Saturday, March 31, 2007

Jesus on a bicycle?

Yesterday, just as Matt and I were about to sit down for dinner we heard some loud noises coming from the street outside our window. Looking out we saw a massive group of bicyclists coming up San Jose Ave. It was the monthly Critical Mass Bicycle Ride! Perhaps the contemporary equivalent of a 1st century donkey would be a bicycle --- I could imagine Jesus of Nazareth riding among such diverse and joyful crowd.

The picture above is actually of San Jose Ave. just a few years ago!

Marcus Borg on Palm Sunday

Beliefnet has a video of New Testament scholar Marcus Borg discussing the significance of Palm Sunday, definately worth watching.

Also, while you are visiting Beliefnet check out my friend Sara Miles' first experience of communion at St. Gregory's of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. Her book "Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion" is a profound spiritual autobiography with lessons for believer and skeptic alike.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

things that make for peace

Christians throughout the world this coming Sunday recall Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey knowing that what lay ahead is his trial, cross and passion. Just after Luke's telling of Jesus' triumphal entry in Jerusalem he describes how Jesus wept over the city's failure to understand the things that make for peace.
The author and activist John Dear writes articulately about Jesus' nonviolence and especially the portion of scripture mentioned above, the paragraphs below are from a piece he wrote in March of 2003.

"As our country wages war on Iraq and terrorizes the world with its arsenal of nuclear weapons, many of us despair that we will ever know peace. In that place of rock bottom despair, we place our hope in the risen, peacemaking Christ and his active nonviolence, and take up his cross of nonviolent resistance.

Luke tells us that after walking for several years on a peace pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Jesus broke down and wept when he saw the city, saying "If this day you only knew the things that make for peace, but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you. They will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation."(Luke 19:41-44)

Jesus wept over Jerusalem's injustice, violence, idolatry and complicity with imperial warmaking. Their preference for imperial violence and rejection of his divine nonviolence led to Jerusalem's actual destruction by the empire in the year 70.

But Jesus wept too because he saw that through Jerusalem, the whole world had rejected his gift of nonviolence in preference to global domination and imperial violence. He saw that violence in response to violence only leads to further violence, that war never solves our problems, that revenge and retaliation can only lead to our destruction, and that unless we adopt the things that make for peace, the way of creative nonviolence, we are doomed to a global holocaust.

Jesus wept but he did not give up. He took action. Luke records that Jesus proceeded directly into the Temple and turned over the tables of the money changers in an act of nonviolent resistance to systemic injustice. "My house shall be a house of prayer," he announced, "but you have made it a den of thieves." For this dramatic civil disobedience, he was betrayed, denied, arrested, tortured, and executed. He gave his life resisting imperial violence. He never stopped trusting and hoping in the God of peace. When God raised him, he greeted his friends with the consoling words, "Peace be with you," and then sent them forth to carry on his mission of nonviolent resistance.

We take up where Jesus left off. As our country wages war on Iraq and the peoples of the world, we follow the Jesus who weeps over war and acts for peace."

You can read the whole text of Dear's essay here.

Recently a group of spiritual leaders (including many Christians) traveled to Iran to promote discussion and peace. The NOW program traveled with them, you can read about this and view video by clicking here.

The image above is titled "L'entrée de Jésus à Jérusalem" and is by Corinne Vonaesch.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Evangelicals turning against Iraq War

There is an encouraging article in today's Washington Post suggesting that evangelicals are changing their minds about Iraq and that concern for the poor and social justice are on the rise among younger evangelical Christians.

Daniel R. Lockwood, president of Multnomah Bible College and Biblical Seminary in Portland, Ore., said he has seen a "sea change" among his students, who are looking beyond conservative issues such as abortion and homosexuality to the environment, children with HIV/AIDS and the poor.

"More and more, students are very interested in social justice and issues often associated with the middle and the left," Lockwood said, "and the war is a piece of that."

Click here to read the whole article.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Pray for Mozambique

I learned today from one of the organizers of our trip to South Africa Tselane, that Mozambique is facing many serious challenges. Below is her message, please visit Hope Africa's website and learn how you can help. Episcopal Relief and Development is also working with Hope Africa to help provide assistance, click here to learn more.

I think we need to keep our Mozambican friends in our prayers. Yesterday the temperature was very hot and it caused the military storage booms to explode. The explosives went on the whole day till midnight.

