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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

From Pentecost to Trinity and Back

In the Christian tradition it is midweek between Pentecost and Trinity Sundays, which to many people is either hocus-pocus of magical thinking or ho hum of religion as usual. Perhaps it is both, a movement from one to the other.

In the liturgical calendar it takes only a week to move from freedom and possibility to confinement and certitude, from spiritual potential to doctrinal dogma, from Holy Spirit to Holy Trinity, from who we can be to what we should believe. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - nailed down once and for all.

The actual journey from Spirit to Trinity, took about three hundred years. The Empire first feared and persecuted, then tolerated and tamed, and finally domesticated, dominated and captured the Wind, Fire, and Tongues in cages of imperial religion.

But the Spirit won't give up. It finds the loop holes in doctrine, dogma, and institution. The Spirit seeks out places of possibility and potential to create and re-create in our time, our place, our imagination.

Some say the Wind of Freedom is blowing again. The Fire of Freedom is burning once more. Tongues of Truth are again shouting in streets.

Perhaps what was once nailed down is being resurrected.



   


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A Night At The Opera?

It is time for us all
To decide who we are
Do we fight for the right
To a night at the opera now?
Have you asked of yourselves
What's the price you might pay?
Is this simply a game
For a rich young boy to play?
The colours of the world
Are changing day by day
~ Les Miserables, (the musical), Claude-Michael Schonberg   

We are living in times when long held social norms, religious beliefs, political ideology, and spiritual values are being challenged, tested, ignored, and negotiated.  Human history show us that every few hundred years established cultures must adapt to the very advances in knowledge, technology, and institutions that they themselves bring about. In short, our strengths become our weaknesses, and we become our own worst enemies. 

Such times have always inspired people of vision and imagination to ask the questions, "Who are we? And, how do we be human in our time and place?" Of course these questions lead to other questions. The responses become the foundation for a period of adaptation that leads to new knowledge, technology, and institutions.

Such times are also usually filled with tension, fear, and violence as many people fight against any kind of change and desperately hold on to the familiar, not realizing that this dynamic is inevitable and adaptation leads to survival.  As Jesus once said, "New wine does not fit into old wineskins." 

Another thing history shows us is that how we respond to the questions of transformative times (Who are we? How do we want to live?) determines who we become. 

    


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Coming Apart At The Seams

Sometimes, like right now, I feel like a scratched record or a defective replay key that keeps playing the same tune over and over. Maybe it's because I am stuck right now. Maybe it's because everyday another stitch pops in a seam of my perceived reality. The world as I, and perhaps you, know it seems to be coming apart at its seams. 

So today, my inner record needle hits a scratch and jumps back. My replay key is shorted out, prompting me to search my own thoughts and words to rekindle some hope. 

What I find are, not one, but two previous blogs titled "Going to Seed." (links below) So you see, it's not the first, or last, time this old song gets repeated. I have a tendency to do that - repeat myself. 

To use another metaphor for the same dynamic, remnants from torn or burst seams can become beautiful, functional quilts and imaginative fabric mosaics.


Going To Seed #1

Going To Seed #2


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Skin In The Game

"... the human body is the preeminent arena for God’s revelation in the world, the medium through which God’s Holy Spirit is most clearly expressed." Luke Timothy Johnson, "The Revelatory Body: Theology as Inductive Art" 

"I believe there is no path to God. A path to God implies that God resides somewhere and that getting there takes time as you move from where you are to where God is...For me, the key isn’t to walk a path toward God but to 'be still and know' that God is already here: in you, with you, and as you."Rabbi Rami Shapiro

"Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it." ~ Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 12:27

There is an old chestnut of a prayer that goes like this:

Prayer - "God, why don't I ever win the lottery?"

God - "Help me out a little and buy a ticket!"

The Christian doctrine of Incarnation has been traditionally confined to Jesus as The Christ (Messiah). However a close (and sometimes obvious) reading of the wider biblical text presents a much more universal understanding of Divine Presence throughout all of creation and especially in humanity. The God of the Bible continuously described by a string of prepositions indicating incarnation - with, in, around, above, below, through, beside..." In short - everywhere!

The great challenge of current religious endeavors is not to believe in disembodied doctrine, but rather to live embodied values that recognize and respect true Incarnation.

One way the community of faith where I serve is being incarnate is through something we call "Sermons of Service."  When a month has five Sundays (four times a year) we forgo our regular Sunday morning worship, have a brief worship of 10-15 minutes, then engage in prearranged service projects like assembling hygiene kits for homeless ministries, picking up trash in neighborhoods, cleaning apartments for transitional housing organizations, and providing meals for shelters.

The unofficial motto of our "Sermons of Service" is the quote often attributed to St. Francis, "Proclaim the Gospel, and if necessary use words."

This is not bad advice, considering we actually are the embodied Gospel!