Peace Like A River

By: Rev. Dr. Leon Bloder

“When peace like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrow like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, thou hast caused me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul.” 

– Horatio Spafford “It Is Well With My Soul

“Peace like a river ran through the city/Long past the midnight curfew/We sat starry-eyed/Oh, we were satisfied…Oh, oh, oh, I’m gonna be up for a while…” 

 – Paul Simon “Peace Like A River” 
Because it’s the essential theme of the second week of Advent, I’ve been writing and thinking about “peace” all week long. And there’s been a phrase that has drifted in and out of my head over the past several days that I can no longer ignore. I’ve been saying and singing this phrase in one way or another for most of my life, and I’ve never really understood it. Here it is: “peace like a river.”
What does it even mean to have peace like a river? Are all rivers inherently peaceful? I’ve seen a few in my life and some of them might fall into the peaceful category–at least from afar. But many of them are full of rapids, deep eddies, and generally always have the potential to overflow and flood everything around them.  
Horatio Spafford wrote the great hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” in 1873 after losing all four of his daughters when the ship carrying them and his wife sank in the Atlantic ocean. He’d lost nearly everything he owned in the bitter economy that followed the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. The first line of the hymn begins with “When peace like a river…”  
When I was a kid, I would sing that old song, “I’ve Got Peace Like a River” at the top of my lungs in Sunday school. Little did I know that the song originated from African American slaves, who would sing it at the top of their lungs in the fields as they worked.  
Paul Simon wrote “Peace Like A River” during the turbulence of the 1960’s and amid the many protests of the Vietnam War across the United States. In his song, he sees a “glorious” day as a vision that includes a river of peace that flows through a city made new. He realizes that it was just a dream, but he can’t let it go–he holds on to vision long after he’s awake.  
Where do all of these visions come from? And why is it that all of these songs that contain the phrase “peace like a river” have their origins in the midst of strife, pain and suffering?  
Rivers are highly symbolic in literature, poetry and song. According to one scholar, a river in a song, poem or prose seems timeless and constant “…only because it finds its own way without short cuts, straight lines, or disregard of any physical impediments but in full acknowledgement of the reality of all that surrounds it, implying that the longest way round is the shortest and only safe way to the sea.”  
In other words, the river gets to where it is going–in it’s own time and in it’s own way. To put a finer point on it as it relates to peace: Peace will come. The world will be made right. Everything that is troubling you will be resolved. There is a “glorious day” ahead of us, brothers and sisters.    
In Isaiah 54:10 the prophet declares the word of the Lord to the people of God: “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
In the end, God gets what God wants–a new world, a new Creation free of strife, war, disease and death. A world filled with the peace of God. And every tear in every eye will be wiped away. John the Revelator, who penned the last book of the Bible glimpsed a vision of the City of God, with a river running through it–a river that flowed from the very “throne” of God. This vision should fill us with hope. It should, in the words of Paul Simon keep us up “for a while.”

May you be filled with peace like a river–peace that flows from the very heart of God. May your visions of a world made new, filled with God’s shalom give you the courage to live a bold and hope-filled life. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.


Prepare the Way of the Lord

By: Rev. Britta Dukes
A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all people shall see it together,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”    — Isaiah 40:3-5

Prepare the way of the Lord!

An ancient prophetic voice promises the coming of God’s glory, urging a time of preparation for hearers to ready themselves for the revelation of the divine in their midst. Transformation is taking place all around, causing things to look different to what has been known in the past. God is doing something new, says the prophet, so be prepared to see!

Prepare the way of the Lord!

We see these words echoed in all four gospel accounts when John the Baptist comes on the scene, calling all who will listen to change their hearts and lives in preparation for the Coming One. John baptized them with water to mark their turning-around moment, pointing out that the Coming One would empower them instead with the Holy Spirit. And so it was. Transformation is taking place all around, causing things to look different to what has been known in the past. God is doing something new, says John, so be prepared to see!

Prepare the way of the Lord!

And here we sit, centuries later, with the season of Advent at hand. Because Advent means “coming” (from the Latin word adventus), it is time purposefully set aside to acknowledge the coming of Christ, both through remembrance and hope-filled anticipation. In addition to re-telling faith stories commemorating the first coming of Christ, we also prepare ourselves and wait expectantly for Christ’s coming again. As we wait, await and anticipate this consummation, we are called to prepare the way. 

