Message from 2-12-17

The Scripture I reference today:

Old Testament- Sirach -15:15-20

New Testament-1 Corinthians 3:1-9

Gospel – Matthew -5:21-37

Today’s Handout:

Random Thoughts 2-12-17

1.Free Will-  from Sirach 15:11-20 Good News Translation Bible, written 200 to 175 BCE—11 Don’t blame the Lord for your sin; the Lord does not cause what he hates.[a]12 Don’t claim that he has misled you; he doesn’t need the help of sinners to accomplish his purposes. 13 The Lord hates evil in all its forms, and those who fear the Lord find nothing attractive in evil. 14 When, in the beginning, the Lord created human beings, he left them free to do as they wished. 15 If you want to, you can keep the Lord’s commands. You can decide whether you will be loyal to him or not. 16 He has placed fire and water before you; reach out and take whichever you want. 17 You have a choice between life and death; you will get whichever you choose.18 The Lord’s wisdom and power are great and he sees everything. 19 He is aware of everything a person does, and he takes care of those who fear him. 20 He has never commanded anyone to be wicked or given anyone permission to sin.

2.Pastor Bruel says “Everything is going God’s way? The interesting thing is that God lets the children run the circus!
From a Pod Cast I heard with Pastor Rob Bell: “We were raised in a culture and a time where the primary energies were spent looking for differences….if we don’t start using our energies looking for similarities, we are in trouble.”
The Buddhist have this saying , when the hand points to the moon(God), don’t fall in love with the hand(religion).
I think we need to find the moon again in our religion. We need to keep the best of it, and find new ways to reach out to others!
Don’t get caught up in dogma, or being right or wrong, be authentic, follow your path, it probably won’t look like anybody Else’s path, and that OK.
We are all loved children of the ONE GOD, it has to be….
It all has to fit….
It’s a LOVE story, keep it simple. From my blog 1-26-16

 

 

3.It seems we are all addicted to our need to make distinctions and judgments, which we mistake for “thinking.” Most of us think we are our thinking, yet almost all thinking—even among highly educated people—is repetitive and immensely self-referential. That is why all forms of meditation and contemplation are teaching us a way of quieting this self-protective and self-aggrandizing mind. After a while, we see that this repetitive process cannot get us very far, simply because reality is not all about us and our preferences! Richard Rohr CAC 1-30-17

 

  1. Francis of Assisi knew that if you can accept that the finite manifests the infinite and that the physical is the doorway to the spiritual (the foundational principle we call “incarnation”) then all you need is right here and right now—in this world. This is the way to that!Heaven includes Earth. Time opens you up to the timeless, space opens you up to spacelessness, if you only take them for the clear doorways that they are. There are not sacred and profane things, places, and moments. There are only sacred and desecrated things, places, and moments—and it is we who desecrate them by our blindness and lack of reverence. It is one sacred universe, and we are all a part of it. CAC Richard Rohr

5.Contemplation is an entirely new way of knowing the world that has the power to move us beyond mere ideology and dualistic thinking. Mature religion will always lead us to some form of prayer, meditation, or contemplation to balance out our daily calculating mind. Believe me, it is major surgery, and you must practice it for years to begin to rewire your egocentric responses. Contemplation is work, so much so that most people give up after their first futile attempts. But the goal of contemplation is not success, only the continuing practice itself. The only people who pray well are those who keep praying! In fact, the continued re-connecting is the praying, not occasional consolations. Take that as an absolute. CAC 2-6-2017

 

Here is the audio from today, I hope you enjoy.

Jesus as wall paper?

We just had a beautiful Easter Service last week with “the real” pastor, and my 3 son’s had their first communion, what a beautiful Easter Service at our little Church.

I was struck by a few things, the sermon was based on the idea that we keep Jesus as wall paper, kind of hanging around, but not front and center in our lives. The pastor did a great job, the C and E days are tough, there are always a lot of people who only come twice a year, which is fine, but the audience is different. He pointed out how we were all speaking about the Easter Dresses, the food at breakfast, and did the Easter Bunny come to visit?

But no Big Guy?

At the time in the pew, I was thinking how he was right; most of us don’t work Jesus into our lives. I seem to have a way to get talking about him, but that’s because I think of him as a friend, somebody in my life. Like all my friends how I feel about him changes based on my mood, but he is always there for me.

When I got home I was thinking about the sermon, and came up with the idea, we don’t talk about Jesus much because organized religion made him a God. Dare I say many of us fear him, because he holds the “keys” to heaven or hell!  On top of that how do you work a God into an every day conversation? On top of that we are not suppose to talk about such things with “normal” folk- no politics- no religion. Interesting to me we lump those 2 subject together?

