Monthly Archives: September 2016

Jeremiah 7:3

Jeremiah 7:3     
This is what the Lord of heavenly forces, the God of Israel, says: Improve your conduct and your actions, and I will dwell with you[a] in this place.
[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

Here is Jeremiah’s understanding of what was insisting in the name of God. Perhaps.

Whenever we claim to be God’s people, we have to assess our way of being in the world. It is crucial that we reflect the God we proclaim. It is not enough to repeat endlessly that God’s present in our midst. God is present where and when we treat one another with justice and mercy.

If we maltreat aliens, orphans, and widows — God will be present with those maltreated, not us.… If we overwhelm the innocent — God will be present with the innocent, not us.… If we chase after delusions — God’s presence will be obscured by those delusions.

If we show some backbone in the face of injustice; press on with love, compassion, peacefulness, equity, fairness, and unrighteousness then we will find that God is already there in, with, and through us. That is the way it has always been with our forebears.

Psalm 97

Psalm 97        
1 The Lord rules! Let the earth rejoice! Let all the islands celebrate! Clouds and thick darkness surround God. His throne is built on righteousness and justice. Fire proceeds before him, burning up his enemies on every side. His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees it and trembles! The mountains melt like wax before the Lord  before the Lord of the whole world! Heaven has proclaimed God’s righteousness, and all nations have seen his glory. All those who worship images  those who are proud of idols, are put to shame. All gods bow down to the Lord! Zion has heard and celebrates, the towns[a] of Judah rejoice, because of your acts of justice, Lord, 9 because you, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth, because you are so superior to all other gods. 10 Those of you who love the Lord, hate evil! God guards the lives of his faithful ones, delivering them from the power of the wicked. 11 Light is planted like seed for the righteous person joy too for those whose heart is right. 12 Rejoice in the Lord, righteous ones! Give thanks to his holy name!
[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

The creation is a celebration of the God-process — waves washing upon the sea shore rehearse nature’s songs; clouds and lightening provide shading and intensity to nature’s tapestry; fire, like the spirit, moves and transforms all that it touches; mountains inspire awe. The foundation of nature’s panoply is fairness and justice — that is, each is valued for its own unique contribution and all of the individual parts contribute to the whole. Our worship pales in comparison to nature’s celebration. When we join nature with pure hearts and genuine adoration, we open ourselves to the God-process that brings light and righteousness into our lives; and our hearts rejoice in the Lord!

Matthew 10:16-31

Matthew 10:16-31         
16 “Look, I’m sending you as sheep among wolves. Therefore, be wise as snakes and innocent as doves. 17 Watch out for people—because they will hand you over to councils and they will beat you in their synagogues. 18 They will haul you in front of governors and even kings because of me so that you may give your testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 Whenever they hand you over, don’t worry about how to speak or what you will say, because what you can say will be given to you at that moment. 20 You aren’t doing the talking, but the Spirit of my Father is doing the talking through you. 21 Brothers and sisters will hand each other over to be executed. A father will turn his child in. Children will defy their parents and have them executed.22  Everyone will hate you on account of my name. But whoever stands firm until the end will be saved. 23 Whenever they harass you in one city, escape to the next, because I assure that you will not go through all the cities of Israel before the Human One[a] comes. 24 “Disciples aren’t greater than their teacher, and slaves aren’t greater than their master. 25 It’s enough for disciples to be like their teacher and slaves like their master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, it’s certain that they will call the members of his household by even worse names.  26 “Therefore, don’t be afraid of those people because nothing is hidden that won’t be revealed, and nothing secret that won’t be brought out into the open. 27 What I say to you in the darkness, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, announce from the rooftops. 28 Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body but can’t kill the soul. Instead, be afraid of the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell. 29 Aren’t two sparrows sold for a small coin? But not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father knowing about it already. 30 Even the hairs of your head are all counted.31 Don’t be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

When one truly follows in Yeshua’s Way — totally connected to the divine center within; giving oneself to all that is the best of humankind around you — it requires a child-like insight and a peaceable sense of justice. There are those who will try to set you up for failure and accuse you unjustly. Don’t try to be eloquent; instead speak from the depths of your heart. Alway be faithful to that unheard inner voice that nudges, invites, insists, calls you in the name of God. Perhaps. Don’t worry if people do not respond in the manner you had hoped. Whether or not they attend to the God-process within themselves is their responsibility, not yours.

On to Jerusalem

Luke 13:31-35         
31 At that time, some Pharisees approached Jesus and said, “Go! Get away from here, because Herod wants to kill you.” 32 Jesus said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Look, I’m throwing out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will complete my work.33 However, it’s necessary for me to travel today, tomorrow, and the next day because it’s impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ 34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who were sent to you! How often I have wanted to gather your people just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you didn’t want that. 35 Look, your house is abandoned. I tell you, you won’t see me until the time comes when you say, Blessings on the one who comes in the Lord’s name.”
[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

Yeshua was warned by some of the Pharisees that Herod was out to do him in. Yeshua had some choice words for Herod, but refused to be diverted from his final mission. He notes the irony of Jerusalem (the “City of Peace”) being anything but a haven of peace for God’s prophets. Yeshua deeply desires a fuller response to his mission from the people of Israel; and he is growing increasingly aware that it’s not likely to happen until after his death.

