Friday, February 29, 2008

Lenten Post February 29th

I hope you are enjoying your extra day! It's beautiful - sunny, relatively warm and the world is coated in a fresh coating of white.

God comes to feed us, to fill us, to love us.

"God pervades the world the same way as honey in the comb"

Last night in Pauline Tradition we talked at length about the hymn in Philippians (2:5-11). A classmate of mine and I both brought up the point that this has a mystical and very spiritual "feel" to it. We both have had courses in mysticism, so it made perfect sense to us; but the rest of the class really felt uncomfortable "going there". It's almost like they were afraid of the gnostic overtones that reading Paul like that brings. Their loss I guess. The other interesting tidbit gleaned from the class is that this hymn very likely represents the first written account of early christology, as such, all of the gospel accounts of Christ rise from these six verses. Consequently, the church's view of Christ and ultimately our view is based on those six verses. Wow.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Lenten Post February 28th

I was eating my lunch and surfing through some music on my iPod and this song from (Minnesota) Peter Mayer struck a chord with me. It fittingly follows what Julian said in Wednesday's post ... let God have you.

From his album Midwinter

God is a River

In the ever-shifting water of the river of this life
I was swimming, seeking comfort; I was wrestling waves to find
A boulder I could cling to, a stone to hold me fast
Where I might let the fretful water of this river ‘round me pass

And so I found an anchor, a blessed resting place
A trusty rock I called my savior, for there I would be safe
From the river and its dangers, and I proclaimed my rock divine
And I prayed to it “protect me” and the rock replied

CHORUS: God is a river, not just a stone
God is a wild, raging rapids
And a slow, meandering flow
God is a deep and narrow passage
And a peaceful, sandy shoal
God is the river, swimmer
So let go

Still I clung to my rock tightly with conviction in my arms
Never looking at the stream to keep my mind from thoughts of harm
But the river kept on coming, kept on tugging at my legs
Till at last my fingers faltered, and I was swept away
So I’m going with the flow now, these relentless twists and bends
Acclimating to the motion, and a sense of being led
And this river’s like my body now, it carries me along
Through the ever-changing scenes and by the rocks that sing this song

CHORUS: God is the river, swimmer So let go

I'm really taken with the metaphor of the rock in this song. Sometimes we think of the church as a rock or boulder to cling to. It goes deeper than that too. He's also suggesting that the resting place is our savior, Jesus. But as Peter says, and the boulder reminds us, God is much more than all that. If we cling too tightly we miss where God is going to carry us. And besides, even if you cling tightly, God IS going to carry you away anyway! So, let go. Get carried away ...... let God have you.


Lenten Post February 27th

Again, from the mystics:

"Our natural will is to have God, and the good-will of God is to have us."

Julian of Norwich

Simplicity is the name of the game this week - and probably next as well. Lots going on, but it is all good.

Let God have you.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lenten Post February 26th

A simple reminder from Meister Eckhart:

God wants nothing of you but the gift of a peaceful heart.

Have a peaceful heart today .. and always.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Lenten Post Feburary 24th and 25th

Ok, I know this is kind of cheating ........ but yesterday was just too nice to sit inside at a computer posting a blog! Besides, it was my wife's birthday and we spent the majority of the day hanging out, watching birds, skiing, and cooking dinner.

What struck me yesterday was the general lack of people out - there were a few folks walking and even fewer ice fishing. That leads to a topic that I'll blog on here at some point - the lack of "nature-based" activities people are participating in. It's a concern for a number of reasons (again, at some point I'll blog in more detail). That it was such a wonderful day outside yesterday, I offer this quote from Aldo Leopold:

Barring love and war, few enterprises are undertaken with such abandon, or by such diverse individuals, or with so paradoxical a mixture of appetite and altruism, as that group of avocations known as outdoor recreation. It is, by common consent, a good thing for people to get back to nature. (from A Sand County Almanac)

With respect to the first sentence, I sadly don't think this is true anymore. In contrast, the second sentence (my emphasis added) is very true. So, get back to nature. Even on a horrible, cold day - get out and enjoy God's creation.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Lenten Post February 23rd

Yikes, I'm barely going to get this one in today! Yesterday, I spent in Cable, Wisconsin doing some "volunteer" work for a ski company that I have had the great privilege to be associated with during my "ski career". Then I drove back late yesterday afternoon to make it to church for our 14th Annual 6th Grade Mission Lock-In. My son, Will, is in 6th Grade and when it came find a male chaperon I got the call. I almost made it all night with out napping, but about 4 a.m. I had to take a 40 minute snooze. Today I'm just beat.

Here's a prayer from modern-day mystic, economist, former UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold.

Thou who are over us,
Thou who art one of us,
Thou who art -
Also within us,
May all see Thee - in me also,
May I prepare the way for Thee,
May I thank Thee for all that shall fall to my lot,
May I also not forget the needs of other,
Keep me in Thy love
As Thou wouldest that all should be kept in mine.
May everything in this my being be directed to Thy glory
And may I never dispair.
For I am under Thy hand,
And in Thee is all power and goodness.

