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But here, I would like to suggest that Jesus isn’t just talking about people with money. He’s talking about the systems of domination, exploitation, and violence that keep money in the hands of the powerful and out of the "grabby" hands of the perpetually unsatisfied poor—because they’re always complaining about how they don’t have enough to eat or…
 
Because they bear part of God’s heart with them, who do we care about so much that we’re willing to risk the wrath of the folks in charge just to welcome them, to have a meal with them, to call them our family? We need to be acutely aware of the implications of this question in a world in which some of our fellow travelers have to point out to the …
 
Part of the reason Jesus puts out this disclaimer about counting the cost is that too often people think they what they want from faith is ease-of-use, friction-free, pre-packaged, no muss—no fuss, no ironing necessary. But Jesus knows that a few hardy souls aren’t in the market for easy; they want interesting. The kind of people Jesus is appealing…
 
Jesus isn’t inviting us to forget about this world and concentrate on the next. He’s inviting us to begin living as if this new realm of God’s hospitality were already present, fully realized right here, right now. And the thing of it is, when we begin to practice this sort of countercultural hospitality, we soon come to learn that we were never in…
 
So the question this story raises for us is, where are we working to bring tear down the barriers put in place by the powerful (intentional or not) that serve to keep people isolated, unseen, forgotten, but not yet gone? Who are the bent-over people whose faces we lift to finally look in their eyes? Will we be the people God depends on to see the i…
 
The thing is, though, you can’t see them from far off. You have to get right up next to people in order to see them, I mean really see them. And by the grace of God and the mystery of Christ, we’ve been brought near enough, according to Paul, to see them no longer as enemies, or aliens, or foreigners, or strangers, but as human beings, as the child…
 
But Jesus says, “God has another world in mind, one in which there’s enough for everybody, and nobody gets forgotten. Even the sparrows and the hairs on your head have value. And here’s the thing, if the ruling authorities come after you for holding out for God’s new world rather than tucking your tail between your legs and settling for the one the…
 
How do we ensure a world that refuses to allow the powerful to take advantage of the powerless? We need to help make a culture in which people in power are no longer more afraid of being ashamed of being racist, misogynist, homophobic, ableist, or transphobic than being called racist, misogynist, homophobic, ableist, or transphobic. Subscribe to us…
 
Turns out, people in power aren’t casually waiting for someone to show up and tell them that not only are they doing it wrong, they’re the source of injustice in the world. Nobody wants to hear that—especially those folks who’ve been told their whole lives what precious flowers they are, that the world is lucky to have them. The thing is, it’s not …
 
You get a small group of people willing to live as if everyone is a neighbor, as if there’s plenty enough to go around, as if the maladies that make us ill unto despair are capable of being healed—and all of a sudden, demons bow down and Satan falls from the sky like a flash of lightning. And the thing of it is, we’re not talking about the Avengers…
 
We who follow Jesus follow him to Jerusalem. We follow him not just so that we can sleep better at night but so that those who go to sleep at night terrified of what this world holds for them will finally find some peace, a chance to rest from the relentless notion in our culture that their lives have no value. Subscribe to us on iTunes! Sermon tex…
 
In a world willing to pray to any god who promises to keep us safe from people who don’t look like us, in a world where the music of our worship sounds like the ticking of a time clock, or the growl of an SUV, in a world in which we tithe our time and money to gods defined by national boundaries or party affiliations or racial designations, we have…
 
The power of holy disruption is present when followers of Jesus stand together to offer witness to the truth. The power of the Spirit is less to be found in the heroic individual than in the community knit together by the power of a common witness on behalf of those whom Jesus loves. Subscribe to us on iTunes! Sermon text: web | doc…
 
The unlikeliest faces, out minding their own business, when the Holy Spirit shows up and things get interesting: God chases after the untouchables, women become central players in the gospel game, demons flee, prisoners are set free, and the powerful find humility. And that’s the thing about the reign of God: it’s always in the midst of such implau…
 
