Articles by Church Anew
Wednesday January 20, 2021
As a Black woman prepares to become the first Black, first woman, first South Asian to occupy the U.S. vice presidency, Black women’s bodies have been on my mind. My own body has been on my mind. I have been thinking about self-care, wellness, and the importance of never negotiating boundaries.
Wednesday January 13, 2021
It is a primary task of church leadership, in the face of the language of commoditized instrumentalism, to keep alive the peculiar relational, covenantal language of faith. That is, to assure that our peculiar rhetoric remains available and compelling. Given that task, I was somewhat “woke” by this remarkable statement: "A language is a dialect with an army and a navy."
Friday January 08, 2021
In my new book Speak It Plain: Words for Worship and Life Together (Fortress Press, 2020), I offer some tips for creating a trauma-informed worship space. What if our faith communities spend this season apart learning to talk about trauma and developing new hospitality practices to support folks on the other side of Covid-19? Here are a few ideas.
Friday January 08, 2021
Responding to the insurrection at the United States Capitol, Church Anew contacted our network of contributors to ask what they would preach this Sunday. Our prayer is that these words from visionaries, nationally recognized or locally committed, provide witness for your proclamation this Sunday as the nation looks for spiritual leadership and solidarity. May the Spirit ignite your words with fire for justice.
Thursday January 07, 2021
It is the hunch of some scholars (including me) that Psalm 29 is a liturgical script (or an echo of a liturgical script) that served an annual pageant in the Jerusalem temple in ancient Israel. The intent of that pageant was to perform a drama whereby YHWH was designated as King of the gods for the coming year.
Tuesday January 05, 2021
Savor every flake, because every flake bears witness, so claims the poet, to the life-giving reliability of God.
Thursday December 31, 2020
So who is my neighbor? 2020 has proven this to be the wrong question. A better question that we should all be asking going into 2021 is, “What kind of neighbor am I?”
Wednesday December 30, 2020
Every two weeks, the Church Anew leadership team gathers for prayer, reflection, and visioning. This devotion was shared at our last meeting in December with Pastor David Lillejord, Pastor Matthew Fleming, Pastor Gail Bach and Pastor Mary Brown by Mr. Tim Maudlin. We'd like to share our 2021 intention with you.
Friday December 25, 2020
The carpenter from Nazareth, Joseph, we may assume, was a modest man who lived a modest life in his village. He did not rock the boat. He did not want to call attention to himself. But then, according to the gospel narrative, he faced two powerful disruptions in his settled life.
Tuesday December 22, 2020
In these hard days, every pastor (along with many other folk) is asked, “How do you fend off despair?” and “How can we continue to hope?” In response to these questions, what follows here is my exposition of a single familiar text from Israel’s great Manifesto of Hope, Isaiah 40-55...
Monday December 21, 2020
For Christians, hope is our most fundamental strategy. And Advent is the season for hope.
Sunday December 13, 2020
All good gift-giving is rooted in love. The kind of love that comes from having made time enough and paid attention enough to really know the other.
Saturday December 12, 2020
In my humble opinion as a simple lifelong Lutheran layperson, I say, go for it! Sing as many Christmas (and Advent) songs as you want between now and Epiphany!
Thursday December 10, 2020
Preparing for Christmas in the church world is a time of joy and innovation; it’s a season that many of us love. When I look at my community, I see creative, fun, and reflective ministry happening. The Ideas are easy flowing as we lean into advent and prepare for Christmas. It can be fun, exciting and sort of magical. It is also kind of exhausting.
Friday November 27, 2020
My friend, Dean Francis, loaned me a most remarkable book. Written by John Compton, it is entitled, The End of Empathy: Why White Protestants Stopped Loving Their Neighbors. The book is a carefully researched study about the way in which mainline churches have dramatically lost members and public influence.
Wednesday November 25, 2020
I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few years talking about the hope I see in America, even in the midst of a devastating pandemic and a much-needed and overdue reckoning with racism and white supremacy, particularly in the church.
