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...]

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...]

Microagressions

 According to Dictionary.com, a microaggression is "a subtle, but offensive comment or action directed at a minority or other non-dominant group that is often unintentional, or unconsciously reinforces a stereotype." This isn't actually a new idea. The term was created by the psychiatrist Chester M. Pierce in 1970. I have heard many people dismiss the idea or say that it is just another silly part of politically correct culture. My first response to that is, why is it such a terrible … [Read more...]

GRACE, a Name we can all Adopt

A store clerk looked at my credit card last week and asked, "What does your name mean, Anita? It is so beautiful". I responded that I once knew, but had forgotten… that I would google it.Apparently, my name means GRACE and I couldn't have been happier to learn or re-learn this little fact. I have always loved that word.While I was preparing for yoga with the ladies of the Phila. Federal Detention Center (FDC), I decided to research the meaning of many of their names:Donna- l … [Read more...]

Defiantly Love Your Neighbor

While many people have said what I’m about to say - I will say it again - there just aren’t words for what happened in #Orlando. There just isn’t a way to talk about it in a way that honors the depth and breadth of pain and sorrow that is encompassed by this tragedy.And so, I will lean into tradition, with something many people dismiss off hand as simplistic or trite, but I call us to:Defiantly Love Your NeighborAll the neighbors. The nice ones and the despicable ones. The peaceful on … [Read more...]

Closed Hearts, Closed Minds, Closed Doors: A Letter to all LGBTQIA and Allied United Methodists

You are loved. You were made in the image of God. You are part of the same creation that God breathed God's own breath into. You were knit together in the womb by God's own hands. You are beloved.Our church is flawed. Our church is made up of people, and all people are equal parts loved and sinful. We live in a fallen world that is clenched by fear. We may not see the full inclusion of the whole spectrum of God's children in our church this General Conference, or the next, or the next, or … [Read more...]

The Walking Dead & Trumping Our Own Conscience

 I love all things zombie. I have never been a Trekkie or a SciFi Superfan -- although I do love Marvel Films -- but since I first saw The Night of the Living Dead as a pre-teen in my parent's sunroom one summer afternoon I was hooked on all things zombie-genre. This intimate and lifelong relationship hit a new depth when The Walking Dead came on AMC. It was the zombie genre that I loved but extended beyond the disappointingly too-short time frame of a film, and it was so well curated that it e … [Read more...]

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...]