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Showing posts from January, 2021

Dr. King's Birthday

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  Today is the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday.   I encourage you to go YouTube and listen to a sermon he preached (there are several there).   Or Google and re-read, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”.   Dr. King’s words are powerful and as true today as when he first wrote/spoke them.   I am so taken by his opening response in the Letter from a Birmingham Jail to people who were criticizing him and essentially telling him he was wrong.   Dr. King didn’t respond by belittling others, calling names, or throwing verbal punches (as happens too frequently today).   Dr. King sought to answer with words that are thoughtful and challenging.   He writes, “Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere . We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one di

Leaning further into Luke

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9  Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here,  10  for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ 11  and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” 12  Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”  13  When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time. Luke 4:9-13 We all have that desire to be special, set apart or what Parker Palmer calls the temptation, “to be spectacular”.    I will confess I keep ribbons I won for running in a race.   Why?   It isn’t like it was for winning the Boston marathon.   They are in my bottom dresser drawer, but I can’t bring myself to throw them away.   That ribbon is a tactile and tangible thing I can touch and remember I was recognized for finishing first in a local Turkey Trot one year.

Leaning further into Luke

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  5  Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.  6  And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please.  7  If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”  8  Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” Luke 4:5-7 When I was a kid in the winter we would play, “King of the Hill.”   The premise is simple.   One person is on the top of the snow mound and all the others try to knock that person off so she or he can be the single one at the top.   That game says a lot about our culture.   As adults we play a version of that game.   We notice who has the corner office.   We notice the vacation pictures of others.   We notice who got a new car or looks like they are a step ahead of us.   Parker Palmer says of this temptation that Jesus is being offered “power, not with or for others, but always power o

Leaning further into Luke

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    Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness,  2  where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished.  3  The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.”  4  Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’”   Luke 4:1-4 Yesterday, we heard the holy moment of Jesus’ baptism.  Drenched from his dip into the Jordan River, Jesus felt his soul come to life.  Then?  Then, he is led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  Wait.   What ?  That is like saying the football team won the Superbowl, instead of going to Disney, they went to the dentist for a root canal.  Feeling saturated and soaked by the sacred should make you soar; not make you sour.  Jesus should have gone on Oprah or built up his branding on social media platforms.  But right after a moment tha

Baptism

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  Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened,   and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”   Luke 3:21-22 What is the first image that flows into your imagination when you think of water? Swimming in the ocean or splashing in a pool. A drink of water after a morning walk. Washing your hands…which we are all now experts. Cooking or cleaning or running the water over grounds for the perfect cup of coffee. We know that water is necessary of life – for all creation.   Right now, my grass is not as vibrant green because we are not getting as much rain.   Likewise, after working hard, I can feel worn down until that first gulp of water.   Our lives are hydropowered.   And Scripture is hydropowered.   From Genesis 1 where God surfs and sings to the watery chaos to here where Jesus wades in the wate

Prayer

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  Guiding, grounding, generous and generative God, we continue to pray for your epiphany light to fall upon the path of our lives and awaken our hearts.  We lean toward Your light in the midst of this midnight of the soul moment in our country.  We are tired, O God.  We are weak and worn and weary from a pandemic claiming too many lives now spreading fast overwhelming our hospitals.  We often pass along our pain in the form of frustration and fanning flames of fear rather than releasing our hatred.  We need Your wisdom, O God.  We need Your strength, O God, that doesn't always make sense to our rational, reasonable minds.  We need a different vision for how we might live as Your people in such a time as this.  So sing to the chaos of our hearts this day.  Awaken us to the starlight of Your guiding grace that we need every moment today.  Call us back to the Epiphany words as truth that we might hold and beheld by in these days.  And lead us home, as the Wise Ones were, by a differen

