Featured Authors

Lunation

robson-hatsukami-morgan-116208-unsplash.jpg

Lunation

Michael Vazquez

Day 1 of 8: Introduction

By Michael Vazquez

For millennia, cultures around the world have oriented their lives around the movement of the Moon. The Moon—a symbol of mystery, the divine feminine, and raw untethered power—is an intuitive force that has served as a guide post, a friend, and a beacon. In the Hebrew Scriptures, we see Israelites ordering calendars and their worship around the cycles of the moon. In Christian texts, the Moon is referenced as an indicator of divine action. Beyond the Judeo-Christian tradition, the moon has maintained a place of honor and reverence. In Ancient Egypt, the moon was called The TravelerThe Defender, and The Embracer. In Central America, some believed the moon to be the grandmother of the sun; others saw the moon as a great warrior.

The Moon is that fantastically queer figure, dignifying the wild beauty of the night, dancing to its own rhythm. The moon represents the wild within us, the divine feminine kept captive by our own inhibitions, and the Saturnian structures of this world. To read scripture by the light of the moon, to align our lives by its dance and wisdom, is to give ourselves over—like the sea and its tides—to an intense, spiritual freedom. This devotional is a primer to sitting with the Bible and the moon and letting the Creator carry us into new places of healing, wisdom, and liberation.

The great poet, Mary Oliver, wrote, “tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

By the Creator, I pray these words and prompts will help you find your way to your answer.

Finish reading this 8 day devotional in the app. Find it on the Featured shelf.


Lenny Duncan

leonardo-yip-1015708-unsplash.jpg

Recovery and Resurrection

Lenny Duncan

Day 1 of 4: Recovery and Resurrection:

For Those of Us Who Have Known Death Intimately

Can I embrace my whole self? Not the idealized one I wish my sober self was? Today we focus on taking stock and fully loving who we are: Beloved of God and sometimes really screwed up.

I’m sick of lame devotionals for those of us in recovery. Whether it’s your first 30 days sober or less, or you have been clean and sober for “double digits,” you have run into them. If it isn’t written in a Byzantine maze of recovery quotes by Captain Cliché, it’s a damn love letter to whiteness and heteronormative standards that dances around the truth of recovery.

The truth for me is that something deep down inside me courted death. I made love to death in whatever form it took beyond the gender binary and beyond whatever substance was in front of me. I’m going to be honest—I am a piss your pants, ruin Thanksgiving dinner kind of drunk. But I also really loved shooting heroin. I loved doing meth and writing. I loved anything that would stick my head over the deep chasm between life and resurrection and let me scream into the abyss. I loved it even when it didn’t love me back. I need fucking help became the Lord’s prayer for me. I never even said the Lord’s prayer before I got sober.

I’m tired of devotionals for people in recovery where they don’t mention the sex work. Or stealing from family. Or that interspersed in between the deep valleys we all focus on, there were some of the greatest times of our lives. No one ever mentions that you become a completely different person a few years into recovery and that it is good and healthy to mourn the loss of the old life. We are taught to shed the skin of the last life and to leap into the arms of the new one without a second thought. It took years in a 12-step program (actually engaging the 12 steps) before I realized that large parts of the old me’s sensibilities, loves, and experiences were not just valuable, but a big part of who I still was.

My day of Grace is February 13th, 2010. I was standing at the back of a Furthur concert in the Hampton Coliseum. I was 35 days into the worst relapse of my life because I’d had a taste of recovery right before it. I had been sober for almost a year and half and had just drank. I had “worked” the 12 steps, was sponsoring people—literally doing all the annoying shit they had been telling me to do for years in recovery. But I fell flat on my face and was already waking up with the rock and roll shakes every morning with demons climbing the wall. It was an unmitigated disaster, and so I just did what I always did and started following a band across the country trying to live off the scene around it.

I heard a voice. Standing at the edge of the crowd, I heard a voice. That wasn’t strange to me—I heard lots of voices that week saying things like you should just end it all or you can never get sober again, you idiot.

This voice said simply and quietly, “You are getting sober today.”

God’s Grace is that I believed that voice. I walked out of the show and haven’t look back since. It was a strange thing, though. With no church background—no real connection to Scripture other than intellectual takedowns of the poor saps who tried to evangelize to me—I associated that voice with Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

What good can come from Nazareth, y’all?

This devotional will not be tidy. I won’t wrap any of my junk in a tidy bow. I won’t sell shame as healthy living, either. I stand at the crossroads of the Church and recovery. You know that makes me an outsider in both worlds if that is you, too.

What I’m going to attempt to do over the course of this devotional is take the shattered pieces of my life and create a mosaic I can share with you until my fingers bleed, and I can’t go on because I have cut myself too many times in this process.

Raw. Broken. Redeemed. Resurrected.

Sinner and Saint.

Rev. Lenny Duncan +

Today ask God, “What’s at risk if I loved all of me?” What if the jagged edges of your life are what God is going to use?

Finish reading this 4 day devotional in the app. Find it on the Featured shelf.


