Friday, April 30, 2010


Easter 5 - Year C

a new heaven
Judas washed clean

a new earth
Judas trusts

a new glory
Jesus received

a new way
Jesus teaching

a new spirit
Peter’s non-distinction

a new focus
Cornelius accepted

a new praise
old me and young you together

a new life
G*D’s moved in

a new sight
Love one another

Revelation 21:1-6

Easter 5 - Year C

Revelation 21:1-6

When does a vision of “a new earth and new heaven” happen along? When things are at their worst - worse than what we do to the earth and its response, worse than what we do to one another, worse than a theology of rapturous end-times. When we have exhausted ourselves using old technology on intractable issues, then we come round to consider jettisoning the unworkable and begin to envision a goal large enough for us to be open to new ways of working. Simple examples today are "immigration" bills in Arizona and drilling for oil in deep water - a new vision, please.

One way or another, each re-envisioning posits a closer relationship between G*D and Creation/Humanity. Here we have G*D’s home changed from a high and lifted up position to that of a co-dweller on earth, in paradise. At question is whether we will repeat all our previous history, just in a new horizontal relationship instead of the old vertical one.

There is still a way to go on this vision, too few have made the jump to co-creators over the face of the chaotic deep newly christened “water of life”. We are left with a new creative moment. Unfortunately it is one without the deep engagement of tears, death, mourning, crying, and pain. This avoidance will carry seeds of its own destruction.

Presumably we will find the worst in this new relationship and need to work on a new vision of G*D and Humanity being one, not two images. More about this in another reincarnation. For the moment it is enough to work on this reciprocity option.

Psalm 148

Easter 5 - Year C

Psalm 148

There are two different praise rationales here. First for the grand immensities that stand as contexts for each passing fancy – height, host, stars, beyond heaven. These praise for G*D commanded their presence and creation occurred.

We find ourselves within the second level of praise, along with monsters, fickle weather, trees, creepy things, flighty things, young and old together. Here praise is for the exalted glory above them, not for themselves alone, regardless of their yellow hair.

All have been watered from above heaven and yet there are choices to be made regarding praise. Will they or won’t they? Will you or won’t you? If we are feeling favored in the moment we are likely to praise. If, for whatever reason, we are unaware or dismissive of our intimacy with having a moment in which to shine (perhaps not content with a moment when the first group has a sense of forever about them) then we praise not.

Do you buy this bi-level praise platform. How would you rephrase things?

Use of this material

I have spent the last three days on retreat without web or cell phone contact - Thus four messages in a row today.

A significant portion of my time was spent taking a look at other ways in which to present nearly a decade of lectionary postings. They are not done in everyone's preferred receiving style (i.e., rather idiosyncratic, eccentric or batty) and so the question of whether there is another presentation form is particularly tricky. As an experiment I drafted an introduction to this form of reflection and organized three-quarters of my accumulated comments on the lections in Genesis. Now I need to reflect on what came forth to see:
- if this start is worth continuing
- simply to leave things here in the chronological format of a blog
- use them as source material for a more unified comment per lection
- turn it into a book or a website
- etc.

If you have any ideas about other ways of presenting this material, I covet such insight. What would make this resource more helpful to you? You can leave a reply here or send me an email at

Wesley White

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Acts 11:1-18

Easter 5 - Year C

Acts 11:1-18

Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea (your community) heard that the Gays and Lesbians had also accepted the word of God. 2So when Peter went up to Jerusalem (your denominational headquarters), the Homophobic believers criticized him, 3saying, “Why did you go to the Gays and Lesbians and eat with them?” 4Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, 5“I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. 6As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. 7I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ 8But I replied, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9But a second time the voice answered from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ 10This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. 11At that very moment three Gay men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. 12The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six Hetero brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the Gay man's house. 13He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; 14he will give you a message by which you and your entire cohort will be saved.’ 15And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon Gays and Lesbians just as it had upon us at the beginning. 16And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17If then God gave Gays and Lesbians the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” 18When the Homophobic believers heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gays and Lesbians the repentance that leads to life.”

A similar miracle can still happen.

Note that repentance here is not about G*D's good gift of personal identity. If you were born with one set of genitals or another or both or none is beside the point. If you came to realize you were erotically attracted to those of a different gender or same or both is beside the point. These are not repentance issues. Repentance has to do with orientation toward G*D, not toward another human being. If we are not following Jesus' model of drawing nearer to G*D and becoming G*D, we are in need of repentance. If we are so engaged, the personal identity issues are off the tablecloth.

