Monday, December 31, 2007

Matthew 2:1-12

Epiphany – Year A

Matthew 2:1-12

Matthew, speaking to a Jewish community, should know how poorly astrologers are viewed in the Hebrew scriptures. There is a sense that they are worshipping the created stars rather than the creator of the stars. At best they bring a second-rate theology just a little better than necromancers.

Astronomy does give some cover for the Magi in Herod's court, but it also draws attention to Jesus and is precursor to the slaughter we heard of last week, that is the sequel to this story (what tangled webs are woven when story lines are broken).

Sticking to a theme of lowliness, instead of fulfillment, This may be Matthew's incarnating G*D into the realities of human life. Through pagans who remain pagans, Jesus is revealed to the larger world. Similarly, in Luke, it is through the lowly shepherds, not the angels, that word is passed about Emmanuel.

By the time we come to the end of Matthew's tale we find another pagan, a centurion affirming what the Magi searched for and only tasted the beginning of - Emmanuel. In the end we also find Jesus' disciples sent on a search for the Magi at the ends of the earth, that they might be baptized. [Note: if you are interested in an entertaining excursion of Jesus seeking the Magi, you may appreciate The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore.]

Try looking at this passage through the eyes of surprised Jews who hear it is those second-class Magi who first acknowledge and visit Jesus (don't get confused by conflating Luke into Matthew), who honor him with precious gifts. At the least, Jews won't get distracted by 2,000 plus years of numbering and naming the Magi or the exoticness of the gifts. They will know there is trouble coming when they hear the Magi are connected with G*D.

The felt but not articulated anxiety engendered by the incorporation of strange women into Jesus' genealogy becomes clearer with the arrival of the Magi. G*D is up to something very strange. Now that we are adequately unsettled by holy foreign women and holy pagan astrologers and murder most foul we are ready to hear about John, a baptizer, and then to proceed with an adult Jesus from whom we can accept the presence of G*D.

To look at this one story is to look at the whole story. Honor it well and don't get hung up on the consumer aspect of global trade items.

- - - - - - -

From Provoking the Gospel of Matthew: A Storyteller's Commentary by Richard W. Swanson:

"If the Magi had returned to Herod, perhaps he would have killed only Jesus and his family instead of needing to kill all of the toddlers in and around Bethlehem. Play this scene so that the audience sees and feels the cost of considering such a terrible calculation. Would it have been better if Jesus had been turned over? Can a faithful community save itself by betraying itself? Is there any way to defend against Herod without becoming as bad as Herod? Tell the story so that the community's risks and losses come clear. This is not just a story about one baby, but about all the babies."

Friday, December 28, 2007

fear of death binds

Christmas 1 – Year A

fear of death binds
survival brings servitude
only forgiveness argues with death
shaking foundations

fear of death brings
exile in Egypt
fear of famine
fear of Herod

fear of death brings
exile in Jerusalem
fear of contenders
fear of loss

fear of death brings
exile in Nazareth
fear of foreignness
fear of descendants

facing of death blesses
freedom to leave and come
mercy to take by the hand
faithfulness beyond success

= = = =

notes:
stanza 1 from Shaking of the Foundations by Paul Tillich (Chapter 21)
Stanzas 2-4 from Matthew 2:13-23
Stanza 5 from Hebrews 2:16-17 (Christian Community Bible)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Hebrews 2:10-18

Christmas 1 – Year A

Hebrews 2:10-18

What does it mean to be made perfect through "suffering"?

Try this – The word translated as "suffering" here is "pathema". It is a presumed derivative of "pathos" which can be heard as:

1. whatever befalls one, whether it be sad or joyous
     a. spec. a calamity, mishap, evil, affliction
2. a feeling which the mind suffers
     a. an affliction of the mind, emotion, passion
     b. passionate deed
     c. used by the Greeks in either a good or bad sense
     d. in the NT in a bad sense, depraved passion, vile passions

Pathos, in turn, may be from the root "pascho":

1. to be affected or have been affected, to feel, have a sensible experience, to undergo
     a. in a good sense, to be well off, in good case
     b. in a bad sense, to suffer sadly, be in a bad plight
          i. of a sick person

To push back through we can hear this suffering as a negative (bad, depraved, sick), positive (to be well off), or descriptively (whatever, to simply feel or experience).

Here we might say that Jesus was made whole through his experiences, his feeling the realities around him and beyond him.

This sense of wholeness, healed-ness, salvation is experience-based, not doctrine-based. Jesus, and those who draw near to G*D through his experience, appreciate his appreciation of his experience of what befalls everyone in the process of living. Therefore mercy is a key response to life. It is experienced life that draws us together (atonement, if you will).

"Suffering" has gotten a bad rap when it has only been seen in a negative light. I'm not sure the word can be redeemed from centuries of one-sided use. This might mean that we need to refrain from its use, or find a longer descriptor to say what we really mean because it can only be heard negatively, regardless of how we intended it.

To demonstrate this, see how hard it is to read this passage in terms of mutual identity through experience rather than one-way loss/sacrifice taking over another's experience.

Or, can you read this in terms of "passionate deeds" rather than through purgation? "Jesus (and those who follow his way) are made whole through passionate deeds." Does this say what needs to be said to move us off center of idolizing some second person of a three-person crowd?

Another approach to this is to look at the Indo-European root of the word "suffer" – "bher" which means to carry or to bear children. Here, too we might try putting it this way, "Jesus was made whole through birthing in others the ability to bear G*D". Might this be difficult/suffering? Yes. Might this be simply-the-way-life-is/suffering? Yes. Might this be participating-in-mercy/suffering? Yes.

Blessings upon you in this Christmas time to begin bearing on your own tongue better descriptors of salvation – difficult, simply-the-way-life-is, merciful – rather than falling back on the inadequacy of using "suffering" language.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Psalm 148

Christmas 1 – Year A

Psalm 148

In the back of comic books, in days of yore, they used to sell X-Ray Glasses that would let you look through that which you consider to be in your way of seeing what you wanted to see. Mostly that barrier was clothing.

Hormonally that has a built in appeal for adolescent boys to see through dresses (the dress of that day) and glimpse naked girls.

Relationally it has an appeal that we can get to the reality of the person under all the masks they have put on.

Here, Praise is the equivalent of X-Ray Glasses. Praise allows us to see behind any phenomenon to some early creator. In so seeing we are made part of the powerful (yet another appeal) who are raised up and become close or equivalent to God.

While practicing praise can increase the odds that it will be a first response to any number of circumstances, there remains a question about its sustainability over the long haul. It doesn't take long to figure out the gimmick of X-Ray Glasses and to set them aside. It does take longer to figure out the gimmick of Praise. Both are good for the bottom-line of their originators and leave their practitioners with a faint distaste – is this all there is?

To praise God in the face of Herod and contemporary Slaughterers of Innocents is questionable. When Acts of Piety, such as required praise, trump Acts of Mercy there is going to be hell to pay.

Perhaps the next time around we will rejoice in being able to rejoice in all things, but the context of intentional inflicting of pain doesn't let us travel that path this time.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Isaiah 63:7-9

Christmas 1 – Year A

Isaiah 63:7-9

A reflection on what it means to be an image of G*D is always in order.

G*D's gracious deed keeps boiling down to one – loving kindness. Each time we think we have found another facet to G*D it is the same old one – loving kindness. Each time we get discouraged with humanity (all the various inhumanities do, at least, further define what humanity is not) we find that our base line continues to be our imaging loving kindness.

Surely Israel is G*D's people and they will not deal falsely! What hopefulness G*D has in the face of nearly constant betrayal. It would be so easy to give in to the base line of betrayal (Garden, Abel, and onward) as our identity. Surely we are G*D's people and we will not deal falsely! What apparent folly this is in light of what we do to one another. Can we suspend our disbelief enough to know that all this is a play and wherever we strut, we will eventually put such fa├žade behind us and reveal the denouement toward which we have always been moving - loving kindness

Finally it is not a particular message or messenger, no matter how you would want to massage it, redemption is always around loving kindness. This is what has lifted and carried us all these days. This is what lifts and carries us today. This is what will continue to lift and carry.

So, again having thrown back the curtain, will we live more closely and daily with loving kindness? While birth happens, will Birth Happen to us that we will more closely walk our image until there is Emmanuel (G*D/US), the logical and experiential extension of Emmanuel (G*D/JESUS).

This revelation of Emmanuel comes not from paring away until some kernel is revealed. Rather, it is an extension of our base line into every mundane part of our life, every gracious deed.

= = = =

After writing the above and before posting it, I ran across this snippet from Sheer Joy by Matthew Fox:

FOX: Where do you ground your deep conviction that joy and delight are so central to the spiritual experience? I find your teaching to contradict centuries of teaching that told us to begin spiritual practices with purgation.

AQUINAS: God delights. God is always rejoicing and doing so with a single and simple delight. In fact, it is appropriate to say that love and joy are the only human emotions that we can attribute literally to God. Love and joy exist properly in God. They constitute the basis of all attraction – love is the origin and joy is the end result. God is happiness by the divine essence, for God is happy not by acquisition or participation of something else, but by God's essence. On the other hand, human beings are happy, as Boethius says, by participation.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Matthew 2:13-23

Christmas 1 – Year A

Matthew 2:13-23

It is not just Matthew's community that wants to have current events connected with their past. This is a very human condition. While asking what Matthew's story of Jesus would be like without the constant refrain about fulfillment of past pronouncements, it is important to ask about what similar constraints we are using in our own day. How constrained we are by political and religious and economic touchstones. Should G*D simply desire to do a new thing, it appears G*D past is stronger than G*D's present. As folks in G*D's image this seems true for us as well.

