Thursday, April 28, 2011

1 Peter 1:3-9

Easter 2 - Year A

1 Peter 1:3-9

Blessed be G*D and your Intimacy with Creation. A mercy you participate in is the hope engendered by being resurrected from a previous limitation. This connects with a larger, web, that connects us with all parts of time and space and energy. As a part of such a web and benefactor from its support, we bounce higher and see farther into an available wholeness of life.

Consciously being part of one or more interdependencies is cause for rejoicing, as well as weeping, and attests to the genuineness of relationships as basic as other physics of time, space, and energy. Test it where you will, the results continue to reveal an interpenetration of self and other. Rejoice in the connections, unseen and yet present, wherein we grin all over ourselves in the wholeness of life.

All of this is periodically focused on revealers of connections heretofore unseen. Standing at an oblique angle (you’ve heard it said . . . , - but look!) allows a deeper look and the holistic outcome of the revealers of the world beckons each of us to become a next revealer of connections and participator in healing at least our part of the larger web of life. Called by the name Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, (your name here), or one we have yet to hear of, we look forward to seeing where a whole web of life might yet travel.

How much tinkering did you have to do to this passage to have it be something other than an external creed of long ago yearning for new life through the corrective lens of today? Or was it just fine the way it has come down to us?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Psalm 16

Easter 2 - Year A

Psalm 16

My job is to be protected; your job is to protect.

Kudos to the protector and all those claiming to protect.

As long as I am protected I’ll think and say what will continue the protection, because I am held by that bond.

So far that is working well, pleasantly enough for me, if not for all.

Tell me what I need to do to keep your protection and that check is in the mail.

The path of life is that of protection. In your protection is my joy; in your meting out of protection I find pleasure forever more.

- - -

And protection of life is crucial to its continuance.
And protection of life constrains so its continuance lacks growth and meaning.
Blessings on telling one from the other and choosing well in this moment and the next.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Acts 2:14a, 22-32

Easter 2 - Year A

Acts 2:14a, 22-32

Contrast this assurance that Jesus had no contact with Hades with the “Holy” Saturday and Creedal report of his descent to Hell. Also, Jesus had no real association with death - we move without pause from life to being killed by crucifixion to being raised.

When tracking reports, it is good to pay attention to what isn’t said as well as what is.

As a followup on Thomas’ doubts, here we have a resolution of many stories into one line focusing on the deity of Jesus. Apparently this is an easier selling point than the hard moral work of living and commending one’s life to G*D and Neighbor.

G*D’s raising power clearly outweighs Jesus’ living power. How do you weigh out such categories?

Monday, April 25, 2011

John 20:19-31

Easter 2 - Year A

John 20:19-31

Teachings have a way of rolling on (the communication technique of “forward pacing” helps store said teachings until they are needed later). I wonder how many times Jesus had to teach and teach again a sense of peace in the midst of every occasion. Most of us can whomp up a good fear in the friendliest of situations and so the number was probably pretty high, like daily, like bread.

Notice how the passage reinforces this teaching of peace. It is said, for the aural learners. It has the picture of sending and being sent for visual learners. It was breathed on them for the kinesthetic learner. In the aftermath of a crucifixion and surprising emptiness of tomb, fear quotients were probably pretty high. This is experiential time, not doctrinal time, and, hopefully, we will return again to our experiences in spite of the accumulated doctrines.

Notice also that there is physical body stuff here and it is easy to get side-tracked on it rather than on the experience of peace.

When we are peaceful enough amid life's hurried ways, we can hear a question beyond the literal words - who would want to retain a sin if forgiveness and dismissal of sin were a real option?

Imagine what happens to the disciples during the elipsis of a week between visits of Jesus' teaching of peace. How did it go with Thomas and Mary and Peter and the rest? Did they get hung up on what they had seen of their fear of wounds? Some saw his hands, some his side, some his feet or scalp (even though not mentioned), just like the old story of blind folks describing an elephant. Thomas could bring lots of critical questions and wedge issues. Had the mood in the room changed from fear of authorities to fear of one another?

