February 23, 2017

I haven’t water skied in at least ten years, but I remember enough about it to use it as a central metaphor in this sermon. And I could probably still do it, right?

February 15, 2017

What a pleasure to have a second go around with Tara Beth Leach after her context has changed so much. I’ve spent a good amount of time reflecting on her statement that every sermon is a love letter to her congregation.

February 14, 2017

This past Sunday, there was lots of talk of circumcision, excrement and mangy scavengers. Sometimes you just have to work with what the text gives you.

February 13, 2017

Continuing our series of sermons through the letter to the Philippians, and including thoughts on The Lost Boys (Rufio!), pride for a son chasing down rebounds, and a much brief reflection on the phrase “Fear and Trembling” than Søren Kierkegaard.

February 1, 2017 8:25 am

The title “prophet to the nations” is a deliberate rejection of any understanding of the life of faith that is identified with a single nation or a particular culture. The human task is to grow in conscious and healthy relationship with all reality, and God is the largest part of reality. If God is understood as being local, a tribal deity, he is misunderstood, and our lives are correspondingly reduced.

January 26, 2017

An ancient letter to a church community in a long dead city mingled with thoughts on a long dead mystery religion, critiques of inaugural language, and beautiful words about Jesus and resurrection from a former soldier of the Nazi regime.

January 26, 2017

I only spent three years living around Seattle, but I still carry a wee torch for it. That makes it a joy and a treat to talk to someone doing thoughtful sermons there, someone like Kurt.

January 26, 2017 7:30 am

Approval by the masses is accreditation. But a rudimentary knowledge of history corroborated by a few moments of personal reflection will convince us that truth is not statistical and that crowds are more often foolish than wise. In crowds the truth is flattened to fit a slogan.

…or a tweet.

January 11, 2017

It’s been a common theme that 2016 wasn’t a good year for most, but we have no guarantees that 2017. As we moved into the new year in our church community, we asked what it means to rest in and share the blessing of God no matter what our immediate circumstances might look like.

January 5, 2017

The holidays proved disruptive for Sermonsmith, but it was good to be back and it and get the year started right. I didn’t know Jason prior to our interview, but in particular I enjoyed hearing his passion for using the many opportunities in their multi-site church to develop others in the art of giving a sermon.

January 2, 2017 9:01 am

Whatever the technological advances of modern society — and they’re nearly miraculous — the individualized lifestyles that those technologies spawn seem to be deeply brutalizing to the human spirit.

Is Rogue One for the Kids?

It's absolutely for my kids

December 21, 2016 | 2 Comments

My first exposure to anything Star Wars is a crystal 1977 memory of a church parking lot. I was six. We were picking up my older brothers as they returned from camp.

We stood at the back of a station wagon. Someone pulled a novelization of Star Wars from their luggage and showed the cluster of us. Our focus was an inset of color pictures in the center of the paperback. My focus was Chewbacca. I knew two things from these stills — he flew a spaceship and he was the most amazing thing I had ever seen.

We soon saw the movie as a family. My parents had seen it and decided we had to see it too. I turned to my dad when the first ship appeared in those immediate seconds and asked, “Is Chewbacca driving that ship?”

I remember my first childhood viewing of each of the other movies in that original trilogy. And if I’m honest, my first adult viewings of the first trilogy too.

I’m not a master of Star Wars knowledge and trivia and fandom. I can’t name every minor character from the movies. I haven’t cosplayed anything Star Wars since October 31, 1977. (Chewbacca, of course.) But when it comes to measuring Star Wars sentimentality, I’m an elite.

The Disney renaissance of Star Wars is my dad utopia. All of my kids are interested and I’m happy to invest in their future sentiment. We saw The Force Awakens on opening day. We watch Star Wars Rebels together every week. Every member of our family has had at least one limb severed by a light saber. (Not covered by the Affordable Care Act. Thanks Obama.)

The buildup for Rogue One anticipated a grittier, more war-like movie. Would it be, could it be, for kids as young as 9? We held off on opening day tickets to wait and see.

Last Friday was angsty.

We finally bought tickets on some early media reviews. But then reports from friends and articles suggested this one wasn’t as kid friendly. Our youngest begged to see it and we wavered, drowning his hopes in ambiguity.

The night before our ticketed showing, my wife and I retreated to our master bathroom, the most private place we could find. We deliberated. We were interrupted at least three times as he hoped for clarity. We talked about the vague reviews of a darker movie with some more intense specifics. I tried to displace my elite sentimentality, but it was gosh darn difficult.

In the end, we went.

I warned my two youngest that I might ask them to close their eyes a time or two. I never did, though one of the scenes in question happened while my youngest and I were in the bathroom. (My middlest, without my directive presence, closed her eyes anyway.)

Am I glad we went? Yep. Any regrets? Nope. It might not be for all kids, and it might not be for yours. But we’ve had lots of conversations in the last 24 hours about hope and war and imagination and oppression and good and bad and Easter eggs and funny robot lines.

And in 40 years, I have a strong inkling my three kids will remember this day.

December 20, 2016 2:46 pm

I can vouch for 2 hrs 11 minutes of Rogue One being everything I hoped they would be. The other two minutes were spent on a bathroom sojourn with my son, so I can’t speak to them. I’m sure they were good though.

December 8, 2016

I’ve had some level of proximity and connection to Jimmy Eat World since their earliest days as a band. Tons of fun to hear Jim describe the early days and fill in the gaps since. And his thoughts along the way about doing creative work are pretty solid too.

December 8, 2016 12:54 pm

Super duper happy with the soup I made myself for lunch on an Austin version of a frigid day:
jalapeno (a full one might have been a bit much though!)
fresh oregano
fresh cranberries
slice of sandwich ham
a zap of enchilada sauce
frozen rice/black beans
homemade chicken stock

December 6, 2016

If Jeff is the Sermonsmith guest I’ve known the longest, he’s close. It was fun to catch up after many years but also to hear the steady rhythm he had formed for the week to week work of sermon prep.

November 23, 2016

A big Sunday as we wrap up the Christian calendar. But we’ve also been looking forward to the launch of what we are calling our Common Life in the new year.

November 15, 2016

I’ve read a handful of Mark Sayers’ books, as well as seen/heard a number of lectures he’s done. He’s a helpful voice for imagining Christianity in a changing culture. But most of all, I appreciate that his primary calling is still to lead his own local church. So, I was happy to have him and all his thoughtfulness as a guest on Sermonsmith.

November 15, 2016

Zencastr records each voice locally in pristine quality. No more dropouts due to a bad connection. No more changes in quality during the show. Nothing but crystal clear audio.

Happy to see Zencastr moving from a free preview to a sustainable paid online app. I discovered Zencastr earlier this year and have been using it to record my podcasts. It’s a fantastic way to invite a guest to a podcast so that their recording is local and high quality, but doesn’t require technical maneuvering on their end.

November 15, 2016 10:14 am

2016 is rapidly winding down and I’m well behind my annual goal of averaging a book a week over the course of a year. I think I’ve got about 12 years running averaging that goal. I think I can make it but might need to prioritize a few simpler and shorter books on my reading list. Or maybe take Madden off my iPad.