Monday, February 28, 2005

1 March 2005

From Walter Brueggemann

Hope, on the one hand, is an absurdity too embarrassing to speak about, for it flies in the face of all those claims we have been told are facts. Hope is the refusal to accept the reading of reality which is the majority opinion; and one does that only at great political and existential risk. On the other hand, hope is subversive, for it limits the grandiose pretension of the present, daring to announce that the present to which we have all made commitments is now called into question.

Hope sounds frightening. Why hope when we can stay safe within what is? And yet, what not what it can be. We must be willing to look beyond the security of what we have even if it means there is the chance - sometimes a good chance - that we will be shut down. The "majority opinion" is powerful and it is able to sway people from the vision of a new day in order to keep the status quo in place. What is so hopeful to me is that no matter what appears to be ruling the day, there are always people willing to hope for something more....always.

Connection: Find someone who helps you be hopeful despite the conditions all around you. They are there.

Lord, we count on you to lead us and yet we are often afraid to follow. Remind us of your presence and be the encouragement for this day. Amen.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

28 February 2005

We begin again with "The Prophetic Imagination" by Walter Brueggemann.

In offering symbols the prophet has two tasks. One is to mine the memory of this people and educate them to use the tools of hope. The other is to recognize how singularly words, speech, language, and phrase shape consciousness and define reality. The prophet is the one who, by use of these tools of hope, contradicts the presumed world of the kings, showing both that that presumed world does not square with the facts and that we have been taught a lie and have believed it because the people with the hardware and the printing press told us it was that way.

We are always in need of the voice of prophets. For we can be sure there will be those who have the power to control how the world is shaped and then insist that we must fit into their world. As strong as those voices of power may be, the prophet needs to remain strong and persistent so that we continue to hear the voice of our God over the voice of the gods of the day. Just turn on the television and watch how those in power attempt to tell the stories of this day in their way even when it may not be the truth. The prophets bring us hope when those voices appear to prevail among us.

Connection: Be critical of what you hear and see. It is so important to have some understanding of who might be the power behind the voices that try to write the history of the day.

Lord, send us a word of truth from those you have called to bring the vision of your peaceable Reign to all your beloved people. When the winds of the day try to sweep us away, send the breeze of your Spirit to lift us up to your way of new life. Amen.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

25 February 2005

Following a faulty is more from Walter Brueggemann.

The prophet is to provide the wherewithal whereby hope becomes possible again to a community of kings who now despair of their royalty. After a time kings become illiterate in the language of hope. Hope requires a very careful symbolization. It must not be expressed too fully in the present tense because hope one can touch and handle is not likely to retain its promissory call to a new future. Hope expressed only in the present tense will no doubt be co-opted by the managers of this age.

Unfortunately, this age is usually run by managers who only know how to run the world "by the book" and find it most difficult to look out beyond what is. I find this is quite the case within the church. We are people of vision and hopefulness and yet most often, we dare not leap beyond the way things have been done. It is as though we can see what is in hand and we therefore forget to pick up our heads to look at the horizon and to envision what else may be about to take place.

Connection: Do you have time in your day to experience that which is not written in your "to do" list or lesson plan or schedule of meetings and the like? Remember, imagination cannot be managed.

Keep us looking out into your future, Lord, and though we may be caught up in what is all around us, tickle us with your promises of what is to come. Amen.

25 February 2005

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

24 February 2005

From "The Prophetic Imagination" by Walter Brueggemann.

We have no public arenas in which serious hopefulness can be brought to articulation. What is most needed is what is most unacceptable - an articulation that redefines that situation and that makes way for new gifts about to be given. Without a public arena for the articulation of gifts that fall outside our conventional rationality we are fated to despair. We know full well there are not among these present pieces the makings of genuine newness. And short of genuine newness life becomes dissatisfied coping, a grudging trust, and a managing that dares never ask too much.

