Sunday, December 25, 2005

January 1, 2006 - Year B - Christmas 1

Isaiah 61:10 - 62:3
Psalm 148
Galatians 4:4-7
Luke 2:22-40

A new year rolls around. Is it new or a repeat? Probably some of both.

The excitement of the birth is over, the journey from "home" to "home" has cycled through an oppressors census. Now it is on to usual rituals and expected maturing.

As we return to our usual routines, do we still expect to grow in wisdom? How might that look in 2006? What needs to be ignored? What paid attention to?

There is going to be falling and rising this next year. Are you ready? Ready to take your part in bringing both to pass?

If you are looking for redemption of Jerusalem or the Earth or whatever, a helpful starting place is looking for your part in a redemptive process, claiming it, and following where it leads.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

December 24/25, 2005 - Year B - Christmas

Isaiah 9:2-7 / Isaiah 62:6-12 / Isaiah 52:7-10
Psalm 96 / Psalm 97 / Psalm 98
Titus 2:11-14 / Titus 3:4-7 / Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12)
Luke 2:1-14, (15-20) / Luke 2:(1-7), 8-20 / John 1:1-14

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day all get wrapped up together. Use your imagination about the various choices the differing traditions have made regarding text. Do you resonate with your own tradition's choice, or another? Are you drawn more to the eve or the day - - and it was evening and morning the next day? Is Christmas a settled doctrine for you, or a surprising revelation?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

December 18, 2005 - Year B - Advent 4

2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
Luke 1:47-55 or Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26
Romans 16:25-27
Luke 1:26-38

Over the last weeks we've moved announcers from fig trees to two tales of Baptizing John to, now, Angelic Gabriel. What or who can't be an announcer (and, no, here we are not referring to announcer tests on ESPN)?

We are opened again to the role of announcer for ourselves - you and me and both of us together. Quite naturally or intentionally, we will be announcing all manner of things to the world about how we see the world working (or not) and what hope we are living out of (or not). This fourth week of Advent is a time to wonder what we are announcing through our responses to life situations. This gives us the opportunity to keep on the same track or make a shift.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

December 11, 2005 - Year B - Advent 3

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Psalm 126 or Luke 1:47-55
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28

Who am I? What fairy-tale archetype is emblematic of the arc of my experience? Is that the Grimm or Disney version? In what ways am I defined by my economic status? my vulnerability to propaganda about war? my participation in a meta-story within and beyond my obituary? my joy and sorrow with another's falling and rising?

We listen and listen and listen and between listenings decide.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

December 4, 2005 - Year B - Advent 2

Isaiah 40:1-11
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
2 Peter 3:8-15a
Mark 1:1-8

Just under the surface of our business as usual are issues of injustice. A continuing call is to shift gears from that which allows injustice and to grow into that which brings completeness, fulfilling the wholeness implied with caring for the well-being of all.

Listen in for that which indicts and that which transforms. This wakeful listening prepares us to remove our self-placed ear plugs of power and control and to awaken our various internal characters to live in unity with themselves and the rest of creation.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

November 27, 2005 - Year B - Advent 1

Isaiah 64:1-9
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Mark 13:24-37

Advent begins with a dawning awareness of the difficulty facing a new creation to be born in the midst of a new creation. We will need to look at some most difficult realities and still proceed even in the midst of horror at ourselves and others and the world at large.

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Steven Donaldson would be an excellent series of speculative fiction to read to get a feel for Advent.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

November 20, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost Last

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

It is easier, I suppose, if unrealistic, to work the analog work of salvation (tuning it in and having it grow through a variety of stages) in a digital fashion (your either on or off, in or out, at any given moment).

As we look around this week we can see things in process or as completed. In some sense this is the old argument about predestination in new clothing. Remember that our latest wisdom/knowledge is that life is pushing more life into existence. There is no accounting for the way in which the past is rolled into the present and something new called the future arrives.

Pay attention to where you apply the on-going perspective and where you cut things off. This will give some idea about whether you are acting out of an understanding of a Living GOD still at work and people continuing to be able to make new choices or whether GOD is bound by the way GOD has been revealed at sometime in the past, an idolatry of that revelation has been made, and folks are to always be known by who they were at the moment just past.

I believe I have made my bias clear and ask what you understand your bias to be.

