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    Celebrating July 4th, Lesson on Repentance

    I attended two different churches on the Sunday before July 4th. They incorporated the holiday differently in their worship. One church had each military division carry their respective flags to the stage while the orchestra and the men’s choir played a rousing tune. Then six men clad in green army gear from World War 2, ran down the stage and lifted the American flag, reenacting the famous Iwo Jima flag raising. It was an inspiring production that brought everyone to their feet. When the pastor preached, he made sure to credit God for the blessings of America and that they were celebrating the cost of freedom and the men in…

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    Starbucks & Hypocrisy

    …This story is a headliner because it happened in a Starbucks store in Philadelphia and not in a rundown diner in Selma. Starbucks touts its progressive values. During the great recession, the company didn’t withdraw benefits from employees, though they were under great pressure to do so. It’s Race Together campaign, where they asked their baristas to engage the customers on issues of race, fizzled, but you can’t fault it for its noble ambition. Now, the company that attempted to single handedly make conversation on race a normative, didn’t talk about race with its own people. It didn’t practice what it preached. I’m a bit comforted by exposure of Starbucks’…

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    Snoring Through Communion

    My middle schooler son, Ian, was snoring on stage as the bread of Christ was being passed. This was not a pastor-parent’s worst nightmare, lingering for a minute when I woke up, then fading out as I fell back to sleep. This was Palm Sunday, a few days ago, at Harvey Browne Presbyterian Church. Oh, and across from Ian was his younger sister, Elina, who swilled the blood of Christ, and then promptly spat it out, screaming “Yuck!” She slammed the communion shot glass on the floor, because it was her first taste of real wine and not the Welch’s white grape juice meant for children. She was also on…

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    The Kiss

    So Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings, Rabbi!” he exclaimed and gave him the kiss. Jesus said, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.” —Matthew 26:50 Come friend, The air is warming with spring, and the stars are pregnant with Abrahamic promise. The cicadas are humming new hymns and the moon is dressed in bridal splendor. This is a perfect evening, wouldn’t you agree, for a long walk through the woods with friends? My friend? Now, why do you come slithering with a long procession? Why do you lead a march of flaming suns? Are not the stars enough to light our way? Why have you…

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    Black Panther and the Challenge to the Church

    If the church dares to embrace the badass decision for intercultural congregations, it already has everything needed to make that happen. The church only needs to be faithful to its source material. Do you remember the origin story of the church? The tongued-fire of the Spirit gifting supernatural powers? Powerful apostles – men and women, young and old, masters and slaves – proclaiming the gospel, regardless of threats from authorities? People from all corners of the earth hearing the same message, but understanding it in their heart-language? 3,000 getting baptized? All because superhero Jesus defeated death and now lives in a new form in their assembly, which we have come…

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    How Does a Poem Work?

    i’m not sure but it’s what you look for when your father dies and you were expecting it for awhile, because he had a full life, the pastor says, like a pear, ripe with sun, snaps from the branch and falls to earth, and no estranged child, everyone came and kissed his face the week before he passed away, ain’t that a blessing, amen, the church people say, and yet that emptiness in your 60 year old chest, is so vast even the night can’t fit in it, and you don’t know how to say it, so your hands go fumbling through you old poetry anthology from college, the one…

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    Waiting

    For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. – Romans 8:22 My wife has been in labor for 20 hours but the boy’s not ready for his revealing What’s he waiting for? I shuffle back and forth, from my wife’s bedside to the waiting room, where both mothers are wondering if they should stay put or run some quick errands, they ask, What time does the doctor say? I say, Anytime. A n y     t i m e  s t r e t c h i n g  i n f i n i t e l y.…

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    Silent Night on December 24th, 1914

    German and British soldiers, in the thick of the first war of the worlds crawl out of their blood drenched trenches, rifles slung over sunken shoulders, and shovels across the other, meet halfway in the dead man’s land, carry back and bury the remains of their friends, then return to exchange prisoners and cigarettes, lighting them for each other, like Advent candles.   They gaze at the stars, name them in their mother’s tongue, fabricate stories of the girl they will finally propose to once they return home.   They take turns singing carols their mothers sang to cease their tears, then as if there was a conductor invisible except…

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    Cello

    I heard the human heart responds most to the mourns of the cello because it's range mirrors the limits of the human voice      85hz         to            255hz In the trembling of strings,   timbres of        memories           of longings even the silence quivers with the faintest echo of the desire that never fully came to rest Read the other poem published with this one at Cultural Weekly

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    Returning Home to America Through the Poet Langston Hughes

    published in Dear America: Reflections on Race by Geeky Press “Go back home Chink!” Black ink sprayed all over the front door and wall of our house. Graffiti is homo sapiens’ version of territory marking: a creative expression degraded to dog’s piss; a prophetic art blemished to a slur; a spray of hatred: “Get the fuck outta here!” After six years of roach-infested, intermittent heating apartment, we moved into our first house, a step towards the American dream, a small plot of earth to our name, with a yard for us to tend, fenced not by white-pickets but steel mesh but a fence nevertheless. We turned the 70’s ranch house…