I find this piece points right to the center of the need for prophetic imagination. We are not looking merely to be what we are or what we have been. That has always meant war, poverty, insecurity, hatred, and many other demons of life as it is. We must lift up our eyes and our lives and contemplate what Brueggemann says might be the "most unacceptable." It may be unacceptable now but it may be the way into a whole new expression of God's gracious and love alive in the world. Too often we settle for how we know life. Yes, it may be good for now. Yes, we may not be troubled. But, look around...look around at the whole picture. God promises so much more for life within the community of God's people. But we need to go to the place God calls us...into God's promises...not into more of our own making. In the life of the Church and in the life of the powers of our world, we are at a point in which the Spirit of God is blowing around and, like in the days of the great prophets, calling us to imagine the Reign of God - in its fullness - even now.

Connection: Dream. Hope. Imagine. Live!

Take us into your arms, O God, and whisper into our lives the simple gift you offer us so that we will be encouraged to take the step and live within your gift of life. Amen.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

23 February 2005

Continuing to hear from Walter Brueggemann

It is equally important to perceive that those who have entry to power and prosperity are also victims of hopelessness, or, as we are wont to say in our time, have a sense of powerlessness. The royal consciouness means to overcome history and therefore by design the future loses its vitality and authority. The present ordering, and by derivation the present regime, claims to be the full and final ordering. That claim means there can be no future that either calls the present into questions or promises a way out of it. Thus the fulsome claim of the present arrangement is premisedon hopelessness. The present is unending projection, uncompromising in its claim of loyalty, and unaccommodating in having its own way.

Gosh, is Brueggemann writing about today?!? I find it more and more disturbing to see how a whole segment of the religious community blesses and seems to ordain the actions of our own government. We dare not say royalty...but we can think the rich, the powers, or those who see themselves as the leaders of a master society. The voice of the prophets who call the powers of the day to the way of peace and mercy and justice are continually covered over by the sweet smelling verbiage of a religious movement that is so hopeless (cannot see that God can and will continue to make life even when life doesn't go our way) that is can only back what is present and what has been for they do not see the possibility of God's saving power. It appears that the only vision of a future that is being held up among the powers that be is one that is based on a pitiful end time scenario that claims to be biblical but is arrogantly self-serving. Out of a sense of growing powerlessness, powers tend to try to exercise their own power over others. We need a new voice that resounds with the eternal voice of our God.

Connection: Listen. Simply listen to what is being said all around us. Listen to how the voices of powers that are trying to lead us (this is from any political party) are not able to speak the new language of God's promise for life. Listen.

O God of all Hopefulness, you are still the One who pulls us into tomorrow. Keep our eyes fixed on your loving kindness, your mercy, your graciousness, and your power to bring new life even as the powers of death play with life. Amen.

Monday, February 21, 2005

22 February 2005

More words on Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann.

I propose this hypothesis: The royal (dominant) consciousness leads people to despair about the power to new life. Then Brueggemann writes:
As a beginning point it may be affirmed that the royal consciousness militates against hope. For those who are denied entry into prosperity there is a kind of hopelessness because there is little or no prospect for change. In Israel there was no doubt that since the Solomonic achievement the royal prosperity was increasingly closed to large numbers of citizens. That indeed is a key point in the polemics of Amos. And so in that time as in our own, the royal arrangement surely and properly evokes despair among those who are shut out.

First, it is important to note that good old Solomon was a master at the oppression of his own people in order to achieve his goals of security and empire building. Whenever those with the least are sacrificed or used for the benefit and security of the few who sit in the positions of power and prestige, there will be death, poverty, and a hierarchy of worth in a society. As much as people will be told that the welfare of the elite and the rich is necessary before the welfare of the poor and needy can happen, we have the whole collection of biblical stories that tell us that is just not so. Amos and other prophets were quite direct at saying that. Jesus took the argument against it right to the cross. If there is to be real hope among us we cannot pin that on the operations of those who claim to hold the "royal" power of the day. I think it is interesting to note that even today in our country there is talk of a dynasty. To my recollection, that has never been good news to those who long for a word of hope. It is usually just a bunch of words that always fall short except for those who buy the right to write the history books.

