into what we take for granted

Into what we take for granted, our God,
comes disruption.
Into our hopes,
what is feared.
And so our prayers often
simply name our wish
that things were different.

But disruption and scary things
are a part of freedom—
of change, and growth and love.

And so we pray
for the wisdom and courage
to pray for honesty
in vulnerability—

to pray for the strength and perseverance
to live the kinds of grace-full lives
that lay a foundation
from which to lean into the unexpected and the hard,
the scary and the painful—
in the assurance of love
given and received,
in the strength of community and relationship
and the truth of God-with-us.

May it be so.

re-instill in us the dreaming

Our God,
we pray on this occasion
remembering, in particular, our country.
We give you thanks for the good dreaming
that envisioned a land of freedom and opportunity—
a land in which to grow respect for all its citizens.
We give you thanks for all who sacrificed in so many ways
to create and to sustain such dreaming.

We give you thanks for the many ways
in which that dream has been,
and continues to be
embraced and made manifest—
as a better tomorrow is shaped for all—
all within these borders and all without them too.

We thank you for the call to let freedom shine,
to let celebration of the dignity of all resound.

But we also confess to you
the many ways in which we fall short of our best dreaming—
fall into immaturity, and selfishness—
into shortsightedness—
into too much of a focus on immediate benefits for some
and a lesser tomorrow for all.

We confess to binding the dream
we apparently sometimes want to claim in word only—
not in words made flesh.

Re-instill in us the dreaming, God.
Guide us into the disciplines of love and grace
that cultivate those ideals of discipline and sacrifice—
of a commitment to our children and our children’s children
that theirs should be a better land than ours is now—
with more mature leaders and citizens than we are—
with greater opportunities than we have known—
with even deeper respect for all its citizens—
a more far reaching vision—
with richer examples of freedom and bravery
because that’s the way we dream it to be.

Ah, may it be so.
Amen.

through the open door

A door stands open to heaven,
and we are invited to look through
to see God—
surrounded by the beauty
and diversity and wonder
and power of all creation.
We are invited to see
that all we can see,
bows down before the God we cannot see.
Holy, holy holy!
A door stands open to heaven,
and we are invited to look through
to see we cannot see God.
Holy, holy, holy!
And yet still to know,
that in seeing Jesus—
in seeing love,
we see what cannot be seen.
And even in our imminence,
we then see the absolute transcendence of God.
Holy, holy, holy!

deep wellspring everflowing

Deep wellspring
of what’s pure and fresh,
rising from dark, unplumbed depths,

uncontained—
uncontainable,
overflowing—
everflowing—

rushing through channels
long established—
down mountains slopes,
through underground caverns
emerging in forests and cities
running over the plains—

bubbling up in unexpected
uncharted places—
through soil and through rock—
welling up,
beginning another run—

currents of life-sustaining.

And we map, as best we can,
the source of life—
its pools and its channels.
that we would know where to go
to avail ourselves of sustenance.
We map our survival—

knowing, all the while,
living water, also and always,
creates new pools in which to well—
reshapes its channels
in and with its movement—

requiring that maps ever be changed,
before the persistence of the flowing
makes shorelines unrecognizable
again
to be explored
again—
redrawn.

And so we invest
not in maps of borders that were,
not in shorelines we have known,
but in the flow that was, and is,
and ever will be.

an open love letter to the Church

John, one with you,
in seeking relevance in our faith affirmations,

To all the saints
struggling with some holistic sense of reality—
an integration (with integrity)
of faith and the particulars of life—
wonderful and terrible and day-to-day,

Grace and peace to you
from the God in whose truth
we find our place,
beginning and end,
ever-consistent in love.

So we are to confront our world with our faith
until the world, threatened, feels it incumbent
to confront our faith.
Okay, but how?
Because there are those who claim to do this,
and many, I do believe, with the best of intentions,
and yet here’s how that’s perceived as what we do:
as judgmental, not prophetic,
as narrow-minded, not as those so loved that love overflows,
as rigid as those whose lives are dictated
by rules carved into stone,
instead of those who live in conversation
with a living word
ever guiding us
into relevance and truth.

We are not perceived as those
who are for life and life more abundant.
You’ve seen the same polls I have, haven’t you?
We’re perceived in far too many ways, as those
who are anti-life—
anti-fun, anti-sex, anti-alcohol,
anti-dancing.
We’re perceived as anti-people—
anti-gay, anti-lesbian, anti-transgendered.

We’re perceived as those
who ignore the wondrous diversity of God’s blessed creation—
who want nothing more
than to live in our own comfort zone
that we impose on everyone else
so we are never uncomfortable.

