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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

the walking wounded

i've heard it said that the Word and those who speak it should afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.  Truth and Grace. 

i think i've pretty well established which one i'm better at. 

Sadly, it's also pretty well established that there are folks who will use the Word as a weapon for their own purposes.  Twist its meaning to fit their agendas.  Justify themselves with indulgent edits.  Often the Word gets blamed for this.  As if God should have been more careful with the words He chose.  Or put some kind of disclaimer on the Holy Scriptures.  (There is one, and we'll get to that.)  Often the church, Christ's very Bride gets blamed en masse for the corruption of some who claim membership in her.  Make no mistake, all are sinners so there is no perfect church nor perfect church goer but taken as a whole, the Church is Christ's Body and therefore good.  To speak ill of her is to speak ill of her husband who loves her. 

That said, Christ warned us wolves would sneak in from the Synagogue of Satan to corrupt her from within if they could as they always have.  They lure away those whose faith and knowledge are incomplete.  They are thieves who steal for power, for material gain or just for the hell of it.  Read the Word and you will see the over arching story of the Son of Man wooing and wanting His wayward wife.  From Serpent in the Garden to the Scarlet Dragon in final act, Satan hates God so he hates His Bride too.  He cannot touch God, so he attacks mercilessly and with cunning the one God loves.  He has been a liar and murderer from the beginning and we are the prey.

Many have been hurt in this war.  Many have real wounds.  i acknowledge this.  Do you, afflicted beloved, acknowledge that none of this happened without the express knowledge and approval and even ordination of your loving Husband God? 
"Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
    I have tried you in the furnace of affliction." (Is 48)
That's just one verse.  If i were to post all the ones that state this, express or implied, i would pretty much have to repost the Bible here.  Don't take my word for it, just do a quick search for "affliction", take The Word for it.  Affliction is not random.  It, like all of creation, serves a purpose, His.  To refine, to burn away what is not good, to turn us back to our source of Life and away from the Death we were choosing instead.  

To bring us home, to bring us to our senses, to bring us back to our loving husband and Father.

But that's not the way we use it anymore.  We use it now to justify our therapeutic self-indulgence.  We weave our hurts and our wounds into a stifling comforter from under which we hide from the outside world, from the monsters, from the scariness, from our responsibility, from the Light.  We muffle the words we don't want to hear.  We think ourselves warm and safe and untouchable and all we are is smothered.  We have buried the Talent of God for we have found him a hard man who reaps where he does not sow and gathering where he did not scatter seed.  'i have been hurt so i am only protecting myself.'  We justify silencing those who speak truth, we slap sentimental bumperstickers all over the hard parts of the Word so we don't have to use or hear words like "obey" and "listen" and "sin" and "confess" and "commandment."  God loves me, this i know, for the Bible tells me so and God is love so he doesn't want me to do anything hard or scary or where i might possibly get hurt.  He cannot possibly ask me to forgive because of what happened to me.  He cannot ask me to obey because of what i've been through.  i know i shouldn't do this but you don't know where i've been.  i need this!

We are justified.  Righteous.  Not even God can ask us to do anything anymore because we have been afflicted!  We are the Comfortable IN our Affliction.

That's enough for today.  Please pray and listen and let's just see where that takes us for a while.

Monday, July 17, 2017

My Beloved (because Seamus seems to confuse some folk :)

[i read the Bible through every year and have since 2010.  That's not a brag, it's a confession.  Because even though i do that and therefore have read Jeremiah 11 at least seven times in the last seven years, Saturday was the first time this line struck me and it struck me as new.  As if i was reading it for the very first time.  That happens to me a lot.  God reveals to you what He wants to reveal when He wants to reveal it.  That's just one of the reasons we keep coming back to the well each and every day as often as we can.  i'm told the line by itself out of context is dangerous and possibly harmful.  i'll deal with that thought another day.  For now though, i've included the raw response i had to it in my journal.  No spit, no polish, just what came out of me when i read it.  Hope its helpful.  At least more helpful than any of Seamus' musings.]

“What rights has my beloved in my house
    when she has done many wicked things?”