Something to worship, not a “buddy”, to talk to like you talk to a friend, or somebody to run your ideas by, or engage with about the little things in life. We don’t think of Jesus as a close friend, how close can you be with a God! That creates a level of separation that’s hard to cross. Interesting use of the word “cross.” On “that” cross he showed us how to be Divine, but how to be fully Human as well!

Jesus was enlightened, Jesus got it, and Jesus got God. Jesus never said worship me, he said follow me. That’s a radically different thing!

Come follow me, let me show you this new way of seeing. It’s beautiful. LOOK what right here in front of our noses! This new way of seeing God.

Organized religion has not done a very good job of showing us the Mystical Jesus! Constantine in his conversion to Christianity got the ball rolling in “main streaming” Christianity, but we lost a lot of the best “Fringe” thinking. The subsequent centuries have not been good for seeing the “real Jesus” either. We did what humans do best, we made a system around Jesus, with a different type of hierarchy, depending on what religion you were raised in. Could that be why most religions in the developed world are losing people by droves, or why we see the rampant fundamentalism in all major religions today. We lost the best part of the message its all a radical love story!

If we want to get Jesus off the “wall paper,” then we need to change the way most of us think about him, we need to find a way to bring him into our lives every day. Maybe start by reflecting on how you see Jesus. Know that we can have our own resurrections, everyday, we get to start over every minute if need be, God does not hold grudges.

Jesus showed us a new way to see God, most of us got lost in the shuffle of first half of life thinking. We need to see Jesus with those “new eyes” that they talk about in scripture. If not I am afraid he will stay on the “wall paper” at best, at worst religion will continue to fuel the rampant separation we see in the world today by religious fundamentalists of all stripes ( this doesn’t come from Jesus, rather from our myopic way of looking at his radical message). We need to realize that there are no them’s, just a world full of different looking “us’s”. We are all one with God.

Palms in the wind.

Featured image

So I was coming out of the post office Friday and I saw this palm frond blowing down the street, it’s not much of a stretch in NE Ohio to think it was a loss from one of our church’s Palm Sunday services last week. As you can see it pretty beat up and has seen better days!

That got me thinking…somehow it’s a metaphor of our lives, especially our lives following Christ! A little beat-up some of the times, windblown, not sure where we are going to end up!

That’s ok too, just like me finding the palm branch, at the end of our “travels” we can be sure that we will always be “found” by God. More to the point, we just find our way back to her. God is always present in our lives, sometimes the wind (our thoughts) seem to takes us away from Her radiant presence, but that’s a choice that comes from our end. She is just waiting for us to return to the fold, always waiting for us, with no judgments.

I was speaking to a friend this week and he is going through a lot in his life right now – problems with kids and grandkids, and health issues to boot! I could hear the pain through the phone as we were talking. I want to help, I really and truly do, but I know that’s not my cross to bear. I know we have to work through these trials, what lessons we don’t learn, we are doomed to repeat until we “get it.” So, I offer what comfort I can to try to ease the burden, but I know these are lessons we must learn for ourselves. I also know that we are given the chance to learn them over and over and over until we “get them” or not, and “not” getting it, that’s what we call pain and the Bible would call Hell. Another way to think of Hell is when we choose to move out of God’s Grace! When I was on the phone with my friend, he complimented me on my sermon from last week. He said he was envisioning the pain Jesus went through, for us, on the cross. The interesting thing is, I never said that – at all. In fact, I started out by saying it was not going to be that “normal” Palm Sunday sermon, that’s not what I see any more.

We find what we go looking for, all the time. I use to know THAT God and, by extension, that Jesus! I use to see the pain, because that’s where I was at in “my life.” Remember the Thomas Merton idea “the God we find says more about us than it does about God.” That’s where my friend is in his life right now.

See, we need to learn to trust that the wind will blow us back to God’s grace, it always does. Or, we can let it blow us to some very nasty places. I have been to a few nasty places, I created them, and they are called Hell. I think Jesus is telling us about the Hells we create here on Earth, I don’t believe it has much if anything to do with the afterlife. I know we need to travel through those Hells, to get perspective, to feel, to learn. There’s the rub, some of us, dare I say most of us, never make the return trip back to “Heaven.” That’s what we are offered through Jesus; his gift to us is that we have the choice to make our lives Heaven or Hell, right here…right now. Jesus is trying to show us the way to the “awareness” to live Heaven here on earth. That’s the gift I want in my Easter basket this Easter.

Peace.

I hope and pray the “wind” keeps you near God this Easter Season!

How do you choose to see the world?

 

How do you choose to see things, through what kind of eyes?

From Matthew 6:22-23 MSG

“Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!”

