Friday, September 28, 2007

Pentecost +18 Sunday – C4

Pentecost +18 Sunday – C4

Years C
Luke 16:19-31

O what a bosom has Abraham (apparently the author didn't exactly see Sarah, so she shows up in this elliptical phrasing). Likewise we see things that aren't there and overlook other matters. Here the poor is named and the rich unnamed. Quite a reversal. However, that doesn't suit our need for hierarchy and so we force a made-up name on the rich fool - Dives.

We do so want to be in control. Even the unnamed, when finally waking up to their loss of place, desire to be known as the salvation of others and begin to do all they know - order others to do their bidding and to understand that their options they open will be willingly jumped through by others. So the dead rich guy sets up salvation rules: someone dead must come back to get the attention of the attention-dead and warn of what nature and tradition around have been saying for millennia. Then they'll be saved and thankful and come and bring me a sip of cool water (are you listening, Dan?).

What a ruse the old dead guy plots for his own relief. Appeal to their religious sentiments, who could give up playing the savior role? Well Abraham and Sarah and Lazarus saw through it. If those left trying to make sense of life aren't willing to pay attention to human experience beyond their own, they aren't willing to pay attention to anything. Their rules for making money or making salvation, without the experience of what their rules do to others, will come to naught.

So who's experience are you listening to today? Was it the experience of those who received the meatloaf you doled out at the mealsite last night - portioning out crumbs to 242 Lazari? Was it the experience of setting rules for confirmation or which bills get paid or who gets a visit? Was it preparing an experiential sermon or a guided meditation for folks who only want to use their ears and to have every moment filled?

= = = = = = =

prevenient grace for those in hades
must not be put aside
in favor of judgment's chasm
so wide it can prevent grace

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Pentecost +18 Sunday – C3

Pentecost +18 Sunday – C3

Years C
1 Timothy 6:6-19

For a passage that begins with "Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it", it sure gets active -- "shun", "pursue", "fight", "take hold", "I charge you", "command them", "do good", "store up", and again, "take hold".

While there is an inherent tension in life between letting go and getting on with it, the balance here seems to have been tilted toward the active rather than contemplative life. It dismisses living simply in favor of living passionately (no, don't hold me to that duality).

Given the youth of Timothy, action is perhaps appropriate to his spiritual experience, but it doesn't allow much alternative. Given the youth of Jesus and subsequent Church, action is our forte, not our reflective contemplation.

= = = = = = =

if godliness can be alloyed
with anything at all
contentment is a good choice

all too often godliness
tries to go it alone
and its qualities become brittle

being combined with contentment
is a great boon for a god
as well as for an almost god

mama church would do well
to teach contentment
before godliness

in so doing she would be surprised
that we can't have one
without the other

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pentecost +18 Sunday – C2

Pentecost +18 Sunday – C2

Years C
Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16 or Psalm 146

Dwelling in the shadow of one most high is problematic. Our proclivity is to presume that means the one casting the shadow is all that much closer to the source of light and therefore has some inborn right to overshadow our casting a shadow to reveal G*D's presence in relationship to our being. Being in another's shadow undefines who we are.

Being shadowed is here taken as being in a safe place. Unfortunately it is so safe that we become passive. We have need of some direct light, even if it leads us into risky places beyond our seed stage. To come from under the shadow of the soil that has incubated us is to face the possibility of drought. Without this risk, however, the beautiful flower and fruit within us might never be seen or tasted.

= = = = = = =

those who love me
I will deliver
in fact
I will deliver
even those who don't

when they call
these lovers and others
I will answer
I will be present
to all callers

come sweet ones
let me show you
my salvation
ready to satisfy
the longest life

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Pentecost +18 Sunday – C1

Pentecost +18 Sunday – C1

Years C
Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15 or Amos 6:1a, 4-7

Jeremiah, who prophesized [recognized - paid attention to - the natural consequence of present behavior] exile, was, himself, put into personal exile before the people found a foreign exile. And yet he claimed a part of their community of the future and even invested in it.

It is important to note here that spoken approbation of some aspect of our current reality is not the only thing that is needed. We also need to act out, in as dramatic a form as we can, our participation in what we see as a preferred future. In this case Jeremiah's words and actions run parallel and perpendicular to one another - and at the same time.

It is this friction that brings light. Words alone or actions alone don't have the ability to get a purchase on our imagination that is strong enough to bring change.

