June 4th, 2017
African Proverb, Ghana
"If you want to speak to God, tell it to the wind."
Howard Thurman, 20th century
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
Friedrich Nietzsche, 19th century
"A sedentary life is the real sin against the Holy Spirit. Only those thoughts that come by walking have any value."
Oliver Wendell Holmes, 19th century
"It's faith in something and enthusiasm for something that makes a life worth living."
May 14, 2017
Acts 7:55-60; Ps. 31:1-5. 15-16; 1 Peter 2:2-10; John 14:1-14
To wonder what is reliable and trustworthy is not to ask a new question. It is a question as old as faith. Jesus' answer is John is a part of our readings for this Sunday: "I am the way and the truth and the life."
Of course, this could use a little unpacking. What does this actually mean for us? Is it a story of inclusion or exclusion, or is it about something else? In these "interesting times" we might find ourselves wondering whether the values that Jesus' way modeled for his church of self-giving and love, of "laying down one's life" have any merit to them. We might find ourselves squinting and straining to see any link between the truth that Jesus proclaims and what passes for truth in our day-to-day lives. We might wonder whether what really makes for anything like a "good" life that seems increasingly available to only a privileged few. Anything seems to work better that what this downward way of Jesus suggests. If anyone is stumbling over this cornerstone, it is us.
April 9th, 2017
'Here in this place, with these people, we begin that week we call Holy.
We crane our necks to see the parade,
we will bow our heads as the funeral procession winds through the streets.
We have been with Jesus on this journey; we long for courage to go to the end....
This week during Aftertalk we will take stock of this year's Lenten journey and look forward to the three days that will take us to Easter morning. What meaning can we draw for the last days of Jesus' life and what is it saying to us this year about our own lives.
Matt 21:1 - 11 † Isaiah 50:4 - 9a † Psalm 31:9 - 16 † Philippians 2:5 - 11 † Matt 27:11 - 54
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Act justly now. Love mercy now. Walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.""
Attributed to Rabbi Tarfon and the Talmud (commentary on Micah 6:8)
April 4, 2017
Can these bones live?
It's a question that storytellers have been asking for as long as there have been stories? And may claim that we know the answer to this question "in our bones."
The stories of Lent are full of people who when faced with confusing or frightening situations tend to focus on questions of blame and vilification?
But the stories of old, the stories of our faith, want us to ask instead: Where can we find life? What does it look like? What does it ask of us?
Join us for Aftertalk on Sunday right after worship where we will think together about these questions and others that might be stirred for us in worship.
Ezekiel 31:1 - 14 † Psalm 130 † John 11:1-41
March 29, 2017
Why is it that the blind one seems to see most clearly in this next Lenten story from John? What is the gospel writer suggesting with this?
Have a look at the stories linked here:
1 Samuel 16:1-13 † Psalm 23 † Ephesians 5:8-14† John 9:1-41
In this day in which we all seem to be children of a sort, playing with our red and blue bubbles, perhaps there is a good question here for us. What does it take to be taken by this gospel and the salvation it draws us toward that seems to always stretch us beyond our settled systems?
The crazy drama that unfolds just may be one of the funniest slapstick passages in the scriptures. And like most humor, it has a bigger, life-giving purpose to help us breathe so that we can take a second look at the world as we think we know it. Take the Pharisees... Please. Their logical contortions would put any gymnast to shame. How these "hearings" seem to parallel a little too closely some of those currently underway in the other Washington.!
And yet, how are we like the Pharisees who so struggle so mightily to fit this healing into their system that they end up as the truly blind ones by the end? Or do we sometimes resemble the parents--selling out one who belongs to them for fear?
And then consider this blind one and the serenity, wit, and clarity that seems to only grow as the story develops and chaos all around ensues. What's going on here? What's the story for us?
Join us Sunday as we spend a little time with this story and our stories. Right after worship.
March 19, 2017
"From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages..." So begins the Exodus reading! Let's just say things don't go swimmingly from there, but the story does speak to the process, the stages that the Spirit draws us through as we become more aware of the presence of the Holy in our lives.
Exodus 17:1-7 † Psalm 95 † Romans 5:1-11 † John 4:5-42
We can see this happen in the story of the woman at the well in John, perhaps similarly as to the way it happened with Nicodemus last week, although the details, the challenges, and the questions are a bit different. Comparing these two stories, in fact, might just have something to teach us about our current, let's call them (red and blue) color challenges. Where we sit, what we trust and what we don't, our connection to locations of power or privilege shape what we hear, how we believe, what work we have to do to allow the presence of God to shine through and break our hearts and our lives open. And that breaking open just might enable us to hear one another again.
