Three MPH


He stood in front of a crowd worried about poverty, incarcerations, all the social worries of the day, and talked about evangelism. “The gospel moves at 3 mph. Like this,” and he turned and walked around the room greeting people.

The gospel spreads the way we walk our talk. It’s a slow-moving, transforming encounter with another in which people see each other, speak to each other, hear stories of their lives, worries of their days, and dreams of their futures. The gospel is good news because those who receive it know their existence is worth noting.

Just when I think I’ve come to terms with my inadequacy of making a difference, the sacrament of communion arrives and Jesus says, “come for dinner, I’ve got a surprise for you.”

At the table I see people from a variety of places in life. We are differently abled, all ages, histories that converge and diverge, sorrows and celebrations that are common if not the same. When I remember that on World Communion Sunday, I am acknowledging that the people I see visibly represent the whole church, in all times and in all places, I am remembering that the church is not a building. I remember that I have connections to people near and far. Some I know. Others I may never meet. And wherever they are, they want the same thing I do: world peace and healthy friendships, and hope.

For every devilish declaration that destruction and chaos are winning, there are millions of people who are walking examples of good news. You are one of them.

Moving at 3 mph – with every hand you shake, smile you give, listening ear you open, dream you support, tear you catch, skill you teach, you are the church making peace in the name of Jesus Christ.

We will once again collect the peacemaking offering. This is the gospel at a dollar at a time. Your contributions have built an early warning (cyclone/flooding) system in the south Pacific nation of Tuvalu, created programs for women and girls to avoid and escape human trafficking in Madagascar, and offered training for dismantling racism in our own presbytery. This, too, is the slow-moving spread of the gospel.

Do you wonder if you are alone in your own dreams for a world at peace, or a relationship healed? Maybe there is an answer for you. The table is ready and Christ calls, “Come for dinner….”

Keep shining saints!




More than a feeling

Is the sky falling?

Do you think everything is worse than it used to be?
Is poverty in the USA:  A) growing B) stable C) decreasing?

Surprise! It is C. in 1964, 19% of the population lived in poverty. In 2014, it was 14.8% and in 2022, it was 11.5%.

There are still too many people living in poverty. Yet, if we ignore the positive movement, we might lose hope and fail to continue the necessary efforts to give more people more avenues to a life of enough, and more than enough. We must rely on more than a feeling about how the world is changing and examine the facts. Things are improving–slowly but surely.

Forgive us our debts…

Sunday, we read the story of the forgiveness of debts. What a joyful way for someone to be freed from a life of poverty and impossibility. Many of you likely have a house debt, maybe car or credit card debt, maybe education debt. Perhaps you have found ways to manage and are paying it down.

Imagine if the number was so big, it would never end. Maybe you do not have to imagine. I do not have to imagine. When I was given the gift of paying off a debt, the freedom released so much within my soul that it was life-changing.

Whether the debt we forgive is a relational IOU or a financial one, grace moves life toward the good. Perhaps you forgive debts through services like Rise Against Hunger, or Food on the Fourth. You have another super-power.

You can vote. Which candidates see a handout as a handup, too? Which candidates support the most vulnerable, usually women, children, young adults just getting started, and seniors, often people of color, migrants?

Small Change, Compound Results

Because sometimes the gift is like offering a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish. In God’s hands, all offerings are abundantly compounded. And debts are forgiven, removed as far as the east is from the west!
If we spend time judging the intentions of recipients, we will always miss the opportunities to bless the positive movement of so many others. Let us not regard small change as irrelevant. Let us offer it to God and see how God forgives our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Images “The sky is falling!” by BaileyRaeWeaver is licensed under CC BY 2.0.  Mead quote by JenTravelsLife is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


“Honest Patriotism”

Appeals and Investments

My phone is getting overloaded with texts and emails. It’s political season and the fundraising has kicked in. Do you respond to some? Do candidates or their messages inspire you to invest your hard-earned cash into their campaign for authority and power to manage the republic? What does it take to move you from irritated and annoyed to committed voter and funder?

