Something was off when I woke up in my dorm room in late January 1969. I realised I couldn’t hear the ocean, which was only 75 metres from my bedroom at the University of California at Santa Barbara. The sea was silent. I and other early risers went to the cliffs overlooking the normally pristine coastline. The ocean waves were weighed down by oil and tar, unable to crash on the beach. Continue reading Reflections on Earth Day→
I fear I’m a creature of habit. Most mainline Christian churches have a three-year lectionary that they, for the most part, share. A lectionary sets readings from both the Hebrew scriptures and Christian writings to be read on particular Sundays over the course of the year. After three years, if you have gone to church every Sunday, like every good Christian does, you have heard most of the Bible. There is one notable exception. It is on the Sunday after Easter. Continue reading A Doubtful Faith→
In one of my last Easter Day sermons at St Matthew’s I opened with how difficult I found preaching on the Day of Resurrection in a Christian context:
Look out! Here comes the preacher walking the Easter sermon tightrope!
Can he balance the life-giving message of joy and hope that the ancient story of resurrection suggests, with the progressive theology and openness St Matthew’s embodies?
Can he make it across safely to the other side without falling into either the dreaded, dogmatic pit of spirit killing, rigid orthodoxy, or the confusing fog of bland generalities that can mean just about anything?
An occupational hazard of a minister’s vocation is needing to find the grace to be present to others in the midst of their sadness and grief; despair and disappointment. No one calls the minister to ask for a visit when, as Robert Browning wrote, “God is in his heaven, all’s right with the world.” Now I’m not complaining. There is no more sacred trust bestowed than to be invited into someone’s life when they are feeling most vulnerable, most fragile: most mortal. Continue reading Ode to Joy→
Once upon a time I was working in a mental hospital doing my clinical training to become a minister. Part of that training required leading a worship service once a week for the patients in my ward. This ward held seriously ill schizophrenics, which meant they were mentally ill, not stupid. They had an uncanny knack of knowing if they were being fed BS. Continue reading We make the road by walking→