I believe that we are always
learning and growing
in our understanding
of God, self, neighbor, & the cosmos.
Change is constant
and to be expected
within our journey.
Change necessarily occurs in
our relationship with the sacred.
The following is a snapshot
of this moment
of my faith.
Ancient Testimony: “From that time on, Jesus began to proclaim,
‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’”
— Matthew 4:17, NRSV
Modern Testimony: “You change the world when you change your mind.”
—Don from Kinky Boots, “Raise You Up/Just Be”
I believe in a divine mystery that I cannot fully grasp nor control; nevertheless I have experienced this divine mystery as deeply personal and loving—being both transcendent and immanent (Psalm 139:7-18). This divine mystery has no end and no beginning—she is eternal and yet she is the Alpha and the Omega (Revelation 1:8). Throughout the history of the universe, I believe that this divine mystery whom I often refer to as 'God' has made herself known in a diversity of ways. I think of these diverse ways as many christs (or anointed ones) which embody the divine mystery and help us understand God. By calling these ways 'anointed,' I recognize the sacred/Spirit/divine mystery at work in created matter. I believe that this Eternal Spirit is made known to all people in creation (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:19-20).
I also believe in the radical way that God is made known in Jesus of Nazareth, a human who lived 2,000 years ago (Colossians 3:15). Jesus is the Christ that we in the Christian tradition recognize as the One in whom we can see, know, touch, and love the God of the cosmos. Christ is made present in Jesus and his life exemplifies the immanent love and justice of God (John 1:1-18). The incarnation of God in Jesus teaches us that to be human is to live, move, and exist within the divine mystery and that the divine mystery resides in us (Acts 17:28; 1 John 2:27). His incarnation is a reminder to us all to connect with the Spirit that resides in us through the breath of God in creation (Genesis 2:7; John 20:22). This creative act of God in which God’s own breath/Spirit animates humanity teaches us that we are made in God’s own image (Genesis 1:27). I believe that this divine image dwelling within humanity says that our essence is derived from God, and thus each and every human is worthy of love, value, and respect without exception. To be made in God’s image also means that we share in God’s creative freedom. We are all creators in our own right.
We have the choice, however, to live in accordance with our own sacred essence. Our existence is not always in tune with our essence (Galatians 5:16-23). I believe that usually, each person is doing the best that she, he, or they can according to the knowledge and self awareness that each person possesses. The problem is that as humans, we are often unaware of our own selves and as a result increase both our own suffering and the suffering of others. We need light to guide us forward on this journey (Hosea 4:6).
I believe that death and resurrection are essential elements to our faith as Christians. To remember death and resurrection is to recall that though death is painful, it is not the end of our stories. Whether death be financial, political, emotional, cognitive, or physical, the Jesus story invites us to remain open to the surprises of God’s work in the world. Death and resurrection also teach us about seasons in life. Throughout the seasons, we can hold onto the hope that God is present and there to empower, heal, and guide us (Romans 5:1-11), because the incarnation reminds us that we are not forsaken by God in our suffering. I believe that the incarnation is hope for us to know that God is not far away. And through the continued work of the church, Jesus’s resurrection is actualized over and over again as we reach out and extend the love, mercy, and justice of God (Ephesians 4:7-16). Christ’s work also speaks to the restoration of the entire cosmos and invites the church to be part of the healing and renewal of creation (Romans 8:19-25; Revelation 21:5).
Through the gift of God’s breath/Spirit within us, we find the strength, courage, and power to love ourselves as we love our neighbors. We find healing, hope, and the power to move forward even in the midst of darkness, confusion, chaos, and evil (Romans 8:26-28). I believe that through Jesus, we are called to a relationship with the Creator, which brings liberation to individuals, cultures, and societies (Galatians 3:28; 5:1). Through this relationship, reconciliation with the world has been occurring, is occurring, and will continue to occur. As humans, in all of our complications that both create and perpetuate evil, we find a new way of being through the Spirit and become ambassadors of reconciliation for all of creation. I believe that in the Spirit, we learn to see through the eyes of the divine (2 Corinthians 5:16-21).
To follow Jesus is a call to die to the false self and live in the true self. We need help on his journey. Thus, we are called to eat at the table of Christ where we find sustenance for our journey alongside our fellow sojourners. Eating the bread and drinking the wine serve as a reminder that God meets us in the everyday aspects of our lives on our ordinary days and our extraordinary days. And she is not afraid to use items that are deemed “common” to reach us and remind us that we are not alone on our journey. Not only do we find that God is with us, but we join believers all over the world in the present, in the past, and in the future when we partake in Communion. This sacred meal guides us to a celebration of the eschatological feast of God, renewing our hope for a world where all are welcomed and celebrated and the only “rule” of the table is love. The elements also remind us that God has been with us. They remind us of the broken body and shed blood of Jesus. They remind us of Jesus’s own protest against the Roman Empire and to join his protest against the unrighteous empires of our time. These symbols give us life here and now—spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally.
In baptism, the church makes a public statement about God’s love for us. Additionally, the church proclaims its own love for those being baptized as the community comes together to make vows to care for the spiritual health of those being baptized. Baptism is a celebration of a chosen family; to be baptized is to proclaim that we are part of the family of God. It is a reminder of who we are and to whom we belong. We publicly declare that we are not alone in this world; rather, we are loved by God and by God’s people (1 Corinthians 12:12-13).
As this faith was developed, so too was my calling. The way I have embraced this call has been shaping and evolving for over fifteen years as I have worked in various churches and denominations within this diverse family of God. Pentecostalism taught me to see churches as spaces where we can engage our hearts while the mainline churches have shown me how to honor our minds and the poetry of liturgy. Together these experiences have shaped my passion for spiritual communities that help us engage faith with intellectual honesty while simultaneously making room for passion, emotion, and service. With this passion in mind, I believe that my ministry shows up in two primary spheres. The first is through parish ministry. I believe that I am called to be a pastor who helps the church become more conscious of itself as we move into the 21st century. I am particularly drawn to new and emerging ministries that creatively work to address the spiritual needs of our time.
The second sphere where I believe that my ministry shows up is in pastoral care. While I thoroughly enjoy preaching and worship leadership that is innovative and creative, I also love pastoral care. People matter to me. People’s stories and experiences are important to me. I want to make room for their sacred stories and help create space for God’s healing work in their lives. Additionally, I want to help people learn the language of empathy. I believe that empathy is at the heart of our Christian faith made known to us in God’s empathy displayed in Christ. This display communicates God’s longing to connect with humanity; it is as if God is saying, “I see you and I hear you. I’m here with you.” Through worship, we not only learn how to love God, but also find language for how to speak with compassion. As our world continues to change, our need for worship that is engaging of the heart, mind, and body grows, as does our need for worship that gives us new and shared language to understand God, one another, ourselves, and our world. This is the ministry in which I am grateful to partake.