What doesn’t kill you…

The Fourth Sunday of Lent

We’ve all heard that, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

Whether you are used to hearing this from your grandparent or from Kelly Clarkson, the old adage about doing difficult things in order to build character is a familiar one to most every one of us. And it is useful in many circumstances.

For example, when my left knee refused to stop violently sneaking around to the backside of my leg during some painful dislocations, a knee surgeon took “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” to a whole other level. He decided to slice off a chunk off of my shinbone, relocate it, and adjust how the rest of my tendons and ligaments moved. As a result, I can jump, lunge, squat, and otherwise move with ease.

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Holy Losers

After one service, a younger, more precocious member of our congregation told me she had been contemplating our practice of consuming bread and wine during the service. She asked me if we, in fact, were cannibals since we spoke about the bread and wine being Jesus’ body and blood. This is a terrific question—one that would cause many of us to strain while attempting to provide a clear, theologically-sound response.

Many of our traditions seem a little odd to the outsider. We wake up early on a day that so many people choose to sleep in, we all stand, sing, and pray the same words while facing the same direction, and on Ash Wednesday, we read about not practicing our piety before others, right before splat ashen crosses on our foreheads for everyone to see.

The most profoundly odd thing we do is follow a man who, by so many people’s standards, was a loser.

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Jesus and the Fab Five

The Last Sunday after the Epiphany

I have been crying a lot lately. Don’t worry—I’m fine. I have been crying a lot lately because Netflix released a reboot of Queer Eye, a show in which a group of five gay men advise men on fashion, food, culture and design. In its rebooted form, the show is elevated above the previous iteration’s goal of equipping straight men with a style arsenal. Now the “fab five,” as they are called, seek to empower their “heroes” to care for themselves and their loved ones and to explore more diverse expressions of masculinity.

The fab five accomplishes their mission within forty-five minutes, which is unrealistic yet never fails to offer some mountaintop moment of catharsis. At its core, Queer Eye is about physical transformation—how the visible, tangible things of life can catalyze one’s views and behaviors for good.

I don’t believe that Queer Eye’s “fab five” was on Mount Tabor with Peter, James, John, Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, but if they had been, I am sure there would have been more glitter and a snarky comment about wearing white after Labor Day.

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Life Before Death

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany

I have been doing some counting recently. There are 538 references to “love” in the Bible. 86 to “wealth,” and 1008 to faith. And in what may or may not prove to be prophetic, 33 to “eagles” and “0” to patriots.

There are also 63 occurrences of some form of the word “demon” in the Bible, one of which we heard just now from Mark, all of which are in the New Testament, and most of which are in the Gospels. Jesus encounters many demons and demon-possessed persons in his ministry.

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A Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious God

The Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Last May, Google decided to analyze search trends to determine the most commonly misspelled words in each state. Massachusetts had as much trouble spelling license as they do earning one. New Jersey has apparently decided that the number after eleven is “dozen” because they cannot spell “twelve” for anything. And Connecticut’s most commonly misspelled word?


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