Stay Woke-An Advent Journey

What holds us,

From being active witnesses,

Living out our purpose

Our role,

In this Advent season?



Perhaps your Pastor does indeed sound like a broken record,

Always pushing us to the edge

Shouting with JOY,

Like Auntie Mame-

“You gotta LIVE, LIVE, LIVE!”


Prodding at you

Just as the Holy Spirit prods at me,

To leap into the unknown

To fling open wide the doors

Immersing ourselves in healing Light

Freeing those boundaries between who we are,

And Creation,

So that we are able to do ministry!

Of living into our being that creative instrument

Participating in reforming,


The beloved community of faith


And as we approach this,

What seems like an insurmountable feat,

Of engaging an ever changing world,

Sometimes we falter

Our knees buckle,

We fret about failing,

About our own brokenness being a barrier,

Our imperfectness as an excuse


We find ourselves

Shutting the doors,


Back into the safety

And security

Of comfortable places,

Where we are not forced

Or even have to face

This new dawn,

And all the troubles of the world

Weaved into it.


Most often,

The only place of escape from reality sometimes,

Are our beds and bedrooms.

For me,

My bed was my sanctuary,

Weeks after experiencing a heavy loss in my family,

Of my Grandmother.

I found myself coming home from classes,

Crawling into the bed.

Who hasn’t done this?

After having to be out in this fragmented world,

After working in places where you really didn’t want to be

Left unfulfilled and drained,

Fighting the recklessness of traffic,

Bombardment of commercialism

It’s no wonder,

We identify our bedrooms,

As a source of comfort,

A place where we can shut out the world


It’s no surprise then,

We find ourselves here,

In this place

Sunday after Sunday,

Trying to shake off the violence of the world,

Because we as humanity fail to see

The Light of God,

That shines in one another


That we come here for answers to the confusion,

Confusion about who we should be serving,

Confusion about who is our neighbor,


That we come here for clarity about greediness,

Because we have an addiction to the things of this world,

Human made, trying to replace that which we cannot see

Or hold onto,

Because it’s the only thing that makes sense


That we come here

Searching for answers about subjugation,

Of peoples

Of Creation

Of everything that humanity perceives is weak,

Simply because we feel we have that right,

Simply because somewhere down the line,

Someone substituted “domination” for “stewardship”

In our relationship of this Earth.


It’s no wonder,

We confess,

This place,

At the foot of the Cross

We are on our knees

We are crumpled underneath covers


We should not feel any shame,

To lay at the feet

Of the One,

Who defies Death

Of the One

Who pushes back the darkness

Of the One

Who calls to us


Jesus Christ.


Follow me,

Jesus says,

Our of your places of slumber

Out from places of uncertainty

Out into the transformed light




Of Love.


 “ know what time it is,

how it is now the moment

for you to wake from sleep.

For salvation is nearer to us

now than when we became believers.”


Our brother in Christ Paul reminds us,

In his letter to the Romans,

That he was not addressing real time,

But eschatological time

When God’s Kingdom

Will be the new reality

And that deep within us,

We have awakened,

Therefore we cannot exist any longer as children

who have the ability

and the freedom,

to hide,

Hide from a shattered world seeping out


Sin of ignorance

Sin of selfishness

As if this is not a part of our daily existence

We can no longer feign innocence

In not knowing

In disregarding

The damage

That the sins we commit

Against our neighbor,

Against the stranger

Have done


We cannot neglect no longer

Those outside the city gates,

Outside gated communities

Trapped inside poverty,

And despair

We cannot just pull the cover over our heads,

And wait til morning,

And wait until the rapture

And hope that God won’t come into our space,

Yank back the covers,

And call on us,

To be a disciple of Christ,

To get our hands and feet and whole selves immersed

In God’s Work

“Keep awake therefore

 for you do not know on what day

your Lord is coming.”

And we hear this Gospel,

And wonder where is the Good News?

What Good News is this,

If we always have to be watchful,


That we are charged then,

To face the suffering that humanity continues to pile

Upon one another,

To crawl out of our places of comfortability,

Pull back the curtain,

Allowing the Light of a new Dawn,

To stream in

Owe no one anything,

except to love one another;

 for the one who loves another

has fulfilled the law;

Love does no wrong to a neighbor.”

We are waiting,

Waiting as an impatient people

For Jesus Christ to come,


We are waiting,

Not for the promises apocalyptic nightmare,

But the coming of the Kingdom of God!

Because God promised us,

Never again,

Would we be wracked by such floods,



God promised us,

A new heaven

A new earth

And for the Creator to walk with us,

And for we, as God’s children,

To be in communion

With Jesus Christ,

Whose birth we wait for

Because suddenly,

The world as we know it,

Will change

God has not forsaken any of us

Because of LOVE ETERNAL.


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



The Invisible Becomes Visible-Wisdom from the Ancestors

Turn to your neighbor

And say

“Because of Jesus Christ

I am




(pause, wait for the laughter)

Now what does that mean, really?


We hear in our Scriptures

That we will always have the poor


I don’t think that Jesus,

Nor our Creator God

Wanted poverty to become

Tangled and obtrusive

Into the fabric

Of our collective lives



Its algorithms,

Which are supposed to follow some mysterious formula

To make our living easier

Is out of sync


This country boasts of its coffers

That are overflowing with wealth, riches and resources


Beyond the glitter of the spotlights

Lie destitute, famished bodies overflowing

At the gates


My children have, on our routine errands to the grocery store,

For example

Question and wonder about what happens to all of the produce,

If they can’t sell it all,

Even if its still good.

Well, not sure you are aware of this

But after seven to ten days

If the bananas you have been seeing each time you pop into the store

If they have not been touched or bought

They are forced to throw them out,

So they can get a fresh shipment,

From their warehouse


When humanity refused to peer out beyond the border,

Past the walls,

Too sedated and comfortable awash in a sea of purple

Those who had not been invited through,

This is when those who had little status,

Seeing the heartbreak, acted

In the 1970’s, for example in San Francisco

Organizations such as Food Not Bombs were formed

Rescuing good, unspoiled and healthy food from dumpsters

Cooking and providing a meal,

To the homeless and forgotten

And the response of the authorities?

Many of these volunteers were arrested


This trend continues even now

People, who have answered the call,

“Jesus, when did we see you hungry,

And feed you?”

Embolden because of the Holy Spirit pushing, encouraging, empowering them

To walk beyond the gates,


Instead of immersing themselves in apathy

And the excuses of the principalities and powers

Blaming the poor,


They share of themselves,

From their Table

Bringing meals, and comfort to those out in the streets, or parks

Or even, into the safety and the sacredness of their own spaces


One Woman of Color,

Owning her own small diner

Did just this

She invited,

She welcomed the homeless midweek,

From 6-9am,

To eat and relax and just be recognized just as another customer


Instead of businesses around her, applauding,

Opening dialogue for discussion

Pushing back the gate to begin

Many complained,

They didn’t want to see the poor


Inside the gate





Scaring away paying customers

So because of the complaints to the powerful

She was forced,

To stop

For fear of her business being shut down,

Because of rules and regulations


And it does not have to stop at just food justice issues,


Whenever we as people of faith see a need,

When we understand the responsibility of stewardship

We have for one another,

Whether we are feeding from our own coffers

Or immersed in viable solutions about housing the homeless

Building tiny homes,

Which in fact, has been proven

To save local governments monetary resources,

Instead of scattered temporary solutions that treat the poor as an infections problem,

To be eradicated.

