Posted by: smstrouse | July 12, 2014

25+ Years of My Love/Hate Relationship with the Church

July 9th was the 25th anniversary of my ordination. I’ll admit that it felt great to receive words of congratulation and appreciation from members of the four congregations I’ve served and from assorted friends and family. But it also felt weird – and not just because of the fact that it reminds me how old I am. It took me on a trip all the way back to the beginnings of what would become my life’s work.

People often ask when I knew I wanted to go into the ministry or if there was one specific moment of feeling “the call.” Those are difficult questions to answer because the process was so convoluted. There were bright and shining moments of clarity, but there were also dark days of struggle and despair. But I can’t wish that none of it had ever happened because it has all contributed to the person and pastor I am today.

Some of those bright/shining and struggle/despair moments came from the church. Like a parent, the church has the power to both love and affirm, but also to shame and abuse. I’ve experienced all of that.  And I believe that it is important to remember the painful parts of the story because they obligate me to reach out today to those who have been hurt by the church and tell them that healing and maybe even reconciliation is possible.

I also believe that it’s important to remember the good stuff because it obligates me also to remind us all of the good that we can do through this imperfect institution.

There are days I think I should just kiss the church good-bye. When I hear about a colleague getting emotionally battered by her congregation. When I see a young colleague burning out in her first year of ministry. When I get frustrated with the business of running an institution.

And then there are the days when the church is what the church is supposed to be. When compassion trumps doctrine. When justice trumps policy. When gospel trumps law. Those are the days I live for. And why I’ve stayed.

25 years! Unbelievable. But what a joy to hear from a kid from my first congregation, now with children of his own, to learn from another young man that it was because of me that he stayed in the church and now is there with his wife and kids, to hear stories of faith from so many people I love and admire.

Has it been worth it? Oh, yeah, it has.

Will I still get frustrated with the church at times?  No doubt.

Will I continue to work for reformation, healing and reconciliation? You betcha!




Posted by: smstrouse | July 5, 2014

Forget Hobby Lobby; How Can I Boycott SCOTUS?

hobby-lobby-justicesA lot of metaphorical ink has been spilled since the Supreme Court ruled in the Hobby Lobby case last week. Those who are outraged at the decision are calling for a boycott of the craft store chain. I’d have to drive 40 miles just to get to one of their stores. But the more I think about it, the less angry I am with Hobby Lobby. My outrage is directed at the Supreme Court (actually the 5 justices who think it’s appropriate for the government to make decisions that favor one religion over others or no religion at all) and I want to know how I can boycott them.


I know that’s a silly question. But the sentiment is real. What can we do when the highest court in the land has clearly gone off the rails? Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 35-page dissent says it all. For example: Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. The distinction between a community made up of believers in the same religion and one embracing persons of diverse beliefs, clear as it is, constantly escapes the Court’s attention. One can only wonder why the Court shuts this key difference from sight.

birth-control-gumball-hobby-lobby-scotus-638x424As upset as I am about the Hobby Lobby decision, I see it as just another symptom of the dangerous turn this country has taken away from the democracy envisioned by our founders, as well as the advances made in the lives of citizens not originally covered in those founding documents, i.e. anybody who’s not a straight white man.

Consider that on Tuesday, a group of religious leaders wrote to President Obama on Tuesday asking for exemption from a pending executive order that would prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against lgbt people in hiring practices. And so it goes.

I’ve been thinking about all of this at the same time that I’m hearing about my friend who has become the target of attacks by a small group in the congregation she serves. Hearing about the tactics of this group – the lies, skullduggery and the unwillingness to hear any facts that would refute their prejudices – I had to say, “They sound just like the Tea Paanxietyrty.” The sad thing is that this kind of behavior is happening in churches throughout the country.

Here’s what I think is going on, in our church as well as the whole country. Change is happening. Power is shifting. And those who have been in power do not like that. I don’t necessarily mean power of political office; I do mean power of privilege. As soon as African-Americans, Latinos and Latinas, and women and lgbt people of all races began to claim the right to be part of the decision-making process of our culture, the anxiety level of the old structure went way up. To be fair, that’s to be expected; change does that. What is not fair when this anxiety goes unacknowledged.

