The Rev. Susan Sparks

Denomination: American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA)
Organization: Madison Avenue Baptist Church, New York, NY

The Rev. Susan Sparks, the only female comedian in the country with a pulpit, is senior pastor of the historic Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City (and the first woman in its 160 year history). Susan's work has been featured in the New York Times, in O (The Oprah) Magazine, ABC, CNN and in numerous comedy clubs, including Carolines Comedy Club in New York City. Susan is the recent recipient of an award fromIntersections International for her interfaith work to promote justice, reconciliation and peace among diverse communities.

Her book, Laugh Your Way to Grace: Reclaiming the Spiritual Power of Humor, was released in May 2010.

Rev. Sparks is regular blogger for Psychology Today as well as a Key Voice Blogger for Day1; check out her blog here.

Day1 Weekly Programs by The Rev. Susan Sparks

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Resurrection Biscuits

Thursday November 19, 2009
As we celebrate Easter, the Rev. Susan Sparks reminds us that life without the resurrection of Christ can be heavy and flat--it's the missing key ingredient many of us are missing.

Trust Jesus and Elvis

Thursday November 19, 2009
The Rev. Susan Sparks wonders about the impact Christians could have in the world if they behaved more like Elvis fans, instead of like doubting Thomas.

The True Universal Health Care

Thursday November 19, 2009
The Rev. Susan Sparks takes a look at Jesus' healing of blind Bartimaeus, and finds a challenge to Jesus' followers to experience and share his healing touch.

So You're a Christian? Whattaya Gonna Do About It?

Thursday November 19, 2009
As TV mobster Tony Soprano might put it, "So you're a Christian? Whattaya gonna do about it?" Some Christians do nothing. Others take a middle of the road approach. Susan Sparks encourages us to go "all in" and truly follow Christ.

The Mulch Pile

Thursday November 19, 2009
In Colossians 3, the Apostle Paul asks us what trash do we need to throw on the mulch pile, and what beautiful new things will we grow in its place?

L'Chaim, and Don't Mess It Up!

Thursday November 19, 2009
Susan Sparks unpacks Moses' sermon to the Israelites as they prepared to enter the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 30:15-20), summing up his blessings and curses with "L'chaim, and Don't Mess It Up!"

Sinners at the Laundromat

Thursday November 19, 2009
Susan Sparks shares a fresh way to think about the spiritual life as she takes us to the laundromat and helps us consider what in our life needs to be washed, ignored, or thoroughly cleansed.

Jesus and Dr. Seuss: A Conversation on Worry

Thursday November 19, 2009
Susan Sparks says Jesus and Dr. Seuss offer us help in dealing with the anxiety and worry that consume us: We are to focus on today, realize worry is a waste of time, and accept that we have no reason to worry as God's children.

Check Your Weapons at the Door

Thursday November 19, 2009
One of the weapons we tend to use often is our tongue, our words, says Susan Sparks. We can't live in the love for others that Jesus commanded if we can't control our tongue--and here are three ways to do that.

Susan Sparks: Sun Mo Manger

Thursday November 19, 2009
In her sermon for Christmas Eve, Susan Sparks recounts a personal story of being turned away from a motel, and reminds us that we will all be rejected in this life, turned away, left out in the cold, but that’s not the end of the story. Like Jesus, we are all called to become the innkeeper, the builders of the kingdom, the protector of our brothers and sisters.

Articles by The Rev. Susan Sparks

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There's Been a Change in Plans

Thursday November 19, 2009
We must trust in what never changes, so we can then trust in what does.

Sourdough Jesus

Thursday November 19, 2009
Jesus as the bread of life -- the sourdough bread that is -- has much to teach us in this busy advent season.

No Al Dente in 2010!

Thursday November 19, 2009
Life is just better when slow cooked.

Click, click, click

Thursday November 19, 2009
Love thy neighbor...but at an appropriate and safe distance

World Peace -- One Joke at a Time

Thursday November 19, 2009
A Rabbi, a Muslim and a Baptist preacher walk into a room...

Skyping with God

Thursday November 19, 2009
How we image God drives how we communicate with God

A LEO'S SEARCH FOR GOD

Thursday November 19, 2009
How to keep our faith when God seems silent

A Blessing of the Motorcycles

Thursday November 19, 2009
A blessing of the motorcycles reminds us to sanctify everyday life.

