Looking for more Lectionary Resources? Visit our Lectionary Page for a full Word from Below Index by  Liturgical Year, Week and Season as well as additional reflections and resources from our partners.

Whose Voice?

Burning in our hearts is the desire to encounter and experience the Divine. We yearn for this encounter, even if we aren’t quite sure what to expect from it. Those who heard Jesus were no different. They all had the same response as he read from Isaiah … wonder and amazement, even awe.

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The Only Path Forward

Jesus’ first miracle is to keep a party going. As far as first impressions are concerned, wouldn’t it have made more sense to give sight to someone born blind, or cast out some demons?

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Saving the Best for Last

Jesus’ first miracle is to keep a party going. As far as first impressions are concerned, wouldn’t it have made more sense to give sight to someone born blind, or cast out some demons?

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Baptized Into the Human Experience

I have known Susan for over 14 years. She’s a pastor here in Nairobi with a reputation for speaking her mind. Susan is passionate about working with youth and vulnerable women in our community. The locals see her as an advocate for the rights of the most vulnerable in society. Among her best friends is a group of reforming, hard core criminals.

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A Journey Toward Closeness

Last week, I was on the phone with Michèle*, a very gifted social worker and therapist. She is advising our organization for a research project we are coordinating that is looking to capture the narrative of Christian survivors of domestic violence and the church’s response.

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Becoming an Ass

When I think of baby messiahs, angelic messengers, shepherds and sheep, I think of a church Christmas pageant when I was in fifth grade. Christmas Pageants were always somewhat painful for me. Even as a child I didn’t think they expressed “God with us” — what theologians call the Incarnation.

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Blessed is She

Advent is about the birth of Jesus, of course. But for me, the beauty of these verses is the way God uses Mary and Elizabeth, people who would have been marginalized by society because of their gender, to teach us all how to relate to each other with an attitude of abundance.

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Belonging

Advent this year coincides with the election season in the Philippines. In my country, elections are often associated with polarization, division, hate, and sometimes even violence. But what is often neglected is that politics can also offer a deep sense of belonging that is similar to what people experience through religion.

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Prepare the Way

Anytime we read something like, the word of the God came to so-and-so, I’m tempted to imagine this happened in some alternate spiritual universe—one where there are prophets and visions and miracles—not my ordinary everyday world. But the author of Luke is at pains to tell us that this happened here, in the real world, at a specific time in a specific place.

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Look at the Trees

Um, what? Why the downer when I’m getting ready to hang Christmas lights and set out the manger? Even the first candle on the advent wreath is for “hope,” not a concept I generally tie to fear and foreboding.

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Are you the King?

I know that I’m not the only one who faced deep anxiety during the last year and a half. For that reason, I want to invite us to bring our anxiety to the lectionary reading this week.

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Anxious Morbus

I know that I’m not the only one who faced deep anxiety during the last year and a half. For that reason, I want to invite us to bring our anxiety to the lectionary reading this week.

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I wish you would let me cook for you

“I wish you would let me cook for you.”

These were the words of a neighbour of ours, a widow and mother of 5 children. She had lost her husband about a month before the pandemic exploded in Montreal. We connected through the food bank at the ministry I directed, the only activity we were allowed to run in person.

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Not Far

I’m fascinated by this entire exchange. “Not far” means the scribe is near, and possibly still on the way, but hasn’t quite arrived. I know for me “not far” is not close enough. Somehow, relating to Jesus and knowing the right answers didn’t quite do it. So what are we to take from this exchange? If we listen closely, I believe we can hear an invitation to reside inside the very heart of God.

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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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A Different Kind of Power

One has to admire James and John’s audacity, as misguided as it was. But it appears they had either forgotten, or missed, what Jesus had already told them about the nature of power and where it resides. I empathize with them. I get it. They probably felt justified in their request.

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His Most Prized Possession

On the surface it seems perfectly obvious. Jesus tells a wealthy man to sell all he has and give it to the poor. When the rich man hears this he is “shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.” It seems Jesus’ words also shocked the disciples too, who wondered, if this is the expectation, then “who can be saved?”

