Grace and Peace to you beloved,

St. Catherine of Siena challenges us-

“Be whom God means us to be,

And we will set the world on fire!”

We emerge from the ashes of our longing,

Our lamenting

Into the light of Proclamation

Of the power of the Creator’s Love,

And the One who shatters Doubt,


And Death,

Because we have life everlasting,

Through Jesus Christ,

Our Savior and Lord,




The days are surely coming,

says the Lord,

when I will make a new covenant

with the house of Israel

and the house of Judah”

And even yes,

With the Lutherans


“It will not be like the covenant

that I made with their ancestors”

Or with Luther

Or with Melachon

Or Bonhoeffer

“But this is the covenant

that I will make with all of them

says the Creator

 I will put my law within them

and I will write it on their hearts;

 and I will be their God,

 and they shall be my people.”


This new covenant

That the Creator God promises all of us

To never leave us,

Nor forsake us

And Giving US

Eternal LIFE,

As people of faith,

We agree

That THIS covenant

Remains embedded within who we are

The Good News is echoed here,

In Jeremiah

And because of what ultimately seals this covenant

The presence of the One,

Who walks with us

We are assured




We are forgiven,

What replaces the shame and guilt and darkness

Heaped on us

Is God’s GRACE


And yet,

As siblings in Christ,

We stumble over how to

Live into that covenant

Because if we are truthful

We restrict the access

That God has in our lives

Because that means,

Abandoning the selfishness steeped into our spirit

Giving up of the stubbornness

Taking Jesus’s hand

As Jesus leads US

Into the PURPOSE

Into our Assignment

From God


Luther’s call

Was to Reform the Wider Church

Our call now,

Is to Transform

This Wider Church


That means

Not clinging to the historical,

And the abstract

From 500 years ago

But being faithful

And living out the Reformation




Are sacred testimonies

Binding one another

To this faith journey

When people come through the doors

Of this Wider Church

We are shocked to hear,

How sometimes grace-less

Other faith traditions can be

How unfulfilling of an environment

They create

And so we get the pilgrims



For a sense of peace.


Just over the weekend I saw a sign

On a Reformed Church in Munster

“Get the Bread of Life,

Or your toast.”


Last time I checked

That is not what the Good News

That Jesus Christ shared and proclaimed

To His Disciples,


Jesus says,

“So if the makes you free,

You will be free indeed.”


My own faith journey,

Is that I emerged from a stagnant faith tradition

Where it seemed

There was this concentration

On works righteousness

On our lives as only sinners

With no grace

With this disconnect from the world

And only uplifting,

This theology of self-preservation

For a life thereafter


Where I felt,

I had no right to question God

Or God’s existence,

And where God

Would surely

Impact my living in horrific ways


By all accounts

I am nothing more than a Sinner


We joke so much,

In the wider expression

Of the Lutheran Church,

About sitting in the back

But I would find myself there

I would purposely place myself there

Because for me,


To sit at the front of the Church

In front of the altar of God,

And when I was in the front

In those rare times,

I was Petrified

And there have been many others,

Who I have encountered

Who feel the same way,

That none of us were worthy


To be a part of the Body of Christ!


And yet,

That afternoon of my ordination

There was a JOY!

I wanted to lay down in front of the altar

Because Jeremiah rang in my ears

Here was this NEW COVENANT


HERE is where Jesus Christ spoke to ME



Is where I felt I was finally REDEEMED


Even though,

I knew as we all do,

Every day is a day of thanksgiving




Because see,

Among all others

Only Jesus Christ,

Only the Creator God


We don’t!

And we should not JUDGE OTHERS

Instead of condemning with His Word

He teaches us with a WORD

 “If you continue in my word,

you are truly my disciples;

and you will know the truth,

and the truth will make you free”

And the Good News is,



And because of this Freedom,



Professing, Proclaiming,



Lifting our voices,

Journeying with others,



That should be.


So many ways that WE can be a GIFT


To this Broken world.

And it will not be perfect!

We will screw up!

