Be Coming

Be the Coming Scripture Text:  Isaiah 43: 15-19

I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.  Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings out chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:  Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.  I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will  make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.


We have talked and talked about preparing the way, about being the ones to make a way for the Coming of the Lord.  So what exactly does that mean?  What are we REALLY supposed to be doing during this Season of Holy Waiting?  Do we clean up around us, perhaps making the place in which we reside a bit more presentable?  Do we pull out the good dishes and the best linens?  Do we prepare a meal fit for a king?  Do we throw all that we have into decorating our lives for the season?  No, it’s probably something more.  Do we prepare ourselves to welcome God, perhaps to be open to what surely will be a massive change in the way we think and the way we live?  Do we clear ourselves of the debris in our minds and hearts so that we are prepared for God to come into our lives unhindered?  What does all that mean?


Perhaps this season, in the midst of our waiting, in the midst of our preparing, is a season of becoming.  Not just becoming something better or something different; not just becoming someone more versed in the ways of the Lord; it means becoming–learning to BE the Coming of the Lord.  What if our lives, rather than being spent looking for something or someone outside of us to come, someone to come and “fix” things or “change” things or set things right, were spent becoming the Coming?  (I know…I’m talking in circles.)  God is not waiting in the wings of our lives to come.  God is not holding out on us until we “get it” or until we “do something right” or even until we “become who God envisions that we can be.”  God is here, now, in this moment, waiting…waiting…patiently waiting for us to see and to hear and to know.  God is waiting for us to realize that we, even we, can BE the Coming of God into our world, can BE the very image of God, the very likeness of Jesus Christ.


We are not called to become God.  God is God.  We are not destined to become Divine.  But we are already holy and sacred, a gift of God.  As the Scripture says, God is about to do a new thing–even with us.  God is even now making a way in the wilderness, clearing a path, for the Reign of God to come in its fullness.  Even now the darkness in our lives is being pushed back.  The Light is beckoning us forth.  Follow the path.  BE the Coming of God into this world.  In other words, BE the Light.  Be the change.  Be Coming.


The noblest prayer is when [one] who prays is inwardly transformed into what [one] kneels before. (Angelus Silesius, 1624-1677)


FOR TODAY:  Imagine what it means to BE the Coming of God.  What do you need to do to prepare for that?


Grace and Peace,


Becoming Real

The_Velveteen_Rabbit_pg_25Scripture Passage:  Romans 5: 12-19 (Lent 1A)

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned— sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many. And the free gift is not like the effect of the one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

God is God and we are not.  We cannot do this by ourselves.  We cannot save ourselves.  Do you have it?  Is it clear?  (Or perhaps our brother Paul should have written yet another run-on sentence!)  And yet, we humans, we “adams”, by our very nature bear at least some of God’s characteristics, some of God’s image.  So we can’t be all bad, right?  Essentially, there is no such thing as being “only human”.  After all Christ was human, “fully human” if I’m remembering correctly.  So humanity is not bad.  I don’t think our humanness makes us bad, despite what others have maintained.  After all, God created us human. 

So, perhaps the problem is not that we’re “human” but that we are not yet completely “fully human”.  You see, we keep lapsing into doing things or allowing things that are, for want of a better word, inhumane–injustice, poverty, homelessness, prejudice, greed, inequality, ____ism, _____ism, _____ism….need I go on?  The notion of “adam” that we glean from the Scriptures is, basically, a human creature, created by God, loved by God, but a creature that is destined for more.  Think of it like some sort of mock up or prototype of what humanity is, a beautiful, naked, picturesque creature surrounded by a beautiful garden.  And, yet, on some level, this creature is not yet real.  It has to become, become real.  It has to become. 

Christ, God With Us, is, as we know “fully human” and “fully divine”.  Christ was the epitome of real, the perfect image of what humanity is–fully human.  Christ did not walk this earth to show us how to become divine.  (I don’t think that’s our mission!  The job of Savior of the World has been filled.)  Christ came to show us how to be fully human, truly human, real.  That is who we are called to be.  We are human, beautifully, wonderfully-made.  But God’s vision of us is so much more.  The journey is for us to traverse from Adam to Christ, from the human creature to fully human, to that very image of the Godself that we were created to be.    

