“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

 -Howard Thurman, theologian, educator, and civil rights activist

"Modern man has brought this whole world to an awe-inspiring threshold of the future...Yet, in spite of these spectacular strides in science and technology, and still unlimited ones to come, something basic is missing. There is a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers."

-Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 1964

Week of January 20

Dear Friends:

Last April my husband and I took our boys on a short trip to Atlanta.  The primary purpose was a chance for my oldest son to visit Emory, but we added in two days of sightseeing.  We toured (and tasted) the Coca-Cola factory, saw an Atlanta Hawks game, ate some amazing southern cooking, and walked everywhere. But we all agreed--- even my 12 year old—that the most incredible part of our visit was the time we spent at the Civil and Human Rights Museum. The museum offers the history of the freedom movement in the United States (told from Atlanta’s perspective) and an account of the human rights activism that these great civil rights pioneers have inspired throughout the world. 

For me, the most moving exhibit within the museum was of Martin Luther King’s assassination on April 4, 1968. As I stood looking at pictures of the balcony in Memphis where Dr. King was shot, I realized it was almost exactly fifty years to the day since his death. I wondered what he would make of American society’s racial and political landscape were he alive to see it. I’m certain he would feel there is still much work to do before true racial equality exists in this country.

In his Letter From a Birmingham Jail, a masterpiece of rhetorical writing addressed to church leaders, Dr. King rebukes the lukewarm response of white mainline churches to the cause of social justice and civil rights:

“You spoke of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist…But as I continued to think about the matter, I gradually gained a bit of satisfaction from being considered an extremist. Was not Jesus an extremist in love? -- "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice? -- "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the gospel of Jesus Christ? -- "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist? -- "Here I stand; I can do no other so help me God." Was not John Bunyan an extremist? -- "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a mockery of my conscience." Was not Abraham Lincoln an extremist? -- "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." Was not Thomas Jefferson an extremist? -- "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." So the question is not whether we will be extremist, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate, or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice, or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?”

As we remember and honor Dr. King’s legacy this weekend, his questions remain just as vital for us now as ever. Are we willing to be extremists for love? Are we willing to be extremists for the cause of justice?  We have the good fortune to be able to consider, discuss, and pray about these questions together in a community of faith, as people who believe in a God of love and justice, and as children who live in the embrace of this God.

Yours in Faith,



Week of January 13

Dear Friends:

 If you have ever parented, grand-parented, or babysat children, you have probably had the joy of reading to them.  And if you read to them with any regularity, you probably remember the ways kids seem to fixate on certain stories, forsaking all others. When our sons were young, we had a wide array of picture books, and I was always bringing home armloads of new ones from the library.  No matter how many books the boys had to choose from, they always wanted to hear the same few favorites, over and over again.  My husband or I would suggest a new book, only to have them pull a familiar favorite off the shelf once again. We would read the beloved book, and hear them exclaim at its completion: “Read it again!” Groan.

I once got so sick of the book, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”, that I slyly hid it behind my son’s bed, hoping he would forget about it.  I could only laugh when he came running into my room some weeks later exclaiming, “Look what I found! Now read it again!”

Reading the same book over and over is an impulse I understand. I have certain favorites that I have read so many times I can quote large chunks: Jane Eyre, A Prayer for Owen Meaney, Anne of Green Gables, To Kill A Mockingbird, to name a few. I will never get tired of reading these stories, though every nuance of plot and character is utterly familiar to me.

Why is it that certain stories bury themselves in our souls and never let go?

Part of the reason is, of course, the book is just a really good yarn. But it’s more than that. I think part of the pleasure of re-reading a favorite story is that we are transported back in time, able to reconnect to all the other times we have experienced the story. And each time we read the book, it is a different experience-- not because the book has changed, but because we have. Really good books reveal more of themselves each time we read them, growing along with us. As we experience more of the world, our encounter with a beloved and familiar story becomes richer and more meaningful, and we reinforce our sense of who we are, where we belong, and what we value.

Do we ever get tired of hearing the story of God’s love for us?  Each time we experience the story of God’s love for the world, we reconnect with a story that is at once both familiar and capable of yielding new insights into who we are, and who God is. The story of God and God’s creation is a really good yarn, and it is one that reveals more and more about God’s love for us each time we hear it.

So come this Sunday, January 13th, to hear Jonathan Morgan preach on the power of stories to connect us to God, to ourselves and to one another.

Let’s read it again!

 With love and peace,



“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” 
--Oscar Wilde 


“Men and women occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.” 
--Winston S. Churchill  


If you don't know the person I am

and I don't know the person you are

a pattern that others made may prevail in the world

and following the wrong god home we may miss

our star. 

                                           -William. Stafford

You will know what to do....

                                           - Mich Zeman