sent 1 ‘home’ Advent 2018

2 Dec

sent 1 ‘home’ Advent 2018

Liza is a friend who is homeless. Single, with living parents and sisters, life has not turned her way until very recently.

Today, though, she is hopeful that NYC Human Resources will move her out of her homeless shelter to a studio apartment. When she is settled in her home, then she states ‘ I will feel secure enough to tell my family how they abused me all these years…I can be authentic with them…. ‘

Liza’s hope in a future home makes her views on life illuminating: she is homeless but she has not lived-she will not live- in a state of homelessness. Her hope of being sent to a studio apartment, a home, removes her state of despair, this state of homelessness. While temporarily homeless, she trusts that a higher power sees her, and understands what her daily life is like. And there will an answer to her prayers for a home. She is quite like the thousands of Central American immigrants who travelled thousands of miles with same hope as Liza an American home.

Jesus, a baby borne in cave, a manger, is Liza’s answer and any displaced person’s answer. Jesus, sent by God the father, is our hope, our home. And he becomes our home by becoming homeless himself.

Jesus knows what is to be alone and lowly; rejected and driven away. Jesus knows homeless.ness.

He experienced total despair.

Threaten with murder at his birth by Herod; Jesus is then crucified by Roman soldiers at 33,

‘“About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with loud voice — “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” — “that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Matthew 27:46).

Forsaken, without hope, Jesus cries out on a loud voice for all who have experienced homelessness. He is no longer a person; he is an object, a thing crucified outside the city’s walls. We all can become things, objects without hope, when our voices are not heard. When we are not spoken to.

But this is why Jesus was sent: he became homeless so we could have a home in his house. Just as his baby cries were heard by Mary and Joseph; Jesus’ loud cry on the cross is heard. It is heard by Matthew; the forgiven Roman soldiers and especially by us-he becomes the home that sees, feels and hears.

Enter His home this season.


sent Advent 2018

26 Nov

Advent 2018 prologue


‘For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.’ John 3: 34-35 ESV

In any ‘sending’ three major actors (at least) play significant roles. First, there is the person who sends; next there is the person or thing sent; and then, finally, there is the recipient of the sent gift.

The John’s Gospel builds on the idea, the principle, the trope of ‘sending.’ By depicting Jesus as ‘sent’ John defines sending as a special gift, a gift put aside for purpose. Jesus is the Son, and God is the Father. Jesus’ mission is described as a unique expression of the Father’s love for the world. (John 3:16) The sender loves his world so that he gives the gift of an only, a unique son. And this son uses his father’s language, his words, to underscore the indescribable nature of this gift, this sending.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus uses the Greek verb pempein to refer to “the Father who sent me” no fewer than 24 times. These references put the focus on the Father, who through this action of sending authorizes and empowers the Son in his mission. What is this mission? To love, to so love us that we can not help to overflow with love, his love.

In addition, while Jesus refers 24 times to his sending father, in another seventeen passages, Jesus uses some form of the verb apostellein.

This verb focuses on Jesus as the one who is sent. It means to be set aside for a specific purpose. This purpose is the Father’s will. Jesus’ acts with the full authority of the Father because he does only what the Father wills. Indeed, for John, the Father is present, speaking and acting in Jesus (John 5:17, John 5:19-20). This emphasis on the interrelationship between God the Father and Jesus the Son describes not just the sender and the sent, but also the receivers.

And what of the recipients? Us. How are we described by this sending?

We are described as being loved; by needing a God who searches and knows us like David sings in Psalm 139:1 and still (Still!) loves us with a love supreme; a love overflowing, a love divine.

In these next four weeks of Advent I will be looking at people in both the Old and New Testaments who are ‘sent.’ Apostles and servants; children and the elderly; disciples and teachers; angels and Saviour.

And what do they all have in common?

They all point to process of being sent, of sending; of overflowing with the precious indescribable gift of Advent, of love.