As always, God is doing something new. Transformation is taking place all around, causing things to look different to what has been known in the past. How are we being called to prepare ourselves to see? 



God of Grace and Glory—we acknowledge Your coming and our need to properly prepare.  

Attune our ears to voices drawing us to You. Captivate our hearts to loving You wholeheartedly. Use our hands and resources to uplift others. We know You are doing something new, Lord, so please, give us eyes to see!  Amen.


What Is The Church To Do?

Is there a life for the church after COVID?

By: Rev. Dr. Leon Bloder
In 1966, Robert Kennedy delivered a speech in Cape Town where he addressed the challenges of his day with these words:
Like it or not we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history.
It’s fascinating to me that even though Kennedy was speaking about the sweeping changes that were a part of his own time, he could have easily been referring to any number of unique moments in history—including the one we find ourselves in at the present.  
I’ve been asked repeatedly throughout the months of quarantine, social distancing and online church what I think about the future of the Christian Church. Most of the conversations have centered around technology, and what innovations will take root in the new world that is being created.  
But I think there’s something deeper at work in the heart of the Church right now—something that has the potential to transform the Church’s role in society, and could be a new source of life and light for congregations and faith communities who embrace it. 
There have been disruptions in society throughout the history of the Church—events, wars, pandemics, schism, you name it. But the COVID-19 pandemic has brought something new to the table. 
First, this is something that everyone, everywhere has an experience of  at least in some capacity. This isn’t isolated to just one region, one culture. We are all in this.
Second, none of the previous societal disruptions that the Church has muddled through over the centuries has had the benefit/curse of being covered in real time, 24/7 with news and stories accessible in so many ways to so many people. 
I’ve been saddened to see that some church leaders and pastors see this moment as one of great potential for numerical growth. They predict that people will flock back to church in droves when this is all over, and all we need is good marketing and the right technology to capture them. 
I don’t see things that way at all. I’m always excited about new technology and engaging messages. But I firmly believe that if church growth is at the heart of why church leaders do what they do during this crisis, they are doomed to fail. 
You see, I believe that as followers of Jesus we have been given a unique opportunity to do something that could very well change the way we “do” church forever.  
What is this opportunity? Well, to put it quite simply: We have an opportunity to come alongside our neighbors and communities—all of whom have experienced great loss and trauma, and to become a loving, non-anxious presence of Resurrection in their lives.
This is what Jesus referred to over and over again with his followers when he urged them to be unified, to be one with one another.  
Fr. Richard Rohr once wrote:   
We must all feel and know the immense pain of this global humanity. Then we are no longer isolated, but a true member of the universal Body of Christ. 

The way that the Church truly becomes the Church is when she embodies Jesus to the world, and there is no better opportunity to do that than right now.

In order to do this, we cannot be so embroiled in our own affairs, so caught up in our own fears and desires that we are blinded by the great need around us. 
I read the poem “If You Knew” by Ellen Bass recently and it spoke to me: 

When a man pulled his wheeled suitcase

too slowly through the airport, when

the car in front of me doesn’t signal,

when the clerk at the pharmacy

won’t say Thank you, I don’t remember

they’re going to die.*
*Excerpted from the The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry


If we can’t look out into our world and see the people around us in their fragile and beautiful humanity, we are not looking through the eyes of Christ. But if we do look through the eyes of Christ, we see them outside of the petty divisions, labels and the like that even we ourselves employ.  
Perhaps no other act that we do as the Church symbolizes our connectedness to one another in our common humanity than the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. While it’s true that we have been sharing Holy Communion virtually over the last few months, we have still shared it, and the way we have shared it truly brings home its importance. 
We are separated from one another and our neighbors. We are physically isolated to a certain extent, but we are not unconnected, and the Eucharist shows that.  
In closing, I’d love to share the following prayer from Thomas Merton that I believe is so life-giving for us in our current situation. I urge you to pray it as your own prayer today:  

O God, give peace to Your world. Give strength to the hearts of men. Raise us up from death in Christ. Give us to eat His immortality and His glory. Give us to drink the wine of His kingdom.



