Becoming the Hen

Becoming the Hen

Sermon for the 2nd Sunday in Lent, Feb. 21, 2016, on Luke 13:31-35

Luke 13:31-35

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hScreen Shot 2016-02-19 at 9.37.31 AMen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.'”

Most of the world’s religions give people something to look at when they think about God or the gods.  Nature religions have animals or sacred rivers to watch.  Lots of religions have statues.  In the Louvre museum there is a bronze statue of the Canaanite storm god Baal from around the 13th ceScreen Shot 2016-02-20 at 3.15.54 PMntury BCE, lifting his arm as if wielding a thunderbolt.

Of course the Greeks and Romans had their pantheons of gods and goddesses from Zeus to Athena on the Greek side and from Jupiter to Justitia for the Romans.  Of course the Caesars became gods at death, or even before, in some cases, like Octavian (Augustus).

No Images of God

But Judaism famously forbids statues or pictures of God.  There is nothing to see.

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 3.22.23 PM
In the temple, inside the holy place, in the holy of holies was the ark of the covenant.  On the lid of the ark stood two angels, facing one another, wings spread.  In the center, between the angels sat God on his throne, but invisibly so.

The Roman general Pompey who had just conquered Jerusalem in 63 BCE, entered the holy of holies, and, according to the ancient historian Tacitus, found it disappointingly empty.  There were no gods to see.

Mental Images

But although unseen, the Hebrew bible recounts many times in which the invisible  God interacts with people.  Instead of statues and pictures, then, we have stories to read about these encounters.  What we are left with then, are the mental images we make as we read these stories.

So we see, in our minds, Moses meeting God at the burning bush.  God is not a burning bush, but the mystery that manifests as a wonder – a continual flame that burns without consuming.

We picture the scene at Sinai where Moses goes up the mountain which, in many ways, Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 3.27.00 PMseems to be a volcano.  It thunders and shakes; a thick dark cloud covers its top, and Moses enters the cloud to encounter God, and comes out with a face, shining from the glory, as the story goes.

Elijah too, years later, encounters God on that same mountain; nature seems to come unhinged; a whirlwind, earthquakes, a fire, but then God comes in “the  (paradoxical) sound of sheer silence.”

God as a Mother Bird

So, there are strong, bold, fierce images of God aplenty.  But the Hebrew bible can evoke another kind of image of God.  A softer, nurturing, protective image.  The image of a mother bird.  Under her wings, there is refuge.

Here is a sampling:

Psalm 57:1     

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
        for in you my soul takes refuge;
    in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 3.02.19 PM
        until the destroying storms pass by.

Psalm 61:4       

Let me abide in your tent forever,
        find refuge under the shelter of your wings.

Psalm 91:4   

 he will cover you with his pinions,
        and under his wings you will find refuge;

You cannot take shelter in a burning bush, nor in a volcanic cloud.  But being under the protective wing of a mother bird, the chicks feel loved and cared for.

I believe that is exactly how God wants us to feel.  The feeling could simply be called trust.  A relaxed, non-anxious sense that we are held in a great goodness; that we belong, that we matter, and that there is peaceful safety.

Jesus’ God-images

Jesus famously used the image of God as the Father in heaven, or really “papa,” which best translates Abba.  As helpful as that image is, perhaps a mother hen is an even better image.  She is the mother of the chicks; God pictured in feminine imagery, protective and soft, simultaneously.

We have said that Jesus himself was a spirit-person, that he communed with God; he had Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 3.34.24 PMexperiences of the Divine presence.  He spent time in prayer and meditation.  We have noticed that other people were drawn to him, they even brought their children to him to be blessed, the way people bring their children to the Pope.  We know that Jesus was a healing presence for many.

Meditation

You have heard me say, as I have tried to motivate us all to begin the contemplative practice of mediation, that it has real effects.  I have talked about how meditation produces compassion in us, and how it centers us, making us more mindful of the moment.

Meditation helps us to become aware of our thoughts in a new way.  We begin to see that our thoughts are not ourselves – they are just thoughts.  Meditation teaches us to notice our thoughts drifting by, in the stream of our minds, like boats going by on the canal, and to let them go.

We become aware that we are not our thoughts, and so we can become free from being ego-invested in our thoughts.  In fact we become aware of how ego is really not our truest self.

That instinct towards self-defense, self-justification, self-promotion, the ego-self can be seen for what it is, and we can smile and laugh at it, like we do at an angry, yapping little Chihuahua.

