Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Forgive Us Our Debts

Bacchanal by Anthony van Dyck


 
So my sisters and brothers in Rome, we are all still debtors - we just aren't in debt to our own bodies anymore! We no longer have to live by the dictates of the flesh; to do so brings only death in the long or short term. By the Spirit, our lusts and "needs" have been slain, and our true selves can live true lives. All who follow the Spirit's lead are the Father's beloved children.
 
The Spirit we received was not one of slavery to blind obedience that we should live and fall in such fear. No! We were gifted by a Spirit of loving adoption. When ever we call out "Daddy! Mommy!" the Spirit in us bears witness that we are God's offspring. Not just progeny, but heirs to the Kingdom - just like Jesus Christ! Yes, there is suffering in the world. Since we share Christ's suffering, rest assured that we will also share his glory!
 
(Retelling of Romans 8:12-17)

Monday, May 28, 2012

What Izzie Saw


The year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord...
 
Just the mere hem of His robe filled the entire Temple - I could almost reach out and touch it! Attending Him were a host of strange six-winged Seraphs. They used: two wings to cover their glowing faces; two to cover their holy feet; and two to hover about as they served the Lord. As they worked, they sang praises: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts! All of creation reflects His glory!" They hinges of the mighty Temple portals shook with their voices and the House of the Lord filled with the sacred incense of their breaths.
 
My knees gave way: "I'm so screwed! I've sinned over and over again against my Lord - my lips are no longer pure, I've I'm immersed myself  in a world of impure lips. Yet here I am before my God, looking upon His overwhelming majesty with my own eyes!"
 
Suddenly, a Seraph appeared before me with tongs holding a hot ember straight from the altar. Before I could react, he touched my defiled lips with it, saying: "The sacrificial fire has burned off the impurities in your lips. Your guilt has gone up in smoke and you have been kissed with grace."
 
Then, the Lord Himself spoke! "Whom shall I send? Who will go forth for me?"
 
And with my newly anointed lips the Spirit spoke: "I am here. Send me."
 
(Retelling of Isaiah 6:1-8)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Pentecostly


He Qi
A day came when the Rabbi's students gathered together in fellowship. From above came a volcanic wind that instantly raised the air-pressure in the entire house, and they had to keep swallowing to ease the pain in their ears. In the charged atmosphere of the tight and frightened space, flames danced upon their heads; but no on one was burned! It was the light of the Spirit burning in and through and from them; it could not be held in or doused. They were compelled by the Spirit to preach the good news in all the languages of the world - simultaneously.


Local and foreign Jews and Gentiles were all astounded to hear of God's love in their own tongues,even their own dialects. "What can this mean?" they asked each other in fear and wonder.


Those who avoid the light scoffed and mocked as they always do: "They're all high! They are stoned out of their minds and babbling incoherently."


Peter stepped forward, and spoke for the Family: "Citizens of the world: listen to my words now. Tell me if they are addled! Our minds have not gone. It's so early in the morning that we haven't even had wine or beer yet. Do you remember Joel? 'When Kingdom comes, God will pour out His Spirit upon all mankind so that we may all speak the Word of God. Not just poured upon free men, but on slaves too - and even women will be so anointed; they shall all speak for God. They will learn to read Creation, and the very cosmos will be laid bare before them. Then shall come the most glorious of days when the flock hears its Master's voice and go home.'"


(Acts 2:1-21 retold)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Psalmic Poetry: the 104th - Radical!


OMG, You are so SO totally rad!
How awesome is Your everything!
You had a PLAN and big-banged it!
Life lives all over this spinning rock.
Little germy thingies that creep me,
And the way cool Big Blue Whales!
 
We all look to You for our daily stuff:
Our daily bread; our daily plankton.
What You give, we're happy to receive!
Your hands are full of goodies for us!
We're sad when we can't see You.
When it's time we go all dust-to-dusty.
 
When You breathe, we can breathe.
The Earth is always being created.
Let Your Church always rock on.
Do we tickle Your Holy Funny-Bone?
Or make mana come out Your nose? 
That would be so really really neat!

Yeah, You can be dangerous at times.
But I will live my life as a party anthem,
And sing my daily offering up to You.
May my wild-and-crazy thoughts make
Your day and give You warm fuzzies.
I bless You with all my heart and soul!
 
