Some Thoughts on Compost and Worms

I rarely post sermons and talks online. But I know folks who attended the Evolving Faith conference were intrigued by this idea of the theology of the compost pile. So here’s a brief excerpt from my talk. I’m still thinking about all this, and one of my insecurities about posting it is that it isn’t as fully developed as I would like it to be. But let me walk into the risk of community and ask for your thoughts. What resonance do you feel? Where would you critique or push back? read more

How the Holy Things Grow

A sermon for the Room for All worship service
General Synod 2018, Reformed Church in America
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Mark 4:26-34 (CEB): Then Jesus said, “This is what God’s kingdom is like. It’s as though someone scatters seed on the ground,  then sleeps and wakes night and day. The seed sprouts and grows, but the farmer doesn’t know read more

Gaudete Sunday Prayers

Old First Reformed Church
Third Sunday of Advent 2016
Prayers of Intercession

Dear God, we come to you with cluttered minds and wayward hearts. Some of us have forgotten how to pray. Some of us just don’t much feel like praying. Some of us have the feelings but not the words. Thank you for meeting us where we are, loving us as we are, and hearing what we can’t even speak. Turn us toward you and open us up to you.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Patient read more


I’ve long had a policy of not telling anyone—including Tristan—how I vote. (He badgered me about this once, so I conceded that I’d voted against a subway-bond issue.) Some friends are sure I’m a right-wing Republican. Others assume I’m a liberal. Tristan teasingly calls me an authoritarian who doesn’t believe in freedom.

Never before has America felt less welcoming to me, and less like home, than during this election cycle. Fear is so contagious: Watching Donald read more

Thinking of “Home”

Friends, I’ve been struggling recently with the concept of home. We hold “home” so dearly. We want “home” so badly. “Home” evokes a sense of comfort, a feeling of rootedness, the idea that this, more than any other place, is where we belong. “Home” means safety, implies security—“made it home.Phew.

In Hong Kong, the land of my ancestry, there have been tremendous fights in recent years over the “right of abode”—the legal prerogative to call that city home, with all read more

Prayers of Intercession, Fifth Sunday of Easter

Old First Reformed Church, April 24, 2016

The prayers of intercession for this Sunday morning were inspired by today’s Lectionary readings.

[Acts 11:17: “…If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?”]

God, remind us that we cannot hinder your work in the world. Bolster our trust in you, so that we can move forward in discerning boldness. Strengthen our faith in you, so that our stance would read more

For Easter Sunday

Prayers of intercession, Old First Reformed Church, Brooklyn — Sunday, March 27, 2016 God, here we are, coming before you in prayer. For some of us, it’s the continuation of a long conversation. For others, it’s not something we do often. Our minds wander. Prayer is kind of awkward. Meet us all where we are, God, in our fear and our joy and our confusion and our hope and our disbelief, just as you did on that Resurrection Day. Ignite our honesty. Accept our questions. And as we reflect in the next couple of minutes on what we know about Easter, or what we think we know, grant us glimmers of trust so that we sense you’re listening. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers. God, we know that Easter means you came to make this world whole. So be with those around the globe whose lives have been ripped apart by the realities of humanity’s sin. We pray for Belgium and Nigeria, for Syria and Iraq. For those harmed by war. For those who suffer because of drought and disease. For those hurt by unjust systems and by our greed; those marginalized by our ignorance and by our bigotry. We pray for refugees and for orphans, for the homeless and the hungry, for all the people we tend to see as “them” rather than “us,” for all those whom the world forgets but whom you know by name. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer. God, we know that Easter means the triumph of the despised and rejected over that which society deems powerful and prestigious. So we ask for a spirit of humility and justice in our governments and institutions as well as in our political leaders. Be with this nation as we continue in this polarized election season, so that massive waves of mercy and love might wash away fear and hate. Bless this congregation, our pastor Daniel, our elders and deacons, and all who worship here and seek to be your open-hearted servants in Brooklyn. Grant all those in positions of responsibility thick skins and tender hearts, compassionate spirits and kind souls. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer. God, we know that Easter means that you promise healing and new life. So we pray for the physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs of our families, our friends, our community. Grace them with laughter and art, joy and beauty. We lift up to you __________________ as well as those whose names and cares we now voice to you in our hearts. Give these beloveds courage and strength, comfort and the reassurance of your presence. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer. God, we know that Easter means that you meet us in our humanity—and sometimes our humanity means that we have doubts. So we pray for ourselves. Show us again your hands and your feet, the wounds and scars of the suffering you endured. Remind us that you know human pain, and equip us to be the best versions of ourselves, reflecting the image of God you knit into each of us. Turn our hearts toward you in those moments when we feel only selfishness or impatience in our relationships, whether it’s our parents, our partners, our children, or our alleged loved ones. Be with the lonely who cry out for companionship; the depressed, amid despair or self-loathing; all of us when we’re ashamed even to voice what bogs us down, from the biggest things to the smallest details. Tell us again how you loved us so much you laid down your life–and then say it one more time, because we’re too human to be certain and we’re still not sure what it fully means. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God, we know that Easter means great hope and tremendous love. So open us up to receive these gifts with joyous spirits, so that we can radiate them to others. Grant us otherworldly confidence in these otherworldly things, confidence possible only because of the example, sacrifice, and triumph of Jesus, who died and rose again so that we might pray all these things in his name.


Let’s Talk

I’m trying to spend a little more time writing than speaking this year, but I do have a few talks coming up in 2016. Hope to see you all in person sometime soon.

February 25, 5:30pm and 7:30pm
Level Ground 2016—Pasadena, California
I’ll be hosting Family Dinner at this awesome festival, which uses the arts to create gracious conversation about the Christian faith, gender, and sexuality. I’ll share stories of LGBTQ read more

Sunday Prayers, Ahead of Thanksgiving

Old First Reformed Church, Brooklyn, New York
Twenty-Ninth Sunday after Pentecost 

GOD, we approach you with the cares of our immediate lives, with the stresses of our every day. Thank you for all that you have provided. Bless the food that you have brought into this sanctuary and the families who will eat it when it goes out from this place. We pray for the worries that preoccupy us—our jobs, our finances, our grades, our families. Lift our hearts now and open them, reminding us that you hold read more

Sunday Prayers

Old First Reformed Church, Brooklyn, New York
Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost

Prayers of Intercession

God, what are we doing? What have we done? And are you even there? We come before you this morning confused, weary, and worried but also hopeful, questioning, and thankful that you let us ask the big questions. God, meet us here.

Lord, in your mercy— Hear our prayers.

God, if the peacemakers are the ones who are going to get the blessings, then is humanity in big trouble? We trust in the knowledge read more