Friday, November 21, 2014

Ephesians 1:15-23

Pentecost Last or Evaluation Day
November 23, 2014

Ephesians 1:15-23

A corollary to premeditated mercy is prayer without having heard of faith. When criteria needs to be present for prayer to arise, something is bound to be skewed or screwed.

With or without a reason to so pray, might we not still look for a spirit of wisdom and revelation in our midst. Perhaps from that invisible one over there or from my own illustrious self? Such a spirit brings hope deeper than expectation. Such hope engages us in fulfilling all that has brought us to this time and building a sturdier foundation for that which won't arrive until long after we have passed by.

If Christmas was Incarnation and Easter was reIncarnation, we might finally figure out that a creation based on the carnal blesses the carnal. And that the carnal is not the end-all and be-all of life. Lord knows we are not to Lord it over one another. If only we could see this day as part of a feedback loop or an evaluation to be taken seriously, we might know the abundance of a merciful prayer.

At the end of this yearly sequence, may we be wise enough to not simply rinse and repeat. Report one difference made in your life or through your life (and don't forget to show your work). Reveal and add to the fullness of life.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Psalm 100

Pentecost Last or Evaluation Day
November 23, 2014

Psalm 100

Knowing any claim to the present being a culmination of intent (G*D's and mine), we can't simply declare things are all wrapped up. Obviously they are not and any claim to the contrary is simply fantasy and a usurpation of power.

Nonetheless, we can continue without a neat wrap-up. We can even continue with a sense of joy filling our next attempt to climb a step beyond our present. Try the psalm backward.

First, presume G*D is good, creation is good.
Also First, hold to an understanding that love endures—not only all things, but forever.
Add yet another First, mutual trust is what rolls the generations along.

Second, enter these with thanksgiving for all that has given evidence that these Firsts last.
Secondly, let praise loose that it might beckon a shy future to peek out and bless what is happening and secure this connection.

Thirdly, all of this is to be bone-deep. Know maker and made encourage and entice one another further together.

Fourthly, gladness is a sign of worthy work going on—so whistle while you work.

Fifthly and finally, so live that all the earth is joyful—so joyful that noise goes beyond cacophony, to harmony rich and connected beyond theory and experience.

= = = = = = =

For a musical adaption of Psalm 100, try Ann Reed's "Where the Earth is Round". Don't forget to note the bones of Indigenous Peoples who have claimed the goodness of creation even as they were massacred.

What other non-hymn music might well be a hymn if our ears were better tuned?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24

Pentecost Last or Evaluation Day
November 23, 2014

Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24

At least we are not categorizing sheep (good) and goats (bad). We've moved to distinguishing fat sheep (bad) from sheep (good). This helps us begin to define what is helpful behavior that builds up one another and delineate that which is out-of-bounds.

It is immediately obvious that not everyone will buy the understanding and boundaries of community. Profit of one kind and another always seems to enter in our decision-making.

The most difficult part of this passage is the way it ends with David being set up as a Fat Sheep among the Lean. Either the community is engaged in building one another up or allowing discrimination and hurt to find an entry spot and take hold. Servant leaders run as many risks, if not more for their intended benevolence, as Dictatorial leaders or Democratic leaders or just plain leaders.

If this is the best outcome of a church year, it is no wonder we shift immediately to an advent assessment.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Matthew 25:31-46

Pentecost Last or Evaluation Day
November 23, 2014

Matthew 25:31-46

This past year we started out analyzing the needs around us—"What is broken that needs fixing." We went on to acknowledge it was going to take a real presence and not wishful thinking or injunctions from on high to begin addressing the realities of how far short of where might be regarding relationships with creation and one another. Folks from afar could see better than ourselves the need for a new leadership paradigm (partnership of high stars and low mangers). Even with such recognition we wrestled with the intractability of being our own worst enemy. Eventually a moment of breakthrough came—and another. It appeared that we we crossing boundaries and finding the intersectionality of our common life when our practice to develop this into a habit stumbled over the humility needed to continue such. We got into all manner of arguments about symbols of food and male marking and divisions over which leader to follow.

After such a year we are at an important point of evaluating how it went. Any progress made?

What will make this day have a sense of movement? Claiming kingship feels a bit hollow in light of any newspaper or news program. Claiming some artificial Doctrine of Discovery and subsequent Reign is foolish on its face.

Is there any evidence that this coming Advent will bring any greater clarity of need or vision of a goal worth putting our life toward?

Even with Christmas plans are in place, what would lead us to think we are up to recognizing a new stable location; that mercy is any the closer to surfacing in our day-to-day lives; that we are any better prepared for learning from one another, much less teaching?