Life as Explained Through Chicken Fried Steak

Thursday November 19, 2009
The Rev. Susan Sparks spent a week in Nashville recently for the Festival of Homiletics. But in addition to all the sermons she enjoyed, she also partook of a lot of good ol' Southern cooking--including Chicken Fried Steak. Read on...

CHRISTMAS IN JULY

Thursday November 19, 2009
The gifts of Christmas should be celebrated all year long!

The Mulch Pile

Thursday November 19, 2009
Get rid of the trash in your life and grow something beautiful and new

Eat, Pray, Love ... From Home

Thursday November 19, 2009
I am doing my own version of _Eat, Pray, Love_ this morning:  I am **_ eating _** breakfast in a fun new place, and  **_praying_**  that my arteries can support the  **_love_**  I feel for the croissant with egg, cheese and pesto sitting in front of me. 

Tracking Mud Into Holy Space

Thursday November 19, 2009
In my childhood home on Lockhart Drive in Charlotte, N.C., there was a place considered holy space. You spoke of it in hushed terms. It was only used on the most special of occasions. It was -- the living room.

Make It Work!

Thursday November 19, 2009
How to find life in exile: A study of Jeremiah, the Chilean miners and Project Runway.

Let the Race Begin!

Thursday November 19, 2009
God calls us all to find the hero within.

Three Redwood Wishes

Thursday November 19, 2009
What would a redwood tree have to say about love?

"There is No Room at the Inn"

Thursday November 19, 2009
A Christmas message about coming in from the cold.

Taking Down the Tree

Thursday November 19, 2009
Use taking down the Christmas tree as a New Years resolution exercise

It is Enough

Thursday November 19, 2009
A study of cheese grits and the baptism of Jesus

Ghandi Would Have Twittered

Thursday November 19, 2009
How Twitter highlights new possibilities with non-violence

It's Time for a Silence Siesta

Thursday November 19, 2009
How noisy is your life? And what damage is it causing?

Looking God in the Eye

Thursday November 19, 2009
A Lenten message about finding more intimacy and honesty in our spiritual lives

The Tide Will Turn: A Lenten Meditation

Thursday November 19, 2009
When all seems hopeless, when all appears to be gone, remember the tide will turn and life abundant, like the sea, will flood back into our lives.

Another Boring Easter

Thursday November 19, 2009
Does the resurrection of a Messiah have any chance in our jaded, over-stimulated 21st Century world?

Nestle Your Heart into a Cactus

Thursday November 19, 2009
Realize the precious, fragile nature of our hearts. Draw some boundaries. Grow a spine. Every little heart needs some cactus pricklies to protect it.

TAKE OFF THE TRAINING WHEELS!

Thursday November 19, 2009
Take off your emotional training wheels and discover what life's like out on the open road.

A Heart like Pyrex Glass

Thursday November 19, 2009
Use the fires of life to make yourself stronger -- to forge yourself a heart of Pyrex.

The Lifeboat of Laughter

Thursday November 19, 2009
A reflection on the upcoming tenth anniversary of 9/11

We Be of One Blood, Ye and I

Thursday November 19, 2009
A 9/11 reflection based on blood and the Jungle Book

No Rearview Mirrors

Thursday November 19, 2009
A short essay on giving up the past and focusing on the gifts of the road ahead.

Blindsided

Thursday November 19, 2009
How to recover from the blows you never saw coming.

A Veteran's Day Message

Thursday November 19, 2009
A Vietnam Vet's view of war and religion

What Are You Getting Baby Jesus for Christmas?

Thursday November 19, 2009
While everyone from the newspaper delivery person to our great Aunt Hazelene is on our holiday shopping list, one name that is conspicuously missing ... is the baby Jesus.

Stay Thirsty My Friends

Thursday November 19, 2009
Revitalize your 2012 with wisdom from "the most interesting man in the world."

Squishy Scriptures

Thursday November 19, 2009
We all need a wee boost every once in a while. Sadly the squishy stuffed animals we used to carry around don't always fit into our daily business world. We need an alternative.

The Sideways Principle

Thursday November 19, 2009
Like pinot noir grapes, the human heart thrives only with the most patient of growers

Shabbat? Why Not!

