Wednesday, May 11, 2016

saying goodbye

Due to my upcoming retirement, this blog will be shutting down in its current form.  For the few who have tuned in, gratitude.  May you fare well.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

last Colossians Challenge: giving thanks

We've been here before, "giving thanks".  Gratitude is pretty central to the spiritual life no matter what your belief system is, so it bears repeating.  Giving thanks.   Present participle.   Ongoing.
"to God the father": this image of God has permeated much of Christian thought, but we must remember it is just an image, just one image of who God is.   Play with some others and see how they feel, how they fit, how they stunt or deepen your relationship with the Divine.
In this context, the author seems to suggest that the important image is less the name than the meaning, that God, whatever we call the Divine, is the source of all for which we give thanks.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

breakfast on the beach

Breakfast on the Beach 041016 (John ch 21)

Walking through the text, we may find ourselves in this 2000 year old story, if we listen with the ear of our hearts…..
Disciples have gone back to their old routine—they’ve been cut off from their hopes and dreams by death, by uncertainty, doubt and some weird experiences…they’ve had glimpses of new possibilities through Jesus’ life, and even through those odd appearances, but they can’t quite give themselves to it….so they go back to what’s safe, known, hiding behind the normal of life.
And they’ve caught nothing on their all night fishing trip.   They might be back to the routine, but it’s empty, like their nets.
But even there Jesus shows up.
We see a clear literary pattern to the stories of easter……early in the morning, Jesus is present, he’s not recognized
As we heard in the poetry of our psalm, early morning is a new beginning:  weeping lasts for the night, but joy comes with the dawn  (yesterday’s morning reading from Lamentations – God brings something new every morning).      we often fail to see it – to recognize it as God at work—but God fails to give up on us.
In the story, Jesus sees the problem, makes the disciples admit it, then suggests an alternative.  He doesn’t jump right to the fix, as we’d like, but makes them face what’s going wrong…
And they do respond.  They try the suggestion and change their fishing practice, surrendering to Jesus’ way instead of achieving it their own way.   Hmm.  
Perhaps there’s a word for our congregation here, focusing as we do on numbers and how we can increase those numbers.    In a video our Tuesdays at 4 group is considering for our next reflection, someone says “The role of the church is not its own growth…any organization obsessed with its own growth is essentially cancerous”  
Not that there is anything wrong with the metaphor of fishing for evangelism; after all Jesus calls us to follow him and fish for people.  What I am saying is we can lose our focus, and try to do it the old way and by our own abilities.
But when Jesus saw them be so remarkably unsuccessful, he suggested something new, something as fishing people they’d know was a bit silly, something counter to the fishing culture…. but as followers of Jesus, they had learning something….to listen for a word from God, even from an apparent stranger,  so they’d know was worth a try.
Surrendering to Jesus’ way instead of focusing on their own abilities, they had more success.
And one of them recognizes who it was.  One out of seven.  But one was enough.
Sometimes someone else has to point out to us what God is doing; sometimes we need each other’s perspective.  
And the story focuses away from the discouraged disciples to the breakfast on the beach,                                                                                                                                                      away from  present failure to future vision,                                                                                                               away from the humdrum of routine, to the possibility of resurrection,                                                                             away from the small world of individual achievement to the large community of divine nurture and hospitality.
Come, says Jesus.   Come and have breakfast with me on the beach.   Come and be fed, you who are weary of trying, hungry for something more meaningful, doubtful of purpose, uncertain of belonging, unsure of what this resurrection stuff is all about.
Come and be part of the community of Christ’s nurture and hospitality, where you belong with others, where you have something to contribute (Jesus invites them to bring something of their own to the picnic).
If we had read on, we would find that Jesus’ invitation back then has consequences….we are not in the community just to be fed.  We are called to take it out beyond the pleasant beach, or sanctuary.
We are to BE the community of hospitality and nurture, where needs are noticed, mistakes are made and recognized, where we listen for the voice of the Christ calling for something new, where the invitation is public, where both body and soul are nourished beyond the desires of our small selves, where the practice of community is not behind closed doors like last week’s story, but outside and obvious, like a group having breakfast on a beach.
Can we do it?  With God’s help, with focus on Christ instead of self, yes, I think we can.  Each of us can find guidance by listening for God, with the ear of our heart, for a change we need to me,  and all of us for a change WE need to make.
The question is, Will we?

