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11 Beautiful Lesser-Known Hymns for Ordinary Time

Ahh, Ordinary Time… that long dull humid period in the church calendar when livin’ is easy, fish are jumpin’, and the cotton is high. Or something like that. For the low-church among us, let me explain: Ordinary Time is a phrase used by Catholics and some Protestants to denote a two-part season in the liturgical […]

When a Fish Dies at the Children’s Hospital and Other Thoughts on Prayer

Right now, there are few places with as much contrast as a children’s hospital. Our son, who has broken his arm twice this year, had an appointment last week to get his cast taken off. This second time around has been harder. The bone was not healing as quickly as it had last fall. There […]

The Man Who Challenged My Theology of Achievement

I went to college about a month after I turned seventeen, from a small town in Wisconsin to the “wretched hive of scum and villainy” known to rural folks as the University of Wisconsin in Madison. There were about 7,000 people in my hometown, contrasted with the student population of 40,000 of the University. To […]

Enjoy Your Forgiveness

A few years ago an interesting phrase began popping into my head, and it began to have a big impact on me and my thinking. That phrase is Enjoy Your Forgiveness. I want to share a few thoughts about that phrase, along with its origin in my thought process. It was during an Easter season […]

Tolkien’s Advice for Preachers

I don’t pretend to be a Tolkienologist or any sort of expert in Tolkien’s literary oeuvre. I’m more like a wannabe in that regard. Don’t get me wrong, I love The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and I’ve read through the Middle Earth quests several times. But also: Peter Jackson’s adaptation is the best […]

Doing, Being, Asking

This one was written by Kurt Armstrong: Six years ago a friend of mine hired me to replace the front steps of his house, and two days into the job, when I got out of bed in the morning my left knee was so stiff I could hardly bend it. I hadn’t crashed or fallen […]

Grandmommy’s Grace

This one comes to us from Will Ryan. My birthday, May 14th, has always been a source of pride for me. It’s not a particularly momentous day in the grand scheme of things, but in the particular year I was born, that day happened to be Mother’s Day. I’ve always reveled in being able to […]

Amateurs in a Time of Crisis

The following was written by Avery Ross. I never thought one of the most impactful lessons I would ever learn would come from a bunch of middle-aged ministers at a bar. A few years ago, I found myself in a hotel bar in London with fifteen ministers from some of the largest churches in the […]

When Doing Nothing Is What Saves You

Unprecedented. It’s a word we’ve all heard a lot lately, and a very fitting one to describe the time that we are living through. A global shutdown of this scale has never been seen, and will likely never happen again in our lifetimes; yet as I’ve reflected on this time, I’ve been reminded of another […]

Beyond Fear: How Religious Organizations Respond to COVID-19

This one comes to us from Elaine Howard Ecklund. “Be not afraid.” I remember first hearing these words, a refrain found repeatedly in the Bible, in a Sunday school class when I was five years old. If my memory serves me correctly, our teacher was trying to allay our fears about entering kindergarten. As COVID-19 […]

The Best Hope There Is: A Brief Devotion for Easter Monday

This morning’s Easter Monday devotion comes from today’s Almost Daily Devotional by the Rev Paul Walker: The magnitude of what God has done in raising Christ from the dead continues to unfold in my mind and heart with each passing Easter. Perhaps this year, especially, as the reports of deaths are in the daily paper […]

The Utter Strangeness of Easter

A beautiful summation of this glorious day from the man who would have been addressing us in New York this year (😢), Tom Holland, via an article published on UnHerd, “When Christ Conquered Caesar”:

The utter strangeness of Easter does not lie in the notion that a mortal might become divine. As Nero well knew, the border between the heavenly and the earthly had always been viewed as permeable. Divinity in the Roman world, however, was understood to be for the very greatest of the great: for victors, and heroes, and Caesars. Its measure was the power to torture one’s enemies, not to suffer it oneself; to have a person stabbed in the womb, or gelded and made to live forever as a member of the opposite sex, or smeared in pitch and set to serve as a human torch.

That a man who had himself been crucified might be hailed as a god could not help but be seen by people everywhere across the Roman world as scandalous, obscene, grotesque. Nero, charging the Christians with arson and hatred of humanity, seems not to have undertaken any detailed interrogation of their beliefs — but doubtless, had he done so, he would have been revolted and bewildered.

Radically though Nero had sought to demonstrate to the world that the divine might be interfused with the human, the Christians he had tortured to death believed in something infinitely more radical. There was but the one God, and His Son, by becoming mortal and dying the death of a slave, had redeemed all of humanity. Not as an emperor but as a victim he had come. The message was novel beyond the wildest dreams even of a Nero; and was destined to endure long after all his works, and the works of the Caesars, had crumbled into dust.

This Sunday, when billions of people around the globe celebrate the triumph over death of a man laid in a tomb in a garden, the triumph they celebrate will not be that of an emperor. “For God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”