Friday, April 03, 2015

Mark 16:1-8

Easter or Assured – Year B
5 April 2015
Mark 16:1-8

It has been awhile since I have posted a comment here. My time has been preoccupied with getting my next book of lectionary comments out: Wrestling Year C: Connecting Sunday Readings with Lived Experience.

Here is a comment for the Mark gospel option from Wrestling Year B.

     Mary, Mary, and Salome, now representing the discipleship narrative once held by John, James, and Peter, were practical to wait until Sunday dawn to go to a tomb. Tombs are dark enough in daylight and to do so in the dark would add difficulty to difficulty. They were not practical in their uncertainty about being able to get in when they got there. Where was Martha who would have organized this expedition so they would know they could enter when they arrived?     
     Well, it turned out the spirit of Martha had been on duty after all—the door was open and they walked right in.    
     I suppose they might have known that things were already falling apart in their orderly world when the stone had been moved. It doesn’t begin to sink in, though, until they enter to find another transfigured figure who transfixed them with words unimagined—“Jesus ain’t here; he’s on the way to Galilee. Tell those behind you that Jesus has gone on ahead of you” (sort of a John the Baptizer reprise).    
     Well, what now? Our question about the stone sure had a response we weren’t looking for. Now there are too many more questions suddenly swirling within. We can’t even talk to one another yet. 
     When practical and fiercely caring women go quiet, look out—gestation is taking place and birth will come in its own time.    
     What questions are taking root in you? What has surprised you into silence that it might become you? [Note: Remember to read the phrase, “become you” in several ways.] Eventually you will “go ahead” too, so enjoy the growth going on now and the going ahead will be more joyous.

Blessings on all the preparations you have been doing since the surprise of Christmas (Life/Blessed Body) to prepare for a surprise of Easter (Assurance of New Life) by attending to all the large and small surprises between.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

2 Kings 2:1-12

Year B - Transfiguration or Mountain Top to Valley
February 15, 2015

Whirlwinds find their reversal in silence [ref. The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible].

The original languages translated into “whirlwind” have been variously translated and so it is difficult to track what is going on here in English translations.

Remember that Elijah, famously of the “still small voice”, now meets G*D in a tempest, a whirlwind. Remember the disciples on the lake in the midst of a storm, a whirlwind, who find that storm stilled, quieted, silenced.

In our lives we bounce back and forth between whirlwind and silence with different folks having different proportions of time in each.

It is a transfiguring experience to become aware of G*D in both, the conversation these can have with one another, and our own preferences. When life is too settled, a whirlwind can be helpful in figuring out what is most important and held to when all about you is going to hell in a handbasket. When life is too topsy-turvy, a blessing to regain perspective is time spent in quiet, silence.

Making friends of brother whirlwind and sister silence bears much good fruit. Both can bear G*D and both can be used as a sign of absence from G*D. Our work is to find which is applicable in the current moment and live from its gift.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Mark 9:2-9

Year B - Transfiguration or Mountain Top to Valley
February 15, 2015

A promise has been made: “Some here will see the power of the Presence of G*D before they die.” [Mark 9:1]

Now, six days later, some (Peter, James, John, Jesus) ascend a distant high mountain. With the sun in their eyes, Peter, James, and John saw Jesus and two sun dogs (Moses, Elijah) all connected and communing.

Peter piped up to offer to make three Sukkot dwellings for them before remembering there were no branches here and hauling them up would be untold work. This was evidence that Peter had lost his bearings.

Well, the Presence of G*D can do that.

Before things could be properly sorted out, a cloud obscured the sun and sun dogs. The take away was as the shepherd response to the angels, “Let’s check what we are hearing and follow where it leads.”

It leads to enacting the Presence of G*D, not talking about it.

Admittedly there is extra material tossed in here regarding being raised (vs risen) and that being an opportunity to reflect on the Presence of G*D. However, the disciples being the disciples they were, they didn’t wait to talk amongst themselves about what being connected to their heritage of “Law and Prophet” might mean.

What they lost in talking too soon were the “Writings”, the stories that could make sense of Law and Prophet without the danger of literalizing them. So the disciples saw the Presence of G*D, but had yet to learn how to engage it participating in the real world. They were still trapped in a Heaven and Earth paradigm when only one of Paradise could keep the connection and communing going and healing alive.

In just a few days it will be time to shift gears from this great gift of Presence and enter a time when the rule of thumb is—no Paradise for such as you. It may be that this would be a good Lenten gift to give yourself—attend to the Writings during Lent, not the Prophets and, especially, not the Law. See if Lent can stand on its own without Law/Sin.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Mark 1:29-39

Year B - Epiphany 5 or Guiding Gift 5
February 8, 2015

Mark 1:29-39

First acts of Jesus after garnering disciples: deal with a “demon” with extra energy and a person with a fever, lacking in energy.

These are transformational events that lead to an expectation of a never-ending supply of demons and diseases. “There are more demons and illnesses in Heaven and Earth, Jesus, than hours in your day.” [Horatio means “timekeeper” and thus this quotation reference.]


While retreating in a desert-ed place, comes a demand to get back to work—curing and healing.


No, I am going to continue my vocation, not my work. This vocation is journey oriented, not location specific. So, let’s practice: Staves? (check) Sandals? (check) Daily bread? (check) Advance! (check) Shine in each dark corner we visit. (well, okay)

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.