Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Psalm 147:12-20

Year B - Christmas 2 or Blessed Body 2
January 4, 2015

Psalm 147:12-20

It even snows in Bethlehem and fortunately the angel chorus came on a snowless night or the shepherds would have a choice to make between tromping through snow to go see or waiting for a day or two for it melt away. Don’t you feel frustrated when an exciting new idea opens up and its implementation needs to be delayed?

Don’t you sometimes wish that G*D not deal with others the way you have been dealt with the cognitive dissonance of peace within our boundaries just as hail storms down upon us. Better for us to take that yo-yoing than that others would have to face it.

In theory it helps us clarify some significant meaning in life, but usually it forces us to make a choice between holding on to past promises that will not contain our life and death or giving up on our established point of trust.

It would be helpful to have some participation in events affecting us beyond being in loco parentis-ized by a received scriptural text standing in for a Living G*D. Just living up to a received ordinance doesn’t help us mature in our relationship with creation.

May the “wind blow and waters flow” because of your joining in decision-making about your life and the life of the world.

Church of the Nativity — Bethlehem

Jeremiah 31:7-14

Year B - Christmas 2 or Blessed Body 2
January 4, 2015

Jeremiah 31:7-14

“(The Word) was in the world but not known there.” This is not just a dimensional problem, but a behavioral one.

While logical that whatever was the attributed source of exile would also be a source for an end of exile, it raises a question about whether such a source is worth knowing. Does the loss engendered by exile get wiped away by whatever compassion or consolation ends said exile? Is there any consolation for the deaths? Does a promise of future smooth-sailing outweigh the rocky road of extreme loss of innocents and innocence?

If we are living out an incarnational story, the promises made at birth seem to drop off along the way of subsequent living. Getting all the way to some resurrectional difference is still a large disjuncture away and is a step beyond another promise.

Thank you, Jeremiah, for this word of hope of return from disaster. But a prosperity gospel here adds little to our G*D fatigue (we’ve heard this before...).

Monday, December 29, 2014

John 1:(1-9), 10-18

Year B - Christmas 2 or Blessed Body 2
January 4, 2015

That’s the trouble coming from a different dimension—recognizability. You might want to try an old book from 1884 to further reflect on this: Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin A. Abbott. You can even read it online, though I recommend the book form.

Transdimensional recognition is often more in the realm of intuition and mystical experience than something easily translatable. Shamans of many traditions might be seen as dimensional travelers who bring back some thin-token as a way of seeing beyond the limits of whatever is brought their way.

It is no wonder John got all bollixed up and started sputtering about rank that takes away rank.

So, want to make a difference in our 4th dimension of time that tomorrow might be better than today? Practice grace and mercy (a larger truth). These tokens reveal G*D, a “heavenly” dimension come on earth.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Galatians 4:4-7

Year B - Christmas 1 or Blessed Body 1
December 28, 2014

We are only secondarily born “under the law”. Our primary birth will always be to be born “amid a blessed creation”. To be born of a woman is to be born in the mystery and marvel of life even though in patriarchal terms women are also secondary.

Our work is the incarnational one of finding a way to live in the presence of G*D. We are not called to adjust to one response to a multivalent context. 

It is this finding a way that we find all these connected: free — heir — G*D.

To put this in a musical context, try this one:

May you find your way to be incarnational, to live in the presence of presence.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12)

Year B - Christmas Day or Blessed Body
December 25, 2014

Jesus tells a story about Abraham and Lazarus wherein a “rich man” asks that his brother’s be warned about lacking in mercy/compassion for the poor. The upshot was that they wouldn’t listen to someone who was raised from the dead any more than they currently listen to prophets from the past.

Now it must be asked why we might think that we might better hear the speaking of some “Son” claimed to be closer to G*D than angels and in charge of all things.

This sort of affirmation may comfort the choir, but the inherent hierarchy in anointing one over all others is more likely to be a source of competition than compassion and division rather than mercy. This sort of material causes us to stop thinking rather than engaging it, critiquing it, and modeling what was intended to be said about community rather than what was jotted down so long ago. This rhetoric is counter to Christmas and may be why I haven’t jotted about it until much later in the day (I couldn’t do it for the Titus passage assigned to last night).

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Psalm 148

Year B - Christmas 1 or Blessed Body 1
December 28, 2014

This Psalm is like a conductor cueing various elements of the choir to come in, to add their part. It is a lovely image. At least until we get to the last line.

At the end there is the the word “horn” that biblically refers to the strength of power. When power enters there a set up for us to move back through all the praise just given because we are back to division.

We might want to translate “horn” into a literal horn with many mouthpieces attached to it that gives forth an internal harmony as we each take a breath and let loose our part of the breath of life.

Even then there are difficulties as we listen to the result and begin to claim that so-and-so is out of tune or off pitch or too syncopated. Again we are back to our usual divisions.

Somehow or other we need to get over our own holiness and begin to see in each person we encounter (even baby Judas) “a light for revelation” and to speak each other into better being.

There is an undocumented story about a village reminding a wrong-doer of who they are and they get it and are changed. This doesn’t take into account a community larger than can be known one-by-one or chemical/brain variations including the pathologic. None-the-less, it is an important starting place to presume folks are doing the best they can with what they have. When that proves to be incorrect, swords pierce innocent hearts. Now, what is Christmas about again? What was that about angels and shepherds and an ordinary manger stall?

As you look around your community where will you "raise a hopeful cry".

Some Christmas Hymn, huh?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Psalm 98

Year B - Christmas Day or Blessed Body
December 25, 2014

Psalm 98 is structurally very similar to Psalm 96. A key difference is that Psalm 96 (Christmas Eve) talks about talking about G*D’s glory, while Psalm 98 (Christmas Day) claims that such has been accomplished and we just jump up and down in celebration.

With that bit out of the way, when we look at both Psalms the response is to some event that rebinds us to one another and to creation. This gets talked about in religious terms of righteousness and truth and equity/justice/fairness.

We tend to get a bit personal in regard to this language. It usually boils down to my being justified and being included in. It is so easy to forget that Christmas is for Joy to the World starting in the mean streets of Bethlehem and is community based, not individual based. Would that Christmas would affect our church language and we would not ask about salvation by a personal Lord and Savior, but about wholeness of the community, friends, family, and enemies all together in a new way.

Christmas is universal or it is nothing. Question: What happened to the warm glow of singing Silent Night by candlelight? This is Christmas day. No more talking about a good game that is going to come ’round right. It’s day. Time to actualize, time to manifest, time to live what we trust.

