The Society of Campus Ministers

Fun Camp Interlude!

Each year, at the beginning of June, I head to the wilds of the Ozarks for a week to help staff Camp Wemo–a week-long camp for middle–high school youth in the diocese.  I am a cabin counselor, I help run games, and activities, I plan and lead liturgies, I explain why we can’t panic at […]

Ascend already

Welcome to the now-Annual Sermon Dump!  That lovely time of year when Megan reads back through her Google Drive and belatedly posts the sermons she gave over the summer, but did not post to her blog because she was otherwise at camp/running Missionpalooza/in the Middle East/un-flooding the church/something else. You’d think that after 9 years […]

No Way! Way! The Impossible Possibility and Thanks for Robert Jenson

Readings for today. Sermon for Good Shepherd, Sun Prairie.

The Christian theologian Robert Jenson passed away this week. He was an amazing man, pastor, and scholar. If you haven’t heard of him, you’re normal. Even if you’ve never heard of Robert Jenson, his work almost certainly shaped the life of someone else who helped shape your life for the good. Globally regarded and a Minnesota Lutheran. A mentor and fellow Texan one-time told me that there, in Texas, all the denominations are at least partly Baptist. You’ve got Baptist Baptists, Methodist Baptists, Episcopalian Baptists, even Catholic Baptists. Episcopalians are Baptists who can drink. It’s the same kind of thing up here, Wisconsin/Minnesota, but instead of Baptists it’s a cultural tug of war, a tie between the Catholics and Lutherans. Lutherans like Robert Jenson, who shaped us for the good. It’s good to thank God for such a lover of Jesus. May he rest in peace and rise in glory. 

Theologians write a lot, and not always plainly, but one of Jenson’s most famous sentences was alarmingly simple: “God is whoever raised Jesus from the dead, having before delivered Israel out of Egypt.”

In that simple sentence, Jenson does a couple of things. First, he connects the Old and New Testaments, saying that it is the same God at work through the same people all throughout. One persistent, stubborn, beautiful mission working its way to fulfillment in Jesus. Israel, made a light to enlighten all people, salvation unfolding. Second, Jenson recognizes in Jesus the second exodus. You remember the first exodus: that’s Israel being delivered out of slavery in Egypt. Charlton Heston, walls of water, Pharaoh, plagues, and all the rest. Resulting in freedom for God’s people. Not just freedom, but impossible freedom made possible. The kind of freedom most of God’s people didn’t think to hope for any more because the lengths it would take to get there from where they were seemed utterly unattainable. Better to eat cucumbers in slavery. But over and over in the days after that impossible day, the scriptures would talk about what happened this way, “When there seemed to be no way, God made a way.”

You remember that exodus. Much later, when Jesus takes his buddies up on the mountain, and there is a terrifying cloud, and Moses and Elijah, and Jesus turns all glow-bug on them, do you remember that? The gospels tell us that Jesus was about to accomplish his departure, but the word for departure is exodus again. In other words, it’s the same God, persistently, stubbornly, beautifully working God’s mission to fulfillment, one more time. In other words, slaves are about to be set free again. In other words, the impossible is about to become possible and the freedom the disciples couldn’t even think to ask or hope for is about to become accomplished for them and for us. Freedom for God’s people one more time. This time from death. From death? How? Death is the original dead-end. But when there seemed to be no way, God made a way. So Christians come to this table and have learned to proclaim, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”

Time and again, this is the way of God’s people, remembering, proclaiming, living: once there was no way, but God made a way!

Think about that. Think about how this refrain, this faithful chorus, runs counter to how, even Christians, often talk about life and how it works. Have you ever heard someone say something like, “Well, one door closed, but another one opened,” as if the naturalness of the path was a validation of it? As if the path of least resistance bears the stamp of divine approval. But Jesus, when he talks about doors at all, doesn’t talk about moving from door to door until you find the unlocked one. He talks about a widow, persistently banging on a neighbor’s door, in the middle of the night, until the neighbor gives up and comes down. And after the day faith died for the disciples, after that dark Friday they hadn’t yet learned to call Good, and they’re there, gathered in a room behind locked doors because of their fear, Jesus doesn’t find the door locked and move on. Where there seemed to be no way, God made a way. He stands before the the ones who’d cried, lied, and denied him and they tremble in his presence and he breathes his peace and forgiveness on the ones he is determined to call his friends. Impossibilities be damned. Christians don’t make a way by ourselves, but we have learned that our God has a knack for showing up at dead-ends, God has a heart for dead-ends, even us. And because God has a heart for dead-ends, Christians pray that, with God’s help, we are unlearning the fears that control us. Because when there was no way, God made a way.

