My Seen Creed

Today is the thirty-fifth day of Lent.

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I believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only something of God,
I have no idea of the Father,
something from something,
I don’t know from I don’t know,
nothin from nothin leaves nothin,
bein got and not maid,
who knows what with the Father.

Through him all things were made. Okay. I guess.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from somewhere.
By the power of something kind of spooky
he became incarnate from…I can’t even say it. Just, no.
And was made man. Continue reading

Two things

Today is the twenty-sixth day of Lent.

If you are part of a religion or spiritual tradition with a bible, scriptures, traditions, steps, or any sort of received wisdom, you should embrace your tradition’s teachings with humility.

And you should be encouraged to take any two doctrines and throw them out. You get two. Any two that don’t sit well with you. And I don’t mean you should just ignore them. I mean go outside, look up or down or sideways or in whatever direction you think points toward your god and say, “Hell no. I’m not going to do that!” Continue reading

Time travel

Today is the fifteenth day of Lent.

This year my Lenten journey is to be mindful of my life every day. It’s hard to explain what that means, but I know the meaning of it.

This weekend Jeanene and I are taking the three sisters on a journey back in time. We go backwards in time in a couple of ways. First, this may be the last time the five of us go on a trip or adventure together. Reiley is now 25 and seriously dating a man we have come to love. I fully anticipate that he will be a part of everything we do from this point forward. When your children start moving into the adult world, their lives become their own. We stand on the edge of that transition. I feel I should honor this weekend as a closing chapter in our lives. Continue reading

Artisan Dream

Today is the eleventh day of Lent.

It would need to be metal, this thing that I would be an expert at repairing. And completely mechanical. There would be a power source and then one piece moving another piece until the work was done. If you broke it down to its component parts you’d have screws, washers, nuts, bolts, and other metal things.

There would be specialized tools, and they would be well made, all metal and wood. To break this thing down completely would require special moves, but there would be a tool for everything. And I would know every move that might need to be made, so there would be no reason to be afraid or to doubt myself. There would be a finite amount of information needed to master the repair of these things, and I would know all of that information. Continue reading

I have a problem

Today is the 8th day of Lent.

Over the last year I’ve become aware of a problem that I have. It’s my problem. It originates within me. It has no connection to any external reality that would indicate blame or responsibility for any person or organization outside of myself. Not only do I acknowledge that this is my problem, I don’t expect anyone to do anything to solve it for me. If I am to overcome this problem, the solution will come from a change within my own heart.

I can’t imagine how anyone could own a problem more fully than I just did. Continue reading

How can you?

Today is the 7th day of Lent.

How can you comprehend another culture when you are UNCONSCIOUS of your own?

How can you understand others when you have NEVER tried to understand yourself?

How can you know the HEART of God when you do not know your own heart?

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A life of service

Today is the fifth day of Lent.

The following is an account of a dream I had on Saturday night, March 8th. It was the night before my first sermon in four years. Any comment is welcome as usual, but I’d like to suggest that the best response to a dream is to listen to it. Dreams speak to us from our unconscious. The symbols of a dream are often extreme, exaggerated, and reflective of inner fears and turmoil.

In my dream I was employed by some nonprofit organization. Its exact nature was not clear. It might have been connected to a religious group or not. The point of the organization was to be helpful to humanity in some way. I had a job in the organization that was mundane, and I believe that in the dream I questioned whether or not my role was helping the cause of humankind in any way.

In the dream I had just returned from a trip to India where I had seen shocking levels of poverty that distressed me. The memories of the trip existed in my dream as short visual sequences that were very realistic. In one of them I encountered some people who were sleeping in puddles of water, unable even to secure a dry place for their beds. Continue reading

Our ancient foe

Today is the third day of Lent.

In the religious world of my upbringing, Satan was understood to be a real being. If you could get coordinates and had the ability to travel through space and across unknown realities, you could find Satan. Not that anyone would want to try. When I went off to college to study philosophy and religious studies, I kept my desire to remain connected to my faith tradition, but I stopped believing in a literal Satan. It was, I felt, a little unsophisticated. I put together some fancy language to support my thoughts on this matter.

“Satan is clearly a personification of evil. The concept of Satan as a motivating idea or as a character in a mythic narrative is okay, I suppose, for simple and uneducated people. But it seems clear that there is no such being. The idea of Satan seems to have developed in the intertestamental period of Judeo-Christian history.”

And that’s what I believed, or didn’t believe about Satan all through seminary and on into my time as the pastor of Covenant Baptist Church.

And then I met Sam Todd. Continue reading

All these mindful things

Today is the second day of Lent.

I sat alone a few rows from the front last night at Saint Francis with ashes on my forehead, still uncertain of what this year’s lenten discipline would be. Then a phrase came to me. “Be mindful.”

Mindfulness is something that has been missing from my life. I realize now, to my sorrow, that most of the mindfulness I used to have was tied to being a professional Christian. I was paid to be mindful. No one cares if I’m mindful now. And my mind has mostly been full of mundane things these days. Getting my client hours billed. Handling basic and simple human considerations. Making a living, as they say. Continue reading

On the giving and receiving of kindness

Today is the first day of Lent.

An act of kindness given from one person to another has its effect on the giver and the receiver independent of each other.

If a kind act is offered and received, it flowers in the life of the one who receives it regardless of the motives of the one who offered it. Some kind acts are offered from selfish or manipulative motives. In these cases the goodness comes to the recipient even though the soul of the giver will not be helped and may well be harmed by the act.

Some people are unable to receive kindness. They live so deeply in their wounds that a single act of kindness disappears into their pain with no more effect than a pebble tossed into a pond. But this reality does not diminish the goodness of the gift, and the soul of the one who offered the kindness is enriched regardless.

As I reflect on my life, this first day of Lent in 2014, I pray that I have kindness and mercy to offer those God puts into my path. And I pray that when kindness is given to me, I will receive it with gratitude and love. Because when a joyous giver meets someone able to receive in love, the goodness is magnified in the lives of both and shines for all the world to see.

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