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Showing posts from 2018

A Request to My Readers

It looks to me as if I have between 6 and 18 faithful viewers of my blog out there. I'd like to ask you all, if you are moved to comment, please do so. I would very much like to know what my readers make of my offerings.
I'm also venturing into the realm of homiletics, and will be preaching my first sermon (for real!) this coming July. I could use some feedback, to help me in crafting a homily that will actually say what I want it to say, and mean what I intend it to mean.
So, having some of your responses to my blog posts would let me know a little bit more about how what I say is being understood.
Thank you all out there who read my blog, whoever you are.


This is a reflection that grew out of the readings a couple of Sundays ago, combined with my Zen assignment for the week, which was to pay attention to silence. It was the Transfiguration, which I’d never realized is commemorated twice in the church calendar. Apparently, this is because it is one of the ‘epiphanies’ marked in the season of Epiphany, as well as having its very own feast day on August 6. ‘Epiphany’ can be translated as ‘manifestation’ or ‘realization’. A “Season of Realization,” how cool is that?
The OT reading that Sunday (which was 2 Kings 2:1-12 about Elisha and Elijah and the whirlwind) sort of rolled everything up together in my understanding. It wasn’t until last night in class that words began to come, though.
What struck me most in the reading was Elisha saying three times, to three different gaggles of gossipy prophets: “I know, be silent!”
More about silence, from the other readings: “Our God will come and will not keep silence;” and “As they were coming down the…

Psalm 37

This is a paraphrase of part of Psalm 37, following the translation from the Hebrew pretty closely. It's an installment of the work I'm doing with another solitary in the Lindisfarne Community. I've used contemporary language, and been a bit creative in substituting a variety of Names of God in place of YWH, Adonai, and so-on. I apologize for the incompleteness, but it really takes a long time to work through a psalm in this way. On several occasions, I've spent all day on one psalm, and still not finished it. I found myself unprepared for what happens whenever I read back over the whole of what I've written in a given psalm: the psalm suddenly has a voice, speaking right next to me in the room. I hope that happens to you too, my readers, and not just to me.

1 You mustn’t get hot-headed in thinking of evil done,
or be resentful in putting up with unfairness.

2 Just like grass suddenly mowed down
or plants sprayed with weed-killer—
all that will rot away.

3 Trust in Light…

Ash Wednesday

This Lent will be odd. I am giving up the previous format of following the Daily Office Lectionary.
I'm hoping my practice of intentional silence will allow things to swim up from the depths, and fly in from the far-away horizons, in some form that will allow me to enact them in the written word.

I'm going to start with an old poem about Lent that I wrote years ago, upon finding out that the word "Lent" is actually "Lengthen." It's a contraction along the same lines as "Bedlam" for "Bethlehem."
It refers to the lengthening days as the earth rolls along toward Spring.


Cold the earth turns
From the old dark.
Longer the sun burns;
Higher the day’s mark.

Over the world edge
Wider the light leans.
Over the gray hedge
Softer the wind keens.

Run To Win

(In response to Abbess Jane’s Lectionary Musings on the phrase in the NRSV from 1 Corinthians 9,
“I punish my body and enslave it.”)
Here is the same passage from The Complete Jewish Bible:
22 With the “weak” I became “weak,” in order to win the “weak.” With all kinds of people I have become all kinds of things, so that in all kinds of circumstances I might save at least some of them.
23 But I do it all because of the rewards promised by the Good News, so that I may share in them along with the others who come to trust. 24 Don’t you know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one wins the prize? So then, run to win! 25 Now every athlete in training submits himself to strict discipline, and he does it just to win a laurel wreath that will soon wither away. But we do it to win a crown that will last forever. 26 Accordingly, I don’t run aimlessly but straight for the finish line; I don’t shadow-box but try to make every punch count. 27 I treat my body hard and make it my slave so…


I just took a look at a website about contemporary midrash, and realized with a little thrill of delight that what I am doing by recording my lectio divina reflections is essentially midrash. There was a story on that website that spoke to me. It was about a workshop with adults and children in which the participants were invited to imagine that they were a person or thing from the Torah. One said the Menorah in the Temple, one a panther in the desert, and one little girl said that she was the rainbow after the flood. A few minutes later the rainbow put up her hand and said that she had changed her mind. The leader asked her what she was now and she said, “I’m still a rainbow, but I’m the Red Sea Rainbow.” The leader said, “We’ve never heard of that before,” and asked the little girl to tell more. The little girl jumped up and said, “I’m the rainbow that pushed the waters apart,” and did a backbend to demonstrate. The leader said that there was a sharp intake of breath in the group at…


I've come to the conclusion that my current endeavor of studying the Psalms might be a bit esoteric, and not really able to support the kind of reflection I usually post. Give me time, though, I'm hoping I might be able to actually apply the discipline of Lectio Divina to the psalm study.  In the meantime, this morning I got involved in a digression responding to a friend's post on Facebook about an article in The Guardian which asked the question, "Is mindfulness making us ill?" I thought it was worth saving and posting, so here you are...
"Hoo boy. Don't know where to start. I've always been terribly suspicious of what I call "self-help Zen," and this article reinforces my skepticism even further. Traditionally and historically meditation was never meant to function as a panacea. There are many cautionary tales about things like "meditation sickness" and Zen even has a term for the "uncanny realm" -- makyo, which they …


Just a note to my few but loyal readers. I've had to buy a new computer, and due to unforeseen pirated software on my old computer, I will not be posting new reflections until I can get Office installed on the new computer. That should happen today, Monday 1-29. I should be back up and running on all cylinders sometime this week.

