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. 

Faith on Earth (Luke 18:1-8)

Derek at Wrigley Field.

Derek at Wrigley Field.

In the final analysis, it’s an easy thing to say that we depend on God to secure our lives, to establish justice. It’s an entirely different matter to live as if it were true—as if we’re called to be the expression of God’s justice to a world that would just as soon go back to bed and forget the whole mess. Faithfulness requires that we keep knocking on that particular door—even if it looks as if nobody’s home.


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Except This Foreigner (Luke 17:11-19)

When faced with the temptation of dismissing people because they’re different, when persuaded to push the Samaritan lepers of our society into ghettos meant only to protect us from their condemning presence, when convinced that the only way to silence that which threatens our cherished beliefs is by nailing it to a cross, Jesus comes into our midst, sits down at the table . . . spread before us with vivid reminders of his own brokenness, his own 'otherness,' and says, 'no.'


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When Hope Is All You've Got (Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15)

Derek and his daughter, Mary. 

Derek and his daughter, Mary. 

Keep working. Keep plugging away. Keep expecting that—whatever the appearances to the contrary suggest—I’m fashioning a people there. I launch ships in the desert. I harvest crops in the wilderness. I ride the lame horse and shoot the crooked bow. I’ve even been known to make the dead dance. You may not see it clearly right now. It’s easy to see empty pews and think I’ve bugged out. But I haven’t. Don’t worry. I’ve got big plans for you.


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That They May Be One (John 17:20-26)

Derek at Wrigley Field. 

Derek at Wrigley Field. 

If the world is ever to take Jesus seriously, in other words, it has to quit seeing those of us who are his followers as fence-builders, as constructers of barriers, as those more willing to exclude than include. To the extent that Christians have continued the divisions—male/female, black/white, straight/gay, fundamentalist/progressive, Catholic/Protestant—we’ve alerted the world that it need not take us seriously. We’re just like everybody else, willing to declare war on whomever and whatever we can’t figure out how to fit in the tent.


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Radical Welcome? (Luke 15:1-10)

Derek and his son, Dominic.

Derek and his son, Dominic.

In these parables Jesus wants to know: Who are we making angry because we love the wrong people?

And this is an especially important question to ask on the fifteenth anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Because somewhere over the past fifteen years an awful lot of our neighbors have gotten the message that it’s okay to be afraid of Muslims, that it’s okay to hate people they don’t even know—just because those people happen to go to a mosque to worship God, or because they happen to be refugees, trying to escape horror and death in their home countries.


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The Cost of Discipleship (Luke 14:25-33)

Derek and his daughter, Mary.

Derek and his daughter, Mary.

Following Jesus costs a great deal more than we’re able to afford on our own. There are crosses with our names on them, just waiting for us.

Your cross might be made from the wood of ministering to the homeless. It might be carved from the ancient timber of speaking out against rape culture. It might be from the lonely stand of trees that make up caring for those with physical disabilities or mental illness. It might be from the lumber of #BlackLivesMatter, or feeding the hungry, or advocating for forgotten children, or caring for God’s creation, or welcoming the refugee, or standing up against the injustices that confront LGBTQ people, or sheltering the immigrant.

But don’t be mistaken, if you follow Jesus there’s a cross for you.


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Where Is the Lord? (Jeremiah 2:4-13)

Derek and his son, Samuel.  

Derek and his son, Samuel.  

Where is the Lord?

According to Jeremiah, that’s the question God wants us to ask.

God isn’t afraid of our doubts and fears. God doesn’t shrink before our questions, doesn’t run from our anxieties.

God would rather have us ask tough questions about where God is than to have us throw up our hands in despair.


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What Kind of God? (Luke 13:10-17)

Derek and his son Dominic

Derek and his son Dominic

Christians can’t just believe stuff. People want an answer to the question: What kind of God they got up inside that church?

They want to know what turns on these much-discussed beliefs, what difference these beliefs make in our lives. Do they help us heal the sick, care for the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked or receive the outcast? Do they help us stand up for the persecuted and the oppressed, welcome the refugee, or protect the vulnerable? Or do these beliefs merely represent a golden barrier that offers protection against blame—a way to be right?

In short, people who’ve lost interest in Christianity might just like to see Christians for whom believing 'this stuff' is merely the first step to actually living it out.


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What's a hero? (11:1-3, 8-16)

Ben toting his son, Will. 

Ben toting his son, Will. 

So, the safe thing to do is live as if God exists because the reward of doing anything else isn’t so great as to justify the risk of being wrong on this question. Pascal would have all of us smart people who are really thinking about things make the safe bet and live faithful lives just in case God exists.

It’s so rational and so…unsatisfying. Isn’t it? Trying to be faithful to the edicts of a higher power that just might exist seems so middling, so empty, so impotent, so…safe. It seems like advice a financial planner might give you. This is what the kids call “weak sauce”.