We are perceived as those
more focused on assessing what people do
and judging them on that basis
(for good or ill)
than as those who simply love people for who they are—
every one created in the image of God.

Here’s the thing,
Jesus loved people,
and then challenged them to claim their own growing.
We are perceived as those who insist on identifying the growth
we have determined others need,
and any claim of love is then seen as contingent—
which is, when you think about it, anti-God.
Jesus confronted and threatened the world
by loving people,
not by insisting they love him,
not by insisting they adhere to some plan of salvation.

And so the world does confront us,
but not threatened—
threatening, rather—
threatening us
who have ceded our prophetic authority
in seeking to impose our morals
instead of live our values—
all the while remaining silent
on the systemic issues
that undermine community and hope
and the dignity of creation.

So in some ways we need to recognize,
the world threatens us
with more of the truth of God than we embody,

and then joins us in our silence
on matters of justice and responsibility,
our commitment to the poor and the powerless,
our willingness to address greed and fear,
the violence of gossip,
and the pervasive violence
so fundamental to our world and culture,
the rampant exploitation
of creation and of people
in the pursuit of materialism
through consumerism,
and the focus and priority of the self
over and above the whole.

But that is all admittedly hard
and disturbing enough
to potentially be
uncomfortable.

And the world will always gladly take
the authority we cede to it,
and then remain as silent as we are
about everything truly important.

So,
love.
It really is that simple
(and we reaffirm
that simple does not mean easy!).
Choose love;
practice love;
live love,
and follow the implications of love
into and through the particulars of your days.

And here’s a sampling—
some of the implications
I seek to follow
that may or may not be ones you follow.
Either way, may they give you some sense
of the common and mundane details
into which attention to a pervasive love leads.

How does the setting on my thermostat
indicate my love of creation?
Or my willingness to buy the more expensive
fair trade coffee and chocolate?
How about what I eat
and my attention to where what I eat comes from?
How does my voting and my participation in politics
indicate my loving—
and the things I buy and the things I won’t?
How is love made manifest in my rejection
of the seductive convenience of some business
precisely because of their business practices?
How about any uncritical enjoyment of movies and shows
that celebrate a righteous violence?
Do I play games (let my children play games)
that undermine respect for others?
How much time do I spend presuming I can fix someone else’s life
compared to how much time I spend trying to improve my own?
How is love integral to the way I respond
to my loved ones?
What about my neighbors?
Do I take initiative to include people—
and especially people excluded by too much of institutional religion?
Do I follow Jesus in that way?
Do my perspectives and opinions matter more to me
than relationship and community?
Do I spend more time in affirmation than condemnation?
Do people hear “yes” from me more than “no?”

Do I, in deed, consider love made manifest
in and throughout my day-to-day?

And so,
I hope you see,
the outward-oriented question,
“What would Jesus do?”
becomes the more inward-oriented question,
“How do I love?”
WWJD becomes HDIL—
which is also, by the way,
high definition
illuminated and/or illuminating
living and/or loving!

So in your striving to walk with integrity,
to live and to love
in and through all circumstance,
may the truth of God,
and the grace of Jesus,
and the ever presence of the Spirit
grant you peace and joy and hope—
ever within the transforming reality
of love.

consistency within the ever-changing

Our faith confronts the world as it is.
What if we lived in such a way—
boldly and faithfully enough,
with assurance enough,
that the world would,
threatened, feel it incumbent
to confront our faith?

If we risk the story,
and whatever costs come our way
from living into that story,
we participate in the truth of God
(and the authority)
manifest in Jesus,
and Jesus holds us
in the love that created all that is,
and sustains us (and all) in proper relationship.

We are then called to enword and enflesh
what we have seen of truth.
And what we have seen fulfills words and flesh—
fills full and exceeds—
ever-escaping names, images, understandings—
burning,
but not consuming,
breaking,
but ever re-membered,
poured out—
or overflowing?
Wild and untamed—undomesticated,
yet ever grace-full,
dangerous enough to work transformation,
loving enough to never leave us alone

So our words and names, images and understandings
reveal and then veil—
are all imminence
appropriately and temporarily expressed
before transcendence
well, transcends.
and it is precisely this remarkable consistency
of being and loving,
within the ever-changing beyond-naming,
that is made visible/made flesh/manifest
in local communities of faith.

God help us!

God does.

the time is near

Soon
is the next moment—
the next opportunity.
And you choose,
intentionally or by default,
who and how you’ll be—
soon.

And if you’re prepared,
you claim the moment.
Or you fall into it—
and through it.

Time is potentially transparent
to meaning,
to truth,
to eternity,
to God—
potentially vastly full,
but never necessarily so.
It will be,
or it won’t
before soon
is now
and
then.