Princeton University Religious Life

Be Opened!

Be Opened!

These verses we have just heard from Mark’s gospel are special ones to me.   On their surface they are “just” stories, among numerous others, of miracles performed by Jesus. I particularly like these two healing stories because of what they say about Jesus, what they say about God, and what they say about you and me.

Beloved Community

Beloved Community

This coming week is a very important one for those who work or study at Princeton University - it’s not midterms (yet!), it’s not Alumni Day or Commencement or even open enrollment at the Benefits Office.   It is the week of FluFest, Princeton’s annual opportunity to get a flu shot.   I reminded my colleagues of this important fact at our staff meeting last week - I encouraged everyone to get their vaccine, not simply for their own sake, but because if each of us gets it, each of us is much less likely to expose one another to the flu.

Success

Success

“All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” is a popular poem by Robert Fulghum - “Share everything.  Play fair.  Don’t hit people,” it reads.  “Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody…Live a balanced life.  Learn some and think some,” it continues.  This isn’t biblical literature of course, but if it did have a biblical counterpart it might well be our passage from the Gospel of Mark.  In it, Jesus stops the bickering of his ambitious disciples by placing a small child in the middle of them, then he holds the little guy and tells t

On the Unity of Spiritual and Intellectual Life

On the Unity of Spiritual and Intellectual Life

“Why am I here?”

We all ask ourselves that question from time to time. And we should ask it.

Understood most generally, the question is profound: “Why am I here?,” in the sense of how should I understand my place and my purpose in the cosmos. “How am I living, and how should I live?”

Stumbling Blocks

Stumbling Blocks

When the lectionary texts turn each fall, as regular as the turning of the leaves, towards themes of wealth and poverty, and of being generous with one’s assets, I am reminded that in most churches in the land we have entered Pledge Season.   It’s time to make budgets for the year, and that means that congregations need to know how much money they have to work with, and that means they need to get promises from every member as to how much money they plan to give.

Accompanied

Accompanied

The story of the family of Naomi and Elimelech plays out in real time within a half mile of this beautiful chapel.  A family can't eat, can't support itself, in the homeland that it loves, and so, with their beloved children, they make the perilous journey to another country, one where, they hear people can have enough food if they work hard.  It is forced migration.  They get to the other country, one whose people don't particularly like them, and they become model citizens.  They keep their religion and they cherish their culture, but they participate fully in

Out of this World

Out of this World

Every once in a while, someone will ask me, “So, what do you do?” I appreciate the question; I understand that my title, “Dean of Religious Life and of the Chapel” might not leave many people with a concrete idea of what I actually do day in and day out.  I am glad to tell them.  I like to describe it as a three-legged stool, one leg being pastoral work, another leg being administrative work, and the third leg academic.  I give details for each of these areas if the person still seems interested!  Another way of thinking about it comes

Disciples Together

Disciples Together

Many years ago, in the month of May, my seminary classmates and I were preparing to graduate.  One of them, a dear friend, was looking forward to returning home to Michigan.  She had let her denomination know that she felt called to serve a church in inner-city Detroit, hopefully one with both a Spanish-speaking congregation as well as an English-speaking one, as she was fluent in Spanish.  She was excited to minister within the roughest neighborhoods, amongst people whose many challenges included entrenched urban poverty.  She was passionate about ministering in

This Grace in Which We Stand

This Grace in Which We Stand

One cloudless night in 1889, Vincent Van Gogh looked out the window of his sanitarium room in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France, and saw a night sky so packed full of stars, and wonder, and beauty, and cosmic power that the next day, when there was enough light to do so, he painted from memory a picture that has become one of his best known, The Starry Night.  The moon and stars are like bursts of fireworks on a dark blue background.  The artist used oil paints to mimic the sensation of vibration, movement, swirling interconnection between one heavenly outbur

A New Beginning

A New Beginning

“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.”   The beginning of all that is – formed, fashioned, crafted in love by the Creator to be lovely, to reflect divine love, to have in bearing and essence the simplicity of beauty, grace, holiness – exquisitely the beloved of God.  This is the beginning of the cosmos, told by an extraordinary, ancient poet, retold by one of his descendants, the evangelist John: