Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pentecost +23 Sunday – C2

Pentecost +23 Sunday – C2

Year C
Psalm 119:137-144 or Psalm 32:1-7

We do indeed desire an understanding that will enable us to live. A part of the religious struggle is how to use this desire. Is it limited to control of our lives and our environment? If so, how does it ever grow, for the way in which we use control is to limit change? Is it intended to be continually ahead of us and so our task is more to learn how to learn than it is to memorize the overload of what has come down to us. If so, how do we deal with the constancy of change that will lead us beyond creedal words, for our response to change is to slow it down to manageable bits?

It seems we can either deal with “decrees righteous for ever” or with “understanding”, but not both at the same time. To stand between them is to put one at risk of cognitive dissonance and every other kind of soul-wrenching experience that can be imagined.

In some sense there needs to be a division between G*D and ourselves as well as a unity. G*D needs “forever” space and we need growth-in-learning space. It is important not to confuse these two and meld them too closely together.

Likewise we can’t try to hold together an image of G*D being a hiding place as well as a one that surrounds us with glad cries. We are no longer hidden if being exulted over. We cannot be celebrated while still being hidden away.

= = = = = = =

trouble and anguish have come
and come and come
again and again
we wonder how can we last

finding a beauty of righteousness
again and again
brings us closer and closer
to a delight larger than failure

to a larger vision of tomorrow
nearer and nearer
we turn again and again
until it is vision no longer

then external decrees
and internal understanding
again and again
dance with one another

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pentecost +23 Sunday – C1

Pentecost +23 Sunday – C1

Year C
Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4 or Isaiah 1:10-18

Imagine a later Habakkuk in an earlier Sodom or an even later (your location here). Habakkuk could be anywhere religious veneer is of more value than compassion or where preemptive violence rules the day. (Actually, these two conditions bring out the worst in each other.)

How different would the vision be for what it means to live your faith? Though not explicitly stated in this passage, would not both Isaiah and yourself spell out that vision as (1) refraining from harm, (2) the doing of good, and (3) the putting of yourself and your community into an active relationship with G*D that (1) and (2) above might be sustained?

All three of these actions work together. A question for today is which of these three active holinesses needs to be reenergized where you are to break a cycle of decline from deep insight into surface forms?

= = = = = = =

come let us argue
invites G*D and saints
our way through
qualities of leadership

let us call one another
to account and change
in the face of
violence and promise

may this challenge
lead us beyond
our current comprehension
of religion and perfection

our standard now becomes
continual reduction of violence
compassion that fatigues not
and honest relational encounters

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pentecost +23 Sunday – B

Pentecost +23 Sunday – B

Year B
Ruth 1:1-18 or Deuteronomy 6:1-9
Psalm 146 or Psalm 119:1-8
Hebrews 9:11-14
Mark 12:28-34

Why continue running in the same circle of people? Why leave for another circle?

Inasmuch as we have multiple options of where to be and with whom, these are on-going questions. We also have differing needs, some of which come to the fore for a time and some that wait for another occasion. Sometimes we respond with very practical considerations of income and retirement? Sometimes our emotional well-being overrides any other issue. There are times when an internal hope or conversation with G*D will move us past either or these or anything else we have previously used to decide. Always there is inertia or lack of imagination that can come into play.

Whether practical, emotional, hopeful, or habitual, we are responding to where we see the nearness of the “freedom” of G*D and whether we are a part of a freedom to invest in life, to love, here or there, this circumstance or that, these ones or those. The more basic our freedom, the easier it is to say “both” at the same time or sequentially.

= = = = = = =

moments of import
heighten all our senses
hearts hearing calls
mind’s eyes seeing options
ties that bind touch our souls

such moments
come one per lifetime
and several
are present right now
for amusement and signifying

in this moment
we honor our ancestresses
Orpah and Ruth
both doing their best
in their every-day days

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Pentecost +23 Sunday – A

Pentecost +23 Sunday – A

Year A
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

A place of honor requires stepping into a flood rush and standing still while the waters rush by, not yet calmed upstream. To bear the holy is both honorable and dangerous. When we try to disentangle these two to provide executive privilege, or any other kind of privilege, we have failed in our leadership.