Or encouraging children, who don’t understand why the adults in charge

Are so thoughtless and heartless

To treat another person,


When we create unique and even yes, unorthodox ways,

To create new communities, and care for one another

The rich, wealthy, powerful intrudes

As if suddenly,

Doing for others,

As God has done for us

Is taboo


There is no way,

You can not see

The poor

And just not those without money

The poor also means those,

Who have nothing,

No access to employment, to housing, to citizenship, to freedom

The ex-felon,

Who it is pressed upon,

That they must have a job,

A position

That society is NOT going to care for them,

That they must work extra hard to return back to society

Win back trust,

And maybe be welcomed just on the margins

Of the inner circle


But, see

What we do not see,

And sometimes not made aware

That their fate and success of transformation

Lies in human hands,

In the hands of companies,

Who have the power,

Of whom to hire

And more often than not

The word ex-felon guarantees

Their resume will wind up in the trash

And so the powerful

Avert their eyes

At the gate

As the poor are begging for that second chance,



The Migrant worker

Who is doing jobs that,

Let’s be honest

Many of us would refuse

Feel it beneath us

Wouldn’t be caught doing

Because we know our rights

What our citizenship entitles us to

And so instead,

These corporations

Only see them,

As a commodity to be exploited

While their gaze is fixated

On their profit margins,

And stock portfolios swelling

And so they refuse to hear the poor begging

Outside the gates

For fair wages

Just so they can live!



The outcast,

The outcast that has so much heaped upon them

On their shoulders

Because maybe

They have accumulated this massive debit

That society refuses to forgive

Because their status is not enough

Because they are not willing to work to with them

To wipe out this huge deficit

That their bodies are saddled with.

The poor are the transgendered and disabled

Or single parents on the brink of a breakdown

Or even

The poor are those trapped in the inner cities

Added that they are identified by the tinge of color

Lovingly painted on their skin,

By the One,

Who many seem to forget,

Was also an immigrant,

Of Color.


These poor are perceived to be a threat to the well ordered society

Even though

Quiet as kept

Neither the authorities

Nor the politicians

Have faithfully lived out their pledge

To work for the people

As they were elected by the people

To protect the people

So that the people


Can live a life of freedom




So instead,

Sheltered by their wealth

They step over the bodies outside of the gate


Who are begging to be seen

As an essential part of humanity



We, the rest of humanity

On the other side of the gate

Ignore the teachings in our sacred texts

Ignore the stories of our Elders

Ignore the WORD

Cherry picking

To what is acceptable,

And will not stir us out of our comfort zone

Instead of adhering

“The first shall be the last,

And the last shall be the first”

Clearly calling for us

To be responsible for



We fall,

We suffer

We are cast out

And we are dying at the gate!


And because the Creator truly cares,

God continues to send endless Prophets

To tell us


And we in turn

Refuse to listen

Until it is,

Too late


Very curious that we do not know

The name of this rich man

In our Gospel this morning,


He has the assumption

That because he had the privilege of living the good life,

Access to resources of wealth

To a fault believing that Lazarus

Is still in a position of slavery

The rich man is shocked

That he is left

In darkness


Beyond the gate,

The abyss

Removed from the light and love of God

And the security of being in the presence of the Ancestors


As our Gospel text was being discussed in various places on Facebook,

Someone debated that even as the rich man was in this chaism,

That the chaism was not big enough

That God could not traverse it

That God would close the gap

As if salvation would still be warrated

For this rich man

Who still was not understanding this lesson


And yes,

Our God

Beloved Creator


That would keep us away from God

But when we are the ones


That GAP

When we cling to selfishness


Humanity made wealth

Because we refused to HEAR the Good News

We refused to SEE JESUS






And yet,

We forget

When we were hungry



Cast aside by the very society we cling to

To keep our status,


Regardless of our faith,

Our status

Our lack of resources

Or wealth.


Jesus Christ did not step over us at the gate

Jesus Christ,

Offered His Hands

Of Healing

Offered His Words

Of Forgiveness




Money Makes the World Go Round?

Not sure about where you sit,

But for me,

This week’s Gospel

Is like a complicated riddle

Or a trick question

That Jesus just throws out there,

And no matter how much we study

Or contemplate

We would fail, miserably


And I questioned,

Just as perhaps you are

Of where the Good News is in our text this morning?

There are contradictions

What is Jesus signing onto?

What is Jesus approving?

This could be fodder for the prosperity gospel crowd

Then again,

People hear what they want to hear.


This Gospel does not lift up,

Any examples of repentance

Or Forgiveness

Just it seems,



Mammon, in the Greek

In one of my favorite musicals,


Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey sing about


Money makes the world go around.

Money, as the lyrics go,

Is the answer to all of the rejection

We experience in this life.

Hilariously, Liza sings this line-

“When you go to get a word of advice,

From the fat little pastor

He will tell you to love evermore

But when hunger comes rapping at the window,

See how love flies out the door”

The answer then,

Is that Money makes the world go around

Money also stifles


Stresses the world out,


I wonder then,

If Jesus shared this parable with the disciples

Not for their benefit

But for others.

Perhaps Jesus was planting seeds of freedom

To break the roots of the oppressive society

That had embedded itself into the hearts of those,

Who were controlled by money.

What is left out of this Gospel reading,

Is verse 14

“The Pharisees,

Who loved money,

Heard all of this…”

Knowing that,

Because of who He is,

And knowing He was under scrutiny

By those who were shaken,



By Jesus Christ

The only way to get to hard headed people, sometimes

Is pushing them into that uncomfortable zone

Where who they are

And what they cling to

Would be tested.


This parable

Smacks of self interest

Of getting what you think you deserve

Of survival

Of shrewdness

And yet,

Not even this manager in our Gospel text

Has that privilege,

Even as he was as shrewd,

As his employer,

No wonder then

Tax and debit collectors were on the same low level

As other sinners

Eschewed in moral decay

Remember that from last week,

The same Pharisees were grumbling about Jesus

Eating with tax collectors?


In this era of a Roman occupied Galilee,

The only ones who could actually get away,

With manipulating the system

Were the wealthy

They had the power, and unfortunately the law behind them

To charge exorbitant interests rates

So that they could acquire more land,

Regardless of whom it would end up displacing.

Sort of reminds us,

Even now

Of the struggle going on

At Standing Rock

In North Dakota.

Sacred lands were purchased,

Rather illegally

Hundreds of years ago

Pushing off Native peoples



And Damaging Creation,

In the name of progress


There are those who would argue

That in Genesis it states,

God created man-listen to the language

God created man,

To have lord and dominion


Over everything,

That man



And even


Ignoring what the Creator God clearly expressed

About stewardship,

Just as those who claimed they upheld Biblical convent law

Dismissing those commandments that call us to be in relationship

To care for the vulnerable,

The orphan

The immigrant

As if they were blood-related


Exodus 22 states

“If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy,

do not treat it like a business deal;

charge no interest”

Charging interest on loans,

Was forbidden


We pray,

Forgive us our debts,

As we forgive our debtors


Humanity misses the mark,

We don’t live this commandment out




Rules society

Both then

And now


Makes the world go round

And causes headaches

We are told the only way to establish ourselves

Is through monetary means

Establishing credit,

Meaning applying for credit cards

With high interest rates

Thereby granting us access to be approved

For a mortgage home loan

Securing a safe place to live

Access to resources,

As I alluded to last week

For ourselves,

And our families

Access so that our children could go to the best schools,

Which sometimes means taking out high interest loans

And when we are over our heads,

Applying for predatory pay day loans,

Just so we can get through the week,

Because the powers that be,

Do not understand what it means

To live within our means.


