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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Life is Holy

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
~ Psalm 118:24 (bold underline is mine)

If we weren't blind as bats, we might see that life itself is sacramental.
~ Frederick Buechner

For the past two weeks I've been privileged to experience a combination of continuing education and vacation that is sometimes called "sabbath." One of the graces of time away from a normal daily and weekly routine is to ease into a more natural rhythm of hours and days. Several days into this sabbath time the hour of the day and day of the week became less apparent, as well as my need to know. This blog is even a day later than usual.

Somehow this awakens me to a timeless awareness that each moment, each hour, each day is holy, sacred, and inspired. So, why then, do most spiritual and religious traditions have "holy days" and "sacred places" set aside for the practice of faith?  Perhaps to remind us that all days are special? 

Somewhere along the way in my life as a pastor I picked up a couple of liturgical phrases that I regularly use when celebrating the sacrament of the Lord's Supper - "Because this bread is holy, all bread is holy. Because this wine is holy, all wine is holy." 

In non-religious life most people "work for the weekend." As a Christian pastor I have a tendency to live and work from Sunday to Sunday. Clergy of other faiths do so with their holy days.  On the surface it may appear that we do this because that's how many people and cultures view religion as ritual practiced apart from the rest of life.  

How would our world change if we began to see and experience any old Wednesday morning as if it was just as vibrant as a weekend and as holy as the highest holy day of any religious tradition?


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Rocks, Trees, Mountains, and Lakes

I'm spending a few days experiencing One Eternal Presence with colleagues at our annual Colorado Pastor's Retreat. Here are a few black and white images from some hikes we've taken.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

I've Heard It All

"Thought, ideology, and philosophy - this can live forever."
~ Iraqui translator for western media and military

In a recent interview with an Iraqui translator for western media and military about the retaking of the city of Mosul the translator expressed fear that his, and his family's, life would never be safe. Regardless of who wins, loses, or controls territory, the seeds of fear, hatred, and violence once sown can have deep, long-lasting roots.  

We are experiencing this same dynamic in numerous ways in the world today. The Holocaust didn't end antisemitism. The American Civil War of the 1860's or Civil Rights Act of the 1960's didn't end racism. The Watergate scandal didn't end political corruption. How many times in recent days have you said or heard, "I thought we had gotten over that?"

I can't help but remember a song from the musical Shenendoah as the father, Charlie Anderson, struggles with his sons wanting to fight in the "civil" war.  Please take a minute to listen.

Yes, we've heard it all before, but that doesn't mean our struggles are over. The eternal tension of our own capacity for love and fear is always with us. Our hope lies in spreading seeds of love, even when weeds of fear are all around us.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The 5th of July - What now?

It's the 5th of July and the question looms - What now?  How do we embrace and live the Liberty, Freedom and Justice espoused in our declaration of independence that turns out to be a call into interdependence?  

Last Sunday, July 2, in my sermon I reflected on the shared values found in the teaching and modeling of Jesus and the words and symbolism of the Statue of Liberty.  The Gospel reading was from Matthew and is Jesus speaking to his and John's disciples. The Liberty reading was the poem "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus, which is found on a bronze plaque inside the statue's pedestal.  

As a way, forward in response to "What now?" I offer the readings below, without commentary, for your own reflection.

Matthew 10:40-42; 11:1-6, 28-30

‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.’

Now when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and proclaim his message in their cities.
 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.’

‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’

The New Colossus 

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, 
With conquering limbs astride from land to land; 
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand 
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame 
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name 
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand 
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command 
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. 
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she 
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, 
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, 
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”