Meanwhile, back at the gospel, what would make the political death of Jesus as an infant any more or less meaningful than his death on a political cross? Isn't political death a killing that is going on everyday and aren't saintly, innocent, prophetic lives regularly extinguished? Voices of Ramah can be heard on the nightly news. They have become the background against which see, hear, and touch the barriers to their mobilizing power. We are exiled from ourselves and one another under the banner of, "this is just the way it is, who can do anything?"

Apparently Magi don't make a transformative community. They are precursors of Peter as they go back another way and do an act of denial. Apparently a solidarity of bereaved mothers don't make a transformative community. They raise their voices in grief, but glimpse no new life, only an old life repeated. Apparently Mary and Joseph and Angels don't make a transformative community. They are able to play defense and keep one of out a thousand safe, just as some were able to protect some while various genocides proceeded.

May your dreams be strong enough to be followed all the way to founding a transformative community where you are or finding one already going in which you might participate. Another way to put this is to find your home where G*D's desires for you and for all, through you, might be fulfilled.

This is a challenge most difficult, regardless of whether you are one who runs away, one who sits and mourns, or one who comes back from exile in a passive manner to survive underground. Whatever your current state-of-affairs, may you see your life filled and your life fulfilled. In so being, you will hear angels and speak angelically. Finally, having traveled away with the Magi, to Egypt, to Ramah, to Nazareth, you will see your burning bush, hear belovedness in baptismal waters, and rise to life in this life.

Friday, December 21, 2007

here's how it happened

Advent 4 – Year A

here's how it happened

messiah's birth happened
in this way
Mary with child
Joseph with dream
that's it
how understated
then
fireworks in the sky sex

oh yes
after an undescribed birth
some magi magically appear
pulling gifts from their sleeves
cards, flower upon flower, and doves
their comings and goings detailed
far beyond messiah's birth
and angelic emmanuels

an unknown girl of Isaiah
becomes all too well known Mary
another usual birth
turns into another
we attribute meaning beyond meaning
to imbue usual time
with magic significance
unsatisfied with enough

how did it happen
again
that all our usual rules
of exception and separation
found themselves beside the point
seems when G*D is with us
we don't need extraordinary
simply bearing and naming today

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Romans 1:1-7

Advent 4 – Year A

Romans 1:1-7

It is very easy to turn "according to the flesh" and "according to the spirit of holiness" into a dualism, pitted against each other, separated. This makes it easy to claim that I am flesh and Jesus is holy. It becomes equally easy, after identifying with Jesus, to claim that I am holy and you are but flesh. It's not long before this way leads to doctrinal, theoretical, philosophical litmus tests. Those who pass are holy, those who don't, aren't.

It is helpful to remember just a verse later that we have "received grace and apostleship" – both. We are holy, graced, and enact our apostleship in our flesh. I wish the word "and" was capitalized, italicized, and bolded to help us better relate our being true flesh and true holiness, just as we claim Jesus to mysteriously be fully human and fully divine.

During this advent time we still have a little time to carry our receiving of grace and apostleship into disciplines of faith. It is not so much, here, that these disciplines are memorized, no matter how heartfelt, beliefs, but the actual enactment of life-giving actions for ourselves, others, and G*D. Don't just stand there believing, do something.

As we approach these final days of advent we might pause to consider what we have learned these past weeks, what we have practiced, where our growth edges are, and what we need to continue working on.

The celebrations of Christmas will come and go, perhaps lasting as long as 12 days; the practices of Advent will continue beyond what we can yet see. Thankfully we begin our year with advent and not Christmas. By this time next year we can expect to see some changes in our living because of something we instituted in these few four weeks. Blessings upon your deciding to be different, your practice to be the needed change in your setting, and your evaluation of your advent work as you progress through the year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

Advent 4 – Year A

Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

O G*D who leads, we plead, save us, restore us.

There are presumptions galore here about the nature of G*D and an expected state of affairs for ourselves.

Does a "G*D who leads" lead into exile, into dark nights of souls and of simply dark nights? If so what blocks our recognition of such leadership in the midst of our waiting and yearning for elseways?

Does a "G*D who leads" need to be pleaded with to go into reverse gear and restore? If so, is this a God we would care to follow?

Where else might "a G*D who leads" lead? If it is not backward or it is not forward, so we can repeat this dance for the umpteenth time, might it be to an advent empty emptiness of our present that we might accept its emptiness and appreciate its fullness?

Is the restoration needed here a restoration to an intimate and erotic relationship with G*D (read, with one another and creation) where we are, in exile and continuing to walk through a void, and not a return to a previous set point? If so, what we need to work on is not setting ourselves right at the expense of someone else who has done injury to us, but with our self that contains G*D and with G*D inside whose face we may yet be.

In the Kabala the word "before" G*D's face comes from roots indicating "inside". If we follow this, the plea to let G*D's face shine is to find ourselves at one, inside G*D's face. While we are yet separated by whatever it is that we use to cause and continue such, G*D's face shines not.

What we began pleading for we find we have the resources to accomplish. Soon, with Joseph, may we awake from our sleep, shine forth from G*D's face, and live a compassion that receives that which is not ours, as though it were.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Isaiah 7:10-17

Advent 4 – Year A

Isaiah 7:10-17

Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit.

Asked or not asked, G*D is present.

Popularized by Carl Jung, earlier by Erasmus, still earlier by the Spartans, and who knows how much earlier by others until we get back to creation. Whether asked for or not, creation happens.

Recognized or not, called or not, G*D calls forth.

What is a sign of G*D's presence – life itself. Look, life goes on, births occur, creation is beckoned forth and declared good. Before a next child is born, by anyone, anywhere; before a sign is acknowledged, by anyone, anywhere – G*D is at work.

Before advent is over, or even begun, waiting and fulfillment have met, bowed to one another, and moved on.

Go ahead, just try to ask more quickly than G*D is present.

What sign in your everyday life will stand for your having been endowed, already, with what you need? When you are in touch with your sign, your daemon, your genius, your totem, it is amazing how quickly time flies. This is our element of fun, our spoonful of sugar, our lark, our life, our spree.

What sign is given you? What sign are you to others?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Matthew 1:18-25

Advent 4 – Year A

Matthew 1:18-25

There is appropriate and inappropriate guilt.
There is appropriate and inappropriate responsibility.
The trick is to tell them apart.

In ordinary circumstances we might think of Joseph taking inappropriate responsibility for Mary's pregnancy. Here such an action is attributed to his righteousness, not his wisdom. Left to his own devices and the devices of his time and place, Joseph had every thing in place to claim this task of covering for Mary as inappropriate responsibility.

Somewhere along the way he had learned to first acknowledge and then to listen to his dreams. His dream claimed this action as appropriate, not inappropriate.

In this time of waiting between first and next comings, dreamtime remains an important category for us to pay attention to.

So, what dreams this day need to be shifted from inappropriate to appropriate in your life and in the life of the world?

Based on this scripture they will have something to do with the presence of G*D taking precedence over the current traditions of our culture (religious culture or otherwise). Where does church doctrine that constrains our relationships with one another need to be turned on its head? Where is there a response leading to peace between peoples that needs to come out from under the umbrella of being called treason and stand to turn us all in a better directions? Where in our families and communities do we find the fulcrum from which to leverage a preferred future into view and into today?

Whatever your dream or dreams lead you to, in an Imitation of Joseph – it is time to wake from sleep!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Peek-a-boo, I see you

Advent 3 – Year A

Peek-a-boo, I see you

As a representative partner of G*D, is anyone coming out to see you?
If they did what would they see?

= = = = = = =

John erupts from the wilderness
and folks flock forward
warned to flee
through baptism
further into wilderness

Jesus sighs into Bethlehem
magi and shepherd welcomed
warned to flee
through a Reed Sea
deeper into exile

John comes through silence
to stand stolidly
amid water
that gives life
on the way to a Dead Sea

Jesus appears suddenly
having stood nowhere
among people
revealed as beloved
and tempted

amid all these variations
their descendants
in our skin
risk imprisonment
going on to wholeness

strength from each to each
breaks forth in deserts
growing flowers
life-long farmers
of joy and gladness

and on this farm
prophets grow, ready
to face fear
here a ready, there a ready
to be hopeful news

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

James 5:7-10

Advent 3 – Year A

James 5:7-10

Is it time yet? Are we there yet? So ask kids in the car and John in prison.

How unsatisfactory the response, "Be patient beloved."

I have met farmers waiting patiently for crops to come in, but not any that do so without anxiety. Any day can bring disaster.

So it is we also wait with advent anxiety. We tell one another to be strong, not to grumble and doubt lest such bring exactly what we feared. It is all too easy to see a Judge and to begin preJudging ourselves as incomplete and liable for the full sentencing power of a mandatory sentence.

And then the kicker about following the model of the prophets who were not the least bit patient. They had a call to follow where it led. They did not suffer fools, gladly or otherwise. Their task was so important that action had to follow immediately upon the heels of their call. Sometimes that action was to run away and sometimes to dive into it deeply, with nary a second thought.

So, be patient as a prophet! Be as patient as was Jesus in healing and teaching. Beloved, be this patient. Right now!

