Cure of Souls

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On the Edge of Enlightenment: The Epiphany

Even on this day, as when we were waiting for God’s transformation of the world, we can miss the illumination. As often as not the illumination we seek is obvious and at the center while the epiphany we get is on the periphery just out of sight. The Epiphany comes to us as odd foreigners […]

The Veil Over the Holy Nativity

The icon of the Holy Nativity has something that eludes us.  I return, again and again, to its contemplation because it is a rich image but also because it challenges me. I don’t see it completely. The meaning eludes us, there is a veil over the icon. One layer of this veil is the familiar […]

When God-with-Us is no Comfort: Feast of Holy Innocents

Scriptures Readings: Holy Innocents: Jeremiah 31:15-17 Revelation 21:1-7 Matthew 2:13-18 Psalm 124 The sound track for this post: : What are we to make of the feast of the Holy Innocents? What is happening as we remember and celebrate these innocents, the unknown number of infants and toddlers who are martyrs? To what do these innocents witness? In […]

Torn Heavens and Shattered Earth: Advent Vexation

O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence–as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil– to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence!  (Isaiah 64:1, 2) This is a longing […]

Hope as Virtue and Discipline: “The arc of the moral universe is long but bends towards Justice.”

What follows is an essay written from my notes for recent Theology on tap for the Oratory of Jesus Christ Reconciler, written after the discussion. another version  was posted on the Oratory’s website. “The arc of the moral universe is long but bends towards Justice.” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used this aphorism in […]

Listening for the Mind of Christ in Time of Crisis: Do not be afraid, Part 3

12 Meanwhile, when many thousands of the crowd had gathered so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 Nothing is hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing is secret that will not be made known. 3 So […]

Listening to the Mind of Christ In Time of Crisis: Nothing is Hidden that will not be revealed, Part 2

12 Meanwhile, when many thousands of the crowd had gathered so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 Nothing is hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing is secret that will not be made known. 3 So […]

Having Nothing to Show: Spirituality without Accounts

Jesus said to the twelve, “As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two […]

Reconciliation and “the disgrace of Egypt”

I recently preached a sermon where I wove together God’s assurance to the Israelites, as they entered Canaan, that the disgrace of Egypt* had been rolled away, with Paul’s reflection on not seeing anyone or anything from a human point of view, with the attitude and space of the father in Jesus’ parable of The […]

“Racial Tensions” or an affront to the Gospel?: White Christians against Martin Luther King Jr.

Rachel Held Evans has a post on white forgetfulness (She says Christian but she means white Christian) when it comes to our honoring of Martin Luther King Jr. As we come to the close of this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I won’t focus on the above mentioned forgetfulness but seek to do what Rachel […]

The Joy of Transformation

Texts for contemplation: Matthew 3:1-17; Mark 1:1-11; Luke 3:1-21; John 1:19-34; John 2:1-11 Although we have left behind the celebration of Christmas, liturgically we are still basking in the light of God manifest in human flesh.   This is also the time of Carnival and Mardi Gras. We tend not to give much thought to this […]

Love as insight : The Epiphany

Yesterday was the Epiphany. In the western liturgical calendar we focus on the adoration of the magi. Historically though, two other Gospel events are also celebrated, the Baptism of Jesus of Nazareth in the Jordan by John the Forerunner and the Wedding at Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine.  Among the Eastern Orthodox the feast […]

The Discomforting Joy of the Holy Nativity

Back in December as the refugee Crisis in the Middle East and Europe was in our                                    news cycles a meme went around that had a few iterations and said something like “if only there was a seasonal story […]

Gun Violence and the Power of Death

The first week of December  I sent out these two tweets bellow, which then brought out a good conversation on Facebook. You can click through to see those conversations. Gun control doesn’t make us less violent, Just protects us from a certain violence & gives the means of violence mainly or only to the State […]

NPTS Symposium Race and Racism , Ecclesiology, and a Confession

The opening session of the Symposium for the Theological Interpretation of Scripture, Race and Racism Dr. Love L. Sechrest of Fuller Theological Seminary presented the paper “Enemies, Romans, Pigs, and, Dogs: Loving the Other in the Gospel of Matthew”.  The paper is synthetic drawing together critical race theory “research into the identity and ways of […]