Do you remember the Margery Williams tale of “The Velveteen Rabbit”?  “Real…doesn’t happen all at once…You become.  It takes a long time.  That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.  Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.  But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”  You see, as we journey closer to being Real, closer to being fully human, more and more of “us” falls away and is filled by that very image of Christ.  We become fully human.  We become who God intended us to be.

 We are not human being having a spiritual experience.  We are spiritual beings having a human experience.  (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin)

On this Lenten journey, think what it means to be fully human, what it means to be the very image of Christ in the world.

Grace and Peace,


The Plans I Have for You

BlueprintsScripture for Reflection:  Jeremiah 29: 11-14

11For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, 14I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

Plans–we’re good at making plans.  We make plans and we put them on a list and we structure our time and our finances and we walk toward those plans.  But what happened to that vision that we keep talking about?  You know the one, when the predators really do lie down with those that they now persecute, when all of us listen to each other, respect each other, when we are all open to change and open to being the instruments of change.  It is the vision for which we hope, the vision on which our whole being, our whole faith is placed.  But, remember that means change-change for the world and change for us.  How open to change are we?  No, I mean really.  How open are we to letting go of what we hold, letting go of the lives that we’ve built around us, the lives that we’ve earned, the lives that we deserve?  How open are we, truly, to letting go of the plans that we’ve made for ourselves?  Oh, we say we are but, then, most of us are the ones with a whole lot more to let go, a whole lot more to lose.  I mean, after all, if your life is going exactly like you’ve planned for it to go, why would you want to change?

We want to change because we are called to change.  It is part of who we are in the deepest part of our being, that part of ourselves that is truly created in God’s image.  So do not hold too tightly to what you have made for yourself.  There is something much, much more waiting for you.  That is what this season of Advent calls us to do–let go, be open to change, open to the plan that God has for us.  Think about it.  What shapes you?  What shapes your life?  What are your goals?  What gives your life me aning?  In what kingdom do you reside?

In what kingdom do I reside?  What does THAT mean?  I mean, who do you follow, what drives you, to whom do you listen?  Life is hard work, this following of our dreams, this pursuing of our riches, this trying desperately to hold on to what we perceive as ours.  Maybe it’s because this is not that for which we were made.  This is not the image that is buried deep within us, the one that compels us to change, the one will lead us out of exile.  The lights have just begun to dawn, pointing the way to the promise, to that vision that God holds for us, to the blueprint that God has had all along.  This season points to a baby each year but the main reason is that it is calling us to rebirth, to follow another Way.  Search for the Lord and you will find that Way.

In each heart lies a Bethlehem, an inn where we must ultimately answer whether there is room or not, When we are Bethlehem-bound we experience our own advent in his.  When we are Bethlehem-bound we can no longer look the other way conveniently not seeing stars, not hearing angel voices.  We can no longer excuse ourselves by busily tending our sheep or our kingdoms.

This Advent let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that the Lord has made known to us.  In the midst of shopping sprees, let’s ponder in our hearts the Gift of Gifts.  Through the tinsel, let’s look for the gold of the Christmas Star.  In the excitement and confusion, in the merry chaos, let’s listen for the brush of angels’ wings.  This Advent, let’s go to Bethlehem and find our kneeling places.

(“In Search of Our Kneeling Places”, from Kneeling in Bethlehem, by Ann Weems, p. 19)

Reflection:  What plans are you following?  Where does that image of God within you call you to go?

