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

Artwork credit

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.


Graphic credit

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.


Graphic credit

Monday, June 1, 2020

Listening to Pentecost




Lord Christ,

I’m wondering if we miss the message or meaning of Pentecost. It’s not about the rushing wind and tongues of fire. It’s not about speaking in tongues. It’s not even about a sudden proficiency with foreign languages.

These miraculous happenings obscure the real significance of Pentecost:

That the Holy Spirit enabled diverse peoples to understand one another!

That it wasn’t so much about speaking as it was about listening!

O that your Spirit would come upon us, rest powerfully upon us, that we would become better listeners, that we would better understand one another...with a heightened empathy.

Then, with fresh insights and new friends, inspire us to a noble and holy cause.

Amen.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Extreme Makeover: Heaven & Earth


And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, 'Look, God's home is now among His people! He will live with them, and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them.'" (Revelation 21:2-3)


I read and greatly enjoyed Jon Meacham’s The Hope of Glory during Lent, especially a few pages (p 87-88) on the meaning of “life after death” that resonate with me. 

He quotes Anglican Bishop N.T. Wright:
Heaven, in the Bible, is not a future destiny but the other hidden dimension of our ordinary life - God’s dimension, if you like. God made heaven and earth; at the last he will remake both and join them together forever. 

And from Meacham:
The earth is not a temporary place that will disappear on the last day. It will, rather, merge with heaven, which means “God’s space.” Therefore, one should neither need nor want a ticket out of the created order into an ethereal realm. One should instead be hard at work making the world godly and just.

My prayer:

Lord Christ,
Give me appreciation
for the mystery...

I have this notion
of two realms,
the world we perceive:
our concept of time and space,
what our senses reveal.

And the Kingdom of God:
the garden, perfection,
God’s presence manifest,
100%, 24x7.
Heaven!?!

Occasionally,
these realms overlap.
It’s a grace
of your spirit. 
Liminal things.

Most often,
they are separated 
by a thick concrete wall.
The Kingdom of God
can seem
impenetrable. 

But truly,
the barrier 
is merely a veil, 
a mist. 

I have another notion,
both theological 
and practical,
that your resurrection 
set in motion the joining 
of these two realms,
of heaven and earth.

While we wait
for the consummation,
I would prefer
to spend more time 
in the Kingdom of God,
reaching for it,
working for it.

So...what small part 
can I play this day
in uniting heaven 
and earth?

Amen. 


A relevant sermon from Day1:
The Rev. Dr. R. Leigh Spruill
St. George's Episcopal Church, Nashville, TN