Tune in or Tune Out?

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The Bible calls them false prophets and diviners. Today we call them liars. And yet, even when we know they are lying, we give them the center of attention. “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” (Adolph Hitler — and certainly epitomized the truth behind the “big lie.”)

Jeremiah 29:8-14       8 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let the prophets and the diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, 9 for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, says the Lord.10 For thus says the Lord: Only when Babylon’s seventy years are completed will I visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12 Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13 When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, 14 I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. (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.]

[Image: “Creative Commons Oops!” by Mike Licht is licensed under CC BY 2.0]

Musing with Jeremiah 29:8-14

This is the insistence* that comes in the name of the God of Israel: don’t pay attention to those who claim to have it directly from the mouth of God. They are charlatans, deceivers of the worst kind. Don’t pay attention to their scheming dreams. They are simply having nightmares. God’s calling is quite different. Yes, you may have to endure a time of alienation from that which you desire in the name of God. Perhaps. But stick with what you know to be God’s genuine calling. That calling is an invitation into the Commonwealth* of Peace and Justice, an invitation to be fully Human*, which is the only true hope for the future. When you respond to that insistent beckoning, you will be living in concert with all that can be truly identified with the name of God. Perhaps*. When that is what you desire, you will find it at every turn and in every person you encounter. Instead of searching for God, know that will have become present through your very actions. Search instead, for the truly Human*. That is God’s insistence / calling for each of us. Exile and alienation are the direct result of abandoning the insistence* that comes in the name of God. Perhaps*. To be restored to your full Humanity*, to citizenship in the Commonwealth* of Peace and Justice, simply requires that you listen to that unheard calling that resonates within you and respond in the name of God by attending to the widow, the orphan, and the stranger in your midst. Invite them into your life and you will experience, through them, the presence of grace, mercy, and peace in the name of God. Perhaps. Then you will know that your exile and alienation are over.

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Pogo Was Right

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Treaties, internatioal accords, political negotiations depend on war and/or the threat of way, while toying with the illusions of peace. Is it true that peace can only happen when generated by peaceable folk like you and me?

Isaiah 62:6-12          6 Upon your walls, O Jerusalem, I have posted sentinels; all day and all night they shall never be silent. You who remind the Lord, take no rest, 7 and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it renowned throughout the earth. 8 The Lord has sworn by his right hand and by his mighty arm: I will not again give your grain to be food for your enemies, and foreigners shall not drink the  wine for which you have labored; 9 but those who garner it shall eat it and praise the Lord, and those who gather it shall drink it in my holy court. 10 Go through, go through the gates, prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway, clear it of stones, lift up an ensign over the peoples. 11 The Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to daughter Zion, “See, your salvation comes; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.” 12 They shall be called, “The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord”; and you shall be called, “Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.” (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.]

[Image: “Creative Commons Dalai Lama Peace in the world relies on individuals finding inner peace” by BK is licensed under CC BY 2.0]

Dialoguing with Isaiah 62:6-12

Jerusalem — foundation for peace…

divided city

Jews

Arabs

Christians

Armenians

bone of contention on the world scene

for centuries

Would that world history could pause

political debate cease

with citizens committed to peace

coming together to plan

a peaceable future

grounded in a peaceable now.

The problem is not Jerusalem

As the great 20th century philosopher

Pogo, reminded us

“We have met the enemy

and he is us.”

Because we are divided within,

unwilling to acknowledge our shadow

projecting our inner fears

outward onto others

because we have not brought

peace into ourselves

because we choose

violence as a way to

resolve critical issues

because we value winning

more than

integrity or

justice…

we are not at peace

within ourselves

with others or

among the nations of the world

Isaiah’s vision of peace

is not about unity

among the nations of the world;

instead the prophet

invites, calls, nudges, insists

the people to an inner spirit

of holiness

of justice

of vision

of peace

God’s people will be

‘the city not forsaken’

the locus of peace

NO! not the contentiousness

of belligerent religious groups

jockeying for position

in the midst of a society

which has no favor to give them…

NO! not the endless theo-political debates

about abortion

gay rights

science

climate change

prosperity gospel

The city not forsaken,

the foundation of peace

will be anywhere

the homeless are given shelter

the hungry are fed

the marginalized are given the freedom

to invent their futures

the poor are given a just chance

all people are engaged according to their true capacity

rather than the bias of the powerful.

