The Weeks & Sundays After Pentecost, Yr A, 2020: Psalm Passage – Leaving behind draining fear, and running towards the Presence & Shalom of the Divine

Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.” (Psalm 85:8)

I started this week’s reflections on scripture based on the idea the Elijah was running away from a situation that he did not consciously plan on but felt lead to complete, due to his being “very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts.” Later in the week I considered that maybe Elijah was not running in fear but retreating to rejuvenate himself and prepare for what was to come. Just as Jesus often retreated to communion with the Lord God who sent him. Now I consider that “fear” of the Lord, which is not fear that paralyzes but fear that draws forth awe and worship (like the disciples worshiping Jesus who walked on water and calmed the sea). But still, we journey in this life – towards that which will support and under gird us.

“Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.” (Verse 9)

This running from & running towards bespeaks a good deal of action and energy. But where is rest and shalom? (Answer coming.)

“Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky. The LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.” (Verses 10 – 13)

We abide, beloved reader, in our world but we walk and act according to the kingdom that we are assured will come. In the Kingdom of God faithfulness springs up under us and righteousness looks down upon us – like look cool verdant grass and cool cloudless sky. But here, in our present reality, it may seem there is little relief from stress & turmoil, aggression & hatred, violence & war. We would run away in far if there was not hope or relief in our reality; maybe that is what Elijah felt. The disciples in that “little boat” probably felt pressed upon and endangered. But Jesus came out to meet them, right where they were. And the Presence of the Lord came to Elijah in a quiet and gentle way, as opposed to the turmoil he had just been through. Paul told us that the righteous that calms and soothes comes from our faith in Jesus Christ and the Divine. Which is good because our present reality does little to calm and soothe.

The psalmist says of the Divine, “Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps.” (Verse 13). There is also a path for us, beloved reader. This path of righteousness is also for us; not that righteousness will automatically stretch out in front of us. But that of all the possible paths that are before us, we should seek and chose the righteous path.

It is good to know what to run from, beloved reader. And it is also good to know what to run to. May you chose wisely, and may the Presence of the Holy Spirit guide your way. Shalom & Selah!

The Weeks & Sundays After Pentecost, Yr A, 2020: Psalm Passage – Wrestling and grasping with living in our current circumstances: listening in to Preacher and Seeker

Seeker: “Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry; give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.”
Preacher:
What brings you to prayer now Seeker? If there is a burden on your soul, please know that I am hear and ready to listen.
Seeker: Sometimes Preacher I feel so overwhelmed by what is happening in the world. I know the Lord is with us, and we have not been abandoned by the Divine. But it is such a struggle to grapple with the world. My spirit wanes, and my hope seems to be blown away by the adversity I see. In all of this Preacher, I have to hope that my weakness does not lead to sin.
Preacher: “From you let my vindication come; let your eyes see the right.”
Our current reality presses in on us all. And be assured, Seeker, the Lord will uphold you.
Seeker:
Then I say with the psalmist, “If you try my heart, if you visit me by night, if you test me, you will find no wickedness in me; my mouth does not transgress.”
Preacher:
Do not think, dear beloved Seeker, that I am immune to the discord and angst I see and feel in the world. But like the psalmist says, “As for what others do, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent.” I know you Seeker, you have not and will not fall into harsh and violent ways.
Seeker: “My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.”
You have shown yourself to be a good model for me, Preacher. You have done as the psalmist says, “I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me, hear my words.”
Preacher:
Seeker, if I have done well, it is because the Divine has held me up. “Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand.” While you may think your faith and strong spirits are sinking under the weight of all things, the Lord God’s strength will be a firm foundation. The is solid Divine support beneath you.
Seeker:
The psalmist declares for all of us, “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.” ( Psalm 17:1-7, 15)

Creating & Stepping Into a Gap

I do not often step away from the Revised Common Lectionary and speak out of the weekly cycle I have created. But I am feeling that now, today, I need to speak up. I have been reading Michelle Obama’s book “Becoming” and have been intrigued and impressed by what I have read. It has been a revelation, hearing what happened before his presidency and what was going on behind the scenes. The book was written, I am guessing, in 2017, and was published in 2018. The year and time of its publishing will become significant as I continue.

I have just finished the part of her story when Trump was elected president. Her and her husband’s shock and dismay at his election match my own – at the time. But now, reading this book in these current days, I look back at the time and mourn the innocence we had then – thinking that it was just an overall poor choice by the voting public. We had no idea, beloved reader, what would happen in the years after Trump’s inauguration. I don’t have to remind you, I am sure, of the increasing “debris” of poor choices, statements, and tweets he has made – to delicately state the issue. Comparing then, as Michelle narrates that time in the country’s life, to now – the tragedy of our current situation is made so clear.

I am not usually politically minded; I do not talk about politics nor let it sway my pondering or meditations. That may tell you, my longtime readers, how much Trump’s presidency has effected me. And reading about the days following Trump’s election, seeing it through Michelle Obama’s eyes, has settled a lead weight in my thoughts. Reminiscences of the past four years streak across my thinking, and I am shocked to a standstill and am moved to mourn.