80 people where killed and the country is faced with floods, drought and earthquake.Malaria to name the few.

Please keep them in your prayers.

To read more about the situation in Mozambique, please click here.

The Pilgrimage for Peace participants from Mozambique are Cesar, Mércio, Arthur, and Hilàrio, please pray for them and their families.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Climate Crisis is creating Human Crisis

Thank God people in Washington are beginning to listen to the voices of those in this country and around the world who are urging action on global climate change. While in South Africa when I sat down next to the Bishop of Burundi who shared with me the many struggles of his people I was not at all expecting to hear him talk about global warming yet this humble, deeply prayerful man who is wrestling with violence and HIV/AIDS clearly said that one of the main causes for the hunger of his people is global climate change.

On my way home, I read in the Atlantic Monthly an article about how climate change is actually one of the causes for the horrific situation in the Sudan. You can read that article here.

Another article on the consequences of Climate Change in Africa is available here.

May our religious communities stand up, speak out and encourage real change both personally (in our daily lives) and collectively (urging our government to act) to make a difference.

Find your state/local Interfaith Power and Light and/or other faith based environmental group.

The Millennium Development Goals not only address poverty and hunger they also call for actions that ensure environmental sustainability. The climate crisis is already a human crisis. If we are going to make poverty history around the world we are going to have to change our own actions at home.

Also, you may want to check out Randall Balmer's article on the subject of climate change over at God's Politics.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

encouraging words from Episcopal Bishops

I am grateful and encouraged by reports from the Episcopal House of Bishops meeting, in which they affirmed the Episcopal Church's commitment to respect the dignity of all people. You can read the Bishop's statement to the church by clicking here. Harry Knox, from the Human Rights Campaign expresses well my own feelings. Here's a portion of his response,

The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church USA acted yesterday to resoundingly reject the demand of international Primates that the US denomination take a detour on the road to justice. The bishops calmly and prayerfully reiterated their firmly held beliefs in principles that have developed over time in the rough and tumble of democratic debate and in conversation with the provocative, persistent, even pesky Holy Spirit.

They stated clearly that women are ordained by God for full membership and leadership in the life of God's Church.

They stated unequivocally that lesbian and gay men are also so ordained.

And they reiterated the deeply held tenet that all God's people, including lay people, should have a voice in how the Church is run - that a few far-away Primates should not control local congregational practice.

The bishops have acted with great love for the Church and with a greater love for the justice God requires of all of us. They have reiterated their desire to remain in the larger Anglican Communion, but not at the expense of their lesbian and gay sisters and brothers in Christ. They have not abandoned women as sacrifices on the altar of an idol called the unity of the Communion. They have not given up their democratic principles in order to keep a false peace.

You can read his entire statement here.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Peace Witness Stories

Check out NPR's great story on the Christian Witness for Peace this past weekend by clicking here.

The Associated Press covered the Christian demonstration as well, click here to read that story.

Click here to read what Jim Wallis of Sojourners has to say about the war. Sojourners helped plan this witness for peace. You can also hear audio from the service at the National Cathedral by clicking here.

I will be joining others from my church later this afternoon for a demonstration.

Imagine the great things that could be done to end global poverty, prevent and treat HIV/AIDS and enhance environmental sustainability if our money, people and energy were not being poured into this war?

In the airport in Atlanta I met a young man (probably younger than me) in fatigues who was on his way home from Iraq for a two week break. When I told him that I was praying for him and his fellow soldiers, he seemed both grateful and frustrated. He expressed anger at those who had put them on the battleground in such a hurry. His voice was full of anxiety and pain. He said his unit had lost 5 guys already and hadn't really been in Iraq that long yet. Supporting our troops, to me, means doing everything we can to bring them home now, being sure that they have all the services they need to recover (in mind, body, and spirit) and to hold political leaders accountable for this disasterous policy. We have responsibilities in Iraq --- but as so many thoughtful and experienced people have said there is no military solution.

