Saturday, November 26, 2016

KCM Lectionary Blog Restart

As previously announced. The KCM Lectionary Blog has currently suspended active posting because its author is working on another project that officially begins Sunday, November 27, 2016. You are invited to follow.

Wilderness Urgency According to Mark is Wesley White's next project. The imagery of wilderness in both its danger and retreat/renewal aspects has occurred enough that Wesley finally paid attention. The particular stimuli for this particular were repeated nudgings from memories of Mark and the latest American political season. Mark does not lay out 3 orderly temptations in the wilderness. He only indicates there were testings there and those testings seem to keep cropping up all the way to and including the end of the story where people run away from renewal (and, yet, find a good message in one another).
     In WildernessUrgency Wesley will look at the Gospel According to Mark, verse by verse. Postings of this slow daily walk through Mark will contain a next verse in Mark from the OpenEnglishBible followed by a stanzaic response from Wesley and comments that will attend to both technical details and contemporary relevance. [Note: the stanzas have no punctuation so read them aloud to see where the words would like to relate to one another.]

You are welcome to follow along and comment in two ways:

1. There will be a daily posting at You are welcome to visit there, read, and comment.

2. I am also experimenting with a MailChimp sending of the daily posting to those who would like to receive it as an email. To try this process that can be unsubscribed from at any time, go to: and enter your name and email.
     As indicated, this is an experiment. If it doesn't work there are other processes that might function for those desiring an email rather than going to a website. Let me know if you sign-up and either don't receive any emails or they come in an unusable format.

Thank you for your support through the last 14 years. Here's a picture I took in the Badlands, South Dakota to encourage you in the midst of whatever state of wilderness is currently engaging you.

Yes, deserts can bloom.
You are called to join the blooming.
Share the belovedness that is yours.


Wednesday, November 02, 2016

End of this Lection - Notice of a New Project

This Lectionary blog has come to its end. There will be a new set of writings about "Wilderness Urgency According to Mark" coming soon.

When that notice is ready it will be posted here and announced elsewhere.

Many thanks for your attending here over the past 15 years.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Luke 10:25-37

Year C - Pentecost+8 or Community Practice+8
July 10, 2016

“Legal experts” are like children pushing and pulling to find the limits of their situation. Limits here are both minimum and maximum. If I am going to plan a trajectory toward some goal or desire—in this case something called “eternal life”—what will describe how little and how much I need to do to achieve this outcome. Not attending to a basic entrance fee or overdoing the good to the point of whatever “works righteousness” is would both disqualify one.

So, is this your question or not. In a culture of “None” religion we are more likely to hear this spoken of in terms of self-actualization or manifestation language. This reverses the classic striving to arrive at eternity to a question of how to attract eternity into my sphere.

A question about questions is a necessary starting point for a pericope responding to a question. Did Jesus help with setting a minimum limit to enter eternity? Did he leave us with additional questions to engage our potential disengagement from both dogma and experience, scripture and story?

In good Socratic fashion Jesus responds with a question that pushes the lawyer and ourselves—what is the basis of your interpretation of what is going on around you? This has and will haunt us beyond our sophomore bull-sessions, limit-explorations.

Note the temptation to settle into extending what we consider to be right, fair, limiting. Only now is a story appropriate (after dealing with a legalist’s question with a legal question).

Still we are left with a question: which response was neighborly?

Everyone seems to know it is the third person in a story that becomes the hero. In this case the qualifying quality of the hero is that of “mercy”.

Now the invitation with an implied next question. “Go and do likewise (show mercy to all your relatives).”

“How is that working for you?”

= = = = = = =

Now that you have tried premeditated mercy, your report or next question is . . . ?

Monday, June 27, 2016

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

Year C - Pentecost+7 or Community Practice+7
July 3, 2016

A next try for Jesus Messengers.

We have just heard of post-Transfigurational attempts to live out Jesus’ focus on engaging G*D closely enough that it will change the way we interact with one another. First a failed healing (9:40). This is followed with failed learning by failing to ask clarifying questions (9:45) and vying for institutional bragging rights of succession (9:46). There is an attempt to blame another so I’ll look better (9:49). Last week it was messengers sent ahead to reprise the blame game with harm being added to accusation and excuses aplenty (9:51-62).

After all this Jesus tries girding the disciples in nothing but one another. This seems to have had some effect as they report out of joy rather than status. Apparently healings are now possible and there is a brief respite from the internecine behavior previously evidenced (and still evident today).

End of the story here is, “Rejoice in nothing.” Read that again. Again.

Know that what follows (10:21-24) is Jesus’ closet prayer that the slow-of-head-and-heart had a moment of glimpsing something larger—the importance of nothing. We won’t get to this in the lectionary in a following week, so it will be important to acknowledge here that this gets turned from insight into a doctrine of exclusiveness, contrary to the parentheses of “nothing” that bracket this story. This is fair warning to warn that triumphalism lurks everywhere and is a dead-end—attractive but idolatrous.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Luke 9:51-62

Year C - Pentecost+6 or Community Practice+6
June 26, 2016

This pericope will be the text of my final Sunday time at a 9-month return to the pastoral ministry. 

"As the time approached when Wesley was to be re-retired, he determined to follow a vision of Peace Beyond Understanding too easily translated into religious idolatry of place. "Who knows whether I will be more preaching to myself or to the congregation.

The messengers developed from a 9-month run (some leaving, some joining in) will be entering known difficulties that will put them on edge and doubt their work of preparation. Their temptation will be that of every thwarted suitor or missionary: consign an ideal but reluctant beloved to whatever is meant by hell.

By our very ardor we are spoken to as sternly as we desired to strike others. It will be important to spend time here imaging what “stern words” Jesus used. As quiet as those words may have been (remember how proactive Jesus was with the Gerasene and how gently he left that land when rejected), they were remembered as very bracing indeed. What is more important than winning or revenge? Of such did Jesus speak?

The following interactions reinforce a difficulty with dealing with a weak Jesus not needing an American style of fantasized success: power, money, fame. These reprise the mistake of the messengers asked to prepare a community for a non-Messiah.

First we hear, “I’ll follow by preparing a way.” And Jesus says, “You prepared for the wrong thing. There is no expectation of results or you will be as disappointed as pigs in non-houses make of sticks.

Secondly, we hear Jesus repeating the request to be messengers, none-the-less. And the erstwhile messengers are revealed in their priority to meet social norms before their work of preparation beyond the limits of today. It is to this subtle idolatry of comfortability that Jesus reminds us that there is no returning to any past glory to arrive at new life. Burial is no way to get to resurrection. Resurrection is a state of being ready in this moment, not the painting of a pre-numbered outline. "Your preparation for me is to tell of your own healing and already resurrection in the midst of a dead culture."

In good story-telling fashion, we return to point one and bring in point two. This drives home the message that there is no going home again (Yes, browse your Thomas Wolfe again), there is no stopping of time, particularly with Jesus, for anything that smacks of settling for this reward, that contingency, or some other partiality.

