Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Psalm 125 or Psalm 124

Year B - Pentecost +15 or Energy to Witness 15
September 6, 2015

Which is the stronger statement for you?

1) Trust.

2) If our G*D were not with us we wouldn't have made it.

Is one for an anonymous Syrophoenician woman (culturally inferior) and one for an anonymous deaf man (physically inferior)? Are they interchangeable? 

As you look at Psalms 125 and 124, do you have a preference of which leads to which? Are they interchangeable?

Looking at the first question again, any change in your response?

= = = = = = =

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23

Year B - Pentecost +15 or Energy to Witness 15
September 6, 2015

Measurement is tricky business. We can fairly easily measure twice and put studs 16 inches apart. We can equally easily measure in-place studs to see that they meet building codes or need to be redone.

It is not so easy to measure results of interactions, particularly those that are not immediately obvious. Measuring the effect of time doesn't take into account interacting actions or shifting/subsequent measuring criterion. We can expect a result coming after 7 times of forgiveness and when it doesn't we feel justified in giving up on that process and shifting to one mode of "tough love" or another. It is difficult for us to hold to a course of action over time for implementation of love is always tough. Our attention wanders and we find ourselves mistaking "tough love" for "love that is tough". In this confusion we lose concentration about the advocacy that is needed in times of injustice and what appreciation of an act's inherent value is available in times of generosity.

8Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity,
and the rod of anger will fail. 
9Those who are generous are blessed,
for they share their bread with the poor.

We need external consciences to continue reminding us we can travel into spaces we have learned to label as "strange" or "dangerous" and be generous with our lives. May you cultivate your external conscience to bolster yours when it falters on its own. May you be willing to claim your ability to be an external conscience whether invited or not (bearing in mind its difficulties when a presumed right to direct kicks in).

Measuring injustice can be done. Measuring a consequence to fit is unlikely to be fitting. Measuring "enough" for one's self is tricky business given our desires. Measuring "enough" for others takes more trust than is usually shared.

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Mark 7:24-37

Year B - Pentecost +15 or Energy to Witness 15
September 6, 2015

So what did the Syrophoenician woman say in her response to Jesus’ challenge? What is the message in talking about “dogs eating the children’s crumbs” that Jesus found compelling? Was it the standing up for one’s passion, as he does? Is mirroring sufficient? Did he appreciate the recognition that some are more chosen than others and that crumbs are sufficient for the non-chosen—a healing then reminds them how they get a bone now and then, but mostly cuffs for curs? Is this as a gift of thanks for providing a learning opportunity for Jesus that his work is more universal than it is often described by the Jesus advocates who wrote what we now claim to be scripture?

Is this practical outgrowth of “telling of wonders/power” from back at Pentecost? Language play and returning language are easy connections to make with folks exploding forth from a room that was exploding with fire energy.

If nothing from the outside has the power to contaminate (last week’s lection, Mark 7:18) everything and everyone is eligible for healing, being returned to a larger community. In this light we are seeing folks outside a usual definition of “chosen”, chosen to be included.

These are less miracle stories, than missionary stories. In saying “Go” and “Ephphatha” we find it is an opening toward outsiders but also a word to insiders that their task to date has been too small if used for the defense of privilege boundaries.

Where might you practice the gift of openness today and this week (attend to the news all week long for local examples)? To whom will you announce, “Go!” and “Ephphatha!”? Put another way, from whom will you withhold entry to your privilege?

= = = = = = =

Thursday, August 27, 2015

James 1:17-27

Year B - Pentecost +14 or Energy to Witness 14
August 30, 2015

Again we run into the infamous dualism that never resolves into a manageable paradox/polarity or movable continuum. Forever-and-a-day, it seems, we are caught with “evil intentions” arising from inside our human heart and every “generous act” emanating from a static point above. 

Our will is but to fight or to embrace these contestants. We sift and winnow these competing values knowing a bit of both are always present for we cannot live without our heart or only as a puppet.

