With what should I approach the Lord
and bow down before God on high?
Should I come before him with entirely burned offerings,
with year-old calves?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with many torrents of oil?
Should I give my oldest child for my crime;
the fruit of my body for the sin of my spirit?
He has told you, human one, what is good and
what the Lord requires from you:
to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God. (more…)
The Hebrew and Christian scriptures tell us a story. Sometimes that story is about our origins. At other times, the story is about our successes and failures. Many times, the story is about our penchant for forgetting who and whose we are until we encounter God who reminds us of both. If you read much of the story for yourself, you’ll notice that God encounters us in places which are remarkable for their very ordinariness. In short, God doesn’t call us out of the world into encounter; rather, God encounters us in the ordinary world God made for us to flourish in.
I’ve been cleaning out my desk at home this week. Found an old notebook in a drawer. I know just when I last wrote in it. I figure its been waiting for me; or I’ve been waiting for it. It was 2009. I was taking a poetry writing class on poetic forms. Curiously, the teacher wasn’t interested in lecturing us on sonnets or sestinas or ghazals or haikus or what have you. He, himself, thought our job as poets wasn’t to sit down and write a sonnet because we thought it would be fun to write a sonnet that day. No. He said out job was to decide what we wanted to say and then to find the best form in which to say it. He said poetic forms, received or invented, were merely ways to advocate for what we wanted to say. Form is necessary; yet, it is not sufficient. You have to have something you want to say. No sense having a lovely vessel with nothing inside. (more…)
Sometimes, I just don’t know what to say, and, at those times, anything I do say just sounds stupid. Perhaps there’s something somewhere inside my mind, something heavy, large, and pressing, which wants to be spoken about, and I’m afraid of it. It would be embarrassing to be direct, mortifying to be simple. Blocked and tongue-tied, I yearn for the freedom to speak, but lack the courage.
Courage is the thing, though, what it takes to be free, what it takes to speak or to write or to act in freedom. Yet, where do we find it? Where do we go to find the heart-strength to speak of whatever it is which presses in on us? (more…)
In just a few weeks, we will be celebrating the highest and holiest of holy days in the Christian calendar: Easter. We will shout our hallelujahs and raise the roof with our songs of praise to God for the amazing thing he has done in giving Jesus back to us, the community of his disciples, alive.
We come to Easter expecting things: our favorite Easter songs, to hear again the story of the women who come to the tomb and find the stone rolled away and the tomb empty, to re-imagine the women’s fright and to anticipate their delight when they discover the six delirious words which give voice to their testimony: Jesus is risen from the dead. We’ve been celebrating Easter for a long time, and none of this gets old. Even so, it is always good to remember that in the Gospels no one, no one, expected resurrection. (more…)