Prophetic, Disturbing WORDS-The Beatitudes

The new normal

That many of us face each morning,

Is a distressing reality.

And yet,

The Good News is

Within community,

Of sisters, brothers, siblings

There is sacredness

Where we can begin to craft and mold

A sense of peace.


Words that pour from deep within,

Are examples of the hope

That we know

Can break every chain.

Social media

Is slowly evolving

Into such a place

Where many are seeing

And sowing

That spark!


One of my colleagues,

Serving in an ELCA congregation

In Arkansas

Shared his interpretation

Of the Beatitudes,

In this way:

Blessed are the atheists, for they’re more courageous than the Christians

Blessed are the undocumented, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the refugees, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those court-martialed because they refuse to torture, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, those who do not repay their enemies or reward their friends, for they will receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, who refuse to fly drones, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for resistance to unjust rule, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”for they will inherit the earth.




From where you sit,

You are immersed

In these words

The hope that it translates for those

Who are routinely disregarded



For who they are

And how they cling to life,

It indeed speaks volumes

That God’s mercy

Is for ALL



Your own nature just might be shook

Reaction to these words

Much like one dissenter among the comments

On Clint’s post,

Who seemed outraged

That atheists

Were deemed to be,


Raised up higher

Than those of us

Who have rightful claim

To our spiritual birthright

Or perhaps,

You are questioning,

Of why I am even sharing this,

And where is my own

Moral outrage?


“Blessed are the poor in spirit”

Perhaps these are the moments,

When we as people of faith,

Need to turn inward

And examine the ways

We refute Christ’s teachings,

Refuse to follow His commandments

Of welcoming,





The stranger

Refuse to emulate

The Christ

We confess to follow

Why are we surprised

That there are indeed

Those who are




And why do we become so divisive

When they,

Who are

Poor in spirit





Are the ONES



And yet,

Jesus’s own Words here,

In the Beatitudes

As He was teaching His disciples

Were seen as radical,



By teaching His disciples,

Jesus Christ,

Was gathering up the resistance!

By daring to preach against the status quo

Jesus was indeed,

Starting a revolution!

Why is it so offensive,

To even ponder who Jesus was and is,

In this fashion?


Prophetic words,

Almost always

Disturb the status quo,

Disrupt the order of things

Challenge the comfortable


Their actions,

Their ministry,

These lessons are not to be so lightly treated

As a metaphor

Or something in the abstract

Or worth only for historical note,

And cannot be translated into the present day-

Because the refugees are crowding us out,

Even though

We proudly proclaim

To welcome the poor,




Or that the undocumented

Are a threat to our livelihood

Our freedoms

While voluntarily accepting employment that,

Let’s be real,

None of us would accept the conditions

Or the wages

Of just $5/hr

With no benefits in sight.



Here in our Gospel this morning,

With His Prophetic Teaching

Of the Word

Spoke to those who were present,

Who needed to hear

That the Creator indeed

Walked alongside

Encouraging God’s People

To break every chain

Speaks to us now,

Who need to be reminded

That God does stand with the oppressed


To break those chains


That We-

Who are poor in spirit


Who are sometimes labeled as weak,

Because we do follow Christ’s commandment

To love one another

Because we are working,

Towards the beloved community

Because we are not afraid,

To stand up

For refugees,

For outsiders


Of where they come from,

Or how they worship God

Because we are persecuted

For standing with,

The mentally ill

The formerly incarcerated






That is the Good News this morning.

Jesus’s words,

To those who are gathered,

And to us

Was an affirmation

Of both their humanity,


God’s unfailing Love!

Conditions in Jesus’s time,

For those who were regulated to



Last citizenship class

Were one under an oppressive


And hopeless

Many were indeed,

Poor in spirit

Angry with God for abandonment

Declaring they had no allegiance

To God,

Giving up

Resigning themselves

To a broken life

Jesus’s words,







Jesus’s Words,



For us NOW!

And if we cling to this truth,

And proclaim we are Christ’s followers,







“and what does the Lord require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness,

    and to walk humbly with your God?”

Do justice.