Note also the assumption that there weren't Gays and Lesbians present when Pentecost occurred. Knowing what we know about human beings, the odds were that there were some (including the one "that Jesus loved"?) Gays and Lesbians in the first round of having been Holy Spiritized. It is not sufficient to go on the assumption that if it didn't specifically say there were Gay and Lesbians anointed/ordained to the ministry of Jesus to draw near to G*D that they weren't present, closeting being what it has been for lo these many years.

Monday, April 26, 2010

John 13:1-35

Easter 5 - Year C

John 13:1-35

Washed by Jesus and still unclean.

Jesus' actions are not unilateral. Jesus is constrained.
G*D's actions are not unilateral. G*D is constrained.
My actions are not unilateral. I am constrained.
Your actions are not unilateral. You are constrained.
Our actions are not unilateral. We are constrained.

It appears that not only are servants not greater than their master, but the master is not greater than the servants. Both servants and masters are not unilateral. Both are constrained.

Where G*D is received, creation is also received.
Where Jesus is received, G*D is also received.
Where I am received, Jesus is also received.
Where you are received, I am also received.
Where we are received, all are also received.

It appears that we find our identity in our varying relationships. Each of our varying relationships with every other part of our life is based on having love for one another, recognizing and receiving each other's belovedness.

Washed and still unclean, but washed none-the-less. Washed and still containing every opportunity to express our having been loved.

Friday, April 23, 2010

and then

Easter 4 - Year C

no matter what name
we go by
Tabitha, Dorcas, Gazelle
we go bye

one eye on obituary
worthy material
tunics, chitons, albs
are worthy materials

then it is written
rest sweet rest
death, quietus, sleep
sweet sweet rest

and a call to arms
get up up
rise and shine, pile out, rouse
up get up

a hand please
a hand given
sewing, darning, reweaving
a hand given

restored and revived
goodness and mercy
follow, lead, share
and mercy goodness

then it is not written
where to
here, there, nowhere
to where

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Revelation 7:9-17

Easter 4 - Year C

Revelation 7:9-17

Servant leadership leads from the center of the assembled. It makes sense that this kind of leadership be kind. It welcomes opportunities to take one more step.

Throne leadership is more directive. Here it makes sense to have decisions regarding who is in and who is out. It welcomes challenges to overcome.

Both of these have their moment. When coming out of a great ordeal both leadership styles are important. At one and the same time, limits on energy from stresses of exile need to be heeded and stringent encouragement can be a source of needed vitality. Here we have the triumphant throne leadership in the fore and our task is to remember the servant leadership that accompanied folks through the thirsty places of life.

It is easy to get caught in the "final score" of the game and fail to appreciate all the ups and down and changes in momentum that led to a conclusion. The conclusion is not the real measure of value.

Do note that everyone was present. With pushes and pulls and plenty of time, we do gather together from our exile from one another. Pentecost and Revelation point to an overcoming of ancient Babel. Question for the day: what are we currently experiencing that points in the same direction? Relying on these stories of the past only goes so far - they need to be connected with what is currently going on in our desert journey as we point out the living water that will keep us going.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Psalm 23

Easter 4 - Year C

Psalm 23

This Psalm is so universal that it can't be pinned down to a particular time and place of origin. Among other things, it is an Exodus celebration of relief from oppression. So great is the surprise of liberation that it can only be seen in terms of some grand plan, some leader of who did for us what we could not do, would not risk for ourselves.

Once this great shepherd appeared, we sheep had it good and what else could be expected from us than we would project this to continue on for many long years. Of course that would mean staying sheep instead of growing into autonomous and interdependent humans.

Hail Intervenor!
I move from nothing to everything.
In place of never-ending work, there is an extended vacation;
The sweat of our brow has become the nectar of the gods;
We move from head-bowed despair to hope-striding;
Each step in a trackless desert draws nearer to an oasis.
Honor Intervenor!
Though deep dark nightmares of the past come in their season
Their harm has been defanged -
I awake cuddled in Holy Intervenor arms,
Left and right arms comfort.
We get up for warm milk in the face of fears for the future;
Cocoa powder abounds
Hot chocolate for the soul is powerfully abundant.
I have been pursued by evil and now by goodness and love
Filling my days, shaping my days,
Transforming humble tents into temples
For many, many years.