We will fail,


Because we have been SET FREE

We get UP

And we do it again,


Because we are BELOVED

And we are CALLED



Thanks Be to God.


Morning Poetry: #decolonizeGodsName

Wars launched
Lives extinguished
at the sound of God’s Name
People destroyed
Tribes torn
All invoked in God’s name
Damage done
Souls wrenched
We are not living into
God’s name
Conquered lives
Conquered bodies
Because of the use of God’s name
And you can’t hear God’s name
Hostile takeover
Hostile deportation
All in God’s name
And yet,
We ignore
We ridicule
The power
of Transformation
God’s name
While God weeps
God waits
for the restoration




Grace and Peace to you Beloved,

We confess as broken people

That we are so enraptured in our own righteousness

Attached to doctrines and dogmas

Instead of the living Word of God

That we have for so long ignored the invisible

Crying over again for Jesus to “Save our Church”

Instead of clinging to our Faith,

Embedded deeply in the roots of the Word,

The Word which is Jesus

And lamenting,

“What have we done?”

And asking,

“What can we do?”


This Gospel,

There is so much paradox in this Word

Right here.


Let’s face it

We are always slamming the Pharisee

every time they come up in our lectionary

We belittle them-

“How could they be so rude!


Questioning Jesus!

Thank God we’ve learned our lesson

And we are not like them!”


I have a confession to make

(When I was in my second year of Seminary, I spent time in the midst of what we call Ministry in Context or our teaching parish at Prince of Peace Lutheran in Chicago Heights, The Pastor there referred to his interns his “minions” and there was the air of smugness at our roles being heightened with importance because we were experiencing church, liturgically, “in the right way.” We are talking high church: smells, bells, how to genuflect and when and where; I was engrossed in high liturgical orthodoxy. And yes, I also confess in that there is something very soothing about ritual, sacred ritual that brings joy deep within-speaking to how my people, my Ancestors-for them, ritual was everything in daily life. When I went off to my internship year, that church definitely did not do any high church anything and in fact, my internship supervisor understandably had his own impressions, with much humor And so, I rebelled! I tried to incorporate where I had utmost control during those three months my supervisor was on sabbatical, high church liturgy with the director of Music as my accomplice. I returned back to Chicago and continued this role of “minion” , being privileged to be a part of many a Synod worship service; being a part of the liturgical in-crowd”

So I confess,

I have been that Pharisee.

Can we all confess,

We have been that Pharisee?


Let’s face it-

The Pharisees were indeed,


Deeply entrenched into their religious tradition.

They remained in the temple,


Memorized the laws

Could quote sacred text


The Bible.

They were the ones who went to study at the feet of the Rabbi,

Went to university and got their Bachelor’s in Religion

Their Master’s in Biblical Studies

And their Ph.D in Old Testament Studies, concentrating on Exodus

Everything in the way they lived,

Was parallel to the LAWS

They were the go to people

when the rabbi was not available to teach

Or the pastor not able to conduct Bible Study

They were the ones always in the libraries

And were the first to get the mobile app

of the Augsburg Confessions

(by the way, that is not a thing, ya’ll)

They felt as if they were being dedicated to the faith,

That had taught them


Aren’t some of those the same qualities we expect in our own leaders

In this church?

That we expect them to tool around with the Book of Concord

And a worn copy of St. Augustine’s

We want to ensure that our children know

Luther’s small catechism backwards and forwards?

That we want to be by the book good Lutherans?

Which then orders our steps for daily living?


But when,

Our own doctrines





From serving those that Jesus calls us to serve,


That ain’t right.


(Tell the story about Tuhnia and her experience as a Woman of Color and Hindu descent, serving in this church-and being not afraid to be called a sinner, like one of those tax collectors, because she decided that God, and the Risen Christ calls her to profess and proclaim a Gospel for those oppressed. When she goes back to her alma mater seminary to preach and does such-and because she pushes the envelope, using the GOSPEL, USING God’s WORD, as the vehicle that we as followers of Christ should be serving those people made INVISIBLE by the Church and a BISHOP, an ELCA BISHOP refuses to take Communion from her? Oh yes, the path to being a Bishop-say all the right things in Seminary and agree with Lathrop and the standard Lutheran   about how things should be done, and meet all the right people and do all the right things, moving through the ranks until your name is lifted high and you finally achieve that goal of being a BISHOP.)

