Welcome

Primitive religion is not believed, it is danced!

Arthur Darby Nock

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Elizabeth Browning



Sunday, July 15, 2018

Welcome to the apocalypse


As a clergy person, I'd like to welcome you all to the apocalypse. Pull up a chair, and make yourself uncomfortable. If when you think of an apocalypse, you picture a scary, doom-filled punishment from above, you're not alone. Originally, though, apocalyptic literature existed not to scare the bejesus out of children so that they would be good boys and girls, but to proclaim a big, hope-filled idea-- that dominant powers are not ultimate powers. Empires fall, tyrants fade, systems die, God's still around.

In Greek, the word apocalypse means to uncover, to peel away, to show what's underneath. That's what this country has been experiencing in recent months. There's not been a sudden uptick in sexual misconduct and assault in our country. The MeToo and Time's Up movements are simply exposing what was already there. The male domination at the center of the sexual harassment issue is being revealed apocalyptically and in prime time.

Wokeness and policy change are a start, but not enough to dig out the full infection. This is why I welcome our moment of uncovering. We need to see how deep the heresy of domination runs, and then remind one another that dominant powers are not ultimate powers. So if those who came before looked to the Bible to justify their dominance, then let us look to it to justify our dignity. It's in there. Theology and liturgy are just too potent to be left to those who would use them-- even unwittingly-- to justify and protect their own dominance. And sometimes the origin of the harm really can be the most powerful source of healing.
                                                                                          NADIA BOLZ-WEBER:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Welcome to the spocalypse

Yep, we are right in the middle of it
Full blown

All our veneers are being stripped away
The masks are down

Who we are as a nation
As a political parties
As religious or spiritual people
As individuals

Is coming to the light

Call it what you will
The seamy underbelly
The stuff in the closet
The dark side
The Shadow lands

Sudden it is all out there’

The hate, the fear, the racism, the greed
The lust for power,
Just lust

Personified in the man who would be king
In children in cages
In young black men, dead in the street
In white supremacists marching with tiki torches
In powerful and not so powerful men acting as sexual predators
In religious leaders such as Franklin, Jeffries, and Falwell supporting the unsupportable

It is all out there
Kind of stinky and ugly

Where we can see it
And understand it
And release it
And heal it

There is no change without revelation!

This time of uncovering is when the Spirit gets to work
Healing
Restoring
Cleaning up the mess
Draining the swamp in our souls

This time of uncovering is when we understand how small / big
Good/bad
Hopeful/hopeless
Grasping/generous
We really are

This is when we can grab hold of
“ a big, hope-filled idea—
that dominant powers are not ultimate powers.
Empires fall, tyrants fade,
systems die,
God's still around.”


Saturday, July 14, 2018

hoarders or givers


“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it's wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, pray, love: one woman's search for everything
___________________________________________________________

In the end
It seems
Or in the beginning

It is really a matter of gratitude

When we become narrow, tight
Hugging things to ourselves

It is not because we don’t have enough
As much as it is that we don’t see how much we have

We don’t see the gifts
We just
Don’t
See
Them

They are right there!
The sky, the mountains
The clouds

Sunrise, sunset

The doe who eats my flower
The calves playing in the pasture

The eagle on the wing

Gifts

A child’s laughter
A friend’s hug
A thank you from a client

Gifts

So many gifts received
So many gifts to be given

If we were to surrender to generosity
Human and divine

We would be full to overflowing
With all good gifts,
We would be driven to thanksgiving

And driven also to our own kind of generosity
For gratitude is the fuel of generosity
And it is those with glad and grateful hearts
Who give
Gladly and joyfully

We seem to have two choices,

to focus on what we do not have
Or on what we are afraid we will lose,
And sit around in fear
Fearful hoarders

Or to focus on what we have received,
find our gratitude
And become Cheerful givers

The choice is up to us
What is it going to be?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

radical work


“If you cannot find Christ in the beggar at the church door you will not find him in the chalice."
                                                            St Chrysostom:
________________________________________

The basic concept is simple
Jesus articulated it his own unique way
Both in his words and in his life

But it is at the heart of most spirituality
We are not so much individuals
As part of a whole

We participate in something bigger
Something pervasive and foundational

Some of us call this “God”
Some call it “Love” (which is pretty much the same thing)

So each person, fundamentally, is sacred
Each person come from the Sacred
And carries the Sacred

That Presence (Christians call it the Spirit)
Is active, pervasive, and when “awake”
Changes everything

The way we see, think, feel, and yes
And yes
And yes
And yes
Behave

The Sacred is not selective
There is no privileged race
Orange blonde people are not uniquely blessed
Nor are White blondes
Nor are the rich, the powerful, the affluent

All are Sacred
All are Sacred Children

Which is why Jesus implied that we should see the Sacred in everyone
Even those who are poor, hungry, naked, homeless, oppressed,    
Perhaps especially those who are poor, hungry, naked, homeless, oppressed

These are not to be shamed
Ridiculed
Bullied
Excluded
Abused

These are to be treasured

That young black man on the street, sacred
That brown family on the border, sacred
That child in a cage, sacred
That person muttering to himself on the sidewalk, sacred
That one lying drunk in a doorway, Sacred

When we deny that they are Sacred
When we refuse to act with compassion and generosity toward them
We deny our own sacred nature

For we cannot abuse the vulnerable without crushing the sacred within ourselves.
Each time we act to oppress and disrespect,
Each time we act out of hatred, or greed
Each time we deny another healthcare, or food, or housing, or safety
Each time we create a hostile environment and minimize and marginalize another
Each time we engage in cruelty
We crush a bit of ourselves
We diminish ourselves

Until there is nothing left inside
We are an empty shell

And no amount of religious practice
No number of trips to the communion table
And no amount of power
Not even the Presidency

Can make us real again

Only love can do that
Love received, and love given

The solution for Mr Trump
Is for him to go to a soup kitchen on the border, and serve immigrant people
With sincerity and authenticity

Perhaps the solution for me
Is to cook breakfast for the local GOP meeting
And do so with compassion and acceptance

It appears that finding Jesus
Is radical work indeed