Psalm 146:5-10

Advent 3 – Year A

Psalm 146:5-10

So often we only respond to outcomes. In the eternal political campaign we are in the middle of that parallels the unending war we have preemptively entered, we keep looking for measurable outcomes. Votes are taken, surges are entered into, and we look around for results and are unable to settle on any agreement as to whether we need to keep going or its time to turn around.

A tension in this psalm is that between praise, just because praise is the right thing to do at all times and in all places, and figuring out outcomes from our present mortal princes. This pull between the two cannot be overcome if we stay on the same plane.

Finally the psalmist settles for a longer-view. Even if justice for the oppressed takes longer than my desire, praise is a better way to wait than anxious casting about for evidence that things are getting worse or marginally better.

There is no conclusive evidence that praising is better than demanding outcome-based analyses and results of particular situations. Praise is certainly not to be used to avoid doing the difficult job of discerning or evaluating. Such, though, needs to be done in the context of a larger vision.

John wonders about trusting Jesus and his methodology that takes John's message but implements it in a different manner. The psalmist wonders about trusting princes and G*D, one so immediate and one so some-day.

Whether going on evidence of folks healed or a remembrance of steadfast love, we wrestle with plans and decision-makers in our own ways. Hopefully we will do so with both hard evidence of making-a-difference and an approach to life that anticipates continued care. An example of this is how the downfall of the wicked is intimately tied to the care of the orphan and widow.

Want to be part of a praise team that is more than ecstatic music? Uphold someone today and watch their oppressors or ignorers fall another day. There is a direct relationship between the two and, when you can see it, you'll opt to do your upholding with praise at being partners with G*D in eventual justice.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Isaiah 35:1-10

Advent 3 – Year A

Isaiah 35:1-10

Oh so often do we connect violence with salvation. Here, again, it seemed important to do so. "Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you."

Given your current sensibilities, would you desire your salvation to come at the expense of recompense? What pound of flesh might satisfy a pound taken from you? Would you need two pounds or more to make up for the one you lost? Is vengeance upon another part of a compensation package for injuries done you?

Since this is an advent season of anticipation and new beginnings, it would be interesting to note how many times in these remaining two weeks we find ourselves listening to violence in the media, on the lips of political candidates, among our friend's reports of life, and in our own family experience. Simply being aware of this number will begin the sensitization process needed to begin anticipating an everlasting joy that is not dependent upon divine violence justifying human violence.

If you are already aware of the way in which violence has been built into our joy, you may desire to begin removing it and finding that joy is able to be sustained on its own. There is no magic in this process. It is the same as changing any habit – persistence, persistence, persistence until it becomes second nature.

The best persistence carries with it a substitution. Every time we are able to be aware of and back away from a violent response, we would be aided by inviting someone else to marvel at the miracle of our not responding in kind and being proactive in assisting them to glimpse a new avenue of their own salvation. This will mean staying in contact with ravenous beasts who are not aware of the choices in front of them and empathetically revealing them with an invitation to join you in choosing to see glory beyond survival.

An advent challenge is to remember that persistence fatigue is all too easy to arrive at. Keep your practicing communal that you might receive the support you need to keep expanding arenas for your persistent choice against violence in its various expressions, small and large.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Matthew 11:2-11

Advent 3 – Year A

Matthew 11:2-11

The blind see and some are offended.
The lame walk and some are offended.
Lepers are cleansed and some are offended
The deaf hear and some are offended.
The dead are raised and some are offended.
The poor receive good news and some are offended.

Blessed are those who are not offended.

Another way to come at the sense of offense is to see what it requires from us. When a change of status occurs we find ourselves offended ("losing trust" from the Greek; "to strike, kill" from the Indo-European). If our status is lowered we are offended by those whom we blame. If our status is raised we are amazingly offended by those from whom we came.

At one and the same time we are attracted by the danger and offended by the presence of such as a rabble-rouser as Baptizer John. It is exciting to be in around him as he calls for such radical things as chopping at the roots of despair and rooting out root causes of poverty and unkindness. Exciting, that is, until we make the connection of what is required from us. The same is true of our response to Jesus and other prophets.

A part of our question this week is that of what we are taking offense at these days. To not take offense at something is to be asleep at the wheel. But by what are we offended? That is a significant advent question.

When things improve for the blind, lame, lepers, deaf, dead, and poor it means that I cannot live as easily as I did. If such as these do not have too little, then it may mean that I, in having much, will not have too much (I'll have less much). If such as these find themselves even worse off, then my head rests less easy for there is a revolution brewing.

Which of these states will cause me the most offense. Truth be told it is the improvement of the lot of the poor that causes the greater offense. If a revolution comes I have an excuse for my benefits – see what trouble-makers they are and not worth any further investment in their lives. It is far worse when the gap between us closes and I am called to recognize new community partners. Then all my past behavior is called into question.

Be alert to what offends you this week. Then, decide what you will do about your offense. If you are the offended party, there is advent work of new birth to do. If you note someone else being offended against, there is advent work of new justice to do. Internal or external, on our own or on another's behalf, a sense of offense sharpens our discernment of what arena of life we are called to.

May we soon live in a world that is not offensive. May we soon live without taking offense and defending those who have been offended.

Bottomline – Advent raises the questions of where our trust is based and whether or not we will strike some part of the body off of or kill offenders. What power does our sense of offense carry with it? – forgiveness and the reestablishment of trust? or separation and the further establishment of violence?

Friday, December 07, 2007

spiritual topology

Advent 2 – Year A

spiritual topology
reshapes what is possible
redefining and redivining
the nature of space
from fine to global
salvation is divorced
from our exact shape
stem cells and humans
are topologically equivalent
one able to be transformed
into the other

advent change
comes inside out
using fire and water
axes and roots
now and coming
from hidden wildernesses
come cousins and comrades
with the strangest of garb
hiding the outside inside
reshaping the landscape
of breath and soul

come rail at hypocrites
and find yourself
railing at yourself
chief pretender
immune from
your own poison
so freely shed abroad
chopping so freely
all radical roots
but your own
always going before

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Romans 15:4-13

Advent 2 – Year A

Romans 15:4-13

Whatever was written in former days was written for our hope. I hope they knew that and kept some for themselves. It is possible to be hopeful for others without appropriating any for oneself.

Whatever we do in these days is done for the hope of those to come. I hope we are keeping some for ourselves. While many things benefit from being wholly given, hope is one exception as it is both larger and smaller than time.

Regardless of the hope end of things, what we are called to do is to live in harmony with one another.

Oh my, couldn't our work on behalf of the future have been something a bit less intimidating.

As we look back over the former days – harmony seems to be a real crapshoot. How might one be hopeful when we look at our track record so far? At best we can say that so far we have not annihilated ourselves yet.

Was this because of the thirty six righteous [lamed vov]? Though, since probably everyone has had a significant person that has kept their world going, the number is probably symbolic and for the sake of millions, the world goes on. This reverses the old story about Abraham bargaining G*D down to how few righteous were actually needed to save Sodom. Here we might wonder how many more righteous folks we need to bring hope to reality – 360? 3,600? 36,000? 36,000,000?

To avoid the necessary ambiguity of numerology that claims to be so solidly built, it may be best to follow Paul's dictum to simply welcome another as you have been welcomed to a journey larger than yourself. Simply welcome.

One resource you may want to look at is Paul Loeb's book The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19

Advent 2 – Year A

Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19

Give it to the king, O G*D, give it to the king!

The king needs to have justice applied to the king and a filling of righteousness.

The king needs to have such justice and righteousness flow through them that they may be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers watering earth.

Who is this king? Let's listen in to a section from Matthew Fox's Wrestling with the Prophets: Essays on Creation Spirituality and Everyday Life. In writing of "Meister Eckhart and Karl Marx: The Mystic as Political Theologian", Fox comments:

"In a society that was as aware of privilege as was Eckhart's, the thesis that all are aristocrats is a far from subtle rebuke of the caste system then prevailing. But it is more than a rebuke--it is an imaginative alternative that Eckhart is suggesting. According to historian Jacques Heers, what characterized the popular uprisings of Eckhart's period and place was that even when the "people" overthrew one aristocracy, another immediately took its place. We see then how truly radical and imaginative was Eckhart's alternative: not to confront aristocracy but to recreate it entirely by baptizing all into it. Eckhart does not put down nobles and aristocrats, and he refuses to substitute a new dualism of the lowly over the privileged. Instead, with a dialectical imagination that only a mystic could muster, he makes the peasants into nobles. Instead, therefore, of putting down anyone, he elevates all. . . .

"Thus Eckhart reiterates his marvelous admiration for the nobility of the human person. Eckhart does not stop short of claiming that human beings give a home to the divine within them. For in us 'God has sowed His image and His likeness, and … He sows the good seed, the root of all wisdom, all knowledge, all virtue, and all goodness, the seed of Divine nature. The seed of Divine nature is the Son of God, the Word of God.' Eckhart's theology of personhood does not concentrate on sin and redemption but on divinization. In this regard he drinks fully of Eastern Christian spiritual theologies.

"'The seed of God is in us. If it was cultivated by a good, wise and industrious laborer, it would thrive all the more and would grow up to God, whose seed it is, and the fruit would be like the Divine nature. The seed of a pear tree grows into a pear tree, a hazel seed into a hazel tree, a seed of God into God.'"

So what would it mean to have this Advent be an advent of your rising beyond the caste system of your culture, your society? Bloom where you are!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Isaiah 11:1-10

Advent 2 – Year A

Isaiah 11:1-10

What authority will this Shoot of Jesse have when no longer limited by sight and sound? This one with spirit resting upon them will be able to see to the heart of the matter and justice will have some additional meaning than immediate and natural.

