Monday, March 31, 2014

John 11:1-45

Year A - Fifth Sunday in Lent or Conviction [5]
April 6, 2014

While appreciating the specificity of people and locale, it is all too easy to bring this down to a miracle story for one small group of people. Breaking the rules of nature, even to make a glory point, ends up with unintended consequences.

Here “belief” in Jesus has a tangible reward. Lazarus rises.

It turns out this was a publicity stunt. The reaper of rewards was not Lazarus, Mary, or Martha but for those who happened to be part of Martha and Mary’s support system, weeping with them. “I am doing this for the crowd so they may believe me.”

Bottom-line: Many, but not all, “believed” in Jesus. Where is the teaching to trust, anyway?

So, Lenten Discipliners, you are not fasting for your sake, but for the crowd. Go ahead and stand on a street-corner. Yes, you’ll hear about it. “You’ve taken it too far—go to your closet” After this story it is difficult to know where “too far” might be.

Perhaps Lent is not so much about particulars as finding a way to discern where to go and when—retreat or charge ahead—charitably mourn with those who mourn or to structurally change our community system to reduce events that bring on mourning.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ephesians 5:8-14

Year A - Fourth Sunday in Lent or Conviction [4]
March 30, 2014

Having been in “darkness” and now being light, I know there is a darkness still in you that I will ferret out by shining my light into your darkness. Spiritual rape excused.

And it was evening, but now it is morning. Live in the light as though light were present as well as you lived in the dark as though it were dark. To each there are fruits and flies.

To live in the dark well is a blessing. To live in the light well is a blessing.

Be awake in the dark. Be awake in the light.

[Yes, sleep and day dreaming are legitimate ways to be awake.]

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Psalm 23

Year A - Fourth Sunday in Lent or Conviction [4]
March 30, 2014

The New Community Bible notes this Psalm “glides easily from the metaphor of the shepherd to the metaphor of the host”. 

We, too, find ourselves in the everyday world with all its ups and downs. Since we are patterning people we are able to see a thread of life running through everything, even death. We sense a shepherd, some cosmic assurance that all manner of states of being shall be well and weller again. We are hosted.

Sometimes we consider the end of this Psalm to be some heaven we achieve. Here, though, our sense of being hosted shifts and we find ourselves hosting. To dwell in some metaphoric house of G*D is not a resting place for us but is to bring us to a place of responsibility for said house and to be a good host. Note that hosting does not begin at the door, but with an engagement of people before that so they can see our care for them and all. This is a generic invitation that turns specific over time. “Come, let us reason together, let us live in peace together.”

What is usually seen as a Psalm of comfort in a time of distress is also a call to being a H*st. Imagine living in a world where we host one another.

It will help if you look up the word “host” and follow its derivation. It seems the root is “enemy” and later becomes “host of guests/visitors/strangers/foreigner/enemies” and a root for “hospital”. If “host” can move from a horde of enemies to caring for them, imagine this Psalm recording a journey of your life from estranged to caring.

Isn’t that a Lenten journey worth the travel. Let us be a host to creation and one another (friend or enemy) and we will find we have also hosted G*D. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

1 Samuel 16:1-13

Year A - Fourth Sunday in Lent or Conviction [4]
March 30, 2014

How to make distinctions is a part of the game of survival. This is like me or likes me—I am delighted and draw near. This is not like me or doesn’t like me—I am fearful and flee or fight.

Eventually we have to recognize that our ability to recognize only goes so far—a book cover or first impression. It give gross information but is not fine enough to really sift out what is going on. Experience can get fooled by a pretty face, a complement, and familiarity. The complete Shakespeare corpus is daunting and illumining. Our heart’s desire fails to remember our same heart’s demands.

It is easy to divide things into male and female. We don’t like to be confused by those born without identifiable genitalia and their acculturation as boy or girl. It is easy to divide both males and females into our extant class/tribal/racial categories. We don’t like to be confused by those who do not fit easily into their class (Giovanni/Francesco di Pietro di Bernardone) or are bi/multi-racial. In today’s world we get further confused as each gender can claim one or more orientations of affection. The finer the distinctions get, the more anxious we tend to become.

