Princeton University Religious Life

Having

Having

A little over a year ago a British politician (I don’t remember who) announced that, in the morass of the global economic freefall, there were now “green shoots” beginning to appear - after many months of financial devastation, a few sprouts of new life were coming up in the economic wasteland of grey brambles. It was a phrase that was picked up by many people in a number of countries - it was an idea that all certainly wanted to be true, but more so it was an image that resonated deeply in every culture.

Ex. 32:7-14 and Luke 15:1-10

Ex. 32:7-14 and Luke 15:1-10

Each summer, my family looks forward to having some weeks of vacation time, all together, in beautiful Downeast Maine. On the first Saturday of August each year, the little white clapboard Congregational church that we attend there has its annual Church Fair. It is a much anticipated event by many in the region, particularly for its renowned yard sale. Bargains galore! It opens at 8:00 a.m.

Standing in the Need of Prayer

Standing in the Need of Prayer

Sometimes tragedy wakes people up. Sometimes. The tragedy of 9/11 woke some Americans –slammed to our knees in despair – to notice that so many in the world are always on their knees –subjected to violence, to grief, or constant hunger and immiseration. That tragedy woke some to understanding what truly to value in their lives. I think of the first responder in Lower Manhattan who encountered a businessman who looked aimless and stunned, still holding his briefcase, covered in thick, gray dust, and who asked him if he needed help, if h

Fulfilling the Promise

Fulfilling the Promise

What Jesus says is, of course, important! “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing,” he says. He had just emerged, according to the Evangelist Luke, just emerged from the wilderness and his temptations by the devil there. His encounter with evil had only made him stronger. He immediately goes to his hometown of Nazareth – he will commence his ministry at home – his first public utterance is to read from Isaiah, and his first unscripted/unscriptured word is “today.” [Fred Craddock, Luke, p.62] Today all the promises of this text are fulfilled; today – right now, this moment - God’s promises to a suffering people are coming true. Today! What Jesus says is important.

God of the Living

God of the Living

I can sympathize with Jesus, I think, in what he is experiencing at the beginning of our passage from Luke. The Sadducees, the religious tradionalists of his day, are trying to trap him into saying something that they can use against him. I experience this kind of thing – I bet many of us do in our own ways. For me, it is the email message from a person, perhaps on campus, perhaps someone far away whom I’ve never heard of but who has been looking at our Religious Life website or reading my sermons on-line. The person will ask an open-ended but leading question on

The Eye of a Needle

The Eye of a Needle

A reading from the Gospel according to Matthew: “Now someone approached him and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” … The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the Youngman heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For humans beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”

Return To No One Evil For Evil

Return To No One Evil For Evil

INTRODUCTION

            Most people who read the Bible assume that their values, learned from parents, schools, and culture are the same as the values of the Bible. This assumption is wrong. The cultural values of the Bible come from what is called by sociologists a "pre-industrial society." We do not live in that kind of society.

Our Rock and Our Refuge

Our Rock and Our Refuge

In my twenty years of ministry, I have never, I will admit, chosen to preach on the death of Stephen. The bloody texts of martyrdom are troubling. I just had all I can take with the crucifixion of Christ! And Stephen is killed by the most devout leaders of the Jewish community in the Holy City. For those who endeavor to remove anti-Judaism from their preaching (and I try), this fact can be a challenge. As one who works to separate the easy, critical association that so many people have of religion and violence, this text is not helpful. Yet, there is much Good News is this passage for us. By that, I don’t mean that we can make a bloody story sweet and palatable; I do mean that the passage can point us very fruitfully at how to live the Gospel in our day, way, and walk.

Eyewitnesses of Christ’s Majesty

Eyewitnesses of Christ’s Majesty

We live lives of wonder, we live lives of monotony, we live them at the same time. We live regular lives, sometimes pierced by grief or new love or fear, things that break through the surface. Routine is not bad, in and of itself: it is good to work and good to learn and good to serve and good to read and to shop and to connect to others – the stuff of a routine day. When very bad news comes, we realize most deeply what a gift our routines really are.

Evil

Evil

We began our Lenten journey last Wednesday. Ashes were placed on our foreheads to remind us of our mortality – of the brevity of human life, and also of our need for penitence – the urgency with which we are to repent of our sin and live as grace-fully as possible in the days left to us. A favorite benediction of mine comes from the liturgy of the Episcopal Church: “Life is short, and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel the way with us. So let us be swift to love and make haste to be kind, and the blessing of God will be with us.” Lent is our blessed opportunity to strengthen and deepen our efforts to get life right, both our journey of faith with God, and the daily walk we make with our fellow travelers.