Scandal: The Case for a Liberal Faith

I’ve been mulling over this post for a while now: an attempt to articulate a Christian faith that is liberal, a faith that centers on the generous freedom that comes from the Christian story. When I say a “liberal faith,” I do not mean “of a liberal or progressive political party,” because I am a political independent. I also do not mean “of the progressive faith movement,” although I identify with a lot of what is in that space. I mean liberal in its etymological sense: liberal comes from the Latin word liber meaning “free,” hence the freedom mentioned above. Think of our word “liberty” as a reference. More than that, liberal can mean “given, used, or occurring in generous amounts,” as well as “not strictly literal or exact.” With this etymological background and these two definitions on the table, I want to make the case that Christianity can be a liberal faith.

Jesus says in John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” That is to say, humanity has found its freedom in Jesus. That freedom is rooted in a Heavenly Father who heaps generous grace on us (see the story of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15). Yet, this gracious God-who-became-man cannot be hemmed in by any exacting, man-made theological construct. It’s impossible for humans to fully comprehend the eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, self-sacrificing God who created them, just as it is impossible for a slab of marble to fully comprehend the sculptor who works on it. Instead of an exacting theology, the Christian faith can be a liberal faith because it is based on a love that is free and freedom-giving, a grace that is inclusive and generous, and a God that is bigger than the reach of any theological framework. This post is the case for that kind of liberal faith.

The story and power of Jesus is cosmic, intimate, substitutionary, and creative, and it comes together as a gift of freedom and inclusivity through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. If “through [Jesus] all things were made” (John 1:3), then the whole universe is from Him. If God knits each human together in the womb (Psalms 139:13), then every human, the billions who have walked the earth over the millennia, are intimately His creation. If “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24), then that really means all people. All have sinned. All are justified. Through Jesus. And finally, if God is making all things new (Revelations 21:5), then the entirety of the universe, from the farthest reaches of space to the joys and frustrations of our households, is included. This gift is the all-encompassing, liberal, free and freedom-giving, perfect and perfecting, cosmic, intimate, substitutionary, creative, scandalous love of God.

This kind of liberalism can also be applied to our reading and understanding of the Bible. The Bible should be read with an openness to the glory and freedom found in its pages, including recognizing its supernatural ability to change hearts and minds and lead us into deeper relationship with God. But the Bible also needs to be read with a generosity toward its contradictions and significant issues (slavery, violence, and patriarchy, to name a few). My main point, and probably the most contentious point I make in this whole post, is that the Bible does not need to be the inerrant Word of God for it to still play a huge role in the Christian life. We can still believe that God breathed His Spirit into the words of the imperfect Biblical writers (all ~40 of them) as well as acknowledge that the Biblical writings can have a supernatural impact on those who read them – without being “strictly literal” in our interpretation of the Bible. As discussed earlier, no theological framework can contain God – including not a literalist framework. Furthermore, if God was moving and working in Biblical times, and He breathed His life and love into the words of the myriad writers of the Bible, is He not also able to move and work and inspire throughout history – and even today? The same Spirit that was moving then is moving now, right?

Let me try to explain more on this from a personal perspective: I hear God intensely in the books of the Old and New Testaments, and I’m so thankful for how the Bible has shaped my heart, mind, and life. But I also hear God in the words of Aristotle and Plato and St. Francis of Assisi and Teresa of Ávila, as well as John Milton, William Shakespeare, the Romantic poets, and T.S. Eliot. I explore Him in the worlds of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and Madeleine L’Engle. I read Him in the pages of James Baldwin and Maya Angelou and Ta-Nehisi Coates and Colson Whitehead. I find Him in the messages of Henri Nouwen and Peter J. Gomes and Rachel Held Evans and Sarah Bessey and Steven Furtick and Eugene Cho and Jay and Katherine Wolf. I find Him in the antiracism of Ibram X. Kendi and the poetry of Amanda Gorman. God shows up in the music of Passion and Hillsong and Elevation Worship and Maverick City, but also in Jon Batiste’s work from Soul, Justin Beiber’s recent Freedom EP, and Chance the Rapper’s lyrics. I find God every Sunday in the worship and message from our local, non-denominational church that we watch on YouTube due to COVID. And more, I find God in the smiles of my kids, in the love and patience of my wife, and in the gift of our extended family and friends! I mean, come on! The Spirit of God is still anointing words and moving hearts and changing minds and rewriting eternities today and everyday, right? God is still revealing Himself in every moment of every day in every corner of the universe, right? This is what a liberal view of the Bible can look like, and how that liberty, that freedom, can provide sustenance for a liberal faith.