Grace and Peace,


Add Water and Stir

wedding-feast-cana-ic-4025Scripture Passage:  John 2: 1-11

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 9When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

This was an embarrassing situation—the wine has run out, and there appears to be no solution.  Either no more wine is available, or there is no money to buy more wine. The guests seem unaware of what is happening. If something is not done, all will be embarrassed. Some commentators even inform us that litigation was possible in such cases. (Can you imagine being sued for not providing enough food and drink at a marriage ceremony?)  But, regardless, it is clear that Jesus mother expects Jesus to do something out of the ordinary.  She expects him to fix it.  Maybe it’s a message to us that Jesus didn’t just come for the “big”, splashy things.  Maybe it’s a reminder that God is in even the ordinary, those seemingly small things in life that we think we can handle, that we think don’t really even matter to God.

But this?  I mean, really, wine?  Why didn’t he turn the water into food for the hungry or clothing for the poor?  Why didn’t he end the suffering of one of those wedding guests who were forced to live their lives in pain?  Why didn’t he teach those that were there that God is more impressed by who we are than what we do?  Now THAT would have been a miracle.  But instead Jesus, in his first miraculous act, the first of his signs, creates a party, a feast.  Maybe it’s a reminder that we ought to just relax and trust God a little more.  Maybe it’s trying to tell us that God is indeed in every aspect of our life.  And maybe it’s telling us that life is indeed a feast to be celebrated.

And think about the wine itself.  It begins as ordinary grapes.  Well, not really.  If you go even farther back, you start with water.  Everything starts with water.  And then those ordinary grapes with just the right amount of water, the right amount of sunlight, and the right amount of nutrients fed to them from the rich, dark earth begin to seed.  And then we wait, we wait for them to grow and flourish and at just the right time, they are picked and processed and strained of impurities and all of those things that are not necessary.  And then they are bottled and tucked away while again, we wait.  They are placed in just the right temperature, with just the right amount of light, and just the right amount of air quality, and we wait.  We wait and until it becomes…well, a miracle.

And remember that when the wine ran out, Jesus did not conjure up fresh flagons of wine.  Rather, he took what was there, those ordinary, perhaps even abandoned vessels of ordinary, everyday water and turned it into a holy and sacred gift.  Water and a miracle…So this story of wine makes a little more sense.  Wine is water—plus a miracle.  But in case it is lost on us, remember that our bodies are roughly two-thirds water.  No wonder the ancient sages always used water as a symbol for matter itself.  Humans, they taught, are a miraculous combination of matter and Spirit—water and a miracle—and thus unique in all of creation.  No wonder that wine is such a powerful, sacramental, and universal symbol of the natural world—illumined and uplifted by the Divine.  Wine is water, plus spirit, a unique nectar of the Divine, a symbol of life.  And we, ordinary water-filled vessels though we are, are no different.  God takes the created matter that is us and breathes Spirit into us, breathes life into us.  We, too, are water plus a miracle.  13th century German mystic Meister Eckhart said that “every creature is a word of God.”  It’s another way of reminding us that we are water plus a miracle, God-breathed, holy and sacred.

So in this week “between”, that week when you don’t want to essentially jump into the Passion stories way too soon, we are moving–moving from Bethlehem through Galilee to Jerusalem, moving from birth through growth to maturity, moving from life to death to life again.  This is the week in which the Procession begins.  And here we remember, we remember this child born among us; we remember this child delivered to us; we remember our baptism.  And, now, we remember that that baptism calls us to be something, calls us to be water plus a miracle.  The water has been added.  Now start stirring.  Let your Lenten journey be one that moves your life into what it should be–a miracle.

Grace and Peace,


Station VI: No Longer Hidden

Station 06-HScripture Passage: Luke 8: 43-48:

43Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians, no one could cure her. 44She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. 45Then Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.” 46But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.” 47When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. 48He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

The sixth station of the Stations of the Cross, named Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus, does not come directly from Scripture but rather from the hearts and the traditions of the early European Christians. Tradition holds that Jesus healed a young woman named Veronica in his early ministry and as a sign of her deep and abiding gratitude for him, she accompanied him to the place of his execution. When she wiped his sweating face along this walk, the imprint of his face supposedly remained on the cloth. Eusebius, in his Historia Ecclesiastica, tells how at Caesarea Philippi lived the woman who Jesus healed of the blood disorder. In the West, she was identified as Martha of Bethany; in the East, she was called Berenike, or Beronike, the name appearing in the Acts of Pilate. The derivation of the name Veronica comes from the words “Vera Icon”, or “true image”.