How many less children will die from hunger this last day of Pentecost 2014 than did in 2013?
How much cleaner and available is safe water given the amount of fracking for profit going on?
How differently are we dealing with the migration and welcoming of peoples?
How many coats are in our closets for which we will play a giving game and give $1 per coat to a charity that never changes underlying structural injustice?
How many are still not covered by health care simply because it is our common need?
How many visits were made to prisons to see what is being done in our name?
How many are so invisible that they don't even make it to the list of the least?

Again, any progress made? If you can say, "Yes", back it up with more than statistics about charitable work.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Pentecost +23 or Community Practice 23
November 16, 2014

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

We are good considering how to get an immediate return, but not so good at thinking 6 generations or even 6 seasonal cycles into the future.

For just the briefest of moments consider the ramifications of G*D not coming like a thief in the night (unless, of course, you want to remember Prometheus bringing light out from some "chaos"). In this scenario we are called to live in the light available to us that we not harm the context of coming generations.

A light here would be to attend to the extreme change we have brought to the climate that is background to every other part of life. Our raping of the earth for energy has ended up dis-respecting air and water as well. Rather than blaming this on G*D we might want to acknowledge our own own culpability for the consequences of our own actions.

An excellent way for us to improve our common-future decisions is this model: "Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing."

Psalm 123

Pentecost +23 or Community Practice 23
November 16, 2014

Psalm 123

When we are a bit literal about the wrath of G*D we find our worminess is contemptible by G*D. This is a bit strange for a creator, but we do sometimes find ourselves misunderstanding.

For a moment, consider that G*D created you and named you Beloved or Good. Now, should that change, are we able to still call out for mercy or is that category meaningless in a situation where we have either done nothing or done something regrettable—vis-à-vis G*D.

Will G*D have have mercy where G*D has judged? Is such mercy dependent upon our change or G*D's nature? If the latter, are we able to claim that image for ourselves and ease the fear in the room and world.

= = = = = =

Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
   for we have had more than enough of contempt.
Our soul has had more than its fill of the scorn
   of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud.

Judges 4:1-7

Pentecost +23 or Community Practice 23
November 16, 2014

Judges 4:1-7

Doing nothing (according to the parable) is evil in "the sight of the Lord". This is a difficult spot to be in. Who can ever do enough and if we do the rubric quickly switches to being done in for having done works righteousness.

Don't do nothing. Don't do more than enough. Do only what you are told. Do only enough to bring praise to G*D. Reflect back on the Pentecost Room where fear froze folks. Is that the measure of doing in every situation?

With another Church Year winding down, These pericopes may be more about evaluation of the past year, than prescriptions for a next. So, what was your return on investment this year? How was your proportion of doing to not-doing?

Matthew 25:14-30

Year A - Pentecost +23 or Community Practice 23
November 16, 2014

Matthew 25:14-30

At home or on a journey we are always entrusting our self and stuff to others. Here it sounds as if the owner of people did not do due diligence regarding those specifically and intentionally entrusted with a few coins. The behaviors of the "servants" probably followed their usual patterns of behavior. So was this a set-up or a morality play? Are playing with fate or a legitimate choice?

If you were a judge here how would you assign responsibility? In today's fascination with austerity in an abundant world, not losing may be the best deal going. Overall, a return of +7 on an investment in a mixed portfolio is pretty good. Why the anger at one that broke even?

Friday, November 07, 2014

Come In

a presence of G*D
is a sharing

10 with and 10 without
10 full and 10 empty

meet in a moment delayed
open to revision

when instead
sleep visited

when roused with a shout
"Come out"

they came out
with and without

leaving us with a question
about coming in

is the shout to "Come out"
equalled by "Come in"

or is it more restrictive
leaving some called out out

Thursday, November 06, 2014

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Pentecost +22 or Community Practice 22
November 9, 2014

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

In every identity war the church has waged there have been thousands upon thousands who died without seeing themselves included in. The exclusive church has harmed and harmed again and returned to harm some more (same process; different target).

While it is little comfort at the time, hear again the work of Jesus: "through Jesus, G*D will bring with him those who have died". (Well, as constructed it is the work of G*D, but we'll leave that for another time.) Regardless of fanciful details, "Encourage one another."

If this is an encouragement to keep on working for mercy and  grace in the present, good. If this is one step too many to be an encouraging word, OK—use what you can for encouragement.

Whether an expectation of joy or an after-the-fact promise, may you have what you need to engage the powers-that-be with an affirmation larger than their limitation.