A Christmas Homily from Foothill Presbyterian Church

Just before worship last Sunday I discovered a beautiful poem about Mary becoming pregnant by God’s spirit. The scriptures for Sunday’s service were all about Mary and so I read the poem at the beginning of worship:

Know that the wheeling heavens are turned by waves of Love:
were it not for Love, the world would be frozen, stiff.
How would an inorganic thing transform into a plant?
How would living creatures sacrifice themselves
to become endowed with spirit?
How would the spirit sacrifice itself for the sake of that Breath
by which Mary was made pregnant?

For me this is a surprising poem because, while I believe it captures the beauty of the mystery of Mary’s divine conception of Jesus—and by extension, communicates much of the wonder of Christmas—the poem was not written by a Christian. It was composed something like 750 years ago by a Sufi Muslim poet named Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad, who wrote under the penname, Rumi. Continue reading

A Meal Born Free

This column also ran on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum.

There is, then, a politics of food that, like any politics, involves our freedom. We still (sometimes) remember that we cannot be free if our minds and voices are controlled by someone else. But we have neglected to understand that we cannot be free if our food and its sources are controlled by someone else. The condition of the passive consumer of food is not a democratic condition. One reason to eat responsibly is to live free. (Wendell Berry, “The Pleasures of Eating,” from What are People For? Berkeley: North Point Press, 1990.)

At the end of June a group of green-minded Presbyterians from around the United States took an eco-tour of Silicon Valley. They came to see the restoration of wetland habitats in downtown San Jose and to learn about high-tech recycling. Then they visited my church.

The congregation I serve has a large community garden and we were the first officially recognized green business in Silicon Valley. Our eco-friendly Calvinists visitors were interested in learning what it looks like when a church goes green. Continue reading