Skip to main content

Featured Post

11-11-19 - EOTWAWKI

(You can listen to this reflection here. This Sunday's gospel reading is here.)

O goody – this week we get end-of the-world texts – you know an REM link is coming, when you least expect it. Each fall, as if to match the gathering gloom of shortening days, our lectionary begins to drag some scary stories out of our ancestral closet. There is history here – once upon a time, Advent was much more focused on prophetic doom and gloom than it is now, and it lasted eight weeks, not four.

This week’s conversation starts casually, as some of Jesus’ followers admire the temple and its adornments. Jesus responds bluntly: "As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down." We the readers know that in 70 CE the Romans did in fact destroy the temple. But to Jesus' companions this pronouncement would have been shocking. And, like most of us when we hear that something horrible is likely to happen, they want to know when will it be, and how will they know it is here.

Jesus’ answer is cryptic: "Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, `I am he!' and, `The time is near!' Do not go after them.” He suggests that some will try to gain a following by issuing dire predictions about the end of the world – remember a few years ago, when the world was going to end on May 21?

Why do people fall for this? Maybe because it is natural to fear what we cannot control, and it’s hard to get bigger in the “you cannot control this” department than the end of the world as we know it. The end of THE world becomes a stand-in for our anxiety about the end of our worlds – which actually comes with some frequency, with wars and famines and pandemics; infidelities, accidents and job losses; diagnoses and mega-storms and losses of all sorts. No one knows this better than the veterans we celebrate today.

What are you most afraid of losing? Can you name that fear, and sit with it, inviting Jesus to join you in your imagination? What might he do with it? How might you invite his perfect love to transform that fear into something you can use?

It is true that our worlds are always ending. But that’s not the whole story - new life is always being born as well, sometimes in the ashes of the old world. God is in the business of making all things new – can’t help himself. Our job is to be open to new life wherever we find it.

(I’m going to wait on REM, but here’s a link to a fun song by a duo I like very much, Goodnight Moonshine. The song is “End of the World Blues,” and you can find it about 15.55 minutes into this concert on YouTube. And listen to the rest!)

To receive Water Daily by email each morning, subscribe hereSunday’s readings are  here.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

12-10-19 - Spiritual Leaders

(You can listen to this reflection here. Sunday's gospel reading is here.)
What do you think a holy man or woman should look like? What should be the markers of "success" for spiritual leaders? This is what Jesus asks the crowds about how they viewed John the Baptist. "What did you go out there to the desert to look at? Were you just spiritual tourists gawking at the latest guru? Did you think you were going to see a smooth-talking, well-dressed leader, get a little charge, and leave your life unchanged?"

Advent is a good time to examine our spiritual motivations, what is it we are truly yearn for, why we engage or disengage from spiritual community. It is easy to become disenchanted with church and clergy - or to expect too much. Today, let's do a little inventory. When we can name our expectations, we can better manage them.

What are your expectations of your spiritual community? When you are disappointed or disaffected, what is the cause? Do you communicate…

12-5-19 - Good Tree/Good Fruit

(You can listen to this reflection here. Sunday's gospel reading is here.)

John the Baptizer lays into those who wear their religion on their sleeves, but do not allow their hearts and behaviors to change. And his invitation to true repentance comes with a bite: “Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Later, Jesus uses the same metaphor, saying that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree good fruit. It seems that judgment awaits us, and we will be judged by the fruit our lives bear.

Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St. Nicholas, the fourth century Bishop of Myra in modern-day Turkey. Legends about the goodness and generosity of St. Nicholas abound, and over time became conflated with the legend of the "Bishop of the North Pole," Santa Claus. Santa is also known for gift-giving – with conditions: "He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice / gonna find out who’s …

12-11-19 - Greatest and Least

(You can listen to this reflection here. Sunday's gospel reading is here.)
We have spent quite a few days in this space thinking about John the Baptist – who he was, why he was the way he was, what impact he had. Many people thought he was the Messiah, or an incarnation of the prophet Elijah – until Herod imprisoned and later had him executed at the whim of his step-daughter. John truly was a holy man, and Jesus speaks of him as such:  “Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist.”

And then he says something even more extraordinary:  “…yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

What was that about valleys being lifted up and mountains brought low, the lowly being exalted and the “mighty cast down from their thrones?” Here is Jesus, articulating again that equalizing quality of the realm of God – that equalizing which was so challenging to people in his own day, and has remained so in the thousands of years since.

To say …