Friends, we don’t stop to settle scores. We advance where we can, We take our lumps. We continue telling new stories until they arrive and build a framework for a next tale less full of sound and fury.

= = = = = = =

time creeps up
on silent paws
as we prepare
for what can’t be
prepared for

in final moments
we set our answer
to a misheard call
mistaking endings
for a begining

and in this mismatch
have ready excuses
why prepartions
need not engage
our life’s story

we miss an arc
and settle for storm
disappointed preparations
follow following and more
preparations anew

Friday, June 10, 2016

Galatians 2:15-21

Year C - Pentecost+4 or Community Practice+4
June 12, 2016

The faithfulness of Jesus here equates to the grace of G*D. Faithfulness is thus parallel to Grace. This is a worthy comparison to contemplate over time.

Play with the 60’s song I Fought the Law and the Law Won. Is this the same as Paul’s, “I died to the Law through the Law...” This loss could very well be a crucifixion similar to every other conversion experience that moves from what appears to be a losing proposition to an expected winning side.

A question for Paul is why the issue of righteousness remains so important if we are working by grace rather than law. Grace doesn’t line up as well with righteousness as does Law.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Psalm 5:1-8

Year C - Pentecost+4 or Community Practice+4
June 12, 2016

A Psalm for the Flutes. Flutes are ancient instruments of hearing again a creative breath moving over the deep in tones too precious to be turned into everyday words. Here we move from groans to clarity by way of the lens of enemies.

Consider the gift of your enemies that refine your being. Can you hear that far-off song hailing yet another creation? Thank a flautist for momentarily embodying this ancient tune and do your very best to return these weary and wobbly words to a breath over a hole.

For the moment I will refrain from adding one more word about this portion of Psalm the Fifth. Listen behind the words.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

1 Kings 21:1-21a

Year C - Pentecost+4 or Community Practice+4
June 12, 2016

When was the last time a king wanted someone’s vineyard to turn it into a vegetable garden? I don’t know of anyone who has suggested that Ahab was vegan. Ordinarily we would expect a king to commandeer any number of humble gardens to be torn up for the production of an award-winning wine.

This is a fine lead into yet another reversal wherein Ahab is undone and all his feasts will be consumed by others. It is important to hear this all the way to the end of verse 21 and not stop with a generalized judgment.

For all those in and out of pulpits—be sure to emphasize verses 20-21. This is the prelude to redemptive preaching—finally, nothing is hidden. May the confession shared on Sunday be recognizable in the real world of Monday through Saturday. Confessional code-language is not confessional.

Ahab sounds surprised, “So you’ve found me, my old enemy!” Yes, a sharp eye finds us where we thought we were safe. All the parsing and excusing we have done has come to naught. We have been found out and there is no escape; no grading on a curve; no do-overs.

No matter how well we think we have covered our tracks, we are the reason we were found. Our elan vital has been encumbered by our very attempts to guarantee our importance and success (idolatry) and we have no more energy to take another step. We are at the end of our rope and we know it. Whether we are caught with an evil evil, or karma has burst upon us, or we’ve lost our compassion and don’t know where to find it, we and our descendants are out of luck.

Ahab and those associated with him will not know what hit them.

And, yet, reversals are not done. When we read a bit further we find Ahab appearing as a traditional penitent. The very threat and judgment made against Ahab is delayed. Its a wonder that Elijah doesn’t pull a Jonah and become angry at G*D’s seeming mercy even after pronouncing doom.

- - - - - - -

How do you compare the woman in Luke and Ahab here? Do these stories lead to different or similar forgiveness? Just be careful here, for as you respond you will then have to enter a third comparison with yourself added in. Does this addition change your assessment of forgiveness?

Monday, June 06, 2016

Luke 7:36-8:3

Year C - Pentecost+4 or Community Practice+4
June 12, 2016

Luke 7:36-8:3

One of the organizations I participate in is Love Prevails, which has as its intention to disclose(t), divest, disrupt The United Methodist Church with the purpose of removing its sinful language (“homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching”) from the Book of Discipline.

In this 3-D behavior, Love Prevails is seen as sinful by this institution for it raises uncomfortable question through dis-orderly action. Who gets to label whom or what as sinful is a part of an on-going dispute that is generally won by an institution, only to have it repent of misrepresenting sin a century or more later.

To put any emphasis on the woman in the story as a sinner is to side with the institution. To use it in worship or a sermon fails to communicate the energy of the story. All too many will buy the hearing of “sinner” as her descriptor as a fact. Just because Jesus has the word “sinner” also put in his mouth is not warrant to continue the falsehood. Note simply in Chapter 8 that women were always a part of Jesus band and so had no trouble learning where Jesus was. The storyteller could have cast this quite differently as a planned disruptive event intended to divest the institution from its forgiveness monopoly by disclosing an open availability of community life together (where forgiveness, like mercy, must always be presumed).

Try substituting different ways of describing the woman: “audacious”, “purple-wearing”, “in cahoots with Jesus”, “purposefully disruptive”, “wise one”, “saint”, etc. See what this does to Jesus’ response if he doesn’t buy into the institutional sin language. Might we hear him first say, “Thank you” or “Well done” or “Fear not” or simply “Live in peace” without tacking faith on as faith was also lacking as a category in the story from Nain last week?

If you need justification for any alternative reading, return to the verse just before this pericope, 7:35, “Wisdom is available in all her children/friends”. We are now dealing with a wise woman.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Galatians 1:11-24

Year C - Pentecost+3 or Community Practice+3
June 5, 2016

The more militant one is in a single tradition, the more one is set up to overthrow it as there is no end to militancy than revolution.

That to which one is militantly opposed becomes the next best opportunity to be hyper-militant. There is not much a convert won’t do to prove the importance of their conversion. This new arena is also where one can rise to the top most quickly without competing with layer upon layer of tradition.

The credentialing process in a new endeavor is relatively easy to navigate—just claim it. Even where you aren’t known, claims about you can be used. The current political indeterminacy is a good place where we can simply plug and play any name you would care to put in place of Paul.

All of this is to raise a question from earlier: how many layers deep is the origin of “gospel”?

Is it not like an onion-shaped Rorschach game? Whatever layer you come to is never a beginning word. As long as it is a layer, it isn’t a beginning. Beginnings do not exist but insist on being revealed. Blessings on your humble militancy or militant humility that must jump categories or mold where it is.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Psalm 146

Year C - Pentecost+3 or Community Practice+3
June 5, 2016

Focus on verses 6–9.

G*D (if G*D is definable) is not capturable by any detail or action. Every attempt to say what G*D is or is not is idolatrous. Even to say “maker of heaven and earth” is to fall prey to a conditionality for G*D. If G*D does not make what we project as a duality of heaven and earth, is G*D no longer G*D?