Dear God, we ask that you guide and direct all people into the way of peace. As many of your followers throughout the world observe the season of Lent, a season of repentance --- which means to turn around and to change our minds --- may the people and leaders of the United States repent, may our minds and actions be changed so that peace is pursued. May the trillions we spend on war be re-directed towards peacemaking, hospitals and schools --- for as your messenger Jesus said, "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." May all our hearts and our treasure be directed towards the building up of a just and peaceful global society. Remind all political leaders of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., his courageous stand against the war in Vietnam and his call for a revolution of values. May we all remember King’s words that "a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death" and may each of us help our nation reorder its priorities so that the pursuit of peace takes precedence over the pursuit of war. AMEN

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Christian Peace Witness for Iraq

The Pilgrimage for Peace continues... I'm in the Atlanta Airport waiting for my next flight and catching up on emails missed while away in South Africa. I have numerous emails from organizations and people encouraging participation in this weekend's Christian demonstrations calling for an end to the war in Iraq. Click here to learn more. Endorsed by peace organizations from numerous denominations and supported by Sojourners this effort calls Christians to follow the non-violent teachings of Jesus and urges repentance (the changing of mind, turning around) from the pursuit of war.

If you will be far from Washington, DC and New York City find or plan a local vigil or encourage your church to pray for this war to end. Click here for details.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

on the way

Today, is my last day in South Africa, four of us Californians will be leaving this evening. I feel sad and yearn for more time with these pilgrims in this inspiring place of hope. Each night of the pilgrimage many of us have stayed up late into the night discussing the days activities at the TEAM conference, learning more about one another, where we’ve come from and where we sense God may be calling us. Last night was a late one.

We have had an incredible time. Yesterday, our group had the honor and privileged of meeting with the Reverend Michael Lapsley, an anti-apartheid activist who lost two arms in the struggle. He now helps others throughout the world in their pursuit of forgiveness, justice and reconciliation. I encourage you to listen to Father Lapsley’s visit to “The Forum” at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and learn about his journey and ministry.

Also, yesterday the Pilgrimage for Peace met with the Right Reverend Frank Griswold, retired Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. He engaged in a dialogue with the Pilgrims for over an hour, asking and answering questions. Together we discussed the church’s response to domestic and international poverty and details about his and other religious leaders efforts to persuade the President to pursue peace rather than war.

Today, we visited the deeply provocative, stunningly designed Apartheid Museum outside Johannesburg. There is so much to be said about the dramatic history unveiled there --- what came across boldly was the profound influence of young people, the importance of global solidarity and the need for wise elders in bringing an end to that unjust system. May this Pilgrimage for Peace help give a boost to the global efforts being made to end poverty, disease, hunger, sexism, war and violence.

The Pilgrimage for Peace continues...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Going to Church in South Africa

Today, the Pilgrimage for Peace along with other participants in the TEAM 2007 conference visited a variety of churches throughout the greater Johannesburg area. Most of us chose to visit Sophiatown and the parish of Christ the King a site of deep significance for the Anti-Apartheid movement --- an area in which the Anglican Community of the Resurrection, monastic order of both women and men lived and worked. One of these monastics, Trevor Huddleston is a much beloved and celebrated anti-apartheid activist and his ashes are interred in the churchyard of Christ the King.

So much has been happening with the Pilgrimage for Peace, the Episcopal News Service covered our visits yesterday in the Diocese of Pretoria. Visit to find out more.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

day of conversion, hope, and reconcilation

Worship today was incredibly moving led by the West African delegation with some assistance by South African and Asian musicians. The presider at the service was the Right Reverend Tilewa Johnson, Bishop of Gambia. I met Bishop Johnson on the first day of the conference and was amazed to learn that he had spent time in the city I was born in, Harrisonburg, Virginia when he attended Eastern Mennonite University's Center for Justice and Peacemaking. My maternal grandmother is Mennonite and still lives in Harrisonburg. My aunt and uncle are active in the EMU community as well.

After breakfast our group gathered together in a large bus to visit Tumelong Mission - where the Pilgrimage for Peace participants (joined by Anglican Student Federation members, and young people from the St. Alban’s Cathedral in Pretoria and Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation's Mike Kidman, Alex Baumgarten from the Episcopal Policy Network Washington National Cathedral's Eugene Sutton) visited a daycare center for young children affected and infected by HIV/AIDS and a hospice for those dying of the disease. The children welcomed us warmly in song and were excited to have their photos taken with digital cameras in which they could immediately see themselves on a tiny screen. One wishes that the eradication of poverty and disease could happen so instantaneously. I was deeply touched by our time there and hope that when I return to the United States that a relationship with these places of healing, hope, and compassion may continue.