A pipe dream?

A fanciful dream?

The rantings of a lunatic?

Perhaps!

But, perchance

… maybe the deepest desire of humankind

… for all one knows, a potentiality waiting

for a tipping point

… conceivably the foundational design of the creation, God willing,

an embryonic and evolving dynamic

in the hearts and minds

  of world leaders and

common folk like you and me.

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Finding Jesus Hidden in the Gospels (meeting Jesus again, AGAIN for the first time

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I have been haunted by a messianic* specter — a presence would not let me go… spooked by effete and bankrupt theologies, doctrines, and dogmas that have accrued to the legend / mythology of the one called Jesus Christ…  The supernatural phantom parading as Wonder Worker, Gentle Jesus Meek and Mild, Jeee-zus!, Personal Savior, God, … has not worked for me. And yet I keep seeking… looking…  hoping…  And in my search that messianic specter keeps rising up within, energizing me and drawing me out, as if wanting me to release it from its prison. John Caputo might call that messianic* specter an insistence in the name of God. Perhaps. Whatever it is called, ‘it spooks!’

Caputo (along with Peter Rollins and others) has loosened the soil around the root system of my Self, allowing movement and flexibility as it works to integrate my consciousness with my unconscious — the light and dark within. Even so, he did not get to the heart of the matter — breathing life into the corpse of Yeshua that has been moldering in the church. That fresh breath has issued forth from Elizabeth Boyden Howes’ Jesus’ Answer to God. Rather than focus on the exterior dynamics of Jesus’ answer to humanity, Howes reading of the gospel accounts (flavored by her training as a Jungian analyst) hones in on the interior journey and struggles faced by Yeshua*. Her reading is cogent and compelling. Yeshua* is continually at work confronting, transforming, and integrating the darkness within — a “continual operative dialogue between himself and God moving to more consciousness.” This inner dialogue and transformation is the germinal messianic moving toward birth. That messianic* enterprise (or God process) is not the private property of Yeshua*. His message is that it is available to all of us. He is a catalyst, not the chemist. His presence (physical or metaphoric) energizes those with whom he comes into contact. His is a transformative presence.

The first six chapters of Jesus’ Answer to God lay the foundation, walking us through Yeshua’s* baptism and wilderness experience, his dealing with the traditions of Israel within which he lived, his understanding of forgiveness and the Kingdom of God, his role as healing symbol (rather than Healer), and his self-understanding of his role vis-a-vis the messianic expectations of Israel. So much of Howes’ offering was eye-opening and breath-taking. As I read through chapter seven (Yeshua’s* choosing to go to Jerusalem) it all seemed to fall into place. Yeshua* distanced himself from Israel’s expectations of a Messiah, replacing that archetype with the Son of Man* — “a special indwelling quality of judgment for actions” which is inherent in the inner dialogue between a person and God. Yeshua* is the all-inclusive one who reminds us that we must “sell all” for the sake of the kingdom.

The image of Yeshua* that inhabits Howes’ book is that of a growing, transforming human being who is passionate for finding God within and, through enduring interior dialogue, to engage others in a like transformation that is the essence of the Commonwealth* of Peace and Justice.

Beneath the Messiah Mask,

underneath the Savior Screen,

behind the Christ Cloud…

lies a real human being —

Yeshua*…

a poignant

passionate

persistent

Human Being*

who is grounded in the divine

open to the mystery

a symbol for healing, and

a catalyst for the messianic.

AND Yeshua*

grounds me in the divine

opens me to the mystery

is a symbol for my healing

catalyzes my messianism*

is the God-process* for me

opening me to the necessity

and possibility of integrating

my light and darkness

the good and bad in me.