= = = = = = =

those who become at ease
face a danger of succumbing
to that very ease
the only antidote of which
is a whole different kind
of ease
an ease
no longer needing ease

Monday, September 24, 2007

Pentecost +18 Sunday – B

Pentecost +18 Sunday – B

Years B
Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22 or Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29
Psalm 124 or Psalm 19:7-14
James 5:13-20
Mark 9:38-50

We have, all of us, been sold. We have sold ourselves and those dear to us. Pottage is that cheap. We have sold the children into the hands of boredom and violence. Our willingness to sell is that great. We have sold our enemies to death and hurried them on their way that we might get our bargain.

In our buying and selling of self and others we lose track of where deeds of power reside - outside of market economies. When we see a deed of power beyond our control we get jealous and covetous. It is so easy to forget that whoever is not against us is for us and when a deed of power is accomplished, not mater to whom it is directed or through whom it comes, we are benefited.

= = = = = = =

anyone sick
anyone anyone
its time for a day off
we will wander
and it will save our soul
a multitude of sins
will be blessed
and grown from

[* With thanks to Ferris Buhller]

Pentecost +18 Sunday – A

Pentecost +18 Sunday – A

Years A
Exodus 17:1-7 or Ezekiel 18:1-4, 24-32
Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16 or Psalm 25:1-9
Philippians 2:1-13
Matthew 21:23-32

An intriguing image of G*D is presented in Philippians -- an emptying G*D [?in distinction to a creating G*D, or are these integrally bound?] If you substitute Moses for Jesus Christ and then look back at Exodus you can catch a glimpse of this emptying G*D.

See again where G*D is - in front of Moses - where Moses will strike (unless he swats at a rock behind him). Can you see G*D facing Moses (no backside here) and saying, "Strike through me." Would you have the courage and humility of Moses to strike G*D to strike water for the people? Whether anyone else could be witness to this or not, Moses understood he was to strike G*D that the waters from beyond (that had been pent up at Creation and again in Noah's time) might surface through G*D, through Horeb, through a suffering and emptying of G*D.

Where are you called to strike that life-giving water might flow? Does it feel like you would have to muster more strength and humility than you have, to do so? Does not G*D always need to be bruised for life to flow? Do we always need to work through our own resistance to striking G*D that we might grow the next stage of our journey?

= = = = = = =

obey this why don't you
here it comes our difficulty
work out your own salvation
not someone else's
work it out in the absence of G*D
not for G*D's good pleasure
for your own
this is G*D's pleasure too

obey this past pleasure
again a difficulty
work with your fear and trembling
not someone else's
work in the presence of G*D
enabling with pleasure
a willingness to face fear
our pleasure too

Friday, September 21, 2007

Pentecost +17 Sunday – C4

Pentecost +17 Sunday – C4

Years C
Luke 16:1-13

Sounds like the rich man was the head of his Enron equivalent. He seems to have claimed plausible deniability about not know what was going on under him. Until someone else brings it up, he is satisfied with whatever it takes to keep the dough rolling in. Shrewdly turning a blind eye is an old story. Question: to what has it been to your advantage to turn a blind eye?

How different this story would be if the one asked for an accounting of their practices was able to hearken back to their original blessing rather than to their supposed fall. Instead of trying to make up for a little graft under the table with a little gratuity passed back, the manager (one who has dominion, not domination) might have worried less about their strength or shame. So much less might they have worried that this story might not be told about them as manager, but remain a story of the rich man.

It may be that we are called to so live that less stories will be told for we know we are already welcomed into eternity and don't have to connive to either make up for not knowing our welcome or not believing it.

A punch line of faithfulness in much or little might better flow from a lack of story than this all to familiar one. And a conclusion about G*D and wealth might be better demonstrated: "See, wealth wasn't needed to be able to participate in life."

At issue is what one step would move us in the direction of honorable living at every level - even at your level.

= = = = = = =

oh what charges
could be brought
against any of us

squandering might be
a charge we could wiggle
out from under most easily

having lived by our wits
we will also die by them
but not yet

we will have just enough friends
to keep us living in a style
to which we are accustomed

to have us lose our style
would impact their style
so they enable our style

we collude with one another
and yet we might learn
to openly play with G*D

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pentecost +17 Sunday – C3

Pentecost +17 Sunday – C3

Years C
1 Timothy 2:1-7

First of all - inclusion rather than exclusion. Pray for everyone.

