Showing posts from July, 2018

Other Gods

Psalm 139:1-17
7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!

If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
Joshua 23
15 But just as all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the Lord will bring upon you all the evil things, until he has destroyed you from off this good land that the Lord your God has given you, 16 if you transgress the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them.
Matthew 27:11-23
13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” 14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

My reflection started with the reading from Joshua in which the only phrase that really jumped out at me was, “other gods.” I started to get tangled up in trying to read between the lines of what sounded like an abusive, authoritari…

Potter's Field

Matthew 27: 1-10

3 When Y’hudah, who had betrayed him, saw that Yeshua had been condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the head cohanim and elders, 4 saying, “I sinned in betraying an innocent man to death.” “What is that to us?” they answered. “That’s your problem.” 5 Hurling the pieces of silver into the sanctuary, he left; then he went off and hanged himself. 6 The head cohanim took the silver coins and said, “It is prohibited to put this into the Temple treasury, because it is blood money.” 7 So they decided to use it to buy the potter’s field as a cemetery for foreigners.

Wow. Just….wow.

Blood money.  The priests seem to have been unaware of the irony that it was their own actions which tainted the money in the first place. It also seems that it never occurred to them that their own agent would repudiate them by returning the money. Talk about cognitive dissonance!

‘Dirty’ money; ‘blood’ money; ‘tainted’ money; ‘toxic’ money; money ‘laundering…

It Works Both Ways!

More from the Bendowa:

“After the initial meeting with a [good] counselor we never again need to burn incense, to do prostrations, to recite Buddha’s name, to practice confession, or to read sutras. Just sit and get the state which is free of body and mind. If a human being even for a single moment, manifests the Buddha’s posture in the three forms of conduct, while [that person] sits up straight in samadhi, the entire world of Dharma assumes the Buddha’s posture and the whole of space becomes the state of realization.”

I met with a so-called Zen teacher 5 or 6 years ago who creeped me out. I’ve stopped trying to figure out why, because eventually I met another Zen teacher who fit this quote from Dōgen pretty well. He sort of annoyed me in the beginning, but I never got that creepy feeling. I have since read in several different places that any good Zen teacher is going to be annoying. It’s kind of the whole point.

Anyway, the thing I keep on noticing is that it really isn’t about what …

Woe to Us!

Romans 14:1-12 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

14 Now as for a person whose trust is weak, welcome him — but not to get into arguments over opinions. 2 One person has the trust that will allow him to eat anything, while another whose trust is weak eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats anything must not look down on the one who abstains; and the abstainer must not pass judgment on the one who eats anything, because God has accepted him — 4 who are you to pass judgment on someone else’s servant? It is before his own master that he will stand or fall; and the fact is that he will stand, because the Lord is able to make him stand.
5 One person considers some days more holy than others, while someone else regards them as being all alike. What is important is for each to be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes a day as special does so to honor the Lord. Also he who eats anything, eats to honor the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; likewise the abstainer abstains to honor the Lo…

Easy In The Truth

Bendowa Chapter One (Nishijima/Cross translation of Shōbōgenzō)

Dōgen traveled all around visiting good teachers and completing the great task of a lifetime of practice. (My paraphrase) He says:
“I came home determined to spread the Dharma and to save living beings—it was as if a heavy burden had been placed on my shoulders. Nevertheless, in order to wait for an upsurge during which I might discharge my sense of mission, I thought I would spend some time wandering like a cloud, calling here and there like a water weed, in the style of the ancient sages. Yet if there were any true practitioners who put the will to the truth first, being naturally unconcerned with fame and profit, they might be fruitlessly misled by false teachers and might needlessly throw a veil over right understanding. They might idly become drunk with self-deception, and sink forever into the state of delusion. How would they be able to promote the right seeds of prajna, or have the opportunity to attain the truth? I…

Reflection on Pelagius

The Solitaries in the Lindisfarne Community are currently involved in doing personal reflections on a quote from Pelagius which appears in the preface to our prayer book "A Way of Living":

“If you are to have a rule to guide you, who is to write that rule? You ask me to do so, but I am not qualified. I cannot claim to be any wiser than you, so I could not presume to formulate any kind of law for you to follow. Should Jesus write your rule? The teaching of Jesus must be the primary guide for any disciple. Yet Jesus did not give clear rules. Jesus gave us stories whose meaning is infinitely profound; and Jesus gave us sermons in which every sentence and even every word is pregnant with truth. We cannot reduce these stories and sermons to a set of laws…If you wish to formulate a rule you must listen to your own conscience and discern these principles. Write down with your own hand on paper what God has written with God’s hand on the human heart.”
Here is my reflection:

I’m going…

Be Ready!

Deut. 34: 1-12
The greatest prophet of all. That’s what the passage calls Moses—

10 Since that time there has not arisen in Isra’el a prophet like Moshe, whom Adonai knew face to face. 11 What signs and wonders Adonai sent him to perform in the land of Egypt upon Pharaoh, all his servants and all his land! 12 What might was in his hand! What great terror he evoked before the eyes of all Isra’el!

