Wednesday, November 30, 2011

faith, order & witness opening prayer

today I offered this prayer to open our Faith, Order and Witness meeting

Holy God, whose Spirit of Life pervades all creation, again you have called us together as a small segment of the church in this county and as people longing for essential unity in Christ yet aware of our denominational differences and distinctions.

Recently we celebrated the supreme Lordship of Jesus Christ and look forward to another journey through Advent and into Christmas and on from there. In some ways we think we already now "what's next," we think we've been there a few times before, yet we also acknowledge you as God of astonishing surprises, including the ultimate surprise of resurrection from the grave.

May our prayerful efforts to understand each others histories and perspectives in this tiny, remnant-style group act as small stones cast into a large pond whose ripples reach out to bring others in.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

gifts from the ground; hope for the earth

This is part of the more-or-less monthly synchroblog series when as many people who choose get to blog on the same topic at the same time.

Advent synchroblog on wordpress and what's going on: "To begin Advent we are exploring ideas that are encompassed in "Jesus Is Coming: What Do You Expect?" ... What are we expecting? How will it impact our lives and our faith?"

I really really appreciate getting a writing (or designing) prompt, something a little more specific than "Advent again!" or "Lectionary Year B again!" and wondering how our expectations might influence and make a mark in our lives and world feels just right. You can read the scriptures on textweek and elsewhere.

advent 1The texts for lectionary year B - Mark's year again - are about [God's!] faithfulness and about restoration; about transgression and redemption; about covenant and place. Images of personified nature in action, apocalyptic visions and unconventional human pregnancies. When we're pondering secular history, interpreting the past through the present - historicism - is bad form, but we interpret promises and events in scripture through the present literally all the time. During advent we hear about preparations and predictions and although we already know Jesus was born and Jesus still is here, what does it mean to live as people of hope, people once again awaiting God's promised presence in this early 21st century year 2011? From scripture, from Jesus of Nazareth's ministry and from God's grace-filled, Spirit-enabled call to the Church, we know nature is not the backdrop, nor is it the stage, the arena or even the means of God's action and self-revelation; in many ways nature is an actor and an end in itself.

The Feast of the Nativity, the first in the trilogy of great trinitarian celebrations with Easter (redemption) and Pentecost (sanctification) to follow is "The" supreme celebration of Creation. Christmas gifts ideally are gifts of creation: cookies; quick breads; pickled herring; mulled wine; homemade candles; hand knit scarves and sweaters. Considering Judaism's and Christianity's affirmation and celebration of the body and of the natural, phenomenological world, is it surprising (or is it possibly not at all surprising?) that at nativity-tide we acknowledge a newborn infant essentially formed from the substance of the same earth that grows crops to nourish us and that's closely related to other animals, "animate beings," that give yarn for knitting, help fertilize the ground, land that grows trees that shade, that gift us with lumber to make houses and shopping centers... we read scripture backwards and realize this baby named "Jesus - Save!" is the start of the New Creation!

Though it's common to hear Christianity referred to as "spiritual" practice, the way of Jesus is heavily economic, highly political and hardly ascetic in its celebration of gifts from the ground, in its perspective that insists on the interdependence of all life, in its historical affirmation of human sexuality and in its charge to care for all creation—in sacramental theology we even speak of the capacity of the finite to contain the infinite! Advent marks the start of a brand-new liturgical year and in these advent texts we again discover nature and the created environment are not the theater of God's revelation, not the stage of history, but integral to God's actions in history.

from Advent 2B: " accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home." 2 Peter 3:13

from Advent 4B: 6 I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place ... 2 Samuel 7

The Feast of the Nativity, the first in order of the trilogy of great trinitarian celebrations with Easter (redemption) and Pentecost (sanctification) to follow is "The" supreme liturgical celebration of Creation; historically Christmas gifts have been gifts of creation.

