Tuesday, June 28, 2011

pondering young frankenstein: walk this way

Out of sinus medication.
Out of deodorant.
And out of coffee.

It probably comes as no surprise that the third one meant we had to go to the store: RIGHT.NOW.

The girls are at their grandparents.

It would have been easy to leave the boys here (while their dad worked from his home office) and go alone.

It would have been easy to drive there and back: 10 or 15 minutes tops, done.

It would have been easier...

But choice by choice, I found myself doing something I seem to do often, lately. Choosing the insane path.

I asked perfectly content, quiet boys to log off the computer and get dressed.

I left a perfectly functioning car in the garage, and we all strapped on bike helmets.

I left a completely legitimate debit card behind and I grabbed $40 from the cash envelope.

And so a ride that could have been quick, or at least peaceful, was long, hot, and filled with arguing over which path we'd take to get there and which of them got to be in front.

Shopping that could have been made simpler, if I'd been alone, OR if I'd brought the car, OR if I'd said "to hell with the budget", was complicated with requests for items that I neither had cash for nor room in my backpack for.

And yet I chose all this.

Finally, back home again, a chance for peace is offered: "Can we watch TV?"

Again, insanity rules...

"No, you argued on the bike ride. That's not loving each other well. Choose something to do together and do it peacefully for an hour. Do that successfully, then you can watch TV."

And with that I purposefully invited more bickering into my home.


I'm crazy, right? Foolish. This makes NO SENSE.

And for that matter, what on earth does any of this have to do with Young Frankenstein?

Well ... do you remember the part where Frankenstein meets Eyegor? (yes, Eyegor not Igor... watch the movie!) Eyegor says, "Walk this way" and Frankenstein follows. But Eyegor corrects him, saying, "No, walk this way ... this way" implying that he doesn't simply want him to follow where he's going - he wants him to walk the way he's walking (which in the movie happens to be humped over with a cane).

Track with me here: I'm thinking that's the idea behind Jesus's statements about how the way is narrow. About how in fact He IS The Way. About how if we love Him we'll keep His commandments. About how we have to die and be born again and about what it means to believe. I'm thinking Jesus is saying, "Walk this way". Die to yourself, surrender, and be born of the spirit, every single day. Walk like Me.

See, He was pretty foolish. He chose the insane path. The cross is foolishness. And I'm starting to digest the idea that I only believe in Him to the degree that I walk as foolishly, selflessly as He did. Walking His way. That walking in the way of loving God and loving my neighbor, the self-less way, the sacrificial way, the surrendered way, is the only way to eternal life, which is to say, the only way to knowing Him and living me-in-Him-and-Him-in-me here and now. In fact, to the extent that our creeds and confessions and synods take us away from that ... (well, I better save that for another post).

Sweating. Brothers arguing. Young Frankenstein. And what I'm pretty sure amounts to some form of certifiable heresy, depending on who you talk to...

Crazy way to start the day?

I dunno.

Guess that depends on how you look at it. Right now I have a hot cup of coffee. My boys are having fun together. Our bodies are grateful for the exercise, a little less gasoline was burned today, and our budget is in tact. Best of all? It is well with my soul.

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!~Hebrews 12:2, The Message

Monday, June 27, 2011

pondering communion

another post about the Wild Goose Festival...

While listening to Phyllis Tickle speak, I looked over my shoulder and saw The Sarcastic Lutheran standing nearby. I introduced myself and we talked a bit, then she asked, "Would you like to serve communion at the bluegrass liturgy this evening?"

I started to hesitate, wondering "Am I even allowed to do that?"... but when Nadia Bolz-Weber asks you to do something, you say yes.

Bluegrass Liturgy, Wild Goose Festival 2011, Shakori Hills 
The service was unlike anything I'd experienced in my lifetime of church attendance: bluegrass hymns combined with a traditional liturgy and a brilliant, concise, "wait-can-I-hear-that-again?" sermon.

