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

Friday, May 31, 2019

light wrapping

“maybe death
isn't darkness, after all,
but so much light
wrapping itself around us--”
Mary Oliver, Owls and Other Fantasies

I have thought a lot about death lately
It is hard not to

When death is everywhere

Big deaths, little deaths

Rachel Held Evans, dead at 37
A voice for grace and God,

Riley Howell
Kendrick Castillo
young men who attacked school shooters
saving classmates,
but dying themselves

Jean Vanier
who in the name of God
helped improve life for people with disabilities

Donna, my dear friend
and for many years my secretary
She of the goofy smile and laugh


There are other deaths too
The death of empathy
The death of truth
The death of justice
The death of democracy

So many things

But it is of course the deaths of those we care about
Friends, parents
Siblings, heroes

That hit us hardest.

And we wonder
What happens when people die?
Is there a Heaven?  A Hell?
Do people find their way to whatever is next “in an instant”,
Is there a “big sleep”

while we wait for
The Kingdom

Michael Quoist has prayer he wrote after seeing a funeral. 

“Leaving the cemetery some of the family were sobbing.  All is finished. 
Others were sniffling:  “Come, come, my dear courage: It’s finished!”
Some friends murmured:  “Poor man, that’s how we all finish.”
And others sighed in relief:  Well it is finished.

And I was thinking that everything was just beginning.

Yes, he had finished the last rehearsal, but the play was just beginning.  The years of training were over, but the eternal work was about to start.  He had just been born to life, the real life.  Life that’s going to last, life eternal.

As if there were dead people. 
There are no dead people Lord. 
There are only the living, on earth and beyond.”

What I believe,
and of course I might be wrong

But what I believe is that when we die
We return to that from which we came

Some call it God
Some call it heaven
Jesus suggested that dying was like going home (John 14)

But I like to think come from love
And we return to Love

After all, God is love
We all know the love passage from II Corinthians

But because God love, that passage describes not only love
But God

Revisit the passage and replace the word love with the word God
God is patient
God is kind
God is not easily angered
God keeps no record of wrongs
God always protects
God trusts
God always has hopes for us
God always hangs in there with us
God’s love never fails

The whole point of the Gospel
is that we live in the context of this love

We are connected to this love
embraced by this love
empowered by this love
filled by this love

That is why we can live love
Can be love, here on earth

This is why we can walk through our days
Following the way of the one who in-fleshed love, Jesus
Being generous, kind, compassionate, creative
Accepting, forgiving, giving
And loving

As those in whom the Sacred dwells
We are people who display our divine DNA

And that is why we do not have to fear death. 
For when we die, we return to the One from whom we came,
we return to love
As I often say…
We move from communion with the Sacred
back into complete union with the Sacred

Death does not separate us from the love of God,
it unites us (or re-unites us) with that love
And we are home, once again, no longer the wanderers

“… death isn't darkness, after all,
but so much light
wrapping itself around us--”

Thursday, May 30, 2019

I am a cucumber

“I am calm. I’m cool. I’m a cucumber.”
 Saffron A. Kent, Medicine Man

I am not calm
I am not cool
I am a hot mess

I once had a client say
That it was like he had 50 TV’s on in his head
Everyone on a different channel

Make that a hundred

I have what is called a busy brain
Or is that monkey brain

There are sermons to write
People to visit
Problems to solve

There are horses to be fed
(and dogs and cats and chickens too)

There are 5 acres to tend
And meals to cook

And then there is all the crap
Trump (you probably know I think he is awful)
The erosion of our democracy
The oppression of people who happen to be LGBTQI
The failure to welcome the “stranger”
The assault on the poor
And women

And frankly
I am wrapped up in all the mess
Overwhelmed, in fact

This is one of those times I wish God was more proactive
In love God works with us from the inside out
In love God transforms us, one person at a time
In love God gives us the freedom to make our own mistakes
In love God works with us to lift us up out of the swamps of our making
In love God gifts us with the ability to have compassion, and live generously

But right now a little “smiting” would be welcomed

Except of course I know
That I deserve “smiting” as much as the next person

But when I see the damage inflicted
The loss of truth
The loss of empathy
The destruction of the planet

When I see people break down and cry
Because they feel so threatened, so vulnerable
Because they know that in the eyes of those with the power
And the money
They, as a poor person, a person with mental health issues, with addiction
They as a gay or lesbian or trasgender person
They as an immigrant
A Muslim

Have no value
And they know
They may lose their housing
Their health care
Their hope

And so I sit on a wonderful, beautiful afternoon
In a place so amazing it takes your breath away

And I am simply tired
And empty
And I long for hope
And justice
And equity

I long for love
For communion
For peace
Did I mention love?

