Entries by Joel Van Dyke

New Skin to Bear the World

“I am suffering, it really hurts. It has been unbelievably painful for me to be confronted with the enormous division that exists in Nicaragua between those of us who profess Christ. Supposedly we make up 41% of the population but we have not been able to find any unity of response in the face of the deep woundedness of our nation. Those who are reacting in an active manner in the middle of this crisis are judging negatively those who have chosen to remain in their churches praying and fasting and those who have chosen to pray are attacking those who are practicing active resistance. And then there are others who have simply decided not to express themselves nor respond in any way whatsoever.”

The Crying Monk

We are approaching the 6th Sunday since Easter, and the circumstances of my life have seemingly all but erased the memory of the resurrection. I need a reminder of the Good News. At first glance, I’m not sure I get that from today’s text.

Holy Saturday

It’s Christ The King Sunday in which we celebrate the reign of Christ dawning in this age and in the age to come. But, as we’ve seen throughout the Gospel of Matthew, it is an unusual, upside down kingdom that redefines power and relocates God at the bottom, not at the top.

What’s on Your Table?

The striking contrast of two completely distinct, but adjacent worlds, startled my senses and threw me into a state of disorientation. We were in Kolkata, India as part of a weeklong city consultation for doctoral students. One morning, without any particular instruction, we hopped off a bus in a neighborhood swarming with people. Drawn up in the movement of the crowd, we found ourselves in the midst of a high festival day for the Hindu goddess Kali; the crowd was flowing toward her temple.

Gathering at the Door

In last week’s passage, we saw Jesus exorcising bad religion as he cast out the “impure spirit” of a man inside the synagogue. The reflection challenged the traditional reading of the text. What if the impure spirit didn’t so much reflect the possessed man? What if it was actually a reflection of the religious authorities?

A New Year’s Rest-olution

John the Baptist appears in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins and we are told that the “whole” Judean countryside and “all” the people of Jerusalem went out to him. It seems John has become quite the successful, suburban mega-church pastor with a huge commuter congregation. But he is clear that his show is not the best in town.

Power and Authority Reframed

In one of my favorite Ted Talks, Educational Technology Specialist Sugata Mitra discusses his experiments with “Hole in the Wall” computers. These are computer kiosks left in Indian slums, among children with no prior contact with PCs.

Poverty, Diversity and Justice

In one of my favorite Ted Talks, Educational Technology Specialist Sugata Mitra discusses his experiments with “Hole in the Wall” computers. These are computer kiosks left in Indian slums, among children with no prior contact with PCs. Mitra found that children, by pooling their knowledge and resources, learned how to operate the computers.

Pain as Gateway of Transformation

In one of my favorite Ted Talks, Educational Technology Specialist Sugata Mitra discusses his experiments with “Hole in the Wall” computers. These are computer kiosks left in Indian slums, among children with no prior contact with PCs. Mitra found that children, by pooling their knowledge and resources, learned how to operate the computers.

Re-formation

This week marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther famously nailing his 95 theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg. The action brought attention to the rampant abuse inherent in the ecclesiastical structures of his day. 

Nothing Else Matters

“Love God. Love People. Nothing Else Matters.” So reads a phrase on the many battered T-shirts stacked up in the back of my closet. I just don’t have the heart to discard them…

The Scandal of Misplaced Desire

In today’s world of instant news, we experience one story of scandal after another. Our news feed constantly tempts us with the tantalizing details of the latest political or Hollywood scandal. The details of this Gospel story seem so comparatively mild. Peter has become a “scandal” to Jesus for insisting that Jesus should live and not die: “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”

Eucharist and Abundance

As we drew close to the church building, we noticed a structure in very ill repair. Windows were broken, doors unable to close properly, large stains adorned rugs and ceilings, and the arresting smell of strong body odor pierced our senses. We walked through the hallway toward the main worship space.

Riddles of Grace: The Kingdom of God is Like….

The Jesuit Father, Anthony de Mello wrote that the shortest distance between a human and Truth is a story. In Matthew 13, Jesus tells a variety of stories (parables) to describe the kingdom of heaven. We move from mustard seed (a weed) planted amidst a crop in a field to the image of yeast, to a treasure hidden in a field, to fine pearls and then, in perhaps the most striking of all, we are told that the kingdom of heaven is like a net (v. 47-48).