Stand and choose your percentage of evil or generosity (have you paired these before?) in your next volitional relationship. This is your liberty.

In this model everything is “stained by the world”. Yes, even care for orphans and widows. Stained or not, such care can yet go on for even a mere tithe (10%) of whole care—a portion is better than none? [Note: our “evil heart” would see value here for it would allow another handout tomorrow by which to feel better about ourself.] Stained or not, such care can be completed. [Note: our “evil heart” could see value here as any warmth of heart could begin to bend the remaining coldness elseways.]

Bottom line: What is the best opportunity available to me to care from 1-to-all orphans and widows in either their metaphoric or all too real every-day life. [Note: this generosity is not as much material as a reordering of community life.]

- - - - - - -

Blessings on your work.

Thought this article might trigger a remembrance (moving from background to foreground) of the formative realities the beginning of the industrial revolution had on the Wesleyan movement. Are we currently overbalanced toward piety in a latest revolution looking for mercy?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9

Year B - Pentecost +14 or Energy to Witness 14
August 30, 2015

Indeed, our heart overflows with a theme of goodly intention. We desire to connect both truth and beauty with G*D and our current leader for that will keep them both busy and not disrupting our lives. Go King/Pharaoh/F├╝hrer/President! Go G*D!

Even as we don’t trust power for we have much evidence that it goes its on way regardless of who is in the cat-bird seat, we still desire power to be well used for our purposes.

That this revision of the Psalm rings false is fairly clear in its attempt to bolster the passivity of women by grouping them as political pawns to be decorated in booty—to have their very booty to be booty2.

If this pericope had gone on one more stanza we would have heard, “forget your people”. Is not the power to make a captive an excellent example of Jesus’ affirmation regarding “evil intentions” arising within our boundaries—always finding that individual or group we will misrepresent as less than “us” and do all manner of institutional evil against them (thus excusing our own silence and participation in the privilege of unacknowledged power).

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Song of Songs 2:8-13

Year B - Pentecost +14 or Energy to Witness 14
August 30, 2015
Must I wait, must I follow?
Won't you say "Come with me?"

O we want to be invited
   to what we know all too well

A glance, a word, a gesture
   we might respond to

And in that response
   know we are The Initiator

It is our pile of dust
   that attracted a creator

From our wallflower position
   we see strings pulled

Our empty silence the strongest pull
   our excuse for failure stronger still

We wait, we reposition, we make available
    yet no champion bursts our bounds

Come, my love, sit awhile
   reveal my beauty

Monday, August 24, 2015

Mark 7:1-8, 14-18, 21-23

Year B - Pentecost +14 or Energy to Witness 14
August 30, 2015

October 15, 2015 — Global Handwashing Day

A study by Michigan State University found 70.6% washed their hands with soap in the morning as contrasted with 66.4% in the afternoon and 67.0% in the evening. Gender difference in proper handwashing was noted (77.9% of women, to 50.3% of men).

Those who have hard and fast rules for the way people ought to behave are going to be disappointed when they run into real people. Imagine Jesus doing a study of what the perfectly upright person should be and limiting his followers to those so no disparagement would fall upon him through them. Go ahead, imagine. Would you have made the cut. According to the current Ashley Madison hack, how many Pharisees then would be fellow-travelers with Josh Duggars and others today?

All in all the issue of hypocrisy was and is alive and well. Just don’t call me on mine and I’ll let you have yours.

And then the kicker. Rules about appearance can never measure the content of a character, and we’re all characters.

Having eaten of some proverbial apple, we know the difference between that which builds up and that which tears down. We know them so well we can play games with them and shade actions through comparison with the worst or having such wonderful intentions.

Attend to your Neighb*r simply on the basis of your relationship with “good” and “evil” and “common good” without a rationale and see what happens. 

[A side note regarding the elided verse 19: If this was the teaching, was Peter missing class that day? How else explain how long it took him to attend to this as found in Acts 10?]