Our group then visited Bokamoso Life Centre where we had lunch with a large group of young people who welcomed us warmly in song and dance. During the meal, I talked with three young people who shared with me their passion for poetry, dancing, singing and drama. Each conveyed to me tremendous hope about the future and pride in the emerging South Africa. When we talked about matters of sexuality, each reminded me that South Africa allows gay marriage in their constitution. Following the meal for well over an hour we played some wonderful games together, sang and danced ---

There is so much to say yet I am not sure that words can express fully the profound gift this time of witness truly was for all of us. Life transforming, global community forming and hope proclaiming. There is much serious, hard work to be done and precious times like these will help sustain us for the long haul.

For pictures from today's journey visit:

Friday, March 09, 2007

tears, joys and relationship

Today began with worship led by the delegation from Asia. Following breakfast, the entire conference engaged in Bible Study on Luke 4:18-19. Jenny Te Paa prepared some incredible questions, asking us to consider how our churches were doing in relation to this message of hope for humanities oppressed. Surrounded by Anglican Christians from the Sudan, Mozambique, New Guinea, and elsewhere it became clear at least among those in my group, that the oppression of women and children was a shared concern and challenge.

We heard from the Director of the U.N. Millennium Campaign Salil Shetty who gave us an update on the global movement to end poverty and meet the Millennium Development Goals. Then we heard from the new Anglican Observer at the United Nation Hellen Wangusa of Uganda who implored us to connect the Millennium Development Goals with our biblical and theological roots. Reminding us that when Jesus fed the crowds --- he fed everyone not just half. The Goals themselves are just a start at living into the demands of the gospel. Afterward the Pilgrimage for Peace had the opportunity to have a conversation with Archbishop Ndungane. Our group was eager to engage him with questions about his participation in the movement to end apartheid and his efforts to overcome poverty and HIV/AIDS in South Africa. I asked him what Saints of God were particularly important and inspirational to him, among them were Bishop Alpheus Zulu, the first black south African bishop and Steve Biko. Following our group discussion, Bishop Marc presented the Archbishop with a photo of the Archbishop participating in the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March.

The Pilgrimage for Peace participants then gathered together on the lawn of the conference center to reflect about the days events. The group encouraged one another to speak up if the Spirit moved them in the wider forums and in group discussions. Just an hour or two later one of our participants, Erik Banks of Bayview Mission did just that by asking an excellent question after a dynamic theological presentation on poverty and sustainable development by Professor Steve de Gruchy of the School of Religion and Theology, University of KwaZulu-Natal. De Gruchy’s message in response called upon all of us to “live simply so that others might simply live”.

This evening at dinner I sat with the Right Reverend John W. Nduwayo of the Diocese of Gitega of the Anglican Church of Burundi. WREho shared with me the tremendous challenges facing the people of Burundi from the horrors of civil war, genocide, HIV/AIDS, displaced persons, and hunger a result of Climate Change. My eyes filled with tears as he humbly shared the struggles facing his people. I was overwhelmed when he asked me about the challenges facing young people in the United States. All of the struggles and concerns expressed in the many presentations and discussions about the Millennium Development Goals were physically embodied over the course of this conversation with this man who together with his people are facing enormous suffering. I left that conversation heartbroken yet even more committed to finding ways to encourage our church to respond to these enormous challenges compassionately, creatively, and over the long haul.

Tonight the Pilgrimage for Peace heard from Michael Kidman, Executive Director of Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation and Liz White, a participant in the Episcopal Church’s Young Adult Service Corp --- both who helped our group imagine ways we might dedicate our lives more fully and holistically to ending global human suffering. Odwa, who has done so much to help organize our pilgrimage shared with us the vision and work of Anglican Student Federation --- he also shared with us a wonderful and hilarious South African song and dance. Our group were universally inspired by the incredible joy, community, and compassionate actions being fostered by the Anglican Student Federation and many expressed hope of finding ways of continuing to learn from this organizations witness.

It has been a long day and tomorrow we will be heading to Pretoria, where we will visit an AIDS hospice, AIDS orphanage, and a youth center.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Incredible day of hope and challenge

Today, we heard from Archbishop Ndungane, who articulated the vision for this conference. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams reflected dynamically on the Biblical foundations of our work together --- reconciling the world to God and one another through Christ. Focusing on the Prophet Jeremiah --- humanity’s efforts to know God must be connected to doing justice for the poor. Rowan Williams also continued the theme from last night’s sermon in the township in which he reminded us that we are called to see things from God’s perspective, and God forgets no one, no one is invisible to God.