Psalm 96

Year B - Christmas Eve or Blessed Body Eve
December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve

and it is evening
time to begin a hum
that will turn
to a new song
welcoming a new day

no more judging
even with righteousness
nor even truth
these distract
a joy of mercy

no matter
what this day brought
it is evening
all that is gone
time for a new song

Isaiah 61:10 - 62:3

Year B - Christmas 1 or Blessed Body 1
December 28, 2014

Rejoice, you’re covered.

We’ve heard about swaddling clothes for a baby in a manger. It is all too easy to forget that vestiges of those early protective-so-you-can-grow wraps continue with us for all of life. We just need to remember and revision them.

For those who have grown beyond baby stage it will be important to remember your aura that wraps you around all your growing days. From the inside out a three-stage aura holds:

  • an orientation toward what is right and helpful for self and others, 
  • connecting points for relationships with others, and
  • a patina of dust in which small sparkly flowers grow and bloom as a part of creation.

This takes us through the end of chapter 61. It is not necessary to go on to chapter 62 where we hear about much lesser coverings such as vindication, a crown of beauty, a royal diadem. Each of these don’t seem to know when to stop and soon cover over what is right, connections with others for their sake, and simple all-over beauty.

No one in the congregation will really mind if you only read the first 2 verses of this pericope. It will make a difference not to bring in power language to a gift party.

Isaiah 52:7-10

Year B - Christmas Day or Blessed Body
December 25, 2014

Just before this passage we hear such phrases as:

  • Awake, awake, put on your strength
  • Shake yourself from the dust
  • Here I am (echoes of a burning bush as antecedent to a Freedom March)

This is important, otherwise the beautiful feet bearing a message of peace might sound as if we don’t need to do anything but sit back and wait for G*D to reign, that there is no need of our waking, shaking, or committing to make a change. The passage for the day is all about showing off our G*D as better than every other G*D. What more is asked of us than to drowse and watch through half-lowered lids as G*D bares a “holy” arm, flexes G*D muscle to the ends of the earth, and makes nations into theocracies.

This is a passage dangerous to use on its own as it breaks the creation covenant with us and leads us from captivity to captivity, never to grow up.

If bodies are engaged in incarnation, in Christmas, then we are to use our bodies and the exercise of them to add our bit of freedom to a world all too at ease with fate that keeps the current captivities of too many people as a necessity for the economic well being of an idea of an economy.

Isaiah 9:2-7

Year B - Christmas Eve or Blessed Body Eve
December 24, 2014

Well, here we are, still falling short of our best as we accommodate to the self-imposed limits of what we are told by the powers-that-be is possible to do in the current circumstance. All those promises of G*D to establish and uphold endless peace through the justice and righteousness of David’s throne have come to naught and here we are.

We are back to living in a land of deep darkness that can’t be blamed on Fox News or any other purveyor of misinformation. However it has come, it is dark—Advent dark.

We have been preparing for a journey toward the light. It is still but a glimmer. Who could reasonably expect a change coming through a brave girl, a compassionate man, and an itsy-bitsy baby. It would be like expecting change to come through the likes of you, or me. It’s just not going happen—right!?

Question, why do think there is such a liturgical and cultural difference between Christmas Eve and Easter Eve? Can you keep the dark going tonight without schmaltzing it up with candlelight so tomorrow we can join the shepherds in singing a new song? [Probably not as the cultural artifacts are so strong, but you may be able to start humming a new tune after the glow has faded a bit—the shepherds may have also needed some time to ponder along with Mary.]

Monday, December 22, 2014

Luke 2:22-40

Year B - Christmas 1 or Blessed Body 1
December 28, 2014

Every religion has laws. What is usually forgotten is that they have had many laws they no longer attend to. What we know as church law is usually that which has taken place in our lifetime and we really don’t quite know where it came from other than it is supposed to be authoritative for us. The choice of which law we are going to follow is much broader than usually acknowledged.

Here the law is not the main focus. It is only a setting for a tale of a “new law” taking shape in our midst that will make future generations forget the laws we are now following.

The story of recognizing a new law coming to us in its infancy is a story that has been repeated down through the ages and forgotten as quickly as it arises for it is always a story the establishment and its current laws doesn’t want to hear. We are fortunate to have this and other stories of insight available to us. Whether it is Archimedes’ “Eureka” or Simeon’s “I have seen a light for revelation” or Anna’s “child of loosening our captivity”, we rejoice that we can see something new coming forward.

The corollary is that others are seeing something new coming forth from us that we have no sense of. 

Now, Christmas begins to make more of a difference when we see it as a seeing in each other more of the light arising in our midst. Imagine “loosening the captivity or spell” we have been under that keeps us from moving from an obviously less than helpful construct into more of what might be terms “G*D’s Freedom” (not “kingdom”). This loosening is what is meant by “redemption” and we can encourage others and be encouraged, our self, to actually participate in this loosening. Where will the gift that is you be set free, be loosed? Look out world and be ready to be sacrificed upon an altar of gold—Christmas has come.

John 1:1-14

Year B - Christmas Day or Blessed Body
December 25, 2014

We get to where we are as a result or consequence of such a long string of events and decisions that we sometimes get caught in the mystery of pre-eternity (everything from as far back as we can imagine up to this moment).

If you were to enter your Wayback Machine (WABAC an undesignated acronym known only to Mr. Peabody and in a recent movie designated as a Wavelength Acceleration Bidirectional Asynchronous Controller), how far back would you trace your own birth? Presumably your post birth experiences of care and despair will affect your first draft. Ponder again. Can you take a step further back or allow for some light flickering into a presence that eventually comes to live in you?

This will probably take a leap of trust that the glory of creation is still alive in you, fully alive as your physical DNA (which is more malleable than its authoritative letter would suggest).

Again, if you were to report the remarkably unlikely event of your birth, how else would you track it other than the next iteration of the light of life. Well, if you would like to avoid the opportunities and new decisions that perspective will ask of you to break beyond our current culture and memes and habits, you might just track your family tree. But to tell your story most fully, you will probably find yourself pondering “light” as a metaphor of “life”. What’s your Word, your Story?

Note: The gift and power of being a Child of Light is given to all, we receive it differently. This is considerably different than “to all who received and believed”. When presumed for all and not a select few, we can look at how we have received this news to this point in our our life and decide whether or not we need to receive it differently and set off on this path which is deeper than a New Year’s resolution. This is an opportunity to see ourselves and others in a brighter light.

Luke 2:1-14, (15-20)

Year B - Christmas Eve or Blessed Body Eve
December 24, 2014

We can say whatever we like about days gone by. Who’s going to disprove us. “History is recorded by the victors/winners/conquerors/survivors.” (attributed to Winston Churchill, but of unknown origin and questionable regarding history written by the oppressed and losers such as the US regarding Viet Nam).

