Friday, November 30, 2007

A Change in Approach

With a new liturgical year comes a new series of comments on the lectionary.

Last year the formula was:

Day 1 – all the lections of Year A
Day 2 – all the lections of Year B
Day 3 – Hebrew lection of Year C
Day 4 – Psalm lection of Year C
Day 5 – Epistle lection of Year C
Day 6 – Gospel lection of Year C

Each written reflection would be followed by a versification or prayer fragment.

As this year begins the formula, so far, is:

Day 1 – comment on Gospel lection of Year A
Day 2 – comment on Hebrew lection of Year A
Day 3 – comment on Psalm lection of Year A
Day 4 – comment on Epistle lection of Year A
Day 5 – miscellaneous comment

As I didn't know before this week just what was going to happen, I was intrigued to find out what this first week has been like. I'll try it for a bit more and will be interested to see how long it stays or how it will change over the course of a year. Life's seasons are gloriously mysterious.

I am also interested in comments about such a change in process as it has unknown meaning and implications I will probably miss without a guiding word from a friendly quarter.

Thanks for your reading and responses.

Wesley White

Thanks also to Kairos CoMotion for stimulating me to this blogging and providing a mask to peek out from behind.

A Cut-Up following William S. Burroughs

Advent 1 – Year A

A Cut-Up following William S. Burroughs

But about that day and hour
Isaiah son of Amoz saw
I was glad
in the light
they said to me, "Let us go."

as the days of Noah
as the highest mountain
the commandments
built as a city bound firmly
thrones for judgment were set up.

out of Zion shall go instruction
one will be taken
one will be left
you shall not
not not

keep awake
walk paths
wake from sleep
live honorably
put on armor

go up
give thanks
know what time it is
love your neighbor
pray for peace

be ready
at an unexpected hour
peace be within you
within your walls
I will seek your good

our feet within your gate
beat swords to plowshares
prosper a broken house
a city, a flood
peace be within you

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Romans 13:8-14

Advent 1 – Year A

Romans 13:8-14

The Message reports Romans 13:10 as: "You can't go wrong when you love others. When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love."

This advice for the present turns out to be very helpful whether you are looking at things in terms of readiness or envisioning a future where we don't play war anymore.

To be constantly on guard for every little misstep is exhausting. It does, however, make one very proficient in legalistic justifications as per literalistic fundamentalists who know the nth degree of truth about every jot and tittle in Scripture.

Very much like telling the truth eases one's mind (keeping track of multiple story lines and who has what information is tiring), having one golden orientation eases life toward joy and thanksgiving. In this case, instead of trying to live up to all rules all the time, it will be sufficient to focus on one behavior that resolves the rest – love others.

What is unexpected about this approach is that it turn out to be ready for every unexpected occasion. It is not silly liberal claptrap advocated by bleeding hearts. It is the needed following of Jesus' advice to be ready – ready by doing what he did, loving others.

Likewise, what is a world without war but a world of mutual care and love. We see it in the future. It is possible to move in that direction by what we do. Not only can we see it, we can have a hand in both preparing for this world without war and actually participating in it right now.

You can't go wrong when you love others. This is a progressive panacea. Try it, you'll like it. Realistically, you'll eventually like it. Its one difficulty is that it throws everything up for grabs in the shortrun - all our learned rules will band together against it until it becomes an ingrained way of life.

The night is far gone. We have wasted enough time in trying to always be ready and to minutely define a future before actually practicing some of it today. Let us live honorably by putting on the love Jesus had for others.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Psalm 122

Advent 1 – Year A

Psalm 122

To be ready for the unexpected runs the danger of readiness fatigue.

To have a clear vision of what needs to be runs the danger of not being ready for a different future and missing it when it is available.

Both of these dangerous approaches to Advent are needed and both raise a larger danger of setting one against the other in a battle to an unnecessary death. There may be a third way that brings out the best of both. The Psalmist sums up this non-doctrinal formula relationally – "I will seek your good."

The tendency we have in today's world of silent reading is for us to read the Matthew and Isaiah passages as individuals. Strikingly, when Matthew speaks to us of being ready he uses an irregular plural of "you" and Isaiah speaks of the whole house of Jacob as walking together in light. To be progressive in today's world almost requires an ear for the corporate, the community, and not the individual. In time to come this will probably become as perverted as an overblown individualism is today and progressives will be those holding up the importance of a depth of psyche. But, for now, listen first for where the community might be better held together. This is our great need today – an irregular plural.

