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Retired archaeologist and governmental tree-hugger. I'm a: United Methodist lay pulpit supply preacher; semi-professional photographer; and poet.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Do Not Despoil Nature


"See my works, how fine and excellent they are! All that I created, I created for you. Reflect on this, and do not corrupt or desolate my world; for if you do, there will be no one to repair it after you." (Ecclesiastes Rabbab 25:3)



(photography by tiwago)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Justice Is More Than Laws



We are an Eye-for-an-Eye tribe - a seeking-justice-people instead of Seekers of Justice. We monumentalize and memorialize ten crisp Laws, but implement them only with the rod of wrath. We embrace Laws that take away, and trivialize Laws that give. One side of our mouths praise Jesus, while the other spits on him. It is written: he who is the Fulfillment of the Law does not condemn but blesses:

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
“Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
(Matthew 5:3-12; the Message)



(photography by tiwago)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Whom God Chooses



Who are chosen? 
Who's called to serve?

Consider my own call -
Wasn't it foolish insanity?
Am I in MENSA?
No, I'm just a fool!
Am I rich and powerful?
No, I'm a poor fool!
Am I born "better"?
No, I'm a lowly fool!

God chose fools to show the truth!
God chose the meek to show faith!
God chose unwanted foolish losers!
Those who have and who are nothing:
To correct those who have everything;
To humble those who are "something".

The world is drawn to the biggest brags,
Braggarts bragging for bragging-rights,
Hyperbole, spinning, alternative facts -
Used-car salesmen selling themselves;
But I've no looks or smarts to boast of,
Nor have I money or influence to flaunt,
But of His grace and mercy, I may boast!

Though the clever are in control,
It is the fools who have freedom.

Tiwago (from 1 Corinthians 1:26-31)



(photography by tiwago)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Nature Teaching


"I want creation to penetrate you with so much admiration that wherever you go, the least plant may bring you the clear remembrance of the Creator... One blade of grass or one speck of dust is enough to occupy your entire mind in beholding the art with which it has been made." 

Basil the Great


Quote from The Green Bible. 
(photography by tiwago)

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Should I Listen to a Sinner?



My weekly discipline is to read the Revised Common Lectionary for the coming Sunday in case there is an emergency and I am called to fill a pulpit on short notice. As I sat this morning and read David's lyrics meditating upon "goodness", I wondered: when in his life did he write Psalm 15? In other words, in what authority of experience, revelation, or observation does he speak to us of blamelessly walking, of doing what is right, of speaking the truth? 

Did he sing it as a protest song as he entertained King Saul? Did he write it in his hide-out when he hired himself out as a mercenary to Israel's enemies? Was he thinking out-loud as a newly anointed monarch? Was it before he raped a woman and had her husband slain, or after Nathan showed him that he was a bad shepherd? Was it during the hell he went through as his many children by his many wives struggled for power of their own?

Is he speaking to me like my parents and maybe yours: "Do as I say, and not as I do!"? Or maybe, he came from a place that so many leaders and rulers occupy: "This is the Law, but I am above the Law!'? I think maybe today I choose to read it as: "Let me strip down before you, and expose my naked sins, so that you may clothe yourself better than I."

How do we evaluate ourselves, our spiritual leaders, and our governmental officers - who does David say are good people?: those who do not lie to serve self and harm others; those who do not do or allow evil actions against others; those who do not blame their neighbors for their own problems or that of their nation; those who oppose the wicked ones who serve only themselves and who worship only money and power; those who honor those who are faithful in their actions and not just self-righteous in their words; those who honor their oaths of office no matter the pain or lack of gain; those who do not take advantage of the poor for profit; those who are not corrupt and who are not influenced by those with money. Simply put, those who are good are those do all the good they can and do no harm to others.

In the Psalter of a Hymnal lying open before me, there is a congregational response sung to the reading of this Psalm: 
"Justice alone is the way of the Lord; be just and worship God." (Kimbrough and Young; 1989 United Methodist Hymnal)


(photography by tiwago)

Friday, January 20, 2017

Hail and Farewell to the Chief



Throughout these eight long years
of cancerous hate, and racist venom,
of machiavellian machinations, and
sabotage by partisan obstructionism, 
     you stood before us,
     you stood up for us,
     you stood beside us!

