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Monday, 21 August 2017

"Inwardly... a Matter of the Heart."

I ask that we might prove to be a faithful people.  I ask that our hearts my continually be transformed to be more compassionate, gentle, empathetic, patient, and understanding.  I ask that we might know and follow Jesus more closely, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly.


Romans 2:25-29
25 Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law; but if you break the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26So, if those who are uncircumcised keep the requirements of the law, will not their uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the law will condemn you that have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. 29Rather, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart—it is spiritual and not literal. Such a person receives praise not from others but from God.


1) "nor is true circumcision something external and physical;" "...a person is a Jew who is one inwardly;" "...real circumcision is a matter of the heart;" "...it is spiritual and not literal;" "...such a person receives praise not from others but from God;"


2) From whom do we seek praise?  We tend to seek praise from others, spiritual praise is too intangible.  Is it possible to be satisfied with spiritual praise, or praise from God?  Can we feel praise from God with out getting conceited or arrogant?  I suppose genuine praise from God wouldn't make us self-important, genuine praise from God would make us more like the way God wants us to be.  Now that would be nice.  It would be nice to be more like God wants me to be.  Life wouldn't be easy, but we would have what we need to engage it more freely and joyfully.  We would be able to sit with Jesus in the bow of the boat while the storms rage and still know peace, and comfort without being overwhelmed with rage, fear, anxiety, or discouragement.


3) What is the invitation in all this?  To seek the praise of God instead of the praise of others.  To know the praise of God, not in self-satisfaction, but in peace, freedom, and joy.


"Holy One, teach us to seek your praise and your praise alone that we might experience life in peace, freedom and joy."


Breathprayer: "inwardly ...a matter of the heart."



Sunday, 20 August 2017

"The Embodiment... of Knowledge and Truth."

Through our trials, may we become a more gracious people, more loving, more compassionate, more empathetic.  May we always hold Christ close, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly.


Romans 2:17-24
17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast of your relation to God 18and know his will and determine what is best because you are instructed in the law, 19and if you are sure that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth, 21you, then, that teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22You that forbid adultery, do you commit adultery? You that abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23You that boast in the law, do you dishonour God by breaking the law? 24For, as it is written, ‘The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.’


1) "will you not teach yourselves?" "...the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you."


2) Paul at his most biting and eloquent.  Oh, how the name of God is blasphemed because of Christians who proclaim hate, and anger, and bigotry, and white supremacy, and homophobia, and misogyny.  We would correct them, claiming morally superior and progressive gospel.  But the difference between "them" and "us" is not one of kind, but of degree.  We come through a tradition of white supremacy, and continue to receive benefits and privileges: we own land, receive loans, get educations, extract resources from land we never bought.  We are in possession of stolen property.  We may have once bought the land in "good faith," but shouldn't we know better by now?  Because of our history of oppression and supremacy, so many have reason to turn away from the Gospel.  Of course, they aren't really blaspheming God, only the false God we falsely represented.  In fact, in their cries for justice are the cries of Christ, calling us back to repentance and the Kingdom of God.  Had we been true to God, true to our proclamation of release to the captive and recovery of sight to the blind, it would have been a different story.  Thank God, grace is free, even if it isn't cheep. 


3) to seek amends, and make amends when the opportunity presents itself.  Apologize, again and again if necessary.  Acknowledge that the land is unceded.  Cease making decisions about the land and its resources without consulting the traditional owners transparently, and justly.


"Holy One, make us anew."


Breathprayer: "the embodiment... of knowledge and truth."



Thursday, 17 August 2017

"All Who Have Sinned... Will Be Judged."

I'm feeling overwhelmed by the pervasiveness of latent and not so latent racism in the world right now.  It feels like every last member of the human race (including me) is an unrepentant racist and no one is willing to be told or educated otherwise, add homophobe, add misogynist, add classists...  I remember a button my dad used to have that said, "Stop the world, I want to get off."


Romans 2:12-16
12 All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. 15They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them 16on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all.


