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Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Is there any time or place when or where God is "not?"

Two words often used to describe the nature of God are "transcendence" and "immanence."  Transcendence is used when talking about a God apart and separate from creation.  Transcendence also infers that God is not bound by time and space.  Immanence, on the other hand, describes a God intimate and connected with and in creation, and implies presence in time and space.

Perhaps neither word really describes God, but rather describes how we experience God.  Sometimes we perceive God as detached and at other times connected, all depending on our perspective or circumstances.  Modern scientific exploration and thought has led us into new understandings of time and space. It has also given us new insight into how our brains function, showing us how our own consciousness participates in this dance of transcendence and immanence.

What if God is neither transcendant or immanent, but transimmanent - intimately present beyond space and time, everywhere, all the time?  What if God simply "is" while absence and presence are left up to us?

There is a popular greeting for some church gatherings in which one persons says, "God is good."  to which the group responds, "All the time."  Then comes the solo response, "All the time." followed by "God is Good."

For today I suggest an adaptation of this greeting that is grounded in a contemporary understanding of infinite time and space.  The greeting is also as ancient as the biblical story when Moses is told God's name is "I am."   The greeting goes like this:

"God is."
"Everywhere and always."
"Everywhere and always."
"God is."


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ashes and Dust

 Abraham answered, "Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. 
- Genesis 18:27

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.   
- from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer burial service  

We are stardust. We are golden. And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden.
- Joni Mitchell 

"From dust you came to dust you shall return."  These words will be said and heard many times today as Christians around the world enter the season of Lent.   

Traditionally, the ashes that begin lent are a symbol of human mortality and frailty reminding us all that someday we will die.  To contemplate and reflect on our death is also an invitation to do the same about our life.

All of this has me wondering today if perhaps the ashes of Ash Wednesday could not only symbolize our mortality, but ultimately our immortality.   Not immortality in the traditional religious sense of "life after death," but, rather immortality as participants in the awesome and mysterious interconnected and interdependent cycles and evolving wonder of all creation.  

"Dust to dust" leads us into the primal spiritual questions:  Where did we come from?  How are we living now? And, were are we going?

In this way Ash Wednesday is not about dying as much as it is about living in full awareness that we are connected to and interdependent with all of creation, now and always.

If you are in the DC area and would like to observe Ash Wednesday in such a way as I've described above, I invite you to join me and others tonight at Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church for "Stardust to Dust - A Deep Time Liturgy for Ash Wednesday."  The experience is self-paced so you can begin anytime between 7:30 and 8:30 pm.  

I hope you can join us.  


Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Currency:  "...something that is in circulation as a medium of exchange."

When I picked up the newspaper this morning a headline below the fold caught my attention:  "Virginia-only currency one step closer to reality"  It seems that folks in Virginia and other states are considering their own currency.  The article goes on to say this "...reflects a deep distrust in...the dollar."

Perhaps this distrust is not only a sign of the factional splintering in our world today, but  is also indicative of what and whom we trust.  It also brings up the questions: What exactly is our currency?  What is the "medium of exchange" in our lives?

That which or whom we trust is another way of expressing belief.  Biblical linguists generally agree that belief in the Bible is much closer to trust than to a more common modern understanding of intellectual assent.  Trusting infers dependence and interdependence, not head knowledge.  

As for our "currency", the only things in this world we really possess are our lives: our ideas, our abilities, our talents, our compassion, our love..."

The above definition of currency also mentions "circulation."  The process of exchange means that when we give we receive something in return.  Regardless of whether the return is tangible, emotional, spiritual, or otherwise, that which we receive will in some way mirror whatever we have given.  

Jesus said, "For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?"  Matthew 16:25-26

Forget about the dollar.  What is your currency of your life?   What medium of exchange are you putting into circulation?