Throughout these eight short years
of thoughtful, responsible governance,
of unselfish, selfless servant-leadership,
of spiritually discerning aforethought,
     you held and lifted us,
     you wiped our tears,
     you were the grownup!

Thank you for being the better man.
Thank you for being a faithful man.
Thank you for your grace and dignity.
Thank you for your respect and care.

I'll miss your smiles and your twinkle.
I'll miss your crooning and bad dad-jokes.
I'll miss your humility and bad mom-jeans.
I'll miss Michelle so very (VERY) much,
as I'll miss our Sasha and miss our Malia,
and everyone's Uncle Joe, the living meme.

Well done good and faithful servant:
hail
and 
farewell,
Sir.

~ Tiwago

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Come Together!



"Come together, right now, over me." (Saints John of Lennon and Paul the McCartney)

It is written in First Corinthians, Chapter One, Verses Ten to Eighteen (aka One Corinthian):

I beg you! My divided brothers and sisters (my fellow Americans, Christians, people of the world...), I beg you in the name the Lord (the Prince of Peace, the Lord of the Dance, the Son of Man / the Son of God, etc.) to come together (be united, one nation, the Bride, we the People, we are the World - us) by having a common vision (mission, focus, purpose, hope, dream, and more).

I've heard from Chloe's friends (disciples, students, followers, congregation, etc.) that there is division / divisiveness among your family / congregation (between sisters and brothers or members or citizens or...) - each claiming a different leader (mentor, teacher, spiritual parent, political party, denomination, or whoever you idolize). I thank God that none of you contentious quarreling children are mine!

I was sent to you by Christ, not to create factions or personal followers, but to give you the greatest news EVER - to God, you are: precious; beloved; unique; and important. Not because of who (how, where, when, why, or what) you follow, but because of who you are! If you followed me (or them) just for our sharing news (that was meant for you to begin with) then you make the cross a cheap and worthless false idol. The message of the cross is precious to fools like us, but foolish to the self-righteous.


"Got to be a Joker, he just do what he please... Come together. Come together. Come together. Come together." (John and Paul)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Ice-Storm

The windows are encrusted in a crystal coat of ice, 
     and I can not see outside.
The steps are glazed, the sidewalk is made treacherous, 
     the cars are encased, the roads are unsafe.
Before I go out to deal with it, to cope with it, to address it
     I meditate on warm and vital things.

Tiwago





Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Lectionary Pondering - John 1:29-42



The reading that I am preaching from this Sunday starts: "The next day...". We are dropped into the middle of a story, and instantly want to know more - like someone following the trail of a wild animal, we backtrack to get a more complete picture. What happened yesterday?

John B. was confronted by clergy and lay leaders. "Who are you?" it is written, but can be read as "Who ARE you?" He was a popular (if controversial) public figure; they knew his name, rank, and serial number. "By whose authority?" is what they were really asking: do you have a permit to feed the poor?; do you have a license to use the Jordan River?; do have a Masters of Divinity?

"Do you claim to be Elijah returned?" No.
"Do you call yourself a latter-day Prophet?" No.
"I'm just a dude standing in the middle of nowhere. If you're worried about me, just wait for the next guy!"

So, "the next day". John is standing there watching. He is talking to someone. His disciples? The crowd? The clergy and lay leaders? Himself? "Look! That's who I was telling you about yesterday! I did not recognize him then, so God showed me who he was." None of us know who Jesus is unless God shows us - not even John B. recognized him! He did not recognize his own cousin? He knew who he was, but not WHO he was. He grew up hearing his mother's stories of the day she and Mary compared pregnancy stories (I throw up every morning. I have the strangest cravings. How much bigger am I going to get? Have you decorated a room yet?), and how fetal Johnny B. did a touchdown dance in Elizabeth's womb at the mere presence of fetal Jesus / embryonic God! Recognition is wisdom, discernment, and grace; the clergy and the lay leaders did not recognize John B.

So, "the next day". Day three, and John B. is standing beside the road; he must be looking for someone. There! He points out a man to two of his disciples. Were they his best students? Were they his inner circle? Why did he chose them? I have so many questions! "There he is!", (in other words "Go after him!). Jesus turned to ask them the question that we should ask all seekers: "What are you looking for?" Knowledge? Faith? Entertainment? Community? 