Prayer

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  The events of yesterday were heartbreaking.  With all the emotions that stir within me, lament has often been a faithful way to begin to process what we are experiencing.  Lament is honestly opening ourselves to notice and name our vulnerabilities and fragility.  Lament becomes possible when we have already seen how we are broken.  And once we see, we cannot unsee.  Please pray with me. God, in the beginning, You surveyed the chaos.  Yesterday, on our screens, we surveyed a chaos unlike any other in our lives.  In the beginning, You engaged and encountered the chaos by calling forth Light.  We need Your Epiphany light to shine in our lives as we try in our own fragile and faithful way to take the next right step today.  In the time of the Exodus, at the watery chaos of the Red Sea, You made a way when there was no human way.  You wept with Your people in Exile when they hung their harps on trees and could no longer sing hymns.  You were there in the Jordan at Jesus baptism, a day tha

Epiphany Week

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  Happy Epiphany or is it Merry Epiphany?   I always get so confused on the proper way to wish you a holy, awe-filled, and mysterious Epiphany.   I pray you have read Matthew 2:1-12.   I pray you have held in your hands the three Wise Ones.   I pray you are finding ways to stay open to God’s grace guiding and love leading you in these early days of 2021.   Even though Matthew doesn’t specify, tradition teaches us that there are three Wise Men.   We assumed three because there are three gifts mentioned and it would not be wise to show up uninvited at a home without a hostess gift, right?   (I am joking here).   The church even went so far as to give them names; Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar.   Good old Balthazar always the one with a quick joke and Melchior could sing like an angel and Caspar was such a friendly ghost.   Just kidding. If you Google their names you might discover, “Melchior was the name of a Persian scholar;  Caspar was said to have been from India; and Balthazar wa

Epiphany Week

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  Today is a day betwixt and between.   We know that Christmas isn’t over – Epiphany is tomorrow, which means this is Epiphany Eve.   And while there is no special service planned, we can faithfully engage and encounter this day.   You can re-read Matthew 2:1-12.   So often with Scripture we think of passages as one and done.   But to keep coming back to the stories letting them speak and sing to our stories is a wonderful prayer practice.   Second, you can take time holding each of the Wise Ones from your nativity scene in the palm of your hand.   The Wise Ones traveled a great distance, like us who have traveled emotionally and spiritually a long way in 2020.   The Wise Ones took a wrong turn.   Yup, I relate to that a lot!   The Wise Ones go to the traditional place of power – the palace of King Herod.   How often do I get caught up in going to the same places and spaces expecting to encounter something new?   We live the truth of Einstein that it can be insanity to do the same thin

Epiphany Week

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  It is not over, this birthing. There are always newer skies into which God can throw stars. When we begin to think that we can predict the Advent of God, that we can box the Christ in a stable in Bethlehem, that’s just the time that God will be born in a place we can’t imagine and won’t believe. Those who wait for God watch with their hearts and not their eyes, listening, always listening for angel words. Ann Weems “Kneeling in Bethlehem” For many, this first full week of 2021 can feel like a return to our regularly scheduled programing, to the routines and rhythms of life, to normal (whatever that will mean in 2021).   Kids go back to school; parents face a full week of work; we start to think about taking down the decorations; some of the hustle and bustle of the past few weeks fades away as there is open space in each day.   Yet, before we step out of the straw of the stable and turn toward living in this New Year, there are a few truths to take with us. First, no matter how

New Year's Day

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  We cross the threshold into this New Year, I think back on a story from last year.   When Pfizer released its vaccine many of the vials had an extra dose or two.   Medical professionals had been told that each vial had five doses.   But suddenly there was more inside, enough to inoculate at least one and in some cases two more people.   This was because there were different syringes being used and the company wanted to make sure there was plenty inside the vial.   That sound you hear is angels singing, “Hallelujah!”   But wait, was it safe?   Was it really okay to give the extra to a sixth or even seventh person?   Inquiring minds needed to know.   Some places threw away the excess and extra.   Insert the image of Van Gogh’s painting, “The scream” here.   Noooo!   Pfizer immediately released a statement that, “Yes the extra was safe.   Yes, please use every last drop of the vaccine.”   Still some insisted to throw the leftovers away.   This is a parable about God’s grace.   There