Pause and Reflect at Lent


Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
Psalm 46:10 (King James Version)

We’re a noisy lot.  Look at our media-especially television and Internet with their round-the-clock offerings.  Go out in public, and you’ll hear someone chatting loudly on their cell.  Drive, and you’ll have someone with their car stereo turned up to concert hall pitch booming through closed windows.  I live not far from Times Square in NYC, and every time I drive through at night I feel like I’m in a scene from Blade Runner.  It’s enough to make you scream.

What’s worse is the spiritual noise in our lives.  This noise are the myriad thoughts that crowd our mind for our attention.  Thoughts about home, family, career, church, social life, etc…run 24-7 inside us.  This is exacerbated when we allow the noise from the world (mentioned above) to crash into our minds and add fuel to the fire.  This noise can distract us from the weightier things in life (ref. Matthew 23:23), and pull us away.

Tonight’s text is a familiar one, usually read or sung during a worship service’s “Call to Worship.”  Here the psalmist is reminding us to pause and reflect that God is God.  Here they have God reminding us to be still, to shut it down, to take it down a notch.  We need to understand the majesty and power of the Divine in our lives; to recognize His/Her unfathomable being. To also realize that God is to be exalted (given preeminence) among the people-not just Christians either.  We need to pull away from our noisy world, shut down out noisy thoughts and focus on God.

As we still ourselves and recognize the Divine, we will have clarity of mind and spirit.  We will learn from God what He/She has for us in our lives.  We will develop fellowship that nourishes us; instead of the world’s crap that drains us.  As Christians-and others-this is something we sorely need.  Since God calls us to intimacy, this is a good road to that state.

As we continue this Lenten Season, let us learn to shut it down and know that God is God: to pause and reflect.


(Image: Fog at dusk at Cedar Brook Park in Plainfield, NJ. February 11, 2018)


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A Lenten Advisory

54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?
55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?
57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
Matthew 13:54-58 (King James Version)

Ever did what you thought was the right thing, only to be criticized by those you were doing it for?  Ever did what you thought God was leading you to do, yet it was not appreciated by those who you did it for?  Been there, done that, and have the pictures to prove it.

Right now in my neck of the woods, a “winter weather advisory” is posted for an upcoming snowfall Saturday night.  This usually means that snow’s on its way and those in the area in question should get ready for it.  We’re expected to have up to 6 to 8 inches in the NYC area, and meteorologists are giving this “advisory” so we’re not caught off guard.

Tonight, I’m giving a Lenten “advisory” to you my Dear Readers.  As you go through this Lenten journey, God will speak to your hearts and will push you into new directions.  Some of those directions will involved how you interact with others in your life (usually those close to you).  God will move you to perform some act of Christ-like love, compassion, or kindness; maybe even forgiveness-beyond your normal sphere of activities.  You will follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and reach out…

…And it’s not appreciated, or worst, criticized.  All of a sudden you feel like the old tow truck pictured at the start of tonight’s post.  You feel like the wind is taken from your sails.  Your feelings are hurt as you feel unjustly treated.  Shit, the “un-Christ-like” part of you wants to (fill in the blank) them.  It sucks, yet it happens.  As you grow during this Season, beware there will be those who don’t (or worse, won’t) grow.  I know, I’ve been there myself-even with those closest to me.

However know that you’re in good company.  Jesus caught the same in tonight’s Scripture.  Here was a man infused with the Divine that we equate him with Him/Her.  Jesus was going through his old neighborhood, ushering in the Realm of God to those who knew him from back in the day.  Instead of listening to Jesus’s message and exchanging their meager existences for abundant life, these yahoos begin to question Jesus.  They didn’t appreciate his ministering to them, but instead criticized him by “putting him in his place.”  They didn’t see the Cosmic Christ ushering in God’s Realm; no, they saw a local boy that they felt could not teach them.  Hence, Jesus made the above statement and was hindered by their attitudes from performing miracles.

If it happened to Jesus, it will happen to us.  It happened to the other Spiritual people God sent to us over the ages.  However, we cannot let what others feel stop us.  We have to grow and keep growing.  You see, those who diss you will be the ones who lose out.  They will one day learn what God was trying to do for them (through you) after you pass their way.  I bet you there were some in Jesus’s neck of the woods who would later hear what Jesus did and would say, “Maybe we could’ve listened more….”

In the meantime, let us continue on our Lenten journey to become more and more Christ-like in our lives.  So-like Jesus-we too can make a positive impact in our world.

Just a Lenten Advisory for tonight. Peace.

