Saturday, September 10, 2016

A Poem As We Remember 9 11

A Tall Darkness
(a poem remembering 9 11)

Towers fell that dark day
and so did dreams of
innocence that perhaps
never were

For life was even more
textured and complex
than we were
willing to admit…even then

But at least we were not so
afraid of the dark
until the tall towers
of our progress fell

Hate brought down the
darkness that day and
it spilled over into
all of our vacant spaces

So now what shall we
remember…shall that
darkness rise above us
again even though it fell?

Or…shall we be those who reach
up for the light;
a light that angry visitors
hoped would be gone forever?

Yes, it was a tall darkness
that fell that day but
we can rise above it
and not become what
they wanted us
to be

Let us honor those we
lost by gaining something more
so we can shine light
into that that darkness
and not become its

There is a tall shinning light
that shall always
cast a shadow
on to that tall darkness
if we make it so

Jody Seymour

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

The next line is "How I wonder what you are?"  Well I am not sure "what you are," but I know the number.  It is HD 164595.  Not very poetic for sure but that is the number given to the star the supposedly sent a signal our way recently.

I say recently since it took 94 light years for it to get to us.  If you want to do the math or even if you don't that is roughly 553 trillion miles away.  The long distance bill would be staggering for such communication.

Some star gazers think this signal was sent by a very advanced civilization that would be far more sophisticated and knowledgeable than we are.  The amount of energy it would take to get the signal to us is the sum total of all the energy presently produced on our planet and that is just for one text message.

I wonder what they or it is trying to say to us?  And what would we say back?  I sure hope this is not some "shot across our bow" to warn us of something like the Independence Day movie.  We have enough trouble of our own with the upcoming election.  I hope they do not know what we are involved in down here.

Seems we have a choice between someone who should have left their cell phone at the office and a man who likes to fire people.  It is a cosmic mess for sure.

We think we are so smart, what would they think about our present cultural situation?  So if they do know what would the signal say if we deciphered it?  Maybe it would go something like this:
  What kind of species are you anyway?  We've been watching and listening for a few hundred years which is not much time in the way we live our time.  You creatures are supposed to be progressing but it seems you go backwards so much.  You have such capacity for good things even at your limited evolution but you so often choose the wrong direction.

  You can't seem to get along with each other because of all the labels you use to define one another.  Are you not all of the same lineage after all?  Why do you see only differences rather than the common pool from which you all come?  Maybe you need to see all this from our perspective and then you would understand.

  Why do your treat your planet like it is some commodity?  Can't you see that your are a product of the very soil you seem to use up?  You are the only species we know of, and we have studied many, who kill for something other than food.  You have learned to kill each other for causes and your causes are often so very foolish.

  We may send you another message soon to see if you have learned other ways to get along.  We have not decided yet.  It may be a waste of energy to do so.  Anyway as you would say, "Have a good day."  By the way for us that day lasts for centuries, but then what is time and space but concepts that can't hold the real meaning of life.  Take care...and we mean that.

So I shall share some verse inspired by HD 164595:
Twinkle, twinkle little star
Now we know just what you are
Way above the sky so blue
Now you've got our number too
May your light shine on us now
To reveal a way to love and how
Send your wisdom with your light
Remind us all of what is right
To find the common good for all
Twinkle, twinkle thanks for the call

Monday, August 29, 2016

A Spinning Kind of Love

Yesterday I stood before a group of people, most in wheelchairs, who looked to me to give them some words of hope.  It was what is called "an assisted living" community.  The words say it all for these dear people need assistance just to keep on living.  I sensed that many of them felt "used up."

What words could I offer them?  So I remembered those words that came to a restless prophet named Jeremiah.  He balked at God's call to him.  He claimed that not only was he too young but that he was not good on his feet and had little to say.  God already had his number and would not let him out of the choke hold that was placed on  the young Jeremiah's soul.

The book named after him contains a whole series of complaints and attempts to get out of the job.  Jeremiah ended up in the pits, literally.  His conspirators, and yes they were real not imagined, threw him into a dry cistern and left him to die.  Fortunately Jeremiah did have a few friends left and they tied together some rags and pulled him up by his arm "pits."

Needless to say Jeremiah was still in the dumps about the long term success of his mission.  "What's the use.  The cause is hopeless and the people you long to have me save for you are not worth it.  The whole situation is 'spoiled.'"

So God sends Jeremiah down to the potter's house.  "What's the point of going to a potters house," thought the tired prophet, but sometimes you just have to do what the boss says.  So he goes.

It was the words that God spoke to Jeremiah that came to me as I stood before a group of souls and bodies that perhaps felt "spoiled."  I told them about how hard it was to "throw" a pot onto a potter's wheel.  The unskilled person like myself could not get the clay centered.  I know this because I had to throw a pot in order to pass a class in college.  How many times had I failed, only to have to turn off the wheel and start over.