Our readiness for the future and our walking a better way in today's light can both be assisted with a reminder that we only get to that better future together. This requires us to seek the good of another in order for either and both of us to progress toward a time of wholeness, of peace.

Imaging Jerusalem as "a place of wholeness" we find it appropriate that those who would pray for peace, as a significant part of wholeness, would prosper, would not learn war anymore, would be ready for an unexpected experience of community beyond any arbitrary decision resulting in some taken and some left behind.

Then we run again into the tension and/or balance of Advent.

For the sake of others I will say, "Peace be within you."
For the sake of G*D "I will seek your good."

May peace be within G*D's place and may we seek the good of others. In these two we find all the law and prophets. In these two we find our past-future and our future-future come together in a very present-future that is quite manageable. We can bless G*D and bless one another – a bit now, a bit more later, and, eventually, with an exclamation point! or three!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Isaiah 2:1-5

Advent 1 – Year A

Isaiah 2:1-5

In days to come . . . . In days to come we look for life to be different than it now is. The difference is to be better. That which is still chaotic will become established. All shall be well, all manner of things shall be well. The extraneous parts of life vying for, and thus choking out, attention will find their place within larger pictures and we will live more solidly with one another.

In days to come we expect to see a resolution to life's perplexing questions. That which leads us to conflict will be transformed into consensus. The huge moral question of war will cease to confound us and we will learn peace rather than war. Imagine the transformation of our thinking if we learned stories of peace rather than stories of war. Instead of learning war we would understand it as aberration, its incompatibility with Christian teaching.

But we are not there yet. Wars and rumors of wars continue to abound. Such are convenient control methods to keep us fearful and unthinking. So how do we make a shift that seems so absolutely impossible?

A key phrase is for us to respond to an invitation to "walk in the light of the Lord".

Among other things, this is a call to live the future as if it were already here. In some sense Advent is not waiting time, but practicing time. We have seen a better future and, rather than wait for it or expect G*D to bring it about according to some yet undisclosed plan, we begin to implement our part of it in the present. The way to a better future is not based on some future event, but on what we currently do.

Let us walk in the light of what we posit G*D will be doing – teaching, mediating, transforming implements and attitudes of war into communal feeding and universal health care. Our Advent is proactive waiting. Our waiting is preemptive futuring.

We know where all this is going. Let its breaking news, its Advent, begin now.

While Advent can be waiting, it is also the pre-arrival of the future that we can climb on board. It is this tension between waiting and not waiting, between practice and actuality, between a Coming and a Second Coming, that gives Advent its peculiar energy. To emphasize one side over the other is to deny both.

To focus on a past-future such as Christmas sentimentalizes it to the point of denying its transformative power. To focus on a future-future such as a static utopia devoid of conflict removes a Second Christmas from the realm of our participation in it right now. Our challenge is to work with a present-future birth experience that both births anew and is born anew.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Matthew 24:36-44

Advent 1 – Year A

Matthew 24:36-44

The context and surface style of this passage makes it very easy to jump to apocalyptic end-times. The imagery is stark and dramatic. The theme is judgment.

As we enter a time of preparation we might take our eye off an endgame and put it back on a process of living, regardless of the times, culture, or faith orientation in which such living takes place. We are not waiting for a dividing judgment, but a birth of new hope for a peace that passes our understanding and is for all creation – a peace we can hear sung, no matter how far off, hailing a new creation. Can we be ready in our dark night to hear angels sing? This is what we are preparing for.

A first key is that of letting go of expectations of results. What is coming (whether one uses "Son of Man" lingo or not) goes beyond expectation. It may come this hour; it may not. While we have preferences about the timing of things (speeding up the good stuff and slowing down the bad) the Preacher of Ecclesiastes reminds us that all the various seasons take place within a larger vision - enjoying life and work.

Whether war continues in Iraq in 2008 or ceases or expands to Iran – what are you called to in your place? Whether one country's economy busts or all do – what are you called to in your time? Whether your health holds or you find out the latest worst – what are you called to in your body? Whether your dearest dream expands or dies – what are you called to continue nonetheless?