(Image:  Old GMC tow truck in New Egypt, New Jersey.  Taken today)

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A Lenten Response to Violence

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:3-10 (New International Version)

This past Wednesday, I spoke about the start of Lent on Valentines Day, the day of love.  Ironically, we witnessed another school shooting that took the lives of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland,Florida.  Again, we see the families and friends of the victims, the killer (who’s in custody), the pros and cons of gun control, the President’s platitudes, etc…

Please, I’m not making light of the tragedy.  However, we’ve seen this over and over again: Columbine, Sandy Hook, Orlando, Las Vegas.  We get into a cyclical pattern of pain, promises and pronouncements that fade into time before the dead cool off in their graves.  We never sit and address this issue head on.

For those of us in the Boardinghouse of Faith, we have an answer in tonight’s Scripture.  Here we see Jesus starting his Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes, which can give us an insight regarding this shooting issue. Christ calls us to be open, vulnerable, to seek peace, to have a passion for righteousness, to be pure (undefiled by society’s crap), to mourn (over the mess in our world-not just lip service), to be merciful, and to be peacemakers. So far, all our other “solutions” have lead to dead ends and dead people. At best, we’re looking for quick fixes.

Tonight’s Scripture calls for openness that cuts into the gun debate and the gun culture that’s uniquely American. Jesus’s words make us face the ugly truths of how our violence-soaked culture, coupled with the lie of Christian heterosexual White male privilege, has enabled these shooters to carry out their crimes. For us, it would be all too easy to maintain the business as usual approach. However, if we’re to heal our society from our gun fetish and more mass shootings, we need to do this and fast.

As we journey into Lent, and as the gun control issue is brought up, let’s learn from Jesus through tonight’s Scripture. Let’s pray that God will call us all to remembrance the words of Christ.

Pray for Parkland, and for other places where gun violence rears its ugly head.







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Love and Lent

My beloved spoke and said unto me, ‘Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.- Song of Solomon 2:10-11 (21st Century King James Version)

Welcome to the start of the 2018 Lenten Season (Ash Wednesday), where we begin 40 days of introspection, reflection, and a chance to grow closer to the Divine. Today is also Valentine’s Day-a day dedicated to love and romance.

It’s interesting that both of these occasions fall on the same day. For those of you who planned to give up chocolate, red meat, alcohol, and sex for Lent; I wonder how you’ll navigate the day. However let me point to a more interesting point.

Today I took a page from Song of Solomon for the text. Although I believe this book deals with the joys of human (unmarried at that) sexuality, I’m going to take it on a different track. God-our beloved-is calling us as away with Her this Lenten Season; that the “winter” of all the stupid shit is over. God calls us to intimacy with Her this Season; and why not start today on Valentine’s Day?

Welcome to Lenten. May you be blessed with the joys of spiritual intimacy with God.


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Divine Stability Amid a Changing Year

God is our place of safety. He gives us strength.
    He is always there to help us in times of trouble.
The earth may fall apart.
    The mountains may fall into the middle of the sea.
    But we will not be afraid.
The waters of the sea may roar and foam.
    The mountains may shake when the waters rise.
    But we will not be afraid.
Psalm 46:1-3 (New International Reader’s Version)

We’re coming to the end of 2017. Times Square is preparing for the annual dropping of the ball with increased security. We’re seeing lists of “The ________ of 2017”, “People we said ‘goodbye’ to in 2017”, etc.  It feels like it was just yesterday we said “goodbye” to 2016 and prepared for this year. Now we’re preparing for 2018.

We had quite a year in 2017.  Starting with “45’s” inauguration into the White House…Our pulling out of the Paris Climate Accords…North Korea’s nuclear jockeying…mass shootings…race riots in Charlottesville, Virginia…government malfeasance occuring all over the planet…terrorist attacks here in New York City…and now sexual harassment charges against men (and women) in positions of power.  A year like this would make any New Year’s Eve reveler curl up in a corner and knock off a bottle of champagne alone.

Now we wonder what’s in store for 2018.  Will war loom on the horizon between the US and North Korea (or China…or Iran)?  Will the high-riding stock market come to a crash?  Will we have another terrorist attack in New York City (or some other major city)?  Will Trump enact a policy that will wreck out national stability?  Will we have another Charlottesville in America?  And these are our collective concerns; I haven’t touched on the individual ones.

However, we can look to tonight’s Scripture for empowerment as we segue from 2017 to 2018.  The above psalm was written as a response to David’s victories in battle (thanx to the Almighty).  He reminds us that God is a place of safety, of refuge.  Now I’m not talking about these “safe spaces” we saw on college campuses where “offended” and “upset” overgrown babies students would find Play-Doh and Kipper videos to make them feel “safe”.  No, God is a refuge where we find strength for the power to respond to the changing year-no matter what befalls us (verses 2 and 3).

