Sermon: Battle of Wills

Sunday, October 1, 2017
Iglesia Luterana Cristo Rey, El Paso, TX
Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

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El texto del evangelio que nos toca hoy presenta un encuentro casi cómico entre Jesús y los líderes del templo. Ellos se acercan a Jesús para engañarle y cuestionar su autoridad. Pero en vez de ser atrapado, Jesús les hace una pregunta que los deja en pánico. San Mateo describe la escena entre bastidores de los sacerdotes y los líderes frenéticamente discutiendo entre si cómo responder a Jesús sin reconocer su autoridad ni tampoco ofender a la gente.

Estos líderes han sido los guardianes de la historia y la fe de Israel por generaciónes. Están acostombrados a ser respetados por la comunidad. Pero sus intrigas contra Jesús demuestran que ya se preocupan más por preservar su privilegio social que por abrirse a las cosas nuevas que hace Dios. Son como el segundo hijo en la parábola, él que dice que sí va a hacer la voluntad de su padre, pero luego no lo hace.

Leyendo la historia en estos días, es fácil pensar mal de aquellos sacerdotes y líderes. Pero la verdad es que demostraban una tendencia muy humana: la de confiar más en la autoridad humana que la autoridad divina. Tampoco somos nosotros inocentes de hacerlo. Somos criaturas sociales, y sentimos la presión de conformarnos con las expectativas de nuestra sociedad humana. Y a veces eso nos hace perder la vista de las expectativas de nuestro Dios.

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Our gospel text for today presents one of those moments in which Jesus’ interaction with the chief priests and leaders is almost comical. These leaders have come to trick Jesus and question his authority. But instead of falling into their trap, Jesus answers their question with another question, leaving them in a panic. Matthew gives us a glimpse behind the scenes of them frantically whispering and plotting among themselves, trying to figure out how to denounce Jesus without offending the crowds.

These leaders have been the keepers of Israel’s history and faith for generations, and they are used to having the respect of the community. But this scheming against Jesus shows that they are more concerned with holding onto their social privilege and position than they are to opening themselves to what new things God might be doing. They are like the second son in the parable, who says he will do what his father asks, but then doesn’t.

Reading this story today, it’s easy to look down on the chief priests and leaders for their hypocrisy. But the truth is that it’s a very human tendency: we tend to trust more in human authority than in divine authority. We are often guilty of it as well. We are social creatures, and we feel the pressure to live up to social expectations. And sometimes that pressure can make us lose sight of what God expects of us. Continue reading

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Sermon: All in the Family

Sunday, September 10, 2017
Peace Lutheran Church, Las Cruces, NM
Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost

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If any of you grew up with siblings close to you in age, or maybe have kids who are close to each other in age, you know that kids always get along so well, right? They’re polite to each other, they share things, and they never fight.

I know – yeah right!

I grew up with a younger brother and a younger sister, all of us within a few years of each other. I even had a bonus set of siblings – several first cousins who were near my age. And I remember the way we all grew up fighting with one another.

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My sister Molly and I grew up fighting over clothes and toys and shoes, some of which ended up getting thrown at my face!

On my sixth birthday, my cousin Kenny stole one of my dolls, and after a chase, I ended up with a huge scar all across my forehead. You don’t even want to know.

And I remember one family vacation – in my teens! – where my brother Ben and I were so angry at each other we could barely even look at one another. I don’t even remember what we were fighting about anymore. I’m not even sure we knew then.
Kids, amirite?

Does this kind of family drama sound familiar to any of you? Yeah.

It’s amazing how easy it is to fight with the people closest to us, with the people we are supposed to love the most. It’s easy to forget about what holds us together, about the love we owe one another, and to focus on the small things that we may disagree on. Continue reading

Sermon: It Takes More Than Words to Build a House of Prayer for All Peoples

Sunday, August 20, 2017
Peace Lutheran Church, Las Cruces, NM
Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost

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This has been a disturbing and difficult week for our country. I’m sure you all, like me, have been horrified by the news of the violence in Charlottesville. The hatred displayed by these groups is poisoning our nation with violence; and their white supremacy and antisemitism are sin and evil that have no place in the body of Christ.

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White supremacists and neo-Nazis gathered to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee

In response all these things that have happened, our texts for today offer both comfort and challenge. Our first text, from Isaiah, seems like a very clear message directly from the mouth of God. God speaks, saying, “I will bring [all people] to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” This inclusive vision of God’s kingdom stands in stark contrast to the division and hatred in Charlottesville. Instead of chants of “blood and soil” and “white lives matter” and “Jews will not replace us,” this vision resounds with joyful voices raised in prayer and worship: “let the peoples praise you, O God, let all the peoples praise you.” Instead of clashes and deadly violence between protestors and counter-protestors, this vision calls all of us to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity – as one people before God. It is a beautiful and life-giving vision.

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A candlelight vigil reclaims the space used for the hate groups’ demonstrations

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My Own Independence Day

CW: diet talk, weight loss, profanity, disordered eating

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Me rocking a new winter coat that actually fits well and looks nice

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I quietly celebrated an important anniversary yesterday.  It’s been exactly one year since I gave up dieting and stopped trying to lose weight.  I had been resistant and afraid to do it, terrified that I would lose all control over my eating and constantly gorge myself on all the fatty, fried, and sweet foods I so desperately craved.  I felt like a crazy person around food and even thought that perhaps I was a food addict.  I used to hide my eating from those closest to me who I knew would disapprove: hiding candy in unlikely places (like my closet or behind books on a shelf), hiding myself in the bathroom to sneak my little treats.  I felt guilty and hungry and ashamed all. the. time.

A year ago, I was lying face down on my bed, sobbing uncontrollably, feeling like the most miserable life form in the universe.  I don’t even remember what set me off, if indeed, there even was anything.  I was so sick of dieting, so sick of constantly denying myself the pleasure of eating.  And most of all, I was just unbearably sad.  The ideal of the thin (or even the thinner) me seemed impossibly far out of reach, and getting further by the minute.  I had legitimately given it my best.  I have lost as much as 70lbs in a single go in my life, but without fail, it always comes back, and when it does, it brings along reinforcements. Continue reading

March 7 Resist Trump Tuesday

International Women’s Strike Chicago: Global Wage Justice
March 7, 2017

I was honored to be invited to speak at the March 7th Resist Trump Tuesday rally as a leader with Seminarians for Justice and The People’s Lobby, fighting for the global minimum wage movement and for the rights and dignity of women and workers everywhere.  Following are some photos of the event, a video of our multilingual call for global solidarity, and a video and manuscript of my speech.

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