Burn It Down

Luke 12:49-56

Jeremy Richards

When I was a kid, every summer around this time of year my dad would leave for long stretches of time, often a week to 10 days. I remember waiting for him to come home the way children often wait for their parents to return. I have one memory in particular, playing out in our front yard, when my dad came around the bend in our little subdivision in our old 1970-something VW camper van. His hair was a mess, his face was covered in grime and soot. I ran to the edge of the yard with excitement and waited for him to get out of the van. When he picked me up, he smelled like smoke. He had been away fighting wildfires.

With Cords of Kindness, with Bonds of Love

Hosea 11:1-11

Jeremy Richards        

When I was 4 or 5 years old, I broke my right arm – both the radius and the ulna. I was chasing my friend Matt along a sidewalk and a tripped over a flower pot. We had been with Matt’s mom, but somehow, almost instantly after it happened, my mom showed up. Matt’s mom drove us to the hospital and my mom sat in the back with me as I laid my head on her lap. Matt didn’t help matters by repeatedly telling me how his brother had broken his arm and had to get a screw in his arm and how he had heard is brother screaming in the next room over when this happened. I spent most of the drive to the hospital screaming myself, not out of pain but out of fear of getting a screw put in my arm.

Streambeds and Olive Trees

Psalm 52 | Colossians 1:15-28

Jeremy Richards 

Once there was a little streambed, high up in the mountains. Despite being a streambed, despite being made for water to flow through it, the little streambed couldn’t remember that ever happening. For as long as it could remember it had been dry. It was made for a purpose, but that purpose wasn’t being fulfilled. The dirt along the streambed was cracked and hard. And as it sat there, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, debris started falling and rolling and growing on top of it. It was becoming unrecognizable as a streambed. It was clogged and congested with all manner of twigs and brush and dead leaves and thorns. Even worse, trees had fallen across it and hurt it. They had broken parts of the streambed’s banks. The streambed thought it could never hold water now. These trees that now had become rotting, dead logs, would never let water flow through it, and besides there was too much debris in the way.

Jesus Saves

Colossians 1:1-14

Jeremy Richards 

A couple of weeks ago, I officiated the wedding of Brie’s cousin Harry and his wife Laura in Rhode Island. It was a beautiful wedding right on the ocean. Harry and Laura aren’t especially religious, so I went pretty light on the religious stuff, but, at one point, while equating love to the vast ocean the ceremony took place beside, I couldn’t help interjecting a bit of religion in there. I said, “I am a Baptist preacher, so I can’t resist reminding us that God created all the cosmos out of love, that we are made in and for love, that God, our divine Parent, the one we are made in the image of, is love.”

God of the Little People

2 Kings 5:1-15a

Jeremy Richards 

On Wednesday, Randy and I went to a local sports bar and watched the US women’s national soccer team take on England. After scoring the second goal for the United States, the goal that would ultimately win them the game, Alex Morgan stopped, stood still and took an imaginary sip of tea, poking fun at her English opponents. This, of course, caused Twitter to blow up, supporters loved it, while opponents hated it. Most notably, the British broadcaster Piers Morgan took issue and responded with some aggressive tweets, calling for the English team to put Morgan and the US team in their place. The tweets took off, and last time I looked one had over 2,400 comments, 289 retweets, and 2,200 likes. Unfortunately for Piers Morgan, England did not put the US in their place, and the Twitter world descended on Piers Morgan like a pack of wolves on an injured deer. Multiple articles have been written showcasing the best responses to Piers Morgan’s tweets.

The Everywhere Temple

Acts 16:9-15 | Rev. 21:10, 22-22:5

Jeremy Richards

Our readings today may seem, at first glance, to be quite different, and they are, but there are some commonalities as well. There is one in particular that I’d like to focus on, and it isn’t something that they both have, but something they are both missing. I’d like to focus not on something that’s present, but something that’s absent: a temple, a church.

I’ve Started to Make Heaven My Home

Revelation 7:9-17

Jeremy Richards

In his book, The Spirituals and the Blues, the theologian James Cone explores the meaning of heaven in black slave spirituals. He begins one chapter with these questions:

How was it possible for black slaves to take seriously their pain and suffering in an unfriendly world and still believe that God was liberating them from earthly bondage? How could they really believe that God was just when they knew only injustice, oppression, and death? What exactly was revealed in their encounter with God that made them know that their humanity was protected from the insanity of white masters and governmental officials? The answer to these questions lies in the concept of heaven, which is the dominant idea in black religious experience as expressed in the black spirituals.[1]