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

name of Jesus

One thoroughly enjoyable Colossians Challenge group discussion later.....we talked about the names ascribed to Jesus, one of which was Deliverer.  Immediately I thought of churchy, theological stuff about "freedom from slavery to sin and death" kind of delivery, rescue of sorts.  But more curious thinkers than I gave me awesome new thoughts:
deliverer as midwife, who delivers a baby, giving new life to the world
deliverer as in UPS, who brings us something we have needed or wanted

Monday, April 04, 2016

penultimate challenge

Our second last challenge from Colossians is to do everything, in word or deed, in the name of the Lord Jesus.   Everything?   Really?   Those who are often dropping the name of the Lord Jesus everywhere seem to do more harm than good to the name!  But in view of all that has gone before, in view of the community we're part of, there's a deep challenge here:  what we do and say can point to Jesus, even without our using his name.   If our lives point to Jesus, or are sourced by his example, it'll show without words.
I suspect that the author of the letter to the Colossians was also aware of the culture that considered Caesar as "Lord", so to be, to do, to speak as if Jesus were Lord could be quite counter-cultural, maybe even dangerous.   When I was going through the ordination process, one question we had to answer was "What does it mean to say 'Jesus is Lord?'"  I heard of one candidate whose answer was the shortest ever received:  to say Jesus is Lord is to say I am not.
 In what ways do I show who or what is Lord in my life?

Sunday, April 03, 2016

heart song

I was reminded this week of the delightful movie, "Happy Feet", where each penguin needs to find her/his own heart song.   It made me wonder what my heart song it gratitude, or even deeper, is it Love?

Friday, April 01, 2016

Colossian Challenge: sing spiritual songs with gratitude in your heart to God

Church-going people might know a few spiritual songs, or hymns, at least one verse of a favourite; others might know historic 'spirituals', but many of us are more likely to know secular songs, to belt out along with Adele when we're in the car, or sing with Sinatra in the shower.

the challenge's question is, what's in the heart when we do?  Why do we sing what we sing?  Why do we memorize the lyrics we do?  and why not what we don't?  that may be a useful measurement of the heart, of our spiritual well-being.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Resurrection Reactions

Resurrection Reactions 032716

There’s a Monty Python skit which says, Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!  Well, nobody expects the resurrection either.  Not really.  Not in any transformative way.   We expect music and lilies and colored eggs, but resurrection?  Really?
 Society, and even the church, have domesticated lots of sacred stuff, notably hospitality and resurrection.    We’ve made hospitality a social grace and resurrection a public holiday.
What makes resurrection hard to believe?  (answers varied from ‘can’t see it’ to ‘breaks laws of nature’)
I suspect, frankly that nobody, truth be told, much wants resurrection either…I mean, if you can’t count on the dead staying dead, what can you count on? (got this line from sermon resource, probably David Lose)   It would just leave taxes.  And since people who believe in resurrection change their whole life paradigm, well,  that’s just downright ridiculous, so we should keep the old ways of thinking, thank you.  At least we know what to count on.
And it’s a Good Friday world.   Terrorism evokes all the worst in us, and fearmongering seems to be the current American paradigm. 
So we cower behind our own stones of disbelief, doubt, or skepticism, unaware that God has already blasted them away and we haven’t noticed.   Blinded by our privileges, and by our prejudices about such a mystery, we cannot see the possibilities, and go through life assuming we’re our own saviors.
So its not surprising there are all those same different resurrection reactions in Luke’s version of the story.   I wonder where you find your spiritual life in this story:
First, the women are perplexed.  That’s putting it mildly.  Their expectations have been blasted into space.   Then they’re frightened by an apparition of some kind….no kidding, it would scare me too if I came here this morning expecting one thing and a couple of guys appeared out of nowhere  like they were advertising Oxyclean! 
But seriously, it is frightening to be confronted with things outside our control that we just don’t understand.
But then they were challenged…..challenged to remember….remember what you’ve heard and experienced before this day….remember when you had hope, remember where you have known resurrection and transformation and new life. Even just think daffodils!
So then they shared what they’d seen, only to hear laughter as the men’s reaction. Gender prejudice was alive and well then, just as now, if a certain California tennis executive is anything to go by.
Then there’s the reaction of skepticism, but unlike many of us they don’t get stuck there. No, they decide to explore it for themselves.  Doubt and uncertainty are an essential, real part of a faith life, let me assure you!  And it’s exploring that moves us forward.
What an image for our spiritual lives…..perplexed by some things, challenged by others, willing to share but often laughed at.   Or we do the laughing in our skeptical fear of new ways of looking at things.
You see, resurrection does happen.  There IS a new paradigm being offered by God through this inexplicable experience.
Life is more powerful than death, and love is more enduring than tragedy.
Imagine what would happen if we lived as if we believed that.
Powers of prejudice would be blasted open and revealed and revealed for what they are
Stones of fear would be named and boom, new possibilities open up
The entrenched ways of doing politics and church and family and religion would be up for grabs, and boom, the rejected are accepted, the low lifted up, the useless given meaning….because life and love, not hatred and prejudice, have the last word.
When those women turned their back on the old empty tomb and faced towards a new possibility, boom, hope took hold.
I can’t explain it; I don’t understand it, but I don’t need to.  I see it.
Life is more powerful than death, and love is more enduring than tragedy.
I see it when people begin to understand the hearts of others, especially the enemy
I see it when we turn our backs on retaliation and move forward with alternatives
I see it at gravesides when tears and laughter flow together because of the trust that life is eternal as well as temporal
I see it in a millennial who begins to question the consumer paradigm of social media, and seeks the possibility to do good it offers….
I saw it this week in Ann, who told me her own resurrection story……..
Inexplicable.   I don’t understand it; I can’t explain it, but it’s real.  It’s true.  It’s powerful.
And it’s high time you, and I and the church stopped cowering and started acting as if we believed that
Life is more powerful than death, and love is more enduring than tragedy.
May each of us know it, live it, and share this resurrection in our own Good Friday worlds. 
Go, and release life.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

