Recent events in Myanmar and the Philippines loom large in my mind as I write this reflection from Manila. Myanmar is in the midst of a military coup, while the Philippine Supreme Court deliberates on the constitutionality of an anti-terror law. The law gives state agents unbridled power to declare who is a terrorist without…

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Jesus took time for prayer. This isn’t the only place we see that. There are more than thirty references to Jesus praying. Jesus prayed. He prayed like he needed to pray, like it was essential for him.  Which is fascinating. Why would Jesus need to pray? If prayer is connection with God, and he is…

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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 being, shaking him to his core. I know this shaking in my own soul. Perhaps you do, too. As I read through the text, I find myself wondering what Jesus was teaching that triggered this man’s…

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‘It just doesn’t fit their story of the neighborhood, the story they’re all living in,”  She says with exasperation into the phone.  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. …

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I watched a movie the other night called “The Orator.” Set on the island of Samoa, in the present day, the film showcases Samoan traditions and values and lifts up universal themes of love, courage and resilience. The protagonist, Saili, is a simple villager, small in stature. He spends much of his time looking for the…

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I was baptized into an Evangelical church when I was seven years old and it was a terrible experience. My dad was the pastor of our church, so I was expected to be baptized. I went through the church’s discipleship program. I knew my creeds, prayers, and songs. And I had all the right answers…

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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“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 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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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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Martin Luther King Jr. was unsuitable for white teachers at my school, as he had not been thoroughly sanitized yet. And he was too theologically liberal to be mentioned in the pulpit of my church. The most I knew of him was that we shared a middle name.

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Perhaps the greatest of all the miracles is not that God loves us, but that God actually likes us.

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