Monday, October 31, 2011

Matthew 25:1-13

Pentecost + 21- Year A

Matthew 25:1-13

Would that politicians had lamps indicating their basic wisdom or foolishness that would either remain lit or go out before an election. Obviously life and decision-making isn’t that easy.

Bottomline it seems that there is plenty of oil, it is available at the dealers. The foolish folk had resources to have sufficient oil, they just didn’t bother to take it along. Whether from a misjudgment in time management or simply being cheap is unknown.

I’m curious why lamps were needed in the first place, is that part of the wedding regalia of the time?

I’m even more curious why everyone didn’t simply go out to meet the bridegroom, as instructed. Somehow there was this wandering away to get oil when there was sufficient illumination to follow the lamps of the wise.

So is this a parable of a new heaven based on some litmus test of packing sufficient light? Is it a reflection of a current way of doing business, “I don’t know you.”? Is this light business similar to being wise as a serpent while remaining innocent as a dove?

Questions for today: What/Who are you expecting to yet meet today? Have the resources you need? Presumably there is time to boldly go ahead or to call for delivery.

Remember, in this story there is enough oil at the dealer. If you give some away, it will be just fine.

Anticipate abundance and see what it does to your decision-making.

Friday, October 28, 2011

individually seated

Pentecost + 20- Year A

sitting in Moses’ seat
wasn’t easy for Moses
much less Joshua
and even less so
generations later
for Annas/Caiaphas
or usurper Benedict
or insightful me

with each iteration
distance grows
between teachings
and practices
moving from one
to many
is confusing for all
good intentions fall

no one but Moses
is to have Moses’ seat
all are called and gifted
for their hot seat
which is sufficient
so grab your ass
with both your hands
enjoy the ride

Thursday, October 27, 2011

1 Thessalonians 2:9-13

Pentecost + 20- Year A

1 Thessalonians 2:9-13

Isn’t it wonderful to be identified by someone as their pride and joy? This is a great motivator to keep on keeping on. It grants permission to forge ahead into new territory where we can engage our fear and trembling with new relationships and ways of being together.

Pride and joy are also a great manipulation techniques. They let us hear about limits on the present enforced by the past. We hear about the need to imitate those who were before us. The pride and joy we receive is for not going past past limits, which makes it conditional. Now we fear and tremble should anything begin to shift or change.

Are we in the presence of G*D overflowing with pride and joy?
Are we in the presence of G*D ever ready to break into wrath?
Are we in the presence of G*D who arbitrarily fluctuates between these?

How we see G*D may have much to do with how we, in turn, respond to events in our life. Once again, choose this day what of G*D you will reveal.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Joshua 3:7-17

Pentecost + 20- Year A

Joshua 3:7-17

I am looking for an artist who can portray some sense of a G*D-presence around which is a prayer shawl fringed with such as Moses, Joshua, and You (yes, and me, too).

Unfortunately this prayer shawl finds itself in a strange world and prayer turns to preying upon strangers. We are all complicit in damming rivers for our own benefit and overrunning our neighbors property while calling it G*D’s will.

How important is it that we claim a right to protection from G*D without a concomitant sense of responsibility to nourish others?

Sometimes I want to jump out of G*D’s phylactery and fall away from privileged prayer’s fringe.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Matthew 23:1-12

Pentecost + 20- Year A

Matthew 23:1-12

Ever has it been thus: Those in power define life for all according to their experiences and a desire to remain in power. Of course it could be emphasized the other way around, power and experience, but, either way, there is a persistent practice of coliseum games, sweet foods, and whatever cultural values are esteemed for the moment.

Even if Boris and Natasha’s “esteemed leader” is captured by the rubrics of power, they may yet have a true word mixed in with their behavior.

As we are closing off another church year this is a good time to haul out the gifts of evaluation and critique to distinguish a good word from an iffy action.

With the Citizens United decision and other ways in which corporations hide behind personhood, it is not always easy to tell those who love their current place of honor so much that thy will only question those who question their values and never consider questioning themselves. With creative bookkeeping is it difficult to discern the phylacteries of profit.

