Wednesday, June 20, 2018

They 'did not do what the king of Egypt commanded them'

In a prominent place in our kitchen is a big multimedia piece of work done by one of my favorite local artists - Cody Miller. Women and babies are placed throughout the work. It is very colorful painting. With the use of lips and eyes and clothing cut out from magazines along with his brilliant and life giving use of paint, Cody brings to canvas - the great imagination of Scripture. He makes you see Scripture in a new way. His paintings are not the mere repetition of memorized verses for which people rarely know the context and even more rarely have a notion of the context of the story before any storytelling was put to paper. That's the key. He blows open the viewers mind so that we will no longer look with eyes that claim to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Years ago, we had our sanctuary filled with Cody's original works. During that month, I knew that folks were drawing inspiration and vision and hope and joy and a call for justice from simply gazing around the sanctuary. Wonder-filled images. My words were probably secondary - if that high on the list.

This morning as Karen and I were going over the news from my periodontist and attempting to make some kind of plan to pay for it, I was once again looking at Exodus 1:17 - Cody style. 'But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live.' The great and mighty Pharaoh was afraid and troubled. There were all these damn immigrants - slaves - foreigners  who had wandered from their home during hard times and made it to Egypt. During their sojourn, they had grown great in numbers and therefore the king put hardships upon them. (Note: there is a long history to rulers who fear those not like them - especially the foreigners. That is why we are told throughout Scripture to take care of the foreigners and travelers and neighbors - do not fear them - care for them. That is what makes us a biblical people.)

Well, the midwives - the weakest of folk within the domain of powers - did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them. The text says they did not act as the king demanded because they feared God. No. They honored and were in awe of and understood who is the eternal author of life. So, they simply blew off Pharaoh's pompous policies. They were going to protect those Hebrew boys - the seed for the future - those little ones who caused this ruler, who thought he was the greatest gift to the world, to be anxious and full of fear of that which he did not control - life. Yes, Mr. Pharaoh, Mr. President, Mr. Supreme Leader, Mr./Ms in charge and in power - the midwives will keep out of your deadly control the most vulnerable - the infants - the easiest to destroy. Ha!

This depiction of Exodus 1:17 also drew me down to the border that the U.S shares with Mexico. Fearful rulers and policy makers need to attack the children - weakest - least - lost. That is who the powers of death like to defeat - that is usually all they are able to defeat - that is a frequent target. For when they are able to do that, they also have gone a great way in killing the soul of a people - a nation - a country - a family - right when they thought they were making a nation great. When those who are fearful and in need of self-aggrandizement and self-security and self-adoration act; they act-out. Like bullies. Like a Pharaoh who cannot see the worth of all people. Therefore, they gather up stories that make themselves seem as though they are doing what is just and right and greatly needed to protect the privileged of the land from the hordes at the boundary.

Let me switch gears. When we are able to suggest the building of a wall - one that cannot ever be completed as promised or able to do what it has been promised to do - and, when we are being promised a parade of military might so that our supreme leader can stand there and act like they represent his strength and power, then - I would suggest - we have the funds to do that which walks the moral high ground in regard to border and immigration action. But, what in the world is going on with Pharaoh? In the land of the free and the home of the brave, why does Pharaoh fear frail children fleeing lands of violence. We have been and still are a land full of hope. But to the world, we are becoming a land where  a vision of hope is becoming one that is led by a person afraid to risk offering a life full of hope to the hopeless. Also,  I want to pose the same question to congress. When our supreme leader lacks moral substance, how is it that the hundreds of men and women with leather seats and lifetime salaries and healthcare will not stand up and take over their respective sides of the Capitol and demand that we let the children go and when Pharaoh whines - veto him!