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One Humanity

I don’t believe this is a text just to people who are divorced or considering divorce. That’s not who Jesus addressed it to, and we shouldn’t relegate it to a limited audience either. Jesus is speaking to all of us as he calls forth a way of being that is one flesh, one humanity. This, I believe, is a word of compassion for us all. Yes, compassion.

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What’s in a Name?

There was a pause, some nervous laughter, and then a recognition that she had named something important: as long as we are more focussed on finding new followers for our own project than on the faithful work to be done, we will always be divided rivals competing for the victory of our mission.

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Being Real

Imagine if just one of the disciples had been able to set aside their insecurity to ask Jesus if he would say a little more? Would that have freed up the others to ask their questions? What kind of conversation might have ensued? Would it have fostered more trust and greater understanding between the disciples instead of competition and the need to posture with one another?

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The Crumbling House

The house, the house, the house! We finally had it, and yet the deeper impulse behind the desire remained elusive. After a few months of living crammed together, we began expanding our home’s footprint. It wasn’t just going to be sufficient, it was going to be the biggest house in the whole development. The yardstick for our desire, our success, had moved.

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Expectations

It turns out, Jesus is. Once again, he takes the system and turns it upside down, blowing up societies’ rubric for what makes somebody a good person.

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Sustenance

Food sustains our bodies but also draws our communities and families together. It feeds our needs at many levels. This week’s lectionary text, with Jesus addressing a crowd, tackles this truth.

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Flesh and Blood

I’ll be honest, today’s passage makes me cringe. The language Jesus uses is cannibalistic; it’s scandalous. “Eat my flesh. Drink my blood.” Yuck. Am I right? As someone who presides over the communion table, hearing Jesus speak about His body this way makes me super uncomfortable. 

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Bread of Life

Fear, it appears, has just as much to do with our own disposition as it does with the message itself. The headline of 300 murders solicited a fear of destruction and violence. Jesus’ headline of a new, albeit very diiferent kind of life, released a fear of change among those listening: a fear of letting go of beliefs that bound them, a fear of what might happen if the way of Jesus really was true. 

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Bread is Essential

There is a tendency with this passage to spiritualize it, to contrast the bread that is made of wheat, yeast, salt, and water with bread that is made of love, justice, peace, and hope. All of which sounds nice but can taste like so much air to a hungry person. 

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Serving Without Seeking the Crown

Jesus resists this temptation. He does not use the opportunity to advance himself. Jesus shows us what is at the heart of incarnational ministry: coming alongside those we serve and inviting them to participate in their own healing.

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Get Some Rest

So did He ignore rest or is there something I am missing? I’m beginning to think that my own concept of rest must be sorely lacking as clearly, Jesus is modeling something that does not come naturally to me.

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Otherness to Outsider

There is a unique pain associated with this brand of dismissal, akin to the sting of rejection but accompanied by shock and disbelief (“I thought of all people they would understand!”).

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Power

At first glance, the fifth chapter of Mark is full of stories that appear to be mostly about healing. At the beginning of the chapter, Jesus casts out demons from a young man; and today, we see him heal a woman and raise a girl from the dead. Healing is clearly an important and wonderful part of the narrative.

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Can We Hear?

These stories, sometimes referred to as myths, don’t just shape how we see ourselves in the present moment, they also affect how we understand what is possible in the future.

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The Unreasonable Work of Liberation

He must be possessed, they say. Because God’s logic looks like insanity to those of us who’ve become accustomed to the world’s logic. All this disruption, this chaos, must be demonic, they say.

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Do Not Pass Me By

When I woke up that morning I promised myself “never again.” My heart cannot sustain it. My body cannot sustain it. My soul cannot sustain it. This non-stop movement, constant going, day by day, this making a way.

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Pentecost

All around our communities, in myself, and in our churches, we continue to be held captive to this imperial dream — unity, control and stability through enforced uniformity.

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“Union?”

Before we got married, my wife had these words engraved on our wedding ring, “to our dream.” The first time I read them, I wasn’t sure how to respond. So, I just smiled and said something like, “how thoughtful.”

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Bittersweet Fruit

As I was telling David how terrible hell would be, he turned to me and said, “And what do you think this is?” He pointed to the rotten wood poles that held the rusty tin sheets that served as walls for his shack. The metal sheets had as many holes as a slice of swiss cheese. Then, I heard the two children he had already brought into the world even though he was just fifteen. And I smelled the rottenness of the dirt floor, wet with the sewer water that came from the toilet next to us. At that moment, I realized that I was sitting with him in hell.