Lengthen the Light

tu-cam-1411172-unsplash.jpg

Lengthen the Light

Elizabeth Henry

Day 1 of 7: Lengthen

The season of Lent refers to the forty days (excluding Sundays, with each considered its own little Easter of sorts) leading up to Holy Week and Easter Sunday in the Christian year. Each spring, Christians of a variety of traditions all over the world take this time to refocus on faith. In the United States, this often comes in the form of cutting out distractions by giving up things like social media or wine—in a sort of do-over on New Year’s Resolutions—or by taking on more extreme measures, like refraining from eating any food at all for a set period or from consuming certain foods or drinks for the entire forty days. For many, this time of literal or spiritual fasting serves precisely the purpose intended, of drilling things down to essentials to make space for experiencing God in more intentional ways.

In my own experience, this kind of fasting often became a sneaky way to feed an eating disorder that really didn’t need any more encouragement. So I began to look for alternative ways of celebrating this holy season, and I found teachers who encouraged me to add rather than to take away. I looked into how this whole Lenten season began anyway, and I discovered that the name comes from a Germanic root word meaning to lengthen, supposedly in reference to the way the days get longer and longer in the spring leading up to the Spring Equinox. Early Christians set the date of Easter (when we remember the story of Jesus returning to life from death and claim that God is still doing that—still breathing life into things we thought long lost) to align with the Equinox, the first day of the season that brings crops back to life. The first day of resurrection.

With this history in mind, then, my Lenten practice this year will not be to fast, but to lengthen. To lean into the light. Over the next week, you’re invited to do the same. With each day, we’ll reflect on an opportunity to lengthen the light in our days, offering a practice or two with each that you may choose to carry with you through this Lenten season when we journey together towards the great light.

Finish reading this 7 day devotional in the app. Find it on the Featured shelf.


Featured Author

AJ Levine

amy jill levine headshot.jpg

Amy-Jill Levine is University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies and Mary Jane Werthan Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School and College of Arts and Sciences. An internationally renowned scholar and teacher, she is the author of numerous books including The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus and Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi. Her most recent publication is The Gospel of Luke, co-authored with Ben Witherington III. She is also the co-editor of the Jewish Annotated New Testament. Professor Levine, who has done more than 500 programs for churches, clergy groups, and seminaries, has been awarded grants from the Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council of Learned Societies. Institutions granting her honorary degrees include Christian Theological Seminary and the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest.

Read her devotional series “Risking the Passion” and in the app today.


Asexuali-TEA

clem-onojeghuo-567795-unsplash.jpg

Asexuali-TEA

Bailey Brawner

Day 1 of 10: Grounding Ourselves

Song of Songs 6:9 (NRSV)

My dove, my perfect one, is the only one,
the darling of her mother,
flawless to her that bore her.
The maidens saw her and called her happy;
the queens and concubines also, and they praised her.

So what is asexuality, and why should we care about it? Well, you clicked on this devotional (thank you), so you must be curious about it or maybe you already care about it. Either way, here you are…welcome!

In its most basic definition, asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction. Where bisexual people by definition can experience sexual attraction for people of any gender, asexual people don’t experience sexual attraction, regardless of gender.

Like any orientation, asexuality is a spectrum, so folx may find themselves on various places, meaning this basic definition will not fit for everyone who identifies as asexual. Also on the asexual spectrum are labels like grey-sexual, demi-sexual, etc. Labels are messy and imperfect, just like us as human beings.

I chose to write this devotional because the conversation around asexuality and the voices of asexual people need more visibility. Even I, as an asexual person, feel underqualified sometimes, to talk about my own asexual identity, because I feel that I don’t know enough about it. That’s really telling, and means that so much more effort needs to go into this conversation.

Being asexual means there are, to use Matthias Roberts’ language, “unique giftings” that an asexual person holds. We see the world in ways that others might not, and because of this, we do things differently sometimes. Asexual people have things that they can offer to everyone, things we can all learn from.

Over the next ten days, we will look deeper into some of those learnings. My hope and my prayer, is that you will open yourself up to learning not only about asexuality, but about your own identity. I pray that you ask questions, that you allow yourself to say ‘I don’t know’, to dig deeper, and to prepare yourself to do the work to know yourself better; body, mind, and spirit.

You are sacred and you are so loved.

Grace and Peace,
Bailey

Throughout the series, I will be speaking from my own perspective, one which is not universal to all asexual people. We should all recognize that asexuality is a spectrum, like any identity or orientation, and no matter how you identify, your experience is valid and sacred. Because I identify as asexual but not aromantic, my focus will not be on aromanticism, though this is another vastly underrepresented orientation. I’d love to hear from you about how your experience is similar or different to mine. Let’s continue this incredibly needed conversation together.

God of goodness and light,
You are here. You are greater and more complex than we can ever know. Pour out your love on us, as we embark on a journey to know ourselves more fully, and to learn from the experiences of our neighbors. Allow us to feel your spirit working within us, stirring new ideas and new ways of seeing ourselves, as a part of your kin-dom.
In your gracious and holy name we pray, Amen.

Finish reading this 10 day devotional in the app. Find it on the Featured shelf.


The Jesus of Liberation (translated from Spanish)

avel-chuklanov-38687-unsplash.jpg

The Jesus of Liberation

Carla Sofia Vargas

Day 1: Getting to Know the Jesus of Liberation

En Español:
Yo creo en vos compañero,
Cristo humano, Cristo obrero
de la muerte vencedor con el sacrificio inmenso
engendraste al hombre nuevo para la liberación.