Give me a pure heart - that I may see Thee,
A humble heart - that I may hear Thee,
A heart of love - that I may serve Thee,
A heart of faith - that I may abide in Thee

Dag Hammarskjold - from the book "Markings"


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lenten Post February 22nd

Jubilee. What a great concept! Importantly, it also applied to the land. I appreciate Bono's insight into this concept. What do you think?

It is such an important idea, Jubilee, that Jesus begins his ministry with this. Jesus is a young man, he's met with the rabbis, impressed everyone, people are talking. The elders say, he's a clever guy, this Jesus, but he hasn't done much... yet. He hasn't spoken in public before...When he does, his first words are from Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me," he says, "because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor." And Jesus proclaims the year of the Lord's favour, the year of Jubilee. [Luke 4:18]What he was really talking about was an era of grace — and we're still in it.

Pretty good insight from someone that does all he can to disavow any connection to religion.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lenten Post - February 21st

One thing I hear people talk about during Lent is their plan to be more centered, more spiritual. I'm not sure how often that works out for people. I know I struggle with putting daily prayer and meditation into my day.

Ritual is routine infused with mindfulness. It is habit made holy.
From Small Graces by Kent Nerburn

I like Nerburn's way of looking at this. It somehow makes it seem easier.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Lenten Post February 20th

St Bernard of Clairvaux speaks of the act of loving being the greatest reward of loving. Love is sufficient in itself, seeks no cause beyond itself, and is its own reward.

"I love simply because I love, and I love in order to love."


Monday, February 18, 2008

Lenten Post February 19th

Sunday during the Bible study on Matthew's Gospel that I'm leading we got into a discussion about how sublte changes in wording can make huge differences in how we look at things. (It all started when someone had a Bible in which all the Beatitudes began with "Happy are the ..." , which we found pretty interesting.) Here's an interesting twist in that:

Language has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone, and the word solitude to express the glory of being alone. Paul Tillich

I love times that I'm able to be alone, but I certainly don't like being alone. How about you?


Lenten Post February 18th

From Meister Eckhart:

"I never ask God to give himself to me, I beg him to purify, to empty me. If I am empty, God of his very nature is obliged to give himself to me to fill me."

That's a difficult thing to do ..... it requires one to truly give oneself to God. Something I'm still working on every day.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Lenten Post February 17

Its been a long hard week. Lot's of school work, sick child, sick me, All-state Orchestra concert yesterday, Lenten supper ........... all kinds of stuff going on. Life.

On a little side note, the daughter of our good friends, Tom and Linda DeWitt is struggling with what doctors think is viral encephalitis. She's been in and out of conciousness for the last week and has had two major seizures. We're all praying for Tom, Linda, Jodi, and Jodi's siblings Tara and Travis. A few extra wouldn't hurt. Like I said, it's been a difficult week.

On to Lent.

You are the salt for the earth O people
Salt for the Kingdom of God!
Share the flavor of life, O people: Life in the Kingdom of God!

(From "The Faith We Sing", Bring Forth the Kingdom by Marty Haugen)

That's from one of my favorite hymns. (I do admit the "homeland" part can be a bit scary.) In Luke 14:33-35, Jesus gives the parable of salt. In that parable, Jesus equates half-hearted discipleship to used-up salt - it's worthless. As salt, as disciples, we can't "run out of gas" - we need to see this discipleship "thing" to the end, and not half-heartedly. Discipleship is a long-term committment, it needs to be sustainable.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Lenten Post February 15th

On the heels of yesterday's reminder to live in the moment comes an even more important one that we need to think of our lives and our world in a long-term, sustainable manner.

The problem, simply put, is this: Long-term thinking is for the most part alien to the American mind. We have to change that. ...... If we ignore that reality and continue to degrade the world that gave us birth by extinguishing natural ecosystems and species, we will permanently harm ourselves. By cutting away our own roots, we risk losing the dream of sustainable development. Edward O. Wilson (From The Atlantic, November 2007)

As we move through Lent how are you addressing sustainability in your world? How about your spiritual sustainability?


Friday, February 15, 2008

Lenten Post February 15th

Running to and from school, from the clinic (we've officially got CRUD) in our house, and work, and church and ..... well, you get the picture. Things get a little hectic sometimes.

"I bought a cheap watch from the crazy man
Floating down Canal
It doesn’t use numbers or moving hands
It always just says now."
Jimmy Buffett "Breathe in, Breathe out, Move on"2006 Album "Take the Weather With You"

I really like this passage, it's a good way to remember to live in the momment.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Lenten Post February 14th

I was going to say something about this passage from Paul being overused, but then can you really overuse something like this?

"Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." I Cor. 13


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lenten Post for Wednesday February 12th

From the Gospel of Thomas (Translation by Lynn Bauman):
Logion 77

I am the light
shining upon all things.
I am the sum of everything,
for everything has come forth from me,
and towards me everything unfolds.
Split a piece of wood,
and I am there.
Pick up a stone
and you will find me there.

