Response #23 Celebrity Reality Shows

Mysterious Theologian: Chase!

Mirror Mirror On The Wall…

God you put the weakness and innocence of cute little puppies in my arms and in so doing reveal your caring and compassionate nature that lives in me. Thank you for revealing your spirit in me. But when I look at the celebrities on the TV on my wall with their “reality” shows I see their brokenness and ridiculous peccadilloes and I don’t feel the same way. These people reveal the tyrant in me, the pharisee who prays out loud thanking you for not making me like them. They reveal the weakness of King David in me, looking down on Uriah’s wife and seeing with the impervious eyes of imperial privilege that see no one but themselves with empathy. Compassionate God fill me with your image and your spirit so that there is no space left over for the tyrant inside. Let me look with compassion on all my brothers and sisters.


Challenge #24 comes from Stephanie Bliese, independent grimy theologian. She challenges Rev. Eric Hoffer with this grimy and oddly religious image.

Consider Eric, finding God in the vomit you find right in the middle of the sidewalk the morning after St. Patty’s day. There is nothing more disgusting than taking your dog out first thing in the morning, to then discover a minefield in the front of your building. Have fun!

Response #22 Stinky Sneakers

Mysterious Theologian:  Pastor Paul Block of Transfiguration Lutheran Church in The Bronx, NY.

Dear Sneaker, so ragged and torn,

your stench is so strong, and soles so worn,

Days of yore, so shiny and new,

Did you find me, or did I buy you?

I cared for you with daily prayer;

Each stain you received, I washed with care.

One day, I was jogging along.

The rain had passed with a force so strong.

Puddles abounded every step I took;

In my carelessness, I did not look.

Splash! Into the muddy water You went.

Not by Your will, but by me You were sent.

No longer pure, filth came upon You.

It was my fault, it is true.

After that day, I no longer tried

To clean you daily, and show You with pride.

I discovered that day You could handle my dirt.

Better than my hat, my shorts, or my shirt.

So I ran without fear of paths untrod

You went with grace each step that I plod.

We have been together a decade or two.

You worn, and weathered, Running Shoe.

Now I see how faithful You are,

You endure my journeys, near and far.

When I ignore You—for months at a time,

You are still ready for the hills that I climb.

Thank you, Running Shoe, for the love that you share,

Give me the wisdom to model your care.

With my friends and family, and even my foe

Help me to love them, Shoe, help me to grow–

Into the love that You’ve offered with no recompense.

Oops! I did it again, into a puddle I went!


Response #21 Beard Food

Mysterious Theologian: Pastor Stephanie Kershner of Grace Lutheran Church in Scarsdale, NY.

A [small] sampling of [modified] conversations I’ve had with my husband concerning his beard:

While eating some delicious Tom Yum Noodle Soup:

Me: Um, your beard is in your soup.

Husband: Oops. (Removes beard from soup, which leads to a nice dribble of broth down the front of his shirt.)

In the evening after he’s returned from working in Brooklyn for the entire day:

Me: What’s that chunk of stuff in your beard?

Husband: Huh? (Juts out chin and picks at random segments of hair.)

Me: No, more to the right.

Husband: (Successfully finds mysterious chunk.) Are you kidding me? That’s the oatmeal I ate for breakfast this morning. I’ve been walking around the whole day with that in there! Why didn’t anyone tell me?!?!

In the morning while drinking his morning coffee:

Me: You’ve got a little in your mustache.

Husband: I’m saving it for later.

Let us pray. Almighty God, may the oil from greasy cheese pizzas that drips down our chins (or soaks our facial hair – be we ever so lucky) remind us that we are Your beloved and anointed children. May the bits of bright green spinach that get caught in our teeth (or lost in our overgrown forest of facial follicles) remind us of the bounty of food you have given us. May the sugar that sticks to the corners of our mouths (or the blunt bristles of our mustaches) from an evening cocktail with friends remind us of the sweetness of blessed fellowship. May the delicate, almost miniscule crumbs from flaky croissants that fall softly like snowflakes into the weaves and grooves of our clothing (or the Velcro-like strands of our beards) remind us of the bread, Christ’s body, that we have been graciously given. For all these good gifts, and for many more (more than the number of hairs on our heads or on our chins), we give thanks. Amen.

CHALLENGE: Stephanie Kershner challenges Pastor Paul Block of Transfiguration Lutheran Church in the Bronx, NY with the following:

“My husband (previously mentioned and pictured!) will tell you that I have an incredibly keen sense of smell. I can sniff out stink like a well trained police dog. One of the worst offenders? Worn and weathered running shoes.”

