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

Death Becomes You

This sermon was inspired by several people: Jim Wallis of Sojourners, Valarie Bridgeman, Academic Dean at Methodist Theological School in Delaware, Ohio, and Lois Malcolm at Luther Seminary in St. Paul. Just a few days ago, there was a gathering of 2,500 people at the National City Christian Church in Washington, DC. Another 700 filled… Read More

Holy, holy, holy

This past week I attended a conference on preaching and politics in Washington, D.C. Rev. Otis Moss III, of Trinity UCC in Chicago, defines politics as “how power is distributed among people for the common good.” Our scripture passage from Isaiah recounts the prophet’s dramatic call into politics.  “I saw the Lord!” he exclaims. Well… Read More


On the day of Pentecost, also known as the birthday of the church, Jesus’ followers received a new gift: the Holy Spirit. “Come, Holy Spirit” This is the ancient prayer of Pentecost. This is not a prayer to pray lightly. The Spirit we urge to come among us is a loud, violent rush of wind,… Read More