A Prayer for the Many Marching for Our Lives


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Graphic from the United Church of Christ. Visit https://g.co/kgs/zZ7AGY

God whose Justice moves in marches across our land:

Bless the feet, the wheelchairs, the strollers, the bicycles, the scooters and any other mode of movement our neighbors use to pray along the way.

Bless the young people leading this movement. Their courage and their power shines a light to the future and where we are all called to follow.

Bless the adults who recognize the power and voice of our children, and who hold the concerns of our youth in sacred spaces.

God, we know that people want to hold onto their rights. But all of us want to hold on to our lives. May we place our power in you instead of weapons. May we acknowledge the full humanity of each person who abides among us.




A Liturgy for John 3


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One: As we bask in the steadfast love of God,
Many: Let us share this love with our neighbors.
One: As we stand in the light of God,
Many: Let us embrace this light and shine it everywhere
One: As we grow with the grace of God,
Let us share the Good News of this grace in all times and spaces.

Eternal Source of Light and Love, may we grow with your presence. May we know that with your light we are able to see paths of hope ahead of us. Through your love, we realize that we never travel alone. In this season of wilderness, may the glimmer of your light continue to shine on our road, and may your love warm us in frigid moments. Amen.

God we are addicted to condemnation. Whether it’s criticizing our neighbors for how they look or attacking who they are, we like to categorize them as “other.”  We banish our neighbors to their own exile. During this season of Lent, may we reflect on the ways we condemn others. May we find ways to understand their struggles before judging them. May we build relationships with people who are not like us. We pray this in the name of Jesus the Christ, the one who taught us how to love unconditionally. Amen.

Moment of Silent Reflection

One:    God knows our hearts, and God knows that each day we experience salvation in new ways. Let us not only hear the good news of God’s grace but embrace it and share it with others. Amen!    

All:                  Amen!  Thanks be to God!

One:    Through this season of Lent, we not only grow spiritually as individuals, but we see how God is calling us to grow with our neighbors. In a spirit of unity, let us share our treasures and talents with God, neighbor, community and Church.

Eternal Source of Light and Love, we give thanks for the gifts you bestow upon us. We are grateful that you call us to use these gifts to build a just-filled world. May your spirit embolden us to use these gifts to bring more love into our communities. Amen.

To the Students


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Dear Students,

Some of you have been told that you will be reprimanded if you walk out in protest over gun safety and legislation. Some of you will still walk out- risking your reputations and your futures in the process.

And for that, I support you.

I support your concern that you do not want to die in a mass shooting.

I support your frustrations that the powers that be are not doing enough to protect your safety.

I support your sadness that has fallen over you as your adult leaders lack support for your voice.

As a faith leader, I have to attest that part of our sacred texts include prophets who spoke out against injustices. In the Hebrew Scriptures, the prophets called out the powers that be for treating their people and the strangers in their land as less than human.

In the New Testament, Jesus turned over tables when seeing injustices in the Temple. He wasn’t afraid to voice what he believed. That Divine Courage is what I hope to grow into as time passes.

Many of you have that same strength for risking everything you have over this issue. I don’t think I even have this much courage most of the time. So I commend you, students in my area. I send you love as you make the decisions. I send prayers of strength as you face the punishment.

You are shining a light that seems to be missing in our world. Please continue.

We will die without it.


As always, my post is my opinion and does not represent any organization with which I am associated.

It’s a Tough Time to Be in the Pulpit


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Theologian Karl Barth claimed “Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.”  Each week, many of us preachers adhere to this advice.  We review the Scripture which we have chosen (often from the lectionary), attempt to understand it from the context in which it was written, and then apply the text to today’s world.

Unfortunately, I find it more and more difficult to hold the Bible in one and the newspaper in the other.  Engaging in this practice requires me to address the world today.  And often the lectionary texts with which we are preaching feature Jesus radically attempting to change the world.

