How long, oh Lord?

How Long?
10/8/17
Psalm 22

Today’s question,
“How long oh Lord?”
Comes from the 13th Psalm.
And also from the prophet Habakkuk.
who’s wildly underrated in the biblical lexicon,
just FYI.
And though the words don’t appear as such,
the sentiment is captured exceptionally well, I think,
by Psalm 22.
which we just read.

I have never experienced a season like this,
with so much to mourn globally.
We had horrific mudslides in Sierra Leone,
and a devastating earthquake near Mexico City,
and they barely even moved the needle,
on our collective grief scale,
as Charlottesville gave way to Houston,
and Houston to Florida,
Florida to Puerto Rico,
and Puerto Rico, now,
to Las Vegas.

And with the colossal loss of life,
the only names I can remember now are Maria, and Harvey and Irma.
When we know,
that real names, stories and lives were cut short,
by violence and disaster.

It’s too much to take in.
It’s too much.
My mourning muscles are worn,
and my spirit is weary from too much suffering in the world. (more…)

Published in: on October 10, 2017 at 12:13 pm Comments (0)
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What is truth?

October 1, 2017
“What is Truth?”

John 18:36b-38
1 John 3: 18-19

“What is truth?”
is certainly a big enough question for the day.
And the Gospel of John is deeply concerned with the word truth:
“the way the truth the life”
“the truth will set you free”
If you know a bible quote about truth,
it’s probably from John.
Including this little exchange between Pilate and Jesus,
in which Jesus says he has come to “testify to the truth”
and that “everyone who belongs to the truth listen to his voice.”
Pontius Pilate – the cruel Roman overlord – responds,
“what is truth?”
Jesus responds with silence.

From where I sit,
we use truth to mean at least 2 or 3 different things.
there is truth by definition.
2+2 = 4 because we define it as such.
Propositional truths, we might call them.
If I’m being honest,
these truths don’t interest me much.

Then there are truths we learn from observation,
and investigation.
Often, through the scientific method, or historical research.
Newton uncovered a truth about gravity,
and Einstein about relativity.
We call these truths ‘facts’ or ‘theories,’
(which is admittedly confusing),
and they do interest me.
Particularly as they inform the way we ought to live.

‘fact’
(as you may have noticed)
is disputed. (more…)

Published in: on October 8, 2017 at 3:23 pm Comments (0)
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What is family? – Rev. Lauren Seganos Cohen

What is family?
Guest Reflection from the Rev. Lauren Seganos Cohen,
Director of the Wilson Center at UMaine Orono
10/1/8
Matthew 12:46-50

When you learned that the topic of tonight’s service was family, what went through your mind? For some, the word family reminds you of childhood, of crowded Thanksgiving dinners and birthday celebrations, of support, love. For others, family is a loaded word, rife with painful memories or strained relationships. Sometimes, we choose our family. Most of the time, it seems our family is chosen for us.

As Christians, we turn to the life and teachings of Jesus to give us direction and meaning in our lives. Other than the stories of his birth found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Jesus’ family pops up only occasionally in the narratives of the New Testament. The passage today from Matthew is an interesting one, often seen as confusing or at least unusual. (more…)

Published in: on October 1, 2017 at 5:06 pm Comments Off on What is family? – Rev. Lauren Seganos Cohen
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And who is my neighbor?

9/17/17
Luke 10:25-37
And who is my neighbor?

You’ve heard this story before, I imagine.
Maybe someone is hearing it for the first time today.
That would be nice.
Because it’s a good story,
worn down a little with age and familiarity.
But still good.
Maybe you’ve even heard a sermon on this story before.

“Go and do likewise” right?
it’s an important sermon.
Be nice.
Help people.
We get it.

Maybe you’ve even heard many sermons on this story before.
Maybe you know how badly,
the Samaritans hated the Israelites,
and vice-versa.
Like Yankees Fans and Redsox Fans, but worse.
(Manchester United and Manchester City.
I don’t know.)
Bad blood,
bad history.
Close enough to really know one another,
and really hate one another. (more…)

Published in: on September 19, 2017 at 9:43 am Comments Off on And who is my neighbor?
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Where do we go from here?

Colby College Chapel, 9.10.17
Matthew 16:21-26

Please allow me a brief digression into contemporary affairs this evening.
I know, with the transition to Colby,
or back to Colby.
And with news of the second deadly hurricane this month reaching our shores,
as we speak.
there is much on our minds.
But I simply can’t let go,
of this nation’s wrestling over immigration.
It’s tempting for me this week,
to recite every passage in our scriptures,
pertaining to welcoming foreigners and aliens in our land.
Our scripture often has much to say,
about contemporary affairs (and vice versa).
But this is easier than most to decipher.

The last time we tried to ban refugees,
or the time before that –
some of you heard a whole sermon on this,
so I won’t harp on it too long.
Suffice it to say simply,
the scriptural story is closed,
when it comes to the subject of aliens, refugees and immigrants.

“You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien,
for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”
this one is from Exodus,
but it is the most repeated command,
in the Hebrew Bible. (more…)

Published in: on September 12, 2017 at 10:22 am Comments Off on Where do we go from here?
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What Are We Here For?

Colby College Chapel, 9/3/17
1 Peter 4:8-10

I’ve chosen “Big Questions”
as our theme this semester,
because I suspect you have some.
And I want to hear about them.

Though you should know from the outset:
I don’t have a bunch of easy, big answers for you,
it’s good to be suspicious of anyone who does.

Really, I hope it’s the asking of big questions,
that brings you to a place like Colby.
Wondering big wonderings is,
in essence,
your job while you are here.
And asking the big questions,
is no less essential in your life of faith.
For an unexamined faith
surely cannot stand.

