First Sunday in Advent

coming as a Child Coming as an Adult

I was reading a devotional this morning and it triggered a thought in me, actually a few thoughts:

The devotional pointed to the truth that God wants us to experience his/her full humanity and divinity and wants us to live in the human and divine equally.

He suggested one way to do that is to have “the willingness to approach grown-up things through the eyes of a child”.  I watched the children at children’s message time as their eyes smiles and faces reflect the glory of God, the goodness of humanity and the mystery of divinity as the still sea of glass reflects the image of the creator and the created.  I think how right the writer was. 

Then I think the opposite is also true.  Just as divinity and humanity are often thought of as opposites which suggest they are in opposition.  The adult in me that understands the union, communion and complimentary nature of opposites represents “the willingness to approach child like fears through the eyes of the adult who sees clearly the presence of God everywhere in everything”.

The best of child like faith and the best of adult maturity creates the harmony of the divine spark and the human flame.

“Oh to be Fully Human such is the Glory of God” – Iraneus

Rooted deep and strong

How deep are your roots

“Storms will come and storms will go wonder how long it will take me to know that you (God) are always there”

So the lines from a song by Amy Grant entitled “Arms of Love” remind us that if in the storm we think God is not there with us it is because our roots thought many and interconnected and so apparently strong are not as strong as deep roots.

I thought of this the other day as I was strolling along towards Todd’s Point, a beautiful spot of many things.  I walked by a tree that had fallen the victim of a storm and I noticed how massive the roots were but also how similar in size and not deep in length they were:

Roots

Ephesians 3:17 states “I pray that you being ‘rooted and established in love’ may have power together with all the saints to grasp how high, and deep, long and wide is the love of Christ, and to know the love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to the measure of the fullness of God”.

 

I am tired of having Christians judge others as non Christian because they do not hold to a particular belief.  The roots that count are not roots of right thinking or theologizing but of a right heart, loved and loving.  Did not John say, “Everyone who loves has been born of God for God is love….God is love and whoever lives in love for God is love” (I John 4: 7,16).

 

The root of Jesse, the root of Jesus, and the root of all is the deepest, highest, widest, longest, fullest experience and expression of the love of God.

 

Maybe we will only know God is there always when we give up judgment and deepen the roots of love, for God, our neighbors and ourselves.

 

The Narrow Way

How narrow is your thinking

I was out for a morning jog winding through the cascading countryside, enjoying the freedom of movement and the breath of life. I came upon a split in the path ahead of me was a wide path that looked safe and was obviously frequently traveled. Next to it was a narrow path all overgrown, somewhat uncharted and obviously less traveled. As I considered which path to take, I reasoned that the one path was safe and though not easy well traveled. The other was scary. It looked like no one had dared taken this path.   Reason tipped me toward taking that path. Emotions too. Something inside of me led me to take the narrow path. I knew it was the path of courage and faith. The other path was the way of comfort and ease. Intuition and trust in self had tipped me in a different direction

 

I was traveling along slower but freer, courageous not fearful, careful but calm.

“Narrow is the way that leads to life and few there be that find it. Wide is the path that leads to destruction and many there be that follow it.”

 

For years of living I have believed that the way to God and the way to know God is to choose the narrow way of eternal life rather than the wide way of living for today, going for all the gusto! I not so suddenly but very deliberately have shifted in my belief. The narrow way is externally defined as a particular way of a particular belief.   The way of Jesus is a narrow way. It is not the way of any particular theology or church doctrine. That would be an external belief brought inside. I sued to think that way much like a child believes what he is told. I put away that child. I realized another child found his own inner path free of outer direction. It was not that the narrow way was a particular truth that was universally true in a religious sense. It was a universal truth from the internal universe. The narrow truth was to care for the internal would which is all that is eternal. The wide way that leads to destruction is focusing on the external world with all that it has to offer. This includes physical, emotional, social and even religious truths or ways. The wide way was he way of self-indulgence, self-inflation, and self-absorption.   It was a way of living in the external world for the external benefits of that world. The narrow way is the way of caring for the internal world. It is living form the inside out rather than from the outside in.

 

The narrow path leads to widening my horizons and broadening my living. It is the path that leads to life.

 

In all honesty I did not choose the narrow path in the physical reality of my jogging, The narrow path looked to uncharted and scary. However it did provoke the thoughts and realities of inner life and internal choices. When given the opportunity to sit it out or go the way of most people, I try to choose the narrow way. This is the way of spiritual realities that are of the inner, internal and eternal world. The way of the external world and all its choices leads to the destruction of the wisdom of the inner world. Choosing to be honest internally and with you is the narrow way.

