Friday, February 28, 2014


Year A - Epiphany Last or Mountain Top to Valley
March 2, 2014


this week
we are all
do and don’t

our core
is riven
to the core

odds are
repeats today

and yet
sometime hence

clouds break
to reveal
a sun

clouds reveal
our name

we rise


we go
to act
in silence


who knew
we do

Thursday, February 27, 2014

2 Peter 1:16-21

Year A - Epiphany Last or Mountain Top to Valley
March 2, 2014

Ahh, yes, my Majestic Glory trumps your minuscule myth. You will do well to attend to my Shining Light so you will eventually understand your interpretation is so puny and partial.

Wonderful way to make friends and influence people: might makes right.

Where did this start? Transfiguration?

For folks who were raised to not fear and hold a vision until is is ripe, we easily turn into know-it-all bullies claiming G*D is only on our side (a most interesting dismissal of a Holy Spirit sent to challenge our convictions).

Would that Peter’s mind was a bit more cloudy.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Psalm 2 or Psalm 99

Year A - Epiphany Last or Mountain Top to Valley
March 2, 2014

2:1 - Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain?

99:1 - The LORD is king; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!

There it is — the great duality that immobilizes. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, a devil and a deep blue sea, we are frozen in place.

Plot or Tremble, its all the same. The only alternative is serving or extolling the most powerful avenger and quickest to wrath.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Exodus 24:12-18

Year A - Epiphany Last or Mountain Top to Valley
March 2, 2014

This is a cloudy passage.

1) Moses ascends mountain and cloud covers mountain for six days
2) G*D speaks to Moses from cloud on the seventh day
3) Moses entered cloud and ascends mountain
4) Moses was on Cloud Mountain for forty days

Here we have a mysterium tremendum et fascinosum all jumbled together. A cloudy ascension occurs both before and after a “Seventh” day and is included in some “Forty” day package. Mythic stuff, through and through.

Having a cloudy life might be one way we describe a dark portion of our time; a dark night of the soul, so to speak.

This very same cloudiness is also a locus for insight, direction-setting, and vision-questing.

Trying to put all this into words fails us, time after time.

Immediately after this numinous affair we have the building of a portable Cloudy Mountain. Sometimes this Ark of Covenant is understood as Jesus, a new Law-Maker. On a Mount of Transfiguration folks make much of a Jesus shining rather than the cloud speaking. Working in images is always interesting. Do you try to hold Moses and Jesus together or not? If so, why? If not, what do you do with the six days and seven, the mountain and cloud, the law and prophets?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Matthew 17:1-9

Year A - Epiphany Last or Mountain Top to Valley
March 2, 2014

We are never by ourselves alone. This story starts with a sense of isolation.

Then: in the thin place of thin air a moment of deeper vision arises.

Often we think this is a matter of Jesus changing, when it is a time when Peter, James, and John catch something they were not able to do 6 days earlier. Earlier Peter scolds Jesus for dealing with a reality beyond Peter’s vision.

Now they see in another way. Transpose verses 2 and 3. Peter, James, and John caught a picture of Jesus connected with the past/future and not just in the moment that is so fragile and such a temptation to protect. This appearance of Moses and Elijah transfigures their vision of Jesus.

Such an experience, though, doesn’t remove our desire to maintain a breakthrough moment by institutionalizing it. However, it does make it possible not to get stuck there. Even as buildings are proposed to be raised they are about to be razed with a word that transforms—Beloved.

Imagine for a moment that this inclusive word does not separate Jesus from Moses and Elijah but connects Peter, James, and John with Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Read “my Son” (sic) as “my Creation” that includes you.

Given our usual separation, dissection, and analyzing, this unitive moment is overwhelming and folks fall over.

“Get up. Forward.”

And when we look again we see another, yes, but cannot forget that they contain their past as well as the seed of who they will become. We see them and more than them.

This is not a tale that can be told without privileging oneself, but it can be remembered. Later, at an auspicious time, we can tell of this time and one more layer of connectivity will surface.

Remember your moment(s) of inclusive connection, of transformation. Apply what you remember to the dynamics of this passage. When the time is right—share.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

1 Corinthians 3:1-11, 16-23

Year A - Epiphany 7 or Guiding Gift 7
February 23, 2014

Jesus says, “But I say to you . . . .”

Paul says, “Don’t you know that . . . .”