teach and admonish in all wisdom

Now it gets uncomfortable, this Colossian Challenge of ours!  The community members are expected to teach one another, admonish one another, which sounds more authoritative than most church members like (unless they're willing to "teach" Sunday School, and even then very self-deprecatingly).  But it's what makes a community a community, that we can share our knowledge as well as our ignorance with one another.   And it has to be done "in all wisdom".   We humbly pretend to be so unwilling to share our wisdom, while acting arrogantly in all sorts of other life areas.  Yet god has gifted every one of us for building up one another in our community.   What's your gift for teaching, admonishing, or wisdom?  and how are you using it, wisely?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Word of Christ

if it's not the spoken words of Jesus, could this mean the Word (of God) that IS Christ?  If Jesus was the spoken Word of the divine, then what word is God speaking to me?  and what does it mean to have it living in me?   not visiting occasionally, but indwelling me.?

Monday, March 14, 2016

Colossian Challenge: let the word of Christ dwell in you richly

There's that little permissive word, "let" again....
If I wonder about what "word of Christ" i might need in me, it might go back several weeks to the Peace of Christ....yet that might be a feel-good cop-out.  When I hear Jesus say a word, it's usually more challenging than peaceful, shattering my deeply cherished perceptions...perhaps a word like, "You give them something to eat", when I am bemoaning social inequity......or "do not worry" when there is such anxiety around us.....or"the gate is narrow and the road hard that leads to life" when I have worked hard to have an 'easy' life.
what word of Christ resonates or challenges you?

Something smells good, or What's that smell?