Just to throw in another rant, I really think it does not help to use the same color to paint a picture. So, when I dislike how a station like FOX will have each of its employees engage the same word to describe a situation - other cable stations like MSNBC and CNN fall into the same ugly language trap. I have been keeping track of how often 'Ripped' has been used - as in children ripped from the arms...' Please expand your vocabulary - give us details, and if you don't have the words,  don't fall into the trap of a loss of words. A teacher and mentor used to say that folks who would call everything a this or an that - simply had a limited command of adjectives. We can do better to describe the events around us. Paint a better picture.

Like comics and writers and poets, I find artists relentlessly draw us various images that attempt to pull us out of ourselves so we can be self-critical and self-aware and then see the world around us a bit more clearly - honestly - compassionately. With eyes wide open. Paying for my oral repairs are nothing to the price the soul of our country is taking when we go after the children and families fleeing danger for a land of hope.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

It will take me a few days to be able to hear again

So I was clanging my cowbell - mostly in a way that blended the cadence of the Hater on his portable megaphone and whatever music was passing by our spot along the Columbus Pride parade. It would be only partially correct if I said the guy on the megaphone was pissed at me. He had a memory - we were in this same position last year - me on cowbell and him on megaphone. I must say that once he told me not to do what I did last year - in a tone and with language that was pointed and bitter - he then said, 'I like your sunglasses.' I'm a nut in some ways because even when things are quite black and white and tend to be quite obviously so, I am able to see and hear some of the other colors. It is an odd place to be.

It was my task to drown out the hate talk. For me, plain old hate talk is hard to hear. It becomes a matter of a mission when the hate talk is being ascribed to Scripture - especially when the Scripture being used - is not meant to be hateful. For example, within a few breaths, this self-righteous preacher cursed those walking by and reminded them how much his God hated them for who they were and what they do. Then he read from the creative verses of the prelude to John's gospel. Within moments, the creator of all things - the one who creates with a word - is cast as one who destroys and condemns. Which word was this guy using - Hmmm.

It sounded a bit like Jeff Sessions quoting the opening verses of Romans 13 and using them as though they give credence to the separation of children from their family because Paul said we should abide by the governing authorities of the day.  Yet, Sessions quote doesn't go far enough - as biblical scholar Stephen Colbert noted when he said Sessions should have read Romans 13:9 and 10. There it speaks of love - the law of love - the one law we are to abide by - love of neighbor. It will be those verses that instruct us to follow that new command - to love - over any laws in any place and time. THOSE verses show the fulfillment of the law of love.

But, let me not digress, while I was a clanging cowbell trying to tame a clanging cymbal of hate and - in my understanding of the good news of the Reign of God presented in Scripture - silence a bit of biblical literalism that demeans scripture and tries to create a life that can be shoved on folks, the woman next to me kept telling me to listen to what he was reading. I looked at her and in one of my very few words of the day said, 'I know those words quite well already - that's why I'm here playing this cowbell.' Our band of ragtag bells, horns, toy xylophones, kazoos, and one nice drum corp drum were on site to attempt to put a lid on the words of hate that were intended to intensify the words of condemnation and biblical confusion that was printed on their many signs.

I've walked in the Parade in years past - with a cadre of ELCA congregations. The haters who find it necessary to come to Pride to harp on their vision of the good, the bad, and the ugly have a knack of simply making everything ugly. And yet, in a crowd of 500,000 their voice is but a drop in the bucket - we must remember that. Yet, it is a drop that too many of us find acceptable - or - we simply say nothing - we let it go on without offering another word. These folks cannot be simply dismissed. We must speak a different word - I will call it the Good News of the Reign of God - sound familiar? I will also call it the words of peace that come from other faiths and the voices of atheists whose arms are dedicated to being open wide rather than ready for a fight against all that differ from us. The haters do not think they are haters. In fact, a few of the folks I did talk with were just like me - committed. Yet, we are committed to a different reality - a different vision - a different way of walking in and being part of the way of endless love for neighbor, any neighbor.

