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.