In Company

On the wall of my study hangs a poster-sized picture of my confirmation class. It’s a game for my church members to come in & try to find sixth-grade-Josh. Not a hard game, actually. I keep it even though I can’t remember everyone’s name—it was a big class, and not everyone was a regular at … Continue reading

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

Holy Week is a bit of an exercise in futility for some of us liturgically-minded pastors. While the Sanctuary may be full on Palm Sunday and overflowing at Easter, the empty pews at our midweek services beg for some attention. I urge my congregations yearly to appreciate the joy of Easter by attending to the … Continue reading

Collect for Spy Wednesday

Last Supper, Church of Saint Martin

A prayer for today’s Community Holy Week service at which I am serving as the liturgist, based on the lectionary reading (John 13:21-32). It’s called Spy Wednesday to remember Judas conspiring to betray Jesus. Glorious God, in your Incarnate Word you name the truth of our existence, and through the cross, Christ Jesus emancipates the … Continue reading


Coming out of the morning showing of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey with Christie, we discovered that in an elementary school in Connecticut, a school like the one our oldest son and daughter attend here in Texas, dozens were killed in a shooting, many of them children. Already, the condolences are pouring out, as well … Continue reading

A Wideness in God’s Mercy

Today’s events have left me feeling a dozen or more different emotions. I thought about one of my favorite hymns, and I hope you will join me in prayer for the dead, the wounded, the mourning, and the one who shot the gun. There’s a wideness in God’s mercy like the wideness of the sea; … Continue reading

Harry Potter’s Two Monuments

Like the rest of (what seems like) the country, Christie and I headed to the cinema this weekend to watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 … twice. There are a number of good reviews out there, including those appearing online at Pop Theology, Relevant Mag, Think Christian, and Christianity Today, so I … Continue reading

Strangers and Foreigners on the Earth

The famed 11th chapter of Hebrews came up in the lectionary this week, and I really am taken with how Abraham’s faith in particular is narrated. The language of movement bookends chapter 11: chapter 10 ends with an exhortation to be among those who do not “shrink back,” while chapter 12 leads off with the … Continue reading

I Don’t Hold To That

This is part 2 of “Theology in the ‘Verse,” which deals with Joss Whedon’s Firefly TV series as it is continued in the feature film Serenity. This post contains spoilers, so if you are planning on watching the episodes or movie, check them out first and then come back to read and comment! What do … Continue reading

100 Words: Mystery + more

On Twitter this morning, Leonard Sweet shared a new project he’s working on, and invited others to help crowdsource the 100 words that are central to being a Christian. My first foray is “Mystery,” and I invite you to read & comment, and even vote at the 100 Words site if you like it…and of … Continue reading

Down on "religion" & up with "faith"?

I’ve noticed in a number of places the trend of opposing “religion” with “faith.” Setting up these two concepts as foils–as in “religion does x badly, while faith is perfectly y”–might be catchy, but is terribly false. The underlying concept seems to be something like religion, religiosity, etc. all have an institutional component which squeezes … Continue reading