Sunday, February 24, 2013

Don't Half a Cow, Man - Genesis 15

Genesis 15
It’s funny to think about the common phrase, “Don’t have a cow, man.” It describes when someone panics or over reacts and is cautioned or consoled: Don’t have a cow, dude! When I was reading this story about Abram - AKA abraham, the father of faith, a model of righteousness-- As he’s getting his butchering on, halfing animals here and there. I had to wonder: is Don’t have a cow a folk etymology of Abram Halfing all those cows? Hey Abram, Don’t Half a cow, man! What is going on with poor Abram? He’s actually told by the LORD no less, to half not only three cows, but also three goats and a ram, plus a turtle-dove and a pigeon, oh but don’t half the birds please. Yuck. Here, we are reminded of the primeval nature of these sacred stories of origins. And if the butchering is not problematic enough about this story, there are elements of discrimination, conquest, and dispossession. The intrigue of the Bible.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Prayer to Open NM Senate Session - Friday, Feb 22, 2013

Let us pray... It has been said, the source of life dwells wherever humans become aware of that source,...and so we pray for awareness this day. (m Buber) It has been said, Have patience with all things but first of all with yourself. so we pray for patience this day. (St francis de sales) It has been said, To see what is right and not to do it is want of courage. so we pray for courage this day. (Confusius) It has been said, Labor to keep alive in your breast that spark of celestial fire called conscience...and so we pray for conscience this day. (G Washington) It has been said that laughter is a divine gift; it has made the world human and loveable, despite all it's pain and wrong... (WEB Dubois) And so we pray for hardy laughter this day It has been said, If the only prayer you say in your whole life is "thank you", that would be enough.. (Meister Eckhart). A so we say thank you. Gracias a dios, Y gracias a ustedes por su servicio en este estado. Amen

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Me and The Devil - Luke 4:1-13

An ethic worthy of temptation....Resisting be saved Have you ever been tempted to make a deal with the devil? If you haven’t maybe you’re not trying hard enough :). Tales of dealings with the Devil have long been part of the human experience. In contemporary lore, the devil shows up in cartoons- like the one Ruby was watching the other day which had a cute little dog who was conflicted about making a choice for selfish gain or making a choice for the good of his friends. ..and the little talking angel with a halo shows up on one shoulder and the little talking devil with horns on the other, both trying to persuade him on the choice...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Storm - Luke 8:22-25; (cf. Isaiah 54:9 ff)

Westminster Presbyterian, Santa Fe
February 10, 2013
Storm - Luke 8:22-25; (cf. Isaiah 54:9 ff)

National Scout and National Preach In Sunday

Thank you for being here, and to your parents and caregivers. Thank you for sharing some of your experiences today; and for the food that we will enjoy after the service.

I experienced the most terrifying storm of my life while on a Scouting expedition. We had been out on a hike; and returning to the camp late in the afternoon as huge storm clouds gathered. Then it came like a flash-- huge bolts of lightning crashing all around; Monstrous claps of thunder! Rain and hail falling in all directions! We were soaked before we knew what was happening. In order to make my way back to our cabins, we had to pass over what seemed a mile long damn, exposed, with an unsettled lake on one side and a steep eroding hill on another. We ran as fast as we could--crouching so as not to entice the lightning to strike us down! No one forgets an experience in a giant storm.
- The delegation from this church to Chiapas, will never forget the heavens opening knocking over trees across their path.
- The people of New England were bracing themselves for the storm this weekend, remembering Sandy.
- The apostles didn’t forget the storm over the lake. A routine cross from one side to another. So routine, Jesus, exhausted apparently, felt okay to catch some shut-eye....Then the storm came! But, these were experienced and strong men; they’d handled storms before. Was this one different, more powerful? But not powerful enough to wake Jesus!? Some are panicking, and their leader’s not pulling his weight as they’re trying avoid being capsized. “Aren’t you going to help out! We’re drowning for Christ’s sake ....wait...oh yeah....”

