Monday, November 30, 2015

TED talk "Dare to Disagree"::November 30

Margaret Heffernan: Dare to disagree

I just finished watching this TED talk, and I have a multitude of thoughts swimming around in my head.

I am person who will disagree if I feel something is wrong and/or troubling. I do this even with authority figures. Reactions to my disagreeing vary from authority figure to authority figure, but among the people who daresn't disagree is where I get the most resistance.

The first time I remember disagreeing with an authority figure was when I was 16. I was in Sunday School class and the teacher, who was a college student, posed a question to us. He asked if we had seen the article in the paper about what the policy the church had put out about HIV/AIDS patients. I hadn't, but was alarmed when he said that the policy was that these people would not be receiving home or visiting teachers and they were not welcome in church.

I envisioned people dying alone, without the fellowship, love, and nurturing that a church family can give. I thought of people unable to take the sacraments of the Lord. My blood boiled.

My response, though, has less to do with the story than the Sunday School teacher who posed such questions to teenagers and waited for and listened to the responses. It is a rare person indeed who encourages teenagers to think for themselves.

When I did give my response, which was quite different than many of my classmates, the teacher listened. When the class buzzed with debate, he sat back and was thoughtful. He didn't squelch conversation. He didn't insist on agreement with the leaders. He merely listened to the pros and cons.

Some people are very nervous when discord arises. They want to fix it as soon as possible. They want everyone to get along, even if that means cutting the conversation short. I have often disagreed with such people - I think conversation is extremely important.

I love discussing ideas. I love debating. What I do not love is ad hominem debating; never should a debate turn into tearing a person down or shaming them for their thoughts. It is one thing to disagree, but another to personally attack.

I hope that you watch the video. It is superb.
♥ Melody

Monday, November 23, 2015

Love Without End::November 23

I've been talking a lot about what I believe about God...this is one of those things.

Last night I dreamed I died and stood outside those pearly gates. When suddenly I realized there must be some mistake. If they know half the things I've done, they'll never let me in. And then somewhere from the other side I heard these words again.

And he said, "Let me tell you a secret about a father's love, A secret that my daddy said was just between us." He said, "Daddies don't just love their children every now and then. It's a love without end, amen, it's a love without end, amen."

♥ Melody

Saturday, November 21, 2015

No Winners. No Losers. Just Zen.::November 21

I've been pondering about wisdom this morning, mostly after reading fallacious logic on facebook. It made me wonder how and from whom we learn how to produce logical trains of thought - where does wisdom come from?

I just finished reading a chapter in the book Maybe (Maybe Not) by Robert Fulghum. The story told about a new version of the game Fruit Basket - no one goes out. First, everyone sits on everyone's lap when there aren't enough chairs, until everyone ends up on 1 chair... then for the next trick: no chairs at all. What? Form a circle. Turn sideways, everyone facing the same direction. Scoot in until you are standing right next to each other. Guide the first person's hips onto your knees and sit down, everyone, all at the same time. No losers. Everyone wins.

Isn't that what we all want? We go about it different ways, but that is the goal.

In our world, everyone wants to be the winner. We've all heard that it's a dog eat dog world out there. I believe that when we do what the very foundation of Christianity is: Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself. Everything falls into place. No losers. We all win.

Now, let's go back to wisdom. Where do we find it, and from whom? Everywhere. From everyone.

Once we learn logic, and once we can take that to the next step and form rhetoric - applying logic - Anyone can be Buddha. Everywhere is University. There is nowhere that truth can't be found.

We had a homeless man in our Adult Discussion Group at Church on a Sunday a few month's back - the things that he said took us beyond ourselves, yet we all could empathize and understand. That is wisdom. Realizing that we are all different, yet all the same.

Robert Fulghum is one of my favorite philosophers. He talks of regular life "stuff" and tells of the meaning deeper than what was on the surface - you could say that he teaches in parables. Anyone who reads his books, though, does not feel lectured to. Instead, you feel like you just spent a moment with someone wise and walk away a little more uplifted, a little more aware, a little more zen.

And can't we all use a little more of all of those things in our life?
♥ Melody

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Keep your eye on the prize::A sermon by The Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

I can't begin to tell you how much I love the words of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. I don't think he's said anything yet that I don't agree with. And love seems to pour from his sermons.

This sermon came after the terrorist attacks in Paris.

Episcopal Church Executive Council: opening Eucharist sermon by Presiding Bishop Curry
November 15, 2015

The following is the sermon of Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry presented at the opening Eucharist of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church, currently meeting through November 18 at the Conference Center at the Maritime Institute in Linthicum Heights, MD.