I have been ambivalent toward Yeshua*…

uncomfortable with the Jeee-zus CHRIST

This animated image proclaimed by most Christians —

Savior who took my place

Messiah who fulfilled the hopes of Israel

Christ who is God incarnate

Son of God who knows all

That Yeshua* seemed unreal

lifeless

inert

incapable of bringing life

of inspiring transformation

of stirring deep passions.

That Yeshua* is actually

a figment of the imagination of the church

throughout the years…

theological reflection, doctrine, dogma

based on a biased reading of scripture

finding what the church wanted to find

missing the real, live human being

that was Yeshua*.

This animated, determined, striking individual

confronted and confounded

the religious and political leaders of his day

just as he

confronts and confounds

the religious and political leaders of our day…

though not many sense

the confrontation and confounding

instead, wanting to recast Yeshua*

in their own image.

A Wonder-Worker is more palatable

than a prophet who

dares speak truth to power

challenges the long robes of institutional religion

sides with the poor and

opposes anyone, any system, any  institution

which restricts the freedom to make informed decisions.

The Yeshua* I want to follow is

more a rebel

than a follower of the status quo

more a teacher

than a despot

more a prophet who understands messianism*as compassionate love moving toward all-inclusive justice

than a Messiah who will lead people away from this life

into a heavenly dwelling place

where the cares of this world are unimportant.

Strangely enough this latter view

seems to be the underlying picture of the Gospels

Yeshua* began to hear a deep, passionate call

at his baptism,

began to shape that call

as he experienced an inner conversation

in which he said “No! to the various imagesof Messiah which seemed to be part of Israel’s DNA.

Yeshua* came to understand through his own experience

that God was not some heavenly adductor

waiting around to punish / reward people

for immorality, on one hand,

or respectability, on the other.

Instead, God was to be experienced as an unheard inner voice

insisting on love, peace, justice, and wholeness

in human affairs…

the Commonwealth* of Peace and Justice

was to be encountered first inwardly

then outwardly as an expression of

the depth of human community and cooperation.

To follow in Yeshua’s* Way means

that I am finding ways to integrate the darkness

that lies deep within me

with the light in me

that I try to show to everyone

To follow in Yeshua’s* Way means

not putting off life until I get to heaven

but investing myself deeply in the NOW

(in the meantime).

To follow in Yeshua’s* Way means

living fully now

laughing

crying

experimenting

loving

forgiving

seeking justice

being all-inclusive

The present moment —

in the meantime —

is the time we have,

God-given time,

the day of salvation.

The present moment is the time to

be present

listen for the insistence

respond to call

accept the invitation

reach out to others

be myself.

Following in the Way of Yeshua*

 

the present moment is the time

to be a real human being —

darkness and light

good and bad

forthright and deceitful

proud and shameful

integrated beyond the duality

whole and wholesome

to be a living, breathing

third way.

Does this require some readjustments in me?

Most assuredly,

even though, I scarcely know

what this needed adjustments are.

I will blunder ahead,

as I have these 75 years —

sometimes insightful

sometimes blind to myself

sometimes on target

sometimes amiss —

and always listening for

that unheard inner voice

which begins again

that child-like conversation

with my “friend,” Yeshua*.

[Image: “Creative Commons Superhero” by John Hain is licensed under CC BY 2.0]

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Agents of a Waiting God

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What kind of friend are you? One who has a solution for all my problems; or one who is willing to simply be present to me in the midst of my problems? If you are one of the latter, you are an “agent of the waiting God.”

Job 3:1-10          3 After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. 2 Job said:3 “Let the day perish i
n which I was born,and the night that said,‘A man–child is conceived.’ 4 Let that day be darkness!May God above not seek it,or light shine on it.5 Let gloom and deep darkness claim it.Let clouds settle upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it.6 That night—let thick darkness seize it!let it not rejoice among the days of the year; let it not come into the number of the months.7 Yes, let that night be barren; let no joyful cry be heard in it.8 Let those curse it who curse the Sea,those who are skilled to rouse up Leviathan.9 Let the stars of its dawn be dark; let it hope for light, but have none; may it not see the eyelids of the morning— 10 because it did not shut the doors of my mother’s womb,and hide trouble from my eyes. (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.]