This man had shown her great compassion when she thought there was none. The bleeding had started and had never stopped. And so, always, she was deemed unclean and, therefore, unacceptable, untouchable, shunned. This was a last effort to claim her life, to become a person of value and worth again in a society that so carefully laid out who was acceptable and who was not. She had, carefully, made her way through the crowds that day avoiding the stares and recoils that others held for her. And then she touched him. It was only a touch but she could feel something. She cowered back into the crowd trying to hide. But he saw her, compelling her forward and her life was never the same again.

And so on this day, she could not just hide out in the crowd. He needed someone–companionship, mercy, compassion. She didn’t care what she was risking. After all, this is the one who had given her her life. She could do this one thing. And when she wiped his face, she felt that same burst of power that she had felt before, a life-giving, life-awakening power. And she was left with the image of Christ.

Whether we take this literally or not, whether we believe that she was healed or that Christ’s imprint adhered to a cloth, is not the point. You see, each of us was made in the image of God. We are not destined to BE God but to be an image, a reflection of the Godself into the world and into the lives of each and every one that we meet. And when we show compassion, when we show mercy, when we step forward and show love to those who need it the most, the imprint of that image DOES stay with us. We become a reflection of the Christ, an image of the God who gave us life and calls us to show it to the world. And as Jesus walked toward death, the image of the Christ remained, no longer hidden, on the one who reached out to one in need. Reaching out to others does not mean that we are Christ; it means that we are human, fully human, the way Christ showed us to be.

So in this season of darkness and shadows, remain no longer hidden but step forward into this Walk of Christ and help someone in need. And the imprint of Christ, the image of the very Godself, will stay with you always.

Grace and Peace,



Scripture Passage:  Acts 17: 22-25
22Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way.23For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.24The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands,25nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things.

Do you know what a blivet is?  No, I didn’t either.  It is an undecipherable figure, an optical illusion, an impossible object.  It is a figure whose ending and beginning seem to blend together and are yet impossible to reconcile, impossible to separate.  The U.S. Army uses the same word to refer to “an unmanageable situation”.   A blivet cannot be explained, cannot be imagined, and cannot be figured out.  It is totally anathema to our world, where everything has to be explained, planned, and carried out.

Perhaps Lent is our blivet season.  It throws us off a bit.  After all, it counters everything we know. It’s a lot like God.  We want to know God; we strive to know God.  And, yet, God remains elusive to us, sort of a “blivet”, if you will.  Now don’t get me wrong–I don’t think that God is playing some colossal game of hide-and-seek.  God is not TRYING to remain unknown. God is not unknown; we just don’t know how to know God.   In fact, don’t you think God desires to be made known, desires for us to get so close to the Godself that we know God?

We like to think of God as omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and unchangeable (sorry, couldn’t come up with an “omni” for that)  And yet, maybe those depictions short-change us and, in turn, short-change God.  God does not want,- I think, to be “omni” anything.  God instead calls us to be knowing, to be present, and, if the truth be known, God gave up that omnipotent thing to free will.   God is powerful, yes.   But God gave up a part of the Godself for us and a part of the all-powerful Godself to us, to our free will, to our humanity.

I know…this doesn’t really make sense.  Maybe we have a blivet God, who gives the illusion of being omnipotent and omnipresent and omni-everything but instead created the very likeness of the Godself (yes, that would be us!) to be that way, the essence of who God is throughout the earth.

So, in this Lenten season, let us walk this way and be the image of this omni-everything God.

