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Showing posts from April, 2019

Endings and beginnings

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Our four gospels give us four very different and distinctive endings.  Mark’s is the most abrupt.  He has the women flee the empty tomb where they encountered an angel telling of the resurrection.  Mark’s final words are, “And they said nothing to no one.”  Um two things.  One, thanks for that warm and fuzzy closure.  Two, at some point they said something to someone otherwise you wouldn’t have a gospel.  Luke ends with Jesus walking the road after the resurrection with two disciples who don’t recognize or realize it’s him and then walking through walls like Casper the friendly ghost.  But for Luke it is all just  a bridge to set up his sequel, the book of Acts. John gives us a couple of stories where Jesus cooks salmon and avocado toast for the disciples on the beach and appears to all the disciples except Thomas, because we’ve all had someone say to us, “You should have been here.”  Matthew concludes his gospel rather quickly.  In the final chapter of Matthew's gospel, the wome…

Easter-ing Words...final...I promise!

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It has been a blast and blessing playing with words over the last several weeks.  I have loved the way the words of intersected and informed and inspired.  I have loved that we got to continue this for a few more days, using Easter-ing and practicing resurrection as a bridge.

But...

There comes a time when it is good to cease, stop...for awhile.

There comes a time when it is good to start in new directions.

Now is that time.

It is my deep prayer that the words over these last few weeks have sparked and caused the spirit to swirl.
I pray you have written poems...found connections to your life...or maybe even now have a story to share.
I write these posts because I love to create...
I love tossing and throwing things out into the universe to see if there is an echo.
It can feel often like nailing Jell-O to the wall. 
But the fun and joy is in the prayerful/playful effort.
The fun and joy is feeling the surge of the Spirit motivating and moving me.
The fun and joy is that for me...these…

Easter-ing Words...take two

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So, how is Easter-ing and practicing resurrection going?

Some of you may say, "Great!  I am slowing down this week...trying to stay open and sense the sacred.  When the stress and strain sits like a cross on my shoulders and souls...I am trying to find ways to say, 'Okay God...help me out here and find a way out of this fine mess...grant me courage to take that next right step and where I might place my foot.'"

Maybe others are saying, "I still don't get it.  And now the car broke down and that relative...the one who I am sure proves the statistic that there is a 1 in 200 chance of being related to Genghis Khan...called last night to brag and boast about some trip or promotion or how amazingly awesome life is...and all I had to add was my car was broke down.  Why does that relative know all the combinations to set off a nuclear reaction in me?"

Maybe others are saying, "Wait...that was really an assignment...I totally thought you were going to mov…

Easter-ing Words

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So...tell me you saw this theme of Easter-ing words coming, right?  When you have a good theme going, you continue to stay open to the spirit working and wiggling in your life.  Now, Easter is more than just one Sunday...it is actually 50 days.

Wait...don't worry...I am not going to give you fifty words.  But I do want to invite us to savor and stay in this Easter mood/mode for this week.  I know that if you walk into the store today, all jelly beans will be 50% off and you can stock up on that plastic grass...even though you will forget that you did and buy some more next year.  The big plastic grass corporation is counting on you to just keep buying...even though the stuff will never, ever go disappear or disintegrate.  It will, however, gladly cling to your carpet so tightly your vacuum cleaner doesn't stand a chance!  (I am totally joking here).

What sorts of words might we decide to dance around in these days?

That's the spirit!  I am delighted you asked!  I am actua…

Lenten Words

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This week...we've been holding gently and exploring where there are traces of grace in these words:

34.  Expectations
35.  Hunger
36.  Thirst
37.  Communion
38.  Death
39.  Silence
40.  Resurrection/New Life

What stirs in me on this holy day is this:

No one expected a cross when the palm branches were waving high above their heads.
Just a few days ago the hopes hovered and hung in the air.
After all, it was Passover.  The story of Moses.
A liberating God making a way when there was no way.
This guy comes riding in, just like King David, on a donkey at this time of year.
Finally...many thought...someone to get this oppressive boot of Rome off our neck.
Finally...others thought...someone to lead us in a rebellion and revolution.
Finally...still others thought...someone to blame for all the brokenness.
No one expected the cross at the Last Supper table.
The ritual was like a rut ~ which is always a danger in any and all religions.
Ask the question here.
Go check for Elijah at the do…

Lenten Words

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What expectations have been formed and fashioned in your soul as we move through this holy week?  Any new or surprising ones?

This week we are letting the following words guide and ground us:

34.  Expectations
35.  Hunger
36.  Thirst
37.  Communion
38.  Death
39.  Silence
40.  Resurrection/New Life

We spent some time with expectations in the last post...

The next three point toward tomorrow, Thursday.

Hunger...thirst...communion.

On one level Maundy (which means commandment and refers to Jesus' teaching in the Gospel of John 13 - "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
At the Last Supper table Jesus gives us a glimpse of God's grace found in bread, juice, and connections to others.  At the Last Supper table Jesus offers us love that we can hold in our hands, sweet grace we can taste on the tip of our tongue.  At the Last Supper table, Je…

Lenten Words

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This is the last week of Lent...what has traditionally been called, "Holy Week."  Wait...wait you say, "Why would this week be holy?"  Doesn't Jesus' so-called friends all deny, desert, and one even betray him?  Doesn't sound all that holy to me.  Doesn't Jesus die on Friday?  That sounds so macabre to think somehow this week is holy!!  Okay, Easter chocolate waiting for us on Sunday, that sounds like the sacred.  But all the rest after the Palm Sunday parade...just too depressing...too dramatic in a world that has way to many heartbreaking headlines...why would we ever want to call this week holy?