In English:
I believe in you partner,
Brother Christ, laboring Christ,
Victor over death.
With your great sacrifice
You gave birth to the new mankind,
Made to be free.

-Nicaraguan Peasant Mass Credo, Carlos Mejía Godoy

In the church where I grew up—ironically—the life of Jesus was almost never mentioned in the sermons. For some reason the pastor usually chose some chapter of the Old Testament or some Pauline letter, then ended up talking about the love of God despite our mistakes and infidelities and how He sent his only begotten son to die for us. So in the General Assembly, the death of Jesus on the cross was the only reference made about the son of Mary and Joseph.

This felt very different from my experience in Sunday school, where children were always told about Jesus the friend of the rejected, the miracle worker, that man who loved his disciples and healed the sick. Obviously, these stories were always accompanied by a coloring activity, and it’s necessary to specify that we never colored Jesus on the cross.

So what happened that our perspective of Jesus changes as we grow and stop seeing him as more than just the Savior who came to die for us? Because if we are honest with ourselves, the redeemingand sacrificial aspect of Jesus is often the one that predominates the collective imagination of many Christians. The Jesus as a man, friend, and-yes-revolutionary is almost never the protagonist in the pulpits or circles of Church studies in Latin America …And we are missing a lot.

When one reads the story of Jesus in the Gospels, it is easy to fall in love with the life and struggle of that man who spent every second of his ministry loving the unprotected, fighting against injustice, and going against every system of oppression—moral, religious, social, and political—in his speeches, teachings and-above all-his actions. If every person is a beautiful canvas of different identities (for example I celebrate that I am a woman, a latina-mestiza, Nicaraguan, lesbian, and Christian), why don’t we think the same of Jesus? Why do we only keep one aspect of his ministry and his life? I would be very upset if the people who know me accept one of my identities and deny the rest. In my case, if you want to be my friend, you have to accept and recognize all my identities. Yes, it’s all or nothing. Because I am one hundred percent in each of them. Knowing Jesus and knowing ourselves in totality is one of the most powerful and, above all, liberating experiences we could ever experience.

If someone were to ask you who you are, how would you respond?
Do you celebrate all your identities, or are there parts of your life or history that you have not yet recognized?
How could you begin to explore or communicate those aspects that make you the person you are but not everyone knows?

Today I want to celebrate every part of my story. Jesus, help me to know you and to know me in a more intimate and complete way. Amen.

Finish reading this 8 day devotional in the app. Find it on the Featured shelf.


Healing from Trespass: A Devotional Series for Survivors

jonathan-borba-1377998-unsplash.jpg

Healing from Trespass:

A Devotional Series for Survivors

Lauryn Peacock

Forgiveness (In the Face of Violence or Transgression)

And forgive us our debts, as we have also forgiven our debtors.
-Matthew 6:12, NRSV

All of us have been wronged in relationships. Sometimes the stakes, regarding our health or safety, are high. When trespass involves violence or abuse—sexual, physical, or emotional in nature—our very selves and well-being are at risk. Many individuals in the United States and across the world experience varied forms of trauma in relationships. This is especially true for women and woman-identifying individuals, as well as those who fall into the categories of sexual and gender minorities. To just give one example: “Twenty-three [percent] of female undergraduate university students reported having experienced sexual assault or sexual misconduct in a survey across 27 universities in the United States in 2015. Rates of reporting to campus officials, law enforcement or others ranged from 5 to 28 percent, depending on the specific type of behavior.” (2) The problem is even more widespread than our statistics could tell us; and it affects all identities. When our ‘debtors’ trespass against us, the transgressions can range from micro-aggressions, to harassment, to someone letting us down, to bullying, unkind words, or often something much more sinister and difficult to process, as we see in the example above.

Whether or not our broken relationships are the result of violence or other forms of betrayal, we are called, somehow, to live in forgiveness. This gets tricky in the case of abuse and does not negate the need for reporting such crimes, going to the relevant authorities for help, or engaging with therapeutic resources that can also aid us on our path to healing. The primary question, for our purposes here, is “What do we do, spiritually, in order to live in freedom, after (and while) we take those necessary steps?”

Nadia Bolz-Weber, founding pastor of House for All Saints and Sinners in Denver, CO, points out that “When someone else does us harm, we’re connected to that mistreatment like a chain.” What do we do to combat the negative connection, so that we might heal? Bolz-Weber lends an answer that we also see reflected in the Bible passage above: “[Forgiveness] is not an act of niceness,” she states: “Forgiveness is nothing short of an act of fidelity to an evil-combatting campaign.” (3) She goes on to say that retaliation and holding onto resentment both feed, rather than combat, the evil that created the wrong in the first place; she warns that we may start to absorb the attitudes of our enemies, by hanging onto resentment and anger, rather than by starting to forgive. (4)

Anger is a necessary step in our process of grief, yet we must move beyond it, so that we may be “free people,” in Bolz-Weber’s words, uncontrolled by the past. Forgiveness is not the condoning of abuse; it is the beginning of our path toward wholeness after a trespass, our “bolt-cutters” to further sever our connection to the trespass. It all starts with a prayer.