To bear holiness, in ourselves and not just on our shoulders, requires entering all manner of metaphoric flood waters. We will stand in a flood that rejuvenates the land, building a part of a new delta with the few molecules of flesh and bone we have at our disposal. We will stand in a flood of prejudice, uncertainty, and fear that has rushed on for a longest time as a sign and witness it shall not always be so – though not yet seen, a cessation is on its way [and again a "nothing" has become a "something" :) ].

Still, it is time to stop by woods or flood and choose a path less traveled. It will make all the difference.

= = = = = = =

some prophets cry peace
to a raging river
a rising tide
as though desire
for continued comfort
were sufficient

being thus out of tune
with what is coming
for fear of losing
what little purchase
we have on the bronco back
of a living G*D

our cry of peace
echoes hollowly
within a hollow people
empty of hallowing
coming change
in present living

Pentecost +22 – C4

Pentecost +22 – C4

Year C
Luke 18:9-14

Thank goodness neither I nor readers here trust in themselves! We be but worthless worms!

Was it otherwise we, too, might be tempted to impose our level of grace as the standard for all, regardless of age or experience. Variations on a theme of grace seem infinite. While trying to understand a mystery such as grace we set up a triage tree.

Are we on a branch of prevenient grace? And, if so, do we honor it?

Might we be settled on another limb, justifying grace, just as worthy, but different?

Could we be as high or low (depending upon our cosmology and theology of servanthood) as sanctifying grace? Or, is this a jump, squirrel-like, to another tree entirely?

As large as this Trinitarian dissection of grace may be, it is much too small for the reality of any one life, not to mention that of a community. We may spend more time between such classic conceptions than in any of them. Eventually we will need to toss out our pride of place in grace along with a trust in perks as prayer tokens.

= = = = = = =

"pleased to be here already"
"distraught to be only here"
are cries from
experienced prayer warriors
battling others and self
for G*D territory

building a prayer ziggurat
to the heights of heaven
digging a prayer shaft
to the foundations of paradise
show our pride
establish our place

whichever way we strive
to justify our choices
or construct our basis
for generalized justification
we enter a never-ending
tread mill of examine

pronounced justified
we are justified
in separation from
those not so recognized
and we play the grace game
from the other side

pleased and distraught
becomes our cage
never at home in either
yearning for a new parable
in which to find ourselves
and one another closer

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pentecost +22 Sunday – C3

Pentecost +22 Sunday – C3

Years C
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

My Life as Sacramental Wine: title of Paul's latest book. The chapters are alphabetical and illustrative of the specialized lingo of oenology - austere, balanced, complex, ..., yeasty, zymurgy.

Using a glossary of wineology, how would you describe your life?

= = = = = = =

I stand alone
may it not be counted against them
you stand alone
may it not be counted against them
we stand alone
may it not be counted against them
all stand alone
may it not be counted against them
all together stand alone
may it not be counted against them

I stand alone
with thanks to them
you stand alone
with thanks to them
we stand alone
with thanks to them
all stand alone
with thanks to them
all together stand alone
with thanks to them

so now what
alone alone
alone together
what is proclaimed
anger universalized
trust focused
abiding fear of them
simple honesty with them

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pentecost +22 Sunday – C2

Pentecost +22 Sunday – C2

Years C
Psalm 65 or Psalm 84:1-7

Happy are we when we are satisfied with the goodness of G*D's presence.

While the experience of G*D's goodness is an intangible, it does have weight. This weight tilts us ever so, a little more, toward expressions of hope.

Can you feel this weight in your life? It is a weight that lifts.

