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.