Giver of Life, thank you for the immense blessing of life on this earth. Embolden and empower us to take the steps necessary to live in greater freedom and joy and to build a life that fully reflects the abundance out of which you created us. Calm our fears and ready our hands in prayer and action, on behalf of ourselves and others. Let us live as free people, trying to forgive and cut the power that trespass or the past has wielded over us. Thank you that you are able to do this and more than we could ever imagine, simply because we are beginning by asking.

Meditation: Pray the Lord’s Prayer as part of your daily practice this week

Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.
-Matthew 6: 9-13 NRSV

Please find Pastor Bolz-Weber‘s full video on forgiveness, here (Attn: language):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhmRkUtPra8

Important Note:
If you or a loved one have experienced or are experiencing violence or trouble in a relationship, there are many local resources ranging from counseling services to domestic violence shelters that are there to be of aid to you. Domesticshelters.org is a national database that can use your zip code to locate counseling, shelter, and intervention services in your area. If you are in any danger or are being hurt in any way, shape, or form—make the phone call to the relevant authorities or services. Even if you have a desire to simply live in healthier relationship with a partner or others in your life, I encourage you to engage the resources available to you personally and in support of the survivors in your life.

(2) Nadia Bolz-Weber, “Forgive Assholes,” YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhmRkUtPra8.
(3) Bolz-Weber, “Forgive Assholes.”
(4) “Now to [God] who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine,” Ephesians 3:20, NRSV.

Finish reading this 7 day devotional in the app. Find it on the Featured shelf.


Featured Author

Kevin Garcia

IMG_8568.jpeg

Kevin Garcia is a digital pastor, content creator, and self identifying hot mess. Working at the intersection of queerness, sexuality, Christian faith, gender, and justice,  Kevin creates videos blogs and podcasts that reflect the queer Christian experience. After coming out in the fall of 2015, Kevin has reached thousands of people through his online work and discourse in public theology. He spoken all over the country at colleges and universities, churches and festivals, and works as an organizer with The Reformation Project in Atlanta, GA. Presently, Kevin is pursuing his masters of divinity from Columbia Theological Seminary. In addition to queer stuff and Jesus, Kevin also enjoys dark coffee, red wine, tacos of all varieties, and running the streets of Atlanta, GA where he presently finds his home. 

theKevinGarcia.com
Twitter: @theKevinGarcia_
Facebook: @Kevin.Garcia
Insta:    
@theKevinGarcia
YouTube: 
@helloImKevn
Podcast: 
A Tiny Revolution

Read his devotional “As Yourself” and listen to Kevin on Lord Have Mercy in the app today.


As Yourself

svetlana-manic-1041613-unsplash+%281%29.jpg

As Yourself

Kevin Garcia

Introduction

For many of us, we grew up learning that the second greatest commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself. But what does it mean to love yourself? If you've been rejected from communities for any reason, love for self instead of blame or sadness can be hard to come by.

As we approach Valentine's Day, let's explore what love means when we give love to ourselves. How can we fill ourselves up with the love of God that leads us to abundant life? Can it be something that we not only give away but something we lavish on ourselves? And what if we work FROM love, instead of FOR love?

In this 10-day devotional, we're going to focus on those last two words of the greatest commandments: "as yourself." What does it mean to really love the bodies God gave us? How can we appreciate all the beautifully weird things that God gave us?  And what the heck is love? And what does it have to do with it?

Glad you're here, beloved.

-Kevin Garcia

Finish reading this 11 day devotional in the app. Find it on the Featured shelf.


Feabruary's Featured Author

Micky Scottbey Jones

Micky_final-0053-2.jpg

Micky ScottBey Jones - the Justice Doula - accompanies people as they birth more love, justice and shalom into our world. As a womanist, faith rooted, contemplative activist, healer, and nonviolence practitioner, Micky supports students, clergy, activists and everyday leaders in a variety of roles - speaker, writer, facilitator, pilgrimage guide and teacher. She is the Director of Resilience and Healing Initiatives with the Faith Matters Network and is a core team member with The People’s Supper who has gathered more than 4,000 people around tables since the 2016 U.S. election for bridging and healing conversations. Micky earned a M.A. in Intercultural Studies from NAIITS/Portland Seminary and is currently pursuing advanced studies in the Enneagram. You can find pieces of her soul (writing) in two multi-authored books - Becoming Like Creoles: Living and Leading at the Intersections of Injustice, Culture and Religion and Keep Watch With Me: An Advent Reader for Peacemakers releasing in 2019. Named one of the Black Christian leaders changing the world in Huffington Post, Micky travels the world exploring peacemaking and relationships in different contexts, spreading revolutionary love, engaging in authentic conversations, participating in transformative experiences - and most importantly - she never passes up a dance floor. She has been a contributor at Evangelicals For Social Action, The Porch Magazine, Sojourners, and Red Letter Christians. You can interact with her work and collaborations at Faithmattersnetwork.organd Mickyscottbeyjones.com and catch her social media on Facebook: facebook.com/MSJSpeaks/and Twitter: @iammickyjones.

Read the “Come and Have Breakfast” devotional and listen to her comments on Lord Have Mercy in the app today.


