The Table is Set and Open

The table is set and open
welcoming the holy and the hungry
to the feast of love and full bellies
for the communion of all creation.

The heavenly table is set on Earth
to nourish all people
through the breaking of bread
and the pleasure of wine.

Bread and Wine:
God’s manna of love
and promise of mercy and grace
offered to all without condition.

The metaphoric body and blood:
God’s divine paradigm of justice
predicated on love
and the belovedness of all creation.

We all deserve full bellies
and joyful existence.

Review of ‘Indigenous Theology and the Western Worldview: A Decolonized Approach to Christian Doctrine’ by Dr. Randy Woodley

This article I wrote for Wiley Author Services provides a brief summary of Dr. Randy Woodley’s text, ‘Indigenous Theology and the Western Worldview: A Decolonized Approach to Christian Doctrine.’ The review can be a helpful resource if you are trying to decide if you want to read this text. Dr. Woodley’s text is helpful if you are curious about the juxtaposition and mutual learnings between Indigenous Theology and a Western Worldview or decolonial approaches to Christian Doctrine.

What Makes a Home?

My husband and I recently purchased a condo in the Chicago neighborhood of Edgewater. Was this the worst possible time to attempt a home purchase due to the volatile housing market? Absolutely. Did we have any other choice? No.

Luckily, we were able to find a wonderful place at a reasonable rate. Once moved in, we found many unexpected projects that demanded our time, energy, and resources. While we found ways to memorialize and ritualize the move, the demands of life, the stresses of home projects, and the volatility of the economic realities of our time often distracted us from the overall blessings of first-time homeownership.

As a result, I found myself caught off guard during a blessing my parents offered when they visited from Omaha, Nebraska about a month after we moved. Borrowing the blessing from the 1946 film, It’s a Wonderful Life, my parents presented us with a fresh baguette from a local bakery, a container of salt, and a bottle of red wine. Reciting the words of blessing from the movie, my parents offered ‘bread’ so that our household would never know hunger, ‘salt’ so that our lives would always have flavor, and ‘wine’ so that joy would always be found in our home.

In this moment, I realized that our home is more than a physical space: it is a place from which love, family, community, and life can be nourished in our lives as a couple. Our home is a place from which we can find strength and grounding to go out into the world and enact that same love, community, and life.

For the first time, our new condo felt like a home from which our new lives could be formed. And all of this came from a little blessing of bread, salt, and wine, offered from the wisdom and love of parents.

‘Why Do the Nations Rage? The Demonic Origin of Nationalism’ by David Ritchie Book Review

Why Do the Nations Rage?: The Demonic Origin of Nationalism by David A. Ritchie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“It is crucial for Christians to clearly recognize the distinction between rightly ordered patriotism and idolatrous nationalism; to recognize the difference between gratitude to God for one’s nation and the temptation to worship one’s nation as a god. None of us are above this temptation. Sadly, the people of God have had a long history of looking to political power for salvation. We have a long history of crying out the name of insurrectionist ‘Barrabus!’ instead of the name of the Prince of Peace, who alone has the power to make all things new. The powers are real, and they are greedy for our affection. Yet the exhortation of Joshua 24 still applies to the people of God today. We must put away the gods of our fathers and the gods of the nations. We must choose this day who we will serve” (142).

This book is deeply relevant, contextual, and a must read for the perilous time in which we live in the United States. Ritchie asks the question ALL people who call themselves Christians need to ask: who do we serve/pledge our allegiance? Christ? Or the United States?

‘Why do the Nations Rage? The Demonic Origin of Nationalism’ by David Ritchie is a contextual and relevant unpacking of the idolatrous and demonic power of nationalism, particularly in how it has co-opted a façade of Christianity to justify itself. Ritchie shows that christian nationalism is a paradoxical identity because “nationalism involves the exaltation of a nation (or a particular conception of a nation) to the highest place of allegiance, concern, and devotion, [thus] it is essentially idolatrous” (6). Nationalism cannot be Christian because it is inherently idolatrous. Furthermore, Ritchie shows that while the January 6, 2021 Capitol Riot is a contemporary manifestation of nationalism, nationalism has ancient roots and is generally demonic: “when examined through the lens of biblically demonology, you will discover that there is little distinction between the ancient pagan’s worship of national patron deity and the contemporary nationalist’s tendency to exalt a particular nation to a place of functional divinity” (6). As a result, Ritchie argues that “nationalism-not atheism, not new age spiritualism, nor any other traditional world faith-is the greatest religious rival to the Christian gospel that vies for the worship of [God’s] people….seek[ing] to conquer Christianity, or…to co-opt Christianity for its own purposes” (6).

Ritchie accomplishes this goal through five sections in this book.

The first section carefully describes how the New Testament writings of Paul use the terms ‘powers,’ ‘principalities,’ ‘authorities,’ and other terms to describe “spiritual beings that are personal in nature and exert corporate influence over groups of people….and geographical territories” (9), including ‘nations.’

