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Showing posts from April, 2015

Celebrating Our Small Blue Dot

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Our modern, corporatized, globalized world has caused us to devalue each other and our planet. If ever there was a modern definition of sin, it is this: the devaluation of human and planetary worth by the systemic destruction of both by corporations unbound by laws and unregulated by morality.

Today, let’s try to remember that we are bound to this planet through the very substance of our being. The molecules within us are the molecules within every tree and lake. As the planet dies and withers, so too do we—not just physically, but spiritually and morally. Before we bankrupt ourselves and take the entire planet with us, let’s rethink the way we organize society and conduct our relationships. Let’s try to remember love as the principle that guides our decision making processes. Love, not profit. Love, not war. Love, not pollution.

Perhaps this video, produced by Charter for Compassion for Earth Day 2015, will remind us what it means to be humans in relationship with each other and this m…

The Bible’s Spiritual Thread, part 2

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Jesus started a movement that was all about recognizing and embracing our spiritual nature and unity with God. Unfortunately, as the Jesus Movement became more Gentile and less Jewish, the Holy Scriptures that Jesus and Paul loved and understood became reinterpreted through the lens of Pagan Gentiles weaned on Greek dualist philosophy. This means that stories intended as mystical Jewish metaphor were interpreted literally. Phrases that were likely never used when Jesus was preaching, like “son of God” were suddenly applied to him, because these new Gentile followers of Jesus thought of him as a demigod, like Hercules or Achilles. This corrupted Jesus’ entire message and turned him into just another member of the Greco-Roman pantheon, where he has largely remained to this day.

In order to rediscover the original meanings of these texts (which were in truth many and varied—there is and never was a single meaning for any of these stories), we have to first remember that this is an ancient…

The Bible's Spiritual Thread, part 1

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The Bible is most powerful when we approach it as a philosophical text. The stories it contains force us to wrestle with what it means to be humans in relationship with each other and with God. The struggles the people in the Bible go through are very much like our own. They revolt against despotism and empire, they develop nations and laws, and they constantly contend with what it means to be human—including what it means to be consciously aware of our spirituality—and what it even means to be “spiritual.”

People formed ideas about gods and our relationship to them even before we settled down into civilizations. Most came to the conclusion that the gods existed in another realm—some sort of heaven, apart from human existence. These gods were typically meddlesome and hypersensitive, demanding tribute from humans, enslaving humans, and often interacting with and reproducing with humans. Some of these ideas came from a lack of knowledge about the natural world, but it would be a mistake …

Rethinking What it Means to Worship

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Religious people often talk about worship. While I think many people consider worship a time to intimately connect with God, it seems that the majority of religious people consider worship to be just what it is defined as: “reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred” (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/worship).

In our church we’ve started to get away from the word “worship,” and instead refer to our time together as “Connecting”—with each other and with God. We’ve started to do this because many of us come to “worship” in order to experience the loving and powerful presence of the one and only energy in the universe, which we have traditionally called “God.” We have started to evolve our image of God beyond an entity of some sort that requires homage—or else woe be unto us.

Unfortunately, our image of God has too often reflected our human self. God is humanoid, even in our classical paintings. God is emotional. God lives in Heav…

Monday Meditation

Loving and compassionate God,
move through our congregation,
our world,
our hearts,
our minds and souls.

Embrace us firmly,
and awaken us
from our hypnotic sleep.

We have created a world
that mesmerizes us
with shiny objects.

We are programmed to buy
more than we need,
and to eat
more than is healthy for us.

We are urged to fill our homes
with more and more stuff,
even while we know
the abundance of your glorious world
is not being shared with others—
others who are often
the very people producing the stuff
we fill our homes with.

Wake us up, Holy Redeemer!
Resurrect our spirits,
for too long suffocated
by the heavy burden
of this consumer culture.

Remind us we are holy children, Lord—
your holy children.
Flow through our very being.
Enlighten us
so we might enlighten others,
and one by one
snap out of our global slumber
and realize a different way—
your way of love,
compassion,
and utter equality with one another,
which can only happen
when we acknowledge and embrace
your internal,
eternal love.
Amen.

