The message of the 5th-grade peace quilt

We saw this quilt at the New Mexico State Capital, which has an impressive collection of art. It was created by 5th graders in response to the events of September 11, 2001, and it’s on indefinite loan: “It is our wish that as many people as possible see this, and pass its message on, so that peace in our world can prevail.” In light of the events of this past week, it seemed appropriate to share.

In our grief and anger after yesterday’s shooting in Pittsburgh, we must hold onto our faith in the healing power of God’s love, and to our hope for a better world. But there is nothing passive about this hope. We cry out for justice. We must teach our children to live in harmony so they can believe in the peaceful message of this quilt, and we must carefully examine our own speech to be sure we ourselves model that harmony for them.

We must remind our leaders that we vote and that we will hold them accountable. The hate talk must stop. We must demand common-sense gun laws, so the AR-15s can be taken out of the hands of madmen.

We need leaders who will speak with compassion and bring us together in unity. This has to stop, and it’s on us to stop it.

— at New Mexico State Capitol.

Last Supper

Last Supper, Barcelos, Portugal, c. 1960

I love Jesus, so focused, with his amazing halo (how could anyone not know he was someone special), but mostly I love the Twelve: devout, distracted, befuddled, awed. Just like us.

Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe

Fake enemies

What is good leadership? Of course there are a lot of different aspects to it, but I think the heart of it is being able to articulate a positive vision for a better future and motivate others to embrace it as their own and to work with you to make it happen.

When you see leaders using fear of a perceived common enemy as their rallying point, you might ask yourself if this is a sign that they’re failing at the kind of positive leadership that builds unity around shared values, not shared fears. Hitler did that with the Jews, and we know how that turned out. And when I read the latest proposal to define gender as fixed at birth, not to mention the flood of tweets about migrants, I had to wonder if that’s what was happening here. Again

Friends, if you are cisgender, transgender people are not the enemy. If you were born in the USA, migrants are not the enemy. If you are white, people of color are not the enemy. If you’re straight, LGBTQ people are not the enemy. They’re all just people, with hopes and values that might be much like yours.

As we prepare for elections in two weeks, it’s more important than ever to think and reflect and ask yourself if you’re being manipulated. Ask yourself if the values you’re about to endorse are really consistent with your own faith and values. And then, please, vote.

She mourns

I’m not so much a fan of Halloween (I don’t like clowns, either) but in Lambertville they know how to take it to the next level.

Look close at the names at the bottom.

A sermon for the twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost/Stewardship

One of the careers that I had before I went to seminary was publishing outdoor guidebooks, guidebooks to walking and bicycling in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. I was responsible for every aspect of their production and their distribution, so ultimately I was responsible for selling them.

I had an arrangement with a book distributor that put them in faraway bookstores, and on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. But when it came to the local bookstores I had to take care of that myself, even though I have never thought of myself as a natural–born salesperson. But I surprised myself.

I would drive around to bike shops and bookstores. I would get out of the car and grab a copy of each book and go in and find out who was responsible for purchasing. I would try to convince them that they really had to put these books on their shelve,s and I was successful a fair amount of the time.

So, people said to me, “I can’t believe you’re selling them. I never really thought that would be you.” What I said was, “I found out that I could never sell just any old product. I could never be a seller of widgets, but when it came to something I really believe, in I had no trouble doing that stuff.”

So, today I want to sell you something that I really believe in and I hope it’s something you believe in, too.

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Out on the town

Spotted on the way back from the Lambertville Pet Masquerade. The dog didn’t seem to mind it a bit. I guess sometimes it just feels good to let go of your usual identity and try being somebody completely different.

Windows

Frye House – Washington Crossing Historic Park

Sometimes a window is a way to see out, sometimes to see in and through. And sometimes all you can see is what’s behind you. I once visited a woman with dementia who was living in a wing of a care facility where the residents spent most of the day in a common area that had no windows at all. She was an artist, and she was terribly unhappy there. I couldn’t live in a place with no windows. The soul knows what it needs.

Hibbs House – Washington Crossing Historic Park

Blacksmith Shop – Washington Crossing Historic Park

A sermon for the twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost

Mark 10:17-31

We’re going to do something a little different today. In place of a sermon, I’m going to tell you a story.

It takes place in Jerusalem in the year 70. The city is at war with Rome, which is fighting to crush a Jewish uprising.

Jerusalem is under siege, and the Roman army is about to break through the last wall holding it back.

The city is jammed with Jewish rebels and refugees from Galilee, and they’re all starving.

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