Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Psalm 30

Pentecost +6 - Year C

Psalm 30

While appreciating the possible transformation of weeping into joy, that is not the only way people experience life. Post-traumatic Stresses, of whatever etiology, have a way of continuing the weeping, even in the presence of Joy-All-Around. Anyone know of a Psalm/Poem for those who suffer a Post-traumatic response, even to joy?

Here are some attempts:

The most popular on through a Google search is Survivor Psalm. It doesn't seem to have the same turn of thanks at the end.

Psalm 30 - A Cycle of Renewal is interesting for its strong body imagery, particularly of the liver expelling that which is no longer useful.

P.T.S.D. Love Poem has some annotations that are important. I was struck by this line: "I see in you the answer/To every time I've prayed." It can do an important bounce back-and-forth between stress and response, one person to another, and G*D/Human relationship. Hear each aspect say that line.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

2 Kings 5:1-14

Pentecost +6 - Year C

2 Kings 5:1-14

Theory: We live within six-degrees of separation from one another. Here we move from an unnamed slave girl from one country to her mistress in another country to connect a commander with a prophet for purposes of healing. Were we to pay more attention we would find ourselves related to the poor and abused of the earth. What connections are we overlooking that would lead to healing?

Mission programs that connect local folks to half-way-around-the-world folks is an example of this same phenomenon. Doesn't it make you grin to imagine playing a more welcoming version of Elisha and to strew healing all over the place!

Now, instead of a formal mission program that institutionally connects people, imagine those who stand on street corners holding signs requesting money or a job or a person in a grocery line using food stamps or someone at urgent care when you go for a routine checkup and wonder who you know who knows them and how you might be a sign of hope to them in a time of need. Would it change your focus as you move through the day to know everyone you meet is a friend of one of your friends and it would help your already known friend for you to be kind to their friend you are just meeting?

In this sort of small world we need to redefine sainthood. It is no longer the exception to the rule, the big-time, well-known saint that defines holy-living. Every ordinary person in their ordinary day and with their ordinary connections can be a source of healing for another ordinary person. Simple awareness of harm that may be done and the avoiding of it, brings some healing. Simple awareness of a good that may be done and the doing of it, brings some healing. Welcome to ordinary sainthood.

= = = = = = =

For those who would appreciate a song about this, I recommend Garnet Roger's, First Day of Spring. It can be found at minute 42:50 on Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour (Show 309).

Monday, June 28, 2010

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

Pentecost +6 - Year C

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

Some say Jesus sent out 70 folks and some 72. I imagine the 2 extra were the 2 from the previous pericope that were asked to come; made their excuses; heard Jesus' response to their hesitation; rethought/revisioned what was important to them; and came on along.

Following James and John's incendiary remarks from before, Jesus has wisely set up some additional learning experiences for the disciples. A significant part of following Jesus' way to G*D is that of an expansive and expanding welcome (a "peace to all") that leaves room for transformation of G*D, Jesus, Disciples, and Others.

When the focus is on a peaceful welcome, it is amazing how little need there is to yell protests against folks. After laying out two available responses to the paired disciples, it is good to note that their final Blue Book essay was all about the results of mutual welcoming and the powerful relationships and healings that flow from such. Yes, the disciples could have gone looking for opportunities to knock dust off their feet against someone else and they probably even experienced some circumstances where that would have been appropriate, but here they don't find those times to be as exciting, memorable, and reportable as their times of welcome.

We still have opportunities and choices to welcome or curse. Many situations offer opportunity for both responses. A part of our work as individuals and as congregations is to continue finding intentional opportunities to practice trusting a welcome will really be found in our encounters. Recognition of an experience of the Presence of G*D is the value Jesus is looking for. The healings are a bonus.

