Insistence Whisperer

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Creative Commons Mission in Life” by Celestine Chua is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Proverbs 26:22  The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body. (NRSV)

[Scripture quotation from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

Pondering

John Caputo: “God does not exist; God Insists.”  I am an “insistence whisperer.”

Years ago, as part of my Doctor of Ministry training, we learned about a “horse whisperer” who identified her approach as “telling the horse a truer story about itself.” She often dealt with horses that had been poorly trained. As a result, those horses were living inside a corrupt story. Her job was to invite them into a truer story. Because the ‘corrupt’ story of a horse is often written with pen strokes of power (and violence), this horse whisperer saw her task as one of inviting, encouraging, and supporting a new way for the horse.

During my active ministry as a church pastor and, later, a regional church administrator, I understood my primary role to be that of a “church whisperer.” All too often churches (congregations, as well as regional and national church bodies) have lived into corrupt stories written by those whom the gospels call “the Long Robes” or by cultural values. My job was to invite those churches into a truer story about themselves. We often engaged in conversations framed by appreciative inquiry.

In retirement, things have changed. I have changed. I no longer find myself held hostage to God as an external Supreme Being, out there. I find that my trust is stronger than my beliefs. I am more concerned about being in solidarity with the societal victims of injustice and marginalization than with so many of my Christian brothers and sisters who are inimical to LGBT persons and their rights, who are conceptually opposed to women having the final arbitration in decisions about their own bodies, and whose fear of foreigners and hatred of Muslims is scary.

I would now describe myself as an “insistence whisperer.” I find myself encountering people who are not satisfied with they have been taught about religion, God, and salvation. Most of the people I encounter who are looking for deeper meaning in their lives are in the church. Actually, there are many more outside. No longer are they satisfied with a heavenly God (“up there, out there”) who will fix it for them. They are searching for significant answers, but not are not always sure where to look.

I would now describe myself as an “insistence whisperer.” I find myself encountering people who are not satisfied with what they have been taught about religion, God, and salvation. Most of the people I encounter who are looking for deeper meaning in their lives are in the church. Actually, there are many more outside. No longer are they satisfied with a heavenly God (“up there, out there”) who will fix it for them. They are searching for significant answers, but are not always sure where to look. My job is to invite them to explore a truer story about themselves – namely, that they have within themselves the resources for intimacy with God, with deeper spiritual meaning. Those resources include a compassionate concern for connecting with others, talents and abilities to use creatively the resources they find in the world, and a capacity to experience a lure, draw, nudge, call toward that which is beyond themselves. The insistence which draws them out beyond themselves fosters an openness toward those in need. This is the insistence that comes in the name of God. So, for them I whisper an event within themselves, a potential transaction with Deep Reality, a sense of call and meaning and integrity. I am an insistence whisperer.

Messianic and the Possible

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The messianic is not about an external Messiah. Instead it concerns inner process available to all. 

Mark 8:34-36      34 After calling the crowd together with his disciples, Jesus said to them, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. 35  All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me and because of the good news will save them. 36  Why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives? (CEB)

[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

Reflections

I have been using the term “messianic” to describe an inner process, rather than an external person or process that “saves” us. I adopted use of the term without a clear description of its meaning for me. This is my attempt to do so.

There is a possibility within me — an opportunity, an occasion, a yearning, a potentiality! It is the possibility of wholeness of being — that which Jung calls Self. It is the integration of my shadow side with my conscious awareness. Such integration holds the hope that I might rise up to the level of ideals that I hold for myself (and not only I, but family, church, community, universe also hold these aspirations for me) — aspirations for peace, compassion, and justice. This possibility is not unique to me, it is open to you as well — open to all of humankind. It is the possibility that was most actualized by those great ‘spiritual’ leaders throughout history — Yeshua, Buddha, Confucius, Gandhi, … This possibility is identified in Jewish and Christian traditions with the Messiah / the Christ. The unfortunate reality of these traditions is that this process is traditionally identified with a particular individual (who has come or who is yet to come). In truth this dynamic messianic process is available to us all. The Eastern Orthodox spiritual tradition comes closest to affirming this process in their concept of divinization. I believe that this is also the essence of what the mystics call “union” with God.

There is another possibility within me — an opportunity, an occasion, a more likely outcome if I am not self-aware. It is the possibility of truncated being — it is living only out of my ego (that is, unaware of the unconscious parts of me that influence my conscious thoughts and actions). This possibility carries with it the likelihood of maintaining low standards and living through partial truths and unrealized hopes. This possibility is often talked about in Christian theology as original sin. But neither ‘original sin’ nor ‘original blessing’ contain the full story.

