Holy Orders

Text: Jeremiah 1:4-10 I spent my high school years in the land of pollsters who tell leaders which way public sentiment is blowing. They can tell you anything from what issue will turn an election to what color tie should be worn for a debate. During my years of ministry in Alexandria, I had a recurring dream. In this dream, the national mall was packed the way it was for King’s, “I Have a Dream” speech. In my dream, though, rather than being filled with people impassioned about civil rights, the mall was full of pollsters, all in the same neutral dress with fingers in the air, trying to discern the political breeze. To be fair, information pollsters gather can help leaders make better deci

A Better Country

Text: Hebrews 11:1, 13-16 Some years ago, on a beautiful August day at the national conference center in Chautauqua, New York, I listened to the outstanding preacher, Barbara Brown Taylor. In her sermon, Barbara spoke of doing something that I have been considering for quite some time. She spoke of giving away the metaphor of “journey” to describe our Christian life. She was ready to give it away, she said, because she was no longer using it. Barbara noted how easy it was for the “journey” metaphor to keep her always looking ahead and never looking around, satisfied with what God is doing right now. When we are on a “journey” of faith, she argued, we are always waiting for what God will do n


Hebrews 11:1-3, 29-33 I was nine years old and living in racially segregated Newport News. My blue-collar, Southern family did not have much use for Dr. King. Around the dinner table, he was referred to as that blankety blank trouble-maker who didn’t know his place. Fortunately, my grade school teacher saw Dr. King much differently and so on the first day of fourth grade, she let us watch a recording of Dr. King waxing eloquent at the Lincoln Memorial. On the other side of the James River, my African American friend and co-author, Brian Blount, was 7 years old at the time. He was getting ready to “. . . enter Mrs. Branch’s segregated second grade classroom at the Hardy Elementary school wher

A Prayer for a Soldier in Stalingrad

Texts: Isaiah 53:1-3; I Corinthians 13:12 In one of the most horrific encounters of the Second World War, the fate of the German Sixth Army was sealed in the battle of Stalingrad. The final plane out of the city carried seven bags of mail. In them was a letter from a dying son to his father. It reads: “In Stalingrad, to put the question of God’s existence is to deny it. I must tell you this, Father, and I feel doubly sorry for it. You have raised me, because I had no mother, and always kept God before my eyes and soul. And I regret my words doubly because they will be my last, and I won’t be able to speak any other words afterward which might reconcile you and make up for these. You are a pa

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