One of the men within the haters group who was trying to encourage the preacher, came at me with the claim that I was afraid of what his colleague was saying. He then went into a bit about first amendment rights - why was I not honoring their right to speak. Without getting into it, I simply said, 'I'm interpreting his words into cowbell.' That was not appreciated. Thing is, they can rant all they want. But when they do it in the public square and attempt to use their words to batter and beat down and demean and dump a vision of life on others not wanting their vision, I suppose our band can play along with them just as freely. It is unfortunate that those folks who got all dressed up in their cross baseball hats and red, hate shirts have to hear this kind of biblical interpretation in their own churches, and yet it is shameful that they bring it out onto the street to bash others. I have never witnessed them convert a person at Pride to their vision. I don't think they are there to convert nor do they have the ability. Many of those in the parade are free thinkers and would never by into such violent speech. Image a group of Pride folk going to their church and hearing about a love of God that is ready to condemn. I would think those folk would be quick to leave.

There are so many different people who take part in the Pride Parade. Even as I look at and walk with and talk with so many folks, I really don't get some of their actions or words. Yet, I will be their ally and march with them for I have seen the many ways people have been saved by the work of the GLBTQ community - in the church and on the outside of it. I know, you may have a knee-jerk reaction to my use of the word saved - especially if saved simply has to do with getting to heaven. So hear in that word - healed, made whole, welcomed and nurtured into life that knows no end - love. I find that such a community as this has saved me - made me whole - helped me love more than the limits I tend to put on love - given me breath for another day - turned me from being controlling to jumping into a world of creativity and hopefulness. Clang - Clang.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

New credibility - wearing jeans and no sport coat

So the new leader of the Southern Baptist Convention may be a guy who 'sometimes preaches in jeans and shirts with no sport coat'. Well, glory be to God - all is well with my soul.

Supposedly, this makes him a really an innovative dude. He goes so far as to take the SBC notion of complementarianism (make leadership in the home and in the church something a man must take hold of - and certainly not a woman) and simply tries to soften it by saying 'it must be observed in a way that's respectful of women and encourages them to play an active role in church affairs'- wow, what a wild man. In other words, women can only have a place and a say if a man - like him - says there needs to be a way woman can do more in the church. In other words, this is still 'a man's world' that may let women do more. Ha - in other words - he disrespects women by his comments that he thinks respects them. Ha.

The notion of complementainism is an ancient and tribal way to structure a culture. It has nothing to do with the Reign of God - the way of Jesus - or the life of the followers of Jesus. It is the foolishness of those who read something in Scripture and cannot see the stories as they sit in another time and culture. Therefore, a mere sentence can become a rule - a law - that must be followed even if it only has to do with ancient ways to build a culture on power and submission and ill founded stereotypes of men and women.  By the way, these folks have no clue what to do with GLBTQ followers of Jesus - so they just refuse to see their lives as lives just as glorious as the rest. But that is not the issue at hand here - but it does tie in a bit.

The guy who may be the new SBC leader and his dress and his attempt to soften their practices that are dismissive of sound biblical scholarship struck me because it appears as though a clergy person's dress may give him (him - in this case) some credibility in our culture. So, hey, this must be a real follower of Jesus because he can talk and preach while wearing jeans - and no sport coat. Cool. Over the years I have heard and seen a number of 'casual' preachers gather a crowd around them - pull together a bunch of solid musicians - do their church thing outside the setting of a traditional church building, and they preach and teach and raise their voices and make it sound like they are the true voice of God and the sidekick of Jesus in our day. And yet, their teaching and preaching lights up an old world that does not know how to bring the love of God into the present and leave the garbage of ancient tribes and cultures behind. Let me also say - I have heard many voices - offering up the same garbage - dressed up in robes and prancing inside church buildings. Just saying.

