Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday Night Travelling Musician

the troubadour is in town, his skill
(beyond the average coffee house)
could carry him to Nashville ~
instead his guitar, scarred from the
church / camp / hospital / nursing home
circuit, bridges gaps between strangers

tomorrow, this sanctuary will fill
we'll sing old songs and ancient liturgies
adapted for here and now, helping us
make sense of today's world

tonight, though, sense is made as
we're transfixed and transformed by
virtuosic fingers on the guitar accompanying
ringing tenor vocals which fill the sanctuary

Sunday, this room will be filled
tonight, too, we are becoming church

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

pilgrim grace

ositnato refrain echoing
one voice to another
one voice from the other
one side and the other
back and forth
as we make our pilgrimage
one after another
to receive grace
to receive transformation from
life to death

throughout this (baptismal) journey
one side echoes the other
from across the aisle
until we meet one another,
pilgrims from far away
though the distance only spans
a simple sanctuary, simply
recalling so many pilgrims
of so many ages

when we meet in the aisle,
our voices - far apart a moment ago -
blend together nearer to our ear
as the sound still blends
above our heads, carrying
our prayer to G-d - and from heaven
our prayer echoes back
resounding through our midst
as we make pilgrimage
toward grace

Monday, January 24, 2011

divine grace

hotel lobby
transformed into

as ripples of
liturgical responses
overwhelm other conversations

and we turn to
confess, and to hear the
promise of forgiveness

transforming us,
lobby to narthex,
welcoming us into

divine grace

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Union Station

echoing through the vast openness
the sound of travel
of waiting and arrival
of parting and reunion
recalls, nostalgically,
a day past,
when (our cultural memory,
having forgotten
greater and lesser depressions
and the tenuous bridge wrought of
handwritten letters
spanned great train-distances,
tells us)
things were great

union station, whatever city
has no equal
the vast expanse of
patterned floors and carved walls
of marble and limestone
belie much of the
deep-felt, yet often-shattered, hope
carried through the lobby,
heavier than the luggage

though, perhaps,
through the great sorrow
found in vast emptiness,
populated though it may be,
a gospel train still comes
to track us from death to new life

who do we worship?

the only god who makes sense
to my intellect
is distant

the only god who makes sense
to my intellect
wants my success
wants to reward me
wants to grant me victory
~ but not until I've earned it

this is not my god

the living G-d,
who encounters my soul
(deeper and closer than intellect)
meets me in
divine weakness and poverty
in/with/under human suffering

the living G-d knows my soul,
opens my heart to the world
draws me out of my own pain
so I can fully meet my neighbor

the living G-d loves my soul
mended, but scarred
the living G-d loves my soul
deeply and completely

never ignoring part,
but embracing all of who I am

Saturday, January 22, 2011

why church?

we've taken passion for the life-giving ruler of the universe
and transformed that passion,
through rules and mandates,
into tedium

we've made god into someone we're supposed to satisfy
instead of expecting to receive satisfaction
and salvation
from our living G-d

maybe we need to give up religion
its rules and laws
dead rituals and dying liturgies
in order that we can be in relationship
with the Messiah?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

come and see

come and see what’s happening in the world
come and see what God is up to

this, I believe, is what young people long for
this is what they are searching for,
what they are wanting from their communities of faith

sometimes I wonder, though, what they see when they look
when they come into a congregation
do they see people for whom faith makes a palpable difference?
do they see people who are willing to share their faith
or, more than that, who cannot help but to share their faith
do they see people who are honest about their differences of opinion
and who talk about their differences of opinion with faithful respect
and then gather around the same table to eat together
fed, and made whole, by the body and blood of Christ?

whether or not we feel like sharing our faith with young people
we do ~ anytime anyond encounters us, even from across the room
we are sharing our faith,
whether we want to or not

and while they may appear to be mostly interested in
wearing baggy ripped jeans and listening to their ipods
I am always surprised by the questions they ask

a sample of some I heard recently from middle schoolers is:
* how should I read the bible?
* what is heaven like, and will I make it?
* is satan more powerful than God?
* if the world was created perfect, why is there poverty and inequality?

and these are not trivial questions
these are not purely academic questions
they are real, and they come from a place of real and heartfelt
questioning and exploring of their faith

so I wonder about the church,
do we want to let these questions
the questions young people are asking
do we want to let them just float out there
to be answered by a society that cares more about making money
than about making disciples?

or do we want to invite young people to come and see?
come and see, young people,
what a difference this faith thing makes for me
come and see my life, which is as broken and messed up as anyone’s
but come and see, because I know the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world

and then, do we dare to ask,
‘where, young people, do you see and experience God?’

are we willing to take the present and future faith of the church seriously enough
to ignore questionable clothing choices and a sullen attitude often born of insecurity
in order to engage these vital members of the body of Christ in real and meaningful ways?
these members of the body of Christ who are sinners just as we are
these members of the body of Christ, who are forgiven
by the immeasurable grace and love of God
just as we are

come and see

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Gun Control

There's a status update floating around on that social media site where people waste too much time. The update, as I've seen it, is:

To everyone who is calling for stricter gun laws in light of the tragedy in Tucson, may I offer this little tidbit: If guns kill people, then pencils misspell words, cars drive drunk, and spoons make people fat. Remember: Hold the person accountable for their actions, not the means they chose to utilize!!! Repost if you agree.

