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.'
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?
So, you’ve done your homework. You’ve looked up DBCC on the Internet, went to our web site, poked around the FAQ and About Us pages, Facebook stalked us. And maybe you’ve thought to yourself, “This seems like an odd and interesting group of people,” and decided to check us out in person. Maybe you’ve heard about us in some other way, but you’d like to know a little bit more about us—who we are, what we’re passionate about, what kind of role we believe we play in making the world a more peaceful and just place, or why we think the Marx Brothers are superior in every way to the Three Stooges. (Sorry, the last thing was a bit of editorializing. ~Derek)
Well, we’d like to buy you dinner and a drink, and answer your questions. We’re going to have a “Get to Know DBCC Thing.” The first will be on Sunday, April 30th at 12:30. The second will be on Wednesday evening, May 3rd at 6:30, downstairs in The Commons. Bring your questions and your appetite. And if you don’t have either of those, come anyway and meet some pretty great people.
By Derek Penwell
“What’s the one thing you’d like to do before you die?”
That’s what I asked them. Five of us sitting around a table in a bar after a wedding. You know how those conversations usually go. Besides my wife, I hadn’t met any of the other people until the day before. But having learned that one woman was a marathoner who expressed no interest in running another one since she’d already accomplished her goal, it got me to thinking. I wondered if she had other big-ticket items on her life to-do list. So I asked everybody what big thing they’d like to accomplish before shuffling off this mortal coil.
One person said, “Play the piano.”
Another said, “Do a hand stand in yoga.”
Still another said, “Be published.”
All of these seemed like reasonable aspirations—not outrageous, like becoming an astronaut or becoming a pediatric neurosurgeon (which aspirations aren’t outrageous either, unless you happen to be on the downward side of middle age). “Doable,” I thought.
So, we talked in a meta-way about accomplishing goals—about how hard you have to work, and how consistently you have to show up. Generalities. It was a bar conversation, after all.
But if it had been in another setting—one that didn’t include a long day, a night of dancing and drinking—I probably would have said, “Ok. So, how are you going to accomplish your goal?”
Look, I’m nobody’s life coach. But I know how this stuff works. Having a goal and accomplishing a goal are the same distance apart as fireflies and fire.
Usually, when I ask that question, “How are you going to accomplish your goal?” what I get is the econo-size box of hesitation. “Um … well … ”
So, the next step (there almost always has to be) is to ask, “What’s the first thing you’d have to do to achieve your goal?”
More hesitation. People find abstraction much more comfortable to live with, since it doesn’t really cost anything to think big thoughts. “Well, I guess, I’d have to … um … well … “
Simple. Just keep it simple. Practical. What’s the first physical thing you’d have to do to start following through on your goal?1 If you’re going to learn to play the piano, what’s the first thing you’d need to do?
“Find a piano teacher?”
How? You need to be specific. Ask a friend? Call the local music shop?
“Call the local music shop.”
“On the phone.”
You’ve got the number of the local music shop on speed dial?
“Oh, I’d have to look it up.”
How? In the Yellow Pages? Google it?
There you go. If you’re going to learn to play the piano, the first step is to Google the phone number of the local music shop.
Now, you think I’m a pedantic twit. You’re not alone. Believe me.
But until people get that specific, they’ll never learn to play the piano. Because playing the piano is hard. You learn step-by-step, day after day. Most people know that, which is why they either put it off, or they keep the idea of learning to play the piano conceptual (which might just be the same thing).
Congregations are really good at abstraction. What would your congregation like to accomplish?
“We’d like to grow.”
Without getting too deeply into what you mean by “grow,” how are you going to accomplish that? (What congregations mean by “grow” will generally be evident in their answer about how they intend to grow. Usually, they mean something having to do with bodies and cash.)
“Um … well … we could get some young families.”
How do you propose to “get” these young families?
“We could hire a young minister.”
What do you suppose your “old” minister would say to that?
“Good point. We could have more programs that appeal to young families.”
Ok. What kinds of programs? Vacation Bible School? Upward Bound Soccer League? Day care?
“A family movie night. And we could invite people from the neighborhood.”