New Heart

By: Rev. Rob Mueller
Lead Pastor, Divine Redeemer Presbyterian Church
The Bible offers us many metaphors to help us understand the journey that God invites us to undertake in the Spirit’s transformation of us…a journey many of us choose to engage with greater intentionality during Lent.  
In John Chapter 3 we encounter the image of being “reborn” or “born from above” by “water and spirit.” It was a metaphor that the Jewish leader and Pharisee, Nicodemus, was unable to grasp. His literal, black and white thinking kept him stuck and unable to reach for the more than literal meaning that Jesus held out to him.
In the New Testament there are many other images used by the authors of various books to help us grasp the essential task of the spiritual life…to be made new by God. We can “become a new creation;” we can be “buried with Christ in baptism so we can rise with Christ;” we can be “crucified with Christ;” we can “take up the cross and follow Christ;” we can prune off the dead wood to allow new growth from the vine of our lives; we can move from blindness into sight, from illness into health, or from lostness to being found.
In the Old Testament there are also various images offered to those who submit their lives to the transforming grace of God. The prophet Ezekiel offers one that is particularly important to me as I write this…being given a new heart. My Dad has just had what can only be described as a miraculous surgery…an old and malfunctioning heart valve has been replaced by a new one, crafted from a bovine heart valve. He has literally been given a ‘new heart’ for the third time. The first two were equally miraculous coronary bypasses. We live in a time that makes possible the literal renewing of the heart…even the transplanting of a dead or dying heart with one that is vital and alive. 
How could Ezekiel have ever imagined that such a thing would one day be possible!! He couldn’t, of course.  But the idea that God could renew the heart-center of our lives, take a “heart of stone” and replace it with a “heart of flesh” presented a powerful image of the kind of change that God can work in our lives if we submit ourselves to such transformational grace and love. 

I don’t know what your favorite metaphor is, but I encourage you to find one as you journey this Lent into greater awareness of how God is able to make all things new…including YOU!


What Will We Carry Away?

By: Chris Gordon, Senior Director of Family Ministries
The world would never be the same.
Told to pack up people and belongings; to leave everything they had ever known.
Told to defy a tyrannical leader; to follow dispatches from I AM.
How could this be?
The signs had arrived…first, the blood, then the frogs.
What followed next was all pestilence and pain.
On and on, until the 10th took Egypt’s 1st.
Finally, they fled into the night. Delivered unto the desert.
A mass of bodies and baggage, anxiety and anticipation.
Nothing left to do but follow the flames; to step inside the walls of water.
To Freedom. To Milk & Honey.

Along the way, I wonder…

…might one child have considered it all a great, big adventure?


An extended trip with breakfasts found on the ground and water from a stone.
Take only what you need: no more. Consider the whole: all must be fed.


A wilderness quest with days of rest after a lifetime of labor.

God knows when ENOUGH is ENOUGH.


A long overnight with stories told by elders around the fire.

Listen here to how you came to be…blessed to be a blessing…beloved, you are chosen.

Hardship all around, and yet.
And yet.
God delivers.
Resilience from struggle.
Grit from determination.
Imagination from experience.
Hope from a remnant.

What will we carry away?