And that is what is facing this steward,

In our Gospel text this morning.

He’s been living beyond his mean

Through the hard work of the working poor

He’s been fattening his own wallet,

Even as his employer,

Has been overcharging


These fellow people of faith,

Denied an ample living wage

Struggling to thrive

To get a foothold in this society

Wanting to remain authentic

But every day,

Drawing closer to that golden altar dedicated to the idol



And I think this is what Jesus is stressing here-

That clinging to such an idol

Or converting to this economic “religion”

Where the theology is based on greed debt, in many forms

Individualism and selfishness

Having financial resources to live and breathe,

Is not what Jesus is against,

But as Jesus states later on in verse 15

“You are the ones,

Who justify yourselves

In the eyes of others,

But God knows your hearts.

What people value highly,

Is detestable in God’s sight.”




What are you saying?

What people value highly,

Is detestable in God’s sight.”


Valuing things






That the Creator breathed into each one of us

Is detestable

Because these things separate us

From the presence of the Creator God

It keeps us trapped

In front of that golden, humanity made altar.


He raises the poor from the dust,

and lifts the needy from the ash heap,

 to make them sit with princes,

 with the princes of his people.

He gives the barren woman a home,

making her the joyous mother of children.

Praise the Lord!

Hear the joyous words of the Psalmst!

Hear the Good News this morning!

Greed disguised under the mask of wealth and status

Demanding of us our very soul,

And giving us nothing in return,

This is not what God wants for us.

God gives us, pours into us

Everything we could ever need!

(end with giving a visual example about what greed would look like as a person and use the Grinch in the Christmas story-what if greed came and removed everything we held dear, so that we would have to come crawling back to that golden altar, living our lives for simply amassing more wealth, no matter whom It hurt. And what if greed was hovering , waiting to hear our cries that next morning, and instead-in the midst of the dawn, Jesus stood in our midst, and all we could do is SING, and DANCE and PRAISE THE LORD-for the ultimate DEBIT HE PAID so that we would never be alone, never want, never question, never feel unloved. And that, is something, that NOTHING HUMAN MADE CAN EVER, EVER REPLACE.)

Thanks Be to God.


I Believe I’ll Testify, While I have the Chance

“I believe I’ll testify,

While I have a chance

I believe I’ll testify,

While I have a chance

I believe I’ll testify,

While I have a chance,

For I may not have a chance,



I’m not sure why this gospel tune,

Popped into my head this week

Especially for this sermon,

But maybe I imagined,

The least of these,

Marked and identified for their sins

Running back to the outcast communities where they existed


LISTEN! I actually was invited to sit,

And eat today!

With that Rabbi whom everyone is talking about

That Rabbi, who heard and looked into my eyes

Who heard my cry

Who told me that my sins are forgiven!

Who shared bread, broke bread,

Sat with US!

“I believe I’ll testify…”

And so they were witnesses

Sharing the Good News

That regardless of how humanity

The self-righteous

Had rendered their existence, invisible

God had not


God had sent God’s Son

To share LOVE.

And maybe, just maybe,

They were able to experience a little selfish joy

Because while Jesus acknowledged them,

The Pharisees were grumbling!

(pause, share with them the story about the time when during testimony sharing at my childhood home Lutheran church, my mother had stood up to give her testimony, and if you know Mother-she is not shy about sharing the Good News and how the Gospel is proclaimed in her life. I don’t remember the specifics about what Good News she was sharing, but as my Mother was a deacon in her church, she was sitting at the front of the church, speaking. My sister Jessika and I were sitting at the rear of the church, and earlier a woman had come in right behind us. We didn’t recognize her and greeted her as a guest. So as my mother was speaking, suddenly we heard this woman start to criticize and grumble about my mother’s story! My sister and I jerked and froze, as this woman kept mumbling under her breath, so absolutely amazed that someone would be angry about hearing a testimony! When mother finished, and as the church said its amen’s, this woman walked out of the service. It was only then did we turn around to watch her retreating figure and looked at one another in utter astonishment. It also took every fiber of our being not to turn around and defend our Mother. We were in utter disbelief.)

Why do we grumble,

When we hear Good News,

A praise report?

Why do we open our mouths

To fix words of harshness

Grumbling and mumbling under our breath,

While that one which was lost,

Is sharing joy.

And instead of joining into the amen chorus

We are speculating!

That they are just perpetrating,

Because nothing is ever going to change:

They will still be out on the corner begging,

They will still be out on the corner, relapsing

They will still be out on the corner, getting arrested

That they can never get their lives right,


Although we have never been in their situation

So we clearly do not understand

How the darkness of violence, addiction, self hate,

Does indeed have the power

To render our souls, dry and decimated

Until all we can be identified as,

Is the curse we bear on our scarred bodies


If we are going to be truthful with ourselves

We are jealous, envious

Of another’s transformation,

That we felt that they weren’t worthy

Their sin was too great,

Although our apathy,

Is far worse

Than any sin that they could commit.


“This man welcomes sinners,

And eats with them.”


The Pharisees and scribes

Did not get it!

For all their intelligence and knowledge of the law

They just did not understand why,

Once again

Jesus was breaking the rules

And being that relentlessly rebellious guest.

Sitting with sinners?

Sinners had a different connotation and meaning then,

Sinners equaled an unforgiveable outcast



Defined by the LAW

Being in the company of sinners was an abomination

So excluding them from the wider community

Was sanctioned by the LAW

And so Jesus sitting down

And sharing a meal,

Spoke volumes

Because sharing a meal was not just this fast paced,

30 minute race before continuing work

Sharing a meal

Was, is and always should be

A moment of building community

Of immersed in important relationships


Jesus uses this moment of relationship building,

Even to those who are grumbling,

Who consider themselves the never lost,

To teach,

Reminding both them and us

How truly connected we are,

Beyond the status and the class we created, to divide us


“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep

And loses one of them,

Doesn’t he leave the 99,

And go after the lost sheep?”

Many of us are familiar with this parable,

Of a loving God who will not abandon us

But we,

Miss something VITAL in this story,

Lost in translation:

The shepherd leaves them

In the Greek it reads,


This means

In the desert

In desolation

Defenseless, out in the open


It is not the idealized version

Where sheep are quietly grazing in green, pristine pastures

And the shepherd is only going as far as the treeline,

To the border of some property

To gather back one lone sheep.

The shepherd abandons the flock

In an uncultivated area

For an unspecific amount of time

Fending from themselves

In order to seek

In order to rescue

This one who is lost


I wonder if we realize,

When we sit in those places of privilege and judgement

That at one point in our lives,

We were that ONE

Who had been abandoned

Pushed aside

Seen through humanity’s lens as just a waste of life,

And time


But Jesus,

Jesus recognizes us,

As children of the Creator God




And Jesus Christ, Our Risen Savior and Lord





We can understand it more this way,

A quote, I came across in a commentary

“If the one is sacrificed,

In the name of the larger group,

Then each individual in that group

Has no security

That their lives mean nothing.

When the shepherd pays a high price

To find the One,

He thereby offers

The profoundest security

To the many.”

