She was a high-school senior. She told me she wasn’t feeling well and asked if I could give her a ride to the hospital. As we pulled up to the front entrance, I started to get out of the car, but she asked me to wait. Sometime later, she emerged from the hospital and climbed…

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A prison cell may be the last place we look for light; they are dim by design. But in my country, the Philippines, there is a flicker of light emanating from behind the bars we so often associate with darkness. The story of Reina Mae Nasino, a 23-year old detained social activist, has awakened a…

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Wilderness.  Uncultivated. Uninhabited. Inhospitable. Neglected. Abandoned. Disfavored. Dangerous. These words are commonly used to describe places of “wilderness.” And yet, as I write, my eye keeps catching the edge of a vast wilderness, carved out by the sprawl of our city. Snow-capped purple mountains with jagged peaks pierce the skyline. Shimmering, frigid, silty ocean water…

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We don’t listen to Christmas music in my house until after Thanksgiving. On Black Friday morning the prohibition is lifted and Over the Rhine’s “Darling (Christmas is Coming)” is among the first songs that pierce the silence each year. However, it’s not a Christmas record that is providing the soundtrack to the opening days of…

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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First it was an alarm, next came water and last week it was light. God uses each of these elements to wake us up. As we approach the eve of God’s arrival, are we still awake? Are we alert? Will we recognize the advent of our God?

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I tried to sleep in a few weeks ago but failed to inform my children of this plan. My daughter came into the room and flipped the light on. “Ahhhh!” Pain shot beneath my eyelids…

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We would have called it the boonies or the sticks or perhaps BFE. Mark refers to it simply as the wilderness. Whatever the name, it was a place you didn’t so much go to as you went through.

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I hate to wake up. Yes, it beats the alternative, but it is so painful. The mattress, pillow, sheets and comforter offer such warm friendship while the cold, hard, dusty floor promises only pain.

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We began this year’s Advent series by exploring The Waiting Rooms of Christmas. We waited in the Apocalypse and peace found us. We waited in the Wilderness and a garden of grace grew in our midst. We waited in Prison and we discovered ourselves set free. Finally, we wait with Mary in the shameful spotlight…

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This year, during Advent, the Gospel of Matthew invites us to sit in what we are calling The Waiting Rooms of Christmas. In the first week of Advent we were waiting in the apocalypse. In the second week we joined John the Baptist in the wilderness. Here, in the third week, we find ourselves waiting…

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This year during Advent the Gospel of Matthew invites us to sit in, what we are calling, The Waiting Rooms of Christmas: Apocalypse, Wilderness, Prison and Public Disgrace. These strange and frightening waiting rooms mirror the all too familiar experience of vulnerable urban communities throughout our network, and are timely reminders of the challenges facing…

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  40“Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left…41Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” Matthew 24:36-44   It’s the first week of Advent, the beginning of a new liturgical year. It’s the season of longing, expectation and preparation…

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