[Image: “Creative Commons Joyce Meyer Patience is not the ability to wait but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting” by BK is licensed under CC BY 2.0]

Musings over Job 3:1-10

Ever have one of those days? You know the kind I mean… one bad thing happens after another… disasters seem to keep piling up… nothing goes right. Job had one of those days. He wanted to curse the day he was born. He wanted nightfall to some so he could hide in the darkness. The brightness of the sun just hurt his eyes. The worst part of it… his ‘friends’ wanted to explain away his misery and solve Job’s ‘problem. Even if those ‘friends’ had accurately analyzed Job’s situation and presented him with the perfect solution, Job would probably not felt any better. When faced with the dark night (or even the overcast day) of the soul you must live through it, instead of escaping fro m it. Those are the times when we value the people who stand with us, offering only their presence instead of their solutions. Those are the time when we find out who our true friends are. Thanks be for those who are savvy enough to allow us to feel our pain while staying close. They become for us agents of a waiting God (God incarnate) who patiently embraces us, providing us with the spaciousness that alone affirms our strength in the midst of weakness.

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I Don’t Believe in the Bible!

Bible - Not

There is too much “belief” in the Bible based on lack of understanding of the Bible and its role in the life of the faithing community.

2 Timothy 3:14-17          14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, 15 and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

[Scripture quotation from Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

[Image: “Creative Commons Bible science” by Joe Flintham, used under CC BY / Desaturated from original]

Thinking through 2 Timothy 3:14-17

Be fully cognizant of what you have learned and its effects on your practice of faithing. Pay special attention to who your teachers (and other influences) have been.  Keep a child-like attitude as you mature as a follower of the Way lived and taught by Yeshua*. There is a special place for scripture in the process of your faith formation. It will give you clues about how to interpret that unheard inner voice of insistence that comes in the name of God. Perhaps*. Some will attempt to enshrine scripture, giving it ultimate authority over every aspect of life. Be careful not to treat scripture like a god. Don’t get me wrong, scripture is exceedingly “useful” as we continue to grow in the practice of faithing — we continue to learn from scripture; it reminds us when we stray from the Way’s path; it even tutors us in dignity and justice. All this to the end that we who claim to belong to God might be proficient practitioners of the Way of Yeshua., demonstrating love, compassion, peace, justice, and wholeness.

I don’t believe in the Bible!

I just don’t!

I know that,

as a Teaching Elder,

I am expected to…

but I don’t!

And that’s OK.

Since SCOTUS handed down

it’s decision on

same-sex marriage

a significant group

of Christians

have gone ballistic…

citing “God’s law” and

“the Bible says”

assuming that

they have proved their case

namely,

that there is a clear

God-given (even God-demanded)

Biblically proven

one way (and only one)

— their way — 

that marriage can be understood.

While I may disagree with their conclusion

while I am not willing to accept that

they ‘channel’ God or that

they have an inside track on

what the Bible means…

I am willing to let them have

their understanding of God

their reading and/or interpretation of the Bible

I am willing to give them the courtesy of

practicing their faithing in their own style.

I am NOT willing to let them dictate

how I read and/or interpret the Bible

how I understand God or no-God

how I practice my faithing

I am willing to sit down

and dialogue with them

about God

about interpreting scripture

about the practice of faithing

within the Christian tradition…

I will NOT stand for

a diatribe designed

to pummel and upbraid me

because I do not do it their way.

I do not believe in the Bible

because it is

a tool for the practice of faithing

not the essence or object of faith

a finger pointing toward wholeness in life

not life itself

a collective witness from those on the journey of faithing

not a manual dictating the specific steps of the journey

a series of essays, songs, stories, and more written by those on the journey

not a dictation from a transcendent super-being.

