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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Sermón: Renunciando el renunciar

ash_weds_cross-1“Domingo de Ceniza” / “Ash Sunday”
5 Marzo, 2017 / March 5, 2017
First Lutheran Church of Logan Square

Mateo 6:1-6, 16-21
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Hoy, empezamos el tiempo de la Cuaresma por observar el Miércoles de Ceniza – o en este caso, el Domingo de Ceniza. La Cuaresma es un tiempo de arrepentimiento, en que renovamos nuestra devoción a la vida de fe. Pero para muchas personas, este tiempo se ha convertido en un tiempo de abnegación solamente. Ha vuelto a ser un tiempo de castigarnos a nosotros mismos y de sentirnos culpables por fallar en vivir vidas perfectas. Igual que los “hipócritas” en nuestro evangelio para hoy, muchos de nosotros pasamos la Cuaresma orando y ayunando – tal vez renunciamos al azúcar o chocolate o a otras cosas que nos gustan. Pero a veces puede ser fácil perder la razón *porque* hacemos estas cosas.

Tal vez ustedes no. Pero yo sé que para mi, ha sido difícil. Por muchos años, mi práctica cuaresmal ha sido renunciar algún tipo de comida. He renunciado al azúcar y al soda y carbohídratos. El año pasado, para la Cuaresma, comí sólo verduras crudas y nada más. Fue muy poco saludable. Y siendo honesta, lo que quería hacer en realidad era continuar mi resolución del Año Nuevo de bajar de peso.

Aunque intentaba convencerme a mi misma que lo hacía para Dios, la verdad es que lo hacía para mi y para quedar bien con los demás. Como los hipócritas en nuestro texto, me preocupaba más por lo que pensaban los demás que por lo que pensaba Dios. Para mi, la Cuaresma no era un tiempo de arrepentirme y volver a Dios, sino un tiempo de castigarme. Continue reading

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Sermon: Breaking the Cycle

ash_cross(Early) Sermon for Ash Wednesday
February 22, 2017
“Sermon Design and Delivery” course
LSTC

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.

“So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And whenever you fast, do not look gloomy, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, annoint your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“Do not be like the hypocrites,” Jesus warns us in our gospel text for today. Unfortunately, it seems like there’s plenty of hypocrisy to go around these days – especially if you’re attuned to what’s happening in our country’s political discourse. Politicians and public figures claim to be pro-life, while adamantly supporting the death penalty and opposing gun regulation, despite tens of thousands of gun-related deaths annually. Others claim to be advocates for a quality public education system while proposing plans to dismantle the entire Department of Education. Still others are doing everything in their power to slam the door on refugees and other immigrants seeking safety and opportunity, while ignoring their own families’ personal – and recent – histories of immigration. Hypocrisy is the bread and butter of our world. Continue reading

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Sermon: In the Flesh… AND the Spirit

4991036_origSixth Sunday after Epiphany /
Sexto domingo de Epifanía

Sunday, February 12, 2017 /
Domingo, 12 febrero, 2017
First Lutheran Church in Logan Square

Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Augustana Chapel,
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

1 Corinthians 3:1-9 (16-17) / 1 Corintios 3:1-9 (16-17)

For better sound quality:

(Manuscript follows below) Continue reading

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Sermon: On Baptists and Prophets

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Sunday, February 15, 2017
First Lutheran Church of Logan Square

1918-004-16347ac7johnthebaptistpreaching

John 1:29-42
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.” The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”

The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).

(I never finished translating this sermon, nor got to preach it, as I was quite sick for several weeks)

Today, we celebrate the legacy of a great leader and prophet – a visionary who led a movement that forever transformed his nation. His name was John the Baptist. Just kidding. We are, of course, talking about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

However, it does seem profoundly fitting that we should celebrate Dr. King’s life and legacy with a reading about the prophet John. In many ways, Dr. King was a prophet very much in the line of biblical prophets like John: Continue reading

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Sermon: Hope in the Dark

africa-baby-jesus-refugee-egyptPrimer domingo de Navidad /
First Sunday after Christmas
Domingo 1 enero, 2017 /
Sunday, January 1, 2017
Iglesia Luterana Nueva Esperanza /
New Hope Lutheran Church
Aurora, IL

Mateo 2:13-23 / Matthew 2:13-23

Merry Christmas! Today’s gospel reading seems a little jarring and out of place on the first Sunday of this joyous season of Christmas. After our celebration of angelic hosts and jubilant shepherds, this passage from Matthew feels like a rude awakening. It’s like Joseph, being woken up in the middle of the night by the angel of the Lord – “Get up! Get up, Joseph, and flee for your lives!”

