How terribly great and mighty God’s glory is, greater and mightier than we can imagine!  How frail and small humanity is! How absurdly brief our life! God cannot help but love God’s creation. And we cannot help but love God, in some form or fashion. But we may never meet face to face in this life.

Unless…

(Note: I wrote this in October, 2012. I’m republishing it for St. Ansgar’s feast day tomorrow)   As [Jesus] was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me […]

(Note: I wrote this in May 2010, when the Rolling Stones re-released Exile on Main Street) When I picked up Exile on Main Street in 1992, during the summer after seventh grade, the album was something of a hidden classic. It was not much anthologized on the numerous hits discs and live albums the Stones pumped out […]

The loss of this mode of politicking is the less-seen shadow side of the dysfunction and looming institutional crisis created by extreme gerrymandering. Once you know with a mathematical certainly who you don’t need, and where you don’t ever have to go, you are just wasting your time trying to hear out and nod along with some random collection of constituents. You have to tend to your party’s nominating voters and your funders, and they don’t care whether you’re able to empathize with whatever marginal voter you’re chasing at the mosque or the deli or the tavern. 

But here’s the thing: Jesus, like Moses, did not come before the people as a religious professional. He did not come in special clothing or wielding a special credential. In Mark’s Gospel, which we hear today, there is not even any annunciation to Mary, dream for Joseph, or Bethlehem or wise men. There is only Jesus. His words and actions are not a confidence game. They don’t borrow their authority from anyone or anything. They have their own authority. 

(Note: I preached this sermon at Messiah Lutheran Church on the fifth Sunday after Epiphany, February 8, 2015) Sisters and brothers, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. In the morning, when it was still very dark, [Jesus] got up and went out to a deserted place, […]

(Note: I wrote this in July 2010) On the first day of my first quarter of Divinity School, I was dispatched to preside at a burial. My pastor couldn’t get down to Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery that day, so I made the trip–in a borrowed clergy shirt, borrowed black pants, borrowed car, carrying a borrowed liturgical manual […]

(Note: I wrote this in July 2010. While none of it is left there, it helped prompt me to write a book) Last week I went to a local establishment to watch some baseball and read Annie Dillard’s For the Time Being. In retrospect it was a comical choice. On the screen I watch the momentary […]

(Note: I wrote this in January 2011) Back when I was just getting started in ministry, early in my seminary career, Christmas was a high point of the year. There is a strange thrill in doing something, as it were, from the inside out–in knowing the alleys that connect the gleaming storefronts, in working while […]

(Note: I preached this sermon at Messiah Lutheran Church on the Baptism of Our Lord, 2015) Sisters and brothers, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Someone asked me this week if I thought it was possible to really have a new start in life—a fresh start […]