This also holds for our categorial imperative of faithfulness. When things break our way is G*D a micromanager to receive praise and if events go astray from our desire is that a test? Measuring never-ending time is a fool’s errand.

Justice qua justice may come close to something that can’t be broken apart and yet examples of justice are always prone to interpretation and contextualization. An insistent justice cannot be reduced to one or another position of hunger or prisoner release or anything else. Anything other than a justice not tied to a detail is a twisting and turning to justify our current understanding of fairness that breaks our way.

As we focus on praise it is important to remember that this is our category from the perspective of our past enthrallment with patriarchy and kings. Imagine G*D desireless of praise. What would that do to your theology?

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

1 Kings 17:8-24

Year C - Pentecost+3 or Community Practice+3
June 5, 2016

1 Kings 17:8-24

We are dealing here with a very high theology of G*D. This G*D meddles. Well at least as the storyline goes. We, of course, are able to mediate this G*D. We listen for a call. We go where we are sent. We carry assurance that some plan will see us through. We bump into a bump and draw this to G*D’s attention with every expectation that our assessment of the situation is what is going on. So we act and, hooray, everything works out better than could be expected. As a result our assurance is confirmed, we really are G*D’s right hand.

Imagine for a moment what this story would be without the affirmation that G*D’s “word” is in our mouth, that we represent G*D. How difficult will it be to let that go? How trapped we are in our transactions!

This is a very strong and evocative story that easily catches at our imagination. Now imagine you didn’t have an imagination. Can you see how this story tricks us into thinking more about G*D and less about Neighb*r? If those two are to be intimately intertwined we will need to lose most of the story: Elijah heard, “Go to Zarephath near Sidon, not that other one.” The son of a widow died. Elijah walks the boy down from the upper room and returns him to his mother. Elijah next heard, “Go to Ahab.” And on we go.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Luke 7:11-17

Year C - Pentecost+3 or Community Practice+3
June 5, 2016

Last week we heard, “What a surprise! Never have I seen such faith in Israel as in this Centurion.”

This week we hear nothing about faith at all and the ante is upped from healing a distant servant to a near-at-hand resurrection of a widow’s son (presumably an Israelite woman). There are those who would have this be a second-hand resurrection known as a resuscitation because another death is already on the way—discount such protective-of-Jesus devices.

What we have expressed here is compassion (all by itself—rather than being tacked on to faith). What is at stake, the impossible, an unconditioned event with no known access to it, is ever so much more than a card to elicit praise.

Catch a glimpse of the difference between the straight-forward description of Yeshua (“Jesus” carries too much baggage with it to be helpful) and that of an awestruck crowd. This event, like all expressions of compassion has no real audience. News is not to be spread. Engaging a G*D not at all concerned with “helping” “US” is plenty work enough. “Praise” and “news” short-circuit our participation in simple compassion that is to simply be lived in whatever moment is available. Such laudable results reduce our disorientation that leads to being simply present.

Monday, April 18, 2016


Year C - Easter5 or Assured5
April 24, 2016

When there is confusion, there is also the possibility of a clarification that will lead us further on.

In this case the disciples appear confused after Jesus gives a teaching, an assurance—”I assure you that whoever receives someone I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

This seems fairly humble and real. Where does the confusion come in?

It seems to be generated at a shift in the action. After the conclusion to the foot-washing scene with the words about “receiving”, there should be more of a stage direction than, “After he said these things, Jesus was deeply disturbed.” How should that "after" be played.

Reading silently can scrunch things up so we don’t feel as significant a break here that begins a parenthetical comment about Judas before returning to the assurance about receiving. Try deleting verses 21-33 and see how it reads.

The disconnect between receiving and loving is unfortunate in a culture that does linear better than tangled. We like our one-liners but miss the way they parallelism can bolster and inform.

I prefer having the sequence be 13:1-21, 34-35, then the disturbance and confusion (21-22) is about the lack of love between the disciples and Jesus (23-33). What is your preference?

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Acts 9:1-6. (7-20)

Year C - Easter3 or Assured3
April 10, 2016

It is easy to claim all differences are made by leaders. It would severely limit this story if it ended with verse 6. To leave it with mere obedience would be a disservice to all of the rest of us.

Things get interesting around verse 10 when Ananias is invited to go to Saul. There is every reason in the book for Ananias to not only ask questions about his assignment, but to actually choose to not do this mission impossible task.

Eventually Ananias does go when G*D indicates Saul is but an “instrument” and will “suffer”. 

Entering on tip-toe, Ananias touches Saul and simply describes the situation, “I came unwillingly so you can see again.” Note here the parallelism of “regain sight” and “filled with Spirit”. One can’t be said without the other being implied. The physical and the spiritual are not separable.

Here sight/spirit happen before baptism, rather than after it in Jesus’ case.

Now, awakened, Saul becomes Paul, reconciled with those for whom he was previously an enemy.

May whatever scales of judgment/justice have kept you from reconciling with those you were previously on the outs with, drop in the face of everyone having already suffered enough.

Monday, April 04, 2016

John 21:1-19

Year C - Easter3 or Assured3
April 10, 2016

In Luke the Disciples know up front that they are shifting from fishing for fish to “fishing for people”. The rest of the story is in practise of how to “care for people”. 

In John disciples just shift from Baptizer John to Jesus. The disciples are shown how to care for people. It isn’t until the end of John that we have a reprise of the Lucan call.

Fishing for fish isn’t always easy, even for locals who know the territory. Jesus called out to unsuccessful fishermen to break the pattern they had set up and fish from the other side of the boat. In this shift, a new vision comes. This gets concretized in Luke with “fishers of people” and in John with a ritualized encounter between Jesus and Peter—

Do you love me more than you love fishing?
          Feed lambs/children.

Do you love me?
          Care for my sheep/people.

Do you love me?
          Fish for people.

And so it goes around and around:
     Fish/Care —> learn how to do this —> fish/care —> learn more —> fish care ...

Monday, March 28, 2016

John 20:19-31

Year C - Easter2 or Assured2
April 3, 2016

This chapter began with a similar reference to “the first day of the week”. We have moved from the early morning crying of Mary to the evening doubting of Thomas (passing on the way da guys who came, saw artifacts, and went away believing without any questions).

This gives Peter and whichever of the other disciples was known as one Jesus loved (because no one else could or would?) a second chance at not being typical males with their boxes of categories that never touch one another. Of course they blew it. They knew what they knew and were sure as sure about it regardless if they were anywhere near correct or not.

“I/We’ve seen the LORD” is not an easy affirmation to make or witness to share. Depending on which Gospel story being referenced, folks don’t exactly know what they’ve seen when they’ve seen something and, if they finally figure something out, aren’t believed.

Which is to say, the offering of opportunities that might open self and others to experience for themselves is a precious gift to offer. Eventually this gift will come back to haunt as they can now return the favor to you to grow beyond your current understanding. Isn’t that a wonderful sort of karma to participate in—mutual encouragement!