So what then? What action steps come with a liberal faith? I would say that I have a responsibility – as a 30-something, middle-class, college-educated, white, cisgender, heterosexual, politically independent, Christian male – to center every generation, every economic class, every education level, every race, every gender, every sexuality, every political persuasion, and every religion in my day to day discourse and living. And then, amidst that liberal equity, I have a responsibility to tell my circle about the perfect and perfecting love of God made available to us through Jesus. The task, however difficult, is to “preach the Gospel at all times, [and], when necessary, use words” (St. Francis of Assisi). If God is in the eternal process of making all things new, that means He is making every generation, every economy, every educational institution, every systemic racial reality, every gender identity, every sexuality, every government and political party and voter, and every religion BRAND NEW. Everything is being made new. There’s that saying that you invite Jesus into your life to change a few things here and there. But then He comes into your life and renovates the entire house – replacing every wall, every door, every window, even the foundation. New. New. New. Everything, brand new.

It’s in this renovation by grace – through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus – that the gates to Heaven are swung wide. Brennan Manning writes, “Will we ever understand the gospel of grace, the furious love of God, the world of grace in which we live? Jesus Christ is the scandal of God” (The Ragamuffin Gospel). The songwriter Cory Asbury writes: “Oh, the overwhelming, never ending, reckless love of God.” The liberal, free and freedom-giving, generous, untamable, cosmic, intimate, substitutionary, creative, reckless, perfect, and perfecting love of our Heavenly Father, given freely through Jesus Christ, is a scandal. God overwhelms every nook and cranny of the universe, running to us to embrace us despite our prodigal independence. This love is available to you and to me and to our loved ones and to our enemies right at this moment. And for eternity.

To quote Judah Smith in a recent massage of his: through Jesus, we are “fully loved by God, fully forgiven by God, and fully free to love and serve one another.” To quote Richard Rohr: “Jesus was meant to be the guarantee that divinity can indeed reside within humanity” (The Universal Christ). A scandal. A liberal faith. But also such good news.

Books: March and April 2021

It’s been great last two months of reading. I honestly loved every book I read in March and April. Super memorable reads.

Reviews are in my Stories. Hope you find some good ones to add to your list!

The Ickabog by J.K. Rowling
Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
A World Without Email by Cal Newport
The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen
Thou Shalt Not Be A Jerk by Eugene Cho

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The Common Rule by Justin Whitmel Earley
How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Fully Vaccinated


Heading to my vaccine site for my 2nd shot, I felt:



Inability to focus.


A battle between fear and logic.

Driving home from the vaccine site, I felt:



A big sigh of relief.

Grief and tears and deep sadness for all we’ve been through and lost.

Huge appreciation for our scientists, our healthcare workers, and the essential workers that risked their lives so we could make it through this.

A hope for brighter days ahead.

I’m having a hard time putting into words the mix of joy and deep sadness I feel today after getting my 2nd shot. Joy at the miraculous science of these vaccines, joy at the miracle of protection these vaccines give us, and joy in the knowledge that brighter days are coming. But all of that joy is churning right alongside a deep sadness as I think about all we’ve been through and lost in this last year.