Commencement

For many in the United States, the end of May is full of graduation parties for aspiring high school seniors — a transition into a new life as adults. While exciting, for student and parent alike, the season can also be filled with fear and doubt.

Shadowlands or Pastureland

Street Psalms leads a collaboration of 13 training hubs (UTC) in cities around the world; together, we seek to develop incarnational leaders who love their cities and seek their peace. We have a strong sense of what UTC Hubs are called to do on a communal level. But, we can sometimes lose sight of where we, as individual leaders, are guiding people to on a personal level.

Freedom from Fear

We trudge along this Lenten season towards the horror of the cross. Just two weeks away, Good Friday marks the day when the shadow of death will completely shroud us in darkness and despair. As the body of Lazarus lies entombed, wrapped in the grave clothes of death, we find ourselves also shrouded in darkness, wrapped in the grave
clothes of sin: fear reigning in our hearts.

Salt and Light

“You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.” Matthew 5:13-20 This past Sunday morning I attended a unique worship service with some friends. It was called “Street Church;” all the parishioners are homeless youth from a particular area of Guatemala City. Street Church is coordinated by a ministry called […]

Children of the Resurrection

  38“Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.” Luke 20:27-38   The Gospel not only empowers us to see, but to see from a particular vantage point-through the unconstrained eyes of a child. It is an invitation to see from within the reality of the […]

Zacchaeus: A Wee Little Man Was He (Not)

  “He was seeking to see Jesus but on account of the crowd he could not….” Luke 19:1-10 This week’s Gospel text is a narrative some people grew up singing in Sunday School:   “Zacchaeus was a wee, little man, and a wee, little man was he. He climbed up in a sycamore tree, for […]

The Salute of Grace

  15“One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him -and he was a Samaritan.” Luke 17:11-19    Our text this week is a common narrative engaged by preachers at Thanksgiving time in North America pleading for “attitudes […]

Invitation of Love

  26“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:25-33 Throughout the course of life we often engage Scripture through the lens of present circumstance. In my case, the engagement with our […]

Sabbath Prayer: Week 4

  “Lord, teach us to pray…” (Luke 11:1)   As we mentioned three weeks ago, each summer we take a Sabbath break from the Word From Below reflections. Instead, we are inviting you to pray with us. (We will resume our normal Word From Below reflections in September).   Here are two prayers that have […]

Sabbath Prayer: Week 3

“Lord, teach us to pray…” (Luke 11:1) As we mentioned two weeks ago, each summer we take a Sabbath break from the Word From Below reflections. Instead, we are inviting you to pray with us. (We will resume our normal Word From Below reflections in September). Here are two prayers that have been helping form […]

Will One Thing

  “Purity of heart is to will one thing.” Søren Kierkegaard   42 “…but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better…” Luke 10:38-42   Jesus and the disciples are on the move. They enter a village and receive life-giving hospitality from two sisters in the intimacy of their home. Martha prepares […]

Clash of Crowds

  …and a large crowd went along with him (entering the city)…and a large crowd from the town was with her (leaving the city).” Luke 7:11-17 A collision at the city gate!! A crowd of death is leaving the city while a crowd of life is entering – they collide at the city gate. The […]

The Marvel of Saving Faith

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him. Luke 7:9 There are only two places where the Bible tells us that Jesus is amazed. In our lectionary text this week, Jesus marvels at the faith of a Roman centurion. In the other occasion (Mark 6:6), Jesus is marveling at the unbelief that he experienced […]

Do you want to get well?

  When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” John 5:1-9   As we approach the sixth Sunday of Easter, we are continually being challenged to see life by the light of the resurrection, through […]

What It Means to be Eastered

  19When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you….” John 20:19-31   “Let him easter in us, be a dayspring […]

Scandalously Wasteful: The Prodigal Dad

  31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32   We continue our trek this Lenten season […]

Who is this?

  And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. -Luke 9:29   The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being…. -Hebrews 1:3   When my daughter Sofia was seven years old, she once unabashedly told me that I was […]