1) "doers of the law;" "...written on their hearts;" "...what the law requires;" "...to which their own conscience also bears witness;" "...their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse;"


2) I find some small amount of comfort in "their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse."  Of course, it assumes we have conflicting thoughts.  And that requires some degree of self-awareness.  I'm not convinced that we all hold the same capacity for self-awareness.  It seems to me that even a low level of self-awareness would result in greater empathy in the world.  I find myself looking forward to "the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all."  But once again, Paul's argument is we are all condemned so that we can all be reconciled.  Ultimately, all who have sinned will be judged.  all who have sinned will be reconciled.  But that doesn't mean it will be easy... or pretty.


3) Clearly, the solution isn't in my hands.  Let the solution be in God's.


"Holy One, bring it on.  Bring on the day when you will judge the secret thoughts of all."


Breathprayer: "All who have sinned...will be judged"

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

"In Accordance with Truth... Seek for Glory and Honour."

I ask for integrity for my community of faith, that while we are condemning the show of racial violence south of our boarder, we do not ignore and justify our own white privilege.  I pray that we hear with ears of truth.  I pray that we  continue to strive to know and follow Jesus more closely, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly, even - especially - when that walk takes us to our own death.


Romans 2:2-11
2You say, ‘We know that God’s judgement on those who do such things is in accordance with truth.’ 3Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgement of God? 4Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgement will be revealed. 6For he will repay according to each one’s deeds: 7to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. 9There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10but glory and honour and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11For God shows no partiality.


1) "in accordance with truth;" "...and yet do them yourself;" "...the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience;" "...God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance;" "...hard and impenitent heart;" "storing up wrath for yourself;" "...seek for glory and honour and immortality;" "...eternal life;" "...wickedness;" "...wrath and fury;" "...God shows no partiality."


2) If I believed in hell, I know who would be burning in it.  Paul's message seems so clear to me, "stop judging other people."  It isn't even "stop doing the things you are condemning others for doing."  Paul is clear, we can only stop doing what we don't want to do by the grace of God.  Here, Paul is only concerned about one "side" condemning the other "side."  Stop it, he says.  God shows no partiality.  We are all condemned and only redeemed through God's enduring love.  Seeking glory and honour and immortality means not taking the responsibility of condemning other people onto ourselves, but rather loving them back into community.  So how do we apply this to "white nationalists" and 45?  I know that we should use them as a mirror to see the ways in which we too support white privilege and supremacy.  To dismantle white supremacy at its very roots... our own hearts.  Do we really believe that every human being is made in the image and likeness of God?  I don't witness that belief in my day to day workings.  I witness a lot of behaviour that proclaims, "God is more in this person than that person."  We have a healthy dose of works righteousness going on here.  But I witness a great deal of latent racism in our community.  We do a lot of "charity" rather than "relationship."  But how do I model "relationship" rather than "charity?"


3) What is the invitation in all this?  To make my relationships with diverse people more visible?  To model egalitarian relationship more explicitly?


"Holy One, we are struggling through this transformation.  Keep us kicking.  Give us what we need to break free from the cocoon into a transformed life."


Breathprayer: "in accordance with truth... seek for glory and honour."

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

"Therefore... No Excuse."

I ask for the grace to pray faithfully.  May we receive what is needed for us to be present to the world as it is.  May we seek to follow Christ and deepen our discipleship, whatever the cost.  May we be open to making the changes we can to proclaim the presence of the Kingdom of God to all God's peoples.


Romans 1:24-2:1
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. 29They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious towards parents, 31foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32They know God’s decree, that those who practise such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practise them. 2Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.


1) "degrading passion;" "...received in their own person the due penalty for their error;" "...did not see fit to acknowledge God;" "...filled with every kind of wickedness;" "...those who practise such things deserve to die;" "There fore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things."


