"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.
A sermon preached June 19, 2016
The Rev. John Ohmer, Rector
The Falls Church Episcopal, Falls Church, Virginia
(“Dear Lord: Carry your word into the most protected parts of our hearts.”)
Today I don’t have a traditional sermon. I certainly don’t have a sermon about Father’s Day, but now that I’ve mentioned it, happy Father’s Day. Today, instead of a traditional sermon, I feel led to share some things that have been on my heart this past week.
I’ve been your Rector here since August of 2012. Those of you who have been here a long time know that my preaching style is almost always “expository,” a fancy word that simply means you take a passage of scripture, and having studied it during the week, you show – or expose – its meaning and relevance as best you can, and then you sit down, trusting Holy Spirit will be hard at work simultaneously translating for each of you what you need to hear on any given Sunday.
One of the implications of this style of preaching is I tend not to preach “to…
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…