random musings...

Category: Spiritual Page 1 of 8

It’s all connected

Here’s a reflection I wrote for my church’s June newsletter. It’s based on my message from May 14 titled “Bound in Love.” You can listen to an audio recording of some of my past messages at https://www.phoenixcommunitychurch.org/phx-sermons/.

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.” – Chief Seattle (1786-1886)

Jesus is telling us pretty much the same thing when he says “On that day you’ll know that I am in God, and you are in me, and I am in you.” We are all connected: you, I, and Creation. We are all connected in God and this connection isn’t something that happens in the future. We’ve always been connected, but we just don’t realize it. It’s through the Holy Spirit that we come to know the bonds that connect us together. The Spirit is how we know God and how we know our own true authentic selves. The Spirit is that voice within that helps, teaches, and guides us. And the key that opens the door to the Spirit in our lives is love.

It is in love that we hear the Spirit speaking. It is in love that we come to know God because God is love. It is love that binds us together in the Divine Presence. Jesus says the world doesn’t accept the Spirit because the world doesn’t recognize the Spirit. So many people don’t know God. They don’t understand how we are connected and bound together. They don’t know their own true nature because they haven’t opened their hearts to love. Instead they focus on power and wealth, what they can get for themselves, with little thought for others. And they never accept that in hurting others they also hurt themselves.

Paul points out that God won’t be found in buildings or statues or altars or power or wealth. So, he says, we need to reform our lives and start looking for God in the right places. We need to look where God actually is: in life, people, Creation, relationships, and in love. Whenever we act in love, we open ourselves to Spirit and come to know God a little better. And whenever we accept the love of another, we also open ourselves to Spirit and come to know God a little better. Every time we love, we strengthen the ties that bind us together as the family of God.

Love begets love. The more love we give, the more love we have, the more healing we find, and the more healing flows into the world. And, ironically, as interdependent as our world is, it is also so divided and isolated by fear. The world needs healing. The world needs love. How can we help put more love into the world this week? Is there some act of love we can take to help the world recognize the Spirit of Truth, to recognize that we are bound together? That it is love that can save us and heal us?

Where did the conservatives go?

The Republican Party used to be the party of conservatism. I once thought Republicans were the party of fiscal responsibility, defenders of democracy and morality, anti-crime champions, and advocates for the small businessman and middle class. That is certainly not the party I see today represented by the likes of Trump, DeSantis, McConnell, McCarthy, Pence, etc.

On judgement and eternal life

Here’s a reflection I wrote for my church’s April newsletter. It’s based on my message from March 26 titled “The Christ in the Other.” You can listen to an audio recording of most of my past messages at https://phoenixchurch.org/home/phx-sermons/.

During Lent we’ve been reflecting on some of Jesus’ parables as told in the gospel of Matthew, which we’ve found can get a little “judge-y.” A little fire and brimstone. And that’s not all on Jesus. Matthew definitely has his own spin on things. In general, we get mixed messages from Matthew’s gospel. It seems to speak of heaven and hell, but we are also told that the kin-dom of God exists here and now and not in some distant future time or some other spiritual dimension. If that’s true, how do we understand passages such as in the 25th chapter where Jesus talks of people being sorted like sheep and goats with some sent to eternal life and some to eternal punishment?

Well, the gospel of John tells us that to know and trust God is to have eternal life. To me, this means that to have eternal life is not to have an everlasting life, but to be in harmony with God, living in unity with God’s love in the present moment. Eternal life is to have a heart filled with compassion, knowing that the least of these are worthy of respect and dignity. It is to give food to the hungry, to give a drink to the thirsty, to welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, and visit the prisoner. It is to serve everyone as if they were Christ – because they are. The most important message of this scripture about the sheep and goats is that Christ is always present, not only among, but AS the most vulnerable and needy.

If eternal life is not everlasting life but a state of unity with God, then eternal punishment is not  everlasting punishment but it is to fall short of unity with the Divine. It is to be self-centered and selfish, to put conditions on our love. It is to live estranged from God. It is to look around us and not be able to see worth in the homeless person, in the poor, in the sick. It is to be spiritually alone, without compassion for God’s good creation. It is to know loneliness and despair.

I don’t think Jesus is talking about an after-life heaven and hell reward and punishment system. What Jesus is describing is the here and now spiritual consequences of living out of a selfless love versus living only for one’s own benefit with no thought for anyone else. In a way, it isn’t God who judges, but it is our own behavior that judges us.