Happy are those who see a larger trust-venue through their own experience without discounting the experience of others. In many ways this actually starts the other way around: First, no discounting of others; Second, no discounting of self. This is a helpful corollary to “love your neighbor as you love yourself”.

Keep truck’n Peter, Thomas and others caught in knowledge-based experience, you may yet follow the trail blazed by cry’n Mary M. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

John 20:1-18

Year C - Easter or Assured
March 27, 2016

Continuing the theme of loving partners and Judas as a beloved disciple, isn’t it some form of poetic justice that the greatest doubter, Judas, finally trusted the process Jesus had followed in sharing a better tomorrow in the context of not-so-hot today?

Make of Mary what you will, a physical experiencer of some resurrection, or of a beloved disciple, an experiencer of artifacts of some resurrection, what have you experienced and announced?

When it comes to our participation in the movement from the past to the present to place a claim of not simply repeating what has been and in the movement of the future into the present to plant a seed of a new beginning not fated to remain as it is, a key element is our sense of assurance that a greater inclusion and expansion is currently available to ourself and all. So great is this assurance that it resurrects us into completer and forerunner at one and the same time. Journey well and tell that story.

John 18:1-19:42

Year C - Good Friday or Annihilation Friday
March 25, 2016

The chief priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and teaching. Here is a better reason for Jesus’ death than any bloody atonement theory. Who Jesus associated with and what Jesus said, and did on earth are far simpler explanations for his death than a “strict father in heaven”.

Anyone you’ve associated with or anything you’ve said or done that would bring a calculated dismissal of you—whether shaming, shunning, imprisonment, or death?

Whatever your response, the question becomes sharper regarding the questions you receive. Can you call a false question false and live with the consequences? In today’s political climate we don’t seem to be able to address either subtle or over-the-top lies.

Whatever your response, the question becomes sharper regarding the responses you make when challenged. Can you hold out when equivalent cries of “Crucify” come or will you just wash your hands (even if you have to change stories to do it)?

Whatever your response, the question becomes sharper regarding your catalytic action of binding parther to partner. Looking back on a life, is there an equivalent experience of binding people into a new family?

- - - - - - -

Speaking of a disciple beloved by Jesus, imagine that it is Judas that is still at the cross, to see Jesus die (all the others have run?). What strange business if Judas is the disciple Jesus has had the most love for (being the neediest of it) and is now bound to Mary. Since John doesn’t tell of Judas’ demise can you think that it finally sank in to the disciples that Jesus last “command” was to love one another and that included Judas who was forgiven even Jesus’ death and remained beloved to the end?

John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Year C - Maundy Thursday or Courage Thursday
March 24, 2016

Jesus has already given four “love” commandments (presuming that love can be commanded).
     Love G*D with all ya got,
     Love your Neighb*r as you
     Love your Self, and
     Love your Enemy (meaning they are no longer your enemy though you may be their enemy)

In some sense this is a sequence that moves from easier to harder and it may be important to move through the list in the opposite direction.

Here we come to the most difficult of the love commands: Love each other.

This is the way others will know we are partners with Jesus’ partners as well as with Jesus. It is not that this is unique to Jesus, but that this is the visible evidence of a community of partners. The other four commands tend toward individual behaviors.

This becomes clearer as the evening and next day come around. Folks run. Solidarity crumbles. Creation quakes.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Philippians 2:5-13

Year C - Lent6 or Conviction6
March 20, 2016

False Dawn Sunday and/or Premature Fear Sunday

We went to see a Stage to Screen performance of the British National Theatre production of the ancient morality play, Everyman this past Sunday. It is death, ready or not, who reveals who we are and gives opportunity for us to prepare a reckoning for our life.

I’m not sure about the cause and effect approach here. At any moment any of us might be obedient even to death, remember intentional and unintentional martyrs. If that is all it takes to have a name above all names, some imagined heaven might be a Latino community with lots of Jesus’ running around.

We might ask about how humble it is to intentionally mock a war-horse parade by getting the smallest donkey to ride.

If we were to engage this passage with our own tongue, we might not just proclaim Jesus as a king or entrust our lives to G*D. We might go so far as to honor each one we meet by honoring G*D within them. How would you phrase a “Christian” Namaste? We tend to project a blessing toward others (keeping control) rather than receive one from simply another’s presence (unmerited grace).

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 and/or Psalm 31:9-16

Year C - Lent6 or Conviction6
March 20, 2016

False Dawn Sunday

Premature Fear Sunday

In thanks and in lament there is a tendency to reduce both to a simplistic response of, “G*D”. G*D does it all or needs to be talked into doing a particular something. Either way we are caught in an eternity of Palm Sunday expectation of glory upon glory or a Passion Sunday acknowledgment that worse can only be followed by still worse.

Well, Hooray when events go smoothly and Boo when there are difficulties too large for our grasp. Both these can find their appropriate place when the focus is on their last line: “faithful love”. Here we return to the mystery of life at all and life in its particular expression that includes us. Love larger than praise; Love larger than grief. Who can explain it, who can tell us why? Reason is foolish here. Wisdom knows to stay out of the way.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Isaiah 59:4-9a

Year C - Lent6 or Conviction6
March 20, 2016

False Dawn Sunday and/or Premature Fear Sunday

Have you kept learning through all your time? If so you have a larger library of experience and compassion on which to draw to awaken the weary to travel further. We are wearied when we stop growing and settle for entertainment instead of education. We are enlivened when we don’t hide from a life “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” where insult and spittle are expected responses to a well-lived life.

We can be brave when claiming a deus ex machina will come to save. We can be braver still when we know that to not be the case but to live unashamed is still a virtue.

May you not be unbalanced by either extreme praise or prejudice. Both are temptations moving us from a still point of innocence beyond naïveté.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Luke 19:28-40 or Luke 23:1-49

Year C - Lent6 or Conviction6
March 20, 2016

False Dawn Sunday

Premature Fear Sunday

There is simply too much asked of this Sunday to bridge whatever process has been followed during Lent and a next week. Whatever theme or program has been followed, it was far too weak to bear the burden and joy of a next week.

Our own bias is to drop the Passion/Premature Fear approach. At worst it inoculates people from walking whatever lonesome valley they are in the midst of. There isn’t a best.

Note the story Jesus tells just before this pericope—those who are faithful in a little or a lot, will be satisfied with enough; those fearful in any amount, will never know enough. With this final tale we can come to the beginning of the end of the journey.

Here in Luke the story is not a Palm story, but a Clothes story—a story of the wrapping and unwrapping of our lives. It is this acknowledgement of having been wrapped round in belovedness and a willingness to unwrap our life to follow a meaning beyond what we can but dimly imagine but feel deeply within.

This unwrapping takes us back to unity with all of creation, every stoney part of it, where we join a hopeful, “It is good!” with a refrain, “Good enough!”

