Getting the Steel Wool


Once again, I had a long hiatus from the blog. And once again, I return to it. As you might know, there have been some big changes in my life. I took a summer-long cross-country trip and moved to Seattle. Yes, I will be writing more about all that soon, but for now, just know that I am back.


New Podcast

The Sacred Wandering Podcast is now up and running. In this project, I interview people about their faith/spiritual lives, especially from an Episcopal perspective. New episodes are posted about twice a month; so check it out. You can find it at SoundCloud, iTunes, Stitcher, and wherever else you get your podcasts. If you like what you hear, give it a rating, leave a review, and share with others.



Progressive Christian hands and feet

Image result for faithpalmWhat is “progressive Christianity”? As an Episcopalian, I hear this term (or something related) quite a bit. The first parish I belonged to when I joined the Episcopal Church, St. Bartholomew’s in Atlanta, was a pretty liberal, gay-affirming congregation. When I did field education at St. Aidan’s in San Francisco, well, one might consider it on the left-wing of the Diocese of California. (That should tell you something.) My current parish, St. Thomas’, here in DC declares itself a “progressive congregation.” We’ve even made a bit of a stir recently with our “faithpalm” banners with such messages as “Yes, science is real” and “What is it with America and guns?”

But what does “progressive Christianity” mean? On the parish website, we state:

God loves everyone with no exceptions. We have a long history of welcoming all those who feel like they are on the margins of society. Our life together — and in service to others — centers on God’s radical hospitality that invites us to be fed at God’s table in the Holy Eucharist so that we in turn can help feed a world hungry for grace, justice, and reconciliation.

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Reflection on Ash Wednesday: Remember you are star dust

If you’ve followed this blog, you might know that Babylon 5 is one of my favorite TV shows. I even did a series of blog posts last year based on questions from the show. One of my favorite scenes takes place in the second season episode “A Distant Star.” Delenn, the Minbari ambassador, finds Captain Sheridan in the station’s garden. In their conversation she tells him the great secret of the universe.

Perhaps the greatest of all time. The molecules of your body are the same molecules that make up this station and the nebula outside, that burn inside the stars themselves. We are starstuff, we are the universe made manifest, trying to figure itself out. As we have both learned, sometimes the universe requires a change of perspective.

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Repost: Ash Wednesday: The day of

[Reposted from Ash Wednesday 2017]

ash2“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.  (Collect for Ash Wednesday, Book of Common Prayer)

When we receive the ashes on this first day of Lent, we acknowledge both our mortality and our need for repentance of sin and conversion of life. We’re not talking light stuff here. Needless to say, most of us don’t like thinking these things. I certainly don’t.

It’s easy to think of sin in terms of things we do that violate some rule. “Oh, I sinned when I did x, y, and z.” That certainly is part of it, but I also tend to think of it in larger terms. Let’s call it (big-S) Sin. It’s not so much an act as a state of being where we find ourselves separated (or apparently separated) from God. Sometimes it takes the form of particular actions or inactions. “We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.” Other times it involves larger systemic and societal wrongs, especially when we ourselves benefit.

But somehow that doesn’t quite capture the full power of death and sin, “the evil that enslaves us.” There are times when we find ourselves trapped, unable to see God’s Light. It isn’t necessarily our own fault either. For example, I know all too well the hell of depression. It’s not simply about being really sad. It’s a disorder affecting one’s whole being – body, mind, and spirit. Being in the depths of depression is like being covered in a thick layer of volcanic ash.

mtsthelens     buried-car

Yet the ashes on Ash Wednesday are something different . . . (to be continued)


Be Not Afraid: Part 2

Image result for fear

In an earlier post, I started to discuss what it’s like to be trapped by fear, taking inspiration from a sermon on the Parable of the Talents. However, I wrote more about facing the fear of physical things and working to overcome them. More psychologically based fears are another, more difficult matter. That’s what I want to focus on here.

When I face a fear of something physical, I can handle it. I can see it or hear it or touch it. I can reason my way through it. I can even at times wall off the fear temporarily in order to do what I need to do. Why can’t I do that when the fear is of something more internal?

Since I was very young, I’ve been afraid that I wasn’t good enough. Even though the message from teachers and my parents was always, “Kevin, it doesn’t have to be perfect,” I still wanted it to be. The picture had to be colored perfectly; the construction paper figure had to be cut perfectly. Therefore, I was often one of the last to finish.

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Year of the Lord’s favor or day of vengeance? Sermon for 3rd Sunday of Advent – 12/17/17

3rd Sunday of Advent – Year B

[The video misses the first minute or so. You can listen to the audio of the full sermon here.]

Imagine for a moment that you’ve died and gone to heaven. You stand around outside the gates and watch as people go in. Eventually, you proceed through the gates and expect to find gold streets and gemstone buildings. Instead, you see a bunch of tents, like in a refugee camp, though nicer than any on earth. Bright, clean, the sounds of laughter and songs of joy. The angels greet you and say, “Welcome to heaven. Here’s a broom. Go sweep the paths among the tents.” Or “Here are soap, a washcloth, and fresh clothing. Go greet the lepers, wash their wounds, and get them dressed.” Continue reading