Forgive Them

By the light of being forgiven, we come to see what we are doing. The more we undergo forgiveness, the more we can tell ourselves the truth about the endless stream of scapegoats we produce.

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Some Good News

Perhaps this is what we are to testify to … the third way Jesus himself incarnated. At the cross, God absorbed into God’s self, in the body of Christ, all violence. God absorbed it, and did not return it. God suffered violence for all time and for all situations.

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Chewy Words

Just as the Sadducees in today’s Gospel refused to accept the realities of the resurrection, systems of privilege can be averse to the realities of those experiencing poverty, even while offering lofty banter on their behalf.

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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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Who is More Right?

To not judge ourselves in comparison to others is extremely difficult. Sometimes, the only way we know we are “right” is when we judge and compare ourselves against others; our opinions, our strongly held views, our values. The binaries of “right-wrong”, “good-evil”, “us-them”, etc. define who we are.

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The Joy of All Desiring

We don’t know the specifics of her case, though I like to imagine her as the Rosa Parks of her community. What we know for sure is that she ultimately wears out the unjust judge with her demands. He grants her request, if only to get some rest. Unfortunately, this describes the experience of prayer for most of us. We feel like we have to work as hard the widow to get through to God.

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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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Laboring in the Soil

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 Divide

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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Burn the Ledger

Harry stopped me. He went out to his car and came back with a .357 Magnum. He laid it on the table, carefully covered his hands with his sleeves, emptied the chamber and handed me the gun. “It’s a gift,” he said. “I want you to have it.” He added with a warm smile. “It looks like you could use a little help around here.”

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Join the Party

I’ve been around a few “lost” people in my life over the course of my ministry. How many times have I heard (and said), “Man, dude is lost.” And in that statement, I feel sad and hopeless, like I have come to my limits in what I am able to do or offer. It requires too much sometimes, going after the lost.

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And a Kid Shall Lead Them

He was among several promising students whose families fled violence and economic crisis in their homelands, only to find a different brand of violence and economic crisis in Camden, New Jersey, USA. For these students, survival involves a series of practices, routines, and procedures only understood by those who have indeed counted the cost of the perilous cavalcade north.

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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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Giving up on Control

In this week’s text, the Rich Fool thinks he can control and manage his life into a state of blissful completion. His land has been productive, and he has more than he knows what to do with. All he needs is a strategy, and he’ll have it made. “I know! I’ll just build bigger barns! Then I can relax and I’ll be happy.”

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The Vulnerability of Asking

We live in a fast food, speedy lube, online banking society. Reading today’s passage, it’s hard for many of us to see prayer outside of this cultural lens. “Ask and it will be given” seems like a loaded statement, filled with pie in the sky, cake on your plate, North American theology.

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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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Hostility and Hospitality

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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Being Sent, Being Received

All of these refugees are our sisters and brothers, daughters and sons of our loving God just like we are. They, too, are a part of the Body of Christ. Most of them, if not all, have probably been baptized, and by virtue of their baptism, they are sent – sometimes by direction, other times by desperation.

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Let the Dead Bury their Dead

True confession, the relationship with my brother was broken. It was a love and hate relationship that hurt both of us deeply. We wounded each other in ways that we may never realize. His sickness and death, however, just brought all of the wounds to the surface.

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The Cost of Liberation

We see people in our cities struggling everyday with their own demons: mental health, substance abuse, homelessness and more. We know, however, that their healing and restoration will require some sort of sacrifice on the part of the community and of the individual.

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The Right Word at the Right time

Jesus says, “I still have many things to say to you but you cannot bear them now.” That’s odd to me. Up to this point, Jesus has already unloaded many things on to the disciples – a lot of important things. In fact, we know from 15:15, that Jesus had made everything known to them that the Father had made known to Him.

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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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May they be One

Unity does not mean uniformity, but to remain in love, despite all tensions and all conflicts. It’s a love that creates a deep unity, like that which exists between Jesus and the Father. The unity in love revealed in the Trinity becomes the standard for our own relationships.

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A Different Kind of Peace

At the meeting Ben asked the leaders if they still believed in the “tactic” of nonviolence. Before Ben could finish the question, Minnijean Brown interrupted energetically. She said to Ben, “Did you say tactic? If you think we used non-violence as a tactic, then you don’t understand our movement.

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Two Letters

How are we to live our everyday lives in light of the Risen one? What difference does it make? What changes? What is new? Two letters. That’s it. In all the words that Jesus spoke to his disciples, its my favorite. It’s a small word, but it is everything

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“Member-ing”

Membering one’s self back to the Body is needed in order to experience the fullness of what it means to function in the same manner that God intended for the Church. When done well, membering helps to foster the kind of culture or environment in which belonging can take place.