Here we need to re-appropriate our ignorance of a larger wisdom. We need to appreciate that we don't know any of the larger pictures. The angels don't know it yet, either. Neither does Jesus. This frees us to simply enjoy life and do our work. By extension this ignorance is corporate as well as individual. So we can enjoy together and work together. How is it where you are?

By this ignorance (a refusal to be trapped by fuzzy Gnosticism) I don't mean stupidity. Rather, a detachment of our actions from our expectations. Simply put, what's a good thing to do, whether we are here or not in any given hour? Does this mean reducing the carbon footprint we have as individuals and congregations? What witness to a better hope, a larger future, and a more expansive love will we participate in? Will we sing this song and dance this melody in good times and bad?

Since we can't be ready 24/7, we perhaps can be open to enjoying and to a next good work, regardless of the context we find ourselves. Amazingly, this simplifying puts us in the good company of the saints who are urging us on to stop our political and religious games, to cease our military aggression and economic exploitation, and to calm our excited entitlements.

Advent comes as a gift of waiting wherein we might practice avoiding all expected hours and joining Jesus and all the other saints in feasting with other saints and sinners and providing healing touches and speaking forth healing words to one another. Four weeks may just be long enough to make some progress as individuals and congregations in this process of holiness.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Advent Devotional Available

Advent Devotional Available

If you do not already have a devotional guide through Advent and Christmas, I recommend the one from the Wisconsin United Methodist Federation for Social Action.

You can access it for daily reading online or download of a PDF for printing out.

Whether you use this or not, blessings upon your creative waiting.

Advent Devotional

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Pentecost +26 Sunday – C4

Pentecost +26 Sunday – C4

Years C
Luke 23:33-43

When all else is stripped from G*D, there is yet steadfast love.
When all else is stripped from Jesus, there is yet forgiveness.

What is there when all else is stripped from you?

Here it is that you will find your joy, your willingness, your paradise.

= = = = = = =

we have come through
a long long time
whether eons or milliseconds
this long time is beyond
our timing of time

this year for instance
we circled again
themes of creation
of salvation
in a time of liturgy

starting with waiting
a strange place to start
a silence before do-re-mi
we reach a longed for place
Forgiveness Paradise

having arrived
we note its fragility
our resistance
when push comes to shove
and we set out again

how many revolutions
of wheels and self
before we stop
resisting such a paradise
and move with it beyond it

Pentecost +26 Sunday – C3

Pentecost +26 Sunday – C3

Years C
Colossians 1:11-20

I have appreciated Peterson's The Message take on this passage. I like being prayed for in such a manner that I will be given a wise mind and spirit to help me understand the ways in which G*D works. Examples of G*D at work are found in the subsequent prayers.

- that we will live well, as G*D lives well
- that we will persist in living well, as G*D persists
- that we will find living well leading to joy, as does G*D

A key piece of evidence that these prayers are finding fertile ground in us, that we are part of "a resurrection parade", comes with the image of spaciousness. We, too, become, like Jesus, "so spacious, so roomy that everything of G*D finds its proper place in us. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe – people and things, animals and atoms – get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies with ourselves." (modified a bit)

This movement toward an expansive and expanding love is worthy of present and future thanks.

= = = = = = =

we have redemption
anytime anywhere

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pentecost +26 Sunday – C2

Pentecost +26 Sunday – C2

Years C
Luke 1:68-79 or Psalm46

To be a preparer of a better way is indeed a high calling. It is one within the reach of everyone.

Sometimes we strive for some better part, to be the hero/heroine of whatever situation we are in. Sometimes that is not only possible, but achievable. For a given time and place, we are the obvious catalyst to move things along. More often we would do better to cast around for simply a next baby step that someone else will be able to build on, bring to fruition.

It is amazing how often this role of the preparer of a better future revolves around issues of forgiveness. Time and again the gift of radical forgiveness is needed to clear space for a better time. It is this forgiveness that provides a better picture of salvation and ways in which it might become clearer and stronger in our living.

In this last moment of the year we might cast our hearts and minds back over the past year to see the proportion of our experience that found us humbly preparing a better way compared to those moments where we were a final capstone put in place. My hunch is that we will all find ourselves more often in the role of preparer. Now that we have cast back, we might be able to more forthrightly and joyfully fill more of that role in the year ahead. This will lead to a greater fulfillment by this time next year.