Joy + Deep Sadness. Hope + Tears. The brilliance of our scientific community + the emotional, financial, and physical toll wrought by COVID-19.

The juxtaposition of joy + deep sadness, the two coming together into a hard-to-describe new life post vaccination. A kind of renaissance or rebirth for all of us. A collective rising from the ashes of this devastating and destructive pandemic.

The obstacle has been the way. We have learned that we can do hard things – the hardest things. This COVID season will be forever tattooed on our psyches and written about in our history books. We will talk of this season with our kids as they grow up. We will tell of this season to our grandkids once they come along.

I’m reminded of one of the meditations I’ve prayed almost every day of this pandemic – the words of a Hebrew prophet named Jeremiah that he spoke over the nation of Israel during their Babylonian captivity:

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

I think about the lyrics of a song that Elevation Worship just released:

“If He dresses the lilies with beauty and splendor / How much more will He clothe you? / How much more will He clothe you? / If He watches over every sparrow / How much more does He love you? / How much more does He love you?”

Plans. Prosperity. Security. Hope. A future.

All in the face of captivity.

Beauty. Splendor. Provision. Sovereignty. Love. The perfect and perfecting Love of our Heavenly Father.

All amidst a pandemic.

This is where my heart and head are today, on this Vaccination Day. It is Joy + Deep Sadness. It is Hope + Tears. But there are plans and prosperity and security and hope and a future and beauty and splendor and provision and sovereignty and love – all right here for us. “How much more does He love you?”

As one of my favorite East Bay coffee shops often says: “BRIGHTER DAYS.”

Easter 2021

The Rising

I was researching Easter and, surprisingly, found that there is no biblical word that marks the annual celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus. Weird, right? Especially since Easter is such a pivotal day in the Christian calendar. Christians historically celebrated Jesus’ resurrection weekly (on Sundays), but the annual celebration of Easter is actually associated with the March Equinox, and gets its name from the Pagan Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre who heralds dawn, spring, and fertility. Strange but true LOL. 🤷‍♂️

But I did some digging, and found that a lot of languages use for Easter some derivative of the Greek and Latin word “Pascha,” which references the Passover feast of Exodus 12. Some languages (including Chinese and Korean) use a word for Easter that translates as “Resurrection” or “Resurrection Festival,” which makes a lot of sense.

The most interesting word for Easter I came across is the Georgian word “Húsvét,” meaning “Rising.”

And I love that translation of Easter: The Rising.

Jesus Rising from the grave to conquer sin and death, thereby setting humanity free from its imperfections. The Son of God Rising from the dead to usher humanity once and for all into a right relationship with God, our Creator. The metaphorical sun Rising to bring a brand new day to a humanity once clothed in the darkness of its errant independence.

On Easter, we celebrate a Rising that was planned in eternity past by a God who is present with us in this very moment – a God who is drawing us to Himself for an eternity future of Love and Belonging. A Rising where the Father welcomes home His prodigal kids, overwhelming any and all wrong choices we might have made:

“‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ (The story of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15:22-24 NIV)

This is our celebration, our Rising. This is our Joy, our Resurrection Festival. This is our Easter, our coming of Dawn, of Spring, of New Life.

The Cross cannot keep our God down. The chains of sin and death cannot hold humanity any longer. The gates of Hell cannot contain the perfect and perfecting Love of a God who made Himself a man, who submitted Himself to one of humanity’s cruelest punishments, who took on humanity’s sin and shame and brokenness and burden, and then, through His Rising, declared for the rest of time that there need. not. be. distance. between. humanity. and. its. Creator. any. longer.

We are embraced, we are made right, we are perfected, we are saved from anything that would keep us from our loving Father – a Father who sees us, who is filled with compassion, who runs for us, who throws His arms around us, and who kisses us profusely (Luke 15:20).

