Random thoughts on a Sunday afternoon...

A few random thoughts about ministry, music and the challenge of being being authentic at this moment in time late on a Sunday afternoon...

+ As often happens, today's spoken meditation came out a little different (or a lot different) from my written notes. For one thing, a big difference hit me while playing with St. Paul's words about life as a living sacrifice: the Revised Standard Version of the Bible speaks of presenting ourselves to God as a living sacrifice while Peterson's Message renders it "take your everyday life... and present it to God as an offering." One has to do with literally making something sacred - sacer (sacred) + facere (to make) - as in a sacred fire; while the other is a gift that is shared during worship.

Now I understand - and affirm - the calling to live as a sacred fire to God: not only is dross burned away in this fire a la Pentecost, but warmth and light are shared with those in need. Still at this moment in my life - and maybe at this moment in the life of my faith tradition, too - living as a shared gift has more power and value. Living as a shared gift suggests learning how to give as well as receive - becoming a person of hospitality - and that resonates more deeply with my understanding that I am called to mature in my discipleship throughout my life. In fact, The Message captures the essence of Paul's wisdom like this: Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

What's more, this type of discipleship takes place in community - as a living part of the Body of Christ - rather than in a primarily privatized way. It is an alternative to the piety of the age that one of my daughter's calls the spirituality of "Jesus is my boyfriend!"

+ Another thought floated through my mind as I was sitting in worship this morning: "O Lord, can't we be freed from the trap and burden of our buildings!" We were in a small rustic ski lodge in the State Forest today sharing worship with a sister congregation. It was so open and free when all of a sudden it hit me again: "Damn but the mission and impact on our community we could be making if we weren't so literally indebted to our buildings!" (Someone calls this our "edifice complex.")

Don't get me wrong, buildings matter - we need sacred places as well as centers to organize our mission, study together and feast - but the time has probably already come for more and more of us to join together and share space for mission and ministry. And not necessarily as part of the same congregation (although that could happen, too) but just as people using God's resources wisely.

+ And then... what a treasure of talent can be unlocked by inviting the local artists into our faith communities. I was introduced to an incredible local talent - Linda Worster - who sings with depth and beauty and plays the guitar with style and grace. OMG... if you don't know her work, check her out at: http://www.lindaworster.com/ (I wish I could include one of her tunes here, but go to her site and take a listen: it is sweet!) As she sang this morning, she brought a healing to us all - something like what Mary Oliver talks about in her poem, "Broken, Unbroken."

The lonely
stand in the dark corners
of their hearts.

I have seen them
in cities,
and in y own neighborhood,

nor could I touch them
with the magic
that they crave

to be unbroken.
Then, I myself,
lonely,

said hello to
good fortune.
Someone

came along
and lingered
and little by little

became everything
that makes the difference.
Oh, I wish such good luck

to everyone.
How beautiful it is
to be unbroken.
(Mary Oliver, "Broken, Unbroken," Evidence: Beacon Press, Boston, 2009)

It was a day of blessing upon blessing - and random thoughts that are pregnant with possibilities - and now even a hint of sun in what seems like perpetual rain. Like Luka Bloom sang: I'm a happy man in the world.

(credits: 1) unlisted; 2) from the red pill consortium; 3) from linda worster my space; 4) google public images)

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