Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pentecost +5 Sunday – C4

Pentecost +5 Sunday – C4

Years C
Luke 9:51-62

It is so easy to take the flame of self-righteousness (always, of course, disguised as well-meaning for another) and to advocate for utter destruction of those who don't see what we see and respond as we respond.

"Command fire!", we call out.

And what do we get for our concern, for our protective reaction? .... Rebuke!

In reflection, after sulking for 2,000+ years, it appears we had taken our eye off a vision of G*D and narrowed it down to Jesus. We lost the vision in the form of a visionary. In looking back we can see how easy it has become to err in this direction. It means we never have to worry about putting our own eye on the metaphor "Jerusalem." We can always stop at how far the visioneer had come and forget the injunction to go further, to do greater.

= = = = = = =

in our current day
we lose focus
so much more to do
so little time
so easy to do one more thing

in our current day
we are tempted to pause
to make one more attempt
to teach one more lesson
to over-function again

in our current day
we set a system in place
and then are consumed by it
bowing to what we made
idolizing our way

in our current day
we struggle with constraint
and loosened reins
when to gee or haw
confusing ourselves

in our current day
the current available
has meet resistance
become heat not light
not fit

in our current day
a challenge remains
to keep an eye on a prize
a hand to the plow
and compassion along the way

Pentecost +5 Sunday – C3

Pentecost +5 Sunday – C3

Years C
Galatians 5:1, 13-25

"Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." - Kris Kristofferson

"Love means never having to say you're sorry." - Erich Segal

An internet search brings these variations:
"Victory means never having to say you're sorry."
"Backups ...."
"Apologetics ...."
"Being Wolfowitz ...."
"Sado-masochism ...."
"Coalition ...."
"Saying 'mistakes were made' ...."
"Self-love ...."

Now, think about what it would mean in your life to live freedom without all its current patriotic trimmings. Where freedom would mean never having to say you're sorry.

Thus freedom would not lead to fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strive, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, faction, (put your sorrow here, at the comma between verses 20 & 21), envy, drunkenness, carousing. Where we participated in such, we could not excuse it by an appeal to freedom.

Thus freedom would lead to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, (put your best here, at the comma between verses 22 & 23), gentleness, self-control. We are free to participate in such.

= = = = = = =

no law against love
but plenty of examples
of best intentions
gone horribly terribly wrong

no law against repentance
but plenty of examples
of having put our hand to the plow
never turning away

no law against new life
but plenty of examples
of turning a blind eye
to an open door

Pentecost +5 Sunday – C2

Pentecost +5 Sunday – C2

Years C
Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20 or Psalm 16

Those of old plowed through waters of chaos. They laid down straight rows of guidance, boundaries pleasing to our desires. When we think of power we see it in days of yore and yearn for its doubling and tripling in our time and place.

If it is power we see in the past, what do we envision for the future?

If looking for a future qualitatively and quantitatively better than what has been, why would we think that repeating the events and tools of the past will get us to arrive at a different place? While thankful that we have come thus far, even by some rather nefarious methods, we might yet begin to risk moving into a preferred future through radical revisioning of the tools and direction of our daily work.

= = = = = = =

desperately seeking G*D
we search old haunts
apply old creeds
looking in all the old places

blundering with old swords
charging new cannon
with old canon
charging backward

honorable folly
is folly still
honor the past
by not repeating it

- - -

as Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote:

Half a league half a league
Half a league onward
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred:
'Forward, the Light Brigade
Charge for the guns' he said
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

'Forward, the Light Brigade!'
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldiers knew
Some one had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die,
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turned in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre-stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot & shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder'd.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!

Pentecost +5 Sunday – C1

Pentecost +5 Sunday – C1

Years C
2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14 or 1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21

A mantle of power (covering term is "spirit") is very attractive and addictive. It is an equivalent of a ring in Tolkien's major work.

Of course the implication is that Elisha would use a mantle of power for good, while Golem would use a ring of power for ill.

The first use Elisha makes of the mantle he "earned" by keeping his eye on it, is to ease his own travel, to make a way where there wasn't a way, to have dominion over the waters. In so doing he effectively tests whether the power is a residual one (left-over G*D, unused by Elijah) or has become his that can be used without the mantle (can Dumbo fly without his feather).

