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."

Sunday, March 31, 2013

A New Breath




For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress.  Isaiah 65:17-19


Have you ever sat outside in your favorite spot and breathed deeply?  Have you closed your eyes and stilled your mind in prayer and silence?  When you’ve reached the point where there is an inner stillness have you opened your eyes?  At that moment everything is brighter, clearer, and stiller.  Everything is so alive and so full.  A newness has come over you, so that what was before beautiful is now the most holy and precious sight you have ever experienced.  A new heaven and a new earth has been born in that moment.  What was ordinary has become extraordinary.  The sights, sounds, and smell have moved you into a new heaven and a new earth.  You have awakened to the Holy that is in you leading you to experience the Holy that is all around you.
This passage from Isaiah pushes us beyond a wonder in the presence of God into transformation of the seat of power.  In Isaiah’s vision God’s law can remake the seat of power and transform the old into the new.  The seat of power, Jerusalem, will now be a joy and the people will be a delight.  God has allowed us this ability to see the new, to dream the possible.  When God is part of the decision-making process the earth is not as an object to be used and consumed but part of the Holy to be treasured and cherished?
During the next month the United Church of Christ is embarking on an adventure in Mission for the Earth.  As the slogan says we will be ONE UNITED CHURCH on a shared resurrection witness for Planet Earth during days of greening up, powering down, and shouting out.  I invite you to join us on this journey of Greening where you can participate in earth care, plant trees, and advocate for the earth.  For ideas follow this link to a video Mission 4/1 Earth: 20 Ways to Contribute Earth Care Hours.  
Delight and Joy of my heart open within me the means to see and to live the new heaven and the new earth.  Amen.
Breathe and enjoy the silence, 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Lord, Help Me

Help: An interpretation of last night’s sermon. I say interpretation, because I preach extemporaneously and when the spirit is in me the words seems to flow better.
 Psalm 42
 As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.
 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
 When shall I come and behold the face of God?
 My tears have been my food day and night,
while people say to me continually, ‘Where is your God?’
 These things I remember, as I pour out my soul:
 how I went with the throng,
 and led them in procession to the house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.
 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.
 My soul is cast down within me;
 therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
 Deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts; all your waves and your billows have gone over me.
 By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
 I say to God, my rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I walk about mournfully because the enemy oppresses me?’
 As with a deadly wound in my body, my adversaries taunt me,
 while they say to me continually, ‘Where is your God?’
 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. 
 But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ Matthew 15:25
As I started thinking about my sermons this week. I just started singing:
 Help, I need somebody,
Help, not just anybody,
Help, you know I need someone, help.
Help. The first prayer we learn to say. When we are in school and we have the test in front of us and we realize we studied the wrong thing. Help.
 Help. When we are on the play ground and realize, today I am the one everyone hates, makes fun of. Help. Help. I am sitting with my loved one as she is ill or dying. Help.
We have all prayed this prayer. As Anne LaMott, the author we took our theme for Lenten services from says this is the first prayer we say. She writes her chapter on help as she deals with the death of her 18 year old cat, who is dying. And she wants help.
 “We say, ‘Help.’” “We say, Help, this is really all too much, or I am going slowly crazy, or I can’t stop doing this, or I can’t feel anything. Or, Help, he is going to leave me, or I have no life, or I hate the one I’ve created, or I forgot to have a life, or I forgot to pay attention as it scrolled by. Or even, Help, I hate her so much, and one of my parents is dying – or will never die. Unfortunately, we haven’t even gotten to the big-ticket items yet: cancer, financial ruin, lost children, incontinence. (Help, Thanks, Wow, Anne LaMott, p. 29). 
Help. One of the reasons, I choose to have a Psalm read tonight is that the Psalms speak to our need to cry out in pain and hurt, to cry for help in words that speak to our need for help. I cry out to God. I am lower than a worm. My enemies surround me.
 Or as Psalm 42 says,
My tears have been my food day and night,
 while people say to me continually, ‘Where is your God?’
 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?
My soul is cast down within me;
I say to God, my rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me?
 Why must I walk about mournfully because the enemy oppresses me?’
 As with a deadly wound in my body, my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me continually, ‘Where is your God?’
 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? 
Help. This is the prayer we say during those hardest parts of our lives.I remember the night President Clinton has just had a press conference saying I did sleep with that woman. I then head to bed. My son’s father turns to me and says. I don’t love you anymore. I have never loved you. I don’t want to be married anymore. I love someone else. … I'm on the floor in the kitchen, crying… I cry help and call the one person who will pick up the phone and midnight. The person who helps me through the night, the next night, the telling of the family (no divorces anywhere), through finding a place to live, and finding money to live on; She was my answer to my call for Help.
The Gospel reading for this night from Matthew 15: 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ This mother has a daughter possessed. She has searched everywhere for a cure, for help for her baby. She went to doctors, priests, healers. She made sacrifices and still her daughter was possessed. And she heard what is being said of Jesus. He can heal her. So she starts trailing him calling for help. The disciples have been pushing her away, but she keeps on. Calling Son of Davis, Have Mercy on Me. She finally falls on her knees before Jesus and says Lord, Help me.
Then comes the hard part. The answer we want immediately doesn’t come. The answer in fact seems like it will never come. Or in this mother’s case the person she asks for help is rude. Most of us have been in this mother’s place calling for help. Waiting for an answer that isn’t coming the way we want. The daughter is eventually healed, but there is the moment when we think maybe it won’t happen.
 But when we cry Help, what we are doing is saying this is yours God. I can’t figure it out. I am giving it to you to hold for a while. As the psalmist says: Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. Even as taking back the cry for help. And saying my soul is cast down and you seem so far away. The psalmist says again: Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. The hardest part of saying help, is waiting for an answer and letting go.
 One of the ways LaMott handles this is through a God Box. She writes the person, problem, worry down and puts it in the box. Here is my box. My worry written down. My cry for help. I write it down asking God to take this from me. And sometimes I pull it back out. And have to write it down again. But I have found that as time rolls by as I read what I wrote, I can see how the prayers have been answered. Not always in the way I wanted. But answered. The God Box helps. For there is some space, control let go of that allows the light to shine into the dark places, the pain. May you find your God Box, so when you cry help. You have place to give God your pain and wait for God to work on you and your problem. Amen.