Whatever your slavery or death, an exodus is always surprising. Surprising as Jesus playing an ambiguous game different than those who want specifics; surprising as Tabitha getting up from her bier. Surprising as your experience of exodus, no matter how mundane it might be.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Acts 9:36-43

Easter 4 - Year C

Acts 9:36-43

Peter, tell us how you raised Tabitha to again run and leap among us?

I've prayed for those I care about to be raised up that my loneliness for them be assuaged. How come my prayer didn't work and your's did?

Well, let's back up a bit, how did folks know to go and get Peter? Was it to join them in mourning and then Peter pulled this fast one of raising Dorcas? Was it to do exactly what he did just down the road, betting his raising up of Aeneas could be moved up a notch from a situation of paralysis to that of death? I suspect that Peter wasn't called to use the saintly gazelle's death and resurrection as a means to increase the number of believers at Joppa - though church growth techniques have been around for quite awhile and promising resuscitation would be a good one.

Lazarus, come forth; Tabitha, get up. These phrases see beyond the present circumstance. As you look at the congregation or country of which you are a part, what equally succinct phrase would you employ? Friendly UMC, stop bickering; Legislative leaders, help the poor; UU Fellowship, start dancing; ____________, ______________.

How would you use this formula with a friend, neighbor, enemy? What can you see available and coming that would lead you to be this bold today?

Monday, April 19, 2010

John 10:22-30

Easter 4 - Year C

John 10:22-30

Those who keep asking Jesus for a reason for his activities will have to keep asking because the only response they get does not have a connecting spot in their habits. A web of habit keeps us from receiving new data. It takes a good deal of intentionality to leave an opening for new information that will begin to systematically dismantle and expand one’s current web.

This is a belief issue. Belief and habit are kissing cousins - they both reject that which is not already present. There is no room for revelation here.

While there are many core issues, the one at stake here is a relationship one has with a past that is in continual contact with long-ago and far-away creation as well as a cusp of present with future. This flux between a creation-long ebb and flow and a sharp in-breaking of tomorrow is quite troublesome to many. They might could handle one or the other, but certainly not both without loosing their grounding, their perceived sanity.

This talk of the Father and Jesus being one is the same as G*D and I being the same. The dynamic of John’s "in the beginning..." and "...light coming into the world" are behind these simple equations. Want to scare your parishioners? Simply use Jesus' formula "G*D and (your name here) are one" without any clarification. Stick to it. No explanation, just the statement. Unease will surface. The works you do will reveal the reality or falsity of the statement.

Friday, April 16, 2010

love and sing

Easter 3 - Year C

earth day call
feed the sheep
feed the lambs
feed the sheep

resurrection call
fish until
there are no more fish
cast again and there are fish

conversion call
Saul blinded
Ananias resistant
both come to see more

beauty call
find a dance in mourning
find a song in fear
find a blessing in slaughter

love earth not exploitation
receive a surprise of abundance
remember your best insight
and sing with angels

= = = = = = =

stanza 1 & 2 - John
stanza 3 - Acts
stanza 4 - Psalm/Revelation
stanza 5 - all of the above

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Revelation 5:11-14

Easter 3 - Year C

Revelation 5:11-14

In today's world, where "winning is everything", the imagery of being slaughtered in the regional semi-finals doesn't bode well for receiving the glory of the trophy. Once upon a time, long ago and far away, is the kind of location for slaughtering leading to glory.

Imagine the angels singing for you - singing "Worthy!", singing "Beloved!", right here, right now. Who knows whether this will lead to being slaughtered, but we do know it leads to the energy to love G*D, Neighbor, Self, One Another, and Enemies. This love may, in turn, lead to undesired consequences (being led by the belt when old) or not (heaven may actually come on earth).

Did you really imagine the angels singing for you? Go back and try that until you can hear them. Then you may jump to the next paragraph. Until then loop and loop again until you can hum along with an angelic song.

Having heard the angels sing, "Peace on Earth, Kindness to Creation", we are not into saving ourselves, having this all be one big ego trip. We identify with G*D and dust, with Neighbor and Enemy, with zealots and innocents, with stars and one another. G*D and the dust of evolution bring us to birth. Angel songs of belovedness bring us to new birth. Now even salvation is beside the point as a third birth moves us to a new quantum level. Rejoice as you join the Angel Band and sing to others.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Psalm 30

Easter 3 - Year C

Psalm 30

Can dust praise? Can G*D be in Sheol?