But his is also the saddest story. God tells him, “Enough!” and withholds the fulfillment of the Promise, even though he gets to see the whole extent of the Land he has led his people to find. Instead he’s told that he is going to die. He does die, and is mourned by a whole people, who then bury him in an unmarked grave and travel on. No one builds a monument or a mausoleum for the great man.
I think that this is a Bodhisattva story. The unfulfilled promise and the loyalty without reward; the impossible task and the relinquishing of desire. See how the unmarked grave makes the whole earth Moshe’s …

Turning Away

Deut. 31: 7-13,24-30 & 32: 1-4 (Deut. 31 & 32)
16 Adonai said to Moshe, …… But this people will get up and offer themselves as prostitutes to the foreign gods of the land where they are going. When they are with those gods, they will abandon me and break my covenant which I have made with them. 17 Then my anger will flare up, and I will abandon them and hide my face from them. (from the redacted portion of the text)
Romans 10: 1-13
3 for, since they are unaware of God’s way of making people righteous and instead seek to set up their own, they have not submitted themselves to God’s way of making people righteous. 4 For the goal at which the Torah aims is the Messiah, who offers righteousness to everyone who trusts.
Matthew 24: 15-31
15 “So when you see the abomination that causes devastation spoken about through the prophet Dani’el standing in the Holy Place” (let the reader understand the allusion [to Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 12:11] …)
26 So if people say to you, ‘Listen! He’s out in the…


Psalm 18
19 (18) They came against me on my day of disaster,
but Adonai was my support.
20 (19) He brought me out to an open place;
he rescued me, because he took pleasure in me.

Deut. 3: 18-28
26 But Adonai was angry with me on account of you, and he didn’t listen to me. Adonai said to me, ‘Enough from you! Don’t say another word to me about this matter!

Romans 9: 19-33
20 Who are you, a mere human being, to talk back to God? Will what is formed say to him who formed it, “Why did you make me this way?”

Matthew 24: 1-14

4 Yeshua replied: “Watch out! Don’t let anyone fool you!

“Out to an open place.” I said exactly that. I found myself in that “open place” and that is just how I described it to my friends afterward. I came out of the tight place, the suffocating place, the place of constriction and compression. I was relieved. There are all these familiar words whose meaning has been smothered: ‘saved’; ‘delivered’; ‘relieved’; ‘rescued’.  In that open place, I expanded. There was no more smother…


Daily Office Lectionary for Morning Prayer 7-9-18 (I started it yesterday and didn’t finish…..)

Romans 8: 26-30 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:26-30 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
26 Similarly, the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we don’t know how to pray the way we should. But the Spirit himself pleads on our behalf with groanings too deep for words; 27 and the one who searches hearts knows exactly what the Spirit is thinking, because his pleadings for God’s people accord with God’s will. 28 Furthermore, we know that God causes everything to work together for…


I'm giving the homily at my church this morning, so I thought I would just publish my text as my blog post today.... (Ezekiel 2:1-5 —2 Corinthians 12:2-10 — Mark 6:1-13)
This is only the second sermon that I’ve ever actually preached in front of people. My theme today is Trust, which is particularly apt, because I’m so aware that for me to stand up here in front of you all is an act of trust. I trust you. I trust you to put up with me, even if there is a lot to put up with. And I’m pretty sure that you trust me too, at least a little bit. So, what is this thing called Trust? Now, I’m going to go all academic and talk about the Greek word that is most often translated as “Faith”, or “Belief”: Pistis— which literally means “persuasion”— to ‘bepersuaded’, to ‘come to trust.’ One of my favorite Bible translations, The Complete Jewish Bible, consistently uses the word ‘trust’ in preference to the word ‘faith.’ (I think I like it because it works exactly like the Greek word, in that it …

Event Horizon

Psalm 137
9 A blessing on anyone who seizes your babies
and smashes them against a rock!

Numbers 24: 12-25

(Didn’t I tell you..) I could not of my own accord go beyond the word of Adonai to do either good or bad?

Romans 8: 18-25

But if we see what we hope for, it isn’t hope — after all, who hopes for what he already sees?

Matthew 22: 23-40

29 Yeshua answered them, “The reason you go astray is that you are ignorant both of the Tanakh and of the power of God.

I’ve started to recognize passages that I’ve written posts about in the past. I decided to go back and read what I’ve written before, but to resist following the same contemplative pathways.
That said, I still have to go back and climb on one particular soapbox: My utter rejection of the practice of editing and redacting Scripture in the interest of political correctness. Psalm 137 is the one that inevitably has verse 9 redacted. That’s the verse about smashing babies on a rock. If you would like to know what I wrote about this passage pre…

Heigh Ho

Psalm 142
By the road that I am walking
they have hidden a snare for me.

Numbers 24: 1-13
“I summoned you to curse my enemies. But here, you have done nothing but bless them — three times already!"

Romans 8: 12-17
15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to bring you back again into fear...

Matthew 22: 15-22

“You hypocrites! Why are you trying to trap me?

The Way:
Snares, contrariness, fear, and traps. That’s samsara, is what that is. The literal meaning of “samsara” is “continuous flow.” If you want a synonym for ‘samsara’ maybe “flux” would do.

Necks in a noose, getting the opposite of what we expect, being betrayed by freedom, and hearing our own double-dealing words echo in our ears. There’s no escaping it, until we stop trying to escape it. That’s when all the sticky tangles just dissolve without even a sizzle. Where did they go? Who cares?
There are so many clues embedded in our language that tell us what we already know:
“There ya go.” —  “It is what it is.” — “Even so.” — “Can’…