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My Self, My God

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From The Gospel of Thomas (NHC II, 2): Jesus said, “If those who lead you say to you, ‘See, the kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you.  If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty.”

The Gospel of Thomas is a collection of traditional sayings attributed to Jesus. Most scholars agree that the remarks in The Gospel of Thomas are preserved in a more original form than the parallel quotes in the canonical gospels. Some of The Gospel of Thomas seems to have influenced The Gospel of John in the Second Testament. Either way, Jesus proclaims some very gnostic ideas: God is within. We must first know ourselves if we are to intimately know God.

In Luke …

Esoteric Jesus

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Welcome to Esoteric Advent! This season, we’re exploring the mystical side of Jesus, both his teachings and his birth story. To do so, we’re using many of the texts found at Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in the 1940s. These nearly-lost Coptic papyri are from a number of different Gnostic schools, all of them focused on esoteric teachings. A great number of them are specifically Christian in nature. The Nag Hammadi codices remind us that early Christianity was imaginative, inventive, and multi-faceted. Most importantly, they are exceptionally spiritual in nature.

Esoteric means “intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people.” The Gnostics didn’t think Jesus’ message was intended for a small number of people. Rather, they knew that his message was (and remains) a teaching that’s difficult to understand and too easy to interpret literally.

Jesus' remark in in Luke 8:9-10 describes the Gnostic's point of view perfectly:

Luke 8:9-10 (CEV): Jesus’ disciples asked him w…

Monday Meditation

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God of all things graceful and gracious,
use me to technicolor the day
and paint reality with oversaturated love.


Erase our monotone filters
and paint us the pigment of Jesus.

He refused to see a dingy world of dust and decay,
instead revealing
God’s multicolor kin-dom
of unconditional love.
Give us the Divine imagination
of infinite creative being.
So inspired, we will colorize the world
with the hues of hope and tolerance.
We pray in your kaleidoscopic image, amen.

The Scarcity of Community

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As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, many of our tables overflowing with more delectable dishes than we could consume in a lifetime, I’d like to present, well, some food for thought.

We waste a staggering amount of the planet’s natural resources, especially food. Countries like the U.S. and Great Britain carelessly discard nearly 50% of all our food (World Economic Forum). The numbers are even worse in industrialized Asia. Around the world, people are starving to death for absolutely no reason. Some voices loudly proclaim that the Earth is depleted of her natural resources, so there simply isn’t enough to go around. This is a lie. There is no scarcity of resources. There is a disheartening scarcity of compassion and community.

One would think an easy solution would be to move food from the places with an overabundance to those without, but the realities of the global food chain make this impossible. Global food production and distribution is directly tied to corporate profits and g…

Hope's Path

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Eleven-year-old Hope flew down the brownstone stairs and bounced outside, the formidable wooden front doors slamming closed behind her like the resounding retort of a canon. The crashing of the doors echoed off the graffiti-and-ivy covered walls of her little Roosevelt Park neighborhood. A few tourists ducked. Locals didn’t flinch. They were used to this many-times-daily occurrence, the thunder of a closing door that meant Hope was on her way.

She took the weight of her name very seriously. “It isn’t a coincidence, you know—my name, Mom,” Hope once remarked. “Of course it isn’t, sweetheart! We named you after your great-grandmother.” Hope smiled, but her mom didn’t understand. Hope was more than just a name, a deterministic label like “rock” or “puddle.” Hope wasn’t just her name. It was hercalling. Hope had a duty, and she knew that from the first moment she realized she could know anything.

Cheerily, Hope said, “Good morning, Mrs. Ferguson,” as she raced past her next-door neighbor’s …

Sinners and Saints

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Saints and Sinners by Claudio Delgado.
http://cubanartbeat.com/product/claudia-delgado-23-5-x-31-5-painting-on-canvas-7/
In practically any dictionary of The Bible, a saint is defined as someone “distinct because of their relationship with God.” In the ancient Jewish tradition (in Psalms 31.23 and 148.14, e.g.) the word “saint,” like so many ancient Hebrew words, has more than one meaning. For Jesus’ ancestors, a saint was someone who had an intimate, covenantal relationship with God and was also specially chosen for and dedicated to God’s service.

People were considered saints during their lifetimes—the way most of us found Mother Theresa a saint during hers. In our era, we tend to think of saints as these perfect, flawless, selfless characters, just like Jesus. But that imagery is, while not wrong, at least incomplete. Jesus neverrefers to himself as perfect. He never even refers to himself as God. Jesus is always “the son of man” (Mark 2.28, Mark 14,62, Acts 7.56, Luke 19.1, et al.). …

Quantum Entanglement

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I’m fascinated by the intersection of quantum mechanics (the study of subatomic systems) and faith. I’ve written about string theory before, and the implication that everything that exists—every steak on the grill we smell and every soul-penetrating song we hear—is a vibration of God. The physical world is an emanation of the God frequency. God is the sound that started the universe. God is our infinite song of sustenance.

Quantum mechanics helps me integrate faith and science. Science is biblical for me. I believe that by revealing the mysteries of the universe, science also reveals something of the nature of God. Understanding science as more than just the laws of nature helps people of faith maintain a healthy, contemporary, and relevant image of God and God’s activity in the world.

