Friday, April 16, 2021

Pandemic Prophet

Micah is my favorite prophet. That owes entirely to his venerated admonition on the Lord's behalf:

Do justice, 

Love kindness, 

Walk humbly with your God.

(from Micah 6:8)


It is a challenging and powerful mission statement! 


So, I was thinking...

Public health officials (appropriately) and politicians (often inappropriately) dominate the pandemic discussion. What might a prophet have to say?




Woe to you!

Kingdom of America,

Nation of Contagion.


Fealty to your vaunted economy 

tramples a withered humanity. 


You abuse liberty. 

You pervert the

“pursuit of happiness.”


550,000 pandemic dead. 

Still, you resist masks, 

even vaccinations. 

You applaud reckless re-openings.

The common good takes a back seat 

to red/blue politics 

and your culture war.

You invite Divine cancelation!


Infectious

Communicable

Transmissible 

...describe your grievances,

and your behavior,

but not your tepid faith. 


Sick and selfish souls 

are the real pandemic.


Are you so dull, so dim?

What part of this command 

eludes your comprehension?

Love your neighbor as yourself.

(Mark 12:31)


This scolding

brings no pleasure.

Let my harsh tone convict.

Mend your ways!

Our God stands ready

to forgive, heal and restore.


Amen. 



The prophet, for whom negativity is an occupational hazard, asked me to acknowledge the “love your neighbor” care and concern of essential workers, from nurses to grocery store cashiers. And for the mask wearers, the social distancers and the vaccinated.


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Sunday, April 4, 2021

Easter Distilled

I found myself making notes during Holy Week about the basics of Easter. Given the the layers of meaning and the resurrection miracle itself, it might be a misguided effort. There is no “Easter for Dummies.” It’s too grand and complex. Still, denominations, theologians, politicians, you and I are inclined to mold Jesus to suit our tastes, biases and needs. Therefore, I do believe that it’s a useful exercise to extract the essence of Easter.



God sends his Word

in the flesh

a life and lessons

of forgiveness, healing

humility, service

love


World counters Word

with rebuke, mocking 

betrayal, torture

murder


Word answers

with obedience

with sacrificial love


God replies

with restoration

with covenant, Spirit

with resurrection power


We respond

with belief, repentance

“salt and light” 

with love


Amen



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Wednesday, February 3, 2021

a kingdom divided









o lord, i lament

pundits chatter about division

red states, blue states

red counties, blue cities


it’s a political phenomenon

dominating the news

but not our lives


most of us are center-red 

or center-blue

in the middle


we aren’t ranting 

on social media

we’re sharing pix 

of pets and grandkids


In the neighborhood, workplace

in civic and faith pursuits

there’s respect, mutual concern

even solidarity


we are so weary

of chaos and turmoil

in politics and government


we seek order 

in a disorderly world

we long for community


with humility and forgiveness

with love of neighbor

Jesus is the way


Whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 18:4


Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times? Jesus answered, I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy-seven times!  Matthew 18:21-22


Love your neighbor as yourself.  Matthew 22:39


For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.  Matthew 25:35-36


amen

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Rebooting Noah


Gracious God!


I’m rethinking Noah’s Ark,

and meaning in the myth.


False prophets, grumpy Christians 

can’t resist an angry God.

They savor Noah’s parable,

where wayward humanity

is engulfed by floodwaters.


But they miss the point.


God selects a family to carry on.

God cares about each animal.

God provides detailed survival instructions.

God proffers a covenant with all creation.


This isn’t a tale of God’s wrath.

It’s a love story, 

of personal care and mercy,

of God’s grace.


God of the restart, the do-over, the reboot!


And the story ends with a rainbow, 

with hope!


Thanks be to God, Amen.


Creation Rebooted, Genesis 8, Scripture Union

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Saturday, November 28, 2020

Under His Big Top



The circus of my life,

It’s a trapeze act,

Holding on to Jesus. 


He’s got a tight grip on me,

And we are flyin’ !!!


Then, the degree of difficulty increases. 

I reach for my wife, my kids, 

their families, work and projects. 


My grasp is weak. 

I need more strength!

It’s slippery. 

I fear a misjudgment. 

Somebody’s gonna fall?!?


As we sail overhead,

I pray for His net beneath us.

I can’t always see it,

But I know it’s there.


Amen.


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Saturday, October 24, 2020

Pax Electio

I have way too much anxiety over this election. I’ve tried social media and news sabbaths, but it isn’t very helpful. Maybe writing and praying about it will engender some election peace!?! I admit (with some reluctance) that my views could be misguided, but I’m confident that prayer is the ultimate prescription.


Lord of the nations, 

Lord of our governors,


I need to shed this election stress. Chill.


Donald Trump could win re-election. It’s so close. Even if Joe Biden prevails, there could be a drawn out recount and protracted legal challenges. There might be violent protests. We are navigating a rough sea.


I need to trust You. That doesn’t mean my preferred outcome is assured. But I have a navigator, even a life vest, for the tempest.


My lament:


I’m disappointed for my country. I was raised on a benign version of American Exceptionalism. That notion has been trashed by President Trump, obsequious legislators and the agitated cult that forms his base. Politics has devolved to a ruthless struggle for power. Principles, policy and service matter little. Truth is malleable - no longer virtuous. Nationalism and white supremacy have gone mainstream, teased from the shadows by our president. The US has become a pluralistic society, but the old guard resists. Hopefully, this election represents their last stand, but the struggle could last for another generation. In my darker moments, I worry that it might not end well. There are so many - too many - guns in our bedside tables and car consoles. 


My hope:


I pray that America’s commitment to “justice for all” comes to equal her love of liberty. For people of color. With sexual and gender identity. In healthcare and immigration. With COVID recovery that means attention to low wage workers, small business and the setbacks in public education. And let’s find common ground around creation care and the violence that besets us with a meaningful response to climate change and gun control. This nation has been greatly blessed. May we respond with a renewed spirit of global benevolence and leadership.


My gripes. My aspirations. I must mentally kneel and place all of this on your altar. It’s so much bigger than me (and my social media accounts.) Be patient. Keep the faith. Politicians, governments and nations are in your hands. 


Lord Christ, you are my sovereign. You reign. Amen!


*  *  *  *


I wrote this during the 2012 campaign: “My hope is not in a party, its platform or candidates. I place my hope in you: your word, your promises, your power, your presence.” I need to be reminded of that - constantly - as election day nears. 


Explore other prayers on politics and justice.


Saturday, September 12, 2020

Christ in Everything, Everyone

I share the results of a recent exercise in prayer from Fr. Richard Rohr:

Lectio divina (Latin for sacred reading) is a contemplative way of reading, praying, and taking a long, loving look at Scripture or some other text. 


In lectio divina, God teaches us to listen for and seek God’s presence in silence. The text for this lectio practice is from my book The Universal Christ:


“A mature Christian sees Christ in everything and everyone else.” 




Holy Spirit,


(I) Help me to see Christ in everything.


This comes easily,

Especially in nature,

In a flower, a critter, a landscape.


And I’ve worked on gratitude.

It begets optimism,

And a glass that’s usually half full.

I can find an upside in most downsides.

Praise God!



Holy Spirit,


(II) Help me see Christ in everyone else.


A baby’s breath. A grandchild’s hug. 

I sense it. I feel it.

With family, a good friend, colleagues, 

Ditto!


But then, the degree of difficulty grows,

With different people,

With difficult people.


I’m inclined to turn away,

To turn them off.


I need to look for, dig for, 

that essence of God in EVERYONE!

Improve my connectivity and bandwidth,

With more patience,

With more heart.

Help me Jesus!


Amen.


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