The Challenge of Jonah Encountering Radicalization Through Radical Inclusion

By Frances Flannery.Since the Paris attacks, many in the U.S. have drawn deeper boundary lines between “us” and “them” in an ugly way that in my lifetime I only recall seeing after 9/11.  It is true that ISIS is related to Islam in an extremist way, much as the KKK is related to Christianity (think of the burning crosses).  Yet this association has caused some politicians, pundits, and ordinary citizens to become much more suspicious of Muslims in general, despite the fact that far less than … [Read more...]

Ordinary Acts of Grace (Luke 3:7-18)

By Eric D. Barreto.Habitat For Humanity NYC enlists volunteers to help rehabilitate old homes and build new homes that will eventually house the working poor in New York City.John the Baptist is an irritant in the midst of Advent.In the Gospel reading for this week in Luke 3:7-18, he is in the wilderness excoriating the crowds who came seeking baptism and repentance and deliverance. “Who warned you…?,” John wants to know. Who told you to come out here? What did you think you would … [Read more...]

Selective Salvation in a Fear-Filled World (Luke 3:1-6)

By Karoline Lewis.“All flesh shall see the salvation of God” (Luke 3:1-6). Well, that depends.It depends on where you are from. It depends on your country of origin. It depends on your religion. It depends on those with whom you are associated. It depends on your race, your ethnicity, your gender, your sexual orientation. The list of criteria for salvation, contrived predominantly from our many fears, is long according to the world as we know it today, but not according to the Gospel … [Read more...]

Black Friday: Can’t Buy Love (Jeremiah 33:14-16 and Luke 21:25-36)

By Karyn L. Wiseman.Since 1924, the Friday after Thanksgiving has marked the start of the holiday shopping season.  Now “Black Friday” is an American phenomenon where shoppers wait in line for hours, some for days, to get their hands on holiday gifts at bargain prices.  Retailers lure shoppers with steep door-buster discounts, limited quantities,  and by opening early and closing late. Black Friday sales have been advertised for weeks now it seems. Doorstoppers, insane discounts, buy 1-get … [Read more...]

Radical Hospitality: Building Bridges, Respecting Differences (Revelation 1:4b-8)

By Jim Kast-Keat.In the 1990s Arno Michaelis was a white supremacist and lead singer of hate metal band Centurion, but the kindness shown to him by his Jewish boss changed him in ways he could never have expected. When I was eighteen years old I knew that I knew everything there was to know, especially in regards to the “us” and the “them” of the world. Eighteen-year-old me knew that being gay was a sin and that LGBTQ people were not called to leadership in the church (and my conserv … [Read more...]

Veteran’s Day: War on Every Shore (Mark 13:1-8)

By Shively Smith.Faith communities are uniquely positioned to help military families and veterans. It is so easy to read Mark and think of war as far off—especially if you are someone living in a neighborhood or region that has a semblance of peaceful times. For non-military families and organizations it is easy to miss that “wars and rumors of wars” mean families, perhaps right next door to us, are bracing for the possibility that parents or children may be leaving soon. Annually, on Nove … [Read more...]