= = = = = = =

roaring waves silenced
people's tumult quieted
into this silence
drop signs
it is evening
it is morning
a new day begun

a gentle river
by trees of healing
forgiveness realized
in iniquities midst
another year in
another year begun
feasting on joy

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pentecost +22 Sunday – C1

Pentecost +22 Sunday – C1

Years C
Joel 2:23-32 or Sirach 35:12-17 or Jeremiah 14:7-10, 19-22

Ya gotta love formulas. According to Grandpa: G*D gives once, generously, and we return it in the fashion it was given, generously. Once this test or tit-for-tat has been accomplished, G*D repays sevenfold. An unspoken understanding is that such increased generosity will be increased in return. Pretty soon we will be given and giving seventy times seven times to one another.

Don't forget, says Grandad, this generosity is not just in goodies, but in justice. If you make that mistake, and don't expand your generosity into the arena of justice, you have just broken the cycle of generosity and your ability to bless as you have been blessed is diminishing. At first imperceptibly, but eventually it can't be ignored.

= = = = = = =

always later
spirit is poured out
on all

it takes a special eye
to see the presence
of an afterward already
active in the midst
of no accounts and slaves

still waiting
for afterwards
to lift you out
of yesterday
carpe diem

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pentecost +22 Sunday – B

Pentecost +22 Sunday – B

Years B
Job 42:1-6, 10-17 or Jeremiah 31:7-9
Psalm 34:1-8, (19-22) or Psalm 126
Hebrews 7:23-28
Mark 10:46-52

So many cry out for mercy!

They cry here and there, directing their cry in the direction of their heritage (that which narrowly points a direction to a source of mercy). So some cry inwardly. Some to a process that may alleviate suffering, Some to Allah the Merciful, or YHWH, or Jesus. Some to some yet unknown over an invisible horizon.

Those of us who are not an ultimate source of appeal for mercy are caught in the middle. We hear the cry. We hear a response to go to the crier and carry them to the source of mercy they seek.

We are in a privileged position and need to find it in ourselves to behave honorably within such - responding to both calls with alacrity even when we are not part of the system currently at work. As a Muslim we might help a crier to the Mercy of YHWH; as a Christian, to Allah the Merciful; as a Jew to Buddha's Paths; as Wiccan, Native Person of any tradition, Atheist, Egoist, New Ageist, or whatever, to any other journey.

This position is one of friendship that goes beyond Job's friends who had their own agenda of how mercy might be engaged. We help folks move to an experience of mercy rather than convince them of some reason for their suffering.

= = = = = = =

when our cries for mercy
found their source
and we were able
to cease our weeping
we were like those
who dream without
desiring to wake

our dream mouth
was filled with laughter
connected with joy
rather than irony
seeing new sources
for rejoicing
than our previous one

to find our dream
and our awaking
so closely allied
stunned our reason
into silence
weeping became
joy seed harvested

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Pentecost +22 Sunday – A

Pentecost +22 Sunday – A

Years A
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

Moses, the great liberator, is shut up in foreign Moab. Ruth, the great grandmother, comes forth from Moab.

All of this disparagement and honoring of Moab, depending on time and perspective, is background to the famous "love your neighbor" dicta.

This is basic inclusionary, progressive vision. It allows Jesus to continue engaging those who would be his enemy, in this particular the Pharisees.

It is encouragement to us to keep the line open with our supposed enemies, for we may well find ourselves dying in their space and rejoicing when they bring forth a heroine of our own.

= = = = = = =

what is a millennia
what is a moment

a tension between
enlivens this present

relatives become enemies
enemies become friends

we chase one another
and flee the same

in a moment
all is lost

in a millennia
we can see today

may we prosper
in our in-between time

Friday, October 19, 2007

Pentecost +21 Sunday – C4

Pentecost +21 Sunday – C4

Years C
Luke 18:1-8

"This and the following parable warn us against two fatal extremes, with regard to prayer: the former against faintness and weariness, the latter against self confidence." - John Wesley, Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament

Paragraphing unparagraphed material is always a challenge. Here is my preferred edit:

Jesus told a parable about a need to pray always and not to lose heart.

He said, "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people.

"In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, 'Grant me justice against my opponent.'