What now? What do I expect and what am I planning to do for the start of this new liturgical year? How can I live in hope for the earth and for those who make earth their dwelling-place? I'm doing what I can to make my gifts this nativitytide not only gifts of creation but gifts for creation. Like someone trying to sort through accumulated notes, texts, papers and related from a few hundred years of school (that does sound autobiographical?) or similar to doable advice from cognitive behavioral therapy, I'm starting small. Loving where I am and showing it by consuming as little as possible, buying local, bartering goods and services rather than exchanging currency whenever possible. A couple loaves of bread in exchange for a pair of knit mittens? A locally sourced, home-cooked meal for clean windows?

Nature is no more spectator than humans are! In sacramental theology we speak of the capacity of the finite to contain the infinite… whether your theology considers baptism an ordinance or a sacrament, it can't happen without clean, flowing water. Whatever your theology of the Lord's Supper, Holy Communion, the Eucharist, it cannot happen without fertile soil, unfiltered sun, farmers and vintners and bakers, potters and speakers of the word.

I'm starting small this year, by giving gifts of creation to a world that cries out for cooperation, interdependence and redemption.

other participants include
• ron cole at the weary pilgrim – advent: reimagining everything
• liz dyer at grace rules – expect the unexpected
• mix melly at perchance to dream – parousia
• kathy escobar at the carnival in my head – present, humble, vulnerable
• David Perry at Visual Theology – Advent As A Mirror of Possibility
• Christine Sine at Godspace – Jesus Is Coming What Do We Expect?
• Liz VerHage at Living Theology
• Sally Coleman at Sally's Journey – Come Spirit of Advent
• Jeremy Myers at Till He Comes – Jesus Is Returning Today
• Glenn Hager – Antithetical Advent
• Ellen Haroutunian – Remember Our Story
• Carol Kuniholm at Words Half Heard – What I'm Waiting For
• Mihee Kim-Kort  – Advent Expectations: Keep Awake
• John Reid at Blog One Another – Undiscovered Advent: The Second Coming of Christ
• Dave Wainscott – For Advent I'm Expecting What I Desire and What I Deserve
• David Henson – Reflections on the Second Sunday of Advent
• david perry at visualtheology – word, life space and enlightenment

Thursday, November 24, 2011

It is good to give thanks...

"It is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord,
and to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
To tell of your loving kindness early in the morning
and of your faithfulness in the night season;
On the psaltery and on the lyre
and to the melody of the harp.
For you have made me glad by your acts, O Lord;
and I shout for joy because of the works of your hands.

"It is good, it is good, it is good, to give thanks to the Lord on high
To sing of Your faithfulness and loving kindness both day and night
To play on our instruments sweet songs of praise for the things You do
It is good, it is good, it is good, to give thanks to You."

"It Is Good," Psalm 92 by Ron Kenoly

│◥███◣ ╱◥███◣
╱◥◣ ◥████◣▓∩▓│∩ ║
│╱◥█◣║∩∩∩ ║◥█▓ ▓█◣
││∩│ ▓ ║∩田│║▓ ▓ ▓∩ ║
♥•°*”˜˜”*°• From our house to your house •°*”˜˜”*°•♥
♥•°*”˜˜”*°•Happy Thanksgiving to Family and Friends•°*”˜˜”*°•♥

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Reign of Christ: Eucharistic Prayer

disclaimer: I wrote this over four years ago and I've posted it with no changes or revisions.

• The Lord be with you.
• And also with you.
• Lift up your hearts.
• We lift them to the Lord.
• Let us give thanks to God.
• It is right to give both thanks and praise!

Holy God, Mighty Lord, Renewer of Creation and Bringer of Joy,
endless are your mercies and unending your grace!
Maker of stars and Giver of dreams,
it is privilege indeed to acclaim and adore you!

At the dawn of time your Word spoke order out of chaos and disorder, and brought beauty into your glorious light;

You formed humanity in your image and drew us into covenant with you; you called us to be your reconciling Presence in the world.

