Thursday, November 30, 2006

First Sunday of Advent - C3

Year C
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13


Holiness is not limited to Blamelessness.

Faith is not something whumped up by pulling on our own bootstraps. It is a response to face-to-face community with G*D, with another.

Love for one another is not a commodity with the usual rules of an economy. It is a gift with no obligations involved.

To focus on these three realities for a whole year would do most individuals and congregations a world of benefit and increase their capacity for joy.

All too often we lose sight of holiness by hiding behind a rule or law, pulling the mores over our head. Then we fight over our particularities and peculiarities. Looking at great religious figures, we find holiness more generally recognized after the fact rather than while they are stretching whatever current limitations they are dealing with.

Faith as gift, rather than assent to the logic of some particular construct of meaningful meaning that has an a priori good which is basically unexaminable, raises possibilities of moving from constraint to a new heaven and earth. Faith, as gift, does put us in situations where fear and trembling would hold sway forever, and then blazes a new path.

Love finds similar limitations based on expectations of benefit from same. It is difficult to sustain a loving attitude that doesn't simply satisfy a hormonal pleasure surge or some desired level of comfortable predictability. To find a blessing of a God, whose name and nature is Love, entering and passing through one disconcerts our desire for control. It overwhelms us and those we encounter and in so doing scares us into limiting it or frees us into expanding it.

= = = = = = =

Go ahead and blame all you want
as for all my various "me's", we will choose holiness
and claim faith in love beyond everything

holiness in self, in God, in others
faith from God, from others, from self
love to others, to self, to God

Faith, Holiness, Love - these three
and the greatest is each.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

First Sunday of Advent - C2

Year C
Psalm 25:1-10

When we are dealing with very difficult situations in life that bring out the big disapproving words like "sinner" and "afflicted" (too easily translated as "humble" which can be seen as a positive virtue), it is important to have equally big reserves of "kindness". The big words for kindness are here noted as "steadfast love" (cause when you've only said "love" you've not said it all) and "faithfulness". These give an eternal arc to our interactions of the moment. This allows us continued connection in the midst of stress and brokenness.

Rather than being a polarity this pairing is a parallelism. When smashed together sparks don't fly. Imagine one of the heavenly host on your left from the "steadfast love" wing and one on your right from the "faithfulness" wing of heavenly discourse. As they embrace one another through you, you find yourself "steadfaithful".

The result is perhaps a new way of honoring the same reality both re-presented. "Truthiness" had its day, I wonder if "steadfaith" might have its moment. Instead of faith being a fixed place, which can be so easily left behind simply by letting time go by, we find faith present in every place we find ourselves.

There are so many ways in which things can go awry. We may even be able to count more of them than counting the ways love goes forth. Wanton treachery abounds. In its face, a steadfaith response brings hope through the education (leading, instruction) of folks who for whatever reason haven't gotten the "kind" thing. Thus sinners are not denotated by specific behaviors but connotative of general obliviousness.

= = = = = = =

In whose image am I?
May my imagoes steadfaithfulness
stand me in good stead
in this place
to rejoice in this opportunity
to wantonly trust and not treach

[question: ought I be putting an "amen" at the end of these prayers to better identify them as such?]

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

First Sunday of Advent - C1

Year C
Jeremiah 33:14-16

Finally to this year after a reminder of a basic pairing - peace and security - and connections between symbols. This leads us into looking for connections between another pairing - justice and righteousness.

One interesting commonality is that both are connected at their roots with a difference in gender. Justice is male and Righteousness is female.

Since they are parallel terms, when Jeremiah speaks of Judah and Jerusalem, the general and the specific, the generational time frame and the specific representational location, as being saved, finding security, it is in a "name" called: "The Lord is our righteousness" (feminine) which also reveals "The Lord is our justice" (masculine).

We would all be helped if this pairing were more closely connected in our speech, even to the point of not being able to say one without the other.

As one living image of the heavenly host, this justice and righteousness pairing is our birthright. Within myself I carry both. And so do you.

The effect of holding these two aspects of a larger story is to bring forth a new creation. They don't return us to the days when we yearned for security because things were in such a mess or to some perceived past perfect moment to be carved eternally outside a flow of time. Justice and Righteousness flourish together. Together they provide the space needed for a new heaven and earth, seedtime and harvest.

Ultimately this polarity needs to be managed, not chosen between. Justice and Righteousness have left their ideal homes and entered into the give and take of a living together with a vocation to provide a creative safety from whence their offspring of hope, mercy, love, redeeming forgiveness, etc might spread their wings and drop their roots into our present moments so in need of reformation.

Instead of looking for a fancy word that might stand behind Justice and Righteousness as their measuring rod and evaluator of their implementation in a personal or social context, we may have to settle for a small word that needs these two to reveal its creative energy. At least one candidate for an appropriate context would be the small but complex word of "kind".

The next time you see the word Righteous, substitute Just and see what your ear tells you. Likewise, hearing Justice, remember Righteousness and see where the dialogue takes you. You may find a kindness developed toward self and others that could approximate the love G*D had/has for creation.

