Thursday, August 31, 2017

This Is Love

Let your love be real: fight against everything that is evil; encourage and nurture everything that is good.

Let your love be mutual affection; outdo each other in respecting and encouraging each other.

Do not grow lukewarm. Be in the Spirit and be ardently in love. Serve the Lord with how you live. Celebrate hope with others. Be patient while you go through hell. When you say and walk your prayers: resist; insist; persist; and enlist. Give to those who have less than you. Be fully hospitable to space aliens, immigrants, and other strangers. Bless those who dump on you; if you bless them instead of cursing them, it will drive them nuts. Party with those who are celebrating, and cry with those who are mourning.

Be part of a civilized society and live together in harmony. Don't have a stick up your butt; hang with some lowlifes once in a while - Jesus did. Always remember and never forget, you're not nearly as smart as you think you are. People know!

Be in the world but not of it; do not fight violence and hate with violence and hate. For God's sake, think before you open your mouth the next time! If it is at all remotely feasibly conceivably possible, live peaceable with everyone. Never, never, ever "get even", "pay them back", or "show them". NEVER. Life is not meant to be a Revenge Of The ________ movie! Let God take care of the wrath and vengeance thing. 

In the meanwhile, if your enemy is hungry, invite them over for supper. If they are thirsty, take them out and buy them a drink. If you are nice to someone (specially in public) who can't stand you, you get to sit back and watch their face turn bright red with impotent fury and/or shame.

The world sucks sometimes, but don't let evil get you down or turn you to the dark-side - overwhelm evil (drown it) with goodness, kindness, and love. 

Romans 12:9-21

(photography by tiwago)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

God Speaks to the Curious

Exodus 3:1-15

A murderer on the lam,
Hiding in the desert.
Herder of another's sheep,
Married the boss' daughter.
He led his cranky flock,
Through the Wilderness,
To God's own Mountain.

Off the trail a bush, on fire;
Flame came from the shrub,
But it did not die,
But it did not char,
But it did not turn to ash.
"Amazing! Fascinating!
I must check this out!"
He turned aside to see.

The Lord waited for him,
For him to turn aside to see;
The Lord spoke from the bush:
"Moses, Moses, I AM here.
Take off your worn-out shoes,
For you stand upon the soil,
Of the Kingdom of Heaven.

I AM the God of your father,
A nameless slave of Egypt.
I AM the God of All-Father Abraham;
God of Isaac, Master Breeder of Sheep;
The God of Jacob the Bold Trickster."
Poor Moses hid his face from God,
For he feared to see the Face of God.

"Moses, Moses, I have seen,
The misery of my people:
I have heard the whip lash;
I have felt it on my back -
I've come to take them home.
I hear them crying to me now.
I've seen their inhuman torture.

Moses, Moses, come to me and go.
Go to the rich and pompous ruler,
Who oppresses my beloved children;
And take my people to their home."

"But! But! But! But! But! But!
Who am I that I can go to a king?
Who am I to free his many slaves?
Who am I to take them back home?
I am no longer a lord of Egypt!"

"Moses, Moses, I will go with you."

"Will they be able to see you as I do now?
Will you appear to them as a burning bush?
What if they want to know who sent me?
What if they ask your unknowable name?"

"I Am just who I AM.
There is nothing more,
That anything can be.
Tell them I AM sent you.
Tell them I AM the God of their ancestors.
Tell them I AM the God of Father Abraham.
Tell them I AM the God of Isaac and Jacob.
All this and much more is my forever Name;
This is the title that I'll cherish for all of time.


(photography by tiwago)

Friday, August 25, 2017

Who Am I?

The Teacher asked his students: "Scripture tells us of a Son of Man. Who do people say it is?"

"Your cousin John!"



"Some other prophet! Some other prophet!"

Then their Rabbi asked them: "What about you? Who do you say I am?" Whoa, whoa, whoa - trick question alert! Only one of them was brave enough (or foolish enough) to answer; Simon bar Jonah.

"You are the Anointed One, the Son of the Living God!" 


Drop the fish-net!

"You are indeed blessed my Petra! I have hidden myself from you, so you wouldn't know who I AM unless as my Father revealed me to you. You did not fear to allow the Spirit to speak a foolish Truth through you. I named you Peter, the Rock, and from you I will build my Church. The Gates of Hell will hold no more terror for you, for I give my Church the key to the Pearly Gates. You have a great duty: what you do on Earth, you do in the Kingdom of Heaven; but beware, because what you don't do on Earth you won't be able to do in the Kingdom." 