"For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, 'Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.' "

And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says."

"And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice [read "a persistent heart"] to them.

When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith [read "justice"] on earth?"

- - -

Listen again to what the unjust judge says, "Justice will eventually come to pass!"

Jesus will find justice [read "faith enacted"] when, eventually, G*D's justice and our justice come together. It is justice that is needed for Jesus' return, not some rebuilt temple.

= = = = = = =

prayer is to faith
persistence is to justice

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pentecost +21 Sunday – C3

Pentecost +21 Sunday – C3

Years C
2 Timothy 3:14-4:5

That which is G*D-inspired is useful in the midst of a community. Scripture is a useful tool - useful even when misused and someone tries to use it as a hammer when the task at hand is casting seed upon prepared ground.

According to Paul, Scripture's usefulness falls into two categories: positively - teaching/training, and negatively - reproof/correction. These are the same needs an individual and community have - support and re-direction.

We might also be stimulated to consider what else, in addition to Scripture, is useful, is G*D-inspired. Where might beauty fit into this? A created environment where we find ourselves? Additional writings and other art forms? Science? Neighbors?

= = = = = = =

somehow we keep hearing
be sober
endure suffering

good news apparently
so diluted
so mechanical
so earnest

humor has been squeezed

all that is left

may we hear again
a cheering evangel
encouraging us
and all

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Pentecost +21 Sunday – C2

Pentecost +21 Sunday – C2

Years C
Psalm119:97-104 or Psalm 121

Law comes from roots that have to do with what has been laid down - from set in place to lying in wait for birth to laying out a dragnet to catch. The biggest thing to be laid down (set in place) is creation. Here then is a jump from law to creation.

"Oh, how I love your 'creation'! It is my meditation all day long." (Ps 119:97)

This makes much more sense in terms of what is available to us all day long and what can capture our imagination that will lead us more quickly to wisdom. In some sense "law" can lead to knowledge, but it is "creation" that leads to understanding.

This sort of play can be fruitfully done in other references. Try it for yourself in your favorite passages about "law" (presuming you have favorite law passages).

= = = = = = =

that pesky old problem
of help arising
remains with us
it is the cry of earth
as it is being toasted
of Iraqis now toast
cut off from their hills
of poor children
so concerned about
and even more ignored

we are again
at a point of helplessness
where god is again
effectively absent
as we lift our eyes
to ozone holes
heritages demolished
communal care abandoned
leading to another choice
acquiescence or revolution

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pentecost +21 Sunday – C1

Pentecost +21 Sunday – C1

Years C
Jeremiah 31:27-34 or Genesis 32:22-31

What does it mean to be made in the image of G*D? Jeremiah suggests that it is not simply mirroring (where things turn out to be turned around so left becomes right and good becomes evil). Image that is only skin deep is a pretty shallow way to live. But when image goes all the way through so there becomes an equivalency, that's deep imagery (where to say G*D is to say human, and vice versa).

This imagery needs to go as deep as a hip bone and leave its mark. So you and I wrestle with G*D, receive new names, and move, together, one step closer to wholeness.

Now, who will you wrestle with until they learn a new name. It is all too easy to give up on folks, pull up the covers, and hide away. But this is a call to action, so back to the joy of G*D-wrestling, neighbor-wrestling, self-wrestling.

= = = = = = =

speaking of a call to action
hopefully I'll see some of you
at this year's
Call to Action

Monday, October 15, 2007

Pentecost +21 Sunday – B

Pentecost +21 Sunday – B

Years B
Job 38:1-7, (34-41) or Isaiah 53:4-12
Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35c or Psalm 91:9-16
Hebrews 5:1-10
Mark 10:35-45

Job is berated for not knowing that which came before humankind (Genesis 1 version) or for not having paid attention to what came after humankind (Genesis 2 version). Unfortunately to berate that made in one's image is to recognize one's own limitation. G*D simply has no adequate response to the reality stated in Isaiah, "It was the willingness of the Lord to crush with pain." There is no amount of fancy dancing and holy intimidation that will get G*D off the hook.

