Friday, May 20, 2022

Five Minute Friday :: Know

Five Minute Friday Know
Five Minute Friday :: Know Linkup

Philippians 3:8-12

I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord … not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through the faithfulness of Christ. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and share his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

This week the lovely nature and sky picture our host Kate provided is both my header and my footer; I believe she usually finds photos on unsplash. Connecting the know prompt with this illustration brought me into flowers, plants, earth, and air. How do we engage them so we can know them? Mainly with our five senses. We smell, touch, see. With veggies and fruits and grains, we taste. (You may have seen edible flowers in the market?) Winds that course through your backyard garden or a neighboring farm make distinctive sounds in different crops.

However, in my focus scripture, the apostle Paul is all about life-giving knowledge.

• I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead … because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

For Paul, the gospel is death and resurrection. My sacramental tradition sometimes calls the sacraments visible words. Baptized into Jesus' death and resurrection that becomes our own first death and second birth, we feel and hear and see the water of life. Especially if we're baptized in one of creation's fonts like a river, lake, or ocean, we can smell the water and even may taste it as it splashes around us. A professor from a nearby university suggested if we're baptized in our local river that's probably a conduit of commerce and culture, why not lay a particular claim to that water by stewarding – quarterly cleanup day, anyone? – and celebrating it—how about a picnic beside the bay?

In the gift of Holy Communion, sometimes we catch the scent of bread baking in the church kitchen. Listen closely as the presider breaks open the loaf and, of course, listen and hear the history of God's people (anamnesis) and a plea for the Holy Spirit come to us and stay with us (epiclesis). We taste and we see how good the Lord is. We are what we eat! Jesus has made us his own. And then? We leave the gathered assembly. We become Jesus' presence so the world will know Jesus, too.

Knowing You, Jesus

All I once held dear, built my life upon
All this world reveres, and wars to own
All I once thought gain I have counted loss
Spent and worthless now, compared to this

Knowing you, Jesus
Knowing you, there is no greater thing
You're my all, you're the best
You're my joy, my righteousness
And I love you, Lord

Now my heart's desire is to know you more
To be found in you and known as yours
To possess by faith what I could not earn
All-surpassing gift of righteousness

Graham Kendrick – Copyright 1993 Make Way Music

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Five Minute Friday Know
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Friday, May 13, 2022

Five Minute Friday :: Vision

dreams visions
Five Minute Friday :: Vision Linkup

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "See, the home of God is among mortals. God will dwell with them as their God; they will be God's peoples, and God will be with them; God will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away." Revelation 21:1-4

Like a vision board packed with pictures of the future you dream of, the not here right now you expect will manifest and you'll then testify to, scripture reveals God's visions for creation's wellbeing and provides ideas we can follow to partner with God to create heaven on earth. In my focus passage from the book of Revelation that concludes the bible, John the Revelator describes the vision God gave him.

"Sea no more" is far from ecological disaster, but picks up the code word sea or ocean that in scripture frequently denotes untamed chaos, as when Genesis 1 tells us about the dawn of creation when the Spirit of God hovered over the formless empty deep darkness. Oh, yes, the new creation does have a river with life-giving water—"enough" clear clean water along with all we need of everything else.

God's vision of the reign of the Spirit is "shalom" justice and bountiful sufficiency. Reading and studying scripture gives us plenty of practice in learning God's ways. Enough food, safe shelter, healthy community. Good work for good pay in good conditions. Abundant mercy and love. No sorrow or dying or pain. The end of war and violence. Scripture sings in the language of geography and space, because we are embodied humans solidly situated on land.

The God who calls us into new creation partnership is Jeremiah's God so near with laws so just. Along with 2 Peter, we proclaim and claim, "According to God's promise we look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells." [2 Peter 3:13] That's quite a vision!

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Saturday, April 30, 2022

Five Minute Friday :: Fast

fast samdwich
What a topic for a fun free ramble!

Fast cars, fast fashion, fast(ing from) food.

Five Minute Friday :: Fast Linkup

Fast: so many meanings! Moving speedily, finishing in warp time, refraining from a certain food or drink–sometimes a particular attitude or activity. You can observe a time of fasting from food for spiritual discernment or to pray for a treasured intention. Some traditions emphasize fasting from a meal or meals and then donating the money you save to a favored cause. Maybe especially(?) Reformed Christians enjoy the feeling of no Sunday breakfast so the sacrament breaks their fast.

Is this not the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke? … Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry? …Then your light will break forth like the dawn; your righteousness will go before you. Isaiah 58:6-8

In the spirit of Amos 5 earlier on, via Isaiah 58 God disses perfunctory religious ceremonies and fasts engaged in mostly for show—in fact, done so God just might notice! And then explains what to do, how to act if you want God to notice you and respond. This passage also counsels us to keep Sabbath, to trust life and sustenance as gift rather than as laborious toil.

