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."

Monday, May 31, 2010

Do we miss seeing God

Through faith we understood that the worlds were formed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do not appear. Hebrews 11:3

Things which aren’t seen do not appear. This has interesting implication about God.
Are we missing God because we are not seeing what has always been there?
Are we forgetting that God uses what is around us to appear to us?
Do we miss seeing God in the actions and faces of people?
Do we miss seeing God in all of creation?
Does the earth around us show God and we have failed to see?
Does our own creative works of art, writing, dance, music… reveal something of the creator?
Can we be open long enough to hear, feel, touch, taste, and see the world that is appearing and see the word of God being formed?

God your word spoke and formed the world providing a way to see you? Help us to be reminded of your holy presence. Amen.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sing Praise

Sing to the LORD a new song,
his praise from the end of the earth!
Let the sea roar and all that fills it,
the coastlands and their inhabitants.
Let the desert and its cities lift up their voice,
the villages that Kedar inhabits; let the inhabitants of Sela sing for joy,
let them shout from the top of the mountains.
Let them give glory to the LORD, and declare his praise in the coastlands.
The LORD goes forth like a mighty man,
like a man of war he stirs up his fury; he cries out, he shouts aloud,
he shows himself mighty against his foes. Isaiah 42:10-13
With this passage we are called to sing a new song to change our tune. This is a song that comes from all places on earth. A song rushing to the warrior God; who will see to the changes happening. God is angry at what we have done. By not walking with the holy, by not being righteous God is letting us know how angry that we have not followed the way. God flexes his muscles against the enemy, the foe.

But in this righteous fury, a new song is being sung by all creation. The choir of sea, wasteland, desert, towns, sing out their praises for this God who will change things.

We will be able to sing in chorus like this so that human voices join with the rest of creation. Will we be able to sing for joy, shout from the mountains, give glory to the Lord and declare God’s praise?

Part of me in reading this passage is drawn to the warrior God. It feels good to know that God will judge the earth. Who does want to know that those who have done wrong will be punished? A god who will defend his people in the face of trouble. We often yearn for this God, but this is not the God that shows up. So what can we learn for Isaiah’s hope? Isaiah sings of hope and asks us to sing of hope for a God who will show up in travail with a voice that cries out. That sees the injustice and speaks. Maybe one of the problems with us seeing and hearing God’s voice crying out is that we don’t believe that God hears and receives the praises of creation. We have blocked out that part of ourselves tied closely to the earth which prevents us from hearing God who is tied to that creation.

God teach us again to sing your praises and to hear your praises song by the earth. Help us to hear your cries and shouts. Amen.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

God's Hand Planting Trees

When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none,
and their tongue is parched with thirst,
I the Lord will answer them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
I will open rivers on the bare heights,
and fountains in the midst of the valleys;
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
and the dry land springs of water.
I will put in the wilderness
the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive;
I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together;
that men may see and know, may consider and understand together,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
the Holy One of Israel has created it. Isaiah 41:17-20
Who are the poor and needy in this text? Brueggemann suggests that it is the exiled. Israel who long to return through the wilderness to the land of promise as they did once before. As God provided water and food before, the Holy one is able to do so again. Yet when we think of the poor and needy, we don’t think of the Diaspora. We think of those here who are without, who are left out of the abundance of what we have been given. It is the poor and needy who are given water and life- bearing trees.

Yet deeper in this text is another poor and needy. The poor and needy earth that has been harmed by human hands. The wilderness that is being taken over by farms. The desert that is growing and expanding. Good speaks a word to this poor and needy. God speaks of the hopeful replenishment of life. When the land is dry and dying where does its rebirth come from? Isaiah makes it clear that it is the hand of God, the Holy One who has created water and brought life in the wilderness in its desert.

One of the ways to begin reclaiming dry areas is by replanting native plants and trees in the areas where water used to run. The growth of these native trees and shrubs helps to bring the regrowth of the land and water. Creek beds that were dry will begin to run. Trees are a wonder only God could have brought us. Trees through their elaborate root system are able to hold water in the soil. The more trees and the right natural variety of trees will help to increase the amount of moisture maintained in the soil. The increase in water helps to increase the life being supported. You see birds and insects returning to what were once a barren spot. At the same time trees provide shelter and shade from the sun decreasing the impact of the heat. They also provide fruit and nuts. This passage from Isaiah shows us the way we can be God’s hands bringing life back to the dry and barren waster.