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The Invitation

I repeated my words: “Cut. It. Back. Prune, yank, trim and remove.”

As soon as I said it, I saw her wince.

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The Good Shepherd

This week is Good Shepherd Sunday. Thank goodness, because I am feeling like a sheep in need of a good shepherd, and so are the communities we serve.

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Peace Be With you

But if I’m honest, I am still wondering – what are the actual, tangible things that make for peace? This seems like the million dollar question for the Church to ponder … especially as ones who are proclaiming this peace.

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The Reality of Resurrection

At the start of Holy Week Manila and nearby provinces entered into another lockdown, causing difficulty for many, especially the most vulnerable. This pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities. Many people in the under-resourced areas of Manila are living on daily wages, and when these meager means to support their families are cut off, you can feel the fear in the air.

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Easter Sunday

He has risen!
May the presence of the Crucified-Risen One slip behind walls of our well-defended lives today and surprise us with love’s confounding joy.

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Holy Saturday

It’s Holy Saturday and Mary is on my mind. Actually, she’s at work in my heart. Maybe that’s because I too am a mom.
I love being the mother of two sons. They have drawn me out in ways I didn’t think possible. For example, I think of myself as even-keeled and chill. Like Mary, I can hold a lot in. However, I came to discover that’s not always the case.

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Good Friday

I immerse myself in the brutal agony and devastating beauty of the Via Dolorosa where my soul quickens and finds its home inside the unfolding drama of the ultimate consummation of humanity and divinity. I am among the women standing at the foot of the Cross — those midwives of the cross — bearing witness to Jesus’ labor, attending to his last words, his last breath. I receive “It is finished” in one hand and consider “It has begun” in the other, letting such a juxtaposition work its mystery in my mind and heart. (Christena Cleveland)

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Maundy Thursday

Each year at the L’Arche Tahoma Hope community where I serve, we have a Maundy Thursday service that includes a communal foot washing. Like most things at L’Arche, it’s both reverent and comical … lots of laughter and giggles, folks that are ticklish or nervous, moments of silence and bursts of joy. It’s one of my favorite celebrations. Feet are washed, hearts are warmed, walls come down.

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Transfer or Transform?

A week ago, a 21-year old white Christian man, baptised and active in his local church, walked into three spas near Atlanta, Georgia with a gun and killed 8 people, 6 of whom were Asian American.

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Strange Fruit

On May 25th, 2020, George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin. Chauvin’s knee was pressed into Mr. Floyd’s neck as he lay face down in the street for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Bystanders pleaded with the officer to stop while Mr. Floyd pleaded for his own life, “I can’t breathe!” The video went viral and the whole world listened to George Floyd call for his mama with his last breaths.

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God’s New Age

In this week’s text, Jesus foretells his death. He relates it to a moment in the Bible when God used Moses to save the Israelites from snakes by looking at a … snake. It was unusual, to say the least. In the same way, Jesus reminds his listeners that his salvation will happen, but everything about it will defy our expectations.

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What if it’s Love?

n the spring of 2012, a group of students from one of Montreal’s finest universities, Concordia, broke into the Dean’s office and ransacked it. They tore documents, broke the computer, and flipped the desk. This was part of a province-wide student strike against the tuition and fee hikes being imposed on our publicly funded higher education institutions. At its peak, a quarter of a million students took to the streets.

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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…

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Remember our Baptism

Alimentando El Pueblo (Feeding El Pueblo) is a food distribution initiative that specifically caters to the Latinx community in my area….

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Ash Wednesday: The Sound of the Genuine

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Christians worldwide will enter into a heightened time (40 days) of prayer,…

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Transfiguration of Power

Recent events in Myanmar and the Philippines loom large in my mind as I write this reflection from Manila. Myanmar…

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Just As You Are

Jesus took time for prayer. This isn’t the only place we see that. There are more than thirty references to…

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Be Silent O Unclean Spirit

In the text today, Jesus encounters a man with an unclean spirit and speaks truth with authority and authenticity to him. And it triggers his whole…

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Ad-liberation

A local Pastor was telling me about her neighbors’ reaction to a proposed winter shelter. It was set to be located in a large and currently empty community center in their affluent neighborhood.

