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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Here Comes the Sun!

Today at 5:58 p.m. is the vernal equinox. Below is a slightly adapted reflection from 2013.

Spring Threshold

Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?   Isaiah 43:18-19

Today is the first day of Spring in the northern hemisphere of Earth. At 5:58 p.m. today the tilt, rotation, and orbit of the Earth are such that the Sun is directly over the Equator and moving north.

The wonder and vastness of this mysterious yet predictable moment becomes evident to us as days become longer, the sun rises higher in the sky, and the dormancy of winter stirs awake in countless ways.

The early days of Spring are days of transition not only in the Earth as green shoots appear, blossoms flourish, and foliage comes alive; but also above the Earth as cold and warm air collide in turbulent ways bringing both destruction and nourishment.

Spring reminds us that transition and change in our lives just like the seasons of Earth continually ebb and flow between dormancy and new life. And like the storms of Spring, changes in life produce turbulence as former ways collide with the new.

Today, and everyday for that matter, is a threshold where the "no longer" and the "not yet" meet. To stand in the threshold too long is to endure unnecessary turbulence and even pain.  However, stepping through opens us to emerging possibilities and potential of Life.

Enjoy this from 50 years ago -   Here comes the Sun!  

Happy First Day of Spring!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Reformation? or Transformation!

Many people in religious and spiritual circles think and believe that we are living in a time of reformation similar to time in Western history we know as The Reformation or The Renaissance.

Both The Reformation and The Renaissance were times of great change that involved reshaping and reforming the religion, art, and science of the time. However, this was mostly change in form rather than substantive, transformative change. Such transformation, or dramatic change in form and substance, came later with The Enlightenment when seeds of radically new concepts of freedom, equality, and independence took root. This created a tension that we continue to live with today between the dynamics of reformation, which cling to old substance in new forms, and transformation that seeks new substance and form.

In the broad story of the Bible we see this same tension between reformation brought on by empires and kings, and transformation imagined and announced by the prophets of the Old Testament and evangelists of the New Testament. Kings and empires preserve the status quo with just enough change in form to placate most people. Prophets and evangelists inspire toward radical change that fulfills deep desire for meaning within all people.

The New Testament word for transformation is metamorphosis, the word used to describe the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly. This is the kind of radical change in form and substance called for by not only prophets and evangelist of old, but voices of today calling us into transformation not merely reformation.


Here are some biblical voices of transformation:

Do not remember the former things,
   or consider the things of old. 
I am about to do a new thing;
   now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
   and rivers in the desert.   ~ Isaiah 43


Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transformed before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. ~ Matthew 17

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.  ~ Romans 12

Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. ~ 2 Corinthians 3

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Several readers have suggested that "Stardust to Dust..." is not just for Ash Wednesday, but also a meaningful contemplation throughout Lent or anytime.  So, I'm keeping the link here for a couple of weeks.

 "Stardust to Dust - A Deep-Time Creation Contemplative Liturgy for Ash Wednesday."

Feel free to share!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Stardust to Dust

Ten years ago I ran across a concept called a "cosmic walk" that had been conceived by a progressive, evolutionary minded nun, Sister Miriam Therese MacGillis.  I adapted her labyrinth walk into a 28 station pilgrimage through creation in deep-time. The first version of my adaptation was the culmination of a study on evolutionary faith by a group at Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC. The second and subsequent versions have all been on Ash Wednesdays. We go station to station in a darkened, candle lit sanctuary in a participatory, meditative experience which ends with imposition of ashes. Through the years I have added scripture, tweaked photography, updated some of the readings, and given it the name, "Stardust to Dust."

Tonight at Trinity Clearwater Presbyterian in Clearwater, FL a group of Ash Wednesday pilgrims will again travel through time and space to experience our oneness with the universe, our interconnection with Creation, and the One Eternal Presence in our lives. From Stardust we come and to dust we return. If you are in the Tampa Bay, FL area I invite you to join us in this unique Ash Wednesday observance.

For those in other parts of the country and world, I offer for the first time a video version of "Stardust to Dust," available to One Eternal Presence readers.   Sometime today, Ash Wednesday, or anytime really, find a quiet, darkened place where you can be undisturbed for about 25-30 minutes, light a candle, follow the link, and experience "Stardust to Dust - A Deep-Time Creation Contemplative Liturgy for Ash Wednesday."

Feel free to share!

 

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Universal Language

I love music.  Even though I don't identify as a musician,  I enjoy all kinds of music, even music that many don't recognize as music.

Music has been called the universal language. It has been said to bridge the bounds of culture. It can ignite anxiety or sooth the soul. Music stirs our imaginations as well as calms a racing mind. Music communicates in ways that words fall short. Even words themselves are musical.

I looked up online the elements of music and found numerous lists claiming anywhere from 5 to 12 basic elements. Music is not as simple as it sounds. So, tapping into my thoughts last week on "complex simplicity," I've come up with my own simple list.  To me, in order for music to be music, it needs three things: sound and/or silence, combined with pace.  I think all other elements are derived from these three.

This week our church is hosting the the Florida Vocal Association assessments of all the Pinellas County, Florida middle and high school choral groups. What this means is about 2500 teenagers cycling through our building, pouring from buses in the parking lot, warming up in the music room over my study, sight reading in our chapel, and performing in the sanctuary.

There is literally music everywhere in the building, all week long! It's not just in the rooms already mentioned, but on sidewalks, in hallways, and lobbies.  Anxious silence sings as a group files into the sight reading room. Nervous sounds come from the warm up space. Excitement exudes as rapid chatter fills the lobby when all is done.

Our lives are also made up of music. Everything we experience has a sense of sound, silence, and pace, generated from without and within. Our hearts beat. Lungs breath. Minds imagine. Ears hear. Eyes see. Voices speak. Music abounds.

Ancient philosophers, sensing and observing the sounds, silence, and pace of creation itself, described them as "music of the spheres."

Take time to enjoy the music of life. It may not be as dramatic and obvious as a building filled with teenage choirs, but it is always with us, waiting for us to stop and listen - even better to sing, play, or dance with it.

Music really is the universal language!