When the keepers of thee Sacred get Scared the Message is Lost

The One Task of the Real Church - For Such a Time as This

What does it mean to Be the Real Church?

Leadership of a Congregation a Community or a Nation demands authentic, audacious, and authoritative presence. They are critically important, as is “Truth” from all perspectives, perceptions, and precepts.  Soren Kierkegaard said, “To know the Truth and not Be the Truth is to embellish that very Truth with error!”

I am concerned, as a member of the community of faith in the United Church of Christ and a church consultant, that churches remain non-partisan.  Just saying you are non-partisan while speaking against the current administration is partisan. Saying you are non-partisan and speaking for eh current administration is partisan.  All voices need to be heard, honored, and honestly and respectfully responded to not reacted to.. The church is called primarily to love all people regardless of anything about them.  The church is called to challenge any position or posture of leadership while respecting the same. We are not called to label people or positions.  When we do we reveal our own institutional bias and prejudice while confronting the bass and prejudice of others. Jesus said “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.  How do we as “the real church” do that?

Our primary responsibility in relationship with those in authority and leadership over us is:  to Pray for them.  Pray for Our President!  That is the call that should be going forth from every steeple, dome, or mosque.  Zechariah reminds us that it is “not by might nor by power but by My Spirit” that internal and external change is achieved.   God’s leading and direction has no partisanship associated with it and leaves to God changing what needs to be changed by God. Changing our attitude of political and social action will change our society. Attitudes precede actions and from them.  As a church we simply and profoundly model humility and honesty: “speaking what we believe to be true with compassion and love” before others who believe differently.  It is not declaring that our judgment or position is right and others wrong which reveals our bias and prejudice.  

When Mordecai suggested to Esther that she might be placed in her position of influence for “such a time as this”, it was not lobbying for a political position but to promote the discovery of truth.  The modern day version may be “Speaking truth to power” which is different than speaking in opposition to those in power.  We need to pray for all our congresspeople and justices because they are in their positions for such a time as this.  Please also note that Esther risked everything when she with a vital and vibrant balance of boldness and humility approached the King.  Remember Jesus words, “The meek shall inherit the earth”.

Could it be that we are called “in such a time as this” to pray in massive and momentous gatherings that demonstrates unity from all and of all faiths.  Not great speeches but powerful prayers shook the whole world in the first century because the church prayed.  The church prayed for Saul of Tarsus and all those who persecuted the church.  Saul became Paul.

Please do not misunderstand my point here.  My primary point is not that we should not speak out march or demonstrate (I have and will) but that all we do as the “United Church of Christ” is to be dome in the mindset and humility of Christ.  “in God and in Christ we are all one, we all deserve “liberty and justice”.

Speaking the truth as we see it and respecting the truth as others see it,  is living the Truth. Jesus lived and modeled truth more than trying to direct people to any particular version of the truth.  John reminds us that Jesus was “the Truth and the Grace” of God in dynamic tension and in designated tenderness.  He never addressed the political aristocracy as that was not his focus.  HIs focus was the hearts and minds of people which can be changed in the power of the Spirit. When in peace we express the power of love to transform the most misled of people, we are the church.

Let us Pray for Our President, united together as one, with commitment to the transforming power of prayer and Spirit.

“A proactive church is not a reactive church, love never fails”

Rev. Dr. Don Paine, member of

The United Church of Christ in Stockbridge, MA.

Days of Darkness or Days of Light

Where are we and where are we going

In the Never ending story there is a “Sea of Sadness” that overwhelms and sucks everyone into it.

Today I hear people everywhere either talking about “a time of darkness, depression, sadness”.  On November 9th a new president was elected and on January 20th he was sworn into the Office of President of the United States.  More people showed up the following day to protest his election that came to support him on Inauguration Day.

I was unaware we were in a popularity contest.  I hear all the negative jabs and feel all the negative vibes.  Really what doe the expression “Not my president” mean?  Often half of the people in America want one person to be their president and another is elected.  This year is no different except for this wave of negativity.

