Identify with those who have nothing. Not in charity alone so as to be a helper of those without food, clothes, or who are imprisoned. Rather, identify with their humanity. I was hungry, thirsty, naked, a stranger, imprisoned, and sick. That is me! We often read Matthew 25:31 – 36 as a judgement of those…

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For those of us who were raised in the United States, we have a tendency to read the Parable of the Talents through the lens of meritocracy—your reward is the result of your ability and efforts. If you recall, the story is about a master who goes away for a long time and entrusts large…

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This week’s text, The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids, has often been used as a precautionary tale about who gets into heaven and who is left behind. It’s clear that Jesus tells the story in order to stir something up within his audience, his disciples. A couple thousand years later, I have to admit that…

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They do not practice what they teach.They are unwilling to lift a finger.They love the seat of honour. Jesus’ criticism of his community’s religious leaders is, as usual, raw, unrestrained and unfiltered. What stands out in this particular passage is his opening criticism: “They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on…

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Last week I walked along Tacoma Avenue, and found myself passing Simone’s yellow tent on the grass right next to the street. Now that the October rain is here, and leaves are being stripped from the maples, the grass is quickly turning into mud. I don’t see her around, but her shoes are drying on…

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My sister does this funny thing before she asks you for a favor. She says, “I’m going to ask you something, but I want you to know that it’s a trap.” I appreciate that. It’s a good heads-up. The people in this week’s scripture didn’t give Jesus that courtesy. Instead, they buttered him up with…

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I’m told there is no utility in my delusions 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. Upon spotting lush islands and…

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Recently, our church community gathered in the parking lot of the campus. Together, like many other congregations, we are reflecting deeply about what it means to enter the building again. There are some Christians in the U.S who argue that entering the church building is a countercultural message to the world’s persecution of their faith. …

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Whenever I read the parable of the landowner and the day laborers, my mind often drifts to the day labor center that used to be in my community at the corner of Delridge and Roxbury. I would drive by and see people, mostly men, waiting outside in the parking lot, rain or shine, for an…

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Cancer is something that scares us out of our minds, especially if our families have a history with it. In the last year I experienced a great deal of loss. My dad, brother and grandmother died from cancer. I walked with the three of them in different ways as their bodies corroded from the inside out.…

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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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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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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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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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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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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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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.

Read More

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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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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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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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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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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Life had been slowly bleeding out of her for 12 years, so in one final act of desperation she reaches out to touch her last remaining vestige of hope: the edge of the robe of a great teacher in whom she would now put all the faith she had left. Note here that Mark emphasizes the woman’s faith rather than Jesus’s power.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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On the eve of a battle in the year 312, Constantine had a vision. He saw a cross in the sky and he heard God say, “By this, conquer!”

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The city where I serve is no different than any other city in this country. A litany of the same issues show up on the city council agenda every two weeks: violence, unemployment, immigration, disparity in the education system, community safety, homelessness, policing, economic development and housing issues, just to name a few.

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Joyful thoughts come to mind whenever I see my niece Shaianne; none of them begin with the prefix “dis.” She uses a wheelchair, but I never think of her as disabled or disadvantaged.

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“Love God. Love People. Nothing Else Matters” became my mantra during my single, young-adult years; life seemed simple without the tether of expectation coming from academic degrees, job titles and the financial responsibilities of parenthood. Those words from the mantra of my youth are a paraphrase from Jesus in our Gospel text this week.

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Beautiful questions yield beautiful answers. They open space for the Spirit to work, and involve us in our own transformation. Ultimately, they free us to see in new ways and act creatively. On the other hand, small questions yield small answers. The Japanese word “mu” can be understood to mean “un-ask the question.” Mu is the appropriate response when the question is too small fortruth to emerge. Throughout the Gospels Jesus is, in effect, saying “mu.” He is helping us find larger more beautiful questions, and he uses questions of his own to get us there.

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I currently spend my days assisting staff at a nearby elementary school. Our team gets the call when students have serious issues with behavior or cooperation. This week, I was summoned to a normally tranquil kindergarten class, where a five-year-old was out of his seat, hiding in plain sight behind a giant smart board.

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“I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

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“I am suffering, it really hurts. It has been unbelievably painful for me to be confronted with the enormous division that exists in Nicaragua between those of us who profess Christ. Supposedly we make up 41% of the population but we have not been able to find any unity of response in the face of the deep woundedness of our nation. Those who are reacting in an active manner in the middle of this crisis are judging negatively those who have chosen to remain in their churches praying and fasting and those who have chosen to pray are attacking those who are practicing active resistance. And then there are others who have simply decided not to express themselves nor respond in any way whatsoever.”

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In the text we’re tackling this month, Jesus is accused of being “out of his mind”…and worse. The scribes accuse Jesus of being Beelzebul, a demon who casts out other demons. Jesus absorbs the deadly accusation and turns it into a teachable moment. That alone is worth a lifetime of reflection.

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I can imagine a mingling of terror, fire, and joy within Rev. Henry Highland Garnet as he hobbled to the podium on a chilly February Sunday in 1865. There was certainly a sense of terror during the last months of the Civil War and its steadily climbing death toll of 620,000 souls. Garnet’s fire came from his drive to abolish the institution of slavery and its horrors. Joy must have overtaken him, considering he had been born into slavery not far from the podium from where he spoke. And now he stood as the first African American to deliver a speech within the United States Capitol.

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The ancient Greeks had four ways of talking about love. The highest, most idealized form was “agape,” which is divine love. It is the gold standard of love. The other forms of love were assumed to be lower, human or natural loves: “Storge” is the love of a parent. “Eros” is sexual or erotic love. “Phileo” is the love of a friend.

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If learning to read the Word from below is challenging and liberating to our faith in God, learning how to read the world from below is challenging and liberating to our faith in humanity.

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On the eve of a battle in the year 312, Constantine had a vision. He saw a cross in the sky and he heard God say, “By this, conquer!”

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In this and similar passages, Jesus doesn’t weigh in on whether he falls in the strict or loose camp. As a rabbi he makes a far more profound move.

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