Like it or not we all have more power (whether vested in mantle, ring, money, position, or whatever) than we like to acknowledge. A key question is what are we doing with the power we have, even before a potential of doubling it?

= = = = = = =

tricks and techniques
are still an order of the day
to implement
to demonstrate
to accumulate
power and more power

slogans and mantras
motivational posters
focus our attention
blocking out questions
transforming everything
into a tool my tool

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pentecost +5 Sunday – B

Pentecost +5 Sunday – B

Years B
2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27 or Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15, 2:23-24
Psalm 130 or Psalm 30
2 Corinthians 8:7-15
Mark 5:21-43

"Test your genuine love against the earnestness of others."
"If eagerness is there, your gift is acceptable."

Needs around us have hastened to make themselves known. These are givens in our lives. The options regard our response.

Are we as eager to live alongside a need, taking it to our hearts, as such needs are revealed everywhere they travel? Here is a test worthy of our lives. It is a test that is as communal in nature as it is individual. Encouraging one another to do well, even to share our insights with one another, is acceptable morality in this test.

Question: Where do abundance and need meet?
Response: _______________________

If it helps you may want to also make this an open-book test as well as a communal one.

= = = = = = =

sensitive to word and touch
we journey toward a great getting-up day
when and where
our eagerness is sufficient
for earnest need

attentive beyond death
we settle in to days no more
no more mourning
riling to despair
no more no more
holding us back

in moments of generosity
we undertake a beginning desire
little by little
through this year
according to what we have
abundance in need

Pentecost +5 Sunday – A

Pentecost +5 Sunday – A

Years A
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

Welcoming is bedrock evangelism. A first rule of thumb of expressing our discipleship is to love one another and, presuming we are expanding our "one another", its logical extension is that of hospitality.

So we need to welcome the unexpected goat or exile. It saves us from inbred craziness (slaughter of our own) and denial of our common family (if they have been away).

In so doing we will find G*D's absent face wasn't so absent after all and we are part of the generations who experience steadfast love in the midst of every wavering.

Thanks be that we are not limited to the sin of self-assurance and closed doors. Our escape from such sin is a participation in welcoming.

= = = = = = =

sit in a new house
experience its idiosyncrasies
wonder where its secrets lie
where children were hurt
what kept blessings from flowing
who was exiled here
or escaped exile
if walls talked
what shame and glory
would come forth
were its doors ever opened wide
or barricaded even more tightly
how will we interact

enough of sitting
though not enough
a start is a cup of cold water
taken through the house
sprinkled here
there and everywhere
that more cups
will be ready
when family and strangers
and beckon them in
before they know
their need

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Personal Word

A part of my reality is a physical move to a new parish/congregation as an Intentional Transition/Interim Minister.

Thus a flurry of postings for Pentecost +4. There may be some delay in the postings for Pentecost +5 as it seems there is always a glitch of some sort that creeps in.

I invite you to join me in a season of patience and easy breathing as decision-points become clearer and courage joins imagination to deal with them.

Your prayers are encouraged for all who are on the move (hopefully everyone is growing).


Pentecost +4 Sunday – C4

Pentecost +4 Sunday – C4

Years C
Luke 8:26-39

What to do when your thanks are given back to you with a task to take your thankfulness and apply it in the most difficult place known - home?

Mr. Gerasene was faced with this situation. Presumably he did it and became the forerunner of the Wesleyan Covenant Service:

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.

= = = = = = =

wounded healers
travel home
where the hurt began
to test the welcome
and be tested

Pentecost +4 Sunday – C3

Pentecost +4 Sunday – C3

Years C
Galatians 3:23-29

Faith comes very close to freedom.

If faith were not free it would not be faith. Likewise with hope and love.

If faith did not lead to freedom it would not be faith. Likewise with forgiveness and grace.

There are times when we get so caught up in freedom that we lose the faith engine that drives it ever onward and more expansively. In today's world news, listen for the use of "freedom" and substitute the word "faith." See if the proposition declared still holds. If it does, ask what faith is being proposed and whose freedom is being sacrificed for this faith.

