Friday, August 26, 2016

Make my heart Your home. - Cameron Hood and 4Tucson

Set a watch before my mouth, O LORD, and guard the door of my lips; let not my heart incline to any evil thing. Let me not be occupied in wickedness with evildoers, nor eat of their choice foods. Let the righteous smite me in friendly rebuke; let not the oil of the unrighteous anoint my head. Psalm 141:3–5

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my strength and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Jesus taught us, saying: ‘You are the light of the world. Matthew 5:14

I invite you to offer a simple, full-hearted “Yes” to the moment as it is, into the whole field, the full horizon of God and future. Choose every now in its wholeness. Whenever you choose or allow or surrender to the now, you can hold it in its entirety—the good and bad, the satisfying and unsatisfying, both what fulfills and what disappoints you. –Richard Rohr

You know how you pull up to a stoplight, and sometimes the person in the car next to you is playing their music loud? Maybe it isn't even the kind of music that you listen to most often, but you roll your window down and you find the beat, and you tap it out on your steering wheel too. Perhaps you guys nod or even smile at each other, and you think, "Alright. Sweet. That person is human, like me." Don't you love those moments? Let's BE those people.

You know how you're in line at the grocery store and there's a toddler in the seat of the shopping cart in front of you, and maybe you don't even speak their language, but you want to communicate, "Hey, I see you. I want the world to be safe for you," even though you can't really do more than smile at them and make a goofy face? Let's be THOSE people. Let's make the world that way.

Let's be people who can accept that we are just never going to be as perfect as we'd like, so that we can learn to accept other people too.

They say Johnny Cash and June Carter loved each other so much, and so well, that their love wore off onto everyone that knew them. Let's be that way in the world.

Let's walk out after a maybe-not-award-winning movie and say everything that was right with it, everything that we liked about it.

Let's be people who LOVE things.

Let's be people who have trained our eyes to see good, to find good. To find nobility and beauty hiding everywhere and in everyone.

I love space. I love music. I love movies. I cry when I read C.S. Lewis. I'm pretty much always 10 lbs more than I'd like and I'm starting to go grey at the sides, but I try to be kind to myself about those things, among others. I study the bible and love Jesus and it's a complete mystery to me, but it's more compelling now than when I was younger and knew more.

I'm not sure how to change the world, except to love the world. Maybe enough people doing small, loving things over a long-enough time is enough. So let's tell THOSE stories. The true stories, the ones with the pain AND the beauty, the perfume AND the dirty fingernails. Let's find the thing inside that wants to come out, and let's be brave enough to let it color all over the walls.

What do you love? What makes you come alive? –Cameron Hood


Jesus taught us, saying: ‘The Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me; I lay it down of my own free will. John 10:17

Bourgeault shares how Jesus brings third force to the situation of the woman caught in adultery. When presented with the polarities of stoning the woman or freeing her, Jesus says, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). Bourgeault writes: “He finds the thing that will put the terrible two binaries in a completely new relationship and creates a new kingdom . . . called compassion, forgiveness.” – Richard Rohr

We are not of this world and its logic. Its either or perspective.

Love is not rational. It is something outside of the evolutional survival-of-the-fittest engine that drives both the individual and society forward.

But there is hope to be found in the weight of the headlines. The Syrian White Hats heading to the rubble to search for victims. The airport sign-holding welcoming of the stranger. The stooping down and picking up of a fallen competitor. Even the paying-it-forward cups of McDonald coffee.

My students had to write an essay Background Thesis Support Support Counterpoint Rebuttal Conclusion on whether they felt hope or despair after studying American policy at the turn of the century and the shackling injustices.  Because there were those who stood against the norm, the way things are, lights flickering in the darkness of lynchings and segregation and relocations. Sigmund Livingston. Susan B. Anthony. Eugene Debs. W.E.N. Du Bois. Toyohiko Kagawa. Jane Addams. Booker T. Washington. Carrie Catt.

You can’t argue or debate or parse or throw pearls with the world because we use a different dictionary to define terms.

We can only live it. Letting our light shine, His light shine. The upside down kingdom, of the seed falling into the earth, of laying it all down and of picking up His cross and following Him daily.

Freely we have received.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Let us love the same.

Jesus taught us, saying: ‘But I say this to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly. To anyone who slaps you on one cheek, present the other cheek as well; to anyone who takes your cloak from you, do not refuse your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for property back from someone who takes it. Treat others as you would like people to treat you.’ Luke 6:27–31

Understanding another’s story can teach me compassion. It doesn’t mean I let someone take advantage of me. But it does open my heart and help me recognize that they are victims, too. They’ve been wounded, too. Yet they are still objectively an image of God, created in God’s image. –Richard Rohr

Actually. I am to let people take advantage of me. Love isn’t fair. His love is not fair. Fair is one of the Pillars of Character that is posted on my classroom wall, the stuff we are all expected to do. 