Faith & The Politics of Division

By: Rev. Dr. Leon Bloder
Last year a friend sent me the online link to a video that was culled from the July 4th worship service held at a huge, well-known church in Dallas. 
The entire sanctuary was filled with American flags, and every participant had been handed a tiny flag of their own to wave. Patriotic songs were sung, and the sermon was an exhortation on the Christian imperative to be a good citizen—it was a festive occasion, to be sure. 
But there was a darker side to it, too. The language from the pulpit was decidedly partisan and very political. The message was clear: If you call yourself a Christian, then you have to support a particular, conservative political agenda. 
To be fair, I’ve heard the same kinds of rhetoric from the more progressive wings of the Christian community as well.  It seems as though the lines between faith and partisan politics have become so blurry of late, that it’s hard to distinguish one from the other. 
In his classic, satirical work The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis masterfully gives voice to Screwtape, a senior demon and tempter, who is writing letters of advice to a junior “devil” who has been assigned a Christian to tempt. 
In one of the letters, Screwtape brings up the role that politics can play in the process of temptation: 
Let [the Christian] begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the ’cause,’ in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce…
Then Screwtape ominously concludes this part of the letter by saying: 
Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours…
At this point some folks might be wondering, “Now wait a minute, are you about to say that Christians shouldn’t be interested in or involved in politics?” No, that’s not where I’m going with this, and C.S. Lewis wasn’t saying that either. 
However, the problem that exists within our current culture is that far too many Christians have come to mistakenly believe that their “partisan spirit” is “the most important part” of their faith. Which then leads them to wholly define their faith within that partisan framework. 
This is a slippery slope, and when we start down it, things can get messy.  
You see, when we define our Christian faith in exclusive, extremely partisan terms, it becomes all too easy to dismiss those who disagree with you, or who hold a different opinion. And it’s also easy to begin to think that anyone who doesn’t hold our same views… might not be all that Christian
Let me say this first… Your passion and zeal to speak out, advocate for and promote causes that are just, fair and further the common good should not be tempered in the least. However, they should all be scrutinized through that lens. I’m also willing to assert this unequivocally: Anything that falls outside of those three criteria, probably falls outside of God’s desires, too.
How we go about achieving justice, fairness and the common good is completely debatable, as it should be. Well-meaning, and faithful Christians will disagree on how to build a better world, and we should have honest, and productive debates about this.
But when we ham-handedly blur the lines between our partisan and religious views, and begin to see Jesus-followers on the other side of those views as somehow not really Christian, we grieve the heart of God. 
When we are too busy focused on our “opponents,” and ensuring that we are “right” both theologically and politically, we also can quickly lose sight of our Jesus-ordained mission to love God and love everybody (The Great Commandment from Matthew 22:36-40). This is when things can go south in a hurry. 
In his excellent book Unraptured, Zack Hunt describes what it looks like when we begin to travel down the path of theological and political rightness instead of lifting up Jesus’ Great Commandment to his followers:
Being theologically right and keeping up the pretense of being right is more important than the lives and well-being of our neighbors.  They may suffer, be oppressed, and end up ostracized by the people who are supposed to love them, but if our theology is right, if we’re staying true to our ideology, we tell ourselves that none of that matters.
The truth of the matter is that we need people in our lives who don’t agree with us. 
We need multiple points of view in order to have our opinions shaped, and fully formed. We need to truly hear from others, to see them as a cherished child of God, no matter how strongly we might disagree with what they be saying. 
That person over there who you have identified as an opponent… You need her. That guy who you have been arguing with on Facebook—the one who really ticks you off… You need him. 
I know, I know, you want to unfriend these people, block them from your social media, anything to keep from having to listen to them. You’ve come to believe that they are an affront to everything you hold dear. But in fact, it’s more complicated than that. 
Arthur Brooks recently put it like this: 
If you join me in being grateful that we don’t live in a one-party state, then by definition you must be grateful for people who disagree with you.  They are the ones who make pluralism and democracy possible.  You should be grateful and express that gratitude for people who are on the other side in the competition of ideas.
If we are going to see real change in our culture, it’s going to have to begin with people who claim to follow Jesus, actually following Jesus. We need to become the change that we long for. It’s time to leave behind our belief in the primacy of partisanship, and stop speaking out of both sides of our mouth. 
James the brother of Jesus wrote this in his letter to the early Church: 
9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. (James 3:9-10)
We are in an election year—one that promises to be filled with opportunities for division and partisan rhetoric. May we resist the temptation to value partisanship over peacemaking, and spend our efforts over the next months seeking true peace, unity and common ground. 


This Table

By: Rev. Britta Dukes
Host beckons
The invitation: Come
RSVP and be received
Into the warmth of welcome
Eternal embrace awaits
Inhale divine grace
Holy One serves
The hungering gathered
Grain, grape and grace
Into hands cupped and craving
Banquet of remembrance
Proclamation of promise
Abundant feast
High Priest prays
Glorify Me; I Glorify You
Unity and oneness revealed
Into communal imagination
Modeled to be mirrored
Threshold crossed
Othering ends


Psalm 139

By: Kelly Bratkowski, Missions Coordinator/Pastoral Intern

I prefer to go running in the very early morning. 