The Fruit of Jesus’ Meditation

I believe we get to watch Jesus, in this text, living out of the fruit of his spiritual practices.  We watch, in this scene from Luke, as Pharisees come to Jesus, in an attempt to get him to leave, with a story about Herod seeking his death.

Jesus is not hooked at all.  He does not get hooked at the obvious attempt of the Pharisees to put him off his mission.  He does not get fearful and anxious about Herod.  He says to those who came to him:

“Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work.”

He has full, calm, understanding of who he is and why he is there – and it is all about freeing people from crippling conditions, and bringing health and hope to the suffering.

Jesus is no starry-eyed dreamer, however; he knows that he does face serious threats and enemies.  Remarkably, he is able to face, even life-threatening danger with equanimity.

Notice how he feels towards those who really do want to kill him, as their ancestors did to prophets of the past; not antagonism, not judgment, not anger or even indignation.  He looks at them with compassion.

And he assumes the posture of the God-image he has taught; he becomes the hen.  He looks at their violence and hostility, and pities them for not understanding.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!  See, your house is left to you.”

He knows that they do not even understand what is in their own best interest – the path of peace.  He knows what will become of their violent plans: they will bring their own house down on top of themselves.  Which is exactly what had happened, by the time Luke wrote down this story.

Following the Jesus Way

The invitation in this text is to follow Jesus: to live this way.  This is the goal.  We all have our issues.  We all have our buttons that get pushed.  We are all hard-wired by our evolutionary past to be vigilant towards anything that would threaten us.

We feel the impulse to hit back, to meet fire with fire, to go down swinging.  We actually feel good when we feel righteously angry.  As long as we did not throw the first punch, we believe we are justified.

But that is not the Jesus way, and it is not the only way.  There is another way to live; another way to be.  Once we, like Jesus, can become totally aware that before God we are sons and daughters, children who are beloved, that our true self is made in the image of God, then we can relax and trust.

We can find paths of peace even in the face of conflict.  We can find the resources, even to experience pain and say,

“Father, forgive them.”  

Invitation

In this season of Lent, I invite you again to make a new space in your life for God.  My suggestion i

s that we spend some of our precious time reading the kinds of literature that will help us understand and practice the spiritual practices of a Christian, especially contemplative prayer, or mindfulness meditation.

This is how we grow into the life Jesus taught.  This is how we become the blessed people of the beatitudes, the poor in spirit, the meek, the peacemakers, those who are willing, instead of striking back, to turn the other cheek.  Who can look at people, even at people with hurtful intentions and say,

 “how I wish we could gather together in harmony, as fellow chicks under a sheltering wing.”  

Spend time in contemplative practices.

Be the hen.

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Naming My Wilderness

Naming My Wilderness

Sermon on Luke 4:1-13 for the First Sunday in Lent, year C, Feb. 14, 2016

Luke 4:1-13Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 9.58.54 AM

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.'”

Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written,
     ‘Worship the Lord your God,
         and serve only him.'”
Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,
    ‘He will command his angels concerning you,
       to protect you,’
and
   ‘On their hands they will bear you up,
       so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'”

Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'” When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.

Why tell the story of Jesus’ temptations?  I used to think it was to show that Jesus was perfectly sinless, because he was both human and divine.  But that is a really odd way to try to prove divinity, when you think about it.

I think there is a far greater reason for telling a story about Jesus being tempted by the devil.  To isolate three temptations is to identify the core of the Jesus project.  These are exactly the three issues that could put it all at risk of failure.  These are the central issues faced by every community that sets out to follow the Jesus path.

Setting: Wilderness (of course)Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 10.01.14 AM

So the setting is important: the setting is wilderness.  That is, in the biblical story, the supreme place of challenge to the community.  The Hebrew Bible has a long narrative of 40 years of Israel’s wandering in the wilderness before reaching the promised land.  It was a time of constant testing.  The temptation to loose heart and return to Egypt was constant and strong.  There were hostile enemies, there were food and water shortages, and there were rocks and sand and endless sun; and no guarantee of reaching the destination, beyond a promise of an invisible God.

So the setting is the circumstance of challenges to faithfulness.  I am sure that Luke’s community, the small band of Jesus followers in the first century of our era felt many times that they were in the wilderness of challenge to faith.   The emperor cult was growing; showing disloyalty to Caesar, who was proclaimed the son of God on every dinari coin in your pocket could cost you your life.

The Spirit-Community

But this community of Jesus-followers had something precious that made it worth it.  It was the Spirit.  They had an experience of God’s present Spirit, that was transformative.  God’s Spirit, the risen Christ’s Spirit, had opened their eyes to radical new possibilities.

