Letter to Readers
November 1, 2014 – 5:00 pm | No Comment

by Jin Hee Han

This 2014 winter issue focuses on “birthing.” Our editorial team pored over titles that could capture our thrust for this Christmas issue. “Birthing” won the day for its unique capacity to link the solidity of a noun (“birth”) with the fluidity of a verb (“to give birth”). Modern linguists may frown upon an attempt to build a worldview—so tender and yet so firm—on a grammatical form; however, preachers may imagine a world in which life is both gift and giving.

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Featured, Pastoral Reflections »

Understanding as a Means of Creating Connections
November 1, 2014 – 5:11 pm | 3 Comments

Disconnection can be characterized by the unwillingness and/or inability to understand diversity and the differences within cultures and sub-cultures. Connecting with others is one of the single most important actions we can take for our happiness. The Creator never intended for humankind to be alone; Genesis (2:18) tells us “The Lord God said, it is not good for humankind to be alone…” In other words, humans were created to be social beings. Therefore, it is imperative for clergy and practitioners to know that we humans inhabit a world of diverse characteristics, culture, race, sexual orientation, faith, class, ethnicity, and so much more. When we don’t take time to “understand” others’ differences, we may miss an opportunity to connect with them: communities, neighbors, and even youth.

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Birth: A Metaphor for the Process of Spiritual and Social Transformation
November 1, 2014 – 5:10 pm | No Comment
Birth: A Metaphor for the Process of Spiritual and Social Transformation

by Rebeca M. Radillo

Here is an insight into and a reflection upon a non-physical event crucial to becoming a mature spiritual and socially responsible human being. From the time of our birth, we are surrounded by cultural, political, philosophical, and religious forces. We tend to internalize our milieu and often become comfortable with the status quo. Our risk is to become complacent and self righteous if we fail to thrive in our own social and spiritual development.

Birth, Death, and Becoming Like God: Reflections on a New Testament Theme
November 1, 2014 – 5:09 pm | No Comment
Birth, Death, and Becoming Like God: Reflections on a New Testament Theme

by Michael J. Gorman

The incarnation and the atonement are like bookends in the Jesus-narrative, and each of them is also linked closely to Jesus’ life. Jesus became one of us to change peoples’ perspectives and expectations, and he did that throughout his ministry. It is precisely because of his actions that he was crucified as a threat to the religious and political status quo.

Birthing the True Self
November 1, 2014 – 5:08 pm | No Comment
Birthing the True Self

by Karla M. Kincannon

A midwife tells mothers that there are three things they need to know about labor. “It’s hard work, it hurts a lot, and you can do it.” That’s good advice for those on the Christian journey. The birth of the true self into the world requires effort and openness to God’s grace. We each have a true self, a deeper identity that lives in the heart of God and is united to God in Christ.

Birthing Sermons
November 1, 2014 – 5:07 pm | No Comment
Birthing Sermons

by Lisa S. Kraske Cressman

In a lecture to new writers, Poet Mary Oliver stressed that getting published was not the author’s most important task; honing their craft was. She had not smelled, touched, or marveled enough at God’s wondrous creation to have something worthwhile to write until then. Preachers share roughly the same two tasks with poets: to marvel, and then to write. And to have marveled enough at God’s being and the divine gifts offered us is much more difficult than writing the sermon.

The Handless Maidens of the Old Testament: Birthing Narratives
November 1, 2014 – 5:06 pm | No Comment
The Handless Maidens of the Old Testament: Birthing Narratives

by Amy Yeary Holmes

Most birthing narratives are embedded within a masculine journey which is external and involves leaving the ordinary and leaping into the unfamiliar, having adventures, over-coming obstacles, and returning as a hero. In contrast, the feminine journey is an internal journey of reflection, solitude, and self care. Often the chapters of the heroine’s life are seedbeds from which she draws energy and creativity when addressing a problem whose solution lies within the heroine’s being. Handless Maiden tales provide a path to uncover the intricacies of humanity’s feminine side.

Birthing of a Leader: Birthing Archetype in Judges 6–8
November 1, 2014 – 5:05 pm | No Comment
Birthing of a Leader: Birthing Archetype in Judges 6–8

Moddie Breland

Gideon’s leadership traits are developed through a process analogous to physical birthing. The author makes a case for Acts 1-15 being an archetype of the physical birthing process, thus asserting that these New Testament texts symbolically describe how Christianity was born from Judaism.

Birthing: Patience and Fulfillment
November 1, 2014 – 5:04 pm | No Comment
Birthing: Patience and Fulfillment

by Christian Zebley

In our spiritual journey of knowing, trusting, and loving God, birth is experienced through the reception of faith, hope, and vision. During periods of waiting, we should avoid “pushing the process along.” We must learn to be led by the Holy Spirit and wait patiently for God’s timing, power, and provision for the birthing vision to be fulfilled.

Book Review: The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor: Seeing Others Through the Eyes of Jesus by Mark Labberton
November 1, 2014 – 5:03 pm | No Comment
Book Review: The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor: Seeing Others Through the Eyes of Jesus by Mark Labberton

by Neal Presa

Mark Labberton, The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor: Seeing Others Through the Eyes of Jesus (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2010).

Lectionary: Nov. 1, Year A 2014 through Jan. 31, Year B 2015
November 1, 2014 – 5:02 pm | No Comment
Lectionary: Nov. 1, Year A 2014 through Jan. 31, Year B 2015

by Remington Slone

Whether or not a pastor follows the Lectionary, this perceptive commentary should prove valuable for preachers, seminary students, and lay readers seeking to expand their understanding of many Biblical passages from both Testaments.

Quotations from Scripture and Other Writings on Birthing
November 1, 2014 – 5:01 pm | No Comment
Quotations from Scripture and Other Writings on Birthing

collected by Darla Turlington

Here are quotations from the Bible and from secular writings that pastors and others may find useful in sermons, essays, or other venues.

Letter to Readers
November 1, 2014 – 5:00 pm | No Comment
Letter to Readers

by Jin Hee Han

This 2014 winter issue focuses on “birthing.” Our editorial team pored over titles that could capture our thrust for this Christmas issue. “Birthing” won the day for its unique capacity to link the solidity of a noun (“birth”) with the fluidity of a verb (“to give birth”). Modern linguists may frown upon an attempt to build a worldview—so tender and yet so firm—on a grammatical form; however, preachers may imagine a world in which life is both gift and giving.

Endurance: Legacy of the African-American Christian Experience
August 1, 2014 – 1:51 pm | One Comment
Endurance: Legacy of the African-American Christian Experience

by Reginald Brantley

One of the great ironies of Christian history in America is that slave masters taught their black slaves a racialist form of Christianity, hoping to keep them docile, but instead the story of the Exodus taught them that the God who rescued the Hebrew slaves and brought them out of Egypt was their God of liberation. Men like Demark Vesey and Nat Turner preached a liberation theology that rescued America from its baser self.