But this is something different. This is Christ in me. 

I do not receive what I deserve; rather I receive His abundant grace and neverending mercy, His life offered up freely, released, lifted up for me.

Compassion is what a nice person does.

I am not called to be nice, framed my human reasonable constraints.

I am called to be like Him. The one Who laid down His life for us.

Laid it down. All of it.

I tell you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

By this we know what love is: Jesus laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives.

That we may be sons of our Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

If I am listening.

Let us love the same. Let us love the same.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Good, bad, or ugly. Let them transform me into Your image.

August 14-17, 2016


You can't see seeds once they are planted.

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison. 2 Corinthians 4:17

Nondual knowing is living in the naked now, the “sacrament of the present moment.” This consciousness will teach us how to actually experience our experiences, whether good, bad, or ugly, and how to let them transform us. Words by themselves will invariably divide and judge the moment; pure presence lets it be what it is, as it is. –Richard Rohr

So I rode up Sentential Peak again Sunday morning. For the first time in like over six months. Slowly. So slowly that this guy passed me, running. But at least I didn’t stop. But it would have been okay if I had. But I didn’t. And I did pass a bunch of people, walking. But that doesn’t matter because they were walking forward. Forward and up.

And really those morning thoughts, and yesterday’s morning thoughts and today’s morning thoughts were framed by The Incredulity of St. Thomas by Caravaggio. And a line out of Randy Reynold’s sermon Saturday night sermon, You can't see seeds once they are planted, as we wait through the hard winters for the bright green sprigsAnd a question one of my nephew’s asked his dad, my brother: “I don’t know if I really love God, Dad.” The statement fell flat in his bedroom. Sixteen years of careful (and conservative) Christian education, replete with twelve years of ABeka-anchored elementary homeschooling, obligatory Sunday school attendance, and fairly consistent daily mealtime devotions slowly drained from the room. He continued, “I mean, how can you truly love someone that you never have really met—someone who has never made it beyond something-that-you-study or read stories about?” And a conversation with Cameron and Alan at Kimche Time about people who are headed off to the pig trough and what can we do about it. Not much. Wait for spring. 

And I was thinking a lot about that because I taught Sunday School that morning, twice. Once to the little kids and then again to the big kids. And I told them the story of the Prodigal Son and the Father of Love who waited, eyes squinting into the setting sun, for even the slightest shadow of the repentant beloved leaving the knee-high muck of feeding pigs. And Jack my helper said I did a good job of describing that mud. I guess I have lots of practice doing what C. S Lewis describes in his sermon on the weight of gloryWe are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

And besides the reflection of big question of whether these stories are true to my little circle of listeners, or simply another version of the Minions and Frozens that populate their imagination. Last week Everette explained to me that Jesus does magic.

I mean, how can you truly love someone that you never have really met?

How can you believe if you have not thrust your hand into his side and stuck your fingers through the nail-pierced hands?

And in my heart I can sort of understand that the Holy Spirit abiding in Christ-followers could show the world Who He Is. Could, in that we have the power. But would we Christ-followers walk so closely in His footsteps that others would not be led astray?

But my head looks around and sees the Church wandering around in all directions, see us stumbling about in the shadows, very like those whom Christ prayed would receive the full measure of joy and complete unity from the Father, but whom He knew would shortly be scattered all to their own homes, leaving Him alone.

Yet He was not alone, because the Father was with Him.

Until that last forsaken moment.

But we cannot see the seeds planted, before they have sprung up with new life. We see through a mirror darkly, not as things truly are.

Simone and Everette are with Nona this morning, which gave me time to read and reread the parting words of Jesus to His followers in the gospel of John. And He repeats Himself a lot, the same way I repeat myself all day long to not-such-good-listeners about independent variables and strong leads and progressive reforms, lest they forget, lest they don’t understand, lest they don’t believe Him the first time.

Lest I don’t believe.

You will be prosecuted. You will suffer.
Ask anything in My name, and you will receive it.
That you might have joy and peace.
And most of all, that we might know the love of God that is within us, so that the world will know that Jesus is the One.

Thus, today, Dear Father, let me live in what is true, Your true presence, this weight of glory, this glory that you gave to Your son Jesus, and which Has given to us, His friends. His chosen friends appointed to go bear fruit.

And Audrey Assad sang again and again this morning, under the billowing sunrise:
O happy fault that gained for me the chance to know You, Lord
To touch Your wounded side and know the joy of my reward
I know, I know, and I believe You are the Lord
I know, I know, and I believe You are the Lord
Help my unbelief.

Help my unbelief.