Connection: Stop, Look, Listen. That is what I was taught to do before I crossed the street. Looking both ways with a critical eye keeps all of us a bit safer because it protects not only me but those with me and even...the drivers.

Most Loving and Merciful God, how we long for the Spirit of your blessed Reign to inspire our lives so that we will gather together and witness to the brightness of how your love can rule and how it can establish a new vision for how we walk into the future you have promised. Amen.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

21 February 2005

We start a new adventure with Walter Brueggemann in "The Prophetic Imagination." governing hypothesis is that the alternative prophetic community is concerned both with criticizing and energizing. On the one hand, it is to show that that dominant consciousness (which I have termed 'royal') will indeed end and that it has no final claim upon us. On the other hand, it is the task of the alternative prophetic community to present an alternative consciousness that can energize the community to fresh forms of faithfulness and vitality.

This kind of prophetic community demands discipline. The discipline means that we must always be watching who we are becoming and be able to rise up a speak a word of truth that may pierce us like a sharp blade or pull us into a whole new life that we have yet to experience. Brueggemann also writes that "It is the task of prophetic imagination and ministry to bring people to engage the promise of newness that is at work in our history with God." We must demand from one another that we keep our eyes open and our ears tuned to the movements of the day so that we will not simply go along with what is. When we do that...when we stay tuned to the prophetic word and simultaneously keep a critical eye on our context, we will be involved in a ministry and mission that is truly energizing because it will demand our whole life. Nothing can be more empowering for us than to have lives that are full of worth and in that full of the need to see the worth of others.

Connection: Even though conversation can be difficult when we need to face the truth of the day, it is absolutely necessary for the well being of everyone. What we need today is the strength to enter into a critical conversation about the word of God that comes from the prophets and how it is a word that needs to be heard among us.

Comforting Lord, you abide with us and in the midst of all we are, you embrace us and remind us to turn and embrace the world around us with the love and justice and mercy that are foundational to your blessed Reign. Encourage us Lord. Amen.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

18 February 2005

A final piece from "In the End - The Beginning" by Jurgen Moltmann

...these different forms of despair cannot prevail against the creative power of hope, for they are only the symptoms of hope's decline. They spread only where hope withdraws and capitulates. When Christianity is no longer prepared to take public responsibility for the hope which God has place in it, these petrifications and corruptions of life in society are the result. 'Always be prepared to make a defense for the hope that is in you,' we are told in 1 Peter 3:15. What hope is that? It is the hope of resurrection (Acts 23:6), and it already leads to a revolt against the powers of destruction here and now.

What a strong word for all of us who claim to be followers of Jesus. We are invited to be prepared to take public responsibility for the hope which God has placed in us. This is a vary active mission. In fact, to think our our congregations as communities of hope who are called to bring hope into the world is a grand adventure because most often, hope is given up for what will sell and what will keep things as they are. We are people who live beyond what is - because we know that resurrection is promised even when we are dead and gone in the grave of Holy Saturday with no visible proof that life will come again. The world does not hear this from our society and I would suggest that it doesn't hear this from us most of the time. We have a responsibility to others and ourselves to step up to the plate and offer a word...a hand...a touch...a presence of hopefulness.

Connection: How will this responsibility take shape within the public life in which you are engaged today? Let it shine...let it shine...let it shine - or - ask someone to shine with it for you when you need the Spirit to reach in and touch you.

O God of Vision and Delight, you reach out and promise to pull us through this day and you call us to hold onto others as we pass through along your way of new life. Make us a courageous people so that as we walk with others, your promises will enlighten all of our lives. Amen.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

17 December 2005

From Jurgen Moltmann

All despair presupposes hope. The pain of despair lies in the fact that hope exists, but that there appears to be no way for the hope to be fulfilled. Where hope for life is frustrated in every respect, the hope turns against the hoper and eats into him/her. 'I looked for work everywhere and was always turned down. Then I got to the point when nothing more mattered,' said a young burglar in Berlin. When there is no longer any prospect of meaningful life, people turn to meaningless violence: 'Destroy whatever you can destroy.' When hope dies, the killing begins. Hopelessness and brutality are just two sides of the same sad coin.