Come and Have Breakfast: Healing from Burnout & Loving Yourself

kinga-cichewicz-1121976-unsplash+%281%29.jpg

Come and Have Breakfast

Micky Scottbey Jones

Day 1: We will go with you in the aftermath.

Focus: Self care, squad care, intergenerational care

As the scene is set in Chapter 21 [John 21:1-25], the disciples have gathered together as they often did before the state-sanctioned killing of Jesus. It’s been a doozy of a time. The pain is fresh. They are living in what could be considered the aftermath. Some friends are missing. The people who helped before aren’t helping now. The person they had been following is dead to most and has appeared a couple of times, but they still aren’t sure when, where, how, or if more death and devastation is on the horizon. What are the next steps? It’s chaos.

In reading this passage, I am reminded of the live recording of the song Why? (The King of Love is Dead) by Nina Simone. She is singing live the day after Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was murdered in Memphis, Tennessee. The pain is fresh. They are all swimming in the aftermath of the central figure of their movement suffering a violent death. In the chorus she laments:

“Folks you’d better stop and think
Cause everybody knows we’re on the brink
What will happen now that the king of love is dead?”

She takes a break in the song and with anguish in her voice says, “They’re killing us all…one by one..we’ve lost so many…we can’t take any more.” (Need to check the exact quote)

Violence, trauma, and harm continue to be experienced by communities. Among the people who followed Jesus. Among the people of the Southern Freedom Movement. Among those of us today whose hearts are awakened to justice and feel the pain of death and trauma all around us.

In the aftermath of those violent or traumatic events, we still have our daily responsibilities and jobs. The disciples still had to feed themselves and were also probably hoping to make a little cash. Which meant they still had to get in the boat and go get some fish. Nina Simone still had to sit at her piano and sing songs and encourage the people. The disciples had each other to share the tasks and distribute the weight. Nina had her band who worked out the arrangement for a new song of lament.

Have you been living in the aftermath of violence or trauma? Do you find yourself concerned about the violence and/or trauma in your community and how you or others will deal with it? Who are others who you can call on to help you compose a song of lament or just deal with basic needs in the midst of a difficult time?

Prayer:
God of connection and friendship, of hope and lament, help us in the aftermath of violence and trauma. May we offer one another companionship in daily tasks that still must be done, even in the most devastating of times. Open us up to sing songs of lament when we gather. Help us to include our pain and share each other’s struggles. Let us resist the temptation to isolate and instead help us to respond to the Spirit who draws us together.

Finish reading this 11 day devotional in the app. Find it on the Featured shelf.


Feelings Are Holy

hector-martinez-305251-unsplash.jpg

Feelings Are Holy

Erin Green

Day 1: Our Feelings Are Holy

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it,”
-Psalm 139:1-6 NRSV

“God doesn’t care about our happiness. God cares about our holiness.” A closeted member of our LGBTQ+ family recited these words to me. I knew they had learned this idea somewhere in the Church. I knew because I had, too, when I was fighting hard to reconcile my faith and sexuality. My friend was echoing an experience that all too many of us have within many faith community spaces: the demonization of our emotions, feelings, and experiences.

Queer, Transgender, People of Color, and women know this demonization all too well as many of us have been repeatedly abused by the Church by being told that our feelings, emotions, and experiences are not reliable things to trust, not important, or that they don’t matter to God, they are not valid. According to some Church teaching, emotions are potentially damaging ways to be directed and if we allow this we allow chaos and sin to rule over our lives. You may have also been taught that we should never project our emotion onto Biblical text, that we can never read Scripture through the lens of our pain, discomfort, or anguish. We can never experience the liberty in our identities that we wish. We can only experience liberty the way the Church decides for us and ingrains into us.

The tremendous problem with this ideology is that it is extremely counterintuitive to not only what the stories in the Bible actually tell us, but also to what the characters within the Bible demonstrate to us, including Jesus. The Bible is a very emotional collection of texts. The various genres within it contain everything from lament, complaint, instruction, prophecy, novellas, burlesque, praise, thanksgiving, apocalyptic, poetry, etymology, erotica, death, anguish, joy, peace, etc. It’s about real people experiencing life and trying to make sense of it.

Some churches try to rob our communities of our emotional responses to life, church, and our understanding of Scripture. They claim that we project our emotions and feelings onto the text in order to make it say what we wish. They claim that listening to our emotions and being guided by our feelings will lead us further away from the truth.

This is a misguided attempt to “sin-manage” your life. But stifling what God gives naturally in order to make people conform to the Church’s desires is never directed by God. On the contrary, our emotions are authoritative, beautiful, wonderful. They are imbedded within us by the Living God.

In Psalm 139, the Psalter tells us that we are “fearfully” made by God––every single part of us. This term, in the original Hebrew, means “to revere” and “to be in awe.” That is how amazing our emotions and feelings are––they evoke awe and reverence because we are God’s masterpiece. We are the highlight of God’s creation. We are the encore.

Living God, as we journey through this series championing the emotions, feelings, and experiences you have created us with, help us to hold space for even the most challenging ones. Help us to hold ourselves and others in compassion over our emotions and feelings. Teach us how to embrace and utilize our emotion and feeling for wisdom, to love others, to love ourselves, and to love you.