Tuesday November 24, 2020
Thanksgiving Day, for all its entanglement with white violence against Native Americans, is a reminder to us that even in such a difficult time as this, gratitude is the hallmark of the Christian life. It is an acknowledgement that we are on the receiving end of life, and it is the generous creator God who is on the giving end of our life.
Friday November 20, 2020
Dr. Terence E. Fretheim died late in the morning on November 16, 2020. With his passing, the world lost one of the most productive, creative, and insightful interpreters of biblical literature. As someone honored to call Professor Fretheim a teacher, colleague, and friend, I would like to offer a few reflections on his life and work as a biblical interpreter.
Friday November 20, 2020
This will not be Thanksgiving as we have known it: a day to gather and feast with friends and family; to watch football and play games; to tell stories of years gone by and to toast loved ones no longer with us; to laugh (or roll our eyes) as relatives enact the same family script allotted to them decades ago; and, to gratefully experience the beautiful messiness of life together.
Thursday November 19, 2020
I’ve always admired those Christians who remain positive through the toughest of times. You know the ones. Their faith seems never to waver, their demeanor beams positivity, and they express gratitude as naturally as a New Yorker says “How ya doin’?” It may not be fair to say I admire them. I envy them.
Friday November 13, 2020
Since March, when the global pandemic bound us in our homes, I have been over-functioning. I was working while parenting and parenting while working, feeling inadequate at both. I was exhausted. All around me, people were sick and dying. People lost their jobs, faced eviction, and struggled in isolation....
Thursday November 12, 2020
The healthcare professionals who have stood out as the ‘courageous midwives,’ as in the book of Exodus (1:15-22), in todays’ tough times save humanity from a possible ‘health collapse.’ During this time of unprecedented and unparalleled upheaval, they hold the life of humanity in their hands just as a mother holds a newborn baby.
Friday November 06, 2020
Because I write this prior to the election, I do not know the outcome. No doubt some of us will be soaringly elated and some of us will be deeply chagrined. The pastoral task on this Sunday is to call the faithful away from either elation or chagrin back to the more elemental realities of our faith.
Tuesday November 03, 2020
What follows here is an act of self-indulgence. It is not likely to be informative, instructive, or edifying for you, dear reader. Thus, you may desist from reading further. I have written this simply because I wanted to, to see what I could make of a line I have read recently.
Tuesday November 03, 2020
Despite our flaws and failings, we have some shared values. One of them is the preservation and perfection of representative democracy itself, "that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth."
Saturday October 31, 2020
We live in a world of so-called “fake news” and so-called “alternative facts.” These propositions, largely invoked by Donald Trump and amplified by myriad conspiracy theorists, have quickly eroded trust in foundational pillars of democracy and of shared community. Ultimately, the assertions of “fake news” display downright violence against our neighborhoods and our shared vision for humanity.
Wednesday October 28, 2020
In a Christian context, vocation is about being called by God to particular places and spaces in the world. And I want to suggest that the verse from John 15 has something to say to us about a Christian understanding of vocation. In this chapter of John, we hear Jesus calling his disciples to a vocation of friendship.
Monday October 26, 2020
This year’s unrest in our cities merits restorative attention. The attention that unrest receives from our political discourse and reactive policies has not shown itself to be restorative. Indeed, we can recall speeches that, without a cubit of understanding, declared the “carnage stops now.” Of course, the unrest has not stopped, and our leadership has done nothing to stop it. There is no awareness of or interest in what causes and sustains the unrest.
Thursday October 22, 2020
When I think about those 545 children at the border, I don’t imagine blank faces. I don’t wonder what they look like. They look like me. They look like my children. They look like Jesus.
Wednesday October 21, 2020
Of all the things that continue to chisel at my spirit, the most difficult thing is carrying on with work, school, and social life as if nothing is different.
Monday October 19, 2020
The ownership class knows the price of everything. It is accustomed to buying, selling, and acquiring. Consequently, it pays great attention to prices, and not unlike the Philistines, that class sets the price of commodities. But that same ownership class very often does not know the cost of things, because it has not actually paid the cost.