The brutality that comes with hopelessness can be directed outward or at one's self. When dreams are shattered we are very vulnerable to the powers that try to convince us that the only way to exist is to take control of life. Unfortunately, when we despair, the way to take control of life is often to damage our own life...even to the point of death. Then again, when we are in the midst of hopelessness, it is easy to think we gain some status or place in life by destroying others in many and various ways. Hopelessness kills from many directions so it is all the more important to hold onto something that cannot be lost or broken or destroyed.

Connection: I don't know what flips the switch between hopefulness and hopelessness. I do know that I have yet to defeat the power of hopelessness alone. I always find the need to have someone there to walk out of it with me. We can help one another by learning to walk with each other.

Lord of the Future, you do not let us settle or rest in what is, you continue to call us forward into your promises and in that, we begin to hope for what might be. Praise to you. Amen.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

16 February 2005

From "In the Beginning - The End" by Jurgen Moltmann.

There are two forms of hopelessness. The one is arrogance or presumption. The other is despair, the obliteration of every hope. In presumption we take the fulfillment of hope into our own hands, and no longer hope for God. In despair we doubt that there can ever be fulfillment, and destroy hope in ourselves.

I think many people would link hopelessness to despair. In our world, those who are arrogant can appear to have life in their command. But, my, what a horrible place to be...thinking that the world must me in our command and the future will not unfold in an appropriate way unless we have some say as to how it is to unfold. I know that I can dangle my feet in the abyss of despair, but I am most profoundly disturbed when I think and feel as though I must make the future happen and can make it happen. For in this second form of hopelessness, I know that others are pushed away and I, by my own action, am lost to myself.

Connection: First it is important to know that we are not alone in our hopelessness. We are in the company of legions. Second, we can stand at the edge of the abyss acknowledge its power and then hold hands and walk with others into hope. I emphasize others because the abyss can be an overwhelming power.

Lord of the Day to Come, as you reach out to pull us into the promises of your love make us bold so that we will invited others to come along the way with us. Amen.

Monday, February 14, 2005

15 February 2005

Another piece from Jurgen Moltmann in "In the End - The Beginning"

True, we are told that the original sin was arrogance - that human beings wanted to be like God. But that is only half the truth. The other half is the resignation, which is much more widespread, the dejection which leads to inertia, the despondency which infects everything living with the germs of decay. The temptation today is not so much that human beings want to play God. It is much more that they no longer have confidence in the humanity which God expects of them. It is the fearfulness fed by lack of faith which leads to capitulation before the power of evil.

What an important reminder - we are to be the humans God expects us to be...not more...not less. This is so vital to our life together because it hints at the the possibilities available to us. There is a grand call - a vision - that comes from being human as God created us. Talk about the need to "bring down the mighty and lift up the lowly." The justice of God's Reign is that we are each expected to be who we are and from that expectation the community can expect new life to keep flowing all around us. When that is the power among us, then evil will never be safe to create separation and division because we will step up to demand the welfare of each person and in that the welfare of all. The Holy Spirit is the power that pulls and pushes us into a more profound sense of who we are as creatures called human beings.

Connection: Don't sell yourself short - you are beloved and that makes to be you. That is what others need from you and that is what you must expect from others. How do we nurture the fullness of our humanity among us.

Creator of All, we turn to you for the strength to be who we are. We long for your love to move us and we pray that in the face of all the powers of this day we will be encouraged by who you have made us to be for this day. Amen.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

14 February 2005

This will be our last week with Jurgen Moltmann on hope.

If the Christian faith is dependent on the power of hope for its life and if reason is dependent on hope for its attentiveness, then without hope faith crumbles, and reason becomes cynical and unreasonable. 'Sin' doesn't mean some moral error; it means separation from God and from the life which God gives.

We are always being invited into life. Life, as a promise of our God, is always more than it is now. Therefore, we do not have to settle for the way things are going today. In fact, we are told to leap out into what is not yet here. The promise that goes along with that invitation is that there will be abundant life and it will be in the midst of relationships to others and to our God. As long as we keep turning away from this promise for life we lose our ability to hope and with that our ability to live. That is a great tragedy because it is all our God wants for together forevermore. To be without this promise of new life is to be in a hellish place.

