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God, Dogs, and Unconditional Love

On the Monday following the terrorist rampage in Orlando, a dozen Golden Retrievers showed up in the Disney city. They were part of the K-9 Comfort Dogs team, a ministry run by Lutheran Church Charities. The dogs had come to give the kind of love and comfort that come only from a furry friend. There…

Orlando and the Banner of Love

Early on Monday morning I walked over to the church and lowered the flag to half mast. It felt good to do something. When we are faced with another horror, it’s easy to turn away. “What can I do, anyway?” I slid the red, white and blue down to a lower station and secured the…

Impeaching Your Inner Judge

“It was in an old box with some pictures,” she said. “My mother found this award certificate from when I was nine years old. From Westwood Library—for 34 books read that summer.” That was nearly fifty summers ago. “I took it to my father and you know what he said? ‘I doubt it.’” I winced,…

I Do Not Believe (and Neither Should You)

Yesterday a woman came to see me about coming back to the church. She had been a member years ago and drifted away. Now she sensed an urgency about coming back to faith, but she had serious reservations. “I’m not sure I can believe it all,” she said. “Believe what?” I asked. “Oh, you know—heaven,…

When Pentecost gets Personal

The ancient Pentecost hymn is Veni Creator Spiritus. “Come Creator Spirit.” We invoke, we implore the Spirit to fall upon us because without her we are lifeless—like Ezekiel’s dry bones. This is the spirit who brooded over the face of the deep, Genesis tells us, and brought forth from the primal elements the whole cosmos….

The Real Mother’s Day

What if Mother’s Day was originally a revolutionary movement? What if the second Sunday in May every year wasn’t just about your kids and your family? I always figured Mother’s Day was the creation of Hallmark. Then my friend Jen sent me the link I’ve included just below. I was surprised–and uplifted!–to discover that the…

Finding Water in Cuba

  A few days ago I drank water from a spigot in Itabo, Cuba. It was the water of life. I don’t know why this is, but almost always we must go to the desert to find water. Of course no one “goes to the desert to find water.” We find ourselves in desert spots,…

Stretch Out Your Hands

Today I changed my father’s diaper. He is mostly helpless, half paralyzed from a stroke and, at 97, weakened. Congestive heart failure and dangerously low blood pressure had already sidelined my father. Now he cannot swallow and must be fed through a peg in his stomach. He has lost 30 pounds. Every bone showing, he…

Love that Will Not Let Go

Palm Sunday. This day is an on-ramp for a kind of sanctified chaos. In one moment we hit glory and plummet in the next to tragedy. Our mouths fill with the richness of that final meal-before-the gallows, then our tongues dry and the pits of our stomachs sour in the fast. If suffering is simply…

Forgiving…To Save Our Own Lives

Jesus’ story of the Prodigal Son brings us into the presence of absolute forgiveness. We toss around the idea of “unconditional love” as if it were not a dangerous thing. We love the notion of forgiveness…but only to a point. After all, there is finally a right and a wrong. Jesus’ story of forgiveness is…

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