Two possibilities exist within. Merton talks about false self and true self. I would rather use the terms ‘actual’ and ‘possible.’ The ‘actual’ is who we are in relationship with others and (with the world). At every moment, in every relationship, with every choice we make, the ‘possibility’ is that we can follow either the path that moves toward or away from wholeness. While a few people in history have been so far to one end of the spectrum or the other that they are remembered as either evil or saintly, most of us demonstrate regularly that both possibilities are resident within us. Our character is a reflection of the balance between the two. The goal of Christian discipleship is to empower the inner movement toward the messianic.

The Friendship of Christ — My Journey

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Icon of Friendship uploaded by User:Abraham [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The 8th Century Coptic Icon of Friendship shows Jesus befriending Bishop Menas. The icon is sometimes called Christ and the Believer.

2 Corinthians 5:16-29     16 No longer, then, do we judge anyone by human standards. Even if at one time we judged Christ according to human standards, we no longer do so. 17 Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come. 18 All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also. 19 Our message is that God was making all human beings his friends through Christ. God did not keep an account of their sins, and he has given us the message which tells how he makes them his friends. 20 Here we are, then, speaking for Christ, as though God himself were making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: let God change you from enemies into his friends! (GNT)

[Good News Bible: The Bible in Today’s English Version. New York: American Bible Society, 1976.]

Reflections

Formerly, the Messiah (Christ) was assessed objectively. Whether understood as archetype or as a unique person, it was always to be outside us, other than us. And yet we were to be dependent upon that reality for our salvation. Salvation would be granted by belief in the external reality of the Messiah. That was then; this is now.

Yeshua reconciled God and the inner psychic processes. Yeshua made friends with God — that is to say, there is an inner presence of a divine friendliness that invites us toward wholeness. To become friends with Yeshua is to befriend that inner God-process. To do so also makes us ambassadors of this friendship. The inner process of individuation and growth toward wholeness is scary and easily puts us off. The good news is that Yeshua invites us into a Way that makes the entire process not easy, but user-friendly.

I am told that, as a child, I talked regularly with “my friend,” Jesus. As I grew up that intimacy with the divine, mysterious, spiritual dimension life was replaced by a distant, transcendent God. Seminary completed the process by teaching me to think theologically — that is, to draw rational conclusions about God in keeping with the Reformed theological tradition. Throughout the years of my active ministry, I kept searching for ways to fill traditional theological concepts with meanings that fit for today.

The Good News Bible provides a refreshing, helpful translation of 2 Corinthians 5:16ff by changing the reference from reconciliation to friend-making. In retrospect, however, the text is still dealing with the attributes of an external, transcendent God and the Messiah (Christ) as an historical figure. Helpful, but not enough!

In retirement I have appreciated the more progressive theologians and biblical scholars — for example, John Shelby Spong, John Dominic Crossan, Marcus Borg, Gordon Kauffman, Catherine Keller, et al. More recently, I have been devouring the writings of John Caputo. His ‘weak’ theology (“God doesn’t exist; God insists”) loosened the soil around my impacted theological roots. It was as if I could breathe again. This was followed by Elizabeth Boyden Howes’ Jesus’ Answer to God and Walter Wink’s The Human Being. Then came the piece de resistance Herman Waetjen’s A Reordering of Power: A Socio-Political Reading of Marks Gospel.

I had already begun to use the name Yeshua (rather than Jesus). After reading Howes I have come to realize that, when we say “Jesus,” we want immediately to add “Christ” and the “Son of God” followed by “who died for our sins” — Jesus Christ, Son of God, who died for our sins.

I have given up God as an objective, external reality — the Supreme Being no longer ‘fits.’ I have appreciated Tillich’s description of God as the “infinite and inexhaustible depth and ground of all being.” I’ve always thought this description was helpful; in truth, however, I’ve never been sure what that means. Gordon Kaufmann talks about “serendipitous creativity” — a good description of the unfolding creative nature of the universe, but not so helpful in theological discussions. While I admit that there is a profound dynamic at the center of human life that calls me toward something greater — I am willing to call that God (or, more preferably, the God-process) — I am at a loss to be able to adequately describe it. Hence, I resort to such terms as Divinity, Mystery, Spirit, Other, Ineffable, Higher Power, or the Infinite Whatever. All I know is that I experience that profound dynamic as an unheard inner voice that insists, invites, calls, nudges, proposes… a transactional event that leaves me to figure out how to respond.