Weaving One’s life with Christ’s: review of Sight in a Sandstorm

Sight in Sandstorm is a book difficult to categorize: part devotional, part creative retelling of the four Gospels, part historical Jesus scholarship and part devotional.  Ann Temkin creatively weaves her own story into the Gospel and Gospels.  Her story telling  both engages the reader and is informed by Historical Jesus scholarship and intimate knowledge of […]

Fragments of posts in progress

Lately I’ve been posting more at Personal Musings than here.  This space is theological, pastoral, and iconogrpahic.  The three most recent posts at Personal Musings almost fit in this space, yet I felt they were still too bound up in either too bound up in individual opinion, or still too unformed to for solid theological […]

God Forever Physical: Mystery of the Feast of the Ascension of Christ

Today we celebrate the feast of the Ascension of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, into heaven.  As this feast is on a Thursday, it is at times transferred to the 7th Sunday of Easter or passed over altogether. This feast may also seem superfluous, or merely a marking of one last event in the Gospel […]

Mystagogy of Easter: Vine and Branches

If you are like me raised in Sunday School the Gospel for the 5th Sunday of Easter may be very familiar to you: I am the vine you are the branches. This familiarity shouldn’t render impotent this rich and deeply mystical analogical reflection. Part of what this analogy convey’s is our dependence upon Christ.  Yet, […]

Easter Mystagogy Week 4: Good Shepherd.

How are we to hear the parabolic speech of Christ and God as our shepherd?  “The Lord is my shepherd…” and “I am the Good Shepherd…”?  In these passages of the third week of Easter and in the image of the Good Shepherd we are directed to attend to hearing and speech: “…they will listen to […]

The Mystagogy of Easter: According to what Reality Do We Live?

Mystagogy for the Third Week of Easter: The Meaning of God’s Union with Humanity (For the first in this Easter mystagogy series see The Doubt of Thomas the Twin) We are encouraged in the texts for the third Sunday of Easter to revel in the joyful astonishment of the Resurrection and to ecstatically contemplate the […]

The Mystagogy of Easter : The Doubt of Thomas the Twin

The lectionary each season of Easter brings us back to the same texts. Lent has a similar structure but there is a little more variation between each year in the three year cycle, while for Easter we read the same  passages from the Book of Acts and the Gospel of John. This all is related […]

Good Friday: Just another day in Post-Christendom

Yesterday, I had an appointment with someone, in the conversation my being pastor came up (it wasn’t about anything church or religiously affiliated), but that we met on Maundy Thursday, nor that today was Good Friday came up in the conversation.  The person whom I met seemed to have no sense that I as a […]

Lenten Reflections

In the past here at Priestly Goth, I’ve taken Lent to offer up my reflections on this time of fasting, penitence and Self-Reflection.  This Lent my writing is focused on worship liturgy and tradition (continuing reflections begun here and here) , and human sexuality .   However, I thought as we conclude the first full week […]

The Remnants of Christendom among Revivalists and Pietists

Recently it has come to light that Holly Hobby Lobby who posed in a photo with automatic riffle in one hand and the bible in the other, proclaiming her love of God, country, guns, and “family values,” had an adulterous affair with a video editor fo the Tea Party News.  I’m not surprised.  Not because I […]

Lets Talk Sin and Systems

For a time, as a child in the 1970’s, I lived on or near my grandparents farm.  The farm was forty acres of fruit trees and grapevines in which I, with my sister and cousins, freely roamed and played in.  There were few rules, one of them was that we weren’t to bother or speak to the farm workers. […]

Words of Comfort and Call to Repentance #StayWokeAdvent

There was no manuscript for my sermon at the Oratory on Sunday December 7th, what follows is my own continuing reflection on a sermon for the Second Sunday of Advent. Edited 12/15/2014 for clarity and grammar Scriptures for the Second Sunday of Advent were Isaiah, 2 Peter and the Gospel of Mark.  These Scriptures include words of comfort (from Isaiah) , a […]

Longing for Justice in Absence: #StayWokeAdvent

O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence– as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil– to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence!  (Isaiah 64:1, 2) This cry for […]

12 Chapters on Listening and Being Right

Ed. note: after publishing this I recognized  the genre .  It’s the ancient Christian genre of writing on the spiritual life in “chapters”: short paragraphs over which one is too linger in contemplation as one reads but which together form a sustained reflection on a topic.  I’ve now numbered the paragraphs and revised the title of the […]