Monday, October 31, 2005

November 6, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +25

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

Choices bring with them two realities. One - they are chosen on the basis of some combination of inertia from past choices and expectation of future realities. Two - their consequences on a line of tradition or limitation on perceived next options can never be fully known at the time of the choice.

As we move into this week we are sensitized to the pushes and pulls that will bring us to a new day. A mystery of awareness of choices stands before us. May we joyfully enter into choosing beyond the hobgoblin of consistency and the wraith of wishful-thinking.

Monday, October 17, 2005

October 30, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +24

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

Looking at life from both sides now is not easy, given the strength of the traditions that push us to a single ready answer to any question. It is becoming more and more important to pause and reflect on what we are doing and how it is really affecting others in the short term and how it will affect our own lives in years to come.

Generally we have a difficult time seeing the negative consequences of decisions made in our own best self interest. Poverty increases and we lose track of our part in that increase. We can see a theory of how we might be better off a decade from now and we can lose track of what sort of world that will leave our descendants.

This is a week of difficult passages. If we face them directly we will find ways to address the joy of living in community beyond myself alone.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

October 23, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +23

Deuteronomy 34:1-12 or Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18
Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17 or Psalm 1
1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
Matthew 22:34-46

There are different ways of approaching the questions of life. One is to have an answer and one is to have several responses.

Which is your usual way of approaching the ponderables? How did you do yesterday -- did you keep on with your usual reaction pattern? If you did, was that the appropriate thing to have done? On further reflection, would you have done well to have come at things differently? If you experimented with a different decision-making process, how did it go? So what did you learn from yesterday that will help you today?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

October 16, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +22

Exodus 33:12-23 or Isaiah 45:1-7
Psalm 99 or Psalm 96:1-9, (10-13)
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Matthew 22:15-22

Occasionally we stumble into a new thought but mostly we are creatures of what we have seen and heard. Ordinarily we are called to confirm what has been and to skitter away from alternative choices. As we flow through this week ahead there will need to be decisions about how we will respond this day that is different from all other days.

May you find yourself supported by others and supporting others that we might move beyond our current caughtness in less than helpful, yet so oft repeated, knee-jerk jerkiness.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

October 9, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +21

Exodus 32:1-14 or Isaiah 25:1-9
Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23 or Psalm 23
Philippians 4:1-9
Matthew 22:1-14

Finding refuge in the midst of a strange land is a precious gift. It is not only a place of easier breathing but a launching place for continued encounter with the other -- a place of solace and of fomenting revolution.

Where do you find your refuge these days and what do you expect from it?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

October 2, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +20

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20 or Isaiah 5:1-7
Psalm 19 or Psalm 80:7-15
Philippians 3:4b-14
Matthew 21:33-46

Possession may be nine-tenths of the law, but it is not everything. As we remember the last being first, etc., we may even begin thinking that possession isn't even one-tenth of life. This week we may want to make distinctions between possession as having possession and possession as being possessed. And, even with that distinction, we will be hard pressed to find a meaningful difference between them.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

September 25, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +19

Exodus 17:1-7 or Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32
Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16 or Psalm 25:1-9
Philippians 2:1-13
Matthew 21:23-32

May the "imitation" of Christ be present in the gathered community (plural).

In terms of church: How then would we carry on our intradenominational spats? our interdenominational separation? our interfaith ignorance?

In terms of family: How then would we carry on our sibling rivalries? our unacknowledged co-dependence? our careful teaching of prejudice?

In terms of work, recreation, or any other topic close to your heart: How does this work there?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

September 18, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +18

Exodus 16:2-15 or Jonah 3:10 - 4:11
Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45 or Psalm 145:1-8
Philippians 1:21-30
Matthew 20:1-16

Privilege is an on-going question for people. We strive for it and and then get stuck on it. It becomes our "tar baby". Usually we are not as fleet of humility as Brer Rabbit and would pridefully prefer the tar baby to the briar patch. We will hold our own "entitlement" just as long as we can.