When we strayed from your path and fled from your presence, choosing idols and intellect rather than Spirit and Freedom, you led us through the wilderness into a country flowing with your extravagant supply.

When rebellion against your righteous law broke us once again, you would not let this world remain shattered, and in Jesus of Nazareth, born of Mary, born under the law, you lived among us.

You baptized us with water, with fire and with your Spirit;
and sent Bread from Heaven to keep us wholly alive.

Therefore, in celebration with the people of God in all the ages, with all creation and with the angelic hosts of heaven, we sing:

Holy are you, God of Majesty and Awe,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, your Son, our Redeemer and Lord.

Leaving the boundlessness of heaven,
he came to earth, experiencing doubt, betrayal and abandonment
yet bearing the weight of sin and separation,
he carried us into the liberty of your grace.

Bound to the tree of shame on Calvary's Hill,
shedding his innocent blood, he sealed the covenant between heaven and earth.

bread and cupBroken and dying for all creation's sake
rising to new life from the bondage of the tomb
he delivered us from sin and death,
forming the new creation promised by your prophets.

Remembering Jesus Christ's birth, life, death and resurrection,
with the Church in every place and every time, we proclaim the mystery of faith:
Christ has died;
Christ is risen;
Christ will come again!
On the night of betrayal and desertion, our Lord Jesus took bread,
and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body which is broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me."

In the same way after supper, he also took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."

As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes again in glory.
Giver of the journey and Bestower of the gifts,

Send down your Spirit of holiness and transformation,
and sanctify these gifts of bread and cup uniting us to all creation in every place and in every time.

Send down upon this assembly of your creation and redemption – and upon the world – your Spirit of life and renewal;

Calm our anxieties and quiet our fears.

Make us bearers of your grace
that we may be your reconciling embrace for the world, reclaiming, restoring and transforming all creation into the reign of heaven on earth.

Then, at last, when endless morning comes,
when all brokenness is whole and holy,
when all creation once again redeemed,
with all the saints of every time and place
as the family of God in Jesus Christ we will gather around heaven's Welcome Table,

we will sing alleluias to you,
through Jesus Christ, crucified and Risen
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
endlessly into eternity, amen!
forever and ever,


© Leah Chang

Friday, November 18, 2011

t-day 5

Since next Thursday is Thanksgiving Day USA, today Jan hosts 5 about giving thanks

1. I hope again to be a little north of here with my friend and neighbor's family of origin.

2. For T-Day-related family traditions or memories , I'll go with "memories." Over my adult years I've experienced many church social hall Thanksgiving feasts, including 2 or 3 times I volunteered to provide background piano music for the community thanksgiving in a nearby beach town. In High Desert City I did a cooperative thanksgiving with neighbors in my apt complex.

3. Last year we had classically traditional turkey, stuffing/dressing, gravy, fabulous mashed potatoes, cranberries and pies. Over the years I've become accustomed to a few ethnic dishes gathered around the Big Bird such as lasagna and ricotta pie when I lived in an Italian-American neighborhood, Soul Food in the inner city, comida Mexicana in the Southwest... but I like it any way.

4. I'm not trying anything new for T-day since I won't be in charge of the happenings but I am trying lots of new things otherwise and in the interest of blogging this won't list those here and now.

5. As of now weather next Thursday is forecast as sunny bright, high of 68, low of 54 for the coast, typically warmer inland, with various permutations for desert and mountains, the other two of our four local micro-climates.

Bonus: For a "Prayer, poem, song, or whatever you choose to exemplify your image of Thanksgiving (giving thanks)" it's always, always, "We Gather Together" sung to Kremser... wonderful memories of singing it in New England, "Let thy congregation escape tribulation..." and serendipitously one Sunday morning at the Roman Catholic St Bavo in Haarlem. Seems as if it's been a late November favorite wherever I've lived.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the USA and territories, Happy next Thursday, wherever you are and thanks, Jan, welcome back!