Deciding Considerations

For some time, I have been thinking about how I want to use money when I am supporting something I think of as the greater good. This has made me consider my value system. I have to take time to process what an appeal includes that is in line with the things I believe. This means moving beyond bumper sticker campaign slogans and posts on social media.
I cannot dismiss one party’s candidates in favor of the other with a quick swipe across my Instagram page. I have to pay attention to details about their policies. When I do, I can begin to see how a common ground may emerge, a starting point for connections that otherwise are dismissed by our political divides and 30-second ugly marketing strategies. (There’s a link below for some starting points.)

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God,

and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. (Rom. 13:1)

My Ever-emerging Decision Process

My strategy is based on character, community, and commandments.

Character: how closely do they mirror the life of my inspiration, Jesus.

     Key aspects-
  • a broadening welcome of people no matter where they come from or who they are,
  • invitational in that options open up for overcoming histories of personal and societal failures
  • interdependent, able to articulate personal positions without diminishing those who differ (unless they’re pharisaical ways lead to murder plots!).
  • truth seeker and truth teller

Community:  what kind of society did Jesus build with his disciples, what is the nature of the promised land of Israel’s hope.

     Key aspects:
  • become more clear in what I think “on earth as in heaven,” means and discern the ways a platform seeks that outcome,
  • Diminishing poverty, ending hunger and lack of clean water, and provision of shelter at the least,
  • shared wealth that builds prosperity for all,
  • promotion of non-violent settlement of conflicts,
  • exhaustive pursuit of forgiveness and cooperation.
Commandments: The three uses of the law are to show us
  • how far we need to go toward building a heavenly peace,
  • to restrain our tendencies toward apathy for the well-being of others, and
  • to cast the vision of God’s intention for a whole and holy creation.

The 10 Commandments lay it out pretty well. The 2 Great Commandments make it even more clear: love the Divine Creator of all that is and love the creatures, including ourselves, that Creator makes.

How will you decide?

I invite you to have a conversation with your trusted friends about the actual values that drive your vote, your contributions, your investments in our political process.
If you want to read about the Presbyterian understanding of our duty as citizens in the public arena, here’s a link to “Honest Patriotism.”  It is a beginning conversation on the importance of truth and what being patriotic is from a Scriptural and Reformed theology point of view.


I love my job.

Sept 7, 2023

I love my job.

I was asked if it is true that if you loved your job you would never work a day in your life. My answer—not true. You will work twice as hard because you do love it. When the job gets awful but you love it anyway, the saying means you rarely wake up and wish you never had to work there again. I love my job.

A pastor recently shared his despair and declared he is leaving ministry because it is awful. I have experienced some of the same difficulties. You have likely left or felt trapped in a job as well. I have bad days. Sometimes I’ve had bad months (years). I’ve had ministry jobs that were way more work than joy, and which I did in fact actively seek to leave. Nevertheless,

What else would I do?

I can imagine all kinds of things it would be fun to try. There is nothing else I can imagine sticking with when things got hard. I love the challenge of thinking about and being the idealist. I am the sky is falling realist who proclaims, “But thus sayeth the Lord—I’m about to do a new thing! Wait for it!”

Then, I get to share the invitation to be part of the transformation. I hope you discover the joy in the journey toward wholeness in spite of the frailties of human life, the joyless drudgery of work you are not interested in, the pains of loss, the agony of slow-motion success.

There’s More to Love

My joy is being a witness to what others do without me which make this world a better place because they are in it. Often, they don’t even realize the difference that one conversation, or sacrifice, makes. I love my job because I am called to witness who you are, what you do, what and who you love. Sometimes I see it because you are kind, loving, serving, offering. Sometimes I see it because you are angry or hurt or failing or even mean. I am called to see, not judge, called to love not fix, called to hope.

You Can, Too

You can have this joy, too. And that’s where my work begins. Can I model the witness and testimony side without judgement in a way that invites you to be free of that burden? The new thing God is doing, has done, and will always do is to free us of that original divisiveness (sin) that is the burden of what we Christians call our fallen humanity—judging between good and evil.

