Tuesday, November 27, 2007

like God's house

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob," sings Isaiah this week.

At the beginning of this Advent season, I wonder what it would be like to get ourselves ready for that trip--to God's house, where the world is transformed. People learn to live in beautiful ways, together, old disputes get settled, and weapons become farming tools.

This week, I've been asking people: what makes a place feel like "home" to you?

What do you think God's home would look like?

If Isaiah's image is true, I notice a couple of strange things: this home isn't a refuge for me, but a place for "all nations" to be together, and to build peace together. Also, God's home isn't a place where I stop working. I just trade in whatever self-interested tools I was using for garden tools--presumably, to grow the food that will set the feast on the big table we'll share.

As we're drawn closer to Christmas, I feel the pull of expectations and busy-ness in our world--so many things we ought to do and buy. I want to resist making my celebration of Christ's birth into something that commodified. My current obsession is figuring out how to make things for people, instead of buy them--something about putting my labor into creating things feels really good. Also, I can recycle materials in my creating. (I also have this hopeful idea that it may also prepare me for the creative work I'm called to in God's house--perhaps Isaiah might have continued, after "swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks" by saying "knives into knitting needles and chains into sewing thread" or "firearms into stoves.")

What I mean to say is that I suggest we take up a new set of spiritual and physical practices this Christmas season. Instead of letting ourselves get caught up in our culture's "usual" ways of celebrating Christmas, let's use these weeks as a time to do things that will help make this place look a little more like God's home.

I'd be thrilled if you'd share your ideas!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Cosmos Sunday

Our Season of Creation concludes with Cosmos Sunday. We've traveled through the oceans and flora and fauna and even through storms. This week we consider Creation in its entirety. Creation in its infinity.

As our scriptural guide, we have the voice of Wisdom from Proverbs 8 and a Psalm of praise for all God's Creation. These are beautiful attempts to describe the wonders of Creation, the wonders of our awesome God.

Of course, I am of an age that whenever I hear the word Cosmos, I think first of Carl Sagan, who helped open the scientific wonders of the Cosmos to many common folk -- all inhabitants of the Cosmos -- through the 1980 PBS series "Cosmos". Sagan helped us understand the vastnessness of the Cosmos, and he did so with a sense of wonder. He, like the psalmist, attempted to describe the wonders of Creation and our Creator.

Whether we look at the Cosmos from our finite place within it or consider the infinite nature of the Cosmos beyond us, it is a marvel, a wonder a miracle.

How do you describe this wonder?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

through the storms

This Sunday, we celebrate Thanksgiving.  And, we celebrate the culmination of our annual stewardship campaign, which invites us to "Thank God."  And, we celebrate week 3 in our Season of Creation: Storm Sunday.  AND, we get to celebrate the baptism of a baby.

This is a lot, but I think it will all work beautifully.  (I know my life seems to happen that way--things bunch all up on top of each other.)  I believe all this things amplify each other.

See, this week, we celebrate Jesus as one who could still storms.  And we give voice to naming God as one who has tremendous power over the world, in Psalm 29.   

We'll gather this week to give thanks to God, who has come with us through some storms this year.  And, who blesses us all the while (even when things look really lousy).  

Whether your storms have been metaphorical or literal--in yourself, in your relationships, in the world--you're invited to get together this week and celebrate that God is with you still.  As a community, we celebrate coming through the firestorms of last month, even as we lament all that was lost.  And we celebrate that God's spirit is always giving us new life.

It's always exciting to me when the Water's Edge gets to share in offering the holy waters of baptism.  I hope you'll come be a part of the celebration.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


It's gonna be "Fauna Sunday" this week, as we continue our celebration of the Season of Creation, which means we get to celebrate God's creatures here on earth. (And, I admit and warn you now, some of God's "flora" are likely to crop up, too, as I can't really imagine the "fauna" without them...)

I've been pondering the creatures of the world. When I think of animals and God, my mind nearly always jumps to Isaiah's vision of a "peaceable kingdom" (as in the one painted by Edward Hicks, above). I like creatures in an idealized, perfect world, where lambs and lions can abide in harmony.

I have more trouble with creatures in my everyday life: I'm not a pet person. (I do try to feed the fish at our house regularly, but that's about as good as it gets for me. I like that they stay in their tank and don't infringe on my space...) I think I like my plants more.

I am, however, amazed at the beauty and variety of creatures in this world--the intricate ways they fit together in ecosystems and the diverse adaptations that work for their survival and the survival of others.

All of which I think Jesus was talking about when he preached to the crowds and told them not to worry. It's too easy for all of us to get caught up in worry about what will come next. Or, even, fretting about figuring out how and why things happen. (Particularly, I think, we get seduced by this dangerous way of thinking about God when disaster strikes. We try to console ourselves with the assurance that "everything happens for a reason," as if God intended for tragedies and suffering to happen. As a means to something else. I can't buy that way of thinking.)

I DO, however, affirm that God is present in everything. And that God works with every bit of reality, inviting us to a new possibility. We can use both the tragedies and the triumphs of the world as occasions for doing things that build God's kingdom.

Strive first for the kingdom of God, Jesus says. The rest will work out.

And the crazy part is that when we strive first for the kingdom of God, we find it working out beautifully--not just as a promise for the future, but even in the "now." Loving God and loving neighbor infuses our living with things that are eternal.

Striving first for the Kingdom also means that we use our lives to be stewards of things far beyond ourselves--in an era when we can have dramatic impact on creatures far and near, we are invited to live in ways that ensure the survival and flourishing of other life, too.

So, like last week, we gather again on Sunday to give thanks for God's presence in all creation. (The Psalm will help, again.) And, we challenge ourselves to be changed by that presence.

(Maybe I'll become an animal person, yet.)