Friday, July 01, 2022

Five Minute Friday :: Trust

trust picture with pistachios
Five Minute Friday :: Trust Linkup

Mary came in with a jar of very expensive aromatic oils, anointed Jesus' feet, and then wiped his feet with her hair. The fragrance of the oils filled the house. John 12:3

Of course Jesus wants teachable disciples! He asks us to follow him—all the way to the empire-defying, systems-shattering cross on Calvary Hill, all the distance to the empty grave of Resurrection Day. Jesus commands us to go! everywhere into all the world to teach, to show, to baptize others who then will teach – show – love – tell – baptize.

But especially via John's gospel Jesus wants us to trust him, love him, abide in him. Jesus calls us to be trusters, lovers, abiders. If you only would believe! Yes, Lord, I believe! Maybe particularly in John, belief isn't intellectual agreement or assent (though creeds and statements of faith can be helpful); belief is deep, non-negotiable, trust. John's Jesus wants us to abide with him, rest in him, make ourselves at home with him. God so loves the world that Jesus makes a home in trust with us!

In his book of vignettes, The Sacrament: Feasting at the Lord's Table, Truman Madsen tells us "…the oil with which she [Mary of Bethany] anointed Jesus unto death was …a mixture of balsam and pistachio and perhaps also the balm of Gilead from trees beyond the Jordan." Pistis in Greek means faith, trust. It's no accident whatsoever but it is splendid serendipity that we can read and feel God's mercy, closeness, and presence doubly mediated—in language and through creation.

Let's love, trust, and abide in Jesus? In the power of the Pentecostal Spirit of Holiness, let's follow Jesus to love, trust, and abide in the world!

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• Header pistachios photo by Austin Kirk on Flickr
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Thursday, June 30, 2022

June 2022 Happenings

June 2022 peaches blog header
Urban Wilderness Lectionary Project for June on my other "main blog."

Chio's Peruvian Grill
• Mid-afternoon lunch with Shadi at Chio's Peruvian Grill on Friday 03 June.

Los Angeles County Vote Center June 2022
• "I Voted" on Tuesday 07 June, although I actually voted on Monday, the day before.

yellow June Hibiscus
• There are so many gorgeous hibiscus flowers around here! "The proper yellow" of anything always is my fave, and this one deserves to be its own line item.

June Strawberry Supermoon
• Strawberry Supermoon on Tuesday 14 June. The moon was huge a couple days before and a couple of days after!

• Another Worship Planning Retreat—this one on Wednesday 15 June.

Helpful Honda and Summer Solstice Peaches
• Helpful Honda stopped by again on Monday 20 June in time for summer solstice on Tuesday the 21st.

pineapple grapes blueberries
• This year's Camp @ Central happened Sunday through Thursday, June 26, 27, 28, 29, 30. The color palette of this pineapple, grapes, and blueberries snack gets showcased by itself.

desserts square
• Camp @ Central dessert on Wednesday: watermelon; dirt, seeds, and worms pudding cups; strawberries; lemon and chocolate pudding cakes. Whipped cream, too!

Camp at Central logo

Living Local 2022

Monday, June 27, 2022

27 June :: Writing Project

What is one next step you can take to finish your current writing project?

My current writing project is eighteen years old! Here's my preliminary bibliography. Since then I've acquired and read at least another half-dozen books related to theology of creation / ecological theology. My one step won't finish it, but will be an encouraging update. Time to leave that old list where it is and add to it with this summer's date.

If I decide on two next steps, the second would be to design the book cover that hasn't happened yet, either.

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June 2022 hope writers prompts

Friday, June 24, 2022

Five Minute Friday :: Aware

new country house
Five Minute Friday :: Aware Linkup

Every one of you who have been baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; because all of you are one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:27-28

Lightly edited for around five minutes from observations I made about three years ago.

Neither Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, slave nor free, because Jesus Christ has gathered and unified us all. The ground is level at the foot of the cross. But this doesn't obliterate distinctions and wonders of each one's gifts and contributions. It doesn't at all mean it's not very good and necessary for us to be very aware of differences.

The community at Galatia was the first ethnic church, not in the sense of Jewish–gentile ethnicity, but of geography and culture. But as gentiles, they also were ethnos! Despite populations being relatively small, communication not as swift as it is in these days of widespread internet reach, everyone was highly aware of their own identities and therefore cautious about including anyone different from them. Scripture helps us become aware of Jesus' examples and instructions to us in the four gospels; the Acts of the Apostles provides an excellent overview of ways to include differences.

