Out of Our Poverty

Painting of the Story of the Widow's Mite

But the witness of Mark’s gospel is clear: self-sacrifice, commitment, and perhaps even suffering are part of discipleship. They are what it means to be a Christian—to follow in the footsteps of the one who sacrificed everything for the sake of God’s kingdom. This is not a faith of privilege or benefit; it’s not a faith of status and honor. After all, in its early days, it was a faith popular with slaves and second-class citizens, like women.

Seeing

Jesus heals Bartimaeus

This is how faith is meant to work. Faith is like a light we shine on the world. And the light we shine helps us to see the world not as it is, perhaps, but as God intends it to be. The light of faith helps us to see a broken world and imagine it whole. It helps us to see a world of injustice and imagine it just. The light of faith helps us to see a carpenter from Nazareth and know him to be our hope and salvation.

What Must I Do?

Jesus and the man with many possessions

We can comfortably rely on that grace and that empowers us to live lives that transform the world. When we follow in the path of discipleship, our work becomes the witness not the requirement. It becomes the fruit of salvation not the necessary step for it. And it becomes the visible sign of God’s love and grace in the midst of a broken and hurting world.

Those Against Us and For Us

Jesus and the Canaanite Woman

The usual sentiment is “Whoever isn’t for us is against us” which makes enemies of all those who don’t profess fealty or alliance. In this scheme, someone who would consider themselves neutral are nevertheless enemies. But Jesus’ statement does the opposite: it declares that whoever isn’t against us is for us, making friends of all those who do not profess enmity. In this scheme, those who are neutral are friends.

A Mind on Human Things

Jesus and the Rich Young Ruler

I. BEGINNING One of the curious and unintended victims of the current pandemic is my Netflix DVD queue. See, I am one of those dinosaurs who still enjoys getting a DVD of a movie through the mail. But the ability to stream, well, everything, has meant that I have often had these DVDs sitting on the…

Blue Christmas: A Space for Lament

And so I want to say this, because we don't hear it often enough: if you are not feeling happy, if you are mourning, if you are grieving, if you're feeling sorrowful, you are no further from God than when you are celebrating and happy. In fact, in my theology, you're probably a little closer to where God is, to that Christ who hangs on the cross and cries out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Bearing God

Icon of Mary, the Theotokos, the God Bearer for sermon Bearing God

Perhaps our real discomfort with Mary should be if it should turn out that she was in fact the only one bearing Christ into the world. For she does not seek to bear God into the world alone. Mary is an exemplar, to be sure, and exemplars are meant to be imitated.

To Testify to the Light

Three out of four Advent candles are lit

What that means is that each of us—every one of us—can be that one “anointed to proclaim.” Every one of us is called to testify to the light. To proclaim the brightness that is breaking into the world. We can testify to the light by describing the vision that we see: a vision of justice, peace, love, and reconciliation.

The City of God

The new Jerusalem descends from heaven

St. Augustine taught that the citizens of the City of God would still use the things of the world as they pertain to things below, but do not make this earthly life their ultimate end. If we are to be citizens of the City of God, we engage with the political realm, but we do not confuse the things of this world—even our cherished political institutions or our beloved homeland—with the City of God.

Out of the Great Ordeal

It is not enough to say that their sufferings are over, when the evils and injustices that caused their deaths are still with us. These are those who have gone through the Great Ordeal; it is not our place to ignore that ordeal or to fail to prevent it from happening to others.

A Reformation Unfinished

It's easy to celebrate the Reformation as an event in the past—something we commemorate every year by bringing out all the Bach settings of our favorite Lutheran hymns. But in every generation, the church is in need of reform, in danger of sliding once again into temptation of the lure of power.