Christians Embrace Death and the Particularity and Physicality Of the Gospel

We Christians are anxious about the state of our institutions.  We at the same time want to believe someone has the fix.  So, we make pronouncements.  A number of people including Tony Jones and Brian McLaren have suggested that we are seeing possible end of denominations, others are talking about the decline of particular denominations (such as […]

Spiritual Gifts, the Holy Spirit and our Abilities

For Pentecost I preached this sermon.  The sermon emphasizes a certain aspect of Spiritual gifts: namely that they aren’t equivalent to things we do well or like to do.  For instance you don’t have the Spiritual gift of Hospitality because you like to and are good at throwing parties.  To put it another way, having a […]

The Meaning of Giving Praise to God

When we praise God for something what are we doing?  When we thank God for a positive outcome and praise God for that outcome what are we meaning?  What are we attributing to God. These were some of the general questions I recently dealt with in a spiritual direction session with a directee.  Praising God […]

On Living in a Futile and Crooked Generation

This reflection is a riff on  the Sermon I preached at Reconciler on May 4th, the Third Sunday of  Easter. The Gospel text is the Road to Emmaus, the other Scripture texts are a portion of Peter’s sermon at Pentecost and the beginning of the First Letter of Peter.  We can lose sight of the […]

Listening to Wisdom of the Silent Tomb

Today is Holy Saturday, I generally try to let the silence of this day settle in.  We wait on this day.  It is the last day of the Lenten fast.  Any who have been fasting are probably weary of it by now.  We have come to the end. There is  a deathly silence to this […]

Holy Week, Grief and the Unexpected

As has become our custom at Reconciler, I didn’t preach.  We let the liturgy, the scriptures, sung and read, the hymns preach.  We walk a lot in our Palm Sunday service: We the Palm procession, we also process around to different stations for the reading of the Passion Gospel, we process up to gather around […]

Further reflections on fasting and Lent

As I mentioned in this previous post, I’m a novice when it comes to fasting.  Other spiritual practices I’m much more adept at and find much more congenial.  Since this Lenten fast has been one I’m practicing with the church communities I lead The Oratory of Jesus Christ, Reconciler and the Community of the Holy Trinity […]

Why Fast?

Lent is a time of fasting.  The patterns of fasting for most Christians in the united States today aren’t about complete abstinence from food, at least not in Lent.  Thus, “giving something up for Lent.” I confess that I’m not good at fasting.  The spiritual disciplines I gravitate towards are meditation, solitude, Lectio Divina (alone […]

Seeing the lie behind a truth: Sermon for First Sunday in Lent

Sermon preached for the Oratory of Jesus Christ, Reconciler.  I don’t always post my sermons here but this sermon has a tone and subject matter that fits well within the Cure of Souls thread.  Our approach to Lent at the Oratory is a form of  group spiritual direction around different aspects of Lent and spiritual […]

The place of intimacy with God in life and worship

Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz  has recently made a stir admitting he rarely attends church and when he does he doesn’t really get much out of it. Miller says he can worship God in other ways, and other means of intimacy with God suit him better than the corporate worship of a local […]

Trust even when the crops fail and teraces produce no nurishment

One of the canticles said at Lauds is taken from the third chapter of Habakkuk. It begins so confident , with such surety that God will vindicate and show God’s power.  But then the reality of  the siege of the city sinks in as the author sees beyond immediate circumstance even immediate suffering and hardship. […]

Review of Juxtaposed : A Memoir that Offers Hope

Daisy Rain Martin’s memoir Juxtaposed: Finding Sanctuary on the Outside, is brilliant, funny, hopeful, and heartbreaking.  Daisy Martin’s story is one of triumph over horrible abuse as a child.  Martin’s story can offer hope to those who come from similar situations of abuse and for those of us who have or are walking with survivors […]

Encountering Myself as Wounded Healer

Although I appreciate the work of both Carl Jung and Henri Nouwen, I have been hesitant to embrace the archetype of the wounded healer.  In part because I have seen it used to allow clergy and other spiritual leaders to bleed all over those under their spiritual care.   I’ve seen it allow some leaders […]

Review of the Enoch Factor: The sacred art of knowing God

Steve McSwain, wants to let us in on an amazing secret: you can know God.  The problem is it shouldn’t be much of a secret and many who think they know how (including the author at one point in his life even as a Baptist pastor) and can know God don’t know what Enoch knew.  Enoch is that character […]