The trees mentioned in this passage are not ordinary treed. They are the trees that symbolize a people’s health and prosperity. What trees are natural to your area? What trees are the symbols of wealth and abundance? Have you planted more of these wonderful life-giving trees?

Holy One, we ask that you allow us to be your hands. Hands that are guided by your will for creation. Hands that plant life bringing trees. Hands that help water to run in the dry places. Hands that bring water to the poor and needy.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

When the Holy One Walks

A voice cries out: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken." Isaiah 40:3-5
When the glory of God is revealed, when the words of God have spoken, does creation change? When the Holy One walks by is the earth changed by God's presence? This passage speaks to us that all the earth will make way for God. Both the earth and people shall be able to see the Glory of the Lord and hear the word.

I believe this is a different change, than the actually reshaping of the earth. The earth looks different for the creators presence is here now. What had seemed to be high or low, crooked or straight is now revealed in its full glory. The whole earth has been opened to the Holy and has been changed.

Have you ever had that experience of knowing God is here in this place and time has just stopped? At that moment where you end and where the world begins is blurred. Have you ever been so in the moment while by the water watching a leaf twirling in the water caught by the rocks that you lose that which separates you and the leaf, the water, and the earth? You are in the Holy there in that timeless moment; the astounding, awesome presence of the God who spoke and created, who shaped all that is. The world has gotten both larger and smaller for God’s presence has changed it all.

Holy One, help us to prepare the way so that we can see your presence and know that the world has transformed before ones very eyes. Amen

Sunday, May 16, 2010

God Mourns the Skyway

I looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light. I looked on the mountains, and lo, they were quaking, and all the hills moved to and fro. I looked, and lo, there was no one at all, and all the birds of the air had fled. I looked, and lo, the fruitful land was a desert, and all its cities were laid in ruins before the Lord, before his fierce anger. For thus says the Lord: The whole land shall be a desolation; yet I will not make a full end. Because of this the earth shall mourn, and the heavens above grow black; for I have spoken, I have purposed; I have not relented nor will I turn back (Jeremiah 4:23-28).
If you have ever driven the skyway to or from Chicago you can picture a land laid waste and void. As you enter the skyway all of the grass, trees, and flowers along the side of the road disappear. The light changes. It doesn’t seem to matter what time of day you pass through, the sky is darker. The air is thicker. The light is dimmed. There is an odor that seeps into your car. All you see is one factory on top of another. Each one releasing glowing smoke. Billows and billows of smoke are pouring into the air. Your heart seems to sink a little. You ask yourself how could we possibly do this to the earth.

Now picture God saying look what you have done. I don’t even have to bring the destruction of the earth. You have already accomplished the destruction for me. The earth and heaven mourn with me for the lack of human understanding. Where will it end? Will it end in the waste and void, the chaos of the beginning of creation?

God has purpose and a word for us that can change the outcome, so that the morning will end one day. But if we do not change God will not relent. This is a God who forcefully calls us to be and do better.

God we know that you have a purpose and you will not completely destroy your creation. Help us to turn back so that the light will shine again in heaven and the earth will sing your praise. Amen.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

You Defile My Land

Thus says the Lord: What wrong did your ancestors find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthless things, and became worthless themselves? They did not say, "Where is the Lord who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that no one passes through, where no one lives?" I brought you into a plentiful land to eat its fruits and its good things. But when you entered you defiled my land, and made my heritage an abomination (Jeremiah 2:5-7).
When I was going to seminary I was living in a place that had changed drastically. In the late eighties on my way to college in Chicago we had passed this small town and wouldn’t have even noticed it from the road. It would have been just more farmland. Yet when I came almost twenty years later I could understand how the prophet felt when he repeated God’s words: “you defile my land.” When my parents first moved there ten year ago it was a small town with houses built in the 30’s and around those houses were farms. There were miles of corn, soybeans and wild flowers growing. At the edge of the farms you could still see the prairie it used to be with corn flowers and Queens Anne’s lace blooming all around. Traffic was a little slower and a little kinder. People would have to wait for a tractor going down the road.