Consider this definition of anxiety: an emotional state in which people feel uneasy, apprehensive or fearful. People usually feel anxiety about events they cannot control or predict, or about events that seem threatening or dangerous. There is a feeling of vulnerability. Severe anxiety can persist and become disabling.

Severe anxiety can persist and become disabling. Gee, does that sound like our government?

In the situation in my friend’s church, it is a group of fearful, anxious people who see their church changing. They don’t understand that all the good things about what a church is supposed to be will remain the same. On the other hand, they absolutely do understand that they won’t be the ones calling all the shots anymore.

The big question is how will we confront this climate of fear and anxiety crippling our institutions? Here are some thoughts:

#1  Name it for what it is
#2  Acknowledge its power
#3  Refuse to be held hostage by it
#4  Deal with it in our own psyches (nobody’s immune, so self-awareness is key)
#5  Work tirelessly for inclusion, justice and transparency
#6  Speak out against abuses of power
#7  Support leaders who understand that democracy – as well as the realm of God – is for everybody
#8  Don’t give up; live in hope
#9  Support one another because this work can get tiring
#10  Be a part of “climate change” in any way you can (iow: be the change you want to see)

Now how will I personally translate these thoughts into a response to the Hobby Lobby decision? Probably not by preaching to the choir and posting snarky cartoons about conservative Christian employers. Hobby Lobby is what Hobby Lobby is.

Accountability must lie with those who are supposed to be governing and making decisions on our behalf. So my protest, activism, vote and financial support has to be directed there in order to help bring about the change I want to see.

So – kudos to RBG! Thanks for speaking out for us. You give us courage to fight the good fight.

And fight it we will!






Posted by: smstrouse | June 28, 2014

In Solidarity With Kate Kelly

477Oh, church. How you abuse your children. I get so angry with you, even as I defend you against those who lump all your daughters and sons into categories like judgmental, delusional and masochistic. I’ve often wondered (in the questioning sense) myself why I’ve stayed, why I’ve put up with some of the abuses I’ve both witnessed and endured.

But I’ve also wondered (in the being awed sensed) at the times of compassion, justice-seeking and community-building I’ve witnessed and experienced in far greater numbers. Just this week, the oldest member of our congregation died. As we come together in love and solidarity with his his widow and daughter, I marvel at the blessing of our little community.

Tomorrow, some of us will march in the San Francisco Pride Parade. For a number of years now, my bishop has lead the Lutheran contingent and will do so again this year. We’ll be among a larger group of other open and affirming congregations – putting denominational differences aside in unity under the rainbow flags.

Church can get it right. Sometimes it takes a while. It took twenty years for my own denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, to catch up to the stand that my congregation took for the full inclusion of lgbtq clergy. First United was put on trial and expelled for calling an openly gay pastor against church policy at the time. When I was called as pastor, they’d been independent for a long time. When the ELCA changed the policy and invited us to come back into the fold, we took a long time to make the decision to return. We decided that it was important to affirm the progress the church had made and to continue to work for changes still to come.

Which is why I stand in solidarity with Kate Kelly, the Mormon activist who has been excommunicated from the Mormon Church this week. Kelly is the founder of Ordain Women, working to reform the all-male leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

While certainly not in the vanguard, Lutherans in the US have been ordaining women since 1970 (the Lutherans in Denmark began in 1948; the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod still does not). But I’m old enough to remember the controversy over it and the struggle for acceptance, even after the battle had been won.

The church moves slowly. But it can move, although sometimes we have to push it along. So I have hope for Kate Kelly and the women of the LDS. There may be tough times ahead, but ultimately justice will prevail. We who are further along in that particular struggle, should all be standing with them in solidarity. After all, we’re the church, too. The all-male leadership just hasn’t gotten the memo: their days of power and control are over.

Posted by: smstrouse | June 21, 2014

Pluralism Summer II

bible-quranA question appeared on our Facebook page recently: “Is your church seriously having readings from the Qur’an there?”

I didn’t know how to respond, since it was all by itself on the fb page,not as a comment to any post. Plus it seemed to be a loaded question. I’m guessing that the questioner wasn’t saying, “Gee, how cool that an unapologetically Christian church includes readings from other religious traditions, and that you actually meet with people of other faiths and dialogue together about what you have in common!”