Likewise is it in community. There is nothing that will get James and John off the hook of looking for an inappropriate edge -- we will trap Jesus from the inside, he can't refuse our request; a Pharisee's trapping request, perhaps, but not ours.

Both G*D and the disciples need to hear again, "It is not to be so among us. Whomever desires honor must live it, day in and day out."

= = = = = = =

yea, we are able
affirms our affirmation
that we are images
able to imitate
that which we imagine

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Pentecost +21 Sunday – A

Pentecost +21 Sunday – A

Years A
Exodus 32:12-23 or Isaiah 45:1-7
Psalm 99 or Psalm 96:1-9, (10-13)
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Matthew 22:15-22

Here's the deal G*D .... "Let me know who's with me"; "Show me your glory."

To which G*D says, "Nope." G*D claims all corners -- to make "weal and woe," to be "forgiving and avenging." There will be no bargains struck.

Here's the deal Jesus .... "Do we pay taxes?"

To which Jesus says, "Good try, but nope. Your perception that a question can be composed to both prove your own worth and to diminish your own responsibility will never come 'round right. It will fall of its own weight."

In spending so much time in trying to trap a perceived opponent, there is not sufficient time to get ourselves out of effectively colluding with the oppressors we are in bed with. In this day and age American religious find themselves battling each other and thus avoiding the realities that they are colluding with their own elected oppressors who balk not at preemptive war and keeping insurance from children and everything in between. For another look at this, check out Frank Rich's column, The 'Good Germans' Among Us.

= = = = = = =

to set out to trap another
is the surest way to be caught
steering god the way of our ammunition

in thus getting caught
in our own attempt to trap another
we are set up for Jesus' jujitsu theology

when our trap's premise
is exposed we fly head over heels
bowing before our previous blind spot

now comes the revelation
malice's short-run effectiveness
will ever reveal its long-run fallacy

Friday, October 12, 2007

Pentecost +20 Sunday – C4

Pentecost +20 Sunday – C4

Years C
Luke 17:11-19

A part of enlarging one's gratitude (in general or in praise of G*D) is awareness of its availability as a choice.

Suppose we came up with a Gratitude Quotient that would take our expression of thanks during a particular time frame (morning, afternoon, evening) and divided them by the number of opportunities we had to be thankful (then turning it into a percentage by multiplying it by 100).

GQ = # Thanks / # Opportunities x 100

Then we could devise a refrigerator chart divided into those time frames per day and chart our Gratitude Quotient. Hopefully we would see a rise in our percentage of thankfulness over time as well as seeing a connection between our biorhythms and ease of thanksgiving.

Just raising gratitude to our awareness in this or some other gimmicky way, brings a benefit. We will begin to recognize more and more opportunities for giving thanks, rather than simply proceeding to life as usual. Try it, you may like it.

= = = = = = =

sometimes we call out
have mercy on me
sometimes our call becomes
have mercy on us

both are powerful
to ease troubles
to firm resolve

then our stuck point
becomes the doing
or the not doing
of what we hear

we can wait for confirmation
right where we are
and trust nothing less
than immediate healing

we can wander about
following this instruction
and that instruction
and be further lost

may we have the wisdom
to know when to what
and what to when
to plow ahead or return

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pentecost +20 Sunday – C3

Pentecost +20 Sunday – C3

Years C
2 Timothy 2:8-15

Being exiled in a foreign country (deportation) or exiled in your own (captivity) is a death experience. Thus you may want to try translating verse 8 as: "Remember Jesus Christ, returned from exile...."

To have returned from exile is to face all the broken dreams of the way things used to be as well as to do the difficult work of rebuilding community. Returning from exile is no easier than going into exile. While we fantasize about returning from whatever exile we are currently experiencing, the reality is that fulfilling such a fantasy will be as problematic as the life we are currently dealing with.

Therefore, enduring is a good word with which to become reacquainted. Endure the exile; endure the return.

