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J. Mark Lawson
Liverpool, New York
Pastor, United Church of Christ in Bayberry, Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies, LeMoyne College
Interests: Hiking and photography in the Adirondack mountains, American history. The images in the banner are pictures I've taken while hiking.
Recent Activity
If spring is the time when Mother Nature wakes up from winter, she’s hit the snooze button several times this year. Actually, she got a bit restless back in February and acted like she was getting up early, then went back to sleep. The Vernal Equinox represented the official arrival... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Traveling in Place
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After a full morning of celebrative worship on Easter Sunday, I was glad to rest for the remainder of the day. In the evening, I watched NBC’s live production of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” featuring John Legend in the role of Jesus, Sarah Bareilles as Mary Magdalene, Brandon Victor Dixon as... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2018 at Traveling in Place
Yesterday, I heard an interview with former President Jimmy Carter. He’s just published a new book entitled Faith: a Journey for All. I’ve read and heard Carter address the importance of his Christian faith many times. I’ve always admired Jimmy Carter. Did he “succeed” as President? Not in the way... Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2018 at Traveling in Place
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“How’s your Lent going?” a colleague asked me a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t know how to respond at first. My eventual honest answer was, “It’s going fine for the church, but I haven’t really internalized it.” Fortunately, that simple but penetrating question was posed early enough to give... Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2018 at Traveling in Place
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This week’s tragedy in Parkland, Florida, marks the 18th (and deadliest) school shooting of 2018. In the last decade, mass shootings in the U.S. have reached epidemic proportions. After each of these heartbreaking incidents, we offer our thoughts and prayers to victims and survivors. We send money to the grieving... Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2018 at Traveling in Place
I just filled out the mind-numbing, repetitive medical paperwork to see the second medical specialist in a week’s time. After I saw the first specialist last week, an array of prescription drugs contained in bottles, boxes, and sprays crowded the bathroom counter. There’s nothing seriously wrong with me, but I’ve... Continue reading
Posted Feb 7, 2018 at Traveling in Place
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On Martin Luther King Day, plenty of preachers and protesters lamented that we as a nation seem to be going backwards. Racism, which never went away but was at least purged from the public sphere, has now been legitimized as a way to express perceived victimhood. Membership in racist hate... Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2018 at Traveling in Place
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How did Christmas get started? The answer is not as simple as, “Jesus was born.” Yes, he was, but nobody knows exactly when. So let me restate the question: What are the origins of the Christian festival celebrating the birth of Christ? This subject has long been a matter of... Continue reading
Posted Dec 23, 2017 at Traveling in Place
Even though Roy Moore hasn’t yet conceded the Senatorial election in Alabama, the results are pretty clear. He lost. Even President Trump, his biggest cheerleader in the last couple of weeks, has congratulated his opponent, Doug Jones, on his hard-fought victory. Now the analysis cycle is in full motion. The... Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2017 at Traveling in Place
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All the stories in the gospels of the events leading up to the birth of Christ share something in common: the element of surprise. Mary was surprised to be visited by an angel and told that she would give birth to the Messiah. Joseph was surprised (and distraught) to learn... Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2017 at Traveling in Place
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Christianity has been in the news a lot lately – and not for good reasons. Former judge and Senatorial candidate Roy Moore – who bombastically presents himself as a champion of traditional Christianity – has been publicly accused by five women (so far) of inappropriate sexual advances when they were... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2017 at Traveling in Place
This morning, we awoke to the season’s first measurable snowfall. The sight of it was comforting to me. Something normal. Right about on schedule. Life goes on. I’m tired of abnormality. I’m tired of norms – not just political ones, but also moral norms that used to define basic human... Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2017 at Traveling in Place
“Be still and know that I am God.” These words have been echoing in my head a lot over the last year, because the temptation to be perpetually stirred up, distracted, and anxious is so strong. Everything is politicized. Nothing is filtered. The most powerful forces at work in society... Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2017 at Traveling in Place
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This weekend, I engaged in an autumn ritual and one of the true joys of home ownership: cleaning the gutters. Every year, I think to myself in early autumn, “Well, you might as well wait until all the leaves have fallen before you clean out the gutters, so you only... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2017 at Traveling in Place
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When I drove up into the mountains last week for my annual spiritual retreat, I was disappointed to see muted autumn colors robbed of their usual brilliance. An unseasonably warm September devoid of any significant rainfall stifled what is typically a splendorous display of color. In the Western part of... Continue reading
Posted Oct 12, 2017 at Traveling in Place
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One day last week, I spotted what seemed to me a large and intimidating spider suspended just below eye level on our back deck. Its huge web was spun from the eave down to the back of a wicker sofa then to the facing of the door into our sunroom,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2017 at Traveling in Place
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August felt like October. Now, September feels like July. That’s unsettling, but it could be a lot worse. I’ll take unseasonable temperatures any day over multiple once-in-a-millennium, tornado-inducing hurricanes that spawn record flooding and wind destruction. In fact, I have been hearing Central New Yorkers express a newfound appreciation for... Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2017 at Traveling in Place
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Rain and responsibilities conspired to keep me off the hiking trails this summer – until Friday. On the first day of September I grabbed a late season chance to challenge myself with a good, long, strenuous trek up one of the Adirondack High Peaks. I choose Sawteeth, which stands 4,100... Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2017 at Traveling in Place
The other day I witnessed something truly wonderful. I was driving home from Syracuse on the Lake Parkway. As I entered the last curve before reaching the village, I could see ahead of me that traffic had stopped. Had there been an accident? I expected to see the flashing lights... Continue reading
Posted Aug 30, 2017 at Traveling in Place
It’s been a long, hot summer. I’m not talking about weather. In fact, around here, it really hasn’t been all that hot. It is true that around the world, the planet is getting warming. Permafrost is receding, the ice caps are melting, and sea levels are rising. But that’s not... Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2017 at Traveling in Place
Whatever else you may think of the political paroxysms jolting American culture right now, you cannot deny that we’re all getting a national civics lesson. I don’t think I have ever heard as much conversation about checks and balances, the Electoral College, or even the independence of the Department of... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2017 at Traveling in Place
(See update at the end of this post. - JML) While attention is focused on the Senate healthcare debate and Don Jr.’s e-mails with Russians, a largely unnoticed bill is wending its way through the legislative process that needs some serious public vetting. It is scheduled for a vote in... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2017 at Traveling in Place
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The long Independence Day weekend has begun – with more rain. While the weather forecast is for a bright, sunny July 4, the cloudy, wet conditions seem more appropriate. As I’ve listened to parishioners talk about the state of the nation, I’ve noticed one emotion overtaking all others. Earlier in... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2017 at Traveling in Place
The violence continues. Today, a disgruntled political activist committed an act of terrorism by opening fire on a baseball practice attended by several Republican members of Congress. Forty to fifty shots rang out. The incident could have been far worse. No one was killed. Five people were injured, one critically.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2017 at Traveling in Place
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I never thought this would happen to me. I’ve become – wait for it – a “birder.” Spotting birds, identifying them by their plumage, and learning their calls has never held much interest for me until this year. Back in March, I posted about all the birds we were attracting... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2017 at Traveling in Place