Follow Advent 2018 at


6 Aug


how do I face it?

when I realised I was unloved as a baby

an unexpected 1953 twin, deliver to a sister, my Aunt , who cared for me those first months

when I failed my first spelling exam

My mother finding the hidden paper took a high heel and landed it on my seven year bold head. Blood and stitches and then grandfather who stoped the beating

when I was caught cheating on a final history exam

then, I lived in the spaces of real people in my imagined words; by giving answers to Jimmy I had hoped to save him from a tour in Vietnam. Caught; he went.

when I went to uni and develop a taste for college women, left boyhood behind

then. I choose Barbara among the dews

when o married at 18 and left Brooklyn’s east 4th street for Bronx


(After several years…)

Barbara told me she loved another; not me, I died just as if I were her friend at Fern Park, Old Orchard Beach Maine, by his old hand

my losses carried me from abysses to my space: a vacuum of empty words; love vacated; a torn, cut life. Leaving closed, closeted spaces I created, and entered, my own abyss- unique and inescapable: loss

LeBron, reversed

8 Jun

how does the reversal call in game one of the NBA Finals against LeBron James inform my life?

So, in game 1 LeBron was outside the reviewable circle, had feet planted and got a positive call (charging on KG) for his efforts.

But, not only was the cAll reviewed, it was reversed and then a ‘win’ becomes a loss in game one of the NBA finals.

My, the essential question about all this is;

If LeBron can’t get a call, what chance do I, we have?

Birthdays forgotten by your family, even your twin? Check.

Still waiting for your Christmas present in July? Check.

Father’s Day forgotten? Check.

So, why can’t I get a ‘call’?

Well, I think I have a great deal of company in this august overlooked, unseen group. I can’t say why but I can respond reflectively with some personal insights. Here are some:

1. When one call goes against you, expect more to come fast and furiously.

George Hill misses a free throw; JR thinks the Cavs are ahead and holds the ball.

Forgotten for a birthday? Minor stuff. A child will need monies; lots of money; they will ask; another family Manet becomes ill; job changes; movings and divorces. Parents pass or need cares. Fast and furious all comes

When troubles come, they come in cascades. Deal with it.

2. The higher you preform; serve; rescue; be the life of your team, the party, the greater the expectations.

LeBron can’t continuously play the entire 49 minutes (plus one). Soon his heart, his body, his spirit and soul will empty. A stream needs water flow in to be refreshed; it can t solely flow out. But friends, colleagues and even watchers, strangers, expect you, expect more.

3. Referees, as judges, will rule and find you wanting in key moments.

You have preformed and won in the past. It is human nature to root, consciously or unconsciously, for the undergoes, pot against LeBron. Whether by envy or mouse or misapplication of power, those who sit in as referees in your life will find ways to see Not your work or you but what they desire: themselves.

To find for you, to rule in your favour only confirms to them their shortcomings-what and who they will never be.

They can’t truly see you, the calls or even themselves. Don’t expect the blind to see; the deaf to hear; the heartless to feel. They can’t.

4. How does LeBron respond to all of the above? He takes a pause and plays as deeply, as passionately, as fully as as he can becomes he loves the game even when it doesn’t love him

He is always, all ways, all in.

27 secrets beliefs about trains

2 May

on the metro, subway

‘I want mercy for myself; justice for everyone else

the good, things I like to do, have on my train trips

the recording in London, ‘Mind the Gap’

if you are 60 years of age in London, all tube and bus rides are free

for one set fare in NYC you can ride all day from one end to the other (Dyre Avenue, the Bronx, to Coney Island, Brooklyn)

musicians play in the W always of the subway in NYC, from singers to actors; from violinists to drums and more

helpful, friendly staff ( Paris, London, Europe calling)

people giving up seats to seniors, Mums, with children or pregnant with children to come, or to give a seat up for anyone at all

public transportation is the ultimate going green

the baddies, peoples and things who are driving me crazy

the recording in London, ‘Mind the Gap’

people who stand still in the middle of passageways to trains

those who take up more than one space. standing or sitting

those who stand by a subway/metro/tube doors (and won’t move for love, money or the disabled- this is London calling)

people who play their cell phones loud on the subway (NYC calling)

loud talkers

slow walkers

slow walkers who are reviewing the mobiles/cells

slow walking tourists (please stand aside, preferably to the right)

those who block the escalators by standing next to a companion speaking and oblivious to those who want to walk on the left (please stay right, in your slow lane)

slow walkers )did I say this already?)

the uglies, the unthinkable, the unmentionables, the unimaginable

changing service without any notice (NYC, NOT calling)

