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Showing posts from September, 2017

Theology - identity

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God, You fashioned us from dust
Breathed life into our lungs
So that with every breath we might know Your nearness.

God, You left Your fingerprints all over our life,
Your divine DNA is woven into our own,
The very same as the star dust above our head,
In beauty and complexity and simplicity.

God, You call us as Your own.
Beloved
Daughter
Son
Child
One who You share the power to create.

Yet, not every thing we make is worthy of being hung proudly on refrigerators.

Our lives can feel like a second-grade art project
where the macaroni is covered/coated in gobs of glue
and the markers have left a messy abstract image
leaving our parents to wonder if it was supposed to be a duck??

Our lives can feel like a second-grade art project
where the relationships become more broken than Humpty-dumpty
and the words we post on social media, tweet and sometimes even say face-to-face
are abstract and obtuse and hurt more than help.
leaving others to wonder if we really care?

Our lives can feel like a…

Theology - Identity part 2

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All theology (God talk) is personal...comes from deep within us to explore and experience and express God's love that fashioned and formed us.

All theology (God talk) is personal because it is a reflect and response to a relationship with God here and now.

All theology (God talk) is personal because we are not speaking about something distant, but the One is knows us even as we see in a mirror dimly (1 Corinthians 13).

As we pray, who are you, God and who am I? we try to make our way through the myriad of economic and political voices clamoring for our attention and affiliation and allegiance.

Paul Tillich once wrote about the anxiety that can gnaw at our souls.  The distinguished the anxiety of fate/death; anxiety of guilt and condemnation; and the anxiety of meaninglessness and emptiness.  I find those to be key contributing factors to the blizzard around us and within us.  Our response is to usually deny death, sidestep our own brokenness - or blame others, and find someway t…

Theology - Identity

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One of the most persistent and perplexing questions that sits uneasy within us is, who am I?  Parker Palmer gives the image of our ancestors tying a rope from the barn door to the back door so the farmer could find his way, not get lost, in a blizzard.  That metaphor makes sense to me.  It can feel like there are storms stirring around us and within us.  Politically, socially, environmentally, families and even our own sense of being often feels like we are trying to make our way through a blizzard that blinds the eyes and sears the soul.  In those days when our ancestors would tie a rope to tether them, the question of, "Who am I?" was not asked as much.  On the one hand you had family ties that also tethered you to others; you were born/lived/died within a community - rarely moving - that also tethered you to others; you were expected to be a farmer because your dad/mom were farmers - as were your grandparents and great grandparents.  The social fabric was knit tightly to…

Weekend prayer

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What color is the weekend?
Is it red with energy, passion, and life?
Is it brown from digging flowers and yard work?
Is it green with new possibility?
Or is it white with blank spaces, even silence?

What color is this day for you?
Would you chose a bold, beckoning blue?
Or a soft, subtle pink?
Or an orange of sunrise enjoyed slowly over a mug of coffee?

What color is your life right now?
Is it murky bluish black from uncertainty?
Is it a yellow of light slowly seeping from the corner of the canvass of life into the center?
Is it a blend of many different shades like the painting above?
No distinctive shape,
Yet beautiful nevertheless.

We color our lives and our days and this weekend like a child just given a fresh pack of crayons.
The moment when you open the box and the smell of untouched wax,
The pointed tips waving expectantly up at you,
The paper crisp.

We color our lives and our days and this weekend with something of the past too.
With crayons that have been well rounded to nub…

Poem Take Three

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The unmistakable laughter filled the room,
Erupting from her petite frame.
It was as if the laugh would have needed to start in her pinkie toe and gather stream
For something so big to come from someone not even five foot tall.

Only when you have looked the messiness and brokenness of life directly in the eye
Can you laugh that loud.
Only when you have held close to you the pain of the world and of another's life,
Can the holy chaos of joy spill forth from you.
Only when you realize the full truth of God with us, through us, in us
Does such a sweet sound spring forth.

When you have taken the leap of faith,
Fallen flat on your face,
Asked the hard questions of why,
And lived with the ambiguity,
Can the twinkle of your eye shine.

Not because life is suddenly perfect,
Not because the pain has finally bid you farewell.
Not because you see, understand, and grasp.

But precisely because you don't.
We do gaze into a smudged and smeared mirror, only catching a sliver of certainty.
We …

Poem Take Two

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Not all resurrections are good news.
Sometimes we dig up the bones of past pain, breathing new life into them.
Pour our wounded-ness another cup of coffee to keep chatting.
Days pass and we turn the calendar pages,
each day filling the empty tomb with our brokenness ~
and the sounds of our grumbling echo off the stone cold walls.