For ages the dream of a "peaceable kingdom" has captured our imagination. We yearn for and talk about an idyllic place where hurt is no more. We have all been hurt more than we can sometimes stand and this picture brings our hurt round right. It means those mean old toothy carnivores will find their come-uppance by going hungry tonight and tomorrow night and every night after that. Those meat-eaters, of course, are those who have hurt us. We will be able to keep them by our side and under an unnatural control of their being.

This is a vision of underdogs – an appeal to wisdom stronger than power, gnosis stronger than exile.

In theory this could be the outcome of repentance. A leopard could changes its spots. A sinner could pull themself up by their own bootstraps. I could be in a season other than curmudgeonee.

How long could a G*D within a wolf continue in this picture? Would they periodically stray to a picture down the gallery to feast on some pigs, since sheep are protected in this one?

An Advent question rises to the fore whenever we reach for one of these places of resolution as though it be would the last word. I can't imagine anything more boring and a place less worthy of spending time there than somewhere with no consequences when children do their child thing and stick a fork in a socket or a hand in a snake den. If you stop to consider this passage, is it a comfort or a challenge? A comfort in that all this will happen someday with the energy of someone else, some deus ex machina? A challenge to analyze the present, decide on a course of action to move in the direction of the vision, and to actually do something that will move in the direction of such a vision?

Generally this is seen as a comforting passage, rather than a challenging one.

While the political situation of a given time may be a time to keep quiet in the midst of all the different forces arrayed against one, a dream of Jesse's Shoot allows a certain amount of persistence, but it ultimately fails to drive our behavior to transform evil to good.

If you had to raise a banner these days for yourself and others, what would you raise high? Might it be close to: "I'm not completely dead, only mostly dead." (The wonderful Princes Bride book and movie strike again.) And perhaps we might even raise a second banner, "A green shoot can break cement." (Yea, Malvina Reynolds.) Perhaps a third would come along, "Don't get hung up on the metaphors!" And, since a trinity is usually looking for a stabilizing fourth, "Live the drop of G*D knowledge you have now, don't wait for a sea of it" might flutter forth.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Matthew 3:1-12

Advent 2 – Year A

Matthew 3:1-12

This being the second week of Advent, is there a sense of progress being made? Are we any closer to being ready this week than we were last?

Well, we have moved from one being taken and one being left, so "be ready", to a sense that even if we wanted to be ready we would only make it to the category of viper (no not the lovely automobile). So, in some sense, our progress is that of taking a step backward – out of the frying pan and into the fire, so to speak.

There is no longer a 50/50 shot at ending up at a good place (those who are left behind to enjoy a good creation, G*D's presence come on earth). Anyone who approaches is now 100% in trouble.

No matter if we double the number of brightly glowing candles this week, we are in a darker place – fleeing from a wrath to come.

While not wanting to denigrate the usefulness of wrath as a motivator, the image that is more energizing for many is that of hooking their star to a larger purpose – preparing a better future than we now have present.

A rallying cry for Methodists at their beginning was, "Flee from the wrath to come." This still makes good economic sense in today's world, but, theologically, its fear-based presentation needs to find its relevance in light of a promise of "Today you can be in Paradise".

Either way, we have to deal with repentance, a change of focus. If we are going to participate in a formation of a better future by what we do today, we will be called upon to change our ways, as continuing them will only bring us back to where we are, not move us on.

A question is how powerful an appeal to a better future is when compared to the fear of a worse future? During Advent time we wrestle with which of these is going to hold our heart. Can we be terrorized into better behavior and if so how long might such will behavior continue after the terror is removed? Can we be loved into better behavior and if so how lasting might such behavior be when it reenters its previous environment?

As practical people we usually propose that we need a little of both, terror and love. We just need to know when to apply which.

Unfortunately our tendency is to begin applying a little more of what worked most quickly last time without a reappraisal of a new situation and eventually find ourselves addicted to one mode or the other with no way to return to a considered diagnosis as to which to apply now.

Given this, it may be healthier to run with one. Even though wrathful language does periodically show up in Scripture, it shows up in trying to motivate us to a changed present that a better future might be available. I basically disagree with the idea that you can threaten someone into salvation. Therefore I recommend an Advent of practicing models of promised better living as though our whole culture had finally arrived at such as its norm.

Friday, November 30, 2007

A Change in Approach

With a new liturgical year comes a new series of comments on the lectionary.

Last year the formula was:

Day 1 – all the lections of Year A
Day 2 – all the lections of Year B
Day 3 – Hebrew lection of Year C
Day 4 – Psalm lection of Year C
Day 5 – Epistle lection of Year C
Day 6 – Gospel lection of Year C

Each written reflection would be followed by a versification or prayer fragment.

As this year begins the formula, so far, is:

Day 1 – comment on Gospel lection of Year A
Day 2 – comment on Hebrew lection of Year A
Day 3 – comment on Psalm lection of Year A
Day 4 – comment on Epistle lection of Year A
Day 5 – miscellaneous comment

As I didn't know before this week just what was going to happen, I was intrigued to find out what this first week has been like. I'll try it for a bit more and will be interested to see how long it stays or how it will change over the course of a year. Life's seasons are gloriously mysterious.

I am also interested in comments about such a change in process as it has unknown meaning and implications I will probably miss without a guiding word from a friendly quarter.

Thanks for your reading and responses.

Wesley White

Thanks also to Kairos CoMotion for stimulating me to this blogging and providing a mask to peek out from behind.

A Cut-Up following William S. Burroughs

Advent 1 – Year A

A Cut-Up following William S. Burroughs

But about that day and hour
Isaiah son of Amoz saw
I was glad
in the light
they said to me, "Let us go."

as the days of Noah
as the highest mountain
the commandments
built as a city bound firmly
thrones for judgment were set up.

out of Zion shall go instruction
one will be taken
one will be left
you shall not
not not

keep awake
walk paths
wake from sleep
live honorably
put on armor

go up
give thanks
know what time it is
love your neighbor
pray for peace

be ready
at an unexpected hour
peace be within you
within your walls
I will seek your good

our feet within your gate
beat swords to plowshares
prosper a broken house
a city, a flood
peace be within you

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Romans 13:8-14

Advent 1 – Year A

Romans 13:8-14

The Message reports Romans 13:10 as: "You can't go wrong when you love others. When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love."

This advice for the present turns out to be very helpful whether you are looking at things in terms of readiness or envisioning a future where we don't play war anymore.

To be constantly on guard for every little misstep is exhausting. It does, however, make one very proficient in legalistic justifications as per literalistic fundamentalists who know the nth degree of truth about every jot and tittle in Scripture.

Very much like telling the truth eases one's mind (keeping track of multiple story lines and who has what information is tiring), having one golden orientation eases life toward joy and thanksgiving. In this case, instead of trying to live up to all rules all the time, it will be sufficient to focus on one behavior that resolves the rest – love others.

What is unexpected about this approach is that it turn out to be ready for every unexpected occasion. It is not silly liberal claptrap advocated by bleeding hearts. It is the needed following of Jesus' advice to be ready – ready by doing what he did, loving others.

Likewise, what is a world without war but a world of mutual care and love. We see it in the future. It is possible to move in that direction by what we do. Not only can we see it, we can have a hand in both preparing for this world without war and actually participating in it right now.

You can't go wrong when you love others. This is a progressive panacea. Try it, you'll like it. Realistically, you'll eventually like it. Its one difficulty is that it throws everything up for grabs in the shortrun - all our learned rules will band together against it until it becomes an ingrained way of life.

The night is far gone. We have wasted enough time in trying to always be ready and to minutely define a future before actually practicing some of it today. Let us live honorably by putting on the love Jesus had for others.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Psalm 122

Advent 1 – Year A

Psalm 122

To be ready for the unexpected runs the danger of readiness fatigue.

To have a clear vision of what needs to be runs the danger of not being ready for a different future and missing it when it is available.

Both of these dangerous approaches to Advent are needed and both raise a larger danger of setting one against the other in a battle to an unnecessary death. There may be a third way that brings out the best of both. The Psalmist sums up this non-doctrinal formula relationally – "I will seek your good."

The tendency we have in today's world of silent reading is for us to read the Matthew and Isaiah passages as individuals. Strikingly, when Matthew speaks to us of being ready he uses an irregular plural of "you" and Isaiah speaks of the whole house of Jacob as walking together in light. To be progressive in today's world almost requires an ear for the corporate, the community, and not the individual. In time to come this will probably become as perverted as an overblown individualism is today and progressives will be those holding up the importance of a depth of psyche. But, for now, listen first for where the community might be better held together. This is our great need today – an irregular plural.

Our readiness for the future and our walking a better way in today's light can both be assisted with a reminder that we only get to that better future together. This requires us to seek the good of another in order for either and both of us to progress toward a time of wholeness, of peace.

Imaging Jerusalem as "a place of wholeness" we find it appropriate that those who would pray for peace, as a significant part of wholeness, would prosper, would not learn war anymore, would be ready for an unexpected experience of community beyond any arbitrary decision resulting in some taken and some left behind.

Then we run again into the tension and/or balance of Advent.

For the sake of others I will say, "Peace be within you."
For the sake of G*D "I will seek your good."