= = = = = = =

there is a river
whose streams make glad
habitations of the heart
whose strong flow
sees us through to dawn

streams pre-river
sea post-river
play their part
along a way
of new life


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pentecost +26 Sunday – C1

Pentecost +26 Sunday – C1

Years C
Jeremiah 23:1-6

On the cusp of one year leading to another it is time to look back and raise some general questions. These questions can be responded to on personal, cultic, and national levels.

What flocks have we scattered? Did we avoid doing bad things?

What remnant has been gathered? Did we do good things?

What connection with G*D did we nurture? Did we attend exercises of justice and righteousness?

= = = = = = =

whose honey-bunch are you
whose betrayer are you
whose dearie are you
whose loyal opposition are you
whose worst nightmare are you
whose defender are you
whose ignorer are you
whose righteousness are you

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pentecost +26 Sunday – B

Pentecost +26 Sunday – B

Years B
2 Samuel 23:1-7 or Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
Psalm 132:1-18 or Psalm 93
Revelation 1:4b-8
John 18:33-37

So, who are you? We need to listen to other's perception of us. There will be some truth there. It will give us a clue about who we have been, are, or might yet become.

For this to be most helpful it is good to have some idea that we are fulfilling a meaningful interaction with the other and with a community larger than our immediate community. With this larger perspective we can take other perceptions and not battle them. Sometimes we can even claim them (probably to the consternation of those who were trying to get our goat).

I am who I was born to be. This is a deep truth each of us have access to. When we do connect with it, it is amazing what power is set free within and through us.

Here is an empowering exercise. Stand in front of a proverbial mirror and say aloud, until it is firmly stated, "For this I was born – to testify to wholeness." Stating this truth continues our completion and emboldens us to assist others to arrive at a similar spot for themselves. This is leadership.

= = = = = = =

where did I come from
where am I going

right now I'm between
mu and nu
I am glad to be here
me and you

for this I was born
for this I will die
in the meantime
we enjoy between times

we are and were
and are yet were-ing
to a new witness
all are loved free

look up and down
jump and kneel
remember and anticipate
amen and amen

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Pentecost +26 Sunday – A

Pentecost +26 Sunday – A

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

With the eyes of your heart enlightened, hope lives in you.

Hope that you will be unscattered and hope that you can help return folks who have been pushed out. Such hope rises to the surface, becoming conscious. From there it is but a matter of applying courage to implement it.

And so, at the end of a long year, we are left with hope. After all the disappointments, we are left with hope. Even in the presence of current and in the anticipation of judgments now and yet, we are left with hope.

= = = = = = =

hope revealed
shyly and boldly
pokes its head out
to reveal its heart
in deeds of loving kindness

a bit of feast here
a tun of fun there
a goodwill stop also
a visit when all seemed lost
so hope travels

as we have been done unto
we are thankful
thankful enough
to hope to do well
to do well unto

Friday, November 16, 2007

Pentecost +25 Sunday – C4

Pentecost +25 Sunday – C4

Years C

"By your endurance you will gain your souls." Sometimes it sounds as if soul-gaining were still in doubt and dependent upon our decision to endure. Is that your understanding of gaining your soul? If so, what is this "endurance" you are to participate in? Is it more than simply a passage of time.

In light of other parts of this passage and a focus upon thanksgiving, it might be that we can retranslate "endurance" as "persistent in present thanksgiving."

There are supposedly many dangers yet ahead, perhaps more than we have already passed through. Each difficulty brings an opportunity to witness, to testify. Our testimony regards our endurance. What is it that keeps you keeping on in the face of travail and betrayal?

Listening to words not heard by others that see beyond a dim horizon to a new dawn breaking – this is what we testify to. We witness to a thanksgiving that permeates us from nose to toes and flows through us and surrounds us.

When all about is falling down, we see beyond the falling to a new rising – a rising of soul. [Listen to Walela sing Bright Morning Stars.]

= = = = = = =

all beautiful gifts
all gifts to God
rise up tall
to fall below

carefully constructed
carelessly thrown together
all rise up
all fall down

soul attempt
after soul try
rise awhile
fall forever

leaving trails
of thanks behind
the rise
the fall

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pentecost +25 Sunday – C3

Pentecost +25 Sunday – C3

Years C
2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

Here is where having loose boundaries comes in handy. The language being used here is that of "idleness". Given a focus on thanksgiving we might see idleness as a being without thanks or joy. We just don't have the energy, given all we need to do, to spend any more on such frivolities.