Fortunately, I have access to one who figured out how to respond to that insistence and call within himself — Yeshua. It is as if I become Menas in the icon of friendship. It is my shoulder that Yeshua embraces. That embrace bestows messianic possibilities in both of us — hence, the halos. The friendship of Yeshua is not mere acquaintance; it is deep, intimate friendship that grows over time. It is a friendship that I have run away from and returned to on numerous occasions. Friendship with Yeshua leaves all my options open — that is, it does not require subjection to a pro forma system or pattern of relationship. Instead, as the relationship grows (deepens) I become more self-aware (and, perhaps, so does Yeshua), more genuine, more whole. Therein is my salvation, almost!

This friendship is an invitation to reach out beyond myself, to extend friendship to the world around me — especially to the marginalized and disadvantaged. Genuine friendship always seeks justice for the friend. Therein is salvation — not my warm feelings of intimacy, but the well-being of all in society!

Exploring Insistence (Call)

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When you sense God’s nudging, how do you respond? When something seems to be insisting within, to whom do you turn?

Luke 6:39-40   39 Jesus also told them a riddle. “A blind person can’t lead another blind person, right? Won’t they both fall into a ditch? 40  Disciples aren’t greater than their teacher, but whoever is fully prepared will be like their teacher. (CEB)

[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

Musings

There is within human consciousness an invitation, an insistent nudging, an appeal, a lure. We seem called beyond our brokenness and limitations.

When exploring with that insistence, don’t depend on someone who only listens to their own self-sufficiency… don’t depend on The Long Robes who only know how to parse Greek verbs and proclaim theological half-truths… don’t base your understandings on those who are hung up on fairy tales.

Search long and hard to find a friend who has experienced the audaciousness of God, the audaciousness of Yeshua, the audaciousness of the good news of the Gospel. Stick with that friend. They can be your Anam Cara, your soul mate; they can listen carefully as you talk about your experience of that insistence which you can only describe by giving it the name of God. Perhaps. Pour out your questions; struggle with them; question everything (from the beginning). Own up to those times when you depended on the explanations of the Long Robes to make sense of your experience.

Struggle with the radical nature of the insistence which you are experiencing. Whether you experience that insistence as a full-blown invitation / calling, or just a beckoning nudge, listen carefully and follow where it leads.

Manifest your thoughts to your Anam Cara and ask for a word. That word will likely lead you toward transformation. Follow that leading and you will bear much fruit. It will be as if you will have built your house on a solid foundation, instead of a sandy base that will topple at the first challenge from the sophisticated world around you.

Embrace that world, utilize the best of its wisdom but never forget to go where your inner insistence leads (confirmed in dialogue with your Anam Cara). May you withstand all that which threatens your insistence — whether from those who listen to the Long Robes or from those who dismiss them. It is a narrow path to traverse and audacious to think that you can do it alone. It is spooky out there.

May I continue to be haunted by that which I can name as God. Perhaps.

Negotiating with Chance

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The future is open (not pre-ordained). Our future depends on our ability to negotiate with Chance. 

Mark 10:14 “Allow the children to come to me. Don’t forbid them, because God’s kingdom belongs to people like these children.” (CEB)

[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

The Commonwealth of God’s Peace and Justice (Kingdom of God), arising out of centuries of Jewish thought, is an ingenious response to the indeterminacy of the universe.

Daniel Matt in his presentation on Cosmology and Judaism suggests:

“Meanwhile here we are. We still have quite a while [until the Sun collapses]. The will be no final perfection. No one has arranged the future ahead of time. Nothing is preordained. Chance will play a leading role in the way things unfold, as it always has. We should learn to negotiate with Chance. We should learn to mend our own brokenness – our social fabric, our planet – as best we can.”

The Commonwealth is our strategy for negotiating with Chance – a plan for mending our own brokenness.

Human society by nature is broken. There seem to be two strategies – both with the approval of some religious societies – for dealing with the brokenness. One strategy is to grasp onto a partial solution that, in the past, has worked for a larger portion of society and establish it as a moral mandate. The other strategy suggests a continual alteration of responses that grow in complexity as human life becomes more complex.