- - - - - - -

Be still my heart.
Righteousness is such a beaut and Justice such a hunk.
Ain't nothin' but what brings a sigh to a bi-.
It is worth any disparagement to honestly claim both lovers.
Thanks be for heads and hearts and hands and health enough to honor
Papa Justice and Mama Righteousness.
May they become one flesh - mine.

Monday, November 27, 2006

First Sunday of Advent -B

Year B
Isaiah 64:1-9
Ps. 80:1-7, 17-19
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Mark 13:24-37

Do you remember and yearn for the Age Of Awesome Deeds? Men were men, black was black and white was white and ne'er the twain shall meet - doing right was rewarded and transgression quickly punished. Those were the days, my friend. We thought they'd never end.

But it has been long years since a favored few could so easily justify their separation from the unlucky, the poor, the unfavored, the sick, the sinner, the other.

With this hiatus we can wait with envy to be restored to what ought to be our rightful place, a place where nothing changes. We might also find the humility to move away from these kinds of false and make-believe separations to appeal, "Now consider, we are all your people."

It is this larger view of the particularity of circumstance not being unique that needs new light to be shined on it.

When such a shining saving arrives we note that there has been a shift from a single cause to a renewed appreciation of community of an earthly creation or paradise with which the heavenly "we" is well pleased and claims is good.

So thanks can be given, not just for creator(s) but creation(s). Our wait for revelation shows creation called into fellowship with creator, not constantly manipulated by same.

Having now come through Isaiah, Psalmist, and Paul we turn to Mark to solidify our keeping awake to new connections. Fig leaves are connected to summer, not as cause and effect but as a community of revelation. In one we can now see the other.

In like manner, in a generation we can mark a moment that more clearly reveals a shift that has moved us from whatever stage of immaturity we are in to a next step of maturity. We keep awake for such connections are life as we move from bated breath to next breath. To keep awake is to keep breathing.

- - - - - - -

Whew, I have every spiritual gift.
Oh, I am strengthened to use each in its time.
Ahh, fellowship shines in remembering, in anticipating, in medias res.

Whew, I am blessed.
Oh, I am blessing.
Ahh, simply Ahh.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

First Sunday of Advent - A

Year A
Isaiah 2:1-5
Psalm 122
Romans 13:11-14
Matthew 24:36-44

A back story to our work this year is encouragement to see Peace and Security as parallel realities. Our current world tends to separate them so a focus on Peace leaves us insecure and an emphasis upon Security keeps us from hope or trust.

For Jerusalem to be Jeru-Salem these issues of Peace and Security need, as the Psalmist says, to be "bound firmly together." Isaiah is clear that the light of the Lord will lead us to finding Security only in the Peace of swords turned to plowshares and Peace only in the Security of the whole and not just our part.

Matthew has an intriguing image follow after examples of usual places of togetherness --around table and in "marriage". Togetherness is swept away when we divide ourselves up - in the midst of everyday life, one is taken way and one is left behind. We are usually told this is about a second-coming and judgment day but it makes as much sense to consider this behavior as the result of our choosing sides against one another or allowing our house to be broken into by dividing Peace and Security.

Judgment against our current divisions is already evident and we are encouraged to work against our desires for privilege and exemption from common work alongside one another.

As the rich get richer and the poor poorer, as some earn their keep through interest from money and others provide for themselves by their labor, we loose the bonds of two becoming one and find two dividing into two.

Advent places before us a choice for a different future where, instead of being separated from the world by an attempt at renewal, Noah-style, two by two, we are ready to set aside separation and quarreling to respond to a call from our descendents, Children-of-human-style, to, one by one, rebind Peace and Security.

- - - - - - -

May peace be our life
among family, friend, stranger, enemy.
May security be our heart
among our common house and common good.
May these gifts give light on our way
among ancestral dreams and coming hope.

Here we go

There are different contexts for each viewing of life. Often we take a look at the historical context or the literary context before and after a pericope to bring additional insight to bear. Sometimes we apply the lection to the context of what is currently going on in our life or the life of the world around us as an aid to gain insight. I am going to start this renewed endeavor by using the texts from the alternate years of the lectionary as another form of context - what on this liturgical calendar date would we be looking at a year earlier or later than now?

A general pattern will be to first look at the Year A lections, then the Year B Lections, and then move into the four lections of Year C. I'll conclude my comment with some part of the text being looked at as a focal point for a prayer form.

As always your perspectives on the lections for the coming week are encouraged without regard to this pattern. If you want to say something about the Epistle early on, go for it. Also, responses are well in order to anything I jot here. Hopefully there will be some larger conversation happening.

These lection reflections grow out of the Kairos CoMotion process and so we will be looking for ways to view G*D's presence in the scriptures and our lives as Love, both expansive and expanding.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Hello Again

Last July I took a break from the daily Lectionary Blogging process.

At this point I am expecting to begin again with postings about the lectionary texts for the week to come.

This is a testing of the system of posting and sending same to individuals who, in the past, have indicated an interest in receving them. This lets me see that the system is still in place and gives the recipients an opportunity to opt out before receiving six postings per week.

If you have questions about this or requests to be removed from the automatic mail process, drop me a line at