Thursday, January 27, 2011

the deal

here's the deal.

Life - is busy.

I've started to classes, both of which start with psycho-. Tells you something, no?
Psychopathology & Psychometrics. Pathology is on Thursday night. Metrics is on Saturday morning.

Psychometrics is the old testing and assessment class. My math and statistics are far, far behind me. This should be good.

And this week I accepted the role of chair of the 150th anniversary at Peace. We have enough money to pay the guest preachers and nothing else right now. I did not know this when I accepted the job. It will be an interesting year.

I'm not preaching as often, and that's okay. Life is busy. Things need to get done. I'm putting on my do-it hat and doing-it. Sometimes that makes me cranky. I will work on taking my time for prayer and mediation and exercise and eating right. Somewhere in there.

Anyone know someone with an Axis I diagnosis who is willing to be my interview subject?

Life goes on in the frozen north. But not as snowy as the north-east at least.

Monday, January 3, 2011

in the world

Christmas 2 – Year A – John 1:1-18 –“in the World” – Jan 1

& 2.
He came into the world, and the world came into being through him, and the world knew him not. But to all who received him . . . he gave the power to be children of God.

Happy New Year! I hope you had a good New Year’s Eve – even if you’re the sort that celebrates with New York City at 11 pm, or even New Year’s Eve in Nova Scotia – that’s for those of us who go to bed at 10 pm. It’s interesting how this date has become a cultural phenomenon – it’s all about
retrospectives of films, tv, music, news stories – what was thought to be important – and about looking forward – the bit about resolutions – plans and dreams that are unlikely to be carried out.

And all this for what is an arbitrary date, really. It’s a remnant of the old pagan solstice as much as anything. Why do we bother to make New Year's resolutions in the first place? Why do we feel this need each January 1 to set new goals? We hear things like: It is up to each of us to maximize the potential of every moment. It becomes all up to us to transform ourselves. Most of the New Year’s stuff we are exposed to, is all about us, about our world of things, appearances, status – what important, or what the world thinks is important. There’s a New Year Theology in all this, you see, a theology that suggests that it’s all about us, right now, in the place and pace of the world –
that if God is – God isn’t really important.

So I want you recognize that we are being kind of countercultural, subversive, when we read and reflect upon these scriptures in this New Year frenzy. Let us ask the scriptures what is important and see what they say.

So, let’s be a little ornery, let’s not think about us, let’s take a new – old - perspective – Let’s think about the greatest story ever – the real news – the reality that makes all and any true resolutions of better behavior possible. Here is the BIG NEWS: God acted, we claim. God promised and God came through. God made his resolution, and God doesn’t fail.

God entered the world – not as a bolt of lightning, or as a superhuman hero, or as an idea of goodness – but the Word of God became flesh, and dwell among us. That first few lines of the Gospel of John tell us of divine origin of CREATION – that God’s power of creation was in this WORD.

And then – a connection – the ministry of the one who pointed the way – the Baptist – was the one who saw that the light – the WORD – was entering the world in a whole new way.

And so the WORD CAME TO THE WORLD – was in the world. He spread his tent, he built his house, he made a home with creation. That is the big story, that is the whole point of us being here – in this room, together on at this darkest time of the year.

One writer suggests a new kind of Christmas celebration – the Christmas pageant according to the Gospel of John. What would a Christmas pageant based on the gospel of John look like?

The church would be bare and dark; the chancel stripped of pulpit, chairs, candles, flowers, altar: everything that's usually up there. All you'd need is a small, insignificant table, on which would sit a single, unlit candle. There would be no lights on, no music, nothing happening.

The worshipers would file in and sit for a very long time, silent as a Quaker meeting. They would sit long enough to begin to feel uneasy at the silence and maybe even a little scared of the dark (childhood fears returning). At long last, a person would march solemnly in, and without a word,
light that single candle.

No one, of course, would seriously try to put on a Christmas pageant like that, based on John's gospel. But, having imagined it, we can see how different John's Christmas story is. No color, music, or pageantry -- just one blazing, incontrovertible truth, a single statement so profound that maybe the only way to appreciate it is to sit in utter darkness and watch the candle-lit shadows play across the ceiling. (Lean Thompson)

He came into the world, and the world came into being through him, and the world knew him not.
But to all who received him . . . he gave the power to be children of God.

How else would we understand the power of light in the darkness but to sit in darkness? Of WORD in the silence but to experience silence? Of God taking on flesh and blood and humanity except to honor our own humanity? That’s it. We are human, and God loves us so much he takes on own
substance to honor us, to lead us, to save us.

“he was in the world, and the world came into being through him, but the world knew him not.”

That’s the tragedy – the world continued on its way, assuming that the near past – the top ten lists of human achievements and human wars and human silliness really mean anything. That’s the sad business – that people continue to make resolutions, say – here are my intentions for good living and back them up with their own will power. For some of those people, it is successful, but for many of us . . . not so much.

So let’s look at the New Year in a new way. Let’s address it as not all about us – let’s start with the notion that it is God’s story that we live in – not that God makes a rare appearance in ours, but that we live in God’s story.

What do our resolutions look like then? I like a list of resolutions prepared by the Rev. Walter
Schoedel. He calls them ‘7-UPS for the New Year.’ So – resolutions in the Light of John 1.

The first is WAKE UP--Begin the day with the Lord. It is His day. Rejoice in it.

The second is DRESS-UP—This doesn’t mean fancy clothes, but about showing an attitude of gratitude. Put on a smile. Delight in the world, and let it show.

The third is SHUT-UP--Watch your tongue. Don't gossip. Say nice things. Learn to listen.

The fourth is STAND-UP--Take a stand for what you believe. Resist evil. Do good.

Five, LOOK-UP--Open your eyes to the Lord. After all, He is your only Savior.

Six, REACH-UP--Spend time in prayer with your adorations, confessions, thanksgivings and supplications to the Lord.

And finally, LIFT-UP--Be available to help those in need--serving, supporting, and sharing.

If you're going to make New Year's resolutions this year, let me suggest this list, a list that remembers that transformation starts with God, the creator and savior and Lord.
Once we realize that we live in God’s story, we begin to understand it’s not all about us, and not all up to us, but we can live in the promise that those who receive him, who believe in his Name are children of God. AMEN.