In other words,

The Good News of Jesus Christ for us

Is that Jesus is constantly




And Saving


Because God does not rest

Until all of God’s Children

Regardless of our sins

Our failings

God created us whole!

God seeks to keep us whole!

God actively extends forgiveness






And because time and again,

Jesus is going out,

Bringing home those who are lost-

And by the way,

Let’s be clear

We are going to stray, wander and lose ourselves


We are both saint and sinner!

So when Jesus goes out,

To bring our sisters and brothers in Christ, in Faith and in Love home,

While Jesus is out,

Extended the grace and forgiveness from God

We are called to be GOOD STEWARDS and GOOD SHEPHERDS!

We must welcome those home with joy!

We must join in their rejoicing

And then we are called to CARE for them!

Enfold, envelop and encourage them,

Because it is NOT EASY.

Battling the darkness and the sadness in this life IS NOT EASY


The Good News is that,

When we come home

Jesus opens His Arms,

Feeding us

From the Table of LIFE!


So then when we leave this place,

We can’t help but sing,

I believe I’ll testify!

Thanks Be to God.

Jesus Rocking and Disrupting…


Grace and Peace to you,

My sisters and brothers in Christ

We sacrifice for the world,

Better positions,

Better status

But in the end,

Those always fail us.

The only sacrifice,

Which sets us free,

Which gives us life,

Is the One who took up the Cross,

And Liberated all,

Jesus Christ, Our Savior and Lord



(talk about how Facebook’s algorithm for remembering our memories, and our posts for the past couple of years, sometimes has a funny way of reminding us, why we are called and what we are called to. Last year, this time, the world seemed to be riveted, shamed and shocked at the plight of a Syrian family, and the little boy that washed up on the sandy shores, where he should have been playing in the sand, instead of laying there, lifeless. Suddenly, regardless of what you thought about Syria, its people, its politics, its perceived threat-this should have been a reminder that this child represented not the principalities and powers, but the people locked unfortunately in the ugliness of war and greed, held hostage by those who were more concerned with self-interests, instead of the foolishness of living not for oneself, but for all. So many innocent people, whose only concern is the self-sacrifice they do on a constant basis, such as you and I, to provide a safe space for their families to live and grow and work to sustain them, so many people, wasted, should have finally been this collective wake up call for people of faith, to demand, to question, to pressure to do something for these, our neighbors. And churches did begin to pledge to open up their doors and homes, whole communities and even cities here began to say, “we have room!” and yet there were people, who wear the banner of Christianity but their actions are a far cry and reflection of who Jesus Christ was is, and calls us to be. Compassion, yes was and is, a part of Christ, but many of us lack it because of the broad brush we have been conditioned and trained to paint people. We assume that the reason they are in the situation they are thrust is because of some sin they have committed that is unforgivable. The Palestine people because of their heritage; the Syrians because of their culture, Muslims because how they connect and what name they call God-which is the same Creator we serve, by the way; People of Mexican descent because of home grown chaos, the undocumented, because they are attempting to be sneaky and get over the government by not paying their dues, all the while, there are yet, powerful others who continue to pilfer resources that never reach the people who (word/line). Empathy, beloved and I said this before, is lacking among the faithful and the questioning.)


What chain that is would around your feet,

Trips and keeps you

From following Jesus completely?


That’s a tough question,

And our answers do not flow as easily,

And we hesitate to identify

Our burden


I’ve experienced an exercise,

Most often in seminary settings,

Where the large crowd of participants,

(….were asked to line up and the questions were read, anything from if we had attended private school, if our parents had been able to afford to give us a car, to whether we had ever been followed in a grocery/department store based on our age, race, gender status and the list went on. At the end, when we looked around the room, there was a great divide-many who had great privilege were way in the front, and many who had none in the back. What made this exercise different, were we were asked to hold hands, and as each question was asked, if we experienced anything negative, we had to step back and anything positive step forward. As we went through the exercise, we tried to hold onto each other’s hands, but soon lost one another, leaving folks behind. That part shook people, and left some fatigued-because although some of us had privilege, we were still left behind. There was almost this-silence at who was far ahead and who was left behind. One participant stated that he experienced the guilty pleasure, of having had access to all of these things, and at the same time mindful that many people he would consider friends did not. But also he was honest that he was afraid to give up the access he had.)


What are we willing to give up

Knowing that the Creator,

Regardless of how life falls,

Will still cradles us?


Sacrificing anything,

Any perk that we have access to,

Is one of the hardest things we experience as humanity,

This is what we are told we must do in order to survive!

It’s no wonder when I am walking in downtown Chicago,

And I pass by the faces of native Chicagoans

That sometimes there is the suffering creased solidly there

That they have made some choices they did not want to,

But had to,

So that they could have access to a safe environment to live in

For themselves

For their children

In turn have access to resources both educational and environmental

So that they could be counted as essential and vital and important,

So they would not be faced with isolation and prejudice

Life is harsh enough!

But what do we sacrifice when we assimilate?

When we bend to the will of the Empire,

And in turn, the mechanisms of the Empire,

Fails and exploits humanity

(talk about during my senior year of seminary, and my participation in the Moral Monday movement. The concentration that year was on economic plight of those that Jesus bids us to invite to the table-those unemployed, those who are under housed, those who are fighting for a paltry existence and the budget issues affecting the state, to where social services were being all but cut. And so, the wedding banquet, the feast should not be cut off, and we gathered together as people of faith, and people of justice marched as one voice and one body. This particular time, participating in an act of civil disobedience both through his word and his physical presence, Bishop Miller would march with us, and pay the cost of discipleship, by being arrested. I am sure, that as the days and weeks passed, news of his arrest filtered out, there were those who would disagree with him, and who would be angry with him with what they thought was him, wasting his time.)

Are we simply satisfied,

With abstract thinking

And believing

What it means to be a good disciple?

Or are we willing

To allow the things that fester within us,


 “Whoever comes to me

and does not hate father and mother,

wife and children,

 brothers and sisters,


and even life itself,

cannot be my disciple. 

Whoever does not carry the cross

and follow me

cannot be my disciple”


Jesus, what?


What about all of those commands,

Calling us to open up the Table,

To the least of these,

To those who cannot repay?

And now Jesus,


But we must understand,

What Jesus means by this hyperbole language.

Think about when Jesus calls to others,

To follow Him,

And one man tells Jesus he will,

But first he must go and bid farewell to his family,

When Jesus calls us,

As Bonhoeffer says,

“Christ bids us come

And die.”


Dying is frightening,

Dying means letting go,

Dying also means a new chapter,

Into the unknown

So when we let those things that have chained us,

Kept us glued to the (word/line) of this world

Experiencing FREEDOM,

Freedom to love regardless of how ridiculous it looks

Or how counter cultural it appears

Freedom to act,

Act towards justice,

Even when there is tension,

Even when you are labeled a troublemaker

Freedom to speak,

Speaking truth,

Of the accountability we should have towards one another

Of the forgiveness we should practice with one another

Freedom to stand,

Freedom to stand firmly for justice

And against (word/line)

Stand out from the shadow of the TRANSFORMED CROSS




The theology of the cross,


That the Creator God stands with US, beloved

Through our suffering,

Our despair

Because of the abandonment of the Empire

And the brokenness of this world

As Dr. Cone states,

“God encounters US

In the human condition


Of the poor,

The weak,”

The forgotten,


There’s nothing wrong with that!

