I am convinced that each person on the earth has something to teach every other person on the earth.  We are meant to learn and grow in this garden we call LIFE.  Sometimes though, those without the knowing or knowledge with which we’re most comfortable, can be disregarded and/or ignored by those whom we consider the uneducated or unsophisticated among us.  Nevertheless, I love the Scripture that asks the question, “has not God chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the promised Kingdom.” (cf. James 2:5)

These thoughts come on the heels of a recent story I read about the 33 Chilean coal miners who were trapped in the bowels of the earth for 2 months and 8 days back in August of 2010.  Most of us remember the event as evening news accounts, but one writer, Hector Tobar, has chronicled the entire incident by culling the hearts and minds of the miners who lived (and thought they’d die) in the dark, fetid atmosphere of a copper-gold mine in Chile.  This passage from Mr. Tobar’s book, DEEP DOWN DARK, is especially memorable and telling:

“On August 5th, a Christian man named Don Jose Henriquez, turned to a fellow miner named Mario and whispered, “God is the only way out of this.” Before the miners Mario announced, “Don José, we know you are a Christian man, and we need you to lead us in prayer. Will you?”

From that moment forward Henríquez became known as “the Pastor” to his fellow miners because as soon as he opens his mouth and begins to talk it’s clear that he knows how to speak of God and to God … Henríquez drops to his knees and tells the men they should also do so, because when you pray you have to humble yourself before your Creator. “We aren’t the best men, but Lord, have pity on us,” Henríquez begins. It’s a simple statement, but it strikes several of the men hard. “No somos los mejores hombres.” We aren’t the best men. Víctor Segovia knows he drinks too much. Víctor Zamora is too quick to anger. Pedro Cortez thinks about the poor father he’s been to his young daughter: He left the girl’s mother, and he hasn’t even done the basic fatherly thing of visiting his little girl, even though he knows his absence is inflicting a lasting hurt on her.

“Jesus Christ, our Lord, let us enter the sacred throne of your grace,” Henríquez continues. “Consider this moment of difficulty of ours. We are sinners and we need you.” Just about everyone who was at the entrance to the Refuge or inside is on his knees … Henríquez is a man of God, and suddenly here, in this tomb, the religious severity that many of them found annoying during the everyday encounters of the A shift is exactly what they need. “We want you to make us stronger and help us in this hour of need,” Henríquez says. “There’s nothing we can humanly do without your help. We need you to take charge of this situation. Please, Lord. Take charge of this.”

 Henriquez prayer, prayed in humble trust in GOD allowed those miners trapped with him, and indeed the whole world, to see a miracle in a world in which very few miracles allegedly exist.  I believe Henriquez’ prayer has much to teach us about the power of prayer and the nature of a humble and loving GOD.  My own experience tells me that it is in the “letting go,” that the discovery of so much more is realized.  “Please, Lord.  Take charge of this,” Henriquez prays.

I am always ready to learn from the underside; from the ones who society supposes has little to offer.  Uneducated, poor trapped miners teach me that GOD does answer prayer—when we have learned to let go and let God.  What new thing have you learned from those who live on the underside of life?

Learning in Christ…and Loving It!

Freda Marie+

Mom/Spirit reminded me of her Presence again, last Sunday on Juneteenth-Father’s Day.

I was driving home after church, with Ben sitting beside me in the passenger seat. We were stopped at a traffic light just a mile or so from our house, when I happened to look out my driver’s side window which was rolled all the way down (… it was a gorgeous, sunny afternoon, if you remember … )

There on the sidewalk a stone’s throw away from Ben and me were two Filipino women, walking and talking beside one another. As I turned my head and noticed them, the older of the two women happened to look up from their conversation to see me gazing at her.

She smiled. I smiled. We locked eyes for a brief, beautiful moment, acknowledging each other’s presence. And in that moment of connection, I just happened to hear, to “catch”, the word in Tagalog she was speaking to her companion.

Sarap … (pronounced ‘sah-rahp’ … like “ahhhhhh”)

Sarap in Tagalog is what you say when you’re eating something delicious, that you enjoy and gives you deep pleasure.

But it is also a word that simply conveys any experience of deep pleasure … like basking in the warm sun on the beach (if you are a beach person) … or how you might feel after enjoying a much needed nap … or reading the most exquisite piece of poetry … or … (you can take it from here!)