All I want to say today is that when Jesus is talking to his church in Matthew’s gospel – and it’s one of a small handful of places where the word “church” comes up in the gospels – when he’s talking to those who gather in his name, and he’s giving instructions for what to do when one person hurts or disappoints another person, he’s not just giving moral rules for civil engagement and getting along, he’s inviting his church – his body – to embody with each other the truth that they worship the God who makes a way when there seems to be no way. Even with each other. In other words, when we pursue reconciliation, we proclaim resurrection. When we step toward the ones that others run from, we proclaim the God “who raised Jesus from the dead, having before delivered Israel out of Egypt.”

This stepping forward isn’t the same as condoning or ignoring or using platitudes to smooth things over. It is confronting. It is saying, “You hurt me, but I won’t settle for a future in which we both hide from the truth and each other along the way.” Because the opposite of confronting isn’t condoning, but hiding out of fear. And our lives are defined by these attempts to avoid from one another. Call it hating from a distance. You can see this dynamic at work in the antagonisms that drive our society, people separating into “us versus them.” It is as if, from our quarantined perches, we wait, perversely hoping that that side will really screw up, say the unforgivable thing, because then we will be justified in moving on without them. We will talk about, but not to, and it feels almost right on social media screens, but then we remember, we glimpse some part of the person, still there behind the label that has justified our desire for a future in which they don’t exist. Only by now we can’t imagine how we’d ever step back toward the other across the chasm of antagonism. That’s not far-fetched; that’s the way of the world. And it’s not just the way of the world on the cultural meta-stage, but in my heart, too! And maybe yours. One time I noticed myself taking notes every time someone hurt me, let me down, or disappointed my expectations, in a given day. I even made a kind of daily habit of it. Rather than take those notes back to the others with the opportunity for them to help make the situations right, I made the notes so that I could remember to complain to my real friends later. Of course, “real friends” were supposed to be those who would agree with me and justify my righteous anger. And given how painful it can feel to be hurt by another person, you can make the case for what I was doing. Writing others off is a defensible position to take. But Christians have been saved from fear and so where others give up, we show up in hope.

How else can you explain lives like that of Nelson Mandela? Imprisoned in his country for decades. Called a terrorist by our country for organizing military resistance against state-enforced racial oppression. Freed and put in power, elected president of post-apartheid South Africa, Mandela refused vengeance on his enemies and instead sought a future in which the truth about the evils of apartheid would, case by case, be seen and spoken through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (chaired by Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu), pain would be legitimated, forgiveness would be extended and gradually received, and the still-healing people would learn to step toward God’s good future together, making room at one table for everyone.

Sometimes, most times, it would be easier to give up than to do what Jesus says to do in Matthew’s gospel, especially when time and circumstance give you the upper hand on the ones who rejected you. But where others give up, Christians show up in hope. Because the stone the builders rejected (that’s Jesus) has become the chief cornerstone. Because once there was no way, but God made a way. Because to pursue reconciliation is to proclaim resurrection. Because the God we worship today is whoever raised Jesus from the dead, having before delivered Israel out of Egypt.

Amen.

House Blessing Vlog: Footnotes & Links

Hey friends! Yesterday, we posted this video (below). Links spontaneously came out of our mouths, and we wanted to share them in an accessible way here. So, without further ado…Here is Debra Dean Murphy’s amazing and challenging article about hu…

Welcome to Campus! (Hey, from the UW Episcopal Community)

Hey friend!
Welcome to campus! Whether you are new to Madison or returning, we are glad you are here. A bunch of us have been praying for you and this year in your life, and we look forward to connecting! 
A great first opportunity to connect is tomorrow (Wed) night, at 7pm at the St. Francis House Student Center (1011 University Ave). We’ll have snacks, teas, and coffee, and a chance to meet other folks. A little after 8, we’ll pray Compline together to end the evening and begin the new year. Everyone is welcome. 

This Sunday at 5pm, I hope you’ll join us for our annual House Blessing Eucharist

​We’ll pray for the different spaces in the Episcopal Center and have house blessing care packages for you and any​ friends you’d like to share them with. Christians usually bless homes as a way to ask God’s help to make good​ new beginnings and as a way to name our intention to live our ordinary lives​ -​ in our homes​, classrooms, and workplaces​ – in ways that are shaped by God’s love and call.