February 5, 2017
And So It Begins...
We can't even get two chapters into Genesis without a few lies. So it begins for us "dust creatures." But all is not dark! In fact, the light is coming. Lent means "to lengthen." It refers to what's happening for us in the Northern Hemisphere (sorry Christians in the southern latitudes--it looks like we thought it all was about us up north!) as the days grow longer and the light increases. And increasing light is not just about our trip around the sun, it is about illumination, growing understanding that comes by way of self-examination, reflection, humility.
"You are dust." So comes the reminder of Ash Wednesday. But it is good. We're limited. Life is short. We are connected. It is always good to check yourself, Self-knowing, openness lead us to life and to life-giving ways. Think of it this way. The Lord put the man and the woman in the garden, according to Genesis 2:15, this after declaring them at creation "very good." Very good.
The only thing that changes in Sunday's Genesis story is that they become aware they are naked. God knew, and wasn't ashamed. Lent invites us to be intentional about stripping away what keeps us poor. What we cannot accept in ourselves we cannot accept in others. What I don't love in myself, I can't love in another.
Lent is a journey to freedom..
Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7 † Psalm 32 † Romans 5:12-19 † Matthew 4:1-11
February 26, 2017
The gospel readings move from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in chapter 5 to chapter 17, and one more of several scenes with Jesus on a mountain. This time it is Mount Tabor, and Jesus, along with three of the disciples, disappear into the mist, out of view of the other disciples and the crowds. Fortunately we are allowed to follow and wonder, along with Peter, James, and John what the meaning of all this is. Mountains are all over, of course. In the Old Testament reading, Moses encounters God on Mount Sinai. In the psalm, God enthrones God's envoy on Zion, the "holy hill."
Exodus 24:12-18 † Psalm 2 † 2 Peter 1:16-21 † Matthew 17:1-9
We who live in the shadow of Mount Rainier, and surrounded by white caps on all sides, know something of mountains and the wonder they invoke. There seems to be something about these imposing, far-off yet immediate places of limits and unsure footing that have everything to do with ensuring that we keep our bearings. What do we make of this? And what did these ancients make of them that had them continually connecting these so called "peak" experiences to faith? How is this Sunday preparing us for our work of Lent, and our living in a world guided by a steadfast love for one another, especially for the aliens among us? What does it look like to keep our bearings in the midst of a political season that seems to be shifting everything so far away from what we have known and been committed to as a country, and as Christians within it?
February 12, 2017
Jesus gives a long list of seemingly more stringent commandments as he continues his Sermon on the Mount this week. What is one to do? How does one live up to this narrow way he seems to be preaching? Jason Byassee comments that Jesus here is "at his ornery best offering 'advice' that makes no sense divorced from the nature of the one that is giving it" (Feasting on the Word Year A, Vol. 1). During aftertalk this week we'll think about what Jesus might be up to with this sermon and how might hear it for today's living.
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, 19th century
"If you look for perfection, you'll never be content."
Mahatma Gandhi, 20th century
"It seems to be a difficult concept for most of us that peace is a skill that can be learned. We know war can be learned, but we seem to think that one becomes a peacemaker by a mere change of heart."
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, 19th century
"Oh! that gentleness! how far more potent is it than force!"
February 5, 2017
Jesus continues with his Sermon on the Mount this week. We are to be salt and light, he says. We are to bring out flavors that perhaps haven't been tasted before or are more subtle. We are to shine a light in places or ways of thinking that will bring us to peace and justice.
After-talk this week will focus on what this might mean. We will consider especially "non-dualist thinking" and the possibilities this presents in helping us respond to the world around us.
Cynthia Bougeault describe dualistic thinking like this, "In this operating system, you develop your identity based upon what differentiates you from everything else." Richard Rohr explains that the dualistic mind, "knows by comparison, opposition, and differentiation. It uses descriptive words like good/evil, pretty/ugly, smart/stupid". The dualistic mind is valuable to our navigation through daily life but it doesn't, many would argue, go far enough, and in fact undermines the pursuit of peace and justice .
Non-dual thinking, on the other hand, is about being in a moment without judging it. It helps us look in on any given encounter or issue with compassion, curiosity and love. Could this practice help us engage especially now when there seems to be so much at stake and so many differences to be overcome?
Read more about non dual thinking here and join us for conversation at after-talk this week.