Of course, stating the obvious, there's some truth to this statement. Obviously the user of the pencil causes the misspelling; obviously the user of the spoon is the one who is to blame for weight gain. Obviously the user of the automobile is the one who should be held accountable for driving under the influence. But the argument breaks down in significant ways. First, misspellings rarely cause death, or even injury; mostly it's embarrassing to the misspeller. Second, though weight gain has the potential to negatively affect the life of other people, the negative effect is felt by the person who is gaining weight.

So, since pencils and spoons don't have the potential to cause death or serious injury to other people, then we can set those aside for comparative purposes. Then we come to driving, which we can place alongside guns for comparison.

Remember, the government does regulate driving. You must be a certain age, and you must pass a test, in order to obtain the right to operate the deadly weapon known as an automobile. Further, there are laws which indicate that someone who is chemically impaired should not be driving, whether or not they have a valid license. Yes, some people break these laws and do drive drunk ~ but not many people believe that drunk driving should not be regulated.

If we have laws governing who is allowed to operate the deadly weapons known as cars, then we should have laws governing who is allowed to operate the deadly weapons known as guns. If there is a test that must be passed before operating a car, there should be a test that must be passed to operate a gun.

Cars do not drive themselves, and guns do not pull their own trigger. But if the government closely regulates the users of one, why are some people so afraid of having the government closely regulate the users of the other?

And that's saying nothing about the original intent of the authors of the 2nd amendment to the US Constitution, which was that we have the right to keep and bear single-shot, muzzle-loading, black-powder, match-lock muskets which were capable (in skilled hands) of firing up to four rounds per minute ~ the founding fathers could not conceive of automatic weapons capable of firing hundreds of rounds per minute when the Bill of Rights was written.


a winter day

winter set in,
the cold coaxing down coats
down from storage
coats which, thankfully
pocketed last april's gloves.
these, along with thick boots
are prescribed as vaccine for cabin fever.

snow, crisp and clean
(covering a multitude of autumn's
lawn-care sins),
crunches with satisfaction
before being evicted from sidewalks
to berms - or, for the lucky,
into jolly, round-segmented fellows
standing sentinel in the yard.

across the way
migrants make tracks through the snow
squawking with canadian accent
before continuing, v-shaped,

soon, the sun will emerge
and winter's quilt will begin to, again,
take its liquid form ~
but for now, cheeks grow rosy
in anticipation of the pleasure of
marshmallow islands in steaming cocoa.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

role of church

There seems to be a great deal of lament in the church these days, in congregations as well as in the broader church. Sometimes the lament is over the fact that in broader society, church doesn’t command as much respect as it once did; that youth and young people aren’t showing up as often as they once did, and if they do, they're not engaged in the life of the congregation as much as they once might have been; that young families don’t seem to have much use for church; or that, just in general, not as many people are part of our life together as the body of Christ.

And that’s to say nothing of the increasingly hateful speech heard on our televisions and radios, which demonizes anyone whose opinion differs from the speaker's. We, as Christians, have allowed this conversation to continue; we have not spoken up to stop this tearing down of the body of Christ which, directly or indirectly, led to the awful events in Tucson yesterday.

When Christian people do not stand up against public rhetoric that is hateful and degrading of the humanity of our neighbor, then our faith has no meaning. When we don't stand up against this type of vitriol, then the Muslims who created a human barricade protecting Christmas worshipers in Egypt from violence are more Christian than we are, and our faith has lost its meaning.

We can lament the losses we feel in our individual congregations, and we can remain nostalgic for days when we felt like the church had a more prominent role in society. Or, instead, we can move through our lamentation and become once again a church that makes a difference in the world by building up the humanity of everyone, even (and especially) those with whom we disagree.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

incarnate eucharist

in the beginning, G-d spoke,
and speaking, G-d created
created the heavens and the earth
the seas and all that is in them
the earth and all its vegetation
the skies, the sun and moon

and speaking, G-d created us, created humans
created us male and female
embodied and enfleshed and inspired (in-spirited)
in the image of G-d

G-d speaks, and in speaking, creates
and in creating, enters us into
divine relationship with the divine

the Word became flesh and lives among us
G-d enters intimately into our existence,
and reminds us that, from the beginning
creation is good
G-d dwells enfleshed, in a body,
and reminds us that creation is good

despite our perceived need for
new year’s resolutions
the creation is good
despite airbrushed advertisements pushing us to
an unhealthy ideal of physical perfection,
which we know we will never achieve
the creation is good
despite the preponderance of cosmetic surgery
and a botoxic quest for the illusion of youth
the creation is good

healthy and ailing, fit and flabby
young and old,
we gather our physical bodies around a spiritual meal
of real bread and real wine
we take the body of Christ into our selves
and become ourselves the body of Christ

Saturday, January 1, 2011

new year's morning

the day, and year, breaks bright
from above, below, and all around
yesterday's snow covers the ground,
creating (the appearance of) a fresh
and clean start to life

autumn's leaves,
left to mulch themselves
hide under the crystaline blanket
as last year's deeds hide
behind the closed back cover of
a no-longer-necessary calendar

but it's still there ~ all of it ~
disguised, but not gone
waiting to show itself again

so let old acquaintance be recalled
they're part of who we are
and a new year is a fine time
to turn over a new leaf
as the first page of a new calendar

but remember ~ under the new year's snow
lies the old year's mulch, seen as
perhaps unsightly, still
fodder for new growth