Can you just picture the God of the Universe celebrating today by slapping big wet kisses on us, His kids?!? How wonderful! How hilarious! How awkward! How undignified! How improper! Unashamed PDA for all of humanity from the Creator of Heaven and Earth! Funny… and also the truth about how He feels about us!!

The songwriter John Mark McMillan writes about it this way: “So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss / and my heart turns violently inside of my chest / I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way / that He loves us.”

Brennan Manning writes: “[Christianity] is not essentially a philosophy of love but a love affair; it is not keeping rules with clenched fists but receiving a gift with open hands” (The Ragamuffin Gospel).

All because of the Rising. All because of the Resurrection. All because of the Dawn, the Spring, the New Life. All because of God’s perfect and perfecting Love for us, His kids. A Love affair.

Today we celebrate Easter. We celebrate the Rising, the Resurrection, the New Life, the fresh Embrace, the sloppy wet Kiss, the Love affair.

He is risen. He is risen, indeed.

Good Friday 2021

Why Today is Good

How can torture, humiliation, and death be Good? How can the worst punishment of a violent empire be anything other than savagery?

Christians throughout the centuries have marked Good Friday as a chance to somberly reflect on Jesus’ death at the hands of the Roman authorities and the religious establishment. I’ve always been moved by the complex coming together of sadness and remembrance that Good Friday represents: the Teacher, Leader, Savior, Son of God had given His followers hope that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand – only to dash those hopes by submitting Himself to a death on a Roman cross. Palm Sunday was the celebration of a new King. 5 days later, that King had nails through his hands and feet, a hole in His side, a grieving Virgin Mother, and a scattered, scared, and dismayed following.

So why do we call today Good? How can a day full of so much pain also be Good?

Some of the other names for Good Friday throughout Christendom have been:

“Holy Friday” (Old English)

“Sacred Friday” (Romance languages)

“Passion Friday” (Russian)

“The Holy and Great Friday” (Greek Church)

“Long Friday” (Anglo-Saxons)

And, I think, the most apropos: “Sorrowful Friday” (German)

We can connect with these various names because they teach us that there’s a lot going on amidst this day when we remember Christ’s death. This day is a good day, a holy day, a sacred day, a day of suffering, a great day, a long day, and a sorrowful day. My faith tradition is not afraid to let today be a complex day of mourning, to challenge us to connect with not only the suffering of our Savior, but also to connect with the suffering of one another and all of humanity – throughout history and at present. And more, as we live in the wake of destruction wrought by COVID-19, I connect deeply with my tradition’s acceptance that mourning, in all its nuance, has a place amidst a life of faith.

As I meditate on the pain present in Good Friday, I recognize that Jesus’ brutal death can be Good because it is in the deepest pain, the darkest moments, the greatest losses, the ultimate humiliations, and the most debilitating grief that God is most present and intimate and at work and in charge. Amidst pain, He is carrying out the plan He has had all along: to be with us, to bring us into relationship with Himself, and to make all things new and perfect. He uses any and every aspect of the human experience to draw us to Himself so that we, as free but imperfect beings, might accept the gift of His perfect and perfecting Love.

The Cross is brutal. It is humiliating and barbaric, a symbol of systemic oppression and religious violence and imperial bloodshed. But God, in His infinite goodness, can use the worst to give us, His kids, His best. To stare death in the face and make clear that death has no sting, that the chains of Hell are no match for the love and goodness and kindness and patience and grace of our Father in Heaven. Jesus’ death is Good because the eternally past, eternally present, and eternally future work of God cannot be thwarted. God will stop at nothing to bring us into relationship with Himself. Death cannot hold Him. The Cross cannot defeat Him. The sins of a free humanity cannot upend His plans. The gates of Hell cannot prevail against Him:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son…” (John 3:16)

“[Christ Jesus] humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8)

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

So today is Good despite the brutality of Jesus’ death and the harsh realities of 2021. Today is holy and sacred and full of suffering and great and long and sorrowful – just like the human experience. Christianity is not afraid to enter into the complexity of our imperfect reality. We know that God so loved us that He GAVE. He so loved us that He SUBMITTED. He so loved us that He DIED. He so loved us that He made sure that nothing in all creation can separate us from Him. Not COVID. Not quarantine. Not fear or uncertainty or financial ruin or systemic oppression or heartbreaking struggle or devastating loss. Nothing can separate us from Him and His perfect and perfecting Love.