So here we have a wrapping up of our Lenten Journey: Dust is enough; Sing a song of treading a stoney path out from a gloomy past, standing at last in the gleam of a bright star from our “native land”, a home of heaven here on earth. (see “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson).

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Philippians 3:4b-14

Year C - Lent5 or Conviction5
March 13, 2016

Each of us could put our experience and interpretation of life up against anyone else. The competitive gene is alive and well in each culture. Even in “cooperative” relationships we have those who cooperate better than others.

To set up Christ as a commodity that imbues us with some “righteousness” external to ourselves is to revert to the easy out of one atonement theory after another. There is a lack of creation-based theology in this approach.

The nard of life we have with us. How we proceed to use it is the question at hand. This is far simpler than some grand goal of a prize of some “heavenly” “call” that comes through Jesus who had quite enough to do with his own call. We might use this simpler approach to affirm, “The Nard is with you!”; use it.

For some this seeming reduction in the function of Jesus betrays their experience of an outside reality. For some this same process will affirm their inner experience. Blessings on both engaging the differences of others. This blessings is a goal worth pressing for.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Psalm 126

Year C - Lent5 or Conviction5
March 13, 2016

Continuing with Norman Fischer’s Opening to You: Zen-Inspired Translations of the Psalms

I am struck with the pattern:

           Great happenings
           Have happened to them
           The ones who have struggled
           Long with the questions


           Great things would have happened to us
           And we would be dizzy with the joy of them

One implication is that we don’t stick with our important questions long enough for them to come to a time of resolution. Likewise we don’t stick with our important sufferings long enough. Had we been able to sustain our questions and refused to short-circuit our sufferings, Joy would shine through.

Always we are distracted. Always we are in the midst of confusion. While looking for a way through we keep dropping the very keys that would bring us from our enclosures, our habits, to live as laughing and singing dreamers. These keys are questions and suffering where “Our tears our joy’s seed” are planted and we honor them all they way through to a bountiful harvest.

This is all too pretty and naive in a hard world of haves and have-nots and distraction and entertainment are the bread and circuses of our time. Yet, thus has it ever been so. So shift and don’t give up too soon.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Isaiah 43:16-21

Year C - Lent5 or Conviction5
March 13, 2016

I rely on one pair of glasses for my engagement with life. Sometimes I clip on a sunglass. Periodically I clean them. Still, it is one pair of glasses.

I am sometimes aware that a new set of lenses are needed. No not just for physical seeing, but envisioning a better way of living. A new way of living (new thing) is sensed springing forth just beyond my current ability to see it. This is a sense beyond a yearning. There are little signs all around and they are just under my new-lifedar. The lenses needed won’t simply make use of a different band of energy spectra, but will see the connections between this small sign today with its larger cousin found in tomorrow.

Do note it is OK to stop this reading with the 20th verse. Here ends the descriptive and leaves off the purpose of common good being for G*D-praise. That praise may well arise, but it is not the primary goal. Here we are looking for a better way through the current wilderness of imperialism to find the refreshment of simple water in a very dry time (yes, a climate change rise in oceans will increase the lament of water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink).

Monday, March 07, 2016

John 12:1-8

Year C - Lent5 or Conviction5
March 13, 2016

Mary’s pound of nard is later outdone by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus when they are recorded to have brought 100 pounds  of myrrh and aloes, other spices for internment of a body.

Mary’s pound of nard is later reduced by Jesus as he washes his disciples’ feet with simple water.

If Judas was upset at the money available from Mary, wouldn’t he have regretted not being able to tap into the buying power of Joseph and Nicodemus. There was and is a huge cash cow in institutionalized religion if only Judas could have stopped going for a quick buck. This short-term view is still bedeviling churches as they nickel and dime their budgets. Of course naming the fiscally conservative money gates keepers in a church as Judases is not good for church membership.

On the other hand, if Judas could see how Jesus dismisses pricey nard for his foot-washing scene, Judas would certainly have justification for getting at least 30 pieces of silver while he could, before Jesus gave it all away.

When you have a horse in a religious race it makes it easy to dismiss all evidence except the short-term result—sell nard, get silver, off both Lazarus and Jesus.

Where is the second-thought, the longer vision, that arises in this passage in your specific setting?

Thursday, March 03, 2016

2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Year C - Lent4 or Conviction4
March 6, 2016

The division between viewing anything from a human or G*D centric point of view is a basic misunderstanding of reality. No humans, no G*D. No G*D, no humans (well, this is more a trust issue).

Being a new creation, someone set on a new path for whatever reason, is not unique to a religious perspective. One can know they are in a bad spot on the basis of hunger and positing hunger as an act of G*D is not much different than the joke about Sunday School where every answer has to be “Jesus”.

If every reconciliation is of G*D, this passage is going to run afoul of another division between sin and righteousness. These are always in relationship to one another or they make no sense. There may be a larger or smaller shared portion of a Venn Diagram, but they are related. Should one cover the area we end up with psychopathology that has no social connection or one that forces everything into one way.

This is not to say that reconciliation is not an important consideration in any relationship as we are forever making mistakes and having shortcomings. This is the case whether the relationship is between humans or a human and G*D. Reconciliation for the purpose of judging trespasses or sinlessness is ultimately a losing proposition as this relies on a snapshot in time.

Go ahead and regard everything from a human point of view. Regard it also from a snail’s point of view as well as an eagles' (reread The Once and Future King). Get real human and attend to the glorious variety of humans. The more fully human your view, the more clearly you will be able to see any one human and whatever can be known of G*D. Now you can invest in the worst and wait for the best in each one.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Psalm 32

Year C - Lent4 or Conviction4
March 6, 2016

Verses 5-6 are at the center of this psalm. They are worth focusing on, even to the exclusion of the rest. Hear them in this translation by Norman Fischer in Opening to You: Zen-Inspired Translations of the Psalms

But then I turned toward my mistakes and shortcomings
Knew my unworthiness, did not cover it up
I said, “I will confess all this, since it is so”
And you forgave me for what I am 
Therefore let all the faithful
When they find their confusion find you
And pray that the waters of self-delusion
Won’t crest to crush them in their time

This is better than sin language so encrusted with anti-holiness that it can’t really be acknowledged for it is so deadly. We all are able to know how “unworthy” our actions are in relation to our intentions. “Since it is so”, confession is made the easier. What just is can be faced. It is the fears and the falseness that keeps us trapped.

What a relief to be forgiven so deeply that it goes well past forgiveness of an instance and goes to the core of who I am. This kind of forgiveness is a life-giving relief that sets us on a new journey.

And so a prayer for those who are still so confused about what is true in their life. As they affirm their confusion, may they find a deep forgiveness of who they are and now work their way back to any particulars that need attending to. If this prayer is not effective in their life, it will be, as we found in our own life, that self-delusion eventually crushes itself out of existence.