Come Love Come

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

reconciling confrontation

“The old endless chain of love, tolerance, indifference, aversion and disgust”
Samuel Beckett

At first I tried to love
After all if Jesus loves all, shouldn’t I?

But the lies continued
As did the abuse
As did the abandonment of the poor
As did the cruelty
And the Bully tactics
And the hate

But it is not Ok to judge, is it?
So I tried to be tolerant
I tried not to judge
And of course, those I challenged accused me of just that
And I bought it…
For a moment

And then it became too much
So I tried not to feel the pain when I watched children caged
When I watched freedoms take away
When I watched the poor abandoned

And then I became just a little sick in my mouth
As the lies continued, continued, continued

And as the poor were abandoned and shamed
And a protections for the poor were eroded
And the earth was assaulted
And violence was praised
And hate nurtured

And now I am just disgusted
Disgusted by the creature who feeds all of this
Disgusted by the hate
And the greed
And the cruelty
And the lies
And the cruelty

And I am disgusted that this is done in the name of one
Whose teachings are violated by all of this

And disgusted by those who
For whatever reason
Excuse all of this
Accept it
Cheer it

I am especially disgusted by those pastor
Those churches
Who buying into the way of domination
Support this evil
Or are so “careful” they allow people to support this evil

I do not know what to do with this
I do not know how to respond to people who say
Rachel Held Evans is going to hell

Or those who chant “build the wall”
Or those who cheer when our President floats the idea of shooting refugees
Or those who demonized LGBTQI people
Or those who think guns are more important than children
Or those who think domination is OK
Servanthood is for libertards

Too strong for you?
I’m sorry

I guess that when John called people vipers they were offended too
And I guess that when Jesus said that the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law talked the talk, but didn’t walk the walk (obey everything they teach you, but don’t do as they do. After all, they say one thing and do something else).

They were offended too

Do I have the right to call others out
Probably not
I have my own stuff
My own ways where I am less that what I could be…

So Mea Culpa
Mea Maxima Culpa

But still
I struggle to know how to respond
And I know this
I cannot stay silent
I cannot abandon the poor and the vulnerable
Those who are minorities
People who are LGBTQI

I cannot
And I will not

But Lord?!
Help me
To challenge in a way that leaves room for reconciliation
That does not demean
And minimize

Help me!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

We need love

God is not a being among other beings, but rather the Ground of Being itself which then flows through all beings. As Paul says to the intellectuals in Athens, this God “is not far from us, but is the one in whom we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:27-28). The God whom Jesus reveals is presented as unhindered dialogue, a positive and inclusive flow, and a waterwheel of outpouring love that never stops! St. Bonaventure (c. 1221–1274) called God a “fountain fullness” of love.
                                                                                  Richard Rohr

I think God is having an identity crisis
Or rather, I think there is a  crisis in the way we see God

Today some of the cruelest, least empathic people I know
Are those who claim to be God’s people

The list of their cruelties, both petty and profound
Is exhaustive

They have chosen the way of abuse power
Of greed
Of bullying
Of violence

They have chosen to invoke the name of God
And the name of Jesus to justify all kinds of ills
Including injustice

They hide behind shallow versions of righteousness
Claiming to be pro-life because they are against abortion,
But at the same time dooming living children to lives of poverty and despair
Happily cheering legislation that ruins lives

They support a man who is so antithetical to the way of Jesus
as to be rightfully called antichrist (not The AntiChrist)….

and I think it is because of how they see God

The Bible offers us a tortured changing understanding of God to be sure
But when God, tired perhaps of all the ways we misunderstand,
finally chose to come among us, it became clear

God is love

If God is love, then love is that from which we all emerge
(created in God’s image)

The world we live in is, fundamentally, love
(although we treat it poorly, and so the earth is ill and showing the symptoms
 of that illness)

