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sabbath

Yes, I talk too.

My son says that when he writes scripts he hears my voice. That’s a bit scary to me (I personally hear Edward James Olmos alternating with David Tennant as The Doctor or Michael C. Hall as Dexter which means I have multiple personalities at work in my head which is scarier…but I digress…imagine that). This is the latest opportunity for those of you who only read me to hear my voice too.

But not to worry. I’m sure I am not going to become the voice you hear in your head.

Used this shot as the background for the powerpoint. Lula captures sabbath wonder for me...

Used this shot as the background for the powerpoint. Lula captures sabbath wonder for me. I don’t remember if this was taken at dawn or dusk, but I imagine it’s dusk as Sabbath dawns.

And it’s a good message. I can’t speak to delivery and style, you can judge that if you take the 45 minutes or so to listen. But the content of the message is good.

Practicing Sabbath.

Learning to stop.

Learning to be the 24/6 beings we are made to be rather than allowing ourselves to be continually stuffed into a 24/7 mold.

Gettysburg_GuelzoWhat’s funny is that when I woke up at about 5:45 AM that morning, I felt a complete and total void. Usually there’s some level of anticipation or even anxiety before speaking. Nothing. “Uh oh. This may not be good.” Getting up and spending thirty minutes or so with Allen Guelzo and his book Gettysburg:The Last Invasion in the stillness of the morning in the Sabbath sanctuary of my patio was evidently all that was needed, and the book became for me the centerpiece of the talk.

How wonderfully dissonant that gazing on the history of carnage at Gettysburg sparked me with energy to dive into Sabbath speech.

Multiple personalities at work in the head of one very disturbed personality…

But the message is good.

Listen if and when you can. If you dare.

And do yourself a favor. Trying really stopping sometime this week.

 

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2013 in Sermons, Videos

 

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narrow paths

One more lesson from Ray Vander Laan’s faith lesson Walking with God in the Desert (see my previous post).

Vander Laan referred to the sheep paths along the hillside as the “straight paths” or the “paths of righteousness.”

I saw Jesus’ “narrow road” in his Sermon on the Mount.

"straight paths" on a Negev hillside

“straight paths” on a Negev hillside

This is a narrow path.

And the hillside is covered with them.

Vander Laan observes that these sheep paths or ruts have been worn into the hillside over countless years of sheep being led across it. All these parallel paths are cut into the hillside, each spaced with just enough room for sheep to feed above or below it as the shepherd leads them along it.

He didn’t make the point, but the video suddenly became 3D and leapt out at me right off the screen, no glasses required.

"my sheep hear my voice"

“my sheep hear my voice”

The sheep are not marching lock step, single file all along the same path with the shepherd out in front (and a master at arms bringing up the rear). Sort of the way I see Sunday School kids being led to and from the sanctuary forming (literally) one long single line. No. The shepherdess leads the sheep all in the same direction, but along parallel paths up and down the entire hillside. And there are “green pastures” enough for all.

 

How far you want to expand this metaphor is up to you.

How simple and clear cut is single file.

How easy to control.

How naturally inclined we are towards it.narrow path_2

But the sheep walk all over the hillside on different but parallel paths, each finding what it needs along the way, the tuft here and the tuft there, the one shepherdess walking before them all, the sound of Her voice the only beacon necessary, the only control called for.

Now there’s a picture to ponder a bit.

I’ll never see that “narrow road” in quite the same way…

narrow path

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2013 in musings, Psalms, Videos

 

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green pastures

I meant to write this six months ago.

Last year our Tuesday night group journeyed together through volume 12 of Ray Vander Laan’s That The World May Know video series. Love them all, but this was one of the better entries in the series: Walking With God in the Desert. Vander Laan takes us through the desert of the Negev in Israel exploring seven faith lessons of navigating the hard times, the desert experiences of life.

It’s worth watching, wherever you are coming from.

Anyway.

Green pastures.

That was the surprising epiphany for us all from week six of the journey.

the first image that came up when I binged "green pastures"

the first image that came up when I binged “green pastures”

What do you think of when you picture “green pastures” as in “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me to lie down in green pastures…”? If you’re like me, you immediately envision a boundless field of belly-deep alfalfa. So much green you could get lost in it. Kauai green. Yes, Kauai! Lush. Boundless. Ahhhh.

As Vander Laan observes, does that sound like your experience with God? with life?

Shepherds in Israel rarely lead their sheep to lie down in rich farmland.

They take them, as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did, into the desert landscape of the Negev. In the Negev, green pasture is that tuft of grass, right over there. You see, on certain rocky, rugged hillsides, what moisture there is accumulates around rocks, seeps underneath and results in the occasional green sprout. From a distance, green pasture looks like a barren,

"green pastures" in the Negev

“green pastures” in the Negev

dead hillside. Think the Boise foothills at the height of summer’s heat. I’ll never forget the feeling when flying back from Kauai a few years ago, looking out that airplane window and seeing…brown. Everywhere. “Dear Lord,” I gasped audibly. “Everything is dead.”

Yeah. Green pastures are like that.

The first time Vander Laan saw sheep grazing on one of those Negev hillsides, he thought, “What are they doing? Are they rock-eating goats or what?”

But as the shepherd leads, she leads (in the video it’s two shepherdesses we observe) with her voice, walking in front, along a hillside with little tufts scattered all along the way. Each tuft a mouthful. And a mouthful is all that’s needed. In ten minutes there’ll be another

"green pasture." and that's a mouthful...