Psalm 19

Another member of the Lindisfarne Community and I are embarking on a course of study of the Psalms. We are looking at them primarily as poetry, and investigating things like cultural context, poetic conventions, authorship, liturgical use, and textual interpretation. Fun, eh?

Psalm 19
The heavens tell God’s glory,
and His handiwork sky declares.
Day to day breathes utterance
and night to night pronounces knowledge.
There is no utterance and there are no words,
their voice is never heard.
Through all the earth their voice goes out,
to the world’s edge, their words.
(David Alter translation)

2 (1) The heavens declare the glory of God,
the dome of the sky speaks the work of his hands.
3 (2) Every day it utters speech,
every night it reveals knowledge.
4 (3) Without speech, without a word,
without their voices being heard,
5 (4) their line goes out through all the earth
and their words to the end of the world.
(Complete Jewish Bible)

Day to day uttereth speech, And night to night sheweth knowledge.

Two Men

Genesis 14:1-24 18 Malki-Tzedek king of Shalem brought out bread and wine. He was cohen of El ‘Elyon [God Most High], 19 so he blessed him with these words: Hebrews 8:1-13 But now the work Yeshua has been given to do is far superior to theirs, just as the covenant he mediates is better. For this covenant has been given as Torah on the basis of better promises. John 4:43-54 48 Yeshua answered, “Unless you people see signs and miracles, you simply will not trust!”
I’m cheating today. The name ‘Melchizedek’ has always haunted me, so I whimsically Googled “Melchizedek poems.” I’d never heard of Ucalegon before, but I was struck by the fact that “ucalegon” is actually an idiom-word in English which means “neighbor whose house is on fire.” I thought that was frighteningly apt, in view of the world we live in today.
Two Men by Edwin Arlington Robinson
There be two men of all mankind That I should like to know about; But search and question where I will, I cannot ever find them out.
Melchizedek he …

Go To Yourself

Genesis 11:27-12:8
Parashah 3: Lekh L’kha (Get yourself out) 12:1–17:27
12 Now Adonai said to Avram, “Get yourself out of your country, away from your kinsmen and away from your father’s house, and go to the land that I will show you.
{“A look at the Hebrew in this sentence, however, reveals a peculiarity. The word “Lech” is the command, second person form of the word, “L’lechet“–“to go.” The next word, “l’cha,” is an article which tells us that the previous word is meant to be in the second person (for example, “Ten lecha” would mean “give to you”). Since the form of the verb “to go” the Bible uses is already in the second person form, the word “lecha” is superfluous. Commentators offer various meanings of this extra article, translating the sentence as “Go for yourself,” “Go by yourself” or “Go to yourself.”} (This is a commentary by Joel Lynn in, and he also says that ‘go to yourself’ is his favorite of the various translatio…

Grow Up!

Hebrews 6:1-12 (CJB)
6 Therefore, leaving behind the initial lessons about the Messiah, let us go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of turning from works that lead to death, trusting God, 2 and instruction about washings, s’mikhah (blessing, laying on of hands), the resurrection of the dead and eternal punishment. 3 And, God willing, this is what we will do.
4 For when people have once been enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, become sharers in the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), 5 and tasted the goodness of God’s Word and the powers of the ‘olam haba (world to come) — 6 and then have fallen away — it is impossible to renew them so that they turn from their sin, as long as for themselves they keep executing the Son of God on the stake all over again and keep holding him up to public contempt. 7 For the land that soaks up frequent rains and then brings forth a crop useful to its owners receives a blessing from God; 8 but if it keeps producing thorns and thistles, it fails t…

Until Whenever

All those days with the window closed, and even then The Venerable Noah chooses a raven.
He should have known that old bird would just go out and fly around, back and forth, until whenever.
If the result doesn’t suit you, I guess you can just keep trying—doves are better than ravens for that.
Still, it doesn’t pay to be too sure, it’s better to wait until even the trustworthy dove has left for good.

Main Case
Genesis 8:6-22
After forty days Noach opened the window of the ark which he had built; and he sent out a raven, which flew back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. Then he sent out a dove, to see if the water had gone from the surface of the ground. But the dove found no place for her feet to rest, so she returned to him in the ark, because the water still covered the whole earth. He put out his hand, took her and brought her in to him in the ark. 10 He waited another seven days and again sent the dove out from the ark. 11 The dove came in to him in …