Mercy Buckets

By Rev. J.C. Austin What do you think is the least you can know of a language in another country and still get by? As a fairly experienced independent traveler, I’ve been in many places and situations where nobody spoke any English, and I’ve found that if you know just nine words, you can handle […]

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A Sure Thing

By Rev. J.C. Austin One of the most humbling aspects of parenthood is your increasing incompetence at helping your kids with schoolwork. My son Liam didn’t make it out of elementary school before I was over my head trying to decipher his math work; that was pretty humiliating. In middle school, I was still holding […]

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Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning

By Rev. J.C. Austin One of the most stunning scenes in the entire epic Lord of the Rings movie trilogy comes well into the third film, as a climactic battle is about to break loose between the forces of good and the minions of evil. The forces of good, the army of Gondor, is hopelessly […]

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Hardly Getting Over It

By Rev. J.C. Austin One of the things I miss the most from the pre-pandemic days is live music. My last concert was at the end of January 2020, here in Bethlehem at the Musikfest Café at SteelStacks, and it was to see Bob Mould, who was the lead singer of the seminal 1980s band […]

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Oriented by Love

By Rev. J.C. Austin A few weeks ago, I went with my family to visit the memorial for Jim Thorpe, who of course is widely regarded as the greatest athlete of modern times. I knew Thorpe’s story pretty well, having read biographies of him when I was growing up. What I didn’t remember was that, […]

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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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