“green pasture.” and that’s a mouthful…

mouthful. Ten minutes after that, another. And if there isn’t, the shepherd is still there. She’ll lead the way to another tuft or two on another hillside.

One of Vander Laan’s desert companions once observed, “You westerners have it all wrong (now there’s an epiphany). You deal with tomorrow’s problems on today’s pasture. Can you handle what life will throw at you in the next ten minutes? You don’t know. But you have a mouthful right now. And you’re with the shepherd.”

And that’s enough.

green pastures_4

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2013 in Faith, musings, Psalms, Videos

 

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swords into ploughshares

My friend Tempe shared this TED talk with me this morning.

One of those times I see an email first thing in the morning, open and see it has a link, see that the link is a video. Do I have time for this? Open the link, see the video is fourteen minutes long. Do I have time for this? But then feel compelled to hit play.

Oh my. Yes, I’m sentimental. I admit it. But this was hitting a wellspring of tears beyond mere sentiment.

Swords into ploughshares. Spears into pruning hooks. Every garment rolled in blood gathered and burned. swords into plowsharesMissiles into missives of love. The knowledge of God covering the earth as waters fill the sea. I have a dream. Imagine. I see the barricade. Can you hear the people sing?

I saw Christ’s seed spread far in the wide world. The Prince of Peace bringing it, not through our religious or political efforts, but generally in spite of them. People following the Prince of Peace, whether he is named and claimed or not, following his agenda of wall demolition, hatred diffusion, reconciliation effusion. Despite us. In us. Through us.

All this flashed before me.

If you watch, perhaps you’ll just say, “Huh.” Maybe even “Meh.” Maybe worse. But maybe. More.

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Final words of Lincoln’s first inaugural address, 1861

barricade

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2013 in Videos

 

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i wait

Unforced rhythms of grace in the midst of the forced rhythms of chemo.

Tomb and resurrection. Tomb and resurrection. Tomb and resurrection.

Ad nauseum.

Good at fully embracing resurrection for the brief window that it comes. Three or four days this last time around. Glories not despised but so seemingly fleeting and brief! Beautiful, grace-filled faces on Sunday. Necks I simply could not hug hard enough. My soul bathed in, desperately sought to absorb the glories that are Trina (!), Gina, Steven, Shalom (!), Sara, Jennifer, Julie, Abby. A granddaughter’s dance and laughter. More than I can remember, but each imprinting, imparting fresh grace through body and soul. Easy rhythms to embrace.

Then back to the tomb for a sixth count.

Will I ever settle into that chair, embrace it?

Embrace the needle prick into the Borgish implant on my upper chest?

Embrace the alien intruder rather than rip it out?

Embrace the unavoidable saline taste filling my senses? Flushing, flushing, flushing.

Embrace the tepid water, the hot tea on hot days when cold burns my thoat?

Embrace the pack, the background sting from the needle, the accessing line, the tethered, inescapable companion pumping poison into my body?

Embrace the snap, snap, snap of that pump minute after minute after minute – the snap I swear I can still hear long after the pump is gone?

Embrace enforced idleness?

Embrace lethargy and listlessness?

Embrace the enveloping fog, the heaviness spread through each limb, the sinking down, it  would seem, into the bowels of sheol itself?  A new sensation. So tempting to embrace that one. Dare I?

Embrace the seeming folly of ambitious projects and productions made of sand when you are dipping your toes in the pool of death?

Yes.

Embrace it all. No choice. This is what’s here. Madness is the only alternative. Blind, life-denying religious zeal masquerading as faith to move mountains, Morias that must be past through rather than bypassed. Oh religious fool within. There is no resurrection without the tomb.

None.

We fancy we live on Resurrection Sunday. But it’s only glimpses, if we are blessed enough. Morsels of immortality. Glimpses into man fully alive, passing through stone, through walls and doors. Glimpses only, if we are so lucky. A starving man can live on such crumbs, such lempas bread.

No, though we encounter occasional, matching glimpses into our own personal Good Friday horrors, that hopefully are blessedly cut short, it is on Holy Saturday that most of our lives are lived. The day in between, the day that we leave quietly unheralded, unnoticed each Holy Week. The day of the tomb, of waiting, of darkness, of immobility. The day of stillness with hope wrapped in spices promising in the dark a new day.

Sunday’s coming round again.

I wait.

 

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2012 in musings, Suffering, Videos

 

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I Deny the Resurrection

Just came across this video snippet of Peter Rollins from the Poets, Prophets and Preachers Conference in 2009. Falls nicely into the “better ecclesiology” resolution for this year. Besides, I can listen to an Irish preacher all day long, I do believe.

Favorite outtake for me: “If I’m ever to become a saint, I’m going to be a saint of darkness, for I shall not be found in heaven – I shall be found outside as a light guiding the way.” A “saint of darkness.” Now there’s a high church calling. Wow. Just wow…

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2012 in Church, Videos

 

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Rock in a Weary Land

Stumbled across this song today…sweet soul succor…give me some of that gospel…

 

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2011 in Suffering, Videos

 

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The King’s English – 100 phrases in 3 minutes

This is just a joy to watch, to hear. A beautiful example of wordhavering…enjoy.

 

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2011 in Videos

 

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