Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Wednesday, 30 June, 2004

Text: Galatians 2: 15-21

We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. But if, in our effort to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have been found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! But if I build up again the very things that I once tore down, then I demonstrate that I am a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.

"If the law is in effect, the death of Christ is futile. If the death of Christ is significant and powerful, then the law can no longer have force." We say that the death of Christ is significant and powerful. We say that it is our life. (I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me) Wonderful words and yet, as church...as people who call ourselves the body of Christ alive in the world today...we easily slip in the works of law as though that is what is finally necessary to be considered one of the "saved." I would suggest that when we let ourselves fall for the old-age line that keeps on insisting on seeing some evidence of "getting it right" or "doing it right" in word & attitudes like, "Yeh, but it can be free...what if they don't change their ways," we are literally a people working to save people -- from Jesus!!! We are saving people from being outright and completely free and justified (period). Why are we in such a horrible mess in regard to welcoming all people into the church!?! We would rather have something less than the complete domain of the Crucified Jesus as our home. Therefore, we will continue to hang onto any and every little sliver of scripture that will let us ignore the all encompassing word of justification. Are we saying Christ has died for the world...for all or are we hesistant to lift high that banner? When we hesistate, we in our hesitation and silence bring back into our lives - the law and all of its ways of accusing. Therefore, we are proclaiming to the world in word and actions that - Christ died for nothing. Personally, I don't by that. For all...or for none. Remember this, our actions may appear to nullify the grace of God within our witness to the world but the Grace of God is something that can never be nullified - the resurrection is the boldest witness to that new age and the banquet feast set for all God's children.

Connection: Christ died for everyone you will encounter this day - no exceptions. O my, what a way to look at the world. I know that I am not able to completely let that guide my heart. We need each other to be a word of remembrance and then always a word of forgiveness and new life. Nothing nullifies God's Grace...nothing. What a gift to remember today.

Loving & forgiving God, we can only stand at the beginning of this day and give you thanks. We will stumble today. We will fall. We will judge the world around us. We will boast and brag and condemn and hate. We will love and care. We will honor and give freely of ourselves and our possessions. We will walk humbly and exercise compassion. But we know that in all that takes place this day - it is by your word of promise that we are your beloved - that alone sets us free to live again and again praising you as we reach into this day you have given to us. Amen

Monday, June 28, 2004

Tuesday, 29 June, 2004

Text: Galatians 2:11-14

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned; for until certain people came from James he used to eat with the Gentiles. But after they came, he drew back and kept himself separate for fear of the circumcision faction. And the other Jews joined him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not acting consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, "If you , though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?"

If the church is opened up for all - without stipulations to be followed in order to be on the inside - the church (people) need to keep one another focused on the vision. And yes, that may mean bringing word and action in line with one another. And yes, it takes others to help us follow in the way of that vision. Those who live within the gracious Reign of God that we have come to know in Jesus, don't need to fall in line to those who would call for anything more than the saving word of God to make our day. The circumcision party ( doesn't sound like a party at all to me!) wanted to live by the old ways of doing something "in order that..." They wanted any new followers of Jesus to go through the traditional "marks" of the people of Judaism. And yet, the only mark we take on as followers of Jesus is the cross marked on our foreheads at baptism. That is, we are marked by God's welcoming touch and nothing more. That is enough to establish us in a place within the Reign of God forever. No need to play games with religious actions and mandates so that we can judge one another's adherence to the faith. Paul is leading us to an announcement of freedom that comes with trusting the promise made to us in Jesus and having our lives rest in that alone. Forget the outside influences that attempt to set up all the religious hoops that neither serve God nor the community in themselves.

Connection: Speak up! When you hear the IF's of conditional religion - especially if it is said in the name of Jesus, simply say, that's not the vision of God's Reign that I see in Jesus. No hoops! No laundry list of what must be. Just the blessed assurance that in Christ we are the beloved(period).

O Blessed & Forgiving God, keep us faithful in our journey within your Reign. Do not let us fall into the comfortable world of legal hypocrisy in which we attempt to keep score of our lives even as you do not even own a scorepad. Remind us of your open and everlasting welcome into your arms. Amen

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Monday, 28 June, 2004

Text: Galatians 2:6-10

And from those who were supposed to be acknowledged leaders (what they actually were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality) - those leaders contributed nothing to me. On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel for the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter making him an apostle to the circumcised also worked through me in sending me to the Gentiles), and when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do.

