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. 

How Will They Know? (John 13:31-35)

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"I’ve seen people proclaim their love in some pretty suspicious ways.

"I’ve seen women with bruises all over their bodies, permanently scarred on their souls from having been “loved” too intensely by the men in their lives.

"I’ve seen homeless LGBTQ kids who’ve been “loved” out into the street by families with Jesus dripping from their lips.

"I’ve seen women clothed in shame by people who loudly proclaim their “love,” as these women seek to make decisions about their health, their bodies, and their lives.

"I’ve seen people kicked off food stamps by Christian politicians who announce their “love” with words like “personal responsibility” and “incentivizing the poor.”

"I’ve seen people who claim to follow Jesus “love” immigrants by putting their children in cages.

"Love, at least the way it gets enacted in our world, appears to be a much more malleable concept than we like to believe."


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Just Trying to Hear (John 10:22-30)

It strikes me that much of what drives this unenthusiastic response to religion—at least in the case of Christianity—centers on the apparent inability of Christians to hear Jesus, and then to live like him. 

The “Nones” have heard endlessly about Christianity and how everybody would be better off if the world would just believe the stuff Christians believe.

But many of them have read the Gospels. They’ve seen all the stuff Jesus did. But then they look around at his followers, and they see something different. They see people worried about stuff Jesus never uttered a single word about, stuff he never spent a single minute worrying about.

Here’s a thought that ought to scare all Christians: What if part of the reason the “Nones” are so underwhelmed by organized religion isn’t because they don’t find Jesus interesting, but because it appears to them that Christians don’t find him sufficiently interesting enough to take seriously?

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Feed My Lambs (John 20:1-19)

 

Real forgiveness is tough. It’s not for cowards.

Forgiveness requires truth-telling, a willingness to decide that maintaining relationship means more to you than the pain of walking away.

Forgiveness costs … sometimes everything.


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Breaking through the Barriers (John 20:19-31)

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The most tempting thing to do is to hunker down, and wait for Jesus to show up and calm the storm, re-order our worlds, take the heat off, make everything all right.

Jesus asks us to throw open the doors and announce a new world not only absent violence and hatred, but filled with the goodness of God’s blessings—a world in which the poor have enough to eat, enough to care for the health of their children and their aged; a world in which those who’ve been turned out, sent away, shuffled off because they don’t look right, don’t love right, don’t have the right papers—so that everyone might finally find a place at the table, finally find the outstretched arms of embrace, finally find a home.

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I Will Not Be Put to Shame (Isaiah 50:4-9a)

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But please don’t misunderstand me; I’m not suggesting that the humiliated just bide their time until some day in a diaphanous and distant future. Because, if that were the case, there would be no need for resistance—since there would be no more shame. The Suffering Servant is, if anything, one whose denial of the power of the system to shame renders that system impotent right now.

The Suffering Servant in Isaiah is talking about setting our “face like flint” in ... the present, refusing to allow a system of honor and shame to continue to order our lives and confer our identities ... today, looking to the one who vindicates us ... in this moment.

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When the Story Takes a Turn (Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32)

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We need to think carefully about what Jesus is selling here. Since we’re the children of this parent who stands looking out the window—waiting for us to come home, waiting for us to come inside—we need to ask ourselves, 'Who are we looking for?'

Because here’s the thing, there are an awful lot of people who’re trying to find their way back home—but they’re scared that we who’ve been here for so long, we who’ve faithfully tended the fields for all these years—they’re scared we don’t want them here. They want to know if they’re just as welcome in this home as we are.

And if we’re ever going to be like the parent who waits for us, our job isn’t deciding who should be on the guest list. Our job is popping champagne corks when another one comes home.


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The Commonwealth of the Reign of God (Philippians 3:17-4:1)

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We serve a God who came among us, who refused to stand back from us in the comfort of heaven. We model our life together on the God who forsook security to become vulnerable by coming down among us, placing God’s life in our hands. God is able to “transform the body of our humiliation,” because God took on that body … felt the humiliation that comes from living in a commonwealth where the wealth is anything but common.


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Headed in the Wrong Direction (Luke 13:31-35)

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You see the thing that’s so amazing to me about this passage isn’t that the powerful want to kill a prophet, the one who’s sent to turn a stable world upside down—that’s what the powerful always seem to want to do.

