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My Cup Runneth Over

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The  Lord  is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the  Lord  for ever. My grandfather had no more than an elementary school education. He was a construction worker in his youth, and a mailman in his later days. He sent all of his kids through college, made them bring their textbooks home, so he could read them cover to cover and learn from his kids what they were learning. He also was a man who had large portions of the Bible memorized, in the King J

A Few Thoughts on Dr. King's Practical Theology and the Beloved Community

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Isaiah 49:1-7 Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” But I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.” And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength— he says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the

Dr. King and Unity

I'm preaching this weekend and will be focusing on the theology of Dr. King. I wrote this little piece a few years ago for the On Scripture blog that got picked up by Sojourners. For those of you who are looking at Dr. King's legacy and a tie in to the lectionary texts on 1 Cor 1:1-18 for this week and next week, you may find this useful for your sermon preparation:  https://sojo.net/articles/scripture-paul-s-call-unity-and-dr-king-s-legacy

Jose and Maria in Lenoir

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For the final day of Advent, I would like to repost a retelling of Luke's account of Jesus's birth. Our small town Walmart is known as one of the places where people park who sleep in their cars. In those days an executive order went out from President Trump that all undocumented people should be deported. This was the first round of deportations and was done while Roy Cooper was governor of North Carolina. Everyone fled their homes for fear of being picked up by ICE. Jose went from the city of Charlotte up to Watauga county, to Boone, because he had a cousin who was a big player in Samaritan's Purse there. He went for help from his cousin, because Maria, to whom he was engaged, was expecting a child. Before they got there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in rags, and laid him in the straw in the bed of their old pickup, because they were afraid to give their credit card number at the Red Carpet Inn;

Advent Reflection Day 23

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 Luke's account of Jesus' birth , with the manger, and the shepherds and angels, is the one that many of us may be most familiar with. Starting with verse 8, this is what Linus recites in the Charlie Brown Christmas show.   In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven,

Advent Reflection, Day 22

These anxious days of Advent 2019, many of us have turned our attention to the global centers of power to see how the latest news might better or worsen our lives. Will Trump be impeached? Will the House and Senate pass a budget? Will trade relations with China stabilize? Will there be a Tory government in London? Will Brexit finally take place? Will the Ukrainians be able to hold the line against Russia? Are we so focused on the centers of power, that we lose sight on the broken people on the margins? Do we forget about the people in small towns, the unknown corners of the world, whose lives are dramatically influenced by the decisions of potentates far away who will never know them, or care to understand their plights? In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Naza

Advent Friendship Reflection, Day 21

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What kinds of communities form as a result of practicing friendship the way that Jesus and the New Testament writers imagined? Paul claims that the basis of community is, as he says in Philippians, having the "same mind" as Christ Jesus, who,  though he was in the form of God,      did not regard equality with God      as something to be exploited,   but emptied himself,      taking the form of a slave,      being born in human likeness. (Phil 2:6-7). But what is the form of humanity that Christ takes on, as he is born into this world? For the Greeks and Romans, the ideal human form was to be prized for godlike perfection and beauty. the form of the free aristocratic male, who had time and leisure to exercise, go to the baths, and basically pamper and perfect his body. But as Paul describes it here, when Christ takes on the human form, it is not one of divine perfection, but of the empty and broken slave. Jean Vanier, who passed earlier this year, may be one of th