Transfiguration of Power

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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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 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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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 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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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, 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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Almost Drowning

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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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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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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Waiting to Inhale

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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A New Year’s Rest-olution

John the Baptist appears in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins and we are told that the “whole” Judean countryside and “all” the people of Jerusalem went out to him. It seems John has become quite the successful, suburban mega-church pastor with a huge commuter congregation. But he is clear that his show is not the best in town.

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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 not to say a word about this until after he is raised from the dead. What an odd command. Why are they free to speak after the resurrection but not before? This week’s text calls…

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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, tell ’em what they are missing.” The Sermon on the Mount was clear and way better than the law. Plain language. No questions. When I learned that Jesus was actually the fulfillment of the law,…

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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 parishioners are homeless youth from a particular area of Guatemala City. Street Church is coordinated by a ministry called Sigo Vivo, founded by Pastor Rudy Hernandez, his wife Tatiana and their teenage daughters. Rudy pastored…

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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 got that memo when, as Eugene Peterson puts it, “The Word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood,” (John 1:14). When God goes looking for a home, God does not pick the high rent district…

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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 of our ministry. We pulled up to a four way stop. Now mind you, at the time this neighborhood was deemed an “at-risk” area and had all of the trappings that come with that label-gang…

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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 is Swahili for “life,” or when Cinqué explains how his parents named him for the freedom fighter who liberated fellow Africans during a rebellion aboard the slave ship Amistad. These names reflect parents that apply…

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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 Sofia was seven years old, she once unabashedly told me that I was the “best Papi in the world.” In a selfish effort to boost my fragile ego, I asked her why she thought this…

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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 on the end of the sermon when things turn ugly. In the first half of the sermon Jesus lifts up the expansive nature of God’s grace, which is why “all spoke well of him and…

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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. It ends horribly. His text is Isaiah 61:1-2a. His sermon is electric. It charges the crowd with a confusing current of wonderment and fierce anger. In the end, they drive him out of town to…

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Baptismal Blessing

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

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The Greatest Loser

The crucified ones of this world are helping us re-narrate the Law and the words of the Prophets to reclaim a Gospel of grace, mercy, and peace in a violent world.

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The Enemy of Perfection

It’s about God wanting us to be fully human, and God knows that our enemies hold the key to our humanity.

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A Solitary Light

Jesus reminds us that we are salt and light. These are twin gifts of our deepest vocation – to be human.

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