And each one of us
Every person created
Is fundamentally love

No matter the color, creed, culture, language, economic status, education level
No matter the political affiliation
We are love

But somewhere we lost this
And God became something other than love

God became separate
Powerful (to be sure)
But also  vindictive and retributive

God became tribal (My god)

And God became the excuse
For the abuse of power
For coercion
For hate
For violence
For cruelty (there we are again)

If we do not “live and breathe and have our being”
in the real God, in the God who is love
then we are simply free radicals

we are simply those
separated from Go (for all our rhetoric)
acting out all those aspects of our nature that are not God

This is the failure of American Evangelicals

But they are not alone
This has happened throughout history

Any time people have decided to merge faith with earthly power
Any time people have mixed faith with tribalism (what we call patriotism)
And it happens to all of us, from time to time.
Even to me
Event to you (I suspect)

What happens is God becomes a weapon
Used to control and manipulate
Used to justify prejudice and hate
Used to coerce

We need a new God
Or rather
We need the true God

We need that God who is love
The one who is with us
And in us
The one who cries with us
And mourns with us
The one who cares for the little ones
For the least of these
The one who hovers over us

We need the God who welcomes the immigrant (stranger) with open arms
Who cries with the mother who must abort an unviable fetus
Who hides with the child under her desk at school, as yet another gunman wanders the halls.
Who walks with the black youth through the fearful, deadly streets
Who cries with the parent who can’t afford medical care for their child

We need the God who lives inside us
And is an outpouring of love that never stops

That God who impels us to feed the hungry
Welcome the stranger
Fight for justice for all
Clothe the naked
House the homeless

The God who
Accepts and forgives
Who sees the potential in each person
And seeks to lift each person up

We need
The God who is love

Thursday, May 23, 2019

One day I'll weep

“And with every step I took it became more impossible for me to turn back. And my mind was empty—or it was as though my mind had become one enormous, anesthetized wound. I thought only, One day I'll weep for this. One of these days I'll start to cry.”
 James Baldwin, Giovanni's Room

I sit and stare blankly at the screen
my mind is empty
my hands are still

I do not know how long I sit this way
My mind,
My heart
My soul
An anaesthetized wound

I am preoccupied
With children, hands on their heads, feeling another shooting
Their faces, stunned and empty
Are the faces of my grandchildren

My soul is assailed
By the evil
And greed
By the disregard for people
That leaps out of my computer
That flows from my television
Tearing at the very fabric of who I am

I move from anger, to disgust
From fear to (yes I admit it) hate
From shock to sadness to profound grief

It is bad enough that people in power abuse it
That people with privilege exploit it

It is bad enough that people do ungodly things
In the name of God

But what shatters me
Is that so many do not care

They do

About the poor
The vulnerable
The hurting
The aged
The ill

They simply do not care

As long as they believe (and it often is not fact)
That what is happening benefits them
Protects them
Empowers them

They don’t care if people are left behind

They don’t care if children get shot in school
They don’t care if children are separated from their parents
They don’t care if refugees are denies refuge
They don’t care if the earth is destroyed, bit by bit
They don’t care I millions of species are in danger of extinction
They don’t care that the Constitution is trampled
They don’t care that people born LGBTQI are demonized and oppressed
They don’t care about the life of an 11 year old rape victim
They don’t care about Native Americans who are systematical oppressed
They just don’t care

As long as they gain (even if it is only for a short while)
As long as they feel safe
Or powerful

And this makes my heart hurt
This is a wound that will not go away

and so I sit an stare
my soul numb
hoping it will all go away
hoping that people will wake up to the Sacred
hoping against hope

trying to follow the path of Father Abraham
fighting to believe

there are no easy answers
people will jump in with formula faith and insist I just need to have more faith
people will tell me to trust
people will insist I simply do not know the big picture
(and if I did I would be fine)

But I lament
As did the author of Lamentations
As did the Psalmist
As did almost every prophet (every real prophet), ever
As did Jesus in the Garden
As did Paul, persistently tormented

I sit, and
I lament

And then I walk
Left foot,
Right foot
Left foot breathe

I watch the sun set, and the skies turn golden
I watch young, curious calves,  gather to
Google at Finn the dog (who is after all just their size)
If feel the breeze
And smell the pines

And the numbness resolves
And I can feel again
Breathe again
My heart still hurt
My mind still rages