One problem, though, is that we often think that people should be judged. Doesn’t an eye for an eye sound a lot more fair than turn the other cheek? Shouldn’t those who are evil be punished? Of course, we should stop people from endangering others whenever possible. Not judging someone does not mean accepting or allowing dangerous behavior. But, part of the problem is that we confuse justice with revenge. We are too quick to move beyond the possibilities of love, of prevention and rehabilitation, of justice, and move right to judgement and punishment. And thus it should be no surprise when we imagine a God that also judges and punishes. Perhaps we take mentions of eternal punishment too literally because it suits our ideas of justice rather than God’s idea of justice.

The apostle Paul advises us in his letter to the Romans to leave judgements to God, saying we shouldn’t repay evil with evil but we should bless our persecutors, treating everyone with the same attitude – as if they were Christ. Let us always remember the Christ in all people, no matter who they are or their situation in life.

Eternal life isn’t an after life reward. Eternal life is found in the doing, in the loving, in the building of relationship with neighbor and with God in the here and now. Eternal life is found when we act not out of the desire to get something, but out of love, because the so called least of these are not the least of anything. They are the precious beloved children of God, fully worthy of being loved and cared for, as are each and everyone of us.

Nature of Humanity and the Universe

There is an Energy called Love that underlies all of existence. This Energy is not a supernatural being but a creative force that pulls us toward loving relationship and becoming our best selves both as individuals but also as a universal whole encompassing all of creation.

This Energy, fundamentally creative and relational, exploded forth into experience and eventually evolved humanity – a self-awareness.

Everything is created from this Energy or, we might say, is at least connected to it. However, human beings are aware of this connection at least at an unconscious level. It is this awareness that gives us our inherent drive to create meaning in our lives and our innate tendency toward spirituality.

Because we are aware at some level of our true nature, we know that our natural state is to be in unity or in harmony with this Energy. We are, at our best, lovingly creative and relational creatures always co-evolving toward a better whole (loosely defining “better” as more loving, happy, peaceful, compassionate, supportive, just, etc.).

However, having a consciousness of purpose, humans can misunderstand their purpose or even intentionally act against their purpose because with consciousness of purpose also comes free will. If we act at odds with the Energy of Love that is our true nature, acting out in violence and selfishness, for example, then we enter into a state of estrangement and can experience guilt and shame and further try to hide from our true selves. Our lives become marked with fear and anxiety. To find happiness, healing and wholeness, we have to reconnect ourselves to the Energy of Love.

Religion is a frame work of stories, language and ritual through which groups of people can share common ideas and experiences to help them on their journey to reconnect. Just like anything else, religions can be corrupted to act contrary to the Energy of Love.

How this affects some Christian ideas

God is not really moral or immoral, just or unjust – those are categories we created to help us think about what behaviors better align with Love (or don’t) as we try to reconnect with our true nature.

Humanity created sin and evil through exercise of our free will. They are only “in” God because we put them there. If you really want to blame God for evil, one could say that God gave us the option of free will knowing evil was the inevitable result. Or, if you don’t believe in free will, then nothing matters and of course everything is on God’s shoulders.

Sex and the body or in no way evil or sinful as long as they are not used counter to the Energy of Love. Enjoyed ethically (i.e. safely, consensually, with good communication, etc.) sex is a gift to be enjoyed. And I don’t see any reason it needs to be restricted to marriage or procreation, either. I mention communication as part of the ethics because perhaps it is the people involved that need to be defining the proper boundaries and not other people.

Jesus did not die “paying” for our sins. Jesus died trying to show us the path back to God. People killed him because he was a threat to their selfishness.

Hell is not a place but is the manifestation of our fear that we will not be able to reconnect to Love.

The Great Gaslighting

For a long time, I believed the great divide in our nation was between political conservatives and political progressives. Over the last four years, as we have watched the division grow wider, it has actually become clear that those are not the lines that divide us at all. If it were about conservative vs. progressive approaches to problems then we should be able to reasonably negotiate compromises for the good of our nation and her people. But we seem to have lost the ability to compromise. No, a battle between conservative and progressive is not what is ailing our nation.

What Are You Looking For?

We often perceive something lacking in our lives. We want something better, something more than what we’ve got. Perhaps we’re seeking a better job or a romantic interest. But what are we truly looking for? What would fulfill us? Are we seeking love? Peace? Hope? Meaning? A deeper knowledge of ourselves and of God? A sense of belonging? Community? Maybe we are looking for ways to contribute to making the world a better place. Do we even know what we want and need?