What’s that smell?  031316
(Light incense at Children’s time)
Story:  what’s that smell OR  Something smells good
what smells evoke what memories?   Coffee, bread baking, soup in the pot, Friday BTw, Sunday dinner, oils after a massage—the aroma can permeate the place, but more than that, the memories evoked speak of deep, good experiences usually…as much about the experience as the aroma, 
Bread baking smell really means my grandfather’s love, for example
In some churches, incense  
Our gospel story today has this phrase “The fragrance filled the house”
The fragrance of what, filled the house?
Unlike other gospel writers, John has this story of Jesus getting a foot washing and much more, a massage, a sign of deep respect, care and hospitality, by his friend Mary……other stories have different settings and characters.  So obviously, what fills the house is the smell of the ointment from Jesus’ footrub.
But really, as with our aroma memories, it’s more about the experience, and Jesus moves the critics from the obvious to the Real:
of love given,                                                                                                                                                               suffering acknowledged                                                                                                                                                             but life affirmed.
It’s Mary’s motivation in the act that causes something to fill the available space.  She went beyond the simple expectation of hospitality’s foot washing in that dusty climate, and anointed him.   Yes, it’s about his upcoming death, he says, but as a woman and friend I also know its about his presence, then and there—her delight in him, her love for him,  offers not only comfort  but also points to beauty and the very human need for tender loving touch.  And the house could become either a place of critical complainers or of extravagant generosity.   Awkwardly embarrassing, financially extravagant, smelly it may be.  But Jesus affirms it, and that’s what permeates the whole house
This incense too fills our church space with more than an aroma:  it smells of babies being baptized, love being celebrated, tender touch at funerals.   The aroma of praise wafts through our songs and anthems, our tears and laughter, and the fragrance fills the house…
 love given,                                                                                                             suffering acknowledged                                                                                                                                                             but life affirmed
And what about what we do beyond this particular space?  What do we do that points to the beauty of divine love, God’s extravagance, that offers tender loving touch?
Nursery huggers and ss teachers, Sunday dinner preparers for the community, hands held in small groups as we pray together, are they given extravagantly and lovingly?   So the fragrance fills the house?
love given,                                                                                                                                         suffering acknowledged                                                                                                                                                             but life affirmed
And beyond these walls?   Brows wiped at Advent House, hands held in prayer at Francis Center, food for the body and soul at Sanctuary house, ashes marked on foreheads in our parking lot……and the fragrance of divine love and extravagance fills the available space.
 love given,                                                                                                                                                                suffering suffering acknowledged                                                                                                     but life affirmed
And what about in our families and personal relationships and work places?  Do our actions speak
love given,                                                                                                                    suffering acknowledged                                                                                                                                                             but life affirmed.
Does the fragrance of our friendship with Jesus fill the spaces we occupy?
Mary’s love for Jesus gave her an open heart, and caused her to spend extravagantly, act outrageously, endure embarrassment calmly….and the fragrance of her behavior filled the house.  Does yours? does mine?  Does ours? 
Long after the incense is gone, will the memory evoked be enough to keep our hearts and homes, our church and community,  a fragrant house of generosity, or will we forget and go back to being  dank homes of critical complainers?
May the house of each of our hearts, and this house of God, be filled with the fragrance of
love given,                                                                                                                                                               suffering acknowledged                                                                                                                                                             but life affirmed.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

be thankful ??

what does it mean to BE thankful, as a disposition of the heart, when things aren't going well?  After we pondered this at our Simple Supper this week, it occurred to me that we really have to slow down to BE anything.....
today a friend shared that once she gave herself permission "to STOP and pay attention", life began to be quite different.  I hope we can all learn to take BEing time, regularly, or else we will roll through life DOing with little reflection on who we truly are and are called to be.

be thankful

colossian challenge thankful......another small BIG word: be. We're such do-ers in our society that we often don't take the time to reflect on be-ing...being human, being a child of God, being Jesus' people, being who we are called to be (though that one probably should be be-coming, not being!). Can you say who you are, your identity, without referring to 'doing', like your work, for example? 
Is thankful one of our be-ing characteristics?

Saturday, March 05, 2016

the importance of one word

"let" implies a choice.   It is an intentional act on our part to allow, let, permit, open to, the peace of Christ be the primary rule, authority, measurement, of our lives.  God does not force anything upon us, no matter what the bad theology of suffering might say, or what the individualistic self-sufficency of our culture may suggest.  We get to choose whether or not to permit a higher authority into our lives.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Colossian Challenge: let the peace of Christ rule in your heart

some bloggy thoughts on this week's challenge:
LET--allow, permit, welcome, open up to
PEACE--not just the absence of conflict, inner warfare, but the active presence of calm, rest and nonviolence
CHRIST--both the practical human Jesus, who practiced nonviolence and the interior life so he could live the exterior life in face of violence, and the Christ, whose intimacy with God was so close as to seem indistinguishable, allowing for harmony that is cosmic
RULE--take first place, inform all the rest of life
YOUR--don't worry about anyone else, get right yourself first
HEART--not just the seat of emotions, where peace is often disrupted, but also in the mind/thoughts, where unpeaceful thoughts often distract