The import is similar; there’s a change coming. The locus of authority is different.

It would have been interesting sit in on the discussion of why the elision of verses 12-15. In these verses everyone is responsible for their own consequences. Decisions, choices, actions can build on the givens differently. Folks will have to work out whether those are determinative of outcome.

If the outcome is some “worth” of outcome, everyone would seem to be in trouble. If the outcome is based on an hospitable, generous, merciful G*D (one step beyond a Christ), then even those temporarily or periodically on the outs are now and forever welcomed in.

This is worth a wrestle. While doing so you may find yourself pondering verses 22b-23.

But I say to you and don’t you know that there is danger in neat little analogs. They usually extend too far or stop too short. How do you read: all belongs to you —> you belong to Christ —> Christ belongs to G*D —> ??G*D belongs to “all”. It is intended to be this circular? Is this one step too far? Is it still far too short?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Psalm 119:33-40

Year A - Epiphany 7 or Guiding Gift 7
February 23, 2014

If we want to pretend that the Psalms are only about personal piety then it will be helpful to have a sense that the statutes being talked about here are communal actions. Even when we try to escape being complicit in the current status of the common good by appealing to personal responsibility, the corporate and inter-connected realities of life will not be silent.

Remembering that there is no uniquely singular part of life, we reflexively read every singular reference with a plural cast.

This is particularly true with verse 37: “Turn my eyes away from looking at vanities; give me life in your ways.” [NRSV] Left alone our eye moves from vanity to vanity, finally noting that all is vanity. Joined with one another, creation and G*D we find a way to a tree of life—mutually.

When talking of the law, it is never just about my escaping judgment. It is always a communal context. The earlier we can catch this the easier life becomes.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18

Year A - Epiphany 7 or Guiding Gift 7
February 23, 2014

And the connection between “wholeness” (perfection) and “holiness” is what?

Again note how this wholly holy is connected to the common good.

Leviticus is very much a tribal book that lays out the boundaries of this particular tribe. It will be necessary to continue pressing our tribal nature to expand past our self-imposed limits of care. What does it mean to not demean anyone into a position where it is alright to steal from them or for them to steal to live? What does it mean to not slander another tribe in toto or in part (think here of Native Mascots)? What does it mean to not take vengeance upon an enemy or a tribal neighbor?

This is not just an individual morality, this is deep work of nurturing seeds found in a ground of all being that they might be for themselves, others, and next generations.

Here is holiness—love your neighbor as yourself.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Matthew 5:38-48

Year A - Epiphany 7 or Guiding Gift 7
February 23, 2014

You have heard a lot of things. I have heard a lot of things. Together we have heard much. For the most part we hear what our culture tells us. This is the water we swim in and we are receptive to its norms of what can be heard and said. That which is outside our culture base has a difficult time being recognized.

So we are thankful for travel. It exposes us to additional realities that begin to whisper about the strength and limits of what we know. We are thankful for people who disclose(t) what they are experiencing so they are less a projection of our own valuing or dismissing of them. We are thankful for teachers who lead us to simply listen before we react.

It is in this vein that Jesus is our travel guide, our scout into lives beyond our own (the universal ally), a teacher raising questions about the connection between our feelings and thinkings.

It is in this vein that congregations are to assist all the gifts present to be honored and enacted as well as be open for additional gifts they don’t yet know how to identify or know they need. If the common good is to grow more common it needs everyone to be a leader, to use their gift(s).

It will be important at this point to note that the word translated as “perfect” in verse 48 comes in both plural and singular fashions. When referring to an injunction to you to be perfect, it is plural. You are to do this “perfection” in union with others. When the body has assisted each part to be as whole and mature as possible, then we get to the singular “perfect” that describes G*D. This perfection is not some ideal, but a communal connexion that is deep and wide and ready to be more of both.

A key to the communal nature of the command to be “perfect” or “complete” is found in the other use of this word in Matthew, 19:21: Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. [KJB] (of course we will have to debunk “heaven” as being elsewhere). Until the common good is the background for our living, we are not maturing.

This same lesson can be learned just by listening to these various examples from another land; the land where G*D’s journey to wholeness (“heaven”, if you will) parallels our own and vice versa.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Deuteronomy 30:15-20 & Sirach+15:15-20

Year A - Epiphany 6 or Guiding Gift 6
February 16, 2014

Deuteronomy 30:15—See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity.