Now we’re cooking with gas. What would you have to do first?
To show a family movie?
“Fine. We’d need to decide on a movie.”
“The fellowship committee.”
I would think choosing a movie wouldn’t need a motion in a committee meeting, but it’s your church. How are you going to get the committee to decide on the movie?
“I guess I could just email them and ask.”
So, at least in this person’s mind, the first physical act necessary to help your church grow would be writing an email.
I know that sounds overly fussy, but ideas (even good ones) will remain ideas until somebody bothers to pick up the phone, or send out an email, or shop on the Internet. Worthy aspirations are even worthier if you actually pursue them. And to pursue them you need to break down a big idea into manageable actions.
The larger point, though, is that congregations are notorious for keeping things vague. There’s safety in vagueness, in never starting. It’s difficult to fail at something you never actually try.
The secret: If you’re ever going to do anything interesting, personally or corporately, you’re going to have to plod through the valley of abstraction and set up camp in the world of actual work, where practical things like attending to details actually matters.
- Just so we’re clear, I’m not an organizational genius. I get this “first step” thing from David Allen’s, Getting Things Done. Do yourself a favor, and read it. It’ll change your game.
We heal the sick, we bind up the broken-hearted, we comfort the grieving, we pick up the downtrodden, we fight for justice . . . not because it makes for good strategy, but because we follow Jesus, which means we're prepared to walk with him down any dark alley he enters—in search of those the rest of the world would just as soon leave behind.
We do it because it's right. And because God loves us enough not to let us stay where we are, because we’re the blessed who come in the name of the Lord, and because we don't know how to do anything else.
Those who follow Jesus have a weird way of looking at blessing. We see blessing as a struggle, as the courage to fight in the face of almost certain defeat, the determination to look death in the eye without turning tale and running.
The recording was compromised, so we're skipping out on the audio portion this week (oops). We'll be back next week. It turns out the words are still good.
'Oh come on, preacher. Pie in the sky. We need to be realistic. Face facts. It’s a grim world. You’re just whistling past the graveyard.'
If you trust me even a little bit, then hear this: Hang on. God is still breathing. The spirit still comes from the four winds. Life my seem to be having a rough go of it in the valley of the dry bones. But God’s isn’t finished yet.
You see, in two weeks we’re going to have a party—a little thing we call Easter. It’s where we really get to see what God thinks of death and despair. You don’t want to miss that one.
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'It’s not us, it’s them' is a more palatable take on society for many people, but it’s one, I imagine, Jesus would take issue with.
That’s my principal objection to the now-dead healthcare reform. It scrambled desperately for ways to soothe people’s consciences, by implying that we should feel no responsibility to help other people find adequate healthcare, because it’s their fault for not having it in the first place. But, this is church, so let’s be honest: booting 24 million people off of healthcare should pose a problem to people who follow a guy who spent a great deal of his ministry roving about the countryside dispensing free healthcare to people who didn’t deserve it. Just ask the man born blind in our text for this morning.
Being born blind is the definition of a pre-existing condition. But according to Jesus, it should never be a pretext for finding an excuse for why helping that person to find healing is wrong."
And this isn’t just any unsavory Samaritan woman either. She’s at the very bottom of the social heap—a Samaritan woman whose domestic life has been epically, unthinkably, impossibly unstable. John wants us to know that she’s the first century Guinness Book of World Records-holder for powerlessness. Social status doesn’t get any worse than this poor woman.
Jesus, incapable of making good choices, goes out of his way to have an encounter with the last person on the earth he should be talking to.
But that’s Jesus, isn’t it? You can’t take him anywhere, because he’s got really bad social instincts. He spends all his time talking to the wrong people.
Where does that kind of courage from—the kind that drives you to leave Ur and take a hike when you can't even see the path?
You know what I mean, right? What kind of store do you have to go to to pick up the econo-size box of audacity that will allow you to launch out into the unknown, with only the knowledge that doing so is a risk that might blow up in your face?
You could play it safe, of course. Nobody would really blame you. But somehow you know that to do so is to turn your back not only on who you are, but on the kind of world you almost don’t even dare to imagine is possible—but from which you can’t afford to avert your gaze, for fear that it will all just disappear.
