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Wednesday, February 28, 2018


coward : one who shows disgraceful fear or timidity ~ Merriam-Webster online dictionary

Are we all Scot Peterson?

Two weeks ago a School Resource Officer for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida arrived at the school with gunfire taking place. Armed with a hand gun he took up a position outside the building because he thought the gunfire was somewhere outside the building. As we all now know, it wasn't.  The shooter was inside the school.

Deputy Peterson was suspended, subsequently resigned, and is now being called a coward by the news media, most state and national legislators, the NRA, and the President of the United States. Thank God we finally have a scapegoat. The problem with scapegoating is that we are always looking for and placing blame on someone else for our own fear.

Unexamined fear is at the core of cowardice. Fear does many things to us and leads us into dark places, whether physical, psychological, or verbal. Fear causes us to lash out at others. Fear paralyzes and keeps us from doing what we know is right. Fear is used as a call to arms as well as resignation and surrender. Ultimately fear, left unexamined, will lead to violence.

Perhaps our problem in the current turmoil over gun violence is similar to Deputy Peterson's. Are we taking up positions on the outside, looking for anybody and anything to blame instead of looking inside ourselves and examining our own fear and taking action?

Think about it! In one way or another, are we not all Scot Peterson?

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Post Parkland

One week ago today seventeen people, most of them teenagers, opened their eyes upon their final day. They went about their morning routines that led them into what promised to be a normal day of learning and teaching. Little did they know the premeditated violence and carnage awaiting them in the form of an assault weapon in the hands of a disturbed, angry white man.

Last night, with some of the students and teachers who lived through the horror in the gallery and others in route, their state legislature refused to even discuss a law to place restrictions on assault weapons, claiming procedural reasons. According to news sources they went on to approve a resolution declaring pornography a public health risk.

This tragic scenario of carnage-rage-inaction bathed in "thoughts and prayers"  has become a mantra, a script of fear, anger, violence, and delusion which we all chant and play our parts.

Last Sunday in my sermon I addressed this bloody quagmire in which we live from a biblical perspective. I invite you to listen.

If you don't take time to hear the sermon, the final charge to the congregation included the following quote from Walter Brueggemann.

The crisis in the U.S. Church has almost nothing to do with being liberal or conservative; it has everything to do with giving up on the faith and discipline of our Christian baptism and settling for a common, generic U.S. identity that is part patriotism, part consumerism, part violence, and part affluence. ~ Walter Brueggemann

However, this is not only true for Christians but for all people of faith from all religions, or no religion, to reclaim our true identities and human dignity.

We are not here to kill each other!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Wonder-Filled Wednesday

"Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."  ~ Presbyterian Book of Common Worship, Genesis 3:19

"We are stardust, we are golden. We are billion year old carbon. And we got to get ourselves back to the garden."  ~ Joni Mitchell

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Christian season of Lent. Traditionally it is a day of penitence, prayer, fasting, and reflection on human sinfulness and mortality. Countless people will attend liturgies that express these things and then end by having ashes in the shape of a cross smudged on their foreheads.

Several years ago I began observing Ash Wednesday in a different way that has subsequently changed my experience of it's meaning. In short I have moved from Ash Wednesday to what I might call Wonderful Wednesday. The basic, yet dramatic, shift is from a focus on sin and mortality to an appreciation of goodness and immortality. The experience, called Stardust to Dust, is a self-paced pilgrimage of stations that tell the deep time story of creation in readings, photographs, and music in a darkened candlelit room.

Tonight at Trinity Clearwater Presbyterian church, the Stardust to Dust experience is again available for those in our area from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. I invite you to come experience what is a   truly unique, non-traditional way to observe Ash (Wonder-filled) Wednesday.

For those who can't attend I'm providing a couple of links below that include the program and readings at each station.

Have a Wonder-filled (Ash) Wednesday! 

Stardust to Dust Program

Stardust to Dust Stations