When I first read this text, I immediately thought of the millions of refugee children out in the world right now. Some of them, like Jesus and his family, have been able to flee their countries, and then struggled to find a welcome in other, safer places. But many others are like the young children slaughtered by King Herod – victims of violence and poverty.Al-Azraq Refugee Camp Marks A year Of Housing Syrian Refugees

This text is a stark reminder that, no matter how bright and shining our Christmas celebration may be, the world is still full of darkness and tragedy. Civil war still rages on in places like Syria and South Sudan. Gang violence and corruption drive people north from Central America and Mexico, seeking safety. And even here, where we are relatively sheltered, homelessness and economic inequality abound, and disease, addiction, and death destroy the people we love. Continue reading

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Sermon: Signs of the Kingdom

john_the_baptist_in_prison_350Third Sunday of Advent /
Tercer Domingo de Adviento
December 11, 2016 /
11 de diciembre, 2016
First Lutheran Church of Logan Square

Matthew 11:2-11 / Mateo 11:2-11

In our Gospel reading for today, John asks Jesus a question that I find really surprising: “Are you the guy we’ve been waiting for, or should we keep waiting for someone else?” I mean, this is John. The. Baptist. If anyone knows who Jesus really is, shouldn’t it be this guy? You’d think that seeing the heavens cracked open and a dove descending on Jesus and then hearing the voice of God when he baptized Jesus would be pretty convincing proof that Jesus is the Messiah.

But John had hit some really hard times. I mean really hard. After a wildly successful prophetic career, he made the wrong people angry and wound up in prison. And prison in the days of the Roman Empire wasn’t quite like prison is now. Most Roman prison sentences ended one of two ways: with exile, or with execution.

Last week, we heard John’s fiery preaching from the banks of the Jordan; he declared that one was coming who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire! This one would separate the wheat from the chaff and take an axe to the trees that no longer produced fruit! John was waiting for a powerful savior who would liberate his oppressed people. But when Jesus started his ministry, it wasn’t what John expected. There was no fire, no axes. There wasn’t even any wheat, except for the bread that Jesus kept breaking and sharing with everyone.

And so John wondered – “Has my whole ministry been in vain? Did I devote my life to the wrong thing?” Continue reading

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Grandes promesas: un sermón para el Día de los Santos Muertos de la Reforma-Halloween

 

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El altar para el Día de los Muertos en la iglesia luterana Nueva Esperanza

Domingo de Todos los Santos
(Según la predicadora)

Domingo de la Reformación
(Según el director de música)

Domingo 24 después de Pentecostés
(Según la secretaria/liturgista)

Domingo, 30 de octubre, 2016
(Según todos)

Iglesia Luterana Nueva Esperanza, Aurora, IL

Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18
Salmo 149
Efesios 1:11-23
Lucas 6:20-31

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Las dos semanas que vienen están llenas de días muy importantes y emocionantes. Mañana, la iglesia Luterana celebrará el aniversario de la Reformación, en que Martín Lutero reformó la iglesia Catolica y creó la iglesia Luterana. El día siguiente, la iglesia global celebrará el Día de Todos los Santos, como observamos hoy, y el día después de eso, claro, celebraremos el Día de los Muertos. Además, en la semana que viene, habrá una elección histórica en la cual se decidirá quienes serán los líderes del país por los cuatro años que vienen. ¡Hay muchas cosas!

Pero hoy, me gustaría empezar mis reflecciónes con el día que tal vez menos esperaban: Halloween Continue reading

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Promises, Promises: An All Saints of los Muertos Reformation-Ween Sermon

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New Hope’s beautiful Day of the Dead altar

All Saints Sunday
(according to the preacher)

Reformation Sunday
(according to the music director)

24th Sunday after Pentecost
(according to the secretary/liturgist)

Sunday, October 30, 2016
(according to everyone)

New Hope Lutheran Church, Aurora, IL

Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18
Psalm 149
Ephesians 1:11-23
Luke 6:20-31

The next couple of weeks are packed with momentous and exciting events. Tomorrow, the Lutheran church marks the 499th anniversary of the Reformation. The day after that, the global church marks All Saint’s Day, and the day after that, we celebrate the Day of the Dead. And next week, our country will hold a historic presidential election in which we will decide our leaders for the next four years or more. There’s a lot going on!

But I’d actually like to start off today talking about an upcoming day you probably didn’t expect to hear about from the pulpit: Halloween. Continue reading

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Sermon: Faith in All the Wrong Places

Sunday, October 23, 2016uihxr6p
New Hope Lutheran Church, Aurora, IL

Luke 18:9-14
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

This week’s gospel text reads a little bit like a joke – a pharisee and a tax collector walk into a bar temple. But the punchline of this joke is deceptively tricky. Nowadays, we’re used to reading pharisees as hypocritical bigots and tax collectors as humbly repentant sinners; but the twist at the end of the story where the tax collector’s prayers are justified and the pharisee’s are not would have been more surprising to Jesus’ original hearers than it is to us. In contrast to the pharisee’s prayer thanking God that he is not like the tax collector, we know that the pharisee is the person that we are glad not to be like, right?

Ha! And there’s the punchline of the joke. It’s almost impossible to hear this story and not go away thinking something along the lines of, “God, I thank you that I am not like that pharisee!” As it turns out, we are every bit as judgmental as he is.

modern-phar-tcIt’s a disturbingly easy trap to fall into, and Jesus knows it. It almost seems to be an inherent part of being human that we categorize people into “us” and “them” groups, deciding who is in and who is out. This election season – which will finally end in a little over two weeks – has shown us clearly the depth of division in our country. And that division also shows up in our churches, too – not just between rival denominations, but in and among our own congregations. In our churches, we single out “those people who don’t give enough money” or “those people who don’t take good enough care of the worship space” or “those people who sure don’t act very Christian outside of church” or “those people who hardly ever come to church at all.” We draw lines between ourselves and other groups of people without even thinking about it. But the problem with that – as Jesus points out in this story – is that God always ends up on the other side of that line. Continue reading

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