For instance, this week’s text featured Jesus turning over tables in the Temple.  Jesus is protesting the powers-that-be and the corrupt commerce practices of the time.  And he doesn’t just voice his concern but decides to physically disrupt the exploitive dealings.  Like I mentioned in my sermon this Sunday: it’s interesting that we criticize people who are protesting today and yet we don’t criticize Jesus for protesting very radically during his time…

As I hold Biblical texts like this alongside recent events, I cannot ignore the speeches and marches by students who are standing against gun violence and for gun control.  I cannot dismiss protestors who see a members of the community unjustly targeted by community authorities.  I cannot forget the women who are speaking out against sexual abuse and harassment.

And yet, here we are in congregations which hold a variety of views.  As pastors, we are called to be prophetic, addressing the injustices of our time and pointing out in scripture where the prophets spoke out against gaps in the system.  Yet we must walk the fine line between being prophetic and pastoral, praying and searching for the best words to use and hoping that we present the issue with the appropriate amount of pressure for our particular congregations.

During my 45ish years, I’ve never seen so much division in our society based on political and theological beliefs.  As the Church, I believe we are called to find common ground between all of us and continue to converse on these subjects…

…But I must admit that on some Sunday mornings – when the text offers a prophetic tone and the issues of today are calling us to address – all I want to do is pull the covers over my head and stay in bed.  I do not want to be the one who stirs the pot.  The simplicity of brunch with friends or sleeping until 11am would be delightful.  And somehow, God has called many of us pastors to lead the conversation.  God has called all of us to leave our homes on Sunday morning to wrestle together – no matter how liberal or conservative our politics or who we voted for in 2016.

So let’s join together in this uncomfortably holy space- ready to experience God in the chaos of this time.  As we pastors approach the pulpit, we may have dry mouths or racing hearts as we wonder how our message will be received.  We realize that our message may infuriate some.  We understand that we are called to take up the cross and follow Jesus into the depths of radical love.  But know that we are trying to be as faithful as possible to God in this 2018 world, loving our congregations as we fulfill our callings.

A Prayer for Fear of Flying


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God of the seas and lands and skies
Today I am soaring in the air to my destination
Excited for my adventures at the end of this flight…


As you well know, I have a fear of flying.
Bumps along the way concern me.
Are we ok? I ponder this in my mind-
And sometimes I ask the flight attendant.

What is that noise? Is that normal?

We are so high up!

I wish I had more control…

Oh, the turbulence will come if I fly often
And just like life, none of us can avoid it.
Roll with it, I say to myself,
But the nerves in my gut are screaming with fear.

God who soars with me,
Give me the courage to keep flying.
May my anxiety rest as the sky’s potholes keep the aircraft hopping.
May I learn to release control to you and he universe,
And may my adventures upon landing be ones where I see your presence.

1 Corinthians 13 for Me


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In an effort to promote an authentic and healthy love of self as many of us fail to do, I’ve taken 1 Corinthians 13 and made it into a statement that a person can speak to themselves.



I could speak or write brilliantly in the language of humans and heavenly beings, but let’s be honest – if I do not have love for myself, all my words are just a bunch of noise.

And if I seek justice and peace for the world, and understand all and know all, and if I have an amazing faith on paper, which may look like I could move mountains,
do NOT love myself – you know, the unconditional way that God loves me –
my work is empty… even hypocritical.

If I give away all I own to appear as a fabulous philanthropist,
and if I dress up my body so that I may boast that I look young or hot,
but do not have genuine self-love of my essence and soul, I gain nothing.

Loving myself through all my errors takes patience.
Loving myself means that I am required to be kind to myself.

Healthy love of self doesn’t mean that I’m envious of others (which I am quite often).
It does not allow me to brag over and over of my accomplishments or become arrogant and rude to prove that I am better than others.

Love of self absolutely can not be shadowed in shallowness,
and it requires me to reflect when I’m irritable or resentful of someone else’s accomplishments or celebrations.

This unconditional love does not allow me to rejoice when someone else errs, and it leaves no space for me to berate myself when I make a mistake.

It rejoices in what is best for everyone.

In order for my soul to thrive, true love of self will seek help when life is harsh.
It believes that anything is possible.
It continues to hope for all things
It endures when love seems present no where else.