And yet it is possible to work our way through whatever easy characterizations we have of one another to see the gifts below the surface that will benefit all when given an opportunity to be nurtured and implemented. Who ever heard of such a thing as a Black Astrophysicist and now we are relearning the wonder of the cosmos. Even a decade ago, could you have considered the election of a Lesbian to a seat of power in the overwhelmingly white, rich, male environment of the House of Representatives? Absent David; how would he even be on the long list of potential anointees?

This story tends to leave us with an impression that only G*D can make fine distinctions about the gifts of the heart. Remember all of David’s life and his failings and how G*D is reported to have stuck by this choice. The learning here is to dive deep into lives to find a larger story in a smaller setting. A practice of looking on hearts regardless of observable gender/class/tribe/race/orientation/etc. and honoring a preferred identity does pay off to increase our ability to live peaceably together (an eternal Bethlehemic desire).

Hebrews 10:4-10

Year A - Annunciation or Creation’s Conception
March 25, 2014

Remember the multitude of creation stories:some here and some here and even more here that have been scattered through space and time.

It is worth the time to consider how this story plays with other accounts. How would you compare and contrast these and other similar recountings in regard to “will” and “atonement”? Without this basic work a misconstrued beginning will mischievously echo into our current decision-making.

Stepping outside your current story about your beginning or that of the world/cosmos, will help you come back to it a wiser person. Now you can confront stolid fate with a next creative choice.

Psalm 40:5-10

Year A - Annunciation or Creation’s Conception
March 25, 2014

Creation’s birthday is another time to celebrate a covenant service. While doing so it is also important to keep alert to the temptation to idolize our relationship with G*D where G*D cannot be aspired to, only obeyed, and we are entirely at G*D’s behest.

The Wesleyan Covenant Service includes sentiments such as: 

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.

While finding this to be personally meaningful in a non-attached way, in its prescribed form there is no wrestling through to an agreed upon meaning, there is only signing on. As long as this is a relational document revealing steadfast love, it continues to bear some fruit. When it becomes a control mechanism to not step outside some currently perceived “plan” or “G*D’s will”, our sense of beloved community goes askew and we settle for hierarchy instead of partnership.

To see what this looked like to generations before us go to:

Psalm 45

Year A - Annunciation or Creation’s Conception
March 25, 2014

Verses 4–5 bring us a deep divide in our spirituality. There doesn’t seem to be an easy way for more than individuals to come to grips with the tension between our better and worse tendencies.

Glorious and triumphant, ride on
for the cause of truth, gentleness and justice;
let your right hand show marvellous deeds.
Your arrows are sharp,
the enemies of the king lose heart;
nations fall beneath your feet.
     [The New Community Bible]

In no time at all we find our ideals of truth, gentleness, and justice brought low by domination of those who are not us. We are even ready to leave our ancestors behind in favor of the power of sons for generations to come—“In the place of ancestors you, O king, shall have sons; you will make them princes in all the earth.”

While the definition of beauty shift from time to time within a culture and between cultures, the thrust here is boys are powerful kings and girls are beautiful queens who beget more powerful boys to become kings.

Remind yourself again about “truth, gentleness, and justice”. How will you practice that in a culture for whom it is happy talk, not intentional implementation?

Monday, March 24, 2014

John 9:1-41

Year A - Fourth Sunday in Lent or Conviction [4]
March 30, 2014

Don’t you often fall back into wishful thinking that G*D is not just concerned about judging your immortal soul, but should pause to change things so you might become a poster child for miracles? It is a significant temptation that keeps coming around.

At stake here is something more than miracle—it is the regular word “Neither” when faced with a choice that is, on-the-face-of-it, too small a question.

Just being able to say, “Nope, too restricted a question that asks me to buy into a view aimed at assessing blame”, is a needed miracle always at hand, ready for use.

We might shift this into the question of orientation in today’s world—“Who sinned, this L or G or B or T or I or Q person or their recruiter?” There just isn’t a way to get at this matter for it forces people and cultures/tribes into false choices. “Wrong question”, is the only helpful response available. Even giving evidence for someone to see what is before them doesn’t work for those committed to the benefits accrued to them by virtue of a rigged system.

Do note that this false question does ultimately end where it begins. It moves directly from the leading question of, “Who sinned” (verse 2), directly to the predetermined response of, “You were born entirely in sin” (verse 34).

