A Word from Laura

Somehow California synagogue shooter John Earnest’s connection to a Presbyterian church had escaped me. In my horror and heartbreak, I had managed not to hear that Earnest professes to be an Orthodox Presbyterian – a more conservative, evangelical branch of our faith, but not obviously anti-Semitic. Before he entered the Chabad congregation, he wrote a four thousand word manifesto thatRead More →

This Holy Week, other than sadness at the loss of a beautiful, iconic church, media coverage of the fire at the Cathedral of Notre Dame has elicited two things from me: Hope that the three Baptist churches set aflame in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana will also continue to receive attention and financial support.  (I later found out about the relativelyRead More →

This Sunday we’re doing things slightly out of order at Western – not the for the first time, and probably not the last. We’ll ordain and install two elders and one new deacon in April, instead of January, given some turnover in our leadership. In a few weeks we’ll say good-bye to (Deacon) Dave and (Elder) Jackie Escobar, as theyRead More →

A while back I was in a meeting where I knew two of the people pretty well, better than they knew each other. As the two of them sat facing each other, I realized that her tone of voice, her questions, were going to aggravate him. As his face grew still, his tone of voice evened out, slightly deeper andRead More →

Western friends, Salaam alaikum, if nothing else this week.  I had hoped my letter would be a shout-out from the NEXT Church Conference, where John, Jess and I were immersed in an exciting last few days.  Instead, we all woke up to the tragic news of the terrorism this morning in New Zealand – to hell breaking loose in aRead More →

After a fantastic Carnavale celebration last Sunday, Lent is finally here. Special thanks go to the deacons for the doughnut decorating extravaganza, to the choir and musicians for some fun music, and to all who pitched in with balloons and beads. I didn’t know much about the religious side of this kind of celebration growing up, in part because IRead More →

Listening to Michael Cohen testify, I was reminded how much a change in our perspective helps to make sense of our reality.  In Cohen’s case, the prospect of prison made protecting the President much less appealing.  Reality, when it comes to facts, makes more sense. The change in perspective doesn’t have to be punishing; it can be uplifting, even joyous. Read More →

“Oh, that’s easy,” said no one, ever. Three short words from Jesus, followed by “pray for those who abuse you,” in the sixth chapter of Luke’s gospel. In an era when so many identify themselves according to whom they hate, these are words we need desperately, yet practicing them remains elusive.  They remind me of G.K. Chesterson’s saying, “The ChristianRead More →

Don’t miss worship this Sunday.  Don’t ever miss worship, but particularly not this Sunday.  Don’t miss worship if you live in Virginia and you’ve endured the news of our governor and attorney general in blackface and our lieutenant governor accused of sexual assault.  Don’t miss worship if you’ll never live in Virginia but you’re longing to know how Jesus wouldRead More →

Woman of color holding a protest sign that reads: "Love knows no borders". (Photo from PMA)

(Photo from PMA)  Those of you facing your first week without a paycheck because of the shutdown are on all of our minds and hearts this week.  While some of you are tackling deferred projects, others of you are holding together skeleton staffs of essential employees.  We’re all concerned about workers whose livelihoods and ability to provide food and shelterRead More →