Pastors' Blog

Jul 26, 2017 - Amy Norton

My mother has the greenest thumb of anyone I’ve ever known. She has nursed many of my (seemingly) dead plants back to health, and delights in planning and tending her backyard garden. I was not blessed with my mother’s talent for gardening, however I can lay claim to at least a pale green thumb; as evidenced by the fact that I’ve managed to keep some of my house plants alive for the last four years and counting.

This year, I decided to try and grow vegetables. “Growing your own food...

Jul 20, 2017 - Amy Norton

There’s a siren outside, the air conditioner is running, I have West Wing re-runs streaming on a background window on my laptop as I work on building a spreadsheet, and my leg is covered in mosquito bites from an ill-advised evening walk along the river. There’s a lot going on. But isn’t there always a lot going on? Every day, every situation, every moment can feel like the culmination of a multitude of sensory input, emotional labor, mental tasks, fires to put out, futures to look toward,...

Jul 13, 2017 - Amy Norton

The first time I ever visited Texas, I remember texting a friend of mine, a fellow New Englander, from the airport, “I’ve only been in Texas 15 minutes and already 3 strangers have said hello to me…this does not compute with my New England sensibilities”.

These three random people in the airport did not know me, did not know where I was from, did not know my story or my politics or the date of my last shower, and yet they greeted me as easily and as automatically as they would were...

Jul 06, 2017 - Kent French

We keep hearing in the news about how deeply divided our country is. I've been watching the divide widen increasingly at least since the 2000 presidential election. I talk to people who have families like mine, where we are split down the middle by our politics and our theology.

Each political season it has become increasingly easy to vilify our opponents, to ridicule anything that comes out of their mouths. Our choice of media sources reinforces our sense of separateness. They...

Jun 29, 2017 - Kent French

Whenever I plan a wedding ceremony with a couple, I always assure them that something will not go as planned. The more planning that goes into the ceremony and reception, the more I emphasize this. The flower girl will have a last-minute meltdown, the best man will forget the rings, someone will flub their vows, an embarrassing relative will get drunk and start groping the groom.

Stuff will happen. And I often say, most likely it will be the unplanned things that end up being the most...

Jun 22, 2017 - Kent French

Shortly after Easter last year, a new visitor came to see me for a one-on-one chat. He immediately let me know that he was being investigated for a federal crime and would most likely be sentenced to several years in prison.

He told me that he was enjoying worship and our community, planned to come regularly while he waited out the legal process and just wanted to be up front with me about his situation. He has since become a regular worshiper, joined the church and has even shared...

Jun 14, 2017 - Kent French

In the 10th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 10:1-23), Jesus commissions his disciples. He uses some pretty strong language. He impels them to do things like: cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons, travel without money or baggage, don't suffer people who don't welcome you. It's a tall order.

My guess is that the disciples were...

Jun 08, 2017 - Marla Walters

Last Sunday we celebrated the Day of Pentecost, and recalled together that fantastic story about the Holy Spirit whooshing through Jesus’ followers and a whole lot of other people (Acts 2:1-21) — helping them understand one another, despite their different languages, helping them envision a hopeful and courageous future together, despite their fear, giving them a boldness they didn’t know they had.

Peter preached a...

Jun 01, 2017 - Kent French

This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday, when we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit.

From Barbara Brown Taylor:

Did you know the word “conspire” means to breathe together? Take a breath. Now blow it out again. There! You have just launched a conspiracy. You can hear the word “spirit” in there too – to conspire – to be filled with the same spirit, to be enlivened by the same wind. That is why the word appeals to me, anyhow. What happens between us when we come together to worship...

May 25, 2017 - Kent French

This Sunday we are pleased to welcome the 60-voice youth choir from our Minister of Music Susan’s home church, the 200-year-old Church Street United Methodist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. These young people will bring us the music of Aaron Copland, Stephen Paulus and others, with anthems both invigorating and contemplative.

We are continually blessed with Susan’s musical leadership here at United Parish,...

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