Don’t turn toward home without first facing grinding and grounding realities of how you got lost in the first place by covering up what was simply “so”.

Joshua 5:9-12

Year C - Lent4 or Conviction4
March 6, 2016

Do you have a Gilgal place, a rolling-away place, a transition place from basics to abundance?

This pivot point turns us from lost to found. It is a stone-circle decision place to take responsibility for the future.

It is at Gilgal that we return to Adam’s work of tilling the land and watching over the crops and environment within which the crops grow. There will be sun and no sun, rain and too much rain, drought and even more drought, bugs and crop-eating animals that will fertilize and take their portion. This time and place is also a Gilgal place where we are called to take responsibility for the well-being of today's commons.

As you listen to political ravings loosed from any grounding in facts, know that there are many who still think we will again be bailed out by manna. But it has stopped. We either take note of the work ahead of us or we will simply fail again—this time being our own worst enemy as our own little fascists use unfettered mammon/capital and ungrounded freedom to so divide us that we will no longer be able to stand.

Today’s political dangers bring back to mind Saul, a first king that G*D says will be your downfall. Saul was confirmed as king at Gilgal and also rejected there. [Here is a "rolling-stone" article about a possible equivalency.]

Gilgal stands not simply as a place of celebration, but of great prophetic warning. Try setting up a circle of twelve stones (more or less) and place yourself within that circle. May it be your listening place where you are able to cut through all the utter nonsense of an electoral season to hear where the commons needs repair, gather your courage, and hie ye hence to bring what healing you can.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

Year C - Lent4 or Conviction4
March 6, 2016

If Lent is a time of dealing with temptation, we have here a temptation to separation. It shows up in American politics all too readily these days. It doesn’t make much difference if the venue of this kind of politics is in the family, the church, the community, or the nation.

If I have a grumble then someone ought to do something to feed my emptiness.

This separation theme begins early with the grumbling that Jesus is welcoming and eating with “them”. It seems that “them” is always a setting in which there is a missed opportunity for celebrating. As long as it is “them” we are seeing, there is never a connection necessary for gratitude for someone else, no loving of enemy, much less neighbor.

This temptation keeps the separation game going. As soon as there is one resolution, another division becomes evident. One lost son returning leads to another lost son. And around we go.

Where do you see it possible to break this cycle of separation in a time when any attempt to diffuse the situation becomes a capital offense? You will be exiled from the party and that means loss of financial resources and in a capitalist system that means death.

Whatever you might identify as a way of intervening in the boom-and-bust temptation of separation, is a vocation for you—should you choose to accept it. It is a mission impossible to stand and wait here as well as to jump in and remind folks of a larger common good that will benefit all, not just the rich and want-to-be rich. And what other kind of mission is there?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Psalm 63:1-13

Year C - Lent3 or Conviction3
February 23, 2016

If the mouth of liars will be shut, how do you evaluate the truth-telling of this psalm?

Is this an accurate accounting of the reality of the world? Not all that much.

Try rewriting this Psalm to find how difficult it is to have this satisfy our longing for meaning. There doesn’t seem to be be a way to paraphrase this without finding a different paradigm.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Isaiah 55:1-9

Year C - Lent3 or Conviction3
February 23, 2016

Seek G*D while G*D is present is a wonderful teaching moment. When is G*D not present? A monotheistic G*D is always on duty and never distracted by the antics of other Gods. So G*D’s presence is always present and available for engaging.

Here the impetus for attending to G*D is that of getting in line as G*D leads a bunny-hop dance. Just forsake your wicked ways then show you have repented by getting in line.

This attempt at getting us all to think greater thoughts by simply mimicking a larger thinker ahead of us has never been knows to work. Our first response is to deny a new larger thought for it is “inconceivable” to us. At best we can mimic an action and come to experience what it means. But asking folks to repent because they aren’t in line is like asking a gardner to cut down a plant before it has been given enough nutrients to have the energy to fruit.

(Oh, for you political junkies out there, we are already far down the line of selling our water to profit-making companies through the usual political shenanigans of denying it has ever crossed their mind and then passing a last-minute legislative act and signing it outside the usual news-cycle. No prior consideration and no subsequent feedback loop—a guarantee of near-future disaster just far enough away to claim plausible deniability of the consequences. If it hasn’t happened where you are yet, watch for this process coming to a legislature where you drink.)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Luke 13:1-9

Year C - Lent3 or Conviction3
February 23, 2016

Following the trail of temptations we have moved from the first three (Comfort, Power, Privilege) to a fourth last week (Fear the doing of public good). This week we have a temptation to Miscategorize and thus control memes and judgment.

Do you think that those who were killed for political purposes or as part of natural law such as gravity were less able to resist temptation and were thus caught out? Isn’t it easier to see things in terms of sin rather than temptation. It makes it so much easier to make snap judgments.

Regarding the fig tree, we have the wrong glasses on if we are so caught up with profit that we lose a sense of timing. Isn’t it easier to be tempted to pare things down to one one principle (profit) rather than see the complex pattern of life that connects water and nutrients with sun and time to produce seed to propagate the plant (fruit’s use by us is a byproduct, not its primary function). This is the same temptation we have to monoculture produce and lose track of the heritage seeds that had learned to live with “pests”.

It is worth a week’s work to reflect on judgments and to imagine other ways of responding than the lowest common denominator of cultural norms. This has the possibility of opening our eyes again to a time before the stories of Jesus temptations—a time of seeing belovedness even before it is revealed in action.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Philippians 3:17-4:1

Year C - Lent2 or Conviction2
February 21, 2016

Where do you see your “citizenship”. Where we locate ourselves shapes what we will be persistent in. The values of the “nation” to which we belong shape our expectations and engagement with difficult matters.

Therefore, sisters and brothers, clarify your values and those with whom you are working. This clarity will help you stand firm and evaluate when standing firm is actually a slipping backward in your commitment for life does change and standing firm is a terrible decision when movement is needed to keep abreast of applying values in an evolving setting.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Psalm 27

Year C - Lent2 or Conviction2
February 21, 2016

Listen to verse 2 by Norman Fischer in his recent book, Opening to You: Zen-Inspired Translations of the Psalms
When the narrow ones gather their strength to devour me
   It is they who stumble and fall

Contrast this with other translations that run: “When evildoers come at me trying to devour my flesh—it’s they, my foes and my enemies, who stumble and fall!”

To do evil, the focus needs to always narrow to a bright line that cannot be crossed. Now, what I do is good and what you do is reprehensible.  Now, “evildoers” can claim all they do is done to defeat EVIL. No one appears more upright than evildoers who defend one narrow value over all others.

The imagery of “narrowness” inexorably leads to toppling over from a lack of a firm foundation, a wide base. Here the “Narrow Way” is not a helpful way for narrow is the way of Herod; wide is the way of Jesus. Remember this when you hear Matthew make a claim that narrow is the way that leads to life or Luke speaks of a narrow gate.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18

Year C - Lent2 or Conviction2
February 21, 2016

“Do not be afraid, your integrity is your shield; your reward will be an assurance of meaning.”

