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85 Chestnut St.

Albany, NY 12210


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Worship: 10:00 am

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Photo credit: Kristen L. Southworth

Westminster's Blog

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...

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...

July 3, 2019

Among the sermon topic requests I received for the summer preaching were several requests relating to prayer, deepening one’s faith and deepening one’s discipleship. It’s too big a topic for one sermon. So I’ll also share some things that help me via this blog.

  1. Begin each day with a centering phrase. I have found that saying a centering phrase over and over first thing in the morning helps me begin the day with centeredness and balance. Some mornings I wake up feeling stressed and pressed. Maybe I went to bed the night before feeling anxious, or, years ago, I was awakened by the children several times during the night, or I had a big day coming. But if I say...

April 17, 2019

In John, Jesus’ followers see the empty tomb and then go home. Someone’s raised from the dead and you head to your barcalounger? Luke tells us of two followers who basically say, “Some women told us that Jesus had been raised from the dead, but we’d already planned to have supper over in Emmaus and couldn’t change our reservations.” A man is raised from the dead and you can’t cancel dinner plans? What kind of folk are these disciples?

They’re people like us. People who like to believe that you can have resurrection and still have the world the way it was last Wednesday. We are amazingly well-adjusted to the same old world.

But Matthew? Easter is an earthquake whe...

March 5, 2019

A recent online, non-scientific survey by Christianity Today revealed the most popular things people give up for Lent: 1) social networking, 2) chocolate, 3) Twitter, 4) alcohol, and 5) chips.

There are some deeper parts of our lives that we might consider giving up for Lent, for the sake of our own spiritual development. In no particular order, and by no means exhaustive, here are some things I think we might want to consider as part of our Lenten journey this year:

Give up the need to be right all the time.

Business author Patrick Lencioni said, “People don’t need to feel like they are right, as much as they need to feel like they’ve been heard.” Yes, claim your...

January 31, 2019

I went to bed last night having seen that the outside temperature was -3℉. This morning, it was up to 2℉ when I drove to work. Before it started, my car made t