Category Archives: Blog

A Short Story for the Feast of Epiphany

Or…parts of tomorrow’s sermon I could not keep.

 

The vastness of the night sky is nearly blue above them, the trail of stars etched into it, needle holes in the firmament, holding back the waters of the wild.

The magi travel on the open road, all alone, not speaking to one another. The only sound is the sound of their saddles, shifting, and the bells on the straps, but it is lost in the vastness of the dark. One hums to himself, yet the sound is simply absorbed into the spectacular scene above, and they follow a new star, a strange star, toward Jerusalem. Continue reading A Short Story for the Feast of Epiphany

Mary Images for Christmas

Over the years, especially during the season of Advent, I love returning to the image of Mary the Mother of God. Her story, interpreted in so many different ways by really talented artists, is one of courage, hope, love and bravery. While I hope to make many more images of Mary, I thought I would highlight here three images that are available to you as Christmas cards, art prints, or inspiration this advent season.

My greeting cards can be ordered on Fine Art America. There are a few more days to order and receive them with standard shipping before Christmas. The cards are a good price, and you can add your own personal greeting on the inside, so they make a good option for your big Christmas mailing–you won’t have to write it out a thousand times!

#33 “But Mary Kept all these Things”
(2010)

Greeting CardsArt Print

This is the earliest of them, but also the one true nativity scene. I had a lot of fun conceiving of how the shepherds, the wise men, and the people traveling to Bethlehem might fit into this style, and how everything might come together.

#72 My Soul Magnifies the Lord
(2014)

 

Greeting Card Art PrintPhone Case

“My Soul Magnifies the Lord” is the first line of the Magnificat, or the song that Mary sings when she greets Elizabeth. We often sing the magnificat during Advent, but one of my favorite things is the way that it challenges authority, power, and how it comes out of the mouth of a teenage girl who is literally on the run from her family. (Mary visits Elizabeth when she is just beginning to show–and only Elizabeth, who’s life has also been turned upside down by the Spirit, is someone she can trust.) The words are in the original Koine Greek, in her cloak: “Megalunei Phuxe Mou ton Kurion”. I also hid a bunch of faces in the background. You know. Just cuz.

#76 Do Not be Afraid, Mary
(2016)

 

 

 

Greeting Card | Art Print 

This image is new! I began it while preparing for a sermon during Advent, and it sat unfinished for months. I was playing with new pens, working on some other ideas, and made an error in the greek that I was worried about. 😉 (If you’re nerd enough, you can find it–I think I did a decent job of covering it up, but the experts will probably see it right away.)

Anyway, this is an annunciation image, with the first line that Gabriel opens with: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” In the Greek, “Me Phobou, Mariam; Eures gar xarin para towi Thewi.” One thing that I find tremendously beautiful about the Nativity story is the way that Gabriel always opens with ‘Do not be afraid.” It is the same line that Jesus often opens with–and is a constant message of God “Do not be afraid”. In the greek “Me Phobou” is in the genitive, meaning there’s a sort of untranslatable “being” to the word–in some ways, what Gabriel says is “Do not be of fear,” or do not be fear. For someone who walks a life filled with anxiety, like I’m sure you probably do too, this message is especially powerful.

This image was originally on 11×14 paper, so it also is appropriate for larger framed art, should you choose to go in that direction.

Please enjoy these for Advent & Christmas! During this season, watching what’s going on in the world, in our nation, and I imagine in your own mind–we need some hope, joy, and a reminder to not come from a place of fear.

 

The Parable of the Really Mad God – and other jovial tales

This is a sermon on Matthew 22:1-14, and the rest of Proper 23 for Year A. I encourage you to read all of the texts Track 2, starting with Isaiah and going onward.

It’s a sermon on what happens when we meet a God who doesn’t make sense–or makes sense in a pretty horrible way–and how we might address the stories in the Bible that make us go, wait–WHUT.

Continue reading The Parable of the Really Mad God – and other jovial tales

Sermon from 6/18: Discipleship, Hope and Casting out Demons

Click Here to Read the Text!

(It is the first part of the lectionary passage for Sunday, June 18, or Proper 6).

“He had compassion on them, for they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

It seems like not much changes, does it?

On Friday, it was announced that the officer who shot Philando Castile seven times, was found not guilty on all counts against him. I find this incredibly troubling, deeply disturbing, on so many levels that I find it hard to make them all clear to you.

A man shot another man seven times with a child in the back seat, and he was found not guilty of all charges brought against him—including reckless discharge of a firearm.

He fired a gun seven times into a car with a child in the back seat.

Continue reading Sermon from 6/18: Discipleship, Hope and Casting out Demons

I will keep my faith.

Now, more than ever, I will keep my faith. In uncertain times, and wading into uncertain waters, I will listen more than ever for how I am to be a Christian.

I will not forget that the Jesus Movement was originally counter-cultural, originally a movement of resistance against a tyrannical empire. I will take comfort in this truth, and I will look to it for purpose in these times.

I will not forget that my God became human, lived a life constrained by bodies and work and pain, and that in that short life, he spread a message of love and forgiveness so powerful and threatening that the Roman Empire executed him for it.

I will not forget that this is my religion.