The whole “decree” thing is Luke’s story. While he is sticking to it, we don’t have to.

But it is a marvelous story that has held the imagination of many through the generations. This story could have been told many different ways (and was by Matthew). What is at stake this eve-ning is what we are pondering in our hearts.

What is the latest small and everyday but remarkable moment you have had. There are stories going around about people paying it forward at McDonald’s and various lay-away outlets so when a customer comes they find the bill already paid. If you were to be on the receiving end of such an action and try to record its significance, would you begin to think of our political or economic system and the trials it puts on people of having much or little?

Would you bring the least into this story of unexpected gift? Are those in need watching what you will bring forth from your gift? Is it for you alone or does it put an obligation upon you? How would you record your pondering your own life experience?

Perhaps you would end with the least receiving as much as you and they go on their way with a song in their heart for hope revived?

Your pondering is significant, share it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

2 Samuel 7:1-16

Year B - Advent 4 or Needed Change 4
December 21, 2014

In contrast to an announcement coming at a right moment, we too often brazenly announce what our privileged position would seem to have a right to. We even solicit affirmation from authorities as support for what we want to do anyway. (Note how this is still happening in leaders and governance structures of every shape and time.)

Even as we listen for an announcement and try to force an easier than harder one to come along, we know that at these times we really need a “No”. Children do need boundaries to both keep them safe and provide resistance against which they can strengthen themselves. Neither of these give rationale for the abuse of rigidity.

In this scene Nathan moves from behaving like a false prophet (“Do whatever your heart desires and you can get away with”) to presenting a prophet of a better way (“No, you have more personal work to do than public—wait”).

In other scenes we know that false prophets cry out, “Wait”, while farther-seeing prophets simply say, “Proceed. Do not delay justice. Now!”

It is better to check motivation behind announcements and not simply rely on a formula of that way you wish things would be or what sounds good. This is more difficult and filled with gray-areas, but it provides far more healthy and stable decisions.

Luke 1:26-38

Year B - Advent 4 or Needed Change 4
December 21, 2014

In a 4th week of Advent, what announcement from the Universe is sent to your location?

No matter how ready or not-ready you are, that announcement has been on its way for light-years. It has been coming from the beginning of your creation or a more general creation (it makes no discernable difference which). There has been much gravity along the way which has shifted it this way and that (as though you were ducking and dodging to avoid having to face its force). But neither nothing nor everything has been able to keep it away forever.

What new thing is being born in you? This is a very individual matter and can’t be guessed at by anyone else (or even yourself). All of us watching wonder at how it could be that this new thing has come through you. Usually we are each equally surprised at what is coming through us.

In the midst of every “How can this be?” there is only a quiet response that indicates the mechanism is of very little consequence. There is a new reality about to come that will catch our attention and keep us awake far more effectively than this question.

This is a week of giving thanks for that which has finally arrived to deepen our meaning and set us apart to work on a needed part of a larger community. Argue a bit, if you must (and you probably do), but not overmuch.

Monday, December 08, 2014

John 1:6-8, 19-28

Year B - Advent 3 or Needed Change 3
December 14, 2014

There is indeed a person sent from G*D. Their name is your name. You are here as a witness to testify to what it takes today to prepare for a better tomorrow. This light of tomorrow revealing emptiness in today is a gift for your eyes. While there is always a danger of confusing our own wants with this light, it helps clarify matters to remember we are not the light.

This light we have been speaking of is always a half-step ahead and asks us to make that half-step.

This passage drops out a whole section about Jesus being some true light already arrived and settled among us. All we are asked for in this section is allegiance rather than mutual exploration. This does get confusing and we are too quick to claim this as personal knowledge rather than communal growth beyond current privileges such as knowing Jesus as my “personal” Lord and Savior.

Our testimony is to be humble enough to not equate ourselves with salvation and powerful enough to cry out in the face of harm and mercilessness.

One among us stands yet unknown. Insert your name here again.

Now an Advent choice: 

   Will you reveal or claim
   your “sent from G*D” name 
   your “unknown one among us” name?

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13

Year B - Advent 2 or Needed Change 2
December 7, 2014

Be careful what you ask for:

Let me hear what G*D will say....
“Steadfast trust and love are to meet, go forward together, and make a path for G*D.”

Why can’t G*D make G*D’s own path? Is this something that can only be done for G*D, not by G*D? “Salvation” here is implied to be a mutual endeavor. What do you think about a meeting at a new creation point between heaven and earth where your trust in G*D leaps from the mundane and G*D’s trust in you drops from the empyrean.

We get so tied-in to our dualities that we are blinded by our privileged unities set against anyone else’s reality. It is through catching a new possibility out of the corner of our eye that we begin to wonder about recognizing a new plateau as prelude to actually setting out for such. Beware Advent proposing a new way forward—beyond Ouroborus.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Isaiah 40:1-11

Year B - Advent 2 or Needed Change 2
December 7, 2014

We move from knowing, last week, we respond to negative reinforcement to, this week, an appeal for positive action: From “tear open the heavens” to “comfort, O comfort my people”. Both seem to be needed for we are such a various people. Some of us need a threat and some encouragement to move beyond where we are.

For the moment, go with the positive. Here a baptism with Holy Spirit brings a promise that, when all is said and done, both levers in the Great Experiment will bring forth food and we will have more than a wire mannequin holding the food.

So, recognizing both our longevity and constancy are limited, rejoice that when we look back over our life we did remarkably well with what we had available to us. There will remain questions about today and tomorrow, but yesterday is in the book and, all things considered, we played our what we were dealt as well we could. That is a comfortable thought in the midst of continuing uncertainty.

Supposedly we could have optimized more, but there is that longevity and constancy thing we have going on. We’ve done enough to be able to learn from the past and apply it to the present without having to perfect both. This learning so we don’t have to repeat processes ad infinitum does smooth the present a bit more than if we stumbled upon it with no experience that will allow us to live G*D with us, to be gentle with ourselves and others.

Have you not heard? Have you not learned? As we learn compassion for self and smooth the way for others, the presence of Mercy is revealed.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Mark 1:1-8

Year B - Advent 2 or Needed Change 2
December 7, 2014

December 7 was described by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as “a date that would live in infamy”. The second Sunday of Advent this year falls on December 7.

Roosevelt’s speech might have begun: “The beginning of bad new of war’s return.” On this day we could take any news medium and see what the proportion of bad news to good news might be found. The odds are overwhelming that the bad continues to be more powerfully portrayed than the good. Fear seems to always have the advantage over hope in the short-term.

Good seems to have to play a long game of moral arcs in the face of so much loss. Even as a background to all else, hope flickers along in the darkness. Hope is kept alive in prophecy. Here it is Isaiah that is remembered.

