Being Open to Interpretation, #faith

Faith is opening oneself up to interpretation. Laying your whole being and existence of the line in order to interpret

the who of oneself

the why of existence

the where to now of being

These interpretations are done, usually, using a text, speaking from the Presbyterian perspective that text is the Bible, followed by the Confessions of faith and the Book of Order (our rules/discipline/consistituational documents)

But opening ourselves up to interpretation means being open to the interpretations varying, and interpretations themselves to change, because GOD is not a static being.

Consistent and faithful–God can be counted on.

Generally most people think God does not change, altho this does little for the times in scripture when God changes God’s mind (go figure).

But I say, if God can change God’s mind so can we.

If God is not static, neither should our faith.

If something is not growing, its not alive, we want a lively faith, we need to be growing in our interpretation and our understanding.

I have learned so much, by listening closely to all those people whose faith is especially different than mine. To my one best friend who never was churched but has a strong sense of God and Jesus. To my other best friend who was raised more Pagan than anything else and has a strong sense of the Greek & Roman Mythos of the world.

To my siblings all of whom are millennials, none of whom attend church regularly.

To all the fellow-clergy on twitter & Facebook who are feeling our way through social justice issues and the state of the world.

To my LGBTQUIA community who can interpret scripture in ways that are beyond my ken as a hegemonic individual.

To my brown sibs and and black sibs who are empowered, loving and honest in ways that need to be heard.

Here I am, open to interpretation, and my faith informs that, and the scriptures equally are being interpreted and re-interpreted.

And I read the Bible, and that is Canon, but I read the other texts too, Langston Hughes and Madeline L’engle, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Malala Yousafzai, Elias Chacour, and so much more.

If you are asking a questions of faith, be sure to be open to interpretation, hard as it is.

For you know, that’s the kind of faith that will change you.

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#Sacrifice, #Parable of a #church

A congregation came to Jesus and said, “Good teacher, what must we do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus said, do the commandments. “Love and respect your neighbor. Have courage to do new things. Enter the world to support those in need. Gather as God’s family and honor everyone as human. Render to no one evil for evil, learn how to be more than nice. Pray and support those in need, and open yourselves to the community”

And the congregation said, “Lord we have striven to do all of this”

 

Jesus said, “Then there is one more thing, give away your worship space to be a place of sanctuary for the rest of the community”

And the congregation went away grieving, for their sanctuary was a very beautiful and well cared for space.

Then Jesus said “Trust the Lord with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind, and remember you security is not in possessions or ownership of space and time, but is in God.”

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Mark 10

 

 

#Ruth #rejected SermonTitles Let’s talk about #hell (practical applications)

My very savvy 7 year old asked me today what Hell was.

Can I just say that a. I’m glad he asked me b. I’m glad he didn’t have a concept yet

Because, I’m a Pastor and I’m always a little afraid of what is seeping into my child’s brain theologically

I have no doubt this query was prompted by The Corpse Bride.

Halloween is great, and I mean it. Its a way to conceptionalize and deal with fears of death and Hell.

Deep Theology going on.

I have a working concept of Hell.

Its like a hypothesis–in theory this concept has withstood my theological understanding and it works for me to understand life, the universe and everything

Its like a practical application concept. (By the way that’s what theology is…its a working concept of how you apply your faith/beliefs)

The Bible is mostly unclear about what Hell is. When mentioned in the Bible it often carries with it whatever the local culture thinks is the underworld.

My working concept of Hell is that it is that deepest darkest place in existence that has no love.

Not a shred.

Because to me, that is the most horrific concept ever….

And though God promises to be with us, no matter where we are–When we descend to Sheol, God promises to be with us, this does not mean we are able to feel God’s presence/love while we are there. (Romans 8)

When Jesus Christ goes to Hell, when he cries out “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me” I believe that Jesus Christ experiences the lonely heart-wrenching existence of no love.

No God.

The hows and the whys of Jesus Christ not being with God and Love when His very self is God and Love escape me, but the definition works for me. Because we all have times in our lives when we feel unloved.

When we feel alone, unloved, unlovely and unable to love.

““Is this Naomi?” She said to them, “Call me no longer Naomi, call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty; why call me Naomi when the Lord has dealt harshly with me, and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?” ” Ruth 1:19-21

Naomi feels this, she says, call me Mara, bitter. I exist in a place with no love.

Even if we aren’t actually alone or unloved.

These places and times are Hell for us. A visit into what happens when God is completely ignored and unaccepted in our lives.

On the other hand, it means that those who love, have seen the face of God.

Those who love experience joy and pleasure and beauty and understanding.

In this way, I believe that whether Hell is a physical place or not, it exists.

(For me it was Jr. High, when I hadn’t really any friends was horribly socially awkward, and for a while a group of bullies told me to shut up every time I spoke or laughed)

Have you experienced Hell?

It makes sense then the contrast of Hell is Heaven, a place of love, a place of family, a place of hope.

How many times have poets compared love to Heaven?

Love exists too, and if we are bringing the Kingdom of God to Earth, then we will be like Ruth. Following Naomi, loving her even when she can’t accept that love.

There are times in our lives when we are loved, and we can’t feel it. The entire stage of teenage-hood comes to mind. Where we are loved, but we feel like no one cares.

The important thing about love, though, is that its different from “fixing someone.” Because fixing someone isn’t permanent, but love can go on and on.

Those of us who are married know that no one is perfect, and we can’t fix them forever, that doesn’t actually happen, but we can still love them. I would argue that loving someone is the opposite of fixing them. Its going where they go, experiencing what they experience, and keeping with them.