I do believe, with 2 Timothy 3:16 that scripture is exceedingly “useful” as we continue to grow in the practice of faithing. Its usefulness, however, is not primarily in directing our attention heavenward or providing us with scientific, historical, or cultural ‘facts’ which are designed to be a turn-by-turn GPS navigation system for constraining life’s journey and coercing it in one specific direction (usually heavenward). Instead scripture’s usefulness lies in its ability to arouse within us a passion for abundant life in the here and now, in the meantime. Does scripture give some directions (as opposed to demands)? Yes indeed! And the directions are only somewhat specific — for example, “do justice, love compassion, and live within a god-like humility” or Yeshua’s invitation to care for the poor, distressed, and suffering. The rest (namely, what we must do specifically in particular situations) is left up to us. Community among those desiring to be faithful to Yeshua’s Way is vitally important. Most of scripture’s capacity for “teaching” and “correcting” is accomplished in dialogue, in community. In fact, I am willing to suggest that the primary “use” of scripture is to begin dialogue among Christian practitioners about their faithing journey in the dailiness of life to the end that life not become a chore but, instead, a joyful and bountiful pilgrimage.

So…  do I believe in the Bible?

No… no… a thousand times ‘No!’

I use the Bible to begin and/or continue dialogue

about the direction of my life

and the efficacy of my journey.

I have a lover’s quarrel with scripture

because the context in which much of it was written

demanded (or, at least, generated)

a more powerful (violent) understanding of God

based upon a more primitive understanding of the world

(a more primitive sciencedependent upon a set of cultural criteria that make no sense today).

My lover’s quarrel with scripture

is often evidenced by

arguing with specific passages and/or authors

deconstructing and re-writing particular texts

turning scriptural arguments upside-down or inside-out.

In short,

I do not revere scripture,

I honor it!

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Growing Outside The Meditation Garden

Matthew 6:30-36

30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. [NRSV]

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. [MSG]

[Scripture quotations are 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    and      Peterson, Eugene H. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2002]

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How appropriate…

a meditation garden

outside the front door

of the retreat center

 

 

on the grounds of the monastery

of the Sisters of St. Benedict

The garden was designed and constructed

as a gift to the Sisters

and it also serves as

a gift for retreatants

such as me

Lush green leafy plants

each having its own space

not being crowded

or crowding others

and a cluster of Salvia ‘Caradonna’

purple meadow sage

as beautiful, serene and peaceful

as you would expect

a meditation garden to be

The surprise was finding

a single, small orange flower

outside the garden

growing in the gravel

beside the short retaining wall

supporting the garden

Was it from    a stray seed from the garden

a remnant of that which had been there before

the residue from a bird dropping

or …?

whatever the reason

it was there in all its glory

like the lilies of the field

it too would neither toil, nor spin

it too would be a testament

to the vitality of life

to the insistence

      and the persistence

of an unheard inner calling

The indefatigable persistence

of that single orange flower…

to BE, in all its glory,

outside the meditation garden

     has become a challenge

metaphor

insistence

calling

to me

I don’t fit the norm of  the meditation garden

the church

(the institutional church)

I am a remnant of that which had been planted previously

in the meditation garden

I am evidence of some bad/good preparation

prepared   to understand the basic theological concepts

and also for thinking new thoughts

to perpetuate the institution

and also for challenging old assertions

to exegete the scriptures

and also to listen for the authentic teachings of Yeshua

to live a ‘Christian’ life

and also for the insurrection that is the Way

to accommodate this world

and also for pre-saging the Commonwealth of Peace and Justice

It is a formidable challenge

to maintain the “and also”

when the meditation garden is disinterested

indifferent

apathetic

adamantly opposed

when the “Body of Christ”

is too comfortable with emulating the “world”

to follow the Way of Yeshua

burdened, crippled by mourning that its

power and prestige have been thwarted

by a secular society

Taking root outside the meditation garden

is  a mournful lament

an anguished, tearful cry

and a life-bearing protest

a migration toward integrity

an insistent calling

“Here I stand, in God,

I can do no other!”

 

 

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On NOT Being Flummoxed!

