The Common Good

Results for Faith and Spirituality

One Last Christmas Gift
Originally Posted: 12/27/2012 - 1:14pm | Type: Blog

I look forward to another year of ministry with your help and your support. Bless you and your families in these special days of time together. The year has been a busy and ch ...

Pope Paul VI Inches One Step Closer to Sainthood
Originally Posted: 12/27/2012 - 11:38am | Type: Blog

Pope Paul VI, who guided the Catholic Church through a tumultuous period of change in the 1960s and 70s, took a crucial first step toward possible sainthood when Pope Benedict XVI last week recognized his pred ...

What Are You Singing: The Little Drummer Boy
Originally Posted: 12/24/2012 - 11:54am | Type: Blog

Not only is this song fun to sing with its drum-like “pa-rum-pum-pum-pums,” but also it embraces a non-materialistic message that we all need to hear, especially this time of year. ...

What Are You Singing: I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In
Originally Posted: 12/21/2012 - 11:55am | Type: Blog

This Christmas I hope those “three ships” will sail toward the light of my Advent candles. And that I’m ready to receive the treasures they bear. One carol I’ve been humming this ...

Evangelicals' Answer to Newtown Should Be Evangelism
Originally Posted: 03/15/2013 - 10:38am | Type: Blog

Absent from all of this analysis is any consideration of our own failure to do exactly what evangelicals should be all about: Evangelism, in the form of reaching out and giving meaning to lost souls like the l ...

What Are You Singing: Do You Hear What I Hear?
Originally Posted: 12/20/2012 - 1:11pm | Type: Blog

Rather than a subversive message about the twisting of the Gospel, “Do You Hear What I Hear” was actually a call for peace during the turbulence of the 1960s. Whoops. I was joki ...

Pastor Terry Jones is No Match for the Beatles’ LOVE
Originally Posted: 12/21/2012 - 12:16am | Type: Blog

In this video produced by the New York Times, we get to witness what I consider a momentary intervention of God’s spirit in a beautifully, creatively nonviolent way. Many will re ...

What Are You Singing: O Little Town of Bethlehem
Originally Posted: 12/20/2012 - 10:50am | Type: Blog

One question I am left with as I think about Bethlehem and the places surrounding it this Christmas is What would Jesus have to say about this conflict? I don’t know about you, bu ...

Is It Too Late For Us?
Originally Posted: 03/15/2013 - 10:39am | Type: Blog

As tragic as the shooting was in Connecticut —and I am truly not interested in minimizing the grief or outrage — we have to wake up and realize that more children are killed every year in the U.S \and we seldo ...

On Scripture: Can We Speak of God’s Activity, in Triumph or Tragedy?
Originally Posted: 03/15/2013 - 10:40am | Type: Blog

Certain Christians seem compelled to speak for God in disorienting moments like these, and the results are frequently terrible. The rest of the church has a responsibility to get angry and repudiate the statem ...

Newest Front in 'Christmas Wars:' Billboards
Originally Posted: 12/18/2012 - 5:09pm | Type: Blog

A billboard posted in Chico, Calif., that originally read “Don’t believe in God? Join the club” was defaced on Dec. 12, less than a week after it appeared, with vandals removing the word “don’t.” ...

What Are You Singing: Away In A Manger
Originally Posted: 12/19/2012 - 11:56am | Type: Blog

Even though the song may seem like it only deserves a cursory glance, as it was originally published in theLittle Children's Book for Schools and Families in 1885, I purport there’s something more to the ...

Newtown Shootings Renew Questions About Evil and Suffering
Originally Posted: 03/15/2013 - 10:41am | Type: Blog

As the names of those who died are made known, that cry is followed by a question: Why? Why does God allow evil? “Oh, God!” That cry has echoed ever since news of the horri ...

Five Children’s Questions About the Sandy Hook Tragedy
Originally Posted: 12/18/2012 - 10:40am | Type: Blog

I have little to add to the Sandy Hook conversation at a certain level, but I have heard questions from many children, some from my own kids. I thought I’d offer some responses I’ve shared. ...

Fred Phelps’ Son Condemns Westboro’s Plan to Picket Newtown Funerals
Originally Posted: 12/17/2012 - 5:32pm | Type: Blog

The estranged son of a Kansas pastor famous for protesting the funerals of soldiers and AIDS victims has condemned his family’s plans to picket the funerals of the 26 people — including 20 children — who were ...

What Are You Singing: Good King Wenceslas
Originally Posted: 12/17/2012 - 4:37pm | Type: Blog

There is a season for researching, debating, and discussing ways to end poverty and hunger once and for all. But this is not that season. When I go home for Christmas, I always en ...

