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Every Part of Life, and the God We Don't Control

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  2 Samuel 6:1-19 There is something in us that wants to edit life. We would take out the hard parts and make it seem easy, only sunny and happy. Case in point:  King David was moving to unify the kingdom, he had consolidated the center of power and government and now he was bringing the Ark into Jerusalem, the new capital.  The first run at it was ecstatic, thousands of troops, musicians with every imaginable instrument, dancing and revelry.  But in the middle of the journey, this guy Uzzah, who is helping drive the oxcart, sees that suddenly the oxen’s misstep has made the Ark wobble, so reaches out his hand to steady it, and when he touches it he is struck dead. The lectionary cuts this part of the story out. It wants us to hear about the great parade of moving the Ark, the leaping and dancing for joy, and more joy and more dancing and then the settling of the Ark in the center of the Israelites’ life.  Hooray and amen!  But this is part of the story too. And it is confusing, and en

Faithing Together

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  Mark 6:1-13 Sometimes I have faith. I feel settled and grateful and connected and even sure.  And sometimes I am amazed at my unbelief. That is to say, I have a shocked moment when I realize I have been swamped by fear and I am just treading water in it as thought this is all there is. Or I caught in anger and breathing it in and letting it fill me and feed me.  Or I am cut off from anything beyond myself, my worries, my projects, my interpretations of things, and I am just existing as though this is all there is, completely forgetting there is someone that holds me and this whole world. I can go on this way for days.  Detatched from my deepest self, from God, from others. And then suddenly I wake up and remember - or am re-membered -  to my belonging, invited back into trust, feeling my heart open back up to transcendence, widen back out toward God.  And I am “faithing” again.   What does it mean to have faith? To be a person of faith? Is it to attend religious services regularly? O

Both Now and Forever

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2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1 My daughter and I went camping last weekend.  It was beautiful and at night it was cold. I had not slept in a tent in a long time.  It kept out the wind, and the spiders that crawled over the outside of it but could not get in. It kept out the moisture and the dew. It did a little bit to block the cold, but not much. It did not keep out sound. I could hear the train across the lake when it passed by, and the slow crunch of the Park Ranger’s truck tires as she rolled by in the darkness every hour to check that all was well.  All through the night giant splashes erupted in the lake next to us that jolted me awake, and I had a front row seat for the cacophony of morning birds that started their music at 4 am.  And while the tent kept me from seeing the sunrise, it did not keep out the light. So I was up stumbling into the chilly morning fog not long after those birds.  A tent is not a home. It’s a temporary place to lie our head, not meant to keep us from the grace

Rest as our Home Base

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  Fourteen months ago our non-stop world came to a screeching halt.  Instead of hurrying about our normal lives we were suddenly hunting for toilet paper and hand sanitizer and stockpiling dried beans.  The goals, activities and realities of life were just…canceled.  Time changed.  The kids didn’t need to be up by a certain time in order to be out the door and waiting for the bus. Lunches didn’t have to be made the night before. There was an avalanche of phone calls, text messages, and emails announcing that our appointments with the doctor/dentist/chiropractor/hair stylist were canceled. Those events we had been looking forward to (or dreading) like weddings, birthday parties, vacations, concerts were postponed, postponed again, and then… We found ourselves constructing new, make-shift lives on screens and behind masks. It was weird. On the phone and Facetime and Zoom and social media we compared notes on just how weird it was. Like a collective improv show, we set about trying to cre

The Story of Humanity

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Acts 2:1-21, 38-47 One year ago we awoke Pentecost morning from a night with a curfew and closed freeways, to the smoldering remains of shops along Lake Street, and a palpable tension in the air along with the helicopters, smoke and ash, as the nation was reeling from watching the breath forced from George Floyd’s body in front of our eyes. One year ago this week our city, the nation, the world, ignited with pain.    The end of our passage today calls the people who heard the word of God and joined in the work of God those who are “being saved.” Being saved looks like letting love’s fire cleanse us and burn away what is killing us, and fan to life what wants to live in us.  It looks like repentance of sins and honest acknowledgement of the ways we hurt each other, degrade each other’s humanity, or ignore the needs of our neighbors or their cries for help or justice. Being saved looks like forgiveness of ourselves and each other, the green shoots of new life budding between us. Being sa

Perfect Timing

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                                  It's real!  I've held it in my hands!    My book is on my front porch and will be in bookstores June 1!  I can go fast. I can make decisions and get things done. But often I can go too fast. I can get sloppy, or miss the gift in something. I can process information and respond before things have a chance to settle in me, before I know how I am really feeling or what I really believe.  I can overestimate how much control or say I actually have.   This book would not let me do that.   All along, this project has gone slower than I wanted it to.  It simmered and  languished  meandered, making me wait, and notice and linger with it. Something I'd written twenty years ago would tap me on the shoulder and demand to be included.  I'd think the book was finished, then suddenly I would know  the events of that very day were meant to be in this very chapter.  The book took a long time to reveal itself to me, to come together in the way it was me

The way we decide

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  Acts 1:1-17, 21-26 Things have been a little weird and intense for the disciples since Jesus was murdered by the state and came back from the dead. Judas has died by suicide.  The community has been pretty much in hiding.  Then the risen Lord started popping up places.  He’s kind of the same but different, both unrecognizable and completely familiar, both available and not. For a little over a month, he’s been showing up here and there, walking along with some of them down a road, coming through locked doors and eating fish, hanging out with them day after day and teaching again like before. And now, he has just literally vanished into the sky before their eyes.     This weekend we celebrate the Ascension – the day Jesus disappears into the clouds and leaves the disciples staring up into the sky with their mouths hanging open. They can feel his absence where his presence once was. And yet he promises he will be there with them in a different way, guiding them nonetheless.    So now a