With whom are you willing to walk together for an hour and then to spend a second hour reflecting on where you had experienced welcome. Y'all might want to try several of these practice sessions (imagine Jesus appointed you to practice until you became proficient at offering a welcoming peace at every moment of your day). One might be in a nature setting, one in a mall, one at a Sunday Service, and one at a community gathering of some sort. These eight hours of practice and reflection will likely lead you joy, just as it did the disciples, as you see more and more of a mystery of welcome, which is a mystery of life, which is a mystery of G*D.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Pentecost +5 - Year C

love yes
lamed love
still desires
a fire this time

joy yes
jealous joy
desires still
each and every time

peace yes
partial peace
plainly parses
when needed

patience yes
penultimate patience
can't wait

kindness yes
kinship kindness
doesn't leave room
to them and them

generosity yes
greedy generosity
with zero sums
leaves more for me

faithfulness yes
fickle faithfulness
when it suits
regretfully necessary

gentleness yes
genteel gentleness
covers a hot heart
a fecundity of flame

self-control yes
self-serving self-control
deserves satisfaction
moderately inflicted

results yes
spiritual results
grow slow
neighbors strangers

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Galatians 5:1, 13-25

Pentecost +5 - Year C

Galatians 5:1, 13-25

We often look at the fruits of the spirit as though they were pickable right now. One of the realities is that they need manure and clean air and sun to nurture them to fruition. Many of us need to attend to one Anonymous group or another to provide the space needed for their growth.

A downside of seeing these gifts as fully mature, is the discouragement that comes when we don't measure up to these goals or results. At those moments when we do what we don't want to or refrain from acting when we should, we too quickly judge a growing fruit against a 4-H Fair Blue Ribbon Winner and give up. This is particularly galling in the area of patience.

There is no law against or limit on any of these blessings, regardless of their stage of faithfulness.

Here's a blog post you might appreciate, Dan Dick's Methodeviations that talks about the interconnectedness between the fruits of the spirit, not just their degree of maturity. Playing back and forth between Dan's image and this one, is a helpful spot to be.

You may also appreciate a connection with discipline and resultant (in the context of worship) as described by Evelyn Underhill in The Fruits of the Spirit:
Each person's discipline will be different because what God wants from each of us is different. Some are called to an active and some to a passive life, some to very homely and some to hard and sacrificial careers, some to quiet suffering. Only the broad lines will be alike. But no discipline will be any use to us unless we keep in mind the reason why we are doing this--for the Glory of God, and not just for the sake of our own self-improvement or other self-regarding purpose. Our object is to be what God wants of us, not what we want. So all that we do must be grounded in worship. First lift up our eyes to the hills, then turn to our own potato field and lightly fork in the manure.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20

Pentecost +5 - Year C

Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20

"I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord;
I will remember your wonders of old."

You created in multiple images (as many as the gods).
You were disappointed in your creation.
You threw your creation out.
You pursued your exiled creation.
You did not kill your creation when your creation killed.
You dispersed language groups.
You were flooded with despair and flooded in return.
You used famine to direct migrations.
You chose the youngest and least to lead.
You raised dynasties.
You were frustrated by leaders.
You exiled peoples.
You were their hope, delayed as it has been.

And, now, in a day of my own trouble - I look to you?

Yes, and to myself and my friends and to creation itself.
I cry.
I cry aloud.
I call to mind.
I grin.
I laugh.
I go around again.
Dance with me, G*D, a larger dance than my day's trouble - or yours.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

2 Kings 2:1-14

Pentecost +5 - Year C

2 Kings 2:1-14

Was Elijah testing Elisha with a command to "sit and stay" at Bethel and Jericho? Was Elisha faithful or disobedient when he went to fetch a "double" portion?

Did Elisha see Elijah taken away? Do fiery horses and a heavenly whirlwind count as seeing or an imaginative approximation of an experience?

How is this scene different than Jacob getting a double portion with a birthright or Ruth receiving a first-born blessing from Boaz?

Why would Elisha think he would need a double portion? Fear of what he was going to face as a leader of Prophets? Simple greed? Does it go back to his call and knowing the need for being yoked, and simply express his desire to continue being yoked with Elijah?