Lent is an opportunity to practice catching on to trapping questions more quickly than before and to both stepping aside from it and using your spiritual jujitsu to help the momentum of the false question fall flat on its face. Attend to these next days to practice identifying what false questions come from family, community, and tribe so that by Sunday you can encounter this passage again with a fresh example.

Isaiah 7:10-14

Year A - Annunciation or Creation’s Conception
March 25, 2014

Since the 2nd century this passage has been a dividing passage between people. Is it a Jewish prophetic story about some young woman available for seeing by both Ahaz and Isaiah? Is it a Christian story presaging a young Mary, generations in the future? It even divides Christians depending upon their theological need as reflected upon in The New Interpreter’s Bible, “Texts such as this one, especially when read in the context of Christian worship, sharpen the tension between the historical meaning and the homiletical or theological interpretation of the Bible, and of the Old Testament in particular.”

Speculation has it that the “young woman” was passing by or was Isaiah’s wife (8:1-4) or was Ahaz’s Queen, Abijah (Abi), who gave birth to Hezekiah (Immanuel?), a mirror image of Ahaz and later counseled by Isaiah.

What do you mark as a significant beginning spot. A big bang? a big asteroid? a new relationship? your own conception? a particular war? a philosophic insight? The pious denial of a sign by Ahaz or the subsequent eagle-eye of Isaiah to note a pregnant woman? Starting points are important as they shape what we will subsequently note as confirmation. Later an alternative starting point is cause for censorship and revolution. Any idea what our next agreed upon starting point will be and how long it will last?

Luke 1:26-38

Year A - Annunciation or Creation’s Conception
March 25, 2014

Scene 1: Good ol’ sweet-talkin’ Gabriel. His backseat of the car patter wasn’t quite believable until Mary’s hormones kicked in. At this point there is no turning back and, “Let it be”, becomes an imperative.

Scene 2: Powerful Gabriel has never taken “No” for an answer. He is god’s-gift to women. After favoring Mary with his mere presence, it isn’t long before he has a hand over her mouth and with a grunt says, “Don’t yell, you’ll thank me later...God...O, God!”

Scene 3: Accountant Gabriel is present to make the trains run on time. Following instructions from the next level up, Gabriel visits Nazareth (or was it Bethlehem as Matthew reported?). He has an explanation for everything. There is no discrepancy. Nothing is impossible if we just cooperate with The Plan.

Scene 4: How would you describe this scene. Remember that in ancient of days March 25th was honored as creation’s birthday. Was there or was there not a big “Bang”? To keep things nicely tied up, the New Creation, of course, would be conceived then and be revealed nine-months-to-the-day later, December 25th. Or was it the other way around and Jesus really was born in the Spring as a goodly number of scholars suggest?

O the post hoc, ergo propter hoc stories we tell ourselves to reduce tension and thinking.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Well Encountered

Year A - Third Sunday in Lent or Conviction [3]
March 23, 2014

Well Encountered

en route elsewhere
we sit

still privileged
we wait
for service
“Be an angel,
bring me
a drink.”

still expectant
we are
a surprised

still special
with knowledge
expected of
the unexpected
we add
a sweetener

now intrigued
our potential angel
is drawn nearer
through their questions
almost ready
for reframing

here we go
I ask for water
you give it to me
I give you Water
you get the better deal

Angel is in
“Any out from
daily drudgery
will suit me
just fine.”

of course
there is  just
one more thing
bring the one
who should have
undrudged you

of course
that would be
helpmeet spouse
fair culture
cute bootstraps
right rituals

“I see
you want me to see
there is nothing
in my past or
present context
to lighten my load.”

I see
you see 
what I see
to a prophet’s

and so
it came to pass
Angel Photina left
without sharing water
and yet with
Water renewed

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Romans 5:1-11

Year A - Third Sunday in Lent or Conviction [3]
March 23, 2014

Ready to die for Jesus? Is this your crusade call, “Die for Jesus!”? Meaning what I do and what I do to you.

Ready to have someone else die because they aren’t ready to die for Jesus? Yes, crusades of all shapes and sizes are still going on, “You don’t die for Jesus like I die for Jesus so you will have to die.” Justifying brains are a wonder to behold.

Do you think this is the message Photina took to her storybook village?