Connection: When you find yourself walking through this day without hope of any kind, it is time to connect with others who trust that our God can and does provide for us and uphold us and is ready to show us more than what we can see. Do you have people in your life who will do that with you?

Lord of the Promise, when we are shut down and want to be shut up, touch us with your gentle Spirit so that we will know that we are not alone and you long for us to find life within the gathering of your saints. Amen.

Friday, February 11, 2005

11 February 2005

We end the week as we started it - in hope. Jurgen Moltmann in "In the End - The Beginning"

In the community of Christ we experience foretastes and anticipations of God's coming kingdom. To put it theoretically: hope lives from the anticipation of the positive and therefore sees itself as the negation of the negative. The two things belong together.

Even as this is said, remember that hope is not simply positive thinking. That foretaste has substance to is the very promise of God. The substance is the life of the community of Christ as the promises of God breaks forth among us in, with, and under the life we live together as followers of Jesus. That is why the community is so vital. I know how ugly and off-base communities can become, but in that we continue to reflect on God's we point to the life of the we come to share the love that is first given us, there exists that wonderful taste of something beyond our ways. It is in the community that we may have the experience of actually seeing the negative side of life lose its power to the power of the love of Christ.

Connection: So why no find a community and enter into it with the intention of trusting that God is bringing a whole new life to us... and while your waiting - begin living that life already.

Lord of Promise and Community, you come to greet us with promises of new life and it is enough to change our hearts and minds so that life that was once destructive and cruel will become ones of loving kindness and hope. We give you thanks for your power of transformation. Amen.

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

10 February 2005

Ash Wednesday has passed and we still look to the creative future of God - in words by Jurgen Moltmann.

Humanity is waiting for a revolutionary Christianity which will call the world evil and change it, declared Walter Rauschenbach... But before we can change and improve this evil world we must change and improve ourselves. this happens when we turn about, and look to the future. In trust in God's coming, we open ourselves for his life-giving Spirit and experience the healing and liberating forces of that Spirit. These forces are not miraculous supernatural powers from heaven; as the Epistle to the Hebrews says (6:5), they are 'the power of the age to come'. They come out of the promised future of Christ into our present and fill us with new vitality.

We are healed and made new by "The power of the age to come". This day carries the potential for reconciliation even when the only witness of the day is the love affair we have with war and that which we think we can claim by our power. This day is being pulled into the Reign of God even if all we can see around us is a world in which the poor are forgotten and those who like to run the world keep in mind only those others who claim to own and run the world. The power of the age to come does not bless the powers of this world when they act contrary to the vision of God's Reign. And yet, we continue to let our faithful language be ripped off by politicians who really have little or no vision of the way of Jesus. The "liberating forces" of the Spirit of God will continue to encourage witnesses who will proclaim the promise of the peaceable Reign of God that is always much more than any self-serving human budget will ever be able to manufacture.

Connection: There is that promise of "new vitality" that will never be defeated by the ongoing injustice and corruption of our world. Sometimes, we simply need to take a time in the day to stop and take a deep breath of that promised life that can and does stir us up with all hopefulness.

By you Gracious power, O Lord of Life, lift us up again for we so quickly let the powers around us rule us and push us around. Help us keep in mind our brothers and sisters who long for that simple creative touch of your Reign...and let us be a part of that touch. Amen.

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

9 February 2005

From "In the End - The Beginning" by Jurgen Moltmann

...the title of Kyrios - Lord - for the crucified Jesus is a counter-title aimed at the Roman Caesar, who gave himself the same title, lord of the world. Aut Christus, aut Ceasar - either Christ or Ceasar: the Christian martyrs took the point, and refused to conform to the emperor cult, so as not to fall into the hands of lies and demons. In this sense the Christian hope's proclamation of God is subversive talk of God Other lords and powers rule over us, but in you alone do we hope (Isaiah 26:13).