Yeshua knows that his only option is to remain faithful to the insistence in the name of God (perhaps) that is burning in his heart and motivating his every action. So, it’s on to Jerusalem.

Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23

Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23         
1 A good reputation is better than much wealth; high esteem is better than silver and gold. The rich and the poor have this in common: the Lord made them both. Those who sow injustice will harvest evil; the rod of their fury will come to an end. Happy are generous people, because they give some of their food to the poor. 22 Don’t steal from the poor, because they are poor. Don’t oppress the needy in the gate. 23 The Lord will take up their case and press the life out of those who oppress them.
[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

Honor is more important than social status; integrity trumps riches. This is true for all people — the wealthy as well as the impoverished, because all have been created in the image of God. Anger, violence, and injustice will always produce calamity to the creation and the people therein; generosity and sharing, on the other hand, affirm the bounty of God’s creation and are a blessing. Remember, God’s insistence always sides with the poor and marginalized over against the systems that deprive and dehumanize.

Mark 10:35-45

Mark 10:35-45         
35 James and John, Zebedee’s sons, came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” 36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. 37 They said, “Allow one of us to sit on your right and the other on your left when you enter your glory.” 38 Jesus replied, “You don’t know what you’re asking! Can you drink the cup I drink or receive the baptism I receive?” 39 “We can,” they answered. Jesus said, “You will drink the cup I drink and receive the baptism I receive, 40  but to sit at my right or left hand isn’t mine to give. It belongs to those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 Now when the other ten disciples heard about this, they became angry with James and John. 42 Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the ones who are considered the rulers by the Gentiles show off their authority over them and their high-ranking officials order them around. 43  But that’s not the way it will be with you. Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant. 44  Whoever wants to be first among you will be the slave of all, 45  for the Human One[a] didn’t come to be served but rather to serve and to give his life to liberate many people.”
[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

The sons of Zebedee bombarded Yeshua with their selfish intent, hoping to be privileged in heaven. Yeshua rebuked them, asking if they were prepared to replicate in their lives what he was experiencing in his. The two young men, brash as they were, let everyone know that they thought rather highly of themselves — ready for any- and everything. The rest of the disciples had at James and John for their cheekiness. Yeshua seized this opportunity to teach them all a lesson. “The Domination System is based on the ability of superiors to exert power over their inferiors. The Commonwealth of Peace and Justice inverts this power imbalance — the least will come to the head of the line while the powerful will be stripped of their power over others. The only valid power is power with.  Just as Humanity’s Child invests his life in service in order that people might be delivered from the oppression of over-powering domination systems, so also are you to spend your lives in service.

Quartinity

 

Richard Rohr, in his September 21, 2016, daily meditation (emailed), following the mystics suggests “creation must then be seen as “the fourth person of the Blessed Trinity.” Once more, the divine dance isn’t a closed circle; we’re all invited in!”

My first thought was, “Oh, no! The trinity is already too complex to explain. The Father is not the Son is not the Holy Spirit is not…   and then, add to that, they all are God.  The trinity which was designed to clarify the unity of God does leave some thinking that Christians believe in three Gods. (in truth, some do!) So, do we really need a fourth person to add to the three already ensconced there?

Maybe, the addition of another member to the trinity – now we will have to call it a “quartinity” – gives us the opportunity to re-frame the roots of our thinking. Let me give it a try, first of all by abandoning the notion of “persons.” Creation is not a person. Yes, I do understand that “person,” as used by the original theologians that drafted the image of trinity, didn’t mean individual person in the modern use of the word. “Person” referred to the masks worn be an actor to distinguish the various roles that the actor played on stage.

I also want to avoid using male-specific language to describe divinity. Too many people have been marginalized and/or deal with violently in the name of patriarchy – religiously, socially, politically, relationally.

Here is how I would describe quartinity – four primary windows into the riddle of divinity:

  1. Insistence (Call) – as Elijah discovered, divinity does not make itself known in thunderous earthquakes or raging wildfire. Instead, “there was a sound. Thin. Quiet.” (1 Kings 19:12) For most of us that sound comes as an unheard inner voice, a nudge, a lure, an invitation, a longing, a call. Somehow we know that it comes in the name of God.
  1. Humankind (Agency) – Because insistence in the name of God does not come as a demand, because it does not come with force, and because God’s existence is dependent upon human beings who respond to the call, human kind is a second window into the divine. We humans are not just creatures; we are God’s agency. Like it or not, when we experience that insistence, God’s presence in the world depends on us.
  1. Mystery (Beyond / Opennesss) – Here’s the mystery. We can never be certain that we are hearing the call correctly or acting in accord with the call’s intent. That is where faith enters the picture. Nor can we be sure where this all will lead us. We are experimenting with openness. We are touching the Beyond. The future is not pre-determined, not pre-planned. It may turn our quite differently from our pious expectations.
  1. Creation (Context) – Rohr and the mystics are correct. Creation is the fourth window of the quartinity. Michael Dowd (Thank God for Evolution, 2009) suggests that the facts of nature are “God’s native tongue.” The creation is the context within which all the above happens, the skin that contains the divine mystery.

