In Matthew 1, Miriam and Joseph seem to have rejoiced, ruptured, and reconciled after the news that Jesus was on the way. The next chapter shows how others began to respond to Jesus showing up. We tend to think we would respond like the heroes of the story. Maybe that’s true, but I don’t think […]Read More Problems of Power
After beginning with a foundation of making sure people know that Jesus’s story is not supposed to be told in isolation, that continues what God was doing through Abraham, and David, and the whole people of Israel across the centuries, it adds the layers of Jubilee and that Jesus was not the end of the […]Read More The womb of revolution
During the last year and a half of pandemic life, I found a new hobby. I started translating the Bible. I began intending to paraphrase it to make it accessible to my kids, to address some issues with traditional word choice for certain ideas, like ‘faith,’ that serve to distract from the intended meaning rather […]Read More Jesus, Jubilee, and Joy
I’m awkward. If you know me, you know I’m awkward. If you don’t know me, well, now you know.
I think most people have some awkwardness, but I feel more awkward than most. When I say that, you probably want to respond. Typically, we either want to avoid people who are awkward or we are drawn to alleviate the discomfort in some way.
Read More The Loneliness of Belonging
I recently received the best response ever, and it took some reflection afterward to fully appreciate how perfect of a response it was.
As much as my natural instinct is to avoid conflict at all costs, there are times when I’m grateful for it. Maybe more accurate would be that I am grateful for the relationships that make conflict necessary.
Yep. Conflict is necessary, though not all conflict fits that description. When conflict happens as a result of attempting to use force to determine who wins and who loses, that’s completely unnecessary—and counterproductive—conflict. That’s true in marriages, workplaces, churches, countries.
Conflict that erupts because we are different and we care enough to be invested in each other’s lives? That’s the sticky, clumsy, messy nature of genuine connection. And it’s scary as hell. And it’s heart-wrenching when it breaches containment and spreads beyond what we know how to heal.Read More Connection in Conflict
As I’ve continued my prayer and meditation each day, greeting the vision of prayer I meet each day at the end of my customary prayers, I’ve continued to envision new images. Putting them into words borders on impossible, and even if I could, all meaning would be lost to the hearer. It would be trying to communicate raw experience through coded noises, nothing more.
I began to wonder about poetry. I’ve thought before how wisdom literature in the Bible and poetry in general are attempts to communicate between the wordless part of the author with the wordless part of the hearer, mysteriously using words as the medium. I’ve also thought before about how I don’t have a great relationship with poetry. I try to make my prose engage with the artist in me, but I’ve always been intimidated by poetry.
At last I found a task that would accept no other way, so I attempted to write about today’s meditation, and the writing itself was like praying.Read More Everywhere Down
Depression is largely the experience of losing hope. It doesn’t mean we don’t think hope is real or that hope isn’t worth having. But it’s like I set it down and then accidentally bumped it off. It fell on the ground and rolled out of sight, and I don’t know where to look for it. Sometimes, I have the time to search methodically. Other times I need it urgently and not having it is painful.Read More Reaching for Hope
When I think about fear and shame and their connections with the compulsion to self-protection and harming ourselves and each other (perhaps a word to summarize that might be ‘sin’), in some ways it softens me. It helps me have compassion even on those who are harming others. In my best moments, it helps me have compassion even on those who are harming me.
At the same time, it reinforces the overwhelming sense of helplessness and hopelessness that anything in life can actually be healed or improved. I might be able to fix something in my own life, but can life for all people everywhere ever get better? It seems unlikely.Read More What Hope?
I recently taught on the dangers and harms of judging others, speaking against each other, and elevating ourselves above other people based on James 4:11-17 at a worship gathering of my church community. As I read through that passage, and then through the whole book of James, another story came to mind. A story most of us have heard and believe we know well—so well we don’t often pay close attention to anything new in it.
I’ve been writing on that story here in bits and pieces, about Yahweh and Eve and Adam and Abel and Cain and about fear and shame and purpose and the patterns set and carried out through history. But I’ve been talking about the story instead of telling it. I told the story at that worship gathering, and now I’m sharing it here.Read More In God’s Likeness
I’ve taken something of a break for the last couple months from writing. I’ve had my reasons, my challenges from carving out the time. Something similar happens when we as the church read our Bible. The passages I explored this Spring about Creation and the Fall, Yahweh and Adam and Eve get a lot of attention. Then there’s something of a break. We have our reasons, our challenges around noticing the shape of the literature we call Scripture.
I get it though. Sustained attention is hard. We break after the story of Adam and Eve, and then we go on to more familiar stories or the ones that seem more useful. Give us some Romans, so we know what to do with it. Stories are entertaining, but some nice, dense teaching is what gives us something to do, right?
So we leave the stories for the kids. Isn’t that right? When was the last time you heard a sermon on Cain and Abel, or Noah, or Samson (and why are we telling these stories about murder, the death of nearly every person in the world in one shot, and seduction and mass violence to children, by the way?)?Read More Fruit