Where Rivers of Justice Flow

The following sermon was written by my husband, Garth Stevens-Jennings and I for the student lead Wednesday Night Worship service at Wesley Theological Seminary. We wrote the sermon as a reflection on Amos 5:21-24:“I hate, I despise your festivals.” This is strong language. Its frightening to think that all of the work that we put into worship services might be turned away by God. How must the folks that Amos is speaking to be feeling when they look around at the worship place that they’ve bu … [Read more...]

Fast of Embodied Solidarity

The Lenten season begins by people asking what they need to do or give up to live into their faith. This year I've spent a considerable amount of time questioning what it means to not only call myself a Christian but how I can live in a way that honors the teachings and example of Jesus. I'm drawn to the words of Micah 6:8 that remind me that part of this is lived through standing for justice, embracing mercy, and walking humbly before God and others.What does that even mean?Well...I'm … [Read more...]

Revisiting Christ in missions and service in the age of selfies

Revisiting Christ in missions and service in the age of selfies Bec Cranford serves as the Director of Community Relations and Volunteer Services at the Gateway Center, and supervises a contextual education course at Candler School of Theology.Poverty pornography, charity charlatans, and self-serving service versus relational missions honoring Christ in the least of theseAs we mature in Christ, many of us will become dissatisfied with churches that have a mentality of country clubs, and … [Read more...]

The Inscrutable Sacred Thread

“Everyone Is Welcome,” announces a small sign over the door of the gothic brick edifice.  It was first placed there to make sure people of color knew it was safe to enter in the sixties; later it served as an indication that people with AIDS were welcome too. Now it whispers carefully to me each time I enter.  If the sign were any larger I’d be spooked.I’m not scared of the building.  I’m not scared of worship, or of God.  I’m not scared of the two-story tall cross affixed to the wall in the … [Read more...]

Call and Affirmation

“No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” [Matthew 5:16-16 NRSV]I’ve learned to be someone who’s trustworthy enough to listen deeply without judgment, to make connections with other people at a soul-deep level, and to reflect back the innate goodness and inner wholeness of the … [Read more...]

Five Elements of Church Error (part 2 of 5) – Leaving Slavery & Segregation Behind

Do you believe in slavery? Would your church hire a pro-segregation minister? Would you be part of a spiritual community that banned attendees of a different race? Would you attend a church that refused to allow inter-racial marriages?  I'm guessing that not only would you answer "no" to these questions, but that most of you have a hard time imagining that there was a time when the Bible was used to justify and support such notions. Thankfully, almost all Bible teaching today comes from a place o … [Read more...]

What does emergent mean to a parish church?

I’ve read enough about the Emergent Church to ask the question, “What does emergent mean” in the context of a parish church?A dictionary defines emergent as something that is either coming into being or coming into prominence. Another dictionary defines emergent as newly formed and arising unexpectedly. A business dictionary defines emergent as only being knowable when the whole system is seen and understood. This Emerging Voices blog describes itself as a voice of Emerging Christianity, “rid … [Read more...]

Five Elements of Church Error – The Unexpected Jesus (Part 1of 4)

Part 1: Were We Wrong About Jesus Being Wrong About Eschatology?Early in my journey to a fulfilled eschatology perspective, I had the question, “How could the mainstream church have been so wrong for so long about eschatology?” I asked the question this way, because I held to the presupposition that God wouldn’t let the faith I grew up in be in error about something as significant as the timing and nature of the coming of Jesus for “most” of history.I had the perspective that the majority … [Read more...]

To Lament Injustice

A few months ago I wrote about a situation at Northwest Nazarene University where Tom Oord, tenured Professor of Theology, was laid off due to budget and enrollment concerns. For many students, alumni, and faculty, that was seen as a smoke screen from the very beginning. A vote of no confidence in the President came from the faculty, a commission was set up to investigate the layoffs, and in the middle of their investigation, President David Alexander resigned. A few weeks later the commission … [Read more...]

Us or Them versus Us for Them

Us or Them versus Us for Them Ahh. The Bible. Romans 14. Read this for a second.14 Welcome those who are weak in faith,[a] but not for the purpose of quarrelling over opinions. 2 Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. 3 Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgement on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. 4 Who are you to pass judgement on servants of another? It is before their own lord that … [Read more...]