Monday, May 31, 2010

Luke 7:11-17

Pentecost +2 - Year C

Luke 7:11-17

Jesus' compassion was short-term practical and long-term status quo.

Justice/compassion for one was not translated into justice/compassion for all. And the imponderable is whether this is from Jesus or the Church.

One young man rose to care for one lone widow.

For this Jesus was seen as a great prophet.

This same Jesus has been heard to say that those who came later would do more than he evidenced.

Well, the needs of many "widowed", physically and religiously, still are present and need attending. Proceeding one-by-one won't suffice. This is going to take a common-unity approach.

Imagine how far this news would spread - not just a lottery-lucky widow, but all "widows" will be care for - beyond blood lineage, beyond class, beyond status, beyond religious obligation.

Now G*D has not just looked favorably upon the poor or had a preferred option for the poor, but G*D is literally with the poor and the poor with G*D - so both "poor" and "G*D" are redefined.

Friday, May 28, 2010

a cat named Trinity

Pentecost +1 - Year C

three in one
one in three

now where
did Schrödinger
put that darn box

Romans 5:1-5 (6-11)

Pentecost +1 - Year C

Romans 5:1-5 (6-11)

Perhaps a strange pick for Trinity Sunday - Jesus is a gateway to G*D. Any gateway to G*D might be considered a Jesus figure, a part of the Trinity, since it is a bit loose here.

Through Jesus we have access to a hope of sharing G*D's glory, being with G*D, being G*D. Still just a hope, though. We might have arrived at this hope through the standard process of suffering --> endurance --> character --> hope. Here we doubled our chances by using Jesus' gateway access and our own suffering --> hope process.

Hope means we are very close, but not there.

The second, optional part of this pericope gets into that whole blood atonement we are so loathe to embrace. So we will stick here to note that Hope is actually a very good place to be. There is yet a way to go, a journey is still alive, goals have not been reached, love continues to be poured forth, a jolly-good spirit continues to play.

While we are yet in hope our weakness means less and less.
While we are yet in hope our weakness means more and more.
While we are yet in hope our weakness ceases to be the issue.
While we are yet in hope our weakness is what it is.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Psalm 8

Pentecost +1 - Year C

Psalm 8

How much less being than God, Angel, Divinity, Creation, or Wisdom does it take to put one outside of same? Since there is a tradition of this being Trinity Sunday we can say that coming in second place because of a God mono-winner; a God/Wisdom or Father/Jesus tie for winner; a God/Wisdom/Creation or Father/Son/Spirit trinitarian tie for winner - is still coming in second.

So take pride in your sportsmanship that can offer praise to those more than a nose prior to yourself. You still can claim that second-place is better than coming in a more distant third or worse, like those sheep, oxen, or wild things of land, air, and sea. You did your best, having tread water for forty days and nights, trained on Babel's incline, and trod deserts for forty years.

All praise to the winner/winners, able to set a glorious gold medal above the heavens.

Is it obvious that I'm tired that this was the only comment to come forth? Perhaps it would have been better to have the discretion to say nothing at all, but that doesn't seem to be our relationship. We'll practice some more and demand a re-match. On your mark, get set, . . . .

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

Pentecost +1 - Year C

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

Ahh, Lady Wisdom, Madame Insight, finally raises a clear eye and a firm voice to the nonsense that has been swirling about, confusing folks as to where life might be found and grow.

As often with wisdom, it surfaces in the in-between places of life, such as the elided section of the pericope. Listen to some of the words we miss this week that we need to adopt in the midst of different bases of authority and power:
hate evil

Without a good wrestle with these we are simply left with the emptiness of self-importance. Look at me! See how important I am! G*D and I are closer than crossed fingers! Just do as I say!

We need the middle section that will not be heard unless we claim a wisdom that goes beyond praise, praise, praise. I wouldn't be surprised to find that the good news of Pentecost that was shared in native tongues exactly parallels the missing images. Good news is always grounded in clarifying issues and enhancing lives. Pentecost is not just about praise, but bringing light to the troublesome areas of present lives (those 2,000 and 4,000 years ago as well as right now and 2,000 years into the future).

Monday, May 24, 2010

John 15:26-16:15

Pentecost +1 - Year C

John 15:26-16:15

We participate in Pentecost when we learn from Spirit, "There is more to life than hiding away."

We participate in Pentecost when we teach Spirit to others, "There is more to life than hiding away."

These parallel pieces of wisdom help keep us on track when difficulties and temptations come to return to hiding. They are the internal and external aspects of moving from plateau to plateau; moving from more life to yet more life.

