Empire & The Multitude (Rev 7)

Lamb-slain

Here is the message I shared at College Park Baptist Church in Greensboro, NC on July 31, 2016. Cross posted from my medium blog.

The Rally

Thank you for inviting me here this morning [my name is Wess Daniels and I’m a Quaker minister and teacher at Guilford College] and I am glad to see that, after the last few weeks we’ve had, you haven’t all moved to Canada.

Many of us have running in the back of our minds the past two weeks with the RNC and DNC. If you’re like me, I’ve been caught up in all the news, the speeches and taking notes on how not to prepare speeches, and have been interested in the protests and the scandals.

I’ve been closely following twitter hashtags like:

#DemsinPhilly

#RNCinCLE

#BernieOrBust

#ImnotsayingImoutoftouchbut which had less to do with politics but was still funny. Like my friend Greg who tweeted:

#ImNotSayingImOutOfTouchBut when people talk about Minecraft, I always think they are talking about Minesweeper – Link

If you watched any of the two conventions you’ll know that there were a lot of words spoken, and those words, depending on the speakers perspective, tried to explain away or explain causes of things such as: continued gun violence in this country, ongoing terrorist attacks, poverty, issues around women’s rights, immigration, and marriage equality. Continue reading Empire & The Multitude (Rev 7)

Brother’s K, Liturgy and Broken People

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Old Truck and Shed via Flickr

 

“But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not cling to life even in the face of death.” (Revelation 12:11)

The work of the People

One of the signs of a true artist is a willingness to work patiently and lovingly with even the most inferior materials. -David James Duncan

David James Duncan’s novel “The Brother’s K,” is about a family that lives in Camas, WA. The place where I pastored for 6 years before moving to Greensboro. Papa, one of the main characters in the book, is a paper mill worker who has gone semi-professional in Baseball. He does fairly well as a pitcher for his team until he has his thumb crushed in an accident at the mill.

Consequently, he falls into depression and begins to abuse substances. So in an attempt to regain ground and find some life he builds a shed in the backyard where he begins practicing his pitching again. Continue reading Brother’s K, Liturgy and Broken People

The Lamb That Was Slain and the Politics of Scapegoating (Rev. 5:11-15)

Lamb-slain

This is the message I brought to Deep River Friends Church on April 11, 2016.

A Revelation about Revelation

I wanted to speak to you this morning from the book of Revelation, but as with anytime I talk on this subject, I want to give you a little disclaimer.

A few years back I was spending time in discernment about what next to preach on and I was inspired by something I heard the Quaker author Parker Palmer say once during a retreat I was on with him. He said that

“he never writes books about things he knows, he only writes on things that baffle him.”

What fun is it to write about things that you know well enough that you could do in your sleep? Where is the life in doing something that is so easy that it requires no risk, no chance?

So as I thought about what to preach I thought “What is the thing I’d like to preach least about?”

And before I could even finish asking the question, I already had the answer and wished I’d never asked that darn question: Revelation. Continue reading The Lamb That Was Slain and the Politics of Scapegoating (Rev. 5:11-15)

Advent, John the Baptist and Preparing for a Break

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John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Luke 3:7–9 NRSV)

This is the message I gave at Spring Friends Meeting Dec. 13, 2015

The Force of Togetherness

Usually, when we think and talk about Christmas, we think of it as a time to be together with loved ones. Christmas is the time when school shut down and students return home. It’s a time when the airports are full of hustle and bustle as sons and daughters try to make their way back home with the grandchildren in tow. It’s a time of the equally loved and hated office Christmas parties. There’s carol singing with friends. And at least for me, I can count on gaining at least a few pounds, because of all the baked goods that enter circulation. It’s also a time of great family tradition and religious traditions. I really do love this time of year, I love the opportunity to reflect on the biblical texts that surround this particular narrative. I love considering the Spirit of Christmas.

I love Christmas eve services and yes, I love all the Trader Joe’s Christmas cookies.

If we are fortunate, if things have gone more or less okay in our lives than most of us don’t have to do any of these things alone.

Christmas really is a time of togetherness.

But togetherness is not all it’s cracked up to be. Continue reading Advent, John the Baptist and Preparing for a Break

Love In the Face of Great Odds

This is a message I brought to Guilford College’s Quaker Leadership Scholars Program  meeting for worship Friday, October 2, 215. A reflection on Luke 6:27-32.

This evening I wanted to talk briefly with you about love.

I realize picking this topic puts me in danger on falling into making truisms like “Love is a Verb,” “love is blind, or “Love that is true lasts forever.” But I am not interested in boring you with such bland and untrue statements, nor am I interested interested in leaving you feeling warm and cozy.

Today I hope to put some teeth into love.

I want us to consider for the next few moments what it takes for love to grow, and what love has to do with being Quakers. Continue reading Love In the Face of Great Odds

Obstacles and Opportunities in the Red Sea of Transition (Ex. 14)

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This is the message I brought to New Garden Friends Meeting on August 30th, 2015.

I hope, in the time that we have together, to begin to open up a terrain for all of us in the face of three critical transitions that this NGFM is facing:

  • The pastoral transition of Margaret Webb and family
  • The leadership transition of Max Carter from Friends Center director
  • The community transition in the fact that you’ve been expelled from your Yearly Meeting.

I want to approach this topic of transition by looking at the Exodus 14 and the Hebrew people’s Flight from Egypt and crossing over the Red Sea.

I see the Hebrews’ crossing the Red Sea as a metaphor for what it means for the people of God to face the tragic reality of what it means to remain faithful in the face of change.

Or another way to put this is:

The Red Sea signifies a deeply transformative experience for those who pass through and learn how to embrace change as an opening, rather than an obstacle, for growth.

In moments of great transition and change, such as you are facing, there is no guarantee that we will learn, and grow from these events. For some, what you face may become an obstacle to growth, but in our desire to pursue wholeness, let’s commit to seeing all of these things as openings or opportunities for greater depth of presence, prayer, and commitment to communal listening. Continue reading Obstacles and Opportunities in the Red Sea of Transition (Ex. 14)

Origin Stories and Midwives of the Spirit (John 3)

This is my last prepared message given to Camas Friends Church (June 21, 2015).

Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:5–6 NRSV)

The Power of Origin Stories

For a moment, I want you to think about the power of origin stories. Origin stories are birth stories, but often applied to how a certain comic book character became a superhero (Wikipedia). Continue reading Origin Stories and Midwives of the Spirit (John 3)