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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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Peace be with you

As if moved by this intuition, Thomas insists on a direct encounter with the risen Christ – one that will transform his own experience of pain. It’s not enough for Thomas to simply see the risen Christ. He must touch the wounds.

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Easter

The Lords says: “I will create… I will rejoice… I will take delight… I will answer… I will hear.” There is no question who is making things happen here. Only God can make these kinds of declarations.

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Holy Saturday

Is it just me or does Saturday seem like a low point in Holy Week? I find myself wondering why Holy Saturday is even in the story. Was it really necessary to wait for the Resurrection?

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Good Friday

It’s Good Friday. Jesus is on the cross. In the synoptic Gospels, the witnesses stand at a distance. But in today’s text, I can’t help but notice the women “standing near” the foot of the cross.

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Maundy Thursday

It’s Maundy Thursday, and today we read one of my favorite scenes in the Bible. It’s just hours before Jesus is betrayed, and I think it’s worth taking note of how he decides to spend this last evening with his disciples. He washes them, he feeds them, he gives them a new command: “Love one another.”

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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…

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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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Transforming Oikos

I have seen first-hand how eating together creates a community. We Filipinos like to eat together. Common meals are easily transformed into festive celebrations. In the Philippines,  a church that eats together is a vivid image of the church truly becoming a community of faith.

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Repent or Parish?

Imagine that you are the innocent victim of violence. Now imagine a preacher telling you that you must repent, or you will perish. Just exactly what is the victim of violence and oppression supposed to repent of? And at whose hands will we perish? God’s?

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The Fox and the Hen

This image conveys a different notion of sacrifice for me than the cross. Jesus on the cross, hanging alone, has always felt distant for me. I’m an “observer” to this act of love.When I consider the metaphor Jesus offers here, of himself as a mother hen, my imagination about God is peaked in new ways.

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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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The Womb of Mercy

My usually precise colleague aimlessly fiddled with his food, pondering the proper tone with which to broach a delicate matter. He was looking for words to express his concerns related to me openly talking about my poverty during times when I preached and taught. He’d rather me use other language than “I’m poor.”

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A Well Kept Secret

My usually precise colleague aimlessly fiddled with his food, pondering the proper tone with which to broach a delicate matter. He was looking for words to express his concerns related to me openly talking about my poverty during times when I preached and taught. He’d rather me use other language than “I’m poor.”

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Can Girls Fish?

All the images I saw on the walls of my Sunday school classrooms were pictures of white children and a white Jesus who looked like a surfer. And then there were stories like today’s Gospel in which boys were the lucky ones. They were on the shore that day to receive the amazing invitation from Jesus to follow him.

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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 Spirit of the Lord is Upon Me

Yes, the whole world is a burning bush ablaze with God’s glory, if we can only see it, calling us to join the wildly liberating work of God among the poor, the captives, the blind and the oppressed. If this isn’t cause for celebration, it’s probably because we don’t easily identify ourselves as poor, captive, blind or oppressed.

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Baptized into One Body

“Will you renounce evil in all of its forms?” I’ve often wondered if I should ask those being baptized to list all the specific ways evil shows up in their lives, and how they plan to carry out their “renouncing.” (I don’t know if I’d actually use the word renounce…but I digress…).

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Baptism

Baptism is an initiation into our most sacred vocation—to become fully human and know ourselves loved by God. No moral system, no matter how good, can produce this vocation. We become human, not through morality, but by receiving and giving mercy.

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The Magi and the Baptism

This week we celebrate Epiphany, and next week the baptism of Jesus. What do these events say to our souls? How is God’s love transforming us as we meditate on these events?

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Jesus Loses his Family for his Father’s House

I have always thought this to be an awkward Gospel story. Mary and Joseph lose their child and don’t realize it for a whole day! My sister has seven kids and forgot one at the mall once. But, Mary and Joseph only have one child—and they lost him? Talk about free-range parenting!

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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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The Waiting Rooms of Christmas: The Wilderness II

Advent gives us an excuse to consider again the nature of a God who comes to be with and in a people. If the Incarnation is anything, it is the God-in-flesh ONE who turns things upside down and inside out, simultaneously scandalizing and comforting us. This is the God we are waiting for and the God we will welcome—anew.

