First Sunday Back After the Storm

  But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him…… Read more →

“Don’t Waste the Pain”

Romans 5:1-5 “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts…” Who in his right mind would say something like that?  “We rejoice in our sufferings”?  What in the world can Paul possibly… Read more →

“Something Permanent”
Second Anniversary of Katrina

Psalm 71:1-6 “Be thou to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me…” In the opening chapter of his book, “A Brief History of Time,” the physicist Stephen Hawking, tells a variation of a story that has been retold for decades.  This is my favorite version of it.  A powerful sultan was having trouble sleeping.  He woke… Read more →


“Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Psalm 23 When Cassie Worley’s father, the well-known, beloved psychiatrist Dr. Charles Steck, died, one of the several scripture passages Cassie and her brothers selected for the service was Psalm 23. Cassie told me that when she and her family were evacuated to Mobile following Katrina this… Read more →


Matthew 9:9-13 “For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Anyone who lives in New Orleans knows what the term means:  “contraflow.”  Just in case there is even one person here who is not from here, let me explain.   It is a most unusual procedure. A radical measure.   It looks wrong.  But it’s right.  For it… Read more →

“Imagine the Unimaginable”

from Genesis 17 and 18 “The Lord said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh?…Is anything too hard for the Lord?” There is a word in the English language that almost always makes me smile:  impossible.  I love that word.  Beware of using it.  “I have learned to use the word ‘impossible’ with great caution,” said Werner von Braun.  “Impossible is… Read more →

“Blind Date”

from Genesis 24 “Then I bowed my head and worshiped the Lord…who had led me by the right way…” The story of Rebekah and Isaac, how they met, how they married, is one of the Bible’s great love stories.  It begins, however, with great sorrow, for Isaac’s mother, Sarah had died, and Isaac was heartbroken.  Abraham was so worried about… Read more →

“Hold Fast to What is Good”

Romans 12:9-22 “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good…” When the city of New Orleans planned its 3rd Katrina Anniversary observance, none of us had in mind a reenactment.  This is déjà vu, all over again.  Same weekend. Same timing.  Same scripture lesson.  But we have learned a lot from the last time. … Read more →

rayne under construction 3


Isaiah 43:1-5 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you…” On August 24, 2008, the historic Rayne Memorial United Methodist Church, which had very nearly been destroyed by Katrina, celebrated the completion of a 3 year, $5 million restoration.  The towering scaffolding, the chain link fence, the “Hard Hat Area,” was replaced with a lush new landscape… Read more →

“Post-Traumatic Hope”

Job 42:1-6, 10-17 “I know that thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of thine can be thwarted.” Anyone who lives in New Orleans knows what post-traumatic stress is.  It is an anxiety disorder that occurs in about 3 ½ % of the general population in response to a traumatic event—a death, a loss, abuse, violence.  Did you… Read more →

“Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead”

Isaiah 43:19 “Behold, I am doing a new thing!  Do you not perceive it?” It is one of my favorite scenes in The Wizard of Oz, when the same tornado that transports Dorothy from Kansas to Oz, drops a house on the Wicked Witch of the West thus putting an end to her cruel reign.   Declaring it a miracle,… Read more →

Hello, Darkness, My Old Friend

“Unless a grain of wheat falls to earth and dies, it cannot bear fruit,” John 12:20-33 Not long ago I received a call from a bride-to-be who wanted to schedule a wedding at Rayne. She had made the unpardonable sin of setting her date, booking her reception, ordering her invitations, and now, at last was looking for a church and… Read more →

Add Water

“O God, my God, my soul thirsts for thee…” Psalm 63:1-8 I have heard that in the Grand Canyon National Park there are signs along the trails that read, “Stop! Drink water! You are thirsty, whether you realize it or not.”  In that arid climate, the humidity is so low, the air is so dry, your perspiration evaporates so quickly,… Read more →

Christ the Center

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, in him all things hold together…” Colossians 1:15-20 July 22, 2007 The Reopening of the Sanctuary It was the first day after the storm that business owners were allowed to enter the city, to “look and leave.”  Pastors were included in that category (although, if anything, our… Read more →


“Tell the people to go forward. Lift up your rod,and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people may go on dry ground through the sea…” Verses from Exodus 14   Attraversiamo.  Some of you will remember this word from bestselling memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love.  The story begins with her difficult decision… Read more →