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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Ash Wednesday: Desire

In the inner room we can finally stop acting. In the inner room we are free of the crowds who so easily rule and run us like puppets. In the inner room, we stop feeding on the unstable and fickle desires of others and learn to borrow our desires from the One who desires us.

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Moments into Monuments

God’s glory is the divinity of seeing and proclaiming the Passion and the resurrection, even in the darkest of places. The way of Jesus journeys into the desert and sees bread where others see rocks. The divine glory sees the imago dei in a demon possessed boy that others have marginalized.

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Becoming Human

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 Box by the Door

This world’s devotion to middle class affluence is predicated on the sacraments of global gentrification’s hard sweeping brooms, capitalism’s consumerist temples, and a careless society’s superhighways that bypass the poor, the blind, and those crowded out by “progress.”

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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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Team Jesus

It’s when we’ve done just about all we can do to screw things up and yet still discover ourselves loved, forgiven and trusted at our most untrustworthy worst, that the Spirit is fully unleashed.

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Come and See

The authentic work of Christ and the work of the church is hard to do, if not impossible, from a distance. An incarnational ministry prioritizes proximity in order to “see” God.

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Born from Afar

When did they recognize this deity in their midst? When did it dawn upon them? Exactly when did the epiphany occur? When did the light of ‘aha’ shine upon these unknown number of magi revealing the human one before them was the flesh and blood presence of the creator of their star in the heavens?

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Born in Grace

At the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, the night sky in Guatemala City explodes in bursts of color under the canopy of fireworks. Everyone heads outside into the streets to wish one another Feliz Navidad with hugs for neighbors, family, friends and strangers amidst columns of smoke and the barrage of bottle rockets.

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Born in Dreams

The Advent and Christmas seasons are a time to remember God’s call on our lives is constant, and it comes in many forms, whether we are sleeping or awake. It’s a call to a heavenly perspective that allows us to release our fears and see good news in the least likely places.

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Born from Below

Our jails, back alleys and slums are the “low” places that Jesus would have been born in today, away from the lights and festivities that mark the opulence our society strives for.

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Born in Scandal

Not too many years ago, in a community marked by a history of scandalous events, I encountered one of the wittiest and smartest kids I have ever met. His name was Kevin. Kevin understood what it meant to come from a scandalous background.

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Born in Jail

John the Baptist, sitting In Herod’s prison with nothing but time on his hands, is beginning to question his expectations about Jesus. And I would imagine he’s wondering about his own life in light of his present circumstances.

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Born in Wilderness

For Karen, the stairwell was her wilderness sanctuary, right in the heart of the merciless city. There, she found the space and solace to let loose and cry out with a loud voice. The oppressive thumb of drug addiction, abuse, pain and poverty could not find her in that place.

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Born into Chaos

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 Canaanite Woman in Charlottesville?

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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Even the Muscle Dudes’ Knees were Shaking

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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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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Sheep or Goat?

God comes to us in what Mother Theresa called “the distressing disguise of the other,” in the face of the despised and rejected. That, in a nutshell, is the Gospel. It’s Word made flesh!

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Wait… God Did What?

If we view this parable through the lens of an honor-based culture, not a wealth-based culture, then this parable unlocks beautiful truth about where the Kingdom of God is located.

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Awake and Celebrate

Awake and celebrate! Is there a more elemental invitation of the Gospel of Jesus? In this week’s text Jesus tells the story of ten bridesmaids and a wedding party. Five of the bridesmaids remain awake and join the celebration.

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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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Images is Everything

In this week’s text the religious leaders are trying to trap Jesus with a question about whether Jews should pay taxes to Caesar. But this isn’t really a question about taxes. It’s more sinister.

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You’re Invited

Stephen Curry, basketball star of the Golden State Warriors, said he wasn’t quite sure he wanted to visit the White House. He was hesitant due to the President’s statements concerning NFL football players and their protests during the national anthem…

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Should we have a Dream?

I’m told there is no utility in my delusions but yet I choose to imagine, envisioning a world of fellowship and joy. In this, my alternate global reality, wooden ships are ushered through placid seaways as steady breezes push against their ample sails, all adorned with the sacred symbol of the cross.

