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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Reimagining "Remembering"

 The past is not dead.  It's not even past.  
William Faulkner   (Requiem for a Nun)

You pile up enough tomorrows, and you'll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.     
 Meredith Wilson  (Harold Hill in The Music Man)

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
The Psalmist (Psalm 118:24)

Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Jesus (Matthew 6:34)

Birthdays and Anniversaries are times to remember and re-imagine.  This week I seem to be doing a lot of both since last Sunday was my birthday and next Sunday will be Anniversary Sunday at Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church.  And it has gotten me to thinking about how much our past informs who we are today and how we look toward the future.

We all have people, events, and stories in our lives that shape who we are and even how we remember our lives.  We also have stories that others have told us that we accept as truth.  Some of these we cherish and honor while others we had just as soon forget.  Either way,  who we are today is the result of all our yesterdays.

In a way this all sounds rather fatalistic.  However, in reality, it is quite dynamic because each time we remember something we have the opportunity to turn that memory around and look at it from different perspectives and in doing so re-imagine it with the context of the present moment.  And in doing so we actually create a new memory that shapes our future.

The past is always with us. We can't change that.  But we can control how we react to it.  We can release the grip that tragedies, mistakes, and regrets have on us by grieving losses, learning from missteps, and letting go of blame.  At the same time we can also embrace times of success, joy, and satisfaction.  One thing is for sure, whichever we choose is who we are now as well as the beginning of tomorrow.

So, give it a try - re-imagine how you remember and see what happens. 


Wednesday, April 18, 2012


"Have a wonderful day."   How many times have your heard or said this? Did you really mean it or actually hear it?

Wonder seems to be missing in much of daily life.  When did you last take time to think or speculate curiously about the world around us, to be filled with amazement and awe, or to marvel at things normally taken for granted like trees, leaves and flowers, or how the car you're driving, or train you're riding works?

There is much wonder around us and within us.   So much so that it can quickly become overwhelming to imagine the thoughts, systems, skills, emotions, imagination, and myriad processes going on about us at any moment.  Yet, to stop and immerse oneself in that moment is the beginning of not only wondering but actually feeling wonder.

Yesterday I stood on the National Mall with thousands of others and witnessed the flyover of the Space Shuttle Discovery sitting atop a Boeing 747 aircraft.  It was truly an amazing and wonderful event.  And one of the most beautiful things about it was all the people not only on the Mall, but those all around the city and surrounding area on lawns, rooftops, sidewalks and roadsides, not to mention perhaps millions watching on television, stopping for a moment in a busy day to wonder.

Like the old movie title says, it really is "A Wonderful Life."   Take a few minutes today to stop and wonder about something.  When you do, I would love to hear about it. 

I hope you really do have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


 “Most folks tiptoe through life only to make it safely to death.”
            – Eleanor Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Earl Nightingale, Tony Campolo among others.

“…and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”
            -the Gospel of Mark 16:8

In a profound way the version of Jesus’ resurrection as told in the Gospel of Mark is a wonderful gift to us because it doesn’t give us a nice neat ending with all our questions answered and explained. 

Whether we believe this story as an actual physical coming back from the dead, or as an allegorical, metaphorical truth is up to each of us.  Regardless of our hermeneutic the story at is core is one of life and death.  If we are afraid of death then fear rules our lives.

Mark's story is an open invitation to us to examine and imagine how the story doesn’t end but rather continues; an opportunity to imagine what resurrection means in our own lives, in our place and time. 

Where has resurrection taken place in your life?   What are the possibilities for it now? 

Most of today’s message comes from my Easter sermon, “Easter-The Punch-line of the Gospel”

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Holy Week?

Holy Week is the time we Christians commemorate the "Passion of Jesus", and if Passion refers to the suffering and death of Jesus, then what is so holy about suffering and death?

There are many responses to this question, ranging from “nothing” to “everything.”  Some people recoil at the suffering and death of Jesus, while others embrace it.  The events of the week, as recorded in the Bible, are interpreted on a scale ranging from violent torture of an innocent man by imperial powers, to the death of God for the salvation of humankind.   And there is some truth in most of the interpretations along this scale. 

One of the beautiful things about the Bible is that even though there are traditional interpretations and teachings on which to draw, the ultimate meaning of its stories is eventually revealed in our own lives. 

But however we engage and interpret the story, one thing is pretty clear:  there is movement from life to death to life. The story becomes the ultimate allegory of a central teaching of Jesus: One must lose life in order to gain it.  Whether the "loss" is physical, material, emotional, psychological, real, or metaphorical, and whether "life" is temporal or eternal is eventually determined by how we engage the story.

So, my suggestion for this Holy Week is to engage the story.   Find a quiet time and read one or all of the Holy Week stories from the four biblical gospel accounts. (Mark 11-16; Matthew 21-28; Luke 19:28-24; John 13-21)  Read from the perspective of your own life and see where the story takes you.

Warning: It may not be easy, but it will be rewarding.  And this just may be the ultimate "holy" of Holy Week.