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July 12, 2018

About two years ago, my husband and I adopted a dog from Lost Dog and Cat Rescue.  Her name is Tucson - named after the Arizona city where part of my husband's family is from.  We thought her colors looked a little like the desert. I have always loved dogs, but my family hadn't had one since I was about three years old.  My husband grew up on a farm in Nebraska, and as a general rule they had at minimum two dogs at any given time...he knew what he was getting into.  But Tucson came into my life and changed it in some really unexpected ways. I am not a morning person, but now I get up earlier to make sure Tucson (alias: "Toosey-Goosey," alias: "The Goose") gets walked and fed.  I am not an exercising person, but now I walk a couple miles a day with her.  I run home on my lunch breaks to let her out. I endlessly throw tennis balls because she will never not want to play fetch.  My life has taken on a whole new pattern, and it's all Tucson's fault. We are in a season of the church year called "Ordinary Time."  Whenever we're not in a special season like Advent or Lent or Easter, we are in Ordinary Time.  It's what Godly Play refers to as "the green and growing season."  It's whenever you see green hangings and vestments in the sanctuary. Ordinary Time is where we live most of our lives.  It's the day in and day out patterns, the rhythms of work and life and family time. And patterns of time are important. As Annie Dillard once said, "how we spend our days is how we spend our lives." Tucson has changed how I spend my days, particularly how they begin and how they end.  And even though it is remarkably ordinary, there's also something about it that's remarkably sacred.  When I examine each day and look for where God was present, I'm surprised by how often the answer includes Tucson.  But then again, of course God is present wherever there is love. The love between a dog and their person. It's just as ordinary as that.

See you Sunday, 


Updated: Jul 12, 2018

July 7, 2018

"What is the difference between a disciple and an apostle?"

This is a question that I have been asked many times since I started working in churches. The phrase "12 Disciples" and "12 Apostles" seems to be used interchangeably. Are those just two different names for the 12 guys that followed Jesus around? And yet all of you have probably heard sermons about your own individual calls to be disciples, so that term can't just be limited to 12 men who lived two thousand years ago.

A disciple is someone who adheres to a particular belief structure or school of thought. Often the school of thought is associated with a particular teacher. So there were (probably still are) disciples of Plato or of Sigmund Freud. Today we would say that someone who identifies as a Christian not only adheres to a school of thought taught by Jesus of Nazareth, but they live their life differently, they change their behavior because they follow Jesus. And as Christians, we call that change in behavior "discipleship."

An apostle is someone who has been sent out on a mission, particularly someone who has been granted a particular authority. It is a term that is often applied specifically to the Twelve (and also gets applied to St. Paul whose missions throughout the Mediterranean were a huge part of the spreading of the gospel).

This Sunday's gospel reading is the story of how Jesus first sent the Twelve out on a mission. Jesus gives them a special authority over unclean spirits and then sends them out into the surrounding country with nothing but their shoes, their staff, and one shirt each. They go on to do miraculous things. In this Sunday's sermon, I'll be talking more about the nature of discipleship and the source of the apostles' authority.

See you Sunday,


June 29, 2018

There is some really good stuff tucked away in the American Book of Common Prayer. There's a wonderful section toward the back of the book with prayers for all kinds of occasions - prayers for birthdays and for families and for travelers and for those we love. There's collections of prayers for various aspects of church life and for our personal lives and a section of prayers for our national life. You can find them all on the internet at - click on "Prayers and Thanksgivings."

I often flip to that section of prayers for the nation around certain holidays, like Memorial Day, Election Day, and the Fourth of July. I've been doing it for years, and every time I'm struck by a prayer that is simply entitled "For our Country."

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our

heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove

ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will.

Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and

pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion;

from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend

our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes

brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue

with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust

the authority of government, that there may be justice and

peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we

may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth.

In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness,

and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail;

all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This prayer is often attributed to George Washington, but alas, that isn't true. It was actually written by the Rev. George Lyman Locke in the year 1882.

And it helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view.*

This prayer for our country was written just after the end of reconstruction and ten years before Ellis Island was opened. It was written almost 40 years before women's suffrage, 60 years before Pearl Harbor, and over 80 years before the Civil Rights Act. And in each of those times, at each of those turning points, someone was praying this prayer for our country. They were probably thinking of different challenges, envisioning different leaders at each of those points. But when they prayed this prayer, they did so out of a deep sense of patriotism, a patriotism that said "it's not enough to just be America, we must always strive to be a better America than we have been."

It's been 242 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. This Fourth of July, I invite you to step back and take the long view. I find that it helps, now and then, to do so.

See you Sunday,


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