They had come to understand that the God who alone exists is good, and God is for them, and God is present, by God’s Spirit, luring them in each moment to goodness, beauty, and truth.

They had come to the radically transformed view that all people were made in God’s Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 11.31.41 AMimage, that all were both precious and equal.  So their community had slaves and citizens sitting together at a common table.  Men and women, Greeks and Jews, learning, worshiping, and serving together.  All of this was a work of the Spirit – what else could account for it?

So the temptation story has to be told as a Spirit-directed story, and it is.  It begins,

“Full of the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit in the desert.”

By the way, what had just happened at the Jordan?  Jesus had been baptized and had seen a vision of the Spirit descending on him.

The community telling this story knows that the temptation to the kind of unfaithfulness to the central core of the Jesus-path is both an experience of harsh wilderness and an experience of the present Spirit.

And the only way to tell this story is to make the temptation to unfaithfulness come from the most diabolical source; the devil.  Why?  Because the risk is profound: get any one of these three wrong, and the whole thing collapses.

1.  Stone to Bread

So what are these core values at risk in this temptation scene?  The first one is this:

“He ate nothing during that (40 day) period.  When it was over, he was hungry.  The devil said to him, ‘if you are God’s son, tell the stone to become bread.”

Bread is legitimate.  And the need is real, not imagined.  In fact, the need is acute after Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 11.40.29 AMthose 40 days of fasting.  But life is more than food.  As necessary as it is to have to care about  food, clothing and shelter, as right as it is to make sure the bills are paid, the roof does not leak, and the car is running, nevertheless, this community knows that life is not only about material values.

This community lives by the spiritual truth that Jesus, in the story, tells the devil:

“It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.”

“Bread” alone will never answer the question, “why am I here?”  What is my purpose in life?  Why do I feel moved by sunsets and the ocean?  By music and literature?  Why do I sense a connection with birds and whales?  What accounts for my sense that my life is grounded; that I am cared for?  That it will be OK?

Bread alone will never give the answers.  Bread alone cannot even account for my interest in the questions.  Life is so much deeper than bread alone.  That is what this community knows.  And we believe following Jesus is the path to that deeper way of living.  The life of the Spirit.

2.  Power and Glory

The second temptation in the story is the one that most clearly shows that this is a vision story.  The devil leads Jesus “up”, cryptically, Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 11.45.52 AM

and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.

Kingdoms are all about power and glory – at least for the people who run them.  This story makes it clear: if power and glory are the goal, then the worship of the devil has already begun.

The devil says to Jesus,

“ If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”

If that is what you want, power and glory, you are already worshiping the devil.

But the community that calls Jesus “king” lives by an entirely alternative vision of the good.

“Blessed”, Jesus said, “are the poor”  
“Blessed are the meek,”
“Blessed are those” whose “hunger and thirst” is not for power and glory, but “for justice.”

This community welcomes the power-less and the glory-less; the widows, the orphans and the strangers; lepers, and foreigners, the ostracized and the marginalized, the very kinds of people Jesus spent his life among.

What does it mean to

“Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him”,

as Jesus said in response to the devil?  It means we refuse to bow to the gods of power and glory, but embrace the God of all creation, the creator of every creature, and to love them all the way God does: unconditionally.  That is what is at the core of this community.

3.  The God Issue

The climactic temptation is the third event, (because in all folklore, the third is the climax) is this:

 “Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here”

In other words, make the focus of your spiritual life, a god who is there to serve yourself.  Make god the god of the personal bailout, the butler god, the rescue god.  Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 11.56.13 AM

After all, doesn’t scripture say, as the devil well knows,

“it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up,    so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”

There is a fine line – but a profoundly important distinction to make – between the butler god who is there to fix all of life’s problems, and the God who grounds our lives, enabling us to say, “All is well.

Because the god of all fixes does not exist.  Evil does exist.  People suffer.
Ask the people starving in Syria today, or the ones in the basement bomb shelters in Aleppo, or the ones in those shabby overcrowded boats in the Mediterranean.

Ask the families of the people who did not get the miracle reprieve from cancer; the ones who did not make it through the operation.  The accident victims.

As the Jewish writer, Elie Wiesel said, after surviving the holocaust,

“The Omni-god died in the hangman’s noose in Auschwitz” 

– meaning the omnipotent butler god who comes to the rescue.

That is not what this community believes.  Rather we believe in the God Jesus worshiped.  Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 11.59.22 AMThe God who is present in the wilderness with his people as they endure everything life throws at them.