Yes, I can. Yes, G*D can.

Let's dance. G*D's joy.

[Note: Hmm, Friday got here early this week.]

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Acts 9:1-6, (7-20)

Easter 3 - Year C

Acts 9:1-6, (7-20)

When I recently re-read the following paragraph by Dorothy Soelle in The Window of Vulnerability: A Political Spirituality, it led me to wonder about this Saul to Paul conversion as part of a conversion from patriarchy to feminism. I know it is easy to put Paul in an anti-feminist group, but remember that even sudden conversions have a learning curve to them a situation in which they abide.

"Let me give an example of how theology can change when women do it; that is, when new subjects reflect on theological tradition. Sin, in the dominant, Protestant-influenced interpretation, is "wanting to be like God." It is the search for power, for superiority; it is overestimation of the self; it is pride; it is disobedience. But women who have become aware of their situation and have asked themselves, for the first time, whether they would really consider this type of sin to be the worst of all have come to quite different conclusions. They have said it is just the opposite. Our sin is not that of self-exaltation and pride; it is self-denial, selflessness in the bad sense of the word, the surrender of any kind of genuine self, underdevelopment of the self, conformity to the dominant structure, lack of pride in being a woman, obedience. Sin is submission to this sexist model of society. It is failure to realize God's image in oneself, and bowing in fearful humility. That means that we need a totally different definition of sin if we want to talk seriously about the ways in which we mess up our lives and how women are destroyed in our society, how it happens that they never really come to life, and what is the source of all that."

Now that sin can be seen as not simply power, but also submission, how do you apply those to their appropriate situations and what might be a third and fourth helpful definition of sin that will continue deepening your insight into your own way of being as well as broadening your application of it in the variety of lives you encounter. Again, definitions of sin are not the goal, but they aid in an analysis that allows seeing farther, seeing more, and transforming life situations.

Acts 9:1-6, (7-20)

Easter 3 - Year C

Acts 9:1-6, (7-20)

From the musical Little Shop of Horrors there is a wonderful little song, Suddenly, Seymour. This leads us into seeing more - which is what a connection with in-the-beginning does for us. It moves us from what we are against to what we are doing to move a once and future beginning onward.

Saul looks into darkness and sees a vision of a new relationship. From persecuting nameless followers of Jesus to looking forward to a very specific follower with a name, Ananias. In moving from the ease of anonymity to a real person, Saul makes a trip to Paul, from abuser to advocate.

This is a moment of realization, just like Seymour and Audrey in the song above. Scales fall from eyes, sight is restored, assurance comes to the fore from out of the background.

Can such a conversion be trusted. Perhaps, but testing comes first. Saul will be tested by others in Damascus and by himself in the wilderness (both are important). A new relationship will be forged in the testings and Paul's challenge will be similar to Peter's - to follow Jesus' way without turning it into a technique, creed, or literalism. This challenge continues - it is ours.

Monday, April 12, 2010

John 21:1-19

Easter 3 - Year C

John 21:1-19

Peter, having committed to "feeding Jesus' sheep", led the other disciples on an important Feed the Sheep Crusade. They organized other fishing associations to tithe their catches to a Food Pantry, to benefit the poor.

After this excellent organization of the literal, Jesus showed himself again to the disciples. They had their best catch of the Crusade and were coming in when Jesus called out, "Friends, do you have lots of fish?" A response came back, "Yes we do!" Jesus said, "Put them back and come on in." Miraculously, they did.

When they came ashore, a charcoal fire was there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said, "Come and have breakfast."

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to all of them, "Do you love me more than those fish?" Like any good fairytale we go over this three times. Jesus then shifted his previous statement, simply saying, "Follow my way."

In conversation after this scene, Jesus' friends looked back to see that they were beloved, they had been tested, they could now ask others, "Is what you are doing going somewhere?" and they would go on to the kind of Life which would illuminate creation through all phases of time and space.

Now, come have breakfast for there is life to be Lived. No more literal following; you have been blessed that new blessing will be released.

Friday, April 09, 2010

blessed are those . . .

