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, August 14, 2022

People! Wake up

It’s prophecy time

the flyer says

 

come and let us tell you what an angry and retributive God

has in store for this sinful world

and let us scare the hell out of you…

 

It’s prophecy time

come to the “prophecy center”

 

prophecy

it’s a good thing

really

when it is really prophecy

 

not when it someone telling you

what a prophet from long ago was telling

people from long ago

about the possible consequences of their actions

and challenging them to change

 

not when it is someone pointing to the “signs of the time”

Bible style

and suggesting that those signs

(meant to apply to ancient Rome) are happening “now”

and we’d better pay up our tithes

and answer that altar call

or burn

 

but when it is someone proclaiming

 

“Hear!  Hear O Children of God!”

that the same errors of yesteryear

are the same errors of today

and we really ought to change

 

Aquinas (in his Commentary of Jeremiah) suggests that a

“prophet has been consecrated to overturn, root up, destroy,

and again to build and renew”

 

a prophet is to stand up to injustice

and stand up for justice

and bring healing

 

a prophet is about transformation

not about scaring people into

buying insurance against an inevitable future

but about moving people into changing the future

 

prophets are people who must see

see what is wrong

prophets are people who must speak

who must, in whatever way they can

put a mirror in front of people and say

“This is us”

 

a prophet is a person who helps other people see

what he or she sees

that which is hidden

that which is forgotten

that which is denied

 

and a prophet says

because we are greedy

because we abuse power

because we neglect the poor

because we oppress

because we pillage and plunder

because

 

this is what will happen

this is what is likely to happen

 

unless

 

unless we see

unless we repent

unless we change

unless we turn to God

not in fear but in hope

 

and live life a different way

 

a prophet is less about what God is going to do to us

and more about what we are going to do to ourselves

 

it is not that God is unimportant

for in God, in Sacred, in Love

we find the power to change

 

but we cannot, we will not change

what we do not see

 

so let us hear it for the prophets

for Isaiah, and Amos

Micah, and Mary, and Elizabeth

for Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela

for Sister Chittister, and Shawn Clairborne

(and definitely not for Enlow, Locke, and Kerr)

 

let us hear it for the prophets

those who see

and stand

and speak

those who help us see what is wrong

challenge us to be better

and connect us with the Power

to change

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

nothingness

 

There are many ways in which we taste Nothingness and we will consider some of them here:

Metaphysical nothingness of non-being or of our pre-existence.

Psychological nothingness of feeling oneself to be a nobody or forgotten or utterly ignored.

Political nothingness of being subjected to less than human circumstances by decisions of the powerful decision-makers.

Being a woman in a patriarchal world.

Being a person of color in a world where white supremacy reigns.

Being a gay or trans person in a world of homophobia and heterosexism.

Being poor or homeless when possessions are the test of a human being.

          Matthew Fox, Daily Meditations 8/10/22

___________________________________________________

 

nothing

the sun may grudgingly arise

breaking through the clouds for a moment of color

 

but then all becomes

50 shades of gray

 

and the light is subsumed by the darkness

 

and we are left with nothing

we feel it

we taste it

it is bitter bile in our stomachs

it is the tightness in our chests

it is a hundred TVs, all tuned to different channels

chattering in our heads

 

nothing

nothing makes sense

the poor championing those who oppress them

freedom fighters fighting against freedom

truth seekers trusting liars

 

this is a world that makes us nothing

and leaves us stumbling in the dark

reaching out for someone anyway

lashing at everyone

 

this is a world that sucks us dry and leaves our souls empty

and leaves us vulnerable

to the liars, the predators, the manipulators, the abusers

 

when we taste our nothingness

hate and fear rule us

control us

shape us

 

we react, blindly, mindlessly (or with ideologically impaired minds)

we cheer a Supreme Court that stands for nothing (other than power and wealth)

we blindly follow a narcissist

we enable (and even worship) our abusers

or we live hopelessly

believing that nothing will ever be right again

 

we are defined by nothingness

women in patriarchal darkness

people of color in the darkness of white supremacy

peacemakers in a world dominated by guns and violence

LGBTQI+++ in a world that denies their humanity

followers of Jesus in the darkness of hate-filled Churchianity

 

nothing

 

but there is something

there is a reality, a power, a Love

that overcomes the darkness

 

that same something, someone

Jesus talked about, again and again in the dwindling light

of the upper room

as the darkness encroached

and all would soon become

nothing

 

there is that Love

we can trust

trust to be with us

trust to stay with us

trust to work with us

trust to empower us

trust to help us through the darkness

 

to something

beautiful and powerful

something

hopeful

something

graceful

 

to Love

 

the world may try to make us nothing

but if we trust in love

we are quite something!

