Showing posts from December, 2015

Psalm 98.4-6

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the Lord with the harp,
with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—
shout for joy before the Lord, the King.

As we peruse the pages of human history, we see a shameful amount of death, destruction, and violence in the name of religion. This was certainly true throughout the five century time span over which the Psalms were written. However, the overarching theology of the Psalms is one of hope and joy. Even while the Jewish people were constantly being exiled and returning home, only to be exiled again, they found constant reassurance in their faith—faith that God would bring them joy no matter where they found themselves. And they sang, danced, and clanged cymbals of joy about God’s faithfulness.

The Psalms, of course, were the hymns of the ancient world. One can imagine groups of Jewish worshippers singing together, just as we do in our modern churches tod…

Monday Meditation

Holy God,
Creator of every universe,
Sustainer of my soul:
Ignite a flame of hope within me.
Fan the flames of Divine Love,
which burn in me with an intensity
too unbearable to ignore.
Motivate me to acts of loving kindness.

We love you, Adonai our God,
because you compel us
to act with love, mercy,
understanding, and compassion.
You are the fuel                    
that keeps the flame of forgiveness
lit within the depths
of our being.
You are the inspiration
that is the very engine
of our creation,
and our creativity.

We thank you,
because you teach us
how to love.
You remind us that
I AM as you are, pure energy.
We adore you and thank you
because you show us
how to care for others beyond ourselves,
and how to see the world
with childlike wonder,
in utter awe of the beauty and majesty
of this inconceivably complex creation.

[allow time for God to speak here]

Still, we confess
we often fumble and fall.
Our busy lives sidetrack
us from knowing you,
from prayer and meditation,
from study of
and unity with the holy.

We forget…

The Advent of Spiritual Oneness

The Bible is a collection of letters and stories, most handed down from an ancient oral tradition that seems to have begun as early as the 24th Century BCE. These people are typically referred to as proto-Canaanites, and would eventually become known as Canaanites (Phoenicians), Amorites, and Israelites. They were a Semitic, and probably Jewish, culture from the beginning.

In the Bible, we read about the Israeli invasion of Canaan, but we often presume the Canaanites are somehow a completely different people from the Israelites. The fact the story reveals nothing about the Canaanites is indicative of just how closely associated with the Israelites Canaan (Phoenicia) was. They were of the same Semitic blood, and most scholars believe they were probably also Jewish. Yes, the Phoenicians we read about as kids were the people of Canaan, and they were Jews. It is also likely all these people were part of a larger group called the Amorites, whose language was—wait for it—Aramean (the languag…

Monday Meditation

Baruch atah Adonai 
elohaynu melech ha'olam 
asher kidshanu 
ner shel Shabbat.

Praised are You, 
Adonai our God, 
Sovereign of the Universe, 
who makes us holy with commandments 
and instructs us to kindle
the lights of the Sabbath.

Fill us with love,
God who forms us from love.
Fill us with hope,
God who always shows us hope.
Fill us with peace,
God who sends us peace.

[pause for meditation]

Open our minds
and show us the truth
of our higher being.
Reveal our true selves:
humans made in your image,
incarnated on this planet
to enjoy a brief physical moment.

Help us enjoy this moment
and revel in simply being,
rather than constantly fighting over
what’s mine and what’s not;
which religion is more true;
which way of life is more correct.

When we realize we are all
part of your infinite Spirit,
and that you desire nothing more than
to simply be,
then who is right
and who is wrong
become moot.

We are all right
if we are living righteously:
at peace with you;
at peace with one another.
In l…

Finding Shalom

Music is a discipline--it takes practice. Musicians practice scales—up and down, up and down, our entire lives. We practice chords and music theory. As we practice and become more proficient, we start to realize that it’s not just playing the scales that’s important—it’s how you play them and integrate them into your musical vocabulary that matters. We start to understand that it’s the spaces between the notes—the pauses, that change a scale from practice for the fingers into the pronouncement of a new musical composition. Check out Michel Petrucciani to hear what I’m writing about.

Peace works the same way. Becoming a peaceful person, finding peace amidst the turmoil of a busy life, takes practice too. Peace is often found in the pauses between tension—either our own inner tension or tension in the world at large.

So, we think of peace in two ways: externally, the kind of peace that’s found between global conflicts, and internally, the sort of peace we seek in our daily lives. Either w…

Monday Meditation

Most loving and gracious God,
as we trek toward
the birth of Jesus,
we come with gratitude
that you are with us
on our journey.

Help us as we travel
to stay on the path
and keep us focused
on the peaceful purpose
of our mission.

We confess that
in the busyness of this season,
we often stray from the holy day
and concentrate instead on the holiday.

[pause for meditation]

As we put up our Christmas lights,
remind us of your light.
Grant us the patience
to pause in our task
and bask in the promise
of the star we place atop our tree.

As we sing songs of hope, joy, peace, and love
remind us to leave space
for your melody,
and for your loving message
of light in the darkness.

[pause for meditation]

As we decorate our trees,
let us take time also
to decorate our hearts
with the ornament of love—
a love that brings us closer to you,
and through you,
closer to each other.

As we shop for gifts,
keep us mindful of
the birthday we celebrate
and the gift we are given in the manger—
the gift of the Christ;
ever being born,

The Cave Dwellers

I was born in a cave. I didn’t know this at the time, of course, because, like all the rest born in the cave, the darkness was all I ever knew. Sure, there was the central fire, ever burning, casting its shadows on our own even more shadowy existence. The central fire stoked by the masters of the flame, and, I thought, at least in part by our own fear and despair.

Until you arrived, my life was spent in chains. Imprisoned as I was in this eternal darkness, I lived (if one could call it living) in an upright, coffin-sized cocoon barely larger than my somewhat substantial frame. For, even undernourished and overworked, my body was (at least, judging from my shadow) rather imposing. My life was purely existence, and that only to eat, work, and sleep in an unending cycle. In the darkness, there was no concept of minutes, hours, days, or years. There was just time spent in my cramped, vertical quarters or working, and all of it in bondage.

At regular intervals, I was allowed to take a turn a…