I think it is significant to lift up what the "pillars" did during this meeting in Jerusalem. I think it was inspired and obvious. They "recognized the grace" that had been given to Paul. The folk in Jerusalem may have had a bit of a bias toward those who were Jewish and now were following Jesus - people who may have been continuing in the ways of the Jewish practices (circumcision to name one). And yet, what Paul is doing among the uncircumcised - even though it is among "them" - is the word of Grace given to Paul. To deny that...to stop that...to put a hold on that - would be to put a hold on the whole word of the Good News. I think they realized that. Blessed are they - those early leaders - for the presence of the Holy Spirit was able to press on through the barriers of our religious preferences and into the day full of Grace!

Going out to the Gentiles was big deal. Bigger than any of the "issues" that seem to keep us bound up and unable to open our doors wide to all of God's people even today. It is wonderful to see that there were these big differences between people/groups in the early life of the Church and that these differences were continually dismantled so that the Good News would be the word of the day.

Connection: Grace has a life about it. Put acts of grace and mercy and love next to the other ways we act in our day and there is quite no comparison. Though we continually fall short of the life within God's Gracious Reign, it is still a reality that is established for all time and we are able to enter it again and again. Why, because it is the Gracious Reign of God. Simply enjoy the acts of grace within your day and thank God for the Spirit of Life that makes them blossom around us.

God of Grace and God of Glory, be our pathway and our vision. In the face of what may prevail around us, grant us the grace to be people who stand and walk and live within your Reigning love. Amen.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Friday, 25 June,2004

Text: Galatians 2:4-5

But because of false believers secretly brought in, who slipped in to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might enslave us - we did not submit to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might always remain with you.

Briefly, from Friday, Paul, Barnabas, & Titus (uncircumcized and all) went up to Jerusalem to meet with the elders there so as to talk about Paul's work among the Gentiles.

In the old camp song "Pass it On" one of the lines is: It only takes a spark.... The spark has to do with the Spirit and God's love. It only takes a spark...and that is enough...it move and grow. Well, we could say quite the opposite here. Whatever it was that the false believers "brought in," it didn't need to be much. One word about "conditions" one sentence phrased with an "IF...THEN..." so as to give the message that we must do something before we can be the people of God in Christ - has the potential to enslave us. The truth about the Grace of God in Jesus is quite radical. It is completely - for all - or it is for no one. It is completely - with no effort on our part needed - or we must work our way into God's loving presence...which is an impossibility...so you could say it is pure hell. Conditional love is the love that is for sale outside the Reign of God...it is love that keep people separate and attempts to tell us that this is the way it is to be. This "love" is not love at all!

"We did not submit to them even for a moment." It only takes a moment of giving in to conditional words spoken as though they are a part of the Good News to cause the News to be less than Good. That is why Paul is so insistent to say they didn't even fall into it for a moment. The truth of the Good News - God for us, for life - must be as clear as Jesus eating with the tax collectors and sinners...Good News excludes no one. Paul and his friends will be laying out to the Jerusalem leaders what happens in the world when the Good News is released...there is no end to its power and influence.

Connection: It is important for all of us to question jokes and comments that degrade others. Racial slurs, jokes used at the expense of others. stereotypes and the like need to be confronted. So it is with the Good News. When something conditional is tied to it, a simple - "I don't think the Good News is Conditional." Even using a version of the popular WWJD (what would Jesus do) encourages us & others to try and picture Jesus doing what we may be doing. Can you imagine Jesus telling a joke at the expense of others.

O God of Love, your word is like a breath of fresh air for it opens up our lives and enables us to look with new eyes at our world. Be the rock upon which we will stand today so that we may be a living witness to the love that we see in Jesus. Amen.

Thursday, 24 June, 2004

Text: If you want, read Gal. 1:14-24 as a background Paul provides as to the journey he made from the time of the revelation delivered to him and the time he goes up to Jerusalem to give a witness to the work he was doing among the Gentiles.

Then we begin for today:

Galatians 2: 1-2

Then afte fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up in response to a revelation . The I laid before them (though only in a private meeting with the acknowledged leaders) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure that I was not running, or had not run, in vain.

