Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Psalm 107:1-9, 43

Pentecost +11 - Year C 

“Some wandered in desert wastes; G*D led them to an inhabited town.” (verses 5 & 7)

Troubles make the most verdant of places, dry and desolate. Whether those troubles are imposed from the outside or arise from within, we are further and further removed from the source of distancing trouble.

If we look to amass as much as possible for ourselves, it turns to smoke. If we attempt to rule over one other or many, our vanity will soon be visible for all to see.

Our hope is that of returning to community. Sharing and collaborating, two virtues a modern America has ceased to teach. Civics courses are long gone. This is not an elegy for their return as they were for they taught the externals of community, not the deeper joy of embodying them for their own sake (and ours).

In an “inhabited town” we are able to realize the interplay between those with water rights and those thirsty unto death, those with a full pantry and those not able to replenish calories spent to simply survive. Here we learn how well we all can be through sharing and collaboration.

When we are together and forget, we begin moving back into the desert where one more difficult lesson is before us. Those who are wise give heed to sharing and collaboration (behaviors that reveal the presence of steadfast love). Give heed.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Hosea 11:1-11

Pentecost +11 - Year C 

This is a good passage on which to use Spiral Dynamics. Print this chart:

Now ask about parental expectations. “The more I called to them, the more they went from me.” We see this all about us, parents yelling at their kids to, “Come here!” This kind of distanced power just doesn’t work. It is far more efficient, kind, and teaching to go to the young one and walk with them to where you were. It saves getting angry and allows them to learn why it is that they were called and they need to check out a next call. Just a couple of times and there is a new relationships developing.

Going after someone with wrath in your voice seldom would attract that someone to you. In fact a whistle or some other identifiable and easy to make sound cuts through all the yelling.

Eventually, when those now being chastised reach a certain amount of experience they may well look back and acknowledge they could have reached this point in their life much sooner than they did. Hopefully they will learn about the folly of expecting someone without their perspective to grasp it in a moment and will walk with them to a new insight rather than demanding they “understand” right now.

There is much religion and G*D could learn from a basic understanding of life-stages. It would also help a congregation understand a different way of interacting with one another, as their fellow parishioners bring together all the stages at one time. How might we love where folks are and walk with them that they might take another step and at at the same time love our stage and movement toward a next?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Luke 12:13-21

Pentecost +11 - Year C 

When we are out of power we look for shortcuts to get what we consider we are entitled to. We will appeal to an authority figure. We will attempt to fix the matter structurally by shaping the political decision-making process to be on our side.

This is an ancient story that Jesus or you or I could bet will be coming our way. Attempts will be made to triangle us into another person’s dramatic moment. I expect Jesus has anticipated this moment and so was ready for it. We may not be as ready to say to another, “This is between the two of you and so I wish the two of you a wise and compassionate way to resolve the matter. I love you both, so let me know how it turns out.”

This process of appealing to authorities and structures to do our work for us is never a helpful thing. Eventually the very processes we use to get our way will be turned against us. If you live by another’s authority, you will die by another’s authority. If you live by a structural advantage, you will die by that same structure shifted against you.

There seems to be no way to take advantage without being taken advantage of in another context. About all that is available is to be generous with life. This value will guide the rest of one’s attention.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Psalm 30

Pentecost +7 - Year C 

Turning sackcloth to joy is primarily a question of meaning. Is there as significant a meaning to being an advance scout as there is for the conquering heroine? Are these placed on a hierarchical spectrum or part of a connected community.

No matter what perspective one chooses to use, when later gazed on by the gift of hindsight we are able to see how all these various roles begin to balance out and that can then change our expectations about today and tomorrow.

To say “We shall not be moved” is an avowal that can be made by anyone who pays attention to a movement toward wholeness, G*D with Creati*n/Neighb*r being one large model of this. Wherever we might find ourselves on the journey or spectrum from a particular datum to an unitive experience, a new understanding of “prosperity” is available far beyond the merely economic.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

2 Kings 5:1-14

Pentecost +7 - Year C 

Picking up on the simplicity of life expected by those who go in advance of an expected wonder is to come later, the following words from Walter Bruggemann in a 2007 article in “Missiology: An International Review” speak better than I can about a significantly overlooked part of evangelism — it is counter-cultural, in the best sense of that term. This means it focuses on compassionate and deep healing without a subsequent reward or even expectation of acknowledgment. Compare this with today’s public evangelists who would not remember as did the slave girl and who would accept a boatload of goodies or otherwise use this event to promote their ministry, unlike Elisha.

These images may yet convince and convict us to attending to where we are. There are gifts ready to flow. We speak their possibility and let them be heard by those who have ears. Here, then, a word about Elisha and a slave girl, models for the sent seventy.

= = = = = = =

2 Kings 5: Two Evangelists and a Saved Subject 
     In chapter five the prophet is sitting in his house, not doing anything, not needing to achieve or perform, at ease with the uncredentialed power of life entrusted to him. Those who know the narratives about him are watching and waiting to see how his power for life would break out anew. He is the very substance and embodiment of the good news.
     He is one to tell about. He is the wonder and miracle in Israel. He is not an evangelist but the one about whom the evangelist speaks.
 - - - - - - -
     … She speaks only briefly. She speaks only once. She speaks for her only time in all of human history. She will utter 16 words in English, ten in Hebrew: “If only my lord were with the prophet in Samaria. He would cure him of leprosy (v. 3).”
     That is all. The young woman will never again speak. She speaks quietly but with authority. Her brief utterance against the sadness of the wife and the impotence of the general changes the narrative. This young woman, a servant girl captured in war, is the true evangelist. I propose that if you want to be an evangelist, pay attention to her.
     She is not into loud, aggressive religion. She is not into church growth. She speaks only quietly, only once, anonymously. We do not know her name.
     That is all! She is finished! Evangelists do not expect to be noticed or celebrated or even thanked. It is enough to give an utterance that opens life to newness by identifying the carrier of newness. And now she is gone to all eternity.
     She had remembered the gift of divine healing that stood outside royal purview. That is all an evangelist needs to do, to remember the gift of divine healing and where it is located.
- - - - - - -
     Be free... and be thankful.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

Pentecost +7 - Year C 

Where is this heaven where names are written? Consider the prayer, “on earth as it is in heaven”. Our living in process (read: engaging individuals and communities in the present) is always caught between the abundance of plenty (name written) and the fear of scarcity (name not written).

Note how we travel together. We are drawn toward opportunity (where expressed peace is a ground-rule). We settle, knowing who we are, and those who will be drawn to the healing we carry.

While we have made the knocking of dust off our feet into a judgment against others, it is simply a recognition of time and space needing to come together and, for whatever reason, they didn’t in a particular time or space. While it feels good to blame others, it would be better described as a sadness rather than a “Woe to you!”. The elided verses are appropriately left out as they slip into control and power models rather than sharing peace for the sake of sharing, regardless of response.

So, homework time. As you change spaces during the week, offer this preemptive blessing: “G*D is near: Neighb*r’s are here”. See if from Monday to Sunday there is a subtle, but noticeable, shift in how you move through your day. If so, you’ll be able to see your name engraved where’er ye go throughout this whole, wide earth. If not, keep at it; you will.