Even despite the worst that was thrown at us in 2017, God still kept us and gave us the strength to respond.  Even if the response was living, God still gave us that strength.  Plus, the fact that you’re reading this is a testimony that God kept you safe.  And God will be that refuge where we will find strength for the journey in 2018.

God is also stable despite the changing times.  God’s not fickle like us.  God’s not letting what happened this past year or what will happen next year to affect Him/Her.  The psalmist assures us of Divine stability…more than anything else we tend to rely on here on Earth.  We have this assurance no matter what.

As we usher in 2018, let us do so knowing that God is there; Divine stability amid a changing year.  We have nothing to fear-no matter what.  God will be our place of safety where He/She will empower us to respond to whatever should come our way.

Peace and Love for 2018!

(Image: Unnamed building in Midtown Manhattan along the High Line. October 28, 2017).



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Silent Night, Peaceful Night

Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. Luke 2:14 (New International Version)

It’s Christmas Day 2017.

Despite the rancor and strife in our world, I hope and pray for peace. The peace that the angels sang about on that Christmas night when God’s Christ came into our world. The peace we need in Washington, Pyongyang, the Middle East, and in our communities.

God showed us His/Her favor on that holy night in Bethlehem; and still that favor rests on us today-despite what people believe. God still offers is that peace; ours for the taking and living.

The night outside my window is silent. A quietness probably experienced by Joseph and Mary as they brought Jesus into the Universe.  Between Jesus’s first cries as his tiny body sucked in oxygen, and the angelic announcement, there was peace that holy night. There was a hush, a silence that covered the town like a Divine blanket. As the hymn writer penned, “all is calm, all is bright.”

As we celebrate the coming of God’s Christ into our Universe; maybe it wouldn’t hurt to have that silence, that peace. It just may what we need to have for a fitting abode for the Christ in our lives.

Silent night, peaceful night. Wouldn’t hurt. Peace!

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The End of Empire

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah 9:6-7 (King James Version)

As we await the coming of God’s Christ, we turn to current events.  We see empire in its ugly form: America and North Korea flexing their muscles with China in the middle; Russia in Syria; Israel-stoked by Trump’s recognizing Jerusalem as her capital-and her apartheid in the West Bank; America’s other wars in Afghanistan and Africa…and God knows how many more “empire” incidents happening as we speak.

It’s not just geopolitical empires, it can also be religious “empires”. We see the Religious Right (oxymoron) attempting to ride roughshod over the American way of life for the last 30-40 years; trying to tear down the wall separating Church and State.  We see cats like ISIS and Boko Haram using violence to push their radical form of Islam.  We have Zionists pushing Palestinians out of their homes to expand Israeli policies.  Not exactly the King/Queendom of Heaven.

We also have economic empires.  Here in the US, we have corporate greed influencing a president who thinks he can run the US like a corporation.  We have the Koch Brothers slinging their money around here in America.  We have a cadre of banks that wrecked peoples’ dreams of home ownership and/or going to college.

And in the above scenarios, we have the innocent who suffer.  Refugees displaced from their homes.  People who lose faith in religion. People who lose money/home/dreams.  It’s never the perpetrators who suffer.  In fact, the perpetrators get a hall pass from any retribution.

However, Advent cuts through all the empire-crap.  In tonight’s Scripture, God-through the prophet Isaiah-assures a future where a ruler from God will establish a Kingdom.  This was written during Israel’s “dark age” in the 8th-7th Century BCE when Assyria invaded Israel.  Many associate this prophecy with the First Coming of JesusHowever, I’m taking the liberty that the Coming Christ will bring forth the Kingdom/Queendom of God for the here and now.  If you look at the titles given to this ruler, Jesus will fulfill them all whilst here on Earth.  Plus, I dare to say that Jesus’s Kingdom is a spiritual one instead of a political one (ref. John 18:36).  He will deliver us from the “dark age” of empire in our 21st Century. You see, it’s going to take spiritual power, not political or economic power, to take down empire.

In fact, I daresay even further that we are that Kingdom: you and I in the Boardinghouse of Faith.  We’re the subjects of this Queendom that God will establish through Her coming Christ.  We’re to usher in the Christ to liberate humanity from the curse of empire-whatever empire it is.  Plus we have our Divine Ruler in the Christ to be our example.  And while human empires come and go, God’s Realm will have no end.

God will bring an end to empire.  It may not look like it if you look at current events, however we’re assured that the King/Queendom of God will take over through the coming Christ (and us). And that Queen/Kingdom will have no end.

We await the Coming Christ and the Realm he brings.

The end of empire?  Yes, it will happen.  On that day we will be free.


(Image: “Over Flag” by Me. Taken November 10, 2017).

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