Sirach 15:15—If you choose, you can keep the commandments, and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice.

Deuteronomy 30:19b—Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.

This seems so simple, so linear. In reality it is difficult to see choices as we are so constrained by our culture and experiences. There is so much outside our attention that we seldom come to a clear choice.

Even when we hear, “But I say to you . . .”, which clarifies that there is now a choice to be made, our go-to position seems to be, “I’ve never done it that way before” (which means I don’t see the choice you are claiming is present).

If it is a matter of life or death, how do teach each other and continue learning about the reality around and about that pushes us through a current understanding to an expanded vision? Until we realize we are our own worst enemy when it comes to choosing, we won’t put in place those processes whereby we keep open to a new option that deepens our own spirit and draws us closer together.

Blessings on having the eyes of a Magi to see a new star and choose to follow.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Matthew 5:21-37

Year A - Epiphany 6 or Guiding Gift 6
February 16, 2014

“But I say to you . . . .” are words of great relief.

We know the human propensity to tangle itself up with accreted rules and regulations. These are like a lid on a pressure cooker with a clogged vent pipe. Eventually there will be an explosion.

It turns out that these five words are not license for taking all limits off behavior or even constraining such further (don’t forget this formula can make things even more difficult—moving from overt murder to implicit murder through gossip). These words are an antidote to violent revolution.

To hear “But I say to you . . . .” is to be able to reflect on our current state-of-affairs, how we got to the current impasse, and back off enough to reconsider where the common good comes into play again with all we have learned since the introduction of particular creedal controls.

An obvious next step is to move this from the realm of external authority, “Jesus says . . . .” to participatory prophecy, “I say our rules are causing us self-harm. It is time to look at our relationships again in light of what it means to be created in G*D’s image, singular and plural.”

Without this phrase we serially recognize how much we have bought into what J. B. Phillips once described as Your God Is Too Small.

“But I say to you . . . .” is relief; it gives more elbow room.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Isaiah 58:1-9a, (9b-12)

Year A - Epiphany 5 or Guiding Gift 5
February 9, 2014

Live your reality, don’t hold back. We need many analyses of our situation. Easy answers and deeper responses help one another clarify where we are and are not.

If we are interested in participating in divining a movement beyond our current limits it is important to draw near to a creating, repenting and resurrecting G*D. This will let us be honest about the way in which we excuse our oppression of others because of our particular religious practices, theories, creeds. To use the fasting example as a stand in for any and all ritualistic responses to lived experience shows how in our fast from available food we can so easily begin to blame those without food for their hunger.

If fasting doesn’t sensitize us to another’s hunger so we will share our bread, our space, our time, then our analysis is only blame, not change.

Receive this blessing:
     May your light gently and gradually dawn
     and be received as healing 

Monday, February 03, 2014

Matthew 5:13-20

Year A - Epiphany 5 or Guiding Gift 5
February 9, 2014

Prophets are salty and enlightening. Priests and Ordinary Folk also carry saltiness and enlightenment with them—it is just not as focused, public, and consistent. This is an import of verse 20 asking for exceeding care for creation and all its fiddly bits.

These edgy qualities need nurture for them to fulfill their potential in us. There are many traditional, cultural, and political boundaries to prophetic living and so it is important to have a continuing vision that salt and light are critical to the life of the world. It is all too easy to let this vision be worn away by the cares of the day.

Please don’t get hung up with the fundamental mistake that keeping rules keeps us safe. This is about attending to the gift given us to clearly look at the way we are doing business with one another and making those eternal adjustments that continue our connection with the good-doing that reveals present glory to and in all.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

teaching how to teach

Year A - Epiphany 4 or Guiding Gift 4
February 2, 2014

teaching how to teach

We look around and look around
and look around again

how are we to judge that other person
what is our beginning supposition

can we see them as co-heirs
are they more poor than we see

can we understand them to be stregthened
by the losses they have experienced

can we see them as inheriting our fruits
and so we engage to mutually learn humility

can their lights be seen as bending toward justice
with a common goal to us but a different path to walk

can they possibly be as merciful as we are
or are they incapable of receiving forgiveness

can they gaze upon a clear view G*D
while we see the back of their head in our gaze

can they be a peacemaker with those
we cannot yet talk with or have given up on

can they really be persecuted
not just be a victim whiner

can we see them in steadfast light
our peer by whom we are judged

if so so be it
if not pity us