Where is God moving in the community of faith today, threatening old patterns of belief? What sorts of people is God busy inviting into our fellowship who make us uncomfortable? The implications are troubling. But we can take comfort in the fact that it’s not our question. It’s God’s question, and like the good book says, “Who am I that I should hi…
 
And that’s the thing: The world, as chaotic and torn as it is right now, needs a little resurrection—needs people like you and me to get up and bring new life to folks who feel like everybody else has given up on them. LGBTQ kids are dying, waiting for someone to care about them. Traumatized refugees are languishing in camps, waiting for someone to…
 
Whether or not Jesus was a political radical in the way we think of political radicals is irrelevant; the Romans believed he was a political revolutionary. And they executed him like one. And that’s the danger of not keeping your mouth shut about Jesus. Start talking about protecting the poor and the powerless, and people get twitchy. Subscribe to …
 
True freedom, as we find it in Jesus, can never be about ever more elaborate ways to justify selfishness—to say that we have responsibility only for ourselves and those we love. True freedom for those who follow Jesus is being given the opportunity, no matter how much it costs, to love those whom Jesus loves. But the thing is, we have to leave the …
 
Salving our consciences by looking away betrays Jesus and the world God is busy creating. Shuffling the houseless off to someplace where the people can’t see them may be good for tourism, but it fails our community and vocation as Jesus-followers by making some of our neighbors expendable. Subscribe to us on iTunes! Sermon text: web | doc…
 
In other words, unlike the kinds of rulers people are used to, who always seem to be using their power for themselves, Jesus’ use of power is always focused on the most exposed and exploited among us. Jesus’ use of power builds up instead of dividing and tearing down. Heals people rather than afflict them. Sets them free instead of subjugating them…
 
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons In fact, the story’s not about us at all. We find out that if the father in this story is a stand-in for God, God’s not keeping score the way everybody else keeps score. In a culture where shame lessened everyone’s respect for you, God demonstrated God’s willingness to dive face-first into the slop to show us how muc…
 
In the old windswept world, people like Vladimir Putin invade the homes of others for their own gain. In the new world, refugees are the very people best situated to understand how much returning home is worth. In the old desolate world, our worth is determined by the size of our bank accounts and the colleges we can get our children into. In the n…
 
Consequently, The Great Man Theory of History should have been recast as The Great White Man Theory of History. But since everybody already took for granted that the only history worth telling would have white men as the central characters, being explicit about it was not only unnecessary, it was redundant. So, when white people complain during Feb…
 
The wonderful thing about the popular version of Christianity is that it can be done with minimal inconvenience to one’s otherwise comfortable lifestyle. Much of it can be accomplished without ever making your back sore or getting your hands dirty. The trouble is ... that doesn’t sound like the Jesus of the Gospels at all. Jesus, it turns out, is i…
 
Unfortunately, what too many people mean by “freedom” is freedom from responsibility for anybody but myself and those I love. Freedom on this reading means something like, “You can’t tell me what to do. I can do whatever I want. Why? Because this is a free country.” But, I mean, come on. That’s how children think, isn’t it? Freedom read this way am…
 
You get to choose how you’ll view the world, to whom and what kind of attention you’ll give. Nobody is the boss of how you choose to act but you. No one can tell you what to do about the kind of love you offer to others. The whole “you’re-not-the-boss-of-me” thing is always about power. But here’s the thing, you don’t have to give yours away. Subsc…
 
Jesus says, "I’m talking about a cosmic rebalancing of the scales, where those who’ve had to hide who they are and whom they love will be welcomed and celebrated, where parents will no longer have to live in fear of their children being stopped by the police—just because they happen to have skin with a different color or worship in another way, whe…
 
No less for us, the promise of plenty in the new world God is creating isn’t available to us after we’ve checked out of the current world and its uncertainty and taken up residence in another more stable home. The promise of enough lives in the very heart of the chaos we find ourselves in right now. Jesus’ followers aren’t looking for deliverance o…
 
Jesus goes home and kicks a hornet’s nest of hospitality and inclusion to all—one that won’t finally settle down until the powers and principalities, the folks at the top, finally get their way and push him over the cliff on Good Friday. Apparently, in the reign of God that Jesus announces, that’s what love requires. Subscribe to us on iTunes! Serm…
 
