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The Pearl Principle

By Culture, Featured

God is compassion. God is mercy. I see God, like Pearl, in a garden. With her hands, she clears away thorn and weed. She sends rain and summons life from the soil. Light warms and synthesizes unseen elements into nutrient. She offers food, and generous souls share it, because,

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Reformed and Always…Deconstructing?

By Culture, Featured

But in reformed worldview conversations, that adjective “reformed” means we’re committed to something more. We’re committed to complexity, committed to deconstruction, and to reforming again beyond that deconstruction, committed to listening to opposing voices to not only hear what they have to say but to take to heart their critiques, to even call them prophetic when they are. It means we can admit when we’re wrong and that we’re not even afraid of ideas that seem to challenge scripture. It means we’re committed to ideas and people, too.

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Christmas Abroad and Being “Home” for the Holidays

By Christmas, Culture, Featured

We’ve stumbled through the formation of our Christmas traditions both in India and in Michigan. We’ve bumbled it in both places at different times, but we’ve also shared good traditions in both places. My son insists on burning incense when we light our Advent candles in Michigan. And one of my proudest adult moments was when JP’s grandfather asked for seconds of the Cherry Walnut Christmas Coffeecake that I painstakingly baked in India. What it all comes down to is that we are learning in our hearts how our two-culture family celebrates the birth of Jesus with reverence and gladness. In one country or the other, we do this with our extended families, and when something rises up as loss, something else bubbles up as joy.

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I Don’t Know . . . But I Live in Hope: A Conversation with Poet, Undertaker, Essayist Thomas Lynch

By Featured

I don’t know if it’s Mother Nature or Father God in charge. I just know it’s not me. Tom is not in charge. Anytime I’ve tried to be in charge, I’m quickly reminded of how much I’m in error. I do believe in a power greater than myself. I don’t know if that power is the creator of the universe. I haven’t a clue. But I live in hope.

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Separation Anxiety: Reflecting on the 2021 RCA General Synod

By Church, Featured

More than a month has passed since General Synod. Time has allowed me to sort through my emotions and become what I believe is more objective about the RCA and its future. In a way, I wish I could have been at the point that I am now prior to General Synod. I see glimmers of hope for the RCA and I acknowledge that God is doing a new thing through the chaos in which we find ourselves. Yet I continue to hold the conviction that the RCA would be better off to remain together and strive to live in divers

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Breath Mark of Snow Days – The Holy Rhythm of Free Time

By Featured, Spirituality

Snow days are like breath marks scattered throughout the otherwise hectic and frantic pace of life, letting us know it is OK (and necessary!) to breathe. In an ideal world, we would not need to fight against snow days or find a way to get our work done in the midst of them. We could receive snow days as gifts that help us reset, start anew, and clear off an evening or even a whole day to spend in ways that give us life.

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Coronavirus, Race, Politics, and Congregational Division

By Church, Featured

Neither a policy statement nor a sign can be the end of our discussion or action on racial justice. The Holy Spirit is leading us into difficult but important conversations around racial discrimination and justice. This is happening at the same time of a major demographic shift in America, where the white majority is becoming a minority. At the recent RCA General Synod, General Secretary Eddie Aleman said, “The future of the RCA is multi-ethnic…I love to say this is a beautiful thing.”  There will be inevitable backlash as new realities emerge and those used to power adjust to those new realities. I wish my final year had been less bumpy, but I am proud of the leaders and members of Third who, in the midst of a pandemic, took a stand for racial justice.

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The Texas Abortion Law, the Antiabortion Movement, and the Politics of Cruelty

By Culture, Featured

Texas’s new law is particularly cruel. Abortion is banned after six weeks, so early that some women won’t even know they’re pregnant. Private citizens are authorized to enforce the law and sue those who help people access abortion care in any way. Sadly, it’s not a surprise that this is the tactic antiabortion activists and legislators would pursue. In many ways this cruelty is baked into the movement—a movement that’s spent decades devising ways to make abortion care inconvenient, demeaning, and dangerous for those who need it. Women seeking abortions—whom the antiabortion movement professes to care about—are hurt the most.

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The Quality of Mercy

By Education, Featured, Memoir

Mrs. Goehring—may she rest in peace–knew nothing of what that jock in the back of the class was discovering in words she’d assigned us from Portia’s courtroom speech; but that morning in sophomore English, the schoolmarm won a game she didn’t really know I was playing. The ball games are long gone, but the lines of that speech showed up on my screen and then in a haze of memory just a day or two ago.

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Discerning the Body

By Church, Featured, Memoir

How are we to discern the body of Christ? Like my friends in that teeming church full of different voices, different beliefs, I want to be generous, to be open to transcendent mystery, to be a co-traveler. I want to listen for those words of grace, perhaps even speak them one day.

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