And why does Thomas get the extra opportunity to touch wounds when a week earlier they just got to see wounds? Oh, the opportunities for community breaking are numerous and constant.

So what do you think was written here that would get you to believe Jesus to be a faithful teacher of ways to G*D? Was it body imagery? Was it the reminder of peace? Was it a community brought back to focus on going forth instead of arguing among themselves? Which of these, or another, is most persuasive to you.

Whichever it might be, remember to laugh with recognition when reminded of that ancient teaching of peace. The laughter will be as important as the teaching or enactment of same.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

1 Peter 4:1-8

Lent - Last Week - Saturday - Year A

1 Peter 4:1-8

Proclaiming “the gospel” may not be bound by time. Of course, figuring out what is meant by "gospel" in any given context is difficult. This is one of those wiggly words whose meaning seems to be in the mouth of the utterer.

Presuming that Superman can fly faster than light backward, thus reversing time, there is no reason why the dead and gone can't be posthumously enlightened. And if they can be proclaimed to, why can't they be baptized in absentia? Where is the limit of how we can use the dead for current ends?

On this silent Saturday when a creedal Jesus is off doing his workaholic thing in Sheol or Hell or Wherever, it might also be mentioned that we need to get away from a 2,000+ year-old misconception - that the end of all things is near. Such a concept keeps getting in our way of actually being relevant. You may be interested in how Kevin Kelly puts this in his hour-long conversation with Michael Dowd on a series known as The Advent of Evolutionary Christianity: Conversations at the Leading Edge of Faith (they have a special offer through April 25, 2011).

What would happen if we let the dead bury the dead and weren’t speculating quite so much about being eternally secure tomorrow? Perhaps the last line in this passage would be a bit easier to experience - “Above all, maintain constant love for one another....” Ahh, maintaining love after death and before eternity - that sounds doable.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A new dance - the liminal pivot

Easter - Year A

after sabbath
be sure to end
a sabbath
as well as begin

between dark
and dawn
a liminal earthquake
and heavenquake

a fearful time
for brave
for plodders
for the dead

for the dead
are not dead
already loosed
already ahead

ahead ahead
is a message
binding fear
to joy

ahead ahead
brings meetings

ahead ahead
with fear
with joy
to see again

to see again
to be seen again
ahead ahead
a pivot place awaits

ahead ahead
again again
a message

- - - - - - -

Galilee is derived from the Hebrew galil, referring to a ring, pivot, or rollers. [The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible]

John 18:1 - 19:42

Lent - Last Week - Friday - Year A

John 18:1 - 19:42

Well, were you there?

If the Preacher of Ecclesiastes got it right that "there is nothing new under the sun," we need to say "Yes" and "No" to the question. We are not there at Jesus' crucifixion but we are witness of other "crucifixions" today. Let's look for some connections between then and now through one of the eye-witnesses—a Roman Centurion.

Perhaps we will hear the song change from "were you there" to "we are here".

Jesus' disciples stood at a distance, just watching, and that is our temptation, as well.

At bottom we are afraid to draw near Jesus' cross guarded by the status quo, a fear of being different, and a reluctance to lose any privilege or comfort we have.

Sometimes I think today's Church has lost track of following Jesus' ministries and has settled for just guarding empty crosses and being complicit in the on-going crucifixion of the least, and lost and lonely in our own families, community, state, nation, and world?

My hope is in remembering.

Remember Eden. A sad day wherein we too often focus on how bad Adam and Eve were, without remembering that G*D left Eden with them. They were never alone.

Remember Cain crucifying Abel. A sad day wherein we focus on how bad Cain was, without remembering G*D did not start capital punishment then and there.

Remember an unending series of lonely misdeeds and betrayals that continue to this day. These are ours and are not dependent upon blaming someone before us.

We have been like the Centurion who didn't plot against Jesus, or try Jesus, or put in the nails, or raise the cross – who only stood there while an unjust act was carried out, while an unfairness was allowed to move forward.

