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Showing posts from February, 2018

God of Grace and God of Glory ~ take two

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Krista Tippet once said, "Hymns are the way good church people walk around poetry not calling it that."

Listen once again to the hymn, reading or singing, the third and four verses.

3 Cure your children's warring madness;
bend our pride to your control;
shame our wanton, selfish gladness,
rich in things and poor in soul.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
lest we miss your kingdom's goal,
lest we miss your kingdom's goal.

4 Save us from weak resignation
to the evils we deplore;
let the gift of your salvation
be our glory evermore.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
serving you whom we adore,
serving you whom we adore.

These two verses land with a thud in my lap.  These two verses make me mumble and mutter to myself, "Yeah...I resemble that remark."  These two verses offer both a moment of confession and assurance.  The third verse starts with shining a light the fact that the violence we do to ourselves and others is an illness ~ from which we need to …

God of Grace and God of Glory ~ take one

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As you listen to this hymn here are the first two verses to either read ~ or sing out loud

1 God of grace and God of glory,
on your people pour your power;
crown your ancient church's story,
bring its bud to glorious flower.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
for the facing of this hour,
for the facing of this hour.

2 Lo! the hosts of evil round us
scorn the Christ, assail his ways!
From the fears that long have bound us
free our hearts to faith and praise.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
for the living of these days,
for the living of these days.

It has been over a week since the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida.  In moments when the question, "why" sit so heavy and hangs/hovers unanswerable in the air.  When our collective hearts break.  When emotions stew within us and we feel at once both anger at yet another shooting, sadness for the families grieving, fear for our own children ~ grandchildren.  When we wonder why it is never the right time to talk about wha…

Lent Two ~ Creation as the Original Gospel

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Over the last few days, we have been turning and tuning our ears to the hymn, In the Bulb.  It is a song about being open to creation, because we know God as the Creator.

Or Artist.

Or Author.

Or Conspirator (which means to be breathe together).

Or Conductor and Choir Member.

Or Imagineer.

Or Envisioner, embracer, and enlivener.

God has the artist touch and flare and fire.

Which is why I love the above page from the St. John's Bible.  I love the seven panels, each visually representing a day.  I love that way light looks like fireworks against the black sky in the first panel.  And the seas and waters separating in the second.  Richard Rohr recently noted that God does not call the first two days, "Good", because there is separation.  But starting on day three land appears with vegetation, starlight like sequins, whales and walruses and waves of water creations, animals and humans ~ call crafted with a creativity we see around us.  Finally rest ~ Sabbath silence of ceas…

Lent Two ~~ In the Bulb There is a Flower

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As you listen to this hymn for a second time, pay attention to the second and third verses.

I am particularly taken by the both/and quality of what Sleeth is saying.  She is inviting us to ponder how and where there is light in darkness and doubt in believing.  We can get so caught up in dualism and either/or thinking.  This problem plagues us.  We want to be able to classify and categorize everything, label and store it on a shelf.  We want to do it quickly and would rather than admit if we make a mistake.

There is a great and ancient Chinese proverb about needing to trust in the slow work of the spirit rather than racing to define and distinguish everything it goes like this:

A farmer and his son had a beloved stallion who helped the family earn a living. One day, the horse ran away and their neighbors exclaimed, “Your horse ran away, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

A few days later, the horse returned home, leading a few wild mares back to …

Lent Two ~ In the Bulb There is a Flower

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The hymn, "In the Bulb There is a Flower" was composed by Natalie Sleeth in the early 1990s.  The three verses offer a poetic vision that we might use as a prayerful meditation this second week of Lent.  The first verse talks about mystery and hidden-ness of God's presence.

In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree; in cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free! In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be, unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.
So often we don't see as clearly as we think we do.  The obstacles that obscure our view becomes so ordinary and common place...that we don't even notice them.  We come to believe that we have the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  So, we post it, tweet it.  Gone is any sense of humility, that we might be wrong. 
Think back ten years ago...2008.  The first faint signs of the Great Recession were starting to be seen as the stock market ski…

Lent One ~ Gospel of Disney

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Part of what captures and captivates me about Disney is the imagination.  C.S. Lewis once wrote, "But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again."  We need space and a place for engaging laughter and imagination and dreams.  Perhaps this Lent you can take time to laugh.  I know this may sound odd in a season that has become defined and distinguished by being serious and somber, but I do believe God laughs with us...that laughter itself can be a prayer.  Our imaginations can help open us to new ways to engage and encounter God whose creativity is still speaking/singing/ crafting and creating.  Our dreams...well dreams are God's territory.  Think of Joseph of many color coat fame who can interpret dreams.  Think of Joseph Jesus' father who dreams a dream of taking Mary as his wife.  Think of Peter on a roof seeing a vision of a buffet of off-limits animals coming down on a blanket.  These dreams of God are always expanding and encouraging us to…

Lent Week One ~ Gospel of Disney

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Having already engaged one song from a Disney movie, we continue with one of my favorites, The Lion King.  There are many reasons why I find this movie fascinating.  First, it is a great commentary on families who put the "fun" in dysfunction.  All of us know what it is to have unresolved conflict hanging and hovering around the Thanksgiving table.  We know how power plays are not confined or contained only in Washington D.C., but find their ways in to our own households.  The conflict between Scar and Mufasa might not be exactly what we experience in our family, but there are sometimes echoes at reunions and picnics.  Second, I find the commentary on our abuse of the environment compelling and convicting, especially considering that this film is a few decades old.  Third, the opening song has some great theological themes.  Listen...and watch the amazing art those who drew the frames crafted and created...



