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Thursday, September 28, 2017


The conference worship service was on the beach in the cool of early morning, looking out across white sand and the Gulf of Mexico underneath cloudless blue sky.  One theme of the conference was "All God has is ours."  It was a perfect setting in the sense that perfect is whole and not without blemish. There were a couple of blemishes including a distant beeping of a service vehicle in reverse. But even that seemed to blend into the wholeness.

When it was time to observe the sacrament of communion, we were invited to walk forward and take bread and wine to remind us of our bond in Christ. The Celebrant broke the loaf of bread and lifted it into the air saying, "All are welcome at this table." At that very moment as if choreographed, a dove (well at least a seagull) descended to accept the invitation and partake of holy food. That's when the Celebrant, instinctively and quickly pulled the bread away saying, "No! Not you!" There was laughter, some I suspect to hide the awkwardness of missed opportunity.

This reminded me that most of the time when we say "all" we really don't mean it. Do we really believe "all men [sic] are created equal?" Do all people have the same rights, opportunities, and resources to live with dignity? Are all people really welcome in our places of worship? Does our version of "God" really love all people? What does it mean to claim that the Divine Presence is in all, through all?

The seagull also reminds us of the missed opportunities we have every day to actually practice the "all" inclusiveness many of us espouse. How many times do we look through people around us, especially those working in positions of service, making our lives more convenient and privileged. When do we stop to take in the wonder and beauty of the planet that sustains the diversity of life surrounding us? Do we even notice the amazing creativity and imagination that surrounds us in the infrastructure and technology that makes our modern lifestyle possible?

How big is your "all?" To whom or what are you and I saying, "No! Not you!"  

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


"The last will be first and the first will be last."
~ Jesus

Now that a "businessman" occupies the  U.S. presidency we seem to hear the term "return on investment" (ROI) more often in relation to governmental policy both domestic and international. The first question to be asked about just about anything is "What do I (we) get out of it?" - America First! Consideration of how decisions affect others and the overall common good of global society and humanity is usually subsequent, if even considered at all.

ROI is probably a good thing when investing money in the stock market. But even then investments go far beyond their dividends for investors. The companies and ventures invested in affect people and environment in myriad ways. Too many investment portfolios grow at the expense of human dignity, peace between nations, and care for our planet.
Religion also has its ROI.  How many religions have "heavenly reward" and "personal salvation" as ultimate goals? Even when something bad happens in our lives we quip, "What did I (we, they) do to deserve that?" as if a watchful god is running a cosmic ticker tape on everything we do, say, or think.

However, within most religions, and usually at their foundational core, are prophets and teachers who tell us that self worth is always found in mutual relationship with others and creation. By investing in other people, regardless of what they can do for us, we experience true ROI. Caring for our planet by using and developing resources wisely is true investment, yielding future returns for which we are not beneficiary.

Wanting to be first while insisting on immediate and personal ROI is contrary to true spiritual wisdom of the ages. Real ROI is long term, selfless, and beneficial to the common good of all.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Prayer of Small and Great Things

As we go about our daily lives filled with small things, great things swirl about us.

While millions of people struggle in the aftermath of devastation on the coast of Texas, wondering why, where, when, and how their lives will ever find any sense of equilibrium...

As threats and missiles fly across oceans with no regard for their consequences to the world...

When hundreds of thousands of people with dreams of meaning and purpose for their lives discover their fate is held in the hands of capricious, cowardly men who have no respect of basic human dignity and freedom...

As millions more watch seas, skies, and screens in anxiety while fight or flight hormones churn within, many flee, many stay, many have no choice.

In the midst of these great things may we go about the small things of our day - digging out, drying up, saying prayers, getting ready for the worst and hoping for the best.

Regardless of whether we are coming out, headed in, or in the middle of greater storms, may our small things be undergirded with wisdom, respect, courage, compassion, love, and hope so that the great things of our future--those things of which we have influence--will bring the same hope to the world.