_____________________________

 

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it (John 1)

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Just sit

Just sit there right now

Don’t do a thing

Just rest

 

For your separation from God

Is the hardest work in this world

          Hafiz (ala Landinsky) The Subject Tonight is Love

________________________

 

The morning sky

Filled with clouds and rain and sun

Shines with all the colors of the rainbow

 

God laughing

at our pitiful attempts

to light up the sky to celebrate

what?

 

Freedom?

Power?

Winning?

 

We try so hard

don’t we?

we shoot off rockets

drink our beer

fire up the BBQ

sing our patriotic songs

 

and are left only with empty souls

and terrorized dogs

 

We try so hard, we human creatures

doing the wrong things!

 

God must shake the divine head in bewilderment at

our denseness

 

we work to gain power

when we have been called to cede power

and become servants

 

we work so hard to control

when we have been told to set the prisoners free

 

we work so hard at hating

when we have been told to love

 

we work so hard at killing

when we have been told to turn our guns into garden tools

 

we work so hard at forcing people to

believe and act the way we want

when we have been told that people must freely choose

and only loving presence can truly transform

 

we work so hard at seeking advantage and privilege

when we have been told that we need to seek justice

 

we work so hard

at our separation from God

 

And so the divine, frustrated I am sure, says

“I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.

Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,

Even though you shoot fireworks into the sky

Even though you invoke my name

and wrap the cross in your flag

 

it will all be empty

 

Take away from me the noise of your songs;

I will not listen to your patriotic songs

Where you demand I bless you.  (apologies to Amos)

 

Instead, stop

Rest

Pray

Repent

Listen

Love

Accept

Welcome”

 

Resisting divine love is hard work

The hardest work in the world

 

Just sit there right now

Don’t do a thing

Just rest

 

And let God love you

Soak up forgiveness, compassion, generosity, acceptance

Look at the rainbow

And let all the colors of love fill your soul

 

And then do justice

and to live kindness

and walk humbly with God  (Micah)

Friday, August 5, 2022

Let Justice Roll

But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! (Amos)

 

Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever.

For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed; the offspring of the wicked will perish. The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever. (A Psalmist)

 

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah)

 

Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. (Isaiah)

 

This is what the LORD Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. (Zechariah)

 

The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern. (Proverbs)

_______________________

 

Justice

God likes it!

God demands it!

 

Not a retributive, punishing justice

Not a hateful justice

 

But a justice that equalizes and protects

A justice that is merciful and compassionate

 

A nation that wants to prosper must have justice

A nation that abandons justice will become evil and destructive

 

A nation that abandons justice will eventually,

although some may think they flourish for a while,

be destroyed

it will implode,

collapsing in on itself

 

Let’s call it like it is.

Our current SCOTUS is not about justice

It is about power, and it is about greed

It is about control, and it is about punishment

 

Taking the vote away from people is not just

Taking away freedom of choice is not just

Allowing big business to destroy the planet for profit is not just

Giving one religion the freedom to oppress all other religions is not just

 

But the SCOTUS has done just that!

 

And they are doing it while being cheered on

By people who claim Jesus

 

By people who are more about rules

And merit

And punishment and retribution

Than about love

 

According to scripture

This Court, and the party that installed it (GOP)

having abandoned justice

Having abandoned truth

Having abandoned love

Having abandoned mercy

Have abandoned God and God’s way

 

They may claim God

They may give God lip service

But by every biblical standard

What they are doing in antithetical to God

And Jesus

 

I have no illusion they will change

We have seen this pattern before

This pattern of greed, abused power, of violence, and injustice

 

At the end of this road is rubble

But hopefully, also

A remnant

 

And a chance to start again

Resurrection

Out of a tomb of our own making

 

 

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Shine the light

It is said of a certain Talmudic master that the paths of heaven were as bright to him as the streets of his native town. Hasidism inverts the order: It is a greater thing if the streets of a person’s native town are as bright to them as the paths of heaven. For it is here, where we stand, that we should try to make shine the light of the hidden divine life.

          Martin Buber, The Way of Man, According to the Teaching of Hasidism

(New York: Routledge Classics, 2002), 31 (quoted by Rohr, 6/29/22

_________________________________

 

let your light so shine

Jesus said

let your light shine in the darkness

for you are the world’s light  (Matthew 5)

 

but how?