Nothing can separate us from God and His perfect and perfecting Love.

That is Good, indeed.

The Practice of Supplication

“‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’”(Jesus in Matthew 11:28)

Deep breath.

2020 was a doozy, and 2021 has started off on much the same foot. I’m hopeful for the new Administration, but what we face is much bigger than politics. Everything that’s happened in the last calendar year is a lot to take in. And add to it that my family is currently struggling with non-COVID health issues, and 2021 is bringing with it its own stresses.

But I write today from a place of hope, even though it’s hope amidst struggle. The Christian faith knows well these types of hard seasons. Jesus called to Himself all those who were weary and burdened because He knew He could give us rest (Matthew 11:28). He called us to Himself because He knew His yoke was easy and His burden was light (Matthew 11:30). He knew the human condition: that “even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall” (Isaiah 40:30). But He also knew what He offered amidst that: “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

The Christian practice of supplication is asking God for specific prayer requests, especially amidst difficult circumstances. It’s a chance to pray to God for a myriad reasons: family, friends, health, finances, work, our government, our church, for really anything we’re dealing with in our lives.

Supplication is the act of laying down our ability to handle things on our own, and acknowledging that we need Someone bigger than us to help us through the present moment. It is surrendering our ability to do it ourselves, and, instead, accepting the good gifts of a good God who knows what we need before we even ask. Supplication is allowing an all-powerful, creative, loving, heavenly Father to do in our lives what we are unable to do on our own.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “We must lay before Him what is in us; not what ought to be in us.” That means that when we are bankrupt, when we are burdened, when we are exhausted, tired, weary, and broken down, we practice coming to God and pouring out our hearts out to Him. God’s not interested in any attempt at perfection – the “ought to be” that Lewis is referring to. It is our honest, vulnerable, imperfect selves that God is after – “what is in us.”

And the craziest part? Not only does God hear our prayers and meet us in those moments, but He answers those prayers in infinitely creative ways. A family member sends you a text right at your deepest moment of sadness, giving you the fight you need to make it through the rest of the day. A friend sends you a DoorDash gift card out of the blue to take away the stress of meal planning for a couple days – bringing tears of joy and thankfulness, and the knowledge that you are not alone in this moment. Or an author you follow posts some words about suffering that shake you to your core, helping to remind you that joy can be found amidst heartache and that no one’s life is pain-free.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus summarizes how God feels about our practice of supplication:

“‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.’” (Matthew 7:7-8)

This is the God I know, a God who, amidst our hardest moments, is at His most intimate with us. Who, amidst our moments of greatest need, is so, so present. Who “whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains” (C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain). While I know that supplication doesn’t always bring the exact outcome I pray for, the practice offers me the chance to connect deeply with this good God who is present with me amidst it all. And then I get to watch His eternal, unlimited creativity go to work in answering those prayers.

The practice of supplication teaches us that







We. are. not. alone. in. this.

And that’s a gift for these days.

The Practice of Adoration

Giving God adoration in the age of Trump.

This past week. These past four years. Wow. Where to begin. I’ve been trying to process the events that took place in DC this past week, while generally trying to wrap my head around Christianity in the waning days of the Trump presidency. I keep asking myself: How do I practice my faith in the age of Trump?

More specifically: How do I continue to practice my adoration of God – that is, giving God praise for all He’s done, is doing, and will do – when the faith tradition I practice has, again, been corrupted by an immoral political movement? There seems to be a huge chasm between the good God the Bible speaks of and the Christianity that has been co-opted by Trump and his enablers.