Authentic love for myself is meant to be permanent and eternal.

But as for the work I do, it will eventually come to an end as my body ages or my mind falls away.
As for the brilliant language that I write or speak- it’s all going to cease.
As for knowledge that I possess here on this side of heaven, it will come to an end.

Let’s face it, now I see myself and God and others only in part. All I do will always fall short because of that partial view I have.
But when the complete comes somewhere on that side of heaven, the partial will come to an end.
The complete view of me and God and others and the universe will be all I can see.

I remember when I was a teen. I spoke like a teen, and I thought like a teen.
I reasoned like a teen.
I was disgusted by myself the way a teen would be.
Since becoming an adult,
I’ve been working on not to look at myself the same way I did at 14.

For I must remember that I see myself in a dim, cloudy, foggy mirror.
But someday, somewhere I will see the true view of my face and heart and soul.
For I must remember that right now I only myself in part-
But at some point I will know fully, even as God knows and loves me fully.

When nothing goes right and the world seems hopeless and I’m thinking so little of myself, I must remember that these three pieces are my foundation:
faith, hope, and love.

And even when faith in myself weakens and hope for the future wanes, God’s authentic, unconditional love for me will guide me back to where I need to be.

A Prayer When Prayers Are Not Enough


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“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you?”

James 2:14 (NRSV)

Holy One who created us to pray when life makes no sense, or when we are grateful, or when we are in need…

Let’s face it- we use our prayers as a way to stay in safe spaces. It’s easy to pray and send our thoughts to people who hurt. It’s simple to pray that an issue will go away.

And yet day after day, these thoughts and prayers are not enough. Issues continue to stack up. People are dying.

So today we pray that we have enough courage not only to pray with our mouths and minds and hearts, but also with our hands and voices and feet. It’s time for us to stop half-praying and time for us to fully pray with our whole selves. We know you are calling us to action.

Give us the clarity needed to complete your work effectively. And give us peace as we work to bring forth your Kin-dom to earth.


Remembering the Newly Single – Single in the Sanctuary


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It occurred to me a couple of days ago that this would be the first Valentine’s Day without my dad.  While that makes little impact on my life, it does, however mean that my mom is without a partner for the first time in about 48 years.

I’m not exactly sure how my mom is feeling today, nor do I want to assume those feelings or explore what traditions she may be missing.  But since it’s been less than six months since the death of my dad, a day like Valentine’s Day has the potential to stir up feelings in people who have recently lost their significant other.

And she is not alone in this life transition.

In our groups of friends as well as the people in our congregations, there are always people changing relationship status – and sometimes not for the better.  Our neighbors are experiencing breakups, divorces and losing spouses to death.  When a relationship has made a huge impact on a life (whether the team was married or not), there remains a large hole in the lives of those who are grieving.  Valentine’s Day can be another sharp and blazing reminder to this recent loss.

With all of this being said, it’s also our job as the Body of Christ to be present in the ashes of people who have been single for years – especially friends who do not enjoy their singlehood status.  Every year when Valentine’s Day rolls around, the aches of singlehood intensify, leaving them to wonder what is next.

Whether someone has recently lost someone or has been single for years, there is one less person to bring them flowers, candy or a nice fancy dinner.

So this is the challenge to the church: how will we be there for our single siblings in faith today?  How can we recognize that new losses could be extremely uncomfortable on a day like Valentine’s Day?  How can we deliver to them a bit of love – especially when delivery trucks will not be coming by their homes today?

A Prayer for the Newly Single on Valentine’s Day
Divine One whose son showed us how to love,
On this day filled with sparkles and glitter,
Help us to remember our siblings who sit in the ashes of relationships.
May those of us in romantic bliss exit our bubbles for a little while
To show love to those abiding solo among us.
May their hearts feel full and complete today.
May they see a love that fulfills them.
If their hearts yearn for their own partners,
May they find the one who will love them as they are
And may their future Valentine’s Days be ones of joy.



Loving Me for Me


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This is a snapshot from a 2015 The Upper Room devotional.  For  more information, visit https://www.upperroom.org/

Today, this was read at our church council meeting.

