Memory of Love: Practicing Pregnant Absence

You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.” (Luke 24:48–53 NRSV)

The Interplay between Presence and Absence

Why should Jesus leave at all? Why have all these appearances at the end of John preparing his disciples for his departure, or this scene of Jesus being mysteriously whisked away in what is classically called the ascension?

I think it’s because his leaving was just as important as his coming.

Jesus knew that if he didn’t leave right there would be no way to sustain the movement that he began. He knew that until he left, his disciples would just remain students; In his leaving they would become the teachers.

In the Gospel of John Jesus said:

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7)

But this is perspective, that it absence is as good as presence is a hard one to swallow in our day and age isn’t?

Availability and Unavailability

Our culture highly values presence. There are apps that you can use to log-in to stores, parks, and other locations you visit. There are plenty of ways to show photos from the places you travel and share them in ways that others feel like they are present with you on the trip. There are apps that measure your online presence and impact. And there is even an app called “presence” which monitors motion in your home while you are a way.

Could it be that presence is held almost to the point of idolatry? We prize availability far more than unavailability. Continue reading Memory of Love: Practicing Pregnant Absence

Homesickness, Mobility and Rootedness (Luke 4:16-30)

Ohio Maple Tree

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Read the rest of the Luke 4 here

A 2012 NY Times article by Kaye Blegvad discusses what she calls the new homesickness. A recent Gallup World Poll found that:

One-quarter of the earth’s adults (1.1 billion in all) want to move temporarily to another country in the hope of finding more profitable work. An additional 630 million people would like to move abroad permanently.

Continue reading Homesickness, Mobility and Rootedness (Luke 4:16-30)

The Cockeyed Poem on the Plain (based on the Sermon on the Plain Lk. 6)

Here’s my own take, a remix if you will, of some of the things going on in the Gospel of Luke and Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:20-49).

This is a new version of the poem [added august 9th, 7:45pm]

This poem is for all people,
but only those who act on it
are the ones who it is really for.

It matters little whether you believe it is true,
if you don’t live its truth.

To really see what is real,
You’ll need to shift your perspective.
Eveything should feel a little cockeyed.

Some things are more difficult to understand when you look at them head on.
Sometimes a short-circuit brings things into focus.

Things are not as they seem.
The winners are really losing,
the losers’ winnings are subtle.

Those with brokenhearts and broken bodies
know that everything will be mended,
it’s on the mend now.

To those whose bellies are hungry and who are crushed by lies
know that what was looks as though it is nowhere
is really now here.

What was to come at the end is taking place right now.
There is possibility in the impossible,
That’s how God works.

Don’t take things into you own hands,
that rarely turns out well.

Remember, we are waiting for bodies to put all this into action,
we are wiating for people to stop (just) believeing and to start living.

Who cares if you believe the truth if you don’t live the truth?
Pray for God’s imagination.
Pray for the paintbrushes of the kingdom.

And woe to all of you who keep working on the sly.
Woe to you who take what isn’t yours,
Who are the cause of those who cry.

Your day is looming,
your bell tolls too.

All of God’s creation is good,
unfortunately, not all of creation realizes this.

God’s way of thinking is no doubt cockeyed, harebrained and pungent,
God’s way of theology is more in line with poetry than with mathmatics or logic.

So don’t be surprised if you find yourself scratching your head,
in fact, if I were you, I’d expect it.

In the kingdom, inside is inside, out is out, and up and down follow accordingly.
it just seems like everything is flipped upside down,
but it’s the logic of the world is backwards.

And now we turn the page to the “most divine madness of all.”

Do good to the enemy?
Reverse worldly wisdom on this issue.

Do good to the bad guys?
This will likely make more enemies than friends,
but that’s okay, because I call you friend.

Don’t stop at just loving your friends,
It’s great to do that, but seriously who doesn’t like to keep things easy?

Those who threaten your way of life,
those whose own love has turned to the black soot of hatred and strife,

Love them as well.
Love them deeply.
Love them even if it you costs you everything.

This is going to be difficult to do,
but do it all the more.

It is your duty.

Then go beyond this, and do the impossible.

Demand to be treated as an equal,
demand them to look you in the eye,
and offer them forgiveness.

That’s the only way you’ll get forgiven.

Love without measure,
the only way to measure love is that it has no measure.

Gift is God’s economy,
so give what until it hurts.
and then hope and pray that
nobody sees you doing this deed.

Stop the hypocrisy,
nobodies likes a lying cheat,
nobody likes endless sarcasm,
and fear and condemnation are not a part of this kingdom.

Take care of the weeds in your garden,
before you start weeding your neighbors’.

And forget about living life for yourself
forget about continuing in your old habits,
this is going to take a new outlook and new disciplines.

Be careful who your teacher is,
you may just end up like them.

Be the kind of person who produces goodness through and through.
Be the kind of person who has an abundant heart and room for everyone.

Be an avacado tree, an apple tree, a lemon tree, just something that grows beautiful fruit,
and remember in order to do this you’ll need to consider your soil, and your access to water and sun.

Take into account what your surrounding is too.
Your fruit may dry up otherwise.

Remember you can cultivate the soil, but you can’t make it grow.
God’s  loves farming.

I don’t believe much in arguing over foundations,
if they crumble so does what’s built on top of it.
But since you’re going to be building,
you’re first need to build down.

Resist the urge to have more and to get bigger, deeper is best.
It is what will keep you standing in the storm.

Then we’ll know the difference between those who just hear and those act on these words.

We will see who has truly heard this poem.
They are the ones who lay down their paintbrushes and live into the new world coming.