Every year in the Pacific Northwest winter, unsheltered neighbors die of exposure to the cold—the shelter will offer a simple place to sleep during the hardest months. But on this neighborhood’s local social media pages, in the press, on the TV news, and in government hearings, compassion was hard to find.

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Being Seen

I watched a movie the other night called “The Orator.” Set on the island of Samoa, in the present day,…

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Almost Drowning

I was baptized into an Evangelical church when I was seven years old and it was a terrible experience. My…

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Born in Community

Tell me your birth story. If you are someone who has birthed a baby, you have heard this question countless…

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Anna The Prophet

At age 84 my aunt helped lead her aging church through a very challenging process around a divisive issue. She did so with remarkable skill and grace. She’s always looking toward the future, even if it does not include her.

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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,…

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Mary’s Light

She was a high-school senior. She told me she wasn’t feeling well and asked if I could give her a…

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Light from Darkness

A prison cell may be the last place we look for light; they are dim by design. But in my…

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On the Edges

Wilderness.  Uncultivated. Uninhabited. Inhospitable. Neglected. Abandoned. Disfavored. Dangerous. These words are commonly used to describe places of “wilderness.” And yet,…

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Blue(s) Christmas

We don’t listen to Christmas music in my house until after Thanksgiving. On Black Friday morning the prohibition is lifted…

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More Than Charity

Identify with those who have nothing. Not in charity alone so as to be a helper of those without food,…

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Real Talent?

For those of us who were raised in the United States, we have a tendency to read the Parable of…

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Mad at the Maidens

This week’s text, The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids, has often been used as a precautionary tale about who gets…

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The Shoulders of the People

They do not practice what they teach.They are unwilling to lift a finger.They love the seat of honour. Jesus’ criticism…

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The Impossible Purity Tests

Last week I walked along Tacoma Avenue, and found myself passing Simone’s yellow tent on the grass right next to…

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The Emperor’s Coin

My sister does this funny thing before she asks you for a favor. She says, “I’m going to ask you…

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Should We Have a Dream?

I’m told there is no utility in my delusions yet I choose to imagine, envisioning a world of fellowship and joy….

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Entering the Building

Recently, our church community gathered in the parking lot of the campus. Together, like many other congregations, we are reflecting…

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The Corner of Delridge and Roxbury

Whenever I read the parable of the landowner and the day laborers, my mind often drifts to the day labor…

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The Cancer of Unforgiveness

Cancer is something that scares us out of our minds, especially if our families have a history with it. In…

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Binding and Loosening

We start Advent not with shepherds and angels and babies meek and mild. Instead we start with apocalyptic warnings. I don’t like it. I prefer the kids in animal and shepherd costumes—the cute Christmas. But we don’t always get what we want. Instead we start Advent with a passage that is full of images of floods, and people disappearing, and thieves.

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Human Concerns

It is an odd image in this week’s text:, uprooting a tree (already challenging) and planting it into a body of water that is salty (impossible). But it is not surprising to talk of agriculture in terms of challenges, impossibilities, and indeed, as an act of faith. In downtown Montréal, Innovation Youth has been growing our expertise in urban agriculture for several years.

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The Human Catechism

In our Lenten journey we are nearing the cross, the place where Jesus will make visible that to which we are blind and change the way we see forever. We will see the excluded one give birth to a new kind of community that is scapegoat free.

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Persistence

To be clear, this love isn’t just another law… It’s not another demand for perfection. Quite the opposite. It involves a healthy dose of failure and forgiveness from everyone involved. They are also key elements in our journey to becoming a force in creating true human community.

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The Transformation of God

Filipino Muslims are our closest siblings, yet we are divided by our differences and a lack of trust. We were not prepared to address this lurking and lingering issue. We walked, as it were, down the road Jesus describes in his parable, asking whether we would continue to affirm the ossified lines of our identities, or transcend that which divides us?

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What You Have

We start Advent not with shepherds and angels and babies meek and mild. Instead we start with apocalyptic warnings. I don’t like it. I prefer the kids in animal and shepherd costumes—the cute Christmas. But we don’t always get what we want. Instead we start Advent with a passage that is full of images of floods, and people disappearing, and thieves.

