Sermon Dec 27th,2015

HAVE YOU EVER LOST SOMETHING?

It is pretty annoying and something we can all do from time to time.

One thing I really hate to “lose” is my glasses. Truth is they are never very far away from them, the problem is, it is really hard to look for something you need to see to find.

One thing we are fortunate for, one thing we can never lose, is our bond with God.

Even when we are blind groping in the dark on all fours, feeling helpless and blind, the Word is just as close as our own hearts.

 

Now as horrible and as easy as it is to lose things, have you ever lost another person?

The security we can find in others is no mistake, it can be scary out there and add a few unknowns and we can become really anxious.

Ever lost a child in a crowd, on a playground, God forbid at an amusement park?

 

IMAGINE LOSING THE SON OF GOD?

Now that had to be real scary….the big trip. Passover!

Grab your stuff Jesus, Joseph and the rest of you, we are going to Jerusalem, the holy city, where God lives and reigns from on high.

I imagine there may have been some resentment on the part of the young 12-year-old Jesus.

After all, not too many 12 years olds lack resentment and rebellion.

I surely didn’t. 12 years old…..wow   that was the year I got to know my Vice-Principal very well and spent a lot of extra time at school.

He was probably thinking, “Why do I have to make this long dirty, sweaty trip, Father?

You can hear Joseph yelling in the background……”Because we are Jews and we celebrate the Passover to remember our liberation by Elohim from slavery in Egypt and our freedom as a nation under Moses.”

Jesus yells back, “I wasn’t talking to you, I was talking to my Father Joseph!”

“Joseph is your father, I have heard enough out of you Jesus Bar Joseph, now get your things and let’s move along.” Adds Mary

“My father, our God is everywhere mother, not just in the temple, but free in the world, accessible to all, and is not pleased by our sacrifices, we are destroying his creations in doing so, but our Lord requires o to sacrifice of ourselves, not the blood of the innocent. Do you remember the story of Hannah and Elkenah? How they were old in age and without child. One day while praying in the temple, the priest Eli saw her lips moving but could hear no words and accused her of being drunk, of course she wasn’t, she was praying for a child, she was pretty tired of the other wife taunting her too, but longed for a child with all her heart. When her prayer was answered, she was required by the Lord to give this child, Samuel to the temple, to give her child to the service of the Lord. Can you imagine that mother? Waiting all those years for a child and then having to give them up as a kind of sacrifice to God?”

Mary holding back tears says,” No, I can’t imagine.”

“I do not understand why God can seem so cruel sometimes.”

 

As Joseph enters with haste he snaps “Well that is something you are going to have to take up with the priests and scribes when we are at the temple. You can save up all of your thoughts, questions and theories for when we get there, but I am going to need you to pack so we can leave.”

With a very serious look Jesus says,” I am only going to take the clothes on my back, for my…”

“Good, let’s go…” proclaims Joseph as they whisk out the door.

Jesus has noticed they are growing slightly impatient with him lately.

Oh well he would get some time to himself when they were in Jerusalem….

 

Today we heard different stories about two different boys.

Samuel and Jesus. Exceptional boys , but exceptional boys with exceptional mothers.

For me, these stories are more about the mothers.

Hannah and Mary.

There are similarities in this story and differences. When I read parts like these my attention is drawn to the spaces between the black print. Where these kinds of stories really unfold with the guidance of the Spirit.

In these spaces we find stories of the love of two very special and important women. The bond that can exist between a mother and a child is amazing. My bond with my mother is forever and I know there is never a day that goes by that she does not worry about me.

 

I wonder who , had more heartbreak?

 

Hannah, who seems like a lovely lady, up there in years, really wants a child. Now there are all kinds of weird things going on at this temple. This priest Eli, doesn’t seem to be the best judge of character and can’t even tell the difference between drunkenness and praying. His sons are some pretty despicable guys too, wrapped up in a scandal I like to call MEAT GATE. They were skimming off the top, from the temple meat sacrifice. These were some evil men indeed.

She finally has a child, her first fruits, if you will and then has to give him up after he was weaned. This was a very important time though, I imagine her loving this child she always wanted with all her heart and held little Samuel even closer knowing she would have to give him up to God soon. She would however go and visit him every year to bring him a new linen ephod.

 

Mary, this young, lovely pious girl. She must have been something else ! She caught God’s eye and the rest is history.

 

But I imagine her maybe singing a psalm one evening and here comes Gabriel.