But there is a place
Deep in my soul
Where the Sacred lives

And against all hope
I believe

And so tomorrow I will travel to the State Capital
And Thursday I will chair meetings
And Friday I will return to a former church
And do the funeral of a friend

And Saturday I will try
To grab that people of hope
And write a sermon

About ironically, hearing the voice of Jesus

And so I will walk
And walk
And walk

On foot in front of the other
Out of the numbness
And back into life.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Confirming our bias

If you are looking for verses with which to oppress women, you will find them. If you are looking for verses with which to liberate or honor women, you will find them. If you are looking for reasons to wage war, you will find them. If you are looking for reasons to promote peace, you will find them. If you are looking for an out-dated, irrelevant ancient text, you will find it. If you are looking for truth, believe me, you will find it. This is why there are times when the most instructive question to bring to the text is not "what does it say?", but "what am I looking for?"…  If you want to do violence in this world, you will always find the weapons. If you want to heal, you will always find the balm.”
                                                                        Rachel Held Evans

At some level we are the Sacred clothed in flesh
Ah that Sacred presence
It guides us
Empowers us
It opens us up
Makes us generous
And hopefully kind

It fills us with love

But oh that humanity…

When we come to God
And to God’s word
The world clings to us
(like stick-tights to fleece)

And we carry with us our greed
Our fear
Our anger
Our hate
Our need to power

Anne Lamott once noted
“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out God hates all the same people you do.”

We do create God in our own image
And we use an abuse the scriptures

For we approach God wanting God to change the world
And change our situations
Rather than wanting, hoping, that God changes us

We turn to God wanting a God of retributive power
Rather than a God sacrificial love
Who demands we follow in that way

And we turn to the scriptures
Looking for something, anything
We can use to confirm our bias

Rather than allowing the Word to
Infiltrate us
Permeate us
And bring us to a newness of understanding

It is indeed critical for us to ask
“What am I looking for?”
We know we will find it every time

I know no easy way to solve the problem
Instead of looking to confirm what we want
We went with a null hypothesis,
And tried to disprove, reject or nullify our bias

If our bias is that God is love
Can we prove that God is instead arbitrary, demanding, judgmental, and retributive?

If our bias is that God wants us to have a theology of service
Can we prove instead that God wants his people to dominate?
To control and coerce?

This is truly a difficult and dangerous task
For as Rachel so aptly noted, we can in fact prove anything
By using the scriptures

Even killing a child

So what do we do with this?

There are certainly warnings that being open to who God really is
And what God really wants of us is not something we do well

That we are in fact often pulled away from what is true
and chase after other priorities and agendas

In 2 Timothy (4) we read, “The time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths”

In Roman’s Paul suggested that many people “exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised”

So how do we escape confirmation bias?

Paul (again in Romans) suggests that “… the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

So now we are back where we began
With the Spirit
With that cleaning fire
That powerful wind

With that troublesome presence

Even when clothed in flesh
Sacred Presence has the power
To make us new

Even when clothed in the flesh
If we are awake to the Spirit
It will lead us to truth

I do not know how to be sure how to differentiate between
Truth and falsehood

That is indeed a difficult task
Every one of us, when we think we have discovered God’s truth
Need to be willing to utter those profound words,
“but I might be wrong”

But I think there are some questions we can ask that will help
Is it consistent with the idea that God is love?
Is it about service rather than domination?
Will it create reconciliation rather than enmity?
Will it bend the world toward love?

I know of no greater challenge
Then to be honest about what I bring to God
And what I bring to God’s Word

I know of no greater challenge
Than to let God be God

And no greater reward

Monday, May 20, 2019

Life Happens, Love Happens

“People don't always get what they deserve in this world.”
Lemony Snicket, The Blank Book

Perhaps it is not just a coincidence that tomorrow I begin leading a study
On the book of Job…

The day after a person who I believe was an authentic voice for God
At age 37
Of complications stemming from a reaction to anti-biotics

Rest in Peace
Rachel Held Even
May your beloved husband be covered with love
And your children, ages 1 and 3, feel the love embrace them

This angers me
I am not very happy with God right now

It is such an injustice,
That this loving, kind woman should die
When a narcissist who is slowly destroying not only our country
but the planet
for the sake of money

Not only lives, flourishes
And is aided and abetted by people soaked in power and wealth
And adored by people who have chosen the way
Of hate and fear and domination
Over service and love

This angers me
Even though I know this is the way the world works
In Job it is very clear
The innocent suffer

And Jesus made it all too clear
The sun rises on the evil and on the good,
And the rain falls on the just and on the unjust.