There is so much here, Yahweh God.  First, that she is your beloved.  Second that she is unfaithful.  That you wish to bring her into your house or she is in it already doing her wickedness.  Father, we are your bride and yes, we have done, are doing and will do many wicked things and we have no rights in your house much less to be in your house at all.  None.  Yet!  But!  You are the Bridegroom!  You have come for your bride anyway!  You made her clean!  You washed away her iniquity!  You have rescued us, saved us, bought us out of our slavery!  Off the slave block!  You took us home.  You restored us to our children.  You make us part of yourself again.  You join yourself to us!  You are amazing! 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Seamus rides again

"So what's necessary for an authoritarian regime to gain and hold power?"  Seamus asked.
"Historically speaking?" i shrugged.  "Abolish free press and take all the guns.  After that, abolish free elections... umm, i dunno, religion?  Guess they should hold sway over that too."
"Aye, that's the kinda thing we usually worry aboot, right?  First two amendments.  Framers musta worried aboot it too.  That's why this is so brilliant!"
"Um... what is?"
"This regime."
"This... You think...?"
"Oh don't get me wrong, I dinna know who's in charge.  The fat man doesn't seem swift enough for my thenkin' but he's certainly got the ego fer it, ferdamshuir.  But you gotta admire what they've doon."
"You think they've abolished the free press and taken all the guns?"
"Fook no!  And tha's the beauty of it!  They dinna have to!  They gotta lil' help, okay, a lotta help.  First off, the innernet," he held up a pretzel stick, i guess that was his visual representation of the internet, "Tis flooded with news sources nough.  (To this day, i don't know how to spell how he pronounces words like how, now, flew, spew!)   Ever' twit wit'a twitta is a goddumm journalist nough."  He smashed his pretzel all over the bar.  He flicked the pieces this way and that.  "Alt facts, fake facts, their facts, yer facts, dunna know how anyone tells wha's goddumm goin' on anymuir!  Then ye got these lefties," he picked up the largest piece left, "whoo'r so keen to take'm down, so goddum anxious to get a shot inna 'im, they go  and go off half cocked.  They goddumm shoot their loads into their own goddumm foot anna ye git the whole world laughin' at'm, all you gotta do is let the rope out anna watch'm hang themselves," he ate the lefties.  Dusted off his hands, "So there ye are, no need to abolish free press, just flood the market fer the easily swayed to pick ther favorite and ignore the rest and discredit them all to the point where no thinkin' man troosts'm and it amoonts to the same theng."
"Okay, i can see that.  But what about the guns?  How are they going to take over and not deal with armed revolt?"
"What armed revolt?"
"Americans are never gonna let them take our guns, we have more now than ever!"
"Aye, ye do, but again, why would they come for thum?"
"To.. stop an armed revolt?"
"Wha armed revolt?"  He smirked at me.  i hate when he smirks at me. 
"There's not going to be an armed revolt..."
"There's no gonna be no armed revolt, lad, and that's the best part, cuz all his rhetoric is aimed at winnin' o'er one group anna one group only...
"The ones with the guns." 
"Ye catch on late, but ye do catch on. When the revolt comes lad, his owen will police all the rest.  All 'is life, he's made a large livin' onna gettin' others to do his dirty work for 'im and he ain't changed his tune a bit.  'N why should 'e?  Its workin'."

Friday, April 21, 2017

The heartbeat.

As a protestant who grew up in denominations marked by the space they put between themselves and their Catholic forebears, i have never had a great trust of liturgy.  Liturgy becomes rote.  Rote is faith in the freezer.  Hard.  Inflexible.  Cold.  Dead.

As i seeped and simmered, i came to equate rote with religion.  i learned no matter who we are, no matter what we believe about God, we all have faith in something.  We all have a religion.  We are all worshiping something or someone.  We cannot help it.  It's how we're made.

Like a good protestant, i came to understand and say (with no small amount of smugness) it's not religion, it's relationship.  Faith is not in what i do, rote, it's in what HE's done.  i cherished my freedom from all forms of rigidity, i celebrated in a casual style of worship service.  Not quite hippie love-in or quaker meeting, we weren't deconstructionalists or anarchists, we were more libertarian, i guess.