Then came time for communion. I was assigned to a station along with Stuart, a member of Nadia's church.  I must have looked as lost as I felt, because in the shuffle someone quickly threw out, "You know Stuart, right?  The tall, handsome gay guy with the mohawk!"  I wondered how I'd find him in the sea of people.

Turns out it wasn't hard. :)

Stuart and I took our places - he served the bread, I the wine. Each time someone walked up, I watched him look deep into their eyes and say, "The body of Christ, broken for you". Then I looked deep into their eyes and said, "The blood of Christ, shed for you."

As this process repeated over and over again, I became acutely aware that I was participating with the Spirit in something uniquely beautiful and unmistakably True. Everything I'd been wrestling with melted into the Truth of this experience.

"God bless us, EVERY one".

When our line reach its end and the crowd passed, Stuart laid a wafer on my tongue, looked deep into my eyes, and said, "The body of Christ, broken for you." I was weeping as I handed him the cup and said, "The blood of Christ, shed for you." And we hugged.

I knew then, that something had changed within me.  That I'd never be able to go back to the way I was before. And that I didn't want to.

 Thank you, Wild Goose Festival
Thank you, Stuart.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

pondering what I wish I'd said in the geodesic dome

I spent Saturday at the Wild Goose Festival. I wish I'd been able to camp & enjoy the whole thing but that wasn't possible this year, so I'm content with the "taste" I enjoyed.

One speaker I was determined to hear: Ed Dobson (not to be confused with or related to James Dobson). We come from the same world. I was eager to listen and frankly just be in his presence. Something about our shared history and the fact that he is suffering with ALS drew me to him. He listened as much or more as he spoke but I enjoyed sitting there on the ground near him in the geodesic dome (as cool a place as its name suggests).

He shared with us a question he doesn't know the answer to. It was not an original one and I appreciated that; he wasn't trying to sound pithy or uber-intelligent. His question was, "Why did God command the slaughter of entire people groups in the Old Testament?" which he followed by saying, "Personally I maintain a presupposition that this is the same Creator God who is revealed to us in Jesus Christ."

Of course people had lots of thoughts. None satisfied, and that's to be expected. No answers.

Then someone said something I agreed with. Why do we have to go back into a history that is muddled and uncertain, to ask this question? Don't we claim God is sovereign? And don't entire people groups - families, children - suffer and die by the millions, today? Why does this have to be an abstract question from the Old Testament? Where's the Jesus-God right NOW? Does He ordain this? Does He will this? Is He in control, or are His hands tied? Bono asks this question well in the controversial song, Wake Up Dead Man.

And with that, NOW we have a question. Because we can argue all day about the Bible and about historical perspective and suppositions and errancy or inerrancy, which frankly serve as a smokescreen shielding us from the real question, the real rub.

Do I have an answer? No. But here's what was screaming inside of me and what I wish I'd said in the geodesic dome:

If I didn't believe that the God who made this world and called it good, very good, can and intends to restore it - ALL - to a better state than we can possibly imagine, for His own glory... that there will be (as Julian wrote) a Great Deed whereby all will be well ... that this Deed began at the Cross but has not yet come to full fruition and that we can't begin to understand it or conceive of it right now (just as the Old Testament believers couldn't begin to understand the cross, what that would look like) ... that Jesus is and will be at the center of this because He IS The Way, The Truth, The Life, that everything was made through Him, in Him everything has its being, and He will lose NONE of it to evil ... that our present sufferings cannot compare to what is to come ... that it's better than we can imagine (I can imagine a LOT) but we can participate in it now ... if I didn't believe this to be the bigger story and have hope for its eventual realization, then I'd have to walk away in hopeless despair. Nothing less is consistent, to my sensibilities. I've tasted the various streams of interpretation and none satisfy, nothing less than all is enough for me. Anything short is talking circles around an elephant in the room. And yet that's an impossible, nonsensical "if" because I do believe and I could never walk away. I am His. I don't have Him, He has me. I know this now. Without a doubt. And so, it is well with my soul.