This week will challenge our usual ways of doing business and help us challenge business as usual from our prideful leaders lacking in expertise other than propaganda in its negative sense.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

September 11, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +17

Exodus 14:19-31 or Genesis 50:15-21
Psalm 114 or Exodus 15:1b-11, 20-21 or Psalm 103:(1-7), 8-13
Romans 14:1-12
Matthew 18:21-35

This day will have much echoing "terror". Just to remind us -- 9/11/2005 is but one of many events and focus on any one unbalances us. On this day we might also remember these other September 11 events:

146 - Septimius Severus born, Gibbon blamed him for start of Rome's decay and fall
813 - Charles the Great crowns Louis I emperor
1226 - The Catholic practice of Perpetual adoration begins
1297 - Scots beats English at Stirling Bridge
1541 - Santiago, Chile destroyed by indigenous tribes
1609 - Henry Hudson lands on Manhattan island
1649 - Massacre of Drogheda-Cromwell kills 3,000 royalists
1773 - Benjamin Franklin writes, "There never was a good war or bad peace"
1777 - British army defeats American forces at the Battle of the Brandywine
1786 - Annapolis Convention convened, lead to the Constitutional Convention
1789 - Alexander Hamilton was appointed the first Secretary of the Treasury
1793 - Philippe Pinel becomes director of the BicĂȘtre asylum - instituted the first modern humane care of mental patients at the BicĂȘtre
1821 - Subramanya Bharathy dies, Tamil Indian poet
1847 - "Oh, Susannah" was first sung in a saloon
1883 - James Cutler patents postal mail chute
1885 - D. H. Lawrence born
1914 - T Handy publishes "St Louis Blues"
1917 - Ferdinand Marcos born
1918 - Boston Red Sox beat Chicago Cubs to win 15th World Series
1919 - US marines invade Honduras
1922 - British mandate declared in Palestine
1936 - President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam) in Nevada
1950 - "Beetle Bailey" comic strip debuts
1954 - The Miss America pageant made its network TV debut on ABC
1956 - The Special Group on Information Theory of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers met at MIT - cited as the beginning of the cognitive revolution in psychology
1959 - Congress passes a bill authorizing food stamps for poor Americans
1962 - The Beatles recorded their first single, "Love Me Do"
1971 - Former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev died at age 77
1973 - Dr. Salvador Allende killed in coup
1985 - Pete Rose collects his 4,192 career hit to pass Ty Cobb
1987 - declared emergency 9-1-1 day
1989 - Drexel formally pleads guilty to security fraud
1997 - In Scotland, voters approved the establishment of a parliament to run their domestic affairs, after 290 years of union with England
2000 - Activists protest World Economic Forum Melbourne
2002 - Johnny Unitas dies, quarterback

When we narrow our perspective down to one event or one interpretation of an event we narrow ourselves and our option. This narrowing also opens us to manipulation by this party or that. Being aware of this will help us deal with better evaluating responses to hurricanes and courts and other stormy places.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

September 4, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +16

Exodus 12:1-14 or Ezekiel 33:7-11
Psalm 149 or Psalm 119:33-40
Romans 13:8-14
Matthew 18:15-20

It is difficult to keep paying attention. Catching a glimpse of the dangers inside the community is particularly difficult. We huddle in individual households, we talk behind one another's backs, we let one another go so easily. Whether we talk first of forgiveness or freedom, we don't easily come to these until injury and slavery are well inflicted and institutionalized. May we be blessed with catching our distancing of one another early and persist in steadfast actions that acknowledge the presence of GOD, that catalyze freedom and forgiveness.

Monday, August 22, 2005

August 28, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +15

Exodus 3:1-15 or Jeremiah 15:15-21
Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, 45c or Psalm 26:1-8
Romans 12:9-21
Matthew 16:21-28

Are you ready for GOD to repay you for leaving your life behind? Are you ready for GOD to repay the one who has had their life left behind because of you? Would it surprise you to learn that GOD's vengeance is the same as the vengeance we are called to -- heaping coals of undeserved kindness on folks who have injured another?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

August 21, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +14

Exodus 1:8 - 2:10 or Isaiah 51:1-6
Psalm 124 or Psalm 138
Romans 12:1-8
Matthew 16:13-20

To bind or not to bind, that is a question.

Do we do so proportionally? Do we entrust to dark waters a dream to see if it sink or swim? Do we participate in victory or turn it all over to some greater power?