Friday October 16, 2020
The Senate hearings concerning the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for the United States Supreme Court are a very big deal indeed. On social media I’ve seen lots of discussion of her philosophy of legal interpretation, known as originalism....
Wednesday October 14, 2020
Have you noticed how newsletter articles, sermons, blogposts, and other writing from before the pandemic can either feel completely irrelevant now or eerily prescient?
Monday October 12, 2020
It seems that fall has arrived here finally with the gift of cool breezes and crisp, blue skies. I’m told that there will still be a few hot days to come in October, but I feel the days of crushing humidity have left us for now, maybe, on the wings of those birds that are already migrating south. Or is this wishful thinking?
Thursday October 08, 2020
The narrative of the “golden calf” stands as a paradigmatic tale of Israel’s skewed covenant with YHWH. Excluding the Priestly instruction of Exodus 25-31, this story in Exodus 32 follows immediately after the covenant-making in Exodus 2:43. There is not even the space of a breath between covenant-making and covenant-breaking!
Wednesday October 07, 2020
In every human community, there are religious, cultural, and political ‘normals’ pertaining to human behavior, body ethics, and cultural codes. These ‘normalcies’ are not divinely ordained but constructed by the elite and the powerful with their seemingly consensual discourses and ritual practices. Those who control this process of manufacturing what is ‘normal’ and ‘natural’ eventually determine ‘who’ and ‘what’ are ‘normal.’...
Tuesday September 29, 2020
At the beginning of the pandemic, it was inevitable that we’d all come to the ends of our ropes. By now, however, we’ve all come to the ends of our ropes over and over and over again—people continue to die, whether from police brutality or this deadly virus, there’s no safety net, no childcare for working parents, no school for kids or support for people with disabilities, there’s no security, no hope in sight, it feels like what we give is never enough, and then the day starts over. What do you do, how do you live, when there is no rope left?
Saturday September 26, 2020
Meet Amos Wilder (1895-1993). Wilder was a pastor, a poet, and a long-time New Testament scholar at Harvard. He was also the brother of Thornton Wilder, author of Our Town. I introduce him to you, dear reader, in order that you may, along with me, savor his wonderful enigmatic dictum: The zero hour breeds new algebra.
Friday September 25, 2020
Since her death I’ve been trying to track my own understanding of Justice Ginsburg. What I knew and didn’t know, and how her death had sparked a mixture of grief, fear, and partisan vitriol in America.
Thursday September 24, 2020
As Christian public leaders we are often learning new ways to navigate conversations and relationships with people of diverse cultures across churches and communities. Every interaction is an intercultural interaction, whether we realize it or not.
Thursday September 24, 2020
There are 40 days to the election. I invite you to consider this election season to be like Lent, a time of prayer and practice.
Tuesday September 22, 2020
In his Church Anew article, Dr. Greg Carey writes that we resort to “It’s all a matter of opinion” when facts make us uncomfortable.
Saturday September 19, 2020
In his Church Anew post, Eric Barreto writes, Our human tendency to mistake urgency for importance is older than breaking news on cable TV or the latest viral tweet.
Friday September 18, 2020
The imposition of imposter syndrome is imposters who dwell in the mendacious abyss of professional facade make life harder for others. The imposition of imposter syndrome is we suffer, society is compromised, our giftedness does not illuminate a dark, dank world when we doubt and dare not show up fully.
Thursday September 17, 2020
How do we live in the midst of chaos, of so many simultaneous crises? When we are confronted even more with the precarity, the fragility of life, it is in these moments that we can trust that we are being held up by the love and grace of God.
Tuesday September 15, 2020
This blog, written by Deanna A. Thompson of St. Olaf College’s Lutheran Center for Faith, Values, and Community (Northfield, Minn.), exemplifies one Lutheran institution’s commitment to anti-racism work. The Lutheran Center engages people of all backgrounds and beliefs in deep exploration of core commitments and life choices in ways that foster inclusive community, both within and beyond St. Olaf College.