This is the bigger narrative that I believe in:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

pondering peter and paul and choking on words

I'm leading a group of girls through Galatians this summer. I say girls because it's come to my attention that that is what women over 40 like to be called :) Nah, half of them are younger than me, I'm just messing with the few who actually ready this.

Chapter two got me to pondering, though... Paul and Peter. First generation, genu-INE apostles. Arguing.

If you sit with that one for half a minute or so you'll get a wee bit of a headache.

We count on these guys to tell us what's RIGHT. To tell us the TRUTH. And they can't even get it right? Pardon me, but what the hell?

Seriously, though, I love it. I found myself smiling. We are not so different from them. It's good to know.

Later in the chapter (in The Message paraphrase we are reading aloud together) Paul not only speaks frankly about not trying to please people, he literally says, "I'm no longer trying to impress God." That made my friend reading it choke on her words, and rightly so.

Because therein is the entire Truth of the letter. The weight of the Message.

Eugene Peterson wrote The Message because of Galatians. It all started with Galatians. Folks weren't CHOKING ON THE WORDS enough.

Good stuff... good stuff.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

pondering interruptibility

so I'd barely hit "publish post" on "sheep", below (where I complain about being interrupted) when I see Richard Beck's post on interruptibility.

okay... OUCH.

I get it Father. thanks for the reminder.

to whet your appetite:

Interruptibility is a sign that we are moving at the speed of love.

imperfectly and imcompletely pondering sheep and eagles

It's summer, which means no solitude for me. I'm loving having more time with the kids - we only get one shot at this summer together so we are determined to make the most of it, but the writing takes a big hit. That would be okay, but the problem is the ponderings don't stop - the brain doesn't go on pause or even slow down - and without the "therapy" of writing, I get a little ... I don't know... crazy? Maybe! Feels like it sometimes. Like a damned up river.

I've had several write-worthy ponderings in the past few weeks but no chance to focus well enough to frame them into words. That frustrates me after a while, like I'm finding gems at the bottom of a stream but they are slipping through my fingers. So for today, I'll peck out & publish something that's not only imperfect, but incomplete.

Sheep. For months now I've been hearing references to them. General idea is that people are sheep and leaders/pastors are shepherds. And I get that that's Biblical, I do... but I wonder... are people led by the Holy Spirit supposed to be treated like sheep indefinitely? The sheep analogy leads people to say things like, "If you're a leader and you walk to the edge and peer over you better warn the sheep not to follow, because you'll step back away from the ledge but they'll just keep walking and fall right over." Meaning? Be a wise responsible shepherd. Be cautious and careful how you lead.

But here's what a mind like mine does. A statement like that makes me want to slowly raise my hand, crinkle my brow, clear my throat, and ask, "What's at the bottom of the cliff?" Then my mind goes to another Biblical analogy: eagles. Sure, we're sheep sometimes (or for a time? I don't know) but what if we're meant for more? What if we're made to fly? Sheep fear ledges but eagles don't. Eagles are supposed to SOAR.

So what does all that mean?

I don't know.

(and with that, I've been interrupted too many times to continue... alas, summer! ... maybe that gem will resurface and give me another look at it, I feel it has so much more to say ... I'll have to trust that to the Giver of all good gifts)

Friday, June 17, 2011

the new testament gamble by john lynch

What if I tell them who they are?

What if I take away any element of fear, condemnation, judgment or rejection?

What if I tell them that I love them and I’ll always love them and I love them right now, no matter what they’ve done, as much as I love my only son?

What if I told them that there’s nothing they can do to make my love go away?

What if I told them that there are no lists?

What if I told them that they were righteous with my righteousness right now?

What if I told them they could stop being so formal and jumpy and stiff around me?

What if I told them that I was absolutely crazy about them?

What if I told them that even if they ran to the ends of the earth and did the most unthinkable horrible things, when they came back I’d receive them with tears and a party?

What if I told them that I don’t keep a log of past offenses, of how little they pray, how often they’ve let me down, or made promises they don’t keep?