This was probably scary enough, but when he breaks the news to her that she will be the vessel for the seed of God and that this particular baby will be like none other, the true son of God.

“But I am only a young woman, a virgin, I can’t get pregnant, I am not even married yet. What will Joseph think? What will the village think? What will my mom think?”

“Uh….just tell her that you have been chosen by God to carry his son, so that he may bring salvation to the world.”

 

I am sure that was going to go over really well.

This had to have been a rough time for Mary. She would keep her son with her, unlike Hannah, but at times may feel this strange distance from him. She really doesn’t understand him most of the time. He could be a little moody, he had an intimidating intellect and some peculiar passions. As Jesus grows, she, like all parents can see that her child is headed down the wrong path- making the wrong kind of enemies…..she is powerless to protect him in the long run. She remembers that day in the temple when they presented the child to Simeon….and he said to her, “a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

She was not like Hannah in this regard, she didn’t want to have a child, not yet at least. Now she would have this child inside her, that was not really hers’ at all…..she would bear this child for the sake of the world.

 

In the Gospels this is the only story we have from Jesus’ childhood in this incident when he is 12 and decides he is going to just go ahead and stay at the temple.

 

What was it like, on your way back home, only to realize that you do not know where your child is, you may have just totally blown it, you may have just lost the Son of God?

The instantaneous reverse of flow as Mary and Joseph desperately make their way back to Jerusalem against the flow of traffic.

After three days……they find him in the temple.

The feeling of relief……. and the desire to strangle offspring simultaneously wash over your thoughts.

There he sits, like nothing in the world is wrong, siting among teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. He was even giving answers to some and they were legitimately amazed.

 

Mary rushes over to him full of fire and letting her peaceful demeanor perhaps down just a little bit.

“Child, why have you treated us like this ? Look your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.

 

Jesus looks into his mother’s eyes, they are red and swollen from crying for three days probably. Mary feels that sword, slowly inching into her heart as she looks into her son’s eyes and can tell his spirit is far away. He does not have Joseph’s chin and his nose looks like none other in her or Joseph’s family. HE is distant and has more wisdom than any child should possess.

“Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

All those times he doesn’t want her to mother him, when he refers to his other father.

It could not have been easy raising the son of God. It is not easy to raise any child, or to love someone so deeply that your heart is connected to theirs in ways you do not choose or control. We are like a rebellious child that has ran away from home aren’t we?

We are living lives that God would not always particularly wish for us, making choices that put us in danger. We refuse to do things to make our lives easier and more stable.

This had to have been Mary’s experience….

 

These are stories of Samuel and Jesus….these are stories of Mary and Hannah..

These are stories of you and I.

We as readers of these stories are in these stories, with each other and with God.

God loves us and has created us, and also has to let go and allow us to find our own way, despite what harmful things we may do to ourselves or each other.

God our creator, God our mother watches over us, loves and cares, but also let’s go.

We are to do the same.

We are God’s chosen ones….we are the sons and daughters of the one living God that binds us all together in the flow of life.

We are holy and beloved. And like Hannah brings Samuel a new linen ephod, let us receive this wonderful gift on Christmas from our Lord and in our baptism clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

Above all clothe yourselves in love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

 

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.   AMEN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sermon 06 Dec 2015

(before this, I just did some freestyle talking, so I cannot really replicate it, but to give you an idea, I basically thought that I was going to preach on Mark 1:1-8 because I was looking at the wrong lectionary…about a week ago I discovered it was actually Luke 3:1-6. I was a little disappointed by this because I am partial to the gospel of Mark. From the first line it is just more subversive.)Brueghel-Younger-John382-0572-large

But as time went on and I read and meditated on the word, I noticed some similarities as well as some differences……….

One of the big differences that hit me was that Luke legitimizes his story by adding historical people allowing us to actually see this in the context of chronological history. Luke is also clear that his story was written after the fact.

But we get this very wordy beginning with a lot of names. What interested me in these names was that they included both Roman Officials and Jewish authorities, then he goes on to set John the Baptist next to Isaiah near the Jordan. So what we get is a detailed setting for Jesus’ adult life and ministry.

Christ my friends…..stands WITHIN human history !

God’s prophet makes his proclamation in the wilderness, that inhospitable terrain symbolic of what we can experience in life. Yet in such a barren place we hear God’s promise….

During the season of Advent, we will pray together for god’s word to inspire and renew our vision of how we can help make crooked things straight and rough ways smooth.