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God, audaciously, expects great things from us. Without our response, God is not active in the world. Do our actions resemble the Commonwealth of Peace and Justice (Kingdom of God)

James 1:2-18   2 My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; 4 and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.5 If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. 6 But ask in faith, never doubting, 7 for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; 8 for the doubter, being double–minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 9 Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, 10 and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same way with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away. Trial and Temptation12 Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. 13 No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. 14 But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; 15 then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved.17 Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures. [NRSV]

[Scripture quotation: 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]

[Image: “Creative Commons Albert V Bryan Federal District Courthouse – Alexandria Va – 0014 – 2012-03-10” by Tim Evanson is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Conversing with James 1:2-18 

Dear friends, God audaciously depends on us to bring about the Great Commonwealth* that is “to come.” Such responsibility, however, can try us and find us wanting.  Don’t be dismayed. Keep at it. Such endurance produces maturity and wholeness. Sometimes, when insistence insists, we are flummoxed — deeply desiring but not knowing how to respond in a wholesome way. Hang in there with the insistence.  Let it continue to invite, nudge, beckon, urge until the calling bears you up as if you are surfing on a wave or borne aloft on the wind. Resist the insistence at your own peril. Those who listen only to the temptations that are driving wealth and status may feather their own nest, but are out of touch with what is meaningful and helpful and wholesome and “Godly.” So you will likely face either trial or temptation.  Hang in there with the insistence that insists and you will be walking in the light. Succumb to temptation you will find yourself in a darkness that you may not realize because of the neon signs and flashing strobe lights.  All generosity, all giving of self, all care for the least / the last / the lost / the left-out is a sure sign of a haunting specter, bearing the name of God, which insists us into action.  Listen, listen, listen!  Then do, do, do! Maybe then you will begin to experience the first fruits of the Great Commonwealth*. Perhaps*.?

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John 15 — When Insistence Insists!

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How do you listen for God’s call. Do you hear when God calls? And, when you hear, what do you do?

John 15:1-11      “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. 9  As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. (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.]

[Image: “Creative Commons Climbing Vines Wallpapers in Lime Green by BackgroundsEtc by webtreats is licensed under CC BY 2.0]

John 15:1-11 Insists

On behalf of the name of God (perhaps) I am an insistence. Every word the does not insist has been pruned away. All that is left is an insistence that insists, a beckoning that beckons, an invitation that invites, a nudging that nudges, a calling  that calls.  You have already come under the haunting specter of that insistence. Let it resonate within every fiber of your being until it nudges you into a radically new response that transforms who you are and the world in which you live. If you are not nudged by that nudging, insisted upon by that insistence, called by that calling, then we have nothing in common. I invite you; you take up my invitation and, bearing much fruit, become an invitation yourself. When insistence spooks you, you spook your home and your neighborhood, as if every day were Halloween. In so doing you honor the haunting specter that spooks us all — that specter which is as important to us as the blood flowing in our veins and the life-sustaining oxygen that fills our lungs. I hear God’s insistence and invite you into that insistence; you respond to the invitation and nudge your world with that beckoning. Therein is my joy; therein is your joy. May your joy beckon a wholeness within you.

How easy it has been

to attend to God’s insistence

to those persistent nudgesto the callings

how easy it has been

to write papers

to teach classes

to preach sermons

… without being spooked.
“I hear God’s insistence and

invite you into that insistence”

Oops!

That means following

closely

in the Way of Yeshua*!
No longer just me

and God’s insistence

trying to figure out a response

trying to live into that call

trying to be faithful
Now it is Yeshua*

mentoring me

forming me

leading me

Now there is

a shape

a pattern

a specific Way*

to be followed

I am no longer in control

I am insisted upon

I am no longer looking for options

I am called

I am no longer ‘in my right mind’

I am spooked

infused

infested

beset

besieged

assailed

encompassed by…

the Way lived and taught by Yeshua*

the Way of peace and justice

the Way of care and compassion

the Way of facing up to and resisting

the principalities and powers

empire and top-down rule

prestige and status

the Way of encountering and finding solidarity with

the poor and marginalized

the least, lost, last, and left out

the unloved and the unloveable…

the way of living in the meantime, the in-between times

the waiting of Holy Saturday

instead of the certainty of Easter

radical insurrection

instead of tamed resurrection

hoping for a better future

instead of planning for more of what is no longer working.

Does God exist?

