Sunday, June 2, 2019
When writing, I have a need to frame and condense owing to my early years as a news reporter. This is a challenge during Eastertide. There are so many facets to Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. It cannot be explained in a tightly crafted paragraph. It's worthy of volumes. In that spirit, I'm reading The Crucifixion | Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ by Fleming Rutledge - 612 pages of Easter meaning! This study reminds me that my staccato prayers may fall short. Still, I'm forever trying to explore and explain my "truth," to locate my current position on the path of faith. And I'm humbled by St. Paul's admonition to the Corinthians: Those who think they know something do not yet know as the ought to know.
(1st Corinthians 8:2)
So many layers, Lord. So many rooms in Easter's theological mansion.
There's an impressive library with scholarly tomes on penal substitutionary atonement. I'm staying out of there! It's not a commodious room for me.
I prefer to spend time in the grand ballroom of your fierce and sacrificial love.
Other spaces beckon, too. Sins forgiven. Evil repelled. Life eternal.
Let the Spirit test these highlights of my Easter exploration:
Lord Christ, you experienced this world at its worst - betrayal, humiliation, torture and homicide. We call that suffering your Passion.
You might have summoned an apocalyptic response. Instead, you took the punishment - rather than punish - to show the depth of your love for us. I call that your passion for mankind.
And the horrific crucifixion event has a profoundly surprising outcome. Your resurrection.
You have defeated evil. Your followers are acquitted of their own brokenness.
You have defeated death. Your followers rise with you.
That's our hope as Easter people. Lifted above worldly offense and our personal trespass. Lifted even from the grave. Fiercely loved by our Creator. At home with Jesus! Amen.
Sunday, March 3, 2019
As the new year began, I added daily posts from Fr. Richard Rohr to my reading. He's a Franciscan priest and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque. His God and faith are expansive. His theology is challenging. I've been Bible studying with Scripture Union for 35 years. It's a traditional, conservative orthodoxy. I hope my faith is amplified by a contrasting perspective.
Over time, we confine the Magnificent God of All Creation to a tiny box of our own limited thinking, packed with our fears, prejudices, politics, etc. On that subject Fr. Rohr does a mic drop:
The Christ is always way too much for us, larger than any one era, culture, empire, or religion. Its radical inclusivity is a threat to power and arrogance. Jesus by himself has usually been limited by the evolution of human consciousness in these first two thousand years. His reputation has been held captive by culture, nationalism, and much of Christianity's white, bourgeois, and Eurocentric worldview... He came with darker skin, from the underclass, a male body with a female soul, from an often-hated religion, living on the very cusp between East and West. No one owns him, and no one ever will.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe (Convergent Books: 2019)
Reading his post of February 15th, Fr. Rohr's prose was more like poetry...or a prayer! I took the liberty of reshaping some of his words...
Am I too narrow, too protective of my faith? Has that powerful personal encounter turned selfish?
Can my faith transcend creeds and denominations, nations and ethnicities, the vagaries of gender and sexuality?
Move me from I to WE.
To see God everywhere. In the mundane or mountaintop. My dog. The yard. In traffic. In a meeting. At the store.
To see God in everyone. In people who don't look like me, even people who don't like me.
Let Christ's light illuminate everything. Everything created by you, everything and everyone loved by you. That I may appreciate and engage. Amen.
Artwork: Image of Jesus with Prisma filters from Salvator Mundi by Titian
Saturday, February 16, 2019
There is power in patience.
Rivers are my witness:
for six million years,
carves the Grand Canyon.
Here at home,
in NC and TN,
the French Broad
slices through the Appalachians,
for 300 million years,
smoothing, nourishing the landscape.
Yes, God often comes
as lightening or quake,
but more often, most often,
with a river's patience,
with a river's persistence,
wearing down our barriers,
flooding our hearts
with his presence and love.
There's power in his patience.
Photo: French Broad River at Asheville NC
Browse Nature prayers.
Sunday, February 10, 2019
Poet Mary Oliver died in January at eighty-three. She had a gift for expressing in words what she experienced of nature. Her numinous encounters were of the everyday/anywhere variety - in the woods, at the marsh, with her dog.
Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.
(from It Was Early)
(from It Was Early)
Her theology inspired a 2011 prayer that I re-post to honor her memory.
Thursday, December 27, 2018
|Link to Forward Movement graphic|
Christmas is not over. That's meant to be good news. If you are exhausted from the lead-up to December 25th, maybe you can find respite and spiritual refreshment during the observance of Christmastime, the Twelve Days of Christmas.
We can make an exchange - the season of Christmas presents for the presence of Jesus. This is a worthy pursuit from Patheos blogger Rev. Melissa Cooper:
God is with us now, in the quiet and stillness of the in-between time after Christmas but before the new year really kicks off; and God will be with us as we move all-too-quickly into a Lenten season of new and different chaos again. Friends, this year, reclaim Christmas for yourself. Celebrate those 12 days not with presents, but with presence.
Seeking God’s presence a significant theme for me. The idea that the Lord visited us in the physical presence of Jesus is a compelling part of the Christmas story.
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Matthew 1:23 KJV)
I’m not well read in the theology of incarnation, however, “God with us” is my personal experience. Like Rev. Cooper, I encourage you to seek God’s presence during Christmastime. Carve out a space in your routine for God. He will fill it in a surprising way!
O Come, Emmanuel!
We gather at Christmas
God with us.
God with us.
It's present tense,
God with us.
It's the future:
God with us.
May we experience
God with us.
Sunday, December 16, 2018
ADVENT. The arrival.
God makes an appearance
in the person of Jesus.
Emmanuel. God with us.
An Old Testament change-up...
Not a pillar of cloud.
God in the flesh!
Physicality is the hallmark.
It inspires a muscular faith.
He comes to us,
as one of us,
walking with us.
So we decorate,
carol, feast and gift.
a personal advent.
The arrival of
Jesus the Christ
in heart and home.
Thanks be to God!
Browse Advent prayers:
Friday, November 2, 2018
I'm thinking about the Pittsburgh temple massacre, the Florida postal bomber...and Jesus' Parable of the Sower.
Updating the Rabbi's analogy...
If you could sample the soil of America's soul, I'm afraid you would find unhealthy levels of contamination. How do we "bear fruit" in these toxic conditions?
Where and how can I sew your Good News?
On this rocky ground, beneath scorching sun, among thorns?
A poisonous vine has taken root.
A seed of resentment, in the soil of mental illness,
Germinates in the manure of social media,
Climbs a trellis of ordnance, forming buds of hate,
And the spores spread, on tribal winds,
Fanned by our contemporary Pontius Pilates.
Father God, deliver us from evil! It's palpable.
And use me as fertile soil, to sew your Good News,
"and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold."
Artwork credit (Sower at Sunset, Van Gogh)