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Listening to the Magi

  Last week, I read in the Christian Century about: Christians being imprisoned and beaten in the Mosul region of Iraq. Muslim sheikhs, imams and preachers disappearing at the Kenya-Somalia border. Protestant pastors who had lived in Turkey for years forced out of the country. Members of the B’hai faith being imprisoned and threatened in…

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Herod and the Magi

  The magi, with their fine robes and sparkling gifts, are favorite characters in our Christmas stories and songs and decorations (even if they did show up long after the shepherds). But a careful reading of the text (Matthew 2:1-12) reveals that the magi aren’t necessarily the stars of this beloved story. Based upon stage…

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Halloween Costume Help

I love October–cooler weather, changing leaves, apple cider . . . and, of course, Halloween. I’m actually not a big fan of the horror side of Halloween–I don’t watch scary movies or go to haunted houses–but I love the costumes. I’ve turned my kids into a princess and a dog, an alien and a cheetah,…

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Re-Visiting Zacchaeus

When we are kids, we color pictures of a guy sitting up in the branches of a tree. But when we get older, we know that the really important part of the story comes at the end. When this very wealthy tax collector declares to Jesus, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I give to…

The Gospel in Translation

People are drawn to the story of God’s mighty acts, the story of Jesus, not simply for the story itself, but because they hear that story in their own native languages. If the apostles had been speaking Greek, everyone would have understood them—Greek was the lingua franca. But the Greek wouldn’t have been compelling. The…

The Girl Without a Name

Acts 16:16-34 Back in Jesus’ day, Paul’s day, they didn’t label people “mentally ill.” They said that people “had a spirit.” Generally the people Jesus and his followers encounter have “evil spirits,” but the slave girl in this story just has a “spirit.” Actually, it is a pyhtian spirit, associated with the god Apollo who…

Inclusive Communities

Acts 11:1-18 One thing this story tells us is that the church rumor mill is as old as the church itself. Even without the benefit of telephones, newspapers, Facebook, or Twitter, the apostles and believers in Judea have heard about what Peter did in Caesarea–namely, he baptized a bunch of Gentiles. Now you might think…