Rather, I’d put my money on, “You do what?! How can you call yourself a Christian church?!”  I say this, knowing that a few years ago, when we had an interfaith event, I started getting emails accusing us of being a Chrislam church. That term was new to me at the time, but since then I’ve discovered that any pastor that even mentions Christianity and Islam in the same breath (or sermon) is likely to be called out for trying to syncretize the two religions. Oy veh, I say.

As we get ready to embark on our second pluralism summer next week, I’m preparing for the deluge. Since our first guest speaker will be a rabbi, I suppose we’ll be accused of being Judeo-Christian – whoops, we are!

And since I’ll be preaching tomorrow from the Hebrew scriptures (Genesis) part of the story of Hagar and Ishmael, I imagine we’ll be called Judeo-Chris-lam.

But the fact is that we are a Christian church in the Lutheran tradition. Yes, we invite and welcome people of all faiths and no faith to meet and talk with us. Most even like to pray with us. They learn things about us that they didn’t know before, and we learn things about them that we didn’t know. Friendships are made.  Stereotypes are broken down.  What in the world could be so threatening about that?

This summer’s series will be asking our interfaith guests – as well as our own Christian selves – to reflect on the question: how does my tradition or practice inform how I think about caring for the earth? Hey, maybe if we all talk together about this, we can actually do something together to heal this world of ours!

What a thought. Actually, what a prayer. May it be so.

Posted by: smstrouse | June 14, 2014

Reimagining “Our Father”

romance-and-marriage-fathers-day-2I hasten to say, on this Fathers Day weekend, that I have nothing against fathers. One of my favorite parents was a father.  And I give the guys their due on their special day.

But when it comes to God, it’s a different matter. There are way too many issues involved with calling the Holy One “Father” – at least exclusively.

Cima_da_Conegliano,_God_the_FatherSo, in my congregation, we don’t say “Our Father, who art in heaven . . .”  We don’t even use the updated version “Our Father in heaven . . .”  We believe that it’s important to go beyond the attempt to merely update the Old English to contemporary language. And no matter how much traditionalists rant and rave about God not being the same as our earthly fathers and God is not a male, etc., etc., the fact is that the word had become a stumbling block. Even if you have a parent who really is the “Greatest Father in the World,” you need to recognize the difficulties in using the same word for the Ground of our Being.  Again – at least exclusively.

Last year, in my congregation, we revised our inclusive language statement. We adopted a policy of inclusive language when talking about people and a policy of expansive language for God. This means that while we won’t root out all references to Father, Lord, King, etc., we will include a wide variety of other names, words and images as well.)WhirlpoolGlxyThe challenges of the “Our Father” are not only about inclusive language. In the Q&A section of a recent column by John Shelby Spong, a reader expressed other problems with the traditional prayer and offered a version he had written. But when he asked if Bishop Spong thought that such revisions would ever happen in congregations, the response was, “No, I do not think that the churches will ever engage this issue.”

Let me say right away that I’m a huge admirer of John Shelby Spong. I don’t always agree with him, but I often do. And I admire his courage in speaking out for the “church alumni society,” as he calls it. In fact, it was at one of his lectures years ago that I knew I’d passed the point of no return on the path of progressive Christianity.

So when I read his answer, I had to respond.
Dear Bishop,
In response to your latest columns Q&A: our congregation never uses the tradition “Lord’s Prayer.” We are an ELCA congregation, which around 10-12 years ago wrote our own version after a study group led by the late Dr. Robert Smith from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. We use this version for part of the year, but also switch off to others as well. One of our favorites is the one written by Parker Palmer.  Another is the one from the New Zealand Prayer Book. There are others; in fact I have a growing file of them – which is quite encouraging. I get many positive comments from visitors and from others when I use these prayers at other gatherings. Just thought you’d like to know.

I know that First United is unusual. But I also know we’re not the only ones engaged in faithfully reimagining our traditions. I hope this will become more and more widely known and those who are turned off by the language of “Our Father” will know that there are alternatives.

So Happy Fathers Day to all the dads, grandpas, uncles, godfathers  and all the guys who give fatherly care!

But tomorrow when we pray, it will be with these words (from Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Newmarket, Ontario):

God, lover of us all, Most Holy One,
help us to create what you want for us here.
Give us today enough for our needs.
Forgive our weak and deliberate offenses,
just as we must forgive others when they hurt us.
Help us to resist evil and to do what is good.
For we are yours, endowed with your power to make the world whole.