Sunday, November 15, 2015
Sermon at opening Eucharist

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Matthew 14:28-38

Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

There’s an old gospel song:

Got my hand on the gospel plow.
Wouldn't take nothing for my journey now
Keep your eyes on the prize
Hold on. Hold on.
Keep your eyes on the prize.
Hold on.

This was an old gospel song based on the text of Luke 9:62. This guy wanted to follow the Jesus way, but he had a few pre-conditions. He needed to do some things first, then he would follow. That provoked Jesus to say: “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” The plowing just won’t go very well if you’re not looking where you’re going. Keep looking forward. Keep your eyes on the prize.

That’s what the song is saying:

Got my hand on the gospel plow.
Wouldn't take nothing for my journey now
Keep your eyes on the prize
Hold on. Hold on.
Keep your eyes on the prize.
Hold on.

The title of Maya Angelou‘s book called Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now came from that song.

There are several stories about the apostles being on water and things happening. One moment it is peaceful and another moment there is a torrent.

There's a rather remarkable story about Jesus and those first of his followers, recorded in Matthew 14. The disciples are crossing the Sea of Galilee. For whatever reason Jesus wasn't with them. It's night. It's dark.

Now this was in the first century, remember, there were no electric lights, so when you’re on a boat a night on the sea, it’s DARK! I mean seriously DARK. All you’ve got are these little lanterns. And although I’ve been to the Sea of Galilee I haven’t seen a storm on that sea, but I’ve heard that on that particular sea conditions can change in an instant. One minute the sea is calm, then all of the sudden it gets frightening, dangerous, perilous. The winds begin to blow. And if you’re lantern blows out – it’s frightening.

The disciples are there in a storm. The thunder is rolling. And the lightning begins to flash. The waves beat upon them. And suddenly they are "crossing change waters," as the old song says. And Jesus is not there. They are alone. They do everything they know to do. But the storm could overwhelm them. He's a parable here.

Then off in the distance they see something -- a shape, a figure, a form. It's Jesus, walking on the water. And it comes closer. Then it begins to take shape. Closer. They can almost see a face. Then they see him in the mist. Jesus walking toward them in the midst of the storm. There's a parable here.

Everything is fine, and then a storm comes out of nowhere. And when the wind gets blowing. The wind will blow out the candles. This is the First Century and there is no light out there. It is dark.

They are scared.

Jesus is not there, but they need to keep going. Keep going.

Now to be honest, in one sense, to us reading the story centuries later, that's not a surprise, Jesus is able to walk on water. He’s the Lord, like the tag line in those Geico commercials, "it's what he does." He's supposed to be able to walk on water. But for Peter to join him out there? That’s surprising.

Peter is so overcome by seeing Jesus coming toward them in the midst of the storm, that he jumps out of the boat -- you know how we often talk about things out of the box? This brother goes beyond thinking out of the box, he jumps out of the boat. There's a parable here.

And Peter, not just Jesus, walks on the water. There's a parable here.

Notice how skillfully Matthew tells the story.

As long as Peter is focused on Jesus he does what he would not have done on his own.

He gets out of the box.

He jumps out of the boat.

And he walks on the water.

All of this while the storm is raging.

All of this passing through the danger waters.

And more than that, and this is what I think Matthew is really getting at, by being focused on Jesus, Peter is doing what Jesus is doing in the world at that moment.

As he is focused on Jesus, his feet are Jesus’ feet, his hands, the hands of Jesus, his heart, that of Jesus. He shares and does in that moment the work of Jesus. And he walks on the water.

But as soon as he is noticing the storm, he starts sinking. And it is only when he takes his eyes off of Jesus that he then panics and begins to sink. But as long as he is focused on Jesus, he walks on the water. He does what Jesus does in the world. Not only does Peter walk on water, he gets out of the boat to follow Jesus. When he does, he finds himself doing what Jesus did in the world.

This Jesus Movement is not something new. When we focus on Jesus, instead of on the storm. when we’re doing what he’s doing, rather than being afraid, our hearts and minds change – we are the body of Christ.

His heart is our heart. His life is our life.

That’s our strength.

Bishop Pierre Whalon of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, issued a profound public statement last night from Paris, in light of the horror of the murders there.

He and the people of Paris, the people of Europe are walking through a storm.

Here is what Bishop Whalon wrote:

But the question of their assassins concerns not only us here and now, but the whole human race. What word do we have for these people? Our first instincts are to demonize them. . . to label them as “Islamic fundamentalists” or some such, and cheer as the bombers carry out a massive campaign in retaliation. But this is too simple. It is not what Jesus would have us do. What he wants is harder.

