A Plumb Line

In today’s passage from Amos, the prophet announces to peaceful, comfortable Samaria that he has had another vision from God, and that things will surely not be peaceful and comfortable for much longer. In the vision, Amos saw God holding up a plumb line. I have to tell you that I really enjoyed saying the words “plumb line” all week.

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Hannah Hooker
Independence Day in Christ

So on this holiday weekend, as we celebrate our secular freedom, let’s also celebrate our spiritual freedom. Each one of us is already graced enough that we can stop showing up here with our resumes in hand and our arguments for why God should or should not accept us. We are free from all that measuring. Each week we come into this space and hear a declaration of our independence from the works righteousness of the secular world. The ministry of Jesus is ready and waiting for us to carry it out. 

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Kate Alexander
Jesus Walks

Jesus walks, moves, doesn’t stick around. He doesn’t wait until you’ve figured out your plans, vested your 401(k), said your goodbyes. Jesus has a mission and that mission means movement.

In our Gospel reading, Jesus is driven toward Jerusalem, compelled to his final confrontation with the powers of Death—he wins through the cross and resurrection, but his mission doesn’t end there. Jesus is still on the move, going out and sending out, finding those broken places and people who need the healing power of his love.

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Ragan Sutterfield
Lessons from a Lobster Roll

Since travel is about having new experiences, I offered a piece of lobster to my oldest, who had never tried it before. Obviously this was a generous sacrifice on my part. I wanted him to have a true taste of the north east. I wanted his first bite of lobster to be a revelation, a kind of Oprah moment about living his best life and savoring the good stuff. He agreed to try it. I swear that the piece of lobster had only been in contact with his mouth for a fraction of a nanosecond before he grimaced, spit it out, and declared it, “too squishy.”

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Kate Alexander
The Forest for the Trees

The forest is not what it seems. Trees, plants, the soil beneath them--they are not simply the inanimate furniture of animal life. Instead they are a living, breathing, speaking reality--a sentient wholeness that can nurture the weak, warn of danger, speak across miles of subterranean networks. We are only beginning to understand this wholeness, it remains mostly a mystery, but it is changing everything we thought about the world around us and the ground beneath our feet.

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Ragan Sutterfield
Diversity is Never a Punishment

Today is a principal feast day in the church. It’s an occasion for celebration. It’s day when we can be proud of the mission and ministry of the Jesus movement we’re all part of, which began over 2000 years ago, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples during Shavuot, or, the Festival of Weeks, which took place in Jerusalem fifty days after the Resurrection.

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Hannah Hooker
Dumpster in the Driveway

Every now and then in life, you need a big dumpster to get rid of things. Sometimes it’s a symbolic dumpster that you need, say when it’s time to toss a lot of emotional baggage or if you need let go of some past chapter in your life and move on. But other sometimes you need a literal dumpster.

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Kate Alexander
Feast of the Ascension: A Quest of the Holy Grail

When I was a child, few movies captured my imagination like the Indiana Jones series. Indy was everything I wanted to be--an adventuring scholar, at home equally in a library or a jungle; a good guy with a gruff edge. I saved my money, bought myself a felt fedora and set off into the woods in search of adventure. I didn’t discover the Ark of the Covenant or escape ancient booby traps, but I did find a few old bottles and a cobbled leather shoe-- exciting enough fare for a ten-year-old.

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Ragan Sutterfield
Open Doors

It is possible to use a word so frequently that we forget what it means. I discovered this over the last week as I pondered our scripture passages for today, which all mention doors or gates. This strange repetition nagged at me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on the spiritual significance of a door. I decided to take my query back to basics. I challenged myself to explain the concept of a door to someone unfamiliar with the word - without using a dictionary.

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Hannah Hooker
Making Room for Paradise

There’s a certain mood that comes over me at times. I can be found staring into space, a grim look in my eyes. When dinner comes, I am quiet at the table, distracted and melancholy. Emily, my wife, usually senses the shift and knows the cause. “Are you reading another book on climate change,” she asks?

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Ragan Sutterfield
Mother's Day and Resurrection

We have a couple of things to get settled right up front. First, at one time I took a vow never to preach about Mother’s Day; it is not on the church calendar, and the sermons about the holiday that I heard in the country church of my youth were too saccharine for anyone’s spiritual –and perhaps physical—health. And they did not have too much to do with classical Christianity.

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Larry Benfield
A Failure Story

These days, the popularity of good storytelling is on the rise. People are flocking to live story telling events, and podcasts of engaging stories are in demand. Storytelling isn’t new, of course. It probably started as soon as humans sat around a campfire and tried to make some meaning out of life.

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Kate Alexander
A Six on the Enneagram

It is safe to say that America is obsessed with personality types. This isn’t a new phenomenon but it has changed over time. Thirty years ago, a common pick-up line was “what’s your sign?” referring to zodiac astrology. Today, you’re more likely to hear “what’s your Myers-Briggs type?” Or, if you visit the office at Christ Church, “what’s your Enneagram number?”

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Hannah Hooker
God's Rebuttal

Our rebuttal game is no match for God’s. God’s game is much stronger. No matter how squawky we get about what’s wrong with the world, or other people, or what’s wrong with ourselves, Easter comes along with a defiant little conjunction. But there is forgiveness. But there is grace. But there is resurrection.

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Kate Alexander
Liturgical Re-enactment

In the fall of 2013, I was midway through my first semester of seminary in Northern Virginia. I hadn’t gotten off campus much, but I was determined to change that. Northern Virginia is known for its stunning vistas and rich history, and I was ready to start soaking them up.

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Hannah Hooker
Effectiveness vs. Affection

My sophomore year of college, I traveled to London with friends. There were four of us–three with majors in philosophy and one in economics. With that mix, one stop on our trip was clear–University College London.

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Ragan Sutterfield
Severity and Grace

Yesterday was a Spirit-filled day for many of us here at Christ Church. In the morning, we celebrated our sister, Elizabeth Henry-McKeever, as she was ordained a deacon. Then a few hours later, we celebrated the life and mourned the loss of our brother Gus Fulk.

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Hannah Hooker
The Stories We Tell

We are all very good story tellers. We tend to reserve that praise for professional story tellers or talented grandparents and great actors, but we are all good at telling stories.

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Kate Alexander
Lost and Found

There was no cell signal so paper had to do, a Mapquest printout and an old Arkansas atlas stashed behind the driver’s seat.  The road was right, we’d double-checked at the last turn, but we’d been going for over an hour and…nothing.

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Ragan Sutterfield
Life Lessons from Glory

For all of human history until now, if you wanted to know what it felt like to do something, you had to do it. But something in our culture has changed, according to a recent episode of the podcast “Hidden Brain.” Now we can bring the whole world and a staggering variety of experiences into our homes on YouTube.

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Kate Alexander