Regardless of how things go bump in the night and we sense we are abandoned, we remind each other of these key pieces of wisdom.

So, this is practice time. Will you keep moving on without your own personal trainer (incarnate Jesus or instructor Spirit)? Will you keep moving on without your initial inspiration? Will you stop judging; in the arc of justice you know where things are going, so just get on with living your expectations.

Pentecost is not a one time deal. It is time to learn a next lesson, to catch a new vision, and to engage strangers.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Pentecost - Year C

sitting campfire
kindling starter
teepee shaped
larger wood
at hand

preparation made
a spark
starts it
tender blowing
keeps it

additions made
darkness avoided
wood used
coals accumulate
cooling eventuates

light begun
light continued
light faded
light gone
night begun

night fears
dark room
waiting waited
forehead flames
banked - out

eden vacated
desert wandered
land exiled
jubilee ignored
pentecost doused

and here
we are
awaiting Prometheus
bound leaving
us alone

remembering campfires
rubbing neighbors
into sparks
wind blown
fire starters

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Romans 8:14-17

Pentecost - Year C

Romans 8:14-17

The Message translates verse 14: "God's Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!"

This beckoning is compared with adoption or coming into an unexpected inheritance. There is a new set of relationships that are opened. A new relationship with G*D and Neighbor is a Pentecost Experience. In particular a new relationship with a Neighbor is a Pentecost Experience. One might say that there is no Pentecostal Experience without there being a new or renewed relationship with a Neighbor (from had-been-stranger to long-term-partner).

This is the unimaginable inheritance that comes with Pentecost - at least one new relationship.

And so - "G*D's Spirit beckons. There are Neighbors to meet."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

Pentecost - Year C

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

Might we modify verse 33 to read: "I will sing with G*D as long as ever I can; we will dance mutual praise while being lasts."

This is more in keeping with "one's own image" serenading "one's own". It is the Pentecostal breakthrough of a present experience where unexpected people are heard singing one's own heart's desire and we respond.

In this mutuality we find an elusive blessing long-sought down dusty lanes of a divine right of praise reception.

Perhaps this poem by Rilke will help:

Only in our doing can we grasp you.
Only with our hands can we illumine you.
The mind is but a visitor;
it thinks us out of our world.

Each mind fabricates itself.
We sense its limits, for we have made them.
And just when we would flee them, you come
and make of yourself an offering.

I don't want to think a place for you.
Speak to me from everywhere.
Your Gospel can be comprehended
without looking for its source.

When I go toward you
it is with my whole life.

Rilke's Book of Hours    I, 51


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Acts 2:1-21

Pentecost - Year C

Acts 2:1-21

Think you were scared for your life? Think again, for now you are scared to life.

Before you were fearful of another taking your life. Now you are only afraid that you will not be giving your life across what used to be perceived as razor-wired boundaries.

Before your coat of arms consisted of representations of hiding:

affright, awed, chill, daunt, dismay, freeze, given a fright, given a turn, intimidated, paniced, paralyzed, petrified, scared silly, scared the pants off, shaken up, struck terror in, terrified, terrorized, afraid, aghast, anxious, fearful, having cold feet, panic-stricken, panicked, panicky, petrified, shaken, startled, terrified, terror-stricken, abashed, aghast, alarmed, anxious, apprehensive, aroused, blanched, cowardly, cowed, daunted, discouraged, disheartened, dismayed, distressed, disturbed, faint-hearted, frightened, frozen, have cold feet, horrified, in awe, intimidated, nervous, perplexed, perturbed, rattled, run scared, scared, scared stiff, scared to death, shocked, spooked, startled, stunned, suspicious, terrified, terror-stricken, timid, timorous, trembling, upset, worried, amazed, astonished, chilled, daunted, dismayed, distressed, frightened, given a turn, made jump, scared stiff, scared to death, spooked, surprised, unnerved . . . .

Now you exemplify :

calm, comfort, reassurance, soothing, confidence, encouragement, boldness, braveness, composition, cool, courage, fearlessness, heroism, intrepidness, undauntedness, valiance, assurance, gladdening, repose . . . .

That which stimulates a shift from some aspect of the first list to an extension of the second can be termed a Pentecost Experience.

May you be blessed with another Pentecost at this late date. Whether in time or out of time, vision and dream strongly enough that you will gladly follow where it leads.

John 14:8-17, (25-27)

Pentecost - Year C

John 14:8-17, (25-27)

Pentecost is a revelation of what is - illusions reduced and creation renewed.

Pentecost is knowing one another beyond simply spending time with one another.