= = = = = = =

no wrangling over words
when all I have for meaning
in this unlooked for exile
are words

clarifying our situation
encouraging endurance
fantasizing about change

harboring a past
experiencing this present
anticipating a new creation

so priceless
there is no choice
but to have dominion

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Pentecost +20 Sunday – C2

Pentecost +20 Sunday – C2

Years C
Psalm 66:1-12 or Psalm 111

Psalms sound differently if intoned in the cadence of someone trudging into exile or if celebrating the overcoming of another.

Praise can remind us, in the midst of the deepest despair, to focus where some ultimate returning might yet come from. Anything other than this far-reaching possibility is no longer on the table. Praise is a precursor of return to better days and is cast in terms of that which was understood before the calamity.

Praise can remind us, in the midst of great glee, that everything is falling into place for an on-going, endless, jubilation. We have overcome and nothing will stop us now. We have praised God and passed the ammunition. All's right with our world.

Try reading these Psalms in these different voices and see which rings truest for you.

= = = = = = =

we are in a spacious place
where past pains can be let go
there is plenty of place
plenty enough for peace

we are in a spacious place
where future conquering is open
there is plenty of place
plenty enough for claiming

we are in a spacious place
where pain and victory intersect
there each can find its place
without interacting

we are in a spacious place
where even more options come together
there each place
touches each

we are in a spacious place
where choice of voice
determines character
and next covenants

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Pentecost +20 Sunday – C1

Pentecost +20 Sunday – C1

Years C
Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7 or 2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c

Jeremiah counsels exiles to live where they are, rather than where they would rather be. It is in seeking the welfare of the enemy land, where you are, that you will find your own welfare. Isn't that the same as collaborating with the enemy? Those at home could call such cooperation, treason.

It is amazing how much good there is everywhere and that it may be easier for the conquered to experience it than the conqueror.

For instance, Naaman (in MoveOn lingo: Nay-Man - the great Sayer-of-No), who can find nothing worthwhile in his conquered land, particularly something so simple on the surface as a bath in the local trickling stream.

It is just as amazing how skeptical we are of everything that is not us (unless the hormones or adrenaline kicks in to make another attractive or one reactive to a situation).

So are you finding your behavior these days growing more out of the advice of Jeremiah or the reaction of Naaman?

= = = = = = =

love your enemies
for your own sake

Monday, October 08, 2007

Pentecost +20 Sunday – B

Pentecost +20 Sunday – B

Years B
Job 23:1-9, 16-17 or Amos 5:6-7, 10-15
Psalm 22:1-15 or Psalm 90:12-17
Hebrews 4:12-16
Mark 10:17-31

Job: "Today my complaint is bitter."

Everyman: "What must I do to inherit eternal life."

Both cases call for boldness - a boldness to complain about impoverishment and a boldness to give all our resources to the poor.

While this boldness is spoken of in terms of its result in mercy and grace, the clearer reality is that it is only mercy and grace that allow boldness to flourish and be enacted. To have it be otherwise, in any fashion, would be to give into entitled rights of goodness or rewards for righteous works.

Where we are left is exercising our right to choose, right up to the end, our response to the exigencies of life.

= = = = = = =

how hard it is to enter
a realm of experience
requiring only nakedness

our bodies and riches
become our definition
we cannot put down

without them we are nothing
we are definitely last
with no first in sight

our windup clockwork
does not go into any good night
gently or easily

we complain and grasp
and gasp to the end
shoving grace aside

until all that is left
is unrequited forsakenness
and we sputter out

may our difficult days
and persistent riches
recede before a wise heart

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Pentecost +20 Sunday – A

Pentecost +20 Sunday – A

Years A
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

Moses is delayed on the mountain: Worry. Take things into your own hands and build an alternative worship experience. Dance around a golden calf, which is what hoarded resources are good for.