Finish reading this 7 day devotional in the app. Find it on the Featured shelf.


Planning and Purpose

ramiz-dedakovic-1328834-unsplash.jpg

Planning and Purpose

Breea Milburn

Day 1: Planning for an Unpredictable Future

“Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path.” 
-Proverbs 4:26

A famous writer once said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him about your plans.” We know what that author was getting at–we can try formulating a “fool-proof” plan for achieving our dreams, but even our best intentions are rarely so easy to navigate. That being said, God still wants us to be planners. After all, success and growth don’t simply appear without preparation. We study for exams in order to pass them, we read to our children in order to strengthen their imaginations, and–most importantly–we practice walking as Jesus walked in order to become more like Him. Though we cannot control the future, we can still plan now to strengthen ourselves for what’s to come.

Go ahead and make yourself five manageable goals for the day; write them down and place your list somewhere you won’t forget it. What would you like to accomplish before bed? How do you want to connect with God today? Try to accomplish as many goals as you can, but don’t feel overwhelmed if you can’t finish your list. Remember: your day is not always going to go according to plan, but planning to make the most of your day is never time wasted.

Finish reading this 3 day devotional in the app. Find it on the Featured shelf.


El Jesús de la Liberación

julian-florez-669480-unsplash.jpg

El Jesús de la Liberación

Carla Sofía Vargas

Día 1

Yo creo en vos compañero,
Cristo humano, Cristo obrero
de la muerte vencedor con el sacrificio inmenso
engendraste al hombre nuevo para la liberación.

Credo - Misa Campesina Nicaragüense - Carlos Mejía Godoy

En la iglesia donde crecí — irónicamente —, casi nunca se mencionaba la vida de Jesús en los sermones. Por alguna razón el pastor generalmente elegía algún capítulo del Antiguo Testamento o alguna carta Paulina para después terminar hablando del amor de Dios a pesar de nuestros errores e infidelidades y cómo envió a su hijo unigénito a morir por nosotros; en la Asamblea General la muerte de Jesús en la cruz era la única referencia que se hacía sobre el hijo de María y José. Esto lo notaba muy distinto a mi experiencia en la escuela dominical donde a los niños y niñas se nos hablaba siempre de Jesús, el amigo del rechazado, el hacedor de milagros; ese hombre que amaba a sus discípulos y sanaba a los enfermos. Obviamente, estas historias siempre iban acompañadas de algún dibujo para colorear y está de más especificar, que nunca coloreamos a Jesús en la cruz.

¿Entonces qué sucede que nuestra perspectiva de Jesús cambia a medida que crecemos y dejemos de verlo más allá de el Salvador que vino a morir por nosotros y nosotras? Porque seamos honestas y honestos, muchas veces la faceta redentora y sacrificial de Jesús, es la única que predomina en el imaginario colectivo de muchos cristianos y cristianas. El Jesús hombre, amigo y sí, revolucionario, casi nunca es el protagonista en los púlpitos o círculos de estudios de iglesias en Latinoamérica… Y nos estamos perdiendo de mucho.

Cuando unx lee la historia de Jesús en los evangelios, es fácil enamorarse de la vida y lucha de ese hombre que pasó cada segundo de su ministerio amando a los más desprotegidos, luchando contra la injusticia y yendo contra todo sistema de opresión — moral, religioso, social y político — en sus discursos, enseñanzas y sobre todo, en su actuar. Si toda persona es un hermoso lienzo de diferentes identidades (por ejemplo yo celebro que soy mujer, indo-latina, nicaragüense, lesbiana y cristiana), ¿por qué no pensamos lo mismo de Jesús? ¿Por qué sólo nos quedamos con un aspecto de su ministerio y de su vida? Yo me sentiría muy indignada si la gente que me conoce acepta una de mis identidades y niega el resto. En mi caso literalmente mis identidades son todo o nada; porque soy yo, cien por ciento, en cada una de ellas. Conocer a Jesús y conocernos en totalidad, es de las experiencias más poderosas y sobre todo liberadoras que podríamos experimentar.

Si te llegasen a preguntar quién sos, ¿cómo responderías?
¿Celebrás todas tus identidades o hay partes de tu vida o historia que no has reconocido aún?
¿Cómo podrías empezar a explorar o comunicar esos aspectos que te hacen ser la persona que sos pero no todo el mundo conoce?

Hoy quiero celebrar cada parte de mi historia. Jesús, ayudame a conocerte y conocerme de una forma más íntima y completa. Amén.

Finish reading this 8 day devotional in the app. Find it on the Featured shelf.


Beauty & Terror

shamim-nakhaei-69202-unsplash.jpg

Beauty & Terror

Sharlet Panhalkar

Eve

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

-Genesis 2:18-22 (NIV)

Welcome to the story of Eve. From the Genesis narrative, we find an extraordinary birth story of Eve. Eve means ‘’mother of life’’ or ‘’mother of all who have life.’’ She was indeed the mother of the human race, the first mother. I imagine that Eve must have been the most beautiful woman created in the image of God. Being handcrafted by God himself must have been such a holy moment.