 

The narrow way is the way of true honesty within oneself, toward others and toward oneself. It is the way of calmness, compassion, courage and creativity

Turkey Preparations

Getting ready for the day

Most people when they talk about getting ready for Thanksgiving Day they are talking about cooking, baking, driving, or going to a football game or parade.  In our home part of preparation is getting ready to take our dog and literally anyone in the family or neighborhood who will join us to a Turkey Trot. No this is not a parade of Turkeys walking up fifth avenue.  It is a group of walkers and runners, dogs and baby strollers, family and friends getting out and walking or running for 1, 2,3,5, or 6.2 miles.  The oldest Turkey Trot is in Troy, New York and no it was not the early pilgrims or the indians, as the date was 1947.

In 2014 786,000 ran/walked/trotted a Turkey Trot somewhere in the US 14 % more than the year before.  100’s her in Portland Maine.10well_trot-tmagArticleHopefully better weather this year.

So run walk trot then go to your Thanksgiving Feast with family and friends.  You will have fun just in the company of others doing the same!

Seeds are to be Watered

watering the seeds of goodness produces goodness in all of us

The Seed of  goodness is in everyone of us

The Seed of badness is in all of us as well

What seed you water is up to you

What water do you use, pure too

Have you detoxified the poison water

Do you know what thoughts to refuse

Not every thought is worth thinking about

Not every emotion without reason

All parts have their season

The Self is resilient, redeeming, and stout

Every man and woman are islands 

In search of connection and validation

All parts are welcome into loving hands

The Self is the source of hope for all bands

The world is an oyster wanting to be found

The sky is the limit the sea the resource 

Each living thing is full of energy all around

It is the perennial birth of hopes resound.

So enjoy this moment, it is here and gone

Think not too far ahead, lag not too far behind

See the suns rays thru darkness shine

Receive the wonder of all, who are not blind

Human beings are often misunderstood 

Without love and peace they wither and die

Like the fire that needs its wood

All of us are born to need another

Self confidence without humility is myopic foolishness

Self awareness without concern for others is dystopia

Ego strengths without modulation is feign weakness

Ego defenses with self awareness is false utopia

Self inflation is like a ballon blown up with water

While it looks like a ballon it doesn’t rise with the wind

Self deflation with internal confidence is false humility

Judgment of others without self judgment is deceptive

Gentleness is elusive to those who nurture false strength

Strength without gentleness is the nature of deception

Meekness is perceived as weakness short sighted but full length

Humility and honesty are attributes of maturity without exception

God is good all the time

God is the one who offers us grace

In everyone there is a chime

One community of all human race

Not that all that happens is good in itself

God is in all things making them good all the time

Not good all alone  but never alone by themselves

It is God who is present, feeling absence is no crime

We need no redeemer outside of our space except to bleed

God has put in us all the stuff we need know less we not heed

The God of heaven and earth has one true face

When overwhelmed remember the story of the tiny mustard seed

The gentle reminder in nature of God’s eternal grace

The Family of God, the Family of the Church and the biological family

Who is your family, where is your loyalty, where is your identity?

When I was a young pastor I had a church in group out group problem and I still recall 40 years latter the dialogue in my the pastor’s office.  “you do not understand, “Blood is thicker than water”.  I was stunned was this avowed believer really saying that their relationship with their brother in the flesh overruled and even negated their ability to be truthful with the people of the church.  Right or wrong he is my brother and I have to support him.  In my stunned, youthful (26) condition I muttered enough strength and I hope Holy Spirit fortitude to say, “I thought the waters of baptism and the blood of Christ connected us as the family of God not over and against the biological family.”  I was muted for a time.  I was told I did not understand as a young pastor the complexity of church life.  I admit there was a little ego defense in my response and challenge but really?  There is a biological family that I am part of that I deeply love.  There is a spiritual family that I am part of and deeply love.  I do nto see them in conflict,

www.anthonybrobinson.com.

I read a devotional from Rev. Anthony Robinson this morning that I reprint here for a comment on the family of God and the family of the church and the biological family without comment form me.  Let God speak to your heart, please:`

“‘Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.’ And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother, my sister, my mother.'” – Mark 3:32-35

Often as I visit different congregations I hear the church described as a “family.” I’m never quite sure about this — speaking of the church as “family.” I understand that it’s a way of saying we find, in church, friends, love and a sense of belonging. But sometimes all this talk of church as “family” does something else. It says to the guest, visitor, newcomer or stranger, “You’re not part of the family.”

