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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Stranger | Richard Shelton

Crafted by Tucson poet Richard Shelton, these words contain a core of truth for those of us who (maybe) spend (maybe) too much time feeling like outsiders, outlanders and outlaws.

do not be afraid
of the emptiness around you
If you remain here
your eyes will grow accustomed
to the desert light.
Then you will be able
to distinguish between seasons.
You will begin to see
the citizens of this country
and realize you are not alone.
As each sun rolls over you
on its journey west,
you will grow
quieter with listening
until you can hear the dry
whispers of scorpions,
and the mountains grinding
against one another with desire.
The cloudless sky
will send all shadows
to places of refuge, but you will
live on the head of a pin
where your needs are balanced
and night comes as a knife
so sharp you feel no pain
but there is a new scar
every morning.
If you give the scars a home
and cherish them,
you will become silent
and worthy of exile, and beautiful
beyond all witnessing.

From Selected Poems 1969-1981 by Richard Shelton, © 1982 Richard Shelton. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Thursday Blues

Genesis 2:7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Luke 3: 37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch,
the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel,
the son of Kenan, 38 the son of Enosh,
the son of Seth, the son of Adam,
the son of God.
In Luke's genealogy, Adam, formed from the earth, is son of God, as well--born out of the dust of the ground and created from heaven by the Spirit of Life. The Eastern Churches particularly emphasize theosis [divinization, deification, sanctification] rather than atonement and the LDS Church emphasizes theosis in tandem with atonement--far more than either Western Protestants or Roman Catholics. Try reading You Shall Be As Gods: A Radical Interpretation of the Old Testament and Its Tradition, by Erich Fromm, and if you can find a copy, On not Leaving it to the Snake by Harvey Cox; ages ago as an undergrad I read both books, and I still recall my consternation the day I dropped Cox's book into the curbside mud as I was getting out of the car after a spring rain. In those long-past days of old, just like nowadays, I usually carried a theology book or two around with me wherever I'd go! In addition, I like this more recent [April 28, 1998] variety of American blues: Wynton Marsalis, Standard Time, Vol.5: The Midnight Blues.

Since I'm calling this blog Thursday Blues, I'd like to get it posted this evening rather than waiting a week until next Thursday! This morning, most amazingly, I actually was allowing myself an uncommonly atypical blues bout, primarily so I could blog about blue--blogging about blue so then I could blog about blue's alternative, specifically realities in our lives and world that cause us to be unblue: God's gracious, constant, unmediated presence, care and provision for us and for all creation! Besides some scripture and related expressions, I'm thinking of entheogens and sacraments: nature's substances, the material of creation, connecting us with the Divine and generating heaven within us!

To close this short blog, not only are we created in a multifaceted Imago Dei (I've listed our in-God-created likenesses somewhere in some blog and won't do it again this evening): as we journey through life, by grace and in our striving we become even more like God! In God's genealogy that makes me Leah, conceived from creation's stuff, yet daughter of heaven too!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Sunday, October 09, 2005

In Christ alone my Hope is Found

Our closing song this morning...when I was learning to play it a couple days ago I thought this song was new to me, but when I searched for links to the composers I discovered it's on the WOW Yellow CD, which I have in my possession! Generally I play CDs for background and atmosphere and I don't often listen closely, but maybe I need to begin doing so, since I well might discover some other great songs. I can't post the music here, but the lyrics are absolutely wonderful:

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand!

In Christ alone! Who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
'Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live!

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ!

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
'Til He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand!


~~Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

© 2001 Kingsway's Thankyou Music~~

Friday, October 07, 2005

On the alien ship or home

Friday, October 07, 2005

"On the alien ship or home?" Blog time! Wednesday morning someone posted exactly that question on the private Jesus Freak site I belong to, and I figured again it was time to think and write about our dual citizenship. Over on the site I said:
Theologically, both on the alien ship and home at one and the same time. Did I ever mention ambiguity anywhere? Maybe I need to blog about aliens and homecoming yet another time...
As usual this evening, I'm thinking about the meaning, feeling, reality and necessity of that prized and elusive state known as "home." Therefore...although I began by thinking this would go on my theology blog, it's becoming at least obliquely autobiographical, so it'll end up on my testimony blog.

A handful of recent and all-too-fleeting experiences of being and of feeling myself fully included have left me pondering, and very grateful, too. How little it takes to make me sense I'm finally home, but what a plethora of non-inclusions I've been through during the past dozen years!

Tonight I'm feeling silly, or maybe closer to creative, and "alien ship" in this blog title brings to mind our dual citizenship as Christians, which includes the familiar bible-speak of resident alien/sojourner. Our double-identity encompasses our call to live out our discipleship in the community of the church while living out our baptism in the excitement and challenge of the world outside the church. This two-pronged church/world is a form of dual citizenship – or citizen ship – too. In sojourning stranger terms, again I'll cite my referring to Abraham's being an Ivri, one from the other side, and Jesus of Nazareth's enfleshing God, One from the exceedingly other side. There's the sort-of dualism in the gospel narratives (especially Mark) of Jesus' taking a boat ride from one side over to the other side, the occasional nautical and very persistent water imagery throughout scripture, and the representation of the Church as a ship--probably you know the classic church architectural pattern of an upside-down ship? Whatever the building's design, it's appropriate to refer to the central part of the sanctuary where the congregation sits as "nave," from which (of course) the word navy derives. In addition, Noah's Ark (Noahic Ark, parallel to Noahic Covenant?) comes to mind.

