Monday, January 12, 2015

John 1:43-51

Year B - Epiphany 2 or Guiding Gift 2
January 18, 2015

John 1:43-51

Six Acts:

1) “I have identified meaning for my time.”
If you want to couch this in traditional religious terms there are plenty of hooks on which to place the authority of your meaning. If you want to be wider-ranging or more inclusive than any particular from the past, that is also available to you.

2) “I see no good coming from that direction.”
No matter what you identify there will soon be a resistance to it by those you are engaging for your meaning is not automatically seen by them as including their meaning. All too often they have experienced people talking this way who want to subsume them under an alien authority. Whatever you raise as a point of meaning will have a “Nazareth” component to someone else.

3) “Come and see.”
Finally we can but invite folks to walk with us. Some will journey for a bit toward our viewing place and leave before arriving. Some will make it all the way to see what we saw and still not see it. Some will get there and see even further wherein we will be the ones seeing some “Nazareth” in their extension that is too much for us.

4) “Here is one not bound by skepticism.”
When this affirmation comes to us our life-story and questions are honored. Our limitations are acknowledged. Our gifts and blessings are affirmed. We can be.

5) “Are you sure?”
Knowing our ability to deceive runs bone deep as we try to justify our self and sneak in to some paradise by the skin of our teeth, this sense of having and being a blessing is more than we can take in.

6) “You are on a Blessing Way.”
This is a next step on a longer journey of mutual provocation to become more human. Welcome.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Psalm 147:12-20

Year B - Christmas 2 or Blessed Body 2
January 4, 2015

Psalm 147:12-20

It even snows in Bethlehem and fortunately the angel chorus came on a snowless night or the shepherds would have a choice to make between tromping through snow to go see or waiting for a day or two for it melt away. Don’t you feel frustrated when an exciting new idea opens up and its implementation needs to be delayed?

Don’t you sometimes wish that G*D not deal with others the way you have been dealt with the cognitive dissonance of peace within our boundaries just as hail storms down upon us. Better for us to take that yo-yoing than that others would have to face it.

In theory it helps us clarify some significant meaning in life, but usually it forces us to make a choice between holding on to past promises that will not contain our life and death or giving up on our established point of trust.

It would be helpful to have some participation in events affecting us beyond being in loco parentis-ized by a received scriptural text standing in for a Living G*D. Just living up to a received ordinance doesn’t help us mature in our relationship with creation.

May the “wind blow and waters flow” because of your joining in decision-making about your life and the life of the world.

Church of the Nativity — Bethlehem

Jeremiah 31:7-14

Year B - Christmas 2 or Blessed Body 2
January 4, 2015

Jeremiah 31:7-14

“(The Word) was in the world but not known there.” This is not just a dimensional problem, but a behavioral one.

While logical that whatever was the attributed source of exile would also be a source for an end of exile, it raises a question about whether such a source is worth knowing. Does the loss engendered by exile get wiped away by whatever compassion or consolation ends said exile? Is there any consolation for the deaths? Does a promise of future smooth-sailing outweigh the rocky road of extreme loss of innocents and innocence?

If we are living out an incarnational story, the promises made at birth seem to drop off along the way of subsequent living. Getting all the way to some resurrectional difference is still a large disjuncture away and is a step beyond another promise.

Thank you, Jeremiah, for this word of hope of return from disaster. But a prosperity gospel here adds little to our G*D fatigue (we’ve heard this before...).

Monday, December 29, 2014

John 1:(1-9), 10-18

Year B - Christmas 2 or Blessed Body 2
January 4, 2015

That’s the trouble coming from a different dimension—recognizability. You might want to try an old book from 1884 to further reflect on this: Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin A. Abbott. You can even read it online, though I recommend the book form.

Transdimensional recognition is often more in the realm of intuition and mystical experience than something easily translatable. Shamans of many traditions might be seen as dimensional travelers who bring back some thin-token as a way of seeing beyond the limits of whatever is brought their way.

It is no wonder John got all bollixed up and started sputtering about rank that takes away rank.

So, want to make a difference in our 4th dimension of time that tomorrow might be better than today? Practice grace and mercy (a larger truth). These tokens reveal G*D, a “heavenly” dimension come on earth.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Galatians 4:4-7

Year B - Christmas 1 or Blessed Body 1
December 28, 2014

We are only secondarily born “under the law”. Our primary birth will always be to be born “amid a blessed creation”. To be born of a woman is to be born in the mystery and marvel of life even though in patriarchal terms women are also secondary.

Our work is the incarnational one of finding a way to live in the presence of G*D. We are not called to adjust to one response to a multivalent context. 

It is this finding a way that we find all these connected: free — heir — G*D.

To put this in a musical context, try this one:

May you find your way to be incarnational, to live in the presence of presence.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12)

Year B - Christmas Day or Blessed Body
December 25, 2014

Jesus tells a story about Abraham and Lazarus wherein a “rich man” asks that his brother’s be warned about lacking in mercy/compassion for the poor. The upshot was that they wouldn’t listen to someone who was raised from the dead any more than they currently listen to prophets from the past.

Now it must be asked why we might think that we might better hear the speaking of some “Son” claimed to be closer to G*D than angels and in charge of all things.

This sort of affirmation may comfort the choir, but the inherent hierarchy in anointing one over all others is more likely to be a source of competition than compassion and division rather than mercy. This sort of material causes us to stop thinking rather than engaging it, critiquing it, and modeling what was intended to be said about community rather than what was jotted down so long ago. This rhetoric is counter to Christmas and may be why I haven’t jotted about it until much later in the day (I couldn’t do it for the Titus passage assigned to last night).

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Psalm 148

Year B - Christmas 1 or Blessed Body 1
December 28, 2014

This Psalm is like a conductor cueing various elements of the choir to come in, to add their part. It is a lovely image. At least until we get to the last line.

