Friday, July 03, 2015

2 Corinthians 12:2-10

Year B - Pentecost +6 or Energy to Witness 6
July 5, 2015

Can you imagine the “thorn” of Paul. Many have done so. Can you now imagine the “thorn” of Jesus that kept him weak in Nazareth?

How do you think Jesus would speak about his experience in the face of “unbelief”. This might give a hint to those of us who keep getting caught in places of conflicting covenant to personal mission and community stability/traditions.

We all have a revelation that informs us and is untranslatable to anyone else. This sets up a tension between how we understand we are acting and how others see us. What is seen in us or heard from us is not univalent. And so we get caught between in a three-sided press of vision, internal-thorn, and external-insult. The pushes and pulls here are enough to anneal or break us.

May you continue to disclose your vision/mission in what you do and say even as thorns and insults attempt to block the way of healing. May you go forth to announce mercy beyond both any impending or present disaster and repentance of that which led to such. In this mercy we learn about “enough” available in place of any power that can only eventually lead to disaster.

Psalm 48

Year B - Pentecost +6 or Energy to Witness 6
July 5, 2015

Let’s play with three words/phrases.

Verse   3 — defense, refuge, (power)
Verse   9 — mercy, steadfast love (power)
Verse 14 — completed, forever and ever (power)

Living from these positions gives the kind of non-violent presence/force/power (satyagraha) needed to deal with realities of resistance. This is particularly important in places where we are too well known or known well enough to be dismissed.

It is time to check your memory of Pentecost and to do a quick check regarding your sense of these six words/phrases. If you have sufficient, rejoice. If you are still in the closet, wind and fire can still find you. Either way, awareness of your sense of defense, mercy, completion, refuge steadfast love, and forever will lead you a next step today or enhance your anticipation to be ready to act tomorrow. Either way, be a satyagraha to be reckoned with.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10

Year B - Pentecost +6 or Energy to Witness 6
July 5, 2015

The first appeal to David is as a tribal member (bone and flesh) and practical effectiveness (you’ve been leading). In this paradigm we don’t just have “servant leaders” but “servant rulers”.

At Hebron it was not G*D and Samuel doing the anointing to shepherding a larger flock but it was the tribal leaders (presumably doing G*D’s work?) that finally disclosed their support of David—something they were not able to do for fear of Saul. In some way this parallels people finally, and safely, disclosing their support of same-sex marriages or disapproval of an out-dated flag—after a period of fear of religious and cultural literalists (today’s Sauls).

Do note that David did not get full pension credit for his work life. At the Hebron “G*D Outlet” the pension was based on full-years completed. As a result David’s seven years and six months only count for seven years. Even so has management nickel and dimed labor to this day.

Attend to what happens when a City of Peace is named for a person or people (City of David). It becomes a focus of division, ruination, and captivity. What seems so close (David) displaces perennial work (Peace). Even before David’s death, intrique sets in. It is not enough to cover life over with pious sayings such as, “the Lord, the God of hosts, was with David.” Such perspective unconsciously and/or unwittingly lead to—When David falls, this Lord is diminished.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Mark 6:1-13

Year B - Pentecost +6 or Energy to Witness 6
July 5, 2015

Isn’t it the truth that we usually have more trouble from and disappointment in our allies than our enemies. Ever has it been the case. Allies who claim their truth needs to be our truth are the cause of fightings and fears within any movement. Our greatest battles are with ourselves and our allies. Read again Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

What is needed in a movement is an appreciation of the variety of skills, gifts, and strategies needed to be successful. There is no one way forward. We travel on many paths at the same time, evolutionarily leaving some behind and investing more heavily in others. But without each way having value, we are the poorer to leave change to authorized channels, even unorthodox authorities.

Here a strand of a larger movement in an occupied land (religiously as well as militarily, politically, and economically) known as the Jesus Way moves into outlying and foreign territories. The instructions about going out two by two and their provisions opens an interesting conversation about a contrast between Jesus and the Cynics. You can read more about this in chapter 5 of Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography by John Dominic Crossan.

Those sent out were to rely upon the generosity of a new community, not their individual moral strength and wisdom. They were to proclaim a baptismal message that takes a village to complete and heal both individuals and communities.

A significant task always before us is identifying who the actual allies are that can be counted on and leveraging that to deeper resolve (lived repentance) and revelation of this through healing (not necessarily curing).