Who knows?
What does exist, however,

heard through Yeshua’s*

life and teachings

now waiting

to be embodied

embraced

actualized

mirrored

expressed

completed

made manifest

and whole

in my life and teachings.

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Psalm 47 — God Insists… Shout for Joy!

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God’s insistence is awesome…
It spooks all people, everywhere,
Cutting out from under us
Our legs of rationality and certainty.

 

Psalm 47:1-9         1 Applause, everyone. Bravo, bravissimo! Shout God–songs at the top of your lungs!2 God Most High is stunning,astride land and ocean. 3 He crushes hostile people,puts nations at our feet. 4 He set us at the head of the line,prize–winning Jacob, his favorite. 5 Loud cheers as God climbs the mountain,a ram’s horn blast at the summit.6 Sing songs to God, sing out!Sing to our King, sing praise!7 He’s Lord over earth,so sing your best songs to God. 8 God is Lord of godless nations—sovereign, he’s King of the mountain.9 Princes from all over are gathered,people of Abraham’s God. The powers of earth are God’s—he soars over all. (MSG)

[Peterson, Eugene H. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2002]

[Image:  “Creative Commons Applause – 84/365 by Barney Moss is licensed under CC BY 2.0”]

Musings on Psalm 47:1-9

Joyful singing and applause…  Shout so the whole world can hear…

God’s insistence is awesome…

It spooks all people, everywhere,

Cutting out from under us

Our legs of rationality and certainty.

Yet, when I listen closely…

attending with the inner ear of my heart

it feels as if I go to the head of the class…  as if I have been chosen…

as if God is speaking to me and only me.

Ironically, as personal as that insistence is…

as insistent as that insistence is…

as beckoning as that insistence beckons…

It is as if God were shouting from the mountain top!

Why O nations do you not hear?

Why O politicians do you only listen to your own voice?

Why O churches do you turn a deaf ear?

Why O Bart do you find it so easy to tune out..

to sing off key…

to not listen?

When Insistence insists…

when God is that “still small voice” that spooks…

When power is revealed as weakness,

and wholeness grounds the commonwealth…

Then know that the memories of the past no longer restrain us

and the promises of the future have already infected the Present Moment.

Know that all which has been spooked in the present…

all who have listened first (and listened again and again and again)

all those sing God’s praises as they are offering themselves…

they will be living memorials, caught up in the fulness, wholesomeness, and abundance

of Life,

of the Present Moment,

of the name of God. Perhaps*.

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Thirsting for God – Psalm 63

Thirsty - Dry Land

When you are spiritually dry, where do you turn? When you turn to God, what do you expect?

Psalm 63   My soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you,as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,beholding your power and glory. 3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,my lips will praise you. 4 So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name.  5 My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,and my mouth praises you with joyful lips 6 when I think of you on my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 7 for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy. 8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.  9 But those who seek to destroy my life shall go down into the depths of the earth; 10 they shall be given over to the power of the sword,they shall be prey for jackals. 11 But the king shall rejoice in God; all who swear by him shall exult,for the mouths of liars will be stopped. (NRSV)

[Scripture quotation from Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

[Image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license. Text added.]

Thirsting for God

At the depths of my being I thirst for a word from you, O  God…

for an insistence, a nudge, an invitation, a call.

Without that Word, I dry up and blow away.

At times I have wanted  to find you

in the miraculous and the spectacular.

I wanted you to compete with all the other gods

who are sought

in the marketplace of mastery,

in the laboratory of luciousness,

at the table of transcendent power.

Because of your audacity,

never choosing existence over insistence,

when your word comes,

when your insistence insists,

when your call calls…

it is more likely to be heard

in a still, small voice that inspires love and peace and concern

for those who have no power,

no mastery,

no luciousness,

save the embrace of a tender heart.

Those who play the power card

and frolic in the delusion of superiority

will continue to abide in the snares

they have set for themselves.

Praise be for those who have

attended to the insistence and followed the path of invitation.

As they live in response to that unheard call

may they be filled with joy —

as if lifted into a new plane of living

a plane that might be called heaven on earth,

the Commonwealth* that bears the name of God. Perhaps*.

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