Many years ago, when I was a newspaper reporter in Southern California, I spent a lot of time in Los Angeles. But not in the Los Angeles you see in the movies or on television.
I carried often my notebook into the gritty corners in LA a world away from the glitter of Hollywood. (more…)
Given at Armstrong Woods
Welcome to the redwoods. Welcome to the cathedral of God’s spectacular creation.
Where better to be on a mid-summer’s Sunday, praying together, breaking bread together, celebrating life together? (more…)
You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught
Opening Sentence: “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
The musical South Pacific, according to Wikipedia, is based on James A. Michener’s 1947 book Tales of the South Pacific and combines elements of several of those stories. Rodgers and Hammerstein, who wrote the musical believed they could send a strong progressive message on racism. (more…)
Feast of Transfiguration
- Exodus 34:29-35
- 2 Peter 1:13-21
- Luke 9:28-36
- Psalm 99:5-9
What strange stories we hear this morning. What do we make of these? (more…)
Hearing the gospel lessons for the last three Sundays, you might be forgiven if you conclude that Jesus has an inordinate fondness for seeds. (more…)
If you spend any time at all driving around Sonoma County, or the Central Valley, or any farming region anywhere, you will know that the story by Jesus we just heard makes no sense at all.
Farmers don’t let the weeds grow in their fields. (more…)
Sometimes, no matter what you do, you can’t win. You know the feeling?
That seems to be what Jesus is saying in today’s gospel lesson: First you criticize John the Baptist for being too strict, not sociable, and never enjoying a meal, and then you criticize Jesus for eating and drinking too much and being glutton. (more…)
Independence Day Observed
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men [and women] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Once a year, on this Fourth of July weekend when we celebrate our nation’s Independence Day, I like to tell a story. It is a story not well known but should be. (more…)
Who are your people?
Some years ago, my wife, Lori, and I were visiting her relatives in a small, rural town in central Louisiana.
We pulled into a gas station and the attendant – they still pump your gas there – looked in the car and appeared puzzled for a moment.
Then he asked Lori if she was a “Guillory.”
She replied that she was Guillory, on her mother’s side.
I didn’t know that. But this guy knew who her relations were just by looking at her. (more…)
Today is Trinity Sunday, the day the Church sets aside for preaching about this ancient — and obtuse — doctrine of the Trinity. It is perhaps no accident that the Church saves this teaching moment for the start of summer vacations.
In many churches, the task of explaining the Trinity falls to a seminarian. It’s kind of a rite of passage: Let’s see how fast the seminarian gets in trouble.
But since we have no seminarian, you get me. (more…)
This is a red-letter day like no other on our church calendar. Today is Pentecost, the official birthday of the Church. Happy birthday folks!
Pentecost is loud, bright, and very red. Pentecost has it all: fire and water; doves descending, wind blowing, and the sound of many languages speaking all at once.
There is nothing small about Pentecost. (more…)
Seventh Sunday of Easter
What makes your soul dance?
Does your soul dance when you listen to music, or the birds singing on an early morning walk?
Does your soul dance when you gaze at the the sky on a clear summer night, or feel the sand between your toes on a walk on a beach?
What makes your soul dance? (more…)
Sixth Sunday of Easter
No Orphans Here
My mother died when I was 22 years old. Her death was hard for me because in addition to being my mother, she was also my best friend. That was not always the case. We had great difficulties during my teenage years and it was only after I moved out of the house at 18 to go to school that we had enough space between us for our love to grow and to flower into the beautiful thing it became. I grew up with my mother and stepfather and as close as I was to my mother I was equally distant from my stepfather. So, when he died 2 decades after my mother I was surprised at how deeply I felt his loss. What also surprised me was the sense that in addition to being an orphan, I lost for a time my sense of self. It occurred to me then that I no longer belonged to anybody. Having never married, I was nobody’s wife, no body’s mother and now nobody’s child. This sense of not belonging to anyone was deeply felt despite my having brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles and friends who loved me and still do. (more…)
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
A few years ago – actually, many years ago – our sky was graced with a beautiful comet called Hale-Bopp, named for the astronomers who first spotted it.
Maybe some of you saw it. (more…)
Fourth Sunday of Easter
You may have noticed a common theme to the lessons today: sheep.
Today is commonly known as “Good Shepherd Sunday.” So of course I have a story for you. (more…)
Second Sunday of Easter
Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
This faith we follow is based on words — many, many words. We start with the immensity of the Bible. There are 783,137 words in the King James Bible. By comparison, the Bible is about one-third longer than Tolstoy’s War and Peace. (more…)