Other lands – an Independence Day reflection

160512_WeThePeopleHappy 4th of July – Independence Day. Today I am thinking about freedom. And yes, I am one of those people who vehemently dislikes patriotic songs at church. *shudders* The Star Spangled Banner, God Bless America, and the Battle Hymn of the Republic – absolute no. America the Beautiful – maybe.  If there is to be singing on or around a national holiday, I will always go with Finlandia, also known as (among other things) “This is My Song.”

Ironically, the song was written in a burst of Finnish nationalism by composer Jean Sebelius in the late 1800’s in response to the encroachment of the Russians. Here we are in 2017, with our bursts of nationalism somehow fused with the encroachment of the Russians, but I digress, and that’s another post for another day.

In any case, the words sung to Continue reading

Personal desert

EDIT Somewhere between Logrono and Najera Sep 2016I’m enjoying being off of Facebook for Lent, and spending my time on Instagram with one post per day; a photo and a mini-reflection. You will have to head over to my Instagram feed, or to my Facebook page (where my Instagram auto posts) to read my reflection for today. Essentially, I am thinking about Jesus instructing us to love our enemies.

Hardest. Thing. Ever.

I’ll gladly take a long walk with a heavy cross on my back than to do this. Yet, I try to constantly push myself to do so. I suck at it, by the way. Big time.

It occurs to me that part of the problem is my own lack of willingness to look at the enemy within. Of course I am well aware of that enemy, but my inner looking often results in things like my own defensiveness about myself, my shame, and my superhuman strength at avoiding and denial. I’m great at that stuff. Big time.

All of this is an invitation to me, a good deal of which is more clear this Lent because I am spending less time “talking” via Facebook. Painful is my awareness this Lent that the driest and most arid desert is often found deep within my own heart. Thus, the gifts of death and new life are made clear, but only if I am willing to keep going.

What does your inner search Please be assured of my prayers as we ply our way through deserts of our own making. God offers us so much more, but even for those of us who say we will follow, do we really?

Fear? Or faith?

popefrancis-fear-tyrannyOn Saturday I walked to church and listened to a podcast. The thing in the podcast that struck me the most was just how powerful a motivator fear can be. Having already read the mass readings, which address fear and other things, and I began to think about fear in our time. It is not all that different than fear in any other time; it just seems worse because we are bombarded with so much information.

So what are we afraid of? Continue reading

Soy un perdedor

soy-un-perdedor-im-a-loser-baby-so-y-dont-u-kill-meChrist was crucified, a death that the Roman occupiers saved for the very worst of the worst. It was truly a scandal. On either side of him, hung a criminal. He was the ultimate loser.

220px-The_Crucifixion_Christ_on_the_Cross_between_two_thieves_(f._80)_CroppedJesus came in peace, tending to the ones at the margins. His focus was on the wounded and the weak, the poor and the powerless, any who were rejected. Power was available to him, the worldly kind of power that puts one in charge with a very strong sense of authority. A certain less savory one tried to tempt him with this; it did not work. Offered all the worldly power and he rejects it? What kind of loser?

BlochJesusTemptedChrist washed the feet of the disciples, something they originally protested. He was pretty clear about what he was doing and why, so the washing ensued. Creepy – he bends down to wash his followers feet? Weird. Loser.Jesus-washing-feet-03

We are called to lives of humility and service. The power given to us in Christ is the power of servant leadership. We are not called to go backward in time, to restore what we might believe was good or great. The pilgrim path of Jesus invites us ever forward, ultimately from life into death. Who would do that? Loser.

Jesus could have smashed everyone and everything in his path to make his point as he lived his public ministry. Yet, he never went that way, did he? Yeah- he turned the tables over in the temple, and he seemed pretty ticked off. Um, it was the money lenders (read: moneymakers) that he lost it with. He did not side with the money people. He must be some kind of loser.

I have been accused, out loud and certainly silently, of being very preachy. Guilty as charged. I’m just a person with a blog, typing out a few words, and expressing what Christ is as far as I am concerned. Yeah – I am a loser.

I know, I am sounding all preachy again. For the record, I am largely speaking directly to myself. My own Christian life is a series of lather, rinse, repeat moments because I don’t have it quite right. Yeah yeah yeah – and I’m still doing it wrong, like a real… loser.

So here we go, step by step, forward on the road to Calvary. It will suck, be assured of that, but it is the only way, and what follows? Who would walk to their certain death, giving it all away? A loser I guess.

Below you will find one of my favorite songs, expressed in video with lyrics. You may not think one can find God in there, but I do – Christ in all things. You may not see it, but what can I tell you? I’m a loser, soy un perdador.

Still waiting

adventcandlemotionweek2Thank you for the great response to Saturday’s post about the “gunrack in the manger.” As you can tell, I was full of angst, and while things are not “better,” I am deeply comforted and well informed by comments here, comments at the Albany Times Union version of the blog, and on Facebook. I do not get a lot of Twitter love, but I don’t put a lot into it either. (Oh, there’s fodder for another post!)

Another longer post coming on Monday, but for today, a song. It is the Second Sunday of Advent, light another candle, sink into the sheer, even-if-anxiety-inducing, luxury of sitting still and… waiting. Even if it is just for the length of the video. Enjoy the quiet and the song.

An invitation

act-in-faith-not-fear(This reflection is on the readings for the day before Advent begins, the very last day of the liturgical year, and appears in Give Us This Day. Please see the end of the post for further details.)

Our world seems to run on the fuel of fear. Simply watching or reading the news can fill our tanks with enough anxiety-provoking material to keep us running for days. Work and family concerns, fretfulness over jobs and money, disquiet about health, and apprehension over other things can turn us into nervous wrecks. Constant worry is exhausting, and that exhaustion typically leads to more angst.

Jesus offers a clear warning that might be easy for anxious people to miss. Do we think we’re off the hook because we are not out “carousing” or getting drunk? Not so fast. It seems that the “anxieties of daily life” are on the watch list as well, and that is a net likely to catch many.

It could be easy to take Jesus’ words Continue reading

Worry, toil, distraction, bread

It’s been 3 weeks since Easter. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been trying to immerse myself in these weeks where we live the resurrection in a particular way after the 40 days of Lent.

breadDuring Lent, we are in a season of repentance as we make our way to the cross with Jesus. For me, I am also in a season of unrivaled busy-ness. Work is busier and I also have some (some?) side projects that I’m working every Lent. By time Easter Monday rolls around my only words are “Jesus is risen, indeed he is truly risen! Me, on the other hand, I’ve collapsed.”

Today’s Gospel has shaken me from my “resurrection slumber” quite powerfully when Jesus says:
Do not work for food that perishes
but for the food that endures for eternal life…

This leaves me with a question about how many of us choose to live… Does our toil for our living, and our desire for a “secure future” keep us from Christ? I know that such worry and toil distracts me on a more regular basis than I care to admit. What about you?