Sunday Sermon: “Unsafe At Any Speed”

A sermon for the First Sunday of Advent from 2010.   “Unsafe at Any Speed” Matthew 24:36-44; Isaiah 2:1-5 November 28, 2010 Advent 1 First Christian Church Minneapolis, MN In the Spring of 1990, I was a junior at Michigan State University.  For Spring Break that year, I went on a trip to retreat center outside of Norman, Oklahoma.  We drove caravan-style from East Lansing, Michigan all the way to Norman.  Now, one of the people responsible for driving was a fellow student, a sophomore named Ray.  Ray’s Dad worked at Ford and was able to get company cars to … Continue reading Sunday Sermon: “Unsafe At Any Speed”

How a Clockwork Pastor is Becoming Human

When I started seminary 15 years ago, I had come to accept that I would never pastor a church.  I just wasn’t a people person.  Maybe I’d be a seminary professor or something.  I didn’t know it back then, but I was basically acknowledging my Aspergers limitations. Of course, as you can tell, I didn’t end up as a seminary prof.  Instead, I’ve been the Associate Pastor at a church for nearly five years.  And somehow, I’ve managed to not mess things up, praise be to God. Just shortly after my Aspergers diagnosis, I wrote about what my future would … Continue reading How a Clockwork Pastor is Becoming Human

There’s Still Hope for the Mainline

Anyone who’s read this blog knows I tend to be critical of mainline Christianity.  It’s not that I want to leave what has been my theological home for two decades; it’s that I get frustrated at some of it’s shortcomings. Despite all of that, mainline/progressive/liberal Christianity is my home.  As much as I respect my evangelical beginnings, I don’t belong there anymore.  My current home might be a fixer-upper, but it’s still home. So, I get a bit sad when I hear stories about how Mainline Protestantism is shrinking.  People leave the church.  Congregations close.  Denominational offices keep cutting staff. … Continue reading There’s Still Hope for the Mainline

About That Interview…

Some of you might have noticed that there is an article in the most recent Christian Century with a Disciples pastor in Minneapolis by the name of Dennis Sanders.  I haven’t said much about it, but I wanted to provide some background to the article. Steve Thorngate, the editor sent me an email over the summer asking if I would take part in the magazine’s series on ministry in the 21st century.  So began a number of emails back and forth, with Steve asking some really good questions and I trying to answer them as best as I could. I … Continue reading About That Interview…

Sunday Sermon: “In God We Trust”

“In God We Trust”
Mark 10:17-31
Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost
October 14, 2012
First Christian Church
Minneapolis, MN

I will admit it: I really don’t like this passage.

Why don’t I like it?  For a lot of reasons.  I don’t like how people sometimes use this passage to lord over others.  People who are full of themselves and like to preach against all those confortable folks in the pews with their nice houses in the suburbs.  Never mind said preacher has most of the accutrments of modern society like an iPhone and/or a laptop and nice clothes.  If you’re gonna go around acting like a prophet, you might want to actually try living as one.

I also don’t like this text for some opposite reasons.  I don’t like how we try to soften this passage.  Pastors and others try to make the text more palatable by saying that the whole camel thought the eye of a needle referred to the beast entering a smaller door fit for them.  We try to say that Jesus was just testing the young man on what was keeping him from God.  It might be wealth for one person, but it might be something else entirely for another person.

There is another reason I don’t like this text and it comes down to this: it’s just too personal for me.  There’s a fear that this verse is speaking to me as well and if it came down to selling everything I have and giving it to the poor to follow Jesus, my response would be just like the young ruler.  I’m hardly rich, by American means, but I don’t know if I could give up my car or iPad or home and follow some long-haired hippie. Continue reading “Sunday Sermon: “In God We Trust””

Trinity Sunday Sermon: "Come to the Table"

With Trinity Sunday coming up, I decided to share a sermon I gave on Trinity Sunday 2009.  “Come to the Table”Isaiah 6:1-8, John 3:1-17June 7, 2009Trinity SundayFirst Christian ChurchMinneapolis, MN A few months ago, my partner Daniel and I were invited to have high tea. A friend of mine this in an auction and she invited serveral of her friends to the event, including me. I was not looking forward to it. I had this fear that I would have to learn to how have tea. I was scared that I would not hold the tea cup in the right … Continue reading Trinity Sunday Sermon: "Come to the Table"

Planned Parenthod vs. Susan G. Komen: Same S*%!, Different Day

I’m not going to get into the specifics of the whole Komen controversy because its been done ad nausem.  But I do have one question: where should the Church be in all this? The whole mess concerning the two groups was one more annoying incident in the culture wars.  Each side, including many a Christian, took their usual sides in this forever battle.  We slunged mud at the other side with equal ferocity, all in the name of being on the side of right, of course. But how should followers of Jesus respond?  How do we handle issues in ways … Continue reading Planned Parenthod vs. Susan G. Komen: Same S*%!, Different Day

Repost: Why Church Planting Matters

Jim, left and my partner, Daniel, right. From August 2010. As First Christian plans its future, a constant among the plans is to leave some money aside for to plant new churches. Both the Senior Pastor and I have made this a priority in what ever decisions are made. That has been met with some resistance. One person wondered why we weren’t spending some of the money on mission. Others have thought the same thing. (It’s funny that people all of the sudden care about mission when it comes to using money for church planting.) I’m always a bit angry … Continue reading Repost: Why Church Planting Matters

“We Must Look to the Future”

There’s a story in the lore of First Christian Church-Minneapolis that involves one Dr. George Haggard.  Dr. Haggard was already pretty advanced in years when the story begins, but his spirit was still young.  What was then Portland Avenue Church of Christ (we became First Christian Church-again-in 1955) was thinking about building a new church facility, but there was a bit of hesitancy.  You see, these were the days of World War II and with the sting of the Great Depression still present in everyone’s collective memory.  And yet, this octogenerian pressed onward stating to the congregation that they must … Continue reading “We Must Look to the Future”

Sunday Sermon: December 4, 2011

“That Will Preach.” Isaiah 40:1-11 and Mark 1:1-8 December 4, 2011 First Christian ChurchMinneapolis, MN   It been interesting to walk around the church office these days. It’s kind of become a bit of a museum. As we get ready for the upcoming move to SpringHouse Ministry Center, old newsletters and church bulletins are being taken out of the archives room and getting scanned onto a hard drive. Space is going to a bit tight in our new home, so now is the time to get rid of or economize our stuff. It’s been fascinating to look at the newsletters and bulletins from … Continue reading Sunday Sermon: December 4, 2011