Thursday November 19, 2009
Shabbat with a twist

Like Ever!

Thursday November 19, 2009
How Taylor Swift and Jesus can help us avoid bad relationships

Leveling Up Religion

Thursday November 19, 2009
What online games can teach religion

Susan Sparks: Running Toward the Blast: An Ordained Comedian's Take on Terrorists and Hecklers

Thursday November 19, 2009
If Boston taught us anything this week, it's that we don't have time to be scared. Life is fleeting, and we no longer have the luxury of making assumptions about the future.

ON Scripture-The Bible: The Power of Prayer… at the Kmart, By Rev. Susan Sparks

Thursday November 19, 2009
When I want to remind myself of the power of prayer, I go to the Astor Place Kmart on the lower east side of Manhattan. Sure, I could read Kierkegaard or Augustine, but I prefer the Kmart. Specifically I favor an area in the far back corner of the basement. It is devoid of windows or natural light with a back wall of clear glass that faces the dungeon-like dark tunnel of the Number 6 subway train. There, you will find the most unexpected of things -- a plant nursery.

There are Angels in Manhattan

Thursday November 19, 2009
This is a Day1 Key Voice article by The Rev. Susan Sparks.

Susan Sparks: Generosity Is the New Currency

Thursday November 19, 2009
This is a terrifying blog -- especially for educated people -- as a liberal arts major is about to offer a message on economics. But first, I will talk about something with which I am a little more familiar: shopping.

Susan Sparks: Mini Me Jesus

Thursday November 19, 2009
I grew up with the whitest Jesus you have ever seen. A Vitamin D deficient, sickly looking Jesus; a sort of Don Knotts meets Gary Busey kind of Jesus. And he was always pictured in the same way: standing in a field, holding a tiny lamb (also pasty white). Not surprisingly, our entire congregation was the same shade as that Vitamin D deficient Gary Busey Jesus. In short, we had created a Mini Me Jesus.

Spring is a-Coming

Thursday November 19, 2009
A meditation on Holy Week by a cold New Yorker

Susan Sparks: Grace Bats Last

Thursday November 19, 2009
Baseball and religion are a perfect match. In fact, many people have talked about baseball as a religion.

Lessons from a Christmas Cactus

Thursday November 19, 2009
How we can use the life-giving gift of darkness to blossom in Advent

ON Scripture: The Missing Piece (Luke 3:15-17, 21-22) By Rev. Susan Sparks

Thursday November 19, 2009
In our scripture this week, Luke 3:15-17, 21-22, we are reminded of life’s key piece through the story of Jesus’ baptism. The moment Jesus emerges from the water, a voice descends from heaven and declares: “You are my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.” Such beautiful words. And yet, perhaps more powerful than the words themselves is their timing.

ON Scripture: Grace Bats Last (Luke 24:1-12) By Rev. Susan Sparks

Thursday November 19, 2009
Baseball and Easter are a perfect match. This year, Opening Day falls just a week after Easter Sunday. But beyond the calendrical coincidence, many people have referred to baseball as a religion. F. Scott Fitzgerald famously called baseball 'the faith of fifty million people.'

Susan Sparks: It’s Our Time to Move

Thursday November 19, 2009
So often human beings tend to be stationary, to watch life march by. This could translate to anything from risks we shy away from to loves we let go. But the parade of life that I want to focus on is a string of hateful headlines, of violence that boggles the mind, of raw, gritty images revealing the truth of modern America ... We are a racist country.

The Long Way Around

Thursday November 19, 2009
Perhaps you feel you're taking the long way around in your job because you didn't get the promotion you wanted. Maybe you are in a relationship that seems to be taking the long way around. Or maybe you've had to take the long way around thanks to an injury or illness that has sidelined us.  And it's so frustrating when that happens. But frustrating as it is, taking the long way may sometimes be the best thing that can happen to us.

Susan Sparks: We can find common ground, but only if we try

Thursday November 19, 2009
Recently, I was in the Atlanta airport waiting on a flight and I noticed two groups of people standing off to the side of the boarding gate. The first was a Muslim woman in full burka with three children between the ages of 3 and 5. The kids, also in traditional clothing, were nestled on the floor watching a video. Next to them was a white woman with a little boy, also about 5. She occasionally eyed the woman in the burka with suspicion.