A skilled potter can actually reshape the clay and not turn off the wheel.  Jeremiah discovered this as he watched the potter reshape the clay that seemed spoiled on the wheel.  Then came the words that Jeremiah and those assisted living people needed to hear; "You are like the clay in my hands," says God the potter.  "I never give up and you are my clay.  You may feel spoiled but I can and will reshape you.  I am the potter you are the clay."

I told those dear people that one day the spinning would stop and only then will we benefit from a final reshaping but it will happen because the potter never gives up.  After I came home I wrote a poem to sum it  all up:

A Spinning Kind of Love
  (based on Jeremiah 18: 1-4)

Spoiled I thought it was
  the clay so without
  a kind of form

What shape could come from
  a motion that
  seemed so random?

And then the potter entered
  and hands were
  gently placed

I could feel the movement
  of love that wanted
  more of me

So I am not of my
  own making for
  clay is a gift

Never spoiled though it
  may seem that
  way to me

But the potter never ceases
  to create from what seems
  to be so incomplete

And one day the spinning
  will stop and only
  then will I know...

Know that from the beginning
  a shape would come
  because of creating
    hands of love

Friday, August 26, 2016

A Dot in the Night Sky

A Dot in the Night Sky

            Want to feel insignificant or perhaps just the opposite?  Here is what one of the Psalms says about us.
Psalm 8:3-6New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
    mortals[a] that you care for them?
Yet you have made them a little lower than God,[b]
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under their feet,
            So in 1990 the Voyager space craft, which is most distant man-made object from us now, turned its camera backward and took a picture of earth.  That picture is now known simply as “the pale blue dot.”  You can look it up on Y tube if you want.  All you will see is a pale blue dot that is our planet.
            The picture was taken from 3.8 billion miles “out there.”  Out there are around 170 billion galaxies, we think, give or take a few.  When the Hubble Space Telescope looks at them they are a little bit bigger than pale blue dots but not much.
            The dots we see out there are images from the past since it takes light years for the light to get here.  That means the “old” dots appear from light sent our way as far back as 13.7 billion years ago when, according to an old story, God said let there be light and there was light.
            No, there is not a conflict between religion and science if you let religion be religion and science be science instead of trying to put a square peg in a round hole.  Trying to make the first two chapters of Genesis into science is to create not a round hole but a black hole; to stretch my analogy a bit.
            The beauty of Genesis is diminished by trying to use it to counter everything from  evolution to climate change.  Give dinosaurs their time and place and do not try to tell me that they lived alongside people.  And of course those people I suppose looked like Ken and Barbie and not like the character scratching his armpit and swinging from a rope in a Zoo.
            God is not stupid and can use evolution as well as beautiful stories like the ones in Genesis that tell why God created and not how.  Science tells us that we are made of star dust.  Genesis tells us that we are made of dust.  Both are true and real.
            The 400 billion stars that make up our little galaxy are shinning lights in a cosmos that is 95% dark; dark energy and dark matter.  As a pastor I dealt all the time with people who asked some form of the question, “Why is it so dark out there?...Why are bad things happening to me?...Why did I get cancer…Why did my child die…Why is it so dark out there?”
            Well, it has been dark from the very beginning.  Even though the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago created a heck of a lot of light, and God said “it was good” even so the explosion left 95% of what was created dark.  That may sound like bad news but the God whom the above Psalm wrote about was not finished.
            We hear later that, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” and “The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness could not overcome it.”  The 95% is real but could not overcome the Light.  That is why it is called “good news.”  Hey, but it is still dark and according to science always has been dark.
            The Word mentioned earlier is the “word,” Logos in the original Greek in which the Gospel of John was written.  The first chapter of John is called the prologue and is meant to be both John’s “creation story” and Christmas story. Logos is the creative power of God that has always been even before the Big Bang.  Just think, that Logos became flesh and joined us in our neighborhood on our pale blue dot.  No, that is not science but it is even better than science because trust me it is sure true.  I shared that “light in the darkness” with countless people in my 45 years of being a pastor.
            I sure love science but I love the truth even more than the facts.  The light shines in the darkness and the darkness…even though it is damn dark out there…cannot overcome it.   Thanks be to God, and that is both science and religion.  God created with a burst of light and yes with evolutionary timing, but God created.
            So we are but a pale blue dot barely visible in the dark background of the cosmos but read on; we are created a little lower than God and given dominion. We are God breathed star dust.  What shall we do with our dominion?  Will we act like we are the creators and treat each other and our pale blue dot as commodities?  Or will we act like we are created a little lower than the Creator?
            Will we see each other as God created star dust or will we use our dominion to label each other as if we are not created in the image of God but are a kind of god who selects who is in and who is out?  Are we still evolving or are we going backward and deserve to wallow around in the mud from which we came or stand on a mountain and gaze at the stars from which we are made?
            What are human beings that you are mindful of them?  Does God sometimes wonder just what we are and what we have become?  On the next dark night go look up at the stars and breathe in the life that was given as gift.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

My Bucket List for America

My Bucket List for America

1        To rediscover that it is not all about “me” and my rights.  To regain a sense of what true community is and to make the common good a priority.  To remember that life is a gift and not a commodity and that the earth is not something to be used up but prized.

