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God's Calling ~ Jeremiah Redux

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  Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord .   Jeremiah 1:8 The author Joshua Fletcher says that FEAR is an acronym that stands for: F alse E vidence A ppearing R eal.   Our minds contort to convince us that we have it all figured out ~ whatever “it” is.   Yet, how often have I uttered the words, “If I knew then what I know now .”   To be sure, in that past moment, I used the best interpretation of the evidence I could.   I didn’t mean to make a boneheaded mistake.   But sometimes my future self looks back at my past self, shaking its head.   How could I have not seen that the person’s negative comment was really more about him?   Why did I spend hours composing emails in my mind at 3 am?   Why did I create countless fictional problems to solve rather than hold the situation lightly?   To be sure, we live in a world of a lot of false evidence.   Usually, we want to convince others to see the error in their thinking, but never step back to realize h

God's Calling ~ Jeremiah Redux

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  See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant ~ Jeremiah 1:10 Jeremiah’s call and commission comes from God and his first assignment is to preach the sermon above.   Not exactly the easiest thing to say.   Let’s hope the offering was received before the sermon that day!   The verbs in the passage (pluck/pull/destroy/overthrow) are often seen through a negative lens.   We are a culture that loves growth and success and building, not dismantling or destroying. Yet, I would suggest there are good moments to pluck up and pull down. What about an invasive weed that can choke a healthy plant? What about pulling down personal/communal habits that can cause hurt and harm to another. I certainly want to pluck up, pull down, do what I can to overthrow racism and homophobia that do not honor a person as created in God’s image. To dismantle systems that continue to push the people to the

God's Calling ~ Knowing God's Name

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  I pray you have found the reflections this week meaningful.   I pray that the Divine names we have already explored have caused new insights and ideas within you.   More than that, I pray that the images/descriptions/names of God have been experienced in real ways in your life this week.   Today, we turn to the final way the New Zealand Lord’s Prayer describes God: Loving God God is love.   I am taken by the Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis’ description of God’s fierce love as inclusive of all.   God’s love as moving us toward compassion, care for ourselves, others, and the world.   God’s love is at the center and core.   As Rob Bell says, “We shape (name/describe) our understanding of God and then our understanding of God shapes us.”   In other words, if God is judgmental, this give us permission to be judgmental.   If God is justice-seeking, then we will be justice seeking.   If God is Father and Mother , we will see all parenting as part of who God is.   If God is the Source , we will s

God's Calling ~ Knowing God's Name

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  We continue exploring images and names of God from the New Zealand’s version of the Lord’s Prayer.   Today we open our hearts to this one: Father and Mother of us all. I love imagining God as both father and mother.   Do you find yourself resonating with one or the other?   Do you gravitate toward God defined, described as Mother or Father?   How might you experience God in each of these holy genders?   I don’t mean that rhetorically, I invite us to have some conversation around this.   How might God be a father and mother to you?   I sense God’s love as father helping me with quiet presence and protective care.   I sense God’s love as mother in warm hugs and strength that keeps me going.   Now is your turn.   Prayerfully reflect on the ways God’s presence comes to you like a Father and Mother .   What might that mean?   Do you sense any resistance, reluctance as a response to these images?   Remember, the power of the New Zealand’s Lord’s Prayer is that the authors did

God's Calling ~ Knowing God's Name

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  This week we are holding and exploring ways we encounter, experience the Divine.   We have brought close to our hearts God who is Eternal Spirit, Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, and Life-giver .   Now we turn toward: Source of all that is and that shall be. God was, is, and will always be woven into human history.   This is true not only in the good times, but also in the not so great.   This is true not only in our individual life, but in our shared communal, collective life.   Look back in the rearview mirror of the past month, where and when have you encountered God ?   Look around right now, where and how do you sense God moving?   Look toward the unknown future, where do you pray God’s presence might show up in life-giving ways? I also appreciate naming God as the Source .   Notice the name in this prayer is not “Cause”.   Source means that God’s presence can be found always.   There is nowhere God is not.   Yet, not every experience, event, or encounter is aligned and reflec

God's Calling ~ Knowing God's Name

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  This week we are turning toward and tuning our hearts to various names of God; the One who said, “I AM” as the divine name.   Yesterday we held the images of God as Eternal Spirit and Earth-maker .   Today, we open to the next two ways the New Zealand prayer describes God as: Pain bearer and Life-giver What are your initial responses to these images of the Holy? What would it mean for God to be the pain-bearer ?   What about life-giver ? I find the phrase, Pain-bearer complex.   Part of me rejoices that God is there in the deepest, darkest valleys of life when I am stumbling and staggering around.   I give thanks that God’s love is found in a cross ~ not because God had an accounting problem to solve but because God was willing to embody and embrace suffering to show us that there is nowhere God is not.   I am grateful that the stress and strain of life today can be sacred.   Richard Rohr says that moments of great love and great pain show us God.   Yet, as a church, we hav

God's Calling ~ Knowing God's Name

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  Yesterday, we heard and held how Moses, at the burning bush amid his ordinary life, received the Divine name, “I AM WHO I AM”.   This week, I want to explore other names for God.   Specifically, I want us to open our imaginations to the words/images/names for God in the New Zealand version of the Lord’s Prayer.   The first few words to describe and define God in this prayer are:   Eternal Spirit, Earth-maker.   What is evoked for you when you hear that?   Perhaps you hear God as the Creator, Crafter of all that is and will be.   God is the One who shapes the smallest quark to the tallest mountain.   God is the One found in the soil of our backyards and the star dust over our heads.   Mystics have said that creation is God’s first testament.   Creation was how God first communicated and communed with us.   Remember, in the second creation narrative of Genesis 2, God forms a human being out of dirt/dust and then sets out to find a companion or helper or partner for the hum