Posted by: smstrouse | June 7, 2014

Pentecost/ Pluralism/ Planning 2014

Acts 2:1-4. When the day of Pentecost came. Pastel & pen. 26 May 2012.I’m writing this as I prepare for three converging activities tomorrow. It’s Pentecost Sunday, which is often described as the birthday of the church. I found a really nice painting of the coming of the Holy Spirit to a group of people obviously of many different ethnicities. However, when I checked its copyright information, I discovered that the artist had some rules for its use.

I was free to use it only if I agreed to a list of belief statements, including that “the Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God.” I also had to “believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, his vir­gin birth, his sin­less life, his aton­ing death, his bod­ily res­ur­rec­tion, his ascen­sion to the right hand of the Father and his per­sonal return in power and glory. I believe that Jesus alone is the medi­a­tor between God and man.”

Needless to say I didn’t use it.


Especially since tomorrow we’ll also be celebrating Pluralism Sunday, in which we “affirm that the teachings of Jesus provide but one of many ways to experience the Sacredness and Oneness of life, and that we can draw from diverse sources of wisdom in our spiritual journey.”
(from the 8 Points of Progressive Christianity

We’ll be using the Global Mass, put together by our music director, Orion Pitts. He’s gathered chants, hymns and songs from many different traditions to create a liturgy that expresses the diversity of our world.

This will also kick off another summer of interfaith engagement with members of our community from other religions and from no religion, who will be invited to share how their tradition informs how they care for the earth.

And then it’s also the day of our annual meeting. I hasten to add that our annual meetings are not the usual fare. We take just a brief time to conduct necessary business, and then move into a time of exploration and discussion about our congregation’s ministry.

This year 141_spiritualnotreligious_widewill be interesting because it’s been just a year that we voted to enter into partnership with St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church to do outreach ministry to the “spiritual but  not religious” folks of our community. I also hasten to add that we’re not doing this as a way of getting people into our doors to fill up the pews. We are offering a space for people, wherever they are on the spiritual spectrum, to talk about their hopes and hurts. We expect that a new community will emerge from this, but we don’t know what that’s going to look like. To me, it sounds just like the early church in the days after the first Pentecost.

So we’ll be talking about that – celebrating the year past and planning for the year to come.

Pentecost Flamming Cupcakes '11
I’m not too big on the birthday of the church idea.  After all, it’s the institutional church that brought us things like “the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, his vir­gin birth, his sin­less life, his aton­ing death, his bod­ily res­ur­rec­tion, his ascen­sion to the right hand of the Father and his per­sonal return in power and glory. I believe that Jesus alone is the medi­a­tor between God and man.”

However, I am very big on Pentecost. I love the imagery of fire and doves and rushing wind. I love the color red splashed throughout the sanctuary as members sport their red socks, shoes, shirts, earrings – however the Spirit moves them! It’s a fun day!

We sound have more like it.


Posted by: smstrouse | May 23, 2014

What to Do for Pluralism Sunday 2014???

Interfaith-4-people-clipartHow do we top last year? In 2013, instead of Pluralism Sunday, we had Pluralism Summer – twelve weeks of guests from traditions other than our own. This year, the official day for Pluralism Sunday was May 4, but because it was so soon after Easter we decided to wait until Pentecost on June 8. And that’s coming up fast! So what to do?! Not that it’s a matter of having to ‘top’ ourselves. But it was such a positive experience for both congregates and guests, I can’t help wanting to keep the momentum going.

I do know that if I had to do last year over again I’d make some changes. I would be more specific in asking our guests to speak about what they personally love or appreciate about their tradition. Many of them did that anyway, especially when I starting asking that question about halfway through the summer. Although people are interested in hearing about another religion’s history, beliefs, etc., I think they’re much more interested in personal stories.

progressive_soup That’s why I would also build in some time for our own folks to share their stories of what they love or appreciate about being Christian. I find that those from other religious perspectives are interested in hearing about us, too – especially the perspectives of progressive Christians. Not only that, we have to get better at telling our stories if we want to have an impact on how the rest of the world sees Christianity.