When we follow the way of Christ, what we are learning to do is see people with love. Including ourselves. I’m still learning. I fail and I succeed.

I hope you’ll find a small group, a Bible study, and a community of friends with whom you can be authentically yourself and know that you are loved. In that embrace, may you know the love of God and discover your true vocation.

You, too, are called to the ministry that I love. My paid work comes forth from the church. Yours will be wherever you work–and play. May your life’s work be love.

Shalom, RevBev
Image Credits: “United States stamp: Labor Day” by karen horton is licensed under CC BY 2.0. “Luke 10:2 – Mike Evans” by drmikeevans is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.


Come and See

 Turn Around

“Repent!” shouts the street preacher. And every commercial you skip on TV or pay to avoid. The process of selling us products begins by telling us our lives are not enough, we are not enough. If only we had…. Just $9.99 in this special offer. Whether it is a new diet and exercise plan or the latest model SUV, advertisers know the pursuit of happiness means keeping up with the imagined lives of the Jones’ or superstars we fawn over in our consumer-based society.

This mentality fades over into the invitation we offer to others when we do evangelism. “Come and see,” what Jesus is all about too often becomes the Church trying to scare people into heaven. “Repent! Save yourselves—confess and God will forgive!” I think that’s why Presbyterians have so much trouble inviting friends to participate in church activities—we aren’t fearful. We are full of grace. And that is not easy to “sell.”

 Come and See

Jesus says simply, “Follow me.” His first friends said, “We found him, come and see.” No fear of God, no threats of hell, no damned if you don’t. Just, “come and see.”

This month we begin a new series of Christian Formation, of discipleship study, called, “Follow Me.” There is one unit that reflects on confession as a spiritual practice (coming in November). All the other units are about the breadth of practices in church life and life beyond our worship gatherings that help us see Jesus everywhere.

The word repent means, “turn around.” If our lives too often take us in directions that are unfulfilling, or leave us wanting something more meaningful, perhaps we can turn around, and learn together more about what Jesus invites us to “come and see.”

I’m pretty sure it will include friendship rather than fear, food rather than faultfinding, and a fresh wind of the holy. I wonder, how did you complete that thought? What do you need the Spirit to refresh in you, around you, with a breath of life?

Maybe you will come and see what Jesus has in mind. See you Sunday?

Peace, RevBev
Image:  Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon under Creative Commons license,



Tired of rudeness, crudeness, hateful monologues? Tired of hearing of threats, fights, gunfights? At a loss as to how to respond or make a difference? I hear the question from people across the spectrum of political perspectives: why are people so mean?

Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.

 For the judgment you give will be the judgment you get,

and the measure you give will be the measure you get.”  Mt 7: 2

We struggle to challenge the ugliness in society, much less among friends or colleagues. We think it is not our place to judge. Worse, we have been bullied and are afraid we will get hurt, truly hurt, or even killed.

First, it is not wrong to reflect back to a person your experience of their statements. You are sharing about yourself. As hard as it may be to “see something, hear something, say something,” responding in the moment is an act of kindness. By expressing your own perception of something as hurtful, and as a way of speaking that you will not engage with, you are engaging with a person in a new way. This kind of dialogue infers that you care more about how the two of you relate to one another than whether one of you is right.

Examples: “That comment was hurtful, mean, because I believe/I felt/I heard..,” “I respond better to kindness than to tone of voice/these words/doing this violence,” “I will not participate in this kind of talk or action because it is cruel and dangerous.”

Also, if you lower your vocal register toward a tenor/bass sound, and speak very quietly, it shifts the listener’s posture toward you.

All these options are simply tools for decreasing aggressive conversation, and de-escalating stress, which I have used with people angry about their own illnesses, or caregiving responsibilities, or dying, at moments when anger overflowed and threats were being tossed around like candy.

ALWAYS leave a dangerous situation if you can. Not becoming a victim of a life-threatening act is an act of kindness because it diminishes damage.

The “Problem” with Us

Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye but do not notice the log in your own eye? 

Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’

while the log is in your own eye? Mt 7: 3-4

If we think we are not part of the problem, we are too isolated from those we look down upon and too self-absorbed to notice the pain we ourselves inflict- sometimes by what we do not say and do not do.