Prayer is not just a form, it is also content. Pray that we might lead a peaceable, G*D-ly life. A life with quiet dignity.

Universalists arise! G*D desires everyone to be healed, made whole, saved.

Know you are, in turn, having peace prayed for you.

= = = = = = =

inclusion exclusion
hinge upon a doorway
that starts closed

an open door can
include more
than the already gathered

a shut door definitely
excludes more
than it defines

the easy way is exclusion
as a door doesn't need to move
to keep in in and out out

much more energy is needed
to include folks in
doors need to be opened

sometimes it take a gentle push
sometimes a crowbar
little or great - energy

narrow or wide
there are doors all around
pick at least one to push

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Pentecost +17 Sunday – C2

Pentecost +17 Sunday – C2

Years C
Psalm 79:1-9 or Psalm 113

Laments are such fun. They have a way of reminding us that our current mountain is nothing but a molehill and we might as give up lamenting. They can also plumb the depths of despair and still find G*D as ground under the deepest hole.

It is not so much each line here, but the general progression that is so helpful.

We move from an "ouch" to a "blame" to "plea" to "trusting praise". That's a lot of work to be done in nine short verses. Here attend to the flow rather than get hung up on a particular detail. This reflects well our roller-coaster ride through any disappointment or grief. Just slap your latest difficulty in here and see how it works.

= = = = = = =

we fight our enemies
that's just what we do
without a thought
we fight

sometimes we fight
with our enemies
against a larger enemy
threatening us both

were we both
to be in touch with our laments
we might find that commonality
long before we otherwise do

under all our differences
we are joined hip and thigh
by our lamentation
a real but far off hymn of new creation

let's not posture strength
but wail our deep woe
to connect below negotiation
all the way to soul

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pentecost +17 Sunday – C1

Pentecost +17 Sunday – C1

Years C
Jeremiah 8:18-9:1 or Amos 8:4-7

Basic questions: Is the Lord not in Zion? [the king is missing in action] Did our hard work not pay off? [harvest and pleasure (summer) have come and gone - our economy is missing in action]

To focus on the economy question that is so real in so many people's lives (poverty is up - it must be a growth industry), Jeremiah's realization is analyzed by Amos - Sabbath gets in the way of our next sale (by definition, at the highest possible profit level) and the blessed and follow Jacob (tricking the less blessed out of their birthright for a little silver or pair of sandals).

No wonder there is heartsick grief always at hand. Everyone is complicit, even the complainers about it hug their silver or sandals, even G*D is slow to do anything but weep. This state of affairs can never be forgotten, only and finally moved on from.

= = = = = = =

is there no balm in gilead
well yes there is
no physician there
again yes
even Elijah
sprang forth there
everything needed is present
except of course understanding
and so we weep
long and hard we weep
unendingly long we weep
where is our health
where is our care
where is our health care
in the hands of merchant
and politician
rolled and squeezed
until there is no balm left
weep with Jeremiah
denounce with Amos
now get up and on
there is a balm
it is for all

Monday, September 17, 2007

Pentecost +17 Sunday – B

Pentecost +17 Sunday – B

Years B
Proverbs 31:10-31 or Wisdom of Solomon 1:16-2:1, 12-22
Psalm 1 or Jeremiah 11:18-20, and Psalm 54
James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a
Mark 9:30-37

A gentleness born of wisdom beckons us closer and closer that, with its small hands, our large desires might be unbuttoned and left to drop as a marker of a holy place - a burden was dropped here.

Those places where many burdens drop become our cathedrals, temples, churches in wildwoods, thin places. They are rightly revered. But no more so than where a single burden was laid to rest. Even as disciples have argued as to who was the greatest, so we struggle within and between various spiritual traditions as to loci of holiness.

Wisdom gentles us to appreciate the smallest of new beginnings as equal with the largest of sacraments. This goes beyond issues of right and wrong to a center-spot welcoming. Whether forgiven much or little we honor each forgiveness, each release.

