Parable of the Triangle: Blessed are those who communicate directly

Anonymous complaints in churches can be a common source of conflict. They leave the recipient, minister or staff, unable to follow-up with the dissatisfied party and collaborate within relationship. This story is meant to illustrate some of those pitfalls.And it came to pass that Zebulon the Elder passed by a table of wares of Micah the Baker. Zebulon, having no small hunger, resolved to buy a small loaf.“Kinfriend Micah,” he inquired, “how much do you charge for a smaller one of these l … [Read more...]

Tony Campolo: Returning Agency to the Body of Christ through Spiritual Practice

Saturday afternoon, at a church near our home, beloved pastor Tony Campolo*, shared that his Ignatian contemplative practices are one key way to ready his body vessel for a daily infusion of Holy Spirit's healing power. I openly wept, recognizing that yoga and centering prayer do the same for me. Although Ignatian spirituality and Yoga developed independently, they have similar goals: union with God, and living life with more vibrancy. Had I already known my mind, my fears, curiosities, … [Read more...]

The Shiny Face of Jesus; A Transfiguration Sunday Sermon

This Sermon, based on Matthew 17:1-9, was preached by the author at American University for the United Methodist community's Sunday evening service on Transfiguration Sunday.Have you ever had a mountain top experience?One of those movements when the Kingdom feels close enough to touch, and the love and mercy, and justice, and grace of God seem to be flowing in and around you. The fire of the Holy Spirit is burning in your belly, and when you close your eyes, you can almost see Jesus … [Read more...]

Be Ready: Kindness to Strangers

The problem with strangers is that they can be a little strange. One time I gave a guy a sandwich and he gave me a pair of blue shoes. It's not really weird, just unexpected. The shoes were really soft, so they gave my feet some relief. There's a lot of teaching about strangers in the Hebrew and Christian scripture. A lot of the time, the point was just because you don't know someone, doesn't mean you have permission to treat them badly. In fact, “Stay on good terms with each other, held t … [Read more...]

A Moment of Honesty with Myself

I have been trying not to think about how I am feeling. I am a Christian, I have a masters degree in Divinity. I work at a church and at a seminary. I am supposed to be able to find hope even in the depths of hopelessness. The eschatological dream that is born in the gospel is supposed to give me enough to hold on to so that I can get out of bed even when day after day I see the injustices of the world grow. I shouldn't complain. I live in the United States of America. I have a solidly middle … [Read more...]

Inaugural Lament

Today is a rough day.Today we know that the world is not right.Today we sit in ashes.Today we rend our garments.Today we cry.Today we grieve.Today we wonder how the hell this happened.Today we make plans for what to do if things go horribly wrong.Today we see the ugliness of humanity's glare.Today we see our brothers and sisters tremble.Today we stare down privilege, hate, and pain.Today we see marching bands clank and squawk.Today we see evil … [Read more...]

Beyond Dreaming, Toward Repentance

"It is my fear that, though we may not embrace an outright substitutionary atonement theology of Jesus, we have embraced a substitutionary atonement theology of Dr. MLK Jr. That is to believe that Dr. King existed in his life solely to die to pay off the sins of white racists, and that because of his death, we don’t have to do any work beyond believing in what a nice fellow that Dr. King was. What a nice fellow that Dr. King was. With that dream of his and all. Sure glad he ended racism so that I … [Read more...]

An Inaugural Prayer

Holy God,Help UsHelp us learn that we are our brother's keeper.Help us to know that we need each other.That each one is connected to every other one. We need empathy. We need compassion. We need ears to hear, hearts to feel, and mouths to stop talking.Break our pride, replace it with dedication to your Kingdom's goal, that all will know you and none will want or cry.As we face another political transition, we beg you, God, to grant our leaders:PatienceA thirst for … [Read more...]

Grace-Filled Conversations.

I’m really great at getting into Facebook flame wars. I want to say that I am not proud of that, but if I am honest, sometimes I am very proud of it. I like to know that I have gotten under my opponent’s skin. I like to know that I have bested them in the artful way that I can mix logic, metaphor, and personal example until I get them to the point where they know that if they disagree with me, they will look foolish, mean-spirited, and racist, (or sexist, or homophobic, ect). This is not a good p … [Read more...]

A letter to my congregation after the election

 Dear Beloveds,I am writing to witness that for some of you, the election results from this week present an intense challenge and disappointment. My heart and my will are with you. It will be a time of adjustment for all of us, to move to a new administration. I want to write a for a moment specifically to those who are grieving, especially grieving the world that could have been.1. It is real and reasonable that you are upset.For some of you who have labored for civic … [Read more...]