We might reflect on the classic sin of sloth or sadness. In this case idleness is lack of thankful joy. Spiritual apathy that discourages us from our holy work of appreciating beauty and expressing thanks is another way to talk about sloth and to see how what is being warned against here is not relaxing, but a choice against life.

Likewise, we can retranslate, "anyone not willing to work" into "anyone not willing to give thanks and do the work of worship isn't worth any more than the result of the mechanics of eating".

And yet again, "do not be weary in doing what is right" is less about morality and more about thanksgiving (a focus of this passage).

= = = = = = =

sometimes we learn
from opposites
better than models

our models come loaded
with literalism and creeds
narrowing our options

comparison brings choice
play and mystery
bearing greater fruit

idling is not staying in place
it is actively refusing
to move ahead

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pentecost +25 Sunday – C2

Pentecost +25 Sunday – C2

Years C
Isaiah 12 or Psalm 98

"You will say in that day: Give thanks…."

Do you trust that day will come? If so why not give thanks now as well as then?

Trust and thanks are antidotes to fear. Trust and thanks are rope and winch lowering and raising a bucket of joy into the wells (plural) of salvation. Trust and thanks free us from the control of anger and fear of anger.

In preparation for a focus on thanks-giving and thanks-living it might be helpful to focus on its twin of trust. Trust lays the groundwork for the courage it takes to sing a new song in an old situation. Trust breaks fear's grip. Trust is another way of spelling salvation from that which looms over us and another way of spelling health or wholeness pulling us past any rough spot we face.

= = = = = = =

I give thanks
you – give thanks!

so we move
from experience
to rote requirements

my thanks is mine
your thanks is yours

thanks becomes a technique
we apply to intolerable situations
as though going through this motion
we will change the unspeakable
from fearful to our advantage

starting with thanks
we can go anywhere
with strengthened trust
we are truly at home
wherever we are
and whenever

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pentecost +24 Sunday – C3

Pentecost +24 Sunday – C3

Years C
Isaiah 65:17-25 or Malachi 4:1-2a

Hearken back to a conversation G*D was having with whatever heavenly hosts are. Way back at a time of a creation - a creation or two ago.

In such a yesteryear G*D announces, to whomever, an intention for a next creation of heaven and earth, version x.c. In this version, new or renewed features will be featured. Key among them are issues of joy and time and meaning and healthy relationships.

Among the questions before us is whether we are at the end of version x.c and a new healing needs to rise - x.d.

There is still some time to go before we get to version y and z and whatever might be beyond our current ways of measuring. What is not in doubt, though, is a progression that will keep coming to our attention as free-will and gracious love bounce off one another loosing untold additional particles of life that will need to be taken into account with a new version of what we are doing with the process of creation, experience, re-creation.

= = = = = = =

hearkening anticipates
a new tonal relationship
an expected next note
with a variation
beckoning beyond

not hearkening
traps us in an echo chamber
turning a first harmony
into dissonance beyond hurtful
with its predictable

hearken anew
newly harken
angels sing
creation begins
worlds go on again

[Try to listen to Jean Redpath sing The Song of the Seals in its entirety.]

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pentecost +25 Sunday – B

Pentecost +25 Sunday – B

Years B
1 Samuel 1:4-20 or Daniel 12:1-3
1 Samuel 2:1-10 or Psalm 16
Hebrews 10:11-25
Mark 13:1-8

Look! What a large Enemy!
It will take a trebuchet to do in this large an enemy. One smooth river stone or five stand no chance

Look! What a large Temple!
Nothing could ever bring down such stability. No number of armies with the biggest siege engines could prevail here.

What fantasies we conjure as we face fears and attempt to continue our present course. In both cases we exaggerate our situations. We are at one and the same time too weak and too strong.

Take a second and third look. G*D as rock is an interesting image. G*D enlarges on the way from sling to forehead, becoming irresistible. G*D reduces so temple walls can be stepped over and be no barrier, becoming approachable. G*D as rock is no static image, but is as transformable as any Living reality.