What I do know is that Christians have practiced the adoration of God for thousands of years, in a myriad of political contexts. The Christian faith started amidst Roman occupation and persecution, so I know the God of the New Testament is for and with the oppressed. Not only was Jesus nailed to a cross because of the challenge he posed to the political and religious power structures at that time, but the New Testament is filled with examples of early church heroes being jailed and/or killed for their religious and political declaration that Jesus is Lord. But then, starting with the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine in 313 AD, Christianity became a tool of empire, with a very imperfect historical record ever since.

But, here at the end of the Trump presidency, I’m asking: How do I present Christianity to the person who has watched with horror as Trump has co-opted the Christian faith for political purposes? What could I say to THAT person so that he or she would give God a chance, or even come to the place of adoring Him?

I would start by pointing to the inspired, historical writings of Christianity that paint the picture of a God who is good, who is endlessly creative, who is on the side of the oppressed and downcast and lowly, who comes to the rescue of those in bondage, who makes clear His distaste of performative, empty religion, who came to earth to save humanity, who came to give us life to the full, and who is still at work today.

Old Testament

-The God who created the whole universe (Genesis 1)

-The God who saves His people from slavery by parting the Red Sea (the book of Exodus)

-The God who protects His people while in exile in Babylon (the book of Daniel)

-The God who rescues His people from genocide through an amazing woman (The book of Esther)

-The God who despises hypocritical, performative, immoral religion (Isaiah 1:11-17)

-And much more…

New Testament

-A God who became a Middle Eastern Jew and dwelt among us in the form of Jesus amidst an occupation of God’s people by the Roman Empire (John 1)

-A God who, in Jesus, is with and for the lowly and oppressed (Matthew 5) and calls out religious hypocrisy (Matthew 23:27-28)

-A God who, in Jesus, came to give humanity abundant life (John 10:10)

-A God who, in Jesus, became a servant to humanity through his life on earth and His death in a cross (Philippians 2:6-8)

-A God who, in Jesus, is a High Priest who is able to empathize with our weakness (Hebrews 4:15) while also being the perfect sacrifice for all humanity’s sin (Hebrews 9:26)

-And much more…

I would say that I can give God adoration today, despite everything going on, because I actually believe that the writings of the Bible – the seeming myth about a God who came to earth to set humanity free – are TRUE.

It’s almost fantastical: that God would do this for us. But I believe it is true. This seeming myth is a true story: the truest story of the craziest love of a Creator for His Creation. C.S. Lewis says, “The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact.” I adore God because He first adored us. I love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). Or, as Chance the Rapper says in that recent Bieber song, “I know we believe in God and I know God believes in us.”

I would say that I practice adoration not because God is a needy God, and not because Christianity has a perfect track record, but because adoration reminds me about God’s unconditional, sacrificial, and eternal love for all of humanity. Adoration is a practice that reminds me that we are adored by God – even to His own death on a cross. I adore Him because, even in our brokenness, even amidst our political, social, and economic turmoil, He adores us unendingly – while giving us clear directives to stand with those who are lowly and oppressed. The Creator of the universe, the God of all creation, the Savior Christ, adores YOU and ME and our family and friends – and even our enemies – and wants to set us free. That’s why we can sing the Christmas carol: “Come let us adore Him, [for He is] Christ the Lord.” The Christ has come, right into the middle of our brokenness and imperfection, and has called us to Himself in love. This is why I give God adoration – even in the age of Trump.

The Practice of Confession

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.” (Psalms 51:1 NIV)


This is what David prayed after the prophet Nathan called him out for his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba. David was the King of Israel, a shepherd boy turned war hero turned royalty, a man after God’s own heart. But David tried to keep his affair with Bathsheba, the wife of one of David’s best soldiers, a secret. And God, through Nathan, called David on it. And the house of David was marred forever because of it. It was a personal and political sin that never left David’s house. It forever changed Israel’s history.