Ever wonder about the 50 extra prophets? Were they spiritual Peeping Tom's, inquisitive? Were they protecting the Elijah/Elisha transition from interruption? Were they getting a better perspective on Elijah's leaving so they could claim leadership (with or without doubling)? This entry point raises a question about a Spirituality of Distance or a Spirituality of Presence - Can one be too close or too far from a Thin Place and miss it? It is this question that I think will stick with me over these next days.

Luke 9:51-62

Pentecost +5 - Year C

Luke 9:51-62

Have you ever "set your face"? Well, of course, we do it all the time. A perennial question is where we have our persona directed. Our vibes are our messengers - how are they doing in preparing a welcome for us? This question comes from the understanding that welcome leads to welcome.

James and John seemed to be spring-loaded to anticipate rejection. Not only do they expect it, but they have their response ready - "Incinerate them!" Which of your vibes have you named "James" and/or "John"?

This same anticipator process comes with folks thinking they are ready for any challenge, only to find the most ordinary ones of "comfort" and "ritual" tripping them up.

Bottom line - the mystery and challenge of the Freedom of G*D can't be avoided or evaded. There is room for all on the field. Are we going to play and welcome those currently on the sideline, or play and force others to the sideline?

Friday, June 18, 2010

a welcome sail

Pentecost +4 - Year C

set sail
to the unknown
there be demons here
state imagined maps

set sail
to the unknown
there are demons
here as well

set sail
to the unknown
for it is not so

set sail
to the unknown
full steam ahead

set sail
on the good ship
"Right Mind"
to welcome demons

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Galatians 3:23-29

Pentecost +4 - Year C

Galatians 3:23-29

Faithfulness is another name for Jesus. He was faithful in his journey with and appreciation of the presence of G*D.

Here is the NRSV version with transposed names.

Now before Jesus came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until Jesus would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until faithfulness came, so that we might be justified by Jesus. But now that Jesus has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in revealed faithfulness you are all children of God through Jesus. As many of you as were baptized into faithfulness have clothed yourselves with faithfulness. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in revealed faithfulness. And if you belong to faithfulness, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

On a quick reading, if you weren't one who had memorized this passage you might, at first reading, not note the transposition. When thinking of Jesus it is helpful to consider what you think he was faithful to. This is a more helpful way of engaging Jesus imagery than what has been said about Jesus or claimed for Jesus.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Psalm 42

Pentecost +4 - Year C

Psalm 42

"Where is your G*D?"

Let us offer a word of Thanks to our "enemy" who, in one way or another, raises this basic question. However it comes, we are blessed through a focus on an important question that we resist asking ourselves.

Here G*D is closely allied and associated with Hope and experienced through a steadfastness of a "love song" that touches deep places beyond any of our usual markers - beyond hope, beyond faith, beyond love. There is a yearning here that will not be satisfied with any of our usual measures - hope is not enough, faith is not enough, love is not enough.

This is a Jewish koan, "Where is your G*D?" No response is sufficient. Every response leads deeper. Some responses are more enlightening than others, but none are wide enough to hold for all time. This is instructive, if given an opportunity to sink deep within. This existential question balances an Edenic question from G*D, "Where are you?"

So we seek each other, we bump into each other, face-to-face and back-to-back, calling to each other, "Beloved, where are you; come out and play."

Finally, an openness to this question leads us toward becoming G*D, doing greater things. It resets our compass that has gotten confused with secondary priorities. Thankfully, if we have stopped asking the question of ourself, our favorite enemy raises it in ways we cannot avoid. It leads G*D toward us, doing humbler things. It reveals, within every everyday day, another facet of rainbows and empty tombs.

So, where is your G*D and what is keeping you from moving in that direction?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

1 Kings 19:1-15

Pentecost +4 - Year C

1 Kings 19:1-15

Just two chapters ago (17:2-4) G*D's presence led Elijah forth to Wadi Cherith, there to be fed by ravens, and mere verses later to be fed for a long time by a widow who only had a handful of flour left (miracle upon miracle). Now Elijah runs away on his own, only to be fed by angels. This raises questions in our own life about how long ago we experienced being fed and what our expectation is about a next feeding. (This question is real for all aspects of our self - body, mind, spirit, relationships. . . .]