We do a lot of assuming about profit as a sign of power for it is not just reported profit that must be considered, but how it measures against some expectation of ideal profit. Profit is not profit until it has been maximized and everything bows to it.

This is not the way it is to be with us. We are not to pray, My Corporation which art on Wall Street, blessed be thy profit-making ways . . . .

The greatest among you will be those who assist in building a commonwealth (this is the creative impetus from creation).

Friday, October 21, 2011

silence sought

Pentecost + 19 - Year A

looking for healthy silence

silence from
being put down
not yet knowing enough
lack of authority to ask
not having a reasonable response

is not healthy silence

silence to
see patterns
study reality around
find a deeper question
push authority to awkwardness

begins healthy silence

silence by
incumbant politicians
letter writers to editors

hides healthy silence

still looking
for healthy silence
in a daily schedule
in common with neighbors
based on tomorrow
lived today

Thursday, October 20, 2011

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

Pentecost + 19 - Year A

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

When we share what we understand is approved by G*D we are also sharing ourselves, because the two cannot be separated. This would seem to call for restrained passion. controlled enthusiasm.

“So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves. . . .” To be clear about the differences and confluences of G*D and our self is a source of blessing for our self and for others (both G*D and Neighbor).

We bless G*D by not confusing our heart with G*D’s heart. We bless Neighbors by not confusing a word of life with a judgment cutting life off. We bless ourselves by truthfully telling the difference.

May you be blessed with serenity to accept the realities of an expansive and expanding love.

May you be blessed with courage to move our currently experienced limits into a larger venue.

May you be blessed with wisdom use both serenity and courage to guide your fruitful use of gifts sufficient for your time.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17

Pentecost + 19 - Year A

Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.”

Translation: cellular regeneration.

What would it mean to shift the ground from some G*D micromanaging reality and thus having anthropomorphic characteristics grafted on to said G*D? Would a matrix facilitating growth and regrowth hold as much mystical presence?

A ground of being matrix begins to make more sense in fitting ourself together with ourself and others - sweeping away and flourishing - renewal processes.

May this work of generation and regeneration be manifest and may you rejoice in your part in it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Deuteronomy 34:1-12

Pentecost + 19- Year A

Deuteronomy 34:1-12

What do you see that you will not be a part of, other than as an extension of what you are doing today?

This vision will help keep your sight unimpaired and your vigor unabated. To drop your eyes to where you are presently standing to merely find ways to keep standing there is to cause one to weep for oneself rather than have others weep for you.

Lift up your eyes to the world you want to see and live as though it were already present.

Then, when death comes, it basically won’t matter.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Matthew 22:34-46

Pentecost + 19- Year A

Matthew 22:34-46

Which child is your favorite? There are any number of attempts at forced choices that don’t lead anywhere.

To respond to this sort of reductionist approach it is important to stretch things just one notch. Later more stretching can be attempted.

So it is Jesus responds with two favorites, not one.

In today’s world there are still dualistic/reductionist questions being asked. We are called to ease out of them in a similar manner, add one little stretch. This subtle response probably won’t be caught, but will aid folks hear a new story in just a little bit (like in Luke 10:25-37 where a similar encounter is reported).

The great sadness here is in the last line, “they quit asking questions for good.” (MSG)

Asking questions is directly related to good. It is in the interplay of question and response and question of a response, etc. that we test for the common good. When economic theories trump questions about same, we are in deep difficulty. This is the real world equivalent of not asking religious questions - when they stop we are in deep difficulty.

Testing questions, helpful questions, require that everything be up for grabs. They also respect provisional responses knowing that they will be tested in time to come.

Blessings on your affirmations - Loving beyond yourself reveals a deeper and more vigorous, rigorous life.

Blessings on your questions - hoary answers don’t satisfy, nor do our present glib attempts at universalizing particulars.