‘Weekend works’ with ‘free’ shuttle bus services

urine puddles, (especially in NYC at Penn Station when the weather gets hot) stains and smells on the Metros stairwells, walkways and elevators’ enclosures.

full meals with their assortments of: drippings, visuals and odours left on seats and floors in subway cars and stations

large packages and or bags on seats in cars replacing the living

unbearable announcements on cars

people pressing onto you, touching you, on packed trains

vermin in the subway eating pizza

muffled, muttered, the incomprehensible

oral announcements on the NYC transit cars (I used to tell excited noisy primary students on field trips to understand carefully to such announcements as the speaker was giving out the secrets of the universe-we never could quite get these secrets translated)

the recording in London, ‘Mind the Gap

the third thief; after easter 3

18 Apr

the third thief ; after easter 3

Luke 23:39-43 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!”But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!”And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

Corinthians 9:15 New International Version (NIV)

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift

Jesus is the third thief among these two confessed thieves. He steals our lives from back from the evil one. He is giving his earthly life to cover us, to lavish us as our prodigal, extravagant Saviour with his indescribable gift: eternal life in his kingdom.

It is an unimaginable, indescribable gift. It is His life for ours. A glorious gift and theft.

Bilbo Baggins is a type of this giving, thieving Christ.

Bilbo Baggins, the creation of J.R.R. Tolkien, is a hobbit. A usually quiet, sedate creature, he is caught up in a wild adventure along with the Wizard Gandalf and a troop of Dwarves to seek out some treasure. To prove himself as a burglar to the disbelieving Dwarves, Bilbo makes a bold move: he will steal treasure from Smaug the sleeping dragon. Here Tolkien describes the theft:

“Then Bilbo fled [with the cup]. But the dragon did not wake – not yet – but shifted into other dreams of greed and violence, lying there in his stolen hall while the little hobbit toiled back up the long tunnel. His heart was beating and a more fevered shaking was in his legs than when he was going down, but still he clutched the cup, and his chief thought was: “I’ve done it! This will show them. ‘More like a grocer than a burglar’ indeed! Well, we’ll hear no more of that.” ‘(12.17)

Bilbo steals for the approval of dwarves. This is what motivates him and drives him to perform. It is what Bilbo serves and risks his life for: he worships the idol of being a people/dwarf pleaser. In doing so he becomes a thief.

Dwarves, on the other hand, worship gold, treasure and earthly wealth. They risk their lives (and some will die on Lonely mountain by tale’s end) for these riches.

Smaug, the menacing and sleeping dragon, has still another master— greed: ‘Dragons may not have much real use for all their wealth, but they know it to an ounce as a rule, especially after longpossession; and Smaug was no exception. He had passed from an uneasy dream (in which a warrior, altogether insignificant in size but provided with a bitter sword and great courage, figured most unpleasantly) to a doze, and from a doze to wide waking.’ (12.20)

Smaug is a hoarder, a counter. He knows the price and whereabouts of all his possessions. This is what he lives for: power in long possession. He can’t use the wealth. But wealth is his power source and what he worships.

Each of J.R.R. Tolkien’s creations seek life through power: power of approval from others; the power of riches and the power of possession. None can be generous as they are controlled by power. The Dwarf King Thorin and the Dragon Smaug die in their desires. Only Bilbo lives. How?

Much later in his life Bilbo gives away his treasured possession—the Ring of Power- to his orphaned nephew Frodo. It is only by giving earthly power away can Bilbo sail into the eternal life in the lands of the elves at the narrative’s close. So…

What are we to do in light of God’s indescribable gift?

Give up power, or any desire for power, as Christ our Gift lived. Again, let’s look to the apostle Paul.

In Philippians 2, The Message version, Paul writes,

‘if you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life…love each other …Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.’

Put yourself aside. Become like the Giver: love, give and extend helping generous hands. This is the only way to a fully loved life; to eternal life, to real power.

Give all away. All ways.

