Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Why Did Jesus Come?

To judge? 
To live? 
To die? 
To empathize?
To save us from Sin; 
from Satan; 
from ourselves - 
from an angry God?



When it became the right time, God sent Their Son: a baby born to a woman; born into bondage under harsh Law - sent to free all those also born in bondage, so that we may be adopted as his sisters and brothers. As loving children, filled with the Spirit, we recognize God as "Daddy", as "Mommy"! No longer are we prisoners to the Law, but children and heirs of God. (Galatians 4:4-7)

Jesus came to make us family.




(photography by tiwago)


Monday, December 25, 2017

That Glorious Song of Old


"O rest beside the weary road,
and hear the angels sing."

~ Sears and Willis



(photography by tiwago)

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Annunciation of Favor


In the sixth month of Elizabeth's impossible pregnancy, the Messenger Gabriel (God Is My Strength) was sent by God to the community of Nazareth on Gennesaret to speak to a girl in Elizabeth's family. Her name was Miryam; she whom we now call Mary. She was engaged to be wed to a good man named Joseph; both she and her fiance were descended from King David's family. But that was long ago; both were humble working people.

"Greetings 'favored' one." (A "favor" is a good deed, an act of grace; to "favor" is to approve, support, back, sanctify, encourage, resemble, or uphold.) "The Lord is with you." This was an odd greeting from a stranger. Why was any man speaking to a woman so bluntly at all? She fell into thought.

"Don't be afraid Miryam, for you have God's favor. You will conceive a fetus which will be nurtured in your womb. He will be a boy, and when he is born, you will name him Yeshua (to rescue and deliver - Jesus, the Son of God). He will be Forever-King of an eternal Kingdom."

"Sir, this is not possible - I am a maiden, pure and intact for my husband-to-be! How can you speak so ill of me; defaming me - defaming Joseph?"

In my mind, I see the angel smile. "Your 'shame' shall be your glory! The Spirit will come to you; the Father will transfigure you; and you will bear, nurse, teach, and mother the Son. 'This is not possible'? Go and visit your relative Elizabeth. With God, nothing is 'not possible'.

Before she left though, she prayed. "Here I am, Lord; I am Yours. Let me be of service."

Her visitor was no longer there.


(From Luke 1:26-38)




(Painting by William Waterhouse)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

God's Habitat


When we are comfortable, we assume that God wishes comfort too. 

David told Nathan that he felt guilty for living in a fancy mansion, while God was stuck in Their old camper. Nathan told him that whatever he planned, God would bless the project. But, that night, God vetoed this prosperity gospel: "Who is David that he'd build a house for me? I've not lived in a house since Moses was a boy; my home has been with my people! Have I ever complained about the accommodations? Am I a soft god? Do I need soft rugs and cushy seats? Do I lust for rich tapestries and shiny things? Did I command you to build a gilded cage for me? I am Immanuel; I am at home where my children live and where their children play - where they work, and dream, and cry, and talk to me, and suffer, and celebrate."

"Are your hearts and minds now too small to house me?"


(Based on 2 Samuel 7:1-7)

Friday, December 15, 2017

Advent: Preparation


1. Rejoice (always);
2. Pray (without ceasing);
3. Give Thanks (no matter what);
4. Give Yourself (to the Spirit);
5. Listen (to the elders and the Bible);
6. Test (EVERTHING);
7. Resist (the temptation of the easy way); and
8. Abstain (from hurting others).

May the Lord of Peace: perfect you; maintain you  body, spirit, and soul; and keep you innocent - as we wait again for the coming of Christ. The One who calls you is faithful to you, and will keep faith with you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24



Thursday, December 14, 2017

Advent: The Magnificat and Mary's Magnificence


"My soul MAGNIFIES the Lord..."

Magnify: laud; praise; acclaim; exalt; extol; glorify; revere; adore; worship; reverence.
Word origin: Latin magnus = large; also gives us magnanimous, and magnificent.
(Family Word Finder; 1975)

"and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior, for He smiled on His most insignificant servant. From now unto the very end of time and space, beings will know that the Mighty One has done something magnificent for me? In me? With me? Holy, Holy, Holy is His name!