​One of the things the student leadership and I have been praying about already is how crunched life can feel at this moment in time. College. Politics. Work. Anxieties. Time. Relationships. Finding meaningful ways to act in the world. What else? SFH is committed to being a community and ​place where we make space together, over against the crunch, seeking to be present to God, each other, and ourselves. What does it mean to make space for “the life that really is life” (1 Timothy 6:19)? As that commitment/question resonates with you, I invite you to come, connect, share your gifts, and find new friendships and belonging. 

​That’s all for now. Holla on FacebookCheck out the calendar. Call me for coffee, anytime. And I hope to connect with you soon.


God’s good peace as you settle in and make your way and the new semester begins. 
Jonathan​
Ways You Can Jump In (this week)*
  • Help us put together care packages this Wed at 7pm!
  • Come early on Sunday, at 4:15pm, to play an instrument or lend your voice at worship. Email Mckenzie for details/questions/to let her know you are interested. 
  • Read a Scripture on Sunday (come 5-10 min before 5pm). Email Jonathan.
  • We’re looking this week for help next week, at the RSO fair (Sept 13-14, 5-8pm). Can you help cover a shift? Let Kate know!
*WYCJI is a new feature this year, which comes from our hope that you make yourself at home here. We’ll do our best to communicate opportunities clearly and would love you to join us in any (or other) of these ways!
Last thing
Most weekly emails come from Kate and are way shorter than this, but we’re excited to welcome you well, and I hope this email gives a sense of what SFH is about. If you’re rather not receive them, though, let Kate know at any time. Peace, friends!

The Gift of Conversions & the Upside-Down Kingdom

Sermon preached at St. Luke’s and St. Francis House, for the 12th Sunday of Pentecost, Proper 16, Year A. Here are the readings.


“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God– what is good and acceptable and perfect.”


The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard liked to tell the story of a man who owned a shop, like a general store. One day, it got late, and the shopkeeper put things in order and called it a day. He closed shop and went home. But sometime that evening, or maybe even deeper into the night, some thieves broke into the shopkeeper’s store. Bizarrely, the thieves didn’t steal anything. Instead, they meticulously rearranged all the labels, the price labels, on the items in the store. So cheap things now had four digit tags. And really precious things were made to look cheap. The next day, the shopkeeper arrived at the store and didn’t notice the hoax. Nothing appeared any less in order than it had the night before. From the shopkeeper’s perspective, protected from critical reflection by the mundaneness of the rhythms of life, it was just another day. Then the customers started arriving. They, too, didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. Instead, all of them began interacting, shopping, purchasing, exactly as they had on the previous day, but with the labels as they now were, as if the mislabeled labels reflected true values of things. And they’re still doing that now, still shopping in the store not knowing that none of the labels are true.


Kierkegaard says that our world is that shop.


Cheap things get lifted up, attract our time (and sometimes our devotion). We sometimes attach our lives to these cheap things. We make too much of them. Meanwhile, truly precious things get mislabeled as cheap and we dismiss them, so we miss them altogether. We don’t think much about things we should think more about. When we do, we don’t think about them in a way that reflects their real worth or right place in the world. The labels have been put on the wrong things, and it is darn near impossible to know what anything’s worth.


And yet. Against all odds in such a world, sometimes, a person comes to her senses and peels back the label. Sometimes, a person finds herself doing double takes between twin mismatched realities, and she thinks to herself, “Well, that can’t be right.” You peel off a label of a precious thing called cheap and you decide to elevate its place in your life. Likewise, you peel the high-priced label off of the cheap thing and make room in your life accordingly. These label-rectifying moments, when they come, are almost like miracles.


An MD/PhD student came to me at the start of a year like this one a few years ago and said, “Jonathan, I’ve realized something. I can be first in my class or I can be a person who takes care of herself and those around her, engages the community of faith, nurtures her soul, and gets nine hours of sleep every night. I can’t do both. I’m not sure being first in my class is worth what it will cost. I’m not even sure it will make me a better doctor. I’m making the choice not to pay it.” True story, years later, I was sitting at a table at a mutual friend’s wedding reception with this student and her fiancé, and one of the other guests at the table – new to both of us – says to this student, out of the blue, “You look so well rested!” And I thought, “Who says that??” But then, I thought, if anyone did deserve to have it said of them, it was this student.