We, as followers of Christ, should FIGHT

Fight because everyone should still be holding hands,

Be equal


Because of what Christ gave up,


And a price we will never pay,

NO MATTER WHAT we do in this life!

That is Good News.

So should we then,

Shed everything that keeps us from doing justice,

Practicing mercy and grace?

Shed everything that would keep us divided


From one another,



Following Christ, as His disciple

Means that we are called upon to act,


Counter cultural




Because of the Creator,

Who indeed forgives us.


Mother Teresa, now Saint Teresa of the Poor,

Offers this prayer, that could shed some light

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.

Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.

Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. 

Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.

Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.

Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.

Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten.

Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. 

Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God. 

It was never between you and them anyway.

Thanks Be to God.

Radical Hospitality 2.o

Grace and Peace to you,

My sisters and brothers in Christ

What is our purpose,

Our call

Towards this fragmented world?

Not just being humble,

Not just walking with God,

But extending to others that same radical hospitality

Given to us, freely

Because of the One, who loves us

Jesus Christ, Our Savior and Lord.



My husband loves to tell the story of his Grandmother,

Fondly known as Big Ma.

Each holiday season,

Without fail,

Without anything in return,

She would could dinners for all of the postal workers,

Police and Firefighters

In her neighborhood on the South side of Chicago,

This was her way,

Of saying thank you,

For the service they performed, almost 24/7

For those in this neighborhood, and the whole community

And it was not just a couple of people, or maybe just the local fire house

As a child, my husband watched the stream of hundreds of people

In and out her kitchen for years!

Big Ma gave of herself, and of her resources!

These dinners were not offered at a cost

She was not a wealthy lady

She lived in a working class neighborhood

Which took care of their own

She, and many others like her

Lived out this radical hospitality

Because they had heard the Gospel,

And how the Creator God extended to them,

Without expecting anything in return

A Love without no end.


Hearing tales such as this,

We are astounded by such selflessness

We try to quantify on the how’s

And we continue to bury ourselves in,

“But there is no way we could do that today.

We don’t have the assets,

Or the time.”


We are not fully living into our purpose,

As people of faith, beloved.

What effectiveness,

Could we accomplish,

If we discarded the misconception

That ministry,

Only is possible,

When carefully scheduled?

Or endless access to resources.


The Holy Spirit was definitely gaining momentum last Sunday

Stemming from many of you

Many were excited about this idea

Of not just taking breakfast to our first responders


“Pastor, we need to get them to come here!”

This is ministry in motion,

Sharing this sacred space

By offering breakfast,

A simple, ordinary meal

Of pancakes and sausage,

Something many of us cook in our own homes

For our own families,

Extending to them,


The Police Officers

And Firefighters

Tirelessly giving of themselves as humanly possible

Feeding them out of love

Is ministry.


The kitchen

The dining room table,

Is where

Over Food,

Lives are shared

Stories flow

People are bonded

Stewardship of life happens!


In fact,

The Fire Department in town was singing our praises

So delighted that we were doing this,

“Redeemer is so generous in helping us with our food drive!”

Especially mentioning our two usual suspects

Gert and Ted



What if,


The collective community of Christ

Not only invited those

Who have status in the communities we too are present

Who in turn would sing our praises publicly?

In those avenues of influence

Attracting a little more recognition and potential members

To come and join the Christian band


What if we invited

“the poor,

The crippled

The lame

And the blind.”

As Jesus calls us to?

What if we invited

The homeless, who bring their invisible friends along

Those who identify as transgendered,

An existence that still is confusing and complex to many of us

Those who are still caught in the throes of meth addiction,

Because the drug embeds itself, attaching underneath of the skin

Those who give up to others their sacred bodies,

Because that’s only commodity they have to live.

What if we opened up this space,

Invited them to sit down with us

Heard their stories

Offered up our food to them?

Knowing that they could not

In no uncertain terms

EVER repay us

There would be no recognition

No recouping our time or money or food


Why do it then,

Especially on these…undeserving…people, right?


We’ve heard this mantra time and again,

Pushed out by society as propaganda,

Punishing them for taking the drugs or the alcohol

Although not acknowledging

That not having a healthy family system

Or accessibility to community resources towards healing

Is probably a huge factor for them

Not emerging from that hellish darkness


Punishing them for not having enough strength

To leave an abusive situation

Although not acknowledging that neither the system

Nor the laws

Are enforced to protect the vulnerable

To protect and shatter that wall of silence and shame

And that there is an absence of places of safety

And yet people picket and proclaim

They are pro-life


Punishing them for being lazy

Not getting up and finding work,

And a home

Although not acknowledging that the absence of radical hospitality

And this system of inequality imbedded in our society

To where people don’t get a living wage,

So they can get 8 hours of sleep in a clean bed

So they can look presentable when we invite them to the table…

And we,

Who stand in these greener pastures

Who are jockeying for a place of honor at the table

Are shocked when a guest,

Named Jesus,

Begins to call us out

To something deeper.


In this Gospel passage,

We as sisters and brothers in Christ,

May have been exposed to a superficial message-

If you are seen as humble

And you give up your seat

Your host will surely see you,

And reward you

With an even better one!

This is sometimes where,

The Gospel starts,

And stops

Do good,

So you can profit.

Jesus delves deeper,

Challenging those who were gathered,

Once more breaking the rules,

As He just has done,

Healing on the Sabbath,


Dispersing with proper guest etiquette.

Jesus teaches them

And reminds us

That this hospitality

Goes beyond our understanding


“When you are invited by someone

To a wedding banquet”


The wedding banquet

Where families,

Extended communities


Gathered together to celebrate

New beginnings



And yes, even a little vanity because we are human,

To be seen.

But how many of us have caught ourselves grumbling,

When we do not have a prominent or favorable seating place

When our table is all the way in the back of the banquet hall,

Especially when,

We broadcast how much we have spent

Or how many wedding gifts we have brought.


How many times,

Have we seen among churches,

On Sunday mornings

A sacred time to come together,

To worship,

To celebrate Life

And yes,

To be seen.

Especially when we hear people grumbling

When the guests or visitors sit in the front pews,

That clearly belong to so and so’s family,

Whose family founded this church

Or whose family funds this church.

Worse even,

We scrutinize who can,

Who is deserving enough

To be called to the Table,

As if we are in control.

We stand at the doors of the church,

Not to welcome,

But to criticize

Seeing if they pass our test

We want to see what they are bringing,

what they are offering

Rather than going beyond our comfort zone,

Our church doors,

Inviting those who are discarded by others,

Into a place of honor in our sacred space

We shut the doors,

In so many ways.

Rather than following Jesus’s instructions

Following Jesus’s footsteps,

We ignore what He has called us to,

And we seek those places of honor

Because in this life,

Sometimes sadly it brings us comfort,

Because it’s something we are able to hold up

Or hold onto,


The wedding banquet

The day that the kingdom of God,

And this broken Creation

Will be melded into One

Who then, will have that place of honor?

Doesn’t that sound familiar?

Remember the two sons of Zebee-

“Jesus, which one of us will sit on your right and your left?”

Will we be arguing about this, even on that day of days?

About who should enter first or be seated first?

Is it by the number of days we performed charitable tasks?

Or how much we have given? Will we have receipts or spreadsheets to back this up?