A time when the city is not yet awake, aside from a few solitary souls.


I recognize the woman at the bus stop, sitting in her own world which interacts with her through her headphones. 

I pass a fellow runner and we smile at each other with the smugness in knowing that even if the rest of the day falls apart, at least we have accomplished this task.

I see the vacant cargo truck in the alley with its engine running. A symbol of the dependable delivery driver who is making his (or her) rounds before the storefront doors are unlocked.  

I suddenly become aware of my vulnerability as a female runner on a dark street when I pass a middle-aged man in torn clothes stumbling ahead of me.

I accelerate my pace, not in fear of the person, but of the unpredictability that accompanies an intoxicated state of mind.


I look up and notice a few stars scattered across the sky, straining to be seen before they take their place, hidden by daylight.

These souls that I have encountered, so easily identifiable in the quiet morning hours, will also soon become invisible.  Lost amongst the cars and crowds that will reliably appear and litter these streets.


I wonder.  How is it that God – our God who is infinitely more expansive than the stars in the sky – claims to know every one of them intimately, aware of their movements and thoughts and words, while I so effortlessly lose sight of just the few who are right in front of me?


Can We Pray the Crazy Away?

By: Beth Mueller, Senior Director of Worship Arts
It is an incredibly challenging time in our country. Everywhere we look there is conflict, anger, contention, and battle. It’s hard not to lose hope. It is hard to know how to respond out of faith. Can we just pray all this crazy away? Here are a few thoughts:

God doesn’t cause all things, but God uses all things for good

Even though we sometimes wish it were not so, we humans have free will, and can and do choose to live in ways that are selfish and self-serving, instead of in ways that honor God, neighbor and community. It’s hard to imagine what good could come out of the current political climate, but I believe that God is holding up a mirror to our country, showing us where the path of selfish greed will lead us. The moment of change, like childbirth, is difficult, and painful, and feels devastating, but change does come. As more and more people become aware, and make choices for community and greater good, our country will shift, perspectives will change, and transformation will happen. I believe we can pray for the coming of God’s kingdom on earth, and we can pray for the transformation of our national identity to include everyone.

God plays a long game


We cannot see the big picture, or even imagine God’s dreams for us and our planet, but rest assured that there will be redemption, somewhere, somehow, because God is in the resurrection business. Sometimes we lose sight of this promise, because the moment we are living in is a death moment. Death is necessary for transformation and new life. I believe we are in death times, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed, discouraged and without hope.

Collectively, as people, communities and a country, enough of us have to be willing to transform, for collective transformation to happen. Each of us must open ourselves to the pain of transformation, and to pray for transformation for our communities and country, even though we cannot know exactly what that transformation will look like. And we have to accept that transformation may not come when we want it to. Sometimes we have to pray our pain and lament “How long, O Lord, how long?”

God is God, and we are not


So often we forget that it is God that transforms, not us. This is a time of action, and I absolutely believe that we are being called to stand up and call out injustice, inequality, greed, and selfishness. But I also know that we cannot create transformation by ourselves. If we truly trust God to transform the world, we must confess that we don’t understand it all, that we don’t know as much as we think we do, and remember that God’s mercy and goodness is for all of us, even our enemies. News and politics are presented to us in duality; good and bad, right and wrong, black and white. When we recognize that there is no duality, only Oneness in God, we can begin to shift from a perspective of absolutes, enmity, punishment and tribalism, to a perspective of acceptance and trust.

The trap for you and me, is that we say “I’m doing that, but the other guy isn’t, so I have to fight with him and make him see it like I do.” This just creates more duality. Our belief that we know what is “right or good” is always limited, because we are not God.

We have to work for the
things Jesus worked for:
justice, mercy, equality, compassion.


But we have to do that with humility. We can’t work only for a final result or a destination, because we then miss God at work all along the way. When we pray, we articulate our heart’s desire, but we follow that with “Thy will be done,” as Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemane.