So what are we waiting for? Another shoe to drop confirming our worst imagining? A real though far off hymn hailing a new creation?

May we be ready to now know that we are the one’s we’ve been waiting for.

Friday, November 28, 2014

1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Year B - Advent 1 or Needed Change 1
November 30, 2014

In the United States of America (again clarifying its dys-unity—racial at the moment and in other ways at various times) it is Thanksgiving Day (unified in its official celebration on the same 4th Thursday of November in 1941).

Rather than dreading the dysfunction of our common-good (for ever has it been thus) look to what is still available: we are not lacking in any spiritual gift. This means it is not too late to still take on the dys-unity round and about. We have what we need and this clarifies for us that the issue is that of desire, of will.

To date we have preferred to jockey for our privilege niche. Once we find it, it is like an enchanted evening, never to be let go. An Advent question is how much privilege we are willing to give up that others might have some and enough more to thrive. If we are all willing to die for our current state, we will collectively do ourselves in before Jesus is revealed in our care for one another.

Give thanks—there are enough gifts to make a change in our basic relationships with one another. May this become a radical understanding that we will act upon it now on behalf of subsequent generations for it will take all our current life-times to make this shift. Anything less than starting now to live out of our abundance of gifts just won’t do.

= = = = = = =

If you are interested in following a daily devotional or to have past Year B comments in one collected spot, check out my new book Wrestling Year B: Connecting Sunday Readings with Lived Experience at

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

Year B - Advent 1 or Needed Change 1
November 30, 2014

Restorative justice is important because it opens a way forward, a way beyond retribution. In that sense, “restore us” is important. Unfortunately, the way we usual read “restore” is some going back to one set point or another without any learning having taken place. We just want to be in G*D’s good graces again with a spit and a promise that things will be different next time and we’ll never again be separated.

If we are on the cusp of something new and then get scared and back away into some idealized past, we have blown an Advent opportunity.

May we look again at the demands of a restoration and how we are going to participate in our own salvation as well as that of our Neighb*rs and G*D’s.

= = = = = = =

If you are interested in following a daily devotional or to have past Year B comments in one collected spot, check out my new book Wrestling Year B: Connecting Sunday Readings with Lived Experience at

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Isaiah 64:1-9

Year B - Advent 1 or Needed Change 1
November 30, 2014

We are so enamored of revolutions. We track history by its wars, its revolutions. Yes, we light fires to make ourselves known that our adversaries might tremble and overplay their hand.

Our revolutionary fervor is stoked by who it is that is to blame for the current untenable state of affairs. We’ll even blame G*D claiming G*D’s anger and absence made us fiery.

We need a new vision of G*D, beyond one who marks iniquity and never forgives or forgets it. We also need a new vision of ourselves. If we are not going to consider that we are all one people, why should G*D?

And so we come to an Advent question about our vision: Is G*D anticipating your blessing with a blessing or anticipating your foul-up with a curse? What do you see on the horizon and how will that affect your living today?

= = = = = = =

If you are interested in following a daily devotional or to have past Year B comments in one collected spot, check out my new book Wrestling Year B: Connecting Sunday Readings with Lived Experience at

Mark 13:24-37

Year B - Advent 1 or Needed Change 1
November 30, 2014

In these days of suffering for so many everywhere in the world it is as if the sun has been darkened, making such suffering invisible to those who could change it.

In these days of suffering for so many right where we are it is as if the stars we have hitched our comfort to have fallen and everyone is far more vulnerable than they could imagine.

In these days of suffering there is more than enough. We do not need more power and glory. What else has gotten us to the state we are in? We do not need a further demonstration of privilege with the elect getting a pat on the head and the non-elect getting one last kick while they are down.

There is no fig tree large enough to demonstrate the state of affairs, the season, we are in. We are living out past decisions without re-deciding.

Beware all you want, keep eternally vigilant all you want, we no longer need to wait for a time to come— it is rising before us like a City of Zombies and there is no where left to turn.

We do not need more works-righteousness Wakefulness. We do not need more predestined laissez-faire.

What we do need is a Word of Creation, of Change, of Compassion. May this season find us learning these words along with a Courage to live them.

= = = = = = =

If you are interested in following a daily devotional or to have past Year B comments in one collected spot, check out my new book Wrestling Year B: Connecting Sunday Readings with Lived Experience at

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ephesians 1:15-23

Pentecost Last or Evaluation Day
November 23, 2014

Ephesians 1:15-23

A corollary to premeditated mercy is prayer without having heard of faith. When criteria needs to be present for prayer to arise, something is bound to be skewed or screwed.

With or without a reason to so pray, might we not still look for a spirit of wisdom and revelation in our midst. Perhaps from that invisible one over there or from my own illustrious self? Such a spirit brings hope deeper than expectation. Such hope engages us in fulfilling all that has brought us to this time and building a sturdier foundation for that which won't arrive until long after we have passed by.

If Christmas was Incarnation and Easter was reIncarnation, we might finally figure out that a creation based on the carnal blesses the carnal. And that the carnal is not the end-all and be-all of life. Lord knows we are not to Lord it over one another. If only we could see this day as part of a feedback loop or an evaluation to be taken seriously, we might know the abundance of a merciful prayer.

At the end of this yearly sequence, may we be wise enough to not simply rinse and repeat. Report one difference made in your life or through your life (and don't forget to show your work). Reveal and add to the fullness of life.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Psalm 100

Pentecost Last or Evaluation Day
November 23, 2014

Psalm 100

Knowing any claim to the present being a culmination of intent (G*D's and mine), we can't simply declare things are all wrapped up. Obviously they are not and any claim to the contrary is simply fantasy and a usurpation of power.

Nonetheless, we can continue without a neat wrap-up. We can even continue with a sense of joy filling our next attempt to climb a step beyond our present. Try the psalm backward.

First, presume G*D is good, creation is good.
Also First, hold to an understanding that love endures—not only all things, but forever.
Add yet another First, mutual trust is what rolls the generations along.

Second, enter these with thanksgiving for all that has given evidence that these Firsts last.
Secondly, let praise loose that it might beckon a shy future to peek out and bless what is happening and secure this connection.

Thirdly, all of this is to be bone-deep. Know maker and made encourage and entice one another further together.

Fourthly, gladness is a sign of worthy work going on—so whistle while you work.

Fifthly and finally, so live that all the earth is joyful—so joyful that noise goes beyond cacophony, to harmony rich and connected beyond theory and experience.

= = = = = = =

For a musical adaption of Psalm 100, try Ann Reed's "Where the Earth is Round". Don't forget to note the bones of Indigenous Peoples who have claimed the goodness of creation even as they were massacred.

