Author: Joel

20 songs for 2020

I’ve posted a little request/challenge of some of my friends that’s turned out to be a really lovely and inspiring exercise in listening. Here are the few directives I’ve given: Make a playlist on any service(s) you choose, any 20 songs that have played a part in your year, any theme you like (funny, motivating, ironic, favorites, whatever), share your playlist link and maybe add #20songs42020. That’s it!

Have a playlist to share? Let me know. Here’s mine…

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A Movement not a Moment

Jesus asks of his disciples what they have to share. They bring forward five loaves, and this is where the Jesus movement heads down a new path. Jesus does not ask whether those who hunger are also pure. He has spent the day with them. He knows that their deep need is all the purity God requires. And to ask for some other proof would be to invalidate both their need and their beauty and worth to God.

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Fire of Pentecost – a playlist for summer 2020

In July and early August of 2020 I had the new experience of preaching for five Sundays in a row for the first time in my life. Fire of Pentecost is a playlist of songs that accompanied me in this journey preaching the texts from the Gospel of Matthew. The voice and music of Mavis Staples is prominent in this playlist. Her voice is one of the ways I’m getting through this summer; she is a prophet for this time; her words a balm… more healing than soothing, both heat and light. If you are unfamiliar with her story check out this video.

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Good Trouble

Now notice what Jesus does in his parable. He does exactly what no gardener would do; he sows mustard into his field on purpose. He gives the so-called weed prime real estate! This is no small parable solely about the small seed of faith growing large and giving shelter. This is also about the disruptive power of that small seed on our carefully cultivated monocultural fields of faith. Make no mistake Jesus knows exactly what he’s saying to both his audience then and to us now. He is not interested in the civility we create with our neatly formed rows of doctrine. He is however interested in whether or not our faith gives shelter to those whose migrations leave them in daily need. This shelter forming faith is the kindom.

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Patience Is Not Inaction

As I’ve been wrestling with this text a thought occurred to me. What if Jesus’ explanation is sarcastic in tone? What if when the disciples come to him demanding an explanation Jesus is just so frustrated that his own students aren’t getting it that he throws up his hands in disgust and gives them the answer they want to hear in which they are the wheat and those other people are the weeds, and the best thing to do is nothing until God comes to burn out the ones rightly judged as worthless by the gods the in-crowd have fashioned in the shape of our own judgements. …Is the idea that Jesus explanation isn’t what it seems starting to get under your skin? I hope so, because it seems to me that this is Jesus’ point: he wants to get under our skin. The Spirit in her wisdom is a knife and Jesus is the storytelling surgeon who knows we need something more than easy answers if we are ever going to grow beyond our self imposed malignancies of us and them. 

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