A Way Back To Beginner’s Mind | 23 July 2023
Texts: Luke 11:1-13; 1 Thessalonians 5:15-19
Speaker: Joel Miller

There’s a teaching in Zen Buddhism called “beginner’s mind;” shoshin in Japanese.  It goes back to the 13th century and made its way into the English-speaking world through the book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, written in 1970 by Shunryu Suzuki.

A beginner’s mind is open and curious, no matter how old the person.  It’s free of rigid categories that automatically organize experiences and thoughts into set patterns.  A person with shoshin is forever a student. 

It’s like a child first encountering the wonders of the world.  The beginner’s mind welcomes delight and surprise and other things it can’t control.  It is, it seems to me, the scientific mind at its best: always open to new information.  Even when, or perhaps especially when, it doesn’t fit into existing theory.  A popular line from Suzuki’s book goes like this: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind...





“A Way Out of Hell” 
Texts: Exodus 21:33-36; Matthew 5:23-24
Speaker: Joel Miller

There’s a scene from the movie Gandhi that’s stuck with me since I first saw it.  Mohandas Gandhi was an attorney from India during British colonial rule.  He found a basis for nonviolent philosophy in his Hindu sacred text, the Bhagavad Gita.  He was also deeply influenced by the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, which he thought might be worth trying out on these British Christians occupying his country.  He became a leader of the Indian National Congress, even as he traded in his comfortable lifestyle and Western attire for homespun cloth and simple food produced in a self-sufficient community.  He developed a vision of a free India that honored religious pluralism and cultural diversity. Through nonviolent public campaigns and numerous imprisonments, Gandhi led India to independence from Britain in 1947.  But violence broke out between Indian Muslim nationalists, and Hindu Indians.  As he had done several times before, Gandhi went...

Scripture and sermon






Our Secrets Make Us Sick: The Healing Power of Confession 

by Julie Hart

My understanding of Christianity as a spiritual journey expanded when I began attending 12 Step meetings in 1987.  My stepdad had just admitted he was an alcoholic and entered a Residential Treatment Program.  His admission gave me permission, at age 34, to enter an Adult Children of Alcoholics 12 Step Program and I have been using the 12 Steps ever since. The 12 Steps take core Christian concepts I had grown up with like sin, salvation, confession, repentance, forgiveness, prayer and grace and applied them in a systematic way that made sense to me.  Following my journey through the first 3 steps: admitting my life was unmanageable, believing God could heal me (instead of all my self-help efforts) and surrendering my...

12 Step Spirituality Worship Series

Texts: Steps 2 & 3; Mark 10:17-27


The man in our story for today has no name. His story shows up in three of the four gospels. Here in Mark’s gospel he is simply described as “a man.”  In Matthew’s version, he is explicitly described as a young man. In Luke’s he is called “a certain ruler.”  In all of them, it eventually becomes clear that he is rich.

In amalgamation, this has come to be known as the story of the Rich Young Ruler. But in none of the versions does this person have a name. Instead, he becomes known by how others perceive him, how others label him.

As we explore the spirituality of the 12 Steps, many of you may be like me and have only second-hand knowledge of the steps and stereotypical images of the kinds of groups that utilize them. One of the most prevalent images is of a person standing before a group, introducing themselves and declaring that they are an alcoholic,...





Taking the First Step
Text: Psalm 32:3-5a; Romans 7:15-20
Speaker: Joel Miller

According to M. Scott Peck, the psychiatrist best known for his book The Road Less Traveled, the greatest positive event of the 20th century occurred in Akron, Ohio.  I’ll say that again to make sure it registers: According to renowned psychiatrist Scott Peck, the greatest positive event of the 20th century occurred in Akron, Ohio.  The quote is from 1993, so for all you basketball fans out there, he was not making a prediction about the rise of Akron-born basketball great Lebron James who, as a 9 year old, still hadn’t quite perfected his jumpshot.

Here’s the full quote, from Peck’s book Further Along The Road Less Traveled:

I believe the greatest positive event of the 20th century occurred in Akron, Ohio…when Bill W. and Dr. Bob convened the first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.  It was not only the beginning of the self-help movement and the beginning of the integration of science and spirituality at a grass-roots...