The current political rhetoric among U.S. Republican presidential candidates demonstrates the more limited strategy. Fear energizes arrested development. Fear of losing the ability to negotiate leads to positing a limited response as a universal demand. The “logic” of the rhetoric is difficult to accept:

Since serial monogamy (between one man and one woman) has been an accepted norm, let’s mandate that form of marriage for all – thus keeping the universe “moral.” Ignore the high divorce rate and family break-ups among heterosexual marriage partners… Ignore the deeply committed relationships demonstrated by so many gay and lesbian partnerships… Ignore the damage done by a social atmosphere that prejudices babies born out of wedlock and single mothers. After all, I may have been married four times, but they were the “right” kind of marriages.

Since heterosexual relationships are the statistical norm, let’s legislate against homosexuality and give privilege to prejudice against LGBTs. Ignore the psychological and physical damage of bullying that regularly takes place among Junior and Senior High youth toward those who are different. Ignore the deprivation of civil rights to hard-working, dedicated, productive American citizens who happen to be LGBTs. After all, maintaining “my” moral code is more important.

Since rich white heterosexual Christian American men are superior to women, Blacks, Muslims, Mexicans, LGBTs, etc., let us protect women from themselves by dictating decisions about their bodies… Let us be the arbiters of how much value a Black or Brown person can have… Let us determine the correct composition of the political electorate so that the right people have a better chance to be in power… Let us determine which religious practices are privileged and which are restricted… Let us decide what is best for the earth’s environment. After all, it’s in your best interests. You’ll thank us later.

And so it goes… on and on! Well, no thank you! Please don’t do me any such favors. I prefer an alternate strategy.

There is within human consciousness an invitation, an insistent nudging, an appeal, a lure. We seem called beyond our brokenness and limitations. The Commonwealth is a long-range strategy built on trust, not fear. Israel trusted what it understood of God and mandated special social solidarity with widows, orphans, and strangers. Yeshua exegeted that social solidarity and projected a vision of a level human playing field that did not privilege the powerful, but demanded the well-being of all in society, regardless of social, economic, political, or religious standing. We cannot judge people with pre-determined formulas. Our task is to energize the creativity and integrity of each human being. Our salvation does not come from my being privileged, but from the well-being of all in society.

Unfortunately (or, better yet, tragically) the more limited strategy contributes to society’s brokenness by pitting citizen against citizen, by ignoring the widows and orphans (witness: Flint water crisis) and bullying the stranger (witness: Citizens United and voter suppression acts).

Can a vision of a Commonwealth of God’s Peace and Justice compete with moral mandates implemented now. Can it be anything more than “pie in the sky in the sweet bye-and-bye?” Can it capture the hearts and minds of a people so desperately in need?

The invitation keeps presenting itself. The insistence keeps nudging. And yet the calling must be responded to and incarnated in the lives of more and more people to demonstrate its credibility. That means it is up to us! Actually, that means it is up to me! If I don’t respond with faithfulness and trust, with credible action that moves toward wholeness, with integrity then brokenness will continue to be the way of life that is celebrated. And the Commonwealth will die an agonizingly slow death!

 

The Interminable Reaches of Lent

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Creative Commons Ash Wednesday | Lent Season 2015” by John Ragai is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Is the Lenten Season about something we do?  Or something we can become?  Can we move beyond the interminable reaches of Lent?

It’s two weeks since Ash Wednesday
And it is still Lent
But, I want to get to Easter…
     to new life…
     to something more…
          than the tedium of day-by-day living
          age-old expectations
          dreams dying on the vine

But, it is still Lent.

I want to hurry on
without the discipline that Lent demands
     without change
     without transformation
     without becoming new

I want to be alive
     more alive than I have ever been
     and I don’t want to have to work hard for it.
Change a few ideas?…
     Sure!
Change a few beliefs?…
     Absolutely!
Change the way I live my life?…
     Why would I want to do that?
     After all, I am one of the privileged…
          white
          male
          american
          educated
I can get by
     on privilege alone
But can I?
When I read about Yeshua
     the stories are not about
          race
          gender
          nationality
          education
     instead he was about
          being with the poor and the outcast
          troubling the authorities
          finding the Human response
               to human need
               to human yearning
               to human striving

Two weeks into Lent
and I am still concerned with little matters
     am I staying with it
     am I doing my readings for Atheism for Lent
Two weeks into Lent

     and I could be writing letters to my representatives
     and I could be working at the food bank
     and I could be volunteering at Boy’s & Girl’s Club
     and I could be campaigning for a promising candidate

Have I let Lent re-direct my energies
     deflect my passions
     divert my intent to break out of my boxes
     cover up my spiritual insensitivity

A tad more than four weeks to go
Lent reaches out to me
Will I be brave enough
     strong enough
     adventuresome enough
     tenacious enough
To turn the corner
     to escape my lethargy
     to break free of my self-imposed limitations
So that I can be what I have become
     and be what I am becoming
     and be what I deeply desire to be…
          compassionate, peaceful, and just
               in solidarity with the poor and disadvantaged
               in community with the hungry and thirsting
               in companionship with world around me

Do I Understand the Mystery of God?