"We want to know you, be with you, follow you!"

"Come and see." 

When one of my grandchildren is very proud of something they did or made, they run up to me and say "come and see!" Jesus did not say "My church has great programs", "We have a dynamic preacher", "We are a Bible-based congregation", "We have great cookies"; just "come and see". A previous pastor had asked my family to discontinue going to church, we were too disruptive for the sanctity of their worshipfulness! But later, a neighbor stopped by and said that there was a new pastor, "come and see" she said.

It is written that one of the transfer student was Andrew, but why is the other not named? Was he one of the less famous apostles? Did he drop out? Was he John A. who had a funky way of talking and not talking about himself at the same time? Like I said, I have lots of questions. But we know that John A.'s gospel was contrary and yet complimentary to the others, focusing on catalysts and chains of events. John B. recommended Jesus to Andrew who invited Simon Peter who did a whole bunch of inviting. "The next day", Jesus invited Philip who invited Nathanael who no doubt invited others. 

We are part of this apostolic chain of title - we do not need to argue with eloquence and conviction, to be persuasive and convincing, to be super-holy saints. We just need to quietly say to those who show an interest: "come and see"; "come with me this Sunday, I'll drive"; "come with me and join some friends in a small group"; "come and see"; "come."

Monday, January 9, 2017

On a Cold Dark Morning




Saturday, January 7, 2017

Ode to a Winter Urn



Winter whispers so softly to me:
Mournfully dignified murmurings;
Stillness of a welcomed demise -
A purge of striving and of want;
An intercession of peacefulness.
Under a comforting mantle white,
Life and death dance and mingle -
Winter sings a dark solemn dirge. 
I listen with the ears of my soul,
Hearing promises and praises true:
Of glories to come from the womb;
Of glories to come from the tomb.

                           Tiwago





(photography by tiwago)

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Jesus. Jordan. John.



Jesus. Jordan. John.

In the crowd
Standing in line
Waiting waiting
Waiting waiting
Still, until
Jesus. Jordan. John.

John said no
Couldn't mustn't won't
Jesus said yes
Can must will
Hold me under
Under the font

Ears roaring like lions
Lungs burning like fire
Waiting waiting
Waiting waiting
Still, until
Jesus. Jordan. John.

Up he breached
In a bright spray
Wet hair clinging
Light so bright
Air so glorious
Sounds so sharp

Already pure and holy
No need to wash clean
Baptized as a member
Into our dirty humanity
Slowly gliding, a dove
Softly upon him perched

My cherished child
I AM glorified here

(Tiwago from Matthew 3)





(photography by tiwago)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Hope



During Advent, I visited a public garden.
It was indoors, and warm in a greenhouse.
It was anticipating the coming Christmas: 
Bright Christmas colors of blood and purity,
Of poinsettias in pots; and soft green ferns -
Feathery fronds of spring with spores like
Gold ornaments on a tree, abiding in hope,
Waiting for the right wind to carry them...  

                                                     ~ Tiwago





(photography by tiwago)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017



Here is the Servant.
Here is the Lifted One.
Here is the Chosen One.
Here is my Soul's Joy -
The Delightful One;
The One with my Spirit;
The One-Who-Makes-Things-Right.

He will not insult you on the internet.
He will not ask for money on television.
Bruised and beaten, he will not break;
Battered and buffeted, he will bend.
His light may be dimmed,
But not blown-out -
He will make things right.

He will not be worn down,
He will not be kept down,
Until things are made right.

From sea to sea, they wait for him to come,
From continent to continent he is needed -
Says the Creator of infinity and the cosmos;
Says the giver of pneuma to all breathing things;
Says the giver of Spirit to all spiritual beings:

I AM Lord - I shaped you in human form.
I have filled you full up with all of my Spirit.
I have given you as a promise to my children.
I have made you to shine as a light for everyone;
To evict the darkness and to open their eyes;
To release the prisoners from their darkness.

I AM;
That is who I am.
I give my Glory to no one;
My Servant is glorified.
I do not praise false gods;
I praise my Servant.
The past is done and past;
New things I now breathe.
I am telling you now so you may have hope -
My Servant is coming to serve you.


(from Isaiah 42 by Tiwago)