Paul had quite a story to tell about he journey of his life. When he goes before the people in Jerusalem it with the understanding that what he was preaching was indeed the Good News. This is even in the face of what was the prevailing wind of the day which had to do with following the ways of the Jews. So, for example, something like circumcision was expected by those new to the faith...as it was among Jews. Paul leans on the notion of revelation to show that what he was about to say and do at Jerusalem and what he was about to included in this letter would be a word that was given to him. A word that would be his point of reference so as to make no dividing lines among those who follow Jesus as Lord. I intentionally left off the next verse until now because I wanted to emphasize the radical nature of Paul's visit to Jerusalem. It was a big deal to take Titus along with them. Why? Take a look at verse 3: But even Titus, who was with me, was not compelled to be circumcised, though he was a Gentile. Paul is putting into practice the immense freedom within the Good News. This was a real life sharing that wasn't simply theory. Here was a Gentile...a Gentile follower of Jesus...and yet he was not abiding by the "rule" among this early church gathering. But this word of life that comes in Jesus, will let no walls stand again. Was Paul's liberating word of God's grace in Jesus, spread in vain. Not at all as the council will rule in next week's lesson.

Connection: The life giving Good News...does it give life...or does it paint up a bunch of hoops through which we must move in order to be the followers of Jesus. Does it matter what someone is pictured to be (Gentile, harlot...whatever) when s/he has been given life through trusting that God come to bring all people back into a full relationship with God? Of course not. The gift is free for all. Is our love today as free for all as this love that can even bridge the most interalized and externalized boundaries - circumcision?!? It was alright for Titus to be there...it is alright for any of God's children to be among us.

Most Blessed God, you bring a new day before us and you invite us to share your loving Reign as we encounter the people around us and move about in your creation. May we be filled by the power of your grace so that our lives will beam with the freedom Paul proclaimed as he brought the Good News to those of his day. Amen

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Wednesday, 23 June, 2004

Text:Galatians 1:11-12

For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

Each time I read these verses I think of Martin Luther's words as he begins his explanation of the third article of the Apostles' Creed that deal with the Holy Spirit. "I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him." Paul's words here are the ones that back up the harsh words from v.9 (let that one be accursed) when he was talking about the "other gospel" that some are teaching (again - not that there is another gospel!). When you tie these words of Paul with words of Luther and than add the biblical words that speak of the Spirit - "blowing where it will" - who knows who will be and who is being blown away by the gospel of grace!!! In a day in the church when we are bitterly fighting over who can be a "full Member" of the body of Christ, isn't it odd that we want to dictate how the wind blows!?! I've started reading From None til Three by Robert Farrar Capon, and I already can tell he is going to help to stretch the meaning of grace so that it will challenge me to again see the root behind Paul's insistence on this Good News of God's Grace that still sets us off. If you are anything like me...and I think it is quite human...then you must know we all have limits and we want things to be somewhat conditional. We have job evaluations, we have grades in school, we have codes and expectations that must be followed...there are all sorts of ways our lives are run by conditions within our world. Not so with the Gospel...it is not of us. It is beyond our abilities to speak of it and to live as though it is our foundation. Paul is simply making that clear...right from the start. For we may never really believe what he is going to say about the Reign of God made know in Jesus.

Connection: We are a people called to be a word to the world that the world cannot hear on its own. When we are called to be a word...it means fully a word - life word...actions...speaking. Sometimes we think that must be in words alone. What if this day your trust in the Word of Grace that we find in Jesus is made known by action or even words that do not mention any kind of religious language? What if this kind of language comes after the witness of life has demonstrated the power of God's unconditional Reign.!