Review of Mending Broken: A Personal Journey Through Trauma and Recovery

In Mending Broken: A Personal Journey Through Trauma and Recover Teresa B. Pasquale presents her personal history of trauma and recovery in a compelling and at moments moving way.   I read the book as a pastor and spiritual director who has worked with parishioners and directees who underwent trauma and suffered from PTSD.  Much of what the author relates about her […]

Presence, Absence and Belief in God

I’m continuing to expand on some comments I made at over at glassdimily, as requested by Jeremy John.  In the previous post, I compared Peter Rollins and St. John of the Cross.  I concluded that a difference between Rollins and St. John is that while both may call for a radical doubt of our conceptions or […]

St. John of the Cross and Peter Rollins

(Authors note: What follows is not expert opinion.  I’m reliant upon others acquaintance with both St. John of the Cross and Peter Rollins.  The connection between the Dark Night of the Soul and Atheism for Lent is not mine, but Jeremy John’s.  I’m mainly familiar w/ St John of the Cross from general religious Studies courses […]

Review: Daniel Meeter, Why Be a Christian (If No One Goes to Hell)

Daniel Meeter’s Why Be a Christian (If No One Goes to Hell) is a mixed bag.  At points the author’s analysis is spot on, at times a little heavy handed in what he rejects, and at moments deeply moving.  Some of this mixed bag is that I clearly am not the author’s audience: I’m a […]

Holy Terror: Mel White’s compelling and human account of the Christian Right

Holy Terror: Lies the Christian Right tells us to deny Gay equality, by Mel White is a compelling read with an immediacy that draws one in and keeps one’s attention.  Mel brings us into his insider view of the Religious Right .I grew up in an (moderate) Evangelical denomination in which I’m ordained, and so I’m somewhat familiar with […]

Deserts and the Parish

This past Sunday our closing hymn at Reconciler’s service, was “Your Kingdom Come, O Father”, the final verse reads “The desert, as you promised,  Shall blossom far and near; and through earth’s mist and shadows the sun ‘mild rays appear.  For that blest day we wait, Lord, when doubt and darkness gone, we witness earth’s redemption , and summer morn shall dawn.”  That […]

Is Church only Church when We Get it Right?

I’m reading Irresistable Revolution by Shane Claiborne, reading it for  a presentation I will be doing at the Practicing Resurrection conference in August.  I’m struck by his very moving story of the homeless woman and children in the St Eds cathedral, as the roman Catholic archdiocese is seeking to evict them. To his credit he doesn’t enter into either […]

Good(Holy) Friday and the Justice of God

The AngloBaptist is wrestling with today, well with the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth as the will of God.  He says it’s insane.   I agree we enter the Misterium Tremendum most viscerally here on Good Friday.  The mystery of our faith is terrible. we are shaken, it is Holy. Oddly we want to judge God, […]

Enter the Mystery: A Maundy Thursday Sermon

Sermon Preached at Joint Service with Immanuel Lutheran Church and St Elias Christians Church Over the next three days we are in the midst of the great Mysteries of our faith. Mystery not in the sense of something to find out like a detective using deductive logic, Nor even mystery as something that can’t be […]

Justice, Righteousness, Occupy and the Cure of souls.

A couple of Weeks ago over at Anglobaptist.org,  A photo for the D.C. Occupy Church and a quote from a post by Micah Bales was the catalyst for a dispute over the relationship of justice to the Gospel, and the role of the Church in political systems and movements. On one level the above conversation […]

In Defense of J. K. A. Smith, Praise Bands, and Critique – pt. 2

Part 1 is found here Do praise bands have to be loud and the center of a worship service?  If the band simply, with no frills, leads singing in a congregation does it cease to be a praise band? I am puzzled that  James Smith’s  critique (“encouragement to think about the what of worship”) was taken as […]

In Defense of J. K. A. Smith, Praise Bands, and Critique- pt. 1

Over at Fors Clavigera, James K. A. Smith‘s “Open Letter to Praise Bands” has caused a bit of a stir I think.  At least it has among the group of  Evangelical Covenant worship leader, worship pastors, and pastors (who like me plan worship each Sunday).   The stir relates to another conversation that has been […]