We've seen sad evidence of some fast cars being dangerous, harmful, and hurtful. Producing fast fashion uses too many finite resources to almost no avail, and too much landfill afterwards, even though it keeps people employed to some extent. Quality, nutrition, flavor, and healthiness of fast food slowly has been improving. But fasting a while from food? Either contributing what you save to a food charity or better yet, doing doubles by inviting a friend, acquaintance, or safe stranger to lunch with you so you feed them and fellowship them, too.

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April 2022

April Easter blog header
Stained Glass Wall
• Liturgy and Lunch on Tuesday in Holy Week in Glendale. First time there since February 2020—more than two years! These stained glass windows on the front of the building always wow me.
april pink moon
• Maundy Thursday and Good Friday marked the first two acts of the three day Triduum. A Pink Full Moon on Saturday was the first full moon after the vernal equinox; let's also call it Easter Moon. I've never had a camera that can photograph the sky, so again this time I illustrated the moon. No Easter Vigil or Sunrise this year, but the concluding act three of the Triduum on Sunday morning was splendid.
Earth Day 2022 Invest In Our Planet
• Earth Day 2022 – #InvestInOurPlanet – happened on Friday in Bright Week!
Garden Tour sign
Garden Tour 24 April
Garden Tour 24 April
Garden Tour 24 April
• On the second Sunday of Easter, April 24th, a neighbor's garden was part of the Native Plant Garden Tour sponsored by Theodore Payne nurseries. At least twice I've blogged pictures from visits to Theodore Payne and will try to find and tag them.
Living Local 2022
california poppies West Los Angeles

Friday, April 22, 2022

Five Minute Friday :: Run

Stonne Rolled Away
Five Minute Friday :: Run Linkup

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. John 20:1-4

"Run come see! The stone rolled away!" Like the first creation, the new creation began in primordial darkness, before first light of the first day of the new week. Biblical religion is fully embodied and sensory; it's a way of being we can touch, hear, see, smell, and taste. Yet both Judaism and Christianity put hearing first. We read scripture aloud; our preaching and teaching interprets scripture in ways people listen to, hopefully hear, learn, and take to heart, so like Moses' exodus assembly we will do all the Words God has spoken.

Reformer Martin Luther insisted "the eyes are hard of hearing" because we can't quite trust what we see. Therefore (among other reasons), he spent a lifetime in a monumental struggle for the primacy of God's Word written and spoken and heard, to recover the bible for ordinary everyday people—to bring back the Good Book he described as "the cradle in which Christ, the [Incarnate] Word of God, is laid."

In the evangelist John's Easter account everyone runs in a hurry to tell the good news of Jesus' resurrection. Can't wait! Don't want to be late! Maybe our legs won't carry us as fast as we'd like, but are you still ready to run and tell the world about the empty tomb? Does everyone know death is not the end? Are you running to say God's final answer always is new life? Jesus is not here! He is risen!

Run come see the stone rolled away and then run and tell everyone you see!

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Saturday, April 16, 2022

Five Minute Friday :: Deny

Palms 2 Cross
Palms 2 Cross public domain illustration from the group we used Good Friday evening for Stations of the Cross with scripture readings Tenebrae service

Five Minute Friday Deny Linkup

We've recently experienced seasons of Lent and Holy Week; today is Holy Saturday and tomorrow the Day of Resurrection – Easter Sunday – so I instinctively remembered 2 Timothy 2:12-13 telling us if we deny the Christ, Jesus still remains faithful. Where would we otherwise be, given our propensity to fear, thoughtlessness, and tendency to jump in with all four feet before we assess what's happening? Besides, despite sometimes doing our best to study all angles, we often need to make decisions and move on with limited information. But rather than riffing on a classic passage of scripture, I'll reflect on daily denials that lessen the quality of our lives and prevent our living fully right here and right now.

I'm writing about myself, though all humans tend toward the same traits. I'm expert at putting the best construction on unfortunate behaviors, rationalizing even when people clearly have intentionally behaved badly. Forgiveness isn't about denying the sin or offense; it's about acknowledging it so you can move on. Everyone has been in at least one bad relationship, unfortunate living situation, or negative workplace environment. It's important to exit and find something healthier as soon as possible, but one's (my, your) motivation to do so won't be very compelling if you don't admit what's happening instead of denying what's going on.

On that always there other side, when days are sunny and surprises splendid, it's easy to default into doubt and denial because – you know – how can these wonderful events even be after such a long series of disappointments? Denying God's constant gift of life? Another denial that God's final answer always is resurrection from the dead?

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Thursday, April 14, 2022

Maundy Thursday 2022 :: Triduum Act 1

Psalm 116
Psalm 116

12What shall I render to the Lord
For all his benefits toward me?
13I will take the cup of salvation,
And call upon the name of the Lord.
17I will offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving,
And will call upon the name of the Lord.
18I will pay my vows unto the Lord
Now in the presence of all his people.
19In the courts of the Lord's house,
In the midst of you, O Jerusalem.