Articles by Church Anew
Friday February 03, 2023
We may draw several lessons from the story of one-at-a-time in Santa Vittoria, ten in the operetta, and two in ancient Israel...
Thursday February 02, 2023
I believe we are in a “what we tell our grandchildren” moment with Afghans, Ukrainians, Haitians, Venezuelans, and so many more, fleeing war and violence around the world and seeking protection in the U.S. What will tell our grandchildren when they ask us how we responded?
Thursday January 19, 2023
Most Americans (including me) are rooting for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression. What can the Old Testament figure of Deborah teach us about "the enemy"?
Wednesday January 18, 2023
Lots of congregations have unused space, often nearly empty for six days each week. And the housing crisis affects every community. One church said "yes" to helping address the situation.
Friday January 06, 2023
In the wake of that reality of which we are all aware, I want to consider here the “gerrymandering of biblical texts,” my phrase for biblical texts read aloud in the congregation that boldly and openly skip over verses in order to accent other verses the pastor believes the church most needs to hear.
Thursday December 15, 2022
I wasn’t a fan of Christmas when I was a child. Christmas was, for me, a long, two-week winter break during which I felt disconnected from the settled routine of school, learning and friends that brought an escape from the troubles of home.
Tuesday December 06, 2022
Steinbeck would have us recognize the immense power of writing when the ownership class intrudes upon the scarce resources of the poor and vulnerable. Such writing is a way to seize and transfer property. Pa is surely right to be fearful of such writing!
Monday October 17, 2022
In his remarkable, important book, "Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History," Kurt Andersen has traced the planning of a political party to take over the government. Near the end of his book, he lists eight claims in the playbook that he believes generate their action. I intend to take up each of these eight claims and, if accurate, to consider how we may in good faith respond to them.
Thursday October 13, 2022
Relentless. This is the word I often hear to describe the cascading and intersecting crises of the past years. The world, each of us, is experiencing a relentlessness that feels like grief upon grief.
Wednesday October 05, 2022
David slaughtered every woman and man who came across his sword because he wanted what they had. They and their children were collateral damage. The text says he even smote the land. Folk don’t teach or preach these stories often, if ever.
Thursday September 29, 2022
The book of Ecclesiastes has something to say about the purpose of a human life and what we should be about in this world. But in stark contrast to the genre of the hero’s journey, Ecclesiastes is decidedly anti-heroic.
Friday September 16, 2022
I have been thinking about “being chosen” since my high school days....
Wednesday September 14, 2022
What is a body worth to you? What is a body worth to God? On the surface, one might be inclined to answer that bodies are priceless. Bodies are sacred. Bodies are beloved....
Friday September 09, 2022
The film "Philomena," as might be expected, led me to a trajectory of biblical texts that concern lost children. At the outset, I thought of Joseph in the book of Genesis.
Thursday September 01, 2022
From my earliest days I learned in church to recite the creed. In my tradition it was the Apostles Creed. I learned to recite it before I had any clue about the meaning of the words or phrases....
Wednesday August 31, 2022
Young people need you. They need religious and faith leaders to walk alongside them and provide guidance after the COVID years of grief, trauma, upheaval, and uncertainty. But first, young people need to be known and feel understood.
Thursday August 25, 2022
This brief, innocent-looking text is one never heard in church. It nonetheless tells us a great deal about the socio-economic, military situation of Israel in the early days of Israel’s settlement in the land.
Friday August 19, 2022
The teachable, preachable point of Psalm 72, I suggest, is the non-negotiable linkage of just restoration for the vulnerable and societal wellbeing (and eventually environmental wellbeing).
Thursday August 11, 2022
It is the work of the church to be about the “ethical dignity of the other.” In order to address this task with sustained intentionality, it is acutely necessary that we examine our own history and inheritance. When we do that, we discover that the Bible yields a very mixed scorecard on the matter of the “other” and the ethical dignity of the “other.”
Thursday August 04, 2022
Here is a new word you may not know, “schismogenesis,” that taken literally means “originated in a split.”
Thursday July 28, 2022
"Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time; for it is an evil time" (Amos 5:13). This odd verse is clearly a misfit in the Book of Amos...