And so, I renew the vows my parents made for me at baptism, and the vows I made at Confirmation. Because they matter now more than ever.

I renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God. I renounce the voices within me that tell me that I am not strong enough, not good enough, not meaningful enough. I renounce the voices that tell me that I am unloved, unimportant, and incapable of the path set before me.

I renounce them, because my faith is in God, who has already created us capable of more than we can imagine.

I renounce them, because this faith tells us that love is the very core of our being, and that in the knowledge of that love, we can spread it like wildfire.

I renounce the evil powers of this world that corrupt and destroy the creatures of God. I renounce greed and consumption. I renounce white supremacy and hatred of the poor. I renounce the consumption of more and more and more, that corrupts and destroys this earth.

I renounce them, because my faith tells me that God created us for goodness, and the evils of tyranny, greed, and hatred are not who we really are—that when we seek our true selves, what we find is a power of goodness beyond all reason and understanding.

I renounce all sinful desires that draw me from the love of God. I renounce the desire to fight for my own self, tooth and nail, always, and I renounce the belief that no one else will care for me. I renounce the desire to treat other people like objects, any creature of God like a means to an end. I renounce the desire to pretend that I have no need to become a better person.

I renounce them because my faith tells us that God loves us so much that we are called, always and everywhere, to become more loving, more honest, more kind, and more present to the Christ in every person.

I turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as my savior, because I believe that my God became human in order to live as one of us—to love, suffer, heal, and die like we do. To walk in our shoes, and understand our existence, and to save us from ourselves. I believe that the going is tough, and we won’t always succeed, but God knows this because God actually really experienced this.

I put my whole trust in his grace and love, because I am called to stand up, and act out, against the evil I see in this world. Put my trust in Jesus, because cannot do that on my own, and in him, I don’t have to.

I promise to follow and obey him as my Lord, because I do not want to be ruled by money, or things, or achievements. I do not want to obey the markets, or the rules for success, or the unspoken keys to safety in our rapidly breaking world.

I promise that I will obey love, kindness, and truth. I promise that I will obey the needs of the poor, reconciliation with my neighbor, and above all, hope.

Always, I promise that my Lord is hope, and that my ruler is the Good News.

I will keep my faith.

 

**This is an expansion upon the words from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer that are traditionally used as promises at baptism. Read them here.

Learning to Listen: Mary, Martha, and our Great Societal Problem

This is the text of a sermon preached at Hamline Church on July 17, 2016. The two texts were the Parable of the Leaven, and the story of Mary and Martha with Jesus.

And again he said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with[a] three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

Dear Saint Paul: Let us be the city that says “No More.”

Now that Saint Paul and Falcon Heights are synonymous with an image of a gun trained on a man who is bleeding out, synonymous with one of the worst police shootings in America, and the incredibly strong woman who filmed it all—now that this is who we are, can we, Twin Cities, can we be the city that pulls together and says, “No more”?

Dear city of mine, let us be the ones who do this differently.

Let us be the city where the whole community arrives at the Black Lives Matter protest, where white and black and Asian and American Indian can say alike with pride that “Black Lives Matter Here.”

Let us be the city where the governor comes out of his house, listens to the family. Just listens. And then to the people of Minnesota, he says: “He would be alive if he were white.”

Let us be the city where the officer apologizes, where there is no attempt to smear the character of the man who died, where this officer can say: “I’m sorry. I tweaked. It was wrong, and I can’t take it back.”

Can we be the city that admits, collectively, that we have a problem?

And then, can we be the city where we rise above the vitriol of opposing positions, the city that can say “I am pro-Black Lives, and I am pro-Police.” Can we be the city that says together, “I care and love the police here so much that I will demand that they be of the calmest, and strongest, and best among us.” Can we be the city that says together, “We are all weaker when our Black brothers and sisters are treated as though they don’t matter”?

Let us be the city that says together, “I will interrogate my suspicion of black bodies—I will notice when I am afraid, and I will pledge to be afraid no more.”

Let us be the city that says, “I will notice, and I will interrogate, the schools where white children and black children never take a class together, because of the disparity of wealth between us.”

Let us be the city that says, “There are too many guns here, and everywhere, and we pledge to remove them from our streets—whatever way we can, so that fewer people die.”

Let us be the city that listens, unconditionally, when the Black community says, “Stop killing us.”

Let us be the city that simply does the right thing.

And when the going is too tough, and we want to sink into violent rages of anger, or when we want to despair and go back to living as though it never happened, let us be the city that asks the God we worship to hang onto us.

Let us acknowledge that we cannot do this alone, that our strength comes from the God we know—in whatever faith we practice. Let us rest in our God, knowing that trusting only our selves and our own experience is the sin that got us into this predicament.

Let us know that whatever we must confront as a city, especially as the white people of this city, that we are safe in the incredible and unimaginable power of the One who loves us enough to demand better of us. Let us ask this God to love us into strength we need to take off the blinders we all have been wearing.

Dear Saint Paul,

Let us be the city that does not shy away from this, that cannot ignore it, that cannot sweep it under the rug. Let us be the city that interrogates the status quo, and interrogates the privilege of whiteness, and interrogates the proliferation of firearms that make it so easy to kill each other.

Let us be the city that rises above and says never, never again.