Maybe you have had one of these life-relabeling moments in your life. Something you had thought was worth everything, you came to question or reevaluate. Another thing you hadn’t valued very much at all emerges, unexpectedly, as precious and beautiful in a way you hadn’t seen before, and you know you will, from this moment on, commit your life to it in a particular way; that is, you can see already how the distance from where you are starting from to the place where that beauty will call you will mean a change in your life, and it might even be hard, and you say yes anyway. You feel yourself to be on the edge of willing alterations to the ways you think about and move within the world. And ordinarily such a prospect would have been scary, if not terrifying, but instead you are energized by and made open to the possibility of the new thing you could be. Christians have historically called these moments conversions, when God moves us to bring our lives into line with true labels, and these conversions happen even from within the life of faith.


It’s not that the confusion is news. You might have suspected that something was up, that some of life’s labels had been swapped. The trick is discernment, which ones go where, how to undo the mess and make things right, and we are here in part because we believe discernment is a team sport. Together, weekly, we open our hearts and the scriptures and ask God to make our imaginations more like God’s imagination. We watch throughout the stories of Scripture as Jesus pulls “cheap” labels off of people on the margins and puts the cheap labels on performances of prayer that are just for show. We marvel as so-called weak things like patience, generosity and vulnerability, gentleness and humility, self-giving and forgiving get raised up in his story above traditionally big-ticket items like power and wealth. And this episode from Matthew’s gospel is maybe one of the biggest’ bandaid-ripping, label-switching moments in the whole story of Jesus.


They’re in the region of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus and his disciples. The place is named after Caesar, the emperor. They’re standing near a temple named for the emperor, who sometimes goes by the title, “Son of the living God.” Sounds familiar. In other words, Peter’s answer to Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” is about to get political. Peter is about to call Jesus a king, and the thing about calling certain people kings is that it can un-call other people kings, even when you don’t say it exactly that way. Because when it comes to allegiance, you only have one pledge to give. But Jesus doesn’t look much like a king, which may be why one theologian has observed that, these days, we ask the state to give us the things we used to ask God for. Because Jesus doesn’t look much like a king, which is why Jesus calls Peter’s answer, Peter’s attempt to rearrange the labels, a miracle. “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.”


What does he mean when Peter calls Jesus king? What does it mean when we, too, call Jesus the Messiah?


To call someone like Jesus a king is a little bit like Peter’s saying he found God’s kingdom in the produce aisle, just behind the bananas. It’s not just that the kingdom’s been mislabeled, in terms of value or worth, it’s been mis-shelved altogether. Because Jesus doesn’t look anything like the usual label called, “king”. Kingdom labels play by the usual kingdom rules of political territories, patriotism, and securing a place above the others. This label is so well known it’s in our bones. What was the old, thoroughly misogynistic game we used to play as kids? King of the hill? You know, where someone stood over the others on a pile of something until someone else pushed them off of the pile, and one empire gave way to another, but nothing was new, because the old rules applied, where the point of the game was still to push others down in order to rise up and secure yourself a kingdom for as long you could. That’s the label we all learned for kingdom.


Of course, Jesus is nothing like this. What on earth made Peter call Jesus a king? A gift from the Father, Jesus says. The beginning of a conversion Peter himself doesn’t yet understand. The revelation of what the true kingdom, God’s kingdom, is.


In Luke’s gospel, this question will come up again. Jesus’ followers will be playing by old label rules, jockeying for position in the kingdom of Jesus, and Jesus will say, enough. Them’s the world’s rules, but that ain’t how we roll in this kingdom. And then he will confer on them a kingdom that looks like a table at which there is room and food enough for everyone. This table. Where old kingdoms coerced, this one opens up. Where old kingdoms secured the prosperity of the monarch, this monarch freely dies on the cross to free his subjects who had become subjected to sin and death. Jesus inaugurates this new kingdom when, on the night before he died, he breaks the bread he calls his body and gives his life for them. God’s kingdom is made known at this feast and this table on which is poured the cup of forgiveness, for you and for many.


And if this is true kingdom, what do we make of the others? After all, when it comes to allegiance, you only have one pledge to give. Will we really pledge allegiance to the kingdom of the crucified king and all it entails? And if we do, what does this undo about the way we think about the world and how we move within it? A world in which cheap things get lifted up, attract our time (and sometimes our devotion). In which we attach our lives to these very same cheap things, and we make too much of them. A world in which, meanwhile, truly precious things get mislabeled as cheap and we dismiss them. We don’t think much about things we should think more about. When we do, we don’t think about them in a way that reflects their real worth or right place in the world. The labels have been put on the wrong things, and it is darn near impossible to know what anything’s worth.


