Friday, May 31, 2013


Pentecost +2 - Year C

when finished with words
there are yet
deeds to be done
lives to be engaged

would that words
were all there was to do
intended lingua franca
has fogged movement

at some point words
fail to get what we want
and we are left with intention
incarnate in going for help

yet a word remains
let there be
and we do
and it is enough

this being word
called relationship
offers hope
and consolation

whether a word
goes forth or not
we are always
homeward bound

Galatians 1:1-12

Pentecost +2 - Year C

Galatians 1:1-12

What is a source of good news for you? Is it what you received from parents, family, society, mentor? What is the role of listening to the music of the spheres when there is so much cacophony from on all the various projections placed on to you? Are we locked into whatever translation of a mystical experience someone else had? What about our own?

This tension between self and culture or future and tradition has been resolved quite differently over time. Sometimes extremely in favor of the individual and sometimes at the other extreme of community. By this time we are hopefully better able to claim an interrelationship between what it is that we have experienced and what a tradition has passed on to us. The interplay is one venue of life.

Because Paul came up with phrasing his experience in terms of Jesus giving himself up, are we limited to that or might we hear other voices talking about Jesus coming to himself and claiming his belovedness, no matter what the consequences might be? Is he or is he not a forerunner in claiming salvation wholeness regardless of how folks would call down damnation against him (it does devolve from our image of heaven, does it not?).

Blessings to you who can see beyond your dependence and limited expression of a larger experience. May you find yourself alongside Jesus and so many others, rather than under them. Head up. Look around. You are welcome to be you and to enjoy the your gifts as well as those of others.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Psalm 96

Pentecost +2 - Year C

Psalm 96

Your god is an Idol. My GOD is heavenly.

Just how glory gets to be this judgmental is one of the mysteries of the human heart.

Can we adequately "praise" our GOD if we are not open to those who, for whatever reason, are gazing in a different direction? If praise is self-bounded, it is praise or pandering?

Blessings on your engagement with creation (including those who might be considered to be enemies - mosquitoes as well as singing trees).

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

1 Kings 18:20-21, (22-29), 30-39

Pentecost +2 - Year C

1 Kings 18:20-21, (22-29), 30-39

This is a very dramatic use of fire. It consumes everything, including its usual counterpoint of water. There is no rainbow promise here, only power.

It is always interesting to see what it is that people will give credence to. “Let’s have a battle with, Fire! That will keep our attention and focus on end results. This will be an easy one to judge, no gray areas here—it burns or it doesn’t. And best of all, winner takes all.”

Here religion is a contact sport. My fire means your death.

It is possible to have religion be a relational gift. My fire means our new friendship through mutual wonder.

Key is whether we attend to the multi-valency of life. Fire is scary; fire is helpful. Are you scared enough to use it proactively against someone else? Are you helpful enough to use it to provide a community feast?

Finally a question, what else might Elijah have set as a test? Of course it would have to be something that the followers of Baal would see as legitimate. Would providing a feast for Jezebel’s birthday have done it? How about taming a pack of wolves and teaching them to herd sheep? It might be that, practically speaking, fire was the best of poor options. It might also be that it wasn’t. It is re-thinking and re-imagining past events that put us in a better position to see how else we might play out our next similar occasion.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Luke 7:1-10

Pentecost +2 - Year C

Luke 7:1-10

Everyone speaks out of their own experience. Here a soldier speaks about chain-of-command. This is important in a military and military personnel. Preparation for fighting and fighting require loss of self into some larger whole promised to be wiser than any individual part. Given such famous lines as, “Half a league, half a league, onward”, and “We had to destroy the village to save it”, the promise falls apart and leaves only loss and a revenge-seeded next war.

Speaking out of one’s own experience can be a source of transformation of current faith to a next faith (no, faith is not universal or eternal — like habit, it is a tool we employ that is sometimes helpful and also carries a likely potential to block us from better responses). This is a source of the Pentecostal experience of speaking with folks who don’t have the same language, same experience, as we do. We don’t debate differing experiences, we affirm our own and affirm others. This affirmation opens doors for both to grow. Of course, not everyone will go through an open door just because it is open.

Take away: listen for what people already know and value. This is a way to suggest a resolution for a current blockage into greater wonder. Ask a teacher to write a lesson plan for resolving their dilemma, ask a plumber to design a more effective water flow to relieve their blockage, ask a scientist to design an experiment on themselves or their lab regarding the human dynamics involved in physical reality, ask anyone to use their current faith system as a lens to more closely view their currently unresolvable issue. The out is probably in plain sight, just unattended to.