Do you think that her message might have more to do with reconciliation. A woman with five “husbands” might know a bit about reconciliation that would ring true on the telling of it. The experience of assurance (experienced reconciliation) is one of the most powerful motivators in a person’s life. It can even trump the accumulated prejudices of a whole community. This kind of assurance goes even further, into all the feared deficits of a life poorly lived to reframe the story of a life. 

May the story of your life echo in the lives of others and theirs in you.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Psalm 95

Year A - Third Sunday in Lent or Conviction [3]
March 23, 2014

About what is your anger swearing these day. G*D’s swearing during the Exodus extended the time between Egypt and an Utopian Promised Land. The journey went from a straight line to a generational wandering.

This is a fine example of a negative swear. “Not you!”

It is more difficult to have a positive swear. “No matter what, You!”

This is part of our journey, opening a way where there seemed to be nothing that could be done. This usually entails some behavioral change on our part and a commitment to continue saying yes to a needed change, regardless of the obstacles.

I’ve been pleased to be part of the Love Prevails part of Kairos CoMotion that has a positive swearing that if we Disclose(t) the consequences of discrimination, Divest providing resources that prop up divisive theologies, and Disrupt the silence about the way we hurt one another, then an Affirmative Land will help us be better together.

What kind of swearing are you doing today?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Exodus 17:1-7

Year A - Third Sunday in Lent or Conviction [3]
March 23, 2014

Hmm, G*D set them/us up again.

  • The Israelites journeyed by stages (way stops, not wild-west conveyance).
  • as the Lord commanded.
  • They camped at Rephidim,
  • but there was no water.

Of course an argument ensued with Moses, as close as folks could get to G*D. Note the parallelism— why quarrel with me? why test the Lord? 

Finally a delineation—Moses cried out to the Lord to save his own skin. We are so easily persuaded to speak for G*D; so desirous to be identified as G*D by others. Until finally the cost is too great.

Eventually the famous plague stick is used. Out comes water and a Chance Card that says: “Go directly to death—Do not pass Jericho, do not collect a Promised Land”

So is G*D still with you when you find yourself at a dry place in your life? Whether planned or not, how do you engage a dry night of your soul? Complain? Blame? Act? Does G*D plan lives? If so you better be ready for a Rephidim or three along the way. Think about that now rather than just reacting in the moment. Hopefully this will change your response whenever you are so tired you can’t reach out for a drink on your own.

John 4:5-42

Year A - Third Sunday in Lent or Conviction [3]
March 23, 2014

Imagine Jesus tired—too tired to draw a drink. Was that act beneath him (disciples had gone on to get food, women had often waited upon the whole group—where were the groupies this time) or was he simply tired?

Jesus’ demand of a drink points in the direction of privilege (Male and Jewish trumping Samaritan Female). His play on well-water and living-water points toward a teaching opportunity. Tricky business, this business of engaging after-the-fact scriptures.

Adding to the trickiness and to emphasize that this is one of John’s theologically based vignettes is this from The New Interpreter’s Dictionary on Sychar: 
Although this area is rich with natural water resources—a detail that is relevant to John’s story—the location of ancient Sychar is problematic. Since Shechem was destroyed in 107 BCE, it is difficult to directly associate Sychar with a city in ruins in the 1st cent. CE. The city of Napolis, built near the end of the 1st cent. CE, is not a viable candidate either. Since the mid-19th cent., Khirbet Askar has been considered a likely location for Sychar because of its location a half mile from the well, but no archeological evidence supports this identification.

One thing this does is to open up this story to all times. How does this shed light (traditional name of the woman is Photina [light]) into your life and how do you shed light into the lives of others?

Has your life finally been revealed to you? Are you interested in still waters [harbor] or living, roiled [a-sea], waters? Yes, both are needed in a long journey, but where is your passion?

One last comment about the two days Jesus stayed with the Samaritans (creedally like descending to the dead). If the third day is a resurrection day, then then the two-days are a Lenten season and it is the people who are raised to new life on the third day as Jesus journeys onward to a next harbor.

How do you spin this story into your current time and place?