What other non-hymn music might well be a hymn if our ears were better tuned?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24

Pentecost Last or Evaluation Day
November 23, 2014

Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24

At least we are not categorizing sheep (good) and goats (bad). We've moved to distinguishing fat sheep (bad) from sheep (good). This helps us begin to define what is helpful behavior that builds up one another and delineate that which is out-of-bounds.

It is immediately obvious that not everyone will buy the understanding and boundaries of community. Profit of one kind and another always seems to enter in our decision-making.

The most difficult part of this passage is the way it ends with David being set up as a Fat Sheep among the Lean. Either the community is engaged in building one another up or allowing discrimination and hurt to find an entry spot and take hold. Servant leaders run as many risks, if not more for their intended benevolence, as Dictatorial leaders or Democratic leaders or just plain leaders.

If this is the best outcome of a church year, it is no wonder we shift immediately to an advent assessment.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Matthew 25:31-46

Pentecost Last or Evaluation Day
November 23, 2014

Matthew 25:31-46

This past year we started out analyzing the needs around us—"What is broken that needs fixing." We went on to acknowledge it was going to take a real presence and not wishful thinking or injunctions from on high to begin addressing the realities of how far short of where might be regarding relationships with creation and one another. Folks from afar could see better than ourselves the need for a new leadership paradigm (partnership of high stars and low mangers). Even with such recognition we wrestled with the intractability of being our own worst enemy. Eventually a moment of breakthrough came—and another. It appeared that we we crossing boundaries and finding the intersectionality of our common life when our practice to develop this into a habit stumbled over the humility needed to continue such. We got into all manner of arguments about symbols of food and male marking and divisions over which leader to follow.

After such a year we are at an important point of evaluating how it went. Any progress made?

What will make this day have a sense of movement? Claiming kingship feels a bit hollow in light of any newspaper or news program. Claiming some artificial Doctrine of Discovery and subsequent Reign is foolish on its face.

Is there any evidence that this coming Advent will bring any greater clarity of need or vision of a goal worth putting our life toward?

Even with Christmas plans are in place, what would lead us to think we are up to recognizing a new stable location; that mercy is any the closer to surfacing in our day-to-day lives; that we are any better prepared for learning from one another, much less teaching?

How many less children will die from hunger this last day of Pentecost 2014 than did in 2013?
How much cleaner and available is safe water given the amount of fracking for profit going on?
How differently are we dealing with the migration and welcoming of peoples?
How many coats are in our closets for which we will play a giving game and give $1 per coat to a charity that never changes underlying structural injustice?
How many are still not covered by health care simply because it is our common need?
How many visits were made to prisons to see what is being done in our name?
How many are so invisible that they don't even make it to the list of the least?

Again, any progress made? If you can say, "Yes", back it up with more than statistics about charitable work.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Pentecost +23 or Community Practice 23
November 16, 2014

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

We are good considering how to get an immediate return, but not so good at thinking 6 generations or even 6 seasonal cycles into the future.

For just the briefest of moments consider the ramifications of G*D not coming like a thief in the night (unless, of course, you want to remember Prometheus bringing light out from some "chaos"). In this scenario we are called to live in the light available to us that we not harm the context of coming generations.

A light here would be to attend to the extreme change we have brought to the climate that is background to every other part of life. Our raping of the earth for energy has ended up dis-respecting air and water as well. Rather than blaming this on G*D we might want to acknowledge our own own culpability for the consequences of our own actions.

An excellent way for us to improve our common-future decisions is this model: "Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing."

Psalm 123

Pentecost +23 or Community Practice 23
November 16, 2014

Psalm 123

When we are a bit literal about the wrath of G*D we find our worminess is contemptible by G*D. This is a bit strange for a creator, but we do sometimes find ourselves misunderstanding.

For a moment, consider that G*D created you and named you Beloved or Good. Now, should that change, are we able to still call out for mercy or is that category meaningless in a situation where we have either done nothing or done something regrettable—vis-à-vis G*D.

Will G*D have have mercy where G*D has judged? Is such mercy dependent upon our change or G*D's nature? If the latter, are we able to claim that image for ourselves and ease the fear in the room and world.

= = = = = =

Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
   for we have had more than enough of contempt.
Our soul has had more than its fill of the scorn
   of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud.

Judges 4:1-7

Pentecost +23 or Community Practice 23
November 16, 2014

Judges 4:1-7

Doing nothing (according to the parable) is evil in "the sight of the Lord". This is a difficult spot to be in. Who can ever do enough and if we do the rubric quickly switches to being done in for having done works righteousness.

Don't do nothing. Don't do more than enough. Do only what you are told. Do only enough to bring praise to G*D. Reflect back on the Pentecost Room where fear froze folks. Is that the measure of doing in every situation?

With another Church Year winding down, These pericopes may be more about evaluation of the past year, than prescriptions for a next. So, what was your return on investment this year? How was your proportion of doing to not-doing?

Matthew 25:14-30

Year A - Pentecost +23 or Community Practice 23
November 16, 2014

Matthew 25:14-30

At home or on a journey we are always entrusting our self and stuff to others. Here it sounds as if the owner of people did not do due diligence regarding those specifically and intentionally entrusted with a few coins. The behaviors of the "servants" probably followed their usual patterns of behavior. So was this a set-up or a morality play? Are playing with fate or a legitimate choice?

If you were a judge here how would you assign responsibility? In today's fascination with austerity in an abundant world, not losing may be the best deal going. Overall, a return of +7 on an investment in a mixed portfolio is pretty good. Why the anger at one that broke even?

Friday, November 07, 2014

Come In

a presence of G*D
is a sharing

10 with and 10 without
10 full and 10 empty

meet in a moment delayed
open to revision

when instead
sleep visited

when roused with a shout
"Come out"

they came out
with and without

leaving us with a question
about coming in

is the shout to "Come out"
equalled by "Come in"

or is it more restrictive
leaving some called out out

Thursday, November 06, 2014

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Pentecost +22 or Community Practice 22
November 9, 2014

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

In every identity war the church has waged there have been thousands upon thousands who died without seeing themselves included in. The exclusive church has harmed and harmed again and returned to harm some more (same process; different target).

While it is little comfort at the time, hear again the work of Jesus: "through Jesus, G*D will bring with him those who have died". (Well, as constructed it is the work of G*D, but we'll leave that for another time.) Regardless of fanciful details, "Encourage one another."

If this is an encouragement to keep on working for mercy and  grace in the present, good. If this is one step too many to be an encouraging word, OK—use what you can for encouragement.