= = = = = = =

no longer
two wonderful words

no longer
this or that

no longer
you or me

no longer
chosen or unchosen

no longer
male or female

no longer
slave or free

no longer
leads to longer

Pentecost +4 Sunday – C2

Pentecost +4 Sunday – C2

Years C
Psalms 42 & 43 or Psalm 22:19-28

What do you remember when you pour out your soul?

Is it the process of thanks? How about existing on tears?

As you think and feel your way through your typical or first response to new occasion of life, there is soul work at work. One of our tasks is to make it as conscious as we can, even knowing that there will always be some dimness to our vision.

= = = = = = =

"By day the Lord
commands the Lord's
steadfast love,
at night the Lord's song
is with me -
a prayer
to the God of my life"

songs become prayer
Lord sings
I sing
God sings
wrapping songs in prayer

Pentecost +4 Sunday – C1

Pentecost +4 Sunday – C1

Years C
1 Kings 19:1-4, (5-7), 8-15a or Isaiah 65:1-9

"As the wine is found in the cluster", so is peace present in our current situation.

When ready to lie down and give it up, we awake to pancakes and coffee. Having gathered our strength for yet another forty days of questing we go on to find a sheer silence in the cacophony of our current situation.

Potential abounds, but it takes imagination and diligence to work at it. If G*D is ready to be found by those who do not seek and continues to invest in being present, so we are ready to find those invisible to us and reenter the fray of life.

[Note: The 1 Kings passage needs to go on to verse 18 where we hear of 70x100 more compatriots we are in solidarity with to change the world (current situation).]

= = = = = = =

do not destroy
there is blessing
in the midst
of subsets
of creation

from a little grape
dandelions and honey
intoxicating spirits
warm and energize
new creation

from a little Jacob
Leah and Rachel
inheritors of mountains
trick and treat
old creation

from a little you
G*Ds and Neighbors
cave dwellers
quiet and charge
any reality

Monday, June 18, 2007

Pentecost +4 Sunday – B

Pentecost +4 Sunday – B

Years B
1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49 or Job 38:1-11
Psalm 9:9-20 or Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32
2 Corinthians 6:1-13
Mark 4:35-41

Open wide your heart, let's go to the other side where we will be in the presence of mystery and openly challenge impossible situations. In so doing, praises will be sung and thanks given.

= = = = = = =

open wide your heart
let's go to the other side
in the presence of mystery
open challenge will be given
to impossible situations
in so doing
praises will be sung
thanks given.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Pentecost +4 Sunday – A

Pentecost +4 Sunday – A

Years A
Genesis 21:8-21 or Jeremiah 20:7-13
Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17 or Psalm 69:7-18
Romans 6:1b-11
Matthew 10:24-39

How do I arrive at a place of "fearing not"? A significant view of this is the magical concept of correspondence - if I am like something else, then I am that something else. This is similar to much of the self-help therapies. In each case it is important to identify the specific correspondence and run with that one little thing in expectation that it will grow into a fuller identity or protection.

"It is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master." In what way does this happen without a disciple becoming a teacher or a slave, a master? Is this perpetual adolescence?

"Everyone who therefore acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven." What are the limits of acknowledgement? Is it naming only? How much emulation or becoming of Christ in one's own setting is needed for acknowledgement?

"For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his." What death is a death like his? Is it the form of crucifixion? Is it looking beyond the current principalities and powers until they unite to legally murder? And what happens if you live like him, rather than die like him?

"Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac." When did Sarah stop laughing? What died in her? What fear rose up? It is one thing to begin to move from disciple to teacher, slave to master, and quite another to move from teacher to disciple and master to slave. Again we see limits of external correspondence.

= = = = = = =

finding our fearless place
pushes us beyond the surface
where crosses around necks
are protective amulets
saving one from so living
that a cross come to our back

Friday, June 15, 2007

Pentecost +3 Sunday – C4

Pentecost +3 Sunday – C4

Years C
Luke 7:36 - 8:3

Stories are never meant to carry the whole freight of a lesson. Who would be loaned 500 coins if they were not expected to be able to pay it back in full. Likewise with 50. The more one has to pay back with, the higher the loan possibility (in theory).