I don’t want that kind of faith. I want the kind of faith that turns away swords, conquers enemies. I want to part seas! Heck, in my line of work, I would settle for some of the more modest accomplishments of our Israelite heroes: obtaining promises and administering justice. Injustice is everywhere. Cruelty and pain abound and I want a resilient, courageous faith. But, I don’t often feel faithful at all, much less full of the faith of our Israelite heroes.


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The Stuff I Have (Luke 12:32-40)

Derek and his daughter Mary

Derek and his daughter Mary

It’s so easy to think that the more we have the more prepared we are; only to find out that we maybe we’re preparing for the wrong thing.

It’s so easy to fool ourselves into thinking the higher the walls we build, the safer we’ll be; only to be shown that no walls are high enough to keep out the stuff that haunts our dreams, that our safety is not ours to ensure.

It’s so easy to believe that the future we’re waiting for is one we could—through thoughtful planning and safe investments—meet on our own terms; only to find out that the future breaks in on us like the owner of the house returning from a wedding banquet—pushy, demanding.


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The Persistence of God (Hosea 11:1-11)

Mary Ann Lewis and her husband, Chuck. 

Mary Ann Lewis and her husband, Chuck. 

God has a compelling relationship to us, God’s people. Always there. Constant, persistent, insistent. We need a God who stays. We need a God who invades our lives with presence. We are the ones who move away, who put up barriers, who assign God to safe places in our lives and in our thinking. There is the old line, “if you think you can’t find God, who moved?

Imagine a world where God’s presence invaded every space. Imagine following that presence through the door to healing: healing of broken relationships; relieving painful and infuriating injustice, healing of ugly dialogue--offering peace and wholeness in its place. Because that is what the presence of God--the Spirit-Energy--can do.


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The Bread We Need (Luke 11:1-13)

But Jesus says that in the reign of God, following him toward Jerusalem, we don’t get that kind of assurance. All us type A’s are going to have our worlds turned upside down, because we’re on an adventure—not a tour group.

In a world where too many go to bed hungry at night, where too many wake up to uncertainty about whether their children will make it home safely from school, where too many look for a friendly face among those who claim to follow Jesus but find no one . . . it’s going to be especially tough to make the sorts of things that typically go on a spreadsheet the measure of our success.


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A Faith that Means Something (Amos 8:1-12)

Derek Penwell

Derek Penwell

Amos is here to tell us that God’s not happy—not only with the systems of power that use people’s labor, abuse their hope, crush their dreams, steal their children and then ignore the lives that are lost, but also with a world in which people go to church every Sunday and sing about loving Jesus, but then stand idly by and say nothing.


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Prayers of the People: Claire Bridges

A prayer by Claire Bridges on June 10, 2016

LORD, we come today with heavy hearts, weary from news of senseless violence with feelings of hopelessness, anger, fear, guilt, and confusion. Let us pray for the lives lost this week. Let us send out light & love for Alton Sterling & Philando Castille. For the Dallas Police Officers: Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarippa, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, & Lorne Ahrens. We send out light & love. Let us be LIGHTS. Let us be LOVE. Let us spread that light & love wherever we go--to the ends of the earth. Finishing today with words by Yogi Kino MacGregor:

No matter how complex life gets there is always the earth below and the sky above, the thread of your breathtaking tethers you to the spirit, the simplicity of wonder, grace, & faith, the promise of love's ultimate triumph over even the darkest valleys.

Amen.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Luke 10:25-37)

Rev. Candi Cubbage

Rev. Candi Cubbage

Rev. Candi Cubbage is back in the pulpit. Y'all listen up.

This is war, Folks. Am I scaring you? If you came to church this morning to forget about what is happening outside in the street, you’ll be disappointed. This is war, and what is the cause? I’ll sum it up for you in one word. The cause is SIN.


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Lambs in the Midst of Wolves (Luke 10:1-11, 10-20)

Derek with his son, Samuel.

Derek with his son, Samuel.

Here’s the thing: All the bumper stickers laid end to end, all the electric guitars and synthesizers stacked to the sky, all the studied beauty of grinning ministers in the world can’t make Jesus cool. Jesus isn’t cool—he’s the embodiment of the God's desires for humanity; the church’s job isn’t to sell him—it’s to live like him.

The gospel is pretty clear: Some will respond; some won’t. And that's the difficult part—being sent like lambs into the midst of wolves makes us vulnerable, it reveals the fact that we're not in charge. It demonstrates that the only control we have is whether or not we're going to live like Jesus said to live.


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MX Reflex 2016

We made it back from Mexico! And oh what a trip it was. As is tradition, we all give a bit of a reflection about our experiences from a prompt:

What did you give, and what were you given?

We had some really special responses.


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