 The middle verse strikes and stays with me:

Some of us fall by the …

Lent Week One ~ Gospel of Disney

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My family are huge fans of Disney.  They love the rides.  They love the excitement of amusement parks.  They love the food and crowds of people.  They love the giant talking mouse.  Me?  I love them.  
But over the years of going to the parks, the pixie dust of the Magic Kingdom has a way of working its way into your DNA.  The catchy tunes and constantly cheerful people start to wear you down.  As the Borg would say on Star Trek, "Resistance is futile." (Which is another whole blog post for some other time).  
For me, it was, is, and will be the music that has drawn me into Disney.  In High School, I can remember taking dates to see Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.  I fully accept that these films have their flaws.  They can play on unhelpful, hurtful stereo types of men saving women and cultural racism as well.  But nothing is ever perfect.  I have appreciated how the films have tried to evolve over the years.  I particularly enjoyed a more recent film, Moana about a Pacif…

Preparing for Lent 2

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In the last post I asked two questions....

What would cause your soul to sing and stir as we prepare for Lent?

How do you long to connect with God as we prepare for Lent?

I can only be descriptive in my own prayerful thoughts/responses to such questions and don't want to be prescriptive in how you might enter into the forty days of the Lenten season.

Some of the ways I connect with God are walking labyrinths, spending time in prayer, laughing with my family, and reading.  I connect with God in worship, in Bible studies, and in service out in my community.  I try to connect with God in many different ways.  To acknowledge that God is there with every breath I take to support and surround me and cause a holy shift to deepen between us.

What causes my soul to sing is music.  Some may have read my blog posts from Advent on singing our way to the manger.  I want to build on that this Lent with a little different bent.  Each week I will post three reflections on some music that moves m…

Preparing for Lent

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The word, Lent, is one that can evoke and even provoke strong reactions from all of us.  For some reading this post...I wonder if I lost you with the title of this.  For others...I pray you might be interested in re-capturing and re-framing this word for a new day.  For all...I hope you will give me a chance.

Lent is at the heart a season of renewal.  It is a time to remember and reclaim who and whose we are.  We are more than just a spouse or parent or our job...we are beloved children of God.  We find our deepest sense of self and our soul takes flight in relationship with God.  But most days, while we know that to be true, we may not always live that way.  What if Lent was less about feeling guilty and more about shining a light on new or renewed ways we can lean into and live out this truth?  What if Lent was less a dirge and more of a dance with the divine?  What if Lent was less about going through the motions and more about deepening our connection to God?

That is the promise …

Scripture Imagination take three

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After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias.  A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick.  Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples.  Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near.  When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?”  He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”  One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all.  Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distribute…

Friday Prayer

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When the week is almost done,
And our souls feel they've been spun,
In a thousand directions we've run,
We long for God's love to make us one.

We enter into this time of prayer
When the good, bad, ugly we share
We want to be wrapped in God's care
Let's us breathe in holy air.

We come with hope
That we can stop walking a tight rope
For God doesn't as us to blindly grope
Rather than we might have strength to cope.

We need a grace more than a trace.
We need a presence to help us brace.
We long for the time and space
That can guide us to see God's face.

So, come, Holy Spirit move in our lives
Come and help us be satisfied.
To know that with you we are enough
And whisper our name with more love.

For our prayers are deep and our hearts are restless
Until in You we can sense there is peace in Your presence.

Calm the storms
Drive doubt away
Be with us God
Not just now...
But every day.

Amen.

Scripture Imagination take 2

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After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias.  A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick.  Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near.  When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?”  He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.  Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”  One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him,  “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all.  Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distrib…

Scriptural Imagination Take One

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After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick.  Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near.  When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.  Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”  One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him,  “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all.  Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed…

Prayer

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God whose presence spirals around us...whose fingerprints are on the DNA within us.
God whose grace guides us with meaning....whose infinite love helps us find our way when we are lost.
Meet us where we are as we enter this second month of 2018.

For some the pattern of Ground Hogs Day, Valentine's Day, and President's Day will find a new holy code.
For others this pattern is weak and worn out and weary.
For some this pattern is a blur.
For some this pattern is a bore.
For some this pattern is a blessing while it causes others to sing the blues.

Help us see in the patterns a new meaning for such a time as this.
Help our lives leap and land into new ruts of holy faithfulness.

Guide us this weekend with a song and a story and a sacredness we need...and that patterns our life with You.

In the name of the One whose life is a pattern, code, and holy rut of our lives, Jesus the Christ.

Amen.