Monday, June 19, 2006

What are you afraid of?

Jesus had just finished sharing those growth parables we heard about Sunday as well as a few other parable classics, and it was getting dark, and he was tired (okay, I added that last bit, but if you had been preaching all day by the seashore, you'd probably be tired). And he says: "Let us go across to the other side." Why? Well, presumably the crowd isn't on the other side and the boat ride might provide a little respite. So Jesus lay down on a cushion in the stern and went to sleep. A great windstorm arose. The disciples feared they would perish and woke Jesus, who looked directly into the storm as a parent looks at a disruptive child (okay, I added that simile, too), and he said: "Peace. Be still." And the storm ceased and there was calm. Then, after rebuking the storm, Jesus turned his attention to the disciples and said: "Why are you afraid?"

It's a good question for us, too. What are the storms that we face? Where are the places in our lives where we could use some calm? What is it that we fear? Do our fears paralyze us or motivate us? Or both/and? Both as individuals and as a community of faith what fears would we like to release into peace and calm? What are we afraid of? Can our faith help us overcome those fears? And, knowing what we know about living as servants of God -- both from our own experience and from Paul's description in our other reading this Sunday, can we still our fears and/or use them to energize us so we can continue God's work in the world?

The Gospel is from Mark 4:35-41. (But if you keep reading, you'll find out what Jesus faced on the other side of the sea.)
Also this week, we'll spend some time with 2 Corinthians 6:1-13, where Paul has words with the church in Corinth.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

kingdom block party/kingdom weeds

I've started reading Brian McLaren's new book, The Secret Message of Jesus. In it, he raises questions about how to explain and interpret the "Kingdom of God." Kings are out-dated. Maybe, he says, we should think of it as a block party. Or a dance. Or something else.

Whatever our name for it, he reminds us that the consistent piece of what Jesus says about it is that it IS. "The Kingdom is as someone woudl scatter seed on the ground..." "The Kingdom is like a mustard seed..."

I'm captivated by a comparison that Shane Claiborne made to the mustard seed: he says it's like kudzu.

Somehow, this was lost on me in Sunday School--I remember being handed mustard seeds. I remember planting LITTLE BITTY seeds and delighting in how they could grow.

What I don't remember is mention of the fact that the thing we're planting is a dangerous weed that most farmers want to keep off of their land.

(Hence his comparison to kudzu--any Southerner will know this prolific plant. First introduced in the US at a 1876 Exposition in Philadelphia in the display from Japan, of beautiful plants, it was widely promoted during the Great Depression as a means of erosion control. Well, it grew and keep the soil in place, but also too over EVERYTHING... Now, folks worry about the health of the forest, because this plant whose vines can grow 60 feet a year is keeping the light out.)

Which suddenly makes being a part of Christianity sound a whole lot more dangerous--and more is at stake. Perhaps this kingdom will grow in us and our communities, and will mean lots of changes...

So check out this week's scriptures and see what you think: Mark 4:26-34 and 2 Corinthians 5:6-17.

Monday, June 05, 2006

dancing the trinity?

I've heard of the two-step...why now a trinity dance?

After all, this Sunday is Trinity Sunday. And, now and then, I get this yearning to celebrate and emphasize our trinitarian theology. Not just the ol' formula (Father, Son & Holy Ghost), but with all kinds of names.

One of my favorite trinitarian words is perichoresis. (I figure that during the week after the National Spelling Bee, it's a good time for tricky words. Did Starbucks ever put that one on a cup?)

In theology, it's been defined as the interconnected relationships of the Holy Trinity--the dance of interconnection between God as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.

For all you word nerds, you'll see that it has roots in Greek words that could be translated as "dancing around": peri- like perimeter, meaning around, and -chor- like choreography mean dancing or moving.

Anyhow...all of this is to say that I like imagining the divine (GOD!) as a wily, dance, working with us (and the whole world) in beautiful steps to building God's justice. A dancing God who can't quite be caught on film or tied down, even by the most elegant of church-y language.

Here's part of a poem I found online, by a man named Andrew Stephen Damick. Poetry about a dancing God. What could be better?!


O elegant and gentle Leader of the dance,
we do not know the meaning of each step
nor how to rightly turn this way or hold this pose.
Each spinning step or angled movement's twist
does sometimes give us vertigo here where we stand;
this mystery of how the rhythm's pulse
and how the music's lilt are tuned to only You
has caught us up, and we are overwhelmed.

O grace-filled, grace-bestowing Leader of the dance,
please teach me how to twirl and how to move;
please teach me how the song pervades each dancer's form,
these dancers who have learned to dance with You
throughout the ages of the song, the holy song
You sang in ages past to Abraham,
to Isaac and to Jacob and his Hebrew seed:
Now sing to me and give me, too, this life.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

summertime psalms

Hey, all:

Here's your big chance to help make worship this summer.

You are invited to interpret a Psalm--in photos, pictures, video, whatever. It can include the words of the Psalm, or just illustrate them. It can include music or not. There's hardly a bad answer.

Here's how I think it can work:
you pick one of the Psalms/Sundays for this summer. let us know, so we can be sure no one else is already doing that one. Then, you put together some kind of artistic expression of that Psalm.

**NOTE: I've added names next to the Psalms that have been "claimed" already. Please pick one of the other ones!**

The options are:
June 11 -Psalm 29

June 18-Psalm 72--Middle School youth

June 25-Psalm 9:9-20

July 2-Psalm 130

July 9-Psalm 48

July 16-Psalm 24--LuAnn

July 23-Psalm 89:20-37--*we'll be at Misson Bay*

July 30-Psalm 14--John I

August 6-Psalm 51:1-12--Dylan

August 13-Psalm 130

August 20-Psalm 111--Sr. High youth

August 27-Psalm 84

It'll be fun. :)