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The Secret Reward

Part 2 in a Five-Part Lenten Series Imagine the Academy Awards… in secret. Someone from the Academy calls. “Congratulations,” the voice says, “you are the Best Actress.” That’s it. There is no gala, no red carpet, no envelope please, no Oscar statuette. No one ever finds out who wins. Only you. Isn’t that the whole…

The Big Secret

First in a Lenten Series How did I miss this? I’ve been reading this Ash Wednesday gospel for decades. Same every year. Matthew 6. Sermon on the Mount. Yet when I heard it this year, I was struck by what seemed the most obvious, pressing, urgent message of Jesus’ address. It’s the word secret. I…

Gutsy Embrace

I’m not a big fan of “inclusion.” I’m very much for widening the circle of love and embrace, but “inclusion” has been sloganized by liberal Protestants until it means something like vague acceptance. The ideal includers are people with a coat hanger smile who just love everybody! And if that’s what it takes to be…

Four Percent

The rationalists used to be able to laugh at us believer-types, when we stood together and confessed our belief in “all things visible and invisible.” That was before astronomers and physicists discovered “dark matter.” When we look up at the moon and the stars we assume we are seeing all there is in the universe….

Storm the Barricades!

I parked my car in New York last night and came back to find a leaflet jammed into my door handle. I looked down the street; every car had been hit. I saw a picture of the pope and figured it was just an overeager Catholic blanketing the neighborhood with tracts. I opened it and…

God and Your Big Toe

You’ve seen that bumper sticker, “Wise men still seek him.” It’s true, just not in the way the driver of the car imagines. If Epiphany is to lead you to the Light, you must know that the global story of foreign kings traversing “field and fountain, moor and mountain” in search of the Light is…

The New Year’s Resolution Gone Wrong

The human being is capable of great idealism . . . and great delusion, as these resolutions humorously attest. Resolution #1 2015: I will try to be a better husband to Marge. 2016: I will not leave Marge. 2017: I will try for a reconciliation with Marge. 2018: I will try to be a better…

The Life You Save Will Be Your Own

There was an outdoor orchestra concert in New York and the featured piece of music began with a far off trumpet–a distant, clarion call that set the tone for the whole symphony. In rehearsals the conductor moved the trumpeter to the farthest edge of the stage, and then further into the wings. Still, he wasn’t…

The Axe and the Frozen Sea

Back when my two daughters were listening to Green Day, 98 Degrees and Blink 182, they had all the feelings surging through that music–anxiety, excitement, pouty anger, self-consciousness and of course an enormous need to be loved. Pop music gave voice to all those inexpressible feelings. As a father I often felt helpless to reach…

You Are Not Going to Change the World

Advent is about to dawn, and when it does it leads us into quietness and expectation. Basically, Advent has one message in two parts. (1) A savior is coming. And (2) it’s not you. That is why the images and language of the season seem passive and weak. We are asked to stand down, to…

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