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Inside Out

Dusty Endings

Though Easter was a huge deal in my family, we never did Ash Wednesday when I was growing up. No service, no imposition of ashes. And although my parents adored the Advent season (during which we had many family traditions, including daily lighting of our Advent wreath and daily chocolate ending from our Advent calendars), Lent was completely ignored. (Lest you think we were complete spiritual slackers, we still had daily family devotions, as we always did.) Naturally, we didn’t…
CultureInside Out

Thanking God for Bob’s Bar

A couple of Fridays ago, some friends and I took the hourlong trip to an off-the-beaten-path dive bar in Nebraska – Bob’s Bar, in Martinsburg. It’s not much to look at from the outside. Even when you get in the place, it’s not that great – a pool table, a bar and some tables shoved together in the back. The plates are mismatched remnants of what seem like 1950s tableware, and the giant fan blowing in the back means quite a bit of…
October 31, 2018
Inside Out

The Hinge in the Lord’s Prayer

hos en ouranō kai epi gēs One of the greatest joys of teaching Greek is having students memorize parts of the New Testament in its original language. My favorite is reciting the Lord’s Prayer together each time we meet. We do so standing up – as did our early Christian ancestors when they recited it three times daily. Then, sitting down, we discuss it in detail, luxuriating in this tightly packed prayer which Cyprian said “omits absolutely nothing but includes all”…
September 1, 2018
Inside OutMagazine

Falling into the Earth

In Chapter 12 of the Gospel of John, Jesus announces, “The hour has come,” and with these words the focus of this gospel shifts. Knowing that his hour of death is near, Jesus turns his attention to his disciples and tries to explain to them the meaning of his life and imminent death. Jesus begins with this striking image: “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much…
June 30, 2018
Inside Out

A Long-Lasting Pain: Reflections after Charlottesville

A holy privilege of the pastorate is that people trust us with their pain. For them, we are safe. Sometimes we are the only safe people with whom hurting people can bear to reveal the depth of the sadness and trauma they silently bear. When person shares his or her pain with me, I am the shepherd offering comfort and help as I am able, quietly bearing witness to that pain before God in prayer. When a community expresses their…
April 30, 2018
Inside Out

Peter Marshall: Keeping the Dream

Peter Marshall Even though his path to the ministry was not an easy one, Peter Marshall, a young Scottish immigrant said, “I have determined to give my life to God for Him to use me wherever he wants me,” writes Catherine Marshall in her book A Man Called Peter. Despite his early life of adversity, he was sustained by his mother’s faith and her promise “Dinna worry, son, the Lord will provide. He’ll open up the way,” Marshall himself recalled…
February 28, 2018
Inside Out

What Heaven Is and Is Not

Read Luke 23:32-43. Heaven is pretty easy to come by these days. Evidently, you can find it in a kiss, at the beach or in a piece of chocolate cake. But what is heaven, really? Even when I ask other Christians this question, I get rather elaborate responses not too far from the things noted above: the warm, even romantic embrace of loved ones; an eternal round of golf on the back nine of Augusta; long coffees with friends; fishing…
October 31, 2017
Inside Out

Is their Span but Toil and Trouble?

“All our days pass away under thy wrath, our years come to an end like a sigh. The years of our life are threescore and ten, or even by reason of strength four-score; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. ... So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” – Psalm 90   When we are young, we don’t worry or think much about…
June 30, 2017
Inside Out

Election Soup

“I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” – Ecclesiastes 3:10-11 My campaign-season malaise did not ebb on election day, not that I expected it to. I know I’m in good company. What’s more, I know my malaise as a white person with resources is as…
January 2, 2017