“For all who exalt themselves will be humbled,

Those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

The Good News is,

And what we have forgotten beloved,

Is that Jesus Christ,

Gave up that place of prestige,

And honor

Gave up something most precious


Offered up Himself AT THE TABLE,

So that we,

Children of God,

Would be able to be fed,



Made Whole

So that we would have LIFE

We forget that Jesus Christ,

The Son of God,

Lived out a radical hospitality

So that we might forever be connected

With the Creator God,

Because of God’s Love,

And Mercy.

But the Good News is,

Jesus becomes that guest once more-

Jesus teaches us,

Instead of discarding us,

Because we are unworthy,


Undeserving at times

But Jesus does not see us marked by our SINS.

Jesus sees us as beloved children of the Creator

Jesus has lived His life as us,

And Jesus Forgives US

And then extends that radical hospitality-


Empowers us RIGHT HERE

At the TABLE

Jesus is host,

And transforms our unworthiness,

Our emptiness

Into life sustaining mercy and grace.

(*Disclaimer* The following ending to my sermon was ad libed or rather flowed as the Holy Spirit pushed me, but the following words are my thoughts…

end with the story about being immersed in a sabbatical moment last weekend with the BFF and company, and how this homeless person was asking for money…and then asked for leftovers seeing we were carrying food. I had a couple of knee jerk reactions-Giving someone who hasn’t eaten and has no access whatsoever to good food, to give him something that I had eaten-was a horrible idea, and treating that person as if they were nothing more than an animal. My husband, seeing the meal I had purchased for him and our daughter to share, full of tacos and refried beans and rice-handed this untouched and ready meal to this nameless person. And I experienced my second knee jerk reaction-for a moment I said to myself, but I bought that for…see there exposed is our weakness. And as we walked away, I was thankful of my husband’s example of radical hospitality without a thought-and now I had to strive to exude that hospitality to others, because of the love that has been shown to me, in all of us, in so many ways. Yes, sometimes we don’t know what we are doing or if we are doing the right thing or how do we work through being uncomfortable and the knee jerk reactions because we are human. BUT the Good News is that Jesus walks with us, and opens up the Table to us, and shows us, and gives us LIFE so that we can live out our lives, not for ourselves, but for what the Creator.. So, whose with me to live out radical hospitality? (if show of hands, say awesome!)


Thanks Be to God

Transforming our broken world, doesn’t get a Sabbath

Grace and Peace to you,

My sisters and brothers in Christ

Walking in the Living Light

Of the One who has conquered death

Is never ending

Never ceasing

Because there is always need for the Gospel

To be Proclaimed

As we pray without ceasing

And move and act and live out our call

Because we follow His footsteps,

Jesus Christ,

Our Savior and Lord



What would it look like,

If our Sabbath time

And Serving moments

Were one in the same?

Because transforming the brokenness of this world

And our collective journeys through this life,

Seemingly does not get a moment of rest, or pause.

(share with the congregation that God’s Work Our Hands once more is coming up this year, and it falls on a day where we collectively as a nation remember the horrors of September 11th. We as Redeemer have already gotten ahead of the game by partnering with LSSI and doing our own GWOH-providing much needed supplies and backpacks for children who need to be equipped and prepared for their first day, week, months of school! How awesomely thrilled was LSSI that congregations like us participated! And as I thought to September, there was still this drive to do something for GWOH because being involved in ministry, doing for others is awesome. So your Pastor has a crazy idea-what if, what if we took pancakes over to our First Responders at the Fire/Police station here in town? Just hold that thought because, yes-we will have a pancake breakfast going on, and Rally Day, right? And we’ve already done the GWOH for this year, right?)


But perhaps it could be framed this way,

That carrying over a meal to those

Who put their lives on the line for those they are called to serve

Is not only own mission,

But a way to share the Good News,

That this place,

Regardless of the day or time,

That we are also here for them as well,

That we open our doors

Inviting them in

Even if all they have time to do,

Is to hear the sermon,

Pass the peace

Getting fed from the Table,

Because of the One,

Who was constantly doing for all of God’s Creation,


Even in the midst of Sabbath.



Can be seen as this moment of release

Release from the overwhelming and demanding presence

Of this broken world

Sabbath is a day of celebration,

Whether you are saint or sinner

Whether you are comfortable

Or you are struggling

Whether you are among the faithful

Or perhaps, lost and yearning for that faith.

Sabbath is a time to come together,

Sabbath can even be a teaching moment,

When it is both a time for rest,

And a time for actively living out the Gospel


But there seems to be some disagreement among those gathered

In our Gospel this morning.

Have you noticed that Jesus goes against the laws quite frequently?

The status quo

Because see, there’s no Sabbath

From suffering,

From a painful

Even shameful existence.

I wonder how visible this nameless woman was

To those who kept the Sabbath

Or rather,

How important was her existence

To the community who she should have been a part of,

Instead of being kept apart,

Because somehow,

It was shameful.


Shame, unfortunately

Has been used as a weapon

By institutions of religion

As a vehicle for control and suppression

So when this woman,

“with a spirit,

That had crippled her for 18 years”

Dares to make herself visible,

In the presence of Jesus

Jesus stops His teaching


REGARDLESS of her status,



And this moment of release from whatever gripped her,

Instead of joining in her praising God,

The leader points fingers,

Shaming her,

Shaming Jesus!


It seems,

It was more important

That the Sabbath,

As required by the law,

Remain holy,

Free perhaps,

From the daily reminders

Of how screw up this world

And how horrible we can be to one another,

The cause and effect resting squarely on our shoulders

We have gotten away from what Sabbath means,

Because we have fallen away

From loving one another

From being in relationship with the Creator

This woman,

In our Gospel

Serves as a reminder

That there still is hopelessness

And pain,

That affects us, beloved

That affects our sisters and brothers in Christ

That she,

Like so many others

Are ignored


We just want a break

From seeing this heartache,

Can we get one day, Lord?

Especially when its insurmountable

And we have no idea how to handle it,

Or cure it.

We miss what it says,

“A woman with a spirit”


How many times have we come across someone homeless?

Who is struggling with mental illness?

The commentaries elude to the fact,

That this woman’s ailments were due to a demonic possession-

We scoff at that now, right?

Easily modern medical science could attribute this to any muscular disease

Or osteoporosis

Bone cancer

And that she was probably suffering from dementia,

Or worse.

But this spirit?

Even now we still do not have a grasp on mental illness

And even today,

We whisper,

And blame the sufferer

With our own misconceptions of why

We avoid those who are unfortunately burdened with mental illness

Even though our society has refused to advance mental health,

That affects especially those who have served in our armed forces

Or who have swam through seas of domestic violence and abuse,

Or even,

Because life has been harsh,

And they are lost,

They have enveloped themselves into the darkness

With the help of drugs

We avoid those on the street corners,

Because we are afraid,

Because they will be begging for food

Rambling, wanting someone to hear and see them as a human being

Pleading, for release from the endless cycle of agony

And for a beginning towards healing

For someone to invite them into sacred and safe spaces

Crying, because they have no hope

They too,

Are possessed by a spirit

A spirit of emptiness

That has weighed so heavily upon their person,

That they too are gnarled,

Bent over

That whispers to them,

“No one wants you

You are not worthy

See, they shun you.”

Do we, beloved

Also hear those empty spirits,

When we are burdened by sins that we continue to carry

Until we too,

Are bent over.



Is not a concept


Is a true opposition

And rebellion

Against the Creator God’s will

And purpose for us

For our lives

Evil preys upon us,

Dividing us from one another

Throwing caustic acid upon our souls,

Until we are blinded from seeing

God, Our Creator

Our Parent

That LOVE and Light in one another.