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Year A - Second Sunday in Lent or Conviction [2]
March 16, 2014


Abram, Jesus, I, You
called from understandable home
to wilderness journey
on a wild entrepreneurial promise
of grandeur
oh yes
and blessing too

we each and all
wrestle through 
our Nicodemus stage
of being drawn onward
all the while resisting
with delaying tactics
“How can this be”

every student knows
how to distract a teacher
a dumb question on
a pet topic
does the trick quite nicely
until the trick backfires
and we hear the call anew

Indeed, G*D is not calling
to just change location
but to shift hearts
to birth compassion
by entering
condemnation’s womb
to be born anew

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Romans 4:1-5, 13-17

Year A - Second Sunday in Lent or Conviction [2]
March 16, 2014

How ethereal is faith? Might it touch the stuff of life without being contaminated by law/works?

While Paul may be trying to make a case that faith is separate from and  precedes works, his presentation has been received as a separation of the two. All that is creedally important is the form of the words recited. This is not about power as words are powerful and shape our behavior. It is, however, about being able to honestly engage creation (our own and that through us).

We have focused on one side of an internal argument about what is Jewish and what is Christian. This is like listening to Fox News and thinking you have a sense of what is really going on in the world. Everything gets filtered through only one lens. Even their brief forays into another’s vision is intentionally set in a context that makes it laughable and dismissible. Don’t doubt for a minute the structure of faith of Fox News. They will subvert every “work” to it. Lest there be any doubt, it is not just Fox News, we all do the same, just less consciously.

Back to this text, is this a more or less helpful response than Jesus’ to people like Nicodemus? Perhaps it is a toss-up? Would you prefer to deal with Jesus or Paul?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Psalm 121

Year A - Second Sunday in Lent or Conviction [2]
March 16, 2014


“G*D is present in your coming and going, both now and forever.”

True? Not True?

As we journey along, sometimes our line is “Help” and sometimes it is an affirmation. If we are not in relationships where these lines are shared, we are not attending to our own needs and wisdom available beyond ourselves.

May you keep this conversation going.


Year A - Second Sunday in Lent or Conviction [2]
March 16, 2014


“You, Abram, don’t know me. I’m a G*D beyond—beyond your present Babel-scattered tribes; beyond your present experience base; beyond, well, simply beyond. So—arise from sleep and follow where you know not where. You will be a germinated seed around which the scattered are reorganized.”

“I, Abram, say, ‘Huh?’”

“OK, Abram, here’s what’s in it for you. You get in on the ground floor of the building of a great nation that will greatly honor you for your spiritual entrepreneurship. This means you will have control over the rest, to bless it or curse them depending on whether you feel they are blessing or cursing you.”

“Ahh,” says Abram, “I’m in.”

This has the feel to it of the beginning of any adventure. Perhaps a third start will be the charm—Adam (Eden), Noah (Ararat), Abram (Haran). Perhaps more starts will come. Who's next? Joseph (Egypt)? Moses (Horeb)? Mary (Nazareth/Bethlehem)? Saul/Paul (Damascus)? Muhammad (Mt. Hira/Mecca)? Luther (Germany), Wesley (England)? “Your Name Here” (Wherever You Are)?

Call and Response—A story ever new. Listen. Enjoy the ride.

Monday, March 10, 2014

John 3:1-17

Year A - Second Sunday in Lent or Conviction [2]
March 16, 2014

There are those who have what feels like an instantaneous conversion. Nicodemus was not one of these. His journey was an evolving one.

Even though we pick up his story in the night, Nicodemus has his eyes wide open to see the terrain of his current life. Signs had been seen and he desired to investigate the signs. In another era we would have called him a scientist. He begins by asking questions based on what is currently known: the birthing process is linear and not reversible.

And a new thought: physical birth is only one kind of birth. We know that we are built from birth to have multiple, if not infinite, births of physical regeneration. There are additional births of stages of life and insight and relationships and so much more that we experience along the journey from a birth to a death. These are as mysterious as a first conception and a first birth.

Questions comes to haunt us. We are all creatures of our time. We do not understand what we have not encountered. We can’t think our way into knowing what we don’t know. We can but be open to hearing the results of other experiments and be ready to test them in our setting.

It is not just a matter of believing what we believe but to live as though we are not condemned to remain at our current level of engagement. Is the present the best that can be imagined and tested? No, we are not condemned to remain in the limits of love we have. We are invited to an expansive and expanding love (universe, if you will).

Nicodemus’ journey has a ways to go in the Christian scriptures and who knows where beyond that, but for now Lent takes on a new level of commitment to be open to what might yet be. Our blessing includes the option to test a new openness, to draw nearer a next dawn.