What if I told them that they don’t have to be owned by men’s religions, traditions or additions?

What if I told them I’m their Savior, they’re going to heaven no matter what, it’s a done deal?

What if I told them that they had a new nature; that they were saints not just saved sinners who should now buck up and be better if your any kind of Christian after all He’s done for you?

What if I told them I actually live in them now; that I put my love and power and nature inside them at their disposal?

What if I told them that they didn’t have to put on a mask, that it was really OK to be exactly who they are at this moment with all their junk, and not have to pretend about how close we are, how much they pray or don’t, how much Bible they read or don’t?

What if they didn’t have to look over their shoulder for fear if things got too good the other shoe was going to drop?

What if they knew that I would never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, use the word punish in relation to them?

What if they knew when they mess up I never get back at them?

What if they were convinced the bad circumstances are not my way of evening the score for taking advantage of me?

What if they knew the basis of our friendship was not on how little they sin but on how much they let me love them?

What if they had permission to stop trying to impress me in any way?

What if told them that they could hurt my heart but I would never hurt theirs?

What if I told them that they could open their eyes when they pray and still they will go to heaven?

What if I told them there was no secret agenda, no trap door?

What if I told them it wasn’t about their self effort but allowing me to live my life through them?

What if they actually believed that??!!

That’s the New Testament gamble and it’s being lived out in you and me right now.

Monday, June 13, 2011

pondering summer

for this one I refer you to my kids' blog ... enjoy.

because summer doesn't have to suck... but I can't write that over there :) :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

pondering John 9 and true blindness

1-2 Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, "Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?" 3-5Jesus said, "You're asking the wrong question. You're looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world's Light."

6-7He said this and then spit in the dust, made a clay paste with the saliva, rubbed the paste on the blind man's eyes, and said, "Go, wash at the Pool of Siloam" (Siloam means "Sent"). The man went and washed—and saw.

8Soon the town was buzzing. His relatives and those who year after year had seen him as a blind man begging were saying, "Why, isn't this the man we knew, who sat here and begged?"

9Others said, "It's him all right!"

But others objected, "It's not the same man at all. It just looks like him."

He said, "It's me, the very one."

10They said, "How did your eyes get opened?"

11"A man named Jesus made a paste and rubbed it on my eyes and told me, 'Go to Siloam and wash.' I did what he said. When I washed, I saw."

12"So where is he?"

"I don't know."

13-15They marched the man to the Pharisees. This day when Jesus made the paste and healed his blindness was the Sabbath. The Pharisees grilled him again on how he had come to see. He said, "He put a clay paste on my eyes, and I washed, and now I see."

16Some of the Pharisees said, "Obviously, this man can't be from God. He doesn't keep the Sabbath."

Others countered, "How can a bad man do miraculous, God-revealing things like this?" There was a split in their ranks.

17They came back at the blind man, "You're the expert. He opened your eyes. What do you say about him?"

He said, "He is a prophet."

18-19The Jews didn't believe it, didn't believe the man was blind to begin with. So they called the parents of the man now bright-eyed with sight. They asked them, "Is this your son, the one you say was born blind? So how is it that he now sees?"

20-23His parents said, "We know he is our son, and we know he was born blind. But we don't know how he came to see—haven't a clue about who opened his eyes. Why don't you ask him? He's a grown man and can speak for himself." (His parents were talking like this because they were intimidated by the Jewish leaders, who had already decided that anyone who took a stand that this was the Messiah would be kicked out of the meeting place. That's why his parents said, "Ask him. He's a grown man.")

24They called the man back a second time—the man who had been blind— and told him, "Give credit to God. We know this man is an impostor."

25He replied, "I know nothing about that one way or the other. But I know one thing for sure: I was blind . . . I now see."

26They said, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?"

27"I've told you over and over and you haven't listened. Why do you want to hear it again? Are you so eager to become his disciples?"

28-29With that they jumped all over him. "You might be a disciple of that man, but we're disciples of Moses. We know for sure that God spoke to Moses, but we have no idea where this man even comes from."