PREPARE THE WAYOF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT!

If we want to properly prepare for the coming of Jesus, rather than looking in the manger, or decorating trees and houses, or buying and wrapping presents, we need to listen to John.

Only two of the Gospels mention the nativity, all four talk about John who prepares the way for the coming of Jesus.

Could John’s preparatory preaching be more important than the birth of Jesus?

It seems to be……..for some gospel writers….

It is also worth noting that in the Gospels, Jesus becomes more divine as time progresses.

In Mark, the earliest of the Gospels, the Jesus story starts at John’s baptism.

In Matthew, we learn about the parents of Jesus and the flight out of Israel to avoid the slaughter of the innocents….just slightly reminiscent of Passover.

In Luke, we go back even further and we not only learn more about the parents of Jesus, but Luke even tells us about John’s parents, Elizabeth and Zechariah!

And if that was not enough….the Gospel according to John places Christ before the beginning of time….

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”

I think the truth of the matter plain and simple was that Jesus came to proclaim the good News that no longer is the world of power, force, greed, exploitation, violence, to exist, but that we are called to make a change and live and bring forth the Kingdom …here and now.

Jesus was a lay preacher who wanted to transform the way people thought about themselves in a relationship with God and with one another.

This is perhaps what John was setting up, what Jesus sought to accomplish. God would no longer be contained in the high temples in the centers of commerce…..out of reach.

God is not an ELSEWHERE GOD!

God is an EVERYWHERE GOD!

God is on the loose and IN each and every one of us.

Look to the person next to you, this is one of the many faces of God.

Turn to the person next to you, maybe put your hand on their shoulder…..

I want to repeat after me.

Lord, thank you for the gift of humanity and the companionship of your creation.

We are blessed to see God in the face of a stranger, friend or loved one. Thank you for this person in my life, for their presence whether great or small… it is significant and makes an impact on my life, the life of the world, and we are all one in the body of Christ, help us to see God in the face of ALL life, help us to reveal God more fully in ourselves and in others. Remember as you continue your day, that you are one with each other and with God. Amen

 

It is the God within each of us all that we are called to bring forth in each other. The God in each of us can only be revealed to ourselves and each other as much as we allow, or as much as our attitudes and environments allow it to shine through.

It is no longer feasible to worship an ELSEWHERE sky God that is watching over us at all times and in all places. A god that chooses that a world that is “good” suffers in violence, hunger, exploitation and poverty.

Why does God let these things happen?

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Maybe God is not sitting on high watching and manipulating, maybe God is something we cannot conceive of and the minute we can put God into a box, we become heretics.

The institution of the churches insistency that we continue to see God through the eyes of medieval theology has come with a huge price. People now speak of religion and spirituality as two different things…

” I am spiritual but not religious….”

Pastor George Villa once told me that, that is B.S.

There is no such thing as spiritual but not religious. They are one in the same, like the two sides of a dollar bill, if there is one without the other, it is simply counterfeit.

What we need to do is look at some things here, look at our churches…they are self-preserving institutions that instead of representing hospitality, grace, and forgiveness, they seem to stand exclusivity and judgement.

When the church hints that morals and not forgiveness is the name of the game, it instantly corrupts the Gospel and runs headlong into blatant nonsense.

Far too often Christianity is about believing the right things. A system of right belief is what many see religion as. If you believe these things and do not question them, then you are saved. Follow all the rules and God will favor you. This sounds like something I would expect to hear from a Pharisee.

John is calling out to us for change!

I believe that Jesus came to break us of this habit……..we really need to listen.

The Gospel of Thomas, which is not in the biblical canon, is a collection of Jesus sayings. It contains one of my favorite Kingdom of Heaven quotes.

“Jesus said, “If those who lead you say to you, ‘See, the kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty.”

 

The kingdom of heaven here and now, salvation for ALL people.

Life is not about believing the right or wrong things about God, it is living in the mystery of God’s presence, it is about the experience of life and connectivity with each other and with our creator.

Recently while doing a Bible study , I began to explain the different denominations within Christianity. I was asked what denomination meant exactly…….the first word that came to my mind was DIVISION…..and I looked at all the denominations I had listed and was full of lament…

What could Christianity accomplish if we put aside our differences with each other and worked together towards the common goals as commanded by Christ?

Could we actually bring forth the Kingdom of heaven…here and now?