It is, of course, possible to avoid big questions.
Usually by fixating on the small ones –
How can I be cool?
Which courses are the easiest?
How can I meet cute boys or cute girls or cute people?
Which majors will lead to the most money?
Where are the best parties?
What’s streaming on Netflix this month? (more…)

Published in: on September 3, 2017 at 10:05 pm Comments (1)
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The Easter Question

Mark 16:1-8
Colby College Chapel, Easter, 4.15.17

What a joy its been,
to hear from our seniors (and Marcques)
this semester so far, am I right?
Complicated and deep and authentic wrestling,
with faith and hope and the manifold challenges of our world.
We’ll cruise all the way through the end of the semester,
with more reflections from seniors,
so this is my moment to show my appreciation across the board.
Thanks to each of you for your presence and wisdom,
and for many good conversations over many grilled cheese sandwiches.

This is also my moment to give you a glimpse into my answer to the question,
what gives me strength and hope for the journey.
And what better day to do so, than Easter.
Which we commemorate every Sunday of course,
which is why today looks much like it usually does
(except for a few unfamiliar faces perhaps).

So, this is it.
Our text for this evening, from Mark.
The entire account of the resurrection story,
in it’s oldest written form.
From the Gospel of Mark.
Two Marys and Salome
walking away from an empty tomb,
terrified and amazed.

(more…)

Published in: on April 18, 2017 at 3:13 pm Comments Off on The Easter Question
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Strength for the Journey – Rachel Prestigiacomo ’17

The Infinite Plasticity of the Human Heart

So excited to be talking with you today!
Thank you Kurt
Opportunity
Guidance
And really, thank you all for being here.
This is a really special thing
And it seems like a dramatic thing to say, but I am genuinely honored to be here.
I’ll get to it in a minute, but it’s things like this-
Togetherness
Support
People who care –
that give me hope

So now I have to do that awful thing (that sometimes makes a really good opening to an essay) where I define hope.
I thought I had a pretty good idea what hope was at least from a visceral standpoint.
On powerful days, it’s a
Glint in your eye
Strength in your core
Tightness in your belly
You feel ready
Important days, hope is
Fierce
Desperate
Dizzying
Heady thing
Pulling you toward your goal
Gentler days
Subsides to a sweet, secure warmth in the middle of your chest
It can be cerebral
Motivating thing
Reason, sometimes a justification
Hope is a beautiful little underdog like
Springtime or a hummingbird or a candle
Powerful beyond all reason
Springtime supersedes winter
Hummingbirds migrate all the way to South America
A candle can light a whole room, especially if it’s dark
Still, you can’t help but hold it in both hands like a little glass figurine
But that’s just what hope feels like to me. (more…)

Published in: on April 3, 2017 at 11:36 am Comments Off on Strength for the Journey – Rachel Prestigiacomo ’17
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Strength For the Journey – Aaliyah Bell ’17

 

When pondering about how I gain strength for the journey we call life, I think about the Vagina Monologues. I have participated two years in a row for the annual reading of the play in February. I think specifically about the monologue “My Angry Vagina”. __My vagina’s angry. It is. It’s pissed off. My vagina is furious and it needs to talk. It needs to talk about it all. It needs to talk to you.__ That is what gives me strength. More specifically, I will speak to how anger has progressed in volumes throughout my life.

You can look at me now and assume some of the oppressions that are chained to my identities. I have learned to compartmentalize these emotions for my own emotional and physical safety. Also just for my method of survival in a White supremacist world. What has always been interesting for me is how my pastors back home preached their sermons angrily, passionately, and quite disruptively to call the humans in the pews to bring love into the world. That church that I call home is Middle Collegiate Church settled in the East Village of New York City. My pastor Jacqui Lewis demanded that we bring our talents and energy into the streets. She was angry. She still is angry. Adolescent Aaliyah questioned the difference between anger and love. Is there a binary present or do they blend together? (more…)

Published in: on April 2, 2017 at 2:21 pm Comments Off on Strength For the Journey – Aaliyah Bell ’17
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Closing Trip Reflections – Kurt Nelson

It’s hard to synthesize thought after a week as rich this one. So instead, I’m left with many questions, a couple of inescapable images, and a closing thought:

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney at a press conference on 3/16. via cnn.com

As we drove down to Baltimore on Saturday the 18th, I had burned in my brain the image of White House budget director Mick Mulvaney informing the public of school nutrition programs: “They’re supposed to help kids who don’t get fed at home get fed so they do better in school…Guess what? There’s no demonstrable evidence they’re actually doing that. There’s no demonstrable evidence of actually helping results, helping kids do better in school.”

This is simply untrue. My educational efforts are meant to be non-partisan, but ‘facts is facts’ and I couldn’t keep this off my mind.

Not the real billboards, but close enough.

Coming home on Saturday the 25th, much of the first leg of our long drive home to Maine takes place along the New Jersey Turnpike. Along that 150 mile stretch, I think I saw 10 billboards advertising bariatric surgery (or a no surgery option involving a balloon.) After a week devoted to addressing food insecurity, this image troubles me.

In between, we visited 11 organizations, cooked food, served food, packed good, prepared beds for growing food, and talked with researchers, lobbyists, activists and patrons of various food access points. It was – as ever – exhausting and thought-provoking work.

And the central image of the trip remains the twelve of us, seated around a table at our hostel, (more…)

Published in: on March 29, 2017 at 11:29 am Comments Off on Closing Trip Reflections – Kurt Nelson
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