Douglass Blvd Christian Church

an open and affirming community of faith

n open and affirming community where faith is questioned and formed, as relationships are made and upheld. 

The Mercy of Bread (Matt. 15:21-28)

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And once you eat this meal, no one can ever again be expendable. Once you sit at this table, there are no more untouchables.

No more hating people, just because society tells us it’s ok to hate them. No more ignoring people different from us, just because we have laws that allow us to do that. No more being silent when the voices of hatred and fear are raised against our friends and neighbors. No more looking the other way because we’re not affected . . . because we are affected, just as long as any of our human family are affected.


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Playing Host (Matthew 14:13-21)

I’d like to suggest to you that Matthew sets up the story of the feeding of the 5,000 intentionally as a feast, a party hosted by Jesus, a life-giving party in which those who have nothing receive everything they need. But this party that Jesus hosts contrasts sharply with the party hosted by Herod just verses before—a party for those who already have everything they need—a party complete with extravagance and excess, all for the benefit of those who know nothing but benefit. But instead of giving life, Herod’s party deals in death. Just ask John the Baptist.

Matthew shows us something about the way the rulers and the powerful of this world usually operate: there’s often more than enough for everybody to enjoy, but somebody always ends up dead. But when God gets the world God wants, though scarcity seems to rule, there’s more than enough to give life to everyone.


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The Kingdom of God Isn’t Always Good News (Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52)

When we say 'reign of God' in church, it sounds like good news. It sounds like the voice of justice clamoring against discrimination faced by our transgender neighbors. It sounds like the voice of compassion raising the alarm about kicking people off their healthcare. It sounds like the voice of those who shout in solidarity with all the women looking to make their way to the clinic without being harassed. It sounds like the voice of a river whispering to be spared the devastation humanity has wrought in its pursuit of progress. It sounds like the voice of an African American man unjustly accused crying out for justice in a world that has too often withheld it. It sounds like the voice of Malala resisting the Taliban. It sounds like the voice of Jesus challenging all the unjust systems that attempt to thwart the new world God has in mind.

When we say 'reign of God' in church, it sounds like good news. But to Caesar, to the powerful, to the people who always come out smelling like roses, to the people who benefit from a nice, orderly system that they alone control and benefit from—it doesn’t sound like good news at all. It sounds like the end of everything that has consistently given them advantages that most people will never enjoy.


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What I Have Promised You (Genesis 28:10-19)

God is determined to see the world God intended at creation, and God’s choosing up sides. And, for whatever reason, God chose you to change the world. I don’t pretend to understand God’s draft day strategy, but God’s decided to put you on the team with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. Not a sterling start, I think we can all agree, but that’s God for you. God chose a skinny, no-name Galilean carpenter to build the franchise on. In God’s crazy way of looking at things, you make all the sense in the world.


Technical difficulties in the middle were a bummer. But you'll get the gist of the story.

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Holding Out for Something Better (Genesis 25:19-34)

The story of Jacob shows how God is busy seeking to disrupt, to turn upside down the world that the people in charge find comfortable—a world in which it’s taken for granted that the first shall be first . . . and the last shall be last. A world in which the powerful and the favorite sons assume that God uses the wisdom of the wise to shame the foolish, and the strength of the strong to shame the weak.

But in God’s vision of the way things should be, those who’ve been born with the deck stacked against them are now the ones God seeks to make whole.

Those who’ve always been too easy to ignore, too easy to exploit occupy the places of honor.


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The Cost of Following Jesus (Matthew 28:16-20)

Keep this in mind when you bring your children to church: You may not be prepared for the consequences. It can be dangerous to have your children hang out with Jesus because, if they do, someday they might just hear his voice. They might drop their nets and follow him, and then one day head out into a world that doesn’t want to hear what they have to say about how God wants to see the world work.

They start talking about things like loving gay people and trans people the same as everyone else, and looking out for poor people (even the ones everyone else says don’t deserve it), they start talking about things like refusing to be silent when black men and women die in the streets—just because of the color of their skin, and not cooperating with authorities who want to split up the families of undocumented immigrants . . . they start talking about stuff like that, stuff they hear in this place in the middle of Sunday morning worship . . . and take it from me, they’re going to run into people who don’t like it. They’re going to make respectable people uncomfortable. They’re going to make the people in charge nervous.