If we don’t know what we’re looking for, how do we know we’re looking in the right place? It’s a lot easier to find what we need if we know what it is. So often, we sense a lack in our lives and we try to fill it in the strangest places and in the worst ways. We buy stuff as if how many possessions we have is the answer to all of our unasked questions. Or we turn to alcohol or drugs. Or we seek power or to control other people.

In the gospel of John, Jesus notices two people following him and asks them, “What are you looking for?” and they respond by inquiring about where he lives. How strange! But one answer is that Jesus lives in the kin-dom of God. The kin-dom, however, is not a literal place but a way of life. Is that what they were looking for, a new life? The good news is that Jesus invites them to “come and see” for themselves where he lives. If we are looking for God, for love… if we feel a lack in our lives and want to be fulfilled, then we too are invited to come and see where Jesus lives…

Do we find ourselves falling into despair because of what’s happening in the world and in our country? Or are we also able to see those that are working for justice, that are making a positive difference in the world? Because that’s where Jesus lives – in those that reach out a hand to a stranger in need. Do we take time to look within ourselves? We need to interrupt our thinking heads once in a while to see and feel what is in our hearts. For there also Jesus dwells. I wonder if what we really seek is our true essence. I wonder if what we really want and need is to uncover that gleam of the Divine that lives within each of us.

Perhaps the full answer to what are we looking for is uncovered through the journey. This journey to “come and see” is best taken in community. If you’re looking for people to walk with you and don’t have a spiritual community, you are always welcome at Phoenix Community Church no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey (as we are wont to say in the United Church of Christ). If we seek the kin-dom of God, if we seek a life of hope and peace, a path of justice, then come and see where Jesus dwells. On the path revealed by Jesus we experience the kin-dom of God and open ourselves to the transformation and healing that uncovers our true essence, that lets our lights shine, filling the world with hope and love.


This reflection was inspired by the sermon, “What Are You Looking For?” from Sunday, January 19, 2020, and published in my church newsletter on January 31, 2020. Audio recordings of most sermons can be found at https://phoenixchurch.org/home/phx-sermons/.

Liturgy for Epiphany 2A

Call to Worship (inspired by Psalm 40:1-11)

One: Happy are those who do not turn to false idols but put their trust in God.
Many: Let us put our trust in God!
One: God hears our cries and lifts us from our despair.
Many: God hears us and helps us, asking nothing in return.
One: O God, do not withhold your mercy from us.
Many: God’s steadfast love and faithfulness will keep us safe forever.
One: God’s wondrous deeds are beyond compare!
Many: We come together to sing God’s praises to the world!
One: Let us share the glad news of God’s salvation with joy.
Many: Let us delight in God’s desires for us.

Invocation (inspired by 1 Corinthians 1:3-6, Isaiah 49:6)

Holy One,
Call out to us this day and fill us with your grace and peace.
Enrich us with your Spirit that we may be strengthened
in our service to you. Guide us on your path
that we may be the light of your salvation to the world.

God is with us

Although some of us might have already taken down our trees, manger scenes, and other decorations, it is still officially the Christmas season. In the church calendar we celebrate Christmas until Epiphany begins on January 6, which is also still about recognizing the light that has come. Sometimes we need these many reminders of God’s presence born into our lives.

What does it mean when we celebrate this child Jesus who was born so long ago? Historically, there isn’t much we really know with certainty about Jesus’ birth. We have the four biblical gospels, but Mark and John don’t even talk about Jesus’ birth and Matthew and Luke differ on the details. And, of course, these accounts of Jesus’ birth, as well as those of his life, death, and resurrection, aren’t really written to give us historical details, but to tell us deeper truths of who Jesus was and is.

Matthew tells the story of an angel visiting Joseph. The angel tells Joseph that there is something special about the baby that Mary is carrying and the angel gives the baby two names: Jesus, which means “one who saves,” and Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” Both names are important statements about who Jesus is, but perhaps “God is with us” better captures the spirit of Christmas.

Christians understand God as having taking human form in a small baby. A baby is vulnerable. A baby needs help. A baby does not represent a vengeful God who comes to crush our enemies. God doesn’t come to us as a violent God, but as a child, vulnerable as we are vulnerable, to be received and loved, not feared. John 3:16 says that God so loved the world that God gave us Jesus. Despite the connection often made between this famous bible verse and Jesus’ death, John 3:16 doesn’t actually talk about his death and resurrection. It says only that Jesus is a gift of love. Jesus is the incarnation of God’s love. Jesus as “God with Us” is also “Love with us.” When we get to wishing people would put Christ back into Christmas perhaps we’re really saying let us put love back into Christmas. I’m ok with that because the world needs a lot more love.