= = = = = = =

flames signify
a release
a solid lets go
a puff of gas
upon an airy eddy
adds to an unpredictable
rising up
wavering light
strong enough
to attract moths
and hold bears at bay

we add our bodies
to the kindling
of a funeral pyre
honoring a past
past its time
in anticipation
of a new phoenix
for its moment
strong enough
to call us back
and send us forth

Pentecost +17 Sunday – A

Pentecost +17 Sunday – A

Years A
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

Sitting on the shore of a great lake, with a state forest behind, it is easy to note that the context of our viewing/participating in life affects much. Here it is easy to note that when the Israelites of old heard G*D was coming they turned toward the wilderness. From whence else might G*D come? Everything else is too close to the usual sources of our complaining - inconveniences that don't match our projected desires.

For the preacher types it might be worth an intentional relocation of your reflection/writing/preparation time to meet G*D in your nearest wilderness. Yes, that might be a city as wide as Ninevah.

Jesus' story of a landlord hiring city folk to work a day or an hour brings together the rural and urban at a point of tension - the harvesting and consuming of food. At this point it is easy to find a dissatisfaction with life and a need to turn toward that strange wilderness of generosity beyond comprehension. Doesn't real generosity challenge all the structures we have put up around ourselves? In doing such we are again faced with a survival question - to protect ourselves from economic wildness do we need to give up radical generosity that comes with G*D from that same wilderness we have turned away from?

= = = = = = =

from the white breakers
methodically rolling on shore
to the indigo line
of the wide horizon
a circle wider than a rainbow
wraps a circle
around my eyes

there is no room
for personal ipod sounds
as giga-billions of rock washings
bring more sand to shore
slowing a stride to a stroll
until a next step
is taken in silence

with sight and sound
rhythmically cared for
doors to a wilderness within
crack open a bit
and with attention elsewhere
being a dance
to give themselves away

Friday, September 14, 2007

Pentecost +16 Sunday – C4

Pentecost +16 Sunday – C4

Years C
Luke 15:1-10

All is G*D's, presumably, and all is intended to be found whole - worth a party.

It is possible to see a lost sheep as both lost and mine and intended to stay lost. A Scapegoat sent to the wilderness is an example of this. Its lostness is its vocation. Finding this lost one is counterproductive because it brings the sins we sent away back again. To walk away from a congregation and leave it in a wilderness is to acknowledge sin abides and is our problem - is not deniable or identifiable as being on one person or group that is unacknowledged. Here we might begin to think it acceptable to not go and look for lost Iraqis or illegal aliens or ... that "Americans" might be safe. However, the illusion of safety is, when looked at from the location of the "Shepherd", is just that - an illusion.

The 99 % are in a wilderness too deep to be seen as wilderness while they ignore or affirm through tortured logic the inevitability or fate of another deemed more lost.

If the Pharisees and scribes thought their grumbling might bring Jesus to his senses and see the error of his ways - you ought to turn some of those coming to you away and not associate with them - they got a story that essentially says, "Oh yeah? Well I not only welcome these you call lost, but I deliberately leave you behind and go in search of them. Remember what I said about hating family to find G*D? Well, you are family in this case and I am continuing to search for G*D beyond your illusionary boundaries. And, guess what, I am finding real rejoicing in this search."

Not only are people being lost away from families, individuals from congregations, but tithes as well. Suppose the tenth coin was lost in the "Lord's House". How might we dare to search for the results of sacrificial giving to see that it is not lost? Dare we question what is done with it and reclaim it?

Whether lost in an empty place or a holy place, being found is a celebratory event.

= = = = = = =


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Pentecost +16 Sunday – C3

Pentecost +16 Sunday – C3

Years C
1 Timothy 1:12-17

Here are two approaches to verse 16:

making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life

now he shows me off ... to those who are right on the edge of trusting him forever

We could play with "being made" versus being "shown off". For us being shown off is more participatory. We are not a vehicle but a result.

We could play with "belief" and "trust". For us trust is more relational. We are part of an on-going relationship rather than a snapshot in time.

= = = = = = =

grace mixed with faith
and both lovingly poured
seeps into souls
loosening its joints
exhibiting grace
strengthening sinews
demonstrating faith
receiving and passing on
mercy aka love

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Pentecost +16 Sunday – C2

Pentecost +16 Sunday – C2

Years C
Psalm 14 or Psalm51:1-10

It may be enough to simply refer folks to Psalm 14 from The Message and add a question about my level of rope skipping and singing laughter because G*D and I have taken the side of victims. How are your levels?

