Why Caesarea Philippi?

Matthew 16:13-20

What better place to ask the question—
Who do you say that I am?
than the well-traveled intersection
for politics, religion, and trade,
Caesarea Philippi.

Armies are tramping through all the time
and it’s the trade route between Damascus and Tyre
and there are shrines to the old pagan gods.
All these concerns come together here
at this familiar crossroads.

So, when Jesus pops the question,
his followers might be tempted
to think he represents an earthly endeavor:
material wealth, military power,
or prominence in the religious establishment.

For Simon Peter, son of Jonah,
flesh and blood did not reveal the answer,
but our Father in heaven.

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A
August 27, 2023

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Young Love

Psalm 133

1. A Woman in Love

It must be love that fills the sky!
Whenever I think of him,
even a storm is fair beyond belief.

2. A Man in Love

Love has dyed my heart the color of love.
What is the color of love?
Cut open my chest and you shall know!

3. Chalice

Like two cities
at opposite ends of a long lake,
lovers sip the chalice
of all the world’s illusions.

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A
August 20, 2023

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Praise for the Black Church

Psalm 105, 1-6, 16-22, 45b

It’s hard to be humble—for those of the majority race
who are always favored first when it comes to power.
Oh, sure, there is empathy: imagine the horror!
But no one is thinking seriously of trading places.
Like Joseph, west Africans once had independence.
Mercenary brothers sold them into slavery
and they bore brutal bondage from birth to grave
on our soil. No one is wiser than their descendants.
It is difficult for whites to accept that the last are first
and the first last. Some believe the Haves
and the Have Mores on earth are bound for glory
where we are saved by following private paths,
but black churches proclaim the true story
of inclusion as taught to us by Jesus Christ.

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
August 13, 2023

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Saint Peter Foresees His Death

2 Peter 1:13-21

the blacktop road
comes to an end here
at the edge
of the wilderness…
be not afraid

The Transfiguration
August 6, 2023

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Strength and Power

Romans 8:26-39

The trials we bear are nothing new.
We have the strength.
We have the power.

God is with us; we know it’s true.
We have the strength.
We have the power.

We trust in God day by day.
We have the strength.
We have the power.

We trust in God to show us the way.
We have the strength.
We have the power.

The Lord will grant His saving grace.
The Lord resolves the trials we face.

We have the strength.
We have the power.
Our strength and power come from God.

NOTE: These are lyrics for an anthem.

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
July 30, 2023

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Psalm 139

“Have you been saved?” is the wrong question.
All of us are saved together.
All creatures and the cosmos itself
originate from one divine source.

At death we all return to the source.
The loving God is within us, at home,
patiently and kindly awaiting our recognition.
As creator of all, God is in every thing,

present at all times in all places.
God promises that nothing is wasted,
not even the oft-disparaged chaff.
Like all of us, chaff has a mission:

to protect the wheat berry from harm.
God is inside every thing
and every thing is inside God.
Whosoever loves God loves all that is.

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
July 23, 2023

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Joy at Daybreak

Psalm 65

I run the trail before the rising sun.
Cyclists will not be riding up my back
in the bleak early hours when all is black.
Body and soul are one on the run at dawn.
A careful stride keeps me free of pain
for an hour or more. I focus on my hushed exhale
on every fourth step as I master the trail.
Impurities slip away from body and brain.
With snowy cedars in the light of day, my mind
departs from mindful concentration to free association.
Tri-colors whirl, unfurl, flutter in the wind
as swaying timbers mingle with the heavens,
all powder-blue, white, and forest green
for me: delight is color, sun-rinsed clean.

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
July 16, 2023

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Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

we are
and then we are
what others think we are…
unserious children
in the marketplace

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
July 9, 2023

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Slow Train Coming

Romans 6:12-23

Bob Dylan addresses this scripture reading better than I can. Click this: Gotta Serve Somebody.

Released August 20, 1979

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
July 2, 2023

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Genesis 21:8-21

Abraham loved both his boys;
Sarah spurned the elder son.
Sarah wanted the second born
to inherit and grow the family business.

For the fair-minded father, it was disturbing
to learn the younger Isaac was his heir.
The scandal of election seemed unfair—
chosenness kicked Ishmael to the curb.

Abraham sent Ishmael away,
but God continued to watch the boy.
The Lord made a great nation of him
and honors his descendants to this day.

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
June 25, 2023

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The Birth of Laughter

Genesis 18:1-15 [21:1-7]

Infertility is hereditary.
If your parents didn’t have kids,
neither will you.
This was not a laughing matter
to the old man Abraham
and the old woman Sarah

who tried for years without success
to have a child.
God promised Abraham he would be
the ancestor of a great nation,
but the line dies with infertility.
Abraham and Sarah were astonished

when the three mysterious visitors
informed the wizened Abraham
that he and Sarah would finally have a son.
Abraham laughed,
Sarah laughed,
and God smiled at the absurdity.

NOTE: The name Isaac (Yīṣḥāq) means “he laughs/will laugh” in Hebrew.

Third Sunday after Pentecost
June 18, 2023

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The Thing Itself

Romans 4:13-25

When a man loves a woman,
does he love a painting of the woman
or the woman herself?
Surely he knows the painting
is not the thing itself.

When a woman loves a man,
does she love a photograph of the man
or the man himself?
Surely she knows the photograph
is not the thing itself.

Photographs and paintings are representations,
not the thing itself.

Sacrifices and offerings are representations
of our obedience to God,
not actual obedience.
Obedience to God is the thing itself.

Second Sunday after Pentecost
June 11, 2023


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We Have Questions

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars you have set in their courses,
what is man that you should be mindful of him?

Psalm 8:4-5

Digging deep into a pocket of nothingness,
the Webb Space Telescope uncovers
new stars and new pockets of nothingness.
We assume something is there. Nothingness
is a placeholder word for things undiscovered.

What about, we ask, the end of time?
Logically, a beginning, middle, and end
affects all things, including time
we are told—my personal time and Time
itself. What happens when we reach the end?
Is nothingness just another placeholder?
Dare we assume there is something more?

First Sunday after Pentecost: Trinity Sunday
June 4, 2023

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