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, December 15, 2019

The Word, and our Words

“Words spoken in deep love or deep hate set things in motion in the human heart that can never be reversed.”
— Frederick Buechner


Sticks and stones may break my bones
But words can never hurt me

Dead wrong

I have had too many people sit across from
Struggling to make their way through life
Struggling to love and be loved

Who have been profoundly damaged by words
Words from parents (often)
Pastors (too often)

You are worthless
I wish you had never been born
You will never make it in life
You are lazy
You are sinful

Words are powerful

We should understand this!
In the creation story God spoke
Let there be light
Let there be fertile land
Let there be fish, and animals, and birds
Let there be creatures in my image

And it was

At the beginning of John
We are reminded of the power of creative, loving Word

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

And we are told that God did not stop speaking at creation
We should have known that too
As God spoke through the words of poets and prophet

But we are told that once again God’s Word became
Tangible, real, concrete

In fact we are told “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us”

Advent is a time when we prepare to hear the Word
Receive the Word
Be transformed by the Word

Advent is the time when we seek openness
So that we might receive that Word

So that it might dwell within in
So that it might, in the world of our sould
Create order out of chaos
Bring light into the Darkness
And make things, “good”

Christmas is when we celebrate that word
Breaking the silence

But remember
it is powerful this Word
It will not leave us the same
It will not leave us untouched
It will disturb and order
It will illuminate and reveal

As Isaiah reminds us
“so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

And one thing that needs to happen
Is that God’s Word needs to change our words

Those words we speak
When enraged or frightened
Those words we speak when we want to control and manipulate
Those words we speak when we want to minimize and diminish

May the words of our mouth be acceptable?
No lies
No words that bully and demean
No words that abuse
Or tear down

We need words that have the same impact
As the Word that came down at Christmas

Words speak the truth
But do so in love
Words that lift up
Words that challenge, but also heal
Words that move us help make it on earth as it is in heaven
Rather than words that make the earth a living hell

So this Advent
Let us think about Words
About God’s Word
About The Word
About the words of those we follow and listen to
About the words that come out of our mouths

For words are powerful
“And words spoken in deep love or deep hate
set things in motion in the human heart that can never be reversed.”

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Sitting in the dark

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”

I woke up this morning in the dark
and it will be hours
before the first feeble light tries to
break through clouds

that wrapped the trees in
shade of gray

I woke up this morning in the dark
not the darkness of a winter’s mourn
but in that dark night of the soul

which comes when those in power
who should be protecting the vulnerable
and maintaining justice
and promoting good


when caught up in greed
and a blind lust for power
they abandon the vulnerable
promote injustice
and enable evil

I woke up this morning
In the darkness that comes
When the powerful practice evil
In plain sight

And millions cheer them on
Not caring that immigrant children are in cages
And black youth live in fear of death
And the poor are having he very things they need to flourish

So that the rich can get richer

The words of the prophets echo in my head
Feeling fresh and new
And devastatingly relevant 

Alas for those who devise wickedness
    and evil deeds[a] on their beds!
When the morning dawns, they perform it,
    because it is in their power.
They covet fields, and seize them;
    houses, and take them away;
they oppress householder and house,
    people and their inheritance.
Therefore thus says the Lord:
Now, I am devising against this family an evil
    from which you cannot remove your necks;
and you shall not walk haughtily,
    for it will be an evil time.

I woke up this morning
Profoundly aware that we need a savior

We need Christmas

It is not that the Advent has not already happened
It is not that the Savior has not come
And shown us the way, the truth and the life

We have been shown how to do life a different way
And we have been given the power to do it…


Even those that claim this savior
Have gotten caught up in the old way
And have abandoned the heart of Jesus teachings

John made it profoundly clear
“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.

So we need a Savior
Or rather we need the Savior who has already come
We need to turn to this one who came
And who still comes in the person of the Spirit

And we need to let the light shine
Shine in our hearts so intensely
That we can see, what is evil, and what is good
So that we will not be confused or deluded anymore

So That we can feel, the pain of the poor and the lonely
So that we can live lives of kindness, and generosity, and love

We need to let the light dispel the darkness

This Advent our hearts must cry out
O come, O come, Immanuel,
and ransom [these] captive [hearts]
For we mourns in lonely exile here
Here in the darkness

Come Savior of the world
Shine in the darkness

Thank you, in your tender mercy
You, in Jesus have, like the rising sun
come to us from heaven

to shine on those living in darkness
    and in the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the path of peace. (Song of Zechariah, Luke 1)

Thursday, December 12, 2019

perpetual incarnation

“You are a little soul carrying about a corpse, as Epictetus used to say.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

“Never tell a child,” said George Macdonald, ‘you have a soul. Teach him, you are a soul; you have a body.’ As we learn to think of things always in this order, that the body is but the temporary clothing of the soul….”

When he told of how he took his wheelchair-bound teenage son Tony, dying of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, to the river to go fishing, the entire room would hang on every word (no matter how many times we had heard the story). Completely bereft as he watched Tony painfully work to get his line in the water, Pepe began to cry. “Dad,” Tony said, “Why are you crying? There’s nothing wrong with me. It’s just my Earth suit that is having trouble. Nothing is wrong with me.”
                                                              Ron H quoted by Richard Rohr

each day
whether I like it or not
(and sometimes as a true introvert I like it not)
The Sacred drops people into my path

I have long since abandoned the idea
that these are chance encounters
although I sometimes think that Sacred has
a warped sense of humor

but there they are
needy people
angry people
people who embrace a leader I abhor
hurting people
lonely people
addicted people
strong people
insightful people

there they are

God carriers
Precious souls
Sacred children in their “earth suit’
If only we would see

Every Advent we celebrate God adventing
God with us
Light in the darkness

The Sacred in an earth suit
Showing us what God is like
Showing us a new way of doing life

We sing of angels and shepherds
And of magi, keeping it weird
As they travel from the east

We talk about Mary and Joseph
and the baby

Ah the baby
The Sacred temporarily clothed
In human flesh

And then we go through our days
And fail to recognize
the perpetual incarnation

We fail to see that Jesus is still here
still God with us
still incarnate

we fail to see that Jesus is present
in the manger of every heart

we fail to remember that each person is a precious soul
each person is, in some mysterious way Jesus (Matthew 25)
each person is part of this ongoing incarnation
that Jesus made possible

it is of course not a simple matter
it never was

when Jesus came
even though Scripture foretold
and stars pointed the way
and angels choirs sang

a pitiful few gathered at the cradle

we do not always understand
we do not always see
we are not always awake to the good news

we do not see the Christ in others
we do not see the Christ in ourselves

but that does not change the reality
Advent happened

Advent happens still
Incarnation is

God is born in the manger of our hearts
God is incarnate within this common flesh
Carrying out that ministry of Love
Transforming us from the inside out

Making us new

God is in us, the hope of glory
And God is in each person we meet

And that changes everything