It’s hard to know what to DO. It’s hard not to lose hope. Democracy is a human institution, and requires human labor to maintain. We use our faith to guide that work. God cannot do it for us, but God can transform and redeem us, and in turn our communities and our country. Mostly, I think we can pray for God to move in us, and to guide us to be people of generosity, compassion, diligence and justice.

Today (and tomorrow), I pray for Christ’s peace when we feel hopeless, for Christ’s passion for justice when we feel helpless, and for Christ’s compassion, when we feel hateful.

If you are interested in more writing on duality, Oneness in Christ, and transformation, I’d like to recommend Fr. Richard Rohr daily meditations, found at


A Uniqueness That Felt Rebellious

By: Sarah Dixon
Youth Ministry Intern
It wasn’t until recently that I realized that I’ve had a uniqueness within me when compared to my surroundings. Growing up in Flower Mound, a suburb of Dallas, I was often a lone liberal in a sea of red. My family was more liberal, I grew up in a PCUSA church, and my family was rooted in social justice and talking about politics. My grandma grew up in Germany during WWII and was a lifelong advocate for justice and Jesus’ vision for this world. I love telling her life story because I am proud of her, and her radical view of love and the world has set my family on a course for faith, justice-work, and love. My grandma, Christa Klingbeil, was cut from a different cloth because her family hid Jews in their German Christian home, then she was a German woman in the U.S. after WWII with a very German name. She then became a trailblazing woman in ministry. Because of her, I’ve wanted to be different from those around me.
In Flower Mound, I was a liberal, a Feminist, a Presbyterian, and an OSU fan. I loved being different in those ways! In college, I was also one of the few liberals involved in the evangelical ministry I volunteered with. I was basically the token liberal in one of my friend groups in college. I liked being different in this way. During my YAV (Young Adult Volunteer- volunteer year with the PCUSA) year in Denver I worked at a drop-in center for homeless youth, and I was not the only liberal this time, but I was a Texan and a Christian. I was the only church-going Christian in my work-place, I felt very unique and offbeat. Now as a seminarian at a PCUSA seminary, I am one of the few who has spent time in an evangelical ministry and doesn’t view the word evangelism with fear and disdain.
With all these differences I’ve brought into the spaces I’ve been in, there comes a feeling of uniqueness and rebelliousness, and also a lot of self-placed pressure. I often feel like I have to be the spokesperson for every group I represent. I had to be the not-too-extreme liberal, the not-crazy Feminist, the chill-liberal Christian, the *insert desired adjective based on the situation* liberal Christian woman working towards a life of ministry representing Jesus Christ and the Church, as well. I put this pressure on myself, and also recognize the privilege I carry in all these situations as a young white woman. I may feel like the odd person out sometimes with my beliefs, but I know that this pales in comparison to the degree of feeling “other” that so many feel in our country. I can blend into places because of how I look, and these differences I carry are things that I can choose to disclose to others. Also I’m sure when people disagree with me, it is done in a more gentle way than it could be to someone who was black, brown, LGBTQ, homeless, or an immigrant.
This self-imposed and society imposed pressure of being the token *blank* in a variety of spaces, makes me feel like I have to be the perfect representation of all these things because people who have held these labels have hurt others.

I want to help heal the
wounds that Christians,
evangelicals, and
liberals, have inflicted
on others.

It is when I make these things about myself, and not about Jesus’ full and affirming love, that they become crippling weights and parameters.
Jesus was and is the ultimate counter-cultural, unique, Christian, evangelical, progressive, feminist, rebel to ever be on this earth. Looking to him as my example in how to carry this load, and also the privilege of being a Christ-follower in a divisive world, is what comforts me. I don’t have to feel like I carry this burden of being the perfect person or representative of my differences in the spaces I exist in. It’s OK to be unique and rebellious because in these ways we can truly walk in the steps of Jesus, and find comfort in our ways of quiet rebellion.

Simple acts of love and
kindness are acts of

I will remember this when I feel the societal pressures of perfectionism and capitalism. We are set apart from the structures of this world simply because we follow a divine being who showed us how to step in someone else’s shoes with grace and truth. May we give ourselves grace when we fall short, and know that a radical love holds us and dwells within us when we feel like we only have the energy to just “be”. Let that radical and pressure-relieving grace be enough for us today, tomorrow, and forever.