I know that some people do not like the title "Lord" to refer to Jesus because it comes from a patriarchal system. But, on the other hand, it is meant to be just that. It is meant to be a title that subverts the meaning in the face of the powers that love to be called Lord, Lord. We are followers of the Lord who does not act like the lords of the world's powers. We will acknowledge the only Lord of all...and we will step in behind that Lord and follow along the way into a whole new existence that will not be owned or run by any power claims in this world. Could we argue that "Lord" is a feminist term? My bet is we cannot. And yet, by definition of the one who is called Lord Jesus, the term is transformed or subverted so that any reference to our Lord cannot be tolerated by any who would like to be called lord. Lord, Jesus, defines the open and ever-liberating Reign in which we are all free from the oppressive structures that drain life from us rather than bring life to us.

Connection: Lord, Jesus, is a title that can have an impact on how we walk into this day. Who do you follow? What difference does it make that you follow this subversive Lord through the mundane motions of this day? We only know that as we learn to reflect on where Jesus leads us in all the paths of our lives.

Lord of our Life, take our hand and bring us along with you into the peaceable Reign of our God. Stir us up to see how our lives are changed by the simple remembrance of your position within God's promised Reign. Amen.

Monday, February 7, 2005

8 February 2005

Hope continues - Jurgen Moltmann

Through the power of hope for the coming of God, the oppressed tell stories that run counter to the course of this world from which they suffer. There are the resurrections stories which the prophet Ezekiel tells to the despondent people (Ezekiel 37): on the one side of the fields of the dead, with the dried up bones of the people - on the other the living breath of God which awakens them and brings them to life.

Yes, there is death. Yes, there is separation. Yes, there is warfare. Yes, there is alienation and condemnation and perpetuation of oppression. These aspects of our world and death's other allies do not know how to see beyond what is. Therefore, all they can do with us is lead us into the same old cycle of death. We are a people who trust that in the middle of this desert and wasteland is a fresh breeze that will grab our attention and turn our heads and lift us up so that we will turn our back on the powers of the day. This breeze - this breath - this life giving wind...will not leave us alone. It will not leave us alone and it will pull us into ourselves...not as the world wants us but how God has created us and named us - beloved. That is where hope begins - a simple a promise that cannot be held back.

Connection: Watch out death, God promises to bring breath to us. God will indeed take away our breath to fill us with God's own power for life. How will death fall away today from us today and when will we breathe deeply of the promises of God's love? Imagine that!

Divine Wind that whips over the ways of our lives, free us from the many ways we fall for the lies of those who would take us away from your love. Remind us...again, of how you rescue and revive and renew all things with nothing more than a breeze of hope. Amen.

Sunday, February 6, 2005

7 February 2005

We will pick up again from "In the End - The Beginning" by Jurgen Moltmann

...hope must prove its consoling and its resisting power. It is consoling to withstand and to stay the course in the expectation that 'He who endures to the end will be saved'. It is encouraging not to have to capitulate before the unalterability of conditions and not to give way to sadness, but to remain upright in protest. People who accept the darkness of their lives resist the light of God which drives out the night.

It is so very important to stay in touch with that light. If you are not hearing about it and if you do not know where to go to see it flicker like a resistance movement standing in peaceful defiance against that powers of the world, turn to scripture. We are reading the gospel of Mark in confirmation class. In those first chapters, there is a stream of one story following on the heals of the previous story and all of them have to do with Jesus...healing...casting out demons...stepping over boundaries and into forbidden zones of life. This stories bring light into the world. These stories are acts of resistance and acts of creativity. They appear as old stories, but they are meant to show us the power of the light of the Reign of God that is available to all who take up the invitation to walk with Jesus. This is a walk of everyday justice and mercy. It is not merely a story. It is a real light for the living of these days. Sometimes, we need only remember who leads us through the darkness of the day to see how light begins to shine even when we try to deny it.

Connection: What will you do to spend some time in the light today? will that light lead you out into a day that can too easily be filled with darkness?

