You Don’t Have to Be Good

The things people tell a minister after church. . . . Yesterday a woman I did not know spoke to me after church—she was there for a baptism. I heard about the church of her childhood, where “salvation” was attained by refraining from smoking and drinking and dancing and cursing. It was a rigid theology…

Trust Yourself

Why is it so hard to trust yourself? Yesterday we heard the story of the two forlorn disciples on the Emmaus Road—who had a vivid, astonishing experience of the risen Christ, only to lose it the next moment. In Luke’s account, as soon as they recognize Christ, he “vanished from their sight.” That vanishing reminds…

Monastic Gin

I am sitting with my father, playing gin rummy, but I might as well be sitting in a monastery or any retreat house. I am here for a week. Our days are simple and highly ritualized. Breakfast is at 8:30. (Two eggs on an English muffin, daily, for him.) We may converse for a while…

Exhaustion and Transformation

I am wiped. After multiple services on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, I am pretty much gutted. Which is, I think, the genius of it all. Intentionally, Holy Week is an ordeal.  It creates a series of rituals that slowly drain your physical, emotional and spiritual energies. And it’s…

Help Me

Hosanna! It’s the Palm Sunday shout of jubilation, or so I thought. Originally, the word meant something like “Come to our aid!” or simply, “Help us!” The Hebrew priests would chant hosanna on the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles, while they circled the altar seven times praying desperately for rain. But as the…