Jesus gets up! Rebukes the wind and raging waves. Then chastises his shipmates: Where is your faith!? “I’m going back to bed..!” Evidently, I’m not the only one who doesn’t like to be woken up before I’m ready.

Some interesting points to consider from this passage:
- it’s very likely this was seen by the early church as a form of exorcism, rather than an example of Jesus’ power over their time, the water- the great deep-- was where demons could reside, and would stir up at any unpredictable moment (Craddock, Interpretation). The formula, “rebukes the wind and the raging sea,” follows the pattern of words spoken to exorcise demons.
- Another: Just because Jesus is in the boat, doesn’t guarantee smooth sailing. Just because you have a bumper sticker that says Jesus is your co-pilot...doesn’t mean you won’t have an accident!
- Another: What is up with the question, “where is your faith?” What was he expecting from the apostles? It doesn’t seem like he expected them to calm the storm. They weren’t given this type of power until a few scenes later in chapter 9. Is this simply a statement on faith? That fear, not doubt, is the opposite of faith... and those dudes were scared! And Jesus is like: Calm down!
- Last consideration: the question the apostles ask: Who then is this? The $50 million question. The question they asked that day on the boat. A question asked of those who joined the early church. A question asked of Jesus generation after generation. A question asked of each of us today. Who then is this? And each of us--from my little girl Ruby Gene--to Gretchen who just turned 90, has an answer. An answer based on what we’ve heard about Jesus. An answer we determine from our experience with Jesus...and the church.  And each answer is something that gives meaning to our own lives.
Who then is this? He commands even the storms.

I want to shift gears a bit...and focus on scouting and storms. I have a deep appreciation for the great outdoors; The wonder of nature. The beauty of creation. I’m a tree hugger I suppose. In no small part to my experience in scouting.
Aside: Philmont was my first taste of NM...and we Georgia boys were blown away by snow on top of the mountain in June!

In the first scout handbook, published in 1911, there is a definition of “Scout”: “"Scout" used to mean the one on watch for the rest. We have widened the word a little. We have made it fit the town as well as the wilderness and suited it to peace time instead of war. We have made the scout an expert in Life-craft as well as Wood-craft, for he is trained in the things of the heart as well as head and hand. Scouting we have made to cover riding, swimming, tramping, trailing, photography, first aid, camping, handicraft, loyalty, obedience, courtesy, thrift, courage, and kindness.
Fast forward a hundred years...the Handbook is on its 12th edition. The First Green edition - which “is the embodiment of the BSA’s longstanding tradition of being a good steward of Earth’s natural resources. Throughout the book, you’ll see symbols printed in this book as a testament to our commitment to going green:
- Recycling Symbol;
- Chlorine Free Products Association logo;
- Environmental Choice Program logo identifies the book as being manufactured and supplied by companies that produce environmentally preferred products and services;
- The Biogas logo certifies that gas used in the paper-making process was produced from the decomposition of waste in a landfill and transported to the mill. Using this green energy substantially reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
- The Forest Stewardship Council logo certifies that the FSC has tracked the paper through a chain of custody, meaning that product and content come from well-managed and controlled sources.” Pretty cool huh. But wait, there’s more: “Nature! Scouting gives you the chance to explore the outdoors and see how the natural world affects all of us. Through Scouting, you can increase your understanding of your responsibility to care for the environment and learn ways to fulfill that responsibility.” (BSA Handbook Online Introduction).

Presently, some of the merit badges geared toward this end are: Bird Study, Energy Environmental Science, Fish and Wildlife Management, Forestry Gardening, Geology Insect Study, Mammal Study, Oceanography, Reptile and Amphibian Study, Soil and Water Conservation, and Weather.
Curious, I looked up information on Oceangraphy--thinking about the storm on a lake in our scripture story. One requirement toward earning the badge: “Describe the characteristics of ocean waves. Point out the differences among the storm surge, tsunami, tidal wave, and tidal bore. Explain the difference between sea, swell, and surf. Explain how breakers are formed.” Shall we add gale to that list...given our passage for today?

