The Welsh Connection

Perhaps the most striking feature of their beautiful sanctuary is the stained glass window which stands at the front of the rebuilt 16th Street Baptist Church. The history behind this work of art is so moving. John Petts, a gifted Welsh artist renowned for his talent in creating works of stained glass, read about the tragedy which occurred on September 15, 1963. He immediately volunteered his services to create a replacement window for the church. Petts wanted this window to be a gift from the Welsh people. He and David Cole, editor of The Western Mail, rejected funding from wealthy individuals who could have easily paid for the window. Instead, they capped donations to a maximum of half a crown (about 15 cents in today’s currency) so that as many people as possible from Wales could be a part of this gesture of solidarity. Thousands of Welsh citizens offered their donations, many of them school children sharing their allowances. Very quickly, the money was raised and the Wales Window was installed and dedicated in 1965. Continue reading

Wily and Convenient Sin (James 5:1-6)

James 5:1-6 is not a message that is well-received in our American capitalist society. In fact, most of the Letter of James is suspect in the eyes of those inclined to bigotry, greed, and violence. In this particular passage, James condemns the rich for their greed, the advantage they take of their workers, and their extravagant lifestyles made possible by their use and misuse of the poor. James particularly singles out the ways in which the rich cheat their laborers and withhold their wages. In the corrupt world of the Roman Empire, the poor had no recourse when suffering such oppression and orchestrated poverty. Continue reading

The Wisdom of Albert Schweitzer

Albert Schweitzer was a genius. He was a profound theologian, a talented organist, a brilliant scientist, and a deeply empathetic physician. He wrote a book which changed the whole direction of biblical studies and theology (The Quest of the Historical Jesus). He was a gifted musician who wrote the definitive… Continue reading

Remembering: Part Two

This country has no hope of maintaining its democracy or any moral decency until it repents of its Original Sin of racism. We were built on genocide of one race and the enslavement of another race. And to this very day, that evil legacy continues to bear bitter fruit. We must remember, and in that remembering, experience the repentance necessary for needed healing and reconciliation.  Continue reading

Remembering: Part One

Those who focus only on Jesus’ life and teachings while ignoring his death never come to appreciate the cost of his faithfulness to the way and will of God. Jesus was more than just a good teacher and miraculous healer. He was a revolutionary prophet whose witness threatened the foundations of the status quo of his world. His death reveals the cost of such devotion. Continue reading

When Charity Becomes a Dirty Word

Charity is a word which historically has had many meanings and uses. At one point in history, it defined the kind of self-giving love revealed in Jesus Christ (see the KJV translation of I Corinthians 13:13). Today it can refer to the actions of generous people and worthy organizations seeking… Continue reading

The Prayer of St. Francis (“Lord Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace”)

Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) has captured the hearts and minds of millions of people over the centuries. He certainly is one of my favorite saints. Through the insights of such brilliant Franciscan theologians as Richard Rohr, Francis’ life, teachings, and example have impacted countless persons of all faiths.  As a… Continue reading