"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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of the things I did today was go to Costco and buy 300 rolls of toilet
Here's the story of why:
One of the youth -- a twelve year old! -- at the church I serve, The Falls Church Episcopal, has a ministry, and that is to provide
toiletries to the homeless who attend the monthly “Welcome Table” across the
street at The Falls Church Presbyterian Church. (This is the same church that welcomed and gave space to The Falls Church Episcopalians during the
recent six year exile from our property, so there is a long and good relationship between our faith communities).
homeless gather for dinner at The Welcome Table one Wednesday per month. A couple of years ago there were only twelve or so guest.
month they have 200 folks or more attend.
As one part of the evening they are invited to go
upstairs in groups of ten or so and pick a toiletry to take home: either a roll of toilet paper, or a
bar of soap, or a tube of toothpaste, or a toothbrush, or a bottle of shampoo.
They can take either a roll of toilet paper, OR a toothbrush, OR a bar of soap, OR a bottle of shampoo, OR a tube of toothpaste.
attended last month and was suprised at how many of them picked – and even
instructed their children to pick – a roll of toilet paper as their one thing.
some went to take another item, and were told “sorry, only one item,” a couple
of them traded in the roll of toilet paper for, say, shampoo.
But most kept the toilet paper. Apparently it is often the most in-demand thing to take.
stood there thinking, “if that's the case, why not give everyone a roll, plus whatever else they
When I asked that question out loud, they said, “because all this is donated, and we just don’t have enough rolls of toilet paper to give everyone a roll: we'd run out.”
I thought to myself, “you have got to be kidding me."
“In Northern Virginia, in one of
the wealthiest counties in one of the wealthiest parts of the country in what is perhaps the wealthiest nation in history, we’re telling people that they can have “only one effin’ role
of toilet paper?!?”
last week I went and found someone to donate $1,000.00, that will cover, as a kind of start up, 300 rolls for 3
And this morning I borrowed Mary's van, and went to Costco, loaded up, and during a break today delivered them to The Falls Church Presbyterian:
With the months of June and July already covered, I plan to spend those two months telling this story, and count on people's generosity to come through, from August on.
So when it comes to toilet paper and toothpaste, no one there will hear "either...or..." again!
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…