Could we together furnish and sustain paradise instead of competing to construct a hell in which it seems that there may be no hope?

Christianity has always suffered the same things, because we have chosen division over solidarity. We should choose Double Solidarity.

  • Double Solidarity, meaning to be in solidarity with Christ, to be one with him, as he was with God. At the same time, it is called to be in solidarity with the world, following Christ’s example and taking form of a servant.

As a church how can we promote, support and provide an environment where people want to be?

 

We need a place where we can walk in, feel this is a united place, speak and be spoken to and still respect it as the house of God. We need a place where individuals can feel it is not only god’s home, but their home. Every church on every corner should be a mission. We should all be missionaries and evangelists bringing the word of the Good News to ALL.

 

That seems like a tall order in the face of recent and ongoing tragedy. It is hard to see any hope or the possibility of peace sometimes in the wake of things like Paris, ISIS,trigger happy police ……San Bernardino. The path between us and God has indeed been cluttered with violence and a world filled with hate.

 

There IS HOPE. We can accomplish PEACE.

 

This is Advent! Let us prepare with sweet anticipation for the arrival of……. no the revelation of God among us..

Let’s us clear the cluttered and twisted path that has been laid down between us and God.

 

 

 

It would be an illusion to believe that now all can continue more or less as it did before….We need to learn how to re-adapt together to the new situation. We need new values, new relationships between persons and nations.

 

What we really have to do is learn to live all over again! TOGETHER!

We need a change of heart and mind towards God… TOGETHER!

Perhaps one of the foremost characteristic of Christians is repentance.

What is it about our thinking that needs changing? Simply stated, I think that it is the idea that we can do it by ourselves. We are justified before God by our good lives. We are pretty good people because we obey the commandments. We aren’t as bad as those sinners. And, if we find we are coming up short in some of these areas, we might reflect on our misdeeds only to discover ways that we can stop doing the bad things and start doing good things. The problem with this type of repentance is that it doesn’t seek outside help. The mind still thinks, “I can do it by myself.” It hasn’t been changed.

I think that reason that Jesus had so much trouble with the scribes and Pharisees was because they were doing pretty well by themselves. They were living good, moral, obedient lives before God and neighbor. In contrast, the sinners and tax collectors were quite aware that they didn’t measure up to God’s or society’s standards. They knew that they couldn’t do it by themselves. They needed help. I would even suggest that repentance is declaring to self and God, “I can’t.”

12-Step programs begin with the first step, which is an acknowledgment that I can’t do it by myself: “We admitted we were powerless over _______ — that our lives had become unmanageable.”

As the collective whole of humanity seems to spin out of control, violently spinning off center; as we continue to walk away from John’s call and toward our own self-centeredness and self- destruction, we should contemplate how well we are taking care of things WITHOUT GOD. By ignoring what Jesus teaches us, we have decided we know better. We still have failed to learn.

So where are we at?

 

 

We don’t live in a perfect world. There are still wars. There are still diseases. There are still rough roads to travel. But we don’t look to the world to see God’s salvation, we look to Jesus — Jesus present in Scriptures — Jesus in the manger — Jesus on the cross — Jesus present in the sacraments — Jesus present in our coming together in his name — Jesus present in the lives of his followers — Jesus present and eating with sinners. Do we see Jesus’ presence in the person next to us in the pew — or behind and in front of us?

Perhaps when we begin to see Jesus in each other and in ourselves and treat one another (and ourselves) as we would treat Jesus; more of the world might have a glimpse of God’s salvation.

The good news is that there is Hope and that hope can bring forth the peace that surpasses all understanding in Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quotation by Michael Morwood

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Jesus challenges us to look into our hearts, to examine the way we are neighbor, to overcome our prejudices, to put an end to divisions, to stretch our generosity, to overcome our fear of the mystery, to see God present in our everyday loving, and to make the “reign” of love visible throughout the world.

Through Jesus we believe we are all “sons and daughters” of the one God. We believe the same Spirit of God that came to visibility in Jesus yearns for visible expression in us.

This is our common dignity whatever race or creed, whatever our place or time. We long to see our common dignity proclaimed and celebrated by all religions. We pray that the one Spirit all people share may be given free and generous expression for the betterment of humanity and our world. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Sermon from August 30, 2015

          Sermon August 30, 2015

Based on readings:cranach

Deuteronomy 4:1-2,6-9

James 1:17-27

Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart     be acceptable to you,     O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14

Rules, rules and more rules

We like rules don’t we?