By Derek Penwell
When I got to the office one time, I had a voicemail from a young man I’ve never met before. The message began, “My name is Benjamin. You don’t know me, but one of your colleagues referred you to me.”
He went on to say that he’d done some research on DBCC, and the ministry we’re involved in advocating for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) people. He wanted me to know how much he appreciated our efforts, and how encouraging it is to hear about a church that actually cares for folks who’ve traditionally experienced only heartache at the hands of the religious establishment.
Felt good. Nice to have your work affirmed by a stranger … unsolicited. Put a smile on my face.
He proceeded to relate a bit of his story. He came out to his parents when he was twelve. Being religiously conservative, they did what they believed best—they put him in “reparative therapy”—”pray away the gay.” The whole thing damaged him so badly that he’s assiduously avoided church ever since. I could hear the bitterness in his voice.
Over a very short period of time, I went from feeling, perhaps, a little too self-satisfied at the initial compliment to feeling awful for this young man’s trauma.
Then he said something that struck me as both profoundly sad and strangely hopeful: “I can only wonder how my life would have been different if there’d been a church around that had loved me for who God created me to be, instead of trying to change me from what it feared I represent.”
I started thinking about the Suicide Prevention Workshop we held a couple years ago. Turns out LGBT young people are two and a half times more likely to contemplate suicide than their straight counterparts. More frighteningly, I found out that those same LGBT youth are eight times more likely to attempt suicide.
Why the significantly higher rates?
Bullying, of course. But bullying is something that frequently happens … to a lot of kids. Perhaps even more deeply than bullying, though, LGBT kids experience rejection and isolation at the hands of the very people kids are supposed look to to love them and keep them safe.
Their parents kick them out of the house at alarming rates, making homelessness among LGBT youth twice as likely as among straight youth. The churches they attend often brutalize them in the name of “love.”
Young people are dying at an alarming rate, in order to allow some folks to retain the purity of their personal sense of integrity. That this integrity costs the lives of children is apparently a price they are more than willing to pay.
I realize that the motive for this stringent vision of purity is rooted in what its possessors would term love. And, I should point out, there is something to be said for saying “no” in the name of love—addicts, for example, often require the love found in “no.” And those who affirm reparative therapy, I suspect, would prefer to see same gender sexual orientation as an addiction to be conquered.
Unfortunately, though, reparative therapy is not “AA for the gay.” For one thing, AA actually works, whereas reparative therapy, at least according to the medical and scientific community, does not.1 But the problem has less to do with the fact that reparative therapy is ineffective, than with the fact that it does damage.2
LGBT young people having to find their way without the people and institutions charged with caring for them struck me today as I spoke with a pastor about his church. It seems there are some young adults in the church who would like to have conversation about how the church can become a place of welcome to LGBT people. Apparently, the older people in the church think such a conversation would be dangerous, afraid people will get angry and leave. After all, there are so many more important things in the world.
As the pastor spoke, I thought about Benjamin. I thought about all the LGBT young people going through hell because the people they trust to watch out for them have belittled and abandoned them. And I wondered how life would be different if there were churches around that loved these kids for who God created them to be, instead of trying to change them from what church people fear they represent.
I pray to God we find out.
To wit: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychoanalytic Association, American Psychological Association, American School Counselor Association, National Association of Social Workers, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO): Regional Office of the World Health Organization. ↩
See above note. ↩
The idea that Jesus wasn’t political is a fiction typically maintained by middle class white folks who’ve more or less benefitted from the political status quo—who have the luxury of not thinking about politics, because politics has typically been pretty good to them—and they have no reason to fear that that state of affairs won’t continue for the foreseeable future.
But if you’re among that increasingly large group of Americans who haven’t fared so well as a result of how our political systems are designed, the idea that Jesus had no interest in politics is most likely unintelligible to you. If you’re among that group of folks who have historical reason to fear the power of the political class, then maybe you feel like you can’t afford to sit back and see how everything will shake out. You’ve seen how things have 'shaken out' in the past, and you have little confidence that if you just shut up about politics things will work out fine for you and yours.