Then people began to come. Farmers were offered a lot of money for their land. Who could resist selling? On this land was built row upon row of houses. The houses were huge and each set seemed to be bigger that the ones before. These houses were built one on top of each other. You can hear and see everything your neighbor does. The pace of life is faster and more disconnected from each other.

You defile my land. You forgot my promises of plenty and liberation. God calls us to remember what was so that we can move forward into a brighter day where we are not destroying the land but healing the land.

God we remember how you rescued us from oppression. How you guided us through a time of rebuilding and lead us into the land of plenty. Yet we rejected you and your land. Lead us back; guide us through the wilderness one more time. Amen.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Close Your Eyes and See

Declare this in the house of Jacob, proclaim it in Judah: Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but do not see, who have ears, but do not hear. Do you not fear me? says the Lord; Do you not tremble before me? I placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail, though they roar, they cannot pass over it. But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and gone away. They do not say in their hearts, "Let us fear the Lord our God, who gives the rain in its season, the autumn rain and the spring rain, and keeps for us the weeks appointed for the harvest." Your iniquities have turned these away, and your sins have deprived you of good (Jeremiah 5:20-25).
When my son was little he went on a field trip. As we were driving home he told me about the most important part. They were walking around the lake. He decided to walk with his eyes closed so he could hear. He said it was so alive. I could hear so much. The crickets were the loudest.
In order to hear, he needed to have his eyes closed. Sight distracted him.

We too get distracted. We are so concerned with daily living that we forget to worship God. To be in the fearful presence of the Lord allows boundaries and limits on our daily troubles. Our eyes and ears can see what is truly important when we allow God in.

God, we are a stubborn and rebellious people. We should honor and worship, yet our ears and eyes fail to hear. Keep pushing us to see what you have done and what you continue to do.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wolves at the Gate

Therefore a lion from the forest shall kill them, a wolf from the desert shall destroy them. A leopard is watching against their cities; everyone who goes out of them shall be torn in pieces— because their transgressions are many, their apostasies are great (Jeremiah 5:6).
I sometimes feel that the biggest sins we have are those that are communal. Those where there is no one person you can point to and hold them responsible for the mess. Instead we are all culpable for the acts of transgression. We are as a people responsible for the wrong being committed. We are a people who hold up the false God of easy grace, the false God of limitless wealth and possessions, the false God of isolation. We as a people are especially libel for environmental sins. We let it happen slowly and steadily by not holding those in power accountable to the seventh generation from now.

The lions are at the gates because we have left them no place else to go. As I was reading this passage I was struck by our own overrunning of the habitat of so many animals. Just look at the images starting to come from the gulf coast. Dolphins have started washing up on shore killed by the massive, continuing growing oil spill. Where can they go and to escape this massive disaster. Our transgressions are going to lead to the massive destruction of the gulf.

To more closely follow the text; let us consider the wolf controversy in the west. Wyoming was fighting the federal government to be able to reduce the wolf population. We had preserved these amazing creatures and they were starting to repopulate the territory they once inhabited, but there repopulation was interfering with the ranching of sheep. The ranchers didn’t like the wolves culling the herds. These sheep are in their land. We have displaced them from their habitat to give grazing to ranchers. They proceed to attack prey to feed, prey that is on their land. They are acting as God created them to act. Our transgressions into their space have created the danger.

God, forgive us are transgressions of placing our own false God over you. We have turned our backs on the delicate balance you created among predator and prey. Help us to turn around. Amen.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Light in the Darkness

3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. John 1:3-5
You think you know about darkness. It’s the footsteps that you hear coming closer and faster in the night that send you scurrying into your mom to feel safe. It’s that scared feeling you get walking through the city wonder if those others are safe. Darkness is experienced as that place of fear.

