"Unapologetic Theology: A Christian Voice in a Pluralistic Conversation" is the title of a book by my beloved theology professor and friend, the late William C. Placher. It is also now the title of this blog, a place where I hope to add a Christian voice -- God knows, not "the" Christian voice, but "a" Christian voice and not just any old voice, but a distinctly Christian voice -- to the pluralistic conversation going on about just about everything.
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Doritos, and Veggie Trays
week, I was invited to give the opening presentation at a three-day
"Gathering of Leaders" conference for about 45 Episcopal clergy from
around the country.
conference theme was "Hope-filled, fear-less leadership for a missionary
was to set the tone: how can we counteract the prevailing wind of fear in our
culture, and be people of hope instead?
started out by observing that, even with all the possibilities and blessings
and riches of our country, and of the Episcopal Church, there's a spirit of fear.
the antidote to fear is hope.
vague hope, but hope in what God has done, is doing, and will do in our lives.
what the conference (and the movement called Gathering of Leaders in general) is
called to do is inspire and develop hopefulness. Hope-full-ness.
was the theme. That was my task.
to talk about it?" I wondered over the week or so before giving the talk.
it hit me: I remembered something I learned when I was a youth pastor, serving
in my first church job right out of seminary.
it the "Doritos-verses-vegetable-tray" lesson.
based on something I stumbled upon while doing youth group events. If, at a
middle school or high school youth event, I put out large bags of Doritos, the
youth would devour them. They'd tear through bags and bags of 'em.
one day an adult sponsor of youth happened to bring a vegetable tray. Nothing
fancy, just one of those pre-made sets you see at the grocery store. She set it
out next to the bags of Doritos.
still ate Doritos, but they ate less of them. A LOT less of them. I had four or
five bags left over from the seven or eight I had bought, and normally I had
a healthy alternative, they just didn't fill up as much on junk.
had it! The image I wanted to share in my talk, and now pass on to you:
of spending time -- any time -- criticizing or whining, offer a healthy
of spending energy -- any energy -- on what my dad would call "bitchin' n'
moanin'" about problems (your problems, your family's problems, the
church's problems, the nation's problems), offer a hopeful alternative.
from perfect in carrying it out, but dear Lord, that's the kind of spiritual
leader I seek to be: Instead of criticizing people for stuffing their faces
with the varieties of empty spiritual calories our culture offers, spend time
developing and setting before people an alternative, a delicious,
nutrient-rich, deeply satisfying alternative.
No, that's not all they'll eat. But wow, how much less junk they do eat, when given a choice.
No one can -- and I certainly don't want to try -- to unpack every tweet the person currently holding the office of President of the United States sends out.
No one has the time to respond to every one of his tweets on just one issue. Although I wish I had the time on the issue of the Executive Orders recently issued in regard to refugees.
But every so often I feel I MUST respond to at least SOME of those tweets, lest I grow accustomed to them as normal. And I refuse to normalize the abnormal.
Take one of Saturday's tweets, for example: in response to Judge Robart's temporarily stopping an Executive Orders, there was this:
“What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.?”
Let's unpack: "What is our country coming to..." Does that lament sound familiar? Ask yourself: who often says it, where do you hear it from the most? Is it a positive, hopeful line of thinking? I wil…
A sermon preached January 29, 2017 The Rev. John Ohmer, Rector The Falls Church Episcopal
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the p…
Rev. John Ohmer, Rector The Falls Church Episcopal Falls
Church, Virginia James
7:24-37 In case you’re confused by the service leaflet,
where it says Kelly is supposed to be preaching today, well, she was, and she
was planning to. But yesterday she came down with the stomach flu, and of
course we encouraged her to stay home until she’s 100%. (And to think I came this close to getting out of having to preach on a couple of very tough passages…) (Kelly’s sermon, by the way, was written well ahead
of time and is, as we have already come to expect, excellent. And inspiring – I
was inspired reading it.* Hard copies are available, and will be made available
on line.) What you’re going to get from me today is a little
different than a normal sermon. Today I want to tell you a story – a bit of my own
family history -- and then read you a poem. And then show you how I think that
story and the poem relate to today’s lessons and to current events. …