May peace be within G*D's place and may we seek the good of others. In these two we find all the law and prophets. In these two we find our past-future and our future-future come together in a very present-future that is quite manageable. We can bless G*D and bless one another – a bit now, a bit more later, and, eventually, with an exclamation point! or three!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Isaiah 2:1-5

Advent 1 – Year A

Isaiah 2:1-5

In days to come . . . . In days to come we look for life to be different than it now is. The difference is to be better. That which is still chaotic will become established. All shall be well, all manner of things shall be well. The extraneous parts of life vying for, and thus choking out, attention will find their place within larger pictures and we will live more solidly with one another.

In days to come we expect to see a resolution to life's perplexing questions. That which leads us to conflict will be transformed into consensus. The huge moral question of war will cease to confound us and we will learn peace rather than war. Imagine the transformation of our thinking if we learned stories of peace rather than stories of war. Instead of learning war we would understand it as aberration, its incompatibility with Christian teaching.

But we are not there yet. Wars and rumors of wars continue to abound. Such are convenient control methods to keep us fearful and unthinking. So how do we make a shift that seems so absolutely impossible?

A key phrase is for us to respond to an invitation to "walk in the light of the Lord".

Among other things, this is a call to live the future as if it were already here. In some sense Advent is not waiting time, but practicing time. We have seen a better future and, rather than wait for it or expect G*D to bring it about according to some yet undisclosed plan, we begin to implement our part of it in the present. The way to a better future is not based on some future event, but on what we currently do.

Let us walk in the light of what we posit G*D will be doing – teaching, mediating, transforming implements and attitudes of war into communal feeding and universal health care. Our Advent is proactive waiting. Our waiting is preemptive futuring.

We know where all this is going. Let its breaking news, its Advent, begin now.

While Advent can be waiting, it is also the pre-arrival of the future that we can climb on board. It is this tension between waiting and not waiting, between practice and actuality, between a Coming and a Second Coming, that gives Advent its peculiar energy. To emphasize one side over the other is to deny both.

To focus on a past-future such as Christmas sentimentalizes it to the point of denying its transformative power. To focus on a future-future such as a static utopia devoid of conflict removes a Second Christmas from the realm of our participation in it right now. Our challenge is to work with a present-future birth experience that both births anew and is born anew.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Matthew 24:36-44

Advent 1 – Year A

Matthew 24:36-44

The context and surface style of this passage makes it very easy to jump to apocalyptic end-times. The imagery is stark and dramatic. The theme is judgment.

As we enter a time of preparation we might take our eye off an endgame and put it back on a process of living, regardless of the times, culture, or faith orientation in which such living takes place. We are not waiting for a dividing judgment, but a birth of new hope for a peace that passes our understanding and is for all creation – a peace we can hear sung, no matter how far off, hailing a new creation. Can we be ready in our dark night to hear angels sing? This is what we are preparing for.

A first key is that of letting go of expectations of results. What is coming (whether one uses "Son of Man" lingo or not) goes beyond expectation. It may come this hour; it may not. While we have preferences about the timing of things (speeding up the good stuff and slowing down the bad) the Preacher of Ecclesiastes reminds us that all the various seasons take place within a larger vision - enjoying life and work.

Whether war continues in Iraq in 2008 or ceases or expands to Iran – what are you called to in your place? Whether one country's economy busts or all do – what are you called to in your time? Whether your health holds or you find out the latest worst – what are you called to in your body? Whether your dearest dream expands or dies – what are you called to continue nonetheless?

Here we need to re-appropriate our ignorance of a larger wisdom. We need to appreciate that we don't know any of the larger pictures. The angels don't know it yet, either. Neither does Jesus. This frees us to simply enjoy life and do our work. By extension this ignorance is corporate as well as individual. So we can enjoy together and work together. How is it where you are?

By this ignorance (a refusal to be trapped by fuzzy Gnosticism) I don't mean stupidity. Rather, a detachment of our actions from our expectations. Simply put, what's a good thing to do, whether we are here or not in any given hour? Does this mean reducing the carbon footprint we have as individuals and congregations? What witness to a better hope, a larger future, and a more expansive love will we participate in? Will we sing this song and dance this melody in good times and bad?

Since we can't be ready 24/7, we perhaps can be open to enjoying and to a next good work, regardless of the context we find ourselves. Amazingly, this simplifying puts us in the good company of the saints who are urging us on to stop our political and religious games, to cease our military aggression and economic exploitation, and to calm our excited entitlements.

Advent comes as a gift of waiting wherein we might practice avoiding all expected hours and joining Jesus and all the other saints in feasting with other saints and sinners and providing healing touches and speaking forth healing words to one another. Four weeks may just be long enough to make some progress as individuals and congregations in this process of holiness.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Advent Devotional Available

Advent Devotional Available

If you do not already have a devotional guide through Advent and Christmas, I recommend the one from the Wisconsin United Methodist Federation for Social Action.

You can access it for daily reading online or download of a PDF for printing out.

Whether you use this or not, blessings upon your creative waiting.

Advent Devotional

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Pentecost +26 Sunday – C4

Pentecost +26 Sunday – C4

Years C
Luke 23:33-43

When all else is stripped from G*D, there is yet steadfast love.
When all else is stripped from Jesus, there is yet forgiveness.

What is there when all else is stripped from you?

Here it is that you will find your joy, your willingness, your paradise.

= = = = = = =

we have come through
a long long time
whether eons or milliseconds
this long time is beyond
our timing of time

this year for instance
we circled again
themes of creation
of salvation
in a time of liturgy

starting with waiting
a strange place to start
a silence before do-re-mi
we reach a longed for place
Forgiveness Paradise

having arrived
we note its fragility
our resistance
when push comes to shove
and we set out again

how many revolutions
of wheels and self
before we stop
resisting such a paradise
and move with it beyond it

Pentecost +26 Sunday – C3

Pentecost +26 Sunday – C3

Years C
Colossians 1:11-20

I have appreciated Peterson's The Message take on this passage. I like being prayed for in such a manner that I will be given a wise mind and spirit to help me understand the ways in which G*D works. Examples of G*D at work are found in the subsequent prayers.

- that we will live well, as G*D lives well
- that we will persist in living well, as G*D persists
- that we will find living well leading to joy, as does G*D

A key piece of evidence that these prayers are finding fertile ground in us, that we are part of "a resurrection parade", comes with the image of spaciousness. We, too, become, like Jesus, "so spacious, so roomy that everything of G*D finds its proper place in us. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe – people and things, animals and atoms – get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies with ourselves." (modified a bit)

This movement toward an expansive and expanding love is worthy of present and future thanks.

= = = = = = =

we have redemption
available
anytime anywhere
forgiveness

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pentecost +26 Sunday – C2

Pentecost +26 Sunday – C2

Years C
Luke 1:68-79 or Psalm46

To be a preparer of a better way is indeed a high calling. It is one within the reach of everyone.

Sometimes we strive for some better part, to be the hero/heroine of whatever situation we are in. Sometimes that is not only possible, but achievable. For a given time and place, we are the obvious catalyst to move things along. More often we would do better to cast around for simply a next baby step that someone else will be able to build on, bring to fruition.

It is amazing how often this role of the preparer of a better future revolves around issues of forgiveness. Time and again the gift of radical forgiveness is needed to clear space for a better time. It is this forgiveness that provides a better picture of salvation and ways in which it might become clearer and stronger in our living.

In this last moment of the year we might cast our hearts and minds back over the past year to see the proportion of our experience that found us humbly preparing a better way compared to those moments where we were a final capstone put in place. My hunch is that we will all find ourselves more often in the role of preparer. Now that we have cast back, we might be able to more forthrightly and joyfully fill more of that role in the year ahead. This will lead to a greater fulfillment by this time next year.

= = = = = = =

there is a river
whose streams make glad
habitations of the heart
whose strong flow
sees us through to dawn

streams pre-river
sea post-river
play their part
along a way
of new life

gathering
holding
connected
river-wise
courageous

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pentecost +26 Sunday – C1

Pentecost +26 Sunday – C1

Years C
Jeremiah 23:1-6

On the cusp of one year leading to another it is time to look back and raise some general questions. These questions can be responded to on personal, cultic, and national levels.

What flocks have we scattered? Did we avoid doing bad things?

What remnant has been gathered? Did we do good things?

What connection with G*D did we nurture? Did we attend exercises of justice and righteousness?

= = = = = = =

whose honey-bunch are you
whose betrayer are you
whose dearie are you
whose loyal opposition are you
whose worst nightmare are you
whose defender are you
whose ignorer are you
whose righteousness are you

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pentecost +26 Sunday – B

Pentecost +26 Sunday – B

Years B
2 Samuel 23:1-7 or Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
Psalm 132:1-18 or Psalm 93
Revelation 1:4b-8
John 18:33-37


So, who are you? We need to listen to other's perception of us. There will be some truth there. It will give us a clue about who we have been, are, or might yet become.

For this to be most helpful it is good to have some idea that we are fulfilling a meaningful interaction with the other and with a community larger than our immediate community. With this larger perspective we can take other perceptions and not battle them. Sometimes we can even claim them (probably to the consternation of those who were trying to get our goat).

I am who I was born to be. This is a deep truth each of us have access to. When we do connect with it, it is amazing what power is set free within and through us.

Here is an empowering exercise. Stand in front of a proverbial mirror and say aloud, until it is firmly stated, "For this I was born – to testify to wholeness." Stating this truth continues our completion and emboldens us to assist others to arrive at a similar spot for themselves. This is leadership.