I live in Oregon, about 3 hours away from Portland. The events in Portland sear across the headlines, here in Oregon and I have to assume across the nation. And, if the news pundit are correct, other cities are set to experience the same thing. This has to end, beloved reader. It has to change. We have endured coming close to four full years. And it is threatening to tear our nation apart. Not to mention how the rest of the global community sees us. If you did know it before, reading her book, you will realize how our national imagine rose under former President Obama; and now, how it has fallen.

Back in 2017 I thought, as long as Trump does not do anything that cannot be undone after four years – we will be okay. Then I thought, what has happened thus far – we can mend. Later still I thought, I just hope there is enough of the United States left that we can salvage. Now, it just feels like so much is lost. So many people, through so much violence and illness. So much natural resources, gone and more being threatened. And our image – well, it was bad enough when we were hated as a nation. I think now that we are pitied, the hurt is worse.

I am actually not an American citizen. I was born and still am a Canadian citizen living in the United States legally since 1982. My opinion may not matter much. I have the “privilege” of paying taxes, but not the “privilege” of voting. That is one of the reasons I try not to wear or portray any political motif. And you know, really, my written statements in the past year or two have not been politically motivated; I speak out from humanitarian and Christian conscience. Because to stay silent would be, well, unimaginable.

This has to end, beloved reader. It just has to end. I do not have a vote to cast. And even if I did, my one vote would matter little. But I do have a voice. And I will speak up. I will speak against aggression, hatred, and violence. I have spoke against it before. But now I will give it a name. There is this impression that one’s words do not matter. That when one speaks hateful demeaning words, it does not matter, because words are just sounds from our mouth. But as Jesus rightly said, the words of our mouth give evidence of our inner thoughts. And our inner thoughts motivate our actions. And our actions can create an environment where aggression, hatred, and violence are tolerated and even encouraged. Words then, in a direct trajectory, create actions. Where hatred in isolation, confined to one or two people may not amount to much; but when hatred leaps into a larger group, the results can be devastating. It does not matter, or should not matter, who is speaking the hatred to who. The results can warp and destroy anyone it comes in contact with. Protesting hatred, speaking up that hatred cannot, should not, and will not be tolerated, is a noble thing to do. But when protesting crosses the line to aggression, hatred and violence – we have all lost out and we will all suffer.

This has to end, beloved reader. It just has to end. Let me be very clear. A second presidency by Donald Trump will destroy us in ways we cannot imagine. In fact, I do not want to imagine it. But at the end of 2016, I did not want to imagine what the next four years would be like. I am not endorsing any candidate. What I am doing is raising my voice to clearly say is that the last four years should be a wake call for us to be very careful who is the next US president. Words matter, beloved reader. The thoughts and opinions behind the words matter. Words can reveal the nature of a person, especially someone who had not learned or refuses to assess their words and their communications.

I comment on scripture because they are illuminative, pointing us to Christian thoughts and deeds. We can hear the voice of the Divine through scripture, and with the guidance of the Holy Presence we can discern what is best to do. Those whose words, thoughts, and actions going against the Divine’s Word should be held in wariness until their true personality is revealed. And it will be, beloved reader. If I have learned anything in the past four years, it will be.

May you beloved reader, where ever you are, discern wisely those who are around you, and those who seek your support. And may the Lord God be with us as we entire into the election season. Shalom & Selah!

P.S. This post is making a special appearance on the blog site, “A Simple Desire” as well as here. Now that I have raised my voice, I want it to be heard!

The Weeks & Sundays After Pentecost, Yr A, 2020: Psalm Passage – The Divine seeing clearly what there is in us to “harvest”

Preacher: “O LORD, you have searched me and known me”.

Seeker: “You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away.”

Preacher: “You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.”

Seeker: “Even before a word is on my tongue, O LORD, you know it completely.”

Preacher: “You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.”

Seeker: I am trying to determine, Preacher, whether these verses by the psalmist are a comfort to me. It seems, well, intrusive and . . . . . uncomfortable. Is it possible to be “too” well known?

Preacher: Well, Seeker, I can see how one might feel that way. When we look at ourselves, really look closely at ourselves and scrutinize our inner being, we may not like what we see. Some might preen and overlook the flaws in themselves, and I feel sorry for them. They are not fooling anyone on earth, and certainly not fooling the Divine. And I can see where a person might feel uncomfortable. But you have to understand, Seeker, the Divine looks on us with love and Christ’s mercy and redemption wipes away all the flaws. And really, the psalmist realized this. Read on.

Seeker: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it. Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.” Oh my! There is no escape!

Preacher: No, there is not. The Lord God’s omnipotence and omnipresence know no bounds. It is hard to know whether the psalmist meant it as a praise or a confession. I guess it depends on how the person who is speaking is feeling about himself. King David, who might have the writer of this psalm, saw himself pretty clearly – most of the time. He said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24) That last part, “lead me in the way everlasting” can be read as a petition for the Lord God to improve the way one lives out a Christian life; or as the psalmist might have seen it, to attend to his (and her) faith and spiritual life.