When the bible is seen as a magical book - as a book of law mediated by a word of grace that is only accessible to some (duh, no grace at all) - the message may sound good - it may fit the old vision for life we all took in and accepted as children, but it leaves out the life within the vision of the Reign of God, in which, no one is less or left out or put under the rule of another person. I often hear young 'preachers' - who come out to protest at clinics that see to the accessibility of women's health care that may include abortions - and these young, jean wearing preachers only know how to repeat words from the bible - they have little if any understanding of the life within the Reign of God. For them it is still the same old religion of threat, fear mongering, work your ass of to get God to love you but they cover over their vile words with words of love that leave people confused and often angry at everyone who reads the Bible and takes away a vision for life.

As I read that article in the Dispatch, I thought of clergy whose dress is quite traditional and yet their words about the living Reign of God transform life among us. Look at Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry - look at Bishop William Barber, a leader of the Poor People's Campaign - they are examples of the words of Scripture being held up as a way to transform our day - by letting loose old images and rules that keep our world divided and then take the risk to bind us to a vision for new life in which ancient ways - tribal fears and practices - are dropped. Make this one mental note, if a preacher - no matter what s/he is wearing (although you won't hear many women use this  word) refers to humanity as man walk out - turn off the TV - move to another podcast - or better yet, talk to that preacher about how God creates humankind - and we - all of us - bring forth the Reign of God in our day as we let loose of the shit that always leaves some out or puts them 'in their place'. Or, on a more positive note, listen to those who preach about God's Peaceable Reign - in which their no violence or prejudice or sexist stereotypes or need to control their folks - and simply thank them and return to listen with a critical ear always willing to question ancient cultish ways that must we let go for the opportunity to live within God's unfolding Reign.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

An Age of Feral Nastiness

I had to quickly turn and grab for a piece of paper (my ability to remember quotes is horrible) because Bret Stephens from the NYT had thrown out a wild run of comments as he was taking part in a panel discussion. I was not fast enough. So I had to interrupt the flow of the recorded show and move back toward his comments. As is usually the case, I go back to far - but this was worth it. I have always appreciated the input Stephens has when he is brought onto a panel. I think I am correct in saying he was a Republican. He also strikes me as being someone who looks for truth and is willing to move from one stance to another by way of well-thought out analysis that does not pull punches. It was quite apparent, that in these years of Trump, using the past tense to describe his political leaning is a deliberate move by him - but not forevermore. I like that. Honest and moveable and acknowledging that he may move again.

Within the discussion they were having about the present climate in the country and the present occupant of the White House, he referred to the stuff coming from our President and others who follow him as feral nastiness. THAT was why I had to go back and hear it again. For me, it was a use of the English language that I always appreciate. It wasn't a glancing blow or a mere insult, it was a commentary on the character of the person who we have put into the oval office despite his long and unceasing ability to be nasty - yet, as Stephens comment suggests - he is nasty without any bit of class. Nastiness has its place. I appreciate nastiness because it makes me turn my head and wonder a bit about the origin of the comment and how the comment is being used. Most often, a nasty comment is biting - it is biting and yet carries a seed of truthfulness - it can be truthful with a twist, a bite, a laugh. The President lacks such an ability. His nastiness is biting in the way a feral animal bites - it knows no other way to exist because anything outside his own world view is seen as a threat.

I used to be content watching and listening to the President just as I would do the same to other people whose lives are a parade of narcissistic acts and reactions. I would wonder what could have possibly happened to him to make his actions so infantile - so fear filled - so lacking in self reflection that he is only able to attack. But now, with the introduction of a simple phrase like feral nastiness, I realize it is not merely his narcissistic tendencies that run his life and mouth. Rather, it is a deeper issue. He has been nurtured with a vision of a dog-eat-dog world that has no respect for anything other than that which feeds him or lets him possess whatever he wants or allows him to use anyone or anything for his own consumption. It is the way he appears to be with women and anyone who may appear to be a stumbling block to what he wants. His nastiness appears everyday. It is because it is not an act. It is the very character of the man. To use his own word, that's SAD. It really is.