We believe in the God who is Emmanuel, God with us, in every painful moment, loving us, suffering with us.  We believe in the crucified God who knows what human death tastes like.

And so yes, we believe our lives are grounded and supported.  That in spite of it all, there is a goodness that surrounds us.  We believe that just as God was there, by the Spirit, in Jesus’ wilderness, so he is in ours.

And we will be able to say, when it is over

“All is well, all is well, all manner of things will be well.” 

– Remembering that the one who first penned those words,  Julian of Norwich, was living through the horrors of the plague, in a time of civil war, and an illness that nearly killed her.

This community that follows Jesus no more depends for its faith on a magic rescue than its founder, Jesus got.  But he was able to trust, all the way to the end, all the way to the cross, and from it to say

“Father, forgive them, Into your hands I commit my spirit.”  

Naming My Wilderness

How do you name your wilderness?   Where is there the greatest temptation for you to remain faithful?  Where is the pain in your life?

Listen, wherever it is; God meets you there.  God is with you there.  God is there bringing goodness, even in the midst of tragedy; bringing hope that you are not alone, and that no suffering is meaningless nor final.

This community of Jesus-followers, this Spirit-directed, Spirit-infused community lives by these values:  bread alone is never enough for people who were created as  spiritual beings.

Power and glory are diabolical aims; we are a community of, and for, the power-less and the glory-less.

And the God who is for us, is not a butler.  God is the ground of our being, the light by which we see goodness, truth and beauty, our Source and our Destination, our confidence and our hope.

 

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The Past, the Present, and the Future Perfect

The Past, the Present, and the Future Perfect

Sermon on Exodus 34:29-35 and Luke 9:28-36 for Transfiguration Sunday, February 7, 2016

Luke 9:28-36

Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” — not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

The transfiguration story should strike us as eerie; other-worldly; even weird.  And that is, I believe, part of its purpose.

So, I want to begin by another great parable from Peter Rollins.  He does not claim it  as original, but calls it an “old anecdote” but I first heard it in his book, How (Not) to Speak of God.   (I may modify it just a bit).

It goes like this:  A mystic, a Presbyterian pastor and a fundamentalist preacher all die on Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 11.13.43 AMthe same day and find themselves at heaven’s pearly gates.  Peter greets them there and informs them that they will each need to be interviewed by Jesus as to the state of their doctrine before being allowed to enter heaven.  The first to be called in to the interview room is the mystic.  After five hours he reappears with a smile, saying, “I thought I had got it all wrong.”  The next one Peter calls to be  interviewed is the Presbyterian.  After a full day he emerges from the room with a frown, saying to himself, “How could I have been so foolish!”  Finally Peter ushers the fundamentalist into the room.  A few days go by with no sign of him.  Finally the door opens and Jesus himself appears, exclaiming, “How could I have gotten it all so wrong?”

The mystic has a real relationship with God, but has never been able to pin it down.  It is always like trying to nail smoke to a board.  He has never been certain.

The Presbyterian had a system all worked out, he thought, but in the presence of the Divine, he came to see how inadequate his grasp had been.

The fundamentalist clung to his certainty and would not give up his interpretation of God, even in the very presence of God.

Encountering the DivineScreen Shot 2016-02-06 at 12.00.16 PM

I have said before that Jesus himself was a mystic.  Some scholars call him a “Spirit man”.  This text is a good example.  It begins, as so many others do, of Jesus going off to pray.  To pray is to encounter the Divine; to be in the presence of God.  Jesus’ location is important.  Religious people may go to a temple to pray; mystics go to the mountains – or to the forest, or the ocean, or to an inner sacred space they make anywhere.

What is God like?  How do you describe an encounter with God?  For Moses, at Sinai, we read of a mountain shrouded by a cloud of darkness, and a voice thundering forth, terrifying everyone.

For Elijah, on the same mountain, many years later, after a mighty wind and an earthquake, we read that God was present as a voice, like “the sound of sheer silence.”   Whether these descriptions lead towards or away from knowledge is an open question.  Whether the Divine is revealed or concealed is not clear.  Nevertheless,  the Divine is experienced as present and real.

Now, in our New Testament text, we read a new story of an encounter with the Divine, on Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 12.03.39 PManother mountain. Gathering elements from other mystical encounters, Luke weaves a thick description.  Moses and Elijah appear.  So does an enveloping cloud.  So does the voice.  Moses left his mountaintop encounter with God with a face that shone so brightly he needed to veil himself before the people.  Here, Jesus’ whole being, clothing and all, radiate God’s glorious presence.

