A Sermon of three cities: Madison, Philippi, the New Jerusalem (6 Easter, 2019)

We’ve all seen the headlines and read the stories pronouncing Madison one of the best places to live in the country. Most of us love it here—the restaurants, the entertainment possibilities, the lakes, UW. That Madison is a popular place to live is evidenced by the ongoing construction boom. I was on the near east side, what is now called the Capitol East neighborhood this week. I hadn’t really noticed everything that’s happened there recently. There’s the Sylvee, a new hotel, more apartment complexes. The difference driving down E. Washington today from ten years ago is remarkable. Continue reading

The Gates Will Always Be Open: A Sermon for the Sixth Sunday of Easter


When I was a student at Harvard Divinity School back in the 80s, I worked a couple of summers as a bellhop at a hotel in the Back Bay of Boston. The money was pretty good, and it was a nice break from the rarefied atmosphere of Cambridge and Harvard. Plus, the hotel was right next to Fenway Park. I worked evenings, and after punching out, I had to run to make sure I caught the last train (subway) going in. I got off at Harvard Square (this was before the redline was extended out to Alewife), and I still had a fifteen minute walk to my apartment in Somerville. The quickest way was through Harvard Yard, the historic heart of Harvard’s campus. It’s surrounded by walls with more than twenty gates. Now, some of the gates are always open, some are almost always closed, and some seemed to be closed and locked completely randomly. Too often, as I came out of the Harvard Square station at around 12:30 am, the gate closest to the exit I usually used was locked, meaning that I would have to either retrace my steps, or go all around the yard, adding five minutes to my late night walk. Continue reading