Pentecost is active (not simply a 50 day marker) - those who participate in Pentecost will do greater work than those who have gone before. Please do spend some time this week defining what you think Jesus' work was. Only then will you have a sense of the activity to which you are called. It is not that there is one work for all of us to be strengthening, but that each of our unique gifts will call forth differing arenas of generativity.

Pentecost is transition from past to future, from fear to freedom. Even as you consider Jesus' work, ponder his teaching. What did he teach? Only then will you have a sense of the spirit of enlightening to which you are called.

Pentecost is a joy of wholeness beyond the brokenness so often trapping us in our separatenesses. Peace is not stillness, but wellness, health, wholeness, growth.

Friday, May 14, 2010

on my way

Easter 7 - Year C

I'm on my way
to a promised land
all well and good

I'm on my way
to this present land
even better

I'm on my way
transforming survival
to promise fulfilled

I'm on my way
joined hip and thigh
with fellow travelers

I'm on my way
and glad
with you

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21

Easter 7 - Year C

Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21

Scripture is not always scripture. Here we have a debate between the selected and omitted verses. Which is it for you? If you want to keep both, how do you hold them together without finding yourself being omitted?

Whether a robe-washer (selected) invited to come inside or a falsehood-practicer (omitted) kept at bay, we run into Paul and Silas in a prison that became open-doored. This openness is fearful for many until they experience Paul's invitation, "Do not harm yourself (or others), for we (including you) are all here."

We are all here, "Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift."

In the selected verses we hear the invitation and blessing of the Tree of Life still being available; a big door is more widely opened to include you.

In the omitted verses we hear about a share in the Tree of Life being taken away; a big door is slammed shut in your face.

This side of a New Jerusalem, do you want to spend your time affirming that a Tree of Life is still available as a prevenient grace and is attractive enough to draw its deniers nearer?

Would your rather spend your time warning people about what they will lose if they keep on the way they are going?

While they both do have their place, I hope to be spending more time with the beauty of Life as an attractant than with warning folks about something outside their experience base.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Psalm 97

Easter 7 - Year C

Psalm 97

In verse 2 we hear about the foundational relationship between "Righteousness" and "Justice". Many times we pair "Peace" with justice. A helpful perspective here is that righteousness and justice correspond with an internal and external component of a our life. Peace and justice have a greater tendency to both be external, not requiring ourselves to participate in justice as a part of our wholeness and that of creation.

By the time we come to verses 10 and 11 we hear some parallelism. Justice is paralleled to external actions of guarding and rescuing. Righteousness is paralleled to internal responses of light and joy.

If we begin to bring these together we need to ask about what light we might shed on situations where someone or some part of creation needs to be guarded. Immigrants and ocean gulfs come easily to mind today. We also need to investigate the connection between joy and rescuing. If you have been on a mission trip of some sort, you probably have a sense of this and a question about why you don't do it more regularly.

Without having to posit an externalized anthropomorphic "Lord" to be "king", we might better recognize a mystery larger than ourselves in qualities of righteousness and justice, in guarding light (no not the soap opera Guiding Light where little guarding went on), and rescuing joy which are much to be sought and lived. In some sense the Lord language puts the focus on being authorized rather than our own inherent integrity and integration (so close in sound and so distinct in derivation).

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Acts 16:16-34

Easter 7 - Year C

Acts 16:16-34

Who knows what you will find on your way to a place of prayer! So, designate your next travel destination as a place of prayer.

Going to the car - go to a place of prayer.
Going to get groceries - go to a place of prayer.
Going for a walk - go to a place of prayer.
Going to visit __(their name here)__ - go to a place of prayer.
Going to work - go to a place of prayer.
Going to bed - go to a place of prayer.
Going to study - go to a place of prayer.
Going to commit a crime - go to a place of prayer.

See if that changes how you use your car (maybe you'll listen to a different station or yield when you didn't absolutely have to).

See if that changes what food you get (more veggies and less red meat) and whether you get extra for the community pantry.

See if that changes how you can see the neighborhood or the woods (in more detail).

See if that changes what your conversation is about (how is it with your soul and with mine and our).

See if that changes your engagement with task and money earned (try The Complete Idiot's Guide to Spirituality in the Workplace).

See if that changes your dreams (a vision of how you might participate in a better future).

See if that changes accumulated knowledge into understanding (move from information to implementation).

See if that changes your options (how one might build up rather than tear down).

Remember - you can always be on the way to a place of prayer.

For now we will leave the spirituality of not escaping for another time and simply ask about everyday life. The theory is that careful attention here will open us to making a difference (fast or slow) in someone else's life and simply being faithful in difficult moments.

