A new calendar year is underway.  It’s a good time to look back on the previous year and give thanks for how the Spirit of love, grace, and justice has accompanied us along the way.  It’s also a good time to change the hard-to-pronounce Phloem and Xylem blog title to the more pragmatic Midweek Blog.  Without trying be exhaustive, here are some highlights from each month of 2018.

January | Winter
Seminar featured Sara Thompson and Jonathan Brenneman (who have since married)
presenting on skill building for confrontational nonviolence.  One of the role...

This morning I was listening to a podcast where the guest made an off-hand comment that drugs – and money, the host added – make people more extreme versions of themselves.  Whether or not this is true for drugs and money, it seems to be true for the Christmas season.

This is a season in which we feel things more deeply.  The grief in our life rises to the surface.  Simple joys feel richer.  Losses and longings have more weight.  The warmth of what holds us dear glows brighter.  The coldness that separates us from others, and ourselves, intensifies.  Relational complexities get more...

“The real function of discipline is not to provide us with maps but to sharpen our own sense of direction so that when we really get going we can travel without maps.”

— Thomas Merton, “Renewal and Discipline” essay in book Contemplation in a World of Action

I could have included any of thousands of quotes from Thomas Merton.  This one comes from an essay I’m currently reading.

Monday was the 50 year anniversary of the death of Thomas Merton, one of the most important voices coming out of America in the 20th century. Exactly 27 years before...

Last Sunday we kicked off a new liturgical year, which means we have officially entered the season of Advent.  This is a season where we dwell on hope, waiting, expectation, and preparation to once again welcome the Christ child.  During Advent, we learn to wait for the incarnation of God that we celebrate on Christmas day, but our waiting is not meant to be passive. 

We watch for signs.  We notice the ways God is already working in our world (perhaps using all of our senses).  And we prepare our lives to make room for Christ to dwell with us.

During Lent, one of the other...

“And may the Holy One make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you.  And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.”

– – 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13

This Sunday begins Advent, the first day of the Christian year.  Happy new year.  One of the four lectionary readings is from 1 Thessalonians, a letter Paul wrote to a small group of believers in the port city of Thessalonica, Roman capital of the province of...