God is Here?
Originally Posted: 03/15/2013 - 10:41am | Type: Blog

call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’)” (Matthew 1:22-23 ©NIV).  Matthew was eager to point ...

The Marrow Road
Originally Posted: 12/14/2012 - 2:27pm | Type: Blog

I've been thinking, as Advent goes on, what it meant for God to lay aside infinity and put on a body that was not just tiny, inarticulate, and helpless, but also already marked, to the marrow of its littl ...

Eucharist: A Call For The Church to Be One
Originally Posted: 12/14/2012 - 12:01pm | Type: Blog

When it comes to sharing the Eucharist among faithful but separated Christ followers, I wonder if Jesus is waiting for the churches simply to be the Church? When it comes to shari ...

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch Changes: News from Our Bloggerina
Originally Posted: 12/14/2012 - 10:08am | Type: Blog

Change is hard. There is always a certain lamenting that comes with it, even when the change is, on many levels, a good thing. This was a difficult decision but one I felt I had to make in order to follow the ...

The Top 5 Ways to Get Into the Christmas Spirit
Originally Posted: 12/13/2012 - 6:06pm | Type: Blog

Sojo is ready to celebrate this season of Advent, our Savior’s birth, and all of the family time and Christmas cookies that come with it. So here it is: The Top 5 Ways to Get Into the Christmas Spirit. ...

The Bells
Originally Posted: 12/13/2012 - 12:46pm | Type: Blog

Let us talk for a minute, blunt and honest and not polite for a change, about that which is never said and ought to be: that the divisions and disagreements among the Christian sects and traditions are silly a ...

Christmas’ Missing Icon: Mary Breastfeeding Jesus
Originally Posted: 12/12/2012 - 11:39am | Type: Blog

At its heartwarming core, Christmas is the story of a birth: the tender relationship between a new mother and her newborn child. At its heartwarming core, Christmas is the story ...

Christianity in Britain Losing Ground to Islam, Secularism
Originally Posted: 12/11/2012 - 4:06pm | Type: Blog

New figures from the 2011 Census show that the number of people who identify as Christians in England and Wales has fallen by 4 million over the last 10 years. CANTERBURY, England ...

What To Do WIth Empty Space
Originally Posted: 12/11/2012 - 2:30pm | Type: Blog

What would it look like for me to let myself be filled with the joy that comes from anticipating God's promises? "Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord h ...

Advent: Our Christmas Hope
Originally Posted: 12/13/2012 - 11:23am | Type: Blog

This Advent, as we wait for the true light who is coming into the world (John 1:9) we pause and reflect on our Christmas hope. As a friend said last night, we do not linger forever in uncertainty but as an exp ...

Colm Toibin’s Virgin Mary is Far From Meek and Mild
Originally Posted: 12/10/2012 - 10:03am | Type: Blog

The masterful Irish writer Colm Toibin puts a jackhammer to the cozy, safe, Christmas-card version in The Testament of Mary. This month, as Christians set up their creches and ass ...

The Power of Christmas
Originally Posted: 12/13/2012 - 11:24am | Type: Blog

Many Christians may be surprised to hear a sermon during Advent that focuses on challenging our cultural assumptions about the meaning of Christmas, but doing so may be the most faithful witness a pastor can o ...

The Eclipse of the Airport Chapel
Originally Posted: 12/07/2012 - 3:12pm | Type: Blog

I dare you, whatever faith you are, to glance at the guestbook the next time you are in an airport that has a chapel, and in those pages you will find the most naked expressions of sorrow and need. ...

Celebrating in Ways that Bring Joy
Originally Posted: 12/07/2012 - 1:06pm | Type: Blog

For those who seek to follow Jesus we are challenged with one of his core teachings: "You cannot serve both God and mammon." Mammon: wealth, riches, money, stuff. Ther ...

The Sacred Ran Through Jazz Legend Dave Brubeck’s Music
Originally Posted: 12/07/2012 - 11:20am | Type: Blog

Religious faith, however, was never far from Brubeck’s creative mind. Indeed, there have always been strong links between jazz and religion — one of the main musical streams that have formed jazz has been gosp ...

God the Father and Embryo
Originally Posted: 12/13/2012 - 11:25am | Type: Blog

Advent suggests so many mysteries of God's patience. One rarely commented case is God as Father and embryo. It is extra Biblical so imagination can only begin to tell the bizarre tale. ...

Christmas Wisdom: Follow the Star for Foreign Policy
Originally Posted: 12/06/2012 - 11:47am | Type: Blog

A key insight into this portion of the Christmas narrative is that God is revealed through the vulnerability of poverty and marginalization One of the most fresh and challenging i ...