This is not just words on paper,

For us to THINK about theologically


Do we believe we are blessed?


So then what is our responsibility?


One of my pastoral besties is here this morning,


She too,

As a Woman of Color

From her heart,

Shares how she sees the Beatitudes

In this way,

Blessed are the Muslims

Blessed are the Sanctuary churches

Blessed are the resistance

Blessed are the marginalized

Blessed are those who are putting their bodies,

And lives for justice and liberation

Blessed are our children

That they may one day know

A world without hate and violence

Thanks Be to God.

Light. Darkness. Hope.Transformation

(Children’s Sermon: Invite the children forward, greeting them. Then ask them if you can teach them a skit that you learned at Summer Camp, specifically LOMC. Gather them up in a line, and tell them to dance in place while singing their name or shaking a tambourine while doing the same. Then ask them, what if someone came around and laughed at them, and pointed and spoke about them rather negatively-how would they feel. Then ask them what happens when someone comes after the bully, and sees them sad and goes to them and says “YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD!” And how would that make them feel, and then they would go to the next person, and the next and so on? Ask them to process-what have we learned here: 1) That we are Children of God, and because we are immersed in God’s Light, we can’t keep it or hold it to ourselves, and therefore we have to go out and remind others, and that is living out our faith! So give the children the task of going out and reminding others that they are too, children of God!)



When did you, beloved

Fully realize that YOU

Were a Child of God?

How was that cemented along your spiritual journey,

Into who you are?

The roots, many of us agree

Were planted within us,

As small children in Sunday School

Affirmed publicly as we received gifts of first Bibles

And that moment of truth,

When the Table was opened to us,

Receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

Was it in that moment

That we truly felt we were children of God?

I wonder,

Did the disciples experience this same unbridled joy,

Suddenly they were acknowledged as children of God,

When Jesus called to them,

Invited them to walk alongside Him

Embraced them as fellow brothers,

In this moment,

Jesus Christ

Came off of the pathways

Of these various roads of Life

Into the midst of God’s people,

Who needed to feel the presence of God,

Who needed to hear God’s Voice


When have we come to the realization,

That we were children of God?

Has it come in those prophetic moments,

Witnessing our fellow sisters and brothers in Christ,

In Faith,

In Love

Their actions,


And therefore impacting our lives!

Because of what they do for us,

The truth of how much we are connected to one another,

Beyond family lineage

Or social location and context,

BUT because of our common bond

That extends from Creator God?


Stories, are important,

They give a snapshot on how the presence of the Creator, Our Redeemer

Molds and shapes our lives,

And how each step was guided,

And the breath of how the Holy Spirit fills us,

Even when we sometimes wander off into the mists

Many of my faith experiences,

Were magnified throughout Seminary,

And one such experience that I can elude to,

The moment I felt truly,

A Child of God.


During my second year of Seminary,

I attended a conference, if you will


The Congress on Urban Ministry,


Which is a small, ecumenical, urban seminary located in the heart of Chicago

This Congress or conference,

Was a gathering of churches, pastors, seminarians and the like

Concentrating on Peacemaking in a Culture of Violence;

Proclaiming that violence doesn’t just exist on our streets

But sometimes sadly,

Occupies the human heart,

In our human made systems

And immersed in our public policy-

I am sure,

In the time of the disciples,

Although the violence was not as great as perhaps we think of now,

There was violence in the human heart,

As the Roman Empire did not seek reconciliation,


And fellowship with those they suppressed, and lorded over.

The systems set up now,

That divide and are divisive,

Are a part of the same old story,

Because your status in the ancient community,

Depended a lot on human made laws,

With no forgiveness in them,

That those ancient Elders and Rabbis

Seemingly had forgotten they were,

Children of God


This conference was pushing for

A proclamation,

That we as Children of God

Indeed can,

Live together as a collective, cohesive humanity,

Especially as we think about today,

If we as Christ’s followers

Are dedicated to social transformation

Then it can only be accomplished through PEACE

And we must live that out!


Quite frankly,

Up until that moment,

As I struggled in my faith journey,

EVEN in seminary,

I did know I was a Child of God,

I rarely lived this reality out!