Have you ever been to a church in which justice is not just the securing of individual rights, but the pursuit of a vision of the reign of God in which there is no justice until it gets extended to everyone? Where the people who live in fear of what an uncertain world holds for them are more important than the people who are making laws to oppress them?
God is a God of justice, who empowers people to live in ways that welcome all people, in ways that look after the rights of all people, in ways that ensure the safety of all people—and sometimes, in ways that ask of us to put ourselves and our bodies between the vulnerable and those who would seek to destroy them, between those whose race or religion or sexual orientation or gender identity is being threatened and the ones who brandish fear and hatred against them, between families and those who would tear them apart by ripping children from the arms of their foreign born parents.
We who follow Jesus make up that unbelievably weird group of people who claim to take the side of the powerless against the powerful, to worry more about securing food and housing and healthcare for the poor than securing tax breaks for the wealthy.
We’re the folks who see refugees not as terrorist threats, but as neighbors who are literally running for their lives, who see Muslims not as our religious or political competitors but as fellow seekers of God’s peace and justice for the world, who see undocumented immigrants not as sponges who suck up our resources but as families who bring vitality and worth to our lives.
In a world in which the beautiful, the influential, the successful get all the attention, we followers of Jesus opt for failure by being called to love those for whom so many others can manage only fear and hatred. But a people who follow an executed criminal can never get too caught up in what everybody else understands as success anyway.
By Derek Penwell
Let us imagine that you live in a circle of eight houses, seven of which have fertile gardens in back -- enough to feed a family. Unfortunately, however, the eighth house has a patch of swampy land that makes growing a garden impossible. Consequently, the people that live there spend their lives on the edge of starvation.
In the middle of this circle of houses is a commons that everyone uses to supplement their own gardens. But the gardening done in the commons, split eight ways, is only enough to give each house a little extra produce to sell for “nice things.”
The sharing of the commons is a tradition that has been passed down to homeowners in the neighborhood for generations. Nobody even questions it. The commons arrangement is just the way things are.
However, one-eighth of the commons doesn’t give the family with swampy land enough subsist on.
But that’s the way it goes, right? Life isn’t always fair. There has to be winners and losers.
Then one day, you’re having a cookout at your house with the bounty harvested from the commons. You’ve invited over a friend, who just happens to be a surveyor. She’s interested by the layout of the neighborhood, and the almost perfect solution of a commons. She thinks this is a great idea.
On her way to the bathroom, however, your surveyor friend happens by an antique survey map of the neighborhood hanging in your study. She begins to inspect it closely, as supper is being prepared. As she looks, she notices that the commons isn’t really a commons at all. In fact, the land that the neighborhood has been using freely to supplement each one’s income is actually a tract that legally belongs to the house with the swampy land.
You immediately realize the implications of this discovery: For years, because of a longstanding tradition, everyone in the neighborhood has been fattening their pocketbooks at the expense of the family that lives on swampy land. In other words, you realize that you’ve been getting rich on the back of the neighbor who can least afford it. You have an epiphany: Your neighbor’s family has been starving, while the rest of the neighborhood has taken the proceeds for itself -- the proceeds that rightfully belong to the starving family.
You feel awful. But it was tradition. Nobody knew any better. That you probably should have been more compassionate toward your neighbor all along is beside the point. Now you know.
The moral question is: Having finally realized that you’ve been treating your neighbor’s family unjustly all these years, what are you going to do about it?
- Stay quiet about it and keep the arrangement the way it is. It appears to be in your best interest economically just to keep your mouth shut. Why say anything at all if it’s only going threaten your otherwise comfortable existence?
- You could privately admit to one or two neighbors that -- if it were up to you -- you’d just restore the commons to its rightful owner. You’re humane, after all, you don’t necessarily want to see anyone starve. But then you might continue by telling your friends that, though you’re personally pulling for the family with swampy land, you’re afraid that if you say anything publicly about the injustice, one of two things might happen: 1) your other neighbors might get mad and vote you out of the neighborhood association; or 2) they might just think the whole arrangement is falling apart and vote to disband the neighborhood association all together. And boy howdy! You could never live with yourself if you were the person who submarined such a great arrangement, which seems to meet the needs of so many people.