Thursday July 21, 2022
As long as we have assumed that the Bible has an anthropological accent, we have and do read the Bible as though the God of the Bible was solely preoccupied with the human project. Thus we have traditionally given almost exclusive attention to the human person as the crown of God’s creation, made in God’s image.
Thursday July 14, 2022
The Bible knows that every claim to chosenness brings with it hard questions and leaves open the questioning that admits no “ease in Zion,” that is, no ease among the would-be chosen.
Wednesday July 13, 2022
Do you ever wonder what God’s voice sounds like? Do you ever wonder if you would recognize God’s voice if God whispered in your ear or thundered from a mountain? I mean, we confess week after week that the Scriptures are God’s word, but what voice do you hear when we together declare, “The word of the Lord?”
Friday July 08, 2022
Those who mock the poor insult their Maker; Those who are glad at calamity will not go unpunished (Proverbs 17:5; see 14:21, 22:9, 28:3).
Monday June 20, 2022
As we celebrate Juneteenth, we share this post again from Rev. Dr. Valerie Bridgeman in the hopes it will inspire and challenge you and your communities.
Thursday June 16, 2022
I wonder how the disciples felt when their hopes were dashed...
Friday June 10, 2022
We share this piece in the hope that it will spark dialogue and reflection as our nation continues to wrestle with the epidemic of gun violence.
Thursday June 09, 2022
Some thoughts on Timothy Snyder's remarkable book, "On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century," published in 2017. This study succinctly summarizes a life-time of work and research by Snyder on the authoritarian “strong men” who have brutally dominated Western international politics.
Wednesday June 08, 2022
Yet another mass shooting in a long list of massacres that have marked an epidemic of gun violence in the U.S. Can anything be done to end this cycle of violence, and who has the power to do it? As with many other issues, Americans have been responding to these questions in vastly different ways.
Friday June 03, 2022
A reflection on baptismal promises amidst the noise of children splashing the waters of the font...
Thursday June 02, 2022
In the Hebrew scriptures, provision is made for “cities of refuge” that protect the innocent who are vulnerable. What should we do about that?
Friday May 27, 2022
Following the horrific shootings at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX we invited our contributors to share their thoughts and wrestle with the continuing epidemic of mass shootings in America. We pray their words guide you in your own lament and push us all to consider how we might be part of writing a new more peaceful future.
Thursday May 26, 2022
If you have ever been in an elementary school at the end of the school year; it is well contained chaos. Sometimes, also, not very well contained. Yesterday was no exception. On a near-perfect Minnesota spring day, I sat outside, in front of 50(ish) of my Kindergarten students, as they sang in their Kindergarten graduation program.
Friday May 20, 2022
That moon, blood red in the sky, hung over America like a shroud. Our light has been dimmed for far too long. I thought about Roberta A. Drury, age 32. Margus D. Morrison, age 52. Andrew MacNeil, age 53. Aaron Salter, age 55. Geraldine Talley, age 62. Celestine Chaney, age 65. Heyward Patterson, age 67. Katherine Massey, age 72. Pearl Young, age 77. Ruth Whitfield, age 86.
Thursday May 19, 2022
I recently wrote an exposition of the phrase from Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address, “the bonds of affection.” Lincoln hoped that those “bonds of affection” would override the eagerness for war. Now I have become aware of two books that in very different ways explore Lincoln’s phrase amid our ongoing national history.
Friday May 13, 2022
Over two days we gathered asking for renewal, calling upon God to ignite in us a spirit of renewal for ourselves, for our communities, for our congregations, for our neighborhoods, for our world.
Thursday May 12, 2022
Now that I have just turned 89, it is inescapable that I think, from time to time, of my ending. Sometimes I think of my longevity and am amazed. Sometimes—not often—I think of my death. I am mostly content to leave that in God’s good hands.
Friday May 06, 2022
The dismantling of statues of erstwhile heroes has led me, inescapably, to the nightmare of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2. That powerful sixth-century Babylonian ruler, much despised by Israel had, it is reported to us, many sleepless nights, as he was “troubled” (Daniel 2:1, 3).
Thursday May 05, 2022
As I look forward to my youngest-child-now-adult walking across the stage, I find myself ruminating on the threads of my own decades-ago-college-experience that continue to be woven throughout my life.