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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…

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It’s Not Fair!

“No! No! No!” My two-year old son screamed as we drove down the interstate at seventy miles per hour. “I want the door open!”

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Why so Judgey?

One of the disciples poses a question that is essentially asking, “How much do we really have to forgive each other?” Jesus’ response, as was his habit, came in the form of a parable.

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An Absolutely Reckless Pedagogy!

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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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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Harry

The camp speaker joined us in our cabin and Harry was on the edge, struggling with Jesus again. Harry had been to camp many times and each time he’d said “yes” to Jesus. Each time he meant it. And each time he returned to his neighborhood where the peaceful clarity of summer camp gave way to the reality of violence that eventually swallowed him up.

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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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The Wheat And The Weeds

There is a harvest of love happening in cities everywhere, if we can only see it. It’s an unusual harvest to be sure — one that sees good where we often see evil and reveals evil where we often see good. This harvest is the unveiling of reality. It is the work of the Spirit and God’s delight. When this liberating pattern is at work in our lives we not only suffer the humiliating shock of seeing things as they really are, we also discover the unspeakable joy of having gotten it all wrong.

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The Bad Sower

I look for God’s activity in my life through the very mundane things that occur each day. Today was one of those days.

I looked down at my cell phone when it rang. It was a number that I was familiar with. Whenever this number pops up, I have to make a few quick decisions: Do I have time to talk? Do I have the energy? At the most, it’s a 10-minute phone call.

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Dance to the Music

Poor Isaac, dying in a state of deception, betrayal, sorrow and loneliness. Yes, in our reading we encounter him comfortably ensconced within his mother’s tent, basking in the early hours of love at first sight, but things go very wrong by the time we get to chapter 27! There, the family of the patriarch is divided as rivals, Isaac and Esau on one side of the breach, and Rebekah and Jacob on the other. Can such soap-opera-caliber mess be the fruit of God’s plan for Isaac’s family: brothers at war over inheritance, Mom and Dad playing favorites among their children, lies, trickery, and deceit? In the end, fear leads Isaac to give his beloved Rebekah over to another man, an act that mimicked his father’s failures. Despite the moment of love and contentment we see in our reading, it seems this patriarch is destined to continue in family tragedy and community chaos, and to die in sadness and regret.

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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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Whispers in the Dark

Jesus whispers in the dark. As this week’s text suggests, it’s his preferred mode of communication. These covert conversations deal with the elemental essence of things; in that sense they are life-giving, world-changing and, yes, quite dangerous. The whispers are dangerous because they uncover secrets that have been “hidden since the foundations of the world” (Matt. 13:35). These secrets are killing us, which is why Jesus says, “nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known”(v.26).

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Breathing With The City

Lenny leaned securely against the darkness of the night. His jet-black figure perfectly matched the evening’s moonless flesh. It was much too late for socializing but there he stood, on 6th Street, gazing toward Ferry Ave., as I made my way home after dropping guys off from midnight basketball. After three hours of ball with fit and speedy teens, my legs and back showed my age; I needed to get home quickly for rest and pain relievers…but there was Lenny, poised in the solitude of the dark empty street. My reputation could not survive the slight of passing without shouting out to him, but I feared being dragged into 6th & Ferry’s continuous drama. Risking a delay in my homeward journey, I lowered the window of the well-worn ministry van and yelled, “Yo Lenny! What up man?”

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The Great Commission(s)

The command to “go” and to “make” disciples has defined Christianity for centuries and has probably been one of the most formative parts of our Christian narrative. We are supposed to share our faith. We are supposed to lead people to Jesus. We are commanded to “go and make.” Period.

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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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The Crime Scene

Imagine the victim of a violent crime asks you to return to the scene of the crime-a crime that you were (in part) responsible for. Now imagine that this experience becomes the animating center of your life, which, despite your dread, fills you with great joy, and clothes you with a power that transforms you and the world. This is the miracle we celebrate in the final week of the Easter season as Jesus ascends into heaven.

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The Promise of Presence

Since my father passed away some years ago, I’ve had a fascination with the last words and days of a person’s life.

My father struggled with lung cancer–breathing was a chore. Every breath he took was measured, had meaning, and was intentional.

