Weekly Grace General Blog
This blog contains lead articles in the Weekly Grace columns.

Exegetical Underwear

I had a seminary professor who encouraged his homiletical students never “to show too much of your exegetical[1] underwear” meaning that you never want to turn your sermon into a college or graduate class on the topic of the day. I have also learned in 21 years of preaching that when a complicated idea arises, the best strategy is not to take it head on or avoid it (as many do), but to get playful and have fun with it. This Sunday’s sermon focuses on the poorly understood and under-appreciated idea of grace (I refuse to call it a “doctrine”).


Read more...

Blessing and Other Words

I love studying languages and how the words change in pronunciation and meaning over time. Sometimes it can be instructive to back to an ancient source to get a better understanding of the modern term once we know where it came from.


Read more...

The Self-Made Man (or Woman)

One of the persistent myths in the American psyche is the idea that we are individual, autonomous beings, entirely independent and capable of making independent moral decisions. In some tropes, the myth is further extended to imply that we are self-made, some of us pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps. Those who subscribe to this myth believe they achieved everything on their own. They owe no debt or gratitude to other people. They do not stand on the shoulders of giants, they stand on their own two feet.


Read more...

Future Grace Part 1

I was once heavily recruited to be an Episcopal Church planter in Columbia, Missouri. The three-day process with the bishop, canon and other people included several sessions of interviews and testing with a psychologist. The diocese was applying some industrial testing methods to determine if their candidates had the right mix of entrepreneurial characteristics. Surprise, I maxed out that part. I was the only candidate to have started and run two companies that were sold to much larger, publicly traded companies.


Read more...

It is Time to Talk Turkey

Yes, cooler weather is coming, and Thanksgiving is right around the corner, but today’s turkey talk is not about Thanksgiving. I want to share some thoughts with you about a conflict that I have carried as a priest for twenty-one years too long. It is a conflict between preaching the radical, disturbing, socially impolite, system-disrupting, polarizing, often misunderstood and too often misinterpreted message of Jesus versus not being perceived as “political.”


Read more...

White Christianity in America was Born in Heresy

This statement was made by Yale University theologian Eboni Marshall Turman last year at an academic conference. When the Americas were discovered and explored by white Europeans in the 15th and 16th centuries, various European nations began their grand history of empire-building. European missionary priests brought Christianity to indigenous peoples around the world. The underlying assumptions in all this conquest and exploration was that the Christian religion was best for everyone, and the specific version of Christianity* was white and European.


Read more...

The Katy Prairie

It’s a free country. I can do what I want with “my land,” right? Well, maybe. Consider Katy, Texas.

Originally, the vast expanse of land northwest of Houston was filled with native prairie grasses. The Buffalo Bayou runs through the area and on into Houston to become the major fresh water source for Galveston Bay. It is two blocks from my sister’s house which has been flooded twice in three years by statistical “500-year storms.”


Read more...

Who do you say that Jesus is?

I seldom write extensions for the Sunday sermon, but this time, the topic is too important. Matthew’s gospel this Sunday has Jesus taking the disciples to Caesarea Philippi where he poses the question to them, “Some say that I am John the Baptist… others, Elijah … but who do you say that I am?” To which Peter blurts out the answer and what will become Christianity is started right there.
 

Read more...

Public Prayer

Whenever I am asked to pray in public, in a non-church setting, whether it is opening the Maryland Senate (three times), mealtime grace at a secular event such as Rotary meetings, or praying with a high school football team before a game, I always have alongside me in my imagination, two friends. One is Jewish and the other is an atheist. In my mind, they are listening to my prayer as members of the public who might be there. I ask myself, “How would they here this prayer?” and “Would they feel included or excluded?”


Read more...

The gods We Worship

We prefer to think of ourselves as thoroughly modern people who are Christian, monotheists in belief. Yet how many of our waking hours are consumed thinking about money versus how much time do we spend each week praying or meditating on the God of the Hebrew and Christian bible?


Read more...