And it is the one word that Mom would say out loud, when I would scratch just the right spot on her back, when she was too weak and unable to scratch it herself.

Sarap …

“How good This Is… how delicious This Is … how pleasurable This Is …”

Sarap …

It gives me deep joy and pleasure to share this with you, Beloved, today. Amidst all that is hard and painful and heartbreaking in our lives, our city, our nation, our world — the “not yet” portion of the “already/not yet” of our human experience — the Queendom is Here and Now and All Around, if we have but eyes to see and ears to hear.

Sarap …



Almighty God, you rescued your people from slavery in Egypt, and throughout the ages you have never failed to hear the cries of the captives; We remember before you our sisters and brothers in Galveston, Texas who on this day received the glad tidings of their emancipation; Forgive us for the many grave sins that delayed that liberating word; Anoint us with your Spirit to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of your favor; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect for Juneteenth, from Juneteenth Liturgy, compiled by the Vivian Traylor Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians. https://faithinformed.org/resources/juneteenth-liturgy

 This Sunday, June 19th, the second Sunday after Pentecost, is also Juneteenth, our newest federally recognized holiday. Juneteenth commemorates the end of the practice of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865 Union troops arrived in Galveston, TX and announced emancipation and the end of the Civil War, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been issued and two months after the war had ended. (You can read more about the history of June 19th, 1865 in the links below.)

In the collect for Juneteenth (above), we pray to do three things: to remember our siblings in Christ who received news of their emancipation on June 19, 1865; to ask forgiveness for the sins that delayed “that liberating word;” and, anointed with the Spirit, to share God’s liberating Good News with the world.

It can be easy to view historical events as far away and locked in the past (though emancipation and the end of the Civil War happened less than 200 years ago). But historical legacies remain with us and in us and all around us every day. Think of the ways that legacies of slavery, in the form of systemic racism and anti-Blackness, have segregated our city. Think of the importance of celebrating the histories and legacies of Black Americans, continuing to tell stories of life and joy as part of the fabric of our national heritage. History, what and how we remember the past, impacts who we are and know ourselves to be today.

The Church is a body that has experience connecting our contemporary lives to events in the past. Each year as part of our liturgical calendar we re-tell the stories of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection, along with stories from Hebrew Scripture and the Epistles. We do not live in Ephesus, but we revisit the letters Paul wrote to the Ephesians and wonder about their lives. You and I may not have been present at the Last Supper, but we re-member it – faces gathered around a shared table, breaking bread – as we share a meal, wash each other’s feet, and strip the altar on Maundy Thursday. This is part of the power of Baptism and Eucharist: we participate in actions that span the vastness of Christian history, connecting us with all who have gone before and all who come after, suspended with them in a moment out of time while still present in our world. How we remember the past impacts who we are and know ourselves to be today.

This is just as true in our prayers. When I pray the collect for Juneteenth, I pray for the people who heard of their freedom on June 19th, 1865. But I am also compelled to remember that liberation and freedom have not arrived for all persons in our society, and my prayers turn to those still suffering oppression and injustice today. I pray to be forgiven for the ways that I have delayed that Good News of liberation or prevented it, through what I have done and what I have left undone. And I pray that, anointed by the Spirit, I can act “to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of [God’s] favor.” This is what we are called to through Christ, not just Juneteenth but every day, in every time.

I wonder, what Good News will you proclaim this year?


For more information on the history of Juneteenth, check out this article from 2013 by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.: https://www.theroot.com/what-is-juneteenth-1790896900 (TW: there are some graphic descriptions of racist violence) or, if you’re sharing with a high school audience, here’s a great 2021 article from Jameelah Nasheed at Teen Vogue: https://www.teenvogue.com/story/juneteenth-celebration-meaning-explainer.

You can find the full Juneteenth Liturgy, excerpted above, here: https://faithinformed.org/resources/juneteenth-liturgy.

Dear Folks,

I guess because I have spent several chapters of my life in and around schools, I am hard wired to follow an academic calendar. September is the “beginning of the year,” when new programs and practices are introduced… Initiatives climax in December and May, with final papers and exams… Summer is for planning and wondering and rest.