Christmas is ultimately not about Mary being a virgin, or the wise people traveling from a far away land, or angels appearing to shepherds. All of these are wonderful stories which are told to convey to us the truth that God is with us. Our Christmas celebrations invite us to stop and look for “God with us,” to notice the Christ-presence in our own time, to notice where and when Love is born into the world. Take a moment today to look for signs of love within you and around you: a kind word, someone helping a stranger, a special unexpected gift, an act of charity and compassion, sunshine peaking through winter clouds, the companionship of a pet… where do you see Christ in the world? Where do you see love in the world? Stop and look. Stop and listen. For God is with us.


This reflection was published in my church newsletter on January 3, 2020 and inspired by the sermon, “God is with Us,” from Sunday, December 22, 2019. Audio recordings of most of my sermons can be found at https://phoenixchurch.org/home/phx-sermons/.

Reflections on the messages of the Goose

Part 2 — To read part 1 go here.

I’ve already tried to describe a little of what going to the Wild Goose Festival is like in Part 1: What is the Wild Goose Festival and what is it like? Now I want to take just a couple more paragraphs to reflect on the messages of the Goose. I’m so impressed by the big names that come and speak at this festival every year. I can’t say enough about how inspiring and energizing the experience was but I’ll mention a few of my favorite things from this year’s (2019) festival, in no particular order.

The opening night speaker was Otis Moss III. His talk was energizing but to be honest I don’t remember much of what he said. I don’t think that is his fault. He spoke on opening night and so much happened since then it just got pushed out of my brain. I’ve heard him speak before and I’ve always come way impressed.

I also love hearing Barbara Brown Taylor speak. She was interviewed about her new book, “Holy Envy.” I tried to buy a copy the next day in the festival bookstore but it was already sold out. I’ll be buying a copy now that I’m home. She wrote the book as a tribute to students she’s taught as a world religions professor. She writes of their experiences learning about other religions as well as how we can learn from each others’ faiths. Again, I don’t really remember a lot of the details but I was left with the feeling that this is a book I definitely need to read.

William Barber, a Disciples of Christ Minister and found of the Poor People’s Campaign, is also always inspiring. He made a passionate call for a “moral Pentecost” – right here and right now! It’s something we should all be concerned about and consider getting involved with: https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/.

One of the musical groups was the Nine Beats Collective, a world-wide ranging group who gathered to do music inspired by the Beatitudes. Check them out: https://9beats.org/.

In a smaller workshop I attended one of the speakers talked about forgiveness not only being about the “sinner” but also about the victim of the “sin” and the pain of those sinned against. We can’t claim innocence but need to deal with our complicity in others’ pain. That seemed like a point worth hanging onto for further reflection.

Christy Berghoef, Brian McLaren, and John Pavlovitz had a panel discussion on civil discourse vs. prophetic voice. I found it engaging because this is a tension I’ve felt as a minister. I would paraphrase the conundrum like this: Do we work on building relationships with those we disagree with, which might involve holding our tongue or moderating what we say and how we say it? Or do we bluntly tell the truth as we understand it and let the chips fall where they may, even if it may break relationships instead of building them? Berghoef was new to me and I’ve always admired McLaren’s work. I knew of Pavlovitz before this talk but he’s always seemed too confrontational to me. I came away impressed by him. I’m a fan now. One thing he talked about is while he uses his prophetic voice in social media and comes across as a jerk to many, he also tries to engage in dialog with those he angers. So maybe there’s a line here where we can be truth-tellers and still be relationship-builders. I hope so.