Bilious and bloated, they gas, "God is gone."
Their words are poison gas,
fouling the air; they poison
Rivers and skies;
thistles are their cash crop.

God sticks his head out of heaven.
He looks around.
He's looking for someone not stupid—
one man, even, God-expectant,
just one God-ready woman.

He comes up empty. A string
of zeros. Useless, unshepherded
Sheep, taking turns pretending
to be Shepherd.
The ninety and nine
follow their fellow.

Don't they know anything,
all these impostors?
Don't they know
they can't get away with this—
Treating people like a fast-food meal
over which they're too busy to pray?

Night is coming for them, and nightmares,
for God takes the side of victims.
Do you think you can mess
with the dreams of the poor?
You can't, for God
makes their dreams come true.

Is there anyone around to save Israel?
Yes. God is around; God turns life around.
Turned-around Jacob skips rope,
turned-around Israel sings laughter.

= = = = = = =

shape a genesis week
from the chaos of my life*

let there be light
shining into that which I do not know
of myself or beyond

let there be separations
dividing out water from water
clarifying otherwise confusion

let there be gatherings
of like portions into weight of substance
enough precipitate to work with

let there be distinctions
where shadows and mystery
play every evening and morning

let there be more than expected
out of basic structure
more life than was imaginable

let there be life upon
as well as life within
even life for care-takers

let there be pause
cessation to affirm forever
a goodness unbelieved

let there be a recapitulation
of goodness goodness
finding its way every way

let there be a rebirth
now and ever of my birth
and G*D's birth

let there be a new genesis
from within and beyond
every previous let be

let there be dancing on Sabbath
let there be Sabbath in dance
let there be "let there be"

- - - -

* from Psalm 51:10, The Message

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Pentecost +16 Sunday – C1

Pentecost +16 Sunday – C1

Years C
Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28 or Exodus 32:7-14

Play these two back and forth -- G*D, in Jeremiah's mouth, comes out as destruction - once decided always decided; G*D, in relation to Moses, comes out as remover of destruction - twice thought, a different decision.

Now we need to wonder whether one of these models is standard or if they are contextually driven. As I look over the breadth of G*D's story as it comes through the Bible, thinking twice is more often the case. This seems to be because of a prior decision never finally gone back on - steadfast love. Sometimes the rethinking of this takes more time than people have in their lives, but the rethinking does occur.

Whether Moses or Jeremiah in their settings, or you and I in ours, it is appropriate to ask for a second thought in light of a first thought to experience and enact steadfast love. Imagine what would happen if the church institutional or any congregation were to re-ask every question they have been faced with in the last 10 years in light of imitating G*D's steadfast love in their context.

= = = = = = =

one messenger reports
Moses tried to calm his God down
think twice was the call

and this great God
backed off angry threats
deciding not to destroy

as messengers report
about my life and tries
is God calmer for my presence

Monday, September 10, 2007

Pentecost +16 Sunday – B

Pentecost +16 Sunday – B

Years B
Proverbs 1:20-33 or Isaiah 50:4-9a
Psalm 19 or Psalm 116:1-9
James 3:1-12
Mark 8:27-38

Physiologically, tongues are strong and flexible, made up of sixteen muscle groups. Metaphorically, tongues are also easily bitten and easily biting.

Tongues are equally at home carrying a blessing or a curse. They can cut to the quick or lovingly caress one another. They are a source of encouragement and a keener of despair.

Presume again an original blessing of "It's good." We heard it from our teacher leading us out of chaos, into life. In such an image we honor our teacher by offering a sustaining word tot he weary - those caught in moments and millennia of chaos.

The tongue of a creator becomes a tongue of the nursling. [I have long enjoyed an out-of-print book, The Tongue of the Nursling by P.E. MacAllister - here is a brief bio and an online article by him you might enjoy that could take you far afield of today's reflection (and yet have enough tangents to be instructive).

= = = = = = =

we see a forked tongue
and suppose we are
hearing a forked tongue

our senses aren't sensible
we mistake one another for hats
magnify molehills and ignore mountains

we execute desperate thieves
and reward those who contract to steal
missing what's behind the surface

Pentecost +16 Sunday – A

Pentecost +16 Sunday – A

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

Welcome those who are differently oriented in faith. Paul uses Sabbath and Eating Rituals as examples of how those who condense the week into one Sabbath and those who spread it through the week might both do so as an honor to G*D. Likewise with those who honor G*D through their choice of food.

