Featured Sermons The Biblical

Scarcity, Abundance and the Sharing Economy (Mark 6:30-44)

This is the sermon I preached on October 28, 2012. It comes from the story of the feeding of the 5,000. Also, note that the general scope and interpretation of this sermon comes from Parker Palmer’s book The Active Life.*

The Problem with Scarcity

This morning I want us to look at this classic story about Jesus and his disciples feeding more than 5,000 people from the perspective of the themes scarcity and abundance.

Many of us have experienced times of scarcity in our lives, when money is tight or seems to evaporate as soon as you touch it. Where love and friendship seems unpredictable or worse untrustworthy. Where God is found silent and your prayers go unanswered. Scarcity is a feeling that you don’t have enough of what you need or want, and is often the root of anxiety, and fear in our lives. It’s that feeling of being hollowed out and empty.

Featured Quaker Sermons

Quaker Bankers, Tithes and a Chocolate Factory (Matt 10:8)

This is the message I gave on Sunday morning October 19, 2012. You can listen to the audio version of it here.

Last week we started to tackle the difficult subject of money and the church at Camas Friends. We discussed some possible ways of approaching the subject in a holistic manner — as caretakers or curators of all that has been entrusted to us. And then we discussed some of the ways we might think about the “practice of giving” as people who follow Jesus.

As I’ve been considering these questions, I couldn’t help but wonder if Friends have always wrestled with these questions, and how they have thought about it in the past. But with many of the Quakers we’ve been learning about in our Wednesday evening Soup and Bread meetings – there have been were successful bankers and business people a part of our tradition almost from the very beginning. Today’s ethos among Quakers – and I think this is reflective of all stripes – is one that often avoid discussions of money altogether. But from a historical point of view it hasn’t always been this way.

Featured Practices Sermons

Curators and Caretakers and the Practice of Giving (Gen 1. 28)

This is what a curator looks like*

“Be fertile and increase, fill the earth and master it; and rule…all the living things that creep on earth.”

_Curators and Caretakers

The church often uses the word “stewardship” to generalize things that have to do with resources that we share in common. We have stewards who take care of our budget, our building and other resources that we have. But it might be a little misleading in that when I think of a steward I think of as someone who brings me meals on a plane…or at least used to, now they bring me a little bag of wheat-thins. In our culture today we often think of a steward as something like a waitress, someone who waits on us. This makes it sound to one-sided.

The truth is that we are all, everyone here, to be caretakers of one another, of what we have and of what we share in common together.

Featured Quaker The Pastorate

Thinking Quakers, Money and Stewardship

A couple months back I started feeling the tug to wrestle with the topic of money in the church. As a preacher, I’ve largely avoided the topic like the plague. These are the kinds of things I nightmares about. I was a budding and impressionable young man when PTL when bankrupt and Jim Baker headed off to jail. In fact, truth be-told, my family had a membership to the resort for at least one year because I remember going there for a vacation! I know standing up to talk about money creates anxiety for people. Probably most of us know what it’s like to have been made to feel guilty about not giving enough. We all know the characters on TV, many of us have grown weary with the church and all its hypocrisy around money.

Convergent Friends

Nursery of Truth: A New Convergent Friends Project

nursery banner

For almost a year now Quakers from 8-10 different meetings in the Northwest have been getting together once a month for a “convergent worship gathering.” We move around to different meetinghouses and enjoy a time of bible reading, silence and worship sharing. Programmed and unprogrammed Friends alike enjoy the space as an opportunity to build friendships, experiment in form and worship together.

Out of this grew the leading to build on the momentum from this group and other convergent Friends work and so Peggy Parsons (Freedom Friends Church), Kathy Hyzy (Multnomah Monthly Meeing), and myself are organizing a convergent Friends weekend gathering this coming January 18-20, 2013 called the Nursery of Truth.

Quotations The Artful

Our River: John Greenleaf Whittier (Poem)

We know the world is rich with streams
Renowned in song and story,
Whose music murmurs through our dreams
Of human love and glory:

We know that Arno’s banks are fair,
And Rhine has castled shadows,
And, poet-tuned, the Doon and Ayr
God singing down their meadows.

But while, unpictured and unsung
By painter or by poet,
Our river waits the tuneful tongue
And cunning hand to show it, —
We only know the fond skies lean
Above it, warm with blessing,
And the sweet soul of our Undine
Awakes to our caressing.

Blog Entries Creativity The Biblical

Remixing the Bible

I bumped into this little cover image for the bible a few days ago and it got me thinking what people find acceptable when it comes to redesigning or “remixing” the bible through art. This has been happening for centuries. Sacred text depicted in art-form is nothing new.* This particular image is not ground-breaking in anyway that I can tell, but I appreciate the fact that it is a cover that tries to depict something a little different about scripture. The idea was motivated by someone wanting to create a cover for “non-card-carrying Christians” is weird because the old handy-dandy black cover seems nondescript enough to not draw attention if that’s the goal, whereas a cover with hot-pink and other bright colors will do the opposite.

Featured Poverty

This Little Light of Mine

This is a short-story about how two women helped to bring change in our community.

Shortly after I became the pastor at Camas Friends Church I was in my office when a knock came on the door. A ragged-looking woman was standing in the window. It was obvious she’d spent some time on the street, who knows for how long. She carried a tattered plastic grocery bag with some items of food in it. I welcomed her in, introduced myself and asked her if there was anything I could do for her. She said her name was Betty and she wanted to sing a Quaker song for me. Being a sucker for a good Quaker tune I easily obliged. She began to sing “This Little Light of Mine” in a very fragile, almost crooked voice. She was weak. Probably hungry, obviously dealing with some form of mental illness.

Blog Entries

What Does Poverty Look Like? | Union in Dialogue Blog

A couple weeks ago my good friend Aaron and I were featured the “Union in Dialogue” blog, which is hosted by the Poverty Initiative. The post is about an action we participated in on behalf of the Longshoremen up in Longview, WA. I was honored to be on their blog just because the folks at the Poverty Initiative are some of my heroes, as you can see by how awesome Aaron is:

The most significant lesson I learned from studying and supporting the ILWU’s actions in Longview is this: small towns and rural communities aren’t just at the front lines of economic exploitation– they also have tremendous potential to be the front lines of powerful resistance to this exploitation.

via What Does Poverty Look Like? | Union in Dialogue Blog.