Note: a portion of the above material appeared in the Stewardship blog under Charles Osewalt.

after easter 3

13 Apr

On holding2 after easter 3

1 Corinthians 15

‘ …you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.’(bold, my emphasis)

Below is a reflection on how what I hold and what holds me makes my home. Paul tells the church in Corinth to ‘hold.’ They are told to hold firmly to the one home that can never be taken or withheld; the home that never, ever disappoints or hurts; this home is the ‘hands’ that reach and receive: the word of God. This is the only true home. And I have returned to this home after holding the following reflective, essential questions-

eq (essential questions) :

thoughts, questions on ‘holding’

what am I holding? what is holding me? Into whose hands have I placed myself? Into, into whose hands, to whom, will I (be) long to?

and then what am I withholding? what do I think, imagine, feel, sense, is being withheld from me ? And why is it being withheld?

finally, who holds me, who has held me in the past…who lets me deeply, deeply allows me to hold them

And, on, in my past ?

who held me firmly, lovingly? and today, and tomorrow!?

who shall hold me and I them?

my safe-home is where I can hold and feel held. Home.

His word holds as I hold. Hold.

rise 2

5 Apr

our risen Jesus of 1 John 4:19

We love fo He first
loved 1 John 4:19 the Message

“We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.”

We sing for He first sang over
us Zephaniah 3: 17 NIV

17 “ The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”

We can pray as first prayed over and then taught
us prayers Luke 11: 1: 10

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:

hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.’
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.’
And lead us not into temptation.’

We meditate because He listens, He ears our breathe.

The Hebrew word behind spirit is ruach, and it means “air in motion.” It is the same word for “breath.” It also means “life.” Breathe is air in motion.

In John 3 Jesus tells Nicodemus: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You. must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit”

Our life, our birth, is breathe. He hears, gives: Jesus is the breathe.

We walk because He walks with, among all.

Galatians 5: 16-17

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”

We fellowship because He ate, sat, slept, thirsted with
Pharisees, sinners and disciples

Luke 7: 36-37

We laugh because He loved

We cry as He
wept over death
John 11: 35

‘Jesus wept’

We serve for He first
served us

John 19:30
“It is finished.”

He knows us; He feels us; He touches, breathes, understands me, us, better than we know ourselves

Jesus is closer to me than I am to

He rose for ‘better resurrections.’

Hebrews 11: 35

“Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection.”


after easter 2, our risen Jesus

4 Apr

our risen Jesus of 1 John 4:19

We love fo He first

We sing for He first sang over

We can pray as first prayed over and then taught us prayers

We meditate because He
listens to our breathes

We walk because He walks with, among, all

We fellowship because He ate, sat, slept, thirsted with Pharisees, sinners and disciples and, especially, …me

We laugh because He loved

We cry as He wept over death

We serve,  for He first
served us

He knows us; He feels us; He touches, breathes, understands me, us, better than we know ourselves

Jesus is closer to me than I am to

He rose for us


2 Apr

his Robe, our clothes

Romans 13: 14

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ

Paul speaks of the ‘full’ armour of God in Ephesians 6. Worn on the outside of a light tunic, armour’s basic purpose is to cover and protect from attacks. In prison, chained to a Roman soldier, Paul had the time to pause and think of how this armour would protect a warrior.

But to walk daily, among people in a town or city, a tunic or robe would provide light flexible covering in the arid, hot Mid East. This is what Jesus wore as he walked.

It is also what the soldiers who crucified him gambled for,

The soldiers nailed Jesus to a cross. Then the soldiers gambled with dice to decide who would get Jesus’ clothes. The soldiers sat there and continued watching Jesus. The soldiers put a sign above Jesus’ head with the charge against him written on it. The sign said: “THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

Matthew 27:35-37 NLT

(See also Mark 15)

His clothes were not torn or discarded. Armed soldiers desired, gambled for them.

And His robe especially,

His robe was almost certainly made by his mother; designed and woven for him as a young child to be given to him when he became of age to travel, to walk. It was her blessing for a loved child. Of one seam, it could not be ripped apart.

But our Lord’s body was shredded and torn, wounded and ripped. His clothing was not.


Paul tells us in Romans to be imitators of Jesus continually; to walk as he walked; to forgive as he forgave; to pray as he worshipped. It are to put on Jesus’ clothes because these robes and tunics are His coverings, His love.

Nothing can tear this , His love, His robe. Nothing can separate us from these clothes as they are more than our flesh itself. His love can never be torn from us.

As Paul states in Romans 8

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,

As Mary chose and designed her baby son‘s swaddling clothes and robe, so has He perfected clothes for us-clothes that can not be torn: Clothes of His love.

Wear His robe today.