Another person who was new to me was Stan Mitchell. While many of the messages I heard over the weekend were energizing and inspiring, his really touched my heart. The weird thing is, I’m not really sure why because what he was saying was pretty much what I’ve tried to preach myself but perhaps presented in a little different (better?) way. Or maybe it just had to do with where I was spiritually and emotionally in the moment. Anyway, what he was talking about was coming from a church where he was taught of his supposed inherent evil and separation from God as a fallen human being. He gave interpretations of the Garden of Eden story and of the Parable of the Prodigal Son to make the point that we are not inherently evil but we are inherently beautiful, good, and beloved by God. Some points to ponder: it’s not sin that separates us from God but shame. When Eve covered up her nakedness in the Garden, it wasn’t because she was bad and she had to be covered before God would come near her but she needed to cover up so *she* would be comfortable in God’s presence. It wasn’t about sin, but about shame. God doesn’t separate from us, but we separate from God. Further, he didn’t like the word separation but preferred estrangement from God because estrangement implies that in our natural state we belong with God. Separation is space between two (potentially unrelated) things. Estrangement is space between two things that belong together. Mitchell didn’t state it, but I think the estrangement terminology comes from the theologian Paul Tillich. Also, talking about the Prodigal Son, Mitchell pointed out that the father in the parable never goes looking for the son who squandered his wealth. But he does go looking for the son that had stayed home but doesn’t come to the feast. That is, the lost one in the parable is really the elder son. There was more to it, but I think it is a point worth reflection. I wish I had a video of this sermon. It really made me think about shame and what shame I might carry with me that estranges me from the Holy.

So, perhaps the big question is that now I’m home, how do I carry this experience into my every day life. With current events, the plight of children housed in concentration camps by my own government is on my heart… one of many important, emotionally deflating, and often inter-related issues (for example, what’s happening to those children is directly related to racism and the white nationalism espoused by our president). Can I do something about it? How can I use my prophetic voice and my circles of influence to create justice in the world?

My post festival to-do list: 1) find my niche in justice seeking and 2) make time for my spiritual practices that I might get in touch with my inner shame and draw closer to the Holy. Will I do these things? Only God knows for sure what the future holds, but here’s a prayer that the Wild Goose (i.e. the Holy Spirit) will fly before me, leading me (and all of us) into the Way of God’s kin-dom of love and justice.

What is the Wild Goose Festival and what is it like?

This past weekend I was in Hot Springs, North Carolina, attending the Wild Goose Festival. This was the 9th year of the festival and my second time there (I previously went in 2017 while I was on sabbatical). The name of the festival, as the lore is told, comes from the wild goose as a Celtic symbol for the Holy Spirit. This is the Holy Spirit not as the demure dove we normally think of but as wild, untamed, and unpredictable. Now, as I’ve been home less than 24 hours, I want to tell everyone about this wonderfully inspiring experience. I’m going to divide this into two parts. Part one will be about the atmosphere of the Goose (as they shorten it for those in the know) and part two will be some short reflections on some of the messages I heard.

Part 1 – To skip to Part 2 go here. You might also be interested in this article on the Religion News Service site.

The festival is part Progressive Christianity conference and part music festival, all held in a Woodstock-like way. It was created, so we’re told, as an American version of the Greenbelt festival in Great Britain. Since I know nothing about Greenbelt, I’ll just take their word for it. What I do know is that the Wild Goose Festival is a truly energizing and inspiring collection of speakers, talented musicians, and dedicated, progressive Christians and activists. Some folks are well-known names and many aren’t.

The festival runs from a Thursday evening until noon-ish on Sunday. As Hot Springs, North Carolina, is about a ten hour drive from my home in Southwest Michigan, I took two days to get there, driving seven hours, staying in a hotel and then making the final three hour drive on the day the festival opens. The festival is held at a campground so if you want to get the full experience you’ll want to camp with 3000 or so of your new friends. I don’t actually know how many people were there but the number I’ve heard thrown around is three to four thousand. Both times I’ve went, I rented a tent and air mattress from a very friendly lady who does all the set up and tear down and also has a bonfire every night for her campers who want to get away from the big crowds and just sit and chat. Not having to worry about the tent and air mattress, I was able to go with minimal equipment. If you go, don’t forget to take, besides clothes, a water bottle, flashlight, rain gear, and a camp chair (or you can also rent a camp chair from the same lady if you go that route). I ate out of the half-dozen food trucks that were there so no need to lug along a camp stove and food unless you want to. Of course, you may also want to bring a notebook, pen and maybe reading material for the downtime you probably won’t have 🙂 The other thing about camping… there aren’t nearly enough showers or regular toilets for so many people so plan on getting a little ripe and doing nature’s business in a porta-john. That’s part of the camping experience, though. But you will look forward to the Sunday evening hotel stay and a real shower. Also, no vehicles are allowed on site from 4 pm Thursday until after closing services on Sunday. Everyone parks in a huge field across the street from the campground. Cell service is also sketchy on site, we were told. I don’t know because I chose to leave my cell phone turned off and locked in my car all weekend. There is a charging station setup for those who just can’t leave their electronics behind. You can also walk a short distance into town for wifi if you need to.