Then with strong words he commanded them: "Don't tell them yet who I am! It will only freak them out before it's time." 

Matthew 16:13-20

("Head of Christ" by Rembrandt)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Exod Us

A new King had come into power in the nation. He had forgotten the nation's long history of welcoming immigrants in need; he did not know the true greatness of the nation. There was a concern that "those people" were having children at a greater rate than the white folks were. "We must do something!" they said. "If there were an election today, they would all vote against us! If we lose our power, we will become extinct!"

"Let's say out loud that we don't want them and that we are soon going to kick them out, but all the while, we'll take advantage of them and get richer off of them." So they passed laws that allowed abusive hiring and housing practices, all the while they depended upon them for construction and farming. They provided all the critical functions that whites were too proud to do, they were cheap, and you didn't need to worry about their health or safety. If they were worked into early graves, so much the better!

"They may not have access to the great healthcare that we have, or they'll just have more children! Let us make it so only rich lords and ladies can go to the hospital or to doctors." Yet, the immigrant community was served by volunteer care-providers that neither money nor power could control. The religious and the political leaders (one and the same since the King was a god) were pro-life and said to these Midwives: "Contraceptives and abortion are against the law and you must never provide them! But, whenever one of these people give birth to a boy, LET HIM DIE!"

But these helpers were more concerned with being right than with being legal. They were there to do good, not harm. The baby boys lived.

So the King called the Midwives and spoke to these activists: "Why have you violated the law? Why have you allowed their boys to survive?" "Because Sir, they are of strong peasant stock. The women don't need sedatives or painkillers like your women do; they just give birth out there in the field and then keep on working!" Yahweh was pleased with their resistance. The people grew in numbers and in economic importance. 

The King figured out that he could not force good people to do evil, so he appealed to the public. There were people out there who would willingly throw a baby into the river to drown. There have always been such people. People who think terror is power, or people who think laws must be followed blindly.

The Levite* family were excited and terrified when they discovered they were going to have a child. They did not know if it would be a girl, or if it would be a son delivered as if he were stillborn. The midwives came secretly and helped her give birth to a fine son. She hid her boy hoping to at least nurse him until he could be weened. This worked for three months, but too many people knew. She and her family made a water tight pod (an ark). Then they told all their neighbors that they had put the boy in the river as the law required. They did not break the law, they bent it into a basket!

The boy's big sister watched the pod float down the broad and sluggish river. Ready to step-in in the case of a gator or a cotton-mouth. Imagine her surprise when she saw the Princess skinny-dipping! Seeing the tiny boat, the Princess sent one of her immigrant maids into the river to fetch this curious item. It was beautifully made and water-sealed to perfection; it must contain a treasure of great worth! 

She opened it herself. When she opened it, the child who had calmly rested on the bosom of Mother River, began to cry in hunger. The Princess had a good heart, and she took pity on the baby. Meanwhile, his sister had snuck into the group and mingled with the servants. (Cheeky girl!) "My Lady," she respectfully asked, "shall I get an immigrant woman to be a nursemaid for your new son?" "Do it," commanded the Princess.

So the girl ran off and got her mother, and brought her before the Princess. "Take this child, and nurse him. I will give you money to support him and your family. When he is fully off the breast, bring him to Court and he will be educated as befits the grandson of the King."

And so a Jew grew to have a voice in the Court of the King. They called him "Moses", which meant, "look what the cat drug in!"

Exodus 1:8 to 2:10

(photography by tiwago)

*Sidebar: When I was young, my family were friends with another family, the Levites. I played with their son, his name was Lew. This matters not al all to the story, but it does to me.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Nothing About the Eclipse! Or - When Scripture Smacks Me Upside the Head

Leroy Jethro Gibbs* demonstrates love for his work-family by smacking them upside the head - and they know it and welcome it. Romans 12 smacked me upside the head this morning...

During my morning devotional today (Day 22 of 40 Days With Wesley) I read Romans 12:1-6b. Next, being a Monday, I started on my weekly discipline of meditating and blogging upon the Revised Common Lectionary, when I noticed that one of the readings for this Sunday is Romans 12:1-8. This is just a coincidence. Yet, sometimes, a coincidence makes me do a double-take and look more deeply than otherwise. (God does not smite me in my stupid self-centeredness, but I think They might smack me upside the head with a little love-tap once in a while...)

"Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God..." It is so easy for us as parents and grandparents to use this verse as a plea to protect one's virginity, one's "purity''. Yet the rest of verse 1 says it's not how we use our bodies, but how we don't use them: "which is your spiritual worship." We are to worship the Lord with our bodies by doing the work of Christ's Body here and now. We are cautioned about trying too hard to fit in to the fame-and-celebrity culture we are drowning in. Instead, we're to use our minds to look at things in a new light - in the Light. To the politicians and the "Faces" comes this totally ignored warning: "You're not nearly as hot as you think you are! God gave you a brain and all your gifts, so quit acting like you're so special." To put words in Forrest Gump's mouth: "Holy is as Holy does."

"'As he that hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.' (1 Peter 1:15) According to this Apostle, then, perfection is another name for universal holiness: Inward and outward righteousness: Holiness of life, arising from holiness of heart." John Wesley 

We are not all called to be "Faces", but we are all miscellaneous essential Body-parts. Paul tells us that we are all just one big walking/talking hunk of meat - each one of us with a different purpose, yet each an integral part of the whole and wholly (and holy) dependent upon each other. Each and every one of us (even the missing parts) is critically important to the health and functioning of the whole Body.

So, what's a Body to do?

"By Methodists I mean, a people who profess to pursue (in whatsoever measure they have attained) holiness of heart and life, inward and outward conformity in all things to the revealed will of God; who place religion in an uniform resemblance of the great object of it; in a steady imitation of Him they worship, in all his imitable perfection; more particularly, in justice, mercy, and truth, or universal love filling the heart, and governing the life." John Wesley

Sweet Weed: Wild Blackberries by Tiwago

* "Leroy" = the King; "Jethro" = Abundance; and "Gib" = Servant of St. Bridget. (Just saying...)

IMHO - On Glamorizing History Into Oblivion

Having worked in preservation, I know how important interpretation is to understanding.

Besides the history of the person or event being memorialized, and the artist who created the monument, it is also important to interpret the time it was installed and why it was placed where it was.

To erect a new statue to Sherman in Atlanta to celebrate the destruction of his March to the Sea would be inappropriate today. As are Jim Crow era monuments glorifying those who fought to protect a slave-based economy. How many of these "historic artifacts" were erected right after the showing of the 1915 hate propaganda film "The Birth of a Nation" (aka "The Clansman")?

Yet at other places, statues, flags, and memorials serve as important tools to interpreters and other educators today, to historians in the future. It is said that if we do not learn from the mistakes of our past, we are doomed to repeat them. This only works if we can balance honesty and sensitivity. If we glorify the past as a golden age, are we not more likely to strive to resurrect it rather than to learn from it?

"Maybe next to every confederate statue we should put statues of slaves in chains with a plaque that says 'the person in the confederate statue fought to preserve this.' At least then it would be more clear what we are 'memorializing.'"  Mark Davies

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Food - Part Two: The Lord's Table

Jesus then went to Lebanon. There a woman, a descendent of survivors of the Canaanite genocide, shouted to get his attention: "Mercy, Lord - my child needs help!" He ignored her, and walked on; but she pursued him.

His students begged him to send her away: "We can't shut her up! We warned her, but she persists."

He turned to her. He did not silence her. Instead, he spoke to her: "I was sent for the wayward ones, not for the nones."

She got down in the dirt before him: "A child needs help."

Looking down, he said: "It's not fair to take bread from the mouths of hungry children to give it to the dogs."

"You're right," she said, "it isn't fair, but it is just! Haven't dogs always cleaned the floor beneath their Masters' tables?"

Jesus' face broke into a smile. "Ma'am, the mustard seed found very fertile soil in you! It is as you've asked."

And the little girl was at once restored to full health.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Food - Part One: Junk Food and Good Health

The Teacher from Nazareth called out to them: "Gather 'round, my children. Listen up! It's not the junk-food that you snarf down that makes you sick, it's the hateful things that you vomit up." 

Afterwards, some of his students gave him a heads-up: "Some religious conservatives were upset with what you said."