Wedding guests have refused their invitations and killed the messengers: Recompense. Take things into your own hands and kill the killers. Invite any left to the wedding. A seemingly generous act finds the violence of recompense still active when someone doesn't live up to a dress code. With a finer and finer sieve are folks caught, until none will be able to stand. Many are called, but few are chosen. Few are chosen, and even these will eventually be speechless.

It is difficult to let our gentleness be shown in a wilderness setting or an example of heavenly blessing. We refuse to take the time to remember goodness and mercy all the days of our life.

= = = = = = =

glory is exchanged for grass
every day
that which is before us
is never as delightful
as that which is not
grass is greener elsewhere

grass is exchanged for grass
grass for grace
promises of G*D with us
in Moses' return
in a heavenly banquet
fall on empty ears

we hallucinate grass
until gold becomes an oasis
busy-ness an edge for advancement
getting hungrier and hungrier
settling for empty calories
unsettling the ox within us each

Friday, October 05, 2007

Pentecost +19 Sunday – C4

Pentecost +19 Sunday – C4

Years C
Luke 17:5-10

"Increase our faith" that we might be able to do what Jesus asks of us - to make possible the impossibility of forgiving the same person 7 times per day.

This is the equivalent of saying, "As soon as I graduate, then I'll be able to make a difference - well, as soon as I get in the right position, I'll make a difference - any day now, I'll make a difference." Somehow, someday never comes.

A creative insight at creation is that light is already a potential presence in the midst of chaos. It takes an inquiring mind to grab its various waves and particles and to bring them together - let there be light. Likewise, faith is already present. We delay our insight regarding faith's presence, by never perceiving enough and always waiting for, "Increase!"

As a creation story begins the rest of the story, so, too, the smallest dab of faith begins the rest of it's journey.

Of course we will do some crazy things with our faith and its increase (sort of like the Sorcerer's Apprentice) such as polluting oceans with mulberrys for no good reason. But faith is an active implementation of belief and as such we look for it to simply do its job of being big enough for what is at hand, and no bigger. Faith can be seen as the subtext of the servant in the story that follows. Try substituting "Faith" as a personal name for the servant and see how it flows.

= = = = = = =

how was your week
did you note
day by day
servant Faith
plodding steadily along
ready to serve
and if you did notice
did you try serving faith
or see that faith served
faith put to work
brings good weeks
faith coddled doesn't

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Pentecost +19 Sunday – C3

Pentecost +19 Sunday – C3

Years C
2 Timothy 1:1-14

"Keep ablaze the gift of G*D that is within you through the laying on of my hands."

We are a communal people who touch each other, groom each other, into living out of a good treasure already present. The reminders of where we have come from keeps reaching back and back to a creation that honors an inherent goodness, very goodness, in truth, within. Nothing subsequent can separate us from such a beginning.

So we encourage in each other that which we do not yet have in fullness - life. We do so with every tool at our command, including bringing G*D to bear and any manifestation of same that wills a clear conscience.

Have you been encouraged this day? Rejoice. Have you encouraged another this day? Rejoice. Both come round to the other and the treasure of a good creation continues to open.

= = = = = = =

o to see another
as they may become
this precious gift
seer and seen

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Pentecost +19 Sunday – C2

Pentecost +19 Sunday – C2

Years C
Psalm 137 or Psalm 37:1-9

"Weep!" or "Don't fret!"

Here we have a basic difference in response to life's circumstance when it goes awry (i.e., doesn't go our way).

We each seem to have a proclivity toward one or the other of these responses. Knowing which is yours can help you play toward or against type. It is not that knowing your tendency commits you to it, but that knowing it can free you to choose against it.

When you lament, lament. Wail it out and smash those children to bits.

When you refuse to lament, refuse. Wait it out and let G*D's anger decide to cut off those children.

Imagine using this formula on World Communion Sunday. Will you lament the lack of unity and find ways to do away with all who would follow a different sacramental rubric? Will you gloss over the differences and let G*D sort them out at some future time? Does it make a difference to you or G*D if you choose one response or the other?