John Keats said it was the genius of the creative to have the capacity to see both sides of anything and everyone.  John Keats would say in an effort to settle the negativity, “he may not be your president (because you did not want him nor voted for him) however he is your president because nearly half of you fellow Americans voted him in.  Good old American core values of maturity and mutual respectfulness invites the other half of America to grow up and let go of control and perhaps watch everything settle down.  Our president is human, maybe too human for some of us to embrace.  But inside of all of us if we are as Keats would say courageous enough to see it, “implicit racism, sexism, sectarianism, bias and prejudice” but hopefully we are mature enough to acknowledge them and not be stalled up by them into a “Sea of Sadness”.

Conversely, we are able to swim in a “Sea of Gladness” that is full of Compassion, Clarity, and Courage”.

I am not a Trump Supporter nor am I endorsing him.  I am endorsing positivity as an attribute that sees negativity as the key to balance and harmony only when with maturity there is mutual respectfulness with leads to creative resolve to see what can be (faith), creative dissolving of differences (hope), and creative expressions of prayer and care for all literally all (love).

That is America home the brave who can handle anything and of the free where the poorest and richest of kids can one day be president of our nation.

 

 

 

 

www.keatsian.co.uk/negative-capability.php

Dark times or Time for Light

Light shines in the Darkest of Places

I listened to a sermon today about darkness and depression that eluded to the “shadow of death”>

I have been in the shadow of death and felt it was more real than anything else on earth.  Today having all through the valley of the shadow of death, I know two things which lead to a third a conclusion.

  1. The shadow of death is not real.  Like most shadows it is formed when we or some part of us gets in the way of the light that is in us and all around us and so a “shadow is cased”.  It is an illusion and in it light is elusive.
  2. Light is internal and eternal it is not temporal or absent in darkness.  Exodus 20:21 describes Moses moving toward thick darkness and in that darkness he discovered “God there”.   How can that be?  I am not sure but here is a thought of a part of me.
  3. God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.  God is light and everything that is not of the light walks in darkness, of where the eternal light of God shines within there is no darkness without   At the same time in Genesis 1 we read “In the beginning God created……and darkness was over the face of the deep”.  In that moment God created light outside of Him/Her/Them.  There is light in side everyone that comes into this world (John 1:9).  There is eternal light (understanding/awareness/Self) inside of everyone coming into the world.  It is why in the new heaven and new earth there is no need for sun by day or moon by night for God is light an the iridescent glow of all people from the light with which is God creates the light outside for all to see and not stumble.

 

 

An Alternative to the Cherokee 2 Wolf Legend

While the Cherokee Two Wolf Legend is powerful and helpful in some regards it is flawed in this way:  Hate and Love are two parallel emotions.  If you starve an angry and hateful wolf and feed another, the likelihood is that the starved and angry wolf will be deliriously angry and would kill and eat the “fed wolf”.  So while it sounds good g=regarding the internal world it is fraught with an internal world problem.  There are no bad or evil parts inside of us. There is an evil core and a good core.  The evil core or dark side is fed when the polarizations of love and hate are allowed to polarize, perpetuate conflict, and nearly destroy the “good self”.  I know this first hand and experientially.  It was my polarized part that I attempted to feed the good parts and strive the “bad” parts which resulted in loosing any sense of the Higher Self which resulted in the Dark Side taking over rendering me depressed, suicidal, hopeless and and helpless.  The starving one part and feeding the other did not work for me at all intact worked against me.

I will note below two versions of the Two Wolf Legend.  Here is a third.  Please note I am a grandfather and have gained wisdom from the things I learned in dark places at least that is how I see it.  We will see!

 

There was a grandfather who loved all his grandchildren equally yet differently for in his heart he held equal love for all of them while respecting and responding to all their differences in an unique expression of his love.  Some in the family of course conclude he loved one more than the other yet for him: “He loved them the same yet differently because they were different yet the same: his grandchildren.  One of them asked him one day, “Grandpa it feels sometimes like there is a war going on inside of me.  Sometimes I want to be good and other times I want to be bad and I do not understand this?”