At the end there is the the word “horn” that biblically refers to the strength of power. When power enters there a set up for us to move back through all the praise just given because we are back to division.

We might want to translate “horn” into a literal horn with many mouthpieces attached to it that gives forth an internal harmony as we each take a breath and let loose our part of the breath of life.

Even then there are difficulties as we listen to the result and begin to claim that so-and-so is out of tune or off pitch or too syncopated. Again we are back to our usual divisions.

Somehow or other we need to get over our own holiness and begin to see in each person we encounter (even baby Judas) “a light for revelation” and to speak each other into better being.

There is an undocumented story about a village reminding a wrong-doer of who they are and they get it and are changed. This doesn’t take into account a community larger than can be known one-by-one or chemical/brain variations including the pathologic. None-the-less, it is an important starting place to presume folks are doing the best they can with what they have. When that proves to be incorrect, swords pierce innocent hearts. Now, what is Christmas about again? What was that about angels and shepherds and an ordinary manger stall?

As you look around your community where will you "raise a hopeful cry".

Some Christmas Hymn, huh?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Psalm 98

Year B - Christmas Day or Blessed Body
December 25, 2014

Psalm 98 is structurally very similar to Psalm 96. A key difference is that Psalm 96 (Christmas Eve) talks about talking about G*D’s glory, while Psalm 98 (Christmas Day) claims that such has been accomplished and we just jump up and down in celebration.

With that bit out of the way, when we look at both Psalms the response is to some event that rebinds us to one another and to creation. This gets talked about in religious terms of righteousness and truth and equity/justice/fairness.

We tend to get a bit personal in regard to this language. It usually boils down to my being justified and being included in. It is so easy to forget that Christmas is for Joy to the World starting in the mean streets of Bethlehem and is community based, not individual based. Would that Christmas would affect our church language and we would not ask about salvation by a personal Lord and Savior, but about wholeness of the community, friends, family, and enemies all together in a new way.

Christmas is universal or it is nothing. Question: What happened to the warm glow of singing Silent Night by candlelight? This is Christmas day. No more talking about a good game that is going to come ’round right. It’s day. Time to actualize, time to manifest, time to live what we trust.

Psalm 96

Year B - Christmas Eve or Blessed Body Eve
December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve

and it is evening
time to begin a hum
that will turn
to a new song
welcoming a new day

no more judging
even with righteousness
nor even truth
these distract
a joy of mercy

no matter
what this day brought
it is evening
all that is gone
time for a new song

Isaiah 61:10 - 62:3

Year B - Christmas 1 or Blessed Body 1
December 28, 2014

Rejoice, you’re covered.

We’ve heard about swaddling clothes for a baby in a manger. It is all too easy to forget that vestiges of those early protective-so-you-can-grow wraps continue with us for all of life. We just need to remember and revision them.

For those who have grown beyond baby stage it will be important to remember your aura that wraps you around all your growing days. From the inside out a three-stage aura holds:

  • an orientation toward what is right and helpful for self and others, 
  • connecting points for relationships with others, and
  • a patina of dust in which small sparkly flowers grow and bloom as a part of creation.

This takes us through the end of chapter 61. It is not necessary to go on to chapter 62 where we hear about much lesser coverings such as vindication, a crown of beauty, a royal diadem. Each of these don’t seem to know when to stop and soon cover over what is right, connections with others for their sake, and simple all-over beauty.

No one in the congregation will really mind if you only read the first 2 verses of this pericope. It will make a difference not to bring in power language to a gift party.

Isaiah 52:7-10

Year B - Christmas Day or Blessed Body
December 25, 2014

Just before this passage we hear such phrases as:

  • Awake, awake, put on your strength
  • Shake yourself from the dust
  • Here I am (echoes of a burning bush as antecedent to a Freedom March)

This is important, otherwise the beautiful feet bearing a message of peace might sound as if we don’t need to do anything but sit back and wait for G*D to reign, that there is no need of our waking, shaking, or committing to make a change. The passage for the day is all about showing off our G*D as better than every other G*D. What more is asked of us than to drowse and watch through half-lowered lids as G*D bares a “holy” arm, flexes G*D muscle to the ends of the earth, and makes nations into theocracies.

This is a passage dangerous to use on its own as it breaks the creation covenant with us and leads us from captivity to captivity, never to grow up.

If bodies are engaged in incarnation, in Christmas, then we are to use our bodies and the exercise of them to add our bit of freedom to a world all too at ease with fate that keeps the current captivities of too many people as a necessity for the economic well being of an idea of an economy.

Isaiah 9:2-7

Year B - Christmas Eve or Blessed Body Eve
December 24, 2014

Well, here we are, still falling short of our best as we accommodate to the self-imposed limits of what we are told by the powers-that-be is possible to do in the current circumstance. All those promises of G*D to establish and uphold endless peace through the justice and righteousness of David’s throne have come to naught and here we are.

We are back to living in a land of deep darkness that can’t be blamed on Fox News or any other purveyor of misinformation. However it has come, it is dark—Advent dark.

We have been preparing for a journey toward the light. It is still but a glimmer. Who could reasonably expect a change coming through a brave girl, a compassionate man, and an itsy-bitsy baby. It would be like expecting change to come through the likes of you, or me. It’s just not going happen—right!?

Question, why do think there is such a liturgical and cultural difference between Christmas Eve and Easter Eve? Can you keep the dark going tonight without schmaltzing it up with candlelight so tomorrow we can join the shepherds in singing a new song? [Probably not as the cultural artifacts are so strong, but you may be able to start humming a new tune after the glow has faded a bit—the shepherds may have also needed some time to ponder along with Mary.]