(Verses 24 to 35 retold by Tiwago)

Monday, May 21, 2012

What Zeke Saw

James Nesbitt

Like a mother cat, the Lord lifted me by the scruff of my neck and set me down in an arid valley. It was full to overflowing with the bones of humanity - dry chalky dusty bones! The moisture was sucked out of my throat and tongue, and I labored to swallow or speak. God spoke to me: "Living Bones, can these dead bones live again?" I was able to cough out: "You willing!"
 
"Then preach to them," God told me. "Tell these bits of calcium that I will fill them anew with Pneuma! I will clothe them with new glorious robes of flesh! My breath will fill them and they shall truly live as never before. They shall know that I am theirs and that I love them to their very cores.
 
So I prophesied then over that that valley of death, and behold - a mighty wind lifted them up! The skeletal multitude stood rattling upon their bony feet and listened to God's Word! God whispered to me: "Before you stands the Church. The people say that they are all dried up; that their hope has all been stolen; that their faith in Me is dying out; that they are becoming irrelevant! So fill them with the hope of My love and My deeds. Tell them that I am coming to open up all the tombs! Tell them that I shall raise them all up! Tell them that I am taking them out of their deep valley and taking them home with me!"
 
"Listen to me Zeke! They think that I have gone away and left them stranded bereft! But they will remember My love when the heavy stones that trap them all roll away. They'll know that they were never forgotten when I take their hands and lead them out into the light. They shall know Me when their lungs pump My breath and turn their blood to wine. They shall recognize their rightful home beside Me. Then they'll keat of all the fruit of the trees in My garden."
 
(Ezekiel 37:1-14 retold)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Playing It Safe?


John Wesley preaching out in the world.
“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified."

(John 17:6-9, NIV)
 
Meditations:
  • Are all Christians one as the Trinity is one?
  • Why does "the world" hate us because we do not belong? If someone rejects me, do I resent that they think "they're better than me"? 
  • Do we hate the world because we feel like we don't belong?
  • Do our churches take themselves out of the world or into it?
  • We were given the exact same mission as Jesus, and have been sanctified to do it. Are we?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Psalmic Poetry - Psalm the First


Monet



Blessed are the odd-balls
Who don't try to pass or fit in
Who don't follow easy paths
Who don't join in the gossip
Who enjoy being square
Who are always thinking
Who try to understand God
They are a rare orchard
With ever flowing water
They will bear much fruit
They will be ever green
They are lush and shady
Not so the wicked crowd
Who are blown by the winds
Who can't hold their heads up
Before God or in the Church
God grooms trails for the good
But the dark ways are deadly


(Psalm 1 retold by Tiwago)




Monday, May 14, 2012

Being Judas

Still from My Soul to Take

During this time, Peter stood up in the company—there were about 120 of them in the room at the time—and said, "Friends, long ago the Holy Spirit spoke through David regarding Judas, who became the guide to those who arrested Jesus. That Scripture had to be fulfilled, and now has been. Judas was one of us and had his assigned place in this ministry.

"Judas must now be replaced. The replacement must come from the company of men who stayed together with us from the time Jesus was baptized by John up to the day of his ascension, designated along with us as a witness to his resurrection."

They nominated two: Joseph Barsabbas, nicknamed Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, "You, O God, know every one of us inside and out. Make plain which of these two men you choose to take the place in this ministry and leadership that Judas threw away in order to go his own way." They then drew straws. Matthias won and was counted in with the eleven apostles.
(Acts 1:15-17, 21-26; The Message)
 

Meditations:
  • Why didn't they carry on with just eleven apostles?
  • Peter doesn't mention the silver, but that Judas rejected his call to do it his way. How are we each like Judas?
  • Why did Jesus choose Judas as a disciple? Why does he choose each of us?
  • Are the Judases in our lives an important part of our lives?
  • How do we choose the leaders of our congregations and denominations?

Friday, May 11, 2012

One Rule to Rule Them All


Jesus:
 
"As much as the Father loves me - that's how much I love you. Wrap yourself up in my love! If you do what I tell you, you'll stay within my loving embrace; exactly as I do what Abba tells me and as I live within His arms! I share this now so that you may know the joy I know, so that your joy may grow into fulfillment. This is my very simple order to you: love each other as much as I love you! LOVE. EACH. OTHER. There is no greater love than this kind of love, this love that leads you to give your life for another. You're my friends if you do this.
 
You're no longer my students or followers or servants blindly doing what you're told. You're my beloved friends, and I have shared everything I know from the Father with you. You didn't really choose to be here; I chose you for all this. Go out into the world and be fruitful. Plant trees that'll be fruit-bearing long after you're gone. Your loving Father will give to you as He has given to me.
 
