Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Five Minute Friday :: Instant

Advent 2 candles and words of hope
Five Minute Friday :: Instant Linkup

Two Sundays ago we started to wait for Jesus' arrival again as the church began a new year of grace. Emmanuel—God with us. With so much in this century happening so fast you could call it instantaneous, the idea of waiting for anything feels countercultural because it is against the norms and habits of the dominant culture or way of doing life.

Yet waiting for light during the increasingly long days of December in the northern hemisphere feels like a natural and a wise thing to do. We assume a posture of patience amidst the urgency of knowing light is life at least as much as water is life. Jesus arrived on earth two millennia ago; in the power of the Holy Spirit the church continues his active presence here, but we still long for, wait, and hope for the fullness of Jesus here and now. We wait to celebrate Nativity again, to sing "Word of the Father, now in Flesh appearing" again.

Life essentials have become faster than they used to be. Fast food (comida rapida around here), instant breakfast. In contrast to snail mail that contrasts with pony express of ages past, we have instant messaging. People even tend to prefer texting to emailing because, ya know, emails are too slow. Fast fashion. Quickly assembled, with instant appeal because this style is trending today. Who cares about tomorrow? About yesterday?

Hey readers, the food, the fashion, the communications only look quick. None of them is instant in the least. Do you know how much time the ingredients spent growing, the farmers harvesting, trucks transporting, cooks preparing? What it takes to grow cotton, spin yarn, cut sew knit package ship? How about the centuries of tech that made DM, IM, text—and even email possible? Life never is instant.

Do you know how long God's people waited for a redeemer? How long did Jesus the primal word wait during the first eons long advent? God's promised advent never feels here, yet always is happening.

We spend most of our days in patient restlessness because the total fulfillment of that promise isn't yet. Slow fashion—better quality than fast? Slow food—more flavor than fast? Slow advent—better results than fast? Snail mail—better communication than a text? No worries, because no thing ever really is instant.

Two Sundays ago we started to wait for Jesus' arrival again as the church began a new year of grace. Emmanuel—God with us.
The one who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon."
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!
Revelation 22:20
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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Autumn + November 2022

November header voting thanksgiving turkey advent rose
September 2022

October 2022

Urban Wilderness Lectionary Project for November

vote center tuesday 08 november
• Midterm Elections turned out fairly well, with lots of room for improvement and continued anxiety.

psalm 65
• Thanksgiving Day 2022
• "Your wonders awe those who live at earth's farthest bounds;
you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy!" Psalm 65:8

pupusas and El Salvador flag
• On Small Business Saturday, I enjoyed housemade pupusas from the nearby sidewalk pupusería. Pupusas are the national cuisine of El Salvador.

Advent 1 2022
• The First Sunday of Advent 2022
All Earth is Hopeful, the Savior Comes…
Toda la Tierra es esperanzadora, el Salvador viene…
living local 2022

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Five Minute Friday :: Like

Colossians 1:17, He is before all things and in him all thing hold together
Five Minute Friday :: Like Linkup

Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation… Colossians 1:15

To like a person, food, activity, or place goes beyond simple preference of one over another: you want it, gravitate to it; you choose it, connect with it. That's the verb "like," but the adjective like compares objects, ideas, people—and food, too. How similar or different is one to the other? Exactly the same or almost identical? Some common features? What are the differences?

Particularly chapter 1 of the letter to the church at Colossae brings us the pre-existent and still regnant Christ who fills and rules the entire cosmos, who subverts empire, inverts the political, social, economic, and religious status quo, who is the image and the reality of God parallel to In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. (John 1:1) Colossians 1:15 announces, "Christ is the image of the invisible God"; in John 14:19 Jesus tells us, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father."

Imperial Rome and its colonies were full of coins stamped with the emperor's image. The Roman Caesar supposedly was the son of a god, bestowing on him a slice of divinity. Formal church history locates the confession of Jesus as fully human and fully divine in the Definition of Chalcedon from the ecumenical council that convened in the year 451, but four centuries earlier, the pastoral letter to the church at Colossae declares Jesus divine.

How do you picture something that's invisible, that can't be seen? Do you remember Genesis 1:27 tells us God created humanity (us!) in the divine image—imago Dei?

Early Christians believed Jesus was fully imprinted with God. A slice of divinity? No! The whole entire thing—For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell! Colossians 1:19

This scripture that describes Jesus as God's authoritative presence and the actual ikon / icon / image / likeness of the invisible God is so relevant to our contemporary political and economic concerns. In terms of the first century's (and this twenty-first's) status quo, these words from Colossians are seditious and subversive! They proclaim the person, power, and rule of Jesus Christ in terms that only are supposed to belong to the emperor. If Jesus is supreme, then caesar isn't. If (because!) Jesus is supreme, than the US government isn't. Samsung isn't. Amazon isn't, nor is Shell.
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This FMF is edited, contracted, and expanded some from several posts on my weekly lectionary blog, urban wilderness.
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Friday, November 18, 2022

Five Minute Friday :: Laugh

easter tulips laugh
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John 20:1, 12-16

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 rolled away from the tomb.

…and she saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" Supposing him to be the gardener…

Jesus is not here—He is risen! But it still is dark!

Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs forth! Do you not perceive it? I will make a a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19

At first Mary didn't recognize Jesus; she imagined Jesus was the gardener. But wasn't her initial perception very correct? Jesus created it all, a world that began with a garden that, well-tended, would grow, expand, blossom, and flourish into a city. Wasn't Mary's anxious guess more than right? On the first day of the week, the eighth day of creation, Jesus the first gardener returns as lover of a new creation, a restored and expanded glory.

