God turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. The upright see it and are glad; and all wickedness stops its mouth. Let those who are wise give heed to these things, and consider the steadfast love of God. Psalm 107: 35; 42-43 I spend a lot of time with folks who have no interest in the Bible, less interest in Jesus, and zero interest in the church. I’m not surprised. Too many “christians” have done so many hateful, despicable, and disgusting t
When despair for the world grows in me, and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the w
In my sermon for the First Sunday of Advent at Montclair Presbyterian Church in Oakland, I “outed” myself as a mystic. Clearly not a FAMOUS mystic, but I do have mystical tendencies, value the teachings of Christian mystics (in particular) and I have embraced a number of spiritual practices that are often labeled “good for mystics”. My journey with mysticism began when I was introduced to the great medieval Christian mystic Hildegard von Bingen. Hildegard’s life and writing,
The miracles of the church seem to me to rest not so much upon faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there about us always. – Willa Cather, (1873 -1947) U.S. novelist, poet and journalist Over the years I have laughed at art critics and historians talk about the abstract expressionism of the great painter Georgia O’Keefe. Her pa
The future of the Church is jazz. I first wrote that sentence in 1996 as I was just starting out in ordained ministry in the United Church of Christ. At the time, I was serving as a community-based chaplain serving women living with HIV/AIDS and out-of- town families coming to San Francisco to care for their loved ones dying from the disease. The calling to serve as a spiritual caregiver in the HIV/AIDS community was not easy. At the time, no one was really tracking the parti
Singing has always seemed to me the most perfect means of expression. It is so spontaneous. And after singing, I think the violin. Since I cannot sing, I paint. – Georgia O’Keefe Loving opera is something I inherited somewhat by accident from my father. He loved opera, though I’m pretty sure he only saw a few live performances during his lifetime. His love of opera was primarily based upon the Saturday broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera in New York that he could hear o
Imagination is more important than knowledge. – Albert Einstein I am fascinated by prophets – both ancient and contemporary. The ancient ones such as Isaiah had the ability to both warn of danger and demise AND to spin beautiful visions of the world the way it “ought” to be. The 11th chapter of Isaiah presents a particularly wondrous description of a world at peace. In this world, equality and safety mark this “peaceable kingdom” that is led by a wise master. Predator lie
Psalm 104 : 1-4 (NRSV) Bless the Lord, O my soul.
O Lord my God, you are very great.
You are clothed with honor and majesty,
2 wrapped in light as with a garment.
You stretch out the heavens like a tent,
3 you set the beams of yourchambers on the waters,
you make the clouds yourchariot,
you ride on the wings of the wind,
4 you make the winds yourmessengers,
fire and flame your ministers. Human mastery of fire is a key moment in our evolution. From the momen
What a crazy political time it is, this summer of 2013! The Supreme Court of the United States has just gutted the voting rights act making it easier for states to discriminate against minority groups in the balloting process and then on the very next day allowed a lower court ruling to stand that repealed Prop. 8, paving the way for marriage equality in California. It also repealed the federal ban on same-gender marriage (DOMA) thereby granting same-gender couples in state
“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” – Anne Lamott I recently got to live-tweet the final dress rehearsal for San Francisco Opera’s new opera, the Gospel of Mary Magdalene by Mark Adamo. For the record, I like this new work in many ways and I am completely smitten by the performance of Sasha Cooke in the title role. I’m looking forward to seeing it again as part of our season tickets. But I