Lost Sheep

As I’ve learned with my cars, when the narrative is all about blame, responsibility goes out the window. God does not want us to waste any time weighing evidence and assigning blame for the lost people of the world. He just wants us to go out and find them.

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Hannah Hooker
On Why Going To Church Is Not Just A Self-Improvement Project

Will you check coming here off some self-improvement list, along side going to the gym and eating better? There’s nothing wrong with that, and I think Jesus is mildly interested in our self-improvement projects, but that’s not the only reason to come here. The other option is to step into this community week after week and to let the divine potter reshape you. 

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Kate Alexander
True Hospitality

I recently purchased a plane ticket online, and I’d like to tell you a little about my experience. The anxiety began as soon as I entered the dates of my trip and the flight options starting appearing on my computer screen. It is not cheap to fly. And it only got worse from there. selected the flight that best fit my budget and time constraints, but then I was alerted that the price I’d been shown was only the base price. I would have to pay an additional fee to be eligible for any available upgrades and to not board the plane in the very last group.

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Hannah Hooker
Health, Fire, and Salvation

I have a friend who sets forests on fire. He works with others, a team of arboreal arsonists, lighting grassy fields, stands of pine, and oak savannas aflame. He does this not because he wants to destroy the landscape, he gets no thrill from the fire and char itself. His motivation is the health of the land and the diversity of its ecosystems. This friend is then no vandal, he works for the Nature Conservancy and he uses fire to fulfill the mission of his organization--to conserve and restore the forests and prairies of Arkansas.

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Ragan Sutterfield
The Dog Days of the Lectionary

The novelty of summer has worn off, and the idea of leaving your air conditioned couch for a hike or a swim or concert just isn’t that appealing anymore. We are in the “dog days of summer.” But I would like to propose to you today that we are also in the “dog days of the lectionary.”

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Hannah Hooker
Jesus, foolishness, and the chocolate brown dress

This self-talker’s problem isn’t greed per se, it’s isolation. He may have a lot of grain, but how can that be the point? Treating our life as a sealed up silo means missing where true treasure can be found. No matter how much you store up in your barn or in your Amazon cart to sooth your soul, you can’t take it with you. Real treasure is not in stuff, it’s in connection.

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Kate Alexander
Teach us How to Pray

I wonder if you’ve noticed a common characteristic about Episcopalians and other mainline Christians. Try to remember a time when you have been at a church meeting that is about to start or right before you sit down to share a meal with others. Someone almost always asks, “Who will lead us in a prayer?”

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Joyce Hardy
Sisters in a new story

A new story is always possible, that’s the gospel truth. To get there, you have to be willing to let go of that which is no longer serving you or anyone else well. Like Martha, we can sure haul around some heavy backpacks full of the old scripts if we’re not careful. We might be more like her than we realized, and it has nothing to do with the chores.

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Kate Alexander
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