= = = = = = =

rivers bring life
we find we are sitting alongside
a river that has taken our lives
and worse
mocks us
that we might sing of another river
one well and truly lost to us

how could we sing
of living water alongside
dehydrated water
further desiccating
a tree without healing leaves
without doing so
with a sawdust tongue

but we could mutter
under our arid breath
"we won't take it anymore"
and turn our vision of escape
into a program of revenge
and so we will
or will we

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Pentecost +19 Sunday – C1

Pentecost +19 Sunday – C1

Years C
Lamentations 1:1-6; Lamentations 3:19-26; or Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4

"How lonely sits (__name of your congregation/denomination__) that once was full of people!"
So states the Lamenter.

Habakkuk clarifies a why behind the statement.
"Look at the Proud! Their spirit is not right in them...."

This is the key to understanding the multiple transgressions the Lamenter recognizes - satisfaction that they were getting-theirs and a rejoicing that they could help those who weren't-getting-any without, in any way, risking theirs. Pride and unilateral mission were the set up.

It does suggest that if our hope is going to be real this morning, a reversal is to really come, steadfast love and mercy will in some way involve sacrifice and mutuality.
Now what does that mean in each home and congregation?

= = = = = = =

writing a vision large
doesn't help those who don't look
should they glance
the font would be readable

while writing is crucial analysis
it pales in the face of non-readers
who find it even more critical
for them to continue apace

this is true for holy writing
in a book or on a wall
the words are present
the understanding is not

we have taken surfaces
all too literally
and lost the life of words
in some magical Word

may all dreams this night
be troubled
and all dreams tomorrow
be possible

Monday, October 01, 2007

Pentecost +19 Sunday – B

Pentecost +19 Sunday – B

Years B
Job 1:1; 2:1-10 or Genesis 2:18-24
Psalm 26 or Psalm 8
Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12
Mark 10:2-16

To walk in my integrity implies an understanding of what has been joined to G*D and therefore is joined to me. It is easy to see good joined to G*D, not so easy to see evil having a connection. This is probably a function of our ability to see rather than G*D's experience of good and evil.

It is easy to see inherent relationships between lovers who find themselves in one another, not so easy to see divorce as a sacred event (only a state event). Yet, for integrity's sake, we find we cannot live only one side of an equation. What is being joined and separated in our living today? What is defined and named and to what are we still so blind we cannot see to name? This state of already and not-yet is the interface where we find the energy and experience of life.

May your helpmeet (experienced, whether legalized or not) assist you, with integrity, to both curse G*D and die, and come to yourself.

= = = = = = =

I wash my hands in innocence
again and again
I am washed away by life circumstance
again and again

my very same hand hugs my brother
again and again
that slaps my sister
again and again

so I define and define
again and again
and am in turn defined
again and again

until I cannot tell
again and again
truth from falsehood
again and again

and am joined to the cosmos
again and again
and divorced from myself
again and again

again and again
again and again

Pentecost +19 Sunday – A

Pentecost +19 Sunday – A

Years A
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

World Communion Sunday, by its very existence, recognizes that there are incompatible differences between those who sacramentalize a eucharist in Jesus' name. We emphasize different commandments and so are constantly balancing and rebalancing our boundaries.

Putting the Exodus and Isaiah passages together we find less emphasis upon the specifics of thundering commandments, than on what G*D expects to be their result -- justice (Isaiah 5:7).

Left on our own, we are afraid - who can keep every jot and tittle? But seen as precursors to a longer prophetic justice (thus the vineyard images in these pericopes) we are able to keep on.

In this light, the Psalmist is correct to see the commandments as clarifying - "Here is an example of justice: honor those who have gone before." In keeping that which builds justice we find a great reward, one worth pursuing with all our energy. It is also this that connects us with Prophet Jesus - identifying a great justice and what stands in our way of moving toward it.

= = = = = = =

listen to another parable
what is going to happen
to those in the tale
just so it will happen
to you and your family
as we project
so we are
change an expectation
and you change a course of history
facts are not immutable
or determinative
listen to a parable
live a parable