What eventually shone through to the Roman Centurion was Jesus still commending his life into G*D's hands, into a promise of more life that couldn't yet be seen. That Centurion heard enough to do an about face and to forward march into a new way of living. Jesus' life calls us, too.

Even before Easter that Centurion was transformed. Even on Good Friday we have plenty to call us to risk our life for a common good.

Remember Christmas. A good day wherein we focus on Emmanuel, G*D with us, we are still never alone.

Remember the Magi. A good day when those identified as "Strange" and "Other" are blessed for letting their gifts loose in the world.

Remember Baptism. A good day when Belovedness is set free in the life of every lost person and is a background against every temptation.

Remember those who were ministered to by Jesus, and still need ministry in our day. They were set free to be G*D's Beloved, even without baptism and well before Easter. Remember a better way than guarding and watching; a Jesus way, a compassionate way, a way to a new heaven and a new earth through better living in community and for a common good.
  • Basic laborers are called as disciples
  • Traditionalists are taught, "you have heard it said, but now a new learning . . . ."
  • Lepers are returned to community
  • Gadarene Demoniacs - the mentally ill - are freed from imprisonment
  • A woman hemorrhaging for 12-years is set free from a health care system that ate up all her resources and savings
  • Mute people like the young, the poor, and the immigrant receive their voice
  • Hungry people are fed by those who didn't know how to admit they had more than enough
  • Foreigners in the land had access to healing
  • Little children, like those who are not in our church, are welcomed, nurtured in Jesus' way, and brought near
  • Religious leaders are reminded that everything hangs on love – Love of G*D, Love of Neighbor as Self, Love of One Another, and Love of Enemies
  • Betrayers like Judas were still given communion and was still a part of Jesus' love, whether he knew it or not
All of these teachings and healings of Jesus continued to shine through on Crucifixion Day. All of Jesus' Living was a background that could not be denied. Even a battle-hardened Roman Centurion finally woke up. We are not told what happened next to the Centurion, just as we are not told what happened after so many people were touched by Jesus. But imagine for a moment that you could be freed from the inertia of just watching Death happen and, again, see Life before Death. Might you join Jesus in Living in solidarity with today's Innocents rather than defensively against them? Imagine!

I can't help but reflect that in June of this year a Wisconsin United Methodist pastor is going to be tried by her church for loving people forbidden by the church to be loved — gays and lesbians. Will that trial rise and fall on the current letter of the law, like Jesus with Pilate, or the gift of new life for people for whom Jesus also lived? If you haven't heard about this coming trial, it would be good to wonder why not.

This very day in the city and county of La Crosse and across the river in La Crescent, there are people being crucified on the basis of being different, and difference happens in so many different ways. But the big crucifiers are, on one side, impotent poverty of one kind or another and, on the other side, privileged entitlement of one justification or another.

If we have seen G*D with us and Jesus' Life as the backdrop behind his Death and heard the Centurion's change of perspective, then we may be able to hear a call from the Cross coming to us again today. It is found in the fourth verse of our next hymn, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
     (which it isn't - false choice)
That were a present far too small;
     (too small because it isn't yours to give)
Love so amazing, so divine,
     (Love of G*D, Neighbor, Self, One Another, Enemies)
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
     (join the Centurion - invest your soul, life, and all)

May this Good Friday
not find you watching from a distance
not guarding people away from Jesus
not protecting an institution
but reconnected with an Expansive and Expanding Love
that energizes your soul, your life, your all.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Colossians 3:1-4

Easter - Year A

Colossians 3:1-4

Do you have a vision? This is being raised to life.

Have you tested your vision? This reveals deeper glory.

There is nothing like a deeper raising to tickle one’s fancy.

John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Lent - Last Week - Thursday - Year A

John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Here is a link to a comment about a First Last Supper for you to bounce off of.

Whether looking at a farewell ritual of food or feet, we have been set an example that will open us to another level of relating — loving one another — passing back and forth what we have received.

