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Photo credit: Kristen L. Southworth

Westminster's Blog

December 17, 2019

Isaiah 7:10 -16

A favorite Peanuts cartoon shows Linus sitting on his doghouse and typing furiously. When asked what he is composing, Linus answers he is writing a book on theology. The book will be titled, “So Have You Thought You Might Be Wrong?”

It is very easy to dismiss the Virgin Birth as old fashioned, a myth created by religious people long ago but no more real than Santa Claus. But, maybe not.

The idea goes back to the prophet’s battle with the king over what to do to defend a nation against mighty empires that surrounded on all sides.

On the one hand, the king wanted to choose one empire and hope that empire wo...

December 12, 2019

Isaiah 35: 1-10

“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,

   the desert shall rejoice and blossom”

When I was in 6th grade, my family spent part of summer at the Ghost Ranch Presbyterian Conference Center near Abiquiu New Mexico. It was a landscape of red rock mesas, scrub brush, cactus and desert. Some was more barren than other parts, with little to nothing growing. At the ranch, we learned that the land had been overgrazed by sheep herds in the past, increasing run-off of what little rain fell. The Ranch staff for years had been helping with replanting of desert grasses and bushes, even some trees. Hillsides were anchored and water retention inc...

December 4, 2019

Isaiah 11:1-10

“They shall not hurt or destroy;”

Now and again there arises a leader who gives hope for the future. So it was long ago in Israel when a new king was born and the prophet wrote of hope…

“And the spirit of the Lord shall be upon him.

So it was in America when Abraham Lincoln spoke of hope -

Let us strive on to bind up the nation’s wounds.”

So it was in our lifetime when John Kennedy spoke of hope -

Let every nation know we shall pay the price to assure the survival of liberty.

So it was when Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of hope - 

I have a dream -

These dreams did not come true, but we continue to dream because we know the dream must come true. One time, lo...

November 25, 2019

Isaiah 2:1-5

“Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord”

This is an urgent plea to all nations and peoples in this Advent season of 2019. It is a walk away from the brutality, divisiveness, and meanness that has infected international norms, domestic politics, and even family relations today. How can we as people of faith resist the pull towards the vortex of fear and defensiveness that seem to be the “new normal” in these times? 

Here Isaiah speaks a word not only to the nation of Israel but to each one of us. He calls us to both listening and labor, to both quietness and action. First, he calls us to be in a time of quietness. He calls us to the “house of the L...

October 24, 2019

Halloween or Hallow’s Eve would not be possible without All Hallows Day, or All Saints Day, Nov. 1. The frights of the Eve were banished by the power of the saints’ example the next day. Nowadays, zombies get more press in public media than saints. There are movies, AMC TV series, novels, comic books, and even Zombie walks in cities scheduled for Halloween.

Zombie stories ask this religious question: 

What reason do we have for the hope within us? 

Why, in the face of the global food crisis, a genocide every decade, climate change, world poverty and finally, the ravenous dead -- why, in the face of all that, do we not just lie down and die? 

The example of the sain...

October 8, 2019

Threads can look a lot like sticks. But they are wonderfully different.

Threads, or strands of yarn, are soft to the touch. Sticks are rigid and hard.That’s the easy difference to name. But even more differences come from the ways we use each in our lives.

Because of their rigidity, sticks are good at making fences. Even when lines get drawn, they are used often to define pieces and places as in a grid. The next step is to decide which parts get separated into which sections. The result can be a piecemeal collection of distinct pieces, but without an overall unity or purpose.

In contrast, threads are flexible enough to be combined in ways that make a new single th...

August 11, 2019

Some 45 years ago, I took a class that looked at paradigm shifts in cultures - those shifts in thinking and/or doing that reshaped a world view and ways of life. Such paradigm shifts include the shift to recognizing the sun as the center of the solar system, with the connected insight that the earth is a globe; the printing press; the industrial revolution.

I remember one book by Abner Peddiwell called The Saber-Tooth Curriculum. In this allegory we meet a Paleolithic man named New Fist. He was an innovator and a thinker. He looked at the difference between children and adults. The children played for fun; the adults worked for security and enrichment of their l...

August 6, 2019

Dear Friends,

On August 2, I enjoyed my granddaughter Gracie’s 7th birthday party and hosted her at a “sleepover” at the hotel where Jen and I were staying. The world seemed be right and joyous. Then came Saturday’s word about a racist hate-speech inspired mass shooting in El Paso. Sunday brought news of a mass shooting in Dayton, OH. And the world became darker.

I became scared for my granddaughter’s future. First, because studies have shown a correlation between the number of guns available and in private hands, and the number of mass shootings. Yet denial reigns and common-sense gun safety laws are shelved, or even overturned by the present administration.

I am...