Philippians 4:4-9 Joy in a time of pandemic?  Peace in a time of protest?  It sounds crass after all the carnage, tens of thousands of deaths, an economy in shambles, children sent home from school, anxiety and low level depression abounding and Covid fatigue near universal, and uncertainty in the body politic. How can we talk about […]

Living by a vision

Phil 3:4-14 Good teachers and spiritual guides are known by their solidarity with their students and congregants. They see their oneness in joy and sorrow and don’t hold themselves apart, despite their expertise and experience.  As the saying goes, they don’t care about what you know until they know that you care. And caring comes from recognizing […]

The Good Work Continues

Philippians 1:3-5, 21-30 Philippians is one of my favorite books in the bible.  It’s a letter from a pastor to a community he loves – a community that despite social and legal challenges as a religious and cultural minority is keeping the faith and living out the gospel. A community like South Congregational Church in this […]

Words that change the world

(James 3:1-10; 5:13-16) When Matt was a young boy, he took piano lessons with a lovely and prim and proper Christian woman, Sylvia Swisher.  One day, she reported an interaction during a piano lesson. When Matt hit a wrong note, he said “Jesus Christ” under this breath.  To which Mrs. Swisher responded, “I hope that was a […]

Doers of the Word

 (James 1:22-25; 2:1-7; 2:14-26) My home state California is a paradise for bumper sticker watchers. Nothing is off limits in the point-counterpoint battle of bumper stickers, even religion.  Years ago, there was a popular bumper sticker that exclaimed, “Honk, if you love Jesus.” Not to be outdone, a counter bumper sticker emerged with an equally ardent […]

Philemon – There is no “other”

Philemon 1-21 With just 335 words, you have to wonder why Philemon is in the New Testament.  Like Ruth and Esther, there is little explicit theology, doctrine, and ethical discussion.  Yet, like Ruth, Esther, Jonah, and Song of Solomon, Philemon may be an important book for just such a time as this – our time of racial […]

More than a Fish Story – Jonah

Jonah 1:1-6, 17; 2:10; 3:1-10; 4:6-11 What would you do if God challenged everything you thought was true about your faith and the people around you?  What if you discovered that your Sunday School faith was fine when you were ten but not when you are thirty or seventy?   The book of Jonah is more than […]

Esther: For Just Such a Time as This

Esther 4:10-17 Can a beauty queen become a national hero and have a book in the Bible named after her?  Can God call a reluctant royal to be God’s instrument of deliverance?  That’s the story of Esther.  Every year, our Jewish siblings celebrate Purim.  It is a time of celebration, feasting, and rejoicing.  People reach out to the poor […]

Ruth: Not Just a Hallmark Love Story

Ruth 1:1-8, 15-17; 4:13-17 It has been said that good things come in small packages.  The same applies to speeches and books.  Abraham Lincoln didn’t think his 272 word Gettysburg Address would be remembered, and yet we recite “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, […]

Feet Planted On Earth with Hopes for Heaven

Romans 8:37-39 I became a theologian at age five.  My parents had gone away for the weekend to a church conference and left my brother Bill and me for the weekend with a kindly church lady, Bertha Orr.  I had never spent much time with a dog before, but that weekend I was inseparable from Taffy, her […]