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Be A Prophet: Pentecost


Acts 2: 1-21

What does “prophesy” mean? We tend to use it to mean “predict the future.” But actually that’s not what it means at all. The ancient prophets sometimes got their predictions wrong. Remember the story of Jonah? He predicts “Yet thirty days, and Nineveh will be destroyed.” He gets angry because in the end God doesn’t do what was predicted. Why? Because the people of Nineveh repented of their evil and turned to God, and so God showed them mercy.Read More »Be A Prophet: Pentecost

Seeds and Soil

By Rev. Dr. Fritz Ritsch
St. Stephen Presbyterian Church
Fort Worth, TX
Mark 4: 1-20
September 30, 2012

The most bizarre thing about the farmer in the parable of the sower is that she throws the seeds anywhere, just willy-nilly, like she doesn’t care where they land. So some seeds land on the path, some in rocky soil, some in thorns. And of course, some lands in good soil, and thrives.Read More »Seeds and Soil

“Found Difficult and Not Tried”

By The Rev. Dr. Fritz Ritsch
St. Stephen Presbyterian Church
Fort Worth, TX
September 2, 2012

Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23
James 1: 17-27

I would like you to hear and consider this re-writing of our Gospel lesson for today. It doesn’t apply, of course, to St. Stephen:

“Now when the leaders of the church and those who did all the real work around here had gathered around Jesus, they noticed that the new members and the youth and the homeless were eating with defiled purpose, that is, that they hadn’t done anything to earn their meal. (For the Presbyterians, and all Christians in those days, believed you were not taking Christianity seriously if you didn’t serve on at least five committees, thus observing the conventions of their society; and they did not eat anything from the market unless it was free-range and safe from causing environmental hazard, and there were many other traditions they observed: that church members had their own pews, on which no one else, even visitors, could sit; the correct washing and placement of Tupperware containers in the church kitchen; the correct order of worship; that all should bring a dish to the pot-luck or else not come; and that those who were most like them were the ones most truly welcome and that everyone else was ‘the least of these,’ who were to be helped, but otherwise avoided.)”Read More »“Found Difficult and Not Tried”

Embracing the Tempest

 How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.  I love thee to the

depth and breadth and height my soul can reach

It does not seem too great a stretch to appropriate Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s immortal lines when writing about the Scottish Hebridean Island of Iona.  Her expression of love for another person reaches multi-layered dimensions existing beyond description.  Some would call this a spiritual state encompassing certain places set apart as well as people set apart.  Iona is such a place.Read More »Embracing the Tempest

A Way Away

How can I take it all in–a surfeit of nourishment for anyone, and served in all of nature’s rugged beauty sating the hunger of a famished soul.  The splendor of the Scottish Highlands overwhelms at first.  They have been witness to a long, often brutal history.  How could such magnificence attend this violent history?  They stand sentinel and passive witness devoid of any emotion yet at the heart of engendering unbridled emotion as we, the tiniest fleck on an eternal time line fulfill our own life journey.Read More »A Way Away

A Personal Journey, 8: God’s Kingdom of Forgiveness

A Canterbury Tale

By the end of my sophomore year at Hampden-Sydney College, Inter-Varsity, our official campus fellowship group, was becoming more exclusionary and judgmental. There were standards that brooked no room for questions or disagreement. I was increasingly frustrated for my friends in IV who had questions, or were troubled in their souls, or who didn’t toe the fundamentalist line, or who weren’t quite pretty enough, cool enough, or secure enough in their faith to fit the IV model. Don’t get me wrong, there were many good, faithful people in IV–but the tenor of the group had become increasingly “Us against Them”–us against the “liberal religion professors,” us against the fratty boys, us against the Creeping Religion of Secular Humanism. Us against the world.Read More »A Personal Journey, 8: God’s Kingdom of Forgiveness

A Personal Journey, 7: Paul, the LGBT-Rights Convert??!!

Real Evangelism

A couple of years ago, I was invited to serve on a clergy panel of Equality Texas, a group that advocates for LGBTQI2-S rights, at a Texas Freedom Network conference. I was honored to be asked. Despite the fact that there were several break-out groups and panels, I was astonished at the heavy attendance to our clergy panel.

It was a room full of hurt and pain. There were men and women who’d been raised either Roman Catholic or in a fundamentalist faith, and thought of themselves as Christian, but were ostracized because of their sexual orientation.Read More »A Personal Journey, 7: Paul, the LGBT-Rights Convert??!!

A Personal Journey, 6: Paul the Progressive

What’s A Christian, Anyway?

My sophomore year in college, I was having issues with the leadership of Inter-Varsity, the fellowship group, of which I was an officer, and which I would soon leave. I started to feel the leaders were too wedded to rules and regulations at the cost of the Gospel. I’d been challenged by a fraternity president when I’d accidentally said, in line with our IVCF philosophy, that “Christians and fraternity guys share some common goals.” He’d been incensed. “I’m a Christian,” he said, “and a fraternity guy. Who are you to make that distinction?” The criticism had stung.

Read More »A Personal Journey, 6: Paul the Progressive