Stephens also spoke of a juvenile self-pity. Again, it is so descriptive. Even in the position of being the most powerful person in the world, he unceasingly plays the role of victim.Therefore, he cannot stop tweeting about how everyone is picking on him - more than anyone else in history - falsely accused at a levels never seen before. The two descriptive phrases used by Stephens go together for when a person suffers from a sense that the person has been wronged and does that from being locked in the emotionally developmental position of a child - all we can expect is uncultivated and wild attacks like an uncontrollable beast. There is nothing creative that will come from such a power. Playground antics will rule the day. It fears the day because anything and everything becomes that at which an feral reaction is needed.     That doesn't mean the President cannot lead the country. It does mean that we must be vigilant in regard to how we are being led and what is the life into which we are being led. For eventually, such a leader will lead us into a cultural setting in which the society around us - including us - is unable to consider the welfare of all. It is then that we become the wild beasts who concur that some can be discarded - eaten up - used for the moment at hand - leaving behind destruction rather than redemptive creativity. I would end by offering a positive word about being nasty. I think we can be practitioners of creative nastiness. It is a nastiness (if you are bible reading person) of the great prophets - of Jesus - of Paul - of Mary Magdelene. It is the nastiness of social reformers and peaceable resisters and martyrs who are willing to be eaten by feral beasts in order to leave a message of hope and direction for those who must carry on beyond the days of feral nastiness.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Way out of line

I do not read much history. That will change. Last week I finished Jon Meecham's The Soul of America and within just one week of reflection his work has exposed - more than ever - how hope prevails even when the voices of hatred and bigotry and fear attempt to win the day. Meecham does that by giving us a overview of the line of presidents that goes back to the days before Lincoln. There have always been forces of evil and - to contrast Meecham's use of better angels - these devils/demons thrive on violence, bigotry, and control that is cast only in one line of history. Better Angels always stand up to the devilish powers that attempt to rule the country.

My first take away from this book was simply the wonderful and gifted people who have led our country as president. They have a job that demands the help of better angels (Meecham's use of Lincoln's term) because there is just too much power that tries to move us to less than who we are called to be as Americans. It was also jarring to see how presidents I have admired were individuals who went along with the societal diseases of their day - yet, they were able to turn and move in a creative manner even within the biases and fears of their time. They helped make us a stronger union.

As each chapter passed by, I was struck by their use of the English language. They spoke well. They wrote even better. I realize many of them used speech writers, but they also wrote some of the most powerful and dynamic pieces that will hang with us as we move on in time. It is within those glimpses of the presidents - even ones I did not like - that I realized that we are being stooged. That is, we have let someone who cannot speak or write beyond sound bites - tweets - slurs - and innuendos, take control of the office of president. This was highlighted again on Memorial Day. I hung my head when I read the day's tweet by our President. As is usually his case, he broke wind again. This time, it was in the face of our men and women in the military. He had to use the few words he tries to put together in 140 characters to talk about himself. I then saw the tweets of the past four presidents. Their 140 characters were - how shall I put it - presidential. They were to the point, clear, and, they honored our armed forces. I even turned to my wife and said that George W. (who I was not very fond of) was respectful as he mentioned a fallen soldier and included what I think was one of his paintings of the man - W. you did well.

The Soul of America lifts up the greatness of our history and as that is being done, it becomes more and more obvious that our president falls short - very short - of being a part of that honorable parade of past residents of the White House. Meacham doesn't go after Trump. He doesn't have to. Within his glimpse at the highs and lows of our presidential history, it becomes obvious that we are presently at a great loss. We have let ourselves fall for that which is created and ruled by fear - shame on us.