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The Creatively Maladjusted (Acts 2:1-21)

I’ve spoken with Christians who’re convinced that it’s not politically expedient to call for a beloved community that protects African Americans and LGBTQ people, that includes our Muslim neighbors, our refugee neighbors, our immigrant neighbors—even though this constituency recognizes, as Dr. King reminds us, 'the natural impatience of people who feel their hopes are slow in being realized.' These timid folks believe that taking any kind of a stand will be heavy-handed and disruptive, while failing to realize that, if the Holy Spirit is in our midst, heavy-handed disruption of the existing unjust order is not the thing we wait for the right time to pursue, but the very thing we lead, empowered and emboldened by the Holy Spirit who breaks in on us with an apocalyptic mini-tornado, the one who sets the shape and trajectory of our ministry.

The prophet Joel says to all the people made prophets by God's Spirit: 'And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.' And there’s nothing politically expedient about that."

Apologies for the sound hiccup.


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You Will See Me (John 14:15-21)

We live in a world where people of color need someone to stand up and take some blows for them from a world that has too often focused its violence and hatred on their bodies, where undocumented immigrants need someone to stand between them and a system designed to devour their families, where Muslims need people like us to stand arm-in-arm around their mosques to keep out the forces that want to consume them, where LGBTQ people need someone to stand by their side as they seek to make their way through a world that too often would rather they just go away, where people need all of us to stand up for their children and their parents with pre-existing conditions.

You want to know what the Holy Spirit looks like? You want concrete instead of abstraction? Look for the advocates.


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A Different Reality (Acts 7:55-60)

But I would like to suggest that it is impossible to live the Christian life correctly without making any enemies. In fact, if I’m a Christian and I haven’t made any enemies, maybe I’m not doing it right.

Why do I say that? Because we’re struggling against the powers and principalities. The very existence of a people who serve the Prince of Peace in a world defined by its ability to wage war puts us automatically in the cross-hairs of those who have a vested interest in promulgating war as a way of achieving peace.

In a world that specializes in putting locks on doors to keep people out, we cannot but appear to be threatening when we go to the doors, tear the locks off and invite everybody to come in.


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Making room at the table (Luke 24:13-35)

The church has been inhospitable to a wide range of folks over the years, excluding people because somehow they aren’t right the way some church folks figure right ought to look.

But it’s not right. If there’s one thing following Jesus teaches us, it’s when strangers and wayfarers come among us, we’d better make room at the table. Because it’s in those acts of hospitality—the sharing of food, the loving embrace of those who’ve been turned out, the kind word to the one whom the world has beat down, the hand on the shoulder of the grieving—it’s in acts like these that we can finally see Jesus for who he really is. It’s precisely in these welcoming gestures that we find Jesus.


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The Breath of Life (John 20:19-29)

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Jesus, as God did back in Genesis, breathed and brought forth new life—transformed lives, no longer in need of worrying only about existence and comfort and survival, about success and wealth and fame, about avoiding the hard demands of the presence of God . . . but about truly living—about being there for others, about binding up the wounds of the sick and the dying, about going out into the world and feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, liberating the oppressed, and finding those who’ve been forgotten and cast aside.

'As God has sent me to give you new life,' Jesus says, 'so I send you to give new life to the whole world.'


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No Words (Matthew 28:1-10)

The emphasis in Matthew’s Gospel seems to be less on what happened than on what happened next. That’s why Matthew has Mary and Mary burning up the road, not sitting around talking about it.

What work does the resurrection achieve? Victory over death. Freedom from fear. Salvation from sin.

However you want to talk about it. But the real question to us is, 'Now that you’ve got this shiny new resurrection, what are you going to do with it? Are you going to hang out with it, set up a shrine to it and serve lattes, thinking all the work’s been done two thousand years ago? Or are you going to realize that the freedom the resurrection brings is the freedom to back out of the tomb, walk down the road, and get back to work?


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