Ritchie then summarizes these demonic ‘spiritual beings’ under the umbrella term ‘powers’ and explains how these ‘powers’ were the reason why the God of the Old Testament/New Testament condemned ‘pagan nations’ and ‘national patron deities’ in the second section.

In the third section, Ritchie shows that Christ has defeated all demonic forces of evil through his life, death, and resurrection. Thus, Christ has not only defeated our reliance upon the ‘powers,’ but has commanded us to resist these powers. Christians cannot simply ignore or turn a blind eye to the idolatry of nationalism, but we must name, denounce, and resist the evils of nationalism through primacy of devotion to Christ and the transformative work of the Holy Spirit.

In order to accurately name the evils of nationalism today, so that Christians can denounce and resist them, section four describes how nationalism has co-opted a façade of Christianity and created a systematic theology of nationalism” (93). In short, this theology of nationalism primarily “stands against the first commandment and the Christian understanding of God as the one to whom highest praise and devotion belongs…[through] the belief that ‘loyalty to the nation overrides all other loyalties'” (95). Some modern examples include the symbols of “Columbia (or Freedom) as the patron goddess of the United States….flags function[ing] beyond a mere identifying symbol of a nation, and instead having been imbued with sacred significance and accorded ritualistic worship”(97), the pledge of allegiance in schools, national art that uses Christian imagery, ascribing messianic characteristics to politicians, manifest destiny, and ascribing ‘right Christian belief’ to stances, beliefs, and platforms of politicians or political parties. As Ritchie explains, “the term ‘Christian nationalist’ is just as oxymoronic as ‘Yahwist Baal worshiper.’ When Christianity mixes with nationalism, the sum of this syncretism yields only nationalism….For this reason, Christians must have no part in nationalism” (122).

In the fifth and final section, Ritchie provides tangible ways for Christians to resist the demonic powers of nationalism. First, ministry leaders must confront nationalism head-on in their ecclesial spaces (125). Ritchie provides very practical and tangible Christ-centered responses to the pitfalls and lies of nationalism. This was my favorite section of the book and I’d recommend snagging yourself a copy if just for this section alone (although I think all five sections are incredible and a must read)!

Right before the invasion of the Capitol on January 6, 2021, the rioters stood with defamed Christian images and ‘prayers’ were lifted. I agree with Ritchie when he states, “I felt grieved that images of the name of my Savior were displayed alongside this spectacle of nihilistic division and death” (4). This book, and the commandments from Christ articulated throughout this book, are the urgent call to Christians across our nation, and across the globe, to resist the demonic powers of nationalism and to once again devote our hearts, minds, and actions fully to Christ. Amen!

View all my reviews

Happy Fourth of July

Be grateful for what you have,

they say.


I’m grateful for my marriage

with my husband.

But many folks across the country,

emboldened with power,

want to rip our marriage apart,

calling our love unconstitutional,

along with many other nasty

words, phrases, and threats.

Seeking the goal of allowing

states to make our union illegal,

or perhaps a full-fledged federal ban.

So I’ll be grateful for what I have,

as I’ve been told,

before it all gets legislated away.

Happy Fourth of July

Trust the Seeds

Trust the seeds

for they know that which they do –

their entire being designed to grow –

to make a way out of any soil.

We do not need to improve the seed,

nor should we smother it with care.

Instead, tend to the seed – 

provide it with basic necessities,

love, and respect –

knowing that it is the will of the seed,

no matter the hardships of the season –

drought, famine, pestilence –

to sprout and bloom.

Do not impede the seed 

through the folly 

of our own understanding.

Trust the seeds

and rejoice in their flourishing.

‘After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging’ by Willie James Jennings Book Review

“The crowd is itself a destination and not a means to an end. The goal of cultivating those who can gather people centers theological education in its erotic power….Erotic power is, as Rita Nakashima Brock states, ‘the power of our primal interrelatedness’….Erotic power has been drawn in our time into the trajectories of colonial control rooted in whiteness and made malignant through racial segregation that has shaped and continuous to shape so many individuals and communities. Desire rooted in control is disordered desire that inevitably forms social prisons that drain life” (Willie James Jennings 149).

“The distorted erotic power that fuels that works must be freed from its captivity to whiteness and turned back toward its source in divine desire. We can start again. That ‘again’ being a gift from the God who raised Jesus from the dead. Theological education exists in the ‘again.’ This is education that has as its fundamental resource erotic power, and that power finds its home in the divine ecstasy in which God relentlessly gives Godself to us, joyfully opening the divine life as our habitation” (Willie James Jennings 151).

“To be invoked in theological education is to long for eternity and the end of death. It is to seek the blessed state where our words start to do new works by first joining the chorus of the words of those who live forever in the Lord and who sound the healing and redeeming voice of the living God. Then our words will heal. Then our words will build up. Then our words will help form life together. Then our words will give witness to a destiny only visible through love. Talking together then is a practice aimed at eternity, and it matters more than we often realize for bringing our hope into focus. This finally is the goal of this book and the task I want to leave you with — to bring hope into focus” (Willie James Jennings 157).