This knowledge about storms may come in handy more often these days: According to the Center for Climate and Energy Studies: “in the North Atlantic there has been a clear increase in the frequency of tropical storms and major hurricanes.” Names come to mind: Katrina, Sandy

Another nature related event increasing in frequency: Fires! -: “Scientists estimate that the fire season now lasts 75 days longer than it did 40 years ago. In 2012, there were fires in places researchers thought would never burn, including parts of Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.” (Living on Earth)

Curious, I looked up the Forestry merit-badge. One of the requirements: "Take part in a forest-fire prevention campaign in cooperation with your local fire warden, state wildfire agency, forester, or counselor. Write a brief report describing the campaign, how it will help prevent wildfires, and your part in it." Prevent fires...calm the storms, if you will.

Is there a raging storm happening all around us? Is there a demon loose in our planet that needs to be cast out? Health advocate Brendan Brazier points out that sometimes it takes something significant for people to change. He compares mild dissatisfaction in our lives (like at work) to a slow-leaking tire (punctured by a goat-head:). You barely notice it and don’t really do anything about it—refilling it with a bit of air when needed and then back to normal… But imagine if the tire just popped! You’d get it fixed immediately, wouldn’t you?

Brazier goes on to say: “Many people put up with things that are unpleasant but tolerable, rather than changing them; their situation needs to become unbearable before they take action. So, in effect, an unbearable job is better than one that is simply dissatisfying, since it will be the catalyst for change.”

Where are we? Scouts? ...parents?...citizens?...Christians? What is our environmental situation? What is the climate? Is our situation, driven by so many factors - unbridled capitalism, powerful fossil fuel companies--- tolerable? If we continue on the same path, what will our world look like by the time these boys are the age of most of the people in this sanctuary? Will it be unbearable, Is it unbearable now? Has there been a loud pop! It’s too late to ask the thousands of extinct species exterminated over the last century.

It has been pointed out: “[W]e are the first species to become a geophysical force, altering Earth's climate, a role previously reserved for tectonics, sun flares, and glacial cycles.” (Bill Brown, Seven Pillars of Creation)

President Obama, seemed to respond to this reality by saying in his Inaugural Address: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”

But...What is our response?

More from the scout handbook: the citizenship merit badge: “Choose an issue that is important to the citizens of your community; then do the following:
- Find out which branch of local government is responsible for this issue. - interview one person from that branch of government.
- Ask what is being done about this issue and how young people can help.
- watch a movie that shows how the actions of one individual or group of individuals can have a positive effect on a community. - Discuss with your counselor what you learned from the movie about what it means to be a valuable and concerned member of the community. Great stuff! Let’s do this during this legislative session. I’ll take any of you who want to go to the roundhouse.

Here’s an example of some work of concerned members of various communities: There is a student movement across the nation--one of largest in decades--in which students at colleges and universities are pressuring their board of trustees to divest from fossil-fuel companies. “young people are starting to say, "We’ve got to spend another 60, 70 years on this planet. We better do something fast." And that something means standing up to the fossil fuel industry that’s been in the way of rational change for a quarter-century now.” This industry has five times as much carbon in its reserves as the most conservative scientists say would be safe to burn. Unless we rewrite the script, if we follow their business plan, the planet tanks.” Bill McKibbin -

A storm is raging. “We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom," laments biologist Edward O. Wilson.
Jesus wakes from his sleep, speaks truth to the power... calms the powerful storm... exorcises the demon that lies beneath the waters... and teaches disciples to not fear.
A storm is raging “We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom..." Jesus is still in the boat. And in courageous faith may we exorcise the destructive powers that are decimating our planet.

It gives me great hope to have these boys involved in the scouting program: may you boys go on to become lovers and protectors of nature - God’s creation: because we are in the midst of a great storm... and most of us are very asleep, and not because we’re trying to imitate Jesus :).