God of Grace, let you glory shine in our lives. Remind us that your love is radical - it is not and has never been the "way to be" in our everyday world...and yet it is the power of your blessed presence. Grant that we might walk in that presence. Amen.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Monday, 21 June, 2004

Text: Galatians 1:10

Am I now seeking human approval, or God's approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Paul has just showed his disappointment around the fact that some are following a "different gospel" which he says does not exist. There is one Good News! There are many things, issues, people, teachings, etc. that can sway us or move us into lives that may seem quite "good" "upright"...and the like. Then again, I keep remembering the way we look at the way set before us by our God. What are the weighter items of God's Reign? Mercy, Justice, loving kindness. In fact, in the face of all the attempts to make ourselves into some kind of "religious good person" there is the ongoing call that continues through the line of the prophets, into & through the life of Jesus, and in the early letters of Paul - it will seek a unified house...no division...the welfare of all. Paul and all the prophet, remember, were not on a journey of mere spiritual enrichment...it was enrichment only as it enriched the way we live in the world. We can make it in this world if we are able to please people...we can even make it big. On the other hand, we can have peace as we stay close to the way our God calls us - and then "making it" doesn't even become an issue. Instead, we may find ourselves concerned about the vision in which all people begin to "make it."

Connection: Driving force. If we are moved by people pleasing or pleasing our God in response to God's love, our day will unfold in front of us. What do you want to have lifted up to the world around you when it unfolds? Jesus would keep pushing for mercy...and the rest,

O God of our ancestors, you have been the rock for those in need and the guide to show them through the day's happenings. Be with us this day. Remind us of the foundation you have laid down for your people before all other builders stepped onto the scene. Amen.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Friday, 18 June, 2004

We continue with another section of Walter Wink’s “The Human Being.”

Are we then, in the final analysis, simply creating God in our own image? Are we deluding ourselves by means of the imagination? We are not deluding ourselves, but it is “all our imagination.” That is the only way the experience of God happens. “Imagination does not [always] construct something unreal, but [sometimes] unveils the hidden reality,” writes Henry Corbin. “It is not that we personify, but that the epiphanies come as persons,” says James Hillman. In his play Saint Joan, George Bernard Shaw pens a revealing exchange, which can be epitomized thus:

Joan: God speaks to me.

Robert: That’s just your imagination.

Joan: Of course. That’s how God speaks to me.

I like to use the expression “faithful imagination” when referring to the stories of the faith that we tell and read. Yes, our imagination may be way off. But that is all a part of the discernment of a community – to weigh whether something is a word/story that unveils the Reign of God or…is it another story that does not. Faithful imagination begins among faithful people and pulls us deeper into the expansiveness of God’s gracious acts. Therefore, one story may trigger other stories…those other stories that then arise from the faithful listeners may help to bring more depth and life into those first faithful stories. But when we are ruled by fear and anxiety that insists on a firm control of our storytelling, we miss out on the faithful dialogue that takes place when ordinary people lift their eyes to see how real our God can be in the middle of this day.

Connection: Sometimes our imagination is one way to see God’s Reign unfolding among us and we…are right in the middle of the life that takes place when God love bursts open our lives in this day.

By your gracious will, O God, you bring us to see what is not always available to us. You stretch us beyond our ways so that we might imagine how bountiful your love is when it is alive and present among us. Lead us into that reality in you grace. Amen.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Thursday, 17 June, 2004

We continue with another section of Walter Wink’s “The Human Being.”

Rather then emptying ourselves into transcendence, then, we may now discover God at the core of our inmost beings, as the power of Being itself.

Whereas many theologians localized the power of spiritual healing in Jesus or God, we may now experience that same healing power working through us.

Whereas we once believed prophecy was dead in the modern world we now recognize God speaking an authentic word to us and through us today.

Whereas we once regarded the mystics as rare and solitary athletes of the Spirit, we may now acknowledge everyone’s capacity to become mystics.

Whereas we once waited for God in our depths to make peace through active nonviolence,

Instead of imagining God as the capstone on a pyramid of political, military, and economic Powers that maintain the status quo for the benefit of the few, we may now see God empowering the poor and the powerless to take history into their own hands in the struggle for justice.

This was one of those pieces I did not want to cut short because when I read it over…again, it kept opening up another window of insight about the God who is…now…with us and whose presence abides eternally in, with, and under our humanity. Therefore, let my words, today, be brief.

Connection: Stop. Look. Listen. This is how we teach children to approach a street they will be crossing so that it is done safely. Well, today within the depths of your humanity, stop, look, and listen to how God brings life to you and therefore to all of us.

O Lord, create in us that clean and new heart that is washed by your love and reborn by your power to bring life where life seems to be gone. Shape our loving and inspire our adventures in peacemaking. Amen.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Wednesday, 16 June, 2004

We continue with another section of Walter Wink’s “The Human Being.”