= = = = = = =

where did I come from
alpha
where am I going
omega

right now I'm between
mu and nu
I am glad to be here
me and you

for this I was born
for this I will die
in the meantime
we enjoy between times

we are and were
and are yet were-ing
to a new witness
all are loved free

look up and down
jump and kneel
remember and anticipate
amen and amen

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Pentecost +26 Sunday – A

Pentecost +26 Sunday – A

Years A
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
Psalm 100 or Psalm 95:1-7a
Ephesians 1:15-23
Matthew 25:31-46


With the eyes of your heart enlightened, hope lives in you.

Hope that you will be unscattered and hope that you can help return folks who have been pushed out. Such hope rises to the surface, becoming conscious. From there it is but a matter of applying courage to implement it.

And so, at the end of a long year, we are left with hope. After all the disappointments, we are left with hope. Even in the presence of current and in the anticipation of judgments now and yet, we are left with hope.

= = = = = = =

hope revealed
shyly and boldly
pokes its head out
to reveal its heart
in deeds of loving kindness

a bit of feast here
a tun of fun there
a goodwill stop also
a visit when all seemed lost
so hope travels

as we have been done unto
we are thankful
thankful enough
to hope to do well
to do well unto

Friday, November 16, 2007

Pentecost +25 Sunday – C4

Pentecost +25 Sunday – C4

Years C
Luke21:5-19

"By your endurance you will gain your souls." Sometimes it sounds as if soul-gaining were still in doubt and dependent upon our decision to endure. Is that your understanding of gaining your soul? If so, what is this "endurance" you are to participate in? Is it more than simply a passage of time.

In light of other parts of this passage and a focus upon thanksgiving, it might be that we can retranslate "endurance" as "persistent in present thanksgiving."

There are supposedly many dangers yet ahead, perhaps more than we have already passed through. Each difficulty brings an opportunity to witness, to testify. Our testimony regards our endurance. What is it that keeps you keeping on in the face of travail and betrayal?

Listening to words not heard by others that see beyond a dim horizon to a new dawn breaking – this is what we testify to. We witness to a thanksgiving that permeates us from nose to toes and flows through us and surrounds us.

When all about is falling down, we see beyond the falling to a new rising – a rising of soul. [Listen to Walela sing Bright Morning Stars.]

= = = = = = =

all beautiful gifts
all gifts to God
rise up tall
to fall below

carefully constructed
carelessly thrown together
all rise up
all fall down

soul attempt
after soul try
rise awhile
fall forever

leaving trails
of thanks behind
the rise
the fall

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pentecost +25 Sunday – C3

Pentecost +25 Sunday – C3

Years C
2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

Here is where having loose boundaries comes in handy. The language being used here is that of "idleness". Given a focus on thanksgiving we might see idleness as a being without thanks or joy. We just don't have the energy, given all we need to do, to spend any more on such frivolities.

We might reflect on the classic sin of sloth or sadness. In this case idleness is lack of thankful joy. Spiritual apathy that discourages us from our holy work of appreciating beauty and expressing thanks is another way to talk about sloth and to see how what is being warned against here is not relaxing, but a choice against life.

Likewise, we can retranslate, "anyone not willing to work" into "anyone not willing to give thanks and do the work of worship isn't worth any more than the result of the mechanics of eating".

And yet again, "do not be weary in doing what is right" is less about morality and more about thanksgiving (a focus of this passage).

= = = = = = =

sometimes we learn
from opposites
better than models

our models come loaded
with literalism and creeds
narrowing our options

comparison brings choice
play and mystery
bearing greater fruit

idling is not staying in place
it is actively refusing
to move ahead

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pentecost +25 Sunday – C2

Pentecost +25 Sunday – C2

Years C
Isaiah 12 or Psalm 98

"You will say in that day: Give thanks…."

Do you trust that day will come? If so why not give thanks now as well as then?

Trust and thanks are antidotes to fear. Trust and thanks are rope and winch lowering and raising a bucket of joy into the wells (plural) of salvation. Trust and thanks free us from the control of anger and fear of anger.

In preparation for a focus on thanks-giving and thanks-living it might be helpful to focus on its twin of trust. Trust lays the groundwork for the courage it takes to sing a new song in an old situation. Trust breaks fear's grip. Trust is another way of spelling salvation from that which looms over us and another way of spelling health or wholeness pulling us past any rough spot we face.

= = = = = = =

I give thanks
you – give thanks!

so we move
from experience
to rote requirements

forgetting
my thanks is mine
forgetting
your thanks is yours

thanks becomes a technique
we apply to intolerable situations
as though going through this motion
we will change the unspeakable
from fearful to our advantage

starting with thanks
we can go anywhere
with strengthened trust
we are truly at home
wherever we are
and whenever

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pentecost +24 Sunday – C3

Pentecost +24 Sunday – C3

Years C
Isaiah 65:17-25 or Malachi 4:1-2a

Hearken back to a conversation G*D was having with whatever heavenly hosts are. Way back at a time of a creation - a creation or two ago.

In such a yesteryear G*D announces, to whomever, an intention for a next creation of heaven and earth, version x.c. In this version, new or renewed features will be featured. Key among them are issues of joy and time and meaning and healthy relationships.

Among the questions before us is whether we are at the end of version x.c and a new healing needs to rise - x.d.

There is still some time to go before we get to version y and z and whatever might be beyond our current ways of measuring. What is not in doubt, though, is a progression that will keep coming to our attention as free-will and gracious love bounce off one another loosing untold additional particles of life that will need to be taken into account with a new version of what we are doing with the process of creation, experience, re-creation.

= = = = = = =

hearkening anticipates
a new tonal relationship
surprising
an expected next note
with a variation
beckoning beyond

not hearkening
traps us in an echo chamber
turning a first harmony
into dissonance beyond hurtful
with its predictable
degradation

hearken anew
newly harken
hark
angels sing
creation begins
worlds go on again

[Try to listen to Jean Redpath sing The Song of the Seals in its entirety.]

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pentecost +25 Sunday – B

Pentecost +25 Sunday – B

Years B
1 Samuel 1:4-20 or Daniel 12:1-3
1 Samuel 2:1-10 or Psalm 16
Hebrews 10:11-25
Mark 13:1-8


Look! What a large Enemy!
It will take a trebuchet to do in this large an enemy. One smooth river stone or five stand no chance

Look! What a large Temple!
Nothing could ever bring down such stability. No number of armies with the biggest siege engines could prevail here.

What fantasies we conjure as we face fears and attempt to continue our present course. In both cases we exaggerate our situations. We are at one and the same time too weak and too strong.

Take a second and third look. G*D as rock is an interesting image. G*D enlarges on the way from sling to forehead, becoming irresistible. G*D reduces so temple walls can be stepped over and be no barrier, becoming approachable. G*D as rock is no static image, but is as transformable as any Living reality.

= = = = = = =

lead me astray
please
from solid falsehoods
told with volume enough
to fool all the people all the time

lies that grow
rumor so seemingly so
plausible to irresistible
small lie masquerading
as big truth

lead me astray
from popular memes
so believable everywhere
and all too repeated
in sanctuary space

having connected with god
our least fears
are projected large
upon innocent
children and strangers

of all sadness
this grieves most
unquestioning
big lies hold sway
in holy space

resolution
a willingness
to be provoked
to love
not lie

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Pentecost +25 Sunday – A

Pentecost +25 Sunday – A

Years A
Judges 4;1-7 or Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18
Psalm 123 or Psalm 90:1-12
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Matthew 25:14-30


Life has been given into our hands. Some have received one gift; some another.

What to do with gifts is a perennial issue. The way we use a gift this year may be different than the way we were called to use it last year. It is difficult to keep up with a Living G*D.

The doing of evil may be as simple as continuing to use a gift in a manner no longer called for. Persistence of evil might be seen as a persistence of behavior beyond its time with no new listening, learning, or living.

It is this persistence of past talents that can be the same as burying them in the past and protecting them from being invested in the present and future. Thank goodness for communities that continue to challenge and support us in our use of gifts - for challenging us when we keep repeating ourselves past usefulness and for stimulating and encouraging us to new uses of given gifts.

= = = = = = =

a thousand years
swept away like a dream
and we complain
we bewail
we are at wit's end

the pull of habit
is strong
persistent
insistent
desired

even if there is new grass
growing through cement
we cling to our cement
claiming it to be life
in the presence of real life

may the light of day
keep us from SAD
cast a beam upon our path
warm our waning days
and lead us to one another

a thousand days
pfftt
gone
no regret
today's enough

Friday, November 09, 2007

Pentecost +24 Sunday – C4

Pentecost +24 Sunday – C4

Years C
Luke 20:27-38

If a pastor moves on from a congregation, another pastor is to come and make them fruitful. After seven pastorates, during a time of Jubilee from pastoring, a question arises as to which congregation do I have responsibility for forever?

Well, it turns out, none-of-the-above is the closest to reality. It was a false concept that an offspring is the end-all and be-all of life. Even having one imputed to one through no action of one's own, doesn't reverse death. To talk of pastoral responsibility for the life of a congregation is in the same arena of false concept.

Whew, finally the woman died. Whew, finally being responsible for another or a group of others died. In the midst of mutuality we can do just fine without an offspring. In the midst of mutuality we can do just fine without a pastor. This is not to say that a child wouldn't bring joy or a pastor wouldn't provide leadership. It is to look more deeply at the details and catch a glimpse of the fragility of the premise we have for so long taken for granted.

Where have you been caught thinking that you are caught in a web not of your own weaving or in a story made up by someone without regard for your character development? Time, then, to remember there is a G*D of the living that goes beyond our limiting rules based on bad science or bad systems. In this remembering it is now possible to move on.