It is just a fact
That there is no direct causality between a good life and prosperity
And an evil life and trial

Otherwise Rachel would be alive and with her children
And someone else would find their life in ruins

What kind of God is it, who watches such absurdity?
What kind of God allows such stuff to happen?

It raises the question, doesn’t it, about how God interacts with the world
Is God, as Jim Wallis suggests, “an active agent” in the world?
And if God is an active agent, why does such injustice exist?

I suspect it comes down to how God chooses to work
God always, it seems, in his actions in the world
Clothes himself/herself with humanity

God always works through people
God always resides in people
God always shows up in the flesh

Which is terribly “iffy” way to do things
And yet

It changes God from something up there out there
From something distant and immanent
To someone close and intimate

And there is a cost to that intimacy

Life happens
Greed happens
Hate happens
Compassion happens
Generosity happens

Evil people flourish
Good people die

But still God is present
I suspect that Rachel in her death
Moved from communion with God to union
And will be forever blessed

And I suspect that for some, living is ultimately more tragic
than is dying, as Rachael did,
surrounded by love, respected, and missed and mourned
and when arriving back from whence one came, the Sacred, being welcomed, and at home.

God was clothed in Rachel
And it showed

God is clothed in others
Who are not awake
And it does not show

But it does not change the reality of how God works
As Rachel told us….

“We could not become like God, so God became like us. God showed us how to heal instead of kill, how to mend instead of destroy, how to love instead of hate, how to live instead of longing for more. When we nailed God to a tree, God forgave. And when we buried God in the ground, God got up.”

As it was
So it is

Love wins

Sunday, May 19, 2019

God is all about new

“There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of a comfortable past which, in fact, never existed.”
Robert F. Kennedy

 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.
                                                              Isaiah 43:19

God is all about new
New hope
New vitality
New starts
New life

That should not be surprising
from the creative power
that changed chaos into order
(in that slow amazing way revealed by science)

That should not be surprising from the Sacred
who chose to enter this world as a baby

and then chose to walk among us
teach among us
die among us

That should not be surprising from the one
who on Easter caused life to erupt from the tomb (Barbara Brown Taylor)
and moved creation a different direction

Love is always surprising
And nothing moves us
Changes us
Drives us

Like this power

What is surprising, perhaps
Is how newness comes when we least expect it


It always amazes me how newness breaks for
just when we think things have come to a poor end

Ask Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
who laughed and wrestled and bartered with God
Ask Joseph
who lay battered in a pit, abandoned
Ask Moses
who had to flee for his life

Ask Peter
Trice forgiven

And Paul
stricken down and lifted up

You can ask me too
for God has recreated me so many times
it is impossible to count

Forget Plan A, or B, even Z
Perhaps Z3

Out of seeming dead ends newness has come
doors have opened


God works best it seems
when we least expect it

It is not that we are helpful
Indeed people, especially those who consider themselves God’ people
Those chosen and blest

Are amazingly resistant to God’s new thing

We hang on with grim determination
to old ways
old hurts
old hates
old fears

this is the great tragedy of America today

As Robert Kennedy reminded us
“There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of a comfortable past which, in fact, never existed.”

This is the great tragedy of the world
There is too much fear

But the Sacred will not leave us alone
Love will not leave us unchanged
Some may resist
Some may take refuge in abusive power
And hate

But always Love’s new thing
Sometimes when we least want it
Sometimes when we least expect it

But always when we need it

Friday, May 17, 2019

Share the Feast

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted
sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’
                                                                        Luke 16:19 (NRSV)

What happens when we die?
There are a lot of ideas
I doubt very much if it has anything to do with heavenly mansions and streets of gold
I will be very much surprised if there is, as some on the right claim
a wall
or a gate
or any sort of test

What I do believe is that our being then will bear little resemblance to our being now
What I do believe is that the communion with the Sacred
Which we experienced here on earth
Will become union

“Our true nature is the nature of no birth and no death” Thich Nhat Hanh
  To put it another way, we come from God, and we return to God