Monday August 31, 2020
In part three of Church Anew’s series on policing and the church, we interview Pastor Brian Herron of Zion Baptist Church on policing in Minneapolis, MN.
Friday August 28, 2020
In part two of Church Anew’s series on policing and the church, we interview a police officer serving a community near Minneapolis on the intersections of his job, faith, and current events.
Thursday August 27, 2020
I am doing some painful learning about my privilege and about how racist attitudes are embedded into my psyche, simply because I am part of white American culture. It’s humbling and sobering work to become aware of those attitudes and my implicit bias and intentionally address and recover from them.
Tuesday August 25, 2020
Ella Baker seized the opportunity and made a decision that would turn the tide of history. She chose to do what far exceeded herself. Although SNCC is no longer a viable entity and Baked died in 1986, her name, her work, and her spirit thrive.
Friday August 21, 2020
Many Christians continue to believe that because I am female, my call into ministry itself is anathema to their understanding of the Gospel.
Wednesday August 19, 2020
Nobody wants to hear my opinions on Constitutional matters. As Paul would say, may it not be! Instead of pursuing the constitutional question, let’s examine what freedom means in a Christian context. Let’s think about gospel freedom.
Wednesday August 19, 2020
In order to identify and respond to a sound, one must first listen. If the link between Jesus and his flock is mediated by recognition of the Master's voice, what does that mean for the kind of spiritual listening involved in responding to Him?
Saturday August 15, 2020
I believe our political economy too often relies on a handful of wealthy families whose contributions profoundly shape political races and policies alike. In some countries, that “clique” is called “oligarchs.” In American society, it is sometimes called the “political elite.”
Tuesday August 11, 2020
Earlier this week, I was preparing a very brief meditation for a kind of public service announcement on prayer in the time of pandemic. As I was preparing, something dawned on me that I wanted to share with you....
Friday August 07, 2020
In his Church Anew post, Dr. Eric Barreto urges us: Do not look to the man behind the curtain pulling the strings. Do not look for the code that explains it all. Do not look for the conspiracy that contorts and changes to explain every wrinkle and incorrect prediction.
Wednesday August 05, 2020
In his Church Anew piece, Dr. Michael Chan says in the current political environment many Americans are hoping for a “return to normalcy.” Such a pitch plucks at the heartstrings of many who are ready to vomit after too many sharp turns on the 2020 roller coaster.
Tuesday August 04, 2020
Ella Baker seized the opportunity and made a decision that would turn the tide of history. She chose to do what far exceeded herself. Although SNCC is no longer a viable entity, and Baked died in 1986, her name, her work, and her spirit thrive.
Saturday August 01, 2020
In this Church Anew article, Pastor David Lillejord asks--and answers--a difficult question: Why Is It So Hard to Live as One Body?
Thursday July 30, 2020
Matthew Fleming writes, Until each of us take responsibility for our own actions and reactions, we cannot begin to imagine challenging this culture of toxic masculinity that is as old as Adam.
Monday July 27, 2020
In her Church Anew article, Valerie Bridgeman writes: I was six years old when the late Congressman John Robert Lewis was beaten to near death on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on what became known as Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965.
Tuesday July 21, 2020
Do you remember the “Would you rather” game? It was a good back-of-the-bus activity on field trips. Or slumber party fun for a group of pre-teens. Players have to choose between two less than desirable alternatives - to choose the least bad from the most bad. Like, would you rather step barefoot in dog-doo or have a bird poop on your head? You’d like to choose neither, but that’s not an option. That’s how this “what to do with school in the fall” decision feels.
Friday July 17, 2020
Bishop Michael Curry asks "what would love do" in a world upended by racial protests and the coronavirus.
Wednesday July 15, 2020
I am “food secure!” I eat out frequently in the lovely venues in my town: Red Ginger, Poppycock, Harrington’s by the Bay, or West End Tavern. I would not have known to use that phrase for myself except that I hear much talk in our town of disproportionate wealth about the “food insecure.”