I thought the whole point of being in the midst of God,

In this sacred space

Was to lift up to God our praise

And our lament,


Be merciful to me,

A sinner”


Because see,

When you follow everything by the book,

Then your life will be easy.

And then,

When you are out in the midst of life’s journey,

And you come across someone

who is dragging their whole self in the street



Caught up in the darkness

You smile that false smile,

And say quietly to yourself

“Thank GOD…”

Or perhaps,

“There by the Grace of God, go I”

Or even

Your voice is mixed with the Pharisee,

“God I thank you I am not like other people,”



Drug Addicts

Or even

These protesters who are out here making all this noise

About justice

About rights of those who are struggling in bad mortgages

And immigrants who are failing in a red tape visas system

And voting rights for everyone;

These people protesting and interrupting

Churchwide Assembly

Bringing up ridiculous motions and resolutions

about the Doctrine of Discovery

And more visibility of those who are LGBTQA

And of African Descent

And divesting any further from Israel

When all they need to be doing is being faithful to prayer

And trying to get more people into the pews

And telling people they should except

Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior”


Why was it okay for Luther to act a complete fool,

And call the wider Church out,

And suddenly it would be passe for us to do it now.

I thought we were followers of Christ,

I thought we were baptized in CHRIST’S NAME

And not Luther’s.


We miss what is important in this text,

Because Jesus never condemns the Pharisee,

And see that is Good News,

Because Jesus Christ loves US

Even when we get self-righteous

And stuck on ourselves-

“Jesus also told this parable to some,

Who trusted in themselves

That THEY were righteous

And regarded others with contempt”

How often have we told our children,

When we are driving past a scene,

Where the cops are arresting someone,


Watching programs like


And the First 48


Scared Straight,

Or in our own neighborhoods,

When we see people associated with the wrong crowd,

Like this tax collector

Do we tell our children,

“You need to live RIGHT

Otherwise you are going to end up like this-

So thank God that you are not like..them.”

That we identify them BY THEIR SIN

Instead of seeing brokenness,


(slight pause)

Instead of,

Radically living into our call and purpose

That the Creator gives us,

By saying


How can I be a resource for others?

Give me the opportunity,

To journey,

To be

To be a part of the transformational change

That you call us TO!”


And that does not mean

That we are praising those

Whose behavior is questionable!

Jesus did not praise the tax collector,

Because the Pharisee was still righteous

But the tax collector leaves,

Knowing they have been heard,

Knowing they have been justified

Knowing that they have been FORGIVEN

“This man went down to his home justified

rather than the other;

for all who exalt themselves will be humbled,

but all who humble themselves will be exalted”

Luther set out to reform the Wider Church

500 years later,

we are called to transform the Wider Church.

We are not losing anything that we have come in with,

we are gaining knowledge

from every nook and cranny

of this global society.

We are not losing what it means to be Lutheran

or what guides our steps,

which comes from Romans

-what separates us from the rest is that we are


When people come through the Wider Church’s doors,

they don’t have to prove themselves

-because we all know

we come from the Creator God!

We don’t have to prove ourselves worthy from Baptism;

we are born from,

and our souls are filled with Holy Breath

from the Creator God!


The Good News is

Jesus Christ stands with those

who are




Left in those leper colonies

and we are CALLED



Thanks Be to God.


Who Runs the World? Women, Widows


Women have always been at the center

Of Revolution

Even when,

They were ignored

I laughed with some realization over the weekend,

Of my Sermon title

Was inspired by Beyonce.


And yet,

Because of that song,

I am reminded,

Of the many ground breaking transformative


Happening today,

Are because of women.

Malala Yousafzai, fighting for education

and against the Taliban

She is living our her Faith

She refuses to be silent


Leymah Gbowee, fighting for equality for all women

And against the oppression of patriarchy

In many parts of Africa

She is living out her Faith

She refuses to be silent


Alica, Patrisse and Opal.

