What do we mean when we say, “He descended to the dead”?

3603467736_ac85bb8653_z

In a bit of a jab at my bishop and my diocesan communications director, who assigned an impossibly obtuse phrase of our Apostles Creed, I have composed on the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas blog a post which uses The Princess Bride and Monty Python and the Holy Grail as its primary texts to explicate this affirmation.  find it HERE

(image via)

Sermon, Last Sunday of Lent

IMG_1081Today’s sermon preached at St. A’s, the raising of Lazarus and Grandpa Chuck’s death.

Sermon Audio

It is because of my grandfather’s death that I stand before you this morning.

During a particularly difficult moment in my ministry, my grandpa Chuck, after whom Charles is named, fell ill and breathed his last. We were living in South Carolina at the time, far from snowy Minnesota, but I still visited him a few times in his last weeks and was even there to give him last rites the day he died.

Back home, I was struggling with my call, feeling stonewalled at every turn, denied at every door, frustrated with pouring so much effort into what seemed like a bottomless chasm. It was more than exhaustion, or a period of thankless plowing through; I was suffocating, like a flame submitted to a snuffer, gasping for enough air to keep breathing. In some ways my depression felt very much like death. Continue reading

Friday Icon

Rembrandt_-_The_Three_Crosses_(second_state)_-_WGA19086

This week, I’ve been thinking about the thief on the cross to whom Jesus promises, “today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).  It’s never too late to start over.

As the shine of yoga-camp-life wears off, and we’re traveling, my new healthful routine gets to having cracks in it and my body and soul feel the un-balancing starting to set in.  Instead of starting the day with psalms and meditation, I’m eager to get going, feed the animals, start the coffee, then suddenly I’m showering and driving to work, the day long-since begun and no quiet time to speak of.

How important it is, though, when I know not what a day will bring, to spend a bit of time waiting and asking to be filled up with strength and compassion for the day ahead–though I’m blind to the future, God, the giver of all strength and compassion, is not.  Indeed, God knows exactly what I will need.  God knows what a day will hold and exactly what I will need to survive, thrive, and serve him well in it.  Why not give him a chance to fill me up before it begins?

And I must remember, it’s never too late to start over.  Of course, a new day with its morning light and freshness is a natural, comfortable moment to start over, but it can be anytime of day.  The thief on the cross started over at the very last possible moment, and it still wasn’t too late.

The Three Crosses (Rembrandt) via

Praise God

If you’re here this morning feeling triumphant and joyous and free because of the Supreme Court’s decisions this past week, praise God.

If you’re here this morning feeling queasy and uncertain because of the Supreme Court’s decisions, or because of hate that’s been manifested in our state and even across the street in the last few weeks, praise God.

If you feel like finally, finally, God is answering your prayers, praise God.

If you feel like, in light of this week, God must be taking a nap, praise God.

I do truly pray that there are people in these pews today of all those convictions, because there is merit in all those convictions, and familial love and diversity is a hallmark of the Kingdom of God.

God doesn’t look the way that any of us think he does. God doesn’t act the way any of us suppose he should. God doesn’t look like you. God doesn’t look like me.

God looks like Jesus Christ.

God is Jesus Christ.

Praise God, our Lord Jesus Christ.

And you know what today is? Continue reading

Friday Icon

Christ_in_the_garden_of_Gethsemani_and_Christ_on_the_cross_inside_Strasbourg_Cathedralvia

Christ on the Mount of Olives, life-size sculpture in Strasbourg Cathedral, 1498

 This collection of sculpture twists time, featuring a few Jesuses–here seen both kneeling at the Mount and hanging on the cross. This combination artwork of both relief and free-standing sculpture bends expectations in many arenas–time, space, sound, light.  How does Jesus’ Passion bend and stretch our expectations?

what to say about the Charleston martyrs

11402816_1009715492374949_8168622302111602227_n

artwork via

three sermons that are worth chewing on this week:

“That your Gospel is more powerful than our hate, more powerful than our despair, more powerful than our pride, and more powerful than our delusions, we give you thanks O God.”  Confession (1)

In the face of Emmanuel AME Church, Naming Goliath (2)

“Last week in Charleston, however, was different. To be sure, it’s important not to romanticize or idealize the black church, or any church. All Christian groups are riven by Sin just like all other groups. But the black churches have suffered so extremely, and so unjustly, for so long, that they have achieved a maturity that seems almost superhuman.” “What’s in those lamps?” (3)