Tuesday, January 26, 2016


1 Corinthians 13:1-8a
Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. Love never fails.        (quoted from the Common English Bible)
I've often read this passage and thought,
"Yep, that is what love SHOULD be."
But the Apostle Paul writes,
"Love is" these things.

Yes, he uses "agape"--
the Greek word for unconditional love.
Many a Bible scholar and student has said,
"Paul is talking about God's love."
But when I say that (and worse preach that),
am I just making excuses?

Love IS patient and kind.
Love IS NOT jealous, arrogant, rude, or irritable.
Love DOES NOT brag, seek its own advantage, or keep a record of complaints

That IS love.
And the truth is:
anything else,
just ISN'T love.

Wow, Lord,
then too often my actions
just are NOT love.

Teach me love --
love that IS.

In the name of Jesus Christ,
who IS love.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Awe & Wonder

PSALM 19:1-6
The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them;
and nothing is hidden from its heat.

you are awe-some.
When I stand on the sea shore,
when I ascend to the mountain tops,
when I consider the stars of night,
when I am warmed by the sun of day,
I am amazed.
I am humbled.
I pause in wonder.

recent research shows
what the faith community has known in our souls,
Study participants "who felt awe, relative to other emotions, felt they had more time available, were less impatient, were more willing to volunteer their time to help others, and more strongly preferred experiences over material goods." from Make Time for Awe 
Today in awe,
I stop.
I breath.
I wonder.
I consider all you do:
your creation,
your love,
your salvation,
your presence,
your care.

Who am I?
How can I participate
in your love for the world?
In what ways can I be grace today?
In what ways can I give love today?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Worship Matters

So I watched this video today:

"What we design, 
designs us back."
The host, Jason Silva, says, "When you design the without, you design the within."  He is talking about architecture, and the ways a space's design shapes and influences us, our mood, our feeling, our experiences...

The same is true about worship.  What we worship, the ways we worship, the spaces we form, in which to worship, the actions and words and silences, the leaders and voices and voids -- all of it shapes and influences us, forms and molds our faith and our experiences of God.

So it matters.
It all matters:
the colors, the hymns, the fabrics, 
the silences, the voices heard, the voices kept silent, 
the choice of words and prayers,
the scriptures, the actions, the movements,
and their juxtaposition to one another.
It all shapes us as we worship, 
week in and week out, 
season after season, 
Christmas after Easter, 
Lent after Advent.

It's worth considering.
It's worth our time.
It's worth lingering over.
It's worth our BEST energy, intelligence, imagination, and passionate love.

Worship matters.
Worship forms our faith.
Worship shapes our lives.
Lex orandi - Lex credendi - Lex vivendi

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Jesus Cares

LUKE 4:14-21
Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:  
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."  
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
Lord Jesus,
you care.
Your care is expressed beyond our doubts
in your living,
in your suffering,
in your healing,
in your challenging,
in your calling,
in your lifting up,
in your dying,
in your forgiving,
in your silent grave,
in your defeating death and sin,
in your rising to new life,
in your ascending,
in your constant interceding for us,
in your loving.

While we your followers waste
our energies fighting about
who's right and who's wrong,
who's in and who's out,
who's righteous and who's unclean, etc...
all the while people, your children, anguished souls
are suffering...
suffering in the silence of mental illness--
you care and comfort the mentally ill
suffering in addiction --
you care and help the addict to change
suffering alone in loneliness and despair --
you care and are a friend to the friendless
suffering in broken relationships --
you care and reconcile us to one another
suffering in apathy --
you care and push us from complacency to compassion
suffering in poverty --
you care and give of your very self
suffering hunger --
you care and feed thousands
suffering in violence --
you care and are the prince of peace
suffering as refugees --
you care and travel with them providing hospitality along the way

Lord, teach us
to care like you do.
May our righteousness
be like yours
a righteousness of compassion and caring.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Thank God for my Baptism

LUKE 3:15-17, 21-22

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."

The preacher said it
with the sign of the cross on my forehead,
a blessing,
a benediction,
a re-naming,
a calling to service,
an announcement to the world:
"You are a child of God,
sealed by the Holy Spirit, 
marked as Christ’s own forever."

from that day forward
each day I seek to be 
one of your beloved children.
I seek to understand what it means to be 
sealed by your Holy Spirit --

sealed like the sealing wax on a letter,
sealed with your stamp of approval,
marked with your signet ring of royalty,
marked with your love -- Jesus Christ,
a lifetime guarantee.

Some days are full of questions:
Am I really yours?
Do I want to be a child of God?
Do you really love me that much?
Are you proud of me?
Do you like who I have become/am becoming?

Some days are a confident shout:
"Yes, YES I BELONG to God alone."
claimed aloud in the face of evil and temptation.

Some days are a comforting embrace:
"I am Christ's own forever."
lean back into your strong arms of love and protection.

Some days are a scary realization:
"I am sealed by the Holy Spirit."
a wind and blowing spirit that pushes me to take flight,
to leap from the nest and soar on the strong winds.

Some days I notice the baptismal waters
still washing over me.
My baptism was 38 years ago,
but I find I'm still soaking wet,
washed clean through and through,
wading through the troubled waters,
knee deep,
riding the crashing waves,
casting a net to catch
those who need to hear the good news,
a spring of life welling up and over flowing to others from within,
a cup overflowing with blessings,
a river that makes glad.

Thank you, God, for my baptism.
I remember.
I re-member.
I am a child of God,
sealed by the Holy Spirit, 
marked as Christ’s own forever.

Thanks be to God!