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Wednesday, October 28, 2015


This coming weekend we celebrate and commemorate two holidays: Halloween (All Hallows" Eve) and All Saints' Day (All Hallows' Day). At least one of these, Halloween, has evolved in the U.S. as another huge cultural event and "consumer holiday."  For all practical and economic purposes Halloween is just an extension of the ever lengthening "holiday season" that was once Christmas.  For me it conjures (a good Halloween word) an image of Santa sitting with a Jack-o-Lantern on one knee and the Easter Bunny on the other.  All we need do is give him an American flag backdrop and we can extend all the way into July!  Or why not make it a whole year by putting a hard hat on him and take it all the way to Labor Day?

Now, after a little fun cynicism, what is this all about?  The answer is straight and simple: Spirit(s)! There is something in the human spirit, which is really just and extension of The Spirit that needs to celebrate, commemorate, remember, and honor the wonder of our existence. No one should be surprised that most of the holidays (holy days) we celebrate have their roots in religion, either directly or grafted.  Even our so-called "secular" celebrations like July 4th, Labor Day, Veterans Day, etc are infused with religious language and imagery in order to give spiritual credence and validation to nationalism, consumerism, and militarism.  Ironically, even all of our human "isms" are, in their own rights, rooted in and driven by Spirit(s).  

There is something deep inside the human experience that yearns for meaning and purpose and the expression of the same. The dark side of these yearnings too often leads to "isms" that fuel fear, violence and war.   However every now and then this simmering yearning boils up and over and we have the overwhelming, uncontrollable urge to light fires, string lights, dance, sing, wear costumes, adorn domiciles, gather in communities, laugh together, cry together, remember the tenuous amalgam of life and death - all in order to experience and express an Eternal Connection to the utter wonder, awe and amazement of the existence of it all.

Happy Halloween / All Saints' Day!  And may the Spirit(s) boil up and over in your life in fun, reflective, and joyous celebration!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

God Sized Faith

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
~ Hebrews 11:1

Recently a parishioner shared that her understanding and experience of God took a dramatic turn years ago after reading J.B. Phillips best selling and now classic book Your God is Too SmallThis got me to thinking about the "size" of "my God," and how the size of our God affects our faith.

Our faith is only as great as our understanding of God. Now this may sound like a simplistic, formulaic statement but it really is true in exactly the opposite way. The smaller our God, the easier it is to create simple formulas and rituals to please and appease in order to gain favor. Unfortunately much of formal religious practice falls into this category as we attempt to define and categorize God. And in doing so we make God simple, ironically, through complex theologies.

But what if, as most religious scriptures proclaim, God defies definition and categorization? What if the "size" of God is unlimited? And if we are indeed infused with the Spirit and Image of such a God? Then potential and possibilities within any given moment of our lives are also boundless. Another way to express this is that God is present in all experiences of life whether small, large, or in-between. God is not large or small, but rather One-Size-Fits-All. God is the universe. God is also each and every breath we take.

The opposite of faith is not doubt but rather certitude. Whenever we are certain of God's size, be certain this is not faith. Faith is living in the boundless, unknowable mystery and awe of a One Size Fits All Eternal Presence.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Life - Use It or Lose It

For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.    ~Jesus

Last Sunday I gave a sermon on the wealthy man who came to Jesus asking, "What must I do to have eternal life."  And Jesus tells him that knowing and keeping the commandments (being a good religious person) is not enough. The man must also "sell everything he owns and give it to the poor."  Jesus then goes on to say to his disciples that giving up one's possessions is the path to true riches, i.e. eternal life.

For most of us this sounds pretty drastic and even harsh.  However, looking at a couple of Greek words used in this passage opens the story up so we can reimagine it and appropriate it.

The word for life used by both the wealthy man and Jesus is "zoe" (pronounced dzo-ay') and it means vital, animated, full, vigorous life.  The man is not talking about life after death or going to heaven. He wants to know how to live fully and authentically here and now.  Most of us can resonate with that!

But what Jesus tells him, to give up all of his stuff, disturbs us just as much as it does the wealthy man.

Perhaps a better way to understand this is to harken back to Jesus' words quoted above which he says to potential disciples earlier in the story.  When he talks about losing and gaining life, Jesus uses the word "psuche" (pronounced psoo-khay') which means the breath of life, the seat of feelings, desires, affections, and aversions, or the soul.

Now, what if eternal, full, authenic life is found by letting go of our souls?

This all brings me around to something I heard on a podcast recently.  Author Todd Henry in talking about his book "Die Empty" shared a story from a group he was in where the quesiton "What is the most valuable real estate?" was asked.  The answer turned out to be - a cemetery - because this is where an endless wealth of hopes, dreams, ambitions, ideas, and inspirations lay unlived. Henry then goes on to say that we should strive to live out as much of our life (our "psuche") as possible in order to experience optimal life (our "zoe").

So, it looks like life is a whole lot like vacation time - use or lose it!  Or, we could echo Jesus and say, "Lose it and gain it!"  

Why not go out and give up some of your soul to somebody or something today?


Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Last week we moved from Washington, DC to Clearwater FL.  The cultural and climatic change is quite dramatic and will take some "getting use to."  However, in time we will become acclimated and life will be as "normal" as ever.  One day in the future it will feel like home.   After all, isn't "home" what we are all looking for - to be who we are, to be loved, to love, to be needed and appreciated, to be safe.        

This week marks the 4 year anniversary of One Eternal Presence.   It began as a way to share my experience while on sabbatical in the summer of 2011and soon became a weekly reflection on faith and life.  Along the way I've shared wisdom gleaned from others and offered some of my own insights on experiencing the interconnected wholeness of life.  In many ways OEP is my way of encouraging us all to be at home wherever we are.

Since OEP's anniversary always comes the week after World Communion Sunday, it is a reminder that even though we may practice religion in different ways we still remain one human family, sharing the same planet while carrying similar hopes, dreams, sadness, and joy.  Our common needs far exceed our individual fears.  We really do share the heart of God.

In the end, as the old saying goes, home is "where the heart is."  Our true home is in the One Eternal Presence of God.