Of course, these are not the only windows into the divine riddle, but they are primary ones. How many more can you think of?

Local Boy Makes Good

Mark 6:1-6         
Jesus left that place and came to his hometown. His disciples followed him. On the Sabbath, he began to teach in the synagogue. Many who heard him were surprised. “Where did this man get all this? What’s this wisdom he’s been given? What about the powerful acts accomplished through him? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t he Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” They were repulsed by him and fell into sin. Jesus said to them, “Prophets are honored everywhere except in their own hometowns, among their relatives, and in their own households.” He was unable to do any miracles there, except that he placed his hands on a few sick people and healed them. He was appalled by their disbelief.
[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

Ah! Back home, where everyone could marvel at ‘local boy makes good.’ But not to be! Yeshua begins to teach in the synagogue and the people are scandalized — “How could he be so wise and do such powerful acts? After all, this is Mary’s boy. We know his brothers and sisters. Who does he think he is? He is, after all, just a carpenter.” Yeshua was amazed that these people, whom he thought he knew so well, had so little understanding and faith. He mused, “A prophet can’t come home, has no place to rest his weary head. Those who know him best, know him least.”

A Bold Adventure

“Wanted: A bold adventurer who would love to travel the world from a comfortable and safe spot behind a desk … A keenly intelligent investigator to assist us in our search for things thought lost, and in our quest to return lost items to their rightful owners. This multitasked position will take you places you can’t even imagine. Apply only if you’re ready for everything to change.”
Thus begins The Cracked Spine (2016), a “Scottish Bookshop Mystery” by Paige Shelton.

I was transfixed. I couldn’t finish the page. My mind was racing; my imagination, soaring. A bold adventure – that was what I have been experiencing for the past few years. In truth, throughout my life I had been secretly longing to become “a bold adventurer,” instead of just being somewhat venturesome – investigating and “search[ing[ for things thought lost” in order that they might be returned “to their rightful owners.”

“What lost things?” you ask. The God of compassion and tender justice, hidden among the theological verbiage of over-powering intrusion (and even violence). Yeshua visible in the earliest strata of the church’s witness — the radical, mystical, passionate advocate for the poor who had been trampled on by both church and state – hidden, almost invisible, because of the successful pursuits to clothe him in spectacular power and transform him into a God, denying him his true identity as Humankind’s Child. The wild and untamable Holy Spirit – wind and wildfire, tehom (the “deep waters” of the Hebrew creation story) – domesticated as a support system for charismatic preaching and a way to pep up worship services. Those are just a few of the lost treasures that are being found.

What “rightful owners?” you inquire. To the followers of Yeshua’s Way; to participants in the basileia theou (the commonwealth of peace and justice); to those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:6);  anyone whose “whole being thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:2). They are the rightful owners, the ones for whom the prophets teased Israel, the “little children” that Yeshua called models of the commonwealth of peace and justice (Mark 10:14).

“Apply only if you’re ready for everything to change.” Expectations change; perspectives change; beliefs, too; and feelings. The wandering becomes a journey; the journey, a pilgrimage; the “believer,” a true child of humankind and a participant in the commonwealth of peace and justice.

Interested!  There is plenty of spaces left. Leave all your baggage at the station and hop aboard. You don’t need a ticket because tickets are for those going to specific destinations. Your journey, my journey, will take us through uncharted territory and give us occasion to explore marvelous mysteries. Where will we end up? In the richness of a community of wholeness and integrity with self, others, and nature; the abundant life.. That is a lot to expect…   And yet it seems to be part of our DNA to expect it, long for it, desire it, pursue it! Such is the heartfelt core of life; such are the treasures that await the bold adventurer. 

Welcome aboard!

Luke 12:13-14

Luke 12:13-14         
13 Someone from the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 Jesus said to him, “Man, who appointed me as judge or referee between you and your brother?”
[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

A man in the crowd came to Yeshua with a family dispute over inheritance. He asks Yeshua for a judicial decision. Yeshua is taken aback. That judgment role belongs to the king and the administration of the kingdom. “Who made me king and judge?” he asks. I have come to invite Humanity’s Child inside you, more concerned with how you settle your own internal disputes. If you are whole on the inside (a true Child of Humanity) then you will be able to figure out how to deal humanely with your brother.