Rules on what you should do and shouldn’t do.

This include things we should and shouldn’t say, things we should and shouldn’t think, and even things we should and shouldn’t eat.

In the most ancient world these rules had a religious underpinning; today these things tend to have either a medical basis in terms of what is good or bad for you, or a political/ philosophical rationale:

Killing animals is bad, or grapes are harvested by oppressed migrant workers, or something like that.

Regardless…. the judging of others as somehow being contemptable because of what they take into themselves continues without end.

Many Christians consider the use of alcoholic beverages to be a sin and look down on those who do.

Those who smoke have been cordoned off by the rest of us.

People who are overweight are presumed by some to eat way too much and definitely too much of the wrong things.

Need I go on?

(PAUSE)

We are like the Pharisees and the Scribes in this lesson, we judge others based on what and how much they eat.

Now I am not arguing in favor of smoking or over-eating bad food.

I’m not!

I am however pointing out that contempt and shaming of others has never been a particularly Christian thing to do, nor has it proven to be effective in changing one’s self destructive behavior.

As usual Jesus shows us a better way to deal with these things.

The issue is not the fact of the restrictions themselves, the issue is a misunderstanding of why the restrictions exist, what function such limits play in one’s spiritual development.

Now the Pharisees, those ominous representatives of the law seem to think that the rules and traditions exist as a sort of litmus test, a proving ground, a way to see who measures up to being a good person, A God person !

It’s definitely an attractive idea.

But it takes away all of the guesswork about whether you are a good or bad person.

Here are the Rules!!!

  1. Obey all the rules and you are officially a “good person”

AND

GOD HAS TO LIKE YOU!

Break the rules though and

OOPS…..Sorry. You Sir or Ma’am are officially a “bad person”

AND

God is required to punish you.

Just like mandatory sentencing; it takes all of that subjective and annoying decision making out of the picture.

Even for God.

Jesus….. that reliable presence of grace, reminds them ……and us

That’s not how it really works.

The rules are not there to hinder us, to test us, to judge us.

They are there to help us.

Primarily by constantly turning our attention to the presence of God and the sacredness of every moment and action of life.

Even the ordinary and mundane chores, even the simple act of washing our hands before a meal, is filled with significance, if we remember that God is there with us in that moment.

It is in this constant awareness of God’s presence with us, in our every going out and coming in, indeed in the very going out and coming in of our breath that our true character begins to take shape.

The purpose of the rules is to help us stay alive to the holy in our midst.

And so Jesus says,

“There is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile.”

For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder,”

 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Jesus accuses the scribes and the Pharisees of hypocrisy because he can see that while they obey the letter of the law, the spirit has escaped them.

Rather than allowing the rituals to lead them to an awareness of God, they have turned religious observance on its head—instead of softening their hearts and drawing them closer to God and neighbor, their observance has made them hard and has driven a wedge between them and God

Between them and others.

We’re part of a Christian Community that holds to a lot of “human tradition”

Medieval garb, liturgical worship, confessions and creeds and ancient prayers, bowing and crossing ourselves, dousing babies and others with water, and eating a ritual meal once a week-a meal that is not worthy of being called a snack, I’d like to add.

What’s the point?

Does all of this earn us brownie points with God?

I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t

In the reading today from Deuteronomy we hear the words of the Lord …

“You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it.”

This is a firm statement that it is God that makes the rules, not us.

The church of man has indeed added to these rules with ther dogma and doctrines. We must never forget that Christianity is not about sitting in a church. It is about service about rebellion against the status quo, about remaining undefiled by the outside world.

“Be doers of the word and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.”

I have known many proud church people that touted their involvement and dedication to church and God. I always was bothered by these people, because Christianity seemed to be such a large part of their identity, yet I observed nothing “Christian” about their behavior. I even thought, they must go to church on Sunday to rectify being such imbeciles. They can be jerks all week and it is ok, because they go to church on Sunday and pray at all the times you are supposed to pray and they wore all the right buttons and bracelets, their cars even had all the right symbols, you all have seen that little fish on the back of cars.

These were the people I thought of when dwelling on the words from James

“ For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in the mirror; for they look at themselves and, ongoing away immediately forget what they were like.”

I would add… ..like those who look into the mirror and are quite pleased with themselves.

Once they walk away from the mirror of self-satisfaction, just like when they are driving away from church on Sunday….they just simply forget everything they have just seen, heard, or learned.

