God’s Grace

Shukkei-en, Hiroshima: Beauty from ashes

A wedding at Shukkei-en, Hiroshima. Source: Pinterest.

Hiroshima, then and now: If you’re like me and have little first-hand knowledge of Japan, the city of Hiroshima conjures up images of tragedy. As World War II was straining towards its conclusion in the summer of 1945, Hiroshima became the first city to be attacked with a nuclear bomb. The effects of this were disastrous and are well documented. But our purposes today are not to zero in on the devastation that human beings are so adept at causing.Read more

September 8, 2019

Reflections for Trinity 12, listen

The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity: Many of us live in this mental space: we know how God would like us to live, and we know that we fail to meet that standard – repeatedly. Though we know that Jesus died for our sins, we still live with a chronic sense of guilt, an overwhelming idea that our Father is disappointed with us. If this sounds at all familiar, then today’s collect is going to be good, theologically sound, medicine forRead more

September 1, 2019

September 1, Reflections for Trinity 11

The Eleventh Sunday after Trinity: Today’s readings put me in mind of David, and of what it means to be someone “after God’s own heart.” Here’s the Collect: O God, who declarest thy almighty power most chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Mercifully grant unto us such a measure of thy grace, that we, running the way of thy commandments, may obtain thy gracious promises, and be made partakers of thy heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. There’sRead more

On platitudes

Embroidery

Grace for the one who hurts: Platitudes are ubiquitous. You know what I mean. I’m talking about the things that people commonly say when faced with someone who is suffering. They roll off the tongue. Phrases like, “This too shall pass,” “Everything happens for a reason,” and “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Most of us feel a certain distaste for platitudes, and for good reason. When we’re hurting (whether physically or emotionally), we long for thoseRead more

Beside the Well with Jesus

Woman at the well with Jesus

An excerpt from “Jesus the Bridegroom” by Brant Pitre: “I’d like to go back for a moment to the story of Jesus and the woman at the well (John 4:1-42). As we have already seen, the Samaritan woman was not what some would call ‘marriage material’ – at least, not for any ordinary bridegroom. She was a woman with a past, with all the baggage and wounds and shame that go with sin. She wasn’t from a great race ofRead more

Judas / Peter

Rooster crowing

“Judas / Peter” by Luci Shaw: because we are all betrayers, taking silver and eating body and blood and asking (guilty) is it I and hearing him say yes it would be simple for us all to rush out and hang ourselves but if we find grace to cry and wait after the voice of morning has crowed in our ears clearly enough to break our hearts he will be there to ask us each again do you love me?Read more

Sheep bite

Funny sheep

“Good Shepherd, you have a wild and crazy sheep in love with thorns and brambles. But please don’t get tired of looking for me! I know you won’t. For you have found me. All I have to do is stay found.” – Thomas Merton +++ A diverse flock The first parish I worked in was a suburban Evangelical church, with wide-ranging demographics. There was a very prim woman who expected me to measure the distance between hymnals in the pewsRead more

Caterpillar / Sparrow

Sparrow

Incompatible worldviews: Ayn Rand, in her famous novel The Fountainhead, wrote that compassion “is what one feels when one looks at a squashed caterpillar.” Compassion, in Rand’s view, was neither virtuous nor commendable. Instead she believed that the squashed caterpillar should inspire contempt and nothing more. Certainly no free rational being ought to feel any obligation to help such a pitiful life form. I confess I read a lot of Ayn Rand at an impressionable age. I admired the clarityRead more

Adopted

Child's hand in father's hand

God’s heart for the lost and lonely: Throughout all of scripture, God has shown a peculiar interest in caring for those who find themselves stranded, alone, and destitute. We see it in the miraculous conception of Isaac, in the redemption of Ruth, and in the parable of the prodigal son. We see it in the law that makes special provision for widows, orphans, aliens and slaves. I especially love the stories of God blessing infertile women with children. Each timeRead more