Most of the folks seemed to be either “main-line” protestants or evangelicals who’ve grown away from conservative theology. It’s a great mix of old and young, queer and straight. I’m encouraged that so many (the majority?) of the folks seem to be from the South. Living in the Midwest, I think we get a skewed view of our brothers and sisters in the South and start to think they’re all conservative fundamentalists. That’s just fake news 🙂 Loving, welcoming Christians are everywhere! Of course, you’ll also find people at the festival from the East and Midwest and all over, really. The festival could use a little more diversity, though, in that it was mostly white folks. People of color were well represented on the main stage as far as speakers and musicians, but the audience, although there were people of color too, was mostly white.

The festival begins on Thursday evening with some music and an opening speaker. This year the opening speaker was the very dynamic Rev. Otis Moss III from Trinity UCC in Chicago. After he spoke, a band did a set. Each night after the evening band(s), there was also Beer & Hymns. Not so much my thing, but for many Beer & Hymns is one of their favorite events. It’s just what it says: you get a beer from the beer tent (or not), walk 20 feet over to another tent and sing your favorite hymns with a bunch of other people.

Mornings at the Goose begin with a key-note speaker and more music. Friday this year, the speaker was Diana Butler Bass and Saturday it was Rev. William Barber. Barber in particular is one of my favorites. After the key-note, there are more well-known speakers on the main stage until noon but there are also other seminars and workshops going all day. One tent, the Cafe, is setup for musicians to play all day long from 10 am to 6 pm so that’s about 16 different acts over two days in an intimate setting. I really enjoyed just popping in a couple of times over the weekend to soak up some music from people who I never heard of before but who were really talented. There are also 7-8 or more other tents where workshops are run in one hour blocks during that same 10 to 6 time frame as well as another tent they were calling the Convo Hall where folks were gathered in smaller, more conversational meetings. So, basically, if you do the math, there is so much more going on than a person can possibly participate in. You have to pick and choose and just give up your schedule to the Spirit (or the Goose?). The workshops and talks are led by a wonderful mix of people who you might consider famous as well as dedicated and passionate people you’ll be hearing of for the first time. There’s also a book store tent that sells books from all the different speakers and presenters. Musicians also usually have merchandise at the bookstore or at their performance(s).

Some of the talks I heard:

“A Bold New Religion Called Love. Period.” – Jacqui Lewis

“Holy Envy” – Barbara Brown Taylor being interviewed by Sojourner CEO Rob Wilson about her new book

“Doing (Responsible) Theology in the Age of Trump”

“Reverend Sex and the Gospel of the Erotic”

“Why Would Anyone Still Be a Christian?”

“The 701 Club with Helen Holy” – satirical comedian

“Best Practices for New Writers” – Barbara Brown Taylor and Brian Allain

There were dozens of other things going on that I missed because not only are things happening at the same time but I also made time for eating, napping, book shopping and taking in some of the music.

Friday and Saturday evenings were all about music. The main stage takes a break starting at 2 pm as they work on mic checks and getting things ready for the evening. Beginning at 6 pm and going until 11 pm, different music acts are featured. Someone performs a set on the main stage and when they’re done someone else performs on a side stage while they get the main stage setup for the next act. This way, you pretty much get constant music for those 5 hours. The big headliner on Saturday this year was Beth Nielsen Chapman, who was about the only music act I had heard of before (but they were all great). And, while all the musicians were within the ethos of Progressive Christianity, some were overtly religious acts and many weren’t. The only bummer about the music was that both Friday and Saturday they had to shut the main stage down for a while as thunder storms rolled through. It caused only a delay on Friday but it cut Chapman’s set short on Saturday.

Sunday morning happens all on the main stage as the festival wraps up. It began with a panel discussion with Brian McLaren, Christy Berghoef, and John Pavlovitz about “Prophetic Voice or Civil Discourse,” followed by a message by Stan Mitchell (who was unknown to me but now I’m a fan) which I found particularly moving, and ending with a message by Yvette Flunder – all with a little music thrown in here and there. I actually left before Rev. Flunder was done speaking. Her message was great, but at noon she was still going and I was ready to hit the road. I did miss closing communion by leaving early. If you bring enough camping gear that you need to bring your car to your camping site to load up, then you’re kind of stuck and can’t leave early (but maybe that’s a good thing). They don’t let cars on site until after the final service is finished. And, although I left early, I left fully energized and looking forward to next year. Yes, I’ve already bought my tickets for 2020!

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