We are social being and so, of course, we get scared when we are left alone with our source of meaning. We do so like affirmation from our peers or other systems that will support us. We do get skittery when a deep darkness descends upon us and we are alone in what we experience as a grave—ours.

As per usual, it is only after the sun goes down that we are able to see a flaming torch illuminating an extension of our current understanding (moving from an individual child to a whole nation of people). Of course we need to move even further in another dark age (death) to move to simply people beyond tribe/nation/state.

Remember your shield and move ahead.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Luke 13:31-35

Year C - Lent2 or Conviction2
February 21, 2016

At the very time Jesus was wandering the countryside with teachings such as, “Those now first will be last and those now last will be first”, some (2, 14, 42, more?) Pharisees warned him off.

Whether they were protecting one of their own, a Jew by birth, training, and in death, or trying to rid themselves of a difficulty regarding their own religious practice, the response would have been the same. Taking information at its most basic level, Jesus recruited them to his own cause or did a spiritual jujitsu on them to have them reveal their resistance.

Jesus’ word to himself is that he will continue his healing even as he understands it will have consequences—it will mean his death.

His word to the others is that he will lie low enough to enter Jerusalem to these words, “Beloved is the one who comes in the name of G*D.”

Yes, we have just equated blessing with belovedness. To be a beloved before, during, and after such a temptation to cut-and-run is to be a blessing to all those encountered between the warning/tempting and a next opportune time to meet when the warning/tempting will be reversed and the Pharisees will have to decide about their closeness to Jesus in Jerusalem rather than out in the wilderness.

Do you read this as a temptation story following last week’s reading? Is it a call to double down on tasks and responsibility? Are we seeing a foreshadowing of a later encounter not recorded by Luke? Is this Luke’s response to a threat from Herod that is different from Matthew’s (a standing ground instead of high-tailing it to Egypt) and is it only age that makes the difference? Your decision will make a difference in how your read this in public. Decide ahead of time so you don’t get caught starting down one path only to start stuttering as a second and third option surface.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Romans 10:8b-13

Year C - Lent1 or Conviction1
February 14, 2016

No, this passage is not about dogma, evangelistic tracts, or any other mechanism that will divide what we trust in the depths of our bones and how we live that out day-by-day.

The language of “belief”, “confess”, and “salvation” are headtrips that have us avoid the hard work of walking our talk.

No matter what religion or culture is encountered, there is the capacity and capability of growing toward health.

Lent is an opportunity to look beyond and behind your own experiences to those of others in order to understand each more fully and connect more deeply. Blessings on an intersecting Lent.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

2 Corinthians 5:20 - 6:10

Year C - Ash Wednesday or Self-Recognition Day
February 10, 2016

If we are going to posit that G*D is making an appeal to others through us, it is incumbent to ask how appealing we are.

There is some junk stuff here about sin. Simply delete those phrases/sentences. This will help focus on grace as grace rather than grace being bounded by sin. If we don’t attend to this work, our work will be vain and in vain.

It will be helpful to come to grips with questions about an “acceptable time”. At a minimum there will have to be wrestling with acceptable space and energy, as well. These matters find their specifics in Paul’s life and in yours. Do find examples of Paul’s examples in your own life. If you don’t have an experience that can translate into Paul’s categories, don’t use that part of this passage until it comes to consciousness or your reading will ring hollow.

Rejoice that you are alive, can ring true, and clear obstacles between sisters and brothers.

Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16

Year C - Lent1 or Conviction1
February 14, 2016

You who live in the shelter of meaning,
   who abide in name of Beloved,
will say, “My refuge and my trustworthy partners
   are G*D and Neighb*r.”

Because you have made this commitment
   your place of engagement with everything else,
you will be able to hold steady 
   in the face of confusion.
These relationships will guard your journey
   through every stage of life.
You will be lifted through every sorrow
   and lift in return.
You will walk trustingly amid danger and
   honor each adversity as a teacher.
Your basic partnership will grow and grow,
   inviting new friends, even current enemies.
When pain comes visiting, your friends will gather round
   and send it on its way one more time.
In this way life will be deep, whether long or short;
   health will expand throughout.

- - - 

Hear echoes of this Psalm in Pete Seeger’s song, Old Devil Time:
     Pete Seeger

Psalm 51:1-17

Year C - Ash Wednesday or Self-Recognition Day
February 10, 2016

Some phrases from Opening to You: Zen-Inspired Translations of the Psalms by Norman Fischer can help us see the interior work suggested by this Psalm. These will help keep a healthy and partnered relationship between G*D and yourself, not a one-up/one-down hierarchy of roles.

     “... of my twistedness I’m painfully aware
     My weakness is before my eyes all day long”

     “Let the light of your eye in mine
     Clarify my tangles and snarls
     So they do not pull nor strangle
     And my heart becomes clear
     And my spirit new”

Pairing weakness and clarity is a helpful way to listen in to your internal conversation. 

     What keeps you weak? What happens as clarity begins? 

     What assists your clarity? What happens when weakness returns?

Such inquiries as these reveal where our treasure is. With weakness our treasure is some deus ex machina rescue. With clarity our treasure is humility.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Deuteronomy 26:1-11

Year C - Lent1 or Conviction1
February 14, 2016

When you destroy those alien to you in their land and settle it for yourself, there is a ritual asked that bears within itself a most interesting insight.

First, bring the first fruits (which probably won’t be the best fruit to come, but is to be representative of the rest of the harvest) to the Priest/Levite in the place designated as G*D’s locus (again, all too easy to read literally as uniquely G*D’s place and setting up a false distinction between sacred and profane).

Second, rehearse your received tradition of how you left slavery to enslave the land and lives of others.

Third, a three-fold celebration is to go on between yourself, the Levite/Priest, and those now alien in their own land.

What is this business of “the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty G*D has give you and your house”?

How might these aliens celebrate? Will they imagine that as your boat rises, so will theirs? This is an age-old lie used to keep labor under control. Will they have a bit of time to themselves when you are off celebrating that little relief is worth celebrating? Will they be truly joyful that you have gotten yours and they are at least still alive?

Where is the temptation in this passage? Is it removed?

Joel 2:1-1, 12-17

Year C - Ash Wednesday or Self-Recognition Day
February 10, 2016

Isn’t it amazing how we are so willing to live out of fear. Somehow a creative spirit we are partnered with and who travels with us beyond an innocence of Eden is turned into an engine of despair and terror. What we project onto G*D says much more about our disappointment in losing privilege than it does with a partnering G*D.

When G*D comes near, darkness, not light, is the predominant image? Really?

A G*D large enough to create and share with us is now imaged as a counter of beans and one who requires groveling before welcoming? Really?