No, what I find so amazing is that … knowing the danger ahead of him, Jesus goes to Jerusalem anyway to challenge the old kingdoms with a word about a new reign—all because he can’t keep quiet about the world God wants to create to replace the old one.


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What's Your Story? (Deuteronomy 26:1-13)

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Now if you begin your history with the exploits of the privileged and the powerful, it’s easy to justify organizing your political and economic life around the people born on third base—because those are the very people history is meant to recall, and their lives, therefore, are enshrined as the purpose and meaning of true life.

But if you begin the telling of your history by being reminded that you literally came from nowhere and that your ancestors were nobodies from nowhere ("A wandering Aramean was my ancestor"), that makes a difference in what and who you should value, doesn’t it?


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You Can’t Tell Me What to Do (Luke 6:27-38)

You get to choose how you’ll view the world, to whom and what kind of attention you’ll give. Nobody is the boss of how you choose to act but you. No one can tell you what to do about the kind of love you offer to others.

The whole “you’re-not-the-boss-of-me” thing is always about power. You just don’t have to give yours away."


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The Shape of the Kingdom (Luke 6:27-36)

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Notice what Jesus doesn’t say as he unveils the vision statement of the reign of God. He doesn’t say, 'I’m announcing a kingdom where everybody who gets their theology right, who demonstrates a sufficient level of personal piety, and who manages to muster up the appropriate level of faith in me … will get a comfy split-level with walk-in closets and an in-ground pool in the hereafter.'

He says 'The word I’m envisioning, the shape of the kingdom I’m announcing is going to feel like bizarro world—a world where the hungry will finally be filled, where the poor will no longer be left to fight over the scraps left by those who want for nothing, where the dispirited and the broken-hearted will not have to languish on the margins. A world where the last shall be first and the first shall be last.'


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Let Down Your Nets (Luke 5:1-11)

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What if Jesus showed up around here and said, 'Let down your nets, things are fixin’ to get interesting?' Would we hear that as good news?

What if Jesus said, 'I’ve got something for you to do, but it’s not anything like you were expecting?'

Would we find ourselves rolling around on the bottom of the boat, telling Jesus to go someplace else?

Or would we look at who shows up as a gift? The people nobody else has any time and space for? Are those the people God wants to put in our path because they’re just the kind people Jesus was notorious for hanging out with?"”


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When Grace Runs Headlong over the Cliff of Entitlement (Luke 4:21-30)

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Coming to terms with our own privilege is a tricky thing. In my experience, most people resent the idea that they’ve somehow been given a leg up. But the problem with our privilege has less to do with what we’ve been given than with what we’re willing to sacrifice so that others can have the same advantages we do.

From God’s perspective, from the perspective of the new world Jesus is painting as he begins his ministry, the walls have been torn down so there’s no 'us' and 'them,' no 'insider' and no 'outsider,' no 'hometown folks' and no 'aliens.' There are only God’s children and the joy of the responsibility of announcing liberation from the tyranny of our own sense of entitlement.


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I Will Not Keep Silent (Isaiah 62:1-7)

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The need to cry out on behalf of people who feel like their world is about to chew them up didn’t die with Isaiah and the children of Israel. There are still people—many who live here among us—who urgently want someone to take their side, to refuse to remain silent in the face of despair and injustice—not so much as a white knight coming in to save the day, but often just as a reminder that they’re not the ones always left holding the bag by themselves.

Part of what it means to follow Jesus is to take our place upon the walls with Isaiah, refusing to remain silent, giving God no rest until God establishes the reign God promised and makes it renowned throughout the earth.


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On the Way (Matt. 2:1-12)

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The question for those of us committed to following in the steps of the magi, and ultimately in the steps of Jesus is: When we spot the old world trying to stamp out the new, the powerful trying to subdue the powerless, will we take the easy way and acquiesce to the whims of a tyrant, or will we resist?

Bethlehem—and the gospel toward which it points—is the focal point of the politics of empire. Don't kid yourself.


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The Gift of Epiphany (Luke 3:15-17, 21-22)

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We were important enough to God that God had it figured out from the beginning how to bring us home. We, therefore, if we are to be like God, must devote ourselves to the prospect of making a home for one another—both the kind we live in, as well as the kind that lives in us.


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