However, despite God’s good and beautiful creation, I wonder how it is that only Eve becomes taboo in this perfect story—the taboo of “Fall” or “Original Sin” that crumbled the image and identity of women. It’s as though her very existence and creation was a big mistake. Why would God create Eve if she was going to be a source of evil? Or was it intended that everyone sees how a woman’s sexuality can become a major cause of sin and terror? This story challenges us to reflect on the enormous damage done by our Church traditions and societal norms that bind women to their bodies as objects.

For centuries, many Christian traditions have mis-told and mis-used Eve’s story to objectify women. Richard Rohr in his article Original Blessing wrote that “most Christian theology seems to start with Genesis 3—which features Adam and Eve—what Augustine would centuries later call ‘original sin.’ When you start with the negative or with a problem, it’s not surprising that you end with Armageddon and Apocalypse.” Humanity focuses too much on “Original Sin” instead of “Original Blessing.”

We remember Eve as the temptress or seductive woman who ate the forbidden fruit as an act of disobedience to God. This prevailing understanding of Eve throughout history has primarily characterized women as envious competitors, rather than potential companions for each other. Viewing Eve as handcrafted by Godself to fully embody the imago dei invites us to focus on Eve as God’s glorious and good creation.

Power, privilege, and position have been the dominant ways for creating terror out of innocent and holy beauty. In a patriarchal society, where women were mainly used for their bodies and not minds, a woman’s beauty and charm were perceived for procreation or exploitation for a personal, social, or political gain.

How then might we claim beauty without objectifying women? Beauty can be claimed by affirming a woman’s body/identity and beauty through her intellect, creativity, work and deed rather than the outer physical beauty. Women are exemplified for their outer beauty and not for their inward qualities of love, generosity, nurture, care, etc. By affirming women’s inward and outward beauty as a holistic and holy creation of God we will be able to claim beauty without objectifying women.

Reflection:
*How do we identify and challenge the dominant societal norms and authorities that deny women’s role in sacred and secular spaces?

What are some other ways we can claim beauty without objectifying women?*

Prayer:
Lord, help us to see the real beauty of our bodies and minds as your precious and holy creations. Amen.

Finish reading this 5 day devotional in the app. Find it on the Featured shelf.


Above Every Name

thibaut-lemmens-622204-unsplash.jpg

Above Every Name

Danny Prada

Day 1 of 5

“The simplicity of true faith assumes God to be that which God is, namely, incapable of being grasped by any term, or any idea, or any other device of our apprehension…. Having but one name that can represent God’s proper nature, the single name being ‘Above Every Name.’”
-St. Gregory of Nyssa

God is Mystery. The moment we speak a word about God we are already reducing God to our level of understanding. For this reason, it’s always been common for Christians to speak of God as the ineffable one. Augustine once said that “God transcends even the mind.” Aquinas made a similar claim when he said that “by its immensity, the divine substance surpasses every form that our intellect reaches.” Only those who have been humbled by this transcendent Mystery can truly begin to see the divine in the lives of those who do not share the same faith they do.

If God cannot be captured by words, then all religious language is necessarily symbolic and limited in its scope. Knowing the inherent limitation of language allows us to expand our notion of truth and who we believe is in possession of it. If God is Ultimate Truth, then Ultimate Truth is beyond anyone’s ability to fully capture and box-in.

That is not to say that there is no Absolute Truth, but that no one can ever possess this truth absolutely. All of us are just hinting at that which is far beyond our ability to fully comprehend. A God we can understand is just an idol we’ve created in our image. A God who is comprehensible is no God at all.

So, if our own particular language about God is limited, would it not be fair to say that the religious language of others can possibly complement and even enhance our own? If this is true, it makes much more sense for us to hold our beliefs with an open-hand instead of a closed-fist. The former way enables dialogue, the latter shuts it down. It should be obvious at this point that no one religion can ever claim to dominate the plan of God for the world, including our own. God has never been a Christian, and though we love our tradition, we must never confine God to it.

Entryway into silence:

“God, rid me of God.” - Meister Eckhart

Finish reading this 5 day devotional in the app. Find it on the Featured shelf.


Featured Author

Danny Prada

1EE871E5-F6CB-4F50-935A-99434C63EC73.JPG

Pastor Danny and his wife Emily consider themselves to be first and foremost servants of Heartway Church. Together they are committed to seeing lives changed through the good news of Jesus. Pastor Danny graduated from Palm Beach Atlantic University with a Bachelor of Arts in Ministry Leadership and from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity. He has served in a multitude of ministerial capacities over the years, including several pastoral and chaplaincy positions in both mega churches and nonprofit organizations. Pastor Danny is also in the process of working towards his doctor of ministry degree at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Read “Above Every Name” devotional and listen to “Heartway Church,” in the app today.


Featured Authors

Tamika Jay & Laura James

43734016_290201924915532_4410012676537712640_n (1).jpg

Tamika Jancewicz is a spiritual empath and advocate for social justice and womyn empowerment. But nothing compares to her role as a mother. She is currently studying to obtain her MDiv at United Lutheran Seminary, while she spends her last year as Vicar of Christ Lutheran Church in DC. She is a womanist theologian, who believes in the sacredness of the stories we choose to share. And she especially believes in the beautiful transformative power of biblical storytelling.