Unfortunately these differences are described as "weaknesses" (as see through the eyes of someone making a choice they think everyone ought to hew to now). Seemingly both could be seen as sources of honor and weakness. An example of bothness gone awry is found in Jesus' story when asked about a persistence of forgiveness. Here the honoring of G*D gives way to entitlement for self.

When a servant is still received (forgiven) in respect to their weakness, this same servant does not participate in such a welcoming when faced with another in a respectively "weak" position.

How radical is my welcoming? - who is included in it?

= = = = = = =

transgressions removed ahead
a welcome road sign

hope for myself rises
to return to
an original blessing of good

disgust that it might be
for every Jane and Jack
or my favorite enemy
rises even quicker

and quick as a wink
my special welcome sign
becomes a road closed detour
onto winding rutted paths
leading 70x7 times back to this marker

Friday, September 07, 2007

Pentecost +15 Sunday – C4

Pentecost +15 Sunday – C4

Years C
Luke 14:25-33

After looking at ourselves in the world around us, here is a big "therefore": None of you can continue learning or growing in experience of G*D through me if you allow your possessions to possess you.

This builds on a better language choice for translating what is so often recorded as "hate" of family. "Preferring" a person or persons over our relationship with G*D blocks our growth into G*D, our imitation of Christ.

Here is a story to exemplify these points:
A pilgrim settled down to sleep one night at the edge of a village - soon an excited villager appeared saying 'Give me the diamond, give me the diamond '. 'What diamond?' asked the pilgrim. Villager replied 'I have had a dream that you have a diamond of great value and if I asked you for it you would give it to me and I should be rich forever."

The pilgrim reached into his bag and pulled out a stone. 'You may certainly have it', he said and settled down again to sleep

The villager looked at the stone in amazement for it was the largest diamond he had ever seen. He took the diamond and walked away.

He tossed and turned all night unable to sleep, and the next day he return to the pilgrim and said 'give me the wealth that makes it possible for you to give away this diamond so easily.'

= = = = = = =

spinning on his heel
Jesus "told" a following crowd
exactly what they didn't want to hear

a prioritized focus
is needed for continued growth
into and out of an expansive and expanding love

so much distracts
even literally following good
can keep us from completing our heart's desire

so much possesses
power to attract our limited attention
and we stick to what we have already known forever

freedom is
another word for nothing left to lose
this freedom this presence of G*D is our unsticking place

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Pentecost +15 Sunday – C3

Pentecost +15 Sunday – C3

Years C
Philemon 1:1-21

Ahh, the temptation to command another. And, oh how difficult to appeal through love.

As we look back on slavery we are able to wonder how much sooner it might have been overcome had someone in the Bible had given us a clearer word than periodic emancipation and so many examples of folks freed who then enslaved others.

What we are not able to see is our own blindspots that later generations will look back on and wonder why there wasn't much made of our equivalents of slavery. As we do the long slog of finally resolving the discrimination we have imposed upon different sexual orientations, as though gender/partner preference were the most significant quality of a person, the question arises as to what the next great issue will be. Will we cycle back through some of the old ones? Will it be another round of crusades? Another allowance of tribal genocides?

May our hearts be refreshed enough to clearly see who is being kept down for no good reason and stand with them.

= = = = = = =

I've been waiting so long
for you to do the right thing
my patience has been extended
beyond my comfort level
in order that you might
voluntarily do good to another

in such I have been complicit
in your evil ways
aided and abetted
your delusion of hierarchy
let you get away with
enslaving our kinfolk

how might we partner
we three so different
and so connected
when will we set aside
our givens and assumptions
to set each other free

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Pentecost +15 Sunday – C2

Pentecost +15 Sunday – C2

Years C
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 or Psalm 1

To be known, through and through, is not just "wonderful" but "awful". Hemmed in fore and aft, gee and haw, puts us at the end of puppet strings. Knowing how wonderfully intended we are ("Good" yelled at the top of G*D's lungs for all creation to hear), we find a crevasse between such intention and our realities.

In the end we finally come to the realization that neither intention or reality determine the important things of life and one of the grandest visions of life (avoiding the trap of duality between law-abiders and wicked) comes at the end of 139:18 - "I am still with you."