2        To find a reasonable compromise on the immigration issue including some kind of logical border security with an understanding at least of why desperate people take such risks to come here. (Take a mission trip to Mexico and see why they risk so much for their families)  Offer some kind of documentation program so people can come out of the shadows, pay taxes, and be a visible part of a community.  Do not “fine” them as a penalty but perhaps require some time in community service to invest into the community that they long to be part of.  That would be a response to the need for “accountability.”

3        Come up with some reasonable gun control to at least acknowledge that we have a problem.  Reasonable background checks and a limitation of assault rifles is not doing away with the second amendment.  It is an investment into the common good and would take awhile to make a difference but it is time to take some steps toward sanity.

4        Put prayer back in public schools but not like it is requested by those who want only Christian prayer.  Have students hear the prayers of the many faiths that now make up our country.  This would teach respect and tolerance and also be a way to learn how those who are different make meaning out of life through religion.  That should be a part of a good comprehensive education and would not be religious compulsion but an investment into what true community can be.

5        Find a reasonable way to provide health care for all people that does not cost the wrong people the wrong way.  Health care should be a right not a privilege.  Are we not smart enough to figure this out?  I for one do no mind giving something to provide this as long as I know it truly is helping all of us.

6        Change the system when it comes to money and our political framework.  Limit the money paid to campaigns put a cap on money that goes into influencing our elected officials.  Have term limits so that we do not create career politicians who have to spend so much time and money just to be re-elected thus allowing them to be real public servants which is the idea.

7        Do away with the Electoral College.  It does not make any sense anymore.

8        Institute a tax system that really is fair or as fair as any tax can be.  After all the tax system is supposed to support the common good.  Come up with a system that at least reminds us that taxes are fundamentally an investment into what community should be.

9        Get rid on the “one and done” thing in college basketball…or…require those who do take the leap to donate at least 10% of their ridiculously high salary to a fund that would increase public school teacher’s salaries. (Okay, this one is more a personal gripe.)

  Have everyone in America start sharing their bucket list so that we can all see what it is that we really want and then realize that we each can’t have everything we want but must learn to listen and compromise for the sake of all.   

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

What if God Had a Facebook Page

What if God Had a Facebook Page?

            Name: God, The Almighty
            Born:  Not really, always been around
            Studied:  No need to, all knowing
            Occupation:  Creator and a number of other things
            Interests:  You name it, most everything
            Friends:  All who wish to follow or who like me (but prefer love)

What’s On Your Mind?
            Well a lot lately.  I am sure concerned about my people.  There is so much division among them especially when it comes to religion.  Don’t you people out there in Facebook Land know that I am more interested in what religion was created for than in religion?
            I am the creator of life.  People create religion and that’s fine as long as it is a means to an end and not an end in itself.  Religion is the plumbing that gets water to people.  It seems so often that people worship the pipes and forget that I am interested in thirsty people finding water.
            The history of the way people fight over religion really gets me.  I am bigger than any container you make to try to put me in.  So many times religion ends up being a way people think they can control or contain me. It is just not going to happen; never has, never will. 
            Back in the old days I would not allow those who discovered me to even say my name.  By the way my middle name is Mystery not The Man Upstairs or Copilot.  People can never fully understand me that is why it is called “faith.”  I am not in any one book or in any one place or even in any one religion.  I am bigger than that.
            Religion is fine if it helps people realize that they did not come from some catalogue or that they are some kind of commodity.  Each person is crafted by me.  And yes sometimes things do not come out even as I want.  There are people who struggle from the very beginning with all sorts of handicaps and challenges.
            I love them even more than those of my people who think they are whole.  Things do not always get worked out on this side of eternity.  By the way there is eternity you know.  That is where I fix what is not fixed on this side, trust me.  People really have a hard time with trusting me but remember my middle name is Mystery so folks will just have to deal with that if they want the real me and not those little gods that are often substitutes.
            I will stop now even though I could go on and on.  There is always something on my mind after all but mostly my people are always on my mind.  At the center of all Creation there is pure love.  That is me and where you find real love you will find me.  Keep trying out there in Facebook Land.  I am always paying attention.

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