To be forgiven 500 coins worth to one person may be the equivalent of being forgiven 50 coins worth to another.

Simon might be said to have judged rightly in absolute terms, but in relative terms he might also be said to have judged less than rightly - without relationship, mercy, or compassion. Is forgiveness forgiveness or is it caught in the same economic thinking as we apply to everything else in our culture?

What would it have taken from Simon for Jesus to commend him for judging mercifully instead of rightly? And from you?

= = = = = = =

greater forgiveness
equals greater faith
so we set up equations
for the living of life

we love to measure
we measure love
according to one standard
and then another

does this act mean I'm loved
more than ever before
or is it now all over
rapturous catastrophe

when we can back away
we see a weeping woman
and all this right thinking
equates to nothing

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Pentecost +3 Sunday – C3

Pentecost +3 Sunday – C3

Years C
Galatians 2:15-21

It seems to be possible to be greedy for justification in the same way we can be greedy for a fruit of the spirit. So we can always have it on our mind. We pray for it and search it out and work to have it evidenced in our life. We will even gather others around us to call our desire to us.

Yet the arrival of justification cuts our desire from underneath. What was our big deal all about anyway, Alfie?

Wherever a vision of a larger perspective comes from (“law”, Christ, ginseng extract, or Princess Bride “true love”) it leads to other larger perspectives. It is this interconnectedness, not our birth order or perceived status, not what someone else does for us, that orients, makes sense of, or justifies our work at this moment. All the authority needed to proceed is present. Grace, in whatever form, now leads us beyond our initial greed.

= = = = = = =

faith-based living
leads to new laws
justifying in small ways
our faith circling
back on itself

grace-based living
leads to new lands
exploring alternatives
beyond established boundaries
into what’s next

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Pentecost +3 Sunday - C2

Pentecost +3 Sunday - C2

Years C
Psalm 5:1-8 or Psalm 32

Contrasted with greed's consequence of trouble - an abundance of steadfast love. Between these realities we are birthed, live, and die, and live again to die into life.

We see the consequences of greed in acts of destruction small and large. We distance ourselves from such by looking for a hiding place from which we might glimpse the destruction of others and, at the same time, avoid a common lot.

It is a bit much to follow the advice that the practice of magical prayer and confession will keep all wild things at bay. Better to simply acknowledge that we are in this together and give thanks for all that has been and will yet be.

= = = = = = =

rocks and hard places
devils and deep blue seas
remind us
duality is alive and well
in our hyperbolic responses
to everyday life

running between the poles
wears us out
long before any event
in such wise as to remind
we did it to ourselves

standing firm
when all is blowing about
is not situational disregard
but learned counsel
steadfast love remains
through and after a winnowing

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Pentecost +3 Sunday - C1

Pentecost +3 Sunday - C1

Years C
1 Kings 21:1-10, (11-14), 15-21a or 2 Samuel 11:26-12:10, 13-15

It would be easy to get lost in a comparison of these two tales - there are so many parallels and distinctions to be made, so many allusions to other events (before and after).

One of these is not the real story holding an optimal moral. Both of them recount realities in lives we lead. A key task is discernment of application.

Wherein have we fallen short and made things increasingly worse? Disaster comes and echoes on. Wherein have we fallen short and cut our losses? Disaster still comes, and goes.

Sweet Honey in the Rock has a marvelous song entitled Greed. A recurring line, "I've been thinking about how to talk about greed" leads into a helpful way of coming at both these passages. The whole song is wonderfully challenging and recommended (listen to a RealPlayer snippet).

= = = = = = =

how am I greedy?
let me count the ways!
no, pride would set in
for my greed knows no bounds

an easy measurement
tells you about your greed
for everywhere yours shows up
mine surfaces in competition

whether tidbit greedy
or ravenously
bit-by-bit or all-at-once
disaster slouches nearer

horrible bad day momentum
feeds on our avoidance
of acknowledgment
and back-room deals

addiction to greed
is a powerful aphrodisiac
for the Narcissus clone
that carries our name

no morals obtain here
G*D is revealed in our greed
we live and die attaining
controlling and more

Monday, June 11, 2007

Pentecost +3 Sunday - B

Pentecost +3 Sunday - B

Years B

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13 or Ezekiel 17:22-24
Psalm 20 or Psalm 92:1-4, 12-15
2 Corinthians 5:6-10, 14-17
Mark 4:26-34

How long will we grieve? Poor Samuel didn't have Elisabeth Kubler-Ross to lead him through any stages. It was get up and get on.