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Creative Commons Festive appearance of traditional Greek Russian Orthodox Spires, Orthodox Church of All Russian Saints, Burlingame, California, USA” by Wonderlane is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Inspired by a conversation in Atheism for Lent:

Do I (Can I) understand the mystery of God?

What if “God doesn’t exist; God insists.”? What if God is that inner insistent voice that calls me to the impossible possibility? Is that enough? Do I understand the mystery?

What if I laugh at the absurdity of being called beyond my self-understanding? Impossible possibility? What kind of nonsense is that? A commonwealth of compassion, peace, and justice? Not when the world is hell-bent on a world of prestige, privilege, and power! And here I am, with my deepest wants, my deepest desires, that impossible possibility. Sometimes I have to laugh to keep from crying. Do I understand the mystery?

What if I am walking out on my most preferred future? The agonizing truth is that we are walking out on our most preferred future. Compassion, peace, and justice are within our reach… there for the asking… but we choose differently. We seem to want chaos and imbalance and injustice. Do we understand the mystery?

What if God breathes by my inhaling and exhaling? What if God is an ever-present non-being… an invitation to be better, to do better? What if, when I am at my best, God is a constant companion nudging me onward? What if God is simply the name for our highest aspirations, our deepest dreams? What if God is the counterbalance to humanity run amok – our impossible possibility. Do I really understand the mystery?

Of one thing I am sure, I will never fully comprehend the mystery. But I will keep trying!

What About Me / Us?

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Creative Commons Nelson Mandela For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others” by BK is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Jesus began the parable of the Prodigal Son / Waiting Father (Luke 15:11) saying, “A certain man had two sons.”

Amy Jill Levine commenting on the Parable of the Prodigal indicated that when the Jews in Jesus’ audience heard a story about two brothers they would automatically pay attention to the younger brother – Cain & Abel, Jacob & Esau, etc. 

What about me?
  Don’t I count?!”

I have stayed at home
     
faithfully tending
          
the family business.

I watched as my younger sibling
     
demanded…
     
gathered up…
     
left…
     
and returned in shame,
          
only to be greeted like
               
a conquering hero.

“What about me?
  Don’t I count?!”

We older siblings
     feel slighted…
Why all the attention
     
toward the wayward sibling?
     
toward the poor and dispossessed?

How can we hold up our heads?
     o
ur numbers are dwindling…
     
our buildings are suffering delayed maintenance
     
our “mainline” has been sidelined.

There it is!
     the trappings have become a trap…
     
the mission, missing…
     
the chalice, a challenge.

What will it take
     
to renew confidence and hope?
     
to transform faithful belief
          into trust?
     
to set aside over-thinking
          
and address under-doing?
     
to move beyond institutionalism
          
toward community?

 Perhaps…
     building social well-being
          not marvelous buildings
     more reaching
          less preaching
     not just talking the talk
          but walking the walk

Perhaps…
     a focus on justice
          instead of judging
     a concern for wholeness
          instead of holy-ness
     solidarity with the poor
          instead of “poor me!”

Perhaps…
     
a willingness
          
to empty ambition
          
to be what we truly are
          
to heed the insistence
          
to grow into our calling

A Living Agreement

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Creative Commons Yad and Sefer Torah” by Rachel-Esther is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Deuteronomy 5:1-22

