Sanctify me

         The God of peace will sanctify you entirely,
         and keep your spirit and soul and body
         sound and blameless
         at the coming of the Beloved, Jesus Christ.
         The one who calls you is faithful, and will do this.

               —1 Thessalonians 5.23-24

I wait for so much more than Christmas,
more than the miraculous birth:
I await my own birth.
As you poured yourself into this world,
and it was never the same again,
pour yourself into me,
and change me forever.
Birth your light in me,
your Word made flesh in me,
Set me to your purposes
and sustain me in your way.
Make me a living sign of your coming,
a vessel of your presence,
an instrument of your delight.
I open my heart to you.
Come, and make me your holy one.

   —December 15, 2017

Categorized as Reflections



         John came as a witness to testify to the light.
         He himself was not the light,
         but he came to testify to the light

               —John 1.7-8

The brook is not the light
but it reflects the coming dawn.
The geese are not the winter,

but it falls from their wings.

The wave is not the sea;
the note is not the song;
I am not the light
but I am made of nothing else.

Bear witness.
If not to the light within,
bear witness to the dawn.
To the song.

The candle isn’t the sun,
but sings its song.
I don’t have to believe this,
just sing the song.

   —December 14, 2017

Categorized as Reflections

Voice in the wilderness


          “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
                    ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’”

                         —John 1.23

How arresting
that God intends to upend the empires of men,
promises cosmic upheaval,
and to bring it about sends
lonely prophets out in the wilderness,
who themselves will soon be arrested.

God touches a loner praying in the desert.
Kneels and says to a peasant girl,
“Your willingness is enough.”
Appears in a small, helpless child.
Holds the sagging flesh of one crucified.
Amazing, how for God so little is enough.

The voice of one crying in the wilderness
is enough.
Your voice is enough
if you lift it up.
It is not alone.
It is not empty.
Your voice,
and its millions,
is the Way of God.                

   —December 13, 2017

Categorized as Reflections

Not political

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

          The spirit of God the Holy One is upon me,
                    because God has anointed me,
                    and sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
          to bind up the brokenhearted,
                    to proclaim liberty to the captives,
          and release to the prisoners;
                    to proclaim the year of God’s favor,
          and the day of vengeance of our God;
                    to comfort all who mourn.
Isaiah 61.1-2

This is not political.
God’s agenda is not political; it’s relational.
The promise of Advent is not political; it’s spiritual.
God comes to judge the forces of oppression
without dilution, without caveat
that there are good people on both sides.
God comes to destroy the status quo,
to upend our world and its injustice:
to raise the lowly and bring down the mighty.
This is not political. It’s moral.
It’s about health care, mass incarceration,
racism, sexism, earth care and peace.
It’s about empowering the disenfranchised,
not blaming them. It’s about respect, not abuse.
Lying, abuse and child molestation,
demeaning people, threatening war,
robbing the poor to pay the rich,
the worship of money, sex and power,
these are not political. They are evil.
What some want to do to our government,
to our diplomacy, to common decency,
God wants to do to the structures
of privilege and exclusion. They are God’s target.
This is not politics. It’s salvation.

The gentle sweet good news of Advent is
that mountains and hills will be leveled,
valleys will be filled in,
and rough places straightened out,
and it is unwise to be standing in the way
of God’s bulldozers.
This may involve some elections,
some protests, some laws.
It will involve an altogether new Empire.
But it’s not political.
It’s cosmic.

Open your heart to the little Bethlehem star,
supernova blossoming in us.
And take it to the streets.

   —December 12, 2017

Categorized as Reflections

Our kind

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

The shoppers pass the drunk
(they are not related),
pass the little window display
of the poor baby in the manger,
and find their place
among their kind at the mall,
where there are no homeless,
only waxen, distracted shoppers,
far from the others,
separating themselves by class and style,
whatever distance they can conjure,
who go on trying to divide and divide,
while the little baby goes on
joining and joining.

   —December 11, 2017

Categorized as Reflections

Like a shepherd

         She will feed her flock like a shepherd;
                  she will gather the lambs in her arms,
         and carry them in her bosom,
                  and gently lead the mother sheep

                                 —Isaiah 40.11

In your pain and uncertainty
         she will come to you.
In your struggle, your healing,
         she will carry you.
In your recovery, your unfolding,
         she will feed you.
In your brokenness and guilt,
         she will hold you.
In your leading, your creating,
         she will gently lead you.
In your loneliness, your disconnection,
         she will gather you.
In your choosing, your standing firm,
         she will guide you.
In your beauty, your resilience,
         she will delight in you.