All of us!
So what do we do with pesky parables such as this?
How do we think about the ramblings of Paul and his “third heaven”

I believe we all come from the Sacred
And I believe we all return

But I also think that while we are living
We can distance ourselves from the Sacred

We can ignore
We can lose touch

Worst of all
We can actively deny the Sacred by the way we think
And the way we live

We can create such a distance
By our greed
Our lust for power
Our lies
Our cruelty
Our lack of compassion
Our failure to champion justice and equity

That we create an abyss
That blocks our reunion with the Sacred

As Jesus put it
A great chasm is fixed
A distance, a hardness
A blindness can be developed

That keeps people from returning
Keeps people from the eternal table
Keeps people form once again
Living the house of love

What it looks like to be in that place I do not know

But I do know this
I do not want to deny my heritage
I do not want to be apathetic about the Sacred Presence that is in me
I do not want to slowly fall away into a dark place
Where I am so far from God it is almost
Impossible to get back

I cannot bring myself to believe that it is impossible
There are those parables about lost coins
And lost sheep
And prodigal children

And I suspect there is always a way back

And I suspect if we do not find ourselves back in communion
It is not for lack of trying
On God’s part

I wonder what it will be like when
Those in power in America, finally die, and move on
Will they move on?
Or will they be stuck,
Not in eternal torment imposed by God
But a cold darkness they have chosen

It is interesting that in this parable Jesus suggests
That Lazarus might well have tried to find a way
To get to the Rich Man and bring him back

I love that

Part of me wants those I believe are so much like the rich man (often called Dives)
To pay the price
But a bigger part wants to believe that god never gives up
Never stops looking
Never stops trying….

But I suppose that is the point
We can choose the things of the earth
We can choose to distance

This is truly a parable for our time
It is one of those stories
That reminds us that this is all a mystery
And we do not understand
And will probably
Will never understand

This is one of those stories that reminds us of our limited
Capacity to understand God, and God’s way

And there really is only one response we can make

We can share the feast
We can live lives of generosity
And kindness and love

We can notice those in need around us
And offer more than crumbs

Thursday, May 16, 2019

time to grow up

When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable.  But to grow up is to accept vulnerability.
                                                              Madeline L’Engle

Make no mistake
The most vulnerable people in the world are children

and they are easily damaged

I have held malnourished children in Kurdistan
Suffering from severe hypothermia

And watched them die

I saw children in Romania
throw away children
stuck in orphanages without nurture and love for years
rock back and forth with vacant eyes

I have seen children
dirty and sad
living in the dump in Mexico City
in cardboard huts in the middle of tons of garbage

I have watched them play with broken toys
and watch me with fearful eyes

I can imagine the immigrant children
separated from their parents
covered with a thermal blanket
lying on the floor
crying for their mother or father

Children take the brunt of
War, greed and hate
They are most impacted when tragedy strikes
With storms assail

But not only children are vulnerable

Adults too struggle with vulnerability
It is scary to be open
It is scary to put yourself out there
To bare your heart, your soul

It is terrifying to think of failure
And poverty

But adults, when they feel vulnerable
Have more choices
They can see vulnerability as the price of intimacy
Or understand that it is the gateway to courage

Even when it is hard, risky, costly, adults can choose vulnerability

They can choose to be open and caring, anyway
They can choose to be generous, anyway
They can choose to confront evil
Choose to put people in front of safety

They do this
Knowing they might be hurt
Knowing they might be taken advantage of
Know that they may end up with less

But people, in response to vulnerability
Can choose to respond in a way that denies or rejects vulnerability

Rather than embraces it

And when we reject vulnerability, it gets ugly
Bullies are people who are hiding from vulnerability
So are the greedy, who consume and horde, seeking
Always always always
To put themselves beyond threat (but they never really can)

So are those who judge
And reject
And exclude

The “Wall” is merely of a symbol of those who choose
Not to be vulnerable
So are guns
Even religion can be a coat of armor, shielding us from encountering
The difficult
The uncomfortable
The inconvenient
The costly (how ironic)

When one is not vulnerable
One is closed
And often cruel

Here is the hard truth
The only way to be truly human
The only way to be who we were created to be
The only way to follow Jesus
They only way to truly love

