The Time of Singing Has Come


From the Song of Solomon, chapter two:

11for now the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.
12 The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.

Do not take for granted that you crossed the threshold of seasons.  You were able to move from Winter to Spring.  Perhaps you can hear Vivaldi’s Four Seasons playing in the background as blossoms (and pollen) fill the air.  Your world has changed.  You in turn are changed.

You had nothing to do with this.  It happens without consulting you. The earth warms and rains appeared and the properties imbedded within plants and trees of all kinds, the song encoded into birds, these things emerged and bloomed into the world and you witness it. But you did not make it happen. How then respond?  With thanks. Be grateful and if you can, add your song to the speech of birds.

You have the power, also gifted to you–you were endowed with these powers–to change. You can welcome it or hate it, play with it or try to kill it, wrestle with it, manage it, flow with it.  Every season brings loss. Every season offers new chances for growth and evolution to a higher plane.  So elevate. Evolve.  Grieve for what is past but do not try to live there.  It offers you no soil,  no water nor sun.  You have moved from Winter into Spring and with this, you can also change and deepen your life.  Stop.  Can you hear the turtle dove?

As you enter the sanctuary this Sunday, I am going to preach on what cannot be lost and talk somewhat about grief work but as well, the work of faith, hope and love and the blessed assurance that your soul in Christ is well.   ~See you Sunday.

Koinonia Lunch This Sunday


This Sunday after worship we begin our third Sunday of the month luncheons. Bring something if you like but most of all, bring yourself. The only purpose is food and fellowship.  And that is what this New Testament word–koinonia–means:  fellowship.  That is friendship in Christ, folks and it is a beautiful thing. Especially over some lemon chicken prepared by hour hostess, Sheba Greene!

The sermon title this Sunday is: Remembering Jesus, The Jews, And Those Who Killed Them.  The sordid history of Christian anti-Jewish rhetoric and destruction must be countered and a good first step toward that is to critically engage problematic scriptures in the New Testament that have been used to promote such evil.  This past Wednesday, Pastor Bledsoe participated in Days of Remembrance at the Holocaust Museum (as he has done for years), reading the names of victims.  This coming Tuesday, he will speak to a ninth grade religious studies class at Temple Micah on why he is a Christian. The promotion of mutual understanding and respect between Christians and Jews is deeply cherished by Pastor Bledsoe.  We invite you to worship with us on Sunday at 10 a.m.


Lincoln Has Been Murdered and the idea of Covenant along with him

One hundred and fifty years ago, April 14th, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated at Fords Theater.  A perverse act by a brassy patriot took his life and sought to destroy what Confederate armies could not.  One of the ways we could honor his life this week is to read again his Gettysburg Address.  It is, as you know, a very short speech.  In our time and in our culture of sound bytes, tweets and myriad screeds of hatred promulgated by politicians who seem to have little sense of a common destiny built upon shared goals, we would be served well by reading it.

The sad truth is, when the 1% control so much from wealth to media, a concept like of the people, by the people, for the people is endangered. The Congress is about to ratify a budget on the backs of the poor, the elderly, the disadvantaged and they do it in the name of patriotism, of course.  We are not so much called together with appeals to our better angels but we are called apart with appeals to what is small and fearful in us.

One of the things that stuns me is how those who claim Christ, claim to be his followers and wave the flag of family are so passionately committed to policies that harm families and their fellow citizens.  I’m not talking politics here as much as simple bible theology.  Persons who claim the bible as their foundational starting point for a politics of destruction should not be given license to use the sacred for the dismantling of safety nets for the least among us, for their misogynist bullying and their rhetoric of war and more war.  Here’s a word to consider:  covenant.  What Lincoln understood and died for was a covenantal comprehension of citizenship that defies the ideologies pouring forth from the president-want-to-be underlings populating the media stage at this moment.  If the bands of citizenship link us all in a common destiny then the “visions” offered us today are paltry and emaciated by comparison.  Listen to President Lincoln and you’ll quickly see what I mean:

…It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us…

Oh, that a Battle Hymn of the Republic might rise up out of the People and we would find out way out of a country governed by a congress that cannot govern and a citizenry seemingly incapable of asking what they might do for their country, to cite another visionary president shot down and taken from us.  In the mean time, let us enter the sacred precincts of our holy places and learn the art of covenantal life and mutual aspirations undergirded by mutual responsibilities.  ~ See you Sunday.

