Sunday, November 30, 2014


 ‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’ [Mark 13:32-37]

It was impossible for me to hear this passage this morning in church without thinking about the current hashtag being used in social media, #staywoke. I'm not always savvy about how and where these things begin, but it appears to be in reference to the debacle in Ferguson, Missouri, and how the shooting of Michael Brown wakes us up again. It is an imperative to not fall asleep again, a cry about the the importance of vigilance. (It has also been misused and abused by some would-be wits out there, but if you look it up on Twitter, just be aware that some people are not on board with this. I started to say some people need to be ignored, but that's sort of like falling asleep again, no?)

It's the first Sunday in Advent, the season of watching, waiting, expecting, dreading . . . We like to think of it as the season preparing us for the baby Jesus, meek and mild, but we also like to fool ourselves. Yes, we are waiting for our Savior. Yes, we are waiting for the Christ to come and set us free. We don't do very well with expecting the Christ to also set free those other people over there, the ones we maybe don't like so much or maybe we just don't think deserve to be free as much as we deserve to be free.

The dreadful thing about this Christ is that there is no freedom in him until all are free.

I admit, I have a hard time even imagining what that could possibly mean or look like, but I believe it is true. And while I can probably run down a few ways that I am bound and chained and restricted, stepping outside of my circumstance now and then I find there are surprising ways that other people are chained, ways that other people are restricted that I've never imagined.

Worse, there are ways that others are bound that benefits me.

The Reign of God breaks in when that system is broken.

Yesterday, a friend posted on Facebook, "All change is perceived as loss." I clicked "like" and pondered it longer than most Facebook status updates. The Reign of God breaking into the world, into our systems and our social norms, will find some people losing. Not lost, but losing in ways that right now probably seem unlikely and afterwards inconsequential. Power, wealth, status . . . some will lose these things when the Reign of God breaks in. But none will be lost.

The thing about the Reign of God, I've come to believe over the years, is that it is not a one-time, end-times sort of scenario. It is happening right now, right here. We have to repent of our power-weatlh-status hunger and see the abundance that we all can share. We have to stay awake and see the ways the humble power of the Incarnate God moves among us. We have to stay awake, #staywoke, to see where our loss is our salvation, and the salvation of others.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving, 2014

Psalm 95
1 O come, let us sing to the Lord;
   let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
   let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

I find it a somber Thanksgiving Day, really. The news out of Ferguson, Missouri, and the resultant conversations and non-conversations have left me in something of a lamenting mood more than a thanksgiving mood.

And so I am thankful I have been called to a religion that has a deep tradition for both.

In a bit, I'll be picked up ant taken to some friends' home, where I'll eat and be thankful for them, and for the abundance in my life they are and more broadly represent.

And I do have an abundant life.

Navigating the world of abundant blessings and deep sadness is, it seems to me, today, a good definition for a life of faith.

May your thanksgivings be many, your laments few, and may both move you into the world.

Happy Thanksgiving. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014


Disciple and discipline obviously have the same roots. One who is a disciple follows the discipline of a teacher or other leader.

I feel terribly undisciplined. I was telling this to an artist friend a few months ago and she said, "but you're always producing something, you must be disciplined enough to do that work."

True enough, I suppose. I publish some writing regularly (my novella Cary and John published this past summer, a short story in a new anthology, a dance preview this week, and a few pieces out to journals here and there). I've done a lot less performance this year (took a break, haven't quite broken the fast), and yet I'm directing a very short play to go up with some one-acts at the university where I work and plotting other things for next year. These things don't just happen without actually exercising some sort of regular practice. I suppose that much is true.

But it feels haphazard. The writing is often in short snippets (on the bus, primarily) and the performance-making is often interrupted by more than my own taking a break.

But of course, what's on my mind is more than my creative endeavors.

Prayer. Charity. Sleep and other rest. (I'm writing this even as I should be in bed.) Reading, even study. Heck, laundry and dishes.

But mostly prayer.

I like to think I'm a disciple of Jesus, a follower of this master teacher. And Jesus spent some time in prayer. It's how he discerned his Father's leading. Or so it seems at least some of the time.

And, you know, Jesus ended up pissing off powerful people and getting killed.

Recently, as I'm making feeble and failing efforts for a more disciplined prayer life, I find the most honest prayer I have is, "I'm a little afraid of you and what you might lead me into" and "I kind of don't trust you."

It's a prayer form that I know I can't stay in for very long. I know this will get me no where. And, in fact, I find myself already shifting it to "show me what you want" and "help me trust you.:"

But it's a start, yes? It's a place to re-enter a discipline that once, honestly, gave me life and hope and freedom. I'm hoping that re-entering this discipline (however feebly and failingly) restores some of that life, hope, and freedom.

All of which to say, I think we enter where we can, where our honesty and integrity require us to enter. There may be better or worse ways to do this, but we do it as we're able and maybe that's not a wrong way.