In the quantum world, I have discovered interesting ways to imagine not only the nature of God, but also God’s infrastructure, if you will—how God is active in our world without being manipulative.  For…

Jesus in Detention

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Jesus in Detention
The Jews solemnly lined the streets of Jerusalem as they once again watched invaders march triumphantly through their “Jewel on the Hill”. This time, it was the great Roman general Pompey. He had taken advantage of a family squabble between the formerly ruling Hasmoneans, which left Jerusalem vulnerable. The Romans had been on a tear through the area for years, consolidating power as they incorporated Syria into their ever-expanding empire.

Much to the Jewish peoples’ surprise, Pompey was friendly and respectful. He and Caesar both had trusted Jewish advisors and were familiar with the people and their customs. It was also characteristic of the Romans to allow conquered people to continue their traditions, if respect and money were paid to Rome on a regular basis. When Pompey marched into Jerusalem, he saw himself as emancipator rather than conqueror.

Unfortunately, Pompey was a general, not a bureaucrat. The Romans installed a new governor in Jerusalem, Antipater. …

World Refugee Day

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World Refugee Day
There are millions of people around the world who have been displaced and seek refuge in a friendly land. Nearly 4 million South Sudanese face a nation with no future unless food and medical care can be restored. In total, more than 65 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes. 65 million! My friends, that is an appalling number for a global society that claims to be the most civilized ever on planet Earth.

Let’s take some time to pray and educate ourselves today. Please visit the UN Refugee Agency website at http://www.unhcr.org/ to learn more about opportunities to help and events in the U.S. today (and ongoing). The number of refugees around the world is jaw-dropping and disheartening. Our only civilized response (not to mention Christian response) is to assist, whether that means educating ourselves and our friends; donating time, supplies and money; and/or praying for love to eradicate fear.

One of the most important programs for our denomination…

Monday Meditation

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click to play video
Holy God,
answer to all mysteries,
restore our curiosity and wonder.
We have lost our imaginations
both individually and collectively.
Once we wrote with poetic flourish;
created abstract art
open to interpretation;
and built structures that represented
our inventive ability.
Now we approach the world
with cold, conformist,
formulaic practicality.
Need a new building?
Here’s a glass rectangle.
Producing a new movie?
Here’s another sequel.
Writing a new novel?
I hope the main character is Harry Potter.

With this forfeit of imagination
we have conceded our ability
to consider that
the universe is more than
what we can perceive.
Our senses are limited,
but our minds are not.
Why do we continue
to let our physical nature
define who we are
and of what we are capable?

We need more Einstein and Tesla,
more Marx and Heidegger,
more Musk and Jobs,
more Tubman and Sojourner Truth;
people willing to think differently
despite being told
“This will never work.”
We should insist on
more original thought
and fewer peop…

The United States is Not a Christian Nation. Thank God.

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Among the many utterly unacceptable and uneducated statements I’ve heard since the disaster that is the Trump Presidency began, the most heinous is the claim that Herr Donald is somehow making America a “Christian” nation again (although I suspect that the people I hear that from are using “Christian” as a secret code word meaning “White”).

America is not, nor has it ever been, a Christian nation—well, at least not with respect to state religion. Perhaps we were a nation with genuine Christian values once upon a time, when we still warmly welcomed refugees and immigrants, believing what is etched on the Statue of Liberty; when we provided affordable, quality health care; took care of our elderly; worked hard to help the poor lift themselves out of poverty; put people to work on infrastructure projects and… well, you get the idea. Those are Christian values. Caring for the other—especially the stranger—is core to Christ’s teachings. A nation with Christian values does not build walls. I…

Monday Meditation

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God who is our fountain of light and truth,
restock our arid hearts and souls
like the rains filling parched desert lakebeds.

Open the eyes
of those who cannot see,
or worse,
choose to ignore
the pain and suffering
of a planet in the throes
of self-inflicted wounds.

Open the hearts
of those who would deny
the most basic human dignities
to any brother or sister
subjugated to terror and slavery;
in need of medicine and doctors;
looking for shelter and a kind word.

Inherently, we understand
that we all deserve shelter, medicine, and kindness.
We know that those of us who have much
are obligated to give to those who lack.
Remind us of our obligation
to be your hands and feet in this word
by motivating us to serve each other
more compassionately
and completely.

Open the wallets of the greedy few
who hoard all the money
and refuse to share it
with even those whose backs they have broken
on their way to the top.
There are too many broken backs,
and too few open wallets.

Perhaps more than anything else, Lord,
I pray for you t…

Reset

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We are firmly in the grips of a Southwest Florida summer. It’s ludicrously hot, the humidity is a zillion percent, and you can count on regular rainstorms and power outages.

If your house is anything like mine, power outages are a major inconvenience. The TV, stereo receiver, even the fridge and microwave all click, beep and buzz their way back to life as lights flicker on and off like a scene from Poltergeist.

While I was working at home one day, there were several of these outages in a row. This got me thinking about resets. Since it was just before Pentecost, it occurred to me that in many ways, the Pentecost experience was a global reset of sorts. As I continued down this rabbit hole, I realized that video games are a terrific example of what happens to us when God resets our lives through both Ascension and Pentecost.

I grew up in the 1970s and ‘80s when video games were starting to take root in American culture. I remember my parents dropping me off at the Prien Lake Mall in Lake C…