But the Good News is,

Jesus Christ,

Spoke to this woman’s shame,

And said simply


“You are set FREE

From your ailment”


Overcame this evil spirit within her

Pushing back the darkness

Telling this evil,

The demonic

That it has no claim upon US




Are set FREE

From our sins,

Our faults,

And suddenly

Just as this woman,

We can’t help it!

Every day is a day of thanksgiving!

Every day is an opportunity for service

That’s how I see it,

Because for me, beloved

This is what God has given me.

When I was on the brink of walking away

Because how shameful Christianity had been spoon fed into me

By those who did not come with a loving spirit

Who used the laws, twisting them

So that people would conform to their standards,

That people would be ashamed of who they were

Or shamed that they did not have enough faith

God whispered to them,

God whispered to me

God whispers to us,

“YOU, beloved

US, beloved

We are FREE

From our sins!”

The darkness is absolved

Every day is a new day in God’s eyes,

And so,

We can’t help ourselves, right?

I can’t!

But, as Pastor

I cannot do this important work,

Without YOU

As people of Faith,

We are called to do this ministry together!



Whose coming with me

To take breakfast of 9/11

As we do God’s Work,

With our Hands?


Let’s share a little Sabbath joy,

With our sisters and brothers in Christ.

Thanks Be to God.

Today’s Gospel sounds like a Johnny Cash tune

“If we truly believed,

In the doctrine of reformation, 

The question we need to ask ourselves, 

Do we want to be safe or reform?”

Words from Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee

To the entire community of faith,

Of the Churchwide Assembly this week.

Being Bold.

We just learned that summer camp song,

But being bold,

That, if I am not mistaken,

We cling to as Lutherans.

It’s in our DNA, right?

Bold equals Martin Luther, right?

Luther stood against the oppression

Of the Catholic Church, in his time

A Church which seemed to revel in this newfound power,

Thanks to Constantine

And somehow lost its purpose

And delved into the darkness,

Locked in their souls

Instead only in reaping the rewards

Of earthly power



Instead of being connected

Of what the Creator God requires of them, and of us

To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. 


Luther was appalled at the lack of the spirit of stewardship

From his fellow brothers in Christ

From the leadership,

And then,

Luther was thrust into the fires of Pentecost

By the Holy Spirit, who loves to meddle!

The power of the Gospel

THAT is what drove him,

That fire shut up in his bones

Breaking away from the status quo

And boldly starting this revolution

In her address to the Churchwide Assembly,

Leymah issued the challenge

“We must do the work of the Reformation

And it might mean we are excommunicated

In many places”


Being Bold

Where would we be today,

If Luther had not been bold enough;

If Bonhoeffer had not traveled here

Immersed himself into the culture of Harlem

Spoken out against the atrocities of Hilter

If Dr. King had not taken that first step

Fighting for Civil Rights, Human Rights

If Rosa Parks had not refused to move,

Because she was simply tired of being abused


Mislabeled as 3/5th of a person

If Gandhi had not continued speaking truth to his people

If Malcolm X had not pushed the envelope towards freedom

Where would we be, beloved

If there were not those nameless, collected voices

Who push against the grain,

Shouting into the darkness of human sin,

Of greed

Of violence

Of Racism

Of oppression

Of Torture



And yet,

Here we are

Now more than ever

We need to be BOLD

We need to speak to the systemic pain



In this broken world.


We need to RISE UP,

Not just in bold prayers


And this week,

Those waves of renewal

Of resurrection

Rumbled onto shores littered with the fragments of our existence

Our Church,

Pushed those waves forward towards healing

Boldly proclaiming

Repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery, Because it was “an example of the “improper mixing of the power of the church  and the power of the sword” 

Acknowledging this church’s complicity in the evils of colonialism in the Americas,  which continue to harm tribal governments and individual tribal members”

That is important to me,

Because part of my extended family

Are proud and sacred Native people And I could not be a part of a Church,

That ignored their existence.


Our Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Continued in their bold proclamation

That they would stand with refugees, immigrants and migrant workers

Approving a new strategy,

“the Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy,

Representation and Opportunities 

Responding to the needs Of the migration of children and their families around protection,

And advocacy,”

It is important to me,

Because we hear the call to care for our neighbor,

And if we claim we follow Jesus,

Then we can not erase their needs and their suffering

As Leymah reminded us,

“Injustice anywhere

Is Injustice everywhere”


These collective people of faith,

Boldly proclaimed

Standing with our neighbors,

Especially those who are seen as outcasts,

Our Palestine sisters and brothers in Christ,

Reaffirming as ONE VOICE

That we “continue to accompany and advocate on behalf of a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Israel and Palestine;

Advocate for protection of the human rights of Palestinians and Israelis 

Opposing all violence and actions

That deny any people their basic freedom


And human rights”

As someone reminded the gathered community of faith,

Jesus Christ

Was a Middle Eastern Rabbi

A refugee

With no documents.


And this Church,

Proclaimed that they

Would stand as allies,

For People of African Descent

Because, yes,

Our lives do matter.

Acknowledging for “complicity in systemic racism, chattel slavery and it’s hand in not speaking out

And against the abuses of our civil rights

For so long.”

Social media binds friendship,

And as my new sister in Christ,

Pastor Tuhina stated,

“There needs to be an intertwined system of accountability  to *ensure* a real and diverse church.” What truly spoke volumes,

Is when our Presiding Bishop

Elizabeth Eaton

Stated in her report

The conversation around racial justice needs to happen

And if people had questions,

Or concerns,

To bring them to her,

Because she is the one,

Who is dedicated to this conversation of community,

Of unity

An ally to many in this Church,

Who were forced to be silent

And assimilate


And yet,

There was dissention,

Even in the gathered community of faith

A disagreement on how we would collectively speak boldly

To the world

And I am sure,

When confusion surfaces,

Not surprinsgly we turn to our sacred text,

For comfort

Or for answers

But what comfort is found here,

In our Gospel today?

Jesus proclaims

I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!


Johnny Cash’s lament,

God’s Going to Cut you Down,

Seemingly is embedded in this Gospel.

Surprised your Pastor likes The Man in Black?

(pause for laughter)

I have been drawn to his later work,

Because in his music His deep faith was plain,


Johnny Cash sang of his imperfectness

His sinful nature,

Warning the listener,

Other people of faith,

That Jesus,

Was about being bold

“Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth?

 No, I tell you, but rather division!


It’s uncomfortable to hear Jesus


As if His plan is to cut us down

But I don’t think Jesus Christ is speaking

Of harming us,


I think Jesus is speaking to the darkness

Which is always lurking

Attempting to mask itself over our features

Jesus wants to destroy what keeps us

From a relationship with the Creator God

And so,

Sometimes it means

We have to walk through the fire

In order

For God’s Work,

For our purpose in this life,

To be accomplished



In our Hebrews text

We see the trials of fire,

The acts of faith

The examples of people being BOLD

Because of their faith,

The walls of Jerico crumbled

A people found freedom beyond the boundaries

Of the Red Sea

Because of their faith,

They withstood a raging fire And cheated the certainty of death, From the jaws of a lion. But sometimes their boldness

Came at a cost.

They did not have that standard, happy ending!

For many of the faithful,

They were exiled


Whipped Tortured

And for some, death was an end, All because they were BOLD.

Is this what holds us back, beloved?

We are afraid of being BOLD

We are afraid of the pain and the hurt,

Standing Boldly sometimes brings?