Ezekiel's image doesn't progress through any particular process. There is an intervention, a sprig is planted, a vision established, a journey given to participate in.

For the Psalmist G*D is present before any trouble is on the horizon, during such trouble as arises, and after any trouble has left its mark.

Paul reminds us of the importance of viewpoint. From some vantage points a new creation can be glimpsed that guide our interactions more strongly than the pain of the past.

Seeds have been planted that grow through their usual stages. They can also grow unbidden and unattended to surprise us with a harvest. These seeds do their work through time and beyond time to bring a new perspective from hardened ground. If watered only by tears, yet they flower and fruit.

Where are you in one of your griefs? Ready or not, a sprig has been planted on a dark crag of that mysterious mountain in your life.

= = = = = = =

molehills are real
our shape different
because of them

they loom when near
shrink with distance
perspective bound

mother-may-I baby steps
seven-league strides
both bring new views

one for me and one for you
both together
stretching togetherness

recovering from a trip
to grief
and beyond

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Pentecost +3 Sunday – A

Pentecost +3 Sunday – A

Years A
Genesis 1:1-2:4a
Psalm 8
2 Corinthians 13:11-13
Matthew 28:16-20

It is easy to see how we can get to a Christian doctrine of Trinity from the Christian scriptures. This does seem to be significant jump from the Jewish scriptures and their focus upon G*D being one.

It is next to impossible to tell whether Trinitarian language rolled trippingly off the tongue of Jesus or was put in his mouth. It is possible to tell that this is a unique doctrine in some Christian communities. As such it has gotten in the way of Christian talking to Christian as well as between someone who is a Christian and someone who is not.

Ultimately this construct, no matter how helpful some think it is, needs to take a back seat to an appeal to live in peace (2 Cor. 13:11). This peace begins to be seen with three key (but not exclusive or exhaustive) descriptions of peace as grace, love, communion.

= = = = = = =

heads trip on making patterns
where none is to be found

hearts trip on breaking patterns
where too many are present

Friday, June 08, 2007

Pentecost +2 Sunday – C4

Pentecost +2 Sunday – C4

Years C
Luke 7:11-17

The gate of complaint and resolution is an appropriate meeting place for this tale. A procession of daily death exits every city. A parade of compassion meets it.

Here in the place of judges and prophets we are called to decide whether or not we will be part of a procession or a parade. In coming to this decision we will make political as well as religious choices.

Practically, will we lay our hand on the casket of HIV/AIDS/TB and allocate resources to send people back to their families? Will we put our hand out to the bier carrying a child and going back for another who could be returned to their family if health care were universal rather than a privilege? Will we touch the flag-draped coffins of the war-injured and war-dead with spoken and acted resistance to government-sponsored violence?

Will it finally be said of our participation in a parade of life that "G*D in us has looked favorably on people and creation"?

= = = = = = =

compassion flows
like a gentle river
with the power of a flood
through a marching band in step
in random clown's feet

compassion flows
to counteract pain's presence
loss's agony
with a song for the heart
and a hope reborn

compassion flows
with an invitation
to risk joining
leaving expectations

compassion flows
toward emptiness
touching what is not there

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Pentecost +2 Sunday – C3

Pentecost +2 Sunday – C3

Years C
Galatians 1:11-24

Paul writes as a corrective to the divisions within the church at Galatia. To do so he brings a story delineating his authority. Key is a view from above that allows change. He had been an important adversary able to find every weakness of Jesus' followers. So he was able to divide and conquer Christians. Out of his experience he found a central unifying source of gospel that those on the inside kept overlooking because they were too close.

Some of this important distance is also found in his journey away from Jerusalem into the wilderness of Arabia.