I have attempted to put together transcripts of the stuff our president says. It is an exercise in foolishness for all I can reconstruct is foolishness. I wonder what the Trump library will contain. I am not a good impromptu speaker or writer so I cannot be too critical. Yet, we have a person who falls way out of line with the plumb line of what is presidential and that which has a history of sending us beyond our fears. Meacham writes of hope. He offers what appears to be a bit of truthfulness about our highs and lows. It made me reflect on how low we have gone in the past few years. We are not a perfect union - but we have a history filled with those who have been bold and truthful enough to face our demons so that we will keep marching toward a union that fits who we have been deemed to be.

Today I was at a demonstration that is a part of the Poor People's March. As things were drawing to a close, I was tempted to interrupt the flow of the event in order to invite people to sing the National Anthem and invited them to kneel as we sang. No one would be forced to kneel - everyone would be invited to sing or listen. My thought was to help us all consider that we can - in many and various ways - honor our country and its wonder-filled history even if we must do it by kneeling. That would be done in the face of  a narcissist who kneels for no one - even though he is cast - by some evangelical Christians - as a person who follows Jesus. Our president only kneels to himself. From that position, he is someone who does not know how to lead with better angels alongside,  - he knows only how to crucify - that is how the fear filled live - and die.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

I think the dog might poop in my shoe -now what?

In the Gospel according to Luke when the Romans took to the place called the skull and crucified Jesus and the two men who were labeled criminals, Jesus says, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." Well, recently on a long walk I wondered about that. I did that bit of wondering from the perspective of someone who damn well could have been in that crucifying crew. I damn well could have driven in the spikes. It's not that hard to do when you think you are protecting something you have and want to keep it just as it is. Crucifying others is also easy to do when you live within the fear and anxiety of being nailed someday yourself. So, hell yes, I know what I'm doing. I know that if I take part in driving in the spikes I will continue to bring about life - at least for me and my own. I know that as long as I go along with how things are - things may get better or at least not worse - so, hammer away. Don't say I don't know what I'm doing.

I had to chuckle on the plane the other day. I was reading and trying not to cough up my left lung when I heard the rustling of fear coming from another row of seats. It was the kind of fear that seems to be popular today. It is one of those what if they...  kind of fears. It is the kind of fear one has when you think your dog is waiting for a moment to crap in one of your shoes. Therefore, you check and recheck those shoes each time you go to put them on - or even just as you pass by. The dog could just do it - at any time. This is the kind of fear that is built of shit. Yes, and worse than that, shit that is not even shit - it is mind shit. But it could be shit - maybe. So in order to avoid that which could smell up the rest of the day, some folks cannot see the wonder and fullness of the day. Rather than hold onto visions of hopefulness and adventure and the ever expansive nature of creativity, they contemplate shit-fulness. On that flight last week, a guy seemed to be tying to badger another passenger into willfully considering the threat of shit - the something that could mess up the day - the something that could make a person change their pattern for life. For as sick as I was becoming on that flight, that poor guy was being pumped full of a whole hosts of contagions meant to infect him into some sort of dis-ease so that he would become a follower of fear and a devotee of anxious living.

When we fear that we might step in some shit, our lives begin to smell before any shit is even sighted. From what I could observe, the guy on the plane was - by mere observation of his dress and luggage and endless recounting of his successes - well off and in good health. If he was retired, he was doing just fine. If he was still working, he would continue to do just fine. But as far as I could hear, the fear of shit happening - in his shoe - in his life - in his own pants - had him twisted up like the conspiracist personality, Alex Jones. Jones really has nothing to fear - he knows people don't like to step in shit - so he throw stories of shit everywhere with the expectation that they are willing to squish through his shit in order to avoid the fear-filled droppings he throws around airwaves. And, in the meantime, you can fight the fear with these wonderful shit-stopping, shit-deflecting dietary supplements - edible shit.