Against all odds in such a world, sometimes, a person comes to her senses and peels back the label. These label-rectifying moments, when they come, are almost like miracles. They are the mercy of God.


Amen.

"Come Closer to Me" (Discerning Faithful Presence after Charlottesville)

Joseph reveals himself to his brothers. 

Sermon preached at St. Dunstan’s, Madison, on these readings for the 11th Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 15 in Year A. 

It feels like this morning’s psalm is haunting us today, and I don’t like the feeling of that. “How good and pleasant it is when brethren or kindred live together in unity.” I used to love that psalm. Who knows, maybe I will come to love it again. While I appreciate the comparison that follows that celebration of unity, what with its shoutout to fine beards and beard oils dripping down off of them (sounds kinda awesome), the celebration of unity named by the psalmist feels hollow this week. It may be good and pleasant when we do live in unity, but it doesn’t feel like we do very much of that right now. Not that Charlottesville represented a new thing, but Charlottesville is yet another in an exhaustingly long line – and now not even the latest – but belonging to a long line of honest and painful things that name the violence we do to the unity that God would give us. And the “we” who do violence refers to humanity, but “we” also refers to white people in America. For those of us miles from Charlottesville and the South, here in Dane County, it may be helpful to remember that you don’t need guns to do violence. I don’t say that as a way of shaming folks for things over which we may feel little control, but to begin to make our repentance specific. I take it as foundational to the Christian faith and counter-cultural to the world that there is life and hope in our repentance. And we need life and hope because unity worth oiling beards for feels a very long way away.


Speaking of unity. I saw a t-shirt the other day that said – it had this big heart in the middle and across the heart it said – I tolerate you. Now society has sometimes named toleration as a kind of virtue we want to promote, but limits to the virtue of toleration become obvious the moment someone tells you they tolerate you. Nobody wants to be tolerated. Toleration is for mosquitos. That should be a t-shirt! Still, one thing the deplorable white supremacy on display in Virginia reminded us is that, if toleration can be seen as a desirable goal, it is only because the human desire to end the lives of those we despise is something real.

But then there’s Jesus, calling us to something deeper than the noble restraint we show when we do not kill one another. Inviting us to a table with those we have wronged and with those who have wronged us. Pouring forgiveness in the cup. Washing our feet. Inviting us to the same. How do we get there from here?

Remembering Jesus’ words at that first last supper, Catholic priest James Martin tweeted out last week that, “Jesus asks us to love one another, to place others’ needs before our own, even to die for one another. ‘Supremacy’ is absurd to Jesus,” he said. Jesus invites us to gather at the table, where submitting to the reign of the crucified king also means making room for each other. That’s what unity is.

If a psalm extolling the goodness of unity is painful to read today, it at least comes with stories to encourage us for the difficult, good work of loving and making room for each other.

In Genesis, Joseph is talking to his brothers. And, actually, he’s been talking to his brothers for several chapters now, but they don’t know it’s him. In everything that’s come before, they’ve known him only as the guy Pharaoh put in charge of food distribution during the famine that plagues Egypt and the surrounding region. Like everyone else, they’re just here for the food. The last thing they’re thinking as they negotiate the price is that the shrewd manager staring them down is the very same kid brother with the rainbow coat they had mercilessly left for dead in a ditch and then traded into slavery years before.

Psalm 105 remembers the story this way:

Then God called down a famine on the country,
    God broke every last blade of wheat.
But God sent a man on ahead:
    Joseph, sold as a slave.
They put cruel chains on his ankles,
    an iron collar around his neck,
Until God’s word came to the Pharaoh,
    and God confirmed his promise.
God sent the king to release him.
    The Pharaoh set Joseph free;
He appointed him master of his palace,
    put him in charge of all his business
To personally instruct his princes
    and train his advisors in wisdom.