This post is not a post about Christians confessing sins to God on a regular basis – although the Bible does call Christians to do that (James 5:16). This post is about when a nation is brought to its knees by the sins of its leaders. When a nation needs to come before God and confess its collective sins – so as to “let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:24 NIV)


Let’s not beat around the bush: what we saw today at the US Capitol is sin in action. Political sin. Personal sin. As many have already said, this is just the culmination of years of sin by Trump’s enablers and Trump himself. Eugene Cho said today: “This is the result of several years of enabling, spewing conspiracies, and lack of accountability.” Another post I saw said it really well: “The name of Christ has been dragged through the mud – not by His critics, but by those who claim to be his followers.” There were “Jesus Saves” signs commingled with Confederate flags in today’s craziness. There was white privilege on full display today. As Ibram X. Kendi said today: “If these people were Black… well, we all know what would be happening right now to them.”


King David’s sin was personal and political. He and his house were never the same afterward, nor was the nation of Israel. The Trump presidency is our country’s political and personal sin – enabled by religious conservatives and an immoral political right. But we, as Americans, all share the collective blame. We allowed the Trump presidency to get to this point. As a white male, I must confess my sin of not doing enough, of taking for granted my white privilege. We collectively must confess our country’s sin of allowing a monster like Trump – a racist, a misogynist, an egomaniac, an adulterer, a sexual predator – to become president, and we must do it now. Our country’s sin of white supremacy must be confessed collectively, and we must do it now. When a country is brought to its knees by the sins of its leaders, it is up to the whole nation to confess their sins and ask God to heal their land.


So it’s time to get on our knees and confess – a practice that the Christian tradition has practiced for thousands of years. Sin must be called out. Forgiveness must be asked for. Repentance must be the clothes we wear.


Lord, have mercy on our country. Lord, heal our land.


“Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him.” (Isaiah 1:4 NIV)

The Practice of Giving Thanks

“Give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)


2020 was brutal in every way – physically, economically, spiritually, socially, and politically. The pandemic raged, the Stock Market crashed, millions of workers found themselves without a job, American racial injustice continued to rear its horrible head, and the election was more than contentious. And these same issues have continued with us into 2021.


But my faith tradition has an ancient practice of giving thanks to God no matter the circumstances – as a way for us to remember that God is a good God who knows what we need before we ask (Matthew 6:8). The people of God are not unaccustomed to hard times – whether it be enslavement in Egypt or exile in Babylon, occupation and persecution by the Romans, the ugly history of enslavement and Jim Crow in our own country, or even the latest corrupted matrimony of religious conservatives with an immoral political right.


The Christian faith has long promoted the practice of thanksgiving, the practice of proclaiming God’s goodness amidst any and all circumstances. We do this, as people of faith, because we know that God has shown He can lead His people out of Egypt by parting the sea, that He can keep His people safe inside a Babylonian furnace, that He can grow a Church amidst Rome’s occupation, that He can bring us a Lincoln to save the Union and do away with our original sin of slavery, that He can bring us Civil Rights leaders that give political voice to all races, genders, and sexual orientations, and that He can use American voters to defeat immoral leadership and give hope for a more perfect America in the future. In short, we know that the “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice” (Martin Luther King, Jr).


There is power as we practice thanksgiving, especially during tough circumstances. So, today, despite these difficult days at the start of 2021, I give thanks. I give thanks for Dana, Hanes, Cohen, and Baby #3 on the way. I give thanks for our extended family and our community of friends. I give thanks for my colleagues, my company, our church, our country, our health, Hanes’ school, the COVID vaccines, and our frontline workers who are putting themselves and their families in harm’s way to serve us all.


Yes, this season is a hard one. But my faith tradition teaches me that we have a good God who knows what we need before we ask. So, today, I “give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalms 107:1 NIV).