His hand lies in loving care upon those who embrace Him; generations after generations. He has revealed to us His self and His power: he has scattered those who think only of themselves; He has dethroned the powerful, and lifted up the powerless; He has fed and nourished the hungry with good food, but sent the empty rich away fruitless. He has helped His people by the grace of His mercy, keeping the Covenants He made with us."

Luke 1:46b-55


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Advent: A New Hope; Part 2


I AM
Grace
And
I AM
Mercy

I AM
Love
And
I love
Justice

I AM
Goodness
And
I hate
Greed

I AM
Faithful
And
I paid off
Your debts

I will make with you
A covenant everlasting
Your descendants will be known
Across the world for their goodness
All will see that they a truly blessed

I am Isaiah
Every molecule of my body
Vibrates in a dance of joy
I was naked but They clothed me
I was ordinary but They made me special

Shoots rise up from the soil
Seeds sprout in the garden
Righteousness and gratitude
Shall spring up in all nations


                       ~ Tiwago


(From Isiah 61:8-11)




(photography by tiwago)



Monday, December 11, 2017

Advent: A New Hope; Part 1


I am called Isaiah, and
The Spirit's crisp Breath 
Cleanses my lungs, and
Oxygenates my every cell;
Clarifying my muddled mind.

Abba's oil drips from my hair;
Diamonds decorating my beard!
Anointed for one great mission:
To bear good tidings of Hope;
And announce the coming of Joy.

Good news to all who are oppressed
By government, religion, or people.

Mending and healing those of us
Whose hearts are broken vessels.

To emancipate those held captive
By sex or drugs, by fame or money.

To release those imprissioned
By injustice, or prejudgments. 

To be a herald of God's Love,
And to Their coming judgment.

To comfort all those who mourn:
Garlands instead of thorns;
Gladness instead of sadness;
Thankful hearts instead of 
Fretful nerves and stomachs.

They will be mighty oaks,
Sacred trees of holiness;
A glorious prairie grove!

They will fix infrastructures:
Repairing broken communities;
Restoring a devastated planet.


~ Tiwago

(From Isaiah 61:1-4)




(photography by tiwago)






Thursday, December 7, 2017

Advent; The Beginning of Good News


The beginning of
the Good News of
Jesus the Christ
(the Son of God)
written by old
Prophet Isaiah
long, long, ago:

"Make the Way
straight and easy!"
[Do we still hear 
Wild John,
or do we plot
an obstacle course?]

Wild and untamed,
John stood straight
in the Wilderness,
preaching repentance,
teaching forgiveness -
and so, they came to him,
to be washed clean.

Wild and untamed,
the image of Creation,
he spread the Good News:
"One comes after me
who is more
than me;
I am blessed
with undue grace!
I baptize with cleansing water,
but he who is coming
(the Living Water)
will baptize with purify fire,
with the Holy Spirit."

~ Tiwago



(From Mark 1:1-8)



(photography by tiwago)







Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Advent: Tidings of Comfort and Joy

I do not have true "wilderness" here in northern Illinois, but I do have natural areas. Sometimes, I just want to go outdoors and yell!


Comforters: Give comfort to my people - they are distraught and depressed. Speak to them with tenderness, crying with them; let them know that the long night is coming to an end...

Hark, the Herald Angel sings: "Go into the Wilderness and prepare for the coming of the Lord; find a clear path among the trees. The low will be raised up, and the high shall be brought down - earthly disparity will give way to heavenly equality. The trail will be easy to follow and safe from stumbling obstacles. There you will see the Glory of the Lord (everyone will recognize it); the breathe of the Lord will grace your cheek."

"SCREAM!" I hear a voice say - so I scream: "WHAT?" 

"Tell them that beautiful flowers wither away, green leaves turn to parchment and float to the ground, the breeze dances through the trees. So is life for us all. But life continues anew; death is always reclaimed. God waits with us."