Friday, October 14, 2011

temptation tests

Pentecost + 18 - Year A

ready for today’s test?
of course!
whether announced
or not
we all know
tests happen.

life isn’t hypocritical
promising rose gardens
then yanking the rug out
tests happen
and we take it
or complain

there is no out
from an unending stream
of temptations
none are final
all pop up
to burst certainty

we’ve made good choices
and again
and again and again
until we are certain
we are good

we are good
as good can be
god good
unquestioned good
second to none good
just good

good enough
to get a pass
on a next test
that is only
a breath away

and so my pride
faces off
against your hypocrisy
what happened
to that pass

I’ll see your malice
and raise you
a great offense

and so they left
and so

here comes
another breath
another test
pass or fail

leaving no option
don’t breathe
don’t anticipate
well you know

Thursday, October 13, 2011

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

Pentecost + 18 - Year A

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

Want to be saved from a coming wrath? Unfortunately, there are no free passes. Fortunately, there are resources to aid us in not responding to wrath wrathfully.

Find a living and true G*D. That ought to be easy, except such tends to toss salvation back to you. Since the future is not just an in-breaking of a quantum leap surprising to behold, but an outgrowth of investments we make in it by the way we operate today, we again hear those ancient words, “Choose this day . . . .”

All the encouraging words patting us on the back for having moved in the direction Paul was headed, will eventually lead us to a key issue in the whole book of 1 Thessalonians - persistence in the face of difficulty that we be ready to receive a present paradise in what appears to be a dark and dismal day to come.

Let's say Jesus saves us from a coming wrath. OK. How?

Not by snapping fingers or impecable calendaring or a past act of integrity that rolls on of its own accord. No.

Modeling a persistent drive for a preferred future through intentional present action. Yes.

In following Moses' way of following G*D, following Jesus' way of following Moses and G*D, encourages others in following us following Jesus following Moses following G*D - not unsimilar to the house that Jack built. Such persistence does not allow a passive waiting for an apocalyptic moment, but insists on active investment, willingly risked, anticipating a way through a next self-caused crash based on what we do today.

persistence of trust
of something better
in the face of great persistence
claiming only more of the same
is our way through
to paradise
while wading deep
in unnecessary wrath

[You might be interested in an economic paper that talks about persistence in dealing with the wrath to come from the latest burst bubble pipe-dream of an ever upward economy. The authors speak of persistence in this fashion,
Rather than lurching from one futile mini-stimulus and quantitative easing to another, we must build consensus around a five-to-seven-year plan that matches the likely duration of the de-levering with which we now live, as well as that of the time it will take for emerging markets to transition to patterns of economic growth driven by domestic demand rather than exports.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Psalm 99

Pentecost + 18 - Year A

Psalm 99

Extol - lift up. By extension - to flatter, to inflate, to raise higher than one’s station or level of competence - to be Peter Principled into ineffectiveness.

By the time we get to the end of extolation we are ready to set the hook and catch us a god.

What can live up to unrealistic expectations? Certianly not I.

Three cheers, if cheers they be, and only cheers, begin to ring hollow.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Exodus 33:12-23

Pentecost + 18 - Year A

Exodus 33:12-23

Show me a coin with which to pay the taxes you are asking about.

Show me your glory which claims to know me by name.

Feeling trapped or frustrated? It is helpful to know what needs to be shown, not just talked about. Just know that even a showing doesn’t prove anything. Seeing Caesar’s face or not seeing G*D’s face is ultimately beside the point. Both will be false. Both will fade - Caesar from irrelevancy and G*D from meta-relevancy. Caesar will be left behind and G*D will be moving on.

So if this sort of tangibleness isn’t able to bear our search for meaning, where might we more fruitfully look in the moment.

The suggestion here is that our best bet is to focus on:
attending to goodness
showing mercy/kindness beyond bounds

Let’s not get caught with golden calves or coins of realm. Their very solidity will trap us into their shape.

It is enough to meditate for a moment in a rock’s cleft and then to come forth to catch up to a living, moving, presence beyond our settled doctrine, corrupted economy, and power-crazed political system. This presence will be revealed in the common good.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Matthew 22:15-22 *

Pentecost + 18 - Year A

Matthew 22:15-22

It doesn’t take much to entrap some of us. The obverse is that it doesn’t take much for some of us to overestimate our ability to trap another.

The Pharisees fell into the second category. The Pharisees understood themselves to be so much in the right that they could send some surrogates to practice on Jesus.