The question of binding goes on past every choice that is made and challenges us before every next choice.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

August 14, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +13

Genesis 45:1-15 or Isaiah 56:1, 6-8
Psalm 133 or Psalm 67
Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32
Matthew 15:(10-20), 21-28

In today's world of negative campaigning it is so easy to ask the question of what defiles and to avoid the question of what evidences mercy.

As you come into this week pay attention to the many ways in which (y)our first response is the negative one of finding the differences among us rather than noticing the commonnesses among us.

To be aware of our tendency to blame first is to be able to catch ourselves at the blame game earlier and earlier. This will allows opportunity to enter into the mercy game earlier and earlier.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

August 7, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +12

Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28 or 1 Kings 19:9-18
Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b or Psalm 85:8-13
Romans 10:5-15
Matthew 14:22-33

Issues of inclusion continually crop up. Are we all slated to walk on water or just a select few? Is it one favored member of the family or are all important to the story? Is this all GOD's story or are we all partners in it? Do we justify exclusion because of the results we don't know how else to explain? Just how universal and deep is our faith are we when it comes time to turn the other cheek or otherwise attempt the impossible?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

July 31, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +11

Genesis 32:22-31 or Isaiah 55:1-5
Psalm 17:1-7, 15 or Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21
Romans 9:1-5
Matthew 14:13-21

As we find ourselves in the dark, in the wilderness, hungering and thirsting for a peanut butter sandwich or the meaning of life we wrestle with issues of satisfaction.

Where do you have a satisfied mind? Where are you wrestling? Enjoy them both.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

July 24, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +10

Genesis 29:15-28 or 1 Kings 3:5-12
Psalm 105:1-11, 45b or Psalm 119:129-136
Romans 8:26-39
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

The spirit helps us in our weakness of understanding the signs of our time, the parables of life, the history we are cycling through again.

As we listen in this week it will be interesting to see what surprises us and to ask how surprised we should be. After all we have been at this business of applying our knowledge of good and evil for a long time. Ordinarily we might expect to be further along than we are. However, we do continue to frame things in light of what has worked for us before and this gets in our way of reframing to take new life into account.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

July 17, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +9

Genesis 28:10-19a or Wisdom of Solomon 12:13, 16-19 or Isaiah 44:6-8
Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24 or Psalm 86:11-17
Romans 8:12-25
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

"Words! Words! Words! I'm so sick of words! ... Don't talk of love lasting through time. Make me no undying vow. Show me now!" So sings Eliza Doolittle.

So, how would you show "how awesome your place is," "the righteous must be kind," "do not fear," "in Sheol, GOD is there," "an undivided heart," "we hope, we wait for it with patience," and "let both grow together"?

Sunday, July 03, 2005

July 10, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +8

Genesis 25:19-34 or Isaiah 55:10-13
Psalm 119:105-112 or Psalm 65:(1-8), 9-13
Romans 8:1-11
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

In the midst of struggles of life where do we find the way through to freedom? Relatedly, is freedom the way or the result of a way? These questions come before us at every point along the way. We resolve them temporarily and then need to do so again.

Friday, June 24, 2005

July 3, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +7

Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67 or Zechariah 9:9-12
Psalm 45:10-17 or Song of Solomon 2:8-13 or Psalm 145:8-14
Romans 7:15-25a
Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

Comparisons and contrasts, forgrounds and backgrounds are helpful way of looking at the whole. If you are in the world of 3-D or stereopticons you may be familiar with free-viewing where you loosen your foreground and background viewing to let things merge and reveal in the middle what isn't available either close or far. If you want lessons in this go to this free viewing site

Friday, June 17, 2005

June 26, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +6

Genesis 22:1-14 or Jeremiah 28:5-9
Psalm 13 or Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18
Romans 6:12-23
Matthew 10:40-42

Again and again the issue of hospitality and welcoming come to the fore. We could see the whole story from Genesis to Revelation and beyond through the lens of welcoming us to the next bit of life to come.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

June 19, 2005 - Year A - Pentecost +5

Genesis 21:8-21 or Jeremiah 20:7-13
Psalm 86:1-10 or Psalm 69:7-10, (11-15), 16-18
Romans 6:1b-11
Matthew 10:24-39

We are always attempting to discern what is temporary from what has deep meaning by which we are willing to shape our lives. This deeper life revives our ancestors and emboldens our descendants. It is worth investigating.