Reforming the Reformation, part 3

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Hopefully, we’re beginning to see the cyclical nature of faith, spirituality and religion (and yes, they are three very distinct ideas): A prophet comes along proclaiming a way to act as people of God. Often, the prophet also has a gripe with the established religious authority; usually the establishment’s misuse of power and their unwillingness to let the people of God read Holy Scripture or otherwise interact directly with God. The prophet gains followers who reform the system, allowing people direct access to both Holy Scriptures and God. Over time, the teachings of the prophet turn into a religious system of their own, often leaving behind the original people who established the system. Soon, the prophet himself or herself becomes an idol of worship. The prophet’s teachings are lost, replaced by idolatry and direct worship of the prophet. A priesthood develops around the now idolized prophet. The priesthood once again sets itself apart from the people of God, completely forgetting…

Reforming the Reformation, part 2

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It should be apparent by now that everything that exists evolves. The entire universe has evolved from a singularity of some sort. And while our understanding of reality is changing (an evolution itself) and our idea of a one-time Big Bang gives way to a universe that has always existed in some reality or another, our universe—the one we physically inhabit right now, is still evolving. There is no doubt all life on this planet began as very simple, single-celled organisms that, over millions of years, slowly began their crawl toward sentience and civilization. Everything evolves.

Just as life, planets and stars evolve, so do our created human systems. Economic, political and religious systems all change over time. Yet, while the evolution of the universe and life seems linear—from a less complex to a more complex place; from a less conscious to a more conscious awareness, the evolution of religion (and politics and economics) seems to ebb and flow. We make a few steps forward, and then…

Reforming the Reformation, part 1

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In 1517, when Martin Luther wrote his 95 Theses against the Catholic Church, he began what we now call The Reformation. Luther had a lot of issues with his church, but his main gripe was the selling of indulgences. 

Partially in order to finance the restoration of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, partially in keeping with secular judicial practices of the era which required a monetary payment in return for a criminal conviction, Pope Leo X authorized clergy to exchange partial absolution of temporal sins in return for money (in Catholicism there is a difference between temporal and eternal sin). The subject is more complicated than most people are aware. Most folks tend to think the Catholic Church was selling complete absolution of all sins in return for gold and silver. In actuality, what they were selling was a way to decrease the amount of time a soul spent in purgatory, until such time as it was cleansed and prepared to go to Heaven. This idea reveals just how dualistic Christianity …

Monday Meditation

God of endless love,
take hold of our hearts
and let us sit here
in the stillness of your presence,
as we turn our souls to you.
Help us discover
the mystery of
the living Christ within us.

[Pause for meditation]

Inspire us
to turn ourselves inside out
in service to you.
As we clean our homes,
commute to our offices,
work in our gardens,
sit at our desks
and answer our e-mails,
may everything we do
be in honor of
and inspired by
you.

[Pause for meditation]

Awaken us to
the restoring presence of your love.
Resurrect our faith
in our ability
and responsibility,
through your love,
to change our leaders,
our governments,
our economic and social systems,
and recreate them in the image of
your equitable, loving kin-dom.


[Pause for meditation]

Remind us that
the Easter season
is a time for us
to reflect deeply on your being
as a powerful force of love
in our lives
and in our world.

We confess that
we’re unusually selfish creatures.
We need you to show us
again and again
that we are more than our selves, though—
we are the embodiment of
y…

Jesus’ Passion: Our Spiritual Welfare, part 2

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The stories about Jesus’ death and resurrection are meant to be an extremely powerful spiritual metaphor about the systemic sins of this world: corporate greed, profit over people, political pride, religious arrogance, and human hubris. The story of Jesus’ crucifixion, which we remember today, is one of nonviolent resistance against a system that enslaves and disenfranchises the weak and poor. It’s about the ability of each of us, when we give ourselves completely to the loving current of God flowing throughout the universe, to become agents of change—loving, peaceful, nonviolent change.

We have a personal responsibility to eradicate the sinful myths of greed and selfishness from our lives. This change is only possible when we allow ourselves to be crucified to the systemic sins of the world so that the loving Christ energy that exists within us, as it existed in Jesus, can become more fully active.

We are spiritual beings in need of spiritual resurrection, and this entire period from H…

Jesus’ Passion: Our Spiritual Welfare, part 1

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The Gospels, Paul’s letters, and the apocryphal texts portray Jesus as an extremely multi-dimensional individual. They show him as concerned about people’s economic welfare, the injustice of the Roman political system, and the corruption of his world’s dominant religious systems. Perhaps above all else though, Jesus is shown to be passionately concerned about humankind’s spiritual welfare.

This time of the year, as the secular world rolls out cute little bunnies (or delicious chocolate bunnies) and Easter eggs, most Christian churches have services that retell the story of Jesus’ last days before his crucifixion. Christians have lots of different ways of interpreting these stories. The majority of them completely miss the point. Few, if any, talk about the passion of Jesus as a story about our spiritual welfare.

In our current era, churches have become sidetracked with a surface reading of “The Passion of the Christ” as literally true stories about Jesus and his last days on earth. We t…