This has a very "eastern" feel to it. It is also very semetic in that Jesus used the term "I am" which references the Presence of the I am before Moses in the desert. It is also a term of authority, as per John's Gospel. I like the passage because is reminds me that Christ is always and everywhere.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lenten Post Tuesday February 12th

There are any number of ideas about how all of creation is connected; many of them come from indigenous cultures. In his book "The Hungering Dark", Frederick Buechner describes creation in the sense of a great spider web.

"....if you touch it anywhere, you set the whole thing trembling."

We are indeed connected to God's creation. We are also connected to each other. In what way are you maintaining your connection to creation? How about your connection to your community? Or how about your connection to your faith community?


Monday, February 11, 2008

Lenten Post - Monday February 11th

Kent Nerburn is one of my favorite authors. He's probably best know for his work focusing on Native Americans, but he also has written a number of inspirational/devotional works as well. His writing is excellent in that paints wonderful pictures in your mind and it also makes you think.

I like this gentle little reminder found in Nerburn's book "Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life"
We are not all called to be great
But we are called to reach
out our hands to our brothers
and sisters, and to care for the
earth in the time we are given

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Lenten Post for Sunday February 10th

At Alex UMC we're doing our Lenten study on Lost Christianities - a video series that features lectures by Dr. Bart Ehrman. While I don't always agree with his interpretation of history, his work does allow us to look closely at what mystery is within the Christian context.
I found this quote to be a good representation of mystery.

In the Christian context, we do not mean by a "mystery" merely that which is baffling and mysterious, an enigma or insoluble problem. A mystery is, on the contrary, something that is revealed for our understanding, but which we never understand exhaustively because it leads into the depth or the darkness of God. The eyes are closed—but they are also opened.- Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way

It is somewhat mystical in nature, and I think that's the way we need to look at mystery.


Friday, February 8, 2008

Posting for Lent February 9th

Jan van Ruysbroeck was a Flemmish Mystic who lived in the 13th century. He was reportedly a "fan" of Meister Eckhart - although I'm sure he probably didn't readily admit that publicly. His writings reflect a great deal of Eckhart and Rhineland Theology.

"Man, having proceeded from God is destined to return, and become one with Him again. There where I assert that we are one in God, I must be understood in this sense that we are one in love, not in essence and nature."

One can easily believe that he added the last part to placate church authority, less be accussed of heresy. Still, we can believe that we are one in God.



Lent 3

Perhaps this would have been more appropriate on Ash Wednesday. It is still relevant to remind us from where we originate.

“For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.” ~ Xenophanes, (580 B.C.)

I'm certainly not a creationist per se, but it is also appropriate to recall earth's origins. Thanks be to God.


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Lent Day 2

As I dig into my Old Testament studies, Walter Brueggemann is becoming a central figure in my readings. Regarding God's Intention for food:

The lyric of abundance asserts that because the world is held in the hand of the generative, generous God, scarcity is not true.... The claim of creation faith is that there is more than enough to share, and where there is sharing there is generatively more, because as the fruitful instruments of creation notice the shalom of God enacted as sharing, they do in fact produce more.
Walter Brueggeman, The Covenanted Self

What does this say about our society? We don't seem to share very well. What are the consequences of that?


Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Rev. Rory Swenson (check him out from my list of favorites) is posting some daily devotions/thoughts for Lent. Pretty cool idea, so I thought I'd try to post a quote or two that I find pretty interesting. It's not likely that they'll all be theologically/religious based, but more along the lines of mysticism, nature, and how we fit into God's world.
Here's todays:
A man may go into the field and say his prayer and be aware of God, or, he may be in Church and be aware of God; but, if he is more aware of Him because he is in a quiet place, that is his own deficiency and not due to God, Who is alike present in all things and places, and is willing to give Himself everywhere so far as lies in Him. He knows God rightly who knows Him everywhere.
Meister Eckhart

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


It doesn't seem possible that I'm already into my fourth week of classes. Things are definitely cruising along - and pretty well at that. I did hit a little speed bump with scheduling but that's been straightened out now. I am particularly enjoying the class on the Pauline Letters. We'll see how long that enjoyment lasts, I was the lucky recepient of the 1st Corinthians for my class presentation (it was a random draw, I don't believe the instructor was picking on the Methodist!). Nothing controversial to talk about there - Thanks Paul! To pick up the 3 credits I needed for my full-time status to remain in tact, I am doing an independent study on stewardship and the sacredness of food in Old Testament scripture - making the case that there indeed is a call for us to be good, responsible stewards of God's Creation and that the sacredness of food is part of that practice of good stewardship. I've made some good progress on the project already and am looking forward to continuing with it.

I am having a little bit of a difficult time focusing this semester. Mostly because I'm missing out on skiing and being able to spend more time outside. Not that we've had a great winter for skiing around here, but it is certainly better than the last two or three. Oh well, this too shall pass.

That's about it for now.