[Do note that this scripture portion does not indicate that Jesus did a distanced healing. Jesus simply spoke of a soldier’s faith being large. It is our own need for congruence that has us jump to a conclusion that the return to health of the soldier’s slave was Jesus’ doing. An artificial chapter break gets in our way here. This is a conclusion to a story coming out of a complaint of Jesus, “If you are going to call me “Teacher”, why don’t you practice what I teach” and his own subsequent story of building a house on a firm foundation. Jesus is frustrated enough to be envious of a chain-of-command. I would have a section break begin with 6:12 and end with 7:17 so John’s disciples could report on Jesus’ organization, teaching, and engagement with a challenge to current limits that would circle back to 6:11 to again raise a question of what to do with Jesus—a question from at-large religious leaders, imprisoned prophets, and ourselves.]

Friday, May 24, 2013


Pentecost 1 - Year C

glorious food
glorious wisdom
glorious experience

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Romans 5:1-5

Pentecost +1 - Year C

Romans 5:1-5

Character, coming to know who we are, is a doorway to hope. This hope frees us from the usual constraints that would keep us from turning tomorrow into today. At its best, suffering strips away the patina of the past to reveal that it is no place to stop for long. This long-armed past snakes its tentacles into the present and claims that what now is is the culmination of all that has been and is just fine the way it is. The suffering caused by this limitation finally acts as a refiner's fire and we can see that its power is nothing as compared to following Prometheus and capturing tomorrow's gift for present purposes. A liver versus fire, now hope can be more clearly seen, character revealed.

Whether in a broad and pleasant place or having lost all in a tornado — character shines through; hope does not disappoint; love remains possible. There is no qualifier for these, no "let us". There is only a deep and abiding peace when we honor the past by leaving it behind in anticipation of "the best is yet to come".

Psalm 8

Pentecost +1 - Year C

Psalm 8

Glory is found above and below any given point. Whether you measure from the heavens above, the earth around and about, or the depths of the sea/sheol—glory abounds.

This omni-perspective loosens our two eyes to let yet a third eye gaze thither and yon. Whatever is gazed upon is honored and glory shines back.

Whatever Pentecost has come to mean, there is everywhere evidence of background glory. In the midst of locked rooms, on the Serengeti Plain, circling Mars, exploring the Mariana Trench, or where you are, eyes that can see, see glory.

In the movie Up! the dog, Dug, is easily distracted by "Squirrel!" May you be easily distracted by, "Glory!"

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

Pentecost +1 - Year C

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

The depth of wisdom is from ancient of days. Actually from before any days, metaphoric or literal. Before even the chaos of the deep had any depth, wisdom was.

There is no need for wisdom to make a scene to get recognized. Wisdom is simply present. When we cover up its presence with our busyness or canon law, wisdom is still present. There could even be an equation set up that would equate wisdom with prevenient grace.

When we finally listen, it is as if wisdom has uttered a special call, just to us, but it was there all along and available to others as well. This sets up another equation of wisdom with humility.

In the end, the wisdom of wisdom is to always be up-to-date. A prior wisdom can be built upon and it may even be built into a different manifestation of wisdom that is most surprising.

Monday, May 20, 2013

John 16:12-15

Pentecost +1 - Year C

John 16:12-15

Here we are. We have much knowledge accumulated over time. We don't yet know how to bring it to fruition.

We take a few factoids and begin to construct a leaning tower of truth that will topple if a different piece of information should land on it. Not being able to bear not having our creed, we prop-up and prop-up our tower to withstand any discordant data.

While our nature would say it has ever been thus, a nurturing spirit reminds us that this is not the end — there is more to come. We will see, like in playing with a Rubik's cube, we need to move pieces out of position in order for them to come back into position with new neighbors. Our carefully crafted tower of truth has a helpful piece or two, but it needs to be taken out of our formulation to be placed by a neighbor's helpful pieces to move us closer to what might yet be.