They are like a ghost, a shell, a shadow cast from the obstruction of the true light of the Word.

This is not religion…….then again maybe this is religion and that is why it is failing.

It has become an institution of self service and one that is all too often, far too intrigued and pleased with itself.

All of the fancy church things, the crosses, the cloths, and those damned fancy and repelling “church words” like Intinction, Eucharist, and this stuff……corporal linen, pall, purificator, a chalice…..these are not words meant to transcend God to the common man, they are words of division, they are reflective of a group that is very happy being exclusive.

One only has to look into the Synods Sacristy (AHH HA there is another one of those words!) I use them frequently without second thought….and that is dangerous… The sacristy is where they keep all of the other churchy things that have fancy names too. It is here that you will get to see some truly beautiful garments. The bishops albs and chastibules….aka his robes and fancy covering for those robes are kept in the sacristy, they are very nice garments……all of the liturgical colors are there, fringed with golden thread and exquisite embroidery.

I can easily find myself impressed with some of this stuff, just by the craftsmanship alone.

But last week I looked at the rack of holy clothes and thought…..I wonder who else is impressed by this and I wonder who is repelled by it?

I am sure that the majority of the people it impresses are in the church, pleased with all of the pomp and circumstance and that the people outside aren’t impressed, they could care less about all of it. In fact I think they resent a man or woman wearing a $1000.oo outfit and proclaiming that we need to serve the poor.

The rest of the world is not impressed by titles or clothes or hollow concepts. The world wants substance and reality and honest transcendence with their maker. Not faith adulterated by the intentions of man.

Watered down to be palatable to men, women, governments and institutions of religion.

This is defilement.

It is not what comes into the church……..no not women, not white folks, not Blacks, Asians, Mexicans, Armenians, or people from the LGBT community that defile the church…

It is our attitude in rejecting these people that defiles us.

The word defile in Greek is “koinos”

Which is to make unclean or to make common.And I really like that concept to make common…which in some ways seems like it is an OK thing.

Until you realize that all things are to be sacred and that we as God’s creation are imbedded with sacred essence that makes us anything but common.

To defile…..to take what is holy and make common.

When we vomit vile words and concepts we defile ourselves and others by attempting to take that which is holy and have it become common, even common enough for the sewer.

It is not what goes into us, for we cannot be made common by the outside things, but from our inner being we can defile ourselves and take our own holiness to the sewer and give it the big flush to only God knows where, most likely to Mc Donalds.

In the same regards it is not the exterior things that make us holy, but rather the God given gifts inside of us that do so. They give us the keys to a pure and undefiled religion.

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before god, the father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” – James

We hear Jesus challenging the traditional ways in which religious people judge what is pure or impure.

For Jesus, the observance of religious practices cannot become a substitute for godly words or deed that spring from a faithful heart….

Do I suggest that we do away with all of these things…..no, not exactly.

I think we just need to focus on the point of all of this church stuff. The point of all of this is the same as the rituals of the Jews: Our worship is designed to draw us closer to God and each other.

Doing these things reminds us that we have dedicated this place as a holy place, this time as a holy time, these words are holy words.

These rituals do NOT make US holy, doing them wrong does not defile us, does not make us unholy..

Into the midst of our human experience comes God in Jesus, into the routine and traditions of our lives and those of whom we love.

And in the midst of it all, almost unnoticed is God, who in Jesus, asks us to reassess what it means to be human, not by our standards or the standards of others, but by the standards he sets for us in his son.

He does not wash his hands of us, no matter how dirty and defiled ours are. He does not wash his hands of us, no mattered how our cluttered lives can leave little space for him.

I pray that we walk away from here letting church serve the purpose of helping us to forget our obsession with ourselves leading us to turn our attention toward God and community. These rituals remind us of who we really are……. children of God and brothers and sisters in Christ- so that we can go forth from this place and act like it, so that what comes out of our lives will be holy an undefiled before God.

AMEN

Barukh attah Adonai, melekh m’hulal batish bachot

(Blessed are you, Lord, a King to be praised in adoration.)

May the peace that surpasses all understanding be with you in Christ Jesus.   AMEN.

Thoughts of Sabbath (Thanks PK !)

