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The Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel The Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel

The Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel is senior pastor of First Congregational UCC in Dubuque, IA. She is a speaker and author of several books including "'Spiritual But Not Religious' Is Not Enough."

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Lillian Daniel: Reasonable, Rigorous and Real

December 31, 2014

"As it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death." - Philippians 1:20 

I want to make a case for a church that is reasonable, rigorous and real. 

By reasonable, I mean that we should not demand that people believe things that seem preposterous to them. We should respect people's questions. We should not ask them to leave their brains out on the sidewalk. We should expect that we will land in different places, intellectually and experientially. 

I want the church to be rigorous. You can be welcoming and open and still have standards and expectations. You can say that attending worship matters. You can ask people to share their money. You can expect people to follow through in their ministries and be of service. You can hold up the minimal standards of a sports team or a music teacher by saying that the more you practice, the better you will get at this. 

I also want the church to be real. I want there to be room for the people who don't follow through, don't show up and who don't yet get what any of this is about. I want the church to admit that sex, drugs and rock and roll are a tempting trinity for a reason. I want mental illnesses to be listed in the prayer concerns as often as cancer treatments and surgeries. 

And if it's all you can do to get out bed in the morning, I want you to come to church in your pajamas. 

Reasonable, rigorous and real. Bring your questions, your uncombed hair and your low expectations. Jesus can work with all that. And then he may even raise the bar 

Loving Christ, expect more from your body here on earth. Use me to refine and shape your church. Loving Christ, expect more of me. Amen.


From UCC's StillSpeaking Devotionals. Visit

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