Build the best you can, now. At the same time, be ready to salvage only a part to carry forth into a new context. To aid us in this, rephrase: "We still have many things to learn. This is hard to bear. May a spirit of truth gently remind us of our current limits and boldly beckon us to see a larger picture — so we can have the joy of introducing past and present to one another on a blind date in our presence and present.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

image of G*D images G*D

Pentecost - Year C

image of G*D
to live
to image

remembers G*D

in G*D

before G*D
sister light
brother dark

within G*D
day by day
so far

living G*D
next days
calling forth
new wonder

G*D's image
new creation
within G*D
between all

Friday, May 17, 2013

Romans 8:14-17

Pentecost - Year C

Romans 8:14-17

Again and again it must be asked, "Who is not a child of G*D?" because, again and again, for one reason and then another, we keep dividing ourselves by subtracting one one Child of G*D after another from the whole of creation.

We can be very rational and persuasive in determining discriminatory criteria. Whether by a single characteristic or through a more sophisticated multivalent set of characteristics we formalize our areas of uncomfortableness and fear by projecting them on to someone else. This dynamic seem to arise with no second thoughts while it takes a number of intentional thoughts to begin to counteract them and include back in what was never really excluded.

Discrimination is reverse idolatry — it constrains an expansive love. Where run-of-the-mill idolatry simply covers up G*D through addition of an easier to deal with overlay, discrimination audaciously refutes G*D's basic intention to create multiple images, each legitimately whole.

Pentecost is yet another nonviolent civil and spirit rights movement. It is hard to battle when we are telling the best we know and, through the witness of others, hearing additional bests with wonder and thanksgiving.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

Pentecost - Year C

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

What does "bless the lord" mean when everything depends on the whim of said lord?

The psalmist is not accepting of a lord, in season or out. There is a plea that the psalmist's action will be pleasing, that the psalmist will have an edge. Blessing here is contextually restrained by a desire to have "sinners" get their comeuppance and for the psalmist to have access to all the perks - to get fed.

To push this psalm into a later experience of Pentecost is not particularly helpful, other than filling a liturgical slot.

A human desire for uniqueness and excitement can lead to limiting Pentecost to the visible movement of spirit. Pentecost is also the assembling and/or waiting, whether the spirit is anticipated or given up on. It is not particularly Pentecostal to not be willing to wait together while out of season. Death and resurrection are all around — waiting for power to be revealed and shared is not. We seem to be enamored of the heightened times of crosses and empty tombs, less so of ordinary processes such as waiting together.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Acts 2:1-21

Pentecost - Year C

Acts 2:1-21

Pentecost is an artificial way to gather. Any excuse could work. Gathering is critical to the presence of new life.

An individual can gather their various identities together through bodywork, counseling, spiritual disciplines, or just being open in nature (and these only scratch the surface of possibilities). When gathered, new life (creation/resurrection) becomes an option (reducing the ways in which one part can subvert another).

Any size group, from a pair to the world, can gather their various identities together and find an opportunity for not only a new vision, but a new practicality of policy and practice. Again, any opportunity will do. While the odds are it will be in the face of a common crisis, it may also be some idea(l) to avoid repeating a recent difficulty.

Those gathered become kindling for refining the current dross and extending light into the dim recesses of tomorrow with the effect of seeing further and beginning to act now as we see it is possible to act then (bringing heaven to earth, so to speak, bringing health to disease).

In and of itself, gathering is but background for possibility. Here silos of experience engage one another and an "Aha!" arises out of previously set apart aspects of a larger whole. In learning to speak another's experience/language there is set in motion a new culture leading to new common governance and nurturing of commonalities (new wine) rather than differences (old wineskins).

From the outside this is out-of-control behavior - drunkenness or new love. From the inside this is engagement with prophetic wisdom - imperative and consuming.

And then we are back into our various venues of experience and begin schism-ing ourselves, unable to gather based on being consumed by our variant imperatives. We grudgingly await a next inevitably needed gathering, a new creation from dark water and lightning word. The next one won't be called Pentecost, as neither G*D nor Neighbor nor Self seem to grow through repetition of past or present.

Ready - or not - gather. Who knows, this may be a "Day" where we could only have expected a "day".

Monday, May 13, 2013

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

Pentecost - Year C 

“Show us!”

The universal cry of freshmen trying to delay a test.

“Just show your work.”

The universal instruction of teachers of freshmen.

“No, you’re the teacher. Show us again and you’ll improve your required test scores.”

“Nope. Keep at it, you’ll get it.”

“Wait! Wha...?”

“Be not troubled”, said Jesus with a wink at all the meanings therein and to come.