Response #20 Rock and Roll Floor

Mysterious Theologian: Pastor Danielle Miller of Oceanside Lutheran Church in Oceanside, NY.


 (The basement floor of Villa Nellcote where the Rolling Stones recorded Exile on Main Street)

Throughout the years we have been told God, that when you walked this earth you were a 6-foot-ripped-beauty-sash-wearing-hair-blowing-in-the-wind-tenor-voiced-blue-eyed model messiah.  Despite your execution, we paint you on sandy shores with beatific halos and an all together “go get ’em attitude”.  We imagine you presiding on polished marble altars, surrounded by pristine porticoes.  But you walked in the nasty places – through slums rife with the smell of rotted rinds, over open sewer streets, down dusty drought filled deserts, and amid the hot humid harried halls of humanity. Your feet traveled alongside companions that were worn down, tossed out, dazed and confused, hated and heckled.  And yet, where you walked, beauty followed.  Out of the ashes and muck, your step inspired beautiful music and poetic possibilities, harboring healing and hope.  So when we begin to discount the dirty places in our lives: the messy foundations, the floating footing, the out of control, “where the hell am I” Villa Nellcote flooring that we find ourselves standing on – remind us that is right where you show up.  Remind us that your feet were made to walk through the muck.  Remind us that we aren’t alone.  Amen
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CHALLENGE: Danielle Miller challenges Pastor Stephanie Kershner of Grace Lutheran Church in Scarsdale, NY with:  Beard Food
beard food
No matter how well groomed or rugged the face mane, it is inevitable that those luscious locks will trap crumbs, cracklin’, candy, and a various cornucopia of food fodder.  Best case scenario, the particles are discovered immediately and appropriately disposed of.  Worst case scenario, they are found and eaten.   I challenge you to pray for the smorgasbord that hipsters, hillbillies and razor-haters alike keep close at mouth for a rainy day.

Response #19 Drain Gunk

Mysterious Theologian:  Pastor John Flack of Our Saviour’s Atonement Lutheran Church in Manhattan, NY.
(The gunk in his sink)
Drain Gunk
There you are. That stuff you have to clean out of the drain in the bottom of the sink. Sometimes you’re vegetable. Sometimes you’re animal. You’re always on your way to becoming mineral, if you haven’t been mineral already. You stink. You slime. You clog. Water seeps through you like people moving past an unwashed and schizophrenic homeless man in a subway car. And you always fester when I avoid you. Sometimes, I pull on you, and as I tear you out of the drain, I hear the sound of roots being pulled from the earth.
So let’s pray.
Heavenly and gracious Father:
I love to confess to you the sins I’ve done. Sometimes, I feel accomplished because of all the nasty things I have done. Sometimes, I feel accomplished because I’ve confessed. Direct me to the things I’ve left undone. Let me know the stink of my passivity and alert me to the ways my sloth and my trepidation have hindered my life and the lives of others. Help me to do what you want me to do, especially when I don’t want to do it. Wash me, O Lord, and I will be clean. Save me, and I will be saved. Amen.
CHALLENGE:  John Flack challenges Pastor Danielle Miller of Oceanside Lutheran Church in Oceanside, NY with
What’s this? It’s an easy one. It’s the basement of Villa Nellcote, where the Rolling Stones recorded what some consider to be the greatest rock album of all time, Exile on Main St. Others consider it a musical journey through hell. The basement was so dank and humid the guitars would go out of tune by the hour. Nobody remembers exactly what happened there. Keith Richards and Jagger can’t even agree how much music was actually made there, and Jagger to this day doesn’t even like Exile on Main St.
But look at that floor. Yes, it’s covered in ash, body fluids of every kind (every kind) and rotting fruit. That’s just what’s on the floor. I want to hear about the floor itself: it’s gross because it shifts: you don’t just stand on it, you warble on it through time and space and come out, and if you are lucky enough to come out of the room at all, you come out with cassette tapes and a rash. And meanwhile, nothing on it is any good at all, but drugged out, burned up, pissed off. How is God like the most disgusting floor in rock and roll?

Response #18 Subway Pole


Mysterious Theologian: Pastor Emily Scott from St. Lydia’s in Brooklyn, NY.

