The Art of Seeing

To the embarrassment of those around him, the blind beggar yells and screams until Jesus decides to stop, inviting Bartimeaus to a public meeting with him in the middle of the street. Those around Bartimaeus had tried desperately to shut him up in an attempt to save him from impending shame. Bartimaeus, however, sees (discerns) something special in this moment and refuses to let Jesus pass him by.

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The Tertium Quid

Ever move from applause to rebuke in the blink of an eye?    We continue in our Lenten journey to the cross and this week find ourselves with Jesus and the disciples in Caesarea Philippi. Peter has just answered a question from Jesus correctly and is likely feeling pretty good about himself until he hears Jesus…

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Hoping for Change

In the Spanish language the verb esperar means both “to hope” and “to wait.” It is a beautiful Advent verb, capturing the “hopeful waiting” of the season that we have journeyed together these past four weeks. This kind of waiting, essential to the spiritual life, is not an empty waiting. It is bathed in the…

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Pastureland in a Pandemic?

After an encounter with the shadowlands of Ash Wednesday, we now sit silently in front of an opened curtain, revealing the five-week theater that is the Valley of Lent. The Gospel narrative for the first Sunday of Lent is that of the desert temptation.

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Setting Out From Where You Are

After an encounter with the shadowlands of Ash Wednesday, we now sit silently in front of an opened curtain, revealing the five-week theater that is the Valley of Lent. The Gospel narrative for the first Sunday of Lent is that of the desert temptation.

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Nunc Dimittis

As I stood at the pulpit and looked toward the pews, my breath was taken away. On the back wall of the chapel were several huge drawings of naked murder victims. An artist had taken a pencil and used it to bring to life the pain and agony of massacre and execution.

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Hospitality Inverted

There is a parade of attention around the celebrity Jesus as he passes through Jericho. The eyes of the crowd are riveted in the desire to get a glimpse of the great miracle worker and social (not yet media) influencer.

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The Salute of Grace

A children’s version of the story captures the triviality of the narrative – the last frame exclaims, “Don’t Forget to Thank Jesus.”In such simplified, moralistic versions of the story, the other nine lepers who don’t return to Jesus are vilified as ungrateful. However, we shouldn’t rush to cast judgment on them.

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Guests of Honor

It’s the Sabbath again and Jesus is being carefully watched as he goes to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee. He senses the angst in the hearts of those in attendance who are trying to maneuver into position nearest to the host. Jesus decides to expose those present at the dinner to the idolatry and rivalistic posturing of their internal ranking system by telling a pair of parables

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Will One Thing

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 the meal while Mary sits listening at the feet of Jesus. It is a beautiful scene that lasts but for two verses before Martha barges into the living room from the kitchen, upset that her sister has left her to do all the work by herself.

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Advocate or Accuser

Pastor William Quiñonez has spent the past 5-6 years in a weekly visit to a maximum security prison spending time with members of a notorious street gang who have been incarcerated for unimaginable acts of brutal violence. Pastor William’s “pulpit” has been a seat perched atop the cages where the gang members are held in groups of 10-15.

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Grace in Galilee

The first ever encounter between Jesus and Peter happened on these same shores where Peter had grown up. Now, in this final chapter of the Gospel of John, the last encounter on earth between Jesus and Peter occurs once again at the same place…

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Discerning Death, Embracing Life

Mary approaches Jesus and smashes an alabaster jar of extravagant perfume, lavishly pouring the precious oil out upon his feet and wiping up the excess with her untied hair. What an arresting image of unbridled devotion and love. There is a time for counting the cost, and there is a time for extravagance.

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Transfixed or Transfigured?

The whole scene is an invitation to recount the experience of Moses on Mount Sinai; however, there is a notable difference. While glory came down from above unto Moses, here the glory is emanating directly from Jesus. While Moses exudes a reflected light, Jesus is the source of his own light.

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Are you in or out?

Taking a deep breath, Jesus knows his proclamation will transform the cheering multitude in front of him into a mob of murderers behind him. He points to two stories that his audience would have known well.

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The Waiting Rooms of Christmas

Her picture popped up on my computer screen this week after clicking on an email from a friend—a sweet, but seemingly exhausted, 5-year-old Honduran refugee. The email author: a Street Psalms’ friend and InnerCHANGE missionary, Nate Bacon. He had joined up with the caravan of Central American immigrants on their Northward trek to the U.S. When he finally caught up with them in Huixtla, Mexico he did not find a “band of marauding criminals” nor a “threatening throng of terrorists,” but “groups of family members of all ages set on pursuing life.”