 

Ah, Grandpa said, “It is true for all of us.”  The grandson interrupted and said, “For you too grandpa, I can’t believe that, you are so good all the time.”  The grandpa smiled and said, “Not so much, but let me tell you a story:”

“I used to think I had to push aside the bad thoughts and feelings like: anger, hatred, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. My grandfather told me that this was like two wolves fighting inside of me and I had to decide which one I fed fro that one would ultimately win out.  So the    other wolf or good thoughts and feelings:  joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. These two wolves are like a civil war inside.  In Jewish tradition there are the twins (Jacob and Esau) who were already fighting inside of Rebekah even before they were born and today the fight goes on in Israel and Palestine). The same fight is going on inside of you and inside of every other person.

The grandson thought for a moment then asked, “Which one will win”

That is the really tricky part and please pay attention to this. The old Cherokee replied , “the one you feed”.  In my living, I have learned something different from the wisdom of life not the wisdom of ego, the wisdom of Spirit-Self not the wisdom of choices.

 

From the Spirit Self within you need to care for both of these wolves for they really believe that one has to win and the other will die.  It is the power of polarity to polarize and defeat true balance and harmony, courageous compassion and creative care.  If yo try to feed the one “bad” wolf the other “good” wolf will suffer because in believing the lie that only one can survive the bad one goes underground and wins as its anger and fury is fed when you try to only feed the good.  All parts of you need to be understood, listened to and cared for by the Wise Spirit Self within you.  It is not about either wolf but about the “Higher Wise Spirit Self” that from inner wisdom knows that all parts of both wolves simply need to be heard, understood and appreciated in their positive intention.  This only done by having positive intention and seeing positive intention in them.  All of what we call bad parts or the” bad wolf within” come from feeling threatened and fearing loss. When we try to resolve this inner conflict by feeding only what we see as the good wolf we are seduced into the “only one can win” world which is just “not true”.

The grandson looked very puzzled and confused and asked, “how will I know which one to listen to and care for?”

“From the Inner Spirit of Self always listen to both and from a place of Calmness, Courage, Compassion, and Clarity find out what the part needs and why it thinks the way it does so it can be relieved of its burden or false belief that would have it choose destructive behaviors.”

“Wolfs can appear as white sheep or black sheep but in the end they are part of the same flock of parts within, they mean no harm and only do harm when feeling threatened or ignored.  I learned this the hard way so please grandson always try to remember this , “There is wishing you a “Sprit Self ” that is indivisible, pure love and the Human Self is often polarized by wolf parts within.  Always feed the sheep and the wolves equally the grain of car e and compassion and the inner war will lessen and life will feel less of a conflict and more an experience of “compassion and care” for all by all.

http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/TwoWolves-Cherokee.html

 

 

 

The Message of Martin Luther King

Have a Dream, A Dream that is not just about You, and Work to make that Dream a Reality

On January 16th we recall the memory and message of Martin Luther King.  Dream central is at the center of his memory and message.

It was not like “a dollar and a dream” or even like “if you dream it you can do it”.  For MLK the dream was not about him but about what vision he had for the community of earth.  We have come a long way.  We elected a person with an african american heritage, eight years ago.  This was a first in our country and for many was a breaking of the hold of racism in our nation.  Today we are reminded that one act that represents on one stage a breakthrough can be the exception and not the rule.  Many want the rule to be that all people though different and diverse ways have an equal opportunity to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Or as Franklin Roosevelt and Norman Rockwell presented them, four freedoms:  Freedom of speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom form Want, and Freedom from Fear.

A week ago Saturday many participated in a “Freedom Walk”.  A dream that was not a propellant of a person or even an idea but a concept that “All men and women though not placed in equal opportunity settings have the inherent right to be treated as equal when it comes to the essentials of life”.

MLK’s dream was not about him or even for him.  It was a dream about and for society.  It was a dream that “the content of one’s character” would be more important than the “color of one’s skin”, “the orientation of one’s gender”, “the identification of one’s religious faith”, “the dna of on’s ethnicity or social network”, the “affiliation of one’s gender identity”, the affluence of one’s financial status”, The size of on’s dwelling place”, “the side of one’s road”, “the focus of one’s reproductive choices”, “the height of one’s stature”, or “the substance of one’s social or political thought.  By the content of one’s character, MLK was attempting to get us back to the basics of personal maturity and mutual respectfulness.  As it was said of Jesus in the Gospels so Martin Luther King would want us all “to grow in wisdom and stature in the eyes of God and in the eyes of humanity (our brother’s snd sisters of earth).”