Whether an expectation of joy or an after-the-fact promise, may you have what you need to engage the powers-that-be with an affirmation larger than their limitation.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Psalm 78:1-7

Pentecost +22 or Community Practice 22
November 9, 2014

Psalm 78:1-7

Opening one's mouth to give a word of wisdom is to open one's self to channeling the dark days of the past that are wont to regather and repeat their dystrophy. Wisdom is always growing out of our experience, not revealed unbidden from some above.

This is election day. At question is whether folks are able to remember far enough back to where we have tried attractive avenues only to have them again disappoint. The persistence of attractive-but-false decisions is quite remarkable--almost as if they are constituent of creation.

The "dark saying" is--What can go wrong, will. So lighten up and make the affirmations yet and always available to you.

Out of a remembrance of darkness will come a hopeful word that we will cut through the darkness more easily and quickly this time and place a stronger warning sign for future generations.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Joshua 24:1-3a, 15-25

Pentecost +22 or Community Practice 22
November 9, 2014

Joshua 24:1-3a, 15-25

If you read the elided section you will find out the reason for the "therefore" in verse 14.

It turns out that the reason we are to revere some Lord is that they are the uber-colonialist that justifies our own tendencies in that direction. Choose to follow a Lord that provides you with privilege or a Lord that doesn't? Is that a question or just a set-up? Well?

Given the "Therefore" it is no surprise that the "So" is, we choose privilege.

How is it any different in your particular congregation? What benefits the most or the richest is the choice to make. The rest is disposable. All we are really interested in is the degree of discrimination we can comfortably live with.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Matthew 25:1-13

Year A - Pentecost +22 or Community Practice 22
November 9, 2014

Imagine if this passage was only 1 verse long: “Then the presence of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.”

Does this cover what “heaven” is like—An expectation of joy?

After this verse we are back on “earth” with judgments about good and evil, wise and foolish. This mixing confuses us. By the time we have had 12 verses of division, we have forgotten the basic nature of “heaven”, creative expectation.

May your vision of “heaven” be far greater than the limitations of our ambition to win, particularly when it is dependent upon not sharing the abundance we have.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

New Resource for Year B

For those early adaptors among us, we have just released a new book of past comments on Year B. If you are interested in a KCMlection comment on the lections of Year B you can order one through my author page.

Right now it is just available in print (what I think is the best format for this resource), but a Kindle version will soon be available.

This is a new enough release that the Look Inside feature is not yet activated but it is similar to Wrestling Year A. Here is one of the comments about about Wrestling Year A that is on the back cover of Wrestling Year B:
From the first sentence of the author's introduction to the last comments in Revelation, these Year A lectionary responses offer words and ideas, both playful and complex, that invite continued thought. Written in a conversational style--sometimes providing definitions of terms, sometimes offering links to websites, song lyrics, and other theologian's ideas--White entices the reader to think beyond his musings and the words of the text. Occasionally, his arrangements take the form of evocative, poetic lines that show concepts connecting and clashing. He frequently asks questions and addresses the reader, not as argumentation, but as encouragement to narrow the application into individual experience. Other times, he broadens the view by pointing to implications for justice issues, such as health care, LGBT inclusion, and the power of corporations. His use of "my" and "your" are linked, illustrating the centrality of community for people, whether moving through texts or life experiences. The metaphor of journey consistently shapes his thinking. Rather than being paralyzed by discrepancies and mysteries in texts from the past, he welcomes the opportunity to be part of ongoing, enlarged understandings and actions. ~ Evie Yoder Miller, Author of Eyes at the Window and Everyday Mercies.

1 Thessalonians 2:9-13

Year A - Pentecost +21 or Community Practice 21
November 2, 2014

We parent one another into being. For a moment I am parent to you and then you are parent to me. When this works well we are “pure, upright, and blameless in our conduct toward one another.” 

Of course this suggests that we also are growing uniquely, regardless of the parenting we receive. This is not as easy to put into categories of behavior. I am a child for you; pushing your boundaries. You are a child for me; pushing mine.

From either perspective it is possible to give thanks for solidity when it is needed and play in its time. The “word of G*D” is not just something received, but brought forth. If we haven’t wrestled with G*D as parent and playmate, we haven’t met G*D. It will be important here to note where Paul doesn’t act as a parent, but pushes at the boundaries of cultural protocols. If we haven’t met both in Paul, we haven’t met Paul. Now, of course, we need to look in a mirror and see if we are only inhabiting one role in life. Blessings on parenting and your pushing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37

Year A - Pentecost +21 or Community Practice 21
November 2, 2014

G*D’s steadfast love is much needed. 

Those who cause desert wastes for others to wander in are forever popping up to dismay land, water, and air. They project such wonders as eternal job creation and never-ending resources and only return wasteland for fracked fields.

Knowing how much we continue to try to hike ourselves up by our boot straps, the wanderers became desperate enough to add G*D to their escape their plight. When they finally find their way to an oasis, their rejoicing is G*D oriented. In this action they set themselves up for their next human-created disaster.

It isn’t long before the redeemed are again ripe for the plucking by earth rapers. Not being able to save ourselves, we call G*D to the the rescue one more time. At question is how many cycles of this the land can stand?

If even the Pope is going to finally acknowledge an evolutionary process, we are pushed to evaluate the effect our actions have on the on-going life on and of this planet. No more can we afford to excuse bad environmental policy in thrall to popularized economics and pseudoscience.

Steadfast love does not keep death at bay. When relied upon when our own action is needed it is like a counter-productive fix for an addict. May we rejoice at steadfast love and engage our own.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Joshua 3:7-17

Year A - Pentecost +21 or Community Practice 21
November 2, 2014

So Jesus says to a crowd and his disciples, “Be humble to be exalted.” The Lord says to Joshua, “I exalt you, so walk humbly into flowing rivers.”

As for me and my house, we are pleased that you are the ones walking into the river with only a promise. We’ve seen too many promises delayed and changed to be willing to act on one more. 

It is surprising when we who are not exalted turn out to be exalted (make it to the other shore with a dry sandal).

Blessings on your exaltedness and your humility. They go hand-in-hand and hand-to-hand.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Matthew 23:1-12

Year A - Pentecost +21 or Community Practice 21
November 2, 2014

Who would you substitute for “Pharisees” in this passage? This is a dangerous exercise because of the way the passage is set up. Almost any substitution will bring more disfavor on the Pharisees than they probably deserve and misrepresent whomever is being compared to them.

With this caveat in place, might Fundamentalist (of any stripe) work here? 

Jesus could have also come to the same conclusion about humility if he had used his own Disciples as an example. That may cut a bit close for many of us as it suggests that it is not some other stereotyped or scapegoated group that needs a refresher course, but me.

