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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 12, 2020

true courage

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
Lao Tzu

Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently.
Maya Angelou
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these are times for courage
not the fake courage of those who hide behind power and bully
not the “courage” of those who show up at rallies with guns
not the courage that comes from aligning one’s self with the powers that be
not the courage that comes from gathering your “flock” because you need an audience

but the courage of a young black woman
standing firm and peaceful while a large white man attempts to intimidate her
the courage of pastors who encourage their churches to remain closed
the courage of mayors and county commissioners, and governors
who make unpopular directives, to keep people safe

I’ve been thinking about courage today
and what makes for real courage versus fake courage

Lao Tzu has part of the answer
perhaps all of the answer when he says 

“Being deeply loved gives you strength …
 Loving someone deeply gives your courage’

Courage must be grounded in love
It must rise out of love
And it must be guided by love

Not desire, not want
But authentic love

When we are called to be courageous
that is when our values show

because moments that most call for courage
also call us to define who we are, what we believe in, and what we value

What do we value?

Commerce over people?
Money over people?
Individualism versus community?
Personal agendas versus the common good?
Popularity over leadership?

Do we have good values?  A good moral compass
And do we have the courage to live out our values?

Can we choose people over money
when our bank account is at risk

Can we choose to wear a mask, when people around us ridicule us?
Can we choose to stand up for black people, LGBTQI people, when our neighbors, 
our church, our leaders, won’t?

Do we have the courage to be unpopular?
Demonized
Do we have the courage to have people reject us?
As ministers do we have the courage to anger members of our “flock” in order to truly hold to the values and teachings of Christ?

The answer should be “yes”
But it is not easy
Sometimes we remain silent
Sometimes we ‘parse’ our answers to make them less overt
Sometimes we “cave”, and go along with the prevailing crowd

And sometimes
We are courageous
Sometimes because we know we are loved by God
And those around us are loved by God
We have the courage to choose love
Choose people
Choose inclusion
Choose the difficult path

Because love gives us the courage
To live out those values that arise out of love
Compassion
Generosity
Patience
Forgiveness
Acceptance

So give us courage Lord
The courage that comes from love
The courage that enables us to love

Because right now the world needs people
Who have courage rooted in love 

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Rooted in Faith



While children were escorted into schools by national guardsmen, the song “Jesus Loves Me” became an anthem of faith in the face of contradictory evidence. You cannot face German shepherds and fire hoses with your own resources; there must be God and stillness at the very center of your being.



Like a spiritual earthquake, the resolve of the marchers affirmed the faith of foremothers and forefathers. Each step was a reclamation of the hope unborn. Each marcher embodied the communal affirmation of already/not yet sacred spaces. . . . The sacred act of walking together toward justice was usually preceded by a pre-march meeting that began with a prayer service, where preaching, singing, and exhortation prepared the people to move toward the hope they all held. This hope was carefully explicated by the leadership as a fulfillment of God’s promises. As a consequence, the movement that spilled from the churches to the streets was a ritual enactment of a communal faith journey toward the basileia [realm] of God. . . .

Richard Rohr

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we are living in a time of relative chaos


it may not be as chaotic as some claim
it may not be as chaotic as some desire

but this is a time of discontent

it is not the first time we have been here,
as a world or as a nation

we have walked this path before
this path of hate and anger
where the darker angels of our nature spread their wings
and hover over the turbulence

there they are
greed, and a lust for power
a kind of blood thirst for retribution
and profound level of vindictiveness

and the result is chaos

Yes, the seeds of chaos have been with us forever.
We have a lot of racism woven into our culture
We love power, and the use of power.
We worship wealth.

This is all “no surprise”
The problem is all too clear

The question is this…
How we find our way out?

How do we emerge from this, and stumble our way toward the realm of God?

In the old days of the civil rights movement,
the resistance that was expressed was deeply spiritual at its core.
The protestors often met to sing and pray before they marched.
Because the movement came out of a deep connection with a God who loves justice, and equity, it worked.
The sound of "We Shall Overcome" drowned out the sounds of hate and violence.

If we would redeem our country, we need one primary thing. We need to focus on the Spiritual. Our resistance to what is going on has to emerge from hearts burning with the love of God and God's way of justice and equity

Having our values and actions rooted in our connection with the God of love should inform our politics, who we choose to lead us (remember trickle down),
should inform where we stand on the issues,
and should shape our actions

If we would move us away from smallness, from vindictiveness and retribution
and into the realm of compassion and service
the our resistance needs to emerge more out of fullness rather than need
More out of full hearts than empty hearts

I am not saying we can’t have aching hearts
I am not saying we can’t be angry at the injustice
I am certainly not saying that we “do nothing”

This is a time to speak out
This is a time to stand up

But we need to first to gather in faith
We need to get down on our knees
We need to pray, and agonize in the presence of the One who is Love
We need to draw together and become, truly
A community of faith

And then, rooted in love, move into action
Our resistance needs to be an act of communal faith
But above all it needs to be an act of faith

For it is that faith that will transform
It is that faith that will tap into
The boundless love of God

It is that faith
In a God of love
That will ultimately win

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Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men (and women)?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes

Les Miserables

 


Friday, July 10, 2020

be true to love

Your fidelity to love, that is all you need

No day will then match your strength

What was once a fear or problem will see

You coming , and step aside… or run.

                                         Hafiz (A Year with Hafiz, p 184)

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The great commandment

Love God

 

In other words….

There are many words, great words,

But in other words

 

Have your primary allegiance be the sacred

Not an ideology

Not a religious dogma

Not money

Not power

Not a particular leader or party

Not a nation

 

But that which we cannot define and contain

But which we know

Which we experience

 

If we experience it at all,

As Love

 

Love God

And then love your self

As a the offspring of love

 

If you are created in love

And filled with love

How can you not love yourself?

 

And then live love

Let love ooze out of your soul

 

Because love is the true power

 

We blithely make the affirmation that “love wins”

 

I wonder sometimes whether we believe it

If we believed it would we not live it?

Would we not attempt, as Paul puts it, “to overcome evil with good”?

 

Yet look at how we live!

Angry and fearful

All too often retributive, sometimes cruel

 

Look at how we live, grasping for power and money

Heedlessly trampling the poor and the vulnerable

In our heedless rush

 

What would it look like to have a fidelity to love?

I try to imagine it sometimes

 

What would it look like to have a fidelity to love

When I am faced with betrayal?

What would it look like to have a fidelity to love,

If I were oppressed?

What would it look like to have a fidelity to love

When assailed by hate?

 

When Jesus was faced with those things

Fidelity to love looked like the cross

 

What would it look like for me?

What would it look like if I really lived out what I piously echo,

“love wins”

 

It is scary to contemplate

The cost is so great

The risk is so high

 

From the perspective of this world

Such a radical stance is foolish

Even the foolishness of the cross

 

I can only catch the briefest, glimmering glance

For it is rare

 

I suspect it looks like generosity

And forgiveness

And a radical commitment to justice

 

I can wander cautiously down those paths

But can I plunge into the depths of that world

Heedlessly?

Whole heartedly?

 

And if I did, what would that look like?

And am I brave enough,

Do I have courage enough

To walk all the way

To the cross?

 

Do I have enough love

That fear, and hate

Greed and racism

Will scatter when they see me coming?