So I’m back to my dilemma: what to do, not only for Pluralism/ Pentecost Sunday, but for the entire summer. One suggestion was to have guests from other, more conservative, Christian churches. I have to admit that the idea doesn’t thrill me – not because I don’t think progressives and conservatives shouldn’t be talking and worshipping together, but because I’m not sure that I could be objective or non-attached enough to pull it off. I find it much easier to play with my interfaith friends than with my more traditional sisters and brothers and others within the family.

images Another idea (from my friend Sridevi Ramanathan, our Hindu guest from last summer) is to have interfaith speakers again, but to have each one speak on the theme of ecology – how does your tradition inform the way you think about and care for the Earth? I kind of like that.

As we were talking, though, we also got onto the subject of integrity. When is it proper to use prayers, rituals, etc. from another tradition and when is it cultural or religious appropriation? We both think that this is an important issue as more and more people claim to be interfaith or interspiritual. to-be-one1We’re not saying these are necessarily wrong, but would like to see a deeper understanding of the cultures and religions being appropriated. In fact, we may try to write an article together about this. As this interspirtitual movement grows, it would seem to be a timely topic.

Still, I’ve got to come up with something for Pluralism Sunday. We’ve moved beyond “let’s all be friends” and “hey, isn’t it cool, we’ve all got a version of the Golden Rule!” But there’s obviously much more work to be done – even in our Bay area bubble. What’s the next phase? Where should we go from here?

What do you think? Your comments are always welcome.


imagesIf you’re looking for a simple answer to this question, you’re going to be disappointed. However, I can give some advice on how to work with it.

This verse has come up every time I’ve worked with Christian groups on interfaith matters. Sometimes it’s quoted as a rationale for an exclusivist position: Jesus is the only way. Mostly though, it’s raised as a concern: I want to respect my neighbors of other faiths but I don’t know how to reconcile that with what the Bible says.

However it’s presented, my advice is to take the question and the questioner seriously. This is a faith issue, and while you may have moved into a different understanding of the text, others need time to possibly catch up. I’ve heard well-meaning people respond to the question with words like, “Jesus is just the way for Christians; it doesn’t apply to others.” I once saw a young man, who had fairly conservative leanings, turn away after a response like that. I don’t know how he felt, but I felt that the abrupt answer was not respectful – and it ended any possible further dialogue. So again, my advice is to honor the question.

After all, it is in the Bible. We can’t (or shouldn’t) simply ignore the parts that cause us discomfort. Remember how we had toimages-1  go back and work with the so-called “anti-gay” biblical texts, looking at their contexts and digging more deeply into what the authors were trying to say? It’s the same with the seemingly exclusivist passages like John 14:6.

My second piece of advice is that if you haven’t done any biblical work with the text – and you want to know how to respond to questions about it – now’s the time to find some good resources to get up to speed. A good place to start is Diana Eck’s book, Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras, especially the chapter called “The Faces of God”. Within that chapter, there’s a section called “I Am the Way: Inclusive Love” which is really well done. Dr. Eck comes at the passage as a pastoral response to an anxious question.

Another nifty little book is a new one: Truth, Testimony, and Transformation: A New Reading of the ‘I Am’ Sayings of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel by Yung Suk Kim. He takes a quick and easy-to-read look at John’s concept of the Logos and how it applies to the “I am” texts. The last chapter, ‘I Am’ Sayings of Jesus in Today’s  Pluralistic Life Context, really gets down to the question. I recommend these both highly.

A-Day-in-LifeI do not recommend simply handing a book to someone who asks you this question. Once you’ve come to your own conclusions, then be ready to engage questioners in conversation – not to teach ‘the right interpretation’ or convince them to change their minds, but to open up a space for exploration. You could ask questions, too. Like: in light of the whole story, what do you think Jesus was trying to convey? You could also ask if you could share your take on the story. Again, not to listen politely and then give them the ‘correct’ interpretation, but to get at the good news of the text – together.

There’s a lot of good scholarship being done on problematic texts like this one. The challenge is in getting it down to folks images-2who probably won’t ever see it. It’s up to us to convey the good news of the inclusive love of God shown to us in Jesus – even in “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to Abba God except through me.”


Posted by: smstrouse | May 10, 2014

Am I Still a Christian?

37353_130716663615900_100000327023697_234786_5182971_n“I don’t know if I could still call myself a Christian.” Before you call my bishop, please note that this was not a statement said by me. It was said to me by an elderly man who’d asked for spiritual guidance.

