Draw the Circle Wide

With Alice (our six-year-old) I have been reading Beverly Cleary’s books about Ramona and her co-conspirators. One of those characters is Henry Huggins. What Henry wanted most, at age 10, was to have his own paper route. Unfortunately, he could not get a job delivering The Journal until he turned 11. As Henry’s birthday finally… Read More

Dreams and Visions

My Grandma, Marguerite Unwin Voelkel and my mom, Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, preached this sermon at Lyndale UCC in May of this year. The words I’m about to share are my mom’s and then my Grandma will share her own words. – Shannon Voelkel As one who was born and raised in the United Church of… Read More

Wake Up and Dream

Right now, Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan are considering whether or not to renew a key legal challenge to Line 3. Line 3 is a proposed pipeline that would transport nearly a million barrels of tar sands oil per day from Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin. The pipeline corridor would travel through untouched wetlands… Read More

Love’s Laundry List

This morning’s text from Romans reads sort of like a laundry list: Let love be genuine and mutual, hate evil, hold fast to good. Show honor, do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit. Have hope, patience, and prayerful perseverance. Act with generosity and hospitality. Bless, rejoice, weep, live in harmony, do not seek… Read More

The Worship of Our Lives

This morning, I want to explore with you a spiritual practice called Lectio Divina, or sacred reading. This method of praying with scripture is very ancient; it began with the desert mothers and fathers during the church’s first few centuries of life. There’s an excellent chapter about Lectio Divina in The Wisdom Jesus by Cynthia… Read More

Too Deep for Words

Well, our family survived (I mean enjoyed!) another summer camping trip. The photo on the bulletin cover is from Port Crescent State Park in Michigan. The previous day, the water had been wind-tossed and white-capped. Now, in the early morning light and shadows, tiny quiet waves lapped at the shore. I noticed the raised lines… Read More

Sarx and Soma

  The title of my sermon is “Sarx and Soma.” I’ll bet I know what you’re thinking: the poor old fella has finally slipped off the rails. He means to talk about sex but he’s forgotten how to spell it. And what’s with Soma? Is he going to lecture us about psychosomatic medicine? I surely… Read More

Angels and Devils on My Shoulders

I grew up in the 1950s watching cartoons on TV. They were not educational, they were not edifying, they were not character building—but they were often funny. I particularly remember Sylvester the cat chasing Tweety bird (or maybe it was Tom the cat chasing Jerry the mouse). Every time he was tempted to do something… Read More


There are many ways to examine this passage. Today we are doing some exegesis from the point of view of the marginalized. Many people see this healing tale as a more progressive way to look at disability and in some ways it is. While in others it is not. The question I want you to… Read More

Alive to God

Falling in love with my spouse, Jen, was a surprise. We sensed that our relationship was a sacred gift, one of our callings in life. And yet, we struggled mightily with our own internalized homophobia. And so, that summer, we rejoiced and we agonized. We barely understood what was happening to us. How could we… Read More