As Hildegard of Bingen put it, “Now God has built the human form into the world structure, indeed even the cosmos, just as an artist would use a particular pattern in her work.” That is, we begin not with individuality but relatedness. We are not individuals but interbeings, and the goal is not individuality but individuation.

Within the “whole picture,” there is no insignificant piece. Each color and every brushstroke adds to the completeness of what the artist attempts to bring forward in a work of art. When I’m in an art museum, I love to look at a painting on the wall from far way and then move right up to it…as close as I am able. When I am very close, it is difficult to see how everything possibly could come together…but then, it is also an amazing to see that within these few brushstrokes and minor changes in color the whole begins to take shape. It is then good to step away and take a look at the whole painting. The up close view is now impossible to see in itself for it is now truly itself in the midst of relationship to the whole.

Connection: Today is a piece of art…so what pieces have you been trying to leave out of the picture and in so doing, miss the beauty of what could be when all the pieces have a place.?

As we move to separate ourselves from others and from you, O God, pull us in and bring us home to that place in you that binds us together with other saints around us. Disturb us with your gift of community so that we will be ushered into a whole new way of being your beloved people today. Amen.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Tuesday, 15 June, 2004

We continue with another section of Walter Wink’s “The Human Being.”

“Be careful how you describe the world,” said one physicist. “It is that way.” In our Heisenbergian universe, in which the objective world already includes the subject, we are already related to what is to be known. Thus it is impossible to say anything about nature that is not also a statement about oneself. This is because, like the atoms of which we are made, each person is coextensive with the universe. We are not like billiard balls bumping against one another isolated and hard-bounded entities.

Another writer takes a look at how we come to Scripture and interpret it. I find that it is quite similar to this note by Wink. When we read and interpret Scripture we are not doing it as though it is an isolated piece of reality that is objective...a piece that is set up just the way it is and that is it. Rather, in our mere reading of the text…no…even as we come to the reading of the text, we bring our own lives and that means we read and hear and interpret with a view of the story already in place. We cannot separate ourselves from the text in order to find out what the text means. We are knitted into the text in the simple action of entering into a relationship with it. Therefore, it may be helpful to have others in our lives who show us their way of seeing and interpreting so that we all may be able to see the fullness of a text that is not within our seeing. Maybe then, we will have a bit more respect for how bountiful the wealth of a biblical text can be…and how bountiful are the gifts of those around us.

Connection: In the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” we sing, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord…” It would be good to talk to someone about what that “glory” is. We may find ourselves disagreeing…or being expanded…or even being confused.

Master of all that is, your swirling and creative power is able to lift us beyond our simple vision so that we can catch a glimpse of the vastness of your creativity. Encourage us to trust you as you pull us from what we want to see into that which is made new by your grace. Amen.

Monday, 14 June, 2004

We continue with another section of Walter Wink’s “The Human Being.”

I was raised in a very liberal church in which hellfire and damnation were never mentioned. But I still lived in dread of my parent’s displeasure and heaped myself with guilt for not being better. I can recall the tremendous sense of relief when, as a seminary student, I discovered that the “wrath of God” in Pauline theology was being forced to accept the consequences of my own actions. “God gave them up” in Romans 1:18-32 meant that God’s wrath was impersonal; God did not lose God’s temper and threaten us, but simply required us to reap what we sowed. Recognizing that made it possible to remove the parental projections of wrath that I had laid on God, and to decontaminate my God-image to that degree. And it also made it possible, gradually, to reconstitute my relationship with my parents on an adult basis.

It is simply amazing how many people are grasped by fear and threat and live as though that is the manner in which our God moves among us. It is amazing because as we look at Jesus, there was not a threatening character looking to “do us in.” Rather, we are confronted with a character whose love never lets us go even when it takes him to the cross. The “for us” of the Eucharist (body for us…blood for us) it how our God remains even when we run away and try to be the center of our universe or make something other than our loving God source of life…which it never becomes. To be walking away from the gracious realm of God’s love is to suffer greatly within the choices of our lives. That suffering is due to the fact that we are attempting to build a life on what we are able to manage or control or own. In the meantime, God waits, walks with us, touches us, and calls us by name…even when we keep saying “no” and keep turning our own way. The relationship is always in place. We are free to live within its eternal grasp.

