Chosen Family

A few weeks ago, a young man named Mohammed rang the church doorbell. “I saw your sign,” he said. “Immigrants and refugees, welcome. That’s me. I’m a refugee from Somalia.” He was looking for help with a problem getting his green card. He had taken our banner very literally—thinking it meant we were an agency… Read More


Our family traveled to Ireland and Scotland as part of my sabbatical last summer. One drizzly morning in Belfast, Jen and the kids explored the amazing Titanic Museum while I investigated family history at the PRONI (Public Records Office of Northern Ireland). The amount of information in that place was overwhelming; I was completely lost… Read More

Taste and See

One morning, while in Guatemala, we set out on a pre-breakfast hike. We met our guide, Moises, at 6 a.m., at the gate of our hotel. As we headed through the streets to the far side of town, all was quiet except for the crowing of roosters and the barking of stray dogs. The good… Read More

Discernment Analytics

As a volunteer in the Minnesota Conference of the UCC, I chair a committee with the unwieldy title, “Discernment and Preparation for Authorized Ministry,” lovingly referred to by its members as DPAM. We work with people who are seeking ordination in the United Church of Christ, and the framework we use is (you guessed it)… Read More

Bread That Is More Than Bread

Last week, our family of four returned from a road trip vacation. We logged more than 3,000 miles in our little red Prius. We visited eleven states, plus Ontario and Quebec. We camped for nine nights, pleasantly lacking in mosquitos and mostly dry (only one real deluge). We laid eyes on all five Great Lakes… Read More

About God

I heard this one when I was a seminary student: newly ordained minister asking wise, experienced minister: “What should I preach about?” This answer came back: “Preach about God; preach about twenty minutes.” I’ve followed the twenty-minute advice, though with shrinking attention spans today fifteen minutes will suffice. But I’ve avoided preaching about God in… Read More

A Sacramental Commons (preached at University Baptist Church)

These days, it’s easy to find recipes on Google. That doesn’t change the fact that I’m attached to my cookbooks. There’s a tattered volume, What’s Cooking in the Coulee, published by the church I grew up in. The recipes aren’t brilliant, but the names beneath each entry call to mind the faces and voices of… Read More

No One Shall Make Them Afraid

As far as I know, the Lord’s Prayer is universal among followers of Jesus. Yes, there different versions and translations. But, in the end, we are all praying the same prayer—across time zones, languages, and cultures. Amid diverse lives and experiences, clashing biblical interpretations and diverging theologies, we are all praying the same prayer. We… Read More

We Do Not Know How

My friends, God’s new world is growing among us, we do not know how. On a Saturday afternoon a few months ago, I traveled to the Dar al Farooq Mosque in Bloomington for a faith delegate training. I sat down next to a Muslim woman and we began to get to know each other. We… Read More

In the Struggle and the Power

On Easter weekend, NBC released a remake of the 1970s musical, Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice. I appreciate many things about Superstar, including the way it brings to the forefront the political conflict that is essential for understanding and interpreting the Jesus story. The show makes it clear that the… Read More