It is so easy to forget the blessings that have brought us to a testing moment. So it is that Elijah despairs so much that he could only sleep his life away and couldn't eat. Again Elijah is sustained, this time by angels (just ravens with another spelling?)

It is so easy to exaggerate one's troubles of the moment and to lose perspective. Sometimes it takes quite awhile (40 days plus) and quite a distance (as much as 600 to 1,000 walking miles, depending on terrain) to regather perspective.

Finally comes a bottom-line question: "What are you doing where you are?"

When we hear our poor excuse of a response, a click of recognition can comes -- "I am not alone. I have a life to live and a task to accomplish." Simple statements; both. And so we go forth to lay the groundwork for a next generation. Whether they are able to prepare for the next after them, is beside the point. Our call is ours.

We have gotten ourselves and one another in another fine mess (think Laurel and Hardy). There may be nothing more to do than to find one other to mentor to better health than we have that they might be ready to carry on. To keep our soul alive we give it to another that they might do what we cannot.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Luke 8:26-39

Pentecost +4 - Year C

Luke 8:26-39

We have begun our 2010 Wisconsin Annual Conference. Word has come about a potential trial of a lay person in West Ohio and a probable clergy trial here in Wisconsin. Both are logical outcomes of the dismissive language regarding "self-avowed, practicing, homosexuals".

As I read this passage from Luke, I can't help but wonder if the demoniac in need of healing isn't the Church that has gotten out of its right mind in an over-zealous attempt at inappropriate purity. The potential trials are acting like the child in the story of an Emperor's New Clothes - demonstrating the nakedness of a dead-end attempt to protect G*D and to live among the tomb of the past.

Those attempting to keep this identity-politic, restrictive language of the Church, seem to bounce back and forth between shouting about being tormented by liberals (Jesus) and begging to not have to change their ways. If called out on the blaming they whine and soon after complaining will be back at yelling for their way - and around and around it goes.

In this story, the demoniac/church is healed at the expense of pigs and those who earn their livelihood through them. This seems to have torn the community apart, as they ask/demand Jesus leave, even as Jesus sends forth a healed demoniac/church to do Pentecostal testimony regarding an amazing, expansive, and experienced love of G*D.

There will be fall-out when current United Methodist Church policy changes, economics may well be affected, but healing work will have been done and there is no adequate measure of this grace and no adequate reason to keep from a needed healing.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Pentecost +3 - Year C

woman, non-observant
woman, ointment carrier
woman, foot kisser
woman, hair drier

from her head
to his feet

larger than sex
larger than forgiveness

man, grace measurer
mete-er of judgment
sin knower

both, released
new faithfulness
walks forward
in peace

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Galatians 2:15-21

Pentecost +3 - Year C

Galatians 2:15-21

It is amazing what a change can come from shifting one little word to another. In 16a it is important to note that the usual translation of "faith in Jesus" (making it our work to believe) is more accurately translated "faith/faithfulness of Jesus" (carrying us with him as he draws near to G*D, regardless of any privilege or disability we might happen to bring along). For those into such things, this change from an objective to subjective case is much more important than it might seem on first blush. You can find out much more about this at the Girardian Lectionary site - move down the page to the Galatians section.

This begins to put a new light on justification and helps Paul end simply with a subjective relationship with G*D through grace.

The web site Faith Futures: Jesus Then and Now brings us another word regarding this shift:
"The case for the less familiar translation is strengthened when we notice that in Romans 4, where we find similar ideas and terms used by Paul, the salvation flowing to the Jews on the basis of Abraham's faithfulness is contrasted with the faithfulness flowing to all people on the basis of Jesus' faithfulness."