And so it came to pass that students set out to trap Jesus. They used a standard practice of beginning with flattery. It is one of the temptation techniques that has proven successful over time. A little flattery turns the head, distracts. It doesn’t take much loss of focus before we trap ourself.
“You are so sincere. You are surely in touch with the ways of G*D. You are as truthful as the day is long and filled with integrity from top to bottom.”
[Any of these catch you?]

And then the innocent question disingenuously put as an easy choice.
“We’re confused, can we pay taxes to the emperor or not?”

When we are awake we can catch the simple questions of life and see beyond them and respond with the complexity they deserve - with another question.

“Ah,” says Jesus, “what do you mean by ‘pay taxes’?”

Rather than think about the question, the stand-ins thought the question too easy and so quickly responded, “Should those who support Mosaic Law support Caesar?”

“Hmmm,” thought Jesus aloud, “Seems like there are many claims of authority. Each claims a right to body, mind, spirit, and resources. After you have sorted out the authorities, you can respond to each appropriately.”

“Oh,” said the pharisaical delegation.

And so it was that the Pharisees were disappointed and waited to see how the Sadducees fared with their trap.

[Note: economic questions are often the ones that trip us up. It is so easy to fear losing whatever perk we have and thus elevate the current socio-political system into that of equivalence to a universal human need. The Occupy Wall Street events cropping up reveal that we are at a time of seeing behind the Ozian curtain of a silent plutocracy we set in place by not being able to critique capitalism and democracy. This duo has lost its rhythm to the point of democracy no longer being able to offset capitalism’s excesses.
   As we enter our equivalent of the disjuncture of economic and political structures at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, a radical critique of our economic, political, and religious decision-making is painfully overdue and necessary.
   To think we can find an easy way out of facing basic common good values is disingenuous. Unfortunately we have no political process readily at hand to assist us to bring an economic system into a constructive conversation with our spiritual/communal needs.
   Prophets don’t need to know what the next rebalancing is going to look like, only that every aspect of our current life has been unbalanced in its own arena and in relationship to every other aspect. This is why they call us back to issues of the common good - not that there is only one way to express that, but without having this background revealed we will simply ping-pong from one foreground extreme to another without learning anything.
   This may be the most important pericope of the year and well worth dealing with every week for another year.]

Friday, October 07, 2011


Pentecost + 17 - Year A

a most beloved phrase
And the LORD repented

and Moses and you
and I and me and all

the most specific
the one and only

LORD ever constant LORD
LORD the same LORD

repented then and now
repented again and again

And the LORD repented
a most beloved phrase

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Philippians 4:1-9

Pentecost + 17 - Year A

Philippians 4:1-9

Stand firm. If you are going to be an inviter, don’t, at some point, begin to limit that invitation. There are going to be inappropriate people engaged with church. That’s a part of the definition of a church.

To find one criterion or another by which they can be turned out is not standing firm.

Why would Paul have to encourage Euodia and Syntyche to continue reinviting one another if the they and others hadn’t started to wobble in their firmness?

Let your gentleness (your invitational nature) be known to all. Don’t worry about how such incompatible folks can learn to stand firmly together. There is peace and joy enough to sustain you and them in this journey.

Finally, whatever is true (invitation trumps tossing out), whatever is honorable (when disappointed invite the more), whatever is just (variety of gifts need a system whereby they may each add to the common good), whatever is pure (following Jesus’ way, not the way of Jesus’ codifiers), whatever is pleasing (paying attention to the next steps available without getting stuck in past steps), whatever is commendable (we are in life together and co-responsible for each other and creation), enact it no matter what the temptation to follow a short-cut. Keep on, stand firm, be not afraid, peace is not lost.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23

Pentecost + 17 - Year A

Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23

Commercial exchange varies across different traditions and economies.

Does the economy of G*D vary according to circumstance and time?

This question is at the heart of what we might trust and hope for and invest with love defined. Presuming G*D to be living (with all the herky-jerky movement that means) or an ablity to move on from past unproductive responses, we might well fall into resistance to shift traditions [G*D might still be there] or a willingess to wait for a new revelation [G*D might be moving to a plateau I can’t even see yet].

Is it reasonable to expect that “great things” from the past will see us through a present dark valley? Where is that flame by night and cloud by day?