Sunday, February 28, 2016

warning and grace

Warning and Grace 022816
Most of you know I’ve been on vacation….in warmer climes than here!  The hotel we go to has lovely tropical gardens, rich in palms and bright coloured flowers.  But 2 years ago, the gardener died, and with cost-cutting measures, has not been replaced.   So subtle signs of neglect have begun to show. It’s still lovely, but bushes are not pruned, so flowers are fewer, the back garden that once gave tomatoes and lettuce is a mess of weeds, and coconuts are not picked, so they and the dead leaves around them can be dangerous in a windstorm!
Today’s scripture readings came alive to me this week in that environment. 
Isaiah paints a picture of abundant life as God wants it, and Jesus a picture of untended life as we want it.
Isaiah shares a vision of abundant lush life, where everyone has what they need and a generous God tends to us, inviting us back into relationship,   broken by human politics and self-sufficiency.  It’s an invitation of great grace, the amazing grace of the Divine.
This may be the vision that hunkers in the back of Jesus’ mind when confronted by the eternal question: why do bad things happen to good people?  Notice he doesn’t resort to all the things we do to answer that unanswerable question…no theology that blames God, no facile explanations, no cynical turning away from God.
He points to a dying fig tree, and issues a warning.   A fig tree’s job is to produce figs, and this one has stopped, and its no use to anyone (picture of pomegranate tree at hotel).  Any fruit just drops and rots; it may seem to still have purpose, an occasional piece of fruit does grow….but it has no meaning—it feeds no one, brings no joy, is not part of the co-creation of the world…all because someone thinks the tree can do it all by itself.
Now there’s a metaphor.   It might be one that speaks to us as a congregation, or as individuals (it certainly speaks to us as a nation)…..our culture, and maybe even some of our members, may be right, like the owner of the fig tree, in asking what use is the church, why should we pour resources into it?  how well tended and pruned and cared for by the divine Gardener are we, what nurture and sustenance do we offer a hungry world?  Or are we so self dependent we grow a little fruit here and there but are not much use to the rest of creation?   Where is there something that is dying of neglect?
Jesus is pointing out what Isaiah pointed out: we don’t need self-dependence, we need self-criticism: some rational honesty about how our life is, how our relationship with the Gardener has been broken or neglected, about what needs some TLC from God…then we need to allow God to work with us.
Otherwise, the warning comes, we will wither and die in our own mess.  
In terms of the suffering question, Jesus doesn’t go there except to point out the stupidity of our facile answers….obviously people die when poor building maintenance causes accidents, and people die when evil leaders hold on hard to power in the face of faithful practice of others.
No, Jesus turns the question right back on to the disciples with this fig tree non sequitor:  what is your RESPONSE when bad stuff happens? that’s the key.
This week in a reflection on the psalm, Sr Joan Chittister comments on suffering: “what matters is what we do with it, AND what it does to us.”   That’s the warning and the grace in our texts.  What do we do with trouble, with suffering, with anything we can’t control?  And what does it do to us?   Lead us into withering fruitlessness, or hand it over to the gospel grace of the divine gardener?
As Fr Richard Rohr says, “Jesus builds on what his Jewish tradition already knew—how to hold, make use of, and transform suffering into a new kind of life instead of the old kind of death”
As gospel people, resurrection is our core.  We are in Lent but Easter is coming, and death doesn’t have the last word.  Life does.  Grace happens, that’s the promise we stand on (as we will sing later)…but we have to open ourselves to new life that comes from hard pruning, careful digging, and lots of fertilizing.  I pray we may be trusting enough to let it happen.

Monday, February 22, 2016

above all, clothe yourselves with love

and it doesn't stop there, this Colossian Challenge of ours:  the writer goes on, 'which binds everything together in harmony'.  The love bit of course should come as no surprise to Christians, or to those of any faith or none who know the cosmic energy that is Love.  But, harmony, seriously?   what are the signs of harmony in your life, really?  That's what makes it a challenge.

