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

Monday, September 30, 2013

Blurred around the edges

We are rare
Not perfect….  Mark Nepo


O Lord
what is in a word
I means really, a word is just a word,

I was thinking Lord
of the word flawed….

I hear it so much in the church
we are flawed
you are flawed

I don’t like that word Lord
for it implies you did a lousy job when you made us

as the cute little saying goes
you know, the one I really don’t like
you don’t “make no junk”

I think Lord I will use the word
or perhaps blurred instead

we are people make in your image
in whom your likeness
has been blurred
by wounds seen and unseen

Lord I believe
That your image is still there
In me
and in all those around me,
that it is still there

it is my job, O Lord
to invite my wounded child
back into the living room of my heart (thanks Thich Nhat Hanh)
where I can greet that child
and in the context of your love
accept, and heal that child

and it is my hope
that I can greet and accept
and yes, love
all the wounded children who cross my path
that I can soothe
not blame
hold their souls gently

and realize they are
a rare
not perfect
but rare and special
child of God

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Be Doers of the Word

I don't normally do this
but today, after reading the news, I thought I would just post/share most of my sermon for this morning

Blessings on all of you
Those who agree, and those who don't

Today I want to talk about the verse of scripture from the Letter of James that says, "But be doers of the word, and ……..
Anyone want to finish that?

Be doers of the word, not only hearers, deluding your own selves."
I think we could add something to that, especially in this day and age…

Be doers of the word, not only speakers!

Though it's not quite the same, this passage reminds me of the adage that goes: "Say what you'll do, then do what you say." I heard that a lot when I was growing up. "Say what you'll do, then do what you say." Make your words and deeds one and the same. Or, as some would say, "Talk the walk, then walk the talk." In terms of faith, be who you're called to be – a child of God, a Christian, a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.

How do you think we are doing today in America?  Lots of people, including me, are not so sure we are doing very well

I keep thinking about this quote from Colbert

“If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don't want to do it.”

OK, you don’t want to think about the words of a TV comedian?  How about a theologian?

“Compassion constitutes a radical form of criticism, for it announces that the hurt is to be taken seriously, that the hurt is not to be accepted as normal and natural but is an abnormal and unacceptable condition for humanness.”  -Walter Brueggemann

OK let me offer you another quote, from Jim Wallis of Sojourners.
"To restrict faith to only a few issues of mostly personal morality is to leave wealth, power, and violence unchallenged. Religion becomes a political support for injustice and for those who defend the status quo." - Jim Wallis

We will never change the world by going to church
We will only change the world by being the church

We will not change the world by hearing or speaking “the Word”
We will only change the world by living “the Word”

So what are the biggest issues facing Christians in today’s world
Where is it that we are most challenged in terms of living the Word?
Not as just as individuals, but corporately, as the church, as a nation

OK, I know this can be a tricky question

Here are some of the possibilities

Food Stamps
Issues related to sexuality
Affordable Care Act (not Obamacare, that perpetuates bias)
Minimum Wage
Growing economic inequity
Injustice (the weak and poor and minorities not having equal rights)

To me, and this is only my opinion, the big winner is economic justice
Followed closely by “justice”

If we think about the Bible, economic justice is everywhere, perhaps more than almost any other topic.

There are hundreds of scripture passages that talk about economic justice; about lifting up the poor and oppressed; about reining in the excesses of the rich. In fact, there probably is nothing God talks about more in the bible than this topic. God spoke through virtually all of the prophets of the Old Testament about selfishness and economic inequality. For instance, the prophet Amos said:

But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!   Amos 5:24

The book of Amos is about a society similar to our own in which the profits produced by the work of the people were going, not back to the people who created them, but rather to the rich landowners. Amos called for economic justice and righteousness.

One of the few verses in the bible repeated verbatim is this one:

I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.
Psalm 140:12 and Proverbs 13:23

Later in Proverbs we read:  The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.  Proverbs 29:7

When Jesus began his public ministry, he said:     The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.      Luke 4:18-19 (quoting from Isaiah 61)

Later, in the Beatitudes (Luke 6), Jesus said:  Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God....But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.   Luke 6:20; 24

Here's another passage relevant to economic justice from the gospels:   A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"  "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother." "All these I have kept since I was a boy," he said.  When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."  When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."   Luke 18:18-23

For the past 40 years, as income disparity has increased.  As with any such issues, Christians must think about what approach best reflects Christian (i.e. gospel) values: individual wealth creation (hoarding?) or promotion of the common good (sharing)?

This is what I believe.  If we really believe the gospel, then we will believe in the things Jesus believed in. We will live Jesus' values. Those values are all about loving God; loving (and treating) one's neighbor (and enemy) as ourselves; sharing what we have with others; and generally promoting a better, more just, righteous, and unselfish world -- for all of God's children.  Which means everyone.  Everyone!

I suppose maybe that sounds liberal or even like something a Democrat or "Occupy Wall Streeter" would say. If so, then so be it.