Friday April 29, 2022
I regularly read the “Advice” column in our local paper written by Jeanne Philips. When I read it daily I sometimes sense in an instant of Schadenfreude that someone has issues more complex than my own.
Thursday April 28, 2022
The tomb is empty. But, I still feel empty, too. The world feels heavy with the lingering scent of Good Friday...
Friday April 22, 2022
Before the pandemic, I was often asked to preach on the second Sunday after Easter. The traditional verses for that day are always the same in liturgical churches — John 20:19-31 — the story of Jesus’ first post-resurrection appearance, including the popular account known as “Doubting Thomas.”...
Thursday April 21, 2022
Norman Gottwald has died at 95. He is, in my judgment, the most important and influential Old Testament scholar of the twentieth century in the U.S.
Thursday April 14, 2022
The Apocrypha of the Old Testament includes the book of Ecclesiasticus, The Wisdom of Jesus son of Ben Sirach. The book, a collection of various kinds of wisdom sayings, is commonly dated to 180 BCE. In what follows I will juxtapose two famous sections of the book as background for my appreciation of care-givers.
Tuesday April 12, 2022
It seems like churches that see the writing on the wall are trying their best to shift into what they believe is coming next. With the pandemic, many congregations dipped their toes in the digital pool and noticed that digital spaces and social media platforms are gathering real community.
Thursday April 07, 2022
Prayer isn’t the only tool at our disposal when the world is burning, but it’s a pretty good one. Jennifer Garner asked if I would offer some prayers on her InstaLive. Here’s [the prayer] we used...
Tuesday April 05, 2022
The phrase “bonds of affection” has drawn my sustained attention as I watched the hearing for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. I could think of three places in scripture where we see the “bond of affection” operating, though you might think of others as well.
Friday April 01, 2022
We’d like to share a recent sermon by one of the Church Anew Team Members, Pastor Gail Bach, who gave this sermon on being rattled by doubt on March 13, 2022. We hope it resonates with you today.
Thursday March 31, 2022
For no reason beyond my curiosity I recently read a biography of John Charles McQuaid, who was the long-running Catholic archbishop of Dublin in the mid-twentieth century, before, during, and after Vatican II.
Tuesday March 29, 2022
Church Anew continues its offerings of Lenten devotionals with the latest from Matthew Fleming.
Tuesday March 22, 2022
Spend some time this Lent meditating on Scripture with the guidance of Laura Jean Truman and Church Anew...
Saturday March 19, 2022
Israel’s walk in the procession did not require other nations to sign on to the God of Israel. Thus Micah compromises nothing of the specificity of Israel’s faith. But that faith is not aggressive or exclusionary or preemptive, but generous in its welcome.
Friday March 18, 2022
Loving God, open the Bible to me. Reveal your love in the stories from of old. Show your character in the pages of this book that has been passed on from generation to generation. Shepherd me through studying your scriptures. Amen.
Thursday March 10, 2022
A congregation might be a keeper of names, and a seer of individual persons. Such a community might regularly engage in a recital of names…of those in the news this week, of those who have contributed mightily to our common wellbeing, and those who have suffered the most in our common injustice.
Tuesday March 08, 2022
The themes of this devotional revolve around spiritual practices that emerge from studying the 23rd Psalm. May you find a meaningful and holy Lenten season.
Friday March 04, 2022
As a regular church goer, I love to fall back into the familiar phrase and cadences of the liturgy. While I am a low-church Protestant, I have great appreciation for the recital of the classical liturgy.... My long practice of liturgy with access to a variety of ecclesial articulations, however, did not prepare me for the quite unexpected crisis in the liturgy reported in our local paper....
Tuesday March 01, 2022
"The thought of dirt-poor peasants working for 16 years with picks and shovels to access water for their children made my definition of hope look pretty wimpy." An excerpt from the book, "Freeing Congregational Mission."
Thursday February 17, 2022
We have become inured to seemingly pervasive political response to find “conspiracy” at every level of opposition. Many readily assume that there are hidden and secret powers lurking around voting machines seeking to overthrow the legitimacy governance, whether it may be “the deep state,” interference from Venezuela, or the anti-Semitic tropes of money clustered in Hollywood.
Tuesday February 15, 2022
Diana Butler Bass says online church is a gift to be embraced.