Tuesday July 14, 2020
In her article for Church Anew, Dr. Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder says there is a safety, security of home at least for most of us. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to pause and consider our relationship with the place and people associated with our homes. Sudden shifts to working remotely and ad nauseam Zoom meetings have exposed parts of our lives which had been selectively disclosed.
Saturday July 11, 2020
In his Church Anew article, Walter Brueggemann says this narrative entrusted to us is the news of emancipation from the forces of greed, fear, and violence that cannot finally prevail because the word of God is at work in the world.
Friday July 10, 2020
In this Church Anew article, Angela Denker says let the monuments fall and tumble to the earth. Let the Columbus statues be toppled. And then let us gather up the dust, spread it across the land, add water, and plant seeds anew for our nation.
Thursday July 09, 2020
In this new Church Anew article, Raj Nadella says the parable of the sower and the seed (Matthew 13) takes on a new meaning when read in the context of growing economic disparities and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Saturday July 04, 2020
Erin Raffety says the pandemic has revealed how deep the roots of ableism run and how intertwined they are with sexism and racism.
Friday July 03, 2020
In several of my previous columns, I have referred to “the protocols of scarcity.” In this setting I want to exposit what I mean by that phrase.
Wednesday July 01, 2020
When death is not stalking our communities in the twin forms of pandemic and racism, police violence and anti-black prejudice, it may be possible to confess confidently with Paul that I am dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. But when sin entangles every aspect of our everyday lives, when racism and sexism and homophobia worm their way into every corner of this world, it may prove that much more difficult to proclaim along with Paul that I am, that we are dead to sin.
Rabbi Shosh Dworsky: Torah, Darsheini, and Black Preaching in Response to the Killing of George Floyd
Friday June 26, 2020
Like many of you I’ve been going over in my mind the scene of George Floyd’s killing, wondering what I might have done had I been among the onlookers. I’ve been fixated on the two rookie cops sitting on Floyd’s back and knees. Why didn’t they stand up and say, “This is wrong, I won’t be part of this”? If I’m honest with myself I can imagine a partial answer.
Wednesday June 24, 2020
Church Anew is excited to provide practical resources to preachers and other church leaders including curricula, sermon series, and ministry ideas to spark imagination for your congregation. These are free to adapt and use in your context, with your people.
Monday June 22, 2020
In her Church Anew article, Dr. Valerie Bridgeman writes: Recently, I was asked why I thought the uprisings since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis have shaken so many [white] people. What is the difference? I said, “Some people had 8 minutes and 46 seconds to encounter blatant anti-black racism for the first time.” They couldn’t turn away.
Friday June 19, 2020
In his latest Church Anew article, Walter Brueggemann recalls his neighbor: Mrs. Thompson may not have known it, but in doing this work she was effectively serving in the wake of Jeremiah.
Thursday June 18, 2020
In this Church Anew post, Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry shares a “Habits of Grace” message about protests, Pride Month, and the coronavirus.
Wednesday June 17, 2020
Many pastors took an important step these last few Sundays. Already dispersed into online spaces and some confronting with new urgency the ways that white supremacy afflicts black communities, congregations gathered these last two Sundays. And in some of these congregations, preachers preached perhaps for the first time about the pervasive entanglements of racism, not just in policing and policy but in the church, too. Now what?
Thursday June 11, 2020
In his new Church Anew article, Walter Brueggemann says the “three/one” visitor declared to Sarah and Abraham that they would have a son and heir, an impossibility for them in their old age. Sarah giggled at the impossibility. Before they departed the “three/one” visitor posed a question to the aged couple: “Is anything impossible for God?” The question is left unanswered in the narrative.
Tuesday June 09, 2020
In this latest Church Anew post, Dr. Greg Carey writes about how the Good Samaritan parable challenges privilege and promotes authentic relationships.