Friday, November 11, 2011

5 for 11/11/11

Songbird hosts today's 11.11.11 5; here's the drill: "For today's Friday Five, share five ways you or someone you know likes to turn it up to 11. How have you gone beyond the usual expected limits? Feel free to interpret this as eccentrically as possible."

My first throughout was this one's for me, since I tend to run everything into the ground... then I had difficulties coming up with 5, though eventually these fell into line and besides, I srsly wanted to blog for 11/11/11.

1. Long ago, probably in HS, I compiled a collage from magazine pictures and words to read, "Your opinion? Follow your heart, the best is yet to come!" and added the essential kicker, "but... you've got to be an expert." I've done whatever it has taken to achieve a level of expertise or close to it in most of what I've attempted, and I've found that most of the time my abilities have lead to my exclusion rather than inclusion. A few years ago someone was looking over my shoulder at this blog and some of my design I had up on the computer and she said, "You're a treasure! People should be exploiting you!" I agreed and still agree with that assessment, they should be and I wanted to reply, "That's just my art and my theology. You should hear me play the piano..." (but of course I didn't.)

2. Slowly and carefully making my way through most of J.S. Bach's organ music: about 18 of the arguably couple dozen major preludes/fantasies/toccatas and fugues; the 4 concerto transcriptions, 4 of the 6 trio sonatas; all of the 18 Great, Leipziger chorale preludes; the 6 Schübler chorale preludes; large and small catechism chorales (Clavierübung part 3); some assorted other pieces with no intention ever of making a life as a musician. The level of discipline and each accomplishment simply feels so good!

3. I wait for people to come through (for me) and I wait for situations to develop, ripen and resolve, which is most cases has been a fruitful, healthy practice and discipline, but occasionally it hasn't been. As they say, most psychological pathology is an exaggeration of normal, usually healthy traits.

4. I couldn't think of 5 in time to publish this blog, so this #4 continues #3. However, I've moderated in some important ways. For example, I've been able to take my own advice not to continue pursuing situation "m" or making excuses for individual "n," but still to stay open to them for future developments.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

All Saints' Images

I realize these 1st and 2nd lections aren't the RCL texts, but they are Lutheran Book of Worship and that sometimes differs a little.

Isaiah 26:1-4; 8-9; 12-13; 19-21

Isaiah 26:9

Revelation 21:9-11; 22-27; (22:1-5)

Revelation 22:2

Matthew 25:1-12

Matthew 5 beatitudes

Friday, November 04, 2011

friends friday 5

Today kathrynzj hosts time with friends 5... would you believe this topic creates a firestorm in me?! But I'm playing anyway! intro:
For today's Friday Five please tell us 5 things you like to do with friends. Are they local - do you hit a favorite coffee shop or nail salon? What about the friends who come in from out of town? Do you have a restaurant or museum you like to show off?
Real vs. ideal keeps meeting me face-to-face (hitting me over the head); since I'm still trying hard to reweave social and professional networks and still trusting both will happen when I'm not looking, here's a list of what I used to do and would like to do again. BTW, as many excuses as I make for this being Southern California and the 21st century, those factors must be only minor, since all around me in real life and in online comments and status updates I observe people socializing with friends and living a life not too dissimilar to the way mine used to be. In sage green, here's my 5:

1. Lunch has gotta be first on the list, preferably at a nice but affordable sit-down restaurant, but Mexican fast food will do in a $$$ pinch.

2. An afternoon at the beach. Walking along the shore in cooler weather, talking and snacking under an umbrella or in a cabaña in summer months or early autumn.

3. A day at the zoo or safari park, formerly wild animal park.

4. Anza-Borrego State Park: the desert again, maybe especially when and if it's in glorious bloom, but always at other times to be stripped clean and to know beneath its bleak, crazed beauty life teams, sometimes unseen and not perceived, but remembered, re-called, and trusted.

