Monday, February 28, 2022

February 2022 :: Urban Delights

february 2002 summary blog header urban delights
…Winter, too:

December 2021 All Around Town

January 2022 Trippin'

• February is Valentine Month and Heart Month!

• Maybe you noticed outings and activities had started again? Suddenly because of Omicron, work and play have been crazy, so life subsided. For February's traditional emphasis, here's some city love in the form of urban beauty.

Lectionary Project for February concludes the Season of Epiphany

worship planning retreat
• Worship Planning Retreat on an early February Friday
Parking Lot Tree and Greenery
• Graceful Tree and Ground Shrub in the Parking Lot
Hope Garden
• Garden of Hope and Birdhouse Looking Out into Town
Urban Shadows
• Noontime Winter Shadows and Flowers
Living Local 2022
• Still Living Local in 2022

Friday, February 25, 2022

Five Minute Friday :: Peace

five minute friday shalom
Five Minute Friday :: Peace Linkup

Ever since Abram and Sarai journeyed from Ur of the Chaldeans toward the place God would show them when they got there (no surprise they're considered our progenitors in faith!), humanity has been involved in a social experiment. Ever since then, to be human has meant to be political, to live together, not trying to do life as solitary individuals or even as that mid-twentieth century curiosity of the nuclear family.

Many people outside of the Divine influence know something about irenic peace that's absence of conflict, but God's shalom reaches further, expands infinitely into every facet of every person and institution. Shalom is peace that's fullness, integrity, sufficiency. "Shalom" means enough of everything for everyone, a world where no one lacks yet no one has true excess, either. God commanded Jubilee we learn about in Leviticus 25 as a way to restore shalom.

News of Russia's invasion of Ukraine has devastated the free world; Russia's post-USSR oligarchy has been to blame. Like everyone, regular Russian people desire and need to participate in their own destinies, to live as self-ruled people, part of which happens when we choose our own leaders in free and fair elections.

God created us social beings. After Israel left imperial Egypt, where an oppressive tyrant and his minions had attempted to work them literally to death, by grace Moses helped God liberate the people. You know what happened next! Along the way to the place of bounty and stewardship they'd find on the other side of the river, the people received Ten Words of Life with the grace-filled gospel of continued freedom embedded in each one. If they put God and neighbor first, the people would participate in their own destinies. Everything they did would converge to create the fabric of the society God created us to live in. They would live in shalom as self-ruled people!

Matthew's gospel records Jesus saying, "Blessed are the Shalom Makers, for they shall be called Citizens of Heaven." For our right here and right now, that heaven is in the land where God has led us and placed us. Amen? Amen!
# # #
five minute friday peace city scene
five minute friday button

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Five Minute Friday :: Stretch

five minute friday stretch
FMF Stretch Linkup


During the year Y2K, I was playing Saturday night Scrabble again with my last City of History landlord and housemate. I tiled a 3-letter word and asked Nick, "Is that a stretch?" because I tended toward imaginative or obscure (or imaginary) words. He replied, "No. It's a shrink."

One of my pastors in Previous City used to have a website called Stretchy Church! That one's defunct; online these days he mainly hosts a podcast called Spiritual Life and Leadership where he interviews people from all over the place. It's been a good way for the church to stretch a distance and it never could have happened without the worldwide stretch of the internet.

God, who stretched the spangled heavens
infinite in time and place
flung the suns in burning radiance
through the silent fields of space
we your children, in your likeness
share inventive powers with you
Great Creator, still creating
show us what we yet may do

© 1967 Hope Publishing Co.
Words: Catherine Cameron, William Moore
Music: Holy Manna, from Southern Harmony, 1835

All the Words to God, Who Stretched the Spangled Heavens


I began with stretchy scrabble words and a stretchy church, but before those I remembered a hymn that sings of our stewarding the earth and of our co-creating with God. People sing it to different tunes, but it first got to me because I'm a pushover for traditional Americana hymnody like songs from Southern Harmony.

Stretch has many physical and psychological connotations, but the most important for today is to stretch boundaries and borders, to stretch our expectations and hopes to pray to listen and to search, to heed what we hear, to start healing creation. It starts with a very first move that then extends and stretches way far beyond this time and this space. Formed in God's Divine likeness, we stretch out our presence and our gifts and our reach. And we help stretch the borders of our local churches! Logically that stretches the reach of the universal church.

• This is a five minute free write. I thought about what I'd say before starting, but some of it doesn't come together well so if you're reading, please stretch your imagination.

# # #
five minute friday stretch
five minute friday button

Friday, February 11, 2022

Five Minute Friday :: Commit

creation commit earth
• Then God said,
"Let the earth bring forth grass,
and the fruit tree yield fruit,"
and it was so. Genesis 1:11

FMF :: commit linkup

Be committed to an institution. Join the church!

You may have heard the church is a human institution decided to God, a divine organism dedicated to humanity—and the rest of creation?

Whether or not you formally get baptized and officially join your local church as a full-fledged (flight wings more or less under your own control) voting member or mission partner, it began because of God's total commitment to you and to all God's beloved creation. As Martin Luther famously and scripturally explained the third article of the creed (sanctification), "I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, but the Holy Spirit has called me by the gospel … in the same way the Holy Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth."

I bounced my header banner with the Genesis 1 quote off of my art for Season of Creation 2018; Word was the series focus that year. Speech and action are one and the same with God: God speaks and it happens. God's Word creates, redeems, and sustains because of God's [humanly] incredible commitment to us. Since God has covenanted with us in a completely unchanging yet endlessly adaptable commitment, is it not a privilege of grace already given to us and for us to respond with our own commitment to creation that's also our commitment to God? Caring for earth's grasses and grains, stewarding those lovely fruit-bearing trees? Not by our own power, reason, strength, or will, but because the Holy Spirit makes it possible.

So… are you ready to commit? To God who's committed to you? To the creation that's God's glory and dwelling-place, the creation that embraces us in commitment?

# # #
five minute friday commit
five minute friday button