I’m not sure why the person chose to use this particular submission today – especially since this piece was from 2015.  But for some reason, the winds of the Holy Spirit were in motion, and I needed to hear something.  As she continued to read this devotional at the meeting, tears were streaming down my face.

How do I become someone I’m not?  I’m so, so tired trying to be  I suppose this has been a question almost 45 years in the making.  From the time we are young, we are conditioned to “fit in.”  Our consumerist culture encourages us to want what our neighbors have.  The visible lives of our friends seem so ideal compared to what we have, yet we do not know their challenges.

To me, my life seems scattered, second-tier and, in many ways, pathetic.  I hold myself up to the world’s standards, and I see only my shortcomings.

My gifts and accomplishments, on the other hand, were missing from my view.  I’m probably harder on myself than others are on me.  But for me my shortcomings are front and center – staring me in the face – as to poke fun at the gifts I lack.

What I forget is that all of you have shortcomings as well – they may just be a bit different than mine.  And all of you have gifts as well – they may also be a bit different than mine.

Then there are the times when I wish I could have the talents and interests of the people closest to me.  I’ve spent almost 45 years trying to fit this square peg into a round hole.  The work of conforming and remodeling ourselves to fit others’ expectations becomes exhausting.  At some point of our lives, we no longer have the energy to mold ourselves to their liking.  At some point, we must just become ok with who we are.

Now, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t continue to work on our shortcomings.  But we need to stop being so hard on ourselves because of them.  I am not good at everything.  (Obviously)  I am NOT good at everything.  I will never be.  At nearly 45 years old I need to come to terms that I am not good at every single task, and I am not interested in accomplishing everything.

But here is what I need to do:

First of all, I need to ask for help for my growing edges.  There is nothing wrong with asking for help.  (For people like me who struggle asking for help, I’ll repeat myself: there is nothing wrong asking for help.)  Because I am not talented in every aspect of life, this means that some activities will not come easy to me.  As humans and children of God, we are called to work together to use our gifts to assist others who struggle.

Secondly, there are some gifts I do not have. I will never have these gifts.  I will never be a talented singer, be a star of a movie, hike Kilimanjaro, skydive, or a number of other things.  And I am becoming fine with this.

Third, it’s time for me to begin focusing on the ways I excel and where I want to invest in my passions.  Forty-five is not old.  But it is the beginning of life’s second act.  God is calling me to use whatever energy I may have to strengthen this world and the people within it.  I am gifted at artwork, marketing and writing.  I no longer need to explain away how I will never be a triathlon competitor, raw sushi connoisseur and lover of Tarantino films.

Like this devotion, it’s time for me and all of us to be firm in who we are.  Psalm 139 reminds us that this is who God created me to be.  This.  Here and now.  I am gifted and flawed.  I have ways that I can still grow.  I hold in my heart many things I still want to accomplish.  But I am Michelle.  I have been for 45 years, and I will be for the remainder of my life.  I must live in my own skin and with my own mind.

As the devotional says: “we can confidently live as the people God created us to be.”  How liberating it is for each of us to claim that reality!  No longer do I have to live as others expect me to live.  This is who I am – made by God in the image of God.

First Birthday Gone


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Today’s the first time we exist in a February 7 world without my dad in it. And as many of you are well too familiar, this is bizarre.

Most years, I would try to call my dad at midnight. Of course, this would be 11pm CST, a point that wouldn’t matter to him.

Last night, there was no one I could call to wish those birthday greetings.

Dad was born on the seventh day in February in the seventh hour. He used to indicate how the number sevens were lucky for him.

Today would have been his 77th birthday. So on this seventh day of February in which my dad would have been 77, make this world a stronger place. Tell someone what a fantastic job they are doing. Call you congressional leaders to speak your needs and the needs of those marginalized. Watch the news, register to vote, learn the faces of our congressional leaders, or just be a good human today. That’s what Vincent Torigian would want for his birthday.

And Dad, as you abide on that side of heaven, may you feel the love that all of us are sending you on your birthday. Miss you so much.