Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Jerusalem too*

*Great post over at Rock and Theology this past Sunday by dnantais:
Just a brief post on this lazy Sunday morning in gratitude that the end of the world did not come yesterday.

For the umpteenth time a president of the United States is attempting to initiate a peace process in Israel. The history in this part of the world is much too rich and complex to think that there are any quick-fix solutions. I take comfort, however, in this song by Steve Earle called “Jeruslaem.” Earle’s voice holds authenticity for me–he has seen a lot of pain in his life and yet he can muster the courage to be hopeful without falling into naivete. It would be nice if his hope were infectious.
Jerusalem(Steve Earle)
I woke up this mornin’ and none of the news was good
And death machines were rumblin’ ‘cross the ground where Jesus stood
And the man on my TV told me that it had always been that way
And there was nothin’ anyone could do or say

And I almost listened to him
Yeah, I almost lost my mind
Then I regained my senses again
And looked into my heart to find

That I believe that one fine day all the children of Abraham
Will lay down their swords forever in Jerusalem 
Well maybe I’m only dreamin’ and maybe I’m just a fool
But I don’t remember learnin’ how to hate in Sunday school
But somewhere along the way I strayed and I never looked back again
But I still find some comfort now and then
Then the storm comes rumblin’ in
And I can’t lay me down
And the drums are drummin’ again
And I can’t stand the sound
But I believe there’ll come a day when the lion and the lamb
Will lie down in peace together in Jerusalem

And there’ll be no barricades then
There’ll be no wire or walls
And we can wash all this blood from our hands
And all this hatred from our souls

And I believe that on that day all the children of Abraham
Will lay down their swords forever in Jerusalem
 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Yikes...

HT to Jason for this:






Let’s pray we can always hear an honest critique as Christians.

Let’s pray we never become evidence for Maher’s case against Christianity.

Mike C.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Re-listening to the dead

My friend Katie O. reminded me of this beautiful song that will be heard in a jillion places around the country I live in this weekend. Here’s a link to “Flanders fields,” both text and a video recording.

It is hypnotically beautiful. It reminds me of the deep respect we hold for those who have given their lives for others. It gives us a poetic listen to the dead as they beckon us to take up the torch and carry on their varied battles. It is not so hard to get lost in the reverence and noble courage that standing with the dead brings to mind. It is tough to think about friends and family who have died in any battle and not feel some sense of obligation.

The poetic bond we build in our reflection is compelling and powerful, and we do indeed see the graves and crosses--body on body that has been sacrificed to the throes of war and of nation maintenance. The “crosses row on row” stop us dead in our tracks, and they definitely beckon us to action. How can we have anything but pause and deep reverence among so many dead? So many lives ripped from families and friends; from dreams and from expectations. These cemeteries and memorials indeed become places of deepest reverence; places that beckon us into solidarity with the dead and the many causes that ended for them with these burials.

But are we hearing them rightly?

My friend Michael Gorman reminded me of how even some of the most experienced with war became absolutely convinced of its futility. He recalled Dwight D. Eisenhower saying, “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.” A few years later, Eisenhower went on, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” At the very least, one should recognize that there are many voices to listen to—living and dead.

So whose voice will the Church listen to?

Jesus said it—when times were getting tough for his people, he said, “I will not leave you orphaned, I am coming to you.” It takes the Spirit of Truth to recognize that Jesus won’t leave us orphaned. The Spirit of Truth says this war stuff is the orphan maker. The Spirit of Truth says we are hearing our dead quite wrong if we are hearing them tell us to take up the torch of war and keep it all going.

I refuse to not respect men and women who have died giving themselves for others. We must not forget the dead. But we need to hear them rightly if we are the listening living.

As those who are ALIVE in Christ, and those who are becoming his people in his world, the Spirit of Truth can help us hear them much more rightly. The dead would be the first to tell us that peace is what we are to work for, Jesus’ Way is what to work for—to live in and to die in--NOT to simply keep running people over the cliffs of war.