Three names you may not know

But these three queer Women of Color

Are fighting for basic human and civil rights

And against the brutality of the least of these

By forming the #BlackLivesMatter

They are living out their purpose and Faith

They refuse to be silent.

So I cannot fathom,

Why this well ordered society

Would choose to judge,




In times of strife,


And Sorrow

When they most need us.


I had never experienced the depth of pain

Or sorrow

That a woman experiences

Losing her mate

Until I walked with my mentor, Cheryl

When Papa Pete passed last year.

And Cheryl,

Perhaps like many other women who wear this mantle of widowhood

She was lucky,

Because not only was there this global grieving for Pete

There was this outpouring of care,

That surrounded and enfolded Cheryl

Even this week,

As Pete was posthumously awarded a Lifetime Service Award


The accolades, and the love continued to pour out.


Sometimes, however

Not all women,

Who become widows

Experience the same love and care


For whatever reason,

They are abandoned by the community,

As seemed to be the practice in these ancient times

In Jesus’s time


Lost much more than the love of their lives

Their partner and mate in all things,

It almost meant a death sentence for a woman

They suddenly were without status

Without protection

Without freedom

Without rights

And there was no advocate

No voice for them.

They were vulnerable

In a society

Who did not see the value,

Nor any responsibility to care for these widows


But this widow,

In our Gospel text this morning

Will not be silenced

This widow stands

As an example

To other widows

Who suffer loss

Because of injustice


“I have a baby to put in the ground,

She wasn’t my convict

She wasn’t my suspect

She was my baby

Once I put this baby in the ground

I’m ready,

This means war.”


Sandra Bland’s mother,

Has not stopped working for justice,

Wherever she goes

Calling into question

The policies

The regulations

Of those who are called to serve the people

She lives out her Faith,

She has a voice

She is a baptized beloved child of the Creator God

Will we judge her, and not listen?


“Then that little man in black there,

He says women can’t have as much rights as men

Cause Christ wasn’t a woman!

Where did your Christ come from?

Where did your Christ come from?

From God and a woman!

Man had nothing to do with Him,

With Jesus Christ


Sojourner Truth,

Even as a slave

Refused to be silent

And lived out her call,

Proclaiming the atrocities

Against her people

She lived out her Faith

She had a voice

She was a baptized beloved child of the Creator,

Even now,

Why do we criticize?

Gloss over her very deep, faith wrenching words

Why do we belittle,

Attempt to erase,

Her boldness,

And others like her

Who chose to lean on their Faith

And speak out against such atrocities?

Why do we refuse to listen

Against the cries for justice?



Are not just without husbands,

They are without community

Without privileges

Without power

One of my beloved colleagues and friends,

A Pastor of this Church,

In Baltimore

Tweeted yesterday that,

We live in a society

that makes excuses

for the unjust judge

Demonizing the widow

for seeking justice

in the first place.

This is the truth we are unfortunately living,

Right now,


Our very being,

Our rights

Our beloved selves

Are interrogated


Because regardless of our status,

We cannot be muted

In the face of the unjust

Especially unjust judges,


“neither feared God nor had respect for people”

And this woman,

This unnamed widow in our Gospel text,

Was not going to accept

The word


She was not going

To stay in a place

Where others decided she belonged

Because it made them, comfortable

Rejecting the stagnant well-ordered society

That allowed the outcasts

To be cast aside,

Once they were drained

Of their usefulness


We are not sure what she was fighting for

“Grant me justice against my opponent”

Or perhaps who she was fighting for

Or who she was standing for

But she was always a presence

In that unjust judges space,

In that courtroom

In front of his dwelling

On the street

Grant me justice against my opponent

This widow,


of story after story

of injustice that permeated her days and nights

And refused

To give up

“Did you want to see me broken,

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders fallen down like teardrops

Weakened by my soulful cries?”