2) My first thought is how amazing that for centuries the church read the first chapter to justify judging "sodomy" and yet neglected to read the first verse of chapter 2: "for in in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things."  Paul will go on in Romans to demonstrate how the Jewish judgement of the Gentiles only contemns the Jews because it isn't in following the law, but by grace that all are saved.  All are "condemned," so that all may be "saved."  I wish I could internalize the first verse of chapter 2.  But I judge so easily.  And I'm filled with judgement about what's been happening with the "white nationalist" movement in the states.  I know that condemning them and asserting they are horribly wrong will never open them to alternative education.  Nor does it help me educate my own people about our own participation in white privilege/supremacy.  Yes, white nationalists have taken their privilege to an extreme, but the difference from our own reality is only in degree, not kind. 


3) What is the invitation in all this?  To find the opportunity to examine our own blind spots in relation to people who are not "like us;" to expose our tokenism for what it is; to confess our comfort with the way things are; to seek ways of being open to a more egalitarian model for relationships in particular between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people in our context.


"Holy One, help us remember that you are the only judge."


Breathprayer: "Therefore... no excuse."



Monday, 14 August 2017

"Claiming to Be Wise... They Became Fools."

As I move into passages of scripture that have been used as weapons to hurt LGBTQ people for hundreds of years, I ask to remain present to the text, present to the world, and present to the spirit that moves through me the world and the text. 


Romans 1:19-23
19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21for though they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.


1) "eternal power;" "...divine nature;" "...understood and seen through the things he has made;" "...they knew God;" "...futile in their thinking;" "...their senseless minds were darkened;" "...Claiming to be wise, they became fools;"


2) "Claiming to be wise, they became fools."  That's common enough.  I know this in myself.  It is probably one of the things that produced the greatest shame in me: when I realized I don't know what I'm talking about.  Especially in those moments when I wax on for some time about something I'm sure I know and then someone points out that I'm mistaken.  And while realizing I'm wrong produces huge shame in me, when I'm aware that someone else is talking about something they know nothing about, it makes me unreasonably angry... that's shadow.  I can't listen to Trump talk about anything.  Shameless son of a bachelor... I've read ahead and know that this is all Paul leading up to "stop judging people, because when you judge them you are judging yourself."  But "stop judging" is easier said than done.  But a place in my heart does get it.  I'd be more free if I stopped judging.  My judgements hold me captive.  They make me foolish when I think I'm wise.


3)  What is the invitation in all this?  "love the sinner, hate the sin" really just doesn't work.  Just stop hating.  Let God be the one and only judge.


"Holy One, help me know what is plain about you, understood and seen through the things you have made."


Breathprayer: "Claiming to be wise... they became fools."

Sunday, 13 August 2017

"I Am Not Ashamed... Live by Faith."

I ask for the grace to remain present to a world that has gone mad, to remain informed, alert, and concerned, without being overwhelmed by despair, helplessness, and grief.  I ask for the grace to hear and speak truth, and the courage live justice.


Romans 1:16-18
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, ‘The one who is righteous will live by faith.’ 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth.


1) "the power of God;" "...to everyone;" "...to the Jew first and also to the Greek;" "...The one who is righteous will live by faith;" "...by their wickedness suppress the truth;"


2) The truth is that the Bible was not written by white European people.  It wasn't written about white European people. It wasn't written for white European people.  When most of the Bible was written,  white European people weren't even on the map of civilized people.  When most of the Bible was written, most white European people were considered illiterate savages to the north.  My heart is so heavy with what is happening in Virginia right now.  But I know that I don't need to travel to Virginia to find white supremist thinking.  People are faithless, we have no trust.  I feel shame for a species that cannot learn to live in peace.  When we have trust, it is God in us giving us what we need.  Give us what we need O God, to stay present to this reality, to look at ourselves and see how we participate and benefit from privilege we did not earn.


3) What is the invitation in all this?  To affirm the power of diversity in the community "the Jew" and "the Greek" (as Paul is writing to the Romans).  To affirm the little things we are doing to create refuge for diverse people: class, race, culture, age, sex, orientation, gender...


"Holy One, teach us the gospel that we might not be ashamed."


Breathprayer: "I am not ashamed... live by faith."