And then,

I had the opportunity to experience this fully,

When I encountered two phenomenal Elders in their own right,

Rev. Dr. James Forbes, who had continued Dr. King’s message,

Who had refused to give up the fight from his pulpit,

And out on the streets as a public witness

And Father Michael Pflager, whose ministry and dedication of his church and community,

Continued to astound me, even today.


Part of the public action during the Congress,

As participants we were to march from our location at a church downtown,

Towards the State of Illinois building,

Raising our voice and our presence,

For peace.

Both Dr. Forbes and Father Pflager, along a small delegation

Planned to deliver and hopefully speak to Gov. Quinn,

Our collective initiative, in conjunction with a bill

That would be soon presented to the Illinois General Assembly,

Speaking to we as a faith community and our hopes at its passing

To help combat the violence bleeding into the streets,

Promoting peace

And unifying those in many neighborhoods,

Through advocacy.

The organizers of this march asked for two participants of the conference,

To volunteer to go along with Dr. Forbes and Father Plager.


I found my hand in the air,


I found myself joined shoulder to shoulder with others,

Who were not afraid to expose publicly their faith

And suddenly,

My soul MOVED!


I wonder,

What stirred and moved Jesus

To begin His ministry?

As people of Faith,

How often do we ponder about HOW Jesus’s ministry began

Jesus’s ministry was not on an automatic timer;

Routinely we are amiss in remembering,

That Jesus Christ took on our nature,

Our humanness

Our emotions

Even, dare say,

Our flaws.

And right after Jesus’s experience in the wilderness

His encounter with evil,

Jesus learns of John’s plight incarcerated,

John, His disciple

His brother

His friend


Because of his civil disobedience

Because of his preaching the Good News,

That Jesus Christ is come

To shatter the status quo

To interrupt the path of the wicked


Is made an example

And this is when Jesus,

Begins His ministry,


Change your minds,

For the kingdom of God

Has come near.”


Dr. King, Jr

Started his own ministry towards nonviolence,

And peace

And civil disobedience

After Rosa Parks refused

Another day,

To have her humanity questioned

“the people who sat in darkness

    have seen a great light,

and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death

    light has dawned.”


The question before us now,

How will we be motivated,

To immerse ourselves in ministry,

However that evolves for us,

As people of Faith.

We are wading through the difficulty

Of not recognizing the direct connection,

Between what we do

And what we believe.

And then we experience and witness someone

Who unashamedly steps into that Epiphany LIGHT

Living publicly as a Child of God,

By living out their faith unselfishly

Because of the Love



That comes through this TABLE

That seeps into us

Through God!


Will we remember

Who we are

And what we are called to do?

God’s Call for us, beloved

Is for us to be



Such Good News,

That Jesus Christ has come,

Bringing the Kingdom of God,

Bringing us HOPE

And the Good News is that,

Jesus Christ stands there,

Calling to us

Never letting Go

Wrangling us in,

INVITING US to walk with HIM!!


We are Children of God,


Because of Christ’s Grace and Mercy,

To Cast our own lines out there,

To be fishers of people!

Will we wait on the shores,

Hoping for a bite?

Will we wander just a little bit out there

In the shallow end

Using ripped nets?


Are we willing

To dive deeply

Following Jesus Christ,

Towards radical transformation?

Thanks Be to God!






Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Hear the Words,

Of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I was ready to give up.

In this state of exhaustion

When my courage was all gone,

I decided to take my problem to God

I am here

Taking a stand

For what I believe, is right

But now I am afraid

I am at the end of my powers

I have nothing left.”


Hear the words of the prophet Isaiah,

“But I said,

I have labored in vain

I have spent my strength for nothing

And vanity.”


At that moment,

I experienced the presence of the Divine

As I had never experienced God before

STAND UP for righteousness

STAND UP for truth

God will be at your side,


It is too light a thing

That you should be my servant

I will give you as a light to the nations

That my salvation may reach

To the end of the earth.


Where have YOU

Heard the voice

Of the Creator God

Speaking to YOU?