Sunday June 07, 2020
I now return to Isaiah 54:7-8. In the first article of this series, “Abandoned!”, I considered the fact that Israel’s God-abandonment is confirmed from Gods’ own lips. In the second article, “How Long is a Moment”, I reflected on the duration of Israel’s abandonment reckoned in God’s own time. Now in a third reflection I consider the “resolution” of divine abandonment.
Saturday June 06, 2020
In his Church Anew article, Dr. Ulysses Burley III says, Imagine a unified nation not divided by an invisible line, but united by an invisible spirit. God is summoning us—the church—back to our protest-ant roots for such a time as this.
Friday June 05, 2020
In this Church Anew article, Angela Denker writes, If you recognize yourself in this article, and it makes you cringe or feel embarrassed or even makes you mad, Hi, Me Too.
Wednesday June 03, 2020
People are hurting. George Floyd’s murder. COVID-19 deaths. Violence. What does all of this mean? In this Church Anew article, Greg Cary offers some wisdom.
Saturday May 30, 2020
In his latest article for Church Anew, Dr. Walter Brueggemann says God meets us in the brevity of a moment -- liminal spaces that seem eternal.
Friday May 29, 2020
In her Church Anew article, Diana Butler Bass says Pentecost is the noisiest of all Christian holy days—a party, the “birthday of the church,” celebrated with banners, red balloons, and cake. We re-enact Acts 2 in multiple languages, reminding us that God sent all humankind a gift—the spirit with its promise of peace and portents of salvus for the healing of the earth. But this week, names....
Sunday May 24, 2020
In this Church Anew post, Dr. Walter Brueggemann offers wisdom on how we move forward in faith amid despair through disciplines of faith.
Saturday May 23, 2020
Church in person and church online. Connecting real life and real ministry. Jim Keat discusses how it works best in a digital world in the latest Church Anew post.
Thursday May 21, 2020
Masks. A sign of saying who we are and how we live personally and publicly. Read Angela Denker's Church Anew post here.
Tuesday May 19, 2020
In this latest post from Church Anew, Bishop Michael Curry shares a “Habits of Grace” message about time and life during this pandemic.
Saturday May 16, 2020
A personal commentary on the old question of faith amid suffering, “How long?” A question asked by prophets, Martin Luther King, Jr., and all of us during this COVID-19 pandemic.
Friday May 15, 2020
In this Church Anew post, Paul Raushenbush shares with Elaine Pagels his young son’s stories about his world, our world, destruction, and a rainbow.
Wednesday May 13, 2020
A plain and simple question during quarantine stirs poignant memories of church and dreaming beyond. Mihee Kim-Kort writes for Church Anew in this latest post.
Friday May 08, 2020
In his Church Anew article, Walter Brueggemann says the Psalm text for the 5th Sunday of Easter serves as a theological lens for looking at time: Promethean and Covenantal.
Thursday May 07, 2020
In this Church Anew post, Dr. Ulysses Burley III explores what the Road to Emmaus teaches us about the road to re-opening our church buildings.
Tuesday May 05, 2020
In this time of COVID-19 lockdowns and churches moving to virtual communion, Diana Butler Bass reflects on a conversation she had with Phyllis Tickle.
Saturday May 02, 2020
Dr. Deanna A. Thompson, Director of The Lutheran Center for Faith, Values, and Community at St. Olaf College, talks with Pastor David Lillejord, Church Anew Executive Board Member, on the meaning of virtual communion.
Friday May 01, 2020
You don’t have to be a super human or a super Christian in this Eastertide 2020. Just be human, a beloved child of God.
Tuesday April 28, 2020
A reminder of the wondrous mystery of a “zoomed” Easter season, inspired by a beloved hymn.
Thursday April 23, 2020
In this article for Church Anew, Rozella Haydée White explores the question, How does building resilience during times of hardship nurture faith?
Thursday April 16, 2020
Meta Herrick Carlson offers a blessing for Thomas and for those who need to see to believe — not because their faith is weak, but because they feel dismembered by the COVID-19 situation and cannot bear it all alone.