Paul (1 Cor. 11:23-32) asks us to examine our participation in ritual. When our participation results in larger community we are keeping the ritual alive. When we forget the passing back and forth and settle for what we already have or what a group in power has developed, the ritual begins to leave those thinking they are participating in something larger while acting in smaller ways.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

Easter - Year A

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

I suffered greatly, yet I live.
I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of life.

And here we find ourselves—between.

And here we find ourselves—making meaning.

And here we find ourselves. And find. And find.

This is a day of life. We rejoice and are glad. Really? Rejoicing and glad? OK, then. Let’s see your version of rejoicing, your variant on gladness. Don’t be afraid, don’t hold back, don’t fizzle out with mere muttering.

John 13:21-32

Lent - Last Week - Wednesday - Year A

John 13:21-32

Betrayal is upsetting, no matter who is dealing with it. With a whiff of betrayal scented we are aroused to resolve it - is the betrayer you? is it me? can it be avoided?

Here it is the action of Jesus to stimulate the fears around betrayal and to initiate not only its recognition, but its engagement.

Jesus will be betrayed by the person to whom he gives the bread of sustenance. Jesus gives it to Judas. Then this interesting line, “After he (Judas) received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him (Satan?), ‘Do quickly what you are going to do.’”

Of course the disciples heard nothing (the equivalent of thunder in place of a voice announcing belovedness or glory) and made up a story of where Judas went. If they had known, they would have had to do something about it, intervened between Judas and the Pharisees.

If we extend this passage to Hebrews 12, we might also find Judas among the cloud of witnesses. We learn not only from saints, but sinners.

One of the things we learn is that Jesus enters his next round of tempations with his eyes wide open. There is no plea here to be delivered or turn back. May you enter your next time of temptation with your eyes wide open. In this way you will glimpse a glory worth following.

- - -

For a perspective that the conflictual information about Judas in the Gospels and the lack of reference in the Epistles might suggest that Judas is a fictional necessity for the Jesus story, you can check this short review.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Acts 10:34-43

Easter - Year A

Acts 10:34-43

So where does the switch happen in this bait and switch passage?

Doing - anyone who does what is right is acceptable to G*D.

Doing - G*D anointed Jesus and he went about doing good and healing.

Believing - we preach that everyone who believes in Jesus is forgiven in his name.

A first response would be that the switch comes with a resurection of Jesus. Somehow this was no longer about doing what is right or good or healing. It is now about how special we preachers, we Jesus followers/believers, are. It is this privileged position of saying what G*D means that shifts the conversation from control over oneself (doing good) to power over another (what do you believe). It seems nothing, not even resurrection, can avoid the possibility of being corrupted.

When matching this passage up with yesterday’s gospel lesson of community, this is anti-community. This is fall in line. Listen again to the switch in the words of The Message, “But in three days God had him up, alive, and out where he could be seen. Not everyone saw him—he wasn’t put on public display. Witnesses had been carefully handpicked by God beforehand—us!”

So let’s play Thomas Jefferson and take a scissors to the Bible. Imagine deleting verses 41-43. This greatly strengthens the movement of the story.

(34) G*D shows no partiality, so be not partial, (35) simply do what is right. (36) To see the right remember (37) Jesus’s baptism of belovedness and (38) subsequent doing good and healing. (39) When Jesus was hidden, (40) G*D revealed him again - - - (44) The Holy Spirit visited (belovedized) all who heard this . . . .

John 12:20-36

Lent - Last Week - Tuesday - Year A

John 12:20-36

Don't try to diagram this passage. Everything, plus the kitchen sink, has been tossed in.

Of all the various ways of coming at this passage begun with inquisitive Greeks/Gentiles, I'll look at the back and forth between Jesus and whatever he meant by Father.

To the disciples/crowd/Greeks/Gentiles, Jesus asks, "What should I say about this moment? Father, beam me up?"

To this Father, Jesus says, "Glorify your name."

To Jesus, this Father responds, "I have glorified it and I'll glorify it some more."

To the disciples/crowd/Greeks/Gentiles, Jesus says, "Whether you simply heard thunder or a finer Angel, glory is going to become glory squared."