= = = = = = =

lead me astray
from solid falsehoods
told with volume enough
to fool all the people all the time

lies that grow
rumor so seemingly so
plausible to irresistible
small lie masquerading
as big truth

lead me astray
from popular memes
so believable everywhere
and all too repeated
in sanctuary space

having connected with god
our least fears
are projected large
upon innocent
children and strangers

of all sadness
this grieves most
big lies hold sway
in holy space

a willingness
to be provoked
to love
not lie

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Pentecost +25 Sunday – A

Pentecost +25 Sunday – A

Years A
Judges 4;1-7 or Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18
Psalm 123 or Psalm 90:1-12
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Matthew 25:14-30

Life has been given into our hands. Some have received one gift; some another.

What to do with gifts is a perennial issue. The way we use a gift this year may be different than the way we were called to use it last year. It is difficult to keep up with a Living G*D.

The doing of evil may be as simple as continuing to use a gift in a manner no longer called for. Persistence of evil might be seen as a persistence of behavior beyond its time with no new listening, learning, or living.

It is this persistence of past talents that can be the same as burying them in the past and protecting them from being invested in the present and future. Thank goodness for communities that continue to challenge and support us in our use of gifts - for challenging us when we keep repeating ourselves past usefulness and for stimulating and encouraging us to new uses of given gifts.

= = = = = = =

a thousand years
swept away like a dream
and we complain
we bewail
we are at wit's end

the pull of habit
is strong

even if there is new grass
growing through cement
we cling to our cement
claiming it to be life
in the presence of real life

may the light of day
keep us from SAD
cast a beam upon our path
warm our waning days
and lead us to one another

a thousand days
no regret
today's enough

Friday, November 09, 2007

Pentecost +24 Sunday – C4

Pentecost +24 Sunday – C4

Years C
Luke 20:27-38

If a pastor moves on from a congregation, another pastor is to come and make them fruitful. After seven pastorates, during a time of Jubilee from pastoring, a question arises as to which congregation do I have responsibility for forever?

Well, it turns out, none-of-the-above is the closest to reality. It was a false concept that an offspring is the end-all and be-all of life. Even having one imputed to one through no action of one's own, doesn't reverse death. To talk of pastoral responsibility for the life of a congregation is in the same arena of false concept.

Whew, finally the woman died. Whew, finally being responsible for another or a group of others died. In the midst of mutuality we can do just fine without an offspring. In the midst of mutuality we can do just fine without a pastor. This is not to say that a child wouldn't bring joy or a pastor wouldn't provide leadership. It is to look more deeply at the details and catch a glimpse of the fragility of the premise we have for so long taken for granted.

Where have you been caught thinking that you are caught in a web not of your own weaving or in a story made up by someone without regard for your character development? Time, then, to remember there is a G*D of the living that goes beyond our limiting rules based on bad science or bad systems. In this remembering it is now possible to move on.

= = = = = = =

children of resurrection
would be a lovely name
for a congregation
wrestling with a living G*D
as they find themselves
born and reborn and re-reborn
shedding skin after skin
growing from within
not compressed from without

child of resurrection
would be a beautiful secret name
for an individual
finding their identity
in being everyone's child
and bearing everyone's child
whether in body
or in metaphor
once or repeatedly

resurrection children
bypass usual fears
of death
as ending
or beginning
or changing
each is permissible
none holds sway
all is alive

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Pentecost +24 Sunday – C3

Pentecost +24 Sunday – C3

Years C
2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17

A key element of our faith and lack thereof is found in the issue of tradition. Just what was the tradition that was taught by Paul? How large or small was it?

Is the tradition of Paul that of inclusion of all into one community? Was it focused on details of an apocalypse? Did it have to do with rules and regulations about who could talk and when and where? Perhaps it was simply encouragement to not connect the present with the future too tightly because our projections would soon overtake us and lead to an idolatry of now that would keep us from a better tomorrow?

If Paul's tradition was most focused on Jesus' glory of connection with G*D that was also available to become our glory, then we have a wonderful freedom to live together as disciples, adding glory to glory.

If Paul's tradition was more focused on control of disciples to keep them from harm's way, thus to constrain them from straying from a given straight-and-narrow, then we have a much stricter path to tread.

What do you see Paul's tradition to be?