Reflection on the ‘In-Between’ Times

In a few weeks, I HOPE to be able to make a post revealing our wonderful new condo, celebrating that the move-in process is officially complete, and expressing excitement over the start of our homeownership journey.

But, amidst that post, and other posts of joy, the public-facing reality of life’s daily hardships and grind gets lost. During my prayer time this morning, as I grappled and struggled with the anxiety, struggle, and fear of this time of tremendous upheaval and change, I felt convicted to share this reality: Moving sucks. Especially compounded with the stress of everyday life.

I thought it was important to share a post of the ‘in-between’ joyful posts because it is more honest. But also because it is in the moments of trials and tribulations that I find myself most cognizant of God’s power of love and care in my life, especially through the incredible tribe of family, friends, and holistic supports (yay therapy) around me. It is these ‘in-between times’ of day-to-day life, as well as the hardships, that make the joyful moments so divine.

And in these ‘in-between times,’ and times of hardships, I give thanks for the unceasing presence of God that so often shows up in the form of YOU. I give thanks for you and the community of support you have all been for Connor and me.

While I look forward to being able to make the joyful post about our completed move, I thought it was important to name that this is a very challenging time and that I’m struggling. And that is both okay and honest.

Life isn’t living from joy to joy, as our social media accounts seem to display, but being present with God, and one another, in all the times: joys, hardships, and the in-between.

Love, thanks, and blessings to you all!

A contextual adaptation of ‘United Methodist Book of Worship’ Blessing 548

This is the Pastoral Prayer I wrote for the May 24, 2022 Clergy Session of the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church.

God of eternal presence with us,

amidst all joy and pain,

guide us in this gathering today

as we tend to the grief of what we have lost

and as we celebrate the excitement of what is new and expanding.

This gathering today may revive in us memories of loved ones, colleagues, and friends who are no longer with us today.

May we take time to tend to this grief

and remember the happy memories we shared together

while they were still with us.

In the next few moments, may we speak the names of those whom we have lost out loud OR quietly in our hearts.

[Speak out-loud or reflect]

Lord, thank you for the time we had to share with these beloved people.

May our memories together be a blessing until we meet again.

Three years have passed, and yet we still feel the looming presence of the pandemic.

May we take time to acknowledge this grief,

remembering and honoring what has been lost:

plans, justice, communities, dignity, events, rights, services.

In the next few moments, may we speak that which has been lost out loud OR quietly in our hearts.

[Speak out-loud or reflect]

Lord, thank you for your constant presence with us during this time, weeping along with us and our communities.

May we continue to rely on your boundless love as our strength as we continue to care for our congregations, communities, families, and selves.

During these three years, we have also encountered new persons, deeper relationships, and the expansion of families.

May we take time to tend to these joys,

holding the faces and names,

of those we have met and grown to cherish and love.

In the next few moments, may we speak the names of those whom we have met out loud OR quietly in our hearts.

[Speak out-loud or reflect]

Lord, we name these relationships with gratitude, and we bless them.

May we continue to tend, cherish, and rejoice in the beloved people and relationships whom you have placed in our lives today.

These three years have been marked by forced innovation and change.

May we take time to acknowledge the good that has come from the Holy Spirit

helping us to expand and imagine our communities in exciting new ways,

emphasizing justice, dignity, accessibility, safety, and creativity.

In the next few moments, may we speak the good out loud OR quietly in our hearts.

[Speak out-loud or reflect]

Lord, thank you for the innovative power of your Holy Spirit, leading and guiding us in these times of profound change.

May we find strength from your Holy Spirit, and from one another, to continue the ministry work to which you have called us.

God among us,

our unrelenting listener,

we give you thanks for this time to share

our griefs and joys with you.

Bless us, keep us, and inspire us

in the great work to which you have called us –

yesterday, today, and tomorrow –

in collaboration, accountability, and support

with You,

with our ministry communities,

and with our colleagues here today.

In Your name,

we rejoice and praise.


Psalm 23 as a Gay Love Letter

My Lover is my Lord,

in him, I do not want.

He lies with me on clean linens

and wraps me in his sinewy arms.

He enlivens my body and soul

and leads me on pleasurable paths

toward mutual ecstasy.

With him I journey through 

the soft fleshy curves,

hard muscled edges,

and vulnerable tissues 

of our bodies.

In him, I fear no harm,

for his rod 

and my staff

are in the hands

of excellent communicators.

He prepares a warm cuddle for me

after the stresses and joys

of the daily grind;

he anoints my head with kisses

and my heart overflows.

Goodness and mercy

flow from our union

into all of the days 

and the ways

of our lives.

I shall dwell in the embodied home

of my Lord – my Husband – 

until death do us part

and we reunite 

in eternal embrace.