And so a little post-Pentecost test: What conversation about mystery and wonder are you taking part in across the usual boundaries and intersections? If we are just preaching to a choir or demanding accepted responses to deep questions always moving on from last a last response, we are already losing our Pentecostal Power. Remember, Be Glad, and Move Outward.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

2 Corinthians 8:7-15

Year B - Pentecost +5 or Energy to Witness 5
June 28, 2015

Externally, the American economic system (only one of many with no presumption of privileged position) needs to hear again verse 15, “No one is to have too little; no one too much” and once again deal with its tendency toward gildedness and a growing gap between peoples/classes.

Internally, we hear about followers of Jesus who excel in so much, so fruitful, so ripe for harvesting, so full of healing for the nations. If only they could start with themselves! To partner with G*D, as did Jesus, means being generous with that which has filled and satisfied. 

This generosity is not just overflow. This generosity is to begin an emptying process. Having been empty, having been full, we can return to emptiness for the first time, intentionally, trustingly, eagerly. Now generosity can avoid the trap of measuring itself against others. What we have and what we don’t have, both reveal our G*D Partnership. We can’t help ourselves connecting so tightly our love of G*D and love of Neighb*r that an observer could ever tell the difference.

“Fair balance” means neither “fair” nor “balance”.  This phrase goes well beyond measurement. It goes all the way to mutual generosity. Blessings on not responding, “Fine”, the next time you are asked how you are. Rather try, “Generous”, and see what it does to your encounter.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Psalm 130

Year B - Pentecost +5 or Energy to Witness 5
June 28, 2015

I trust you have connected with this psalm is four human ways:

  • Jairus - on behalf of another
  • Woman - on behalf of one’s self
  • Daughter - in silence, unknown, inarticulate
  • Yourself - (your cry hear)

The first 6 verses are the specific needs and connections we have to live our life more fully—in community, health, awareness, and any other quality of fullness. For those in the Wesleyan tradition, it is helpful to remember key words here—depths, cry, there is forgiveness, watch for the morning, steadfast love, redeem—as we hear John Wesley report he heard a choir singing this psalm just hours before he felt his “heart strangely warmed” at Aldersgate.

The last 2 verses are universalized from the individual to the community. Of particular note is a note from The Jewish Study Bible, “Sinners or their descendants normally need to be punished (see Exod. 34.7), but here God redeems, that is forgives, so no one is punished. As in many psalms, the personal becomes the communal.” Likewise, The New Community Bible describes this psalm: “It is a deep-throated cry for forgiveness and survival.”

A reason for attending to the literal in scripture is for words such as this to be carried along and available to individuals in a particular time of need that goes beyond hope. We also need to attend to the metaphoric in scripture to know that limiting the communal to an extension of our personal desires and experience is far too small a way to live—each of our lives is a shard of our community and an entry point of the energy of conversion and anchoring of a preferred future in a wobbly present.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27

Year B - Pentecost +5 or Energy to Witness 5
June 28, 2015

Verses 19 and 25 reverse their order but act as a commentary contrasting mighty ones, courageous to the core, with their fate—perished/vanity.

When we look around today it is difficult to identify courage. Without courage to contras with, vanity is even more ephemeral than usual. There is not even smoke to mark a funeral.

Saul and Jonathan are noted in the last line as “weapons of war”. It is not surprising that they fall if that is the way in which they are remembered. As we might all have said, “Live by war; die by war”.

Consider what will be lamented at your death. Who and what will be addressed? Will you be remembered as a weapon of war for not resisting it? Will you be remembered as a forgiver whose presence heals? If it will be some mixture of these, what proportion will be noted?

For now, try writing what you suspect would be found in a Song of the Bow, should the Book of Jashar ever be found. Would it also be a lament, like this one? Is it this one with just the names changed? Would it be a victory song? What does a bow mean? The same as a broken bow?

Do be aware that any attempt you make will say much more about you than you might want known. Nonetheless, be courageous—write anyway.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Mark 5:21-43

Year B - Pentecost +5 or Energy to Witness 5
June 28, 2015

How many times are we to forgive? 70 x 7!

How many times did Jairus have to beg? 70 x7?

Persistence in doing good and looking for good is a positive value. It raises a question about what we are dogged about in seeing changed. Our culture says, “Three strikes and you’re out!” We are famous for wanting instant success.

What follows (fringe touching and hand holding) roll on from an insistence that something be done—and now! Sometimes our persistence needs to be several generations long as the resistance is that great. Don’t forget to mentor a next generation of persisters (resisters) so they can build on what you are continuing from the prophets of old or restarting in a new situation.

Blessings on all importuning widows and distraught fathers and fierce friends.