When we baptize or confirm people, Episcopalians always repeat the promise to “strive for justice and peace among all people”… We need therefore to chart a way to make peace. Peace, not appeasement or total war. In order to be able to do that, we first need to turn back to Jesus and ask for help.

Bishop Whalon concluded with this prayer

O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth: deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you, through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Got my hand on the gospel plow.
Wouldn't take nothing for my journey now
Keep your eyes on the prize
Hold on. Hold on.
Keep your eyes on the prize.
Hold on.

God love you. God bless you. And may God hold us all in those Almighty hands of love.
♥ Melody

Monday, November 16, 2015

"People are always more important than the institutions they belong to."

If lots of hearts plastered all over a door is a loving gesture of a heart attack, then is plastering memes on a blogpost a photobomb?

I searched for a quote, and couldn't find a meme for it. Apparently, I have created an original quote. Here it is:
"People are always more important than the institutions they belong to."

Recently, a big named church created policy that has hurt a multitude of people. It has pulled families apart more than before. It has the potentiality to turn the hearts of the children against the parents, and tear the parents' hearts out of their chest.

It has already pushed a handful of people to such an emotionally damaging place that they committed suicide because they felt that their children would be better off without them.

PEOPLE are more important than institutions. Every. single. time.

Here is my photobomb of memes.

My baptismal covenants included mourning with those that mourn. Comforting those that stand in need of comfort. Proclaiming by word and example the Good News of God in Christ. To seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving my neighbor as myself. Striving for justice and peace among all people, and respecting the dignity of every human being. And that is why I can't stay silent when I see people being hurt.

To any who are hurt: Come to Christ, not to a church that hurts you. There are groups of people, or a church in its true definition, who will accept you just as you are. Worship with them. Love God. Love your neighbor AS YOURSELF. In other words, you have to love yourself, too. God loves you just as you are.

♥ Melody

Monday, November 2, 2015

"Let me see it through your eyes"::November 2

The Bishop's Daily

November 2 - Psalms 56, 57, 58, 64, 65; Nehemiah 6:1-19; Revelation 10:1-11; Matthew 13:36-43

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” (Matthew 13:36 NRSV)

According to the story the disciples did not understand the parable of the weeds. So they asked Jesus to explain it to them. My studies of the parables taught me that they were readily understandable to the hearers. Over time, however, as the church developed, the people lost touch with the social / cultural setting in which Jesus had lived. As such his parables could not be readily understood. (Like a joke that depends on a particular time and place to be understood and without which no one gets the humor.)

By the time they got around to setting the story of Jesus down into gospel narratives so much had changed that the parables needed to be explained. Unfortunately, the writers who collected the stories of Jesus and put them into the gospel form that we have, did not know what Jesus meant by them, so they created their own interpretations.

What I do like is the thought that the disciples, as depicted, did not hesitate to go to Jesus to help them understand what he meant. Since the parables often spoke of the Kingdom of God, I appreciate understanding the reign of God through Jesus. Because if we see the reign of God through Jesus then at the very same moment we do that, Jesus becomes the lens through which we see the world as well.

You see, when I look at the world I can get discouraged. There is so much that seems hopeless and bleak. But the eyes of love see goodness in people and places where my eyes see just the opposite.

As a disciple of Jesus then, I go to him and say, "Explain again to me this world and why you love it. Help me to do the same. Let me see it through your eyes."

The Bishop's Daily is written by The Right. Reverend Scott B. Hayashi, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah.

I needed to post this here so that I can reference it later. It really spoke to my soul. I hope that you enjoy it as well! :)

♥ Melody

Sunday, November 1, 2015

I Sing a Song of the Saints of God::All Saints' Day 2015

One of my favorite songs.

I sing a song of the saints of God,
Patient and brave and true,
Who toiled and fought and lived and died
For the Lord they loved and knew.
And one was a doctor, and one was a queen,
And one was a shepherdess on the green;
They were all of them saints of God, and I mean,
God helping, to be one too.

They loved their Lord so dear, so dear,
And his love made them strong;
And they followed the right for Jesus' sake
The whole of their good lives long.
And one was a soldier, and one was a priest,
And one was slain by a fierce wild beast;
And there's not any reason, no, not the least,
Why I shouldn't be one too.

They lived not only in ages past,
There are hundreds of thousands still.
The world is bright with the joyous saints
Who love to do Jesus' will.
You can meet them in school, or in planes, or at sea,
In church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea;
For the saints of God are just folk like me,
And I mean to be one too.

Yes! And I mean to be one too.
♥ Melody