By your light, O God, you shine upon this day as a way to new life and a way to walk with others through the darkness that can try to close and shut down the possibilities of new life that can turn our world upside down so that we can live in hope. Continue to pull us from all the powers of darkness that refuse to rest in you alone. Amen.

Thursday, February 3, 2005

Friday, 4 February, 2005

We interrupt today's streaming through Galatians for another piece that caused some reflection as I read it. Especially as we are reading about works of the law and faith. It is from Robert Farrar Capon. Don't be frightened by Farrar's use of a few Latin phrases (which he always translates within the same sentence) or the fact that he tried to write this chapter of his book in old English as though, as he puts it, John Donne may have done! It is a comment on the parable of the Pharisee & the Publican. Remember, the two are in the temple and the Pharisee is thanking God and in his thanking he adds that he is not like that Publican. On the other hand, the Publican is bowing his head and asking for God's mercy as he is a sinner. To which Jesus says that "this man (publican) went down to his house justified.

Christ alone saith to you of this Publican, descendit hic justificatus in domum suam, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other. Not that they did not stand in an equalitie before God; though neither knew it, for it was an equalitie in death. Mortui enim estis, saith the Scripture to them both; ye are dead, in a death, in a deadnesse from which, by your own power ye shall never rise; and your life is hidde with Christ in God. The hour cometh, said Christ, when the dead shall heare the voyce of the Sonne of God, and they that heare shall live. So it is now that voyce, that verbum verbi which speaketh to you; but it is onely the dead that heare it and live. Not the Pharisee, feigning life by a wisome of words; not we by our clamourous protestations of harmlessnesse; but only the Publican, by his confession of that extremetie from which he cannot of himselfe return. Onely of him is this descendit hic justificatus spoken; he alone goes down justified, because he alone acknowledgeth the foolishnesse and weaknesse of his case, that he is but granum frumenti, a grain of wheat fallen into the ground and dead.

Hopefully you endured this reading. We are brought into new life by the power of God alone. It is from death to life. Only the dead hear it and live. Only those who count on nothing but that voice that resounds through all time taste this life. Only through trusting in this word of forgiveness, identification as beloved of God, & counting on God's unending mercy and unconditional grace do we go home - justified. And it is the motion of our lives. Set free - see just-as-if we were indeed God's beloved makes us rise from the death in which we spend so much time and enter into the life where death does not rule over us.

Connection: Begin this day by emerging from this home. Begin this day knowing we are dead - no way to make any other story work. Begin this day trusting that God alone gives us the day - to live!

Author of life, let your word come alive among us that we may each find the moments of our day to be opportunities to dance within your gracious embrace. To life! Amen

Thursday, 3 February, 2005

Text: Galatians 3:10-14

For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law." Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law; for "The one who is righteious will live by faith." But the law does not rest on faith; on the contrary, "Whoever does the works of the law will live by them." Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us - for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hands on a tree" - in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Cursed is a strong word. And yet if you live within a system that says this is the way it must be or else. Cursed is very appropriate. Unfortunately, the system Paul speaks of here is one in which no one can follow every letter of the law. This does not mean the law - as guide and teacher - is to be thrown out. Not at all. Rather, we cannot count on our status before God as status gained by following the law. Why!?! Not even Jesus would pass that...Hanging on a tree the way he did at his death. Our position and righteousness is a matter of faith - trusting God's word of love and forgiveness & making it our only claim to be the daughters and sons of God - beloved. The blessing on the insiders has become a blessing for the whole world through Jesus. We stand this day with all the Ancestors of the Faith. We stand with Abraham - trusting that God will be our God - trusting that the promises of God are indeed good for life!

Connection: We are blessed! Yes, no matter what the day holds for us...we are blessed. Rather than facing life as though we may be "cursed" at any moment, we can expect to be swept up into God's arms and made welcome into the blessed Reign of God. How's that for a life connection.

Most Gracious God, by your grace made known to us in Jesus and your faithfulness that encouraged Abraham to trust in you alone we ask that your Spirit teach us the ways of life in which we count on you for our vitality and joy. Amen