- Or you could say, “Now that I know an injustice is being committed, I can’t keep quiet about this practice that threatens one of my neighbors, even if speaking up about it makes everyone else angry.”
Whatever you do, though, now that you know your neighbor is suffering unjustly at the hands of people among whom you live and work, morally you occupy a different place than before the surveyor pointed out the inequity.
So, let’s bring this home for the church folk:
If you happen to be a follower of Jesus who believes LGBT people have suffered injustice at the hands of the church, your response to that injustice -- whether you stand up publicly to speak against it or not -- (as difficult as it is to think about) is a moral question.
If you come to believe as a result of your faith that disproportionately imprisoning and killing young African Americans is an epidemic that is just a public manifestation of institutional racism, how you respond to the shooting of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, et al., makes a difference.
If in the course of your life as a Christian and a participant in the great American commons you become convinced that people arriving to participate in that commons from other countries deserve to be treated with dignity and hospitality, whether you choose to stand beside them in the face of hatred is not a matter of moral indifference.
“What will my congregation/denomination think if I publicly name this injustice?” is certainly a question worth asking. But the more pressing moral question has to do with thinking that that question is more important than “What’s my moral responsibility to people facing an injustice that threatens their dignity, their careers, their living arrangements, their ability to be parents -- and in some cases -- their lives?”
True moral knowledge of injustice without action makes you part of the problem. If you don't think so, ask the folks in the swampy land.
Jesus announces a new order of things in which the anawim—a Hebrew word applied to those who are the very lowest in society, the huddled masses, the wretched refuse, the homeless, the tempest-tossed, the folks who live out next to the garbage dump of life (literally, the $#!& of the earth)—a new order of things in which the anawim occupy the places of honor, finally get to sit at the big people’s table, no longer handed the crumbs and the leftovers.
When Jesus calls us to follow him to Galilee, to the walk with the socially marginalized, do we go? Immediately?
There’s work to be done, my friends. Following Jesus as he heads into the shadows to find those people who are trying to remain invisible for fear of what will happen to them requires a sense of the 'fierce urgency of now.'
It’s not easy. Who knows what it might cost you and those you love in the coming days?
But as the activist priest Daniel Berrigan once said, 'If you want to follow Jesus you’d better look good on wood.'
There are too many people looking around, seeing the good others have, and wondering why it’s been reserved for the few. They see folks with reliable health insurance, folks whose children can walk to school without fear of being bullied because of their sexual orientation or gender expression, folks who don’t fear that anytime their fathers goes out for a drive that they’re in danger of being shot. And they say together with one voice, 'You’ve got pretty good lives. That’s good for you, but what about us?'
The church can say all kinds of beautiful things. It can build beautiful buildings, and play beautiful music. It can pack the people into the pews and get itself on radio and T.V., and get invitations to rub elbows with the powerful and the well-off. But let me just say something, if the church can’t answer that question, whatever else it is, it’s not church.
By Derek Penwell
A Course in Creative Writing
They want a wilderness with a map—
but how about errors that give a new start?—
or leaves that are edging into the light?—
or the many places a road can’t find?
Maybe there’s a land where you have to sing
to explain anything: you blow a little whistle
just right and the next tree you meet is itself.
(And many a tree is not there yet.)
Things come toward you when you walk.
You go along singing a song that says
where you are going becomes its own
because you start. You blow a little whistle—
And a world begins under the map.
“They want a wilderness with a map.”
Boy, ain’t that the truth? In a world that seems constantly to be shifting beneath our feet, ministers feel that unspoken expectation every time they step into the pulpit.
“They want a wilderness with a map.”
I think that’s why bumper stickers are so popular. There’s a sense that if we could just get a few things nailed-down, if we could just see a few markers that would point us through the briars, through the overgrown brambles, through the violence, and uncertainty, and senselessness of it all, we might somehow survive another day in the wilderness.
Straight-line, discursive speech that tells us where to put our feet next. We all know about preachers only too anxious to give it to them. The sermon as self-help, as moral disquisition, as prosaic orienteering. “I’m okay, you’re okay.”
