Pentecost 9A: Whole-Hearted Faith

Dear Partner in Preaching, Have you ever noticed that it’s often in the most challenging times of life that we sense God’s presence most clearly? I’m not saying it should be this way. Or that God only appears when we most need God. Rather, I think that there’s just something about significant challenges and trials that clarify our priorities and cut through the manifold distractions of everyday life so that we may see God more clearly. I think that’s part of what’s going on in today’s Gospel reading. After feeding the thousands who followed him into the wilderness, Jesus commands the disciples to head across the sea without...

Brene Brown on Church as Midwife Apr11

Brene Brown on Church as Midwife

Given that we are closing in on the climax and conclusion of Lent and, additionally, that in this morning’s devotion we looked at Jesus’ cry of dereliction, I found this meditation on the relationship between faith, doubt, and struggle by Brené Brown both interesting and helpful. Referencing the spiritual awakening (slash, mental breakdown) she described in her breakthrough TED Talk, Brené confides that she went to church to find comfort. Instead, she found challenge. “Church wasn’t an epidural, it was a midwife. It just stood next to me and said ‘Push, it’s supposed to hurt a bit.’” (One of the more quotable quotes I’ve...

Empathy…Illustrated!

Anyone who has read this blog for long knows that I’m a huge fan of Brené Brown. I love her work on the centrality of vulnerability to authentic living. So I was delighted to see on her blog that the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA for short) recently hosted Brené for a presentation and then illustrated a portion of her talk. RSA Animated Shorts are a delightful way to bring a concept or idea to life and invite us to see it differently. The portion illustrated below is about empathy. One of her key findings is that empathy – the willingness to go where someone else is living...

Vulnerable God, Vulnerable Church Jan15

Vulnerable God, Vulnerable Church

Vulnerability is a big theme with me – in life, in relationships, in theology. It’s one of the reasons I’m such a big fan of Brené Brown. In her TED Talks on vulnerability and shame, and in books like Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection, she writes candidly and movingly about the importance of being vulnerable and the challenges to doing so. It’s a key theological category for me because I think it’s what we see so vividly in the person and ministry of Jesus. Not only there, of course, as the God who commits to creation, gives over free will, offers laws and guidance, pleads for people to treat each other well, gets angry...

Daring Greatly Nov03

Daring Greatly

Today’s poem is, well, not a poem. Rather, it is a portion of a speech given by Teddy Roosevelt at the Sorbonne, in Paris, in 1910. I was introduced to it by reading Brene Brown’s recent book, Daring Greatly, which is not only a fantastic read but whose title is inspired by Roosevelt’s...