Darkness Never Sustains

“Darkness never sustains!” — Dr. Who (Thirteenth)

From the Daily Lectionary for Jan 7: Colossians 1:1-14

(1:13-14) “He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and relocated us in the realm of his beloved Child, in whom we have freedom— letting go of our fatal flaws.”

(My hodgepodge transliteration)

Lately, I’m all about using alternative words instead of the oh-so-familiar words from scripture that we all know— “Sin”; “Redemption”; “Son of God”; “Deliverance” and so on..

I usually get all involved in looking up the meaning of the Greek words in various sources, and also trying to sort out what the cultural context might have been of certain words.

Today I got hung up on the word “hamartia” which is usually translated as “sin” or “transgressions”. Those words have collected an odor of guilt and punishment, but I don’t think the word hamartia originally had that particular stink.

It was Aristotle who first used the word, in his book “Poetics”. He lived about 300 years before the Christ E…


Psalm 68

God settles the solitary in a home;
he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land. (ESV)

I remember being struck before by the first line of verse 6, and so of course I was drawn to the same verse.. but what stood out for me this time was the phrase, “the rebellious.” I immediately recognized those rebellious types eking out their time in the dry land, because that’s where I am right now. But I wasn’t thinking along the lines of staggering survivors with cracked lips and sunburn blisters. No, it was more like I imagined being in a bare, unadorned, ordinary place; a mundane locale; a bit dreary. I had to ask myself, “Am I here in the dry land because I’m rebellious, or am I rebellious because I’m here in the dry land?”

At this point, Old Man Zen suddenly turns into Coyote; sneaks up behind my back; steals my canteen, and then runs up to the top of the mesa, looks down at me, and cackles —

“Now you’ve really got something to whine about, …

Why and How

I keep seeing honest, faithful people (or people who wish they were faithful; or who are resentful because they can’t see the sense in being faithful) asking this heartfelt question: “Why?”

“Why did God let that happen? God is supposed to be the All-Mighty; the All-Knowing; the General of the Heavenly Army, so why doesn’t God get up off his Celestial Throne and come down here and fix things?”

I have to confess, this question doesn’t make much sense to me.

There has never been a single moment in my life in which I was the least bit tempted to worship the kind of God who is separate from me. My single greatest aversion to that sort of God lies in my understanding that power cannot be exercised unless it is exercised in the favor of one thing over another. Power is always preferential.

It wasn’t until several people showed me a different picture of God that my resistance dissolved. It wasn’t until someone taught me a different way of reading Scripture that my heart softened, and my fear wa…


Emmanuel: the name means, “God with Us.”

Has it occurred to anyone that Jesus was a bastard? That there were no virgins; no stable; no inn?

Think it through.. if God’s Spirit moves in us and through us, as well as through all of Creation; if we are God’s hands and feet and voice, then how about we re-imagine how the Christ Event came to pass?

Let’s extract the core elements of the Christmas story:

First there is a pregnant teenager, Mary, engaged to a man that is not the father of her child.

Then there’s Joseph deciding whether it’s in his best interests to marry this girl or not.

Then there are the shepherds, who were considered untrustworthy day-laborers; pushed to the edges of respectable society, and viewed with a suspicious eye.

The preacher at midnight mass last night said some interesting things, many of which caused me to roll my eyes a bit, but buried in his text were shining glints of something new.

He talked about how we tell this same Christmas story over and over again…

Christmas Gatha

I like being alone at Christmas;

the Winter Solstice.

In the early dark

I can feel the turn of the earth

beginning to circle back again

toward light and warmth.

In the cold quiet

I can hear things unfolding;

small unnoticed gifts

being slowly unwrapped.

In the grip of years

I can smell all my clocks burning;

life’s heart well-lit

in all the faces around the bonfire.

In the stealthy dawn

I can see past the world’s remotest edge;

the vivid border

where all the lost things have gone—

Gone utterly Beyond.


There Was No Inn—

“Katalyma” is the Greek word for a room set aside for guests in a household. It appears three times in the New Testament, twice in Luke (one of which is a parallel passage to Mark 14:14) and once in Mark.

Luke 2:7

and she gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in cloth and laid him down in a feeding trough, because there was no space for them in the living-quarters.

Mark 14:14

14 and whichever house he enters, tell him that the Rabbi says, ‘Where is the guest room for me, where I am to eat the Pesach meal with my talmidim?’

So, I have this nativity scene that I really like, and I’ve been collecting figures for it for years. I just went and got a new “stable” too, with an awning and a balcony. It was St. Francis in 1223 who made the first nativity display in a cave in Greccio, Italy. I suspect that the medieval context of “inns” and “mangers” was what led to the idea that the “inn” in the Bible was an inn for travelers, with an attached stable for those gue…

Via Negativa

For silence is not God, 

nor speaking is not God;

fasting is not God, 

nor eating is not God; 

onliness is not God, 

nor company is not God

nor yet any of all 

the other such two contraries. 

He is hid between them,

and may not be found 

by any work of thy soul, 

but all only by love of thine heart. 

He may not be known by reason, 

He may not be gotten by thought, 

nor concluded by understanding; 

but He may be loved and chosen