Paul S. Minear, in Images of the Church in the New Testament, suggests boat/ship is not particularly central in NT imagery! I just linked to the 2005 edition of the book, but I'm quoting from the original published in1960, so I won't indicate page numbers:
Is there an intended analogy between the boat in the storm and the church in the world? ...If this association of church and boat were certain, we might discern allusions elsewhere, as, for example, in those varied occasions when Mark pictures Jesus as teaching the crowd from a boat. It is probably that the first readers of the NT found multiple implications in all these episodes, but it is improbable that modern readers will ever agree on what those implications were. Though the stories suggest certain things about the church, it would be unwise for us to place much weight upon them.
Professor Minear also considers the Ark a minor NT image and includes only a single page about it. Here's a quote:

Thus when Jesus compared the days of the Son of Man to the days of Noah he wanted to emphasize the suddenness, the unexpectedness, and the inclusiveness of God's judgment, together with the urgency of immediate and alert watchfulness. ...

Like the water, Baptism is a means of salvation; like the ark, the church carries the elect through the waters of eschatological crisis. his is because Baptism involved total reliance of the community upon Jesus' death and resurrection...but the NT itself is remarkably free from the vagaries of later typological fantasies. ...the OT antitype had not yet received the power to dictate or to dominate thoughts about the church. So the analogy appears both rarely and marginally in the NT. Even this limited use, however, reflects a communal mind that could see itself in the multiple mirrors of Scriptural tradition.
Since this is my testimony blog, I'll testify that when I started earlier this evening, I thought I might write a bunch of serious stuff, but I haven't! In fact, I haven't developed anything I've put down to any extent. It's probably the eternal student in me, but before posting I love to get my ideas into almost-finished form, something I still generally aim for on my theology blog. However, sometimes I recall an incident during the time I served in Boston, when the senior pastor I served with commented on my preaching that morning: "Really good this morning--of course, you're always good, but you don't need to wrap it up as tightly as you sometimes do." I'm telling myself all my blogs are good, but I don't need to wrap them up as tightly as I sometimes do! Like a sermon, a blog is for me and for my [listeners and] readers, and I need to leave enough room and sufficient space for the Spirit to break in, engage and reveal what I'm trying to say plus a whole lot more than I've imagined. End of this evening's blog. Sleep well and be well!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Indigo Summer | October 2005 version

Suburban scene, Glenellen Drive
Soft morning sounds, dusky rose following a
nightlong rain
summer subtle colors soft as this new July day
slowly slipping into a world calm indigo quiet
Breakfast on the deck
over the earth dry tan under the deck
parched ground beneath the heavily rainladen trees' leaves
remembering long-ago cloudbursts

Lunch at the restaurant at the mall at the end of
Main Street, cerulean celadon blazing
Dazzling brights in the windows of the
house at the end of the street at the
rim of the park
dazzling yellow- and vivid cranberry-trimmed
in urban attitudinal edge
Seen: clear skies and hot sun

And felt: humid nights, desperate, yearning
music, restless talk

Heard among us: today's dawn's birdsongs, emerging day's sunglow

Scene at the beach
hot sand, sparkling sand
wet sand and breaking waves
This silent night desperate, white and hopeless
longing for tomorrow's dawn
still waiting in hope for hope


original: Wednesday morning, July 11, 2001

October 2005 version: Monday, October 03, 2005

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Journey

A few minutes ago I was looking through some old(er) computer file folders and came across this one, The Journey. Since I'd no clue as to what it might be, I opened it and then decided to post it here today. Since it's originally from early afternoon - 12:13 - on Sunday, February 9, 2003, it's definitely not current, though as usual I need to revisit my own thoughts and words more often than I generally do. Here it is as I found it with no updates, even though it's more than two and a half years later, but clearly I haven't responded to my own threat when I wrote, "...worship and liturgy's not about style but about our authentically opening to a Holy and Wholly Other and to an 'alternative Dominion' - as someone so fittingly expressed it...more thoughts and more words about this later..."
...more and more I'm realizing it's about the trip rather than about the promised land destination; to a greater and greater extent I'm truly comprehending the journey's one of vulnerability and risk and esp one of God's provision. So true we don't know what events and challenges and happenings lie around the corner or even along the current stretch of road that seems to be straight and unevent filled, but we do know God's gifts always are right there ahead of us - and we have assuring individual and community histories that remind us of that reality. It's not about the illusional 'safety' of hedging my bets - in human terms there's no safety whatsoever, anyway - although you / me / we all would love to believe there is.. And I have a frequent habit of deciding my life can't be totally hedged - but my life can be partially hedged, can't it? Well, no - it can't be. That's only one additional delusion.

music and mystery

...worship and liturgy's not about style but about our authentically opening to a Holy and Wholly Other and to an 'alternative Dominion' - as someone so fittingly expressed it...more thoughts and more words about this later...but I needed to write it down (type it down!).

Not about style?! But for me worship and liturgy frequently is about style! At times it seems as if I believe my whole life is about style more than it is about substance.