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Changing the Metaphor

In our Lenten journey we are nearing the cross, the place where Jesus will make visible that to which we are blind and change the way we see forever. We will see the excluded one give birth to a new kind of community that is scapegoat free.

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An Invitation to Imperfection

We start Advent not with shepherds and angels and babies meek and mild. Instead we start with apocalyptic warnings. I don’t like it. I prefer the kids in animal and shepherd costumes—the cute Christmas. But we don’t always get what we want. Instead we start Advent with a passage that is full of images of floods, and people disappearing, and thieves.

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The Hospitable Iconoclast

To be clear, this love isn’t just another law… It’s not another demand for perfection. Quite the opposite. It involves a healthy dose of failure and forgiveness from everyone involved. They are also key elements in our journey to becoming a force in creating true human community.

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A Whisper

In our Lenten journey we are nearing the cross, the place where Jesus will make visible that to which we are blind and change the way we see forever. We will see the excluded one give birth to a new kind of community that is scapegoat free.

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21st Century Pentecost

In our Lenten journey we are nearing the cross, the place where Jesus will make visible that to which we are blind and change the way we see forever. We will see the excluded one give birth to a new kind of community that is scapegoat free.

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Will We Listen?

Like Peter, like Edwaan, and like so many of us, there is a longing for belief out on life’s “danger waters” — those places removed from the placid nature of peace and plenty. Persecution, pain, and tragedy inspire deep longings, often taking the shape of foolhardy propositions such as Peter’s, “Save me in these dangerous waters or watch me die.”

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Oneing

In our Lenten journey we are nearing the cross, the place where Jesus will make visible that to which we are blind and change the way we see forever. We will see the excluded one give birth to a new kind of community that is scapegoat free.

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She’s Calling

To be clear, this love isn’t just another law… It’s not another demand for perfection. Quite the opposite. It involves a healthy dose of failure and forgiveness from everyone involved. They are also key elements in our journey to becoming a force in creating true human community.

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The Sacrament of Hospitality

As fearful and terrorizing as it may be, the transfiguration causes me to long for a glimpse of the illuminated face of Christ and especially the body we have esteemed as most unlovable and unlikable. I pray that in meeting with such a vision, I will not be derailed, busying myself with building tabernacles, places where I can limit and control God’s uncontrollable light.

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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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The Verbness of Easter

In our Lenten journey we are nearing the cross, the place where Jesus will make visible that to which we are blind and change the way we see forever. We will see the excluded one give birth to a new kind of community that is scapegoat free.

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The First Word

To be clear, this love isn’t just another law… It’s not another demand for perfection. Quite the opposite. It involves a healthy dose of failure and forgiveness from everyone involved. They are also key elements in our journey to becoming a force in creating true human community.

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Maundy Thursday

In our Lenten journey we are nearing the cross, the place where Jesus will make visible that to which we are blind and change the way we see forever. We will see the excluded one give birth to a new kind of community that is scapegoat free.

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Good Friday

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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Enough

In our Lenten journey we are nearing the cross, the place where Jesus will make visible that to which we are blind and change the way we see forever. We will see the excluded one give birth to a new kind of community that is scapegoat free.

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Embedded

In our Lenten journey we are nearing the cross, the place where Jesus will make visible that to which we are blind and change the way we see forever. We will see the excluded one give birth to a new kind of community that is scapegoat free.

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The Judgement of God

In our Lenten journey we are nearing the cross, the place where Jesus will make visible that to which we are blind and change the way we see forever. We will see the excluded one give birth to a new kind of community that is scapegoat free.

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Desire is Viral

Faith, hope and love are the antidotes to social chaos. But let’s be honest, they take a bit longer to spread than fear and anxiety. That is why in times like these, as the body of Christ, we are invited to get clear about what we want and whose desires we are borrowing.

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The Most Unlovable and Unlikable

As fearful and terrorizing as it may be, the transfiguration causes me to long for a glimpse of the illuminated face of Christ and especially the body we have esteemed as most unlovable and unlikable. I pray that in meeting with such a vision, I will not be derailed, busying myself with building tabernacles, places where I can limit and control God’s uncontrollable light.

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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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