I have been thinking about how we “choose” to see things a lot lately. I need you to know that it is a choice, you create your own reality to a large degree. We are taught from everybody; parents, teacher, friends, clergy, culture, everyone, to see things in a certain way the “right” way. But who’s right way; there’s, yours, the groups way? What group? We naturally break things into us and them, and that’s a problem, it keeps us in low level thinking, not wrong, but definitely not “enlightened.” That’s why we are still talking about the same things they struggled with in the Bible, insert the “Holy” book of your choice here.  Richard Rohr says  “literal thinking is not wrong, it’s just the lowest level of thinking, we need to change the way we view the world.”

As near as I can tell, Jesus made no distinctions of religion or race or class or gender! Actually he was radically inclusive. A lesson we still need to learn today.

If you still see a them , and we all do, then you still have work to do. Do you see “other” religions, other political parties, other groups of anything? Sure we all do, what are you doing about it, that’s the question. I know what most of us do, nothing. Blame someone else; blame a “them.”

Until we can see that the “them’s” of the world are the” us’s” of the world, things won’t change all that much. If we can’t learn to “see” with different eyes, we are doomed to repeat the past. You know that old saying, if you don’t remember the past you’re doomed to repeat it, that’s Bull . We remember it and  repeat it, over and over and over again, just look at the world. We are told to forgive but don’t forget, I call Bull on that one too, just forgive and forget period. Jesus calls us to forgive those who persecute you, somebody needs to start somewhere. We need to move the story forward. We need to see the world with “new eyes.”

Hilary Clinton is in the news this week for not using the ‘correct” email server? She says she followed protocol, did she? We are still here, they (who ever they are) didn’t bomb us, and the world kept spinning. What do you see, I am sure what you see is based on your prejudices; the Republicans are on a witch hunt! The Democrats are trying to cover something up, she is hiding something… Or is it all just noise?

Noise that divides us, keeps us from doing the real work that needs done.

Maybe we should be talking about things that matter, like our deficit, or poverty, or hunger, or peace.

I keep hearing that we are the “richest” nation that ever existed, and we have citizen’s that don’t have enough to eat, or are without health care, or a roof over their heads.

What would Jesus do indeed!

The only person you can change is you. You need to be the change you want to see in this world.

What you think about you become, be aware of what you let into your soul, you will become it. “If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar.” Are you a dank cellar?

What you seek you surely find!

My friends- part 2.

Another of my friends called me at the end of the day Friday while I was still thinking about my conversation earlier in the day. So we got talking about spiritual things and my friend proceeded to tell me more of his personal journey and how he goes to a Christian meditative prayer. Also, how his dad was spiritual but never went to church much. I brought up how most of my “un-churched” friends tend to have a cleaner relationship with God than most of us regular attendee’s, funny how that seems to work.

As the conversation continued we started talking about his sister, a born again Christian, and his recovering drug addict friend, and how they had much different ideas than he did about God. So I started telling him how I don’t see the God a lot of my “religious” brethren see either. I threw out the idea that, “the God you find says more about you than it does about God.” See Last Post.

I proceeded to share with him about a period of time where I hated myself for not being what I thought I was supposed to be, who I wanted to be, who God wanted me to be. I had lost my 27 year old family business, having worshiped at the altar of Capitalism, and lost everything.
I went to church most Sundays, but my heart was elsewhere. I knew a mean and nasty God then who punished me for not being “good enough” at anything, ever.
Guess what else I realized? My temperament matched the God I knew then – I was a nasty bastard and I found a God to match. I thought I was a failure in every sense of the word. I could not feed my family, I could not keep a roof over their heads, nothing, complete failure. I wanted to die, and for those of you who don’t know, that’s different than wanting to killing yourself, but still pretty low place to be.
My friend from earlier in the day was around of some of those years and he told me Friday that he was surprised I pulled out of it. He said something profound, he said I had jammed my life into one small “box of pain.” That’s all I could see and it was the place I started from every day. Days on end, when it hurt just to pull myself out of bed, or when I would cringe when the phone rang at work, I was afraid it was another lawyer or collection call. Day after day for years…

I knew a punishing, mean God that took everything ,or so I thought. I deserved it, just like the people of New Orleans did to deserve Katrina, right? I had a friend that was a nondenominational pastor that told me that one. God was punishing me, and I deserved it.

So fast-forward to Friday afternoon…I told my friend we find the God we going looking for… his sister and friend were at a place where they didn’t like themselves for past “sins” they had committed against God.
The problem is, many of us never get past this stage on our walk with God. The thing is, now I see it so differently. Sin is against us, it’s when we move ourselves out of union with God. How could you hurt God with your sin? God calls us to completeness, to strive to find union with Her, to live in the Grace she so freely gave us, before we were born.

So you know what I learned the hard way? That you must forgive yourself first and foremost, it all starts there. Without self-forgiveness you are building your house on sand. See, without that part of the process, you continue to judge yourself by some standard that doesn’t exist.
So the next logical thing is to judge others in the same light, or actually judge them in the same shadow (lack of Light) you judge yourself from. That’s not God…that is an “idol” you made in your image from pain. From Matthew 7: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” I guess the moral of the story is to find the correct door, so keep looking until you find the God that loves you, and learn to love yourself. You will find what you going looking for!