= = = = = = =

eternal comfort
good hope
come our way unbidden
rise up from within
for no good reason

so comforted
so strengthened
these energies
are transformed
to word and work

Pentecost +24 Sunday – C2

Pentecost +24 Sunday – C2

Years C
Psalm 145:1-5, 17-21 or Psalm 98 or Psalm 17:1-9

When all is said and done a judgment will be made on the basis of righteousness (right living choices amid a sinister world) and equity (a justified humility).

And we keep acting as though such a judgment will be made on the basis of our strength, our keeping particular traditions, our belief structure or particular language, etc.

Until we can get our head around what might reasonably be on the test and stop assuming that the test we want will be the test we will get, our expectations play contrarily against a coming standard. It is time to figure out what the basics of life are rather than play to our preferences.

= = = = = = =

knowing we are out of sync
with our long-term good
because the short-term goodies
are so tasty

we finally appeal
that we might be an apple
given to our test-giver teacher
and exempted from the pop quiz

rather than simply taking the test
we spend our time avoiding
a study of the subject at hand
living now and trusting ever

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Pentecost +24 Sunday – C1

Pentecost +24 Sunday – C1

Years C
Haggai 1:15b-2:9 or Job 19:23-27a

Visions of "heaven" come wrapped in gift paper - fancy paper, but still paper. We fancy up what we already know and project it into what we expect. This is all very normal, but not particularly relevant to some future time.

Note here the way in which the "heavenly" realm of a temple rebuilt or an experience after death both take on a process of revelation. No one remembered what the previous temple looked like or, at least, could hardly remember it in the face of the reality of its current state of destruction. It will be in a rebuilding that new glory will shine, not in simply duplicating that which was. It will be in the rebuilding that we will find what could never be found in the old temple.

Likewise, after Job's skin is destroyed his underlying flesh will experience a rebuilding. The redemption looked for is not some automatic response (this much suffering gets this much redemption and another amount gets another redemption experience). In the new setting something will be experienced appropriate to its setting.

Neither of these are intended to be a story of heaven that is beyond our current understanding, and yet they remind us not to get too far ahead of ourselves or we will then only find a demolished expectation without also finding its new salvation health.

= = = = = = =

prosperity is only such
for its given moment
always there has been a crash

only after said crash
do we find a new prosperity
even more prosperous

a prosperity unimaginable
without its proverbial black Monday
setting its background

look not for a new prosperity
a new heavenly image
without losing the old

it won't be a mere extension
but the more sweet
for being a quantum leap

Monday, November 05, 2007

Pentecost +24 Sunday – B

Pentecost +24 Sunday – B

Years B
Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17 or 1 Kings 17:8-16
Psalm 127 or Psalm 146
Hebrews 9:24-28
Mark 12:38-44

When called to put in to life all we have, it is helpful to have little. We don't have to sort through tough decisions about what to save when a fire is bearing down on us or the flood waters are rising. When it is very clear that we only have this cup of flour or these two coins, we might as well offer them now rather than wait for another hand - sort of like going all in when short-stacked - it is the only reasonable decision in an uncertain world.

Our senses are heightened when everything is on the line and, at the same time, there is a blessed quietness. This combination of choice and non-choice leads to the type of living that will force action. When in this space we are open to doors we never would have considered and, if nothing else, we are a blessing to any who observe our response to a dilemma - invest where you can your reputation, resources, and hope.

= = = = = = =

a house is being built
a habitat for humanity
rises from random materials
a foundation here
a stud there
insulation blown or blanket
paint all around

a house is being built
a model of participation
sweat equity
partnering with G*D
and one another
pick your skill set
and use it well

a house is being built
its transformation
to a home
is in vain
without today's risk
sleeping with Boaz
cooking for Elijah

a house is being built
that requires
everyone's hands
to raise it up
not even G*D
does this alone
without a widow's help

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Pentecost +24 Sunday – A

Pentecost +24 Sunday – A

Years A
Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25 or Wisdom of Solomon 6:12-16 & Amos 5:18-22
Psalm 78:1-7 or Wisdom of Solomon 6:17-20 & Psalm 70
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Matthew 25:1-13

Wisdom requires decisions made in the moment, in this day. To wait for more information is not as wise as acting on what is now known and adding to what is known as we go along and making appropriate corrections, including recantations, to and of prior decisions.