Hark, the Herald Angel sings: "Go. Tell it on the Mountain - tidings of comfort and joy: 'Fear not.' Hear me: God is here! See? The Lord comes in power and in might. With grace and mercy, the Shepherd will feed the flock. The young will nestle in his strong, but gentle, arms; and soft will be his hand upon the Mother.

(From Isaiah 40:1-11)


(photography by tiwago)



Saturday, December 2, 2017

An Advent Haiku


trees shed their glory,
as calendars pass away -
i dream of green life...


                 ~ tiwago

 
 

(photography by tiwago)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Advent Meditation - Keep Awake


But,
In coming days,
After the great Suffering,
The Sun will grow dim and cold,
And no light will reflect off of the Moon,
And like embers from a fire, the stars will fall down,
As time and space are shaken apart;
They will see the Son of Man coming,
In all power and all glory.

The Heavenly Host will go forth -
The Earthly Saints will come forth.

Learn the lesson of the Fig Tree:
When its green leaves come forth,
We know that summer is nearby -
When we see these cosmic things,
We know that the Son is nearby.

Summer will be here any day now!
The Universe will die some day:
But my words will not die;
But the Word will not die;
Some unknowable day.
Keep awake!
Stay woke!
He comes:
Unexpectedly;
Keep awake.
Stay woke;
Expectantly. 

(From Mark 13:24-37)


Jesus saw that the tree bore leaves but no figs, so he cursed it. (Mark 11:12&13)


Could you not keep awake? (Mark 14:37&38)


(Painting by Jean Cousin)



Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Come Down! Advent Prayers

Advent prayers are psalmic lamentations, and pleadings for incarnation within us and within the world.


Heaven is not a gated-community;
Sunder the gate and come down!
Let the mountain-tops tremble;
Let the prairie-fires renew the grass;
Let stagnant water turn to living steam;
Let my enemies know Your name;
Let all the nations be discomforted.

Awesome are Your surprising acts,
When You came down -
The roots of the mountains trembled!
No ear has heard such as You;
No eye has seen such as You;
No tongue has tasted such as You;
No skin has felt such as You; 
No nose has smelled such as You;
No mind has perceived such as You;
Nothing fills me such as You!

You wait upon those who wait;
You live with those who do good.
But, most of us do little for others,
So You withdrew Yourself from us.
You withdrew from us, so we sinned.
We are polluted, our motives are bad,
So our works are soured dish-cloths.

We're fading away like autumn leaves;
Our wrongs are the stiff winds of fall,
And we are blown far from the Tree.

No one calls on You,
Because You're gone!
You've turned away;
You've handed us
Over to ourselves,
And so we suffer.

But, You are Father and Mother,
But, You are Potter and Mender,
And we, Your precious Kintsugi!

Don't hate us anymore!
Don't ignore us forever!
Think of us all;
We are Your 
Children...

(From Isaiah 64:1-9)


Stir Yourself; come down and save us from the evil within us! Restore us, Abba, by smiling at us again - save us from Your absence. How much longer will our every prayer bring about Your wrath? Our daily bread is a communion by intincture (sopped in our own tears), and the chalice is full of Your salty teardrops. 

Our nation is a joke to the nations, and the world laughs at us. Restore us, Abba, by smiling at us again - save us from Your absence. Lay Your hand upon Your Anointed-One, full of Your might. Then we'll never turn from You! Breathe upon us again, and we will call on You! Restore us, Abba, by smiling at us again - save us from Your absence.

(From Psalm 80:2-7 and 17-19)



(photography by tiwago)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Not By / But By


Not by
Wanting
Hard-enough
Trying
A little harder
Dreaming
It into being
Not by
Any possible effort
Do I become
The real
The actual
The realized 
The whole
The perfected
Me

But by
Letting go
And by
Crawling
And by 
Abiding
And by
Eating
Toxins
I come
To truly
Be


~ Tiwago



(photography by tiwago)



Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Christ the King Sunday

The last Sunday of the Church's year.
The Sunday before Advent.

