Posts By Timothy Merrill

TIMOTHY MERRILL is an ordained minister and has served churches in Oregon, Minnesota and Colorado. His doctoral work at Princeton Theological Seminary focused on the apocalyptic nature of the preaching of the First Crusade in 1096 A.D. His work has been published in the academic press including the Patristica and Byzantine Review and the Westminster Theological Journal. His book, Learning to Fall: A Guide for the Spiritually Clumsy (Chalice Press) appeared in 1998.

Getting a Word from the Lord

By Timothy Merrill / March 20, 2019

Many mysterious things happen in the life of a preaching pastor — like why the mike fails to work on Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday morning; why the best-prepared sermon often falls flatter than roadkill on I-95; and conversely, why those sermons cobbled together at 6 a.m. Sunday are so often blessed with the fire…

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The Cross Checkpoint

By Timothy Merrill / January 21, 2019

Not long ago, I returned from a two-week trip to Israel and the Palestinian West Bank with our youngest daughter, Deborah. She had never been to this part of the world, and it was my fifth trip, so naturally, she thought I’d be the perfect person to show her around. While there, I was able…

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When Holy Communion Isn’t So Holy

When Holy Communion Isn’t So Holy

By Timothy Merrill / November 19, 2018

One Sunday recently, a youngish man, thirtysomething, father of two girls, asked me if the communion bread had any nuts. “We have some nuts in the congregation,” I said, “but not in the bread.” He smiled graciously at this lame attempt at humor. I went on to say that I would confirm this and would…

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Tree of Life Synagogue Shootings: So What Now?

By Timothy Merrill / November 1, 2018

The shooting that took place Saturday, October 27, at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, was, like all of the mass shootings we live through, an assault by hatred upon hope. I say hope, because most people of goodwill, and certainly people of faith, live with hope and by hope. Every day in Pittsburgh…

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Gratitude in a Culture of Outrage

By Timothy Merrill / October 18, 2018

We’re coming up on the two months of the year which unequivocally call for more gratitude, rejoicing and celebration than any other 61-day period on the calendar: November and December. The clarion call to be grateful is issued on Thanksgiving Day, and thereafter we’re reminded of the arrival of the transcendent, ineffable God in human…

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Change of Scenery

By Timothy Merrill / July 24, 2018

Every season has its own particular glory, and with that, downsides, too. Summer has so much to commend it that there’s no need for me to restate the obvious. But there are negatives that deserve mention. In the summer, wrote the Bard, “sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, / And often is his…

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Give It a Rest

By Timothy Merrill / June 5, 2018

My colleague Bob Kaylor is on sabbatical this summer. You can read about it in this issue on page 7. I think he’s doing something important — for himself, his ministry and his church. He will be a better person for it. Let’s talk about sabbaticals for a moment. I read an article recently the…

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The Apology

By Timothy Merrill / May 1, 2018

I am writing in the frenzied climate of the sexual abuse scandals hitting the political, media and entertainment industries. Big names are involved — Harvey Weinstein, Al Franken, Charlie Rose, Louis C.K., Matt Lauer, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Spacey and others. Many of those implicated or accused have admitted wrongdoing and offered some sort of apology. But,…

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Doctrinal Statements: Do We Need Them?

By Timothy Merrill / March 1, 2018

Recently, I visited over coffee with a pastor I had never met. I had anticipated the meeting eagerly. He was, after all, a recent arrival in the community, and I believed we might have a good, collegial relationship. I still hope for this. He asked a lot of questions about cultural, political and doctrinal matters.…

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Designing for Joy

By Timothy Merrill / January 1, 2018

Joy is a hot topic right now. I base this conclusion on my extensive research — two books I read recently. They are: Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans (Knopf, 2017), and Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and…

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