Our culture is so fear-engulfed, that we are in danger of compromising our hearts of love....not love as in erotic or sensual love, nor love as familial love, but agape, cosmic divine love....the kind of ludicrous, gracious, abundant love that God has for us!  i suspect that my efforts at creating harmony will only be possible in direct proportion to my belief in Love, both sharing it and receiving it, knowing myself as Beloved.

and like love, harmony will pervade all of life.  My relationships, my daily ordinary conversations, my use of social media even, will lead towards, or away from, harmony.  a challenge indeed.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

forgiveness as gift

Forgiveness is for giving, not for withholding.  Like all giving, including our financial gifts, if given from the heart, forgiveness given does as much for the giver as the recipient, often even more; it frees the giver from a heavy burden.
One of our parishioners said of her financial giving, "don't give till it hurts, give till it feels good".  I can attest to the truth of that for forgiveness as well.  Not that it doesn't involve hurt, because that's part of the problem, and there is pain in looking at oneself and seeing where one is holding on to something.  But phew, the relief can be palpable.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


The Colossians challenge continues to be practical: forgive as you have been forgiven by God. Oh dear. If God forgives me the way I forgive other people, what a dry, graceless life I live. But the good news is that God forgives abundantly, gracefully, and only when I grasp that incredible fact will I be able to even reflect on how I forgive others. This little phrase assumes I fully understand myself to be forgiven (and to need forgiveness); otherwise that little word "as" is as powerfully scary here as it is in the Lor's Prayer.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

bear with one another

"Bear with one another" brings to mind the 'for better or worse' of the traditional wedding vows....hanging in there through the bad times as well as sailing through the good times.  then it's more than simply patience, it's carrying one another with a patient heart.   But the author wasn't writing to  newly weds, but to people newly Christian, trying to figure out how to live together in a community of faith.  As we face the turmoil of change ahead, with our various reactions, responses and anxieties, sometimes we will try one another's patience (and all the other challenge words so far), so 'bear with one another' seems especially important.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Colossians Challenge: bear with one another

Up to now, our challenges have been internal attitudes or states of being, although obviously they have external implications.   Now we get to the PRACTICE.   Bear with one another is the external manifestation of patience perhaps, and takes us to the nitty gritty of living in community, whether its a church, a monastery or a family.  Bear with one another, when the load is already great; bear with one another when your patience is worn thin and kindness went out the window a while ago; bear with one another because you are both beloved partners in this community thing called the kin-dom of God.....

Sunday, February 07, 2016

it shows

It shows 020716
Today we have two mountaintop experience stories—one about Moses and one about Jesus; both would stretch the imagination, especially of the literalists among us…..
When Moses has been conversing with God, it showed—face glowing so bright he has to cover it
When Jesus has been praying, conversing with God, it showed—first his face then his whole self glowing bright in this case
It all seems a bit like something from the Twilight Zone….do do do do
and yet there is truth to be found for our lives in both stories:
we might first realize that we need to be intentional about setting aside a time and a place for prayer, for being in conversation, or even just silence, with God.
That’s primarily what Sunday morning worship is….a mountaintop experience.  It may not be a doo doo doo doo experience, but it is a time to put ourselves in the Presence, the Mystery, of the divine. It's a mountaintop not because of external qualities like great music or a good sermon, but because of what happens to you in the experience of it. And as we've heard before: you get out of worship what you put into it.....It is a time to learn, seek insight, listen for an experience of God.  Jesus that day came with that intention, and brought disciples with him for that intention.    Do we come here with that intention?  
And where and when else do go with that intention?  For some it’s early morning quiet time, for others its midday prayer, for others its our centering prayer groups or other spiritual practices.   But for a healthy spiritual life, we need to practice placing ourselves open to the Divine.

We tend to think of our spiritual lives as private, a bit like those disciples who “kept quiet and told no one” , or Moses who draws the veil over his spiritual life when he's out in public...and because we say nothing about our "private" spirituality, attendance in churches drops, spirits falter, and lives get distracted from what realy matters.    But Christianity isn’t a private faith, something not to be spoken about,  tho it is personal.   It’s public, and communal.  And it shows.  Or it doesn’t.  it may not show with glowing faces or shining clothes, but our individual and communal practice of being with God does show.
It shows in a cancer patient who realizes that his experience of love in the midst of pain and anxiety is transformative: it changes him.   And it shows.
It shows on a woman’s face before she has heart surgery, as her expression changes from fear to calm as she is encircled by prayer
It shows in an elderly nursing home resident who confronts her visitors with their un-faithful desire to gossip
It shows when two of our high school seniors, basically very shy young women, stand up in front of a hundred people to call us to go where Jesus wants us
It shows in a Muslim woman who has just arrived in the US, whose face lights up with the gift of a bottle of conditioner and a pair of gloves from a church member who had been with Jesus enough to know how to share God’s love without preaching
It shows in the commitments we make of time and talent and treasure that tell people we’re disciples, not churchgoers
It shows in our attitude to the first person we see after church, especially if that person has blocked our car in.
It shows in your reaction when your husband calls and says he’s bringing an Iraqi couple home for dinner in half an hour.   If you’ve been with Jesus, there’s a better chance of a Jesus response.
People know where we’ve been and who we’ve been with, by our words, our attitudes, our actions and our reactions.
This holy place of prayer, this sea level ‘mountain top’, is where we encounter the divine which leads us to lives that are changed, transformed, transfigured even
Thanks be to God.