Thursday February 10, 2022
Today we share two pieces from the writings of Walter Brueggemann: You Who Casts Out Fear and Meditations on Social Location. We invite you to join in Dr. Brueggemann’s prayer and to understand his history.
Wednesday February 09, 2022
I want us to dwell on one word in Luke 4, one word that makes all the difference in how we read this text, how we come to understand the shape of God’s salvation, how we come to embody a ministry faithful to the good news of Jesus. That word is today. Today.
Tuesday February 01, 2022
What if we think about these three “best pitches” of the Christian life, with a network helping us to improve our skills at these aspects of our “proper work”?
Friday January 28, 2022
What if we are currently in a Noah’s ark situation within the Church? We can hear the waves rising, and screams of Church leaders telling us not to panic. However, every part of us knows something is about to give.
Friday January 07, 2022
Epiphany, the story of the Magi, is about a God who sings us all home, in the language we speak, as the people we are.
Tuesday January 04, 2022
"And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road." (Matthew 2:12) In Matthew’s Gospel we hear of the visiting Magi, strangers from another land, who came to offer gifts to Jesus.
Thursday December 23, 2021
The Hebrew Bible has a recurring grammatical usage in response to the realities of life that are hidden, uncertain, filled with wonder, or beyond human comprehension. The repeated response to such uncertainty is, “Who knows?” (mi-yodea’)...
Thursday December 16, 2021
A prayer for these times by Walter Bruegemann...
Tuesday December 07, 2021
Sammy, our cat, came to us by way of rescue. He was a handsome, silky, loud-purring tabby. He died much too soon; and we are left with treasured memories and lingering sadness. I mention Sammy by way of introducing two pieces I have read lately concerning cats.
Thursday December 02, 2021
Amid our layered lives, we carve out time to hear each other and allow ourselves to be heard, and in doing so we have created a loving and valued community.
Friday November 26, 2021
What follows is a report on two books I have recently read, quite by happenstance, back to back.
Wednesday November 24, 2021
We all know there are many things to be grateful for and at the same time there is a deep exhaustion, time feels weird, and trauma is real. We all have people in our worlds we love and others who are at best annoying us, at worst breaking our hearts...
Friday November 12, 2021
"God so loved the world..." Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry preaches at the Liturgy for Planetary Crisis. The service focused on climate change and the need for swift, just action to bring us back into right relationship across the human family and with all of God's creation.
Thursday November 11, 2021
It may come as a surprise to some that the oft-repeated idea that streaming worship will be necessary in the post-pandemic church has failed to gain traction in many communities centered on ministry with digital natives. But it shouldn’t.
Saturday November 06, 2021
Have you ever found yourself reading the Bible and thought to yourself: Do you know what this story reminds me of? The Fast and the Furious.
Wednesday November 03, 2021
The preacher alternatively can, like the ducks, trust the buoyancy of the water, be like Paul to fall back into the goodness of God in a way that makes all the tribulations distinctly penultimate.
Friday October 22, 2021
In this year of pandemic church, my kids have experienced some amazing happenings. They saw those first people returning to the building with tears in their eyes, just to be among the people, smelling familiar scents of carpet and brick, hearing organ and the voice of a preacher not filtered through tinny computer speakers.
Friday October 15, 2021
I want you to know you're not the only one feeling this way. And more than anything, I want you to know that I meant it when I told you that church was always more than a building.
Thursday October 14, 2021
The reality for many of us is that we are so wise and calculating that we never run the risk of real obedience or enter vigorously into the zone of neighborliness.
Thursday October 07, 2021
The response from at least some portion of Facebook’s 3.5 billion users to its five-hour outage on Monday went something like this: “Good, I’m glad it’s down, may it stay down forever.” But...
Wednesday September 29, 2021
In Sweden, students are taught to be able to describe the most distinctive features of each religion, to increase their understanding between people.
Wednesday September 22, 2021
Fall is upon us and we begin to learn, once again, to let go and trust and rest for a while.
Wednesday September 15, 2021
At the root of our relationship with God is the gift of choice. Our thoughtful Designer never intended us to be obedient robots who live out a particular plan, so God included the seed of agency. God recognized that choice is healing and the most loving.