So, sorry for all the shit talk. But fear - when we are afraid of what could be - when things are not just as we want them or have them - brings about an itch to bitch. And then, worse, an itch to do anything to keep the world as we have had it - or wished it would have been  - or how it could have been if only..... Usually, our fears demand sacrifice - the sacrifice of others. Our fears and anxieties trick us into thinking we are about to lose something if we don't gain control of the world around us. So out comes the hammer and spikes. Who can we - who must we - hang out to dry in order to save the day as we want it and think we deserve it. We all have our lists. It is like the banner hanging on the cross that said something like 'The King of the Jews' - a fearful and lame project manufactured by good religious and civic leaders - to keep up appearances and biases and divisions.

Who are you thinking about hammering? Who do you so fear you think you must deny them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness because you are sold on the notion that they do not deserve that life, or, you don't see their lives unfolding as yours has done or failed to do? Fear has a way of making the world smell like shit. Oh, it really doesn't - okay maybe sometimes it does. When I think of that line of forgiveness from the cross, I imagine Jesus spreading that out over everyone - those who hammered - those who yelled - those who cried - those who taunted - those who stood in silence - those who ran away. I think that's all of us.  So afraid to love without condition and welcome without exclusion and intercede without permission, we think nailing others to a cross will make us better - safer - holier. But, we don't know what we are doing - we have lost our capacity to be truly human - to let loose the Spirit of God's creativity that can inspire us to hang with those who we usually like to hammer. Fear. It makes us forget in whose image we all are created and therefore we can only imagine the threat at hand - like dog shit that could be in my shoe - but may never be.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Sometimes the day at hand gets lost or ignored or is left for dead

At times, life can appear to be quite like Holy Saturday - waiting - not much going on.

It can be a day in which we think of yesterday or look forward to tomorrow.

It seems as though this is the way many folks go through life - looking back and looking forward.

On Holy Saturday, we are faced with the day at hand - that's about it baby.

I would like to suggest that it is not the worst place to be. Time in the tomb is time to rest. It is time to give up all of our grand plans as to how our lives should go or how we should change the world. Holy Saturday reminds me that creation continues - wonder still abides - grace transforms - hope tickles - peace prevails - and imagination abounds. Even when things are dead and gone.

Even within the silence of Holy Saturday I am reminded of this insight by Alan E. Lewis. He writes. No gap divides what God says from what God does and the stories of the coming kingdom do not offer dreams and possibilities of what the Lord might or could do, but speak indicatively, and in the present tense, of what is happening, and of what the future is becoming. The kingdom need not and cannot - be worked for; it may only be accepted and awaited. There is no silence - there is no inactivity - there is no darkness - there is no fruitlessness - there is no vengeance - there is no threat - there is no lying. There is only that step that is about to take place - that hand that is about to be offered - that gift that is about to be given - that act of mercy that is about to be extended - that forgiveness that heals the separated - that peace that passes all understanding. Though the day can seem hopeless - the day is full of hope. It is already full in that no day is outside the bounds of the power of God to bring about the fullness of our humanity even as it seems to be on a journey down the drain.

This is no day of victory. It is a day resting in truthfulness. As we are shut off from the powers that claim to bring life and breath to the world, we begin to notice that their breath really smells like death -it has a prevailing odor. It is one of those odors that once you smell it - you will be able to recognize it every day of your life. Death reeks even as it promises life or greatness or success or victory. Holy Saturday puts us right in the mix of death - face to face with death. From here, we learn that we are able to face death's power in all the days of our lives because we know that the peaceable Reign of God abounds in the present tense - even as it appears to be a tomb. Even though death uses slogans, propaganda, lies, and pompous wealth to sell its cheap wears, we are invited to take note of death's lack of truthfulness and face the dis-eases of death that tries to claim us and sicken us.

So as we wait in the tomb - as we quietly look around at death's claim to power - as we own the stillness around us, the power of death already begins to look less frightening for we know that this day - this fucking day of death and coldness and lies and deception - is really the day the Lord has made. Ha - you know, the day in which we are invited to rejoice and be glad in it - because that is how creation works - that is the power of God alive within this day. It is the power that keeps creating new life even when death is sowing its lies.