Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tuesday Prayer for 2/23/16: On the other side.

Inspired by Luke 13:1-9

Dear God:

I know, first hand, the corrosive power of shame.
This is that demon on my shoulder that tempts me in to living my life as though
I am (secretly) unlovable if people knew I…
Or had been around when I…
Or would find out that I…

It is that voice of accumulative decimation that seeks to more than balance out
The joy of any good I might do with whispers of
Corroded implications of motivation and
A withering look that makes me
Question my
Worth and
(On more than one occasion)
Has almost taken (the good of) my life away.

This demon points to these things and offers to protect me from them
Standing between me and them
Suggesting I am too weak to approach them
That they just might kill me
If I do.

God, please remind me what I already have been told by those who know better:
That those things that may make me
are not always those things that make me
That these things are more likely to kill me when I avoid them;
That these things become stronger when I feed them my shame;
That sometimes I need to lift up some of these things and love them, first;
That some of these things are too heavy for me to lift alone;
That these are things I no longer need to live with;

That I can leave this place.

That on the exit door is enthusiastically scrawled one, joy offering word:



Thursday, February 18, 2016

Thursday Essay 2/18/16 Ordination Exam: Question #2

“ASSOCIATION REPRESENTATIVE: Do you, with the church throughout the world, hear the word of God in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, and do you accept the word of God as the rule of Christian faith and practice?

Almost a year and a half ago, I wrote one essay on the first of 8 questions asked of ordinands at their ordination. At that point, the plan was to write and post one every few weeks or so until I wrote a bit on all 8 of them. Well, it was a good plan, anyway.

However, the idea never went away. I officiate at most ordinations in the Pacific Northwest Conference and I’m the one who gets to ask these questions. Although I’m not the being asked to answer these questions, I feel the weight of them and some days it’s a check in around my own sense of call.

Like with most folks who take the Bible seriously, the rhetoric mixed up in ideologies of scripture sometimes gets in the way of my relationship with scripture. I can answer affirmatively to this question but I know different people hear different things. Like any relationship, not everything means the same for every person in the relationship.

I hear word of God in the scriptures but I don’t believe the scriptures are, in and of themselves, some transcription of God speaking. Scripture is the place where humanity has tried to transcribe what other humans believe, think, know and feel about God and that’s what makes the scriptures sacred; that striving to be in communication with God. Through that interaction, God comes through a lot of the time as do a lot of descriptions of what different humans believe is sacred, good and evil.

Scripture is the place where I am in dialogue with my spiritual ancestors about these themes as well as justice, faithfulness, power, humility, love and a thousand other topics. I do not always agree with my spiritual ancestors or like what they did or said but to ignore them is to our detriment. I am convinced that God is present in all relationships; sometimes encouraging us; sometimes challenging us; and sometimes challenging us to to remove or defend ourselves from that relationship. So, not every biblical person is someone I seek to emulate but there is something important I can learn from all of them even if it’s only to practice my “No.” The word of God emerges from these interactions.

And that all means that accepting “the word of God as the rule of Christian faith and practice” is not as simple a road as some would suggest. It means that “the rule” changes as the relationship with the word changes. It means there will be days of certainty, days of doubt and days of confusion as each of us try and figure out “the rule.” It means will have days when we will have to understand the gift of grace in a whole new way.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Tuesday Prayer for 2/16/16: All these things.

Dear God:

This is what I was taught.

Courage is like a mountain top that
it is the realm of heroes and
once we arrive we never have to leave.
skill and once we have it

it stays.

A hero is courageous and those with courage are heroes.
The courageous are strong and able and certain.
The courageous sleep well and are


My courage waxes and wanes like the moon;
Flows in and out like the tides;
Collapses under the weight of itself.
I am afraid I will not have enough of it when it is called for.
My courage sits there with it’s arms crossed while my fear
My courage is just a little ragged and frazzled and has cramps from
crossing its fingers.
I do not meet courage on a mountain top but in the valley fog.
I have it in limited supply and some days getting out of bed uses it all up.

I think having a hero is natural but aspiring to be one is ridiculous.

If I were strong and able and certain, I would not need any courage
at all
because I would be strong, able and certain.

My courage stays up some nights biting its nails and thinking about calling in sick.
It makes deals and puts conditions on its emergence and misses many opportunities because the conditions it set were just one inch too high.

So, today, I hold it and hope I am not holding it back.

I hold it as though it has felt betrayed by gravity and failure and evil and fear and hope and love and joy and, well,

Somewhere in all that it learns what it is and, as it does,

I inhale it. Deeply.

I start
to Breathe.