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Showing posts from July, 2017

Sunday prayer

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Light shines through casting a kaleidoscope of colors on the carpet.
The hues blending together like the altos and basses of the choir ~
Each distinct and yet moments of indistinguishable blurring.

Light enlivens the window now that morning has broken,
But I have seen the stained glass at night.
It is muted, drowsy, yet nevertheless still breathing deeply.
It's rich, radiant blues turn dark gray and black.
The bright yellows quietly turn an olive green.
And slowly, softly the moonlight still illuminates the window in a new way.

Our lives are like that stained glass window.
Sometimes vibrant and talking so quickly because all the words, stories want to escape at once.
Sometimes falling more thoughtful, reflective, muted by the world.
Sometimes the sunlight streams through us.
Sometimes we need space for the moon to do its work too.

A stained glass window
Or a prayer?
Or perhaps there is no reason to make a distinction.

Grace, peace, and love everyone ~

Acts 17 inspired by Dr. Seuss

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The series on Acts opened us to the movement of the Spirit within us and around us.
Invited us to wonder.
Called us to keep drawing the circle wide.
Bringing all that to a close and conclusion...I have you a reflection on Acts 17, Paul's sermon at Mars Hill...as inspired by one of my heroes....Dr Seuss

Paul wasn’t there to preach;
He hadn’t been asked or invited to teach;
He wasn’t even there on some missional outreach.

He was just wandering around…waiting,
For what reason we don’t know, because the passage isn’t stating.

Like us stuck in delay at the airport sighing,
Paul starts to walk around the streets spying.

Now Paul was in Athens, which was once a great, grand, an amazing city;
Boasting Socrates, study, trade, but all that was gone, what a pity.

Athens was a shadow of its former self, trying to recapture the glory days.
But they were stuck in a daze and haze trying just to win Rome’s praise.

Some might suggest that Athens then is like the church in our time.
Trying to rec…

Thursday

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I am a big fan of schedules and rhythm and routine.  I tend to get up at the same time, have the same cereal for breakfast, get to work by the same time, and end my day with reading.  Some might call these mundane moments, "Boring".  There is a point to that.  But I also think that having some touchstones of normalcy in an ever changing world and a rapid transitioning time can be a God send.  Because I don't know what kind of news will break my heart today; because I don't know what kind of tragedy might come knocking through a phone call/hospital visit/or meeting; because I don't know where the twists and turns might suddenly appear in the journey of this day...these normal (albeit boring) moments hold a deep sense of God's grace for me.  There is a Spirit that stirs when I wake up and start with exercise, feeling my muscles engage and body move.  There is a Spirit that swirls as I slowly eat my granola.  There is a Spirit as I breathe in and out slowly at …

Acting Up and Out Recap

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As this series of posts winds down and wraps up, it is good to look back to notice the threads connecting one post to the next, one week to the next.  There are three truths that leave a lingering impression upon me as we leave Acts.

1. An openness to the Spirit.  We tend to think of this specifically when the Spirit stirred on Pentecost and the disciples were able to speak a variety of languages.  Yet, I would also suggest that Philip had an openness to the Spirit when he had the courage to engage in conversation with the Ethiopian Eunuch.  The same for Ananais when he went to go see Saul, Mr. Persecuting the Early Church.  The same for Peter who let go of his cherished understandings to embrace a Roman military official.  One of the struggles of our contemporary world is that we do cling too tightly to our ways or it is the highway.  We cling tightly to who is in and who should be out.  We cling tightly to our truth and easily dismiss others with an agree to disagree line.  To be s…

Sunday morning prayer

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Insistent and persistent God,
break through my own complacency.

When I get stuck on the sidelines;
When I turn every problem into right and wrong;
When life becomes a mathematical equation rather than a mystery.

When I cling to my privilege, power, and prestige.
When I prefer the lure of respectability rather than risk the hostile glare and word.
When I struggle to find words soaked in love instead quickly speak words of division.

Call me back.

Call me back to the place grounded in grace, solid ground of You.
Call me back to what I know to be true deep down within me.
Call me back to the seed of You taking root in my soul.

Call me out.

Out of complacency.
Out of control.
Out of clinging.

Call me back to the ancient prayer of our Celtic brothers and sisters,

"Let me hold tightly no cherished outcomes."

I still have prayers and plans...maps and dreams.
But I don't hold them so tightly that they never see the light of day.
But I don't hold them so tightly I cut them of…

Acting Up and Out

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 On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there.  A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” And she prevailed upon us.  Acts 16

This post is in honor of women who have left their fingerprints on our hearts; shaped our lives; and helped our hearts sing. The women who said to me, "You should consider being a minister."  The women who said, "This is good...keep going deeper and further."  The women who have prayed for me and with me.  The first woman I visited in the nursing home who shared stories of sipping sodas on Main Street; living through the De…

Acting Up and Out

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Then certain individuals came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to discuss this question with the apostles and the elders.....

