“First the Bad News . . .” A Sermon for Proper 28, Year A

You all know those jokes that begin ‘I’ve got good news and bad news . . .” Well, in this sermon I’m going to flip it around and talk about the bad news first, because there is lots of bad news in the appointed lessons for today. There is talk of a dreadful “Day of the Lord.” There are dire warnings of impending disaster. Continue reading

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“Thanksgiving Day” A Devotion


“O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.”—Psalm 136:1

Our family gathers around the Thanksgiving table every year. The venue changes (we’re in Maine again this year) but now the menu does not. Continue reading

“The Weightier Matters”

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others.” —Matthew 23:23

Jesus was quick to spot religious hypocrisy. The Pharisees have got a bad name because of Jesus’ criticisms of them, but in truth they were the ones Jesus had the most affinity for. They were serious, pious and scrupulous keepers of Torah. Continue reading

Rick’s Nearly Indian Black-Eyed Peas with Mushrooms

In our house we love mushrooms, and there were some beautiful white button mushrooms in the market this week. Many years ago, when our kids were little, this dish was in regular rotation. I got the original recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking, the first Indian cookbook I owned and still a good one. She called this dish Lobhia aur khumbi and back then I followed her directions slavishly, soaking and cooking the black-eyed peas and using fresh tomatoes. Lately, I’ve been using canned black-eyed peas and canned diced tomatoes and it is still pretty darn good, and it is low-fat and vegetarian for those of you who like that sort of thing. Continue reading

Rick’s Nearly Moroccan Beef Tagine

I don’t own a tagine (the vessel) but you can make a very good facsimile of a tagine (the dish) in a Dutch oven, which is the way I have done it here. For authenticity this would typically be lamb, but I had a nice chuck roast and, as you know, good home cooking is all about innovation and flexibility so beef it was tonight. Don’t be scared of making this, it is basically a pot roast. I know you can do it. You can make it hot by adding cayenne pepper, but be prudent. Continue reading

“Our Blessed Guides”

“Beloved, do not imitate what is evil but imitate what is good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.”—3 John 11

Our culture prizes originality. No one wants to be considered an imitation! But in a number of places in the Bible we are admonished to model ourselves after someone or something, either a person or an ideal. Continue reading

“The God Who Speaks in Whispers” A Devotion on Psalm 42: 1-2

“As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”—Psalm 42: 1-2.

When I found my way back to God as a young man (or God found me, take your pick) it began with a deep longing.

Psalm 42 speaks to that sense that there is something missing, something not right, when God seems absent. The Psalmist asks this question of his own soul, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?” Continue reading