Search This Blog

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Life, Death and Love

"Thus you shall say to the Israelites, "I am has sent me to you.' "
Exodus 3:14

"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."
Revelation 22:13

In the fresh and turbulent wake of last Friday's terrible events, there is a cry and hue, as well as a rush to "do something."   It seems to always be this way in the aftermath of tragedy and especially human caused tragedy.  Too often our "doing" consist of saturating ourselves in what seems to be an unquenchable thirst for information as consumers of a media frenzy.  Hearing and seeing the same things repeatedly and melodramatically in some way creates an illusionary substitution of knowledge for action.  Once we know all the facts and are satiated with the details, express our horror, disgust, anger, and grief then we are ready to move on.  Another scenario is to immediately identify what caused the tragedy and to go about fixing a problem by closing the barn door after all the cows are already out, and adding to the layers of fear and insecurity to which we have grown so accustomed.  The problem with both of these reactions of "knowing" and "doing" is that neither really does anything but take us through a familiar cycle until the next tragedy de jour.    

Of course, in the midst of lives directly affected by tragedy there is plenty to do as people, with the comfort and support of family, friends and neighbors, put lives back together and slowly begin to imagine how to continue living in a profoundly altered world.  But even our human caring, compassion, and resiliency for suffering are but coping mechanisms, unless there is an awakening of heart, spirit, and soul to our individual and collective fear of death and to the marvelously mysterious, interconnected reality of existence in which we participate.

When we can embrace birth and death, the worst and the best, exile and homecoming, manger and cross, the beginning and the end as all part of Divine experience, then as the poet Hafiz says,

…God has stopped playing child's games
With your mind
And dragged you backstage by
The hair,

Shown to you the only possible

For this bizarre and spectacular

Go running through the streets
Creating divine chaos,

Make everyone and yourself ecstatically mad
For the Friend's beautiful open arms.

Go running through this world
Giving love, giving love,...

When we truly know that Life, Death and Love are inextricably intermingled and interwoven within the wholeness of creation, then we will be prepared to act from compassion that not only heals, but also brings us into new ways of knowing, being, doing and living.

Go here for an excellent discussion/interview on Life, Death and Love.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Good News!

The angel replied [to Zechariah], "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.
- Luke 1:19

But the angel said to the shepherds, "Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people…  
- Luke 2:10

So, with many other exhortations, John [the Baptist] proclaimed the good news to the people.  
- Luke 3:18

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free…"  
- Luke 4:18

There is a clear message at the very center of Advent and Christmas.   Some translations of scripture call it "glad tidings",  some "good news", some "preaching", and others "gospel".    The Greek word is "Euaggelizo" which comes from two words that mean "good" and "message".   The message part is also the root word for "angel."

The Advent and Christmas stories are of angels bringing good news of the birth of two babies, John and Jesus, who in turn as adults preach good news, and in effect become angels.   The message and the messenger are both good news.

But it's not just John and Jesus who become angels.  It's also the shepherds, Mary, the Magi, the people who come into John's wilderness, the disciples, the crowds who listen to Jesus, the sick who are healed, the writers of stories passed down through the ages, and eventually us.  We receive Good News from all of these angels in order to become Good News ourselves - We Are Each Other's Angels.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Practice As Preparation

"Prepare the way of the Lord."
Isaiah 40:3

There is a dynamic in life that says in times of difficulty or crisis we will usually default to that which we already know.  When we don’t know what to do we do what we know.  (Sometimes even when we consciously know what to do we still do the opposite because this is what is ingrained in our sub-conscious.)

Soldiers, athletes, artists and mystics have known this for centuries.  This is why their lives are described as lives of discipline because they continually practice that which they want to become the default response of their lives.

Could this be what Advent is all about?   

If we want a world of hope, joy, peace, and love then perhaps these need to become our disciplines, our preparation, our daily practice.

Then Advent becomes not waiting for Jesus to come, but preparing for Christ coming in our lives by actually living the way Jesus taught and showed us to live. 

This way Christ is born into the world through us. 

From the sermon "The Hope of Advent" on Dec. 2, 2012