"Two angels in white." In some traditions, white is the color for harvest. Like the first creation, the new creation begins with light. Light that pierces "while it still is dark" with a Word of resurrection.

Angels rolled the stone away—Jesus is here, after all. No longer dead and buried. Jesus still is risen! Everything may look hopeless and bleak, yet God always is doing a new thing: God's final answer always is resurrection.

God's laughter behind the empty grave!

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Saturday, November 05, 2022

Five Minute Friday :: Perform

roadside flowers in san diego perform
Five Minute Friday :: Perform Linkup


Do you know your Enneagram number? If you don't, online quizzes can help you find out, or even better, a spiritual director or life coach can help you with that discovery. It's sort of a psychometric, and very useful to help you understand all kinds of relationships, your interests and career, as well as your own history. I'm an Enneagram 3 with a 4 wing: 3w4. For this week's perform prompt I'll consider my identity as a 3 that's sometimes called the achiever, sometimes a performer, often performer-achiever. Short version? A 3 doesn't really know the difference between what they do and who they are. Here are a couple of places that describe the good and the bad of being a 3:

What Is the Enneagram Type 3

Crystal Knows Enneagram 3


As image-aware as I can be, I don't necessarily concern myself with others opinions of me or my actions except when it might affect overall public perception of how I perform. As I've replied a couple times on twitter, as a little kid my life ambition was to be famous. Well-known, but not fame attached to any endeavor or accomplishment. However, true to my enneagram type that can't quite figure out the difference between what I do and who I am, I've spent forever gaining more skills, more academic and professional credentials, all that time glancing over my shoulder to see if anyone notices. If it looks like maybe they don't, it's more effort, more time to refine the way I perform.

best is yet to come
Into an old commonplace book I copied my interpretation of a trio of magazine ads:
• your views, Leah?

• the best is yet to come!

• follow your heart

• but you've got to be an expert.

All that slices at least two ways. First, stewardship of gifts and opportunities God places in our path requires our serious cooperation to take advantage of them and become the best possible version of ourselves. And second, almost everyone has agonized through cringe-worthy musical or poetic, sometimes theatrical performances from people of all ages and it's in everyone's interest to be expert rather than embarrassing.

There's clearly a place to perform and places where we need only be. A pastor I served with reminded the staff Sunday morning worship is about The Performance. We'd definitely rather people don't cringe; we strongly desire they connect to God and to each other during worship. That means working hard and persistently so we can perform well. It means letting go of a healthy desire for better or best and letting ourself simply be as we perform.

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Monday, October 31, 2022

October 2022

October 2022 header blue parrot and hen
Urban Wilderness Lectionary Project for October

parking lot sale
• Early October Parking Lot Sale featured plants, pictures, books, clothes, kitchen miscellany and other fun stuff. I did well with a large cow painting, milk pitcher, smallish glazed bowl, large round wicker storage basket, small wicker wall heart, coral skinny denim jeans, a book I thought was YA (but turned out not to be so I don't know if I'll read it), plus cat food and dog food at close to steal prices.
blessing of the animals
• Critter Blessing turned out mostly virtual again this year: old picture of Roxy who aways gets into weird poses when she knows I want a pic; new one of Sweety; another quick shot of Thomas Jefferson/TJ.
twin valleys fall festival sylmar greenery
• Twin Valley Fall Festival was super fun. Amazing catered tacos, music, games, craft displays, networking, and more. Here's some of the green on campus. The site is Los Angeles city, yet quite rural and zoned for equines.
twin valleys fall festival church building quilts home
• Twin Valleys Fall Festival quilts and HOME sign. They also had knitting and crocheting.
living local 2022
halloween pumpkin cat

Friday, October 28, 2022

Five Minute Friday :: While

five minute friday while banner
Five Minute Friday :: While Linkup

Sit a while and we'll while away some time. I'm not sure of the formal, technical meaning of while, but for me the noun "while" connotes an unspecified length of time that might or might not depend on circumstances; whereas "while" the verb is casual, unstructured, without stated purpose. Both noun and verb feel fuzzy around the edges.

They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. The stranger acted as if he were going on but they pressed him: "Stay a while and have supper with us. It's nearly evening; the day is done." So he went in with them.

And he sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared.

Then the two went over everything that happened on the road and how they recognized him when he broke the bread. Luke 24:28-31, 35

For the most part I consider whiling away time an unplanned, almost random activity with no real expectations. But we know God never wastes any experiences; God makes best use of every time, all the time. One of the best examples is Holy Saturday, the day after Jesus' crucifixion when from outward appearances nothing happens, yet from God's reality, everything does and leads into the fullness of redemption on the day of resurrection.

Here in Luke's gospel we have an example of close to unintentional staying a while to while away some hours—probably until dawn, since nights could get scary and dangerous in that time and place. Yet that while turned into the intimacy and nurture of a shared meal. The encounter became a reminder that Jesus, born in Little Town of House of Bread, is Lord who provides the loaf, the sustenance. This Jesus, who often comes to us as a stranger, after a while often becomes someone in whom we recognize God's presence before they leave.

Fuzzy around the edges with room for God to make a way? Yes! Purposeless whiling for a while?! I'd say not! Amen? Amen!

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