Sayings Continued…

“A Canaanite woman from [Tyre and Sidon] came out and shouted,  ‘Have pity on me, son of David!  My daughter is demon-possessed!  She’s  in a bad way!’  Jesus, however, said nothing at all to her.  His disciples came up.  ‘Please […]

Was Jesus a Macho Kind of Guy? Weird Sayings Continued…

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a […]

Weird Jesus Sayings Continued: “Let the Dead Bury Their Own Dead.”

Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”  But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” Matthew 8:21,22 This is politically incorrect Jesus at, arguably, His best.  The […]

Lust

“If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  And if your […]

“Get Behind Me, Satan!”

“But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. ‘Get behind me, Satan!,’ he said.  ‘You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Mark 8:33) The bumper sticker at the […]

Weird Jesus Sayings: A Series of Investigations

The Bible attributes some pretty odd sayings to Jesus.  Over the next days and weeks I will be looking at the strange, sometimes bizarre, often politically incorrect things Jesus reportedly said in the Gospels with a view to understanding a […]

Who God Is, Who We Are, and Why That Matters

(A sermon delivered to the good people of Stockbridge Presbyterian during the season of Easter…) Today we’ll spend some time in the book of Acts looking at the apostle Paul’s missionary visit to the great ancient city of Athens, Greece and his famous speech […]

What Would It Look Like for “Church” to Matter?

It is not every day that you hear a story that touches something deep inside of you.  That gives you a taste for “church” that matters. Not “church” as just another social obligation or Sunday morning engagement, but “church” when it […]

Read My Stole: One Minister Applies a Diplomat’s “Feminist Subversions”

 How is this for a riveting opener? I recently went to an exhibit at the Carter Center  displaying former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s jewelry.  Not just any  jewelry, but pins.  And, it really does get more interesting. Apparently, Albright, […]

Previous Posts

Life Is Short. Seek Faithfulness.
Within a few hours of its appearance here at this intersection between God and life, my last post on the Ashley Madison scandal had a total of one share. "It must've been something I said," I told my husband later that night, as we were ...

posted 10:01:05am Aug. 31, 2015 | read full post »

3 Quasi-Spiritual Lessons from the Ashley Madison Scandal
For those of us saints and sinners who even remotely have been following last week’s Ashley Madison scandal, I can think of at least three lessons it offers (and you may have more, in which case feel free to leave them below): 1. Chances ...

posted 6:14:59pm Aug. 27, 2015 | read full post »

John Oliver vs. Televangelists and Their "Big Seed" Prosperity Gospel
If you've not seen it, you must: John Oliver on "Last Week Tonight" offered the most brilliantly funny rebuke of televangelists and the prosperity gospel I've seen to date. Oliver doesn't mince words, including the four-letter ones, in blasting ...

posted 2:21:12am Aug. 18, 2015 | read full post »

How the Latest Revelations Re: ISIS' Systemized Sexual Violence Against Girls Remind Me I Am Not a Pacifist
As if ISIS had not already convinced us enough of its total depravity ... the latest revelations by The New York Times —(be forewarned, they are disturbing to read) — remind me why I am not a pacifist. As if turning small boys into child ...

posted 5:54:37pm Aug. 14, 2015 | read full post »

Mustard Seed Faith and a Mustard Seed Kingdom of God, Via Mary Oliver
Last ...

posted 1:47:32pm Aug. 12, 2015 | read full post »

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