5. I'm longing to have peeps in my life again who'll simply stop by my place and will be excited about helping me pick out my entry to the next art show, willing to read and comment on my recent theology blog, my latest thrift store find.

What people tend to hear me say is I'm not getting the ministry opps I crave and need, and I'm definitely not, though those were starting to reweave and regenerate a few years ago but then dropped off into a bottomless abyss. Something I can do about the situation is to get out of rationalization and denial...? Spending days, months, years and now decades without real life friends is similar to being without nutritious food. As persistently and wisely as I claim and rejoice in the sacraments and the liturgy that connect me with the whole people of God in every place and time, that simply is not enough. I feel brittle but I know I'm too tough to really break.

Thanks, Kathryn; peace, world!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Wall Street / Our Street

November synchroblog: Wall Street / Our Street

November synchroblog on wordpress: calling us out of numbness. Every month we get to blog at the same time on the same topic!

Richard Rohr says "the role of the prophets is to call us out of numbness." Since the beginning of time, prophetic voices both in and outside of scripture have been calling us to consider change of some sort. ... Regardless of the emphasis, prophets challenge us to consider a better future. Right now there's a strong sense of change brewing...

This month's Synchroblog is centered on where are you being challenged by some kind of prophetic voice.
  • What is it stirring up in you?
  • What is God challenging you to consider?
  • How does it intersect with your faith & practical experience?
The popular media has been showing and telling us a lot about the consensus in the meritocracy, on The [Wall] Street and company; I'm wondering about the common sense on Main Street where most of us spend most of our time.

wall street with flag and sky by Maely SchassinThe San Diego River winds through a section of this city, lending its name to Camino Del Rio - Way of the River - in west, north and south designations. Most of the time it crawls along instead of running through because it has become a dumping ground for trash and has caught on fire a number of times. But in any case, the current moves you along. As we read in the book of Acts, the early church sometimes referred to Christians as followers of "The Way" of Jesus. The early church always baptized in the flowing water of a river: you can't step into the same river more than once, since it's always in motion, the waters that were here then are over there now--that's how is is with the Way of the River, the Riverway; we live out our baptism with similar fluidity and unpredictability.

God calls us and baptizes us into the way of justice for all creation, but since that is extremely historically and geographically generic, what's happening right here on the street where I live and on nearby mesas and canyons and beachfronts?  For one thing, similar to a lot of other cities, there's been a fairly active Occupy San Diego movement that spun off from Occupy Wall Street and that's been "occupying" the plaza around City Hall. As their Facebook page points out, "1% of the people who live in the United States own and control the wealth, while the remaining 99% of the population struggle to make ends meet and there those who fail in that goal due to the fact their voices and their needs go unnoticed by the controlling 1%." And I know peeps who are getting involved in more visibly conservative political, social and economic movements that also aim to return agency and a measure of control to that 99% of the regular people--it's still the case that those who hold the gold typically have the say; in other words, they're financially articulate and verbally articulate, too: money talks.

Eddie Vedder sings "The Times They are a-Changin'" by Bob Dylan and notice this performance is from Voices for Justice Rally. A selection from the lyrics:
Come writers and critics who prophesize with your pen // And keep your eyes wide; the chance won't come again // And don't speak too soon, for the wheel's still in spin // And there's no tellin' who that it's namin', for the loser now will be later to win // For the times they are a-changin'

The line it is drawn; the curse it is cast // The slow one now will later be fast // As the present now will later be past // The order is rapidly fadin' And the first one now will later be last // For the times they are a-changin' ...
(the complete song: The Times They Are A-Changin').

Doesn't that sound like the Magnificat? "He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty." ...Luke 1:52-53

urban alley / street by Ethan Wilkinson

God calls us to make the ministry of Jesus, the words of the Magnificat Miriam sang our own, to make them living realities in the world, particularly in our very nearby vicinities.