Something else I have learned the hard way is that all of the things in life that cause you “pain,” those experiences are “life’s class room.” That’s were all true growth comes from. I have read that some “lucky” people “get it” without pain, but for most of us, it comes through loss of some kind – death, divorce, bankruptcy, etc.
I have learned to see the “pain” as a process we need to go through on this adventure. I am grateful for my experiences; yes even the difficult ones, more so the difficult ones because that’s where all my growth comes from.
I don’t see things the way others do anymore and I don’t talk the way most of my friends do. I would not trade my “life experiences” for anything. Somehow they are part of a larger plan, my sister told me “we need to lean into the pain,” sit with it.
Instead most of us take “something” to deaden the pain, run from it. I don’t know whether it’s learned or in us, but most of us avoid pain. Maybe it’s a survival technique, but running from a guy with a spear is different than avoiding your mother-in-law. Is all this running from pain keeping us from true growth? Is that why the world is in such terrible shape, we are too stunted emotionally to deal with others on any meaningful level?

Oh and if it can be bought with money it can’t be all that important, fun yes, important no. My friend from my post the other day, he also paid me a huge compliment. In the same sentence that he told me of the small “box of pain” I had made for myself in the past, he said now- “you don’t see a box at all.”

Let them Dance!

So this was reformation Sunday, the day that Lutherans remember the day Martin Luther, the founder of the Religion, nailed his famous 95 Theses to a church door. I was inspired by Rev. Dawn Hutchings, a progressive Lutheran Minster in Canada, and her thoughts on the day. She is fabulous, her sermons and blog post have really inspired my own thought process. So I start with some of her ideas to get going.
Then as always I springboard off to my own ideas.
I get into my thought that we have frozen the Bible in time, we don’t see the “word”or God as a living thing, and (he\she) is, we need to have new Reformations all the time.

“God still Speaks.”
Does she speak to you, she will if you can learn to listen. She speaks to me, at least I hope that’s her. Its a whisper… a feeling…a knowing…
Not necessarily a thought, its something else, its deeper, a yearning, somewhere deep in your soul.

When Jesus is asked, he doesn’t talk about Gays, or tithing, or religious affiliations… no he says love the lord your God with all your heart\mind\strength\soul and your neighbor as yourself,then you will have life.
Transformational then and Transformational now. Lets try it.
Its a Love Story.. on a level we can’t put into words.

We tend to sanitize Jesus, he was a rebel. I wonder what he would think of the institutions we have made in his name, the killings committed in his name, the hurt well meaning Christians have inflicted verbally and mentally in his name. Those SINS continue today………
I feel called to move the story forward, that’s the pull- like the expanding universe, always moving…. God is action, the story can’t stand still, it needs movement or it stagnates, just look around….

I also speak about the story of one of the more mature ladies in our church, and how she remembers when, as a girl, they were not allowed to dance their “priest” said it was evil. The story does move forward!
” Let them Dance”

Let them dance… 10-25-2014

Jesus ” Rebel with a Cause”

In this sermon I get into a little college football, and some more Rob Bell, his blog is my go to when I am short on ideas. How do you describe what the Bible is? That’s a great question, I’ll get into that. I used Rob Bells blog as a starting point and of course I added my own material.
I just had the pleasure of hearing John Spong speak in Naples, FL, what a treat, in this sermon I get into some of Bishop Spong ideas, the chief among them, when it comes down to it we are called to live our lives “wastefully.”
Laughter, babies, the beach, love, pain, touch, a sunrise, beauty everywhere, if that’s not describing your life, then your GPS(God Positioning System) is off kilter. That’s what we are suppose to do here on this earth, live our life with joy, compassion for others, have fun, Love Wastefully this is the good stuff!
I learned from Bishop Spong and Rob Bell and others, that we must look at the Bible from a first century Jewish perspective, to think about it from any other view point is naïve. It like saying modern American literature could be read and understood contextually by an Indian that lived two thousand years ago. Jews never wrote or understood the “Torah” to be literally or historically true, the books are more than that, much more. They echo our human struggle to make sense of our world, the stories might not be historical, but they are true on many levels, and the stories become even more beautiful. It makes us and the Bible “small” when we do that, look at them through a 21st century world view, its so much more than literal truth.
If you can pull back and see the thread of God running through the stories of the Bible and the progression of peoples understanding…. Beautiful. God is still speaking…if we choose to listen.
One of my favorite themes, are you happy, where does your “happy” come from ? If it comes from some where outside of you, or your waiting for some other time or “condition” to be happy, your missing out on your life. Happy can only come from inside you, its a gift.
And of course Jesus- the rebel with a cause.

Audio from 10-19-2014