Friday, March 07, 2014


Year A - First Sunday in Lent or Conviction [1]
March 9, 2014


led to ministry
led to baptism
led to temptation
led to ministry

tempted by hunger
tempted by bread
tempted by temptation
tempted by privilege

turn around beloved
turn around hungry
turn around devil
turn around angels

said and said
written and written
faced and faced
onward and onward

give thanks at the river
give thanks in the wilderness
give thanks in the moment
give thanks from here on out

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Romans 5:12-19

Year A - First Sunday in Lent or Conviction [1]
March 9, 2014

Did anyone who received Paul’s letter bother to ask what evidence he had for asserting his “Therefore”? Not unsurprisingly, any such query is not recorded. The tape seems to have a several minute gap in it.

If it is revealed knowledge that says sin came into the world through one man, it is important to ask about the revealer and whether they have a vested interested in their revelation. In this case, yes, Paul loses his overall argument if he can’t defend this point. If it is not revealed, it would be important to hear some evidence, of which there is none. This is one of those wondrous dualistic/theological analogies based on rhetorical flourishes. Unfortunately its consequences echo on.

At least there is a tacit acknowledgment that Jesus is human with the repeated comparison to Adam and reference point of “one man”.

If you would like to read a short two-part critique of this section you can go to: Paul's Problem by Bill Long.

Here is a sample from that article:
In short, my contention is that Paul has proved "too much" by his Adam/Christ comparison in this passage. He is inclined to use language such as "all/every" because that is one of the ways he extricates himself from theological problems in his writings. He loves the contrasts, the polar opposites. It is the reason why his lines are so memorable. But, in this instance, his words get the better of him. If we grant the point that all people are condemned by Adam's sin, without more, we must also accept the point that all people are redeemed by Christ's sacrifice without more. The word of proclamation of the Gospel, then, is only to let people know that they are already saved.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

A Practiced and Foolish Ash

Year A - Ash Wednesday or Self-Recognition Day
March 5, 2014

A Practiced and Foolish Ash

piety is a dangerous sport
it needs much practice

so much practice is needed
to go beyond mere proficiency

it is only the best athlete
that can be a clown in their sport

here they can teeter on the edge
of disaster and bring it back

only the most practiced piety
can play the fool

in this piety’s pompousness
is humbled and learned from

if you don’t want to fall on your ass
practice practice with your ash

2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10

Year A - Ash Wednesday or Self-Recognition Day
March 5, 2014

Try this: the opposite of hypocrisy is reconciliation.

Pretending to be something one is not does have the potentially redeeming factor of a recognition of who one would like to be. This can at some point be built upon to move in that direction in actuality, not just fantasy. Hypocrisy is not an out-and-out lie.

Not only do we seldom deal with an ideal falsehood, but we seldom deal with some universal truth or righteousness. Reconciliation lives in the imperfect world but chooses the slightly better as a step toward even more better.

While it is comforting to consider that a full-blown righteousness is within our grasp, we are more realistically always in a process moving toward greater reconciliation with ourselves and others. Simply acknowledging we are living in a gray zone and hopefully moving toward a healthier, wholer way is a helpful move.

Intending to put no burden on another is a wonderful intention even if it doesn’t work out that way. Paul’s list of his endurances does become a burden for those of us who may be able to deal with an affliction or two but not for dishonor or beatings. How can we live up to Paul’s level of commitment much less Jesus’? Reconciliation will lie between so we can take one step further while holding our integrity of our particular experience and gifts.

Psalm 32

Year A - First Sunday in Lent or Conviction [1]
March 9, 2014

Happiness and blessing to those who are able to see the distance from their possibility to their current life. In this we hear:

I see the gap in my life and acknowledge it is real. My guilt about this is in the way. I will seek out a direction needed to further clarify and rectify this discontinuity. This surety leads me to trust a context large enough to hold every process that connects me with my dream of drawing my life toward my gifts and integrating my gifts into my life.

Just being on an intentional path is a good and joyful thing to be everywhere applauded. No matter how winding the way, bless the path.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Psalm 51:1-17

Year A - Ash Wednesday or Self-Recognition Day
March 5, 2014

Would you attribute steadfast love to your neighbor or environment? If you could see a way clear to do so, you might begin this psalm with:

     Have mercy, O Neighbor, according to your steadfast love.
     Have mercy, O Creation, according to your steadfast love.