Susan Sparks: Three Redwood Wishes

Thursday November 19, 2009
Anyone who has stood in the presence of redwoods knows that it's a holy experience. As I walked under their great canopy, I began to wonder: what if these massive trees could talk? What wisdom would they share with our twenty-first-century society? What redwood wishes might be offered for our broken world?

Susan Sparks: A Lesson from Beethoven

Thursday November 19, 2009
I’m sure you have all heard of the great composer Beethoven and his famous piece the 9th Symphony. It was heralded as a work of genius because Beethoven did something that had never been done before: he added voices in the fourth and last movement. He basically turned a symphony into an opera. But here’s the real kicker. He wrote that breath-taking piece toward the end of his life. When he was deaf.

Susan Sparks: World Peace Through Pulled Pork

Thursday November 19, 2009
I hail from a state that offers a no-fail plan for world peace. It’s not from politicians or pundits, peaceniks or pedagogues. No, my friends, the secret lies in how the people of North Carolina have learned to live with a difference of opinion so deeply ingrained that’s it almost genetically encoded. The bone of contention? Barbecue sauce.

Susan Sparks: Flying Without Wind

Thursday November 19, 2009
A few years ago, Toby and I traveled to the Outer Banks of North Carolina because yes, we wanted to learn to hang glide. There’s a school near Kill Devil Hill where the Wright Brothers first flew. It’s at Jockey’s Ridge, the tallest sand dune on the East Coast.

Susan Sparks: We Were Made for These Times

Thursday November 19, 2009
I recently had the privilege of reading this powerful piece from the author and poet Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I hope this feeds you as much as it did me . . .

Susan Sparks: Lord Give Me Patience . . . And Make It Snappy!

Thursday November 19, 2009
Our modern society can best be described in three words: fast, immediate, and instant! We speed walk, speed dial, and speed date.

Television by The Rev. Susan Sparks

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The Rev. Susan Sparks (Part 1) - Day1 Conversations with Peter Wallace

Thursday November 19, 2009
The Rev. Susan Sparks, one time Lawyer and Comedian who made the unlikely jump to senior pastor at Madison Avenue Baptist Church, sits down with Peter Wallace to discuss the intersection of faith and comedy. Rev. Sparks discusses the important role each play in bringing joy to peoples lives, and how too often people of faith forget the role of Christianity in bringing joy.

The Rev. Susan Sparks (Part 2) - Day1 Conversations with Peter Wallace

Thursday November 19, 2009
The Rev. Susan Sparks sits down with Day1 host Peter Wallace for her second interview, this time discussing the flock at Madison Avenue Baptist Church and what its like being a southerner in the heart of New York City. How does the Madison Avenue Baptist Church reach out to the city around them? Watch and learn.

The Rev. Susan Sparks (Part 3) - Day1 Conversations with Peter Wallace

Thursday November 19, 2009
Day1 host Peter Wallace sits down for his third interview with the Rev. Susan Sparks, Senior Pastor of Madison Avenue Baptist Church, and discusses her strange road to becoming a pastor, her upbringing in the church and her two year trip culminating in her calling to seminary.

The Tisdale Triangle - Susan Sparks on 30 Good Minutes

Thursday November 19, 2009
Susan Sparks, Pastor of Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City, recalls how a storm-laden, cross-country motorcyle trip in South Dakota taught her an important lesson about weathering the storms of life.

Conversation with Susan Sparks - 30 Good Minutes

Thursday November 19, 2009
Sherre Hirsch and Daniel Pawlus in conversation with Susan Sparks, who says, "Make small, everyday changes in your life. Whether it's to go to a retreat, or buy a book or take a class. Just take one step towards where you think God is calling you."

Susan Sparks: Laughing Our Way to World Peace

Thursday November 19, 2009
Rev. Susan Sparks, former lawyer and now standup comedian and Baptist preacher, shares insights on how humor can lead to world peace at a TEDx Talk in Atlanta.

Day1 Minute with Susan Sparks - Part 1

Thursday November 19, 2009
Pastor, author, and comedian Susan Sparks calls on Jesus Christ and Dr. Seuss to help us conquer our worry in life. Watch this Day1 Minute and grab some inspiration!