In the Bible’s store-house of stories of God-encounters, some meet God in dreams, as Abraham famously does.  That story emphasized the deep terrifying dark sleep that Abraham was in, as he dreamed the vision of God, making a covenant with him and his future family.  Jacob dreamed of a ladder to heaven.

Luke includes the sleepy dream element here as well.  All four gospels have this story (although in John, only a few elements remain).  Luke alone has the disciples floating awkwardly between dreamy sleep and wakefulness as they bear witness to this scene of glory.  In Matthew, Jesus himself calls the whole thing a “vision.”

Peter’s 3 Mistakes

In all three of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) Peter makes his famous blunder. His mistake is therefore an important part of the teaching. There are probably three mistakes he makes at once, by suggesting they set up three tent-shrines to mark this moment.  All three are crucial mistakes to undo.

The first is that though this mystical moment means something important, it does not mean that making a static place of religious observance is the point.  That is what a shrine does.  It takes an encounter, and turns it into an object.

One of the huge innovations Jesus makes is that the encounter with God is moved out of Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 12.41.11 PMthe temple, and into the streets.  God is experienced, as Jesus’ whole life shows, in the encounter of God in prayer and in the encounter with people, not in temples.  There is no need for a new static shrine, but rather a direct experience.

Second, it would be wrong to put Jesus on the same level, giving him a booth along side of Moses and Elijah, as if the three were equally important.  Moses and Elijah were people of great significance.  Their encounters with God profoundly changed them and shaped the life of the people.  But they were experiences of the past.  Now God was doing a new thing, and Jesus is it; he should not be on a level with the ones who spoke for God in the past.

Third, the climax and therefore the main point of this mystical experience is the direct word from the voice, directing us to the words of Jesus.  The way to live into the Divine was not by shrines and rituals, but by following Jesus.

In Mark, God’s voice calls Jesus his “beloved son.”  In Luke, God calls Jesus his “chosen son.”  Luke wants the main point to be, not just that Jesus is special to God, but that Jesus is God’s chosen instrument; the one to listen to.  A shrine to commemorate the moment would not be the point; the point would be to do what that voice from the cloud said, “listen to him.”

Listening to himScreen Shot 2016-02-06 at 12.05.45 PM

So, our quest is to do just that.  To listen so that we can follow Jesus.  We imitate Jesus and his practice of prayer, knowing that in silence, in meditation, in contemplative prayer, we encounter the mysterious Divine, just as Jesus did.

But we are humble about defining that encounter.  We are reluctant to get dogmatic about a God who is best known by images of concealing clouds and the brightness of glory.  We understand the limitations of even speaking words about a Divine presence encountered in visions and dreams.

How do we speak of One who appears as a burning bush, naming himself  “I am that I am,” a name that is as close to “Pure Becoming” as can be.  The one whom Paul would say, “in whom we live and move and have our being.”

So, in this story, instead of staying on the mountain at static shrines, Jesus leads them down the mountain to confront evil, suffering, and injustice.  His path will be to Jerusalem, and will, he knows quite well, involve his own great suffering.

Paul once said that we used to know Jesus “according to a human point of view,”  but we no longer do.  That is what is happening in this story.  This story pictures a transition of our vision of Jesus.  We move from understanding Jesus as someone who is remarkable, to someone who is compelling.

We get the message: “Listen to him.”  We should put a copy of the Sermon on the Mount in our hearts.  It should ring in our ears.  The words and actions of Jesus should form the shape of all our words and all of our actions, both public and private.

As this story illustrates, we have come to understand that God is best followed, by following Jesus.  Whatever we think of God, it has to agree with what we know of Jesus.  As a youth pastor said, “God has to be at least as nice as Jesus.”

And God has to be at least as interested in gathering people who will join together and follow Jesus, as Jesus himself was.  That is what we are here to do.

We follow him into the spiritual practice of contemplative prayer on the mountain, and then we follow him into ministries of compassion and mercy down with the people.  We follow him in a direct encounter and relationship with our mysterious God, and we follow him in a full embrace of hurting humanity.

A Lenten Suggestion

The season of the lengthening of the days, or Lent, is coming, starting this Wednesday.  I have made and will repeat a suggestion.  Often people give up something they enjoy during lent as a spiritual discipline.  My suggestion is that we give up time; time enough to do some intentionally spiritual reading and reflecting.  I have a list prepared, mostly of Richard Rohr’s books, which I find so helpful.  I would begin with The Immortal Diamond or Falling Upward.  For those in recovery, perhaps Breathing Underwater.

Make this Lent count.  And prepare to be amazed at what you encounter.