Life will flourish.

life will flourish

John’s in prison.

He’s in prison because the leader of the land was thin-skinned and did not want to be criticized. John sent one too many tweets about Herod’s questionable character, and it got him locked up. Tyrants do that to people who speak prophetically about the misuse of power. Be ready for it, John’s example warns us.

But news of Jesus had gone viral. The healings…the teachings…the Sermon on the Mount…the pigs falling into the ocean. Everybody’s social feeds were on fire with the news of this man. You couldn’t scroll down one inch without seeing some new mention or comment.




And John knew him. Personally. He was there at the River Jordan.


But now he’s locked up. Alone. Waiting. Waiting to die, yes. But also waiting for the thing he was always waiting for: God’s Kingdom.

Isaiah describes the kingdom as a desert which rejoices and blossoms. Barrenness, come to life. In this kingdom, when God brings justice to a world poisoned by injustice and sin, all kinds of incredible things will happen.

Incredible. In-credible. Not credible. Difficult to believe or conceive of logically from where we stand.

Like the ability to behold the beauty and holiness of color after living a lifetime only seeing value in what is considered to be white. Like the willingness to embrace harmony, a multiplicity of voices, after having only ever listened to people who are just like us. Like the ability to speak after having been silenced, to dance after years of having felt ashamed of our own bodies, to sing praises to God for our liberation while still living under a system of subjugation and oppression.

It is no wonder then that John asks, “Is he really the one? Is this the Kingdom that we’ve been waiting for, or should I keep waiting? I mean, I’m sitting here in prison. The system that oppresses the righteous and uplifts the oppressor to the highest position of power in the land — well, that system is still moving right along, just as it was designed to do. What has actually changed? Has Isaiah’s Holy Highway been paved yet? Is the desert lush with rain and crocus blossoms at the moment? Have the weak and broken bodies been refashioned and repaired? Jesus heals, but there is still corruption. Jesus restores sight, but there is still an industry of deception making tons of money crafting fake news. How am I supposed to believe in Jesus when I can’t believe in anything else I read in print? You could tell me that the Messiah has finally come, but humanity, the planet, our individual hearts buckle under the weight of the sin which we have yet to acknowledge, let alone repent for. Yes, I said — the kingdom is at hand, the kingdom is at hand….but is it?” John wonders, from prison.

It should also be noted that Isaiah also said that the Messiah would free the prisoners. So did Psalm 146. I’m pretty sure John knew that.

It’s confusing.

How do we cultivate hope? How do we faithfully wait for the coming of the Lord? What is actionable during this season of waiting? How do we resist tyranny in this world — this nation — while at the same time having hope for the world that is to come?

James simply says, “Be patient.” A farmer does not harvest freshly planted seed. She has to wait. She has to wait, and tend the soil, and return to the stories of last year’s harvest as a reminder — yes, if I put seed in ground, water, and wait, food will grow. I have to trust that life will flourish.

Trust that life will flourish.

That’s the Gospel.

Life will flourish. God will see to it that it does. Beyond death, even, life will flourish. This is God’s promise in Jesus.

So, the hope we have to cultivate, we have to till into our own hearts, is a hope that proclaims that no matter how dead we might get — to ourselves, to the world — that, through God, life will flourish.

We have to plant that seed in ourselves, and in the hearts of others, and we have to be patient like farmers. Patient, and active. We have to wait, and we have to plan. We have to lament, and we have to rejoice. Because we are alive right now. We, in these bodies, in these pews, in this church are, by our very being, evidence that life flourishes. We are the only proof we need that God’s kingdom of Love is near.

God bless the John the Baptist in each of us. God bless that part of us that is willing to say — is this it? — and God bless the other part of us that, like Jesus to John’s followers says — Yes. This is it. The kingdom of God is at hand. Make your paths straight. Get your house in order. Love one another furiously. Wait for it, but do not wait more than you need to. Trust in God with your whole heart, your whole soul, the entirety of your being, because God is moving through this world, and life will flourish.

God will soon be born into this world again, and when that day comes we will be ready because we will have already been practicing what it means to live in the kingdom of Love.

That is what we do here at Saint David of Wales Episcopal Church in Portland, Oregon. We break bread, we pass the cup, we love one another in defiance of the absurdity of this world, and we confess with all of our strength that Jesus is the only True King in the land.



Photo by Rodion Kutsaev



An introduction is in order.

There’s a good chance that you’ve found your way to this post because of my contribution to the #FuckThisShit Advent devotional (“Yearn: Psalm 72:4”).

If so, hello.

A couple things you should know about me:

I’ve gone by a few different names in the past.

Most of the folks who follow me on social know me as Matt Morris. That’s been the name I’ve gone by for most of my professional life. I have a Wikipedia page, which does a decent job of providing a quick run down of some of my career highlights. It’s by no means conclusive, and I admit to having updated it myself once or twice. (I’m not proud, but I refuse to be ashamed.)

If you Google my name you’ll also find a Matt Morris who hosts big motivational conferences and tells people they can make millions without being employed. I am very much not this person.

I also went by the name Teo Bishop for many years. I wrote a blog called Bishop in the Grove. Lots of stuff there about Paganism and, toward the end, Jesus.

Long story short – it’s been a winding road.

I’m writing here for my own sanity.

I’ve got a lot of thoughts about a lot of things. Some of those thoughts fester if left unwritten. So, I write. And while I may try to write on the regular, I’m not writing here every day.

This also means that I’m writing here mostly for myself. Unlike at Bishop in the Grove, which had a lively comment section for most of its existence, I’ve kept the comments closed here. See this post for a fuller explanation.

I use this space to process. I also anticipate these posts to evolve into something slightly different when my studies start back up in January. Could get even a little more heady then.

I’m not here to make you a Christian.

Seems like a strange thing to write down, even as I wrote it, but it’s true. This is not a platform to evangelize. This is a place for questions. I may share my conclusions (few as they are), and I may speak about my love of God and my experiences of following (and struggling to follow) Jesus. But I’m not doing it to manipulate anyone. I’m genuinely trying to work all of this out for myself, too.

And if what I say here rubs off on you in a good way, that’s wonderful. I trust that God is working in your life in ways I can’t even fathom.

I’m tired of social media, but I can’t seem to quit.

I wrote about it here.

You should follow me, though.

I have a Facebook page, but I’m not super active. I share my blog posts there, so follow me if you’d like to keep up with my writing. (I’ve decided not to use Feedburner or any kind of RSS service…. Do people even still use those? Am I dating myself again?)

I’m on Twitter a fair bit. If you’d like to engage me in a conversation about anything you read here, please do.

In addition to my contributions to the #FuckThisShit devotional, my friend Tripp and I are doing our own little Instagram Advent practice. If you’re on Instagram, follow the hashtag, #LettersFromKris. You’ll get the gist pretty quick


Thanks for reading this introduction, and thanks for visiting my site. I hope you’re having a meaningful Advent.

Peace be with you.



Photo by Swaraj Tiwari