This G*D has to be bribed with a threat that G*D will be mocked if we don’t get to set the terms of renewal of relationship? Really?

For such as these, we need to repent what we have done to our relationship. Lies such as these don’t bridge our felt gap. Really!

Monday, February 08, 2016

Luke 4:1-13

Year C - Lent1 or Conviction1
February 14, 2016

No good deed goes unpunished. No blessing goes without challenge.

Are you a “Beloved”? Well, here is a test for you: prove it!

 - - -

You’re right, you can’t prove it, only live it.

But, my, don’t we try anyway!

So don’t go too deeply into this passage by parsing out temptations for the whole story is over in the first verse: Full of Spirit is to be led by that same Spirit into and in Wilderness.

No matter what your temptations have been, are, or will be, such tests are always over before they begin. Then, when taking this for granted, we find ourselves at a right and ripe time and place to presume our Belovedness will bring us prosperity or keep us safe from temptation—Oops.

Fortunately failing a temptation to avoid belovedness is not the end of being a beloved (read the Velveteen Rabbit again as you begin a Lent that will leave you threadbare). Here’s a Valentine tradition for you—read the VR every year to yourself or with another or others (there is no upper limit).

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Year C - Ash Wednesday or Self-Recognition Day
February 10, 2016

The error of practicing piety publicly is a lesson to both piety practitioners and mercy providers. Watch your motivations for they are tricky rascals that mask the heart from the heart.

Of course being overly careful of right action keeps one from it just as much as slipping into idolatry from a piety end or hubris from an action decision. In the end these are so similar as to be nearly indistinguishable in ordinary life.

There is no storing up of treasure or giving away of same that will measure our life. Even to think of heart and treasure in the same breath is tantamount to heading in a crooked direction that will eventually build a crooked little house.

In these kinds of no-win situations we might as well beware of being wary about either our engagement with G*D or Neighb*r. Peek behind the scene by lifting the veil on the elided portion of today’s reading. Forgiveness of others is the antidote to our own hypocrisy and horn-tooting. Since we are going to go astray with both our acts of piety and acts of mercy, we might as well go to the big treasure and store up forgiveness by giving it away.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2

Year C - Epiphany5/Transfiguration Sunday or Guiding Gift4/Mountain Top to Valley
February 7, 2016

Ya got boldness? What then is your hope?

Got hope? What then is your boldness?

Whether folks are scared of you or have made you invisible to them, you still have agency, freedom, and intentionality to persist in your own growth and gifts.

Finally it is mercy that energizes hope and boldness. A mercy we hope for. A mercy we won’t let go of.

Mercy, even more than truth, guides us into partnership with consciousness and conscience. Give thanks for any and every act of mercy that has come your way. Give thanks for any and every choice you have made to extend mercy beyond yourself. Do you want to define G*D? Ya, ya, you can’t, but, if you could, mercy would come as close as anything can.

Beloved folks are merciful folks for they see belovedness where’er they gaze. May you be boldly hopeful, this and every day, as you receive and extend mercy.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Psalm 99

Year C - Epiphany5/Transfiguration Sunday or Guiding Gift4/Mountain Top to Valley
February 7, 2016

Greatness is measured by the ability to make others quake in their boots?

So have we measured history from one war to the next, each temblor larger than the last.

Justice is something to execute?

Forgiveness is something to follow with vengeance for wrongdoing?

So have we measured religion from one reformer to the next schismatic.

When the pillar of cloud moves on, what is left but decrees and statutes?

When a mountain is deemed holy, how can anything in its view be good in its place?

When a Psalm is so extravagant in praise, how do we return to everyday life?

So have we littered our lives with a revelation here and “should” there.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Exodus 34:29-35

Year C - Epiphany5/Transfiguration Sunday or Guiding Gift4/Mountain Top to Valley
February 7, 2016

O to be a conduit of relationship between G*D and Others. Imagine your face-to-face with G*D is no different than your face-to-face with all you meet. Is that enough of a proposition to chew on for now and probably tomorrow?

     Going to see G*D, let your face shine.
     Going to see Family and Friends, let your face shine.
     Going to meet an Enemy, let your face shine.
     Going to meet Yourself, let your face shine.

If you should see a shiny face, don’t presume a first order of business is to powder it (unless you are using a clown-sized powder puff). Such a face-full-of-shine might rather open our own.

Luke 9:28-36, (37-43a)

Year C - Epiphany 5/Transfiguration Sunday or Guiding Gift 4/Mountain Top to Valley
February 7, 2016

About 8 days after engaging others with comments such as, “There is no privilege guaranteed to people who strive after or gain the whole world for themselves. Won’t they simply perish or lose their lives?”, Jesus, Peter, John, and James go up a mountain to pray.

It is recorded that an inner light increased during the praying. This light was bright enough to bring the past (Moses and Elijah) into clear view. This light was bright enough to stop Peter mid-thought as it illumined both a dark cloud and a way forward—the belovedness of Jesus and all.

Prayer enlightens.

The second-half of the passage moves from mountain top to valley. Other tellings of this scene end with a reference to prayer as a source for healing.

Prayer heals.

Those who are in a mode of prayer that mixes praise, confession, and request may need to pause for a time of waiting or engage in a time of action. Prayer is tricky here. What aspect of G*D are you opening yourself to or engaging as a partner? This will affect what is meant by prayer and how it is expressed.

A Prayer of Light wraps up Epiphany and raises for us a question about our participating in a gift of prayer that is our equivalent of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Returning to a broken world in need of healing reminds us to be ready for Wednesday and, “From dust you have come; to dust you shall return; be beloved dust throughout your moment of life.” Will the dark cloud on your forehead announce a universal belovedness?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Year C - Epiphany 4 or Guiding Gift 4
January 31, 2016

It is not “nothings” that upset others. It is those who claim “All means All!” when all about we slip and slide away from seeing beloved family members everywhere and continually working toward a next plateau of common good.

It is not “nothings” who exhibit patient kindness or refuse rudeness. It is not “nothings” who insist their way is the highway or resent those who “got their own”. It is not “nothings” who rejoice in truth and simply persist.

It takes a great deal of “I am somebody”-ness to sense there is more than our current measuring rods of success. These understand an unfolding of known-ness in their life and the lives of others. These know cycle of child to adult and value each turning of the infinite facets of this gem that sparkles in the sunshine and in the darkest of darkness.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Psalm 71:1-6

Year C - Epiphany 4 or Guiding Gift 4
January 31, 2016

With you, G*D, I claim sanctuary; 
     help me not allow shame to run my life.
With your presence dance me to the moon; 
     let’s whisper sweetness in each other’s ears until we are strong.
Our partnership grounds our common work;
     in turn we are a refuge for many.
Together we loose the grip of the greedy, and
     open the manacles of the mean.
This work brings further hope and trust
     out of tenuous beginnings and fragile ends.
From womb to tomb we push each other onward;
     in such is praise revealed.