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Monday, December 27, 2021

The End of 2021 and The Beginning of 2022

This is the last week of the year. It is somewhat of an arbitrary end and beginning. Of course there have been and are other calendars used, but this is the current general calendar. So the end of the year is agreed to be Friday, and the beginning of the new year is agreed to be Saturday.

The endings of things are a mixture of grieving and celebration. Because of so many huge problems in 2021, we might have a Wizard of Oz kind of reaction - The wicked witch is dead. We've all slogged through a pandemic, likely said goodbyes to people we loved, watched in horror as violence rose, been extremely concerned over the rise of Marxism (wokeism, cancel culture, declining free speech, deterioration of free press, artificial divisions of people, etc).  We hope and pray those dreadful things end with the end of the year. Whether they stay in 2021 or come along into 2022 has a lot to do with what we do. Courage and faith are needed to face down evil.

Let's imagine for a moment what a more wonderful 2022 might be like. For me, common sense, critical thinking and integrity become "the in thing," the sought after stance, the thing praised and raised up as ideals. We are able to look at choices and discern what the likely outcomes would be for each, and then chose the one that is the most likely to bring positive results. We are able to look propaganda and spin in the face and laugh as we walk away from it. 

We stand as free people who care about freedom. We love one another and have compassion. We deepen our faith in The Divine Presence and focus on that most important relationship. We are the people God created us to be, aware we are doing all things in the presence of that Presence. 

Let it be so.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Christmas and Easter


Excerpts from the 22nd Psalm, The Message and NIV translations 


The Psalm begins with the words later put in the mouth of Jesus on the cross:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (NIV translation)

Near the end of the Psalm, he comes up with something hopeful:

From the four corners of the earth
    people are coming to their senses,
    are running back to God.
Long-lost families
    are falling on their faces before him.
God has taken charge  from now on he has the last word. (Message translation)

I encourage you to read the entire Psalm and in several translations. If you don't have any, just go to Bible Gateway on the internet, and with no charge, you can read a number of translations.

Anyway, I was reading it this morning and thought about the shift in the Psalmist's point of view. At first, he was defeated, lost, feeling his connection to God had gone. He was depressed and desolate. He was on the cross, so to speak, in his own life. But out of the depths of despair, he found his way back to hope and faith.

Each of us here on earth have taken such a journey, maybe a number of times. The darkness lifts, and we can see and hope again.

Right now, the human story on earth looks a lot like the beginning of this Psalm. There is a pandemic, totalitarian regimes are threatening, lawlessness is on the rise, there is a polarization of extreme right and left, church attendance is down, etc etc etc.

There is a glimmer of hope arising. People are waking up from the hypnosis of propaganda. From the four corners of the earth, people ARE coming to their senses.

Let this Christmas time, celebrating the birth of the Christ Light, be our time to awaken in God, to have this Christ Light born in us, to rise up in faith to do and be great things together.




Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Droughts of Another Kind

Maybe, just maybe the drought here in the West is ending. We've had some rain and now maybe 4 inches today plus rain for several days and snow in the mountains. Perhaps our water crisis is easing.

As I was falling asleep; last night, contemplating the rain, another kind of drought came wafting into my thoughts. For most of our planet, there is a spiritual drought!

In the West, church attendance has dropped precipitously. In some countries, religion is under attack. In some countries, there is death to believers; churches, synagogues, and mosques are destroyed, and there is censorship of ideas. Marxism and totalitarianism rear their heads once again, You know, you can see it.

Questions come to mind. Why? How? What?

It is complex, with no simple or pat answers. It's a combination of a multitude of things stirred into the pot of human life. We cannot undo the past, but maybe we can change the trajectory of the future. To do so, we must be awake - seeing and hearing and thinking and speaking beyond the hypnosis of propaganda. We must be willing to relearn critical thinking, revisit logic, learn how cause and effect work, how this or that has worked out in the past, be open to be instructed by humanity's past follies. 

It seems to me, if a sufficient number of us can rise up mentally, the future might be bright. If not, it has been shown to me that we are on the edge of a long and terrible new dark age.

Let us rise, seeking wisdom and clarity and freedom. Let us turn to the Divine Presence, The More, and seek Guidance. Let us put on the garment of courage. Let us be our best and brightest selves. Let us avert the darkest of ages looming over us.

Stand with me on all that is holy and good and filled with light and love. Turn from the seduction of dark forces. Refuse to dim your own holy light. Be the light of the world in the spot where you are. Perhaps we can change the dark course.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Virgin vs Young Woman

I enjoy the writings of the Bible scholar, Amy Jill Levine. This morning I am reading a section of her book "The Bible With and Without Jesus." Below is a small section. I do hope you will read the whole book, as this is just a tiny piece.

Since Isaiah clearly spoke of a pregnant young woman, and since the sign clearly addressed the looming political crisis, how did the idea of a virginal conception arise? For that, we need to look at the Greek translation of Isaiah 7:14.

INSTEAD OF translating ‘almah as “young woman of marriageable age,” with the expected Greek term neanis, the Septuagint offers parthenos. And with this one word, centuries of Jewish-Christian debate, as well as of internal Christian litmus tests, begin.

Because of a mistranslation of one word, centuries of theology have piled on top of that one word -  everything from burning at the stake if you said Mary was not a virgin to burned Bibles that translated that word correctly.

As a seeker of truth, I ask myself, Does the brilliant teaching of Jesus suffer because he was born naturally rather than supernaturally? I think not. I think his ideas stand on their own without hocus pocus.

He is my master teacher, my guide, my reference, my example. He has changed my life over and over again. 

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Have a Blessed Sacred Season

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannuka, or other sacred times, I hope you keep it precious and sacred, keeping out blatant commercialism. Presents are great, especially thoughtful ones giving something special that the person loves to do or enjoys. BUT frenzied shopping, rude fights over an item, going into debt, etc. are not true to the season.

The year is ending, the holidays are here, what a perfect time to reflect on our spiritual journey. What a great time to consider the deeper meanings of the holidays we celebrate. How does the holiday touch our hearts and minds? How has it continued year after year after year after century? How can we honor it and our journey more deeply? And how can we grow into it and the actual underlying meaning?

One little example. I used to always include certain things in my Christmas Eve service back when I was a pastor. I often quoted Meister Eckhart, my favorite mystic, when he said something like - What good is it that Christ was born to Mary those many years ago, if he is not born in us today?  Paul declared it was the Christ within that was our hope of glory. So imagine with me that the spirit of Christ is born in the manger of your heart this very night. How would that change your life? How would that feel? Imagine it with me and welcome the Christ child in your deepest being. Be willing for a sacred, blessed Christmas or Hannuka or,,,,

Divine Presence, open my heart to experience the essence of the holidays. Stir my soul with Your Light and lead me into a new level of my spiritual journey. Quicken my heart and soul., open my eyes. May this the most sacred of holidays. Amen, Amen and Amen