Saturday September 11, 2021
“Never Forget” is the most recognizable slogan connected to the 9/11 attacks. In the months and years following the attacks, the slogan was plastered on banners, bumper stickers, and billboards. The meaning seems clear, so much so that the slogan is not really debated or questioned in mainstream America. But is the meaning clear?
Thursday September 09, 2021
There’s a phenomenon we’re experiencing right now, one that is predicted to continue over the next year, called “The Great Resignation.” Four million people in the U.S. quit their jobs in April alone, and a not insignificant number of others are at least considering it.
Friday August 20, 2021
I want to offer a prayer — for all of us, parents, caregivers, students, teachers, administrators, supporters alike, listed in the form of the ABCs. May God go before us even into this uncertainty, fear, and frustration.
Tuesday August 17, 2021
A 2018 report from Barna Group, Gen Z: The Culture, Beliefs, and Motivations Shaping the Next Generation, notes the differences in Generation Z (born between ~1999 and 2015) and older generations - especially in regards to feelings about faith and religion. One statistic stuck out to me as I read Barna’s report: 61 percent of Gen Z Christians do not think that attending church is important and say that they find God elsewhere.
Thursday August 05, 2021
This must be one of the radical features of the Gospel: for Christ to invite everything (and everyone) out of exile and into belonging.
Tuesday August 03, 2021
Our students want to be respected in the ways that every being deserves.
Saturday July 31, 2021
Rest is a privilege. It is the privilege of thinking about what one wants to think about whenever and for whatever length of time. Rest is the gift of doing or not doing because one has carved out of space to let idleness rule the day.
Wednesday July 28, 2021
In times of great pain, both global and personal, I often find myself returning again and again to these verses from John 11. The image of my Savior, weakened, weeping and disturbed, is so unworldly and unexpected that it draws me near again and again, and I remember that the God I worship is so very different than the god the world idolizes.
Friday July 09, 2021
We are not broke. We are invited to innovate and transform lives and institutions using the abundance of gifts that God has given us. There is enormous possibility and hope. Read this Church Anew excerpt from a new book.
Thursday July 08, 2021
Many Americans, particularly White Christians, probably hadn’t heard the term “critical race theory” until quite recently. I imagine many people, and many pastors, could simply use an introduction to the movement. The conversation has been around for decades, and I think it’s helpful to lay out what CRT is and what it is not.
Wednesday June 16, 2021
Any family or communal festive occasion can become a “sign” or a marker. It could be a graduation, a birthday, a funeral, or a reunion. But let us consider a wedding … a wedding as a “sign” or a marker of social, historical significance. This is how it was for the ancient prophet Jeremiah as he watched his beloved Jerusalem sink into misery.
Wednesday May 26, 2021
Here I will consider only three McCarthys, to the disregard of many others. There is in scripture, as far as I know, no direct response to these various McCarthys. I did however think of these texts that seem pertinent in Isaiah and Jeremiah.
Tuesday May 18, 2021
The CDC’s announcement that vaccinated people no longer have to wear masks, whether indoors or outdoors, stirred all kinds of reactions. Victory for some. A sense that at long last, this long nightmare was starting to draw to a close in a significant — if still incomplete — way. For others, the news was not all that welcome.
Thursday May 13, 2021
The land, when it is honored and respected, weeps. It weeps long sadness because it knows such durable abuse....
Tuesday May 04, 2021
I watched the interview of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry by Oprah Winfrey. I read about the reaction of the royal family to the interview in which members of the royal family attempted to undermine or deconstruct the memory of Harry and Meghan about how they had been treated. And then I learned what was for me a new phrase, “discriminatory gaslighting”...
Tuesday April 27, 2021
In the midst of the pandemic, Fareed Zakaria, a well known journalist and commentator, has published a short accessible book entitled, Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World. In one of his chapters, Zakaria has this “lesson”: “The world is digital.” This “lesson” leads Zakaria to explore the current technological revolution and the expansive reach of Artificial Intelligence.
Tuesday April 20, 2021
While such an assurance is welcome, it also makes one wonder: who is the “we” in this mantra? And who are we leaving out?
Friday April 16, 2021
I have been thinking about “providence” as I have been reading about “meritocracy,” the notion of a society governed by those who have exceptional ability and have arrived at their power, wealth, and influence solely by the merit of their ability.