Johnny Cash’s lamented this

In a song filled with agony

It spoke to where we all find ourselves

When we have been bold

And followed Jesus,

When we have not been afraid to speak out,


The body of Christ is agitated

And therefore there is division

And then there is that hurt

We wrestle

To do what is right,

But sometimes

Our spirits slink back Into that darkness,

And then we cry out,

Jesus I cannot do this, What you ask of me.

Sounds familiar?


But see,

There ain’t no grave,

That can hold our bodies down

There ain’t no grave

That could hold Jesus Christ down,


That can separate US




Was Bold too,


That shattered the sins of the law

And brought us into the light,

And because of what HE DID


There ain’t NOTHING

That can keep us from the Love of the Creator God!


So because of the Good News of Jesus Christ

This Gospel,

We can be Bold!

We must be BOLD!

Are we still in that grave,

With the silence?

The silence of not speaking our testimony?

The silence of not speaking LIFE for those,

Who are the outcasts in this world

Listen here,

Think as if you were hurting,

Feeling abandoned

Because the actions, and the Gospel that you were hearing,

Because how people reacted to YOUR presence walking through Church doors

That you were at the crossroads,

Walking away from Christianity

Because it was too PAINFUL

And suddenly,

There was a breakthrough,

The Sun rose,

And the graves open

And people came forth who were no longer afraid-


Because they heard Jesus Christ speaking to them



And suddenly,

You felt loved

In the body of Christ,

In the wider Church,

Because the people of God

No longer would be silent

Would no longer be apathetic


Because of God’s LOVE For US.

Thanks be to God.

You Can’t Take It With You

Grace and Peace to you,

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ

All that we could ever treasure

Seek to obtain



At the Table

Standing out from the Cross

Because of the One,

Who gave up what was most precious to Him

His Life,

Jesus Christ, Our Risen Savior and Lord



(Start out by asking the question again about what is the congregation’s most treasured possession, something that they display on their person or in their homes. Share that what I always have treasured is when I receive a gift from and especially from an Elder and give examples like the sweaters that I got for birthdays and Christmas from my Grandmother, to even the Barbie House I got for my 8th birthday, and my Uncle came over to put it together. More recently, the women who have become my Mother’s rock, lovingly referred to as the Steel Magnolias, have not only encouraged me but gifted me as my seminary, and now my pastoral journey has commenced.  Hold up the shawl, scarf that Jerry Brown obtained for me and tell the story about how she acquired it, and it was unique and interested. However, one Thursday afternoon as my husband was in my office, he held it up and noticed these two verses (read one), which sort of threw me into a quandary because clearly this could point to the argument for prosperity gospel. But what kind of wealth is being spoken of here?)

And then I read the previous verse,

“Do not say to yourself,

My power and the might of my own hand

Have gotten me this wealth.”

I think we as people of faith,

In this pursuit of holiness and righteousness

Meshed in with this complex existence in this life,

This individualized society,

Built on this concept of prosperity

This theology of glory,

Which just like the weeds,

Invasive species in many of our gardens,

And have taken over,

Wound tightly over our bushes,

And flowers

Like a vine,

Has invaded our collective journey here,

And attempts to choke the life out of the Good News,

The Gospel of Jesus Christ


It’s no secret,

That I loathe prosperity gospel

I will not ascribe to it

I do not agree to it

I will not preach it.

Theologian Dr. Justo Gonzalez,

Identifies this prosperity gospel,

As preached by many ministers and preachers,

As a way to manipulate God.

“The purpose of Biblical religion

Is not to have God do what we desire,

But for us rather,

To be accountable to God.”

Womanist theologian.

Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas

Defines this as Plationized Christianity,

A Christianity twisting God,

God’s promises

The Gospel,

Into the image of humankind

And therefore calling that which is evil,


And what is good,



Luther defines this as a theology of glory,

Where selfishness is rewarded

Individualism celebrated

Excusing the sins of greed

As a necessary evil,

To exist in this life

Ignoring Jesus’s command,

His teachings

“One’s life does not consist

In the abundance of possessions”

Or even still,

Ignoring Jesus altogether

His Sacrifice

On the Cross

I was horrified to see,

A quote from a megachurch pastor,

Who when the question posed to him

don’t you want a candidate

who embodies the teaching of Jesus

 and would govern this country

according to the principles

 found in the Sermon on the Mount?’”

His answer?

“I would run from that candidate as far as possible,

because the Sermon on the Mount

was not given as a governing principle for this nation.”


This idea that Jesus Christ,

His Life

His Ministry

His Teachings

Somehow ceased to exist

Upon Christ’s resurrection

And because of that,

We have this “saint” status

And therefore God is relying on us

To rely on ourselves,

Our own strength


And Power

Because the only way we will get that expensive house

In the right neighborhood

Or that luxury car with all the bells and whistles

Is if we pray a certain way,

IF we pray hard enough,

Our bank accounts, our coffiers will increase

Or go to a certain church

And ascribe to certain rules,

And formulas.

And when God sees us doing right,

God will grant us our every wish!

So then we should not be so surprised

That many of these megachurches

Who preach this theology of glory,

This prosperity gospel

From the pulpit

That God wants them to be prosperous


Are brimming to the top with members.


Maybe this farmer,

Found that this same formula worked for him

In our Gospel this morning.

But we could argue,

What should be his next directive?

Clearly he has an abundance of crops

Clearly in these ancient times,

Having success with crops or livestock

Should be celebrated!

And any good farmer

Would have done what we all would have,


Building storehouses so that these crops,

His harvest would not spoil

Or go to waste.

But notice

Where the focus is.

I won’t have to starve!

I’ll be okay!

Famine and hunger will come,

And I will be set!

Wow, I’ve done good for myself!

I cannot wait to celebrate.

I’ll sit in my house and look at what I have built and say,

Self, look at this good thing you have done!”



Or what about even,

The person,

Who has a secure job,

With solid income

Who leans on their own self,

And pats themselves on the back,

Because they have invested wisely

And can sit back and nod at the computer screen

Which shows all of their bank accounts

And investments

And can brag to themselves,


Look at all that wealth you have obtained!

You are doing good!

You will be alright while everyone else is suffering

You will be on top!

And then,

They balk

They are angered

When perhaps their children

Coming to them out of love,

Pursuing their own dreams,

Asking for a miniscule share of resources

Maybe perhaps to get a car,

So they can get to that dream job they were offered

Or caring for their mother,

Who needs palliative care

Whose house is crumbling

And they shut the door in their faces

“Why should I help anyone?

What return on my investment will I get?”


What if,

Jesus had been that selfish?

For all the power and might the Creator God gave to Him

Shared with Him

What if He decided,

That we were not worthy enough

That our sins were too great

That we could never repay the cost He would have to pay?


But the Good News is that

Jesus Christ

Gave up His Life,

Upon the Cross,

And because of this Sacrifice

The Cross stands,

As the reaffirmation

As compassion


And we are made NEW



And More Good News!

Neither the Creator nor Jesus demands any repayment!

Because there is nothing we can do,


God does this out of a Love we may never understand,

This is the richness

The Fullness

The reward that keeps on giving!

And because there is nothing we can do,

Nor any way we can repay

The Creator God calls us,

Jesus Christ commands of us

To do for others,

As God does for us,

Without end!


So that is why we,

As People of Faith,


Share the Resources with others

Whether we know them

Or not.

Thanks Be to God.