Maybe I am unsure about all this because Jesus himself doesn’t speak of the family in a simple or unproblematic way. He challenges family and redefines it—radically. I doubt that it felt all that great to his mother and siblings when he looked around at a crowd of perfect strangers and said, “Here are my mother and brothers!” I expect they were perplexed by that, perplexed and probably hurt.

Really, Jesus explodes conventional notions of family. And as precious as my own family is to me, Jesus’ words are a needful stick of dynamite—especially  when “family” or “church as family” becomes in-groupy and exclusive, when the spoken, “Yes, we’re a family here,” carries an unspoken—”and you’re not really a part of it.”

Jesus did not define family by blood or race, by shared history or time served, nor by biological relationship. For Jesus, obedience to God was thicker than blood. If church is “family,” let it be this kind of radically redefined family:  “whoever does the will of God is my family.”

A New Look at Job

What makes the difference is not knowing but seeing and being changed

A friend wrote in a devotional earlier this week on how Job was very focused on himself, his own pain and justifying himself as different from being able to see the justice of God in all the unfairness of life.

 

lets admit it up front, “life is not fair”.  My wife has a saying that goes something like this, “Life is not fair, a fair:  that is a place with rides and cotton candy, not life”.  Maybe we just have to pay the fare and see life as unfair.  No surprise here as to how the book of Job ends though I think many miss it.  I missed it for years. 

It has always interested me that Job’s healing and restoration only occurred when in Job 42 he let’s go of justifying himself s ays that there was a time he knew God and heard of Him but now he actually sees or has a deeper perception understanding of God.  From the head to the heart is a great journey filled with awe, wonder and transformative power.and with compassion prays for his friends. I think it is verse 10.  He first disowns all he has said and then opens his heart to see his friends and God differently.  No justifying of self or others just praying and having compassion on all then healing and restoration came.  What a day when we stop self justifying and start “having compassion on all people regardless of anything”

What a transformation.  I invite you to that light.  Share your thoughts with me at parakalein@me.com

 

 

The Minyan Service was another part of the religious services at the NY Marathon

We are one in acknowledging

Blessed are you o Lord our God Master of the universe for you have made us holy with your commandments and call us to wash our hands

Blessed are you o Lord our God  Master of the Universe for you bring forth bread from the earth

Blessed are you o Lord Our God Master of the Universe creator of all living things and their needs.   You have given to us everything we need to sustain the soul if every living being Blessed are you for you are the life of the world

Amen

We sang the following second verse of God Bless America at the TCS NYC Marathon two weeks ago;

God Bless Our Universe, gifts of Your love.  Stand beside us to Guide through the night with the light from above.  From the mountains to the deserts to the oceans skies above, God bless humanity with love to all, God keep humanity in that light for all.

Amen

Jesus is the Only Way: Divisive or Decisive

There are many roads to any place just ask GPS, Only one place to get to?

In darkness pray and look to light

This wonderful picture of Jesus in the

Garden of Gethsemane with the light shining in one it from the left and the right was amazing to see as I peered into a private yet public mausoleum in Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn New York a few weeks ago.  I believed and still believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven but I believe what that way is is very different than I once naively and narcissistically thought.

Jesus is the only way to Heaven, God based on John 14:6 leaves many “troubled in their hearts” when that was the exact and specific focus of this teaching of Jesus.  The pupils have made the teachers statement a statement of exclusivity when the teacher’s intention was inclusivity. 

The context is the disciples confusion apparently brought because in chapter 13 they were believing that 

It was about who thought rightly and Jesus in washing all their feet made it clear that the secret and only way to God was the way of servanthood in life and not of superior even correct theology ecclesiology (yet to be born) and dogmatic ism. 

The way of Jesus is the way of servanthood.  It is not about colorful robes of royalty or righteousness but the way of the plain white towel, the simple basin of truth and living watered life

The Way of the Divine self very different from the Human Self.  It is the way of servanthood, sacrifice, and surrender out of steadfastness, security, and surety of SELF.  It is not a particular way of believing it is a specific way of being.

 

 

Eye can be blind

Seeing clearly means setting aside our apperceptions and misconceptions

The eye can only see what the mind can conceive and what the heart can perceive.

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Mental acuity and emotive arability are essential prerequisites of faith that is not credal based but capacity and capability based and promote community building not ego differentiation and distinctives.  In the area and arena of faith we are the same only different and simultaneously different yet the same..