Monday, January 2, 2017

When It All Began

Genesis 2:4b-9 (NRSV)

In the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up--for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground-- then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground,a and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.


In this garden
This lovely garden
I build a temple of love
Walk with the Father
Won’t be a bother
To touch the Earth as it was

I Build This Garden For Us by Lenny Kravitz, from Let Love Rule, 1989, Miss Bessie Music, Virgin Records

If we have learned anything from The Sound of Music it is that we should start at the very beginning. It is after all, a very good place to start. It all began when the Lord created. The Lord didn't have to create, the Lord chose to create, and a glorious creation sprang from the Lord. In it, a garden was built for Adam (the Hebrew word for "a man") to live.

What a wonderful and glorious relationship: creation, created, creator; forever in a dance of love and joy. In this beginning, the Lord builds the garden and the man builds a temple to the love the Lord gives. The ethereal dawn of all creation comes through in glowing and flowing music, a joining of guitar, organ, and dreads.

But beware the foreshadowing, Lenny Kravitz sings about touching the earth as it was. Yes, as it was. Even in this idyllic recreation of the garden, we know that it didn't last. But this knowledge should not stop us from remembering. It must not stop us from remembering.

Yes this is a glory we do not live in today, but this does not stop the glory from breaking into the world. We can never stop the Lord from showing us glory from time to time. God's glory breaks into our lives like lightening flashes across the skies. There is a flash, there is light, and yes, there may even be a sound of fury along with the glory of the light because sometimes that is the way of the light.

The garden has been built. The garden is real. What a wonderful and glorious relationship: creation, created, creator; forever in a dance of love and joy. Oh the thought of touching the earth as it was when it all began.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year's Day

Psalm 131

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up,
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.

O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time on and forevermore.


All is quiet on New Year's Day

"New Year's Day" by U2 by Bono and U2 from the album "War"

This is a time of year of stillness and quiet, a time of reflection. Some plan New Year's resolutions and how to use new exercise equipment. As for me, in my teens I made that resolution to quit making resolutions and so far so good. Jaded, but it's an easy one to keep and it comes up only once each year.

As I take this moment, as I have calmed and quieted my soul on this New Year's Day, there is only one thing I know with absolute certainty, my hope is in the Lord from this time on and forevermore.

People hope and trust in all manner of things. For some it's money, cash and assets will buy them security. For others the answer is guns, power and might save the day. To some information is power where for others hoarding information is power. For others the only value of information is for the value of sharing it to harm others, whether by malice or snark.

Our hope is in something more, in something different. Our hope is in something greater than what can be created by human hands. Our hope is in the Creator of human hands. Our hope is in the one who created things so great and so marvelous that it is futile to occupy my time with trying to see how great and wonderful they are.

Oh, it doesn't stop people from trying, it sure doesn't stop me. I just have to remember that when I do imagine my thoughts are so far from the truth that it's like a drop in a glorious sea.

So in this time, in this time of stillness and reflection. In the quiet of this New Year's Day, let us remember our hope is in the Lord from this time on and forevermore.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Living Like a Refugee

Matthew 2:13-15a

Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod.


You don't ha-ave to live like a refugee
(Don't have to live like a refugee)

"Refugee" by Tom Petty and Mike Campbell recorded by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on the "Damn the Torpedoes" album.

The Christmas Story is a wonderful and glorious tale. And in Matthew's gospel it doesn't last very long, it begins in the middle of chapter one and ends in the middle of chapter two. That's all. The Christmas Story ends abruptly with Joseph's dream from the angel of the Lord warning him to  “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt.” How long? God only knows... literally God only knows.

Of course, in the first century as well as in the twenty-second Egypt is not a good place for a Jew on the run. He would go to a place where he was not welcome. This allowed me to think about the racial and ethnic lines that were crossed with the simple words “So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod."

The Holy Family had to live like a refugee. In a way, we are like refugees. It is said that we are not citizens of this world. We are citizens of heaven. In a way, that makes us refugees. We are refugees in a world that is not ours. Our hope is that our Lord Jesus Christ also lived in this world. He lived like a refugee. He lived like a refugee in Egypt and like a refugee in this world in general. There is no where that we can go that Christ hasn't also gone. That is truly our hope.

Because Christ has lived like a refugee, we don't have to live like a refugee, because we know where our home is.