Category Archives: Uncategorized

Where Else Would God Be?

WorldStretching

I heard him say, “The scandal of the Christian story is not that God became incarnate as a human. It’s that God is incarnate in every particle of creation. I mean… [dramatic pause] where else would God be?”

My Constructive Theology professor Dr. Eleazar Fernandez may never know how that woke me up.

“Where else would God be?”

The name Emmanuel means God With Us. The Incarnation we celebrate at Christmas is a recognition of God’s presence spun through creation. Now when church people talk about a particular day or season, it doesn’t mean it’s not real all the time. In this case, the Story of Christmas is that Holy breaks into our lives all the time, not just in late December.

But it’s good we have liturgical seasons to help us practice these kinds of things. Otherwise– for me, at least– all the rich bewilderment and awe of life…

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New Year’s, The Point of the Church, and Johnny Depp

A case for Epiphany as most important liturgical season.

WorldStretching

After the Twelve Days of Christmas is Epiphany. It kicks off the most important season of the church year– better than Christmas, stronger than Easter, able to leap Pentecost in a single liturgical bound.

At this point in the post, I pause for a number of you to scoot to the edge of your seat in fascination, and the rest to politely excuse yourselves to do anything else you can think of.

Bob Webber called Advent-Christmas-Epiphany “The Cycle of Light,” (unrelated to Tron). If Advent is about longing and preparing for Christ’s presence and Christmas rejoices in the eternal breakthrough of God-With-Us, then Epiphany is about manifesting the Christ.

Which, in my humbly-justified, sinner-saintly opinion, is the Point of the church.

It’s too bad only 11 percent of church-goers know what Epiphany is about. (Okay, I actually made that stat up. But shocking, right?)

The church exists to…

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Richard’s Christmas Fudge

A December favorite. I’ve again posted my personally crafted recipe for my Christmas fudge. Enjoy the sweet darkness.

WorldStretching

It’s that time of year again. Oh, the goodness.

Fudge is one of the first things I learned to make well, and my recipe has evolved for two decades.

It requires patience, so cooking a batch each Advent for me is a spiritual practice of the season.

Share and enjoy, share and enjoy.

__________________________________________

Richard’s Christmas Fudge

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 12 oz evaporated milk
  • 1 cup butter
  • 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 8 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 1 7-oz. container marshmallow creme
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Slather up a 13x9x2 pan with butter and set aside. Reflect a moment at the wonder of butter.

Butter sides of a 3-quart saucepan, humming as you do so. In it, combine sugar, butter and milk.

Cook and stir over med-high heat to boiling. Stir more, changing now from humming to singing. Stir, my friend. Stir like the wind. Stir until cows actually come…

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Dear Body

Dear Physical body,

It’s not that dislike you, it’s just that I don’t care to think about you very much.

Which is odd because one would think you’d be one of the most Undeniably Real and Present Things in my life. I can see you, touch you, hear you and (thank you very much) smell you. You are my closest partner in life. I have a voice and a face and a presence on Earth because of you.

God, thank you.

In most ways I Am you, and yet most of the time I feel behind you. Or alongside you. And pretty different from you. Is that why I don’t like to think about you very much? Do I think we’re at odds? Do I owe you money? Is there something we need to talk about?

Why is it I so often neglect to even think about what you’re like, what you want, or that you even exist? Am I fantasizing about the possibility of a disembodied life, like an angel with amnesia? My friends who subscribe to reincarnation say we’ve all had dozens of lifetimes with all kinds of bodies. Have I gotten snagged somewhere?

If I think about it, most of my adult life I have been taught conflicting beliefs about you. I’ve heard it’s bad to be self-centered, so in some seasons I’ve tried to ignore you, your desires, your drives and appetites. I feel sorry about that and what we’ve missed out on together. I’ve also heard that a body is one of our only assets in this life, so in other seasons, you’ve been in my thoughts with deadly serious disciplines of eating and exercise. Those days I’ve had “should” notes on the fridge, lists on my dresser, and guilt in my gut.

Thinking back through 44 years as a man, though, I’m not sure if you have cared much either way how I’ve thought about you. I think you’ve only wanted me to enjoy my life and to be kind.

You know I like to think of myself as a fairly enlightened person. It’s humbling to be confronted with blind spots. As strange as it seems to me that I’ve either thought way too much about you or deny you completely– kind of like insurance– it Does makes sense for only one reason I can think of:

I think I’m a little afraid of you.

Shut the front door. Is that possible? What’s that about?

Maybe you seem so powerful sometimes that I am scared of embracing you fully. Or rejecting you fully, for that matter. [Deep breath] What would happen if I gave myself to you all the way? What would it look like for me to be All In for this lifetime. With This body. Just as it is now, and as it will change. (That’s a question.)

There’s something here that’s important. Maybe you have a word for me about this. I will be listening.

To close, I thank you for 44 years of faithfulness in this marriage of mind+body+spirit+whatever. I am grateful for you being with me through so many years and seasons. You are my most wise teacher and partner in this life. [A deep bow.] Thank you for all you’ve led me into and followed me into.

Loving you,
Richard

  • Thanks to Kristin Noelle’s invitation to this practice via Trust Tending.
  • Listen to Trish’s song, Bodies.

Stretch.

As a rule, I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. Definitely not in June.

But as 2011 broke through, I was part of an online community that invited each of us to claim a word that might be a guide for the present season. Mine turned out to be Stretch.

Stretch
Stretch
Stretch.
Feel the burn.

As with some of my favorite words, there are some different aspects to wonder in:

~ Flexing in preparation for some kind of exertion.
~ Reaching to span some particular measured gap.
~ Approaching the boundary of imagination: “Well, that’s a stretch.”
~ Expanding a surface to encompass greater volume.

So that’s me. What would it mean for you to have Stretch on your mirror or in your pocket for this season? Maybe as a reminder of your flexibility or your ability to evolve. A prompt to breathe deeply for inner expansion.

So far, the word has indeed been guide and council, leader and oracle.

What word would it be for you? If you feel the need for both a fencepost to lean on, and an arch to invite you into the next season, maybe the right word can be that. But I’m a word guy. It could also be an icon, poem, painting or song.

So I’m launching this blog.

Joshua Pearl has brilliant advice for musicians: Hit the record button when you have no idea what’s going on.

I am starting this blog unknowing what it will become for me or for you.

Welcome to it.  [Click. Whirrr…]