 

This is the American Dream.  Not a dream three cars in every driveway but of no car being used to do harm either thru thoughtlessness or recklessness. Not a dream for huge dwelling places in some parts o fa state and homeless shelters in another.  Not a dream of plenty of food in the cupboard and refrigerators while some have no food in their tent.   The American Dream is a dream of equal opportunities, and equal rights, and equal justice.  The American Dream is a dream of all people having everything in common and no person in want of anything.  By the way this is not communism of socialism this is Christianity. (Acts 2:44-45)

4 Freedoms to die for and live by: #4 Freedom from fear

4freedomsRoosevelt and Norman Rockwell (one a public eOrator the other a creative artist) teamed up to bring 4 freedoms to the fore in the American Dialogue in the 1940’s, they are the essence of the American Dream of a free society with freedom of speech and religion and a solidified community free from fear or want.

“The Freedom of speech, The Freedom of Religion, The Freedom form Want, and The Freedom from Fear”.

 

The Freedom from Fear:  That within reason no person or social/cultural group shall have the capacity or power to undermine or dominate another.  Bullying behavior makes a bully of us all.  Those with power can bully those under them.  Rhetoric or reality, treating any other human being with less respect than we all deserve is to demean that other person (the oppressed) and the oppressor, for those roles can change ever so quickly in a society that does not care for all people as one. This provides for people not being tormented by fear or using fear to torment others. Fear is used to enslave, perpetuate and excuse violence, and prejudice of multiple kinds.  The absence of fear is only achieved by the presence of fairness toward and by all. This is why inherent and implicit racism, sexism, gender identification, nationalism, naturalism, religious persecution, social prejudice, and bias are more of  threat to a free society than their parallel extrinsic and explicit forms of racism. For a black man/woman to fear walking into a room of white people and for a white person to fear walking into a room full of black women/men, are equally disturbing to a free society. To be totally free of fear mature love for all and mutual respect toward all are necessary ethical norms.  Fear fuels violence, blame and shame.  The lack of fear breeds hope, prosperity, and compassion toward and from all.   Fears is used to undermine some and provide the source of dominance of others.  As Franklin D. Roosevelt aptly stated: “There is nothing to Fear except fear itself”.  Fear ravages some, creates avengers of others, and victims of all.

These four freedoms are the essentials of a civilized and egalitarian society and a source of individual incentives and achievements without sacrificing social responsibility or personal conscience. 

Freedoms Worth Dying For and Living By: Freedom from Want

Freedom from Want

4freedomsRoosevelt and Norman Rockwell (one a public eOrator the other a creative artist) teamed up to bring 4 freedoms to the fore in the American Dialogue in the 1940’s, they are the essence of the American Dream of a free society with freedom of speech and religion and a solidified community free from fear or want.

“The Freedom of speech, The Freedom of Religion, The Freedom form Want, and The Freedom from Fear”.

The Freedom from Want:  That within reason their should be no social or ethnic pockets of privilege where food and shelter for some are extravagant and in abundance and while there are other pockets of homeless, helpless, and hungry people.  Not giving bread to a hungry neighbor and World hunger are not just indecent realities and immoral actions of a society, but blatant and egregious violations of the principles of equality of persons and equities of treatment towards all persons within that society. It is an indictment of the lack of solidarity and social consciousness of a society that is stratified between the haves and the have nots and are complacent and satisfied with the same.   “A society that can tolerate the “Abundance of Food in one arena or area and Starvation and famine in another” is not a society at all.. In the American declaration of allegiance to the flag and the  republic for which it stands, the words of the American Dream: “with liberty and justice for all”.  There is a Biblical parallel as we read of “cities of refuge” where groups of people under siege could go for rest and renewal.  In the new testament, Acts 2:44-45 “All the believers were together and  had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need”.  This provides equity in terms of food and shelter basic needs of all humanity.  This protects any one group of people to exceeds wants of essentials while another group of people are without “food or shelter”.

