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Showing posts from February, 2018

Wasteland

Mark 4:1-20
(My transliteration from the Mounce Greek Interlinear)
and saying— “at the very same time, you have been entrusted with the mystery of the realm of God, but to those outside everything appears as something to be compared with something else;
‘so that they see but don’t see, and they hear, but don’t hear with wisdom— otherwise they might turn back and be released.’” (or ‘turn back and let themselves relax.’)


Jesus is quoting Isaiah 6:9–10 “‘Yes, you hear, but you don’t understand. You certainly see, but you don’t get the point!’” (CJB) or “Go and say to people, ‘You hear—but you hear without making sense of it! You see— but you see without noticing!’ Glut their hearts, weigh down their ears, narrow their eyes— just in case their eyes should see; ears hear; hearts understand; and they should turn back to be healed.” (My transliteration from the Hebrew Interlinear.)
In the very next verse, Isaiah says, “My God, How Long?” and God tells him until all is a waste and an utter desolat…

Enough For Us

Today’s reflection is a bit roundabout. It started from the Daily Lectionary and the Complete Jewish Bible translation of1 Corinthians 5:1-8: Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know the saying, “It takes only a little hametz to leaven a whole batch of dough?” Get rid of the old hametz, so that you can be a new batch of dough, because in reality you are unleavened. For our Pesach lamb, the Messiah, has been sacrificed. So let us celebrate the Seder not with leftover hametz, the hametz of wickedness and evil, but with the matzah of purity and truth.
I looked up hametz, Seder, and matzah so that I could be sure that I knew what the words meant. I got distracted while I was reading about Seder by a mention of a traditional Seder song, “Dayenu;”— which means literally “Enough to us.” It’s usually translated as “It would have been enough,” but I like “That’s enough for us.” I was struck by the intention behind the song, and I thought it would be useful to cast it into New Testament l…

Untwisting Time

I found this reflection while I was looking for one I published previously on the same passage from Corinthians as today’s Lectionary reading, but when I found it, it didn’t really seem relevant, so I decided not to use it. There was only one phrase that shone out in the readings for today: “Then he went home.” I didn’t connect it with the following reflection until afterward, but nevertheless, there is a connection I can’t really explain. Where is Jesus’s home, exactly? Where is ours?


Anyway, I was struck deeply by this reflection, which was written before I began to publish this blog.
I had been reading the introductions to my various translations of the Bible, and ran across something in the introduction to one of my King James Bibles, a reference edition published by Thomas Nelson: “But God had promised to redeem man from sin.” It was in reference to the beliefs of the Jews at the time Jesus was born. This phrase kicked off a whole train of thought at the time. Much of what follow…

Psalm 88

1 Yahweh, Holder of the day of my rescue,
I cry in the night, right in your face.
2 She will come to you, this prayer of mine;
stretch out your ears to my pleading.
3 She is glutted with miseries, this soul of mine;
my life touches the Unseen.
4 I am counted with the ones who go down;
those who belong to the tomb;
It turns out that I’m master of nothing;
of no-one— I’m powerless.
5 I’m in among the dead ones,
as free as the wounded ones that lie in the grave;
the ones you don’t remember any more.
They are out of your reach—cut off.
6 You put me down in the under-tomb of the lowest ones;
among the shadows below, in the darkest depths.
7 Your fury bears down hard on me;
Your crashing surf breaks over me— I’m at a loss.
—Behold—
8 You took everyone who knows me far away;
you made me disgusting to them.
Now I’m in prison and there’s no escape.
9 I keep on looking for everything that’s missing;
My soul feels small, like a kid that’s been sent to her room.
I call your name all day long; I reach out with empt…

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.

Whirlwind

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.



Lent

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…

Midrash

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…

"Mindfulness"

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 …