From adversarial and geographical dislocations Paul is able to speak truth to the power of focusing on the surface of things, rather than their depths. As Galatians continues, these depths will rise to view.

"The Galatians are on the verge of a wilderness apostasy, hence Paul colours his rebukes and warnings with language that evokes Israel's own tragic wilderness failings." [source] Paul may be able to do this from his own wildernesses of 3 days blind and 3 years in Arabia.

Our own wilderness times are important witness sources for our interacting with a settled church attacking its own.

= = = = = = =



traditional persecutions
unknown grace
new families

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Pentecost +2 Sunday – C2

Pentecost +2 Sunday – C2

Years C
Psalm 146 or Psalm 30

Where is the breath of life? That needs to be our orientation. To put one's trust in any given source presumes that it will continue to be a source of inspiration.

Those who are able to help liberate in one direction often find themselves caught enslaving several other directions. Some are good at giving food to the hungry and not so good at freeing prisoners. Some can uphold an orphan and turn their back on someone bowed down.

This is part of a gift of community we find it difficult to deal with. We set up generic leaders who aren't able to handle some particulars and are not able to delegate. This results in gaps in our common good.

So it is important to identify who has the breath of life in a particular direction and to follow them and to follow someone else when another breath is needed. Blessings upon your discernment.

= = = = = = =

so if I kick off this mortal coil
and leave my praise
to my dust
will it?

what pride I
continue to exhibit
as though my praise
could be left behind

well were it so
and my dust
praised forth
what then?

for one thing
time to hang up

so caught in weeping
so ignorant of joy
my mourning must be peeled
away from my need

arise sackcloth
dance dust
expand soul
silence anger

weeping may linger
joy may tarry
prosperity may plead
dust may profit

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Pentecost +2 Sunday – C1

Pentecost +2 Sunday – C1

Years C
1 Kings 17:8-24

It is very easy to move this passage into a prosperity theology - Give me your last dollar and you'll be mightily rewarded with a never-failing supply of dollars - your resource base (read, "son") will be restored to you and see you through the rest of your life.

Isn't it intriguing that with a goose that lays golden eggs, we are still fearful and ready to blame G*D for not being only a positive force in our life. Here the widow still had her unending supply (good) but loses her son (bad) and that the latter is seen as G*D's judgment, not the former.

It is as if the wonders of G*D are very Rodney Dangerfield-like - they get no respect and will be set aside on a moments notice. These wonders have a very short shelf-life before we look around for more coming our way and are easily distracted if we don't keep getting something that is better today than it was yesterday. G*D is like an addiction, we keep needing ever bigger signs/rewards and diminishing difficulties. If it doesn't work this way then we search around for a G*D that is more manageable.

= = = = = = =

Zarephath synonymous with impossible situation
an immigrant asking a starving national for food

time after time
the impossible presents
an imposing face
will god be god
in a foreign land

god as hospitality
shows up regularly
in every out-of-the-way place
in what appears
as extraordinary valor

hospitality is built-in
to creation's action
most evident
where death appears
to limit

those most well-practiced
at ease with real death
work through dilemmas
delineating me from you
resolved in hospitality anyway

Zarephath a hidden away place
a closed room
revealing a wondering spirit
binding our common lives
with hospitality language

Monday, June 04, 2007

Pentecost +2 Sunday – B

Pentecost +2 Sunday – B

Years B
1 Sam. 8:4-11, (12-15), 16-20, (11:14-15) or Genesis 3:8-15
Psalm 138 or Psalm 130
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
Mark 3:20-35

Who is in and who is outside of family? This question continues in the political realm. We are determined to have a leader over us who will lead us into war unending and more taxes for the poor. Patriotism is the measure of family.

This question continues in the relational realm. We are determined to have internal secrets that heighten our fear to the point of one lie leading to a next. Your lie justifies my lie and mine, yours. Co-conspiracy is the measure of family.

This question continues in the relgious realm. We are determined to have it both ways - G*D's love is steadfast (enduring forever) and doubtful (do not forsake me). We cry to be heard even if all we have to say is confession, appealing for forgiveness with a claim it is for G*D's glory rather than our benefit. Justification is the measure of family.