And because Maya Angelou,

Refused to be silent

Spoke within her Faith

Speaks for many women who were



Spoke against the VIOLENCE

And all they had was their WORDS





But because of JESUS,



The Good News of Jesus Christ is that,

What carried this widow

To face the persecution,

Was not just her strength

But it was the presence of Jesus Christ

It was her FAITH!

It wasn’t her commitment to her community,

Or those who stood with her

It was because of the GRACE of the Creator God!

It wasn’t the organizing

Or the right words,

Because all of this flowed from her

Because God stood with her

“And will not God grant justice

to his chosen ones

who cry to him

day and night?”


And beloved,

The Good News of Jesus Christ,

Is that Christ hears our prayers,

When we are crawling,

Scraping our knees

Blinded by our tears

Afraid because this world batters us

Christ stands with us,


Or how we have struggled with swimming

In the waters of Faith

Or how the world has proclaimed us


Because of our perceived sins


Christ touches us,

Christ LOVES US!


And because we are LOVED,

Christ teaches us

The power


Prayer moves,





Even more so,

I think,

The power of prayer

From Women-

A Woman prayed for me,

Had me on her mind,

Took the time to pray for me,

I’m so glad she prayed

I’m so glad she prayed

I’m so glad she prayed

For me.

Thanks Be to God

O Lord, How Long? Lament from the Prophets

Grace and Peace to you, beloved

If we follow the One,

Who shatters death

Who picks us up from the gate

Who transforms this world,

Then we cannot afford to be

The stumbling blocks

In each other’s lives

Instead our faith should be scattered

Like a mustard seed

So that it grows in the wilderness

Spreading Love, Mercy

And Forgiveness


 Luke 3:4 proclaims

A voice of one calling in the wilderness

That voice cries out their testimony

Shares their witness

Striving to live out their faith.


But what happens,

When no one hears,

People turning their whole selves away

Our own voices registering to their hearing as strained and muffled

Refusing to acknowledge and experience

The transforming power of the Good News


Left vacant

The wilderness seemingly overwhelms us

And we are helpless to do nothing,

But emit a primal scream.


For my fellow sisters and brothers in Seminary,

The journey towards a deeper theological and spiritual understanding

Grew to be exasperating at times

Not only because of the normal burdens

Of paperwork for Candidacy

Or papers never ending

Or projects mounting

But because suddenly we were alone


From the same communities which had sent us off

To this journey of Seminary

We were shocked!

The reality of their immunity to our dancing,



About how the Gospel broke down walls,

And filled our hearts.


They did not want to hear,

The restoring promises of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

They did not want to be faced with the truths

Of Liberation

Of Freedom

Because that would mean,

They would be forced

To wrench themselves away

From their comfortable places

At those golden altars they had been building

In reverence to doctrines

And Dogmas


Our voices adrift

In an unforgiving,



To where


Could not hear

The cries

Of God’s people

Even now

My soul is overcome

By this new religion

And theology



Violence against the innocent-

Especially those blinded by their own demons,

That lash out against love as their loved ones try to hold on

Trapped by their shackles of mental anguish

Pointing to a system,

Which disregards the stewardship of life,

The accountability

That the Creator God commanded us to have

For one another


Violence against those in the community-

Especially those tolling hard on the front lines,

Those working towards restorative justice

And yet violence invades these sacred spaces

Blinded by a system

That refuses to acknowledge its culpability

In the destruction of the people, and their life.


Violence against those who serve,

Those who work without thanks,

Without praise

Trying to build a bridge

Trying to be ambassadors

Because the system failed,

And abandoned them,

Leaving them to bear the brunt

And navigating a broken people,

On their own


Violence against Black and Brown and Red bodies

Simply because they swallowed the propaganda

Created by a corrupt and devious system

Spoon feeding them to the idea

That these sacred bodies,

With the reflection of the ONE

Who was also a Sacred body,

That these sisters and brothers in Christ

Are somehow less than


Violence against the very gift,

We take granted

Day after day,

Of Creation itself!