Monday, February 01, 2016

colossians challenge: patience

Colossians Challenge week 5: clothe yourself with patience. This is the last "clothe yourself with" part of the text, which calls me to wonder if these first 5 are things we can 'put on' at least util they become part of us. Our basic personalities may not include these attributes, but I do believe we can practice them till they become more natural. I remember learning to play the piano as a child; not a happy memory, but the principle was true, life, like playing an instrument, takes practice. Today, home with a lousy cold and fortunately little human contact, won't offer much opportunity for practicing patience....but I bet if I watch my thoughts today there will be all sorts of impatient thinking!

Friday, January 29, 2016

blesssed are the meek

it's laughable to think that Jesus would applaud the spineless, for meek is not a compliment in our culture any more than it probably was in Roman occupied Palestine. but the thought of submissiveness that often comes with the thought of meekness, spurred me to consider it as perhaps an outward sign of inward submission to God.  St Paul calls us to submit ourselves to God so that the mind of Christ becomes ours....and we know Jesus was no wimp.  I happened to pick up a book as I was tidying my office ("How much is enough" by Arthur SImon) and read this:  in blessing the meek, Jesus is lifting up not the acquisitive and well-connected, but the poor, the powerless, and those more often oppressed than successful....most of us have a hard time accepting this...because we are among the privileged.  It is hard to seize a disturbing truth when a comfortable life depends on toning it down.   Ouch.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Colossians challenge: clothe yourself with meekness

Colossians challenge week 4: clothe yourself with meekness. In what ways are humility and meekness the same and different, I wonder....two completely different words and etymologies in Greek so it's beyond me! what comes to mind is that meekness may be more behavioral and humility more attitudinal but stay tuned and let me know where your mind goes....join us in person on Tuesday at 4pm at church for shared wisdom!

today. Now

Today, now 012416
(notes only; this is an interactive conversation sermon)
Ancient story about mostly somewhere else (in Chittister’s commentary on RB)

Many of us spend a lot of time somewhere else.   Primary principle of Buddhism: be here now.  It seems to me that Jesus was always fully present to the moment.
Psalm:   when do you hear the universe speaking? Without words, the Word gets out.    Examples, 8th grader heard “Awe” in moonlight; herd of deer  “care for earth….. sharing                                                                                                            
  If you’re somewhere else you miss it….be here now, today.
Epistle: humourous image Paul uses to remind us we belong to one another and since Jesus isn’t here, we are God’s body.  Every one of us has a part to play.  But not one of us has to do it all. With our physical bodies, God’s action gets out.    what body part are you?  ….. sharing                                                                                                                  If you’re somewhere else you don’t hear God talking to you about you, rather we judge other people.   Be here, now, today
Gospel: Jesus sees himself as a fulfiller of God’s promises, and doesn’t hesitate to say so.  Do we?  Where do you see Spirit at work?  Good news shared?  Prisoners released?  Blind given sight or insight?  The oppressed freed? God’s love proclaimed?                                                                                                                                                                     If you’re somewhere else you make excuses.   Be here now.  today
If we let the Spirit have its way with us, which is simply what Jesus did, God’s promises begin to get fulfilled.   We need to let the Spirit loose in our lives, here, now, today.   This moment is all we have.  Our growth in faith is a process, but it’s “lived out in a million little ways day by day” (Chittister)
 Also from another ancient story:  We need to be “an ear that pays attention to every single thing the universe is saying”  Now.  Today.  
Jesus didn’t say, maybe in 2000 years if people get it then God’s dream will be fulfilled.   He said today.   Here now.