"Every weed," said Jesus, "will be pulled.  They're blind leaders, blindly following their chosen rules, refusing to see the rules they do not choose, leading blind followers over the edge with their inability to see the Will within the Law."

My buddy Peter bravely spoke up: "I don't get it."

Jesus asked him "Still?", with a wink. "Any food that you eat goes through your digestive tract, right? Anything that is good for your body is used, while the waste goes down the toilet. But when you spew evil, hateful, insulting words - when you spread rumors - when you lie, that is when you defile yourself and corrupt others. From your id comes forth animal intentions and selfish actions that hurt others and withhold love. It is these things that pollute you, not pork or shellfish - dirty minds, not dirty hands."

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Letter to the Romans 10:8-10

The Word is near; he is on the tip of your tongue and in the deepest thoughts of your mind. 

Hear these words of grace - if you pledge allegiance to Jesus as your liege Lord (forsaking lesser oaths of loyalty) and if you KNOW that he arose from death, you are salvaged goods (redeemed and restored)! Rest in confident assurance for it is with your brain that you know this (studying scriptures interpreted through the Spirit; using your God-given powers of reasoning; reflecting and meditating upon your life-experiences and past relationship status with God and each other; and knowing and understanding the world's history, the traditions of the Church, and the wisdom of your spiritual mothers and fathers), and it is with your mouth (and feet and hands) that you repent and are brought back into a right relationship with God and into righteousness.

(photography by tiwago)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Beware the Tare

there are those who will throw shade on others;
rushing to grab all  the nutrients for themselves;

showy exhibitionists doing nothing of worth,
and yet in your face, demanding more space!


(photography by tiwago)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Men Are the Weaker Sex

"Then Yahweh thought, 'The man shouldn't be lonely; I will make him an ezer.'" 
Genesis 2:18

"Eve Naming the Birds" by William Blake

I looked up the meaning of "ezer" and I found a few - Adam's ezer is his:
     power and strength;
     succor and lifesaver;
     savior and protector.

Ezer most frequently refers to God. "The Hebrew word is ezer. it does not signify a weaker individual meant to serve another, but rather a strong individual coming to the aid of someone weaker." 
(Adam Hamilton; Making Sense of the Bible)

Saturday, August 5, 2017

For I Am Naked

and yet they, 
the lord, still
walk beside me,
work beside me,
in the garden;

and yet i am,
adam and eve,
too self-absorbed
to notice them...


(photography by tiwago)

Friday, August 4, 2017

Hollow Shells

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." 
Inigo Montoya

"But the most common of all the enthusiasts of this kind, are those who imagine themselves Christians...

... and are not.

These abound, not only in all parts of our land, but in most parts of the habitable earth. That they are not Christians is clear and undeniable, if we believe the oracles of God.

     For Christians are holy; 
these are unholy; 
     Christians love God; 
these love the world: 
     Christians are humble; 
these are proud; 
     Christians are gentle; 
these are passionate; 
     Christians have the mind which was in Christ; 
these are at the utmost distance from it. 

Consequently, they are no more Christians than they are archangels.

Yet they imagine themselves themselves to be; and they can give several reasons for it: 
  • For they have been called so ever since they can remember; they were christened many years ago; 
  • they embrace the Christian opinions, vulgarly termed the Christian or Catholic faith; 
  • they use the Christian modes of worship, as their fathers did before them; 
  • they live what is called a good Christian life, as the rest of their neighbors do.

And who shall presume to think or say that these men are not Christians? - though without one grain of faith in Christ, or of real inward holiness: without ever having tasted the love of God, or been 'made partakers of the Holy Ghost!"
John Wesley

We dishonor the name of God when we say we are Christians, but have not the mind and heart of Christ.

We blaspheme against Christ when we say that he is Lord, but do not love God as we love our money, power, and status, nor do we love others as much as we love ourselves.

We are not Christlike when we act so unlike Christ.

Faux Christians...
are no Christians.

(photography by tiwago)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

His Song

this morning he sang, 
the sun up from its bed;

the breath of his song, 
makes waves in the tall grass,
and keeps the world in motion;

his song shares,
his joy in light,
his yearning heart, 
his love of life,and
the creator's word;

he sang,
and it was good


(photography by tiwago)


Suddenly, from out of nowhere, rumors of a man called Jesus were everywhere. King Herod's attorneys and advisors had all sorts of ide...