 After some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Come, let us return and visit the believers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.”  Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark.  But Paul decided not to take with them one who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not accompanied them in the work.  The disagreement became so sharp that they parted company  Acts 15

From the beginning of the book of Acts, you can begin to believe that everything in the early church was just peachy...rosy...amazingly awesomely the absolutely best community ever.  What went wrong?  Actually, w…

Sunday morning prayer

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Let Your love, O God, burning brightly like a candle in my life.
Let Your wisdom lead me deeper into the soupy mystery of life
       where I don't see as well and need Your light.
Let Your challenge rummage and roam around this hour,
       and every hour.
Let Your care be mixed into the messiness, in to the recipe of life.
Let Your playfulness causes smiles that well up from my soul.
Let Your creativity pour forth from my fingers, tips, and presence.
Let Your hopefulness that You are not finished so neither should I be.
Let Your joy spring up...for there are a thousand blessings in a thousand ordinary Tuesdays.
Let Your presence dance and may I have the courage/conviction to join with reckless abandon.
Let You be.
Let me be open.

May these words be fore than fixed in cyberspace, let them find space in my soul to breathe anew and afresh for such a time as this.

Amen.

Acting Up and Out

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The very night before Herod was going to bring him out, Peter, bound with two chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while guards in front of the door were keeping watch over the prison. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his wrists.  Acts 12

Peter got himself thrown in jail...see there are real life risks for living the way of Jesus.  He is shackled and stuck in a prison.  Two guards are sleeping next to him...which is a hilarious image.  Can you see them curled and cuddled up next to each other?  A bit of drool coming out of their mouths, snoring, and slouched upon each other's shoulders!  C'mon now,  that is a great image.  When suddenly, God shows up again to do the work of liberation for the sake of God's love.

I was just at the Smithsonian museums in Washington D.C. and saw image after image of people being arrested standing up for what is …

Acting Up and Out

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Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?” Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step.  Acts 11

In the last post, we explored God reaching out to Cornelius, someone who was the embodiment of the enemy.  How God went first to Cornelius, then to Peter.  How the proverbial light bulb burned brightly for Cornelius faster than when we flick a light switch today...how Peter was a bit dimmer and took long to realize, recognize what God was up to.  Eventually, Peter gets it.  He forms a friendship with Cornelius.  You would think, "All is well that ends well."  You would think, "That's a wrap, roll credit."  But wait...Acts isn't interested in fairy tale endings, Acts wants to reflect life!

So, when word gets around that Peter...Mr.-I-Will-Build-M…

Acting Up and Out

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In Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian Cohort, as it was called. He was a devout man who feared God with all his household; he gave alms generously to the people and prayed constantly to God.  One afternoon at about three o’clock he had a vision in which he clearly saw an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius.”  He stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” He answered, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God.  Now send men to Joppa for a certain Simon who is called Peter;  he is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the seaside.” When the angel who spoke to him had left, he called two of his slaves and a devout soldier from the ranks of those who served him, and after telling them everything, he sent them to Joppa.  Acts 10

This passage is exactly why I find Acts so wonderfully challenging.  Cornelius is part of the Italian Cohort...which sounds like a great name for a band.  But make no m…

Happy 4th of July

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Against the black curtain of the night sky
The bright, brilliant, bold colors suddenly appear.
Flashes of light.
Sounds that at first make us jump.
And yet, the fear is quickly replaced with wonder.
It is one of the moments, we might realize why the Bible talks about the "Fear of the Lord."
It isn't a fear of someone who will hurt or harm you.
It isn't a fear of someone that can't be trusted.
It isn't a fear of someone smiting you.

Fear is that first response that quickly turns toward wonder.
The "Ooos" and "Ahhs" of encountered God's embrace
Are even more delight-filled than the fireworks tonight.

We need moments of being amazed.
We need moments of serendipitous surprise.
When we don't know what is coming next, but we keep
Waiting
Watching
Wondering
What if we took that posture and practice to the sacred?
What if we looked upon the world to see where God is moving in ways we might still say, "Ahh"?
What if we stayed ope…

Sunday morning Prayer

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For thousands of years,
Candles have been central to worship.

Maybe we light candles for warmth,
A reminder of God's unconditional love.

Maybe we light candles for the flicker flame,
A reminder of the ways our lives dance
Through moments when we feel bright and strong
As well as times we fade and feel like we might extinguish.

Maybe we light candles out of ritual or routine.

Whatever reason, today thousands of candles will be lit.

Some flames brought forward by children.
Some flames suddenly appearing.
Some flames lit unceremoniously by someone seconds before the announcements.

We light because in the beginning God lit the world with a spirit of love.
God separated light from darkness.
In a world where a flip of a switch can send darkness scattering at any hour,
We need an hour of focusing on a flame.
To draw near.
To watch it silently dance before our eyes.
To maybe smell the sweet scent it can give out.
To feel its warmth.
To listen in the still small silence as wax slowly slid…