In my best of times and worst of times, a tale of two MEs, G*D and I are still at it. May it be so for you.

= = = = = = =

with apologies to D.H. Lawrence

god is so nice
so awfully nice
god is the nicest person in the world.

And what's more, god is nice about being nice
about your being nice as well!
If you're not nice, god will soon make you feel it.

Abrahamists and Buddhists and Hindus and Wiccans and so on
they're all very well
but they're not really nice, you know.
They're not nice in our sense of the word, are they now?

That's why one doesn't have to take them seriously,
We must be nice to them, of course,
of course, naturally.
But it doesn't really matter what you say to them,
they don't really understand -
you can say anything to them:
be nice, you know, just nice -
but you must never take them seriously, they wouldn't understand,
just be nice, you know! Oh, fairly nice,
not too nice of course, they take advantage -
but nice enough, just nice enough
to let them feel they're not quite as nice as they might be.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Pentecost +15 Sunday – C1

Pentecost +15 Sunday – C1

Years C
Jeremiah 18:1-11 or Deuteronomy 30:15-20

Choice is inherent in life. There isn't one without the other. Here it is too easy to get caught up with only one end of a choice spectrum, that of humans (individual and communal), while ignoring choices of G*D.

At one point G*D is out of choices - G*D can only respond to our actions in their like manners. If we do "good", G*D does "good". If we don't, G*D doesn't. There is here no choice of steadfast love, regardless of the stimulus, simply stimulus and response.

At another point G*D becomes preemptive. G*D chooses to warn that G*D is getting into a non-choice - responding to "bad" with bigger "bad".

Go ahead. Choose. As an individual your choice may make no difference as the community around can and does make opposite choices. You are likely to get caught up in their choices and smashed, perhaps to be recast. And, yet, one choice is significant. Remember again the 100th monkey.

= = = = = = =

Sarah nor her husband could choose for me
Rebekah nor her husband could choose for me
Leah and Rachel nor their husband could choose for me

I cannot choose
for son and daughter
that descendants will live

I can choose
to live that they might

sometimes I choose life prosperity
death and adversity
and more and less

for self
for neighbor
for G*D

what a tangled web we weave
when first we choose
and choose again

Monday, September 03, 2007

Pentecost +15 Sunday – B

Pentecost +15 Sunday – B

Years B
Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23 or Isaiah 35:4-7a
Psalm 125 or Psalm 146
James 2:1-17
Mark 7:24-37

Raise a glass, "The rich and the poor have this in common: the Lord is the maker of them all."

May your heart be strong, not just from the drink, but in appreciation of a presence of G*D that sets you free to no longer judge rich and poor, but to live justice attempted and completed.

This open-eyed justice does away with acts of favoritism, in any direction, as we recognize our neighbor as ourself. This communal approach leads to mercy received, given, and shared. Such faith is practical, beyond cant.

= = = = = = =

be opened woman from afar
be opened Jesus so near
be opened ye deaf
be opened you onlookers
be opened scoffers and praisers

let us shape one another
in G*D's image
beyond hierarchy
beyond favoritism
beyond simply beyond

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Pentecost +15 Sunday – A

Pentecost +15 Sunday – A

Years A
Exodus 12:1-4 or Ezekiel 33:7-11
Psalm 149 or Psalm 119:33-40
Romans 13:8-14
Matthew 18:15-20

What time is it? Time to not let sin continue unchallenged.

A part of this is to remember the gift of blessing that came first so that we might sing a new song to one another and not just bring suit against one another, no matter how many witnesses we are able to round up.

There is more than enough to be divided up among us. To continue acting as though G*D and a religious impetus is a zero-sum game is false to the strongest and most steadfast tenet we have - wholeness / love.

So what will we bind on earth (another to our way of thinking) and what will we loose (a new song that is an old song - honor)?

= = = = = = =

my lamb is served with mint jelly
your lamb is tofu with mint leaves

both may be apportioned
according to the number present

both lambs are without blemish
in themselves or in our eyes

both remind us of the fragility
of life and death and beyond

both prepare us for a new journey
we will remember until the next

so we call out to one another
owe nothing but love

the lambs are gone into a good night
and awaken in honor fulfilled

of the flesh we are born and grow
with such flesh we travel together

for life takes pleasure in life
and adorns the humble with honor