Silence and ignorance are complicit in creating a world where some say, “what’s wrong with those people?”

Yet, when we are self-reflective, instead of asking about “those,” we ask about ourselves with love and become better behaved advocates, we have a greater capacity for compassion. Thus, we can love our neighbors. As others have said, everyone has their own demons and is fighting battles largely by themselves. Compassion invites us to regard mean behavior as the outcome of sin’s power over us, the very thing Jesu has come to defeat. Healing was his “weapon” of choice. He regarded everyone from the point of view that Sin, with a capital S, had worked evil upon them and they needed to be freed from captivity, released from prison. The key to those cell doors was unconditional love.

Cruelty can’t beat Compassion

In this way, seeing people behaving in mean and cruel ways, first as beloved children of God, second as trapped in the power of Sin, and third as those Jesus has compassion for, we, too, can be freed to fulfill our own calling to be ambassadors of reconciliation and stewards of the mysteries of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The practice of compassion which allows us to, “first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.” (Mt 7: 2-5), is the path of courageous healing and reconciliation which transforms us as followers of Jesus Christ.

Go in peace, and let your light shine! RevBev


Myth or Fact

August 3, 2023
Myth or Fact
The most shocking moment of my seminary education was in my first class, Old Testament Survey. There we began by comparing ancient myths of creation, ancient codes of law, ancient histories with the stories in the Bible.

Imagine finding out that Scripture had a lot in common with all these other cultures and their sacred literature. The names were different. The dates rarely matched. Place names were not the same. Their gods were not, ever, our God. Yet, there was no denying the relationship between the tales. How could I possibly have been so deceived?!

Living Word
Overtime, I came to realize that this was like a Bible boot-camp in which our preconceived notions were blasted away with our class- and homework, and then rebuilt from a new foundation. Knocking away the mythology of my own cultural experiences became the piece of scholarship that solidified my faith in God through the revelation of this living word written thousands of years ago. Everyday, I learned something, heard something, grew in some kind of unexpected way, because I was immersed in community and scripture and prayer.
Come and See
That’s the point of church school. We gather, we pray, we read and we share our experiences in order to understand how God continues to reveal God-self to us through the Bible. More than that, in joining each other, we begin to see God break down barriers between us around our differences. We begin to appreciate how each of us comes to know a particular way of God’s lovingkindness, mercy, and justice.

Please begin to plan for your Sunday morning small group. There will be classes for all children and youth, and two classes for adults. Some will be straight up bible study, others will be topical. We need each other. Let us learn together about our God-given faith and purpose.

Sundays – 9:00 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. beginning September 10.

Peace, RevBev

Bible Study” by FotoGuy 49057 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


How’s your spirit?

How is it with your spirit?
Is life satisfying? Do you have a sense of peace, everyday? In our Roamin’ with Romans series, Paul constantly asks us to pay attention to our soul, our allegiance to the Spirit of life and peace. Now is the time to prepare the soil of your soul for the planting of news seeds of faith. Can we have that Spirit without doing anything?
I join Paul in saying, “YES!” And, “NO!”

Yes, because this spirit is a gift of God through Christ. This Spirit breathes life and peace where she wills and it is not up to us to direct her or harness her. This is the freedom of God at work in the world to bring the new creation.

No, because Paul also instruct disciples to learn and grow and work out our salvation. St. Andrew will begin a new again commitment to intentional spiritual formation this fall.

Church School
The Discipleship Committee will be introducing a whole church program of “learning together about our God-given faith and purpose.” The first component will likely be a Sunday schedule of educational opportunities.

Please begin to pray about your spiritual development and how you want to grow. It may be in Bible study, or in topical conversations. Perhaps there are particular questions in your life that you wish you could ask—and get an answer from—God.

Now is the time to prepare the soil of your soul for the planting of new seeds of faith.

“what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it,
who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” Mt 13: 23


JESUS MAFA. The parable of the sower, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved July 20, 2023]. Original source:


The Joy of Summer

Ah. The joy of summer.