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The Queen of 8th Street

With a quick glance at Taina’s bushy hair, one knew they had entered a wholly unique experience. As other students sat awkwardly on secondhand office chairs, Taina perched herself high against the opposition, sitting like an 8th Street Queen, atop one of the secondhand computer desks. The African, the Arawak, and the Taino all met at the center of Taina’s cute, baby-like face. But one should be warned that her charm and her bushy ponytail belied her true nature as a warrior queen. Taina was determined to stay one step ahead of a system determined to vanquish all within her realm and to hold them under the grip of common ghetto oppression.

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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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Open Our Eyes to the Stranger

Here at Street Psalms, our most transformative experiences have happened while walking the streets with urban leaders (“on the road”) and fellowship around a meal (“breaking of the bread”). This week’s lectionary text highlights both the road and the table as gateways to Gospel sight.

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From Back to Front

The Christian story begins at the end, at the resurrection. It is by the light of the resurrection that we begin to see what’s really happening. Until then, we are shrouded in what T.S. Eliot calls “hints and guesses.” It’s only when we see through the eyes of the risen Christ that we begin to make sense of Jesus’ life and our own.

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Maundy Thursday

It’s Maundy Thursday. We are entering the passion of Jesus by way of the love Jesus shows us today: a love that frees us to fail, desert, betray and still be called friends.

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Ishmael, Isaac, and Palm Sunday

Between 1979 and 1981, twenty-nine young black people fell victim to a serial murderer in Atlanta, Georgia. I don’t know any of their names. I do have the name of JonBenét Ramsey indelibly sketched in my mind. Unlike the black children in Atlanta, JonBenét was a white American child of promise; thus, obsession with the drama surrounding her murder swept the nation in 1996. As news ratings soared, and reporters gained new levels of fame, those of us in ghettos across the nation pointed frustratingly to the contrast in the coverage of these two tragedies.

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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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The Judgement of Mercy

The story begins with the disciples speculating theologically on who is to blame for a certain man being born blind; they are convinced God is punishing him. Jesus refuses this interpretation and heals the blind man…an act that “divides” the unstable community; he robs them of their scapegoat. Blinded by their own dim judgment, and in an effort to preserve the status quo, the community “drives out” the healed man from their midst.

Jesus follows the exile to the margins where the two of them establish the possibility of a new community, one founded upon mercy, not the blind guide of sacrifice. This is the “judgment” for which Jesus came into the world-the judgment of mercy.

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Why are you talking to me?

This is what I thirst for-bold proclamation that Jesus’ interaction with those who are marginalized, including women, is on the front edge of God’s Kingdom work. Worshiping God in Spirit and in truth includes telling the whole truth about a God whose conversations begin in the margins. Jesus empowered a Samaritan Woman to do this “telling” of the Good News.

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The Transfiguration of a Skinny Geedy

Geedy was just one word in the neighborhood’s descriptive lexicon for crack cocaine addicts. Sometimes called fiends, geezers, crack heads,…

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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…

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Don’t Speak Until You’re Spoken To*

After the brightly lit meeting on the mountain with Moses and Elijah, where Jesus is transfigured, he orders the disciples…

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Becoming Perfectly Human

I use to think that the Sermon on the Mount was easy and beautiful. I use to think, “yeah Jesus,…

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A Happy Baptism

Denise stood nervously at the edge of the deep end of the Herman’s scandalous inground pool. I saw her out of the corner of my left eye, never imagining her plans.

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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…

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The Inauguration

We are told that the three most important words in real estate are: Location! Location! Location! I don’t think God…

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What About Church Out Here?

One Sunday afternoon, I was driving through the neighborhood with a car full of local kids that were a part…

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What’s in a Name?

I ask people, especially young people, about their names. I fill up with joy when Maisha tells me her name…

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The Waiting Rooms of Christmas – Public Disgrace

We began this year’s Advent series by exploring The Waiting Rooms of Christmas. We waited in the Apocalypse and peace…

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The Waiting Rooms of Christmas – Prison

This year, during Advent, the Gospel of Matthew invites us to sit in what we are calling The Waiting Rooms…

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