I am telling you all this so that you'll love and take care of each other after I'm gone. Do it!"
 
(Retelling of John 15:9-17)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Apostolic Poetry - Baptized in Water and Blood


All who believe
Jesus the Christ
Was God's Son
Are themselves
God's children.
 
If you love the parent -
You love their children.
We show sibling love
When loving the Lord
And walking the Way.
 
For His love of us
He gave us limits
His rules are easy
They lead to life
His children win.
 
We are the champions!
How can we ever lose
When we play as family
When Jesus is the Son
Who is also our brother?
 
Born in water and blood.
Died in water and blood.
Living water and blood.
The Holy Spirit says so!
The Wind of life and truth.
 
(1 John 5:1-6 as retold by Tiwago)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tired Old War-Horses



 
 
 
Psalm 93:
 
O SING to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have wrought salvation for Him.

The Lord has made known His salvation; His righteousness has He openly shown in the sight of the nations.


He has [earnestly] remembered His mercy and loving-kindness, His truth and His faithfulness toward the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have witnessed the salvation of our God.


Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth and sing for joy, yes, sing praises!


Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the voice of melody.


With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!


Let the sea roar, and all that fills it, the world, and those who dwell in it!


Let the rivers clap their hands; together let the hills sing for joy


Before the Lord, for He is coming to judge [and rule] the earth; with righteousness will He judge [and rule] the world, and the peoples with equity.






(Amplified Bible)
 

Meditations:
  • Does my congregation sing the same old hymns over and over? 
  • Do we lose understanding when we sing on cruise-control?
  • What is the value of new words and new music?
  • Does sacred mean solemn and respectful, or joyous and grateful?
  • Do I think modern instruments are too noisy?
  • What does it mean that all creation worships with us? 
  • Do we worship naturally, or do we regiment it artificially?
  • Do we acknowledge by our actions that the Lord will judge everyone with equity?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Water for Fire


 
While Peter was preaching to the crowd, the Holy Spirit overwhelmed all who heard the Word. The Chosen-marked who had come with him, were dumbfounded that the God of the Jews would anoint even the unmarked goyim with His Spirit! Peter saw them watching the pagans, agnostics, atheists and the various "other flocks" all speaking in the Spirit and praising the Lord. "How can any of us withhold the symbolic baptism of water when these found-ones are burning with the real baptism of the Spirit's fire? Let's get with it!"
 
And so it went.
(Retelling of Acts 10:44-48)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Burning The Dead-Wood

Gustav Klemt



 
 
I am the trunk of the Church's tree. My father tends His tree. He removes all the branches (regardless of how green and healthy looking) that bear no fruit. This pruning makes the rest of the tree healthier. This pruning leads to more fruit.
 
You have already been baptised by what I have taught you. Live in me as I live in you.
 
The branch can not bear fruit without the trunk. Remember, you are my branches and I am your trunk! If the sap flows, you will be fruitful - without the sap flowing through the trunk you will be fruitless. The pruned will be tossed aside - dead-wood that attracts insects and destroys the health of the tree. The useless branches will wither and dry without the sap until they are gathered up and thrown into the fire.
 
Live in me as I live in you. Trust in the trunk, and your branches will be heavy with abundant fruit to share.
 
 
(Retelling of John 15:1-8)
 
 
 
 
In the name of the Farmer, the Trunk and the Holy Sap, Amen.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Apostolic Poetry - Love Is All You Need


My beloved:
Love one another right now!
Love comes from God.
All who love is from God.
All who love knows Him,
For He is Love!
 
God showed His love.
He sent His only Child!
So that we may live.
This is real true love.
Not that we loved God first -
But that He loved the unlovable,
And sent us a lamb.
 
My beloved:
Because he loves us so,
We must love each other.
None have ever seen Him,
But if we love each other,
We see God living in us,
His love others see in us.
By our love, He is known.
By His love, we are whole.
A love-offering of the Spirit.
 
I have seen this myself!
I swear it so to you all.
The Father sent the Son,
To save the entire world.
God is in all believers.
Believers are in God.
 
We know God loves us.
We believe we are loved.
God is love. Love is of God.
Those who live a life of love,
Live in God and God in them.
Love is blooming in us!
We're bold blossoms,
Before the judgment seat.
As the Judge lived for us,
We'll know we lived for all.
 
Love is fearless.
Love is fearsome.
We fear judgment.
Those who fear,
Don't know love.
I love you because
He first loved me.
 
Many claim to love God.
But hate each other.
They are sinners and liars!
Those who can not love,
The visible among them,
Can not possibly love,
The Invisible among them.
 