The fireworks were fun, and I remembered how hard it might be for veterans, gun violence victims, and dogs. What does it mean to enjoy things that are hard for others to endure?

It’s vacation time. I confess being one of those who has to check myself when I start to become jealous of my friends travel pictures on social media. What does it mean to envy others’ joy?

Life is so full over the summer break from work and school routines. It seems light, more carefree, especially when you hear the voices of children playing in the yard. What does it mean to smile when others are enduring their first summer without someone they love, enduring a death or divorce or breakup, that has shattered their care-free serenity?

Perhaps we enjoy an overflowing meal cooked on the grill and abounding in laughter with friends, while in the very back of our minds we hear the cries of children who have no lunch or breakfast when school is out.

Everyday is full of contrasts like these.

How are Christians meant to reconcile these truths with our faith in a benevolent God? One whom we claim as a personal Creator who knows even the number of hairs on our heads? One who declares we are worth much more than the birds in the air and flowers in the fields?

The only answer any one of us can give comes from our own experience of divine love and goodness. I do not know how God might bring love and goodness to someone who is suffering. I can only know how God met me in my own. I then have two helpful options (at least). I can be the bringer of hope as God has been for me, or I can empathize and share the moments of hopelessness to dispel the loneliness felt in God’s apparent absence.

A Contrast Embodied

Imagine that you are God’s contrasting evidence to the belief that life is nothing but fleeting moments of captured joy and selfishly-retrieved prosperity. You are the evidence, in this amazing world you inhabit, that there is a God who loves and cares for others. You may never know who tells the story of your kindness and declares, “that was the day I knew God had not left me alone.”

So, whatever today may bring, let this be a day the Lord has made! Rejoice and be glad in it!


Tennis, Pie & Grace

Tennis, anyone?

This week was the 50th anniversary of the WTA—Womens’ Tennis Association. In a BBC interview, Billie Jean King identified three goals in creating the WTA: that any girl who was competitive, anywhere, would have a place to compete, that women and girls would be appreciated for their accomplishments, and that women could make a living doing the job they loved.

This was the first professional women’s sport to have equal payouts in the top tournaments beginning with the US Open in 1973. It took until 2007 for all the Grand Slam tournaments to accomplish this goal. When the WTA began, women could not obtain a credit card in their own name. That did not happen until 1974. The passage of Title IX, the non-discrimination act regarding educational institutions receiving federal funds, passed in 1972. The Equal Pay Act became law in 1963. Even so, today, women receive 83₵ for every $1 a man makes (FT wage/salaried positions). Appreciating and affirming the gifts, skills, and calling of women is not an accomplished feat, whether we consider payscales, opportunities, or healthcare.

It’s not pie.

This is spiritual warfare in its oldest form—pitting men and women against one another—as if we are in a winner take all tennis match. Grace is sweet but it’s not pie. Grace and love and the bearing of God’s image is not offered in small servings. There is not a limited amount that needs to be divvied up and fought over. Jesus does not dole out God’s love in measured doses based on gender identity.

When we follow Jesus, neither should we. Equality is good news in a world where the last shall be first (see Mt 19, Mt 20, Luke 13), there is no longer slave nor free, male and female, for all are one in Christ (Gal 3: 28). The good news is the victory of equality is assured. The question is whether we will be known for aligning our labors, our lives, and our love on the side of equality.

We have good news.

SAPC is in a unique position in church culture. Called to be a church where everybody belongs, the women here currently outnumber the men in elected positions of ministry. Not only do we appreciate and affirm the women of this church, we empower them. Because belonging is more than being welcome. Belonging includes shared power and privilege in leadership, in decision-making, and in the church of Jesus Christ, in proclaiming the gospel.

Because these gifts of God, and the fruit of the Spirit in each of us, is not a limited grace, we need to be very clear that women’s equality does not free men from their calling. Rather, this equality restores the beloved community to the state in which all humanity sees itself as one and each serves God more fully and capably as a whole and holy people.

May every voice be lifted up calling to others, “there is room at the table and more than enough for everyone.”
(image by Cherchies Specialty Foods,