a Quaker shares

Sadly, many of those who disparage the Christian walk have never taken the time to research or embrace the truth of the Christian way of living as emphasized by the character of Jesus in New Testament scriptures and other mystics throughout history.  Instead, media blips of a dying faith, a ritual life of religious intolerance, and a hypocrisy CANDLEsimilar to that which Jesus encountered in Jewish culture are displayed on screens worldwide as the universal nature of the “evil” Christianity destined to betray humanity.

Father Richard Rohr in his daily meditation at cac.org quotes the Quaker pastor, Philip Gulley, in presenting to us the true nature of the Christian mindset:

Quaker pastor Philip Gulley superbly summarizes how we must rebuild spirituality from the bottom up in his book, IF THE CHURCH WERE CHRISTIAN.  Here I take the liberty of using my own words to restate his message, which offers a rather excellent description of Emerging Christianity:

  1. Jesus is a model for living more than an object of worship.
  2. Affirming people’s potential is more important than reminding them of their brokenness.
  3. The work of reconciliation should be valued over making judgments.
  4. Gracious behavior is more important than right belief.
  5. Inviting questions is more valuable than supplying answers.
  6. Encouraging the personal search is more important than group uniformity.
  7. Meeting actual needs is more important than maintaining institutions.
  8. Peacemaking is more important than power.
  9. We should care more about love and less about sex.
  10. Life in this world is more important than the afterlife (eternity is God’s work anyway).

If this makes sense to you, you are already inside of Emerging Christianity.

namaste rainbow

The 10 points listed above clearly indicate that the prevailing world view of our faith, especially that of the strident anti-religionist, is based on misinformation and error.  Jesus is more than a mythical character whom some Christians remember and worship at Christmas.  The story of his life is an example to be lived by us in our lives today.  It is the greatest story ever told.  Namaste.

Advent

Those of us who celebrate Lutheran Christianity are welcoming the season of Advent.  It is a time of joyous anticipation of the Emanuel tradition, “God with us”.  My church affiliation begins special services on Wednesdays up until the Christmas Eve candlelight celebration on December 24th.  It’s all a part of appreciating the rites and traditions of an extended spiritual journey which has been taken with like-minded sojourners seeking sober-minded living within a drunken world system.tannenbaum

There has been much discussion regarding the reason for the season, Jesus, the Christ.  No matter how a person dices it, the Christian depiction of the birth of Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem is Christmas.  Matters not if a man doubts the historical accuracy of the Gospel accounts of this story or if a man shouts “Hallelujah” this is literal truth, the essence of the season is the message shared by the mystical Jesus of Nazareth.  He arrived on the scene amidst a society controlled by a hypocritical religious doctrine and governed by a ruthless Roman Empire.

We have been fooled by the marketing geniuses of retailers like WalMart, Target, Macy’s, and Amazon into believing that spending money is a prerequisite for holiday joy and happiness and that the spiritual path is merely a side story that pleases Christian scrooges.  But scriptures tell us that this story is much more than powerful mega-retailers peddling their wares; it is about the arrival of truth and compassion on the world scene of brutality and intolerance which ruled 1st century Israel.

Many people dismiss that connection.  I did for many years and allowed myself to be drawn into the holiday shopping frenzy, the mindless drive to please people I didn’t really like with nonsensical presents that they didn’t really like, and the partying into oblivion with my friend, alcohol.  New Year’s Eve and January 1st usually found me too hungover emotionally, physically, and spiritually to even think about my soul’s path or the Father’s recently celebrated loving gift of Jesus to my life.

It’s a celebration, a birthday party, for the greatest humanitarian ever to walk the earth, for the greatest story ever told, and for the legendary purveyor of compassion and truth to a broken mankind.  I am broken and I need that savior’s fix.  I am searching and I rely on his message which was given for all of humanity.  I am lost and I need a shepherd’s guiding voice.

I come to the birthday party just as I am, in rags, in turmoil, with shattered dreams and disillusionment.  When I arrive, he puts his arms around me and shouts,

“Welcome to my party.  All are invited and I have gifts for everyone.  Merry Christmas.”smiley-face-2

Jesus freak?

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Yeah, amongst many other terms, this one has been leveled at me by a world that is turned off by the rhetoric of  self-proclaimed religious experts who preach from financial, personal, and political agendas.  For me, being called a ‘Jesus freak’ is confirmation that I am finally doing something right.  It is not taken as it was intended, a term of derision.  No, ‘Jesus freak’ is a badge of commitment.  I’m not here to cast judgement, yea or nay, on anyone.  The fruits of our works shall reveal our hearts.

Several years ago WWJD was an often used acronym, “What Would Jesus Do?”  In order to understand the significance of WWJD one needs to become familiar with the character of Jesus of Nazareth as presented by the writers of New Testament scriptures.  I am not involving myself in the arguments some believers will throw at the previous statement.  Whether I believe that the divinity of Jesus, the Christ, as presented by the Roman Church fathers of the 3rd and 4th centuries is the truth or I believe that the man who lived as a vagabond and beggar with a troop of like-minded men and was crucified for his insurrection against the Romans, I must accept that this Jesus of Nazareth was a remarkable character and his teachings were eternal tenets of wisdom given in a dialog which the common man could understand when viewed in a spiritual realm.  He is accorded the words,  “I am the Way: the truth and the light.”

Whether I believe that Jesus was saying he was the only way to a heavenly God, or I internalize the teachings of Jesus into my personal code of conduct, the Way does lead to the truth and it is light, a personal kingdom of the Lord which dwells within.