Monday, May 10, 2010

John 17:20-26

Easter 7 - Year C

John 17:20-26

A prayer that we might be connected at our roots is strong.
Such a prayer is weakened when it intends to prove something or other.

Remember Redwood Roots:

In Song
YouTube song

In Science
"Holding hands" underground
The roots of a coast redwood are very shallow, growing only four to six feet deep, but spread out from the tree as far as 125 feet. This isn’t much support for a tall, heavy tree—floodwaters can erode top layers of soil, exposing the roots and weakening a tree’s support system. Heavy rains and strong winds can bring even the biggest giant crashing to the ground.

But the roots of individual redwoods frequently grow intertwined with those of their neighbors. By "holding hands" underground, the roots form a network that allows the trees to withstand even great storms.

Shallow roots are sensitive to smothering silt.
The redwood’s roots are shallow so that they can collect large amounts of moisture the tree requires. When sediment accumulates atop its roots, a redwood responds by growing a new root system upwards, into the silt. One toppled coast redwood was found to have developed seven successive root systems, each grown in response to the periodic floods and heavy sedimentation that caused an 11-foot rise in the ground level during the tree’s 1200-year lifetime.

In Art

- - - - - - -

Intertwined roots = an image of glory. How is your glory quotient today? Does it need changing by the end of the day?

Intertwined roots = an image of love. How is your love quotient today? Does it need changing by the end of the day?

By this we see that G*D's glory = our love and G*D's love = our glory.

Friday, May 07, 2010


Easter 6 - Year C

peace left
peace to the right
peace quietly surrounding

too much peace
leaves us troubled and afraid
for any shoe to drop
much less a second one

so we relearn peace
piece by piece
taught and retaught
overarches and underpinnings
always relearning

learning to leave
learning to return
learning to be content
in leaving
being left
always returning

peaceful in shadow
peaceful in light
peaceful in hope
peaceful in terror
peaceful in Troas
peaceful in Macedonia
peaceful here
peaceful now

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Revelation 10:10, 22-22:5

Easter 6 - Year C

Revelation 10:10, 22-22:5

If you were to see what you understood to be a City of Peace descending slowly from above, would you note what was there, or what wasn't?

It takes a theologically sophisticated viewer to note there was no Temple and the whole place glowed from an internal source. Most of us would get caught with the shape, size, color of the walls, and ornateness of the gates, strange that they are standing open, but look at those jewels. The elided section covers all these shiny things that first catch our eye, but we are interested in what lies beyond glitz.

Later, shown the Life River, we might look back and wonder if there were a waterfall from the city as it lowered upon earth. If such a river is not overflowing, is it a circular river contained within the city itself? If it is not overflowing, it is really a river of Life?

Eventually we will probably come to reflect on this vision as a vision and begin to have it inform our own behavior drawn to be based on it. Worshiping for Worship's sake is gone (no temple there to receive manipulative praise). With open gates there may be some uncleanliness that enters (after all, aren't you expecting to be there?). The whole Book of Immigration Policies, aka., Book of Life, is trumped by an open door. And so we are informed about our living when restrictions take a second place to our work of opening doors. With an abundance of living water we can expect that a Tree of Life (left over from Garden Eden?) will keep on bearing fruit, everlastingly. With such fecundity, we can afford to be generous, month after month, new fruit will ripen.

So worship changes, relationships change, and economics change when we are living in the shadow of a New Jerusalem. Imagine the changes in your life if hanging over you were not Damocles' Sword, but a templeless, open-gated, fruitful city - a preferred future - that we can model here below as it is ahead and above.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Psalm 67

Easter 6 - Year C

Psalm 67

Indeed, if G*D can be merciful to us, to whom cannot G*D be merciful?

Let us count the ways in which we have hindered the earth from producing. If G*D can be merciful to those who do in their ancestress (being created of the clay), G*D can be merciful to many.

Oh, we always claim our care for the earth is honorable - mountain-top removals, over-fertilizing, seeing oil spill after oil spill simply as collateral damage, refusal to drive one less mile than we can, dumping hazardous waste in the poorest neighborhoods, and so much more, all have a stated best intention to trickle wealth to masses but none do it with integrity for the end result has been increasing riches in fewer hands.

Would that our reception of mercy would effect a change in our behavior. Apparently it will take more than mercy to transform our behaviors. One of the things it will take is openness to a teaching function for Spirit Holy. Another thing it will take is a consciousness that we are called to more than we have so far been up to accomplishing. Teaching "call" is an important ancillary function to expressing mercy.