Lift up your hearts.
         See, your God is coming.

   —December 8, 2017


         In the wilderness prepare the way of the Holy One,
                  make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
         Every valley shall be lifted up,
                  and every mountain and hill be made low;
         the uneven ground shall become level,
                  and the rough places a plain.
         Then the glory of God shall be revealed,
                  and all people shall see it together
—Isaiah 40.3-5

Hills and valleys of money and power:
prepare for them to be leveled.
Mountains of privilege and exclusion,
unreachable heights, insurmountable summits:
God surmounts them.
Even the strongest are condemned.
Valleys of racism and sexual violence,
of incarceration and abuse, bear God’s sign:
“Clean fill wanted.”
Don’t count on the mountain to stand on,
or the valley to hide in, the prophet says.

The glory of God is not for the few,
the gated, the elevated,
but for all people when,
no longer separated by hills and gullies,
we are finally together.

Mind the carols you sing this dear little baby.
He means to upend your world.
Herod will fall to the dream of a peasant girl.
The emperor’s throne will become a pit.
Even the deep grave will become
a mountaintop experience.

Don’t build your house on a treacherous slope.
Upending is coming.

   —December 7, 2017

Prepare a way

         In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
                  make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
         Every valley shall be lifted up,
                  and every mountain and hill be made low;
         the uneven ground shall become level,
                  and the rough places a plain.
         Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
                  and all people shall see it together
                           —Isaiah 40.3-5

God, prepare your Way in me.

What valleys in me need to be lifted up?
         Raise those low places.

What mountains in me need to be brought low?
         Dismantle those mighty things.

What rough places in me need to be made smooth?
         Smooth them out.

How might your glory be revealed in me?
         Let it shine.               

   —December 6, 2017

Comfort ye

         Comfort, O comfort my people,
                  says your God.
         Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
                  and cry to her that she has suffered enough.

                           —Isaiah 40.1-2

You who ache, hear this word.
You who long, you whose hopes lie wounded,
whose hearts are broken,
hear this word:
Blessing and comfort to you,
and assurance that God is with you
in infinite tenderness and healing.

We hear this word, we bear this word,
as we sing and pray,
as we shop and decorate.
We are always mindful of this:
this word is for you who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death:
you who survive the slum,
who endure the abuse, the trafficking;
you who are profiled, bullied, enslaved,
abused, tortured or forgotten;
you who rage at the evil of the powerful
and are not satisfied;
you whose diagnosis is not good,
whose job is not appearing,
whose marriage is a wound;
you whose people are called no one,
refugees, prisoners, outcasts,
who are too poor or queer or honest for us,
you whom the world rejects, God embraces—
we sing to you.

If this comfort is not for you,
then we sing it in vain.
Unless what we do will bring comfort to you
we believe nothing.

   —December 5, 2017


Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

This world is God’s good creation; yet all is not well. We are a broken people. As the year descends into darkness and winter approaches, we feel in our bones the coldness and need of the human family. Evil abounds. Cruelty is policy. Injustice reigns. Racism, greed and sexual violence crowd the news. Hope flickers among dark shadows. We cry to God with Isaiah, “O, that you would tear open the heavens and come down!” (Isa. 64.1).

But in our longing we do not just gaze at the sky. We get ourselves ready. We don’t just wish; we prepare. We trust God is at work in the midst of the mess with a transforming, life-giving power. Like Mary, we say Yes to that power unfolding within and among us. We become the change we want to see in the world. We become people of peace and gentleness, of love and courage. We become candles shining confidently in the darkness.

The Advent season is a time not just to ramp up to Christmas, but to open up to God. It’s a time to let God’s light spark in us, to let God’s Presence deepen in us. It’s a time of stillness, a time of prayer, a time of opening.

As we wait in the darkness, God’s light dawns in us, and we become people of joy. We are ready for new life. We are ready for Christ to walk into our living rooms. We are ready to bear Christ into the world. We become God’s love, enfleshed, vibrant, and powerful. Though we may fear people’s resistance, we are not the only ones who are crying, “O that you would come!” We bear love and grace and justice into a world that awaits us with hope. Welcome, Advent.

   —December 4, 2017

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