On the East Coast darkness is not really darkness. When you go out at night you can’t escape the pink and orange glow that seems to be hanging in the air. When I lived in Wyoming darkness is different. There is a chance to step out and see the night sky and experience the light in darkness in a new way. In the wide open spaces it is unbelievable how many stars there are in the dark. The galaxy, the universe so big and crystal clear that you realize you have never really seen a night sky before.

You are filled with the wonder of knowing how vast and amazing creation is. There is no place where there is not a piece of light is shining through. The power of God is that glimpse of hope in the darkness. That presence ever present even when everything seems lost. God is always there, the darkness is the barrier that keeps us from experiencing the God what is always there. Not one thing does not have the spark, the light of God inside. Everything that has life has the divine spark within.

We forget the divine spark is there and we block it. We are going through a time of saying no. Of being lost in our doubts, questions and fears and have put a box around our spark so that no light shines or can shine out.

Friday, May 7, 2010

the Weather and Bullets

And I wonder where is the love?/ … Where is the love? / Love and peace

I had the weather on this morning to find out to what my son should take on his field trip. So I asked him, what did the news say? He said, “Rain, Thunder and Murder.” I looked at him puzzled. He said they were talking about rain all day, but scrolling along the bottom was info on the murders that had taken place and the conviction of a woman who killed her daughter in law.

Lay down your guns
All your daughters of Zion
All your Abraham sons

We need
Love and peace

This is why I rarely watch the local news. If you only watched the news you would think that all humankind does is kill each other. For the first thing up on the broadcast is murder. When we lived in Pennsylvania we would count how many murders a day. How do you live in a world that seems out of control and scary?

As you enter this life
I pray you depart
With a wrinkled face
And a brand new heart

I don't know if I can take it
I'm not easy on my knees
Here's my heart you can break it

With the amount of weapons being bought since Obama became president on the rise, how can we control the murder rate? Ironically he is not that in favor of gun control. So the need to hoard guns is not necessary. With weapons readily available, especially the weapons only designed to kill people, how do we create a world of love and peace.

Baby don't fight
We can talk this thing through
It's not a big problem
It's just me and you
You can call or I'll phone

Many of these murders are guns used on family. Is there any domestic dispute that is truly so bad a gun has to be drawn? Sometimes I wonder if we need to go back to preschool. At least in my son’s preschool years we had to have talks about using our words and not our fists. But publically what kind of options or obligations do we have to protect people from the violence that enters their lives? I know I don’t have the answers, but isn’t it time to stop accepting murder as part of life and start creating the public policies that lead to love and peace. Is it time to choose the path of life instead of the path of death?
Love and Peace or Else, U2

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What if ...

WHAT IF God is big enough to love all and exclude none?
WHAT IF God speaks through a painting, or a theorem, or a protest or a poem?
WHAT IF, in feeding my mind, I could feed my spirit, too?
WHAT IF the people around me also wanted to change the world?
WHAT IF there was a small corner of the world where I could be loved and accepted as I am?
(from UCC.org)

Have you ever felt this way? Seeking, searching for a God who didn’t place barriers on who can enter and who can’t. Seeking a people also a journey who have as many questions as they have answers, but have a passion for changing the world to reflect the dream God has for creation. I know that many of us are built with this restlessness that causes us to seek after God. One of the songs that has often spoken to me of this restlessness is “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” This was my anthem during my 20s. The restless search for something. A search that takes us out into the beauty of nature. A search that takes us into the heart of wild energy. A search that takes us into relationships of love. But a search that for a moment seems to bring peace but not a complete peace. There is still a sense of wanting more, of reaching for more, of hoping for more.

But I still haven't found
What I'm looking for.
But I still haven't found
What I'm looking for.

I believe in the Kingdom Come
Then all the colours will bleed into one
Bleed into one.
But yes, I'm still running.

You broke the bonds
And you loosed the chains
Carried the cross of my shame
Oh my shame, you know I believe it.

I think we are all restless. We are usually searching for more at times when we are making a break through. We have dug deeper into faith and we reach that moment of getting it. But those moments can’t last forever. We want to be able to stay there, but we have to come down for there is always more out there to be learned and experienced. May you be blessed with a restlessness that leads you to rest in God.