Connection: Yes, there are many ways to live today…but to live within the power of God’s love for all is a bit of brilliance that the world and all of us can use…and celebrate.

Help us to see you abiding grace and how your love does not fade or run from us but continues to bid us to come and rest in you alone. Amen.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Friday, 11 June, 2004

We continue with another section of Walter Wink’s “The Human Being.”

Indeed, it is God that lures us toward our transformative possibilities. Left to ourselves, we would go on repeating the past. Our given potentiality like that of the acorn, is always merely to repeat the past, to be and do what we have always been and done before. God presents the “heavenly” possibilities as a challenge to go beyond our conditioning and habits, our collusion in oppression or being oppressed, our inertia, fear, and neuroses. God offers the heavenly possibilities for creative novelty, and we can accept wholly, or in part, or reject completely and go on repeating our past.

The image of the acorn is becoming one of my favorite ones when considering who we are and what we can be. I think it is also important to remember that our possibilities for taking part in a transformative life are also a gift to us. That means God gives us the power to enter into those possibilities. And yet, we can and we do refuse to be nothing more than an acorn…nothing more than what was even when our God bids us to come and take part in the blossoming of a new age.

Connection: Acorns are good things…but it is not all we can be today. What will be a sign of creative novelty in your life today?!?

Break into this day, O God, and by the power of the Holy Spirit help us move in a new way so that we will have the opportunity to look at life from a new perspective and in that new looking, we may find life to be more than what we have let it be. Thanks be to you. Amen

Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Thursday, 10 June, 2004

We continue with another section of Walter Wink’s “The Human Being.”

…God is the measure of all things. And God is engaged in an eons-long project of drawing humanity forward toward its true potential and destiny (or pushing us from behind, or prompting us from within). We are part of a self-surpassing system that we scarcely comprehend. We do not know how to transform ourselves. It there is not God, there can be no humanity, for God alone is human.

This eons-long project does not mean that we are closer to our true potentiality or destiny. It means God continues to draw…pull…push…and prompt us to take that journey into the fullness of our humanity. We would call it “following Jesus.” We are on the way…always inspired by the Holy Spirit so that we will step into what is our humanity. That “step” may always seem odd and exactly what we should not be doing, and yet, like Philip running scared from Jerusalem after Stephen stoning he begins preaching to the Samaritans…we go beyond what was the limit of the world and take on the limitless grace of God as it is made known and as it comes to life through God’s beloved humanity.

Connection: Look forward to what God will be doing within this day. Look forward as in looking forward to the fullness of time that is yet to come…but is already present by the power of God’s love.

This is a day filled with all the possibilities for life that you have intended for your children, O God. We need to open our hearts that we will pass through our fear into the realm of life that is always waiting to carry us into your Reign. Amen.

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Wednesday, 9 June, 2004

We continue with another section of Walter Wink’s “The Human Being.”

Well not exactly. Yesterday’s quote by Bonhoeffer reminded me of this piece sent to me awhile ago.

“Life shouldn’t be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather, to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly shouting… ‘Wow! What a ride! Thank You Lord!!!’”

In the mix of our humanity being thrown through the storms of the day and standing up to all the winds that may blow, we are given the blessed opportunity to go for it…allowing ourselves to be vulnerable with some gusto to it so that as people look at us they are reminded of how full life can be. But notice that the ‘skidding in broadside” has nothing to do with being successful. It has more of the picture of that all out run or dive or jump beyond where we are into or through or over something we have yet to experience. Wow. The journey of truthfulness will take us on just such a ride…so does mercy…loving kindness….justice…peacemaking…compassion…

Connection: How will you be thoroughly used up today…a candle that has been burning up to the fullness of its capabilities?

Thank you, Gracious Lord, for this day that calls us to be authentically human so that we may not only experience the internal fullness of your Reign but may interact with others and see how the beauty and vitality of your Reign increases as we take part in this day. Amen.

Monday, June 7, 2004

Tuesday, 8 June, 2004

We continue with another section of Walter Wink’s “The Human Being.”

According to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God is not God at the price of emptying me of my humanity; humanity does not consist in letting oneself be sucked dry by a divine vampire! God does not exploit my weakness, but is present precisely in weakness, and gives us strength in our weakness. Authentic Christianity should leave people stronger, not dehumanized.

