Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

Author: Tisha Anderson

Pure Love: January 3, 2019

Pure Love: January 3, 2019

What are Honorable Mentions?  They are the quotes, book references, videos, etc that may have been brought up during Sunday’s sermon and are posted here in case somebody would like to check them out.  Please remember that all references occurred within the context of the sermon.

Bible References:

1 Timothy 1:5-7; 1 John 3:3; Matthew 11:28-30; Matthew 16:24; Titus 1:15; Romans 14:14; 1 Corinthians 10:23.

Quotes:

If a Human did it, it cannot be foreign to me.

Maya Angelou, quoting a Roman playwright.

First the fall, and then recovery from fall, and both are the mercy of God.

Julian of Norwich

Purity of Heart (the Buddha)

Someone who wants purity and thinks to find it by gazing at the pure might say, “I see something pure, excellent, free of decay.
Seeing it purifies me.”

If seeing or some intellectual process could rid you of pain the purifying agent would be outside you and you’d be left still eager to grasp.
This view describes a grasping person, not any path to purity.

Anyone who’s free denies there’s liberation by another or by what she sees and hears, by rules of morality, rites and rituals or through what she thinks.

Neither good nor evil affect her.
She’s given up the grasping self.
Her action now is neither good nor bad.

If you abandon one thing just to cling to another you’ll never free yourself.
You’re like a monkey letting go of one branch, grasping another.

You immerse yourself in religious practices, favor certain ways of seeing things and go up and down. The wise one sees the way things are through insight, no longer swings from high to low.

You need not defend yourself against anything you see, hear, touch, taste, smell or think. Who can define you? You live so openly.

You take no theoretical position, claiming it as the ultimate. All things are equal. You’ve disentangled the knot that used to bind you. No longing now for anything in the world.

You’re free. You’ve understood the way things are. There’s nothing you would grasp.

You’ve gone beyond all limitations, have no taste for desire or its absence.
There’s nothing left to do.

Honorable Mentions: All Oppression Shall Cease, December 9, 2018

Honorable Mentions: All Oppression Shall Cease, December 9, 2018

What are Honorable Mentions?  They are the quotes, book references, videos, etc that may have been brought up during Sunday’s sermon and are posted here in case somebody would like to check them out.  Please remember that all references occurred within the context of the sermon.

Bible References:  Malachi 3:1-4, Luke 1:68-79

Other References:  Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem, and put on forever the beauty of the glory from God. Put on the robe of the righteousness that comes from God; put on your head the diadem of the glory of the Everlasting; for God will show your splendor everywhere under heaven.  For God will give you evermore the name, “Righteous Peace, Godly Glory.”  Arise, O Jerusalem, stand upon the height; look toward the east, and see your children gathered from west and east at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that God has remembered them. For they went out from you on foot, led away by their enemies; but God will bring them back to you, carried in glory, as on a royal throne.

For God has ordered that every high mountain and the everlasting hills be made low and the valleys filled up, to make level ground, so that Israel may walk safely in the glory of God.

The woods and every fragrant tree have shaded Israel at God’s command.
For God will lead Israel with joy, in the light of his glory, with the mercy and righteousness that come from him.

Links:  Here is a link to the video of the song “Jesus Freak” by DC Talk.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbB0QrBIs9k

Looking Ahead:  During this time of Advent, Pastor Bryan uses the Revised Common Lectionary as a starting point. The readings for week 3 (beginning next week, December 16th) are:  First reading, Zephaniah 3:14-20; Psalm is Isaiah 12:2-6; Second Reading Philippians 4:4-7; and Gospel Luke 3:7-18.

 

Food for Thought: Rebirth, December 5, 201

Food for Thought: Rebirth, December 5, 201

Our mid-week services are designed for open discussion among a group of people with diverse philosophies and beliefs. These are the notes from those meetings, and reflect the desire to explore thought within and outside the Christian tradition. They do not represent official doctrine, but a willingness to explore our shared humanity. As such, they are somewhat incomplete without the experience of actual discussions. We post them here for the sake of those who would like to have them but cannot always make it out to a mid-week service.

Rebirth

There was a man of the Pharisee sect, Nicodemus, a prominent leader among the Jews. Late one night he visited Jesus and said, “Rabbi, we all know you’re a teacher straight from God. No one could do all the God-pointing, God-revealing acts you do if God weren’t in on it.”

Jesus said, “You’re absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to—to God’s kingdom.”

“How can anyone,” said Nicodemus, “be born who has already been born and grown up? You can’t re-enter your mother’s womb and be born again. What are you saying with this ‘born-from-above’ talk?”

Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit.

 “So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.”

Nicodemus asked, “What do you mean by this? How does this happen?”

  Jesus said, “You’re a respected teacher of Israel and you don’t know these basics? Listen carefully. I’m speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing secondhand here, no hearsay. Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions. If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don’t believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can’t see, the things of God?

I (Bryan) have said a lot about how Christianity has missed the point with the term “born again”. I presume that Jesus, as a ‘descended master’, is talking about something deeply profound—but also something he thinks is ‘basic’.

We find “rebirth” in even older spiritualities…

Saṃsāra (/səmˈsɑːrə/) is a Sanskrit word that means “wandering” or “world”, with the connotation of cyclic, circuitous change. It also refers to the concept of rebirth and “cyclicality of all life, matter, existence”, a fundamental assumption of all Indian religions, in short, it is the cycle of death and rebirth.  Saṃsāra is sometimes referred to with terms or phrases such as transmigration, karmic cycle, reincarnation, and “cycle of aimless drifting, wandering or mundane existence” (Wikipedia)