When she’s not traveling all over the DMV for work or school, she loves spending time with her kids. Her choice of snack often depends on the mood, the color of the sky, and any other atmospheric influence.

To keep her sane in DC traffic, she listens to her favorite podcasts, The NodThe Sexually Liberated Woman, and My favorite Murder

Laura Kigweba James is a courageous advocate, theologian and wife. While working for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center she graduated from Wesley Theological Seminary with a MDiv. in Missional and Urban Churches. She is a compassionate womanist that defines justice as an intentional transformation that leads to wholeness.

Friends would say her favorite treats are vegan cinnamon rolls. She enjoys reading books and listening to podcasts such as Black Girl In Om. Between traveling with her husband, listening to live music and cooking new food, Laura tries to make sense of life with Jamilia Wood’sHeavn Album as the soundtrack.

Read “A New Kind of Love” devotional and listen to “For Collard Girls,” in the app today.


A New Kind of Love

drop-the-label-movement-668299-unsplash.jpg

A New Kind of Love

Laura Kigweba & Tamika Jancewicz

Day 1 (from both of us): Start with Who You Are...

Song of Solomon 1:5 (CEB)

“Dark am I, and lovely, daughters of Jerusalem—
       like the black tents of the Kedar nomads,
       like the curtains of Solomon’s palace.”

I, Laura, love the song by India Arie, Private Party. This song is all about loving and celebrating yourself and when the Shulamite woman shares these words, I just imagine her singing these lyrics to herself:

🎵I'm gonna take off all my clothes

Look at myself in the mirror

We're gonna have a conversation

We're gonna heal the disconnection

I don't remember when it started

But this is where it's gonna end

My body is beautiful and sacred

And I'm gonna celebrate it 🎵

It took me (Tamika) a long time to be comfortable in my own skin. It is dark and lovely, but I didn’t always see it that way. Growing up I remember being compared to my lighter-complected sister and always wishing I looked a little more like her. It takes a lot to get over such internalized oppressions about who we are. And it sucks that it’s even a thing, really. But it is a thing for many of us.

So let me ask you a question. Do you see yourself as worthy of celebrating? If not, let’s start there. Today, we want you to write down who you are. Take a look in the mirror and explore you. What is it that makes you feel lovely? What is it that makes you feel free? Like our protagonist, the Shulamite woman, if you were to describe yourself in one word, what would it be?

Did you know that G-d celebrates and delights in you as well? Yes... you! You were made in her image after all. So after you write down who you are and how you would describe yourself—celebrate. We mean it, friend! Turn on your favorite song and dance. Move your body and feel what it feels like to be you. All of you. And come back to this list often to remember who you are and how G-d sees you.

Finish reading this 7 day devotional in the app. Find it on the Featured shelf.


Everyday Epiphany

mantas-hesthaven-135478-unsplash.jpg

Everyday Epiphany

By Jessie Marinucci

Day 1 of 5: Epiphany

Matthew 2:7-12

“Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.’ After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.  And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.” (ESV)

As we approach the feast day of the Epiphany, a celebration in memory of the journey of the Magi, we make way for the remembrance of a great appearance of God in our midst, and perhaps we even make room to recognize the appearance of God in our lives today.

Traditionally celebrated 12 days after Christmas, this January 6th will be a day that many Christians come together to remember and honor the story of the three wise men who were led in light to greet the Christ-child, Emmanuel, God with us.

To journey in this way, making a pilgrimage—seeking after nothing more than to greet and glorify the One said to be savior—is an act of pure devotion and trustful following of the belief that God plants in us. May it also be a day of communion of spirits, as the long-known truth that Mary walked with while carrying Jesus in the womb is now able to be fully shared with others who have come to know the Truth that rests peacefully in a manger.

Lest we forget the journey that all faithful must endure before coming to recognize God-with-us, may today be a time to pause and recollect and harness the energy of devotion that fuels all pilgrims as they make way to glorify this fleshed Mystery.

Making Room, Making Way


One remarkable element of the journey of the Magi is that so much of the end-state of worship and offering is dependent upon listening and following. It is a story of story—that which we can and cannot know—and it is the story that tells us, if we listen, of stories to come. Looking closely at the structure of story, we can easily recognize the archetype of beginning, middle, and end. Yet we continually in our lives abandon the value of the middle stages that make beginnings and ends so valuable.

In our Christian tradition, how much more notably do we celebrate Christ’s birth and Christ’s death (and resurrection), than we celebrate the Gospel that gives us an everyday model to walk with Christ during his life? We gather together and honor loved ones for birthdays and funerals much more often than we extend gratitude or appreciation on any given Tuesday.

Walking with the Magi and joining alongside these faithful pilgrims gives us a chance to reverently rise to the occasion of celebrating Christ’s life yet to come. And can we ask ourselves today, what life that is yet to come do we fail to celebrate in the ordinary moments? At the dawn of a new year when hopes are highest, how do we prepare to greet ordinary life as a sacred communion with the God who walks with us every day? Rather than goals to drop physical weight, what about an intention to shed the excess that buries us in doubt and denial when God is waiting for us, humble and stunning.


Finish reading this 5 day devotional in the app. Find it on the Featured shelf.