Seeker: It is a very brave prayer! To lay one’s self open to the Divine, and expect mercy. But I guess that is what Christ came for. To ease and support self-examination and confession to the Divine, and to assure humanity that mercy and forgiveness is available.

Preacher: That is a fine summing up for Jesus Christ’ mission, Seeker. Very fine indeed. Shalom & Selah, Seeker!

It Has Happened Again

so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16b)

There are some of you like that out there. Some how or another you have managed to follow a blog site that does not have a blog button. I do not know how you did that. WordPress tells me it is possible, if you know your way around a blogging site. And I know (or assume) your purpose is as innocent as a dove. But be that as it may, it will gain you nothing. You see, I am no longer posting anything new on this site. What is here now is all there will ever be. And at some point in the future (I also assume) WordPress will inform me that this blog has been inactive long enough that it will be closed.

Now, here comes the interesting part. If by following this site where the “follow” option is hidden and embedded in site, you have prolonged its activity, then the site as an archive only location will continue. If by follow this site you hope to “provoke” a new post, then you have succeeded.  And if the latter reason is the case and cause for your following, then it is myself who have been less wise than a serpent but still as innocent as a dove.

Since I have been moved to post, let me take the opportunity to direct once again all beloved readers to the active site – Pondering From the Pacific. It is the place where I am now posting, and where all of the “A Simple Desire” post that I wrote are also archived. But please, if you are here, make yourself to home. Search the posts that are here. But there is no use following, because appearances by myself here are rare. Heartfelt, but rare! Shalom!

Pointing the Way

Even though I am no longer posting from this site, I still check in on it occasionally. And I cannot help but notice every once in a while the readership for one or two days goes up for people searching the home page and archives. I am pleased that this site still have value to people. But I want to also remind those of you who come here where the “new” stuff is. I am now posting at Pondering From the Pacific

Since early to mid 2010 I have been the sole contributor to “A Simple Desire”. So probably whatever you find in the archives is something that I wrote. And I am honored that it still finds readership. However, I want to be sure that those who find this site realize that I have not stopped writing but am simply at a new site, the above Pondering From the Pacific. Especially as I/we enter into another Advent season. Today you will find the first of my posting for Advent. I enjoy writing for the Advent season, and if past years are true to pattern, I seem to pick up more readers at that time.

You may notice that this site no longer has a “Follow Me” button since there is nothing new to follow. (And I am a little baffled since someone recently did find a way to follow. In fact, even more than a little baffled!) The “Pondering From the Pacific” site does have the “Follow Me” option as well as having all of the posts I have done for the Revised Common Lectionary since I started commenting on those in 2015. You will also find posts that are of a “less scriptural” nature and one more general topics. For those who have followed me here, I know you will find a very warm welcome at my other site.  Because .  .  .  that’s just the way I am!

 

Where I am now

When I sat down to review the visits and views of this blog, “A Simple Desire”, I couldn’t help but notice the views and visits have been increasing, as if people are trying to search and figure where I am. Maybe I am wrong about that. But if it is true, that the absence of postings here is causing an up surge in activity, I want to remind established readers and new visitors that I have moved to a different WordPress site, “Pondering From the Pacific“. And it has been business as usual there, where I post 4 times a week, and more often when the Revised Common Lectionary has special celebration days. Because I have not posted anything new here (excluding this) since October 4th, I have to conclude that people are reading “older posts”. I want to remind you that anything written since January 2015 is on the site “Pondering From the Pacific”. Anything older than that can be found only at “A Simple Desire” which is where I am posting this note.

I am gratified that the older posts are still being read, and I encourage you to do so. But I also want to make you aware that new posts are debuting elsewhere. And I hope you come visit me there as well!

As of November 1, 2017 I am planning on “dismantling” the “Follow” button here .  .  .  because there is nothing new to follow! But please keep returning here! There is a vast wealth of commentary and scriptural thought here, and I am hopeful it will continue to be available for years to come! Shalom!

The Next Stage, Part II

No, beloved reader, I did not forget to post something for this day. As I said yesterday and have been saying for a while, we are in the transition point. All of the blogs since January 2015 are on the new site, Pondering From the Pacific . Starting with the October posts, I am posting only on that site. Sometime near the end of November / at the start of Advent I will no longer be posting here at all. It will remain as it is now, a repository of everything that has been written since this blog started back in 2007. I had thought about posting what I wrote up until the end of the current lectionary year, but I thought that might be just as confusing as if I simply went quiet here at an earlier date. And, I am not going “quiet” – not by any means! If you have enjoyed what has been written here in the past, and you like reading comments on the Revised Common Lectionary, please make the move over the Pondering From the Pacific . If not, it has been an honor to have been part of your faith life! Shalom!

The Next Stage

As it is the beginning of October, I am carrying out the next stage of moving to the new blog site Pondering From the Pacific . For a while I had been posting the new posts on both sites, to make the transition a gradual. Then I posted just the title of each new day’s posts and the link for each specific post. Now I am simply directing both beloved established readers and new readers alike to the new site. I am ever hopeful that those who have been long time readers will make the move to the new site. Nothing has changed except the “address” of where I post!