Easter 2 - Year C

evening come
morning afar
fears increase
doubts rise
assurance needed

unless unless
surfaces quickly

receive peace
be forgiven
forgive others
believe experience
believe revelation

why why
questions threaten

prophet's proof
comes later
when is
was will
show love

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Revelation 1:4-8

Easter 2 - Year C

Revelation 1:4-8

What else can one do in the presence of "is and was and about to arrive" than grin all over yourself? And here we were so preoccupied with our entitlements . . . what is, was, or will be that about?

And then, adding in seven spirits to the recipe, the grin turns to a guffaw.

This imagination is freedom from the fear of the moment. It sets a larger scene - peace to be transformed into freedom and vice versa.

Now you try - understand you are Alpha and Omega. This will help focus you on your gift for this time. See them become your parentheses. All that you have been working on, "(", and all that has been working toward you, ")", surrounds you to work together as a lens () clarifying today's task that will complete a partial past and set the groundwork for a better future.

It would be so easy to have this just be about G*D, but this expansive view of G*D is intended to have an effect of expanding you and me. If it is just about glorifying Jesus and G*D we are most to be pitied.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Psalm 118:14-29

Easter 2 - Year C

Psalm 118:14-29

Verse 17: I shall not die, but live and proclaim the works of Life.

To have come to this point requires an awareness of some rebirth experiences. This takes awhile for us - remember those adolescent years when we would just die (or hide away) over any number of fears or setbacks? Eventually we come around to see more than our immediate response to desires and events. In seeing more than our own Narcissistic needs we begin to put various parts of ourselves together and see a whole more than the sum of our parts.

To see more is a stance of "not dying".

From there it is but a small extension to hear the question, "If you are not going to die, what are you going to do?"


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Acts 5:27-41

Easter 2 - Year C

Acts 5:27-41

See what an excellent illustration this is for not giving any quarter in an ideological battle. Gamaliel got all reasonable and the disciples were let off to build their base and cause more trouble.

Can you imagine a Gamaliel in the inner circle of the Bush/Chaney administration or the current Republican House of Representatives or Senate? Truth is, the same need for a Gamaliel is present on every side. No one is exempt from the quest for power or its overreach when achieved.

It's easy to play the part of the disciples - I've got a message and I'm going to deliver it. It is much harder to play the role of the loyal opposition. Who has the time to see how things will develop when there are points to score and scores to settle? The loyal opposition brings a troublesome, though real, presumption that we may be in the wrong and any hint toward that possibility scares the bejesus out of many. In that fear, they then can't be Jesus in their situation and choose a compassionate and rational stance.

With what group do you need to play the loyal opposition. If you are uncertain, here's a book by that name that points to one important arena, The Loyal Opposition: Struggling with the Church on Homosexuality.

Monday, April 05, 2010

John 20:19-31

Easter 2 - Year C

John 20:19-31

In this passage, fear of "Them" is stronger than "fear" of the Lord. So it is we hide ourselves from others and self.

Peace, as an antidote to fear, is not etherial calm or green pastures. Peace is active. Here it is sender and sendee (learn strategy and tactics). Here it is forgiven and forgiving (learn premeditated mercy). Here it is patient (learn the three keys to peace - experience, experience, experience that sets a larger context). Here it is belief present and future (not creedal belief, but abundant life belief).

Try this sermon on for size Called as Peacemakers.

Since this is also Holy Humor Sunday for some, peace is a perspective that brings laughter, from a chuckle to a belly-laugh. Now we can see ourselves hiding away, what lovable, old sillies. We can see "They" are not the issue, "we" are - how could we have missed that? One way we missed it is our own propensity to substitute mammon for mystical metaphor - see cartoon.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Your Name Here ____

Easter - Year C

in a beginning
let there be
blessed be
you are named
now you name

a new beginning
an old name
renewed name
blessed be
let there be

Thursday, April 01, 2010

1 Corinthians 15:19-26

Easter - Year C

1 Corinthians 15:19-26

Paul does his best to find some order in resurrection - If this, then that, then another, then something else, then . . . . In fact, all the ifs are beside the point, death isn't all its cracked up to be.

His circle within a circle can be entered at any point and followed around and around. And his circle can be set aside as beside the point. Death isn't all its cracked up to be.

So if you've been trying to find a formula to have life in this world, forget about it. This world isn't all its cracked up to be.

We have life, simply life, to live and neither the trappings of the principalities and powers in this world or a fear of death will keep us from this impetus. Jesus offered abundant life, and we are invited to jump in. Here is the "holy" week arc: Enter your Jerusalem, face your death, and live.