Perhaps most reasonably, what is keeping you from standing in the breach between G*D and neer-do-wells to protect both from rash action and cutting off possibility based on some pride or other code? Each of us have that opportunity, each in a different arena of life. Rather than try to figure G*D out, stand for some grand purpose, even in the face of an angry deity. Who knows what unknown test you will both be passing.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Exodus 32:1-14

Pentecost + 17 - Year A

Exodus 32:1-14

When our main source of inspiration is delayed or otherwise falters, we are often very quick to give up on it. We expect our connection to the biggest power we know to be very present to us and quick to respond.

Of course there are always those who stubbornly stick with a previous iteration of a god, never able to let go and attach to a seemingly more effective power. Additionally there are those whose relationship to what they trust is more complex.

Simply know that both those who quickly give up and those who stubbornly hang on always lose their resources. Either they face a rising ante to get the old god to come through or they get over-run with bad investments in the face of a rising new economy in an old universe.

Spiritual stick-in-the-mud’s can stir the ire of a jealous god or simply be ignored. In some sense it is easier to deal with a jealous god as they will at least give negative attention rather than none and if we are to persuade our god to act on our behalf we need to first get said god’s attention.

Don’t you love it when Moses goes all Buddhist on YHWH - “Hey, big guy, seems like you are getting pretty attached. Got a co-dependency going?” This seems to have been effective ministry to G*D.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Matthew 22:1-14

Pentecost + 17 - Year A

Matthew 22:1-14

Again with the parables. If Jesus, as a revelation of G*D, does so much with parables, we might begin catch a glimpse of a subtle G*D. In so doing we would do well to engage some humility in our understanding of G*D. Blessings to you for appreciating a more expansive G*D than doctrine or literalness can contain.

What a difference if we were to use an “invite everyone” approach to living life. Finding the good and the bad within each person we meet, we will find those ready for a next step and those who are not.

Given a choice between “inviting everyone” and “throw him away”, when a particular everyone doesn’t measure up, we see the parable ending with verse 10 - “filled with guests”. After this we get into what we take is a later addition and agree with the Jesus Seminar folks who write in The Five Gospels, “The Matthean version has strayed from from the original parable. The body of the parable (22:2-10) has been turned into an allegory of history of salvation: a king (God) prepares a feast for his son (Jesus) and invites his subjects (Israel) to the banquet. They treat the invitations lightly or kill the king’s servants (the prophets). The king destroys them and their city (Jerusalem) and invites others (foreigners) to the feast. This allegory is alien to Jesus, since the story has been thoroughly Christianized and looks back on the destruction of Jerusalem.”

It is not enough to hear that a parable is being told without an appreciation of what a parable is. Otherwise we fall prey to the old bait and switch - I’m going to tell you a parable . . . at least I want you to think highly of my allegory I am claiming to be a parable. A discerning ear and eye can help us move deeper into reported experiences and not be fooled by an initial claim.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Considerable Rising Needed

Pentecost + 16 - Year A

absentee landLORD
wherefore art thou
o how the rich are
we are convinced
our welfare begins
with their welfare

landLORDs claim
our undivided attention
by which I mean work
no talking behind their back
no imitating mannerisms
they are
holy as holy can be

landLORDs demand
increased work time
for your time
is their money
forty hours is a beginning
two hundred eighty plus
is not for them unreasonable

landLORDs are exempt
from family leave
sick leave
bereavement leave
vacation limits
personal days
too bad about your folks

landLORDs are freed
from accident responsibility
long-term disability
screwing their employees
out of relationship time
entitled to their loopholes
too bad you don’t have any

landLORDs are released
from telling the truth
about their real worth
proprietary property
trade secrets
hostile takeovers
everything that’s yours

landLORDs are caught
from time to time
when their time slaves
rise up to claim
a garden spot
and dream dreams
of a new start

landLORDs own
public roads as theirs
public protection as theirs
public education as theirs
each claimed as natural law
leaving no counter-claim
against simple profit

landLORDs forget
what lies ahead
claiming the present
is all that is needful
and they have the present
wrapped as a beautiful present
to themselves

landLORDs tempt us
with their perks
we see and want
immediate prizes
to measure our worth
pause for a moment
consider then rise up