 

Freedoms Worth Dying for and Living by: 2 Freedom of Religion

Freedom of Religion

4freedomsRoosevelt and Norman Rockwell (one a public eOrator the other a creative artist) teamed up to bring 4 freedoms to the fore in the American Dialogue in the 1940’s, they are the essence of the American Dream of a free society with freedom of speech and religion and a solidified community free from fear or want.

“The Freedom of speech, The Freedom of Religion, The Freedom form Want, and The Freedom from Fear”.

The Freedom of Religion:  That within reason any religion unless it sanctions violence toward others, has the freedom to exist including non-religious categories.  This prevents any one religion to be the religion of the state.  It maintains that the state of freedom to practice any religion regardless of its tenants as long as those tenants are consistent with all other freedoms.  This freedom of Religion guarantees that no one regardless of their faith or the lack thereof will be treated with prejudice or bias.  This promotes egalitarianism of all and not an elitist position or posture toward one brand of faith or one practice of religion.  It promotes the idea that their is not one right way to believe in God and that all those who do not believe in that way are “infidels”.  At the heart of all religions (excluding extremists versions) are the principles of internal peace, and peace within one’s neighborhood and peace with God as well as love for God, self in a healthy way, and toward all people of earth and living things including respecting all life forms and nurturing the same’s existence.  To negate any form of religion, or religious construct is to violate the very foundation of religion and spirituality, which is love and peace in all and for all.

 

4 Freedoms Worth Dying for and Living By: Part 1 Freedom of Speech

On Saturday January 7th a Rally for the Four Freedoms will occur, Another is being planned for Jan 16th MLK Day

4freedomsRoosevelt and Norman Rockwell (one a public eOrator the other a creative artist) teamed up to bring 4 freedoms to the fore in the American Dialogue in the 1940’s, they are the essence of the American Dream of a free society with freedom of speech and religion and a solidified community free from fear or want.

“The Freedom of speech, The Freedom of Religion, The Freedom form Want, and The Freedom from Fear”.

The Freedom of Speech:“That within reason as reason would determine it, I and you can say anything I or you want without fear of persecution or reprisal.  This protects all of us from elitism, exploitation, exclusivity, and inequities of any kind.  This provides for all voices to be heard.  The lone minority voice, and the silent majority, nor the dominance of majority rule can silence any0ones voice. It is not about who is right or wring on any matter but that is is always right to honor the honesty of the right to freedom of speech.  This demands maturity and mutual respectfulness.  Today the glaring challenge of this is that in certain places if your say your are a Trump supported you will be attacked at least verbally and emotionally if not physically.  the indictment of our falling short of this mature and mutual respectfulness venue is that in another setting if you said you were a Hilary supporter you would be equally in jeopardy.  It takes a disciplined and determined populace to be and act with maturity and respectfulness toward all which we might call egalitarianism as opposed to elitism.

 

Where were Joseph and Mary’s Family

Everyone had to go to their families birthplace so all brother's and sister, Aunts and Uncles, Nieces and nephews, Where were they

Faith and Reason can help us make sense if nonsense

In church this morning the Gospel of Matthew re: Jesus birth

All were required to go to “family birth place”.  All those of the House of David lineage were to go to Bethlehem.   

My family 3 grown children and 5 growing Grandchildren were all together to enjoy a wonderful sit down meal, made by my wife, in a warm home heated by fireplace and wood stove and in the warmth of the company of family.  No one was alone.

So how was it on the first Christmas, 2016 or so years ago, that Mary and Joseph were alone.  Where were their brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, grandma and grandpa.   Where was Elizabeth and Zechariah and their toddler, John.   The only thing that makes sense is they all sat in what in Psalm 1: “seat of the scornful” “the seat of judgment” no one was in the “mercy seat”.

The family had to be close by.  We are reminded that the loneliest of moments are when we are where people are but their judgments rather than grace makes us fell alone. 

No doubt the fact that family was all around made it an even more silent night and lonely place.

It reminds us that regardless of anyone’s act of presence or absence the Emmanuel God is the God who says I am always with you  and is in fact always with you. 

You are never alone

God is with you!

Faith says you are never alone

Reason knows the truth that you are only as alOne as you chose to think so think better, “you are never alone”