This raises a significant question for those who profess to follow Jesus' Way and are charged by the Spirit to do even greater inclusion. Jesus appears to expand grace to Gentiles (including all people). What will be brought into a new relationship with G*D because of your faithfulness? Creation?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Psalm 5:1-8

Pentecost +3 - Year C

Psalm 5:1-8

It is wonderful to come to an understanding that I have been shown an abundance of steadfast love. Whether this abundance comes from G*D, Creation, Neighbor, You, even a mistake of mine Enemy, or Myself it is wondrous to behold.

Then comes the tricky part of what to do with such abundance. My temptation is to store it away in a big barn and to get an even bigger one, if necessary.

Once in awhile I can restate verse 8 into a more expansive reading of living with abundance: "Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness and make a way straight from you to me to my enemies that your abundant love might be known in their life as well."

The rest of the Psalm, as written, continues to divide those who have already received a touch of abundance from those who have not yet received that gift. The Psalmist seems to carve this moment of division into stone - the currently blessed are blessed forever and the unblessed will ever be so.

If one can postulate a greater receptivity on the part of Psalmist, from unheeded to heeded, what keeps them from granting the possibility of change and growth to those now deemed enemies? Would the Psalmist recognize a woman with ointment surprising Pharisees and Jesus with an anointing or would the door have been especially barred to her ever having such an opportunity?

Here abundance turns out to be a curse inasmuch as it asks a huge change in relationships that is seldom able to be lived into. May you be blessed with such a curse and the wisdom to better use it.

This quote from Preparing for Christmas with Richard Rohr is another lens through which a lack of grace might be recognized (for one but not for all) and transformed through a different response to our encounter with an amazing abundance of grace.

"It comes like a gentle dew" (Isaiah 45:8). Grace comes when you stop being preoccupied and stop thinking that by your own meddling, managing and manufacturing you can create it.

We're trained to be managers, to organize life, to make things happen. That's what's built our culture, and it's not all bad. But if you transfer that to the spiritual life, it's pure heresy. It doesn't work. You can't manage and maneuver and manipulate spiritual energy. It's a matter of letting go. It's a matter of getting the self out of the way, and becoming smaller, as John the Baptist said. It's a matter of the great kenosis, as Paul talks about in Philippians 2:6-11, the emptying of the self so that there's room for another.

It's very hard for us not to fix and manage life and to wait upon it, "like a gentle dew."


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

1 Kings 21:1-10, (11-14), 15-21a

Pentecost +3 - Year C

1 Kings 21:1-10, (11-14), 15-21a

Greed and Entitlement denied often show up as Resentment and Sulking.

Both Resentment and Sulking keep us tied to Greed and Entitlement and blind us from finding a better way.

In today's world we find the Greed of corporations and Entitlement of an American public in collusion that leads to so-called "accidents" as oil in the Gulf of Mexico and wars around the world. The only surprising thing is that it has taken so long for a particular event such as the Gulf Oil Disaster to raise Elijah to our consciousness.

Greed and Entitlement are also revealed in the collusion between Parish and Parishioners. Their crash comes in many forms. Each encounter comes from holding on too tightly to the past, keeping Greed and Entitlement going. Much less often an encounter with Greed and Entitlement comes from trying to move too quickly into the future to exact an equivalent to capturing as much profit and continued cheap gas as possible in the shortest amount of time. These mirror images of one another can be informative to us if we are willing to give up our control of past and future and to reflect on the multiple needs in the present for justice. Where are the voices for the poor, the earth, and the disregarded in communal economies (financial as well as relational)? Our models of a market free from constraint (social or religious) will not last another 100 years, as it leaves too many people farther and farther behind. This is not just unconscionable, but a seed-bed for an unnecessary revolution and disjuncture.

Let us remember Ahab and Jezebel for their continued witness to the need for a common-unity way where all will have enough and none have too little. In terms of a current religious issue we need to break the Greed and Entitlement cycle by stopping our talk about "Homosexuals" as an issue and refocus on gay and lesbians Christians in a Heterosexist (Greed and Entitlement) Institution.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Luke 7:36-8:3

Pentecost +3 - Year C

Luke 7:36-8:3

A Rewrite:

"One of the Bible-Law Believers asked Jesus to confirm his way, to come and eat at his table, and Jesus went into the Bible-Law Believer's house and took a place at the table of the Heart of the Law.

