saying goodbye – with grace in Christ

How do you sign off your emails? How do you say good-bye in the age of electronic communication?

It’s a surprisingly complicated question.

Traditionally, of course, when you write a letter by hand to someone, you might sign off by saying “sincerely,” or perhaps by saying “with love.” Ending a letter with those words was almost like ending a prayer with the word “Amen” – it was intended to show that we are invested in the words we have written or spoken.

But in the world of email – in the world of back-and-forth electronic communication – it’s complicated. Ending an email by saying “sincerely” feels too heavy and formal – saying “with love” would often be way too substantial.

Some people will sign off an email with the light sounding “cheers.” And in a way that word works because it’s quick and light – it matches the not-too-significant nature of most of our emails. But on the other hand, if you’re not the kind of person who would say “cheers” in everyday conversation, it may feel odd to sign off an email that way. Continue reading

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boasting and foolishness – taking the cross seriously

President Barak Obama got into trouble a couple of years ago for something he said in a campaign speech. Obama was visiting Roanoke Virginia during the long 2012 campaign season and he was speaking off the cuff about how community and government support is important to the success of businesses. Speaking off the cuff, here’s what he said:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me—because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t—look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own… If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

Almost immediately, of course, Obama’s words were ripped out of their context and used as a weapon against him. Almost immediately his political opponents accused him discounting the hard work of business owners and entrepreneurs in building their businesses, by saying “You didn’t build that.” And almost overnight his words became what’s today called an internet meme. People took Obama’s words and applied them to all kinds of different situations – playing with his words and making fun of the whole idea. Continue reading

a woman’s story

A sermon interlude in a series on the book of Ruth.

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This morning’s sermon represents something of an interlude in our series on the book of Ruth. It’s not that we are turning away from that story today, but we take a step back in order to take a slightly different perspective on this wonderful narrative. 

As we take that step back, I want to remind us, or point out, that telling stories is a part of human nature. Even more, our story-telling ability in some sense makes a human, a human. This ability defines us. As human beings we tell stories that reach back into the past, stories that speak about our present experiences, and stories that reach into the future we imagine. The fact that story-telling defines us is particularly shown when we point out that if you really want to know someone – if you really want to know who she is – facts aren’t enough. Continue reading