Is to be vulnerable

Which is perhaps why Jesus said….
“…unless you change and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Growing up means learning to choose vulnerability
O people of God
It is time to grow up!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

God's got this

In Jesus' day, there were these emperors who've ruled for a certain number of years, and then they didn't. It's one reason I'm kind of obsessed with how the story of Jesus is set up. When the Bible says, in the 15th year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea and Herod was ruler of Galilee-- and during the high priest of these dudes who were high priests, the word of God didn't come to a damn one of them. But during their reign, I imagined it also felt like they would always rule. Those whose power, at the time they were alive, felt so absolute are only a footnote to Jesus. Given that list of emperors and rulers, I wonder if he was preaching to an anxious people needing some hope in that context-- real hope not platitudes or cheerful sentiment. I say this because there are things happening in our world right now that make me and a lot of people I love very anxious. So maybe we can pray for the conversion of our anxiety. Because when anxiety is converted, you know what it becomes? It becomes hope. Which means if you have anxiety now, you are almost hopeful-- you're like super close. You remember that list of emperors and rulers at the beginning of the gospel, the ones who were so feared and powerful at the time. The only reason these tiny, so-called "powerful" men are even remembered at all 2000 years later is as a footnote. So here's my prayer for those of us who are so anxious that we're nearly hopeful. Let's all name every single thing and person that seems so powerful right now as to feel inescapable-- rulers, tyrants, societal forces, et cetera-- name them and then say footnote. Pontius Pilate-- footnote. Your depression-- footnote. Student loans-- footnote. The gun lobby-- footnote. Power hungry narcissists of every variety-- footnote.
                                                                                  Nadia Boz-Weber

I remember when I was young
and had two older sisters to contend with

I always tried to get the last word
Always, always, always the last word

No matter what the argument was about
No matter whether I was right or wrong
I wanted the last word

Not much has changed
I still have that stubborn streak that demands the last word

I want my point to be made
And I suspect that is true whether I really know what I am talking about
Or not

I have finally decided that God is also One who expects to have the last word

In me this trait is irritating

Just ask my sisters

In God it is comforting

When it comes to hate
And greed
When it comes to racism
And brutality

God will always have the last word

Even when it comes to death

Last word

And that is comforting

Because God’s last word is always love

Which is why those messengers of God
Who appear at unlikely times and in unlikely places
Always say the same thing

Be not afraid
Be not afraid
Be not afraid

God’s got this

That is not a call to sit back and watch
That is not an excuse for inaction

No, it is the critical truth that enables us to keep trying

There is no doubt that these are dark times
More shootings
Hate, enmity
The abuse of power
Lies and more lies
“power hunger narcissists of every variety”

There is no doubt
That some things seem so powerful right now as to feel inescapable—

But God has the last word
And these things, as oppressive and looming as they are
These people as evil as they are
This violence as profound as it is

Are Footnotes

All that would separate us from the love of God

So be not afraid
And keep resisting
Keep giving
Keep accepting
Keep welcoming
Keep loving

God’s got this

Tuesday, May 14, 2019


“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”
 Franklin D. Roosevelt

There are, I suppose
A lot of things to fear

For myself, I fear failure
I fear being unloved
I fear being irrelevant

And I am deathly afraid of being a person
who because of ideology
out of passion
out of a need to be right
out of a need to convince or change,

diminishes another

I look around me and I see lots of people caught up in fear
People fear minorities
They fear losing power
They fear people of other creeds

And this fear
Consumes, and destroys
And generosity
And love

It kills empathy
An in the end
It kills people

It kills people in churches in Sri Lanka
In mosques in New Zealand
In Synagogues  in California

It kills justice
And equity
It kills morality
It kills the soul and shrivels the Spirit

We see fear
We feel it
Are crushed by it

Every time a lie is told
Every time someone is called name
Or Excluded
Every time power is abused
Every time justice and equity are lost
Every time a child is caged
And a black person treated with brutality

We are in the house of fear

Trump is a fearful man
So are the so called militants on the border
So are the legislators who turn a blind eye,
When the rule of law is violated
So are those will do anything to grab hold of and keep wealth

There is only one antidote
The realization that there are things much more important
Than money
And power
More important that so called “winning”
More important than dominance

There is only one antidote
The knowledge that when all is said and done,
So much more is important than fear

These are all more important than fear

And people