Every church body in this country began as an immigrant church—among them were non-English speaking Lutheran and Reformed along with very English-speaking Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Congregational. American Christianity has come full-circle with substantial numbers whose first language wasn't English, and quite a few who still may not know much English. In addition to protestant churches, the Roman Catholic presence in this country began with immigrants. As people from Poland, Germany, Ireland, and Italy filled midwestern and northeastern cities, most newcomers tried to do everything like in the old country. After all, "That's what they knew" and no one can survive too many changes at once.

"Woke" has become a buzzword for ultra-awareness of our surroundings and of general cultural trends, though it's impossible not to notice someone who speaks English with a marked accent, to be unaware of a family arrayed in colorfully hand-blocked African fabric. But what demands do we make of newcomers?

Do we insist they start to look like us, talk like us, love our favorite foods, because that's what we know and it's worked well for us? Like an anthropologist doing field work, conversing and interacting with others helps us become more aware of our own biases and preferences.

People who first settled in other parts of the USA brought everything with them to California—hot dish casseroles and nativity observances; they also built churches with steeply pitched roofs. Most ethnic food is grounded in what grew well in the old country and then in the plains of the new country. Architecture happens because of locally available materials and weather patterns. Snow isn't a current concern in southern California, but that's what they knew! More recently, church buildings for those one-time ethnic Presbyterian, Lutheran, Wesleyan, and Catholic Christians have followed west coast mid-twentieth century and later trends. That's what they've learned from experience, so it's become what they know now.

We need to be aware of gifts Asian and Latiné, African, and Caribbean traditions bring to our churches and into our wider neighborhoods. As the Reformers insisted, wherever you find Word and Sacrament you find the church. No Word and Sacrament? No church. No requirement for everyone to look, act, talk, think, feel, and lunch the same as everyone else. But I'll add Jesus does want his followers to be aware of differences so we can welcome and celebrate those who are different from us.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2022

21 June :: reading recommendation

What was the last article or book I recommended to a friend, and why?

For summer solstice today, the Hope Writers prompt asks for a book recommendation. That doesn't fly for me because solstice is more sensory than most typical books—even more than a favorite beach read or cookbook. As summer 2022 opens wide, despite Covid continuing, over and against frightening political activities around the world, and in spite of my own relentless grief, I'll offer you the counsel I do my best to follow.

Plan your meals and snack around color-filled, seasonal, veggies and fruits. I especially glory in salads that have so many ingredients I can't count that high. Create your own salad dressings. Don't scrimp on flavor. Splurge on breads and bakery. Specialty lemonades and fruit drinks add glamour and flavour. BBQ with friends. Join a friend or acquaintance at the nearest ethnic café or popup place. Don't obsess incessantly about calories.

By the way, I do hope you'll still read all summer long.

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June 2022

Friday, June 17, 2022

Five Minute Friday :: Guess

Guess flower logo
five minute friday :: guess linkup

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35

Logo. Brand. Identity. For quite a long time, Western consumers have known of apparel and accessories with the quirky brand name Guess. Given how some labels convey a more elite sensibility than others, some people like to be seen wearing (even when the purse or dress is a knock-off), drinking, or driving those certain brands; other individuals have strong preferences, but rather than wanting to rock a particular brand on the outside of their shirt, their bottle of spirits, or as a hood ornament, they're more oriented toward a brand because it fits them well, has consistent flavor, maybe even never needs more than routine maintenance.

Theology, philosophy, cultural anthropology – visual art and communication design – take sign and symbol very, very seriously. The Gospel of John is well-known for labeling Jesus' miraculous actions "signs." From John's gospel, we recognize Jesus as the Logos—the living Word of God.

Jesus asks us to love each other. And what happens when people observe us inside the church and from the church outside in the world? When we do love one another? No one will need to guess our brand identity. Everyone will know our love is a sign we follow Jesus. Amen? Amen!

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17 June :: Writing Life – Everyday Life

How has my writing life enriched my everyday life in the last three months?

Mental Health pastor Barry Pearman – Turning the Page told me he blogs every week "even if it's like shoveling fog." Although it has been close to as hard as shoveling fog, every single week I've written about one of the Sunday lectionary texts on Urban Wilderness and played Friday Five here (most weeks). As desert spirit's fire inches up on twenty years, I'm disappointed to have only seven subscribers, yet scrolling through months and years of blogging impresses me a whole lot. I especially love revisiting my monthly illustrated activity logs!

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June 2022