= = = = = = =

children of resurrection
would be a lovely name
for a congregation
wrestling with a living G*D
as they find themselves
born and reborn and re-reborn
shedding skin after skin
growing from within
not compressed from without

child of resurrection
would be a beautiful secret name
for an individual
finding their identity
in being everyone's child
and bearing everyone's child
whether in body
or in metaphor
once or repeatedly

resurrection children
bypass usual fears
of death
as ending
or beginning
or changing
each is permissible
none holds sway
all is alive

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Pentecost +24 Sunday – C3

Pentecost +24 Sunday – C3

Years C
2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17

A key element of our faith and lack thereof is found in the issue of tradition. Just what was the tradition that was taught by Paul? How large or small was it?

Is the tradition of Paul that of inclusion of all into one community? Was it focused on details of an apocalypse? Did it have to do with rules and regulations about who could talk and when and where? Perhaps it was simply encouragement to not connect the present with the future too tightly because our projections would soon overtake us and lead to an idolatry of now that would keep us from a better tomorrow?

If Paul's tradition was most focused on Jesus' glory of connection with G*D that was also available to become our glory, then we have a wonderful freedom to live together as disciples, adding glory to glory.

If Paul's tradition was more focused on control of disciples to keep them from harm's way, thus to constrain them from straying from a given straight-and-narrow, then we have a much stricter path to tread.

What do you see Paul's tradition to be?

= = = = = = =

eternal comfort
good hope
come our way unbidden
rise up from within
for no good reason

so comforted
so strengthened
these energies
are transformed
to word and work

Pentecost +24 Sunday – C2

Pentecost +24 Sunday – C2

Years C
Psalm 145:1-5, 17-21 or Psalm 98 or Psalm 17:1-9

When all is said and done a judgment will be made on the basis of righteousness (right living choices amid a sinister world) and equity (a justified humility).

And we keep acting as though such a judgment will be made on the basis of our strength, our keeping particular traditions, our belief structure or particular language, etc.

Until we can get our head around what might reasonably be on the test and stop assuming that the test we want will be the test we will get, our expectations play contrarily against a coming standard. It is time to figure out what the basics of life are rather than play to our preferences.

= = = = = = =

knowing we are out of sync
with our long-term good
because the short-term goodies
are so tasty

we finally appeal
that we might be an apple
given to our test-giver teacher
and exempted from the pop quiz

rather than simply taking the test
we spend our time avoiding
a study of the subject at hand
living now and trusting ever

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Pentecost +24 Sunday – C1

Pentecost +24 Sunday – C1

Years C
Haggai 1:15b-2:9 or Job 19:23-27a

Visions of "heaven" come wrapped in gift paper - fancy paper, but still paper. We fancy up what we already know and project it into what we expect. This is all very normal, but not particularly relevant to some future time.

Note here the way in which the "heavenly" realm of a temple rebuilt or an experience after death both take on a process of revelation. No one remembered what the previous temple looked like or, at least, could hardly remember it in the face of the reality of its current state of destruction. It will be in a rebuilding that new glory will shine, not in simply duplicating that which was. It will be in the rebuilding that we will find what could never be found in the old temple.

Likewise, after Job's skin is destroyed his underlying flesh will experience a rebuilding. The redemption looked for is not some automatic response (this much suffering gets this much redemption and another amount gets another redemption experience). In the new setting something will be experienced appropriate to its setting.

Neither of these are intended to be a story of heaven that is beyond our current understanding, and yet they remind us not to get too far ahead of ourselves or we will then only find a demolished expectation without also finding its new salvation health.

= = = = = = =

prosperity is only such
for its given moment
always there has been a crash

only after said crash
do we find a new prosperity
even more prosperous

a prosperity unimaginable
without its proverbial black Monday
setting its background

look not for a new prosperity
a new heavenly image
without losing the old

it won't be a mere extension
but the more sweet
for being a quantum leap

Monday, November 05, 2007

Pentecost +24 Sunday – B

Pentecost +24 Sunday – B

Years B
Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17 or 1 Kings 17:8-16
Psalm 127 or Psalm 146
Hebrews 9:24-28
Mark 12:38-44


When called to put in to life all we have, it is helpful to have little. We don't have to sort through tough decisions about what to save when a fire is bearing down on us or the flood waters are rising. When it is very clear that we only have this cup of flour or these two coins, we might as well offer them now rather than wait for another hand - sort of like going all in when short-stacked - it is the only reasonable decision in an uncertain world.

Our senses are heightened when everything is on the line and, at the same time, there is a blessed quietness. This combination of choice and non-choice leads to the type of living that will force action. When in this space we are open to doors we never would have considered and, if nothing else, we are a blessing to any who observe our response to a dilemma - invest where you can your reputation, resources, and hope.

= = = = = = =

a house is being built
a habitat for humanity
rises from random materials
a foundation here
a stud there
insulation blown or blanket
paint all around

a house is being built
a model of participation
sweat equity
partnering with G*D
and one another
pick your skill set
and use it well

a house is being built
its transformation
to a home
is in vain
without today's risk
sleeping with Boaz
cooking for Elijah

a house is being built
that requires
everyone's hands
to raise it up
not even G*D
does this alone
without a widow's help

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Pentecost +24 Sunday – A

Pentecost +24 Sunday – A

Years A
Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25 or Wisdom of Solomon 6:12-16 & Amos 5:18-22
Psalm 78:1-7 or Wisdom of Solomon 6:17-20 & Psalm 70
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Matthew 25:1-13


Wisdom requires decisions made in the moment, in this day. To wait for more information is not as wise as acting on what is now known and adding to what is known as we go along and making appropriate corrections, including recantations, to and of prior decisions.

What do you know of "bridegroom" behavior? How do you then plan and decide about their inconstancy?

What do you know of "bridegroom" forgiveness? How does this change your plans and decisions?

What do you know of "bridegroom" justice and righteous? Does this confirm or change your plans based on what you know about the forgiveness of same?

= = = = = = =

alas for you
who desire the day to come
without having made
the needed decisions of this day

to desire without planning
is driving without
seatbelt or helmet
damn silly

to desire without deciding
is counting chickens
before they are hatched
worthless

no amount of ritual
incantation or sacrifice
will atone for innocent desire
none

plan for extravagant justice
decide for expansive righteousness
for this is saving music to the ear
beautiful

Friday, November 02, 2007

Pentecost +23 Sunday – C4

Pentecost +23 Sunday – C4

Years C
Luke 19:1-10

Ambiguous places often help us define what is important. In this passage there are two major ambiguities. First is a question of who is short of stature. To think about the reference being to Jesus or to Zacchaeus begins to let us see this story again - outside the confines of the little ditty about "a wee little man." We who are so used to imaging a tall, Nordic Jesus who portrays calm wisdom and strength that can externalized need to be able to see Jesus in everyone we meet, even the shortest and youngest.

Second is a question of giving. The passage can be read regarding resources Zacchaeus will give as a response to Jesus' visit in his life. It can also be read as giving that Zacchaeus is already doing. In the first instance this is a story about personal salvation/health and response to it. In the second it is a story about the crowd, their prejudice and the need for inclusion/health on a community level.

Even when the language seems unambiguous it is alright to squint at it a bit and come at it sideways. If you think Jesus or any saint is literalistic in their stories or their lives, you have a second think coming at some point. Even the most straight-forward of sentences or phrases can jump up to be as transforming as the catching of an eye (I) between a short guy in the middle of a crowd and short guy up a tree without a ladder. It is shocking what little things as an ambiguity can do with us, for us, to us.

= = = = = = =

Jesus is coming
asking to stay at your house today
he was just going to pass on through
but here he is
delaying his travel
to come to your house

ready or not
Jesus is coming
in an unanticipated moment
here he is
investing in you
coming to your house

going forth
Jesus travels on
I journey on
now both of us
are inviting ourselves
to your house

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Pentecost +23 Sunday – C3

Pentecost +23 Sunday – C3

Year C
2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12

Who are you? Who you talk’n to? What’s your best shot? Will you stick it out?

Who are you? While politicians are famous for naming their own name, almost erasing who it is that is speaking as they speak about the image of themselves they want to project, we might yet do a better job of stating who it is that is speaking. What is our identity? How much energy can we put behind an encounter with another? If you haven’t done it in awhile, you may want to stand in front of a full-length mirror and practice an energetic, positive, progressively-open presentation of yourself, saying your name out loud in a fashion that intends to engage another at your respective best places.

Who you talk’n to? Regardless of your strength of identity, if there is not an intentional speaking to another real person, folks aren’t going to stick around for a potential growth opportunity for you both. If you haven’t done it in awhile, you may want to intentionally look at people’s eyes to note their color. In addition to this specific, use your Sherlock Holmes skills (practice will improve them) to note specifics about their bearing and aura. To speak with another means knowing something about them and if you need to spend time to so learn it will be worth the expenditure of time in effective communication.

What’s your best shot? Can you go Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy one better on the shorthand version of your best that you will add to as the relationship deepens. They begin with Grace and Peace (they named their sources for such, but these generics are a good starting place). What would you substitute for one of them or add to them? You don’t have to give a whole load at one time, trust that there will be ample kairos-time to get in what needs getting in.

Will you stick it out? Finally, there is this moment, well-encountered, that can be an eternity. There is always time enough to make a difference if that is intended by all concerned. Our apart time can also fulfill this moment and prepare us for another through an on-going sense of being joined at the root, in prayer.