 

what does it mean to be a lamp in the darkness?

what does it mean to shine the light of the divine

in the streets of one’s native town?

in one’s state

in one’s country?

 

is it a matter of zeal?

or power?

do we change the world by grabbing hold of the reins of power

and forcing

obedience?

even faith?

 

when we grab power

when we embrace the way of dominance

what do we reveal?

 

it is tempting

to think that if we control the courts

and control the government

we can impose righteousness

 

we can “win the world”

but Jesus knew better

Watch out! He said

beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Empire

what profit it you to win the whole world, and lose your life

 

if you want to follow me deny yourself

take up a cross

and follow

 

follow, follow, follow

love your neighbor as yourself

feed the hungry

free people from oppression

clothe the naked

welcome the stranger

give water to the thirsty (Matthew 25)

 

we cannot be light

when our hearts are full of anger and resentment

when we carry forward and repeat the way of domination and greed

we cannot be light when we carry hate

and pass it on from generation to generation

 

we can only be light when we break the cycle

of abused power

and retribution

 

Jesus did not grab power

he did not collaborate with the Sadducees

or stack the Sanhedrin with “his people”

he looked at those who tried to impose righteousness

who shamed and judged

and threw stones

and said “are you kidding me?”

 

he ceded power

he lived a life of radical love, and acceptance

a life of forgiveness

a life of compassion

 

and said

this is the way

 

he died on a cross

and said the way of hate and retribution

stops here

 

we are the light of the world

we are called to shine

to make the streets of our villages and cities

shine with the light of Love

 

we don’t do that with abortion bans

or prayer at the 50-yard line

we don’t do that by creating and theocracy

based on arrogance and coercion

 

we do that by facing the darkness in our own hearts

and, through repentance

letting the light of love shine there

at the center of who we are

 

emptying us of hate

and the need for power and control

and retribution

 

and then

letting that light leak from our souls

gently

by being people of compassion

and forgiveness

kindness

generosity

 

by working to create a world

where no desperate person has to die of heat stroke

in the back of a semi-truck

where no desperate young woman has to believe

abortion is her only option

where no person of color has to automatically fear

the lights of a patrol car

 

for it is here

where we stand

in the middle of the mess

in the middle of the pain and suffering

in the middle of the despair

that we need to shine

 

not by grabbing power

but by empowering

not by coercing

but by transforming through welcome and love

 

Monday, August 1, 2022

Surrender is not an option

Surrender is not an option.  I cannot imagine giving up my faith in the real presence of a loving Spirit who is with us on this long walk [Trail of Tears] we call life.  I know goodness is there, kindness is there, compassion is there, no matter how final the triumph of fear may seem, nor how great the power that holds the human heart down.  I will not abandon my belief in the coming dawn just because I dwell in the midnight hour.

          Steven Charleston, “Ladder to the Light”  p.64

_______________________________________

 

 

It feels like the midnight hour

Like the deepest deep

The darkest dark

 

we see murdered children

immigrants callously left to die from the heat

 

we see injustice roll down like waters,

and self-righteousness like an ever-flowing stream

 

we see those who claim God

embrace the Kingdom of the World and its way of domination and coercion

instead of the Kingdom of Heaven and its way of service and love

 

it is an ugly time

 

where the powerful abuse their power

where the rich sell out the righteous for profit

and the needy for a second (or third) house

where the heads of the poor

are trampled into the dust of the earth

and the vulnerable are abandoned (Amos 2)

 

It feels like the midnight hour

and I fear for the poor

the ill

 

I fear for women

and people who are LGBTQI+

and are BIPOC

in this time when the seeds

of nationalism, and totalitarianism

the seeds of racism and misogyny

and greed

 

have blossomed

like virulent weeds

 

it feels like the midnight hour

dare I hope?

dare I believe that the dawn is coming

 

can “I know goodness is there,

kindness is there,

compassion is there,

no matter how final the triumph of fear may seem..?”

 

yes!

 

the trail is long

and watered with tears

and yet the Spirit walks with us

Love walks with us

 

and we cannot abandon hope

 

instead, when the night is darkest

we most hold on to hope

 

hope is not a wish

but an intention (Steven Charleston)

 

hope is lived

hope builds on itself

hope grows

as the people of hope together

stand

resist

care

love

welcome

and yes, vote

 

we cannot accept the darkness

we cannot get used to the darkness

we cannot sit hopeless in the darkness

 

for the Spirit is with us

and the dawn is coming