Not all resurrections are good news.
We scrape our fingernails across the scars so they won't heal.
We feed our fears and fuel our angers.
We keep having the same conversation, never stopping to find new paths we might explore.

Not all resurrections are good news.
We keep returning to the same place,
Keep re-living the same past.
Keep clinging with white knuckles to the words sharp as knifes.

But when we can set our carefully constructed arguments aside.
When we stop holding so tightly to our truth
So that perhaps God's truth might get a word in edgewise.
When we cease to pontificate and prophesy,
So that perhaps God's interrupting and disruptin…

Poem Take One

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After the Storm

When the winds stopped howling and flashing their terrible teeth.
When the rain ceased to soak the already too saturated ground,
Which squished with each step and the puddles gladly poured into your shoes.
When the angry dark clouds finally moved away....

Then the pale blue sky kept watch seeing the homes destroyed and the lives blown apart.
Without a cloud in sight, the sky observed the tears of grief and gratitude, often flowing from the same eyes.
The subtle and soft hue, like a warm hug reached down.
And bands of light started to draw move-able lines with shadows streaming across
the street
and signs
and out the front window of my car.

Life is like that.
A move-able line of light which I think I can see clearly
And the shadows cautioning me, "Not too fast."
Love is like that.
We dance vulnerably with someone else, revealing and then quickly darting back to the cover of the shadows.
This week after Irma has been like that.
The one precious life turned ups…

Scripture Window Part 7

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Rewind and review....Scripture is like a window to the outside and inside...it both reveals and reflects.
Scripture draws us closer to gaze through four window panes of head (includes questions and insights); heart (includes emotions roaming around within us and in the text itself); soul (that deeper, mysterious, almost inarticulate level where the deepest seeds of faith need to be tended); and now finally, story.

This takes us full circle.  Scripture is a story that longs to connect with our individual and collective story/stories.

Returning again to Moses in the wilderness...
Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.  There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed.  Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When t…

Prayer

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Should a prayer begin with gratitude or passionate petitions about what is wrong...
(which we usually call that latter thing, "Grumbling"...but would never dare believe that is what we are saying to God)?  Gratitude like we are buttering up God, so we can get to our long list of pointing out where things are not so great.  Grumbling might be more honest way to being.  Pleading with God to be God and intervene, interrupt the hatred, violence, pain, brokenness and all those things that made us wonder if God is really with us and for us.  Usually, that is what we think of with prayer.  Give it all over to God.  However, often times I keep just enough of that brokenness or pain or frustration with someone else, in case God comes back with that "forgiveness" thing again.  Because if God does that, I will say, "Well, but do you know that he did such and such to me??"  Which, of course God knows...but that was my Ace card...so I have to play it.

Often times gr…

Thursday

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Thursday might be the most underrated day.
To be sure, it lives in the shadow of Friday.
Few people have ever uttered the phrase,
"Thank God it's Thursday."
And it has not special distinction like Wednesday.
Few people have ever uttered the phrase,
"It is the day after hump day."
Thursday doesn't have the dread of Monday
Or the getting back in the groove of life of Tuesday.
It certainly doesn't have the prestige and privilege of Saturday and Sunday.
It just is an ordinary day.
Maybe we could call it, "Friday Eve"...so it might have some of the mystery of Christmas Eve.
Maybe we could call it, "Four-fifths Day"...because to say you are 4/5th of the way through something makes it sound like you are practically there.
Maybe it isn't the name at all.
Maybe Thursday reminds us that ordinariness is just fine.
Just a normal day.  Not at the beginning or end or middle.
Somewhere just beyond but not yet.
Which is where I spend most of m…

Scripture Window Part 6

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Rewind and review ~ Scripture is a window...some we can see through clearly...other times the words are like stained-glass, colorful/artistic/needing interpretation.  We look through the window pane of the head to start, asking good questions and claiming our own insights.  We look through the window pane of the heart to go deeper and to notice/name our emotional response/reactions...as well as the emotions in the passage itself.  Next, we turn to the soul.

Scripture as a story means that it works on many different levels.  Yes, we can hear words that form thoughts that form ideas.  Yes, those words elicit an emotion.  But even more than the head and heart, this is a soul story.  It is meant to work on us in ways that defy the gravity of rational/reasonable thoughts.  It is meant to sync with our own story.  It is meant to causes a response we might embody in our lives.

Soul level is one that is the hardest to describe.  What goes on in your gut when you hear our new familiar passage…