30-33The man replied, "This is amazing! You claim to know nothing about him, but the fact is, he opened my eyes! It's well known that God isn't at the beck and call of sinners, but listens carefully to anyone who lives in reverence and does his will. That someone opened the eyes of a man born blind has never been heard of—ever. If this man didn't come from God, he wouldn't be able to do anything."

34They said, "You're nothing but dirt! How dare you take that tone with us!" Then they threw him out in the street.

35Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and went and found him. He asked him, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"

36The man said, "Point him out to me, sir, so that I can believe in him."

37Jesus said, "You're looking right at him. Don't you recognize my voice?"

38"Master, I believe," the man said, and worshiped him.

39Jesus then said, "I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind."

40Some Pharisees overheard him and said, "Does that mean you're calling us blind?"

41Jesus said, "If you were really blind, you would be blameless, but since you claim to see everything so well, you're accountable for every fault and failure."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

pondering presence and poetry

This is me, reading The Practice of the Presence of God in a hammock in the woods. On a Tuesday. Could anything be better? Not much. :) If you haven't, read it. If you have, read it again. Slowly. Read words written five or six hundred years ago, words like,
That the whole substance of religion was faith, hope, and charity; by the practice of which we become united to the will of God.

That all things are possible to him who believes, that they are less difficult to him who hopes, they are more easy to him who loves, and still more easy to him who perseveres in the practice of these three virtues.

I cannot bear that this should be called delusion; because the soul which thus enjoys God desires herein nothing but Him. If this be delusion in me, it belongs to God to remedy it.

I can not imagine how religious persons can live satisfied without the practice of the presence of God.

And THIS is from that night, Mumford and Sons at the civic center in Asheville. We went with friends and stood down on the floor near the front and jumped and sang with our hands up in the air. It was an unforgettable night. The passion of this band is like nothing I've experienced before. They pour their very souls into the instruments, I wonder that they don't collapse after every song. And the words... our friends put it this way: we knew it was a big deal to us, because we all hear the Voice of something bigger than ourselves in the poetry of mumford and sons. but we didn’t know there would be so many other kindred spirits.

Samples of that poetry, phrases like:
there is a design, an alignment, a cry of my heart to see the beauty of Love as it was meant to be
love it will not betray you dismay or enslave you, it will set you free, be more like the man you were made to be
it seems that all my bridges have been burned
you say that's exactly how this grace thing works
it's not the long walk home that will save this heart
but the welcome I receive at the restart
plant your hope with good seeds
don't cover yourself with thistles and weeds
lead me to the Truth and I will follow You with my whole life
make your siren's call and
sing all you want
I will not hear what you have to say!
cause I need freedom now and
I need to know how
live my life as it's meant to be ....

I could go on forever. I'm convinced that God used friends to introduce me to this music at a time when I needed it most.

Brother Lawrence is right: God is present. Mumford is right: Love will set you free. I'm starting, not only to get that, but to trust that. To stand on it. To be confident in it. Or, as Mumford puts is,
hide your fires
these here are my desires
and I won't give them up to you this time around
and so I'll be found
with my stake stuck here in this ground
marking the territory of this newly impassioned soul


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

unforgettable night

I was there on the floor near the front, just to the left of the keyboarder, jumping up and down with my hands in the air, singing at the top of my lungs. Such a powerful night!!

Monday, June 6, 2011

pondering sin

Something has bothered me since I was very young. The Bible says it's wrong to lie, but Rahab lied and she was rewarded? She's listed in Hebrews 11 among the most faithful people ever to live? She's even listed in the lineage of Christ!

This is different than the whole, "David committed adultery and killed people" thing. Those things were forgiven. But Rahab's deceit is celebrated. It is the very cause of her celebrity.

Are there other examples of this?