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Only Love

“Love God. Love People. Nothing Else Matters” became my mantra during my single, young-adult years; life seemed simple without the tether of expectation coming from academic degrees, job titles and the financial responsibilities of parenthood. Those words from the mantra of my youth are a paraphrase from Jesus in our Gospel text this week.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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…

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Authority Remixed

At Street Psalms we embrace a particular perspective that invites us into a grace to see from below. We do theology from below, celebrating the opportunity to read the Bible with the excluded and ostracized. We practice spirituality from below, together learning to see and celebrate good news in hard places. We share a spirituality…

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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.”

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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.

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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).

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Missional Hospitality: Blessed by Grace

Our Gospel reading this week draws from just three little verses at the end of an incredibly dense Matthew 10. The chapter is full of missional directives, which are bookended by the topic of missional hospitality we find in verses 40-42.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Wilderness Wander – Setting out from where you are

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Matthew 4:1-11 After an encounter with the shadowlands of Ash Wednesday two days ago, we now sit silently in front of an opened curtain revealing the five-week theater that is the Valley of Lent. As is so often the…

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Salt and Light

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 Sigo Vivo, founded by Pastor Rudy Hernandez, his wife Tatiana and their teenage daughters. Rudy pastored…

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Children of the Resurrection

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 resurrection. Jesus is now in Jerusalem. On the way, he stops to weep over Jerusalem before taking time to cleanse the…

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Zacchaeus: A Wee Little Man Was He (Not)

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 Lord he wanted to see…” The lyrics focus on the smallness of his physical stature, a fact that…

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Invitation of Love

Throughout the course of life we often engage Scripture through the lens of present circumstance. In my case, the engagement with our text this week comes on the heels of the most painful, yet sacred experience of my life — the passing of my dear mother. In the last days of her life, I had…

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Sabbath Prayer: Week 4

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 been helping form us in our call to develop incarnational…

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Sabbath Prayer: Week 3

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 us in our call to develop incarnational…

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Clash of Crowds

Tita felt led to lead weekly prayer walks

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 first crowd, serenaded by the haunting melody of a death dirge, huddles under the cloud of despair surrounding a broken woman. The second, high stepping to…

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The Marvel of Saving Faith

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 in Nazareth. Our text this week introduces us to a soldier…

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Do you want to get well?

As we approach the sixth Sunday of Easter, we are continually being challenged to see life by the light of the resurrection, through the eyes of our resurrected Lord. As we read in last week’s WFB post, looking through the eyes of the resurrected Jesus reveals the whole world as a burning bush ablaze with…

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What It Means to be Eastered

“Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us.” These are the words that English Jesuit Priest and Poet Gerard Manley Hopkins uses in the last stanza of a his poem entitled “The Wreck of the Deutschland.” He wrote the poem in tribute to five Franciscan nuns who died in a…

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Scandalously Wasteful: The Prodigal Dad

We continue our trek this Lenten season toward the Cross and our journey this week takes us into a very familiar narrative. Perhaps the most dramatic example in Scripture of God’s abundant, effulgent love is found in the parable of the prodigal son. The word “prodigal” means reckless, extravagant and wasteful spending. When told in…

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Who is this?

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 the “best Papi in the world.” In a selfish effort to boost my fragile ego, I asked her why she thought this…

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The Sweetness of Death

“… if it dies, it produces many seeds.” Jesus utters these words in anticipation of his own death – and Sugar’s.

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Leaving Our Nets

Perhaps a more revealing question than “what does Jesus see in them?” is “what do they see in this Jesus?”

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To Hope and To Wait

In the Spanish language the verb esperar means both “to hope” and “to wait.” It is a beautiful Advent verb.

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I See You – A Third Way Through

At Street Psalms, we have a hunch that in many instances, the line between insiders and outsiders (us vs. them) is an invention of our own making.

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Asking the Beautiful Questions

I imagine the rich man at the beginning of his day. He is a man about town, with pressing matters on his mind and very important people to meet. I am easily persuaded that someone like him has no time to volunteer with a local charity or dedicate himself to the protection of the less fortunate. But then we find Lazarus right outside his gate.

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