Hoosier Logic or, Religion in the Service of Bigotry

DC marriage

I have performed marriage ceremonies blessing and legally marrying Gay couples some six times since the District of Columbia passed its marriage equality legislation in 2009.  What a blessing this has been in my ministry and the life of my church!  Maybe the couples whom I have married are exceptional, East Coast individuals of remarkable intelligence who would never walk into a bakery and ask a baker to give them permission to marry, but I think they are unlikely to be the only ones. I imagine there are plenty of Indiana residents who are Gay who likewise are bright, intelligent and confident who also would not equate ordering a wedding cake with a request that the baker, the cashier or the owner of the business give them their blessing or permission.   Heck, we would just like a cake.  Please.  You sell cakes, sell us one. 

Can anyone imagine for a moment a straight couple going into a car garage and asking for tires only to be told that , well, hey, listen, we don’t believe you two should be married so we can’t sell you tires.  Pressed to explain why, the mechanic would then say something like, it goes against my conscience to sell you a tire or to serve you.  This is what passes for Hoosier logic today. And the State, in an effort to cover this embarrassing bigotry, throws a sheet of religion over it and parades it down the street.

No, I don’t think so.  Few of us are buying it. And one reason we are not buying it is that bigotry pretty much smells the same no matter what religious ornament you hang on it.  A klansman who stitches a cross on his robe is made no more a Christian than a person who stitches an alligator on their shirt is an alligator.  Indiana has not only rushed to defend bigotry but its use of religion to defend bigotry is  very nearly blasphemous.

So here is what needs to happen, of course, in Indiana (and Arkansas and elsewhere):  read that first amendment. You may as well read the constitution while you’re at it, but just take a look at that first amendment and grasp this essential truth:  the government is not obligated to perpetuate or establish your religious belief system.  What the government is obligated to do is establish and protect each citizen’s right to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.  You don’t get to deny equal treatment under the law to fellow citizens when you are selling cakes, pizzas, flowers, tires or providing medical care.

In 1520 a reformer by the name of Martin Luther wrote about marriage in a portion of his treatise, The Babylonian Captivity.  In it Luther rejected marriage as a sacrament.  That is, he understood the Church to bless marriage but he believed marriage to be primarily a civil matter that should be extended to anyone, whether a member of the Christian church or not.  I certainly realize that ministers have various opinions about marriage equality.  But those who claim that somehow the sanctity of marriage is violated by extending its protections to persons of minority sexual orientation are mistaken.  Luther wrote in that treatise, “Why should another’s holiness disturb my liberty? why should another’s zeal take me captive? Let whoever will, be a saint and a zealot, and to his heart’s content; only let him not bring harm upon another, and let him not rob me of my liberty!”  I can say it no better.

How To Begin Holy Week How to End Holy Week

Holy Week begins this Sunday, Palm Sunday.
This is how to begin Holy Week: take one step toward Jerusalem, very carefully look for a Galilean whose face is set like flint and who holds in hand a trampled palm frond.
On Monday, be brave and ask him where he is headed.
 On Tuesday, offer him your pillow, because for three years, his head has rested on a stone each night.
 On Wednesday, do not say a word. Do not try to talk him out of where he is going.  Cry for yourself and all that is irretrievably lost in the world.  Then smell your favorite perfume or cologne and pretend you have anointed him for his burial even while he was taking bread from a leper’s hand.
 On Thursday, drink wine and rejoice in the presence of the Galilean and then look at it and think, this looks like blood.  Sing a hymn.  Worship with others if you can so you are not alone in the night, as he prays over there in the garden alone.
 On Friday.  On Friday.  On Friday.   Hammer a nail into a tree. In the evening of the Sabbath, weep because we killed the Son of God.
 Saturday, find some holy place in order to ponder how it is that humans always name holy ground after the most unholy things possible, like battle fields, cemeteries, and a hill of skulls called Calvary.
 On Sunday, when the sun dances along the edge of the horizon and birds sing doxologies worthy of Mozart, put on  fresh clothes and run to a holy place, so you can hear the news that Magdalene proclaimed first  . . . so you can hear the words that Magdalene proclaimed … so you can hear.
 Pray this all week long.  Christ have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.
In the Name of Christ let us walk now, bravely, fully, into Holy Week. I will see you on the other side of Friday.  Sunday is coming.
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