I was surprised to learn that when Ruth uncovered Boaz's "feet" the cultural language infers that she actually uncovered his... well, it's a euphemism for... himself. And that to lie with him meant to, well... lie with him. (granted, depending on who you read, some answer this euphemism idea with a "well yeah, duh?" and others greet the suggestion with a "what!? of course not!!" so, take that for what it's worth) Even if they didn't ... well, you know ... her coming to him all perfumed up and sleeping the night in his bed was still risque enough for Boaz to say, "No one must know she came to me like this." And she too is in the lineage of Christ. (in fact Rahab was Boaz's mother, which is pretty cool if you ask me)

So, what the what is going on here? How are we supposed to know what's a sin and what's not? Am I the only one who requires a bit of consistency?

I figure, my idea of sin must be warped. And so I ponder... I ponder sin/sins/sinning and what all that even MEANS. I go to scripture and read, "Everything that does not come from faith is sin."

Okay, so what does THAT mean?

So I think about what Jesus said. He didn't lower the standard on sin, He raised it from where the religious culture of His time had it set. He made it about our heart's intent, not merely about our actions. He said, "You say adultery is a sin but I say if you lust you're guilty". Well, that must have rung in the ears of those dropping their stones. Have you ever driven through the Bible Belt? Well, I live here, and have driven through it's "buckle" (which I'd argue is south of NC) enough times to know: Vegas aint got nothing on the Southeast. Adult "bookstores", night clubs, strip joints, video stores ... every other billboard! Anytime Eric and I drive through SC we play a betting game on whether we'll see more churches or advertisements for porn.

Jesus also said, "You say murder is a sin but I say anyone who calls someone a fool is guilty." Our society is made up of folks calling one another a lot worse names than "fool" and feeling completely justified in doing so - plastering demeaning language all over facebook, forwarding emails that are just downright MEAN.

Not to mention forgiveness! Jesus said if we don't forgive others then God won't forgive us. Chew on that one for a while, folks. Because a lot of those quickest to categorize people into "sin groups" don't feel the least bit guilty carrying a personal grudge around for YEARS, taking it right to their death bed. What happens when they meet God?

I ponder all this when I think of something my gay Christian friend said to me,
"I truly believe that if I were living in sin, or if sin were roaring in my spirit, then God wouldn't be so real to me--and so ALIVE! He wouldn't pour out blessings on my life. He wouldn't commune with me on such a personal level. Instead, I would be convicted. God would be distant. I would feel the guilt & shame I feel when I'm unkind to a colleague, or when I participate in a conversation that doesn't honor Christ. There are so many times that I'm filled up with regret or guilt and I say..."Lord, I'm really sorry. That was SO opposite what you want for my life and I will make it right." So I do sin. And I know it. And the Holy Spirit definitely kicks my rear end into place always and often. I just firmly believe that if my homosexuality is a sin, the Holy Spirit would convict me of it---in the same way He bears witness with my spirit on so many other topics each and every day."

I think about that. How can you read those words and not at least THINK about what they say? What they mean?

Can something seemingly "sinful" not be when the heart is taken into account? When it's motivated by faith... or love?

I'm asking questions, and I'll keep asking them. Because I don't know. It sure seems so.

Guess we'll have to ask Rahab...

a Gaelic blessing

I'm imagining this as a tattoo. No, really. It's kinda long though... hmmm? :) I just love these words. so. much.

Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the gentle night to you.
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you.
Deep peace of Christ the light of the world to you.
Deep peace of Christ to you.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

pondering my husband

I think I wrote a song - well, lyrics anyway. We'll see if my brilliant songwriter friend can do anything with it, musically. Here it is in its rough form...

I want to be alone so I tell you to go
then pout that you dared leave my side
don't expect you to know the right thing to do
couldn't tell you what that is if I tried
so just be
please be
loving me

they say, he knows me better than I know myself
well I don't even know what that means
I'm a lot more complex than some book on a shelf
my mind aint yours to read
so just be
please be
loving me

sometimes its overwhelming, being me
like I'm too much yet never enough
want to fade into invisibility
but I cant and that pisses me off
but you, love
you just be
please be
loving me
I just need you to be
please be
loving me