In our humanity God takes delight and God continues to pull us into our humanity so that we may more completely know what it is to be human…to be made in the image of God…to recognize the depth and width of the human experience that is so far beyond what I may want to call “all of it.” I think I would like to add the point that “authentic Christianity” will leave not just me a stronger person; it will leave the whole community of people stronger. The Holy Spirit makes sure that from the “whole” we receive the gifts of our being that stretches us beyond our own images of humanity. In those images is always included the weaknesses with the strengths as that makes up the whole being of the Christian and the Christian community.

Connection: Imagine yourself becoming stronger through the day as you allow yourself to be more fully human…as in blessed by God.

Creating God, leave us with your Spirit of Power and Gentleness so that we may be at peace with ourselves and be willing to encounter those around us as though we all are taking part in a grand adventure that will continue to shape all of us into your image. Amen.

Monday, 7 June, 2004

We continue with another section of Walter Wink’s “The Human Being.”

In light of Ezekiel’s vision, humanity cannot be the measure of all things, much less of God, because we are not yet human. We do not even know what humanness is. God alone can reveal to us the mystery of our being.

I would think it odd that any of us have so mastered our humanity that we can claim to know God let alone know ourselves. In fact there is something frightening about even the consideration of that thought. Within the journey of being made in the image of God and becoming human, is the power of God’s Spirit that pulls and shapes us and bring us to see what is beyond our own capacity to see. Therefore, the fullness of our humanness is always just beyond the place in which we stand. There will be no super race or person who is the ultimate one. In fact, that is why we continue to turn to the story of Jesus…for there is for us one who gives us a view of our God by being utterly human.

Connection: What are you becoming today and how is God breaking in to reveal to you another aspect of your humanity that you could not find on your own?

Lead us and show us the many ways our lives are gifted by your presence, O God, so that the adventure of this day may be entered with a sense of expectation and hopefulness. Amen.

Friday, June 4, 2004

Friday, 4 June, 2004

The focus of these devotions is Walter Wink’s book “The Human Being” and a section dealing with the vision of the Son of the Man in Ezekiel.

Central to the Eastern Orthodox tradition is a statement by the church father Athanasius that Christ became as we are that we might become as he is. This has usually been interpreted to mean that Christ became human that we might become divine… I would prefer to say, Jesus incarnated God in his own person in order to show all of us how to incarnate God. And to incarnate God is what it means to be fully human.

In Jesus we may indeed find a view of the God who loves us. And yet, it is not only in “me” that God is incarnate. God is incarnate within the community of God’s people…the “we” of the Nicene Creed…the gathering of the saints for worship…the movement of the community of believers into the world as agents of mercy, justice, peace, and love as revealed in Jesus. Yes, I am a part of that incarnation…that following of Jesus, but I am brought to a higher expression of humanity as I am united with others who follow Jesus side by side.

Connection: Look to the Jesus of the Gospel stories to find a bit of light for the living of this day and then walk with others who are doing the same and in that dialogical journey, we may see a better picture of the brilliance of our humanity that is a gift from our God.

Surround us by the uniting Spirit of Creation, O God, that throughout this day we may find ourselves connecting to others and also seeing you face come to light among us and through us. Amen.

Wednesday, June 2, 2004

Thursday, 3 June, 2004

The focus of these devotions is Walter Wink’s book “The Human Being” and a section dealing with the vision of the Son of the Man in Ezekiel.

I do not know what the word “divine” signifies. But I do have an inkling of what the word “human” might entail, because we are made in the image of God, the Human One, and there have been exemplary human beings, in our tradition and that of others. What the disciples wondered was not what kind of divine being Jesus was, but “but what sort of human being is this?” (Matthew 8:27). In William Stringfellow’s superb epitome, “What it means to be a Christian is, wonderfully, just synonymous with what it means to be no more and no less than a human being."

I’m sure that when we all came into a room we would differ quite a bit when we contemplated what it is to be human. And yet, in our differing we would be dealing with a vision of what humanity is. Yes, there would be the dark sides that we do not want to call human. Unfortunately, the dark stuff that goes on in the world is only perpetrated by humans. On the other hand, we would lift our eyes to how creative and nurturing and grace-filled humanity is. Jesus made those disciples step into the realm of wonder. “What sort of human being is this?” He interacts with others in ways we do not…and yet he makes it happen and peace reigns….wow! His life is one in which the welfare of others is vital to his living…wow! His loving does not stop at the doorway or the border or any other place that is used to designate a boundary between us and them…he keeps loving….wow! In the lives of the saints around us we are invited to see another aspect of being human that we may not have considered for ourselves. That lifts us all up into a new way to honor one another.