Grace and Peace,


Falling in Love With God

Lectionary Passage: Song of Solomon 2: 8-13

To read this passage online, go to

Do you love God?  Sure you do!  That’s the whole point, right?  But here’s perhaps a harder (or at least a weirder) question:  Are you in IN love with God?  After all, being “in love” seems to be something so profoundly human, so earthy, so “fleshy”, so intimate, so private.  It’s more than just loving.  It’s more than just being together.  It’s almost a completion of who you are called to be, an entirely different way of being.  It really is more about being one than being two that love.  We proper Western Protestants understand loving God (and, certainly, pleasing God).  But do we let ourselves fall, with utter abandon, into love with God?    The Old Testament passage from this week’s Lectionary selections is from the wisdom writing known in Hebrew as the Song of Songs.  It’s not the usual fare for our lectionary.  I mean, it borders on what is sometimes characterized as almost erotic imagery and it doesn’t even mention God.  So, as you can imagine, there were lots of debates about whether or not it belonged in the canon at all.  The matter was settled by Rabbi Akiba, the great teacher and mystic, who said this: “The whole world is not worth the day on which the Song of Songs was given to Israel, for all the Scriptures are holy, but the Song of Songs is the Holy of Holies.   The Holy of Holies?  Wow!  We’ll have to think about that one.  I mean, really?  We struggle with that, as if our relationship with God should be proper and acceptable, as if it should be reverent of the One in whom we live and breathe and have our being.  So what is reverence?  Is it standing away, removed from the One whom we revere?  Or it is realizing that every molecule of our being desires to connect with God, longs to return to the One who created us.  Or maybe, just maybe, it’s falling in love with God.   Implicit in this poem is a sort of pining absence, a longing so deep that the poet cannot be complete without the One that is loved. I think that’s the way we’re called to be. I mean, think about it, we were created in the image of God, made with a shape and a sense into which only God fits. And we struggle. We struggle to find what fits into that shape. And in the absence, in the longing, we finally find that Presence of God, we finally find that One in whom we are destined to fall in love. Seventeenth century mathematician, Blaise Pascal spoke of it as a “God-shaped vacuum” in every human, a hole that only God could fill. It’s like being in love.

Like I said, this poem is not your usual reading from the Bible. There are no parables, no words of judgment, no promises of future and unrequited redemption. Rather, there is presence; there is reverence; there is a depiction of the most joyous and incredible love imaginable. It is flirtatious, and playful, and filled with utter joy. It is the very love of God. And the poet depicts it as transforming, a veritable spring at the end of winter, when life bursts forth from lifelessness and literally consumes death.  (Sounds like resurrection to me!)

Perhaps it is the language that makes us bristle, that makes us squirm a bit in our pews.  Perhaps we are even a bit uncomfortable with a God who is so intimate, so a part of us, that falling in love is all we can do.  Perhaps we really haven’t thought through what it means to be created in the image of someone else.  It means that we have to let ourselves go, that we have to become who God called us to be, that we have to realize that there is something more, that WE are something more, that we are created in the image of our Beloved, that we are created to fall in love with God.  It is about completion; it is about wholeness; it is about being who we were created to be.  It is about falling in love with God and falling into God.

Our lectionary probably doesn’t do us any favors because it doesn’t even allow us to finish the poem.  The next four verses go like this:

O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the covert of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. Catch us the foxes, the little foxes, that ruin the vineyards— for our vineyards are in blossom.”   My beloved is mine and I am his; he pastures his flock among the lilies.  Until the day breathes and the shadows flee, turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle or a young stag on the cleft mountains.

My beloved is mine and I am my beloved’s.  That’s a whole lot different than an image of a seemingly-removed deity sitting up somewhere waiting for us to get our act together and catch up.  And it flies in the face of us spending our earthly lives wallowing in chaos and muck, hoping against hope that we will finally rack up enough points to make it to heaven someday.  Once again, it’s present tense.  We are God’s and God, in a show of grace more amazing than we could ever sing, becomes ours.  We are not just called to love and support and please God and try to figure out who or what God is; we are called to let ourselves go, to fall into love with God and fall into God with utter abandon and profound joy.

Until the day breathes and the shadows flee, turn, my beloved…My beloved is mine and I am [my beloved’s].  Thanks be to God!
There is only one love.  (Teresa of Avila)
Grace and Peace,