What the Waters Know: Re-Reading John 1:29-42

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Photo by Erinn Fahey

By James W. Perkinson

He lifted me out of the desolate pit, out of the mire and clay; he set my feet upon a high cliff and made my footing sure (Ps 40:2).

I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel. (Jh 1:31)

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” (Jh 1:36).

So we sit today in bit of snow here in Motown, while our news feeds show weekly pile-ups of cold precipitation elsewhere across the land—and pile-ups, as well, of twisted metal in our stupid infatuation with cars and speed—as the Great Stream of Jetting Air bends south and brutal, from the Arctic Circle to Arizona, in announcement that Change, with a capital “C’ is not future, but here.  And we wonder about the upheaval of an entire planet.  Australia become a living kiln, cooking up a billion-fold of living flesh, involuntary offerings to our wanton refusal to heed!  In Puerto Rico they sleep outside, as the fracked Earth, heaving from a thousand cuts, here, there, in Oklahoma now grinding Her teeth in warning hundreds of times per year where She used to rest soft and fecund and quiet, but in our little cousin island to the south, slipping and sliding the soil into great fear and one more sheer nightmare.  Last time—it was the sea and sky as Maria roared through.  Now it is rock and sand, all serving notice they do not plan on being raped and plundered, forever.  But it is the poor who are first forced to hear and bear the pain.  The rest of us sleep-walk in daylight and pull the covers of night over our oblivious heads.  But our time is coming as well, I am afraid.  And we are far more culpable. Continue reading

Hospitality as the Ground for Good

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Dough rising – it’s a braided bread night Credit: Mark Bonica (link below)

By Jayme R. Reaves. From Geez 56: Entertaining Angels.

When someone says “hospitality,” what comes to mind?

Offering a cup of coffee or tea, a hot meal, a bed for the night – these are the usual answers. When we dig deeper, there’s usually an emphasis on welcome, creating a space where people feel at home, a warmth, a commitment to the other’s wellbeing.

In English, the Latin roots for the word hospitality connote two different ideas. First, the root hostis implies both guest and host, indicating a fluidity of motion between the two, a reciprocity or exchange that is expected: “I do this for you because you did this for me.” In the ancient worlds that shaped our religious traditions, the common practice was to treat guests with respect for two main reasons. Either it was an act of diplomacy as you may be a traveler in their land one day, or because there was an understanding that a guest could have been a powerful being – a god – in disguise, testing the righteous. Therefore, welcoming a guest became a sacred ritual because you just never really know who this guest sitting at your table really is or what they may be able to do for you later. Continue reading

The War Machine Rages On

As the arrogant, stupidity of the war machine speeds up, as the cries of those killed echo in our hearts, as our fear lives in our throats, we ready ourselves to put our bodies in the street once again to say No Way! Never Again! No War with Iran!

It is on days like today, when “spiritual death” seems so close, that I am reminded and re-reading A Time to Break Silence by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen:

I need not pause to say how very delighted I am to be here tonight, and how very delighted I am to see you expressing your concern about the issues that will be discussed tonight by turning out in such large numbers. I also want to say that I consider it a great honor to share this program with Dr. Bennett, Dr. Commager, and Rabbi Heschel, and some of the distinguished leaders and personalities of our nation. And of course it’s always good to come back to Riverside church. Over the last eight years, I have had the privilege of preaching here almost every year in that period, and it is always a rich and rewarding experience to come to this great church and this great pulpit. Continue reading

An Apology to Mother Earth

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Image via the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

From Eve Ensler, read at the Bioneers Conference.

Dear Mother,

It began with the article about the birds, the 2.9 billion missing North America birds, the 2.9 billion birds that disappeared and no one noticed. The sparrows, black birds, and swallows who didn’t make it, who weren’t ever born, who stopped flying or singing or making their most ingenious nests, who didn’t perch or peck their gentle beaks into moist black earth. It began with the birds. Hadn’t we even commented in June, James and I that they were hardly here? A kind of eerie quiet had descended. But later they came back. The swarms of barn swallows and the huge ravens landing on the gravel one by one. I know it was after hearing about the birds, that afternoon I crashed my bike. Suddenly falling, falling, unable to prevent the catastrophe ahead, unable to find the brakes or make them work, unable to stop the falling. I fell and spun and realized I had already been falling, that we have been falling, all of us, and crows and conifers and ice caps and expectations — falling and falling and I wanted to keep falling. I didn’t want to be here to witness everything falling, missing, bleaching, burning, drying, disappearing, choking, never blooming. I didn’t want to live without the birds or bees and sparkling flies that light the summer nights. I didn’t want to live with hunger that turned us feral or desperation that gave us claws. I wanted to fall and fall into the deepest, darkest ground and be finally still and buried there. Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Let them Praise!

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Psalm 148

By Laurel Dykstra

Salal + Cedar is the Watershed Discipleship community that curates Wild Lectionary. Psalm 148, which both celebrates and demands more-than-human praise for the creator, has become something of a “theme psalm” that we return to in worship. As it appears each year in the lectionary cycle we use it as a chance to look back at our year.

Praise God!
Praise God from the heavens
Praise in the Heights
Praise God, all you angels
Praise God, all you hosts Continue reading

Santa’s Surprise

12600-illustration-of-a-christmas-tree-with-presents-pvBy Liza Neal

I know a child
whose Christmas tree
was packed so high with presents
you couldn’t see its base,
and after a few hours excitement, he was bored.

I know another child.
“Santa Claus brought me a backpack!”
She told me with shining eyes.
And frankly I was surprised,
because I didn’t think
Santa Claus would come
to an asylum seeker at El Chaparral.

It was of course
the only thing she owned,
which did not diminish the joy, weeks later,
of a Christmas gift received
by a child fleeing death. Continue reading