What is stirring in me on this early November day? How is God challenging me and what would common sense advise? What's the Camino del Rio, the Way of Jesus, our baptismal call in this intersection of history and geography? What situation, circumstances and words call me out of numbness and even might cause me to help others to enlivening action?

The scriptures and the liturgy long have been the currency of my life; the patterns and rhythms of the liturgical year shape and inform my days, weeks, months and years. It's now November, late in the greening, growing "ordinary" or ordered season of Pentecost that's sometimes referred to as the Time of the Church. Soon Advent will be here, with texts and symbols full of promises, cautions, warnings, charges to repent--and replete with hope. John The Baptist preaches and pushes us into initiating God's way of justice - especially distributive justice - in our lives and worlds before we meet the God of heaven come to earth in the fragile vulnerability of the Bethlehem manger. Wouldn't you think God's presence in our very midst in human form that we can encounter face to face would be a time for "Hallelujahs?!" The jagged, colorful, apocalyptic and prophetic images that meet us at right angles to much of our everyday manner of living and being also stir us out of complacency about completing yet another liturgical year again... What is stirring up in me and the air around me? That question reminds me of the Advent collects that each open with, "Stir up your power, O Lord..." Stir up your power in us, O Lord!

From where I live in an ethnically, socially, demographically diverse section of the city there are some simple ways to start. For example, on the day after the US celebrates Thanksgiving that's been called Black Friday because retailers typically are able to balance their books from the purchasing power of the day, instead try Buy Nothing Day or better yet, make it a day to Buy Local from nearby-based manufacturers, vendors, artisans, farmers and crafters, literally seeking the welfare of the place where we live. For example, in the wake of the excessive greediness of most of the mega-banks, there's been a tremendous run on consumer-friendly credit unions. Another example is the woman who started a signature petition that before long convinced one mega-bank and then others to discontinue debit card fees. Those types of actions are as simple as they sound and they're doable, too. Each of us can be the beginning of helping fill the hungry with good things and lifting up the lowly. Bringing down the mighty from their thrones? The first ones now later being last? Justice just may make that happen!

The river is always in motion, so you can't step into it more than once; the always in motion current will move us along together, taking us somewhere other than where we started. What God calls us to do today may be finished tomorrow, when we can seek different challenges as together in the Spirit we travel the Way of the River together in church and community and making the world more just and livable.

Not surprisingly, I have enough ideas on this for a second post, so maybe soon. To be continued? I hope so—peace!

PS Due to YT vids coming and going, I've been deleting links to them but keeping the song titles so you can find your own performances

City street/alley by Ethan Wilkinson; Wall Street by Maely Schassin, both via Unsplash.

Other synchroblog participants:

• Joy Wilson - Solacetree - The Blessing of Losing Your Faith
• Jeremy Myers - Till He Comes - I Have a Dream
• Glenn Hager - Breathe - Uncomfortably Numb
Sally - Eternal Echoes - Where are the true prophets?
• Alan Knox - the assembling of the church - "My Word of Prophecy: stop listening to prophetic voices"
• Liz Dyer - Grace Rules - Listen
• Linda - kingdom grace - on earth as it is in heaven
• Christine Sine - Godspace - Surrounded by Prophetic Voices: Clouds of Witnesses That Call Us Out of Numbness
• Amy Martin - The Window of Suffering, the Beginning of Hope
• Kathy Escobar - The Carnival in My Head - rising up from below
• K.W. Leslie - More Christ - What is God Challenging You to Do?
• Katharine Gunn - Truth Makes Freedom - Where is Your Heart?
• Steve Hayes - Khanya - Murder of the Cathedral
• Tammy Carter - Blessing the Beloved - No compromise
• Katherine Gunn - A Voice in the Desert - Where Is Your Heart?
• Bobby Aunder - Deconstructing Neverland - Shift