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The Waiting Rooms of Christmas: The Wilderness

A smartly dressed, well-heeled crowd pressed their way through a cold December evening in 1851, seeking to find comfortable seats within the warm confines of New York’s Metropolitan Hall. The hype for this event was incredible. It would become part of an annual phenomenon, featuring big and plenteous voices, gathered to sing out the scriptures, as arranged by George Frideric Handel in his oratorio, “The Messiah.”

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The Waiting Rooms of Christmas: Apocalypse and Holy Defiance

Welcome to the first week of Advent. If you are new to the liturgical calendar, Advent is the four Sundays leading up to Christmas and it marks the beginning of the liturgical year.

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The Word in the Temple

We’ve had a week to digest the Nativity Feast. The magic of Christmas finds its way into even the most…

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The Word Revealed

  Joy is the purest form of gratitude, and gratitude is the most genuine gift we can give to God….

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The Word at Home

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 Way of the Cross?

“Build that wall! Build that wall” “Go back to where you came from.” “Pack your bags! Pack your bags!” On…

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Stone by Stone

This week’s text is difficult. It is the reminder that peacemaking is not for the faint of heart. The text…

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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…

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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…

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Superhero Spandex

Superhero movies are all the rage recently. I’m sure there are a variety of reasons why…such as an affinity for…

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Faith from Below

This is a familiar parable Jesus uses to teach us about the nature of prayer. The widow shows us what…

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Becoming Human

This week’s text is a difficult one. The disciples want Jesus to increase their faith, which is the very thing…

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Not Even Abraham

This week’s text is the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man lives a life of plenty,…

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The Gospel Hustle

In my neighborhood, this would be called a hustle. I see it every day. This parable sounds like a contemporary…

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The Math of Mercy

Fifteen years ago this Sunday (9/11) something awful happened, and I do mean aw-full. Most of us were filled with…

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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…

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The Mystery of Mercy

We can manage moral purity from the “other side” of the road, but mercy “comes near” and gets involved in the mess of life.

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First Say Peace

“First say, Peace to this house.”

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Family Matters

In this week’s text Jesus turns toward Jerusalem where he will confront the brutal reality of sin head on. On…

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Seized By Fear

The man in the tombs we see in this passage is tormented by demons that will not go away. They…

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A Gospel Turning

The Gospel is alive and well, but there is an exodus from the Church in North America. My hunch is…

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Tita felt led to lead weekly prayer walks

Clash of Crowds

A collision at the city gate!! A crowd of death is leaving the city while a crowd of life is…

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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,…

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Love in Motion

This week we celebrate the Trinity. Cynthia Bourgeault describes the Trinity as “love in motion.” Love in motion is the…

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Pentecost Unity

This week we celebrate Pentecost, which some call the birthday of the church. The Spirit is “poured out” on all…

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Unity Without Enemies?

My favorite scientific experiment is the one conducted by Mark Twain. He placed a cat and a dog in a…

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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…

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Seeing the New Jerusalem

The poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, said, “That only which we have within, can we see without.” If we see hope,…

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Dis-appointment?

Have you recently been disappointed by someone, or have you been the source of their disappointment? In a week’s time,…

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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…

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Resurrection Sunday

Christ is risen! This week we have tried to recover some of the shock of Holy Week and the truly…

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Holy Saturday

Today the world falls silent. The psalmist says there is no speech and there are no words. And yet in…

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Good Friday

In the Beginning, on the sixth day, on the very first Friday, God created humanity and called us “very good.”…

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Maundy Thursday

The result of these next four days ultimately becomes the hope of the world. But today, just today, I want…

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The Gift of Shattered Expectations

Laying down cloaks was an act of homage for royalty. By riding into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey,…

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Inventing Scapegoats

We are approaching the Fifth Sunday of Lent. Things are heating up. This week Mary anoints Jesus with costly perfume….

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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…

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Towers and Trees

“God hates me!” wailed Reba. Her outburst was a result of losing her husband of 40 years. Just days before…

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A “Hens and Chicks” Spirituality

Jerusalem was in trouble, and she didn’t even know it. Jesus’ prophetic words here in chapter 13 are dripping with…

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Symbolic Universe

Friend and mentor, Dave Hillis, president of Leadership Foundations, tells the story from his days as a camp counselor when…

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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…

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The Mystery of Incarnation

Last week we heard Jesus’ first sermon. This week’s lectionary text keeps us in the same passage, but it focuses…

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Anointed for What?

Last week we witnessed Jesus’ first miracle (water becomes wine). It ends well. This week we hear Jesus’ first sermon….

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Water to Wine: Saving the Best for Last

Water to Wine: Saving the Best for Last

It is no mistake that Jesus chooses the vessels of ceremonial cleansing to become the containers of liquid delight.

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