God has place this wonderful creation in our hands. As U2 sings, "It's a beautiful day, don't let it slip away." We have this one life to live on this beautiful planet so enjoy these reflections on God, faith, life, and music. "After the flood all of the colors came out. It's a beautiful day."

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

When Empires Fall

       Therefore Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, ‘Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; bring me in before the king, and I will give the king the interpretation.’
      Then Arioch quickly brought Daniel before the king and said to him: ‘I have found among the exiles from Judah a man who can tell the king the interpretation.’ 26The king said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, ‘Are you able to tell me the dream that I have seen and its interpretation?’ 27Daniel answered the king, ‘No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or diviners can show to the king the mystery that the king is asking, 28but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has disclosed to King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen at the end of days. Your dream and the visions of your head as you lay in bed were these: 29To you, O king, as you lay in bed, came thoughts of what would be hereafter, and the revealer of mysteries disclosed to you what is to be. 30But as for me, this mystery has not been revealed to me because of any wisdom that I have more than any other living being, but in order that the interpretation may be known to the king and that you may understand the thoughts of your mind.
      ‘You were looking, O king, and lo! there was a great statue. This statue was huge, its brilliance extraordinary; it was standing before you, and its appearance was frightening. 32The head of that statue was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, 33its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34As you looked on, a stone was cut out, not by human hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and broke them in pieces. 35Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, were all broken in pieces and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
       ‘This was the dream; now we will tell the king its interpretation. 37You, O king, the king of kings—to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the might, and the glory, 38into whose hand he has given human beings, wherever they live, the wild animals of the field, and the birds of the air, and whom he has established as ruler over them all—you are the head of gold. 39After you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over the whole earth. 40And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron; just as iron crushes and smashes everything, it shall crush and shatter all these. 41As you saw the feet and toes partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom; but some of the strength of iron shall be in it, as you saw the iron mixed with the clay. 42As the toes of the feet were part iron and part clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. 43As you saw the iron mixed with clay, so will they mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay. 44And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall this kingdom be left to another people. It shall crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand for ever; 45just as you saw that a stone was cut from the mountain not by hands, and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. The great God has informed the king what shall be hereafter. The dream is certain, and its interpretation trustworthy.’
     Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face, worshipped Daniel, and commanded that a grain-offering and incense be offered to him. 47The king said to Daniel, ‘Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery!’ 48Then the king promoted Daniel, gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. 49Daniel made a request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon. But Daniel remained at the king’s court.
when empires fall
how do you know the signs of the end
what tells you that what was
   power and glory
   is now crumbling before your eyes
when empires fall
is the end the moment when
   your advisors
   the people you've asked to help you govern
   no longer speak the truth to you
is it when these people flatter you
   but no longer challenge your assumptions
is it when the fight is over dying embers
is it when you speak to smaller and smaller fractions
is it when you speak of past glory
    of being great again
    when fewer and fewer people are included
    when the world begins to shrink
    when fear becomes a constant presence
 you grab all you can
of the pieces that are left

in the midst of the end of empire
where do you see God's presence
in these embers
    do you have the courage to speak of God
    do you have the courage to share God's dream
will they speak that beyond the end of the world, the power
there is God
there is a reign to come
where the powers and principalities are turned upside down
there is a kingdom come
   where the last shall be first
              the broken will be made whole
              the sick will be made well
              the oppressed will be set free
              the imprisoned will be released
              the hungry will be fed
              the evil will be cast out
              the naked will be clothed
              the stranger will be welcomed
              those we fear will be part of the kingdom
when empires fall
thy kingdom come

Friday, September 15, 2017

In the Dead of the Night

Then Daniel went to his home and informed his companions, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 18and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions with the rest of the wise men of Babylon might not perish. 19Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night, and Daniel blessed the God of heaven.
20 Daniel said:
‘Blessed be the name of God from age to age,
   for wisdom and power are his.
21 He changes times and seasons,
   deposes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
   and knowledge to those who have understanding.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;
   he knows what is in the darkness,
   and light dwells with him.
23 To you, O God of my ancestors,
   I give thanks and praise,
for you have given me wisdom and power,
   and have now revealed to me what we asked of you,
   for you have revealed to us what the king ordered.’ Daniel 2:17-23
God,
you spoke in the dead of night
they needed to hear and experience your mercy in a way they never needed it before
they needed you to speak so lives could be saved
they prayed
they poured out their heart to you, O, God

you came in the dead of night sharing your vision
your shared your mercy
you shared the direction to go with Daniel

in the dead of night
when dreams of flying, falling, family, school, failed romance occur
you broke through those dreams that speak to our ordinary life and problems
you broke into those dreams and shared with Daniel a vision
you shared with Daniel what he needed to know

in the dead of the night
I turn to you
my thoughts are to you
I ask for your mercy
I ask for you to draw near to me in love

in the dead of the night
grant me the vision I need
unravel the mysteries 
those pieces and places of my struggle

in the dead of the night
hear my prayer

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A Prayer for a Troubled King