Loving God, your son Jesus told us that it’s not what goes into someone’s mouth that defiles them but what comes out of their mouths that defiles them. Trapped underground in an poorly ventilated subway car, what comes out of their mouths defiles me, too. In the winter months, the crush of your beloved children around me cough and hack, sneeze and spray, releasing an invisible, germ-ridden mist upon the subway pole I cling to. I know that you knit each of us together in our mother’s womb and called us all by name, God, but one of us has urinated in the corner of the car, and as we incline toward 14th street, it is trickling toward my shoe. Still God, in these moments, I remember that each hand that has touched this pole before me (though a study by Weil Cornell Medical College reveals that it may have been carrying Enterococcus bacteria, found in fecal matter, or Acinetobacter bacteria which may give me strep throat or maybe even a flesh eating bacterial infection) is the hand of one of your beloved children, with whom you are well pleased, despite the fact that your beloved children don’t always wash their hands after using the restroom, which is really gross. God, I thank you for this subway pole, for through it, I find communion (through a billion microscopic organisms) with God’s people, and through them, with you. AMEN.

CHALLENGE: Emily Scott challenges Pastor John Flack of Our Savior’s Atonement Lutheran Church in Manhattan, NY to see God in “that stuff that you have to clean out of the drain in the bottom of the sink.”

Response #17 Bed Bugs

Mysterious Theologian: Pastor Amy Kienzle of Messiah and St. John’s Lutheran Church, Brooklyn, NY.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are parasites that feed on blood and choose the convenient and warm location of their host’s bed as their place of residence. They are not exclusively nocturnal but are most active at night, perhaps because that is when their meal is delivered in the form of a sleeping human. They feast unnoticed, leaving behind tell-tale bite marks on legs and backs that are visible when the person awakes. Infestations of bed bugs are difficult to eradicate, which makes them particularly terrifying to discover.


Prayer to the Bed Bug

O, Illusive Bed Bug, many days my waking hours are spent wandering in a hazy slumber of meaninglessness and a sense of futility. In this state of unconscious drudgery I often find it hard to know you are there, until in a glimmer of recognition I am bitten by the awareness of how you lurk hidden in the cracks and crevices of my broken life. Your invasive grace is difficult to eradicate; it infests my restless spirit with hope and promise, wakening me to the truth of your constant presence. Feast on me again this day. Amen.


Amy is challenging Pastor Emily Scott of St. Lydia’s in Brooklyn, NY with:

Subway Pole at the End of the Day

subway pole

In the “City that Never Sleeps” the subway is a place of bustling non-stop activity. Those poles strategically placed for our safety play host to all kinds of invisible creatures thanks to the thousands of hands grasping throughout the day. We grab hold with trepidation, but the choice is sometimes one of fall now or be sick later.

Response #16 Pinkeye

Mysterious Theologian: Ben

WebMD tells me that “Poor hand-washing is the main cause of the spread of pinkeye. Sharing an object, such as a washcloth or towel, with a person who has pinkeye can spread the infection.” Therefore…


Transcendent Pinkeye, you do not despise the infected and frail,  you gladly give the apple of your eye with the sick and share it with the healthy.  Our heads and tails are united together through you.  Swell shut our eyes which judge the world by external appearance, and lead us to reach out with searching hands, so that all we touch might spread your presence. Amen.

CHALLENGE: We are branching out and inviting others to support us in our Lenten practice! So instead of challenging Chase, today I am challenge Pastor Amy Kienzle of St. John’s and Lutheran Church of the Messiah in Brooklyn, NY to see God in that most disgusting denizen of NYC…BED BUGS!


Challenge #16 Pink Eye

Ben, things have changed since the beginning of Lent. Don’t you feel like a whole different person? I bet you don’t even remember how into the Olympics you were. You probably don’t remember checking Twitter every 7 minutes to find pictures of toilets and curtains and glasses of weird water. But I bet you remember this…!


Ahhh! Dreaded pink eye. It makes em blood shot, seals em shut, and might even get you kicked off the TV for scaring children and/or winking “too harshly” in general… allegedly.

Response #15 Used Gum


God be in my heart and in my hands and in my mouth. Freshen my breath with the words that embody your will, your way, and your hope. Let me speak communion and reconciliation to my brothers and sisters. Do not let me drown you out, but speak through my breath and spit and lips. And when I go to share you with others send your spirit to remind me to give them their own stick of you to chew on, not mine. So that they may come to know you not through my breath and spit and lips, but through their own.


Hey people, Chase here, used gum seemed like a really rich and disgusting image to me. If you are inspired by some aspect of it and want to create and share a prayer go ahead! Post it in the comments!