Tag Archives: Sunday

when it finally has no end

nicene creed

I was up late, and woke up late, and made it into the church service about ten minutes late. My voice was much deeper than normal, and was still deep when we made it to the words of the Nicene Creed. I think it was the unfamiliar cantor of my voice that made me hear what I said today as if it was the first time I had ever heard it.

“…and his kingdom will have no end.”


There are often moments where I see it. It’s clearly present in ways that don’t make any sense, so I lean back, squint my eyes so that tears don’t fall out, and try to breathe it in. There are moments where I see what Nora Gallagher references as “thin space,” moments where the space we are in is touching the space we will be in when the kingdom comes in all of its fullness.

Sometimes, these moments of heaven meeting earth are in
the monotony of daily chores
the normalcy of singing with the windows down
the clinking of glasses and forks and plates at dinner with friends
the deep breaths after long days of good work.

Sometimes, these moments of heaven meeting earth are in
the deep grief of watching one we’ve lived loving be lowered into ground
the deep heartbreak of waiting to hear the horrible news we’re hoping isn’t true
the deep sadness of holding our hair in our hands because we know we are powerless and things are out of control.

Sometimes, these moments of heaven meeting earth are in
the brilliance of art, laughter, hard work
the sharp edges of a brilliant sonnet, sunset, silhouette
the joy of eyes meeting, hands shaking, understanding.

But every time, for now, these moments of heaven meeting earth
have ends. Endings. They are over after they begin.

They have an end.

And we are then reminded that
the things that feel true, honest, just, lovely, pure
don’t last, for now.


So we stand together, deep voices on early Sunday mornings, and say the words that have come from the mouths of men and women for hundreds and hundreds of years. In the echo of their voices and the startling depth of our own early-morning voice, we hold out hope that the day is coming when it has no end. The kingdom made up of thin space, where heaven and earth meet for good and hold hands for good, will have no end. So those moments where we know and see and tell and sense the truth, and we hope that they would last forever…we wait for the day when they will.

We wait for the day when it finally has no end.

Pine Tree

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skyping from kitchen to living room

I remember it pretty well, actually. About four years ago I think it was.

It was some kind of all-of-a-sudden party that the college folks from my Sunday night small group were getting me used to all over again. It started with “Can I come over and study?” and ended with us all sitting in different rooms of the house,  laptops open, seeing how many video skype conversations we could have going at one time.

Of course, after three or four the sounds starting echoing and whistling, my internet started gasping, and we had to shut the whole operation down.

I think, often on Sunday nights, about those guys, and all the other people they brought into my world. I think about where they are now, what they are doing, and how they are seeing and joining in signs of the kingdom all over the world these days.

Gentlemen: Ben, Quick, Coop, PeterB, Toddley, Ryan, Noah, Corey, Andrew, Bradley, Scotty Scott, Matt, Dennis, Dan, Devin, Ross…you fill me with pride.

It occurs to me this evening, actually being forced to talk to one of you via Skype because the distance has grown much greater than den to kitchen, that I would love to have you all sitting on the couch laughing, arguing, talking, praying, learning, hoping and skyping with your laptops in your hands.

But alas, the world is waiting for kingdom come, and you are those who bring it.

Gentlemen, you make me proud. Always.

Pine Tree

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monday mornings are the clearest view

Monday mornings are the clearest view

of the sharp contrast in which

we live and breathe:

the ideals of the weekend

Saturday and its rest

Sunday and its ethereal musings.

And then Monday morning;

push comes to shove

injustice comes to work

greed comes to pocketbooks

arrogance comes to interactions

distraction comes to dinner tables.

And instead of pushing to bring

the truth of the weekend into play on Monday morning,

we are tempted to

wait for the weekend

and curse the week.

But the week waits desperately.

Pine Tree

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to mormon church we go

“We chase them out with a rake!”

I remember as a child talking to a friend of mine at church who lived next door to the Mormon church in our town. We were children, granted, but I remember her saying one day when I asked her about Mormons that she chased them with a rake. There is no telling what actually happened, and there is no telling what stories people could tell about me. Neither is the point.

I am teaching “Poverty and the Church” this semester for the School of Social Work at our local University, and the issue of diversity is inherent in our conversations about poverty and the church. As an extra credit assignment, I asked my students to attend a church that was unlike their own, and write about their experience. One student, raised as a mormon but since evangelicalized, invited me to attend “Mormon Church” with her. So alas, Sunday Morning, it was off to Mormon Church.

Part of why I mention my conversations with a childhood friend is that I realized walking through the parking lot that morning that my fear was based on very, very little. I have a remedial understanding of Mormon belief, enough to know I can say, “No, Thank You” to people who ring my door bell at three thirty on Sunday afternoons.


As a side note, the power of fear to shape our experience of people is fascinating and terrifying. If we are taught to be afraid of someone, are we not more likely to be unjust, violent, discriminatory, and hateful? The danger is startling, but where I live there is still, sadly, a value to propagating fear of “the other,” no matter the ignorance required to do so.


So, I noticed as soon as I sat down that my clothing choice was incorrect. Every other male in the room had on a white button up collared shirt and a tie. I had on neither, and it was obvious. I was asked if I was a visitor…yes, what gives me away…and then asked my name. A minute later, my last name. I must admit, I panicked when asked for my last name. I was tempted to lie…I remember making up a name on the school bus one day when asked for my name, naming one of my dad’s law partners. “Jordan,” I said. “Donald Jordan.”

What strikes me most about the day, save my own uninformed fear and therefore ignorant judgment,  was the content of what followed in the sermon. The message was given, instead of by one person, by three different members of the congregation, two females and one male. I liked the thought of this, assuming that the congregation might have a great deal of insight and wisdom to share with the congregation. I then learned that the sermon topic had been assigned as had the reference for their thoughts. The sermon topic was “Sustaining your leadership,” and the references given for the speakers to use were not from scripture itself, but rather from past talks given by previous “apostles” from their previous meetings.

They went on to quote prior leadership saying that the health of the church depended on not questioning the leadership, unity based on not questioning leadership, true calling being made known to them from the leadership, and faithfulness being measured by their allegiance to the leadership.


The ability of an organization to propagate itself by instilling the value of not asking questions, not holding leadership accountable, and even doing so by associating position with a certain amount of divinity…


I left thankful for those who have taught me to ask good questions, to think carefully, and to follow the truth, even when it leads away from common accepted wisdom.

What was most startling is how I have learned to be afraid of a group of people I have never really met, and also how the things that ultimately bothered me most about this past Sunday morning were not unique to the Mormon church.

One of the “missionaries” who spoke, around my age or a little younger it seemed, said to the crowd in  a way that made me feel she was saying it to herself as much as anyone else, “I believe this is the true church. I have to. It’s like I heard someone say one time, ‘show me something better, and we will talk.'”

I thought, as I heard those words come off her tongue, “I don’t know much at all, but I know something better.”

Pine Tree

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