Connection: When we say Christ, Jesus is present with us…even now…it is here within the way we – as humans – partake in the life we have been given…life that remembers our place as God’s beloved ones – humanity.

Take us by the hand, O God, and let us touch the flesh of your creation. Remind us of the expansiveness of life given to us within the simplicity of our daily lives. Amen.

Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Wednesday, 2 June, 2004

The focus of these devotions is Walter Wink’s book “The Human Being” and a section dealing with the vision of the Son of the Man in Ezekiel.

Are not the deepest reaches of our humanity born of our wounds, even our sins (though one hesitates to say it, for fear the ego will use it as justification for continuing in destructive behavior)? In this vision (in Ezekiel), then, the ‘one in human form’ represents the archetypal image, “as it were,” of fully human being, reaching out to Ezekiel with a seemingly impossible task: that of becoming human.

What is the task in becoming human? When we try to build everything from bodies to corporations to churches that are “bigger than life” and more in control and as close to being managed as flawlessly as possible, what does it mean to enter the journey of becoming human? Some of you know I started having seizures several years ago. It is an uncontrollable feeling – though medication has eased that stress a bit. Well, within the last hour of this writing, I have been on the edge of what I experience as a seizure…it is an odd experience…a strange sense of wonder and awe and visions. Just a few minutes ago I decided that I better clue someone in on what may be happening. So, I walked up to the young person working at Cup-O-Joe and handed her my business card with my wife’s phone number, told her what was going on and said if something happens to me while I’m working, call this woman. Being human is to be within a realm that is simultaneously fragile and demands courage to be just that. After I told the young worker what was going on, I realized that this will be another way I will be known to the workers. Being human may mean that we do not live with so many secrets that we are unknown to one another or known only “so deep.”

Connection: I’m not sure, but maybe that is where we begin being human today…letting ourselves be unsure of ourselves in front of others for no other purpose than to be who we are. Maybe then a wound can be a part of our healing together.

Lord God, out of the depths of life and those times that are beyond our understanding you touch us and call us to remember the complexities of our humanity and the power to be the people you shaped out of dust. Amen.

Tuesday, 1 June, 2004

The focus of these devotions is Walter Wink’s book “The Human Being” and a section dealing with the vision of the Son of the Man in Ezekiel.

If God is in some sense true humanness, then divinity inverts itself. Divinity is not a qualitatively different reality; quite the reverse, divinity is fully realized humanity. Only God is, as it were, Human. The goal of life, then, is not to become something we are not – divine – but to become what we truly are – human. We are not required to become divine: flawless, perfect, without blemish. We are invited simply to become human, which means growing through our sins and mistakes, learning by trial and error, being redeemed over and over from compulsive behavior – becoming ourselves, scars and all. It means embracing and transforming those elements in us that we find unacceptable. It means giving up pretending to be good and, instead, becoming real.

This almost sounds like a summary of the Velveteen Rabbit. We re invited to become real…really human as in…in the image of God…not gods. Wick is so very wise in reminding us of the difference between being human and striving to be something else that is beyond the reach of our humanity. Today we face too many religious voices that talk about flawlessness and being perfect or voices that are simply critical of everyone who does not fit into a boiler plate of what we are “supposed” to be. When we face the reality of our calling – to be human – as God created us to be…not as we have changed it to be what we want it to be or what we say it should be…then we may be less willing to do battle with others and try to destroy them when they do not fit into our vision of how we are to live. But first, it may do us well to learn what humanity is all about in it fullness not simply in the way we have come to see it through our own lenses.

Connection: There is a profound beauty in being fully human. Just think of the many ways we can be available to people in ways that bring comfort, rest, peace, love, aid, and a self-sacrificing presence into this day. It can be quite amazing.

Come, Holy Spirit, enrich us with your bountiful grace and empower us to take the risk to living within this day not as if we have something we could lose, but as we have something to give as a gift to the world through our lives. Amen.