Friday April 09, 2021
In the story of post-resurrection appearances in John 20, Thomas seems to ask for proof of Jesus’s resurrection. But was he also asking for something else?
Tuesday April 06, 2021
Easter is the good news that God’s power for life has defeated death; this is matched by the good news that God’s power intends the defeat of poverty.
Wednesday March 24, 2021
Many of us have been overwhelmed this week by a lifetime of painful memories and trauma flooding our minds and breaking our hearts.
Tuesday March 23, 2021
The linkage between the God of the Gospel and economics is deep, wide, and inescapable. One cannot have the God of the Gospel without the neighborly economy willed by the God of the Gospel.
Saturday March 20, 2021
Lately I’ve wondered, after this year, who am I now? What has changed in and around me? Not to spoil the ending here, but I’m going to ask you the same questions. But first, here’s what I’ve been curious about as I reflect on this question.
Thursday March 18, 2021
My point is not just that hope and disability can coexist, but that experiences of pain, uncertainty, and disability cultivate a different, faithful kind of hope that we Christians need.
Wednesday March 17, 2021
Naturally, we Christians turn to the Bible when we have moral questions. Christianity and its Bible have been turned to all kinds of uses, some good and some evil. Here in the United States, we’ve done so especially with respect to matters of race, gender, and sexuality, piling up verses on one side or the other to support what we already believe.
Saturday March 06, 2021
I’ve always been a fan of Lent. It’s a good time to make fancy spiritual to-do lists, read important books, and whip ourselves into spiritual shape so that we come out the other end holier. I love the idea of becoming holier!
Friday March 05, 2021
The church community includes both Jews and Gentiles. Gentiles cannot be lopped off after the “and.”
Tuesday March 02, 2021
Brutality served not only to erase those who might threaten power, but also to intimidate those who might undertake resistance. Yet there can be a considerable sustained and courageous resistance movement, even in the face of such acute danger.
Wednesday February 24, 2021
Isaac Watts’s hymn "O God, Our Help in Ages Past" concerns the reality of death and the reliable governance of God beyond the reality of death.
Saturday February 20, 2021
The narrative for which the church has permission is precisely the story that dominant culture wants to shush.
Thursday February 18, 2021
This is not the Lent I wanted. I wanted to give up chocolate or wine or commit to a new practice of reading my Bible. I did not want to pay homage and dwell in the grief and death of this year.
Friday February 12, 2021
The possession of the “whole world” leads to the diminishment of life: or in the words of the hymn, we become “rich in things and poor is soul.”
Thursday February 11, 2021
Just over a month ago, I was shaken to the core as I watched a group of people storm the United States Capitol. The foreshadowing of the last several years left me unsurprised such things could happen. What did baffle me and ultimately shook me was that many of these actors, insurrectionists, believed their actions were justified by God.
Tuesday February 09, 2021
No doubt many preachers will eschew this enigmatic text and choose texts that give easier access. I hope, to the contrary, that preachers will linger over this text, because it teems with interpretive thickness. The narrative specificity of this text includes a number of components that defy our every explanation...
Saturday February 06, 2021
Complete, unwavering discipleship to Jesus is costly, eventually leading to a risky contradiction with dominant culture. Most of us, surely, are not much inclined to that costliness that seems nothing short of heroic.
Tuesday February 02, 2021
One of our neighbors who will not wear a mask says, “Well, if I die it must be my time.” Our roads, moreover, are strewn with signs that say, “God’s got this.” These judgments, if taken seriously, conclude that we are fated to a future that is already determined for us. This sentiment is an echo of the ancient confidence in the “law of the Medes and the Persians.”
Saturday January 30, 2021
We are presently in a great contest between Paul and Bacon, between love and knowledge, between neighbor and self-serving and self-seeking.
Friday January 29, 2021
The parable of the Prodigal shows us who’s really lost. It’s not the younger brother who was returned home to an extravagant welcome. Instead, it’s his righteous brother who refuses to come to the party. This older brother’s refusal closes the whole chapter by playing out the role of the Pharisees and scribes.
Wednesday January 27, 2021
The story of Naboth’s vineyard is a towering, uncompromising witness to the pertinence of YHWH to socioeconomic matters. The narrative is so towering and so uncompromising that we may take it as a paradigmatic tale that functions as a lens for the interpretation of many other texts...
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.