Author: Rev. Jeff Braun

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In the wake of the most recent mass-shootings – one in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and one in Buffalo, New York – words are inadequate. Inadequate to describe the anguish that those most directly affected (the families, the close friends, the immediate communities) are feeling. That we, as a nation, have been here so many times before makes the words feel all the more inadequate. Perhaps, even hollow.This does not mean that we...

The science vs. religion debate has been raging for a long time. People have been surveyed. Scientists have been polled. There are whole conferences you can attend to hear all the arguments - some saying 500 years of science have made it all too apparent that God isn’t real. Others asserting, “The questions to which God is the answer are not scientific questions." The pandemic has only exacerbated the debate (and the divide) as many Christians...

Dear Sisters, Brothers, and Friends, One month ago, Russian forces invaded Ukraine. In the stories and images which ceaselessly stream from this deeply embattled yet resilient country, we see both humanity’s best. And humanity’s worst. We see enlightened leadership grounded in hope. And despotic leadership fueled by fear. We witness brutal attacks. And unspeakable courage. We are aggrieved by the millions so ruthlessly displaced. And inspired by the compassion of neighbors both within and beyond Ukraine’s...

This is a strange time. A time when pandemic numbers, at least here in the United States, are improving and things are relaxing… at least for now. And, yet a time fraught with images of Russia’s ravaging assault on Ukraine and of the now over 3 million displaced people pouring primarily into Poland. A time when we can see, sense, even smell the earth coming back to life as winter’s grip slowly slips. And, yet a time...

Last week, I broke my brand new car. Well, part of it, anyway. I’m not really a “new car guy.” It’s been the better part of two decades since the last time I purchased a new vehicle. So, when I invested in a new car this year, I promised myself I’d take excellent care of it.I’ve been choosing my parking spots intentionally – no tight spaces, no messy trees, no chance of grocery cart dings or...

What’s on your Christmas season wish list? I’m not talking about your Christmas gift wish list…I’m talking about those events and traditions you’re hoping for this month. Cookie-baking with the kids? Decorating the tree? Watching holiday movies? Christmas caroling with old friends? And maybe there are others too… more in the “feelings and experiences” category… those deep down, often unspoken, almost too-vulnerable-to-name wishes most of us carry around about this time of year… for us...

Rehearsals for the 106th annual Winnetka Congregational Church Christmas Pageant on December 12th have already begun. As preparations for this beloved event gain steam, I’ve found myself reflecting on why we’re so committed to doing everything we do here intergenerationally – to remaining open to hearing God’s grace expressed through voices of all ages. A story that keeps coming up for me is one about a particular fifth grader.She’s a natural introvert, known for her...

We’ve been talking a lot about being an “open house” at Winnetka Congregational Church. I really love this metaphor for our church. The other day, I was thinking about why it seems so right for us, and a sound came to mind.Yes, a sound.The sound of a slamming screen door. Now, I realize for some people, that is an incredibly annoying sound. But for me, it’s a good one. A sound that brings me joy. Maybe...

We just came out of a very difficult and uncomfortable year and a half. So many of us are feeling all kinds of things…all at once. We’re grieving losses and celebrating long-awaited hugs. We’re ready to move on, start our “real lives” again. And also NOT. QUITE. READY. It feels like a time of new beginnings…and one jam-packed with questions. We find ourselves wondering: “Will what’s next be incredible or far from it?” Basically, we’re swirling. This time we’re in reminds...