Princeton University Religious Life

What Tempts Us

What Tempts Us

A number of years ago, at the beginning of Lent, I resolved to give up chocolate. This was a very significant decision for me – I love chocolate. I have some every day, in some form. I can go to an ice cream shop that has 300 flavors and I will only ever order chocolate. Or deep chocolate. Or triple chocolate fudge brownie – whatever is the most chocolaty. During this particular Lenten season so long ago I was an exchange student in London, enjoying my junior year abroad. Cadbury bars in dozens of varieties were everywhere – at every corner newsagent, the

The presence of the Presence

The presence of the Presence

Let me begin by confessing that this story from Luke of the walk to Emmaus is one of my very favorites in all of scripture. For this reason my husband Jarrett and I chose it for the gospel reading at our wedding some years ago. It tells of the presence of Christ – the accompaniment of Christ – where we least expect him, when we don’t even know that he is there, perhaps when we are elated or when we are most devastated, and when we are simply running through the drill of our days and getting things done. Jarrett and I were hoping for that blessed reminder no matte

Talking Past Each Other

Talking Past Each Other

As we all know, we are in the grip of election season. As the circus road show that is the primaries and caucuses moves from state to state, as big tents get erected the clowns come out for comic relief, donkeys and elephants parade around the ring, folks do verbal high-wire acts, tame lions (or get mauled by them!), fly through the air grasping for the next trapeze, then parade out of the ring to the applause and relief of the crowd. The ringmaster (a news anchor) narrates the whole spectacle. Beneath the spectacle, the acts, such important things are at stake –

Staying Awake

Staying Awake

So, here we are again in the season of Advent, the season of repentance and of hope unleashed and wild – on the loose! A time to let it all hang out, in terms of our audacity, our outrageous assertion that the time is coming soon when the violent and the defenseless, the fanged and the toothless of the world, can relax together and neither need worry. Here we are again at the time of year when, as people of faith, we take inventory of all the world’s injustices, indignities, sins and blatant wrongs and we still have the temerity to say that the day is coming very

Show Yourselves

Show Yourselves

I have had the privilege over the years of making a number of visits to Guatemala. It is a beautiful country of lush mountains, volcanoes, deep lakes, Mayan ruins, and most of all living Mayan cultures with twenty-two language groups and all their customs, traditions, practices. As you may know, Guatemala is perpetually trading off with Nicaragua for the dubious honor of being the second poorest country in the hemisphere. (First place always goes to the equally beautiful ravaged Haiti.) Sixty-seven percent of Guatemala’s population lives not just in

Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, University of Chicago

Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, University of Chicago

Thank you so much, Laura, and everyone, for the invitation to preach this morning. It is wonderful to be here again among you. You are a special community of people, and I have missed you.

Our four wonderful lessons for today are each about faith. Oh, they concern a number of other things too, but the idea of faith unites them mightily. In Genesis we read of God’s calling of Abraham, and of Sarah and Abraham’s faith in God’s project and protection as they willingly venture off into the unknown. The Psalmist tells us that God does not want our burnt offerings, the rote rituals of religious practice, but rather the sacrifice of a thankful heart, a heart that sees God’s love and mercy everywhere, and that cannot stop saying “thank you!”

Out of the Depths

Out of the Depths

It was many years ago now that a former minister of mine lost his son in a car accident. The son was in his early twenties. The pastor of course took the next Sunday off from the pulpit and drove the 150 miles to the city in which the son had lived and died. There the extended family gathered, they wept, they held the memorial service, and then had to return to their homes to try to pick up some kind of normalcy in their shattered lives. Many kind words were said to my old pastor, by many kind people who wanted to help ease his pain. People said, “God called h

Luke 15: 1-10

Luke 15: 1-10

We have a family dog; his name is Rudy. He’s a great guy. He’d been abandoned on the Chicago lakefront and to make a long story short, a dear friend who walks her dog along the lake knew the gal who took him in and got us connected. Rudy’s been our guy since last December, and it’s been love at first slobber.

This past summer our family got to spend a whole month in Maine – July – in between the Chicago and Princeton chapters of our lives. It was heavenly. We were in a house right on the rocky coast, in a 3-acre meadow with 7 acres of woods between us and the nearest road. Early in our stay I took Rambunctious Rudy for his dusk potty trip off the leash.

Luke 17: 5-10, Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4

Luke 17: 5-10, Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4

While in high school I once came across the famous quote from Archimedes, the great scientist of Syracusa in classical antiquity: “Give me a standing place and I will move the world.”  I resonated with it so strongly – if I could have a platform of some kind, if I could have the necessary conditions (health, money, the right degree or other accreditation, whatever) – I could move the world. It’s not a boastful decree at any age but the yearning of many hearts – with the right conditions I could contribute in a way that would really change things for the be

Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7, Luke 17:11-19

Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7, Luke 17:11-19

“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to God on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” This the prophet Jeremiah writes from Judah to his fellow Jews who are in exile in Babylon. They’ve been forcibly uprooted from their homes. They are many miles away. They are separated from their culture, their temple and geographical heart of their faith, they are separated from people they love – family members and sweethearts. They are hostages in a place where they do not speak the language. They have no realis