Saturday, June 25, 2016

Three Word Wednesday: Joy in Freedom

Galatians 5:1
background photo from Kasia Górska; graphic design by me as suntreeriverdesign

Kristin Hill Taylor's Three Word Wednesday for this week features Joy in Freedom. I teach the mostly lectionary-based adult Sunday School class at my church, and the RCL has been reading Galatians sequentially—in fact, Galatians 5:1 of my header illustration opens the second reading for this coming Sunday, Pentecost 6 (Proper 8, Ordinary Time 13 for its other designations).

Joy in freedom is joy in the bounded freedom of obedience. The Ten Commandments of the Sinai Covenant offer us guidelines for every aspect of our lives in community and in the world. In Christ Jesus we know the fullness of freedom, yet Jesus came not to abolish the commandments – the law – but to fulfill it. To simplify, possibly? Not sure about that, but Jesus does assure us of unconditional forgiveness when we break a commandment and then repent, and that has to equal liberty!

Joy in Freedom! The EKD in Germany brings us a recent Foundational Text anticipating Reformation 500 in 2017: Justification and Freedom.

Tomorrow morning with my class I plan to reflect on some ideas related to freedom and joy.

For the past few weeks we've been doing a continuous reading of Galatians with its emphasis on the gospel of death and resurrection, its central theme of freedom. In Galatians the apostle Paul cautions about human-made laws such as sacrifice, ceremony, keeping kosher, and circumcision; last week in Galatians 3:23-29 Paul finally talks about law in the sense of the ten commandments of the Sinai covenant as he juxtaposes law and gospel. We mentioned the three uses of the law that theologians in the traditions of the Reformation sometimes opine about. In all of his letters, Paul makes a huge deal of our organic incorporation into Christ that happens in baptism, of our essential identity in Christ, who as our mediator between earth and heaven embodies the law and the prophets, who shows us the way to the Father, in whom we discover the freedom of obedience and the joy of grace.

The appointed Psalm 16 for Pentecost 6 connects especially well with Galatians. It centers on monotheism (acknowledgment and worship of only one God), and on the joy of obedience. Psalm 16:7 and 16:9 mention the human heart that in Hebrew biology mainly is the seat of the will rather than of the emotions as modern Westerners think of the heart. The human heart that wills to obey God, to love, nurture, and protect all creation, to seek the highest good for all.

Psalm 16:11 tells us God shows us the path of life, the way of obedience to the commandments, and the way of Christ that is death and resurrection. In God's presence we find "fullness of joy." In God's right hand (God's sovereignty) we discover "pleasures forevermore." Joyful pleasures abound when we live in the freedom we find in Jesus Christ

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Lose

Today's Five Minute Friday at Kate's place features the word lose.

Galatians 3:28-29

take five [minutes]

For the past few weeks in the Sunday morning adult class I facilitate we've been discussing the RCL readings from Galatians, the Apostle Paul's letter that's sometimes called "the epistle of Christian freedom." As I've explained to the class, Galatians was and still is Reformation Central; this coming Sunday for Pentecost 5 we'll talk about Galatians 3 that includes:

27As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise

Let's not lose the heritage of the Reformation that began with Martin Luther's acknowledging human enslavement to sin, our total inability to redeem ourselves; let's not lose sight of the sovereignty of grace that the Reformers proclaimed with joy! Let's not imagine losing our claim on our liberty in Christ. Please do not lose the freedom of life in the sufficiency of Christ! Let's not lose behaving as if our unity in Christ does not lead to homogenized sameness but means diverse gifts, perspectives, and personalities—because it does! Galatians was the first ethnic church—ethnic not in the typical Pauline dichotomy of Jews-Gentiles, but ethnic in terms of culture and geography

During this liturgically green season in the church's year of grace, we'll especially be talking about welcoming all comers – which the church I attend already does extremely well – and imagining the possibility of a church with no boundaries of interest, vocation, educational achievement, gender identity, economic sector, sexual orientation. Let's not lose the realization even if we can't become a community that formally includes persons from every sector of every stratum, we still don't need to lose the extravagant welcome we offer everyone.

five minute friday lose five minute friday button

Friday, June 10, 2016

five minute friday: want

Five Minute Friday host Kate's word for today is want.

serious drought

typing for five

"Want" can express lack, insufficiency, need or deficit:

For want of any other option, they took the local route again... The run-down neighborhood still has a desperate want of municipal services and amenities.

In a somewhat related way, "want" can be a clear and plain a loud or quiet incessant unrelenting or intermittent call for an object a person or article of desire. I love retail therapy! Online shopping and browsing can be fun, but there's almost no high like grazing my way through a brick and mortar store. I don't need to buy a thing, really I don't; I simply need to look and decide what I might want, though I have sufficient smarts to realize I don't need many if any of the colorfully designed things that catch my designer's eye. Every want is not a need, but some wants truly are needs. Retail rush aside, what do I want? California wants rain; California needs rain. I need rain and I want rain! The world wants and needs healthy waterways―and so do I.

five minute friday want five minute friday button

three word wednesday: seasons

Three Word Wednesday from Kristin Hill Taylor—time to consider Navigating New Seasons {3 Ways to Better Handle Change} – a topic everyone needs to consider now and then.

landslide seasons

Here's my illustration of Fleetwood Mac's Landslide—for the third time! Long ago in the women's Monday evening bible study I hosted and often led, I commented "people have seasons." JHD picked up on that as astonishing, though I'd guess she simply needed that reminder at that time. Recently I wrote about frequent intermissions in our lives, but before one gets (before I once again get) too frantically anxious, we need to remember God wastes none of our experiences.