What do you know of "bridegroom" behavior? How do you then plan and decide about their inconstancy?

What do you know of "bridegroom" forgiveness? How does this change your plans and decisions?

What do you know of "bridegroom" justice and righteous? Does this confirm or change your plans based on what you know about the forgiveness of same?

= = = = = = =

alas for you
who desire the day to come
without having made
the needed decisions of this day

to desire without planning
is driving without
seatbelt or helmet
damn silly

to desire without deciding
is counting chickens
before they are hatched

no amount of ritual
incantation or sacrifice
will atone for innocent desire

plan for extravagant justice
decide for expansive righteousness
for this is saving music to the ear

Friday, November 02, 2007

Pentecost +23 Sunday – C4

Pentecost +23 Sunday – C4

Years C
Luke 19:1-10

Ambiguous places often help us define what is important. In this passage there are two major ambiguities. First is a question of who is short of stature. To think about the reference being to Jesus or to Zacchaeus begins to let us see this story again - outside the confines of the little ditty about "a wee little man." We who are so used to imaging a tall, Nordic Jesus who portrays calm wisdom and strength that can externalized need to be able to see Jesus in everyone we meet, even the shortest and youngest.

Second is a question of giving. The passage can be read regarding resources Zacchaeus will give as a response to Jesus' visit in his life. It can also be read as giving that Zacchaeus is already doing. In the first instance this is a story about personal salvation/health and response to it. In the second it is a story about the crowd, their prejudice and the need for inclusion/health on a community level.

Even when the language seems unambiguous it is alright to squint at it a bit and come at it sideways. If you think Jesus or any saint is literalistic in their stories or their lives, you have a second think coming at some point. Even the most straight-forward of sentences or phrases can jump up to be as transforming as the catching of an eye (I) between a short guy in the middle of a crowd and short guy up a tree without a ladder. It is shocking what little things as an ambiguity can do with us, for us, to us.

= = = = = = =

Jesus is coming
asking to stay at your house today
he was just going to pass on through
but here he is
delaying his travel
to come to your house

ready or not
Jesus is coming
in an unanticipated moment
here he is
investing in you
coming to your house

going forth
Jesus travels on
I journey on
now both of us
are inviting ourselves
to your house

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Pentecost +23 Sunday – C3

Pentecost +23 Sunday – C3

Year C
2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12

Who are you? Who you talk’n to? What’s your best shot? Will you stick it out?

Who are you? While politicians are famous for naming their own name, almost erasing who it is that is speaking as they speak about the image of themselves they want to project, we might yet do a better job of stating who it is that is speaking. What is our identity? How much energy can we put behind an encounter with another? If you haven’t done it in awhile, you may want to stand in front of a full-length mirror and practice an energetic, positive, progressively-open presentation of yourself, saying your name out loud in a fashion that intends to engage another at your respective best places.

Who you talk’n to? Regardless of your strength of identity, if there is not an intentional speaking to another real person, folks aren’t going to stick around for a potential growth opportunity for you both. If you haven’t done it in awhile, you may want to intentionally look at people’s eyes to note their color. In addition to this specific, use your Sherlock Holmes skills (practice will improve them) to note specifics about their bearing and aura. To speak with another means knowing something about them and if you need to spend time to so learn it will be worth the expenditure of time in effective communication.

What’s your best shot? Can you go Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy one better on the shorthand version of your best that you will add to as the relationship deepens. They begin with Grace and Peace (they named their sources for such, but these generics are a good starting place). What would you substitute for one of them or add to them? You don’t have to give a whole load at one time, trust that there will be ample kairos-time to get in what needs getting in.

Will you stick it out? Finally, there is this moment, well-encountered, that can be an eternity. There is always time enough to make a difference if that is intended by all concerned. Our apart time can also fulfill this moment and prepare us for another through an on-going sense of being joined at the root, in prayer.

= = = = = = =

it would be so wonderful
for grace and peace
to find a place and time
within my life
to be even further glorified

it would be so wonderful
for faith and love
to find a place and time
within your life
to be even further glorified

it would be so wonderful
for life together
between us
to be even further glorified

it would be so wonderful
for glorified living
within and beyond
to be fruitful and multiplied

it is already wonderful
simply to imagine
these possibilities
gloriously playing together