When where you challenged

To be that LIGHT

In this world?

That is,

What Epiphany

Is about.

The manifestation

The revealing

Of God’s Holiness

Into our reality.


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr,

Heard this voice,

Clearly at a time

When his people,

My people

Were thrust

Into a darkness

Evolved from malevolence

And humanity’s inability to live

And exude

God’s Grace and Mercy,

Given to US

Through Jesus


Dr. King

Because of faith,

Is one of many examples

Many voices

Of what being a servant


What a Servant of God means

To continually be rooted

In this




To continually







This is what Jesus Christ’s birth,

What we were waiting for


Liberation from the inequality

Of life, manifested by humanity’s greed

That these ancient sisters and brothers

In faith

Were overwhelmed

Living in the shadow

Of an Empire

Which was unforgiving




Is what our brother John,



Here is the Lamb of God,

Who takes away

The SIN..”

Of US, beloved!


This is what our brother Martin

Was fighting for,



Inequality of one’s humanity,

That they were no longer seen as

3/5ths of a human

Injustice from the lack of,

Of being denied,

Even though God, Our Creator

Through our birth,

Marked as God’s Children,

Denies no one.



Is what the prophet

In Isaiah, too

Was striving towards for

The Children of God.


It seems that humanity has not ever,

Learned its lesson.

Throughout our history,

Our collectively journey,

The voices of those trapped,

Whether it be because of poverty,

Or war,

Or hunger

Or illness

Have ALWAYS been crying out

For Justice

For Peace


For some sign that the Creator has not abandoned them.

For their lives,

Our lives

To be seen as essential




And when the people cry out,

This is when the servants of God stand up!

John clearly lived into that role,

John proclaimed


The coming of the WORD MADE FLESH

“After me,

Comes a man

Who ranks ahead of me

Because He was before me.”


Even though he would suffer greatly,

Was rooted as a servant.

Did he wonder,

While imprisoned

Whether his living

Was in vain?

Whether was his ministry

Nothing but a failure

Since actually being submissive to God,

And following God’s commandments

Was deemed trivial

And only done on surface,

And for appearance

By elites,

Who were bent on holding to their human made power

And greed.

When Dr. King was imprisoned

In the Birmingham Jail

Did he too, wonder

Whether all of his protests

For equality

For justice

Against racism

Against violence

Towards freedom

Was in Vain?


When we,

As children of God

As servants of the Most High God

Are not afraid,

To raise our voices


Glory, Glory, Hallelujah

To lock arm in arm

Walking down streets

Over bridges

Into places of power,

Advocating for


Striving for Hope


That we care for,

The poor,

The disenfranchised

The widows



Formerly incarcerated

The forgotten,

KNOWING that sometimes

Our voices are cut off,

Our mobility ceased

Our causes drowned in seas of human greed

Do we think,

That our ministry

That our mission,

Is all in vain?


I sound like a broken record, right

But there is BROKENNESS in this world

When humanity gets in the way,

Of God’s Grace,

And Goodness

And Love


There will always be disparity.


But we must,

As people of faith


“Yet surely my cause is with the LORD,

And my reward with my GOD”


The Lord lifted me out of the desolate pit

The Lord put a new song in my mouth,

A song of praise to our God”


When we profess and proclaim what God has done,

When we are filled with the Holy Spirit,

We infect those all around us!

The Good News of Jesus Christ is



To baptize us with the Holy Spirit-

Not just so we have the assurances,

That we will be with God ever after,

But that God indeed, does walk with US,

As we do God’s Work

Standing with US in our fight for justice

Loving US regardless


I wanted to share a part of Dr. King’s letter from a Birmingham Jail,

That challenges us today,

But his voice, is no different from our brother John,

Or Paul

Or Martin Luther

Or Bonhoeffer

“Wherever the early Christians entered a town the power structure got disturbed and immediately sought to convict them for being ‘disturbers of the peace’ and ‘outside agitators.’ But they went on with the conviction that they were a ‘colony of heaven’ and had to obey God rather than man…. The contemporary Church is so often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the archsupporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the Church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the Church’s silent and often vocal sanction of things as they are.”

