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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Exiled Home

By Rev. J.C. Austin The United States is often portrayed as a highly mobile and even rootless society, especially among young people. And there’s no question that perspective is deeply ingrained in our society. So many of our stories are about going from wherever you grow up and making it big somewhere else. And that […]

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Advent in July

by Rev. J.C. Austin If there’s a universal experience of life during the pandemic, it must be the loss of any real grasp of how to count time. Honestly, if I didn’t have Sunday worship as a reliable touchstone, I really don’t know how I would keep any of it straight, and even then I […]

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Up With a Twist

By Rev. J.C. Austin As many of you know, I was an English major in college, and one day while studying the poetry of T.S. Eliot, the professor began the class by announcing that we were going to read a poem with one of the most shocking beginnings in literature.  “It starts off gently, beautiful, […]

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