Showing posts from 2020

My House of All Peoples

  sermon delivered August 16, 2020 as Senior Pastor of the Congregational Church of Plainville The Irish novelist and poet James Joyce, author of the masterpiece Ulysses, in 1939 wrote this: “For myself, I always write about Dublin, because if I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world. In the particular is contained the universal.” In 1965, from a jail in Birmingham, Dr. Martin Luther King wrote these famous words: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Sometime in the 8 th century BCE, a prophet named Isaiah, one of the greatest prophets of his people and of all peoples, wrote these words in the moment of God’s inspiriting him: “7 …my house shall be called a house of prayer     for all peoples. 8  Thus says the Lord God,     who gathers the outcasts of Israel.”   W

Did Jesus Really Refer to Gentiles as ‘Dogs’?

  excerpted from  A Life Lived & Laid Down for Friends And going out Jesus departed from there into the regions of Tyre and Sidon. And look: A Canaanite woman from those bounds came forward and cried out, saying, “Have mercy upon me, Lord, son of David, my daughter is badly demon-possessed.” But he answered not a word to her. And, approaching, his disciples implored him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out behind us.” But in reply he said, “I was not sent forth except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and prostrated herself to him, saying, “Lord, help me.” But in reply he said, “It is not a good thing to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” And she said, “Yes, Lord; for the dogs also eat, from the crumbs that fall from their masters’ tables.” Then in reply Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; as you desire, so let it happen to you.” And her daughter was healed from that hour. (Matthew 15:21–28) The story begins with Jesus


This morning’s reading from the gospels is, to put it mildly, thought-provoking. It is one of the most pointed, provocative passages of scripture in the New Testament. I thought about preaching on it this morning, but I’ve been rather heavy in my past few sermons. So, I’ve decided to link here a sermon that focuses on our rather heavy gospel reading this week. As for this morning, Father’s Day, I’d like to focus on something unrelated to the lectionary readings this morning. I want to talk today about the idea of sanctuary. Its a pertinent topic since we are newly back to worshiping here in St. Paul’s beautiful sanctuary. Its even more pertinent thinking about the times we live in. Who doesn’t want to sometimes seek sanctuary from all the stress, strife, and struggle around us? Who doesn’t want a hiding place from all the hopelessness and hatred? I admit to wanting a sanctuary and hiding place sometimes, and I am among the fortunate ones. Magnify this hope a few times for other f

Jesus Brings No Peace & Is Anti-Family?

PART 1   "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34) It is interesting how we humans so easily put people we adore on a pedestal. We see them as so good, so kind, so perfect, that it becomes hard for us to see any room to grow, no room to gain new insights, no room to progress in the way of peace. When we do this, though, we in truth rob them of their humanity. We take their humanness from them. We make a caricature of them – the perfect man or woman, one who can do no wrong or say something that indicated room for growth. This is especially true when it comes to religious figures. We declare people saints. Superhuman. We forget to see persons, persons full of complexity with a mix of emotions throughout time. We forget they are more like us than not. In their life they too progressed and matured and got better. This applies even to Jesus. Like God pictured in the Old Testament, Jesus was influenced by

A Pluralist Paradigm of the Cross (book excerpt)

Jesus as Bodhisattva There is the centuries-old legend that between the age of 12 and 30, Jesus traveled to India and learned about Buddhism. These lost years were spent studying and practicing the Buddhist dharma. Jesus internalized the dharma on the basis of his own cultural-religious background. He returned to Palestine and taught a kind of Buddhist-Judaism. There is no historical evidence for this. Yet there are groups of Indians and Tibetans who hold to it. That the story continues to be sincerely believed around the world itself says a lot. Many of us would like to believe it! And it is an interesting idea to consider. One thing is for sure, what Christ taught was often very buddhistic. Jesus’ teaching, whether knowingly or not, tapped into buddhistic notions such as Jesus’ teachings on righteous self-emptying; righteous effort amid suffering; the exaltation of the poor and the vulnerable; and the focus on the imminence of truth and the practice of compassion. Marcus Borg’s won