= = = = = = =

it would be so wonderful
for grace and peace
to find a place and time
within my life
to be even further glorified

it would be so wonderful
for faith and love
to find a place and time
within your life
to be even further glorified

it would be so wonderful
for life together
between us
to be even further glorified

it would be so wonderful
for glorified living
within and beyond
to be fruitful and multiplied

it is already wonderful
simply to imagine
these possibilities
gloriously playing together

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pentecost +23 Sunday – C2

Pentecost +23 Sunday – C2

Year C
Psalm 119:137-144 or Psalm 32:1-7

We do indeed desire an understanding that will enable us to live. A part of the religious struggle is how to use this desire. Is it limited to control of our lives and our environment? If so, how does it ever grow, for the way in which we use control is to limit change? Is it intended to be continually ahead of us and so our task is more to learn how to learn than it is to memorize the overload of what has come down to us. If so, how do we deal with the constancy of change that will lead us beyond creedal words, for our response to change is to slow it down to manageable bits?

It seems we can either deal with “decrees righteous for ever” or with “understanding”, but not both at the same time. To stand between them is to put one at risk of cognitive dissonance and every other kind of soul-wrenching experience that can be imagined.

In some sense there needs to be a division between G*D and ourselves as well as a unity. G*D needs “forever” space and we need growth-in-learning space. It is important not to confuse these two and meld them too closely together.

Likewise we can’t try to hold together an image of G*D being a hiding place as well as a one that surrounds us with glad cries. We are no longer hidden if being exulted over. We cannot be celebrated while still being hidden away.

= = = = = = =

trouble and anguish have come
and come and come
again and again
we wonder how can we last

finding a beauty of righteousness
again and again
brings us closer and closer
to a delight larger than failure

to a larger vision of tomorrow
nearer and nearer
we turn again and again
until it is vision no longer

then external decrees
and internal understanding
again and again
dance with one another

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pentecost +23 Sunday – C1

Pentecost +23 Sunday – C1

Year C
Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4 or Isaiah 1:10-18

Imagine a later Habakkuk in an earlier Sodom or an even later (your location here). Habakkuk could be anywhere religious veneer is of more value than compassion or where preemptive violence rules the day. (Actually, these two conditions bring out the worst in each other.)

How different would the vision be for what it means to live your faith? Though not explicitly stated in this passage, would not both Isaiah and yourself spell out that vision as (1) refraining from harm, (2) the doing of good, and (3) the putting of yourself and your community into an active relationship with G*D that (1) and (2) above might be sustained?

All three of these actions work together. A question for today is which of these three active holinesses needs to be reenergized where you are to break a cycle of decline from deep insight into surface forms?

= = = = = = =

come let us argue
invites G*D and saints
our way through
qualities of leadership

let us call one another
to account and change
in the face of
violence and promise

may this challenge
lead us beyond
our current comprehension
of religion and perfection

our standard now becomes
continual reduction of violence
compassion that fatigues not
and honest relational encounters

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pentecost +23 Sunday – B

Pentecost +23 Sunday – B

Year B
Ruth 1:1-18 or Deuteronomy 6:1-9
Psalm 146 or Psalm 119:1-8
Hebrews 9:11-14
Mark 12:28-34


Why continue running in the same circle of people? Why leave for another circle?

Inasmuch as we have multiple options of where to be and with whom, these are on-going questions. We also have differing needs, some of which come to the fore for a time and some that wait for another occasion. Sometimes we respond with very practical considerations of income and retirement? Sometimes our emotional well-being overrides any other issue. There are times when an internal hope or conversation with G*D will move us past either or these or anything else we have previously used to decide. Always there is inertia or lack of imagination that can come into play.

Whether practical, emotional, hopeful, or habitual, we are responding to where we see the nearness of the “freedom” of G*D and whether we are a part of a freedom to invest in life, to love, here or there, this circumstance or that, these ones or those. The more basic our freedom, the easier it is to say “both” at the same time or sequentially.

= = = = = = =

moments of import
heighten all our senses
hearts hearing calls
mind’s eyes seeing options
ties that bind touch our souls

such moments
come one per lifetime
and several
are present right now
for amusement and signifying

in this moment
we honor our ancestresses
Orpah and Ruth
both doing their best
in their every-day days

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Pentecost +23 Sunday – A

Pentecost +23 Sunday – A

Year A
Joshua 3:7-17 or Micah 3:5-12
Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37 or Psalm 43
1 Thessalonians 2:9-13
Matthew 23:1-12


A place of honor requires stepping into a flood rush and standing still while the waters rush by, not yet calmed upstream. To bear the holy is both honorable and dangerous. When we try to disentangle these two to provide executive privilege, or any other kind of privilege, we have failed in our leadership.

To bear holiness, in ourselves and not just on our shoulders, requires entering all manner of metaphoric flood waters. We will stand in a flood that rejuvenates the land, building a part of a new delta with the few molecules of flesh and bone we have at our disposal. We will stand in a flood of prejudice, uncertainty, and fear that has rushed on for a longest time as a sign and witness it shall not always be so – though not yet seen, a cessation is on its way [and again a "nothing" has become a "something" :) ].

Still, it is time to stop by woods or flood and choose a path less traveled. It will make all the difference.

= = = = = = =

some prophets cry peace
to a raging river
a rising tide
as though desire
for continued comfort
were sufficient

being thus out of tune
with what is coming
for fear of losing
what little purchase
we have on the bronco back
of a living G*D

our cry of peace
echoes hollowly
within a hollow people
empty of hallowing
coming change
in present living

Pentecost +22 – C4

Pentecost +22 – C4

Year C
Luke 18:9-14

Thank goodness neither I nor readers here trust in themselves! We be but worthless worms!

Was it otherwise we, too, might be tempted to impose our level of grace as the standard for all, regardless of age or experience. Variations on a theme of grace seem infinite. While trying to understand a mystery such as grace we set up a triage tree.

Are we on a branch of prevenient grace? And, if so, do we honor it?

Might we be settled on another limb, justifying grace, just as worthy, but different?

Could we be as high or low (depending upon our cosmology and theology of servanthood) as sanctifying grace? Or, is this a jump, squirrel-like, to another tree entirely?

As large as this Trinitarian dissection of grace may be, it is much too small for the reality of any one life, not to mention that of a community. We may spend more time between such classic conceptions than in any of them. Eventually we will need to toss out our pride of place in grace along with a trust in perks as prayer tokens.

= = = = = = =

"pleased to be here already"
"distraught to be only here"
are cries from
experienced prayer warriors
battling others and self
for G*D territory

building a prayer ziggurat
to the heights of heaven
digging a prayer shaft
to the foundations of paradise
show our pride
establish our place

whichever way we strive
to justify our choices
or construct our basis
for generalized justification
we enter a never-ending
tread mill of examine

pronounced justified
we are justified
in separation from
those not so recognized
and we play the grace game
from the other side

pleased and distraught
becomes our cage
never at home in either
yearning for a new parable
in which to find ourselves
and one another closer

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pentecost +22 Sunday – C3

Pentecost +22 Sunday – C3

Years C
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

My Life as Sacramental Wine: title of Paul's latest book. The chapters are alphabetical and illustrative of the specialized lingo of oenology - austere, balanced, complex, ..., yeasty, zymurgy.

Using a glossary of wineology, how would you describe your life?

= = = = = = =

I stand alone
may it not be counted against them
you stand alone
may it not be counted against them
we stand alone
may it not be counted against them
all stand alone
may it not be counted against them
all together stand alone
may it not be counted against them

I stand alone
with thanks to them
you stand alone
with thanks to them
we stand alone
with thanks to them
all stand alone
with thanks to them
all together stand alone
with thanks to them

so now what
alone alone
alone together
what is proclaimed
suicide
community
anger universalized
trust focused
abiding fear of them
simple honesty with them

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pentecost +22 Sunday – C2

Pentecost +22 Sunday – C2

Years C
Psalm 65 or Psalm 84:1-7

Happy are we when we are satisfied with the goodness of G*D's presence.

While the experience of G*D's goodness is an intangible, it does have weight. This weight tilts us ever so, a little more, toward expressions of hope.

Can you feel this weight in your life? It is a weight that lifts.

= = = = = = =

roaring waves silenced
people's tumult quieted
into this silence
drop signs
it is evening
it is morning
a new day begun

a gentle river
by trees of healing
forgiveness realized
in iniquities midst
another year in
another year begun
feasting on joy

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pentecost +22 Sunday – C1

Pentecost +22 Sunday – C1

Years C
Joel 2:23-32 or Sirach 35:12-17 or Jeremiah 14:7-10, 19-22

Ya gotta love formulas. According to Grandpa: G*D gives once, generously, and we return it in the fashion it was given, generously. Once this test or tit-for-tat has been accomplished, G*D repays sevenfold. An unspoken understanding is that such increased generosity will be increased in return. Pretty soon we will be given and giving seventy times seven times to one another.

Don't forget, says Grandad, this generosity is not just in goodies, but in justice. If you make that mistake, and don't expand your generosity into the arena of justice, you have just broken the cycle of generosity and your ability to bless as you have been blessed is diminishing. At first imperceptibly, but eventually it can't be ignored.

= = = = = = =

afterward
always later
spirit is poured out
on all
forever

it takes a special eye
to see the presence
of an afterward already
active in the midst
of no accounts and slaves

still waiting
for afterwards
to lift you out
of yesterday
carpe diem