For Christmas hope and healing, look to the shadows

Listen here.

All around the world, people are preparing. The fridges are filled; the tables are set; the gifts are wrapped and waiting under the tree. The tinsel shimmers and Sinatra sings, as the world prepares for Christmas. It’s a wonderful time, a joyful time; we should all be so excited. So why, for so many of us, does it feel so hard? Continue reading “For Christmas hope and healing, look to the shadows”

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A Place at the Table

Those of us at church on Sunday had a rollicking time. Along with the usual suspects, other friends and associates dropped by to celebrate my ordination, including some card-carrying atheists, a BATS* pagan, a BUV representative, and a dog. Several people wore rainbow flags, and a young transgender person sent their apologies; as they told me later, their butt hurt so badly from a recent hormone injection that they had to stay home. Fair enough! Continue reading “A Place at the Table”

Esther

Esther is often portrayed as a love story. So let’s begin by making some observations. King Xerxes eliminated Queen Vashti when she refused to parade herself in front of an extended men-only drinking bout. Having got rid of her, Xerxes needed a new queen. His advisors suggested he seize all the beautiful young virgins, give each one a night to prove herself, and choose from among them. So Esther did not line up at the palace flapping an application form for a beauty pageant; nor did the king pick her for her personality. Instead, she was a vulnerable young woman who was noticed for her beauty and abducted by the king’s brute squad, and whose only hope for survival lay in pleasing the king’s eunuch – for then he “provided her with her cosmetic treatments and her portion of food (2:9). A year of beauty treatment and education prepared her for the next step in her survival: sexually captivating the king. In other words, Esther has less agency than a bunny in the Playboy Mansion and yet, even in such terrifying, humiliating and unpromising circumstances, her courage, obedience and wisdom saves the Jewish people from annihilation. Continue reading “Esther”

Gratitude, schmatitude

Gratitude, schmatitude. I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit over the gratitude industry. Every time I go hunting for a gluten free recipe online, I seem to end up on some kale-and-quinoa-scented mommy blog which is panting with gratitude; and this usually triggers in me a powerful urge to shred a pair of yoga pants then run around shrieking obscenities. Continue reading “Gratitude, schmatitude”

Possessions, possession, and the kingdom of God

We just all heard a great story from Jesus, in which a rich man hoards a heap of stuff and congratulates himself on it. But did you hear what God said to the rich man? “You nincompoop! On this night all your things are possessing your soul! You don’t own them; they own you. And all this stuff you have piled up, whose is it, anyway?” Someone like me needs to hear these words again and again, because I love stuff. I love old plates and pretty bowls and my grandmother’s piano. I love vintage chairs and crochet rugs; and I like to own lots of them. And so tonight’s words made me wonder, am I an idiot, too? Continue reading “Possessions, possession, and the kingdom of God”

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