This question continues in the realm of identity. We will continue to be who and what we are. If not in this world, we will claim it in eternity - never letting go. Pride and greed are measures of family.

This question continues in the realm of biology. We will choose to protect our own, blood being thicker than water. When one is in danger we will gather to rescue them from themselves. Genetics is the measure of family.

And then the questions get deeper. Who is my family beyond all our usual measures? Those who do not give up on hope of better than we have! This cuts across all political, religious, personal, and racial/cultural lines. Here we find common cause in families trying to hold on to the purity of appearances or the openness of new learning.

= = = = = = =

I give thanks with all my hearts
strung out with commitments
to you and you and you

voluntarily enslaved to you
my heart knows liberation
because of other commitments

so many families I already have
rubbing each other the wrong way
dividing and falling

so many families I dream of holding
creating dancing imagining
fertilizing each other as well

pray may our frictions
not bring burning heretics
but pentecost wonder sharing

my village of families
invites your village
to an easy evening

kings and slaves dissolve
creator and creation resolve
division questions salved

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Pentecost +2 Sunday – A

Pentecost +2 Sunday – A

Years A
Genesis 12:1-9 or Hosea 5:15-6:6
Psalm 33:1-12 or Psalm 50:7-15
Romans 4:13-25
Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26

To Abram and Matthew a call: "go from your country" and "come, follow me" - there is another spot where we will find greater life, greater hope beyond hope. Being open to this call in our own day is part of the challenge for settled individuals and congregations and nations.

This call is not just geographical. The Psalmist and Paul remind us of the changes we need to be making internally that our heritage might be healed, that our distress and sacrifice be swept away by steadfast love.

Whether an external move or an internal one, a key element is transformation from acting out of fear of further distress because our guilt needs to be atoned for by some sacrifice to being proactive beyond fear to ask for what is needed (Tabitha's father and unnamed woman with a twelve-year hemorrhage) in anticipation of steadfast love without retributive punishment needing to occur first.

Note the acceptance of Jesus of the request for him to move, not Tabitha's father or Tabitha. Note the acceptance of Jesus of a touch that slows him during his journey.

Perhaps we might envision a mutual journey - G*D's and ours - not one pulling or pushing the other from where they are, but a mutual attraction and desire to move in common.

= = = = = = =

journey without a destination
challenges our control need
even with past adventures
having turned out well
there is hesitation
to trust again

journey without a destination
raises again an insatiable god
testing and testing again
our temptation
to settle

journey without a destination
is a realistic assessment of our lot
no matter how we disguise it
change and death obtain
warrants to search
empty lives

journey without a destination
anticipates beyond current plateaus
use of several learnable skill sets
to envision preferred futures
to enact their foundations
to enliven generations

Friday, June 01, 2007

"Trinity" Sunday – C4

"Trinity" Sunday – C4

Years C
John 16:12-15

This is one of my favorite passages. There is still much to learn.

Such presumption we have when we think we can quote a passage of import and universalize it to all times and places. It is appropriate humility to understand there is more to come, even better to come, than we have so far experienced. It is arrogance to claim our experience of an expansive and expanding love has run its course and we've received all we will ever have.

That which we have to learn will be grown into. A spirit guides. She doesn't dictate.

So we are again and again in the middle of things received and passed on. All the while we move closer to one another. In fact it is crucial that we honor our differences in this model, for they become one more opportunity for Spirit to teach (and learn what to teach).

Whether G*D, Christ, Jesus, Spirit (one or all or some combination) - there is a sense of universal salvation here. Needed growth will continue until maturity and there is no need to end this learning with a boundary of death. [Note: one aspect of universal salvation still needing investigation is eventual senescence, it currently implies some stasis at optimal maturity (oxymoron).]

= = = = = = =

and miles to go before we sleep
less traveled roads have been taken
and energy has grown

we grin all over ourselves
just a-think'n about what's left
on our collision course

we enter into a group hug
as differences and similarities come clear
more closely related than ever

Jesus learns more from G*D
passes it on to us
we image it back to a learning G*D

another mile onward
learning to the left
guidance to the right

into a preferred future
dance the million millions
bearing one another up forever