So Pastor Ken has restarted his blog and this of course threw me into my own blog that I have wanted to started but inevitably let sit by the wayside for a few weeks, nearly forgetting it. It is tough to keep up with all the things one should keep up with in this day in age….maybe I should not have said should, but it can be beneficial to stay on the “cutting edge” with social media and such. It is like the new hyper cocktail party where opportunities for networking abound. Networking sounds like a real corporate crappy type thing, but it usually leads to greater things, which of course should be the intention. So after reading Pastor Ken’s blog I had some thoughts that formed in my head and instead of making a huge comment on his turf, I thought, I have a “Blog home” why not word vomit on my own blog…Ha ha.

The concept of Sabbath. Stopping and enjoying the sacred moment at the beginning of the week, before we traverse another week of duty, responsibility , smiles and trials.

My comment on   Pastor Ken’s Blog was

” It is good to take that break.
One angle I heard on Sabbath was Bishop Spong’s take on the Sabbath being a form of protest actually developed during Babylonian exile. This was a way to maintain identity and create a sort of passive resistance to the Empire that occupied them…….now I have an idea for a blog of my own, thanks Pastor…be sure to tune into my ramblings ! “

 So my mind went to this resistance thing. I like this idea as Sabbath as resistance as a forced break for our own good but also a time to put our foot down and yell in the face of Empire “WE STOP IN THE NAME OF SABBATH !”

“THUS SAYS THE LORD GOD !”  Ok maybe that last statement was for dramatic effect but you get the picture.

In the secular world, Sunday as Sabbath is inconvenient to say the least. It has been the compromise of capitalism for many years I would presume.

I used to think that it was “lame” that  businesses would be closed on Sundays in some states.

OR

that people wouldn’t do certain things….. I was like….. why would they let church tell them what to do ? I am not sure why anyone would let a church tell them what to do, even now….the people should be telling the church what to do, not the other way around. (Another blog perhaps)

How things change. Instead of seeing it as an interruption to my life, I see it as an intervention of something greater.

I see it as an opportunity, for all of us to begin to stop the insanity of our world. Just like the Israelites under the oppression of the Baylonians, we need to claim our Sabbath in the face of Empire , in the spirit of protest an let them know that we are capable of completely stopping the machine, even if for one day.

As we slip further and further away from this concept as a country I urge you to do the opposite brothers and sisters. Tell a friend about it too !  What happened to our Thanksgiving ? Hijacked by Black Friday, greed, false need and capitalism.

Christmas…..forget about it….Open presents, eat and let’s go catch a movie. Sherlock Holmes was one of the highest rated Christmas day openings……I am sure it was a decent movie, but I think this is a good metaphor for who we are.

Forget family, forget yuletide joy even, and ……Jesus who ?

We are pushed and pushed and pushed to the edge. Any moment we are not doing something , buying this, or consuming that the 1% are loosing money.

What happens when we are insistent on stopping, letting them know we are capable of stopping ourselves and their momentum ?

Take true Sabbath, not just rest, not just quality of time, but stop the televisions , the phones, the spending, the consumption…take the time to be human, preferably outdoors somewhere, commune with nature and have a reunion with the very fabric of life you have been spun from.

FIN

Unwind already

So I am recently discovering many things about myself. Maybe it is that I am more willing to be honest with myself, maybe it is the age creeping in……I always like to think that most things are a combination of things. The world isn’t black and white after all.

One of the things I am learning is that I have a control issue. Not like I want to control you or that, well maybe just a little bit, but ME. It is me that I want to be in control of. Now at first I imagine that this is not tremendously profound, but sometimes being too much in control keeps many wonderful things from penetrating into my world.  I am guarded and try to calculate and control. I even know that none of us can do everything. I am self conscious , I worry about looking this way or sounding that way. I need to be better……But what is better. I think better may be being more human. Letting others see that I indeed do not have everything together, that I am not anywhere in the zip code of perfection. Even as I write this now I struggle, I am inclined to proof read, this rambling and refine it and put it into a nice package for you.

I won’t do that here…..well maybe I will post other things that I have controlled. Sometimes control is needed, but I really need a place to let loose…..to not worry if I spell wrong or create a sentence that makes no sense….I want to do those things, I want to be ok with not being in control, I want to be ok and free enough to express myself fully.

I have a lot to share inside of this head…..let’s start to unwind it together and create a better Jason.

Hello world!

Hello world !!!!

Welcome to the beginning of my Blog. Ha ha that sounds funny to me, but I am finding that my need to write has come back to me, so I feel obligated to allow it to take shape and hopefully share something wonderful with the world.

I hope you enjoy this journey.

– Jason