Too often at church we forget and try to fix people. Often we can’t fix someone, or the fix is temporary or we don’t know how to fix them. We can however, love them. We can experience life with them and build the family of God. We can make sure no one gets left behind, or forgotten, and call one another brother and sister.

That’s why we do this church thing, so we can be together in Christ.

Mark 3:33-35
And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’

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Thanks to Chuck Goodman for the Ohana Lilo and Stitch reference

#God #time #daylightsavingstime #philosophy (you know little concepts)

Why Daylight Savings Time, Why?

Most people don’t like Daylight Savings Time, I will admit that as a pastor it is a little terrifying to know that if I get the time wrong I’ll miss doing my job (yipes)

However, my kids have already adjusted their systems (at least 10 days ago) do the new time. Yep, they’ve been getting up and going to bed earlier. Apparently they have great cicada rhythms. So in some ways it will be easier for me.

On the other hand, we humans love time. We calculate it, we keep it, we try to control it. Daylight Savings Time & Leap Year serve to remind me that Time is a human measure.

Consider creation, we all still don’t know what “a day” to God was, but probably God experiences time differently than us.

When I was in Seminary, a Spiritual Practice I tried to remember when I considered deep theological questions, was the fact that God is timeless….God does not need to measure things in time. Because we do, I’m sure God does take it into consideration, but the taming and capturing of moments is a human need, not one that God has…

Puts me in mind of two beautiful concepts

Wrinkle in Time/Tesseract

Tesseract

and Dr. Who

timey-wimey

Go forth. Spring Forward (or fall back)

And think deep thoughts about God….Time…..and Humans relationship to God, Humans relationship to to time, and how we all fit together…..

http://www.mbird.com/2009/06/theologian-of-glory-vs-theologian-of/

Ok, so according to this I am more a theologian of the glory than a theologian of the cross…sad day…wonder if these terms should be more of a balance (its the mainline thing, I like compromise)

Thoughts? Its def. a good reframing, but I’m trying to figure out the truth of it (I tend to take preaching the Good news part of my job very seriously)

#MYOGHS a counter to #notmyOGHS, ideas for better theological #media

Presbyterians are awesome. I say this completely biased opinion, but I love, Love, LOVE our theology and integral to that is the community-connectional nature of our theology…We are one in Christ

We shoulder our burden together trying to connect smaller churches with bigger ones, trying to partner up those congregations that differ, trying to reach out into the community…sometimes our actions are not as effective as we like–but we base them on a solid theology.

Were I to run the campaign for One Great Hour of Sharing I would illustrate the following theological statements from 1 Cor 12

Because the Eye cannot say to the hand “I have no need of you” (Someone looking for things, Another person working with their hands)

The body is not made up of one part…but many…(I would make a body shape out of a diverse bunch of bodies)

If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be. (I’d have someone listening, and someone else smelling food)

On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable..(maybe share one of our stories of someone who was raised into ministry or service with low resources, or an illustration of the widow’s mite)

For we were all made to drink of one Spirit (water for all)

One Great Hour of Sharing: Because we need each other…

#Presby #PCUSA #Media & #Marketing #notmyOGHS

Hmmm…..

The #notmyOGHS movement on twitter points to 2 deeper issues.

The first of which is the utilization of stereotypes to market (even if meant ironically). The deep and complex issues of this campaign is summarized well here https://storify.com/breyeschow/concerns-raised-over-2015-oghs-campaign These are amazing issues, that are too complex to address in one blog post, please read over the variety here.

OGHSfishcal260x260

The other issue is media….some people raised the fact that an outside (non-theologically) based company was hired to help with the campaign.

In the quest to be hip(ster) and cutting edge, the denomination mis-stepped…In fact, from what I know about Millennials they might be some of the first to point to the hegemonic issues that exist in such an advertising scheme. I think this was part of the issue with the One Thousand and One Worshiping Communities scandal as well…

#wecandobetter

We can find new ways of speaking…We can do better in media…but we can’t leap ahead, we need Presbyterian marketers, we need to groundsource our young pastors to help with twitter, tumblr and instagram (FB is already passe)….

Media is so, so important…if we are preaching the Gospel we need to translate into all kinds of language–we learn this lesson over and over again.

How can we translate the Gospel into these forms of media, how can we get digital natives to do the translating? If we want to be hip to hipsters…shouldn’t they be the ones helping with the campaign (or give a substantial slice to them?)….

We have so many gifted resources, we should be using them.

Love

We like to limit God

to say God only believes in one kind of love

two kinds of genders

and sexuality is easy to define–

placing all those who don’t fit into these “normal” parameters into a category of…

“sorry God just messed up when God was making you”

“God only believes that these aspects are valid in a human being”

“You are an invalid human being”

Don’t even get me started on ethnicity and differently abled folk

Seriously…what kind of mediocre God are you preaching about…

My God has way more flexibility, creativity and love

My God is so good that I fall to my knees before the Trinity–overwhelmed with a need to love & accept people for who they are in the way that God’s Wild Love can….

and if you say your God is very different from mine…I’m inclined to agree with you….Your God is a lot tamer than mine!

Christianity<–straight up!

“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”

You see, Aslan is not just a lion, but he’s a great Lion. He’s the King of the Beasts, and the real ruler of Narnia. Now, Susan asks the beavers, “Is he safe?”

Mrs. Beaver says, “If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

Lucy asks, “Then he isn’t safe?”

And Mr. Beaver says this famous line about Aslan: “’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”  The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

Why do we want to limit love anyway?