From the Beginning

By Rev. J.C. Austin In 2017, while I was still serving at a seminary, I went to Uganda to explore creating a new leadership development program for local Christians who were working to support and protect LGBTQ Ugandans and help them resist the persecution they were experiencing from both the government and from churches that […]

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If You Can’t Pray Anything Nice

By Rev. J.C. Austin When I first took the bus to Bethlehem from New York City during the interview process for this church, I immediately recognized the name given to the section of Route 33 between Route 22 and I-78, which is designated the “General Anthony McAuliffe 101st Airborne Memorial Highway.” Now, if you’re not […]

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Moving Up

By Rev. J.C. Austin There are different rites of passage that mark the transition from childhood toward adulthood in the United States. Some are particular to specific religious groups, like bar or bat mitzvahs for Jewish teens, or quinceañera celebrations for 15 year-old Latina girls. Some are unofficial parts of the general culture, like getting […]

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Fountains of Stone

By Rev. J.C. Austin I stared at the brownish-green water as it swirled slowly in the slight current of the river. It was muddy and murky up close, but from even a little bit of distance I could marvel at its beauty, even as the full danger of my predicament was registering at the same […]

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Living Day to Day

By Rev. J.C. Austin Our Jewish neighbors have just entered their High Holy Days which began with Rosh Hashanah, the “New Year’s Day” of the Jewish calendar, at sundown last Friday. Religiously, it is first and foremost the beginning of a period of self-examination and repentance for Jewish people. The famous blowing of the shofar, […]

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Keeping Our Enemies Close

by Rev. J.C. Austin This week, we’re reading some more of Paul’s mail. The word epistle, as you may know, literally means “letter,” and all of the epistles of the New Testament were originally letters that Paul and other apostles sent to fellow Christians to teach and encourage and even sometimes admonish them. Last week, […]

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A Useful Problem

By Rev. J.C. Austin Philemon. It’s kind of a strange choice, I’ll admit it. It would be even under normal circumstances, but it feels especially strange given where we find ourselves these days: in a society that seems ever more anxious, fearful, angry, and polarized as we grapple with the worst global pandemic in at […]

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A Dazzle of Wheelbarrows

By Rev. J.C. Austin One of the highlights of the year I spent in Africa after seminary was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream to go on safari in the Serengeti, which we did in several different areas. They were very much “budget” safaris, of course, since the fellowship I had needed to support us […]

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Building on Shaky Ground

By Rev. J.C. Austin Many of the greatest players in sports have been given an enduring nickname that encapsulates their personality, their style of play, their particular excellence, or all of the above. Some are relatively unimaginative, though accurate, such as Wayne Gretsky being called “The Great One” or Muhammad Ali simply being known as […]

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The Best-Laid Plans

By Rev. J.C. Austin In the movies, it seems like it is always the villain who has the plan. With very few exceptions, the greatest movie villains always have the greatest plans, and the heroes are on the defensive, trying to spoil the plan. It’s not a coincidence that that description is the exact plot […]

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