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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Light, Life, Love

Doesn’t the world have enough fearful dictators, gated communities, neighborhood watches, laws protecting vigilantes, check points, security gates, body scans and metal detectors?     sermon, “When The Teacher Disappears”, 03-25-12

The litany above is of serious issues in today's world, none of which has an easy fix.  Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by all that is going on around us when what is really weighing us down are not the things themselves but rather our perception of them and reaction to them.

Jesus never said living the Gospel is easy, quite the contrary - it involves soul searching and sacrifice, and in the end action.  It is not easy, but it is simple: light overcomes darkness, life overcomes death, love overcomes fear.  Jesus also tells us that we are the light, life and love of the world. 

Recently the daily blog Inward/Outward quoted Lawrence Kushner saying,  “When you see something that is broken, fix it. When you find something that is lost, return it. When you see something that needs to be done, do it. In that way, you will take care of your world and repair creation.”

Perhaps the best thing to do when we feel the weight of the world is to refocus on something closer to home that we perceive as fearful and ask how can I bring light, life, and love into the situation.

If you do have such an opportunity we would love to hear about.   Or, maybe you already have such a story to share.  In any case, your thoughts and comments are encouraged.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


The sun rises and the sun goes down, and hurries to the place where it rises.  -Ecclesiastes 1:5

Here comes the sun...and I say, "It's all right."  - George Harrison

Yesterday at 1:14 am EDT was the Vernal Equinox when the center of the Sun crossed the Earth's equator from southern to northern hemisphere.  In other words, the first day of Spring in the northern hemisphere.

Here in Washington D.C. the famous cherry blossoms are at peak.  A phone call from a friend visiting Savannah, GA confirmed azaleas in full bloom there.  Shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops are coming out of closets.  Gardens are being weeded and planted.  Baseball's opening day is only two weeks away.  And all manner of Spring festivals are and will be celebrated. 

Spring is a time of life and light that reminds us of the eternal regenerative energy of the universe.  Things gone dormant during winter come to life again, even and especially the human Spirit.  

The story is George Harrison of the Beatles wrote the song “Here Comes the Sun” in Eric Clapton's garden using one of Clapton's acoustic guitars.   Since the Beatles' manager Brian Epstein had died in 1967, the band had to handle more of their accounting and business affairs, which Harrison hated. He wrote the song after attending a round of "business" meetings. 

Wherever you are today, at work, school, home or somewhere else, and whatever you doing, take a break from "business" to spend time outside soaking in the regenerative energy of Spring.

"Spring" - say it out loud.  Even the word sounds refreshing.

Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away;
for now the winter is past, 
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove 
is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.    -Song of Solomon 2:10-13

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rumors and Patterns

We end up believing the rumor we spread about ourselves.    
So, why not make it a good one?        - John Bell

In crisis one does not rise to the occasion but defaults to the pattern.    Roger Nishioka

March Madness is upon us.  Of course I’m talking about the NCAA Basketball Tournament.  Basketball like most other sports is a combination of physical and mental preparation, repeatedly drilled and trained.  Any successful athlete will tell you that the lack of either one will become evident when the game or match is on the line. 

Too many years ago when I played high school basketball our coach would end some practices with free throw shooting and on those days you couldn’t go to the locker room until you hit ten consecutive shots.   Sometimes were a breeze, and others were tortuous.  But when games were on the line, we made our free throws.

Most other practices ended with running sprints until we were exhausted.  The results were we rarely ran out of steam at the end of a game.  By the way, our team had an undefeated season.

The same principles of practice and preparation are true in all aspects of our lives especially our spiritual lives.  This is why prayer, meditation, reading, generosity, compassion, et al, are called spiritual “disciplines” and “practices”.    

Being intentional about regularly nurturing ourselves spiritually, or not, prepares us for daily living.  If you don't already have a regular spiritual practice, why not start with something simple like five minutes of daily silence and prayer.  Sign up for and online "thought of the day" to carry with you, one I like and use is HeartQuotes (they also have an app for mobiles).  Or if you already have a regular practice, extend or deepen it a little.

Whatever you do, remember we literally become our own rumors and default to our patterns.  The good news is we have the God given imagination and ability to create these rumors and patterns.

 Share below how your spiritual practices have and continue to shaped your life. 
Practice makes perfect!  –Countless parents, teachers, and coaches

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Life Sentence

“ many cultures, the act of naming is regarded as a very, very powerful thing...naming represents a celebration of becoming aware, of knowing the universe at a different level than we had known before.” - Dr.James Gates, Jr., On Being interview with Krista Tippett

"The simple act of naming shifts the lives of Abram and Sarai from local to universal, from human to divine."    - from "God Carriers", sermon 03-04-12

The biblical story in which God changes the names of Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah is not only a story of ancestry and progeny but also a story of awakening. Their consciousness is broadened beyond the confines of immediate family and circumstances as they are invited to imagine themselves procreating and participating with the Creator in creating a new world. Being told that they will be father and mother to “many nations” is a reminder to them and to us that within each human being is endless potential and possibility.

Who among us doesn’t get bogged down with and consumed by the particularities of daily living?  Is there anyone who never feels burdens, pressures and expectations associated with family, school, work, and even play?   Of course not, and therein lies the dilemma. 

Too often we perceive the confines of life as forces and dynamics outside ourselves and beyond our influence.  We see life as something happening to us instead of something in which we participate and play an important role.  Our life’s sentence has us as the object instead of the subject.

It is significant that God doesn’t change the world around Abram and Sarai.  God changes them.  With a slight alteration of name, they are liberated to see themselves differently and become, with God, co-creators of the future. God gives them a new life sentence.

That’s all it takes - a new name that is not so different in appearance but ever so different in meaning.  It is amazing how the world around us changes with only a slight change in perspective.  

So why not try it?  Take on a new name.  If you can’t readily think of one why not try one Desmond Tutu suggests: "God Carrier." Imagine yourself, and others, as a vessel of the Image of God and see how differently you see the world around you.  Become the subject of your life instead of the object.

Let me know how it turns out.