The Law is this, and this alone,
All who love God must by Law
Love their sisters and brothers. 
 
(1 John 4:7-21 retold by Tiwago)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Pizza With Jesus


From last week's sermon:

If we update today’s bible story, some Chicago men used to have small businesses downtown.Peter ran the pizza place on Michigan Ave. for over 50 years after he inherited it from his grandparents. Located on the corner, it was always busy. So Peter brought in his cousins, Andy and Jimmy. Tom owned the Greek restaurant for years.  Matthew ran the lawyer’s office; Jason worked for the Democratic Party. They sometimes met one another at a Chamber of Commerce meeting. They became close and shared business information and even personal matters. They complained about high government taxes and the difficult economy.

One day they heard that one of the customers who used to stop by Peter’s Pizza is a very awesome guy who knows what’s going on. He knew everything: like Dr. Phil, he listened to peoples’ troubles and gave them guidance; like Suzi Orman, he gave people all kinds of financial advice. Although he didn’t have a doctoral degree, he was so knowledgeable about life issues.   He talked about the meaning of life, the origin of humans, a new way of living, though people didn’t always get it.  He wasn’t hesitant to criticize current government and leaders – in fact, he seemed to be anti- government.  His ideas for changing the world were so radical. He always tried to be on the side of people who were outcasts, marginalized.  His God-leading world idea was challenging.  His blue print for a new world was so fantastic.  Through their group meeting, the men realized that Joshua was the best candidate for the next president, and they began organizing. They gave up their own businesses and started to support this young leader, Joshua.  However, one day the FBI came into their group meeting and arrested Joshua as an anti-nationalist and communist - because his opponent of other party accused him. The FBI also investigated Peter and other friend’s involvement but they strongly denied.  

As soon as Joshua was arrested, he was sentenced to death and moved to a state prison. When the camp team heard about his death, they thought “There is no hope.”  Peter said to his colleagues,  “Joshua has gone. I will go back to my business.” The other friends agreed with him and said, “I will go with you.” And then each went back to his own business. One early morning, Peter opened the pizza place and started prepping food for the day’s customers.  But, strangely, no one showed up at the pizza place, except one man in the corner. When the man ordered, he asked for a special order and gave the waiter a written memo: “ add a half cup of cheddar cheese, pieces of pineapple, banana, avocado, slices of fresh tomato  and bake at 400F for 21 minutes, rather than 18.” Peter and other workers were experts at pizza, and know how to do it right; but they didn’t want to let go of the first customer of the day. They followed the order. When it was done, it looked and smelled good. Another new costumer came in the store suddenly and glanced at the first customer’s dish; he said, “I’ll have what he’s having.” Other customers (153 that day) came in and placed the same order.

Peter’s cousin, in the kitchen, suddenly recognized the handwriting on the memo from the first customer; and, looking into the dining room, said,  ”That guy at the corner table looks like Joshua!” Peter rushed out and saw Him and grabbed His hand. “I thought you never come back to us.”  Joshua said, “Oh, friend, I never leave you. Don’t you remember that I would win the power of death and bring the new life to people? No one stop ‘God leading world plan’.  Let’s taste my order together first and then talk about this plan.”

(Acts 4:1-12 as retold by Jum Sook Kim-McDaniels)

The God Of Those Who Can't Get It Together

Margaret Bourke-White


 
 
Here in this great gathering for worship
      I have discovered this praise-life.
   And I'll do what I promised right here
      in front of the God-worshipers.
   Down-and-outers sit at God's table
      and eat their fill.
   Everyone on the hunt for God
      is here, praising him.
   "Live it up, from head to toe.
      Don't ever quit!"
 
From the four corners of the earth
      people are coming to their senses,
      are running back to God.
   Long-lost families
      are falling on their faces before him.
   God has taken charge;
      from now on he has the last word.
 
All the power-mongers are before him
      —worshiping!
   All the poor and powerless, too
      —worshiping!
   Along with those who never got it together
      —worshiping!
 
Our children and their children
      will get in on this
   As the word is passed along
      from parent to child.
   Babies not yet conceived
      will hear the good news—
      that God does what he says.
(Psalm 22:25-31; The Message)
 
 
Meditations:
  • Is this psalm a dead song - only for singing as praise hyperbole at worship?
  • Is this psalm living prophesy - for the conduct of a righteous life?
  • Is this psalm a prayer - seeking aide and guidance?
  • Does this psalm change the way I view worship?
  • Am I described in this psalm?