A few more years in the crockpot however and i've come to understand that even as we all must worship, even as we all have faith in something, we all have liturgy.  No, maybe we don't follow a dictum laid down in edicts from Rome, and maybe we don't have a board at the front of the sanctuary telling us what number hymns we will sing in what order and a bulletin that we don't even really need to look at anymore because we know the order of worship by heart, can recite it in unison (a term here meaning that dead, flat, monotone we all speak in during a service as if we were reading the fine print on a legal document instead of the Living Word) but we all follow patterns.  We all have systems.  We all make plans.

We were made for Rhythm.

Even someone like me, as painfully Northern Occidental and genetically, environmentally rhythmically-impaired as i am, have and live and was made for rhythms.  i wake up at a certain time, i eat at certain times, i work at designated times.  Lives, like songs, have frameworks.  Sometimes the beat is fast, driving, energetic.  Other days have a more languid tempo, relaxed, slow, contemplative.  Some days are speed metal, some days are dirges, others yet are reggae, polkas, waltzes, dubstep, hip-hop, country, ballads, blues and even jazz but each day, each year, each life, has a rhythm.  As if there is some outrageously hip angel of God in dark glasses, a pipe hanging from his lips, a soft hat cocked on his bobbing head and the mother of all upright basses in his long, steady fingers, tap, tap, tapping out the sound that was the first sound we became conscious of in the womb.  Life has rhythm.

And so does faith.  God built us for rhythms.  Seasons.  Tempos.  Beats.  Spiritual disciplines, creeds, liturgies are training.  Like soldiers, warriors, drilling certain steps into ourselves until our bodies can react correctly in times of stress and fear and chaos without prompting or conscious thought.  Like sages, we are so deep in Scripture we have the Word for every season, situation and praise.  So our days are not idle, our minds not bored, our worship not empty, our prayers not prattle, our hearts not tempted by desires unfit for our natures as Priests and Kings and Sons of the Living God.  For in our hearts and heads we hear the drums and basses and cymbals and guitars pounding out the steady rhythm to which the kingdom of the God of All Rhythms marches and dances.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

What is the church? Resurrected!

What is the church according to this Day?

"Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, live in him, firmly rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding with thankfulness. Beware lest anyone take you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world and not according to Christ, because in him all the fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you are filled in him, who is the head over every ruler and authority, in whom also you were circumcised with a circumcision not made by hands, by the removal of the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which also you were raised together with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. And although you were dead in the trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, having destroyed the certificate of indebtedness in ordinances against us, which was hostile to us, and removed it out of the way by nailing it to the cross. When he had disarmed the rulers and the authorities, he made a display of them in public, triumphing over them by it."

Saturday, April 15, 2017

What is the church in the time between? Working, watching and waiting...

What is the church in the time between?

"“A little while and you will see me no more, and again a little while and you will see me. So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he is saying to us, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going away to the Father’?” So they kept on saying, “What is this that he is saying, ‘A little while’? We do not understand what he is speaking about!”
Jesus knew that they were wanting to ask him, and he said to them, “Are you deliberating with one another about this—that I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? Truly, truly I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will become sorrowful, but your sorrow will change to joy. A woman, when she gives birth, experiences pain because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the affliction, on account of the joy that a human being has been born into the world. So you also are experiencing sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy from you."  John 16


You must be prepared for action and your lamps burning. And you, be like people who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that when he comes back and knocks, they can open the door for him immediately. Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he returns! Truly I say to you that he will dress himself for service and have them recline at the table and will come by and serve them. Even if he should come back in the second or in the third watch of the night and find them like this, blessed are they! But understand this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not think he will come.”
And Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us, or also for everyone?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful wise manager whom the master will put in charge over his servants to give them their food allowance at the right time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find so doing when he comes back. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions."  Luke 12

Friday, April 14, 2017

What is the church according to the Truth?

What is the church according to the Truth and the Creator of all things who conquered sin and death by his faithfulness?

“This is what the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the originator of God’s creation, says: ‘I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! Thus, because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am about to vomit you out of my mouth! Because you are saying, “I am rich, and have become rich, and I have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and pitiable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire, in order that you may become rich, and white clothing, in order that you may be clothed and the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed, and eye salve to smear on your eyes, in order that you may see. As many as I love, I reprove and discipline. Be zealous, therefore, and repent! Behold, I stand at the door and knock! If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, indeed I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant to him to sit down with me on my throne, as I also have conquered and have sat down with my Father on his throne. The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”