Return with us now to the days of yesteryear when thunder was heard to say, "Beloved" instead of "Glory". We are moving into another time of temptation. If you are a Nikos Kazantzakis fan you will know he called it a Last Temptation. Instead of 40 days there are but 4 - Today, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.

Hold on to your belovedness, it will be all that is left to aid you to continue sending blessings in the midst of those so sure of their ability and right to throw both a first and next stone.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Matthew 28:1-10

Easter - Year A

Matthew 28:1-10

Creation begins again and again.

Rather than a scene of mud with Adam leading to Eve via a rib . . . we find a rolled-back stone with women leading to new community via “Galilee”.

New community lies ahead of you - run.

In the running new community is found.

“Be not afraid,” said shining messengers, “Be not afraid,” said Jesus, “Be not afraid,” said the women. What say you?

John 12:1-11

Lent - Last Week - Monday - Year A

John 12:1-11

Thieves of the common purse abound. An appeal made to care for the poor turns out to be a cover to rob them. Sound familiar?

Note that Monday is a day of Jesus' burial, this is the anointing of his dead body with lots and lots of nard.

Note that the earthy odor of nard might also be an enhancement of a woman's estrus pheromone or lover's scent (ref. Song of Songs) - and so the wrong Mary may have been speculated about regarding Jesus' and the "little death".

Note that plots were also made against Lazarus. Whether you feel youself more closely related to Jesus (beloved of G*D) or to Lazarus (given a new opportunity) — it is time to get on with being who you are - time is short and the "relief, delight, triumph" to great to miss. [Note: you may want a shirt with a reminder about this.]

Friday, April 15, 2011

passionate palms

Lent 6 - Year A

what is mine is yours
and vice versa
when need arises
privilege exits

the ass of me
becomes sign and symbol
of Hosanna living
donkeys appreciated

against this background
we wave our palms
and shout our hope

what is mine is mine
there will be no desertion
of individual responsibility
privilege exists

my crowing cock
reveals great bravado
for what it is
flustered and flopping

this visible detail
pains and bows
as we moan our fear
our passion

teaching and learning
backgrounds and foregrounds
confuse and reveal
passion and passionate

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Philippians 2:5-11

Lent 6 - Year A

Passion Sunday Philippians 2:5-11

Ahh, humility rewarded. Surely my humility will be likewise recognized for its quality.

Somehow we have lost track of an antecedent. To what was Jesus “obedient” and in regard to what was he “humble.”

Our tendency is to return to a system of dominion. G*D has it, Jesus didn’t, you don’t. Jesus knelt better than you do. G*D wants proof of Jesus’ submission, of your obedience. This is the test of Abraham being submissive and obedient enough to slaughter Isaac taken to the next level. Are you willing to have G*D kill you? That is what the whole bloody substitutionary and obediently humble atonement theories would have you desire.

So back to the question of antecedent. To what was Jesus obedient? What would be a sufficient call to you that would result in your obedience to it? I would hope it is more than some bowing of the neck to fate, to meanness, to our lowest common denominator, to power, . . . .

To be humble one might be expected to reject any kowtowing to the excellence of one’s humility. To do otherwise, to accept adulation as expected, is to deny the focus one had on bringing love of G*D/Creation together with love of Neighbor/Enemy. Humility here is intended to bring everything possible together and to laugh at the resulting response that the answer to life, the universe, and everything is simply 42. Humility here would get up on its high horse, in high dudgeon, to say, “Wrong, G*D, we are all exalted or none of us are!”

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 or Psalm 31:9-16

Lent 6 - Year A

Palm Sunday Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
Passion Sunday Psalm 31:9-16

Hey, Hey, Hey!
Steadfast Love, Forever!
G*D Answers!
Salvation - Present!
This Is the Day for Rejoicing!
We Bless the Blessed for a House of Blessing!

i am in distress
wasted by grief
a life of sorrow
years of sighing
misery sapped
bones rubbery
i am scorned
a horror
a dread
fled from
death's equivalent
schemed against
plotted against!
can i trust
any hand
any love?

and so?
are you expecting to find what you bring to the table?
might a day of rejoicing in the midst of danger, yet be appreciated?
which is foreground, which background?