I took my love and I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
Till the landslide brought me down
Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
And can I sail through the changing ocean tides
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
Oh oh I don't know, oh I don't know

Fleetwood Mac, "Landslide," by Stevie Nicks

Wednesday was World Oceans Day—my WOD 2016 blog.

Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks asks, "Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?"

Life's seasons often parallel the planet's agricultural cycles. Especially if you're in school as student or instructor, almost every year you spend in the classroom you have a strong sense of beginning all over again in the autumn, planting and scattering different kinds of seeds, teaching some and learning some, getting up to speed and assessing how much you've accomplished with formal report cards or other feedback, taking a winter break, going back to continue where you left off, by late spring feeling you've accomplished a lot. Then again, denizen of academia or not, most of us can look back on chunks of several years when maybe we dared begin a particular career, job, ministry, or relationship, accumulating achievements, a time or times of slim pickings, then a fairly large harvest or possibly at the point you expected a harvest nothing's there. So you decline to continue in favor of starting over again somewhere else or with something else.

The seasons of the church's liturgical year of grace also run alongside the wheel of the year with its planting, watering, waiting, harvesting—in the northern hemisphere, that is.

But this Three Word Wednesday is about finding three better ways to navigate the many seasons of our lives, most of which don't fit neatly into a 12-month long span. I love the trio Kristin got from Melody Hester of having

(1) reasonable,

(2) flexible expectations while

(3) trusting God to be both sovereign and good.

"Navigate" is nautical; over the centuries, many church buildings have been built in the shape of an upside-down ship. So the church helps us sail through the changing ocean tides? Sometimes.

Three simply excellent ideas for myself, then. In fact, I've previously done these off and on, so they've been tested by me. And now need to be revived. By me.

1. Find a yoga class and begin practicing yoga every day. In the past I've found yoga is fabulous for mint-body-spirit integration and healing.

2. Remember. God's faithfulness. Keep reading the stories in scripture. Keep recounting to myself and to others some of my own testimony of God's faithful graciousness! And mercy.

3. Keep on trying different places and spaces to fulfill my quest for the non-virtual human understanding and support I crave and need.

Kristin taylor seasons

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Wednesday, June 08, 2016

World Oceans Day 2016

World Oceans Day website

Healthy Oceans • Healthy Planet

world oceans day banner

World Water Day mostly emphasizes fresh waterways; World Oceans Day concentrates on waters that contain easily measurable saline. Oceans are planet earth's circulatory system and therefore, "healthy oceans" is a major part of the factors that add up to a health planet. The Nature Conservancy tells us, "When you think about it, oceans are pretty extraordinary. They're the source of half of the oxygen we breathe, account for 97 percent of the Earth's livable habitat and provide food and livelihoods for millions of people."

What's my WOD 2016 Panorama?

fresh catch just in from the north atlantic
wrapped in yesterday's news
all hands come to al hanscomb's aged by the atlantic beach house
tide charts tacked to the fridge
low tide aromas on pleasant bay
la jolla shores stretched out along the placid pacific
one month only on q street hull
waves crashing onto the shore
any ocean shore
seagull cries
hurricanes on the east coast
hurricanes along the west
barefoot walks along water's edge

WOD means all those memories
WOD will help create future realities

world oceans day banner

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Haven

Five Minute Friday host Kate's word for today is haven.

morning train

FMF: haven

"take 5" – minutes, that is.

A haven is a place of respite, of safety, of homecoming—a slice of heaven on earth. A few weeks ago in the adult SS class I lead we talked about God as a home-maker. I mentioned you don't buy or rent a home; you buy or rent a house or an apartment, and then you move in and create a home. Last Sunday I described the church at Galatia as the first ethnic church—ethnicity not in terns of Jews /gentiles as scripture typically uses the word ethnos for non-Jews, but in consideration of geographical and cultural differences. I suggested we can't require people to become like us to become members of the church; however they are, God calls us to the hospitality of welcoming everyone so that the church becomes heaven on earth, a haven for all comers. For next Sunday we'll discuss the Ephesians text that tells us in Christ we become members of the household of God. God the home-maker! Shelter, welcome, embrace, and safety sound pretty much like a heavenly haven to me. How about to you?

Header painting is my interpretation of a song from the American south. Words speak for themselves and also include:
Sister Mary wore three links of chain
On each link was my Jesus' name
All my sins been taken away, taken away
I'm on my way to the freedom land

five minute friday expect five minute friday button

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

three word wednesday: make summertime fun

Meteorological summer began today, 01 June; Kristin Hill Taylor's Three Word Wednesday brings us make summertime fun.

summer has been, summer sometimes still is, summer can be fun because...

orchid sky house

summer is light trails and light leaks

sunstruck pastels and neon cools

sizzling tropical brights


milkweed monarch garden milkweed monarch garden

summer is the city

house blues east coast house

summer is a splash of Americana colors

Truro Beach House

summer is Truro the town and Truro the (hymn) tune

mostly in the city

dreaming of the country

short beach nahant

sunday after church from north end to north shore

with a trip to Nahant

sunday after church from north shore to northerner shore

summer is...

summer school (I LOVE summer school!)

garden fresh tomatoes and blackberries from brambles

concerts at the

Charles River Esplanade Bowl Pops Embarcadero Pops Hollywood Bowl

three word wednesday summer house

summer is a country skyful of stars

summer 2016 is a new to me hashtag, #SFV – San Fernando Valley – "The Valley"

summer is the beach, city beach, country beach, suburban beach, any beach

pointillist beach

I don't need to do anything to make summer fun because...

summer is fun!

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