[end scene]

Friday, May 10, 2013

on our own behalf

Easter 5 - Year C 

I’m on my way
to a promised land
already available
right here
and now

the journey knows
a secret lurking
in every heart
less difference
more similarity

but shortcuts
oh those shortcuts
play false with progress
distracting hearts
disheveling minds

lead to detours
there are no shortcuts
to trusting others
its done
or delayed

no destination
can be beamed
only walked 
as seed
as fruit

all destinations
grow from
where we are
come grow
grow together

Thursday, May 09, 2013

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

Easter 7 - Year C 

In the end mercy trumps judgment.

Do note the elided verses. They are overtly judgmental and make no bones that life is a quid pro quo game and some arbitrary end position will trump anything else along the way. So, you want a reward . . . sit up and beg.

What a refreshingly open image is the washing of robes. Imagine washing your robe so often (because it has gotten dirty so often) that eventually you have washed it away. Then it is we look up to find a tree of life right before our eyes.

This sort of robe washing, of washing away what Richard Rohr calls “False Self” to reveal a “True Self”. Isn’t this a return to Eden again, this time with eyes open. This washing away is resurrectional. If all this time between leaving Eden and now is some Eighth Day when G*D said, “Let us learn to live together in your context”, imagine, further, what must Day Nine be like — like resurrection? Like finally tasting of the Tree of Life long since thought lost forever, but oh so “to umami and beyond”!

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Psalm 97

Easter 7 - Year C 

Jesus’ prayer is fairly localized—bless these and those in their image. Paul’s actions are localized for his own benefit. The Psalmist continues this with a focus on those who authorize a high and exalted god as the one, true god.

If we are dealing with resurrection, wherein these limitations?

Well, it has been seven weeks since we had an anniversary of a resurrection. That’s twice as long as it usually takes to institute a new habit, a new way of experiencing the world. It wouldn’t be unusual for some forgetting to be happening around the edges. Resurrection opens us to life, and these limitations close us.

If we remember resurrection we may yet participate in it, not just tout it. Here’s a paragraph from Richard Rohr’s new book, “Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self” that might trigger some alternatives for you.

No matter what your definition, we all want resurrection in some form. And I do believe “the raising up of Jesus” (which is the correct theological way to say it because it was a relational meaning between Jesus and God, and not a self-generated “I can do this”) is still a potent, focused, and compelling statement about what God is still and forever doing with the universe and with humanity. Science strongly confirms this statement today—more than ever before—but with different metaphors and symbols, like condensation, evaporation, hibernation, sublimation, the four seasons, the life cycles of everything from salmon to galaxies, and even the constant death and birth of stars from the exact same stardust. God appears to be resurrecting everything all the time. It is nothing to “believe in” as much as it is something to observe and be taught by.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Acts 16:16-34

Easter 7 - Year C 

Isn’t it amazing how we are able to separate our revelation from someone else’s fortune-telling? In this particular the “fortune-teller” was saying the same thing as our "revelator". Even so, there seems to be a push to have only an authorized speaker get credit. This same putsch shows up later in church history with attempts to equate the morality of an eucharistic celebrant with the sacrament itself. Does Communion have value, regardless of the officiant? And all along the way there were pushes against one identity group or another and their ability to carry an authorized word.

It would seem that Paul was upset at not having the only word about salvation. In muzzling his perceived opponent's similar message, he escalated things to the point of getting thrown in the local hoosegow.

Of course all things work for some and Paul comes off smelling like a rose. One slave girl put in danger and one jailer and family baptized. I’m sure there is an equation somewhere that sees this as normal cost/benefit spirituality, but so far it has eluded me. Hints?

If this is Easter season and we are still looking for death and resurrection models, here a girl dies that a jailer can come to Jesus. Not quite your standard model. Where else have we modified resurrection to justify our privilege?

Monday, May 06, 2013

John 17:20-26

Easter 7 - Year C 

Here is a major division point, like unto a glass half full/empty.

Do we act in relation to those now present? Do we act in relation to those beyond our present limits?

Ideally we could say, “Both”. However, we usually find ourselves constrained by the limits of others or reap the consequence of their limits as we reach beyond. It takes a fair amount of energy to be able to honor those with smaller limits while urging larger ones.

This issue of oneness often gets derailed by the those not yet ready for the consequence of losing the little they have when others are deeply considered. If you need another example of smaller limits doing their utmost to control everyone else — read about how there will be yet one more trial in United Methodism over the false teaching that “homosexuality” is incompatible with Christian teaching.

You may want to meditate on this image as you steadily stand for a human connection with G*D.