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Our Gethsemane

Matthew 26: 36-46

by Rev. Dr. Fritz Ritsch

Maundy Thursday, 2013

Jesus prays for something we’re all too familiar with. He prays that God change a situation. “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.”

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Let Us Go to the Other Side

November 11, 2012
St. Mark 4:35-41

Several years ago when I lived in Virginia, I paid a visit to an interesting little church, Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in Roanoke, VA. Fifth Avenue is a historically African American church, founded over a hundred years ago. When I visited, it was a small struggling church, and maybe it still is, but when I was there I was struck by a stained glass window in its sanctuary. It’s a picture of a beautiful, calm, river scene with, of all things, Civil War tents on one side and a wooded area on the other. I asked what it was and discovered to my surprise that this stained glass window depicted the Rappahannock River going through the Civil War battlefield of Chancellorsville, and that the window was dedicated to one of the Confederacy’s greatest generals, Stonewall Jackson.Read More »Let Us Go to the Other Side

The Gospel of Job, II: Redemption

The Lord answers Job out of the whirlwind, by William Blake.

The Lord answers Job out of the whirlwind, by William Blake.

By Rev. Dr. Fritz Ritsch

October 28, 2012

The Book of Job, Chapter 42

 Job ends on a bizarre, uncomfortable note. God “rewards” Job by giving him NEW wealth, NEW property, most bizarrely, NEW CHILDREN.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, or even a biblical scholar, to step back and say, “Wait a minute.” This is a reward? New children can be wonderful and beloved, but they can’t possibly make up for children who’ve died. Is this how God thinks?Read More »The Gospel of Job, II: Redemption

Tuesday Bible Study

On a recent Tuesday, a group of 15 students, ranging in age from their 20s to their 80s, were gathered around a table in St. Stephen’s Eastminster Room. They were comparing the Book of Job in the Bible to Archibald Macleish’s brilliant poem/play JB. How did Macleish’s post World War II rewrite of the biblical book that asks why God allows suffering give us insight into Job? How did they differ? The discussion was lively and insightful. At the table were a varied group–a faithful older lady who is a dedicated volunteer, a PCUSA missionary, a young man who teaches English at a high school, a middle-aged administrator on his lunch break, an older couple, one of whom is in a wheelchair, and a formerly homeless woman originally from the Bahamas. The energy is palpable.Read More »Tuesday Bible Study

The Politics of Death: The Mystery of Pontius Pilate’s Strange Behavior

John 18: 33-19: 16

Passion/Palm Sunday

St. Stephen Presbyterian Church

Fort Worth, TX

April 1, 2012

Rev. Dr. Fritz Ritsch, Preacher


The names are familiar, even if you are not a churchgoer at all: Pilate. Caiaphas. Jesus. The three main characters who comprise a First Century version of “Law and Order:” Jesus, the accused traitor, insurgent and potential rebellion leader. Caiaphas, high priest, arresting officer, and prosecuting attorney. And Pilate, Roman magistrate, judge.Read More »The Politics of Death: The Mystery of Pontius Pilate’s Strange Behavior

Covenant: Genesis 9: 8-17

By Rev. Dr. Fritz Ritsch

St. Stephen Presbyterian Church

Fort Worth, TX

February 26, 2012

You probably remember the discussions between Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell after Hurricane Katrina about their belief that this natural disaster had hit New Orleans because of the city’s acceptance of gays and lesbians but also because of their sexual immorality in general. Their perspective was of course offensive at many levels, but it also reflects some pretty commonly-held notions about how God has ordered the universe. Basically the notion is that God has ordered things on a reward-and-punishment system. Bad natural occurrences, like earthquakes or famines or hurricanes, are sent as punishment by God for our moral misbehavior; likewise good things like a successful crop or a child born healthy and whole are the results of good behavior.Read More »Covenant: Genesis 9: 8-17

Big Tent?

Former PC(USA) moderator and prolific blogger Bruce Reyes-Chow has started a petition drive called “There is more than one version of Christianity!” His point is that there is a great deal of diversity the Christian family. Christians need to be more tolerant of one another and the media and culture need to recognize Christian diversity, too.Read More »Big Tent?

A Board Member Says Good-bye

Yesterday was my last official meeting as a board member of the Presbyterian Night Shelter. Executive Director Toby Owen presented me with a beautiful plaque that is a photo montage of the clients PNS serves—homeless men and women, children from the Women and Children’s Unit, even a couple of staff members. Board President Steve McLauren asked me to close the meeting with prayer. I found myself choking up a bit. I thanked God that during the turmoil of the last six years, the PNS Board has remained focused on its purpose: serving the needs of the homeless in our community. I thanked God for an incredible board, forged by fire; and for an amazing staff, after years of uncertainty.

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The Dysfunctional Family of God

We are studying the story of Jacob and his family in our weekly Bible Study. It’s a story that reminds us why the Bible is a better book than we give it credit for. Jacob is a scoundrel, a liar, and too clever by half. He ends us fathering the Twelve Tribes of Israel because he’s outsmarted by his father-in-law Laban, who tricks him into marrying the daughter he doesn’t want to marry so that he can marry the one he does want to marry. There’s more sex, family dysfunction, and intrigue in this story than there is in Desperate Housewives. God is, at least to the protagonists, almost an afterthought, a bit player in their family drama. But through it all, God is working God’s purpose out. Through Jacob’s line the blessing that God has promised the world through Abraham’s heirs is perpetuated.

I asked everyone, “How does this story affect the way you look at your own dysfunctional family?”

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