As a convert (2003), I had always assumed that Christ the King Sunday was some ancient tradition, but I was wrong. It started in 1925 as a protest against the government of Mexico which had demanded that Christian's "ultimate" allegiance be to their country, rather than to God. Most churches that follow the Revised Common Lectionary celebrate Christ the King Sunday.


My congregation is coming to the end of its read-the-Bible-in-a-year, and one of the readings for this weekend was Ezekiel 34:11-24. At the same time, one of the readings for Christ the King Sunday is Ezekiel 34:11-16, and 20-24! Coincidences happen - but they usually nudge me.

Ezekiel was a Priest and a Prophet around 580 BC during the Babylonian invasion and exile. He preached that his country had lost its way, had become weak and vulnerable, due to bad leadership in the Government and the Temple by selfish and short-sighted "shepherds" who worshipped power, money, and safety instead of God.

"The officials in her are like wolves ripping up prey. They shed blood and destroy lives for unjust riches. Her prophets have whitewashed everything for them, seeing false visions and making wrong predictions for them, saying, 'This is what the Lord God says,' when the Lord hasn’t spoken. The important people of the land have practiced extortion and have committed robbery. They’ve oppressed the poor and mistreated the immigrant. They’ve oppressed and denied justice." (Ezekiel 22:27-29; CEB)

What do we learn about good leaders from today's reading from Ezekiel 34?

1. Good leaders are Uniters: "The Lord God proclaims: I myself will search for my flock and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out the flock when some in the flock have been scattered, so will I seek out my flock. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered during the time of clouds and thick darkness. I will gather and lead them out from the countries and peoples, and I will bring them to their own fertile land." (v. 11-13)

2. Good leaders are Care-takers:"I will feed them on Israel’s highlands, along the riverbeds, and in all the inhabited places. I will feed them in good pasture, and their sheepfold will be there, on Israel’s lofty highlands. On Israel’s highlands, they will lie down in a secure fold and feed on green pastures. I myself will feed my flock and make them lie down. This is what the Lord God says." (v. 14-15)

3. Good leaders are Servant-Leaders: "I will seek out the lost, bring back the strays, bind up the wounded, and strengthen the weak. But the fat and the strong I will destroy, because I will tend my sheep with justice." (v. 16) 

4. Good leaders are Just: "So the Lord God proclaims to them: I will judge between the fat and the lean sheep. You shove with shoulder and flank, and with your horns you ram all the weak sheep until you’ve scattered them outside. But I will rescue my flock so that they will never again be prey. I will even judge between the sheep!' (v. 20-22; see also our other reading for today Matthew 25:31-46) 

5. Good leaders are Empathetic"What you did for my people, you did for me." (Matthew 25:31-46)

On the other hand, bad leaders are self-centered:"As for you, my flock, the Lord God proclaims: I will judge between the rams and the bucks among the sheep and the goats. Is feeding in good pasture or drinking clear water such a trivial thing that you should trample and muddy what is left with your feet? But now my flock must feed on what your feet have trampled and drink water that your feet have muddied." (v. 17-19)

Things looked pretty hopeless for Israel in those days. I must admit, that some days I feel pretty hopeless in our present situation. But finally, in the thirty-fourth chapter, Ezekiel offers hope:"I will appoint for them a single shepherd, and he will feed them. My servant David will feed them. He will be their shepherd. I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David will be their prince. I, the Lord, have spoken." (v. 23-24)

The King came,and will come.Always here,Always approaching.Final Sunday 
leads to First Sunday.





Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Along the Way


Not all obstacles
Slow you down -
Some make your feet
Faster than your head.

             ~ Tiwago

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Jesus Wept


Jesus wept...

I don't want to leave you in the dark,
Nor leave you alone and confused -
You need not so grievously grieve,
As do those who live without hope.

But still,
Jesus wept...

He died and we die;
And yet he lived beyond,
And we shall live as well.

And yet,
Jesus wept...

He wept for a friend who died
Thinking that it was the end.
He wept for women he loved,
Who thought their brother 
Dead beyond hope of life.

And so,
Jesus wept:
For sorrow; 
For joy;
For them;
For us all.

First we die to self,
Then we die to earth,
Then we truly live,
Within his fullness.

