The Kingdom of Heaven

Last week, I saw the Kingdom of Heaven on Rosemont Avenue.

That’s the name of the street where I live up in North Oak Cliff, and I want to offer a witness here this morning. The Kingdom of Heaven broke into the 600 block of North Rosemont Avenue, for a moment I glimpsed heaven there. Sure, it gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling, I smiled, and I nodded at how light and joyful a place the world could be. But it just as easily couldn’t have happened. It was just as possible, and maybe even easier, for nothing exceptional to have happened at all, for the Kingdom of Heaven to stay hidden and quiet and unseen, but there were two things that happened to enable this witness I’m giving you this morning.

First, somebody invited the Kingdom of Heaven to be part of their own daily life, and then second, somebody else saw and talked about what happened.

I heard the story from that witness, and now I share it with you. This neighbor had just gotten home from a long trip last Sunday night, and she found a note on her front door when she arrived: Continue reading

It’s the Same Question

Do you ever get that sensation of deja vu when you turn on a movie? You’ve got a sneaking suspicion that you know where the plot is going, the way the conversation develops is somehow familiar, the scenes are set up in a sequence that seems to have an echo somewhere in your memory. You’ve got a feeling that you already know this story, whether you’ve seen the film or not; the narrative has an ebb and flow that you recognize, damsel in distress, the friends who become lovers, the young person who struggles to grow up.

Considering the story of Abraham and Isaac, I wonder if Jesus felt some of that deja vu when he was driven into the wilderness to be tempted so early in his ministry. Continue reading

Been Blogging

In this phase, I’ve been blogging here less (clearly), investing my creative energies mostly in the little boy born last November. However, I’ve kept up a little bit of writing — mostly about motherhood, no surprise — over at Covenant, The Living Church’s blog. Catch my latest posts here:

The Sharpening Joy of Motherhood

After Birth

 

Pool Party; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

Notre Dame Baptismal FontOver the winter, Grey Wilkes learned to swim.

Having recently moved to a house with a pool, her parents wanted to make sure she could navigate the waters as soon as possible, safety fence notwithstanding. Instead of floundering in the waters, Grey has learned, should she fall in, to float on her back and then to kick her way to the edge. I wonder if our encountering the mystery of the Trinity might be a little bit like Grey learning a new response to being dropped into water; rather than reacting with fear and seeking to control the water around her, to become master of it, she now calmly floats, allowing the water to be what it is, finding her place in it, and then using her newly acquired habit to relate to those waters.

I have a tendency to come to things like the doctrine of the Trinity and to splash about, all throat-clearing and weight-shifting and brow-furrowing. “Well you see, there’re three. And there are, I mean, there is, one. God. Three. God. One.” Generally, my mind and mouth become a tangled mess, and my spirit just leaves the building completely, shaking her head and rolling her eyes as I splish and splash and in not too much time, end up drowning in words and phrases and analogies and nonsense. So I wonder if maybe we’re meant to learn a new response to mystery. Continue reading

The Fallacy of Freedom

Come, Holy Spirit, Come!

Come as the Fire and burn

Come as the Light and reveal

Come as the Wind and cleanse

Convict us, Convert us,Consecrate us, until we are wholly thine. Amen.

Often, when I notice a hole in my schedule, I rejoice. Of course, they’re much rarer these days with Charles in-arms, but once in awhile, there’s a night with no dinner to prepare, no meetings to lead or to attend, and I relish the freedom I have to plan my own evening.

I settle myself on the couch, remote nearby, staring at the screen for the next several hours, bowl of ice cream or glass of wine in hand, telling myself it will soothe me, I’ll feel more energized after I relax this way.

Inevitably, I grant myself that extra scoop of ice cream or one more glass of wine, and I stay up too late, eyes glued to the TV, and then I sleep fitfully, frustrated with myself for the late hour, stomach churning from too much indulgence, mind ablaze from the scenes I’ve imbibed. And so my freedom feels like a prison in retrospect; my liberty becomes a chain. I allow myself to be pulled into what I think is a treat for myself, but in actuality makes me more captive to waste and excess than I was before. Continue reading

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

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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