1 Moses called out to all Israel, saying to them: “Israel! Listen to the regulations and the case laws that I’m recounting in your hearing right now. Learn them and carefully do them. The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Mount Horeb. The Lord didn’t make this covenant with our ancestors but with us—all of us who are here and alive right now. The Lord spoke with you face-to-face on the mountain from the very fire itself. At that time, I was standing between the Lord and you, declaring to you the Lord’s word, because you were terrified of the fire and didn’t go up on the mountain.” The Lord said: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You must have no other gods before me. Do not make an idol for yourself—no form whatsoever—of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. Do not bow down to them or worship them because I, the Lord your God, am a passionate God. I punish children for their parents’ sins—even to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me. 10 But I am loyal and gracious to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. 11 Do not use the Lord your God’s name as if it were of no significance; the Lord won’t forgive anyone who uses his name that way. 12 Keep the Sabbath day and treat it as holy, exactly as the Lord your God commanded: 13 Six days you may work and do all your tasks, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. Don’t do any work on it—not you, your sons or daughters, your male or female servants, your oxen or donkeys or any of your animals, or the immigrant who is living among you—so that your male and female servants can rest just like you. 15 Remember that you were a slave in Egypt, but the Lord your God brought you out of there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. That’s why the Lord your God commands you to keep the Sabbath day. 16 Honor your father and your mother, exactly as the Lord your God requires, so that your life will be long and so that things will go well for you on the fertile land that the Lord your God is giving you. 17 Do not kill. 18 Do not commit adultery. 19 Do not steal. 20 Do not testify falsely against your neighbor. 21 Do not desire and try to take your neighbor’s wife. Do not crave your neighbor’s house, field, male or female servant, ox, donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor. 22 Those are the words the Lord spoke to your entire assembly with a loud voice while on the mountain, from the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick smoke. He added no more. God wrote them on two stone tablets, then gave them to mHe wrote them on two stone tablets, and gave them to me. (CEB)

[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

Deuteronomy 5:1-22 in Other Words

Moses gathered the Israelites and said, “Listen, people, here are the rules by which we will organize our community. Pay attention so that you can live within their confines. Since Horeb we have had a covenant to which we bound ourselves in the name of God. Perhaps. This covenant is binding on us and the generations that come after us. It is a perpetual covenant. At Mt. Horeb I experienced, and then shared with you, that insistence which we identify with the name of God. Perhaps. It was as if God had actually been physically present to me and then to you. Even though we were all spooked by the experience of Horeb, our acceptance of the covenant is evidence that we have agreed to live as a people who are called in the name of God. Perhaps. This means that we will:

    • structure our corporate life in response to that calling to which we have been called, not seeking after gods who “exist”

    • neither make nor worship gods / idols who promise other callings

    • show compassion to those who respond with integrity to that to which we have been called

    • be vigilant that we ascribe the name of God (perhaps) only to that deep collective inner insistence to which we have been called

    • build sabbath into our personal lives as well as the corporate life of our community and extend the grace of sabbath to employees and those who are strangers in our midst

    • engage our extended families with probity

    • withdraw from violence

    • avoid inappropriate relationships

    • allow others to claim their own space and support their efforts to build an abundant life

    • speak to and about others with integrity

This is the calling to which, as I understand it, we are called in the name of God. Perhaps. To show how important these principles and precepts are, I have had them inscribed in stone.

Justice and Peace Kiss

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We often take great pains to distinguish good from evil. What if we were to integrate them within ourselves?

Psalm 85:4-5, 10-13  You, the God who can save us, restore us! Stop being angry with us! Will you be mad at us forever? Will you prolong your anger from one generation to the next? …  10 Faithful love and truth have met; righteousness and peace have kissed. 11 Truth springs up from the ground righteousness gazes down from heaven. 12 Yes, the Lord gives what is good, and our land yields its produce. 13 Righteousness walks before God, making a road for his steps.  (CEB)

[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

On Psalm 85:1-13

Israel’s God showed a remarkable diversity of character — fruitfulness, favor, forgiveness, wrath, fierce anger, displeasure, love, salvation, peace, glory, faithfulness, holding grudges, righteousness, … How often have we tried to strip God of all the negativecharacteristics. We dont want a God who can show fierce anger or displeasure — only affirmation and love. Yeshua wasnt willing to emaciate God by robbing divinity and mystery of the dark side. Yeshua, as part of his calling, refused to resist evil. He went inside and incorporated the bad along with the good, the dark with the light. In that process of integration, he found redemption and salvation. So, why is it that we, ones who bear the name of Christ,all so often desire separation of good and evil, the dark and light parts of ourselves, so that we can eliminate the evil dark parts of ourselves. It never occurs to us that we could (should) work toward a dynamic integration of the opposites, rather than an elimination of the negative. Maybe that is why we have so much trouble accepting Yeshua as he is/was, rather than as we want him to be. Maybe that is why we yearn for a heavenly after-life as the locus for our salvation. Justice and peace can kiss each other because peace is the integration of all that is in conflict into cooperative community and justice, the integration of the high & mighty with the down & out into a dynamic, functional society that serves the needs of all.