Sunday, June 30, 2013

Faithfulness - Sixth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 8)

2 Kings 2: 1-2, 6-14
Psalm 77
Galatians 5:1, 13-25
Like 9: 51-62

There is a thread that runs through this week's lectionary that touches on faithful, true, disciplined action.  The stories may seem odd to us, and as I read them, I wonder if we as a species have lost the ability to faithfully abide.

Elisha is devoted to Elijah and while Elijah is moving toward the end of his life, Elisha keeps diligently sticking with him. Elisha asks for a double inheritance of Elijah's spirit, and it seems that by his faithfulness, he is granted that request. When he dons Elijah's stole and strikes the Jordan, the waters part just as they had for Elijah.

In a strangely similar but different way, Jesus is moving faithfully toward Israel, where Luke's author suggests he knows he faces the end. Along the way, the disciples, out of there misguided sense of faith and devotion, keep suggesting some pretty stupid things. Like the basis for a Monty Python sketch, James and John suggest that they call down fire from heaven upon the Samaritan village that has failed to prepare for Jesus's visit. One after another, Jesus seems to be rejecting their passionate response while hoping for and encouraging something more deeply rooted in faithfulness.

I think it is harder by far to faithfully say and do the right things...especially when that means setting aside our passions. It is so much easier to be angry at someone who has hurt us for the umpteenth time rather than pulling out our very best love and mercy.  Maybe that is where we bear fruit though. Maybe we only encounter the fruits of the spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control - by diligent, disciplined faithful response to the world.

It's ironic to me then that self-control is a fruit of the spirit. Seems like the more we have, the more we get. For exercising it regularly! What do we do with that? It reminds me a little bit of my yoga practice. Balance comes from balance, breath from breath, centeredness from the center.

And so this week, I wonder if I can find it in myself to reject the fast paced distraction to be faithful, true and love God and my neighbor above all else. To be God's at every turn...


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Because people keep asking me...

Yes, the United Methodist Church currently has language in its book of discipline that condemns homosexuality as incompatible with Christian teaching.

And it is also true that a unique mark of the United Methodist Church is connection and holy conferencing. That means that we value one another enough to stay in dialogue, to explore our agreements and disagreements, to recognize the Holy Spirit is present, to invite the Holy Spirit in, to acknowledge the Christ in each person. We work to stay in connection even when we do not agree. This is how Methodism was born, how it came to America, how it has evolved and how it continues to take shape.

And so, I believe that the Spirit is present in the dialogue the United Methodist Church is having about homosexuality. To those who will point to the book of discipline for the sole purpose of naming chargeable offenses and ways of achieving absolute authority, I call foul. That's not who Christ calls us to be. That's not what John Wesley built. It's not black and white. 

There is deep division in our denomination about this issue. There is language that governs our current authorities, and there is an on-going, thoughtful, passionate and spirit led dialogue that continues. If we care for our foundations of social holiness and justice, we will keep the dialogue open. We will not exclude dissenting voices. We will respect the movement of the spirit...which we sometimes may want to label as secularism out of fear of change.

I have chosen to heed a call into this communion called United Methodism, and I have been given a voice and a heart for radically inclusive love. Here I am, send me.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Life Chaos - Proper 7, Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

Kings 19: 1-4, (5-7), 8-15a
Psalm 42 & 43
Galatians 3: 23-29
Luke 8:26-39

I always imagine summer will be peaceful, a time of rest, recovery and idyllic family time.  Vacations, days at the pool, picnics...

And somehow life always delivers if it is known that because there is more space in summer, I can somehow handle more crazy. Not.

In the lectionaries this week, Elijah discovers God not in the wind or thunder or earthquake but in the stillness.  I have to remember as life is spinning out of control that unless I take that deep breath, unless I ground myself, unless my feet get firmly planted in mountain pose while my diaphragm expands with a deep breath, God is elusive. And that probably has little to do with God, and more to do with me - with my attention, my focus, my presence in the everyday moments.

The demoniac story is always intriguing. Like something out of a cheesy horror movie, Jesus casts out a legion of demons, causes them to possess a herd of swine which then drown themselves in the sea. And in the afterglow, the man formerly possessed is sitting at Jesus's feet, taking it all in - no longer possessed by chaos, he listens, praises, grows.

In the crazy of the summer - in the fiscal year-end, in the divergent kid schedules, in the idyllic dreams not achieved, I pray for moments of peace. Even fleeting, I pray to find myself grounded in mountain pose, connected to the earth and to the God who created me, embraced and healed by the calming presence of Christ, awed by the sheer silence. 

Let it be so...