Thinking it will automatically replenish

Forgetting our misuse this land

Or hoard minerals,

Blocking off water rights,

Robbing Creation selfishly of its resources

Because somehow the system

Declares us the dominant force


On most days, it feels as if

All I want to do

Is to go out into Creation

And scream myself



“How long, Lord, must I call for help,

    but you do not listen?

Or cry out to you, “Violence!”

    but you do not save?”



Seems to be absent


And we,

Just as the prophet in Habakkuk (Hab-bu-kuck)

Felt forsaken,



The unnamed prophet,

Is rightfully angry


Questioning God

Her prayers are not answered

Her cries are unheeded

In this prophets time,

Of 7th Century BCE

The Israelites are under the rule

Of the occupiers

The Babylonians,

The Israelites perhaps experienced a state of confusion,

And desertion

The Babylonians forced upon them,


Assimilating both culturally and spiritually

Demanding that they deny themselves,

Violating their sacred bodies,

Through economic and physical oppression

Does this sound familiar?

We as humanity sometimes do not learn the lessons,

From the mistakes of the past


And yet,

The people of God

Created that chiasm,

Separating themselves

From the presence of the Creator God


Of their selfishness,

Their actions,

Their neglect

Of those outside the gate

Clinging to laws,

That had nothing to do with Faith.


Doesn’t it appear as

Our own actions

Mirror those

Of these ancestors?

We have failed in being

Good stewards

Of one another

And so the abyss


Deeper still

We forget whose we are

And we allow ourselves to slip

Into a coma like state


“Therefore the law is paralyzed,

    and justice never prevails.

The wicked hem in the righteous,

    so that justice is perverted.”

The prophet in Habakkuk, (Hab-bu-kuck)

Besides herself,

That the collective community,

Disrupted the opening and the rushing in,

Of the Holy Spirit

That instead of fighting a common enemy,

They seemed to be fighting themselves

“It would be better for you

if a millstone were hung around your neck

and you were thrown into the sea

than for you to cause one of these

little ones to stumble”

These verses which are here in Luke 17,

But not included in our Gospel this morning,

Echo the frustrations perhaps,

Of the prophet in Habakkuk, (Hab-bu-kuck)

And are magnified as a warning,

From Jesus Christ







The wicked






It’s not just as simple

That because we have lack of faith,

Or our hands are empty of faith,

Or even we do not practice what we preach,

But this unwillingness

To Forgive!

And we know as people of faith,

This is HARD



And we’re not talking something as easy

For sins committed

But that our smugness

Self-assured in our righteousness

In orthodoxy

That somehow know


So therefore,



Being in community with those,

Whose beliefs,


Or how they connect with God

Just because it differs from us,


We don’t have to accept them!

We can be dismissive

We use the doctrine of justification to alienate ourselves

To practice prejudice

And bigotry


We cling to dogma

As Truth

Instead of the Gospel,

The Good News,

Which proclaims

An uncomfortable TRUTH

That because of Jesus Christ,

Our Savior and Lord


Were created

ALL are forgiven


And yet

This is why



Children of the Creator God

Cling to Jesus Christ,

The One who gathers us in His Hands,

And breathes NEW LIFE,

EVEN into

Dry seeds,

EVEN when we are discarded by others,

Because the perception is,

Nothing good could come from us


We cling to Jesus

And cry out in that wilderness

“Increase our FAITH!”


We are trying!


What else can we do?


Do not forget us


We are willing


And this increasing of our faith,

Goes beyond having this faith,

Like a mustard seed

We must be open,

Remembering our baptism

And why we are called to a PURPOSE!

Our faith does not have to be huge,


Our work,

Our goals,

Our commitment to God,


But we have to TRUST GOD

Allowing GOD to nurture,

Direct us,

Even when we are in the midst of transforming

Watching our faith develop

Into something beautiful

And we go “God, its supposed to look like that? Okay!”


The Good News is beloved,

When we,

As children of God,

As precious seeds

Have been left out in the wilderness,

Because we have been stamped worthless,

And food for scavengers

The Good News of Jesus Christ,

Is that GOD sends the healing Waters of Rain,

Washing us,

Fueling us

Giving US LIFE

Watch us GROW!

Thanks Be to God.