I pray the Spirit of Truth will open our ears to a new verse in Flanders Fields. Maybe it goes like this…

On streets and fields, flags pop and blow
Built on the crosses row on row
Recalling places children die
Marking the dates of tears we cry.


Scarce heard amid the guns below
We are alive, a Way we know
We can’t, about, as usual go.
Remembering these, we must ask, “Why?”
In Flanders fields. In Flanders Fields.
Why do they lie in Flanders Fields?


We’ll not break faith with dead nor Ris’n;
Yet we’ll not take the torch as giv’n.
We’ll gather in our Lord’s grand Way.
And death will cease with us this day.
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


Heaven forbid the Church sleep while more and more lives are violently scattered among the poppies.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent 1A

Once upon again,
We’re gonna hear the story
This epic tale we’re written in
By the very King of Glory

All hell has broken loose
It’s trying to get its licks in.
But its fury cannot hold
When Creation’s Master kicks in

Spirit, Life, Truth, Light,
Inbreaking God of all,
Maker, Taker, Creator, Guide,
You enter, and you call.

On the mount, you’ll shake the spot
We’ll stream in far and wide.
From age to age—from young to old
Your Glory you’ll not hide.

To your house we’ll gather, God
Cast crowns around your throne.
What are we that with us here
You’d choose to make your home?

Once upon again,
The story doth unfold
About the living, loving God
Who grew hands for us to hold.

Make us fit—re-make our lives
In living, loving trust,
Lifting the lost—embracing the least
In the WAY you’ve given us.

Father, Son, and Spirit three,
Unending praises given.
Coming God, our hope’s in you
Your presence, indeed, is heaven

Once upon again
We’re gonna hear the story
The coming of God the Son
Eternal King of Glory

Come, Lord Jesus, Come. Amen.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bucking the system(s)

I couldn't help thinking about the 60's this week when I read about Jesus bucking the system and healing on the the sabbath (Luke 13:10-17). He sure was a troublemaker, huh?! I guess his WAY can still stir a stink!

Friday, May 28, 2010

The New Deal!

Wow! Pray for ol’ Mike. I found out the day after Easter that I would be a pastor for the first time beginning in July. Lots to learn here, but I’m counting on staying “on rope” anchored to Jesus.

Talk to you soon,
Mike C.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I'm glad I was wrong!


I had worked myself up about our church’s “Making disciples for the transformation of the world” mission statement. I had started asking myself, “Are we saying enough?” I love being a part of this mission, but Vincent Miller’s Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture has had me thinking we often stop a bit short in terms of clarity as Jesus people.

Doesn’t this mission sound a lot like the same thing that is going on in the consumer economy? People are being pursued actively, and their desires are shaped—transformed—for consumption. Both this kind of transformation of desire and the varied forms of consumption incited are powerful transformers of the world. In fact, we simply cannot know the depth and breadth of the destructive “transformation.” This stuff is wrecking people and planet in ways we have yet to realize. Miller’s piece is a tough read, but what is happening to people’s relationships is an important highlight of his critique. Even as I write today, I also recognize my own susceptibility to being transformed wrongly—deformed—by my consumptive mentality. Obviously, this kind of transformation is a far cry from the healing of the Creator’s world.

“Transformation” is an evocative word, but left dangling without that clarity, it falls readily into the ambiguous tracks the seductive notion of “progress” elicits and runs on. It sounds great, and it is definitely generative, but motion does not inherently mend. Kinesis is not kenosis.

But--praise God—I was wrong! I went back to get the exact wording of our “transformation” piece and was relieved looking over how we changed our mission statement in the United Methodist Church last year. By no means have we dropped our call to “make disciples of Jesus Christ” for a fuzzy new or modern notion of transformation. As Bishop Palmer said last year, this addition is simply “the missionary piece of our making disciples of Christ, [and we] seek to join God in the redemption of the whole world." I wholeheartedly agree. We are “for” the right kind of transformation when we start with following Jesus!