In the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed such dreams that his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him. 2So the king commanded that the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans be summoned to tell the king his dreams. When they came in and stood before the king, 3he said to them, ‘I have had such a dream that my spirit is troubled by the desire to understand it.’ 4The Chaldeans said to the king (in Aramaic), ‘O king, live for ever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will reveal the interpretation.’ 5The king answered the Chaldeans, ‘This is a public decree: if you do not tell me both the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb, and your houses shall be laid in ruins. 6But if you do tell me the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts and rewards and great honour. Therefore tell me the dream and its interpretation.’ 7They answered a second time, ‘Let the king first tell his servants the dream, then we can give its interpretation.’ 8The king answered, ‘I know with certainty that you are trying to gain time, because you see I have firmly decreed: 9if you do not tell me the dream, there is but one verdict for you. You have agreed to speak lying and misleading words to me until things take a turn. Therefore, tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can give me its interpretation.’ 10The Chaldeans answered the king, ‘There is no one on earth who can reveal what the king demands! In fact no king, however great and powerful, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean. 11The thing that the king is asking is too difficult, and no one can reveal it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with mortals.’
12 Because of this the king flew into a violent rage and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed.  Daniel 2:1-12
Holy One,
God of grace and mercy
God of steadfast love and justice

the ruler is upset
he has been troubled in the night
his sleep is disturbed by thoughts, dreams
the nighttime hours leave him disturbed
these hours lead him to call for advice
he turns to those around him
seeking their thoughts on his stirrings
seeking their advice for what to do, how to move forward
he turns to those who hang around
he seeks wisdom from those close by
he doesn't see what we do
that the group he speaks with aren't full of wisdom and knowledge
they just want their personal gain
when asked a tough question
they beg for more time
they hem and haw
dancing around the problem
when they don't speak of what he wants to hear
he flies into a rage and makes poor decisions

Holy One,
in this moment when wisdom seems lacking
in this moment when the wise have left the building
in this moment when rage and violence seem the norm
we need your presence
we need your peace

Holy One,
open the heart of the king
open the heart of those in power
open their ears to hear, their eyes to see
open a path, a way where their seems to be no way

Holy One,
in your mercy hear our prayer.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Survive and Remember

3 Then the king commanded his palace master Ashpenaz to bring some of the Israelites of the royal family and of the nobility, 4young men without physical defect and handsome, versed in every branch of wisdom, endowed with knowledge and insight, and competent to serve in the king’s palace; they were to be taught the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5The king assigned them a daily portion of the royal rations of food and wine. They were to be educated for three years, so that at the end of that time they could be stationed in the king’s court. 6Among them were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, from the tribe of Judah. 7The palace master gave them other names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.
8 But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the royal rations of food and wine; so he asked the palace master to allow him not to defile himself. 9Now God allowed Daniel to receive favour and compassion from the palace master. 10The palace master said to Daniel, ‘I am afraid of my lord the king; he has appointed your food and your drink. If he should see you in poorer condition than the other young men of your own age, you would endanger my head with the king.’ 11Then Daniel asked the guard whom the palace master had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: 12‘Please test your servants for ten days. Let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13You can then compare our appearance with the appearance of the young men who eat the royal rations, and deal with your servants according to what you observe.’ 14So he agreed to this proposal and tested them for ten days. 15At the end of ten days it was observed that they appeared better and fatter than all the young men who had been eating the royal rations. 16So the guard continued to withdraw their royal rations and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. 17To these four young men God gave knowledge and skill in every aspect of literature and wisdom; Daniel also had insight into all visions and dreams.
18 At the end of the time that the king had set for them to be brought in, the palace master brought them into the presence of Nebuchadnezzar, 19and the king spoke with them. And among them all, no one was found to compare with Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they were stationed in the king’s court. 20In every matter of wisdom and understanding concerning which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom. 21And Daniel continued there until the first year of King Cyrus. Daniel 1:3-21
whatever you have to do survive
survive
    Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah
        taken from home
        taken from safety and security
        taken from family and friends
        taken from the language and culture they know
        taken from all that feels safe and comfortable
survive
whatever it takes survive
and remember
    remember who you are
    remember where you came from
    remember what we taught you
    remember are you learned about life, about God, about us
    remember we will always love you
in that movement from the familiar to the unknown
in that movement from freedom to captivity
    they get lucky
    they have the right pedigree
    they are smart, handsome, athletic
they learn to survive
   they get new names
   they learn a new language
   they learn a new culture
   they learn about the new Gods
   they learn how to act and speak so they can fit, blend in,
daily they make little compromises
   they lay down bits and pieces of themselves
   they lose prt of themselves
         that they may never get back
then one day it is too far
   they are asking too much
   Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah just can't
   this is the line
   this is the place where they cannot follow
   this is the moment when they can't step over the line
   they find a work around
   they find a way to change the requirement
   they can't let go of this piece of themselves
they choose another way