Imagine that this lack of imagination is the reason we have a tradition of imposing ashes. We don’t see mercy in one another and, sure enough, it is never there when it is needed.

We are willing to break our heart and have a contrite spirit before G*D, but not before Neighb*r or Earth. Until we can include these, despising continues. What a blessing it would be to all concerned to be able to enlarge the expression of mercy.

While mercy is difficult to measure in others, we should be able to see what this would mean if we added yet another starting spot:

     Have mercy, (your name here), according to your steadfast love.

Where will your ashes of remembrance take you? All the way to remembering your mercy?

Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7

Year A - First Sunday in Lent or Conviction [1]
March 9, 2014

Whether one is in a wilderness or a garden, temptations arise. Temptations intentional and simply opportune arise.

It doesn’t take any craft at all to present a temptation. It may make the temptation easier to fall prey to, but the basic dynamic of temptation doesn’t really change according to the finesse with which it arrives.

At best we learn from our responses to past temptations, when finally our eyes are opened. It helps to have a community of Neighb*rs so we can assist one another into the realization that we got caught and we can begin the process of repairing the breech in community we widened.

Here in Genesis, G*D comes visiting. In Matthew, angels attend. Note that temptations and a response to them are never the end of the story. Blessing is the background against which a temptation must be viewed. Then we know we are not defined by a transgression. It is important, but a blip against the field of blessing still available.

Our Lenten Journey to a grave of absence, whether we acknowledge it or not, takes place on the surface of everyday choices and their companion, a mystery of resurrection.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 or Isaiah 58:1-12

Year A - Ash Wednesday or Self-Recognition Day
March 5, 2014

Trumpet Desolation! Shout Hypocrisy!

These two are wedded through the generations. Trouble is brewing again.

Where have our hearts strayed? When was our humility avoided? How did our common humanity become over-ridden? Who are we to return, repair, and rebuild?

Regather and reask: G*D? Neighbor?

Listen carefully.

The universe is gracious. When food comes to the hungry and the afflicted are healed, light is gathered in the darkness and gloom dispersed. Be food. Be light. Be.

Matthew 4:1-11

Year A - First Sunday in Lent or Conviction [1]
March 9, 2014

“Then.” Quite the way to begin a passage for our consideration.

Then? Does what follows come as an automatic result of being filled with belovedness? As surely as day follows night, temptation is hot on the trail of assurance.

Temptation doesn’t even wait for the arrival of some tempter, some Satan. The very decision to fast itself was a temptation. Somehow the assurance of belovedness is self-tested. How can I be sure that what I just experienced is true? Aha! I’ll fast to have assurance confirmed.

Then comes the official three-fold temptation. If, if, if. Temptations need the cover of hypotheticals. They grow in its grayness.

Now the nasty question. Does passing a test grant one any more assurance of belovedness than failing them? If belovedness is imputed, no. If belovedness is a given, a gift, no. If belovedness is conditional, it is still no.

Belovedness is as gravity. Live in it. Believe it or not, it still is with you.

It is not necessary to pass a test to claim your belovedness.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Year A - Ash Wednesday or Self-Recognition Day
March 5, 2014

Intentions often overwhelm Intuitions. We hedge ourselves round with rules for survival, success, and plain old acceptance by our current culture and tribe. It is so easy to forget that the current common sense is but prelude to a larger common good yet to arrive.

This is a day to recognize that our past had a consequence and it is today. Fortunately this means that tomorrow is a consequence of what we do today. Choice is still available and tomorrow is still able to be better.

When you attend to this day, do so without setting up a battle between your intention to be tribally and culturally ascendant and your insightful intuition that better is tied to our deep heart’s core.

Remember your place of peace and let your hands move in multiple realms while connected to a larger satisfaction not yet arrived but drawn closer with the practiced skill of mercy, mercy, mercy.

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By William Butler Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, 
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made; 
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee, 
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, 
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings; 
There midnight's all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow, 
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day 
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; 
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray, 
I hear it in the deep heart's core. 

- - - - - - -

Yesterday is burned and gone. Where there is naught but ash, our third eye sees through it to discern a way forward beyond repetition. Open this eye to see where hope and wholeness wend their way through the underbrush—and follow.