This afternoon --- after an amazing lunch ---- we heard from three people each who shared provocative stories about life in the Anglican Communion. Jenny te Paa, Abigail Nelson, and Bishop Munawar Rumalshah of Pakistan shared heartbreaking stories about the ongoing work of the Communion in various parts of the world. I was particularly moved by Abigail Nelson’s reflections on the work of Episcopal Relief and Development. One got the sense from her passionate voice, that the involvement and commitment of people throughout the Episcopal Church is making a difference though the challenges feel so overwhelming. The Pilgrimage for Peace group gathered in the afternoon for an awesome discussion in which we wrestled with what our response to the keynote addresses might be --- and how we might begin to carry this message of hope and responsibility home.

After evening prayer --- in which readings came from a meditation by the Mother’s Union --- we had another delicious meal. I had the opportunity to speak with Bonnie Anderson, the President of the House of Deputies, who conveyed to me that no matter what happens in the midst of contemporary challenges that the Episcopal Church will continue to be focused on seeking justice and peace among all people.

On the way to the evening program, I passed by a large fire pit in which musicians, dancers and people from throughout the Anglican Communion, young and old were celebrating joyfully together. The Pilgrimage for Peace participants --- about 40 of us altogether --- discussed the complex issue of HIV/AIDS in South Africa. As was true of the entire day, I was deeply moved by the earnest concern, and compassionate voices.

Then tonight --- the Pilgrimage for Peace participants from Mozambique --- Mércio Lamya, Arthur Matsinne, and Hilàrio Raul --- played guitar and led us in some amazing songs of their country and community.

Soon there will be new photos and a blog from fellow pilgrims over at

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Archbishop Rowan Williams at Opening Eucharist

Click here for an article which shares more from Archbishop of Canterbury's Rowan Williams' sermon last night.

Global Feast, many voices

This evening the Pilgrimage for Peace joined with the many other participants in the TEAM 2007 conference for an amazing Eucharist in a township east of Johannesburg. We were overwhelmed by the warm welcome, the joyful singing and dancing of so many people. The township, especially local women's organizations, provided an incredible feast which continued the celebration of God's presence among us. The Archbishop of Canterbury gave a moving sermon about God's desire to hear all voices. Archbishop of Capetown Njongonkulu Ndungane presided and reflected the tremendous generousity and hospitality of the people of South Africa, who have worked so hard to make this global conference happen.

On my way home on a crowded bus I met two passionate, articulate young priests from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We discussed our different yet challenging political and social contexts including Iraq, evangelism, gay marriage and economic injustice. Intense, exciting, heavy, complex, and inspiring.

Tomorrow, the Pilgrimage for Peace will spend most of our day with the TEAM conference. Be sure to check out to read some of my fellow pilgrims reflections on our journey so far and to see lots of photos as well.

Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane

On the flight from the United States to South Africa, one of our fellow pilgrims Marion Grau, a theology professor from CPSP loaned me a copy of the Archbishop of Capetown's Njongonkulu Ndungane's book, "A World with a Human Face: A Voice from Africa". This book is engaging and is autobiographical, theological and political calling South Africa and the international community, "to work together to overcome social injustice, adverse economic forces and the weight of history to build a just society for all." Early in the book, one learns that the Archbishop's grandfather gave him his name, Njongonkulu --- "njongo" literally means "aim", "nkulu" means "big". The Archbishop is indeed calling the Anglican Communion, really the entire international community to aim big.

So far our group has been making ourselves at home at the Road Lodge, some have taken a cab to the mall to purchase things some Americans consider necessities like wash clothes (I rarely use one). Bishop Marc, Walter Brownridge (Associate Dean for Community Life at Sewanee) and I are at a nearby hotel (with wireless) and have just met Odwa Gonya and Maropeng Moholoa from the Anglican Student Federation, who are helping to organize the TEAM conference and coordinating our visits to sites around Johannesburg.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I am in South Africa

I have just arrived in South Africa as part of a Pilgrimage for Peace organized by Bishop of California Marc Andrus in conjunction with the Archbishop of Capetown's TEAM 2007 conference on global poverty and HIV/AIDS. Follow our journey here.

Please keep all of us in your prayers, pray that this journey and conference help focus our church's attention on ending global human suffering.