And a woman in the city, identified by Biblical Law as a law breaker, having learned that Jesus was moving from acts of compassion to association with those who enforce penalties upon those deemed breakers of Biblical Law, brought a gift from one considered dead. From behind a reclining Jesus, in anticipation of Jesus later following her lead, she bathed his feet with tears and wiped them with her hair; she kissed his feet and anointed them with her whole being.

When the Bible-Law Believer saw this, he muttered to himself, "If this Jesus were a real prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him - a Bible-Law breaker making him unclean by association.

Jesus spoke, "Bible-Law Believer Simon, I have a Testimony for you."

"I'm listening," said Simon.

"A certain creditor had two clients who owed him money; one owing ten times more than the other. When neither could pay the creditor canceled the debts for both of them. Now, which will be more thankful?"

Simon responded, "I suppose the one who owed the most."

"Yes." said Jesus, "That's a Bible-Law response and there are other responses also available."

Turning toward the woman, Jesus continued speaking to Simon, "There has been a dearth of welcome in your Biblical Law way of living. You were interested in my appearing with you but you did not refresh my traveling feet, greet me with a kiss of welcome, or cool my heated head. This woman you claim is a Biblical Law breaker came to welcome me from head to toe with welcoming actions including weeping over my dirty feet and soothing my weary head."

"Therefore," Bible-Law Believer Simon, I see she has forgiven you who sinned against her through your judgment of her and she has covered your lack of welcome. She has shown an expansiveness of love that I will teach to my disciples. I am glad to confirm what she already knows - she is forgiven even before I announce it."

The other Bible-Law Believers, witnessing this event, began to inquire of one another, "Who is this Jesus who forgives those we have judged as a Bible-Law Breaker."

Jesus, turning to the woman, simply said, "Your continued compassion and integrity of identity as a Daughter of G*D is not only your source of wholeness, but a saving act for those who judged against you. Let us go forth with this peace of passing compassion to self and others."

Soon afterwards Jesus went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the Presence of G*D, "All are welcome."

Jesus, the twelve who were with him, as well as additional women with identified integrity of spirit: Mary, called Magdalene, Joanna, the anonymous wife of Herod's steward Chuza, Susanna, and so many others, went on to raise many more from death in life to life itself through acts of loving-kindness - welcome for all, more grace for those outside Biblical Law, and preemptive forgiveness of self, one another, and others.

This story of a woman of integrity has come down to us through the generations and the promise is that it will continue to echo as we extend her witness in our time.

Friday, June 04, 2010


Pentecost +2 - Year C

Jesus begins a wrestle with death
seeing this widow
at a border space
a city gate - life or exile
armed only with compassion
a word spoken aloud
enfleshes a living of compassion
revealing every choice
routine death fatigue or
coffin-emptying compassion

this widow silenced
with grief unbounded
ready for history's ash heap
finds not just voice again
but compassion enacted
clearing her keening
drying her weeping
on a pilgrimage to Baptizer John
announcing compassion eternal
life in the midst of death

and now this little you
stands in another gateway
miles and years removed
choosing life or exile
for the silenced
if there were one it would be cause to wonder
if there were one it would be cause to weep
but the missing are numbered
in too many hundreds, thousands, millions
until there are none, we will not sleep

[Thanks to Paul Nuechterlein for stimulating the first stanza and to the great Malvina Reynolds for the last five lines, slightly varied here]

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Galatians 1:11-24

Pentecost +2 - Year C

Galatians 1:11-24

I've been engaged with an unfortunately on-going conversation regarding the place of gay men and lesbians in the ordered leadership of the United Methodist Church. As we argued about polity, my friend Jeff entered a word about this lection:
I've been thinking about our friend St. Paul.  It's probably not wise to use Paul in support of a position that he seems not to affirm, but in the lectionary reading for Sunday (Gal. 1:11-24) Paul is in the process of defending his decision to move outside of the established "church" and offer the good news of Christ to people who were considered to be outside of the accepted community.  Paul was willing to include persons who hadn't been "marked" as Jews without insisting that they go under the knife and change who they were.  Even Peter came to the realization that people outside of the Jewish tradition were OK as they were.  We seem to have taken a step back.

This catches a dilemma of community - it takes a wrenching experience to have the church move forward in extending and expanding the love it has experienced. Paul and Peter each had their transformative vision of Jesus and G*D that allowed them to step outside the legalism (read theology) of their community. An outcome of church is partly that of desiring and instituting stability and this is a set up for instability. If we don't keep up with changes they build up within and around the church. Just as the longer an earthquake takes to shake loose its entrapment the larger its effect will be, the more people will be lost. Can we not change and change? Theoretically, but not historically.

There have been a series of seismic slips (earthquakes) in the church wherein we make significant leaps forward. Always, though, there is a breaking of some ideal unity as those who cannot keep their balance with the new landscape rebuild over the old fault rather than move on.

A mystery is how the next vision/revelation change will occur. In this instance verse 23 may need to be adapted: ["Those the church persecuted proclaimed their faith in the face of their destruction by the church." G*D was glorified because of their faith.]

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Psalm 146

Pentecost +2 - Year C

Psalm 146

"Psalm 146 is filled with the vitality of reason." [Bruggemann, Israel's Praise: Doxology against Idolatry and Ideology]. The many specific ways G*D transforms life begin to add up. If you can remember them as they are named, you are led to join in praise - it follows.

A key difficulty of today is not remembering together what we have come through. Second to it is that we have not continually translated the impetus for this Psalm into current circumstance. Where have we recently seen justice for the oppressed? If not, why praise? Where have we seen hungry folk fed? If not, why praise? Who is a prisoner that can be freed? If it is three-strikes and you are out, why praise? What orphan or widow or other silenced group has been upheld? If we don't experience it, why praise? Without connecting our experiences with longer memory we cannot make a logical jump to praise.

G*D's in charge - always? For good? All too often, seemingly not.

Too often we have to fudge our praise. Each time we do there is a greater gap between G*D and ourself. G*D doesn't praise us by watching over us and we don't experience assurance enough to praise G*D. Quite the vicious circle that even a raising from the dead can only momentarily pause.

Perhaps we need to start with whispers of praise before we can put an exclamation point to it. To aid in this you may want to remember by reading Stories of Peace and Justice and they may sensitize you to it happening in your life and a small hallelujah will begin to grow.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

1 Kings 17:8-24

Pentecost +2 - Year C

1 Kings 17:8-24

Nain? Zarephath? There are widows and soon to be widows all over the place - even in the place you are. A part of our work is to not narrow a definition of widow beyond that of the root of "widow" in Hebrew - 'alam, "one unable to speak" and, by extension, unable to be spoken for.

In this larger role of being silenced, we can get beyond our usual picture of a widow - "a woman who has lost her husband by death and usually has not remarried."

Who is being silenced these day? There is widowhood.

Of interest is the possibility of there having been an Order of Widows in the early Church - see references in 1 Timothy 5:9-16, through to the 3rd century Didascalia Apostolorum, and beyond.

It may be time to return to officially recognizing and affirming an Order of the Silenced that we might hear their story from their own lips and not just talk about people who are not able to be at the table. In some denominations the silenced person is a gay man or lesbian (some narrow that silencing to ordination, but that doesn't help the silencing and shunning). In many places the silenced include an immigrant without official papers. Additionally there are all those who by age or class or educational/economic status or (_____, your experience of a silenced person) cannot be heard by those in power.

Traditionally an Order of the Silenced was authorized to engage in prayer, which seems safe enough. I expect, however, that their prayers all kept coming back to Jesus' prayer, "Forgive them, they don't know what they are doing" and a correlative, "Wake them to what division is caused by silencing people and help them engage them in a new common-unity."