I could become more liturgical, using Mary’s pregnancy in December as a starting point, and organizing my body clock around Jesus’s public ministry, but to me the clang of classes begun and ended has always been more evocative than church bells. I love the intensity of the program year, with its expectations and assignments, and I’m also drawn to the sultry space of a summer day. The ebb and flow heals me. With that in mind, I offer you a particular way to engage the scripture this June, July, and August. I call it “Jane Wolfe’s Bible Study.”

A little background: Jane Wolfe was a friend and mentor of mine in Little Rock in the 1980’s. Sometime in the middle of that decade, she felt a palpable call to create a new way to study the Bible, and she presented her excitement to the Bishop of Arkansas. Funds and time were arranged, and Jane spent the year in research and reflection, fully expecting to craft a detailed curriculum for lay people. She sat with scholars of the Old and New testaments. She corresponded with leaders in churches around the world. She reflected on pedagogy.

And when she met with the Bishop a year later, she sheepishly presented him with an empty notebook. “What’s this?” he asked. Jane answered, “It’s what the Spirit has given me—an empty notebook and three questions. You probably think I’m crazy, after a year of conversations with experts, but this is what I’ve got.” The practice she discovered was both simple and profound. I continue to use it 40 years later, and I offer it to you for the summer.

The questions:

  • What Lord are you saying to my heart?
  • What Lord is the response of my heart?
  • What Lord would you particularly like for me to remember?

The practice:

  • Buy a notebook.
  • Over the course of the week, read the lectionary readings assigned for the coming Sunday several times. (lectionarypage.net)
  • One day each week, write the three questions on a blank page of your notebook, and sit with them.
  • Write your response to each question. If nothing happens at first, that’s fine. If you fall asleep on your notebook, that’s fine, too. At a certain point, words will come. Write them without editing or second-guessing or criticism.

The result:

  • You will be showing up—to yourself and to God.
  • Something in you will open up. Some part of you will speak. Some part of you will hear.

Summer is for wondering and planning and rest. I’d love to hear what you discover.


Dear Folks,

We are so accustomed to thinking of Pentecost as a Christian feast, we can forget it had been a Jewish celebration for centuries before Peter stood up and addressed the murmuring crowd 2000 years ago. All those people from the known world, speaking every language, wearing their indigenous costumes, cooking spicy ethnic foods, had gathered in Jerusalem for the festival of first fruits, bringing barley and tender vegetables as a thank offering to Father God and Mother Earth. Picture the Sunday Farmer’s Market under I-83, multiply it by 100, and you’ve got some idea of the excitement and organized chaos of the feast.

Boisterous and fun, full of exotic sounds and smells, Pentecost commemorated the giving of the Ten Commandments, a set of laws which marked the people’s freedom from slavery. This extraordinary covenant of values articulated God’s dream for humanity: that despite our considerable frailty, we could establish a community marked by justice and compassion. And when things fell apart, the covenant modelled repairing the breach through forgiveness and the hard work of reconciliation. No wonder the people returned every year—Pentecost gathered up the bits and pieces of their lives in a practice of productive remembering. “This is who God is, and who we are on our best days,” the worship reminded them, despite their everyday reality of exhaustion and loss. “And with God’s help, we can build a less violent, more loving world.”

We could use that kind of good news today.

For whatever reason, something amazing happened on that morning so long ago—a mighty wind began to blow through the crowd, at first making it hard to hear anything, but then when their ears began to clear, everyone was able to understand each other and to make themselves understood… Despite all the superficial differences that our wounded eyes and ears are drawn to, the covenant articulated by the Ten Commandments calls us to the inner truth of humanity: each person is a child of God, a unique blessing to help heal a broken world, an essential member of the One family. Pentecost gives us our marching orders to help however we can.

David Brooks describes it this way: “Most successful young people don’t look inside and then plan a life. They look outside and find a problem, which summons their life. A relative suffers from Alzheimer’s and a young woman feels called to help cure that disease. A young man works under a miserable boss and must develop management skills so his department can function. Another young woman finds herself confronted by an opportunity she never thought of in a relationship or field she never imagined. Solving this particular problem wasn’t in her plans, but she discovers this is where she can make her contribution.”

This perspective grants us a measure of freedom to throw ourselves into lost causes, to place ourselves on the side of those who are most vulnerable, to take risks and dare great adventures. If we have eyes to see and ears to hear, we realize the Holy Spirit teaches that success isn’t about personal accomplishments or gain, but about helping someone else. Pentecost invites such engagement.

How will you be one who hears and heals this week?