“Five easy steps to a better prayer life.”
“God helps them who help themselves.”
“Do this. Avoid that. Don’t talk back to your mother. Brush your teeth after every meal. A penny saved is a penny earned. Wash your hands after you go to the bathroom.”
“Be careful little feet where you go.”
“It’s so hard out here. Tell us something that allows us to believe the whole thing isn’t so unpredictable, isn’t about to blow up in our faces.”
We preachers understand it. We know the diminished expectations. Such deflated speech, however, bridles all complexity, all nuance, all mystery. In our rush to have a manageable reality, a tractable existence we lose the “errors that give a new start/or leaves that are edging into the light/or the many places a road can’t find.”
The temptation of preaching is to smooth the rough edges, to iron out the wrinkles, to fill in the cracks and gaps with caulk, to be assuring and affirming, to opt always for the palliative, rather than the curative.
But this attenuated speech raises the question of why anyone would need to come to church to receive such thin gruel? You can buy that sort of non-confrontational, low-cost reassurance anywhere. Daytime television is busy dishing this stuff out in much more convenient doses, which don’t even require you to get out of bed to partake.
The problem with all this tiny talk for tiny Christians is that bumper stickers are too small to make good maps. If you tame the wilderness, it’s no longer wilderness; it may be easier to move about in an illusion, but you don’t really get anywhere—and it’s not near as exciting.
“Maybe there’s a land where you have to sing/to explain anything.”
Maybe, like Walter Brueggemann has argued, the job of the preacher is not to circumscribe the known world with bromides and banalities—but to render a world heretofore unimagined, to break open a reality that has gone unobserved because we didn’t have the resources to name it, to speak it—by the grace of God—into being, a world where “you blow a little whistle/just right and the next tree you meet is itself./(And many a tree is not there yet.)”
If you ask Jesus, the reign of God is too huge, too grand, too paradoxical ever to be contained by our pedestrian prose; it’s a world so inimical to the way we’re conventionally trained to see things that often the only way we have to speak about it is poetry and parable and story; it’s “a land where you have to sing/to explain anything.”
And in Christ, we’re finally given the words to sing the tree. As we sing the truth, we see that it was a tree all along, and not just a stick with green attachments shooting off in every direction, or a large birdnest, or an inconvenient obstruction to new housing development.
And by singing that one tree into existence in all of its wooded glory, maybe we can begin to understand that there are forests of other trees standing before us, and beside us, and beyond us that we formerly saw as merely wilderness to be traversed as efficiently and painlessly as possible, by whatever map promised the easiest route.
The very act of singing this world sets you on a journey into the heart of the mysterious wilderness. Who would be callow enough, stupid enough to claim that it’s an easy journey to walk? Only those with a pretend map of a pretend land that exists in an illusion called reality, utility, fact—conjured up by people with inexaustable fear, but limited vision.
“Things come toward you when you walk.”
The fact that you begin the journey at all means that you’ll run into obstacles that you would otherwise have avoided if you’d only stayed home and watched Jeopardy.
Beginning the journey at all means that you’ve surrendered the notion that you possess a way to map the wilderness, that it’s possible to have any real understanding as an antecedent to actually taking the first step. In the same way it is impossible to learn to swim without ever getting in the water, it is impossible to know the terrain, to understand the wilderness, while sitting at home in your Barcalounger with a map in one hand and a Budweiser in the other.
“You go along singing a song that says/where you are going becomes its own/because you start.”
Following Jesus is a contact— not a spectator — sport.
“You blow a little whistle—/And a world begins under the map.”
Sing a little bit, take a few baby steps and soon you see that the prosaic maps of the bumper sticker producers, the map-makers only serve to cover up the reality that’s there beneath the surface of a different reality contained in the words the church uses to name that world, and thereby call it into being—a radical, crazy wilderness in which it makes sense to turn the other cheek, to pray for those who persecute you, to sell everything you have and give it to the poor.
Those sorts of big, unwieldy truths don’t much lend themselves to bumper stickers, or to maps . . . or unfortunately for us all . . . to many sermons.