God Occupies a Baby Crib
Originally Posted: 12/13/2012 - 11:26am | Type: Blog

The baby Jesus is not merely a sentimental or cute idea but is potentially radical, transformative, and controversial. There is a line from a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem about the ...

On Scripture: Who is He? Malachi 3:1-4
Originally Posted: 12/05/2012 - 12:29pm | Type: Blog

After a point, our attempts to connect the characters and subject matter of the film Lincoln to current events seem rather forced. Who was Abraham Lincoln? You may get different a ...

The Waiting
Originally Posted: 12/13/2012 - 11:26am | Type: Blog

Advent, a season during which Christians honor and attempt to approximate the longing for a Messiah more than 2,000 years ago, is often described as a chance to exercise our patience muscles. ...

Why I Let My Children Play With Elves
Originally Posted: 12/04/2012 - 10:09am | Type: Blog

I have a great deal of respect for the desire to keep the focus on Jesus and his birth at this time of year. And, yet, I allow my children … I encourage them even … to believe in Santa. ...

The Annunciation – A Divinely Human Moment
Originally Posted: 12/03/2012 - 1:54pm | Type: Blog

The beautiful anonymity and soft innocence of a young girl in Nazareth would be stripped by an angelic visitation. Who could ever envision the global veneration soon to commence? ...

Why Women are the Key to the Church’s Future
Originally Posted: 12/03/2012 - 9:35am | Type: Blog

Anyone who has been paying attention has noticed that, of those left within the walls of most churches, the majority still hanging in there are women. I’ll preface this piece my ...

December 2012
Originally Posted: 11/08/2012 - 12:11pm | Type: Magazine Issue

December, 2012 Redefining success. December 1, 2012 ...

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Moves Evangelicals Beyond Black-and-White Sexuality
Originally Posted: 11/30/2012 - 5:51pm | Type: Blog

Many evangelical women say they wouldn't touch Fifty Shades of Grey, often described as "mommy porn" because of its escapist appeal to working mothers and suburban housewives. But evangelical le ...

A Kinder, Gentler, More Radical Monotheism?
Originally Posted: 11/30/2012 - 5:16pm | Type: Blog

When we think of radical monotheism, we hear, “My god is bigger than your god. No, wait: Your god’s a fake!” But theologian H. Richard Niebuhr proposed a kinder, gentler, more generous idea of radical monothei ...

Christians: No Need to 'Reclaim' Christmas
Originally Posted: 11/30/2012 - 4:06pm | Type: Blog

I am not compelled to "reclaim" or "rescue" Christmas from the many who ignore and the few who despise its magnificent origins. Are you put out that a commun ...

War On Christmas? Sign This Minister Up!
Originally Posted: 11/30/2012 - 12:24pm | Type: Blog

I'm one of those lefty liberals that have declared a War on Christmas. Yes! Sign me up for the War on Christmas! But maybe not for the reasons you might imagine. Ah — I L ...

The Beautiful Stupidity of Writing (Part 1)
Originally Posted: 11/29/2012 - 1:43pm | Type: Blog

I’ve been asked how I knew I was called to be a writer. For me, calling is fairly easy to recognize. If the thought of doing something fills you with equal parts joy and terror, it’s probably a calling. ...

Thanksgiving Everyday
Originally Posted: 11/28/2012 - 12:50pm | Type: Blog

Thanksgiving Day keeps coming around, keeps reminding us of what could be, keeps giving us tastes of what God wants for us. Thanksgiving Day speaks the bold truth that God isn't done with us. A world of w ...

'Let Jesus Be Cursed!'
Originally Posted: 01/07/2014 - 12:17pm | Type: Magazine Article

Martin L. Smith Reflections on the Common Lectionary, Cycle C "NO ONE SPEAKING by the Spirit of God ever ...

The Naked Artist: Narcissism or Self-Giving Love?
Originally Posted: 11/27/2012 - 11:09am | Type: Blog

To rejoice in not being God means to rejoice in being ourselves. To accept that we are not God is to accept our imperfection. How is it possible that the creative life can feel si ...

Top 5 Best and Worst Bits of 'Christian Sex' Advice
Originally Posted: 11/28/2012 - 12:48pm | Type: Blog

Too often, I fear the church is silent and bashful about sex. One reason, I purport, that youth look to society and friends for answers to questions is they fear it's taboo in religious settings, perhaps ...

The 'Racing Rev': 750-Horsepowered Faith
Originally Posted: 11/27/2012 - 8:30am | Type: Blog

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio -- Until his recent retirement, the Rev. Dale Schaefer spent most Sunday mornings wearing vestments and leading worship services at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. But whenever he had the time ...