We’re called not just to point toward justice and peace but to be people who embody justice and peace. We’re not just given the task of telling people about God’s grace and compassion; we’re given the responsibility of extending God’s grace and compassion to our neighbors—even the ones (perhaps especially the ones) with whom we wouldn’t be caught d…
 
In other words, what endears Mary to God, at least according to Luke, has more to do with her poverty than with her probity. She probably is a really great person on the inside, but that's apparently not what draws God's attention. God is moved by the fact that Mary's the perfect candidate for the kind of person on behalf of whom Jesus is being bor…
 
How do you think the poor, the outsiders, the depressed, the bereaved, and those who’ve felt abandoned by a system that values its own interests above all else would hear John the Baptist telling the followers of God to think first not about themselves, not about their pocketbooks, not about their profit margins and brokerage accounts, not about th…
 
If it feels like we already live in the lush lap of paradise, then maybe we aren’t properly situated to entertain the voice of liberation. But if we’re in a hard land where things are fractured and flimsy, if we roam through forsaken country where the streams have dried up and the flowers have wilted in the blazing heat, if we find ourselves in a r…
 
Apocalyptic is dismissed with a patronizing wave by the well-situated as fine for rubes and dullards. Sophisticated people, however, don’t pay much attention to the end-of-the-world talk. But, I would like to suggest to you that the tendency to shrug off apocalypticism is a sign that we’ve grown too used to the way things are—which is to say, too u…
 
It’s possible to live in fear, and to fail to live lives recognizable to Jesus—the one who embraced his fear, who—when presented with the opportunity to let love show the way—was never shy about walking down the dark alleys where fear lives and appears to make all the rules. Subscribe to us on iTunes! Sermon text: web | doc…
 
Our passage this morning about the new Jerusalem doesn’t say that God’s home is among mortals … except for, you know, the Muslims, or the atheists, or the Republicans (or Democrats, depending on your politics). God doesn’t say, 'This place would be just perfect if we could get rid of the people who live on the other side of town, if we could just c…
 
So when Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” I’m pretty sure I know how to respond. “This or that,” I think, is what will enable me better to follow Jesus “on the way.” A little tuck here, a pinch off there, and I’ll be good as new. I don’t need much. Already in pretty good shape. But what if Jesus’ vision of what I need is different? W…
 
What the disciples demonstrate they don’t understand about Jesus’ mission has less to do with whether or not it will come true, but what it might mean if it does come true. What do I mean? Simply this: the disciples ask to have important positions alongside the new messiah, to be included in all the grand happenings after Jesus comes into his glory…
 
In the young man’s search to inherit eternal life, Jesus shows him that he needs the poor just as much as they need him. So, when the young man walks away dejected, it’s not only because he can’t bear to part with his stuff. Part of what drives him away is the thought of letting go of a system in which he has few needs, in favor of a system in whic…
 
Jesus argues that God set down the law as a way of establishing a community whose primary purpose is to protect those who are often too defenseless to stand against the way the world is ordered. In other words, Jesus offers a vision of God’s reign that turns the taken-for-grantedness of those who are privileged on its head, and stands beside those …
 
According to James, we’re not called to believe the right things, say the right things, or have the right bumper stickers on our cars. According to James, our job is live like Jesus asked us to live. Simple. Do the things Jesus did and people will see Jesus standing right in front of them. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless, bind…
 
Jesus isn’t talking about some subjective experience, some inconvenience, like being near-sighted or having an uncle whose an overbearing loudmouth nobody wants to sit next to at Thanksgiving dinner. The cross is something we decide to bear, something we take up, not some physical infirmity, our aches and pains. This is a voluntary thing, not somet…
 
I believe this Syrophoenician woman challenges us to encounter newness and change not as a threat, but as God trying to break in among us and stretch our understanding of how big this welcome is we’re supposed to be giving, how expansive is the vision of just who God wants to offer hospitality to. So, here’s what I think: We ought to be asking ours…
 
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