Thanks Be to God.

Saying Goodbye: Funeral Service for Doris Hale

Grace and Peace to you,

My sisters and brothers in Christ

Regardless of where you are

In your faith journey,

Know that the Creator is always present

In your joys,

In your sorrows

And opens up everlasting peace,

To all of us,

As God’s Children



Why must

The terrible waiting

For healing

Sometimes end

With us,

Having to let go

Of our loved ones

And not have any control

Or say so;

Not knowing what will happen,


Having to rely

On our Faith,

On the promises

Made in baptism

Made here at the Table,

That God

Will never leave us,

Nor forsake us


And yet,

We cry out to God

About the ravages of illnesses

Of diseases we still don’t have the answers to

Of endless questions,

I lift my eyes to the hills,

From where is my help to come?


With nights in hospitals

And days tucked away

Coping with pain

And wondering,

When God, when?

“From where is my help to come?”


The Psalmist seems to be rooted,

Self assured

In her faith

“God will not let your foot be moved;

The Lord your God,

who keeps you will not slumber.”

But, God

If these words are truth

Why then, are my feet so raw

Of running from this broken world

Of its pitfalls


You must be sleeping

Because you’ve not heard our cries

Our stumblings

As we have fallen miserably,

Into ditches,

That the brokenness of this world

Has laid out

Like traps

For us, your children.

“The Lord is your keeper;

the Lord is your shade at your right hand”

The disciples heard these ancient words,

These songs,

And because of the promises of God,

They followed this Jesus,

Because of the Psalmist proclaiming

That help can only come from God,

God, our Creator,

Of every living thing,

They followed Jesus Christ,

The Messiah!

The Son of God!


Here was the Lamb of God who had come to take away


All the sins, and the sorrows

Of this world.


The Kingdom of God was upon that horizon

That hill,

And soon

These faithful sisters and brothers,

Connected to one another because of God,

Would be free

From the oppressiveness of their lives,

In the shadow of a corrupt Empire


And yet,

Here in our Gospel this morning,

Jesus proclaims to them,

That He must die

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.”


How many times

Have we heard this Gospel,

As we gather in hospital rooms,

By bedsides

Among ourselves

Immersed in prayer,

These are the times we struggle with our faith,

Because we are troubled,

We are torn with anger

Because we can’t fight these illnesses

Which rob us,

Of time with those we love,

And rob them,

Of being to be present with us.

We cry out to God about our faithfulness,

We cry out about their faithfulness,

That alone,

God should have healed them!

We are deep in sorrow,

Because what else can we do?

Death comes and interrupts our lives,

Death hurts

Death, yes, just plain sucks.


And yes,

Even as we weep,

There are tears of relief,

Relief because our loved one,

Our Mother,



Sister in Christ,

Is in no more pain.

And that’s hard to confess, right?

Because we wanted her here.

Doing all of the things she loved,

Spoiling us,

Listening to us as we shared our daily, mundane stories of our life

Being an example of living out her faith

Serving with joy, the community that loved her back


“Do not let your hearts be troubled.”


That is Good News right here.

Because even as we grieve,

And will continue to grieve,

Doris was not only surrounded by those who loved her deeply,

In these moments when we question,


God loves us

God weeps with us,

And because of Jesus Christ,

God opens up God’s Kingdom

To us,

In that last moment,

When our eyes are closed to this world,

And opened,




To be with God!


Doris was not alone,

And in that moment,

Her spirit was filled



And Loved,

Because of the promises that God gives to us

God will never forsake us

God will always forgive us

And God gave us,

Jesus Christ,

Whose body and blood reveals for us,


Empowers us,

Through Love

Whose resurrection secures for us

An unbreakable BOND with our Creator



Is not the end.

Doris now,

Continues her journey,

With all the saints

And we,

Because we know we will see her again,

We are to live our lives fully,

Love and care for one another deeply,

And walk purposefully,

With what God has given to each of us,

Just as we know she would have,

Just as Jesus Christ calls us to.

Thanks Be to God.