I am so glad you asked!

When we last left our words for this week were:

34.  Expectations
35.  Hunger
36.  Thirst
37.  Communion
38.  Death
39.  Silence
40.  Resurrection/New Life

Right off the bat...we get to expectations.  Perhaps it has been our expectation that God = good.  We have turned faith into a formula or a transaction.  When life is good, God…

Lenten Words

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This week, we have been letting these words slow cook in our souls.  When of the reasons why the list of words are important is because the ways they can inform...influence...mix and mingle together are like the ingredients in a recipe  So what ways are the words coming together for you this week?  Any connections between this list and ones from the past few weeks?

27.  Uncertainty/Doubt
28.  Justice
29.  Kindness
30.  Humility
31.  Want
32.  Need
33.  Palm or Parade

As I work my way through these words...I arrive at "want" and "need"...I instantly think of my parents asking, "Do I really need that item or just want it?"  We know that our needs are relatively few ~ food and water...shelter...some kind of relationship.  Yet, even that last one might be debatable.  And on top of it...how much of each of those things we need is as different and diverse as the people reading this blog.  Some people need more food and water.  Others need a certain kind of she…

Lenten Words

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How is that dance with doubt and curiosity going this week so far?  Are you finding ways to let both sing to your soul?  The beautiful part of doubt is that there are other partners and friendships it can form and fashion to feed/fuel our lives in amazing ways...which brings me to the next three words after doubt:

27.  Uncertainty/Doubt
28.  Justice
29.  Kindness
30.  Humility
31.  Want
32.  Need
33.  Palm or Parade

You might recognize those three as from Micah 6:8 ~ to paraphrase ~ what does God require but to seek justice, show loving-kindness, and walk humbly with God.  When doubt starts to creep and sneak into my life, it is not always easy to kindle the flame of curiosity.  When doubt starts to show up casting a cynical shadow on every thing causing me to think, "Well this is another fine mess you've gotten yourself into."  One of the ways to break through the cycle of shame and blame is to seek justice.  I know you can faithfully translate Micah 6:8 as also, "…

Lenten Words

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This week...on another exciting episode of letting a few words each week of Lent simmer...sing...sit in our souls...we are holding gently on to this set of words:

27.  Uncertainty/Doubt
28.  Justice
29.  Kindness
30.  Humility
31.  Want
32.  Need
33.  Palm or Parade

As I looked over the list several quotes were stirred within me.

Paul Tillich who said, "Doubt is not the opposite of faith.  It is an element of faith."  Or Robert Browning who said, "I show you doubt, to prove that faith exists."  Or this amazing part of the end of Matthew's gospel.  The eleven disciples have been told by the women who went to the empty tomb that the risen Christ has scheduled a meeting on a mountain.  And Matthew...in the light of Easter... says, "Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted."  Do you hear how normalized doubt is here?  Like, "Oh yeah.  There was…

Lenten Words

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So...where are you at with these words this week?

20.  God
21.  Jesus/Christ
22.  Spirit
23.  Trinity
24.  Friends
25.  Strangers
26.  Efficient

Maybe this has been some of your favor words...exploring hymnals and psalms.
Maybe you stepped back this week to think of imagines that might point toward each of these words.
Maybe you thought..."Last week's list was so much better."

Which reminds me of a question from Rob Bell, "Did someone ever say to Jesus, 'Your sermon last week was better.'?" Which just makes me laugh.

Or the list reminds me of Richard Rohr who says that the Trinity is a way of describing God in relationship from the very beginning with the Redeemer and Sustainer.

But this list also leads to the next set/series of words:

27.  Uncertainty/Doubt
28.  Justice
29.  Kindness
30.  Humility
31.  Want
32.  Need
33.  Palm or Parade

This list for me is a bridge toward our holiest week.  #33, in fact, is about Palm Sunday parade.   
#31 and #32 ~ i…

Lenten Words

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In the last post we dove into two hymns that lifted up images of God.  We could do this for many of these words:

20.  God
21.  Jesus/Christ
22.  Spirit
23.  Trinity
24.  Friends
25.  Strangers
26.  Efficient

For examples...

For Jesus what jumps into my mind is Fairest Lord Jesus...Jesus Christ is Risen Today...
For the Spirit ~~ Sweet, Sweet Spirit....Spirit of the Living God Fall afresh on me
For the Trinity ~~ Holy, Holy, Holy ~ God in three persons...or the Doxology
For Friends I think about ~~ Bless Be the Tie that Binds

What a friend we have in Jesus...could be a double score hymn with both Friendship and Jesus.

You could continue on.

Wait, you say.  You forgot to talk about strangers and efficient.
Yes..yes I did.
Those are a bit more difficult...no title immediately, instantly come to mind.  I think of the great scripture passage, "You are no longer strangers/sojourners, but friends" that Paul says to the church in Rome.  Or maybe the wonderful spiritual, "Somet…

Lenten Words

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In the last post...I invited you to find a hymnal and start looking for a hymn that might point toward a melody that these words are awakening right now:

20.  God
21.  Jesus/Christ
22.  Spirit
23.  Trinity
24.  Friends
25.  Strangers
26.  Efficient

The hymnal our church uses every Sunday starts with "Immortal, Invisible God only Wise".  As you read these words, what sorts of ways to the sentences seek to define and describe God?

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible, hid from our eyes,
Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great name we praise.

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
Nor wanting, nor wasting, Thou rulest in might;
Thy justice, like mountains, high soaring above
Thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.

To all, life Thou givest, to both great and small;
In all life Thou livest, the true life of all;
We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
And wither and perish—but naught changeth…