Is any predisposition driven by physiology or philosophy?
Here is a suggestion it is a result of brain structure based on this source data.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Isaiah 50:4-9

Lent 6 - Year A

Passion Sunday Isaiah 50:4-9

Having the tongue of a teacher does not clearly define behavior. If we use the gospel lessons, Jesus' tongue sends out instructions - go get a donkey - and Jesus’ tongue says nothing at all and cries out, "Forsaken!" and simply cries out - even dying becomes a holy word from a teacher's tongue.

The tongue of a teacher is shaped by what they are listening to. If they are not continually being filled, there is a fading - a yellowed lesson plan is a "yellow" way to teach.

So, what are you listening to these days?

If nothing comes to mind, you may want to reclaim listening with Radiolab or To the Best of Our Knowledge

Monday, April 11, 2011

Matthew 21:1-11 or 26:14 - 27:66

Lent 6 - Year A

Palm Sunday Matthew 21:1-11 or
Passion Sunday Matthew 26:14 - 27:66 (or 27:11-54)

Where will you focus:
Jesus riding a donkey?
Disciples acting like donkeys?
Judas braying, “Greetings, Rabbi.”?
Peter stubborn in denial?
Chief priests calling for Jesus, reprising Jesus calling for a donkey?
Jesus stubborn in silence?
Crowd stubborn for Barabbas?
Crowd stubborn for crucifixion?
Pilate stubborn in innocence?
Chief priests stubborn in mocking their scapegoat?

Perhaps we might look at release in both Palm and Passion narratives.

What do you imagine a donkey’s release to be riden might signify?
Hosannas let loose.

What do you imagine forsakeness released might reveal?
Religious symbols remade.
Faults shifted.
Past unbound.
Perspective changed.
Witnesses blessed.
Rich collude with religious to put away those endangering them?
Witnesses powerless.
Plots deepened.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

bumpy hope

Lent 5 - Year A

mary martha message
stayed longer

let’s go
no! stones!

for four days

goes out
come see




stones avoided
stone rolled
stone prepared
stone placed
stone rolled


Thursday, April 07, 2011

Romans 8:6-11

Lent 5 - Year A

Romans 8:6-11

Peering behind the word “condemnation” is this interesting definition of its Hebrew root: "by one's good example to render another's wickedness the more evident and censurable."

This sets Jesus and like avatars as background against which we better see ourselves and open choices of how we are going to proceed. This sort of condemnation sets a more positive direction than that of a doing away with, an annihilating. This sort of condemnation helps look at an otherwise dualistic split of flesh and spirit - it keeps them related.

This sort of condemnation stops short Paul’s description of sinful dead bodies versus righteous spirit living. When we move beyond that dichotomy we find the mortal connected with the immortal and any other either/or approach to life.

There is more than one way to arrive at relational unities rather than divisive dualities. For those in the Christian tradition these days it is important to listen to the last verse. From The Message: “When [G*D] lives and breathes in you (and [G*D] does, as surely as [G*D] did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With [G*D’s] Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!”

Imagine G*D in you, you in G*D. If that doesn’t enliven, I wonder what would.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Psalm 130

Lent 5 - Year A

Psalm 130

Hmm, is your experience that forgiveness is based on your promise of subsequent reverence (a most interesting motivation for such a basic) or that forgiveness is a developed response or habit?

Is there steadfast love but only conditional forgiveness? Just how does that work?

Oh, yes, right, this is a cry from desperate depths. From such a spot we are willing to try anything. A foxhole prayer doesn’t rely on a consistent view of life or self or G*D. All that is important is getting out of the current bind.

Jesus was in a tough spot with a request to come and risk stoning. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were in a tough spot with death on the near horizon. Ezekiel was in a tough spot, facing questions far beyond any adequate response. The Psalmist was in a tough spot. You and I find ourselves in tough spots.