Jesus wept
That we may know true love.
Let us encourage each other -
A baptism of cleansing tears.


~ Tiwago

Monday, November 6, 2017

Parable of the Coffeeless


My Kingdom is like this:

Ten people got in line outside the Apple store the day before, waiting to get ahold of the new iPhone X as soon as it came out. Five of them were foolish, and five were smart.

The foolish had coffee in paper-cups, but the wise had large thermoses full of coffee. It was cold and damp - a long and unpleasant ordeal. At midnight, there was a faceless shout: "Is that a Genius moving about in the store?" Awakened, the people who had come prepared poured themselves more revitalizing coffee for they needed a lift. But the fools had already drank all their coffee. "Please." they begged the five smarter friends, "Let us have some of your coffee." "No." they were told, "If we do that, then none of us will have enough to stay awake the rest of the night. There's an all-night coffee-shop down the street. If you hurry, maybe you can be back in time."

While they were gone on their java-run though, the store-doors opened. Only as many people were allowed in as there were phones available, and the doors started to close. Coffee in hand, the foolish five ran up to the door: "Let us in! Let us in!! We've been in line all night, and were just gone for a moment!!! Don't you remember us?" But the Genius replied, "No, I don't."

Stay woke therefore, for the day and the hour are shrouded in mystery.

Matthew 25:1-13

Thursday, November 2, 2017

For My Yoke Is Light

Jesus spoke to those who followed him, and to those who were just curious: "The religious authorities are Biblical experts. Listen to what they say - but do not emulate them, for they are dead-weight. They make life harsh and burdensome for people, but they don't lift even a finger to help them, comfort them, care for them! They make a big public show about their devotion to God and to the Law to appear "holy". They lust after, and are addicted to, fame, power, and status. 

But you - you are not to be like them. Jesus is your Master; not the Bible or the interpreters of the Bible. God is your Father/Mother; not a religious "brand". Live your life as a small-group facilitator rather than as an "expert".

The "important" people - the politicians, the celebrities, the religious leaders - are YOUR servants; not the way we have it now. All who praise themselves shall be humbled, while those who are humble shall be praised.

(Taken from Matthew 23:1-12)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Micah: Who's REALLY Like God?


God has something to say to leaders who lead people astray - leaders who cry for peace and obedience when things are going their way, but who call for war and rebellion when things don't: "It shall all be darkness to you because you are without true vision; your day is coming to an end."

Their perversions and corruption will lead to their public disgrace. Their fear-mongering and dire predictions of "social evils"shall be seen as small-minded self-centered lies. They will finally all just shut-up, and quit claiming to be God's chosen judges and messengers!

But I can't be quiet; for I am filled with the Spirit, the Justice, and the Power of the Lord - lightning in a bottle! I am DRIVEN to show my nation how it has fallen. Listen up governmental officials who abhor Justice and Equality, who built the nation on blood and lies. Hear me you corrupt leaders and profit-driven "prophets". Pay attention all you who claim manifest destiny, special providence, exceptionalism... You aren't warning us of the nation's collapse, you are causing it!

(Taken from Micah 3:5-12)


Saturday, October 28, 2017

It Is Cold Tonight


The Dark-night of the Soul,
Is a still and quiet cocoon -
If, I let it be...

~ Tiwago


(photography by tiwago)

Friday, October 27, 2017

Nature's Eyes

Do you ever feel that someone is watching you?


Some judge
     The Creator by
          The creation -

     I feel Creation
Judging us...

Tiwago


(photography by tiwago)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Food and Marriage

Dear Tim:

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.
1 Timothy 4:1-6

Illustration from Treasures of the Bible by Henry Davenport Northrop, 1894.

What does it mean that marriage and food restrictions are shown to be wrong in the same sentence? That both are referred to as God-made (godly) and given to us as a gift?
What godly things do we spurn because of dogma, misinterpretation, false-teaching, refusal to accept change, or ignorance?

Driven

According to Mark... This is not the Reader's Digest version, for it came first.  This is not an outline for others to follow, it w...