That it was not said by me might come as a surprise to those who have already judged me to be outside the Christian fold. I’ve been called a heretic and accused of leading my congregation down a slippery slope into relativism. I’ve been asked why I don’t just join the Unitarians and be done with it. My work with interfaith organizations has made me suspect in some camps. For others, the fact that I have high regard for other “heretics,” such as Bishop John Shelby Spong, certainly places me beyond the pale.

So let me be clear. I am a Christian. I’m a follower of Jesus of Nazareth, who showed us in words and in actions what living in the commonwealth of God is all about. I’m also a believer in the mystic presence of the Cosmic Christ, who existed before time began and was exuded so magnificently in Jesus.

I could go on and on about what that means to me, but I’d rather talk about my elderly friend who is questioning about what it means to be a Christian. Here’s someone who was baptized and raised in the Christian tradition, but rejected it long ago. From what I can determine, this was for several reasons. One of them being that for his very logical, intellectual mind many of the claims, creeds and doctrines just didn’t make sense.

In our ongoing conversations about religion and spirituality, we laugh about how I’ve turned him into a heretic by exposing him to progressive Christian writers like Spong, Elaine Pagels, Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan. My detractors will shudder at the path on which I’ve  led this lost sheep astray. But I would venture to guess that he’s been thinking and talking about Jesus more now than ever before.

Still, he knows what traditional Christianity is and so reflects, “I don’t know if I could still call myself a Christian.” Only he can answer that, but in my mind there is no reason why he could not. In fact, I see progressive Christianity opening the way for many of us to be able to still make that claim with honesty and integrity. In fact, I wish with all my heart that those who have been turned off by exclusivistic doctrines, outdated biblical scholarship and problematic creeds could know that there is an alternative.

I’m eternally grateful that I discovered it. My faith and my commitment to the church has been stronger because I did. And I’m grateful that I can minister to those, like my elderly friend, who is longing for spiritual guidance – as well as intellectual conversation.

Thank you, Jesus (and I do mean that) that we are able to do both!


Posted by: smstrouse | May 3, 2014

Speak Up Progressives! What DO WE Say about Baptism?

baptism.confusionI hesitate to even mention her name because it gives her more attention than she deserves. But the statement by Sarah Palin linking waterboarding to baptism has caused outrage in many Christian circles. Faithful America, an online organization that encourages Christians to put faith into action for social justice, has responded by initiating a petition to send to the media denouncing her use of a Christian sacrament to advocate the use of torture. 

However, as I signed the petition and groused about the politics of certain individuals, I also realized that something was missing (and missing from a lot of ‘progressive’ or ‘Christian left’ communiqués): a clear declaration of what we believe, rather than just a refutation of what we do not believe. 

water_drop_ripple123This is not  a criticism of Faithful America or any of the other responders, not at all. It is a rallying cry for us to speak up about why we see the water of baptism as sacred, life-giving and love-affirming.

Maybe the challenge for progressive Christians is that we’re not sure how to do that. We’re clear about what what we don’t want to say: that baptism is something you have ‘done’ in order to get your ticket to heaven punched; that it’s a way of determining who’s in and who’s out, that it’s about original sin and the depravity of being human.

images-1Some have rejected it altogether as unnecessary and meaningless. But I’ve always been opposed to throwing out the baby with the bath water (OK, pun intended). Just as sacred symbols, such as the cross and church-y words, like salvation need to be reinterpreted and reclaimed, so does baptism. And we’re slowly beginning to produce liturgies, hymns and prayers that express a progressive way of believing.

I’ve had several baptisms in which there was an interfaith component to the family. With each I talked about the sacred meaning of water in their tradition and how the baptism of their child can be something meaningful for all of them. And in conversations with ‘spiritual but not religious’ folks, I’ve come to understand that their request for baptism for their children is not simply a way to placate grandma. They truly do crave an encounter with the Sacred.imagesWhen I’ve talked with them about original blessing and the baptized way of life, they are grateful. These have been some of the most profound discussions about baptism I’ve ever had.

So I say we take our sacrament back from people like Ms. P., who obviously doesn’t get it. She’s tried to pollute our water, which of course, she cannot do. We, however, have an opportunity for pouring out and expressing our joy, delight and gratitude. Or, as the old John Ylvisaker song calls it, “Walking Wet.”  





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