As you come to this passage one more time, you may want to consider your own renaming of what this intended to be ordinary time following Pentecost might be? Here we are using “Community Practice”. One practice is the development of refrigerator magnet check-lists. What parts of this pericope lend themselves to a daily checklist to see how you are doing with your humility for its own sake, not to get an A+ on a test and become exalted? Design a checklist for yourself to guide you into next steps of growth. If you pay attention you’ll find out more in the defining of parts related to your life than reading any 3 devotional books.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Exodus 33:12-23

Pentecost +19 or Community Practice 19
October 19, 2014

Show me your coin. Show me your face.

What we show defines us. What has been staring us in the face all along is the face on the coin. Our imaginations are so limited. Coin of the realm will go to the realm. If not given willingly, no matter how grudgingly, it will be confiscated. So we play along with the figment that church and state are so intertwined that one is used as a trap for the other.

What has also been staring us in the face all along is the lack of a single face for G*D. Everywhere we look a different face appears. No wonder that, when push comes to shove, G*D pushes and shoves Moses into a crack so a face can't be claimed. Even as a chosen people there is an unknownness as to whether we can pick out whether we have one or more of G*D's features. A faceless G*D is the trade off of partnership and neighborliness. In this facelessness we can be partners and not just privileged heirs. In this facelessness everyone is Neighb*r.

Biblical koan alert:
Here is the sign that you are favored: You are not favored above all others.

Everyone can see where G*D has been. No one can predict or prophecy where G*D will next be seen. Try as we might, our best laid trap to capture G*D has been foiled again.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Matthew 22:15-22

Year A - Pentecost +19 or Community Practice 19
October 19, 2014

Political dirty tricks begin with religious dirty dirty tricks. Politicians have learned from the best, people adept at turning their religion into a theocracy long after their G*D has moved on. In other words, from each and every established religion.

This acknowledgment of religious dirty tricks is not to denigrate religion to the point of irrelevancy, but to recognize an eternal tension within every religion between its ideals and implementation. This tension affects every other part of our common lives.

In today’s world, as always, not taking the bait of responding too large to a too large question gives a bit of an edge. When we don’t say more than can be known we participate in clarifying where lies trickery and realism.

Blessings to you in not claiming too much, staying in touch with what you know, and knowing the value of small affirmations. These are all difficult to stay with in the face of big questions and a medium-sized ego, but their value has been shown down through the years.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Philippians 4:1-9

Year A - Pentecost +18 or Community Practice 18
September 28, 2014

Definition of being of “one mind”: Let your gentleness be known.

Definition of “the Lord is near” (with you/within you/partnered with you): Do not worry.

Definition of “excellence”: Keep doing what you have learned from your experience. (Unfortunately we can be excellent in doing harm as well as doing good.)

How might you practice gentleness in your context? Remember, gentleness here is a way of standing firm; it is not as floppy as milk toast.

How might you practice not worrying in your context? Or, perhaps, worry a bit less? Again, remembering that standing firm means, in part, not letting worry have the last word even if it is a first word.

These words of instruction are grounded in practice. We hear the encouragement and now we are called to practice. Such practice takes place most effectively in a community where we identify how it is with our soul and are accountable to practice deepening or changing what we have found out about our condition. Practice is going to look differently in different locales and stages. These details are not worked out for us, but we do have three overviews that help us put a practice plan into effect. It is alright if we even only work on practicing one of the three as they are all interconnected and we will still engage them as a matter of course.

Finally, beloved, just do it.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23

Year A - Pentecost +18 or Community Practice 18
September 28, 2014

Did you know you, too, are a “chosen” one. From before a big bang the conditions have been put in place for you to be who and where you are. With your experiences and location you can stand in the breach between the silliness of today and the hope of tomorrow, protecting the seed in expectation of a flowering and fruiting and more seed.

What king and what G*D do you need to stand before and say, “This far and no further”. Isn’t it wonderful irony to be able to use G*D’s words to Job on G*D.

Let’s move it out of a question about chosenness. Now that you see yourself as chosen as a protector of the seed of tomorrow, where are you choosing to stand? Is is a large or small breach that threatens to do in all that has come along so far? Actually, size doesn’t make any difference. Large or small, stand sturdy.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Exodus 32:1-14

Year A - Pentecost +18 or Community Practice 18
September 28, 2014

When the cat is away, the mice will play. This is one of the difficulties of authority—it leads folks to be afraid and see themselves as prey. A helpful use of authority is that of teaching folks how to think and learn on their own. Imagine if Moses had assisted folks to engage YHWH and YHWH to engage the people beyond a hierarchical relationship.

This is one way of evaluating pastoral leadership at any time in history. Is it empowering better thinking and deeper relationships? If so, good energy will continue to flow. If not, there will ultimately be abuse of power from either the congregation or the pastor as they tussle for being at the right hand of G*D.

About the best thing going here is that wonderfully freeing line about G*D changing G*D’s mind about planning disaster. Enough disaster is going to happen without planning more. Can you imagine a king or an image of heaven that takes change into account regarding a king’s actions or heaven’s exclusivity? If so, we can yet grow further. If not, well, who will still stand for long?

Monday, October 06, 2014

Matthew 22:1-14

Year A - Pentecost +18 or Community Practice 18
September 28, 2014

Always with the intermediaries. Why send “slaves” to do a final ask? 

Who would dare to ignore a king to their face or to try to imprison them? It is so easy for us to fall into judging where we are going to spend our time and energy. Convenience is a major issue here. Also at stake are judgments about survival and whether attending a wedding will detract from the needed commerce to continue growing personal wealth. Both of these remind us of the eternal tension between our social contracts and our personal judgments.

Here the kingly prerogative is to make the king’s judgments preeminent and so all citizens need to drop everything to attend to wherever the king ends up on a particular decision. Why would a wedding banquet be expected to be of the same import and value to everyone? Is this but the latest in a series of vanities of kingship that is weakening the interrelationships of the community or is it a key turning point in the way the citizens are recommitted to one another? The mere fact of a banquet doesn’t tell us much about where it fits into larger pictures.

The only consistent things here is the hair-trigger recompense a king is able to wreak upon their subjects. Many are slaughtered and single outliers are bound and tortured.

Where would you rank this particular parable in light of other parables. Is this on the same par as a mustard seed?

What aspect of heaven does this convey that another parable about a field pearl doesn’t or can’t? And, is this a constituent part of heaven or another of our interpretations based on kingly privilege?

Not being able to take a parable at face-value, how might we use this to reveal a misconception about heaven (defined by hell rather than itself) or an integral part of its nature (exclusive, decisional)?

