Rev. Emily M. Brown

When Someone Shows You Who They Are

"The great writer Maya Angelou once said, 'When someone shows you who they are, believe them.'

"It’s a reminder that has been circulating widely these last few months, in response to the troubling events taking place in our nation and our world. It pushes back against those who respond to policies and actions that abuse and oppress with insipid suggestions to 'wait and see' or 'I’m sure they don’t mean any harm by it.' 'When someone shows you who they are, believe them.'"


A few months ago, one of my clergy colleagues was greeting worshippers at the sanctuary exit at the end of service. She shared smiles, hugs, and handshakes, got brief updates about people’s families and jobs and illnesses, and exchanged pleasantries. But then, a scowling person brought her up short. This dissatisfied worshipper looked at her severely and noted, “You shouldn’t be so political in church.”

Now, many a minister is struggling these days to strike the balance in this politically polarized society. We try to remind ourselves and others that God is neither a Democrat nor a Republican; at the same time, we try to be clear about the Gospel’s call...

And a Time to Every Purpose Under Heaven

We are just about seventeen and a half hours into the New Year. How are you feeling about the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017? Perhaps you feel relief, perhaps trepidation, perhaps excitement, perhaps dread, perhaps something else. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day may feel tremendously significant, but of course, they are rather arbitrary. There is nothing innately wonderful or horrible about a sequence of 365 days (or 366, as the case may be). There is nothing inherent in the moment that divided 11:59pm from 12:00am last night. The earth revolved around the sun, but the point that we mark as the end of one calendar year and the beginning of the next is chosen by a set of historical coincidences. Nevertheless, New Year’s Day marks a moment for looking back and taking stock, and looking forward and making plans.

Wait For The Lord

When I was a teenager, people would sometimes tell me that these were the best days of my life. I was skeptical. The point they were trying to make, I think, is that my physical needs were provided for without my having to pay the bills. Thoughtful, attentive adults tried their best to make sure I learned history and math and music and manners. I had a great metabolism, and a part-time job that was pretty fun and gave me a small income that I could spend on milkshakes and CD’s and cheap jewelry that turned my skin green. Now that I think about it, there were some pretty good things about being a teenager. But still, I think that anyone who says to a child or a teenager, “these are the best days of your life” has forgotten what it’s like...

Sought Me When A Stranger

You might think Jesus would be fine with Zaccheus being relegated to the back row; after all, he wasn’t exactly friendly with the Roman imperial authorities, who would nail him to a cross just a few short weeks later, and he hadn’t said too many favorable things about wealthy folks, either: “Blessed are the poor,” and “Woe to you who are rich,” being some of his most famous quotations. But Jesus is nothing if not full of surprises.