But this is where I think the Gospel comes down…
This is what the Bible says
And somehow, we as the church, need to find not only our voice…
We need to find a way to live this out… by how we live, how we speak, how we think about others, and who we admire and affiliate ourselves with.

It is something to think about.

I am going to close with  a little poem I put on my blog.  I’ll put this out there, as what it means to be “doers of the word”.  The inspiration was the words of John Wesley.

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.

Christian ethics are pretty simple really

Love God
Love the people around you

Not some of the people
All of the people

Love them no matter what color they are
Or what they believe
Love them whether they are rich or poor

Love them when they are strong and productive
Love them when they are wounded
And hurting

Love them when
For whatever reason
You can’t like them

Just love them
Love them with loving speech
Love them through compassion
Love them with your actions
Love them with your attitude
Love them with your time
Love them with your giving

Love them by forgiving
And accepting
By seeing the seed of the sacred
No matter how twisted or blurred
Or hidden
The divine image might seem to you

That person in front of you
Is inherently precious
A child of God
A prince or princess
A child of the Ruler of All

So just love them
love them with all
the love (God)
that is in you
just love

Now, this may seem a bit like law
Perhaps a bit like shaming….. I don’t mean it to be…
Because this I also believe

That as God’s children, who have connected with God, and have experienced the movement of the Spirit
We can do this.
We can do this, when perhaps, no one else can
or will

Saturday, September 28, 2013


It was a dark and stormy night
It is a dark and stormy morning

Been reading a book titled "Reconciliation" by Thich Nhat Hanh
He talks about our need to heal
our need to be reconciled to others
specifically to those closest to us
such as our parents (even those who have already passed on)

and about our need, our great need
to be reconciled to ourselves
and to our past selves
our five year old selves

if we cannot be reconciled with ourselves he asks,
how can we ever be reconciled with others?

I am working now
to reconcile my adult self with
that 5 year old
that 11 year old self

that self that always worried
in the face of high expectations
am I enough
can I please my father
be liked by my classmates

to that end I return again to my metta (lovingkingness) phrases that I created for myself

Again I share them
with all of you

"May I find the sacred within
May I find my true self again
Overwhelmed by Sacred love
may my body be healed
may my mind be healed
may my heart be healed
may my soul be healed
may I be at ease

Blessings on this rainy day

Friday, September 27, 2013

Beloved Children of God

Religion is for the sake of divine union, not social order, yet the powers that be always want to use it for maintaining social order. This pollutes much of religion's goal and purpose.

In fact, it makes you anal retentive after awhile, to use Freud’s rude phrase, because you can never be happy with life as it is, which is always filled with handicapped people, mentally unstable people, people
of other and so-called false religions, irritable people, gay people,  and people of totally different customs and traditions. Not to speak of wild nature, which we have not loved very well up to now. Organized religion has not been known for its inclusiveness or for being very comfortable with diversity. Yet pluriformity, multiplicity, and diversity are representative of the only world there is! It is rather
amazing that we can miss, deny, or ignore what is in plain sight everywhere.

Salvation is not sin perfectly avoided, as the ego would prefer; but in fact salvation is sin turned on its head and used in our favor. That is how transformative divine love is.   Richard Rohr


Oh God
It is easy for me to be thankful
That you love
Those people
Those handicapped
Mentally unstable

Those Gays
Those Republicans J
Those “wild” people

Wow you are so amazing!


You mean I need to add myself to the list?
Well of course I do

And I need to understand
That for you it is not amazing at all
Because you see us all

As your beloved children

And all you want is to love
And be loved

Thursday, September 26, 2013


In the darkness
I can hear the relentless roar
the crashing
of the turbulent sea
the sands

the assault is unceasing
as if some endless
wall of water
were surging
in the early morning light
I begin to see
the waves
and frothy
row after row
not a wall of
cold darkness
but dancing rows 
creating a cacophony of sound
that now delights
and stirs the hear
Each day Lord
remind me
that when I cannot see
when my insight is dimmed
because I have no spent time
with myself
that life roars
and surges
and overwhelms
but when the light comes
pain comes, and goes
joy comes, and goes
and I can dance
the waves
which sometimes
may tumble and toss 
but most of the time
tickle my toes

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

When anger comes

Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back -- in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.  Frederick Buechner


O Lord
some days I am amazed
I read of angry men
and angry women
who amaze me with their words
their acts

and yet
who in the end
harm themselves as much as others

I think of people I know
angry and entrenched in their bitterness
holding on to events long past
immersed in the pain of

I think of countries who act much the same
Countries who for thousands of years
Have held fast
To old grudges
And would rather shoot than talk

I see people
I see countries
Destroying those around them
Destroying themselves

I think
How foolish!

And yet Lord
I know there are within me
Ravenous wolves of anger
That prowl
And growl
And feast on my soul

Remind me that sometimes
the skeleton at the feast is me

and help me to forgive


Forgive us our debts (sins) as we forgive our debtors (those who have sinned against us)