Imagine for a moment a moral that is a bit less privileged. What would it be like to follow Chapter 21’s insight that many regarded Jesus as a prophet? Might that push us to reconsider the telling of this parable in favor of one that is more prophetically merciful than kingly/priestly judgment and end with “Many are called, and many welcomed.”

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Philippians 2:1-13

Year A - Pentecost +16 or Community Practice 16
September 28, 2014

In the game of Jenga, blocks are removed from a tower and placed on top of the remaining structure. The result is a progressively more unstable structure. Even with the strongest base of communal values:


these are not sufficient for a tower to reach to the heavens. We see our very own construction teetering and our hand shaking the more with each move.

Our imagination also teeters in stressful situations. We have accepted the limitations of our rules. Eventually our tower of life comes tumbling down. Our neighbor’s hand or our own falters. But even if we were to build until only one piece was still in its original place, the simple settling out of dust from the air will destabilize the structure and down it will come. Things fall apart, is not just the name of a great book by Chinua Achebe but our constant reality.

We attempt to corral life by hedging it in with rules as though Jenga were but a physics problem to be worked out with what we know at any given time. All we need to do is set initial boundaries of behavior and somehow we will be able to take that final piece from the bottom and successfully place it on the top so we can marvel at the space now available between tower and table. Higher and higher we go with increasing amounts of nothing below.

Our communal stability relies on common consent

     same mind
     same love
     same purpose
     same heart

only to find tensions

     ambition – humility
     self interest – other interest

in the middle of love and purpose that are as intractable as gravity in everyday life. An ideal game will never be played, even by robots. Something there is that doesn’t like pat answers to messy questions. And so someone usually knocks it over with intentional unintentionally or out of simply meanness or revenge—anything to move on to a different game or get away from those present.

Therefore, beloveds, your fear and trembling work is


to not turn our various games of life into some fantasy of winning.

Now for the Zen of gaming. We watch with bated breath as our neighbor successfully completes their turn. And there is celebration. We are watched with bated breath as we successfully complete our turn. And there is celebration. We watch our neighbor fail. And there is mourning. We are watched as we fail. And there is mourning. Together, our celebrations and our mournings reveal G*D among us. Together, we rebuild a tower, all the fallen pieces become integral to a next opportunity to play together as we will and work for the pleasure of one another’s company.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16

Year A - Pentecost +16 or Community Practice 16
September 28, 2014

I receive the posting of Jim Taylor every Sunday and Wednesday. I thought his paraphrase was one that leads us to continue connecting various parts of the scriptures together, along with our own lives.

How would you bring this psalm into a world so bound by political rhetoric and advertising slogans?

Where does a central story or two from our past still inform us?

Anyway, here’s Jim’s comment and paraphrase:

We all need family histories. No one is so poor as the person with no roots. I’m sure that’s why Deuteronomy stresses that when children ask about laws and statutes, you should tell them a story. I worked that idea into the Psalm 78 reading for this coming Sunday. 
1   If I say, "Once upon a time," everyone knows a story is starting.
2   I do not know the meanings of my stories;
     I merely pass them on as they were passed to me.
3   Only you can decide what they mean to you.
4   This is our story. This is where we came from.
     When you hear this story, you must also tell it,
     so that others may also know where they came from. 
12  Once upon a time, we were slaves.
      We were exploited for economic growth, and held captive by capital.
13  But God freed us from the prisons of our past.
      God flung open our minds, and let us see new possibilities.
14  By signs and symbols, God led us to new life.
15  In arid canyons of crisis, God showed us how to drink deeply of life.
16  In barren wastelands of despair, God gave us joy. 
For paraphrases of most of the psalms used by the Revised Common Lectionary, you can order my book Everyday Psalms from Wood Lake Publishing,

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Exodus 17:1-7

Year A - Pentecost +16 or Community Practice 16
September28, 2014

We all journey by stages. Whatever stage we are currently in, there is yet another stage to enter. Of stages there will be no end.

One of the clues that we are ready to move on is thirst. When we have made peace with our recent stage of life, it no longer satisfies as it once did. We are thirsty for a next stage of meaning, of engagement with an on-going creation.

Is this all there is? This question stands behind the question asked here, “Were we brought here simply to die?” Have we been through all we have been through to settle for this?

Is this all there is? This is also background to the concluding question, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

The miracle here is not a water-bearing rock, but the thirst that moves us farther along a larger journey. If there was not the thirst there would not be the questioning that brings a sign of water from a rock. If there was not the thirst we wouldn’t be able to affirm both the presence and the absence of G*D.

What more are you thirsting for than can be fulfilled in the current state of affairs. This thirst is a gift from the future to the present that we might move onward.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Matthew 21:23-32

Year A - Pentecost +16 or Community Practice 16
September28, 2014

Matthew 21:23-32

If the two greatest commandments are to Love G*D and Love Neighb*r there is no way to split authority in “heavenly” or “human” realms. These are intimately bound together.

Not to put too fine a line on it, this separation ends up privileging heaven over human. Listen  to the danger here as Greg Brown sings, Mercy, Mercy, Mercy from his album, “Freak Flag”

I don’t know why we as people
do the things we do.
We are mostly fine just the way we are
if we could only get a clue.
This longing for an afterlife
has damn near wrecked this place.
Mercy, mercy, mercy:
tears on a face.

This separation of heaven and human leads us to deny our own experience. The condemnation is not so much what we have done, but what we have failed to learn when the opportunity was upon us — “...even after you saw it, you did not change your mind.”

May your cry for Mercy be heard by yourself, bring the tears, and then the change.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Romans 14:1-12

Year A - Pentecost +14 or Community Practice 14
September 14, 2014

Welcome those who are weak in faith, even while they are convinced in their own mind that they are strong in faith. Perhaps that needs to be, even while they are convinced in their own mind that they have the stronger faith.

Of course this is a set-up for institutional chaos and an eventual schism such as a king throwing a slave out for not being merciful. At best the setting up of such confusion may foster a new synthesis, a new creation not otherwise available than through an inherently weak process of revelation without experience.

The experience of church, early and late, is that the more loudly people claim every knee is to bow and every tongue be the same the more or the larger comes a split, a throwing of some out, the intentional knocking of dust off the feet of some as they high-tail it.

This welcome is not intended to weaken those first to arrive at an insight by deliberately setting up a heterodox setting. By verse 22 the welcomers are to keep their own belief and act according to their own conviction even in the face of different convictions by those they welcomed. Finally, by 15:5 a reliance is put back on G*D rather than convictions: “May G*D, the source of all perseverance and comfort, grant you to live in peace with one another....”

For now,
                 keep welcoming others
                 keep your convictions clear
                 keep partnered with G*D
                 keep on keeping on.