But, I have to know those teachings.  I have to process the words given in scriptures with my own powers of discernment, not the interpretations sent forth from the pulpits and  theological doctrine.  Ultimately I cannot trust the “isms” until those tenets strike truth within me.  If this is not one of life’s lessons why would a Creator install in me the qualities of reason and logic?  I cannot deny the wondrous works of the human crafter by negating any part of that crafter’s creation.  I am made a miracle of genetic engineering;  I come complete with a conscience; I am made to appreciate the world’s beauty; I am made with an intelligence which surpasses that of any other earthly species;  I am made in the crafter’s image.

Those assessments of me are confirmed by the teachings of Jesus.  Whenever I conceive a thought, contemplate an action, speak a word, or move onward, the utmost consideration should be “WWJD?”

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sheep and goats

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One of my favorite parables in the Gospels speaks of the shepherd who separates the sheep from the goats.   The sheep were those nations (people) who lived lives according to the principles of love and compassion.  The goats were nations who lived licentiously and selfishly while professing to follow God. When the separation had been completed, the goats asked why they were not included among the blessed on the right, the sheep. Scriptures of wisdom in Matthew 25 tell us that the King replied to the sheep, who lived by spiritual principles:

“For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you took Me in, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you visited Me.”

To the goats he admonished:

“For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, I was naked and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.”

The beauty of this passage is that the compassionate who brought aid and comfort to others were doing it because that was their love for others in action.  They had no ‘carrot on a stick’ promise of salvation for being caregivers to the less fortunate and, according to the writers of Matthew, they innocently questioned, “When did we do this for you? When did we comfort and nourish you?”

The King answered that what they had done to or for the least of his brethren, they had also done to him.  That is the essence of the teachings of the mystics.  We, the entire creation, are all one organism living on this earth to serve and care for our brothers and sisters, many of whom survive under environmental, political, and religious oppression.  When I harm another being on this earth, I am harming myself.  When I diminish the sanctity of another’s life, I am diminishing the holiness within me. When I refuse to provide mere survival essentials to my brother, I am thereby starving my soul and greatly grieving the God which dwells within me.

When hurricane Matthew in 2016 marched up the east coast of Florida, several evacuation shelters reportedly required the homeless seeking refuge from the fierce winds and rain to wear yellow wristbands while in the facility.  They were segregated, allegedly denied the same courtesies and supplies as the others, and not given cots or blankets.  One Florida county refused to admit to its shelters some homeless with prison records.  The officials in charge cited that their intent was to keep them isolated from the law-abiding “good people”.  What they did not consider was that most of “those” people, the homeless, were decent men and women with families who were in unfortunate situations of extreme need.  The Lord of Christianity, Jesus, the Christ, would have probably been relegated to the segregated crowd to protect the good people.

Was Jesus law-abiding?  According to the powers of Roman government and Jewish theocracy he was a rebel and a heretic.  His stories in scriptures and a few correlating historical accounts depict him as a vagabond, a magician, and a homeless man roaming the countryside with a gang of other losers, misfits, and runaways begging for the essentials they needed to survive.  They were viewed by the decent God-fearing society of the day as treacherous and dangerous, deserving of persecution and crucifixion.  Not until centuries later did the Roman Church fathers clean up the person of Jesus, sanctify him and define him as divine.

Do I stand today with the persecuted and crucified?  Am I truly a brother of loving kindness to my brothers and sisters who live in Syria, Puerto Rico, Florida?  I want to be, I often fall short, but I pray that I never stop trying.  How about you?  Let’s change this world.  We can do it one simple act of compassion at a time.

“And what is wisdom?  Wisdom is knowing we are all one.  Love is what it feels like, and Compassion is what it acts like.”  Ethan Walker the 3rd in “THE MYSTIC CHRIST”

namaste rainbow

 

 

 

grease (not the musical)

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cac.org

“If we would imitate Jesus in very practical ways, the Christian religion would be made-to-order to grease the wheels of human consciousness toward love, nonviolence, justice, inclusivity, and care for creation.”  Richard Rohr

Is your particular denomination, sect, or theology greasing the wheels of human consciousness?  Does your particular denomination, sect, or theology emulate the love, nonviolence, justice, inclusivity and care for creation which all of your scriptures attribute to Jesus?  No?  Then how dare you affirm your interpretation of your holy writings as the inerrant and infallible word of God?

I have never been one of those “in your face” promoters of any particular faith walk.  You know who I’m talking about, don’t you?  Someone in your church, in your neighborhood, on your media screen?  My way is the only way, my way is Biblical, my way is God’s truth.  Maybe I’m describing you.

Again I say, “If your faith does not affirm Jesus (or any of the other of God’s messengers who brought us the same message) as a reservoir of love and compassion, then perhaps that faith which demands blind obedience to creeds and tenets is not genuinely Godly.  No, I’m not “in your face”, I’m simply posing a question

34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

matthew 10:34

That sword of which Jesus spoke could be a reference for the need then to excise the law-ridden, hypocritical theology of the Jews.  We have the same scenario today.  Religionists who have abdicated their moral authority to celebrate equality and justice for all of God’s humanity regardless of  faith tradition, politicians who have bedded down with those religionists to rein in a sizeable voting bloc, and voters who have transgressed their profession of morality to gain political favor by electing a man who has shown absolutely no moral fiber or integrity….all are destined to fall to the sword Jesus carried into the theology foray.

No, I’m not here to be “in your face”.  Having suffered a torturous and humbling journey through the jungles of “Christian fundamentalism” and having survived that journey with a deeper and more sustaining faith than ever in my personal quest, I am here merely to ask questions.  Does your church/denomination grease the wheels of human consciousness toward love, nonviolence, justice, inclusivity, and care for the creation?

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HE IS RISEN

smiley-face-2Luke 24:1-8New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Has Risen

24 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ Then they remembered his words.

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1 Corinthians 15:54-55New International Version (NIV)

54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[a]

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”[b]