In today's New York Times there is an editorial about banning burkas in Europe by Jean-François Copé, the majority leader in the French National Assembly and the mayor of Meaux. Here are two important paragraphs that we are not free to simply do what we want when we want to.

     "The permanent concealment of the face also raises the question of social interactions in our democracies. In the United States, there are very few limits on individual freedom, as exemplified by the guarantees of the First Amendment. In France, too, we are passionately attached to liberty.
     "But we also reaffirm our citizens’ equality and fraternity. These values are the three inseparable components of our national motto. We are therefore constantly striving to achieve a delicate balance. Individual liberty is vital, but individuals, like communities, must accept compromises that are indispensable to living together, in the name of certain principles that are essential to the common good."

If this Psalm is not intimately connected to the common good, it loses some of its soul.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Acts 16:9-15

Easter 6 - Year C

Acts 16:9-15

Last week Peter had a vision. This week Paul has a vision. Beware, next week you will have a vision and unexpectedly travel to stay with someone.

Last week Gentiles were welcomed in. This week Gentiles are traveled to. Next week "Gentiles" (by whatever measure of being left out, marginalized, exiled, etc.) will continue to open their hearts (a miracle in itself that one could wish upon the religious insider).

"Gentiles" as Gentiles, women as Gentiles, foreigners as Gentiles, any discriminated against individual or group as Gentiles: plead for non-Gentiles to finally get a vision that will trigger compassion within themselves and stop the discrimination and physical/economic/spiritual violence against "Gentiles". This is a call to the insiders to stop being blind to the consequences of their decisions and actions. For Paul it is an extension of his first encounter with Jesus. His blindness became more than simple blindness, it was also a motivation to not be blind again, to see Jesus everywhere, even in heathen Macedonia.

It is in our conversion that we find hope to be converted and reformed again and again. The goal of a once and always reforming Church is a good one for an individual. The Spirit of a Living G*D, revealed again and again in vision after vision, continues to push us to join the Jesus, Peter, and Paul tradition of an expansive and expanding view of G*D's presence in this world.

To extend Lydia's closing comment, "If you have confidence we are growing deeper in G*D by doing so together, let us stay with one another, be guests of one another, and, together, envision others, now separated from us, joining us." Would this be something that your congregation would be comfortable with as a practice and not just a nice thought?

Monday, May 03, 2010

John 14:23-29

Easter 6 - Year C

John 14:23-29

Who did Jesus respond to and what question was he dealing with? Pericopes that begin as this one did, "Jesus answered...." are beginning too late. Every response has a context and without that specific the response attaches strangely anywhere it lands.

Jesus has said that he would be seen by his friends after he was no longer seen by others. A Judas by any other name asks about this limitation. Is it a voluntary decision on Jesus' part or a blindness by others?

As per usual, Jesus steps aside from the direction of the question to better respond to it. The bottom-line is that, as a result of learning from their experience of Jesus after he has gone, they will be able to reframe the question and act in a different way. They will grow congruent in their past experiences of Jesus and their present experience of G*D (spirit teaching talk here), which will lead them to trust the arc of the future so strongly that they will act in the present in light of what they yet expect. Responses by others will not raise a question about willful blindness or a limited, predestined, rejection. The focus will be upon what Jesus' followers have continued to learn and enact.

Peace is connected with a teaching of how to remember and anticipate. In this connection comes a strength and focus of action that would otherwise be dissipated over too much time, space, and opportunity. Want peace? Trust your action to make a difference, whether or not you can see it.

This kind of peace lets you see not only Jesus, but to recognize every other saint in any other tradition.

Try this song by Small Potatoes,
and see if it is close to what you understand some Holy Spirit has taught, is teaching, and will teach you.

- - - - - - -


There is peace in every garden
There’s a universe in every flower
There is holiness in every footstep
Every moment, every hour

Oh, let us walk the dappled pathways
And elect one single bloom
Then bring your face so close
That you can smell its sweet perfume

Then look -- oh, really look inside
And you will understand
Just how infinity can fit
Within your hand, within your hand

Oh, see the waterleaf, the meadowsweet
Bloodroot and spiderwort
Trilliums, delphiniums
Joe Pye and hellebore

And that blue guy -- I don’t know its name
But I don’t really care
It doesn’t matter what it’s called
But that it’s there, it’s there, it’s there!

Oh, let us walk ---------
No need for talk -------
Breathe in ---------------
And breathe out again

Call it the work of Mother Nature
Adaptation over time
Or an act of God -- my god!
It’s all a miracle sublime

And though we can’t know how it got there
I think we can agree
It’s not important that you know
But that you see, you see, you see ...
CHORUS -- tag

Oh, let us walk ----------