It cannot be easy to receive wisdom from one whom you had counted as a know-nothing slave. It cannot come easily to be mastered by someone you once sold to a master. But here they are. Joseph dramatically reveals himself to be the brother they had tried to kill. Whose brotherhood they had denied. On whom their lives now depend. Predictably, they are dismayed. Dismayed, because, it was his prediction of this moment, years before, that had caused them to hate him in the first place. They’d dismissed him as “the dreamer.” Now the apparent truth of the dream they’d dismissed is their nightmare. Unthinkably, God has used their hate to create the very situation that had filled them with resentment and, now, fear. Here, in his presence, they are undone. Now, the one they have hated is not only the one with the food they need, but also the one with power and cause to destroy them. Joseph’s brothers have created an either/or world in which either Joseph or his brothers must emerge victorious over the other, and for a while they thought that was them, the victorious, but now it is clear that, barring an unlikely strategic gaffe, victory belongs to Joseph. They brace for their expulsion from the future of the one they have wronged.

But then Joseph says the only words that could have made things even worse. “Get it over with,” they may have hoped. Be to me what I have been to you. They had no reason to expect otherwise. But then, these excruciating words: “Come closer to me.” There is another way. An unexpected future, a waiting embrace that will cost them every drop of the either/or logic they have made of their world. Come closer to me, Joseph says. And, remarkably, they do.

In Romans, Paul picks up this age-old struggle: does embracing the other on that side, in this case the Gentiles, undo the integrity of God’s promise to this side? Not at all! says Paul. No. God’s future, illumined by Joseph, refuses the logic by which our struggles with each other finally result in anything other than opportunities for God’s mercy to win us all back to God.

But a warning. In participating in the unity and mercy of God, we may find ourselves invited to a role in the story that is not the role we once had or the role we had wanted. Like Joseph’s brothers, the Canaanite woman in Matthew’s gospel finds herself begging life from a man who, being Jewish, she was raised to despise. It can be difficult to receive wisdom or life from one whom you had counted as a know-nothing slave. But as with Joseph and his brothers, her daughter’s healing comes when the women overcomes the instinct to claim a future without the other side. “Come closer to me,” she insists, and it’s all the more remarkable for Jesus’ gruff treatment of her. But as I’ve wrestled with Jesus’ difficult words to the Canaanite woman of great faith, I find myself uncertain whether I am offended for her or if my offense is simply a disguise for my desire to have a better place for myself in the story. What do you think? What would you do? Would you take Jesus’ offer to find your place in the story of God as a dog at the table? Remarkably, she does. Because she knows in her bones that place and position fail to accomplish what God might do in the space of surrender to the one she calls her king. Whatever her place, she longs for that table. Forsaking all else, she finds the mercy of God.

Our scriptures today are full of people who give me hope for the unity the psalmist names because, against all odds, they speak and accept the challenge to “come closer to me,” to step toward the other, even the despicable other, trusting that God will meet them both in the space of total vulnerability. 

What might it look like to come closer today? Theologian David Fitch thinks it might look like this. He writes, “Racism is a subjectivity formed within a social world. It is a social construct that teaches us (as white people) to think, feel and experience others of color in a way that is not conscious. To think we can change this racism by merely confronting it with words or protest misses the insidiousness of racism. No, we must go the next step and engage the racist with presence (not anger or violence). This may start with face to face nonviolent protest. But it must not end there. This is why addressing racial injustice ultimately requires the church filled by the Spirit to be viscerally present in the world.” Filled by the Spirit, we must be viscerally present. “Come closer to me,” Joseph says to his brothers. 

Finally, of course this will not be the last time in the pages of holy scripture that we’ll see a man left for dead unexpectedly standing before eleven of those whom he called his brothers. Jesus will appear before them on the other side of the walls of the hate and fear and pain they had locked themselves behind, and the disciples, very much like Joseph’s brothers, will see him and be dismayed and undone. They had left their Lord for dead, and so they will know what this moment should bring. They will brace for their expulsion from the future of the one they have wronged. But he will not destroy them. His breath on them will be forgiveness and peace. Their hearts will know his love as they haven’t known it before. And we will marvel as we remember. We will find courage to come closer across every line of our hatred, righteous judgments, and fears, remembering that God in Christ has first come closer to us.


Amen.

Both sides now

In the aftermath of Charlottesville, I confess to you, my neglected blog that I have gotten into more internet fights than is usual for me.   I don’t know that this is intentional; at least on my part, I find that I have markedly less tolerance for people continuing to excuse actions I find inexcusable. […]

When the wind kicks up

As one intrepid parishioner reminded me, I have been remiss in updating the blog this summer. The summer has been busy, with camp, a pilgrimage to Israel/Palestine, and Missionpalooza, on top of the usual round of work things. I will, at some point, go back and do a #sermondump and maybe even write something about […]