Faith-Full

Luke 7:1-10 Amazed. Julian was amazed at people’s faithfulness and the depth of the commitment made by people who were confirmed at her church. (Confirmation being the process by which people in other denominations say, “Yes I am choosing to follow Jesus.”) The enormity of such a decision awed 12-year old Julian, who was herself preparing for the confirmation process.  […]

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Favorite Poems on: Trust

As I dive into the lectionary passage (Luke 7:1-10), I am struck by the way Marcus Borg talks about the historical definition of faith as trust. Borg depicts the opposite of faith as worry and anxiety. What strikes me about the centurion in this week’s story is his lack of anxiety, which is indeed worthy of Jesus’ amazement. Thus, this week I have been reflecting on these poems that speak to the call to be faithful, trusting, and to not be consumed by our anxieties and fears.  I Worried by Mary Oliver I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers flow in the right direction, will the earth turn as it was taught, and if not how shall I correct it? Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven, can I do better? Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows can do it and I am, well, hopeless. Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it, am I going to get rheumatism, lockjaw, dementia? Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing. And gave it up.  And took my old body and went out into the morning, and sang. The Last Good Days By Lynn Ungar What will you do with the last good days? Before the seas rise and the skies close in, before the terrible bill for all our thoughtless wanting finally comes due? What will you do […]

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Location, Location, Location

Acts 2:1-21 Do you ever get lost? After two years of living in Connecticut, I still lose my way.  Just the other week, it took me over 40 minutes to go somewhere in Old Lyme and most of that time was spent wandering back roads in the wrong direction.  The other day, before I ventured out to make a visit, someone gave me detailed directions, narrating each turn and then telling me: you will know that you’ve arrived in the right place if there is a flag pole and cemetery across the street.  I followed the directions carefully and then, as I prepared to do my multiple back-and-forth, do-you-think-that-is-it, am-I-really-on-the-right-road locating technique, I stumbled upon the flag pole and the cemetery and I immediately knew: I was in the right place. I found myself thinking of this experience this week because, in our spiritual life, it is also easy to get lost.  Do you ever stray off-course?  Do you ever find yourself driving down streets again and again, unsure how to locate the precise place that you set out to find?   Do you find yourself hungry to deepen your relationship with God but lost on how to precisely start on that task when the New Revised Standard Bible is approximately a 780,000 word book?  Or perhaps you find yourself setting out for one location, like healing, but finding yourself arriving at another, like resentment, despite your best intentions to arrive […]

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Pentecost Year C Musings

Acts 2:1-21 Theme: You are in the right place if … In the book Tattoos of the Heart by Father Greg Boyle, Boyle notes that some Scripture scholars posit that the original language of the Beatitudes should not be rendered as “Blessed are the single-hearted” or “Blessed are the peacemakers.”  Rather, greater precision in translation would say, “You’re in the right place if … you are singled-hearted or work for peace.”  In those words, Jesus teaches us that the Beatitudes are not a spirituality but rather a geography that tells us where to stand. Similarly the Scripture this week, the Holy Spirit teaches us that faith is a geography.  In the text, the Spirit comes whooshing through the disciples’ gathering, calling them out of the Upper Room where they were holed up, safe and comfortable, into the cacophony of different languages and people. The Holy Spirit calls us forth into the world, teaching us that we are in the right place if everyone doesn’t look like us or talk like us, or if we have to pause to learn to speak in other people’s languages. In the words of Jan Richardson, we are in the right place if “everyone does not look like you or think like you…. they do not believe precisely as you believe … their thoughts and ideas gestures are not exact echos of your own.” Location, location, location.  Faith is about location.  Where are you standing?  Are you standing […]

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That They May Be One

Texts: Acts 16:9-15 ,  John 17:20-26 As Paul walks on the stone-paved pathway onto the threshold of Philippi, a city in Macedonia, a region in Greece, he immediately starts looking around.  He’s not really sure what he is looking for. Paul is here because he had a vision, a dream really, of a man who said to him, “C’mon over to Macedonia […]

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Easter 7C Musings

Texts: Acts 16:9-15 (from Easter 6C) John 17:20-26 This text draws from Jesus’s final prayer before he is betrayed by his friend and crucified on the cross. It follows the Farewell Discourse, which we read last week, which emphasized peace and the presence of the Holy Spirit.  This week, the text emphasizes unity, love and God’s presence with us. I have been pondering this week: […]

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Finding Peace

John 14:23-29 The night before Jesus died, Jesus said to his disciples, who would soon be filled with grief, uncertainty and fear: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” “Peace.” I wonder what the disciples felt when they heard those words: Confusion? Doubt?  Longing? The thing about peace is that it often feels so elusive. Sure, we would love to all feel at peace, but how do we do that in a world like this one? How do we experience peace in a world with violence, pain, sadness and loneliness? How do we do experience peace when the world is constantly telling us that who we are and what we have is never enough? Life can be exhausting. Where do we find peace? This is a question with which not only the disciples wrestled but also we today. Glennon Melton, mother and author of Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, struggles with this question first hand. She moved six times in eight years to very different places because she thought if she changed her geography, maybe she could discover peace and joy … as if they had their very own zip code … but she didn’t find what she was looking for … No matter where she […]

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Easter 6C Musings

Texts: John 14:23-29 This text shares the words of Jesus’ Farewell Discourse before his death.  In light of the dark days ahead, Jesus speaks words of peace and reminds the disciples that even in this difficult circumstances that they will not be alone.  They Holy Spirit will be their Companion. Scholar Raymond Brown (as read in Spirit and Trauma by Shelley Rambo) points out that, at the moment that Jesus dies, Jesus “hands over his spirit” to Mary and the beloved disciples.  Brown posits that this could be an unofficial gift of the Spirit, prior to the formal gift, given later by the Risen Christ to the disciples in the Upper Room after the resurrection. The gift of the Spirit at the moment of the crucifixion is profound because the Spirit bears witness to the experience of the disciples in the wake of Jesus’ death and burial.  It remains after all else has fallen away.  It bears witness not only to the disciples’ grief and pain on Good Friday but also to the the uncertainty that follows on Holy Saturday, when the disciples are unsure what comes next. In this Scripture, Jesus reminds us that, at its heart, peace is companionship, peace is the Holy walking with us through the valley of the shadow of death, peace is knowing that we are not alone and that wherever we may end up the Spirit of Love accompanies us. Rambo would argue that this truth is redemptive: It […]

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