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!


Response #14 Allergies

Mysterious Theologian: Ben

According to Wikipedia, “An allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. Allergic reactions occur when a person’s immune system reacts to normally harmless substances in the environment. A substance that causes a reaction is called an allergen. These reactions are acquired, predictable, and rapid.”  Therefore…


Oh All-Knowing Allergy, all the world is filled with your wonder.  Bless me with your hypersensitivity, that I might react with passion to the humblest of your creations.  When lost in thought, I wander past a hillside in bloom, bring tears to my eyes.  When I ignore the playfulness of kittens, raise up my skin in hives to praise you with rosy color. When trees make love and shower the earth with their pollen, and I but think of my chores, trumpet forth from my nose and mouth, that, surrounded by the sylvan circle of life, all the world might say to me, “God bless you.”  Amen

CHALLENGE:  Alright, I’m going to start including the challenges with the prayers.  So Chase, your next challenge is:  Used Gum!

Response #12 Dead Worms

Mysterious Theologian: Ben

The first thing to know about dead worms on your sidewalk, is that the reason they show up after a rain, is that they are traveling.  According to Dr. Chris Lowe, Lecturer in Waste and Environmental Management, University of Central Lancashire in Preston, United Kingdom, because worms need to be wet in order to breath, they usually have to stay in moist soil and can’t travel above ground. However, when the ground is wet due to rain, Dr. Lowe explains “It gives them an opportunity to move greater distances across the soil surface than they could do through soil.”  When the rain stops and the ground dries up, they would normally burrow, but of course, if there is concrete in the way, they can’t.

Worm Cross

Oh Dying Earthworm, you dwelt among your people in the barren soil of injustice, and when the Rain of God drew near, you broke free from the dry dust and crawled upon the surface toward a promised land flowing with the moisture and nutrients of peace.  But when you reached the hardness of the concrete human heart, you found neither traction nor entrance into the soft soil of my soul.  And so you were left to die, drying on the sidewalk.  And yet, from the earth, a thousand more worms will rise, trusting in the promise that you have seen. Give me their faith, that my life also may be devoted to following the Reign of God. Amen.

Response #10 Acne

Mysterious Theologian: Ben

Alas, my 5 0’clock shadow does not cover my nose, which is where an eternal zit loves to sit.  See below.


Almighty Acne, when I look into the mirror with either vanity or despair at the form I see, you grace me by welling up and blossoming on my skin. Remind me with your pimply presence that my worth comes not from the smoothness of my flesh but from the sacred oil of your Anointed with which you sealed the very core of my being forever with the cross of Christ. With your never disappearing love, Oh Zit, lead me to wash daily in the waters of baptism. Amen.