How we see the world around us is crucial work and doesn’t come easily. All manner of shortcuts attempt to divert us from seeing the basics of life. Steadfast love, yes. Forgiveness, yes. Deep despair, yes. Waiting and watching, yes. Now take this handful and toss them up into the air. Which comes to earth most easily? Which skitters around? Are they the same weight or circumference? Which has a gravity pull stronger than the rest? Which is background and which foreground. Is one a better lens through which to view the others?

- - -

In or out of extremis
we yearn for connection
beyond judgment
beyond forgiveness
waiting and hoping
for new light

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Ezekiel 37:1-14

Lent 5 - Year A

Ezekiel 37:1-14

Out of a pool - sight.
Out of dry valley - word.

Note that the only evidence given for this inner vision is in last verse of the pericope, “... and I will place you on your own soil.”

In today’s world, with all the competing words and the immense power of money, the power of this vision of the lost being found can hang on only so long before it becomes mere words blowing in a very dry wind. There needs to be a bit of evidence thrown in every so often, lest these images fade sufficiently to go in one ear and out the other.

A history of peace instead of history of war would be one way of being reminded that there is everyday evidence that spirit still lives and jubilee still occurs. This is where a community comes in handy, to remember moments of integrity in spite of every cost/benefit analysis that says there is no use.

I suspect that this passage was chosen on the basis of graves being opened, but a stronger reason for its use on this Sunday is the opening question: “Can these bones live?” It is another way of asking, “Who’s at fault, whose sin at work here?” To respond hopefully to one is to respond faithfully to the other.

To say, “No, these bones can’t live” rather than finessing it with “Only you know”, is to acknowledge “sin” as the real bottom line. To claim, that old, dried out bones still have value is to move into new territory of an unfated tomorrow.

Monday, April 04, 2011

John 11:1-45

Lent 5 - Year A

John 11:1-45

Walking in the light does not exempt one from dangerous places. It gives information about where to place one’s foot. Treachery in treacherous places can still occur, no matter how carefully one tries to maneuver set traps. Note that in some eyes, it is exactly this “triumph over death”, this “revelation of glory”, that initiates a final trap that cannot be avoided, no matter how careful one is. In a sense, carefulness is exactly what the powers that be desire. An overly careful person will take themselves out of danger and keep the status quo safe a while longer.

The outside of the story is about Lazarus. The inside of the story is about Jesus’ commitment to a picture larger than fear - either fear for his own life or an addressing of our universal fear of death’s unknowns.

In taking away a stone from his own grave (being cooped up by fear of being stoned), Jesus is freed to roll other stones away, to unbind folks from other fears. Had Lazarus physically died, or had he begun to stink of fear? To be unbound from either is a miracle. Does Jesus always have to be credited with the largest possible miracle or he ceases to be a miracle-worker. That’s a sure way to burn out. There is nothing like smaller, regular miracles to keep one in for the long haul.

Would it make a difference for you if the translators had used "weak" or "feeble" instead of "ill" or "sick"? In John, the same Greek word (astheneĊ) is sometimes translated "impotent", and isn't that reminiscent of being frozen in fear.

PS. Yes, I can read the rest of the supporting story as that of sickness and death and see it as a prelude to a next resurrection that closely ties Jesus with G*D. Today I am feeling more impotent and fearful, in the face of a chaotic world filled with blind incivility and ignoring common kindness, than I am sick and fearful. I simply ask how literal even this story needs to be. How does it speak beyond its limitations? and how do I?

Friday, April 01, 2011

bring light

Lent 4 - Year A

who sinned?
a question from the blind
leading the blind

wrong question!
responds a sage
we’ve covered that

assigning sin
is a delaying tactic
keeping one from change

such parsing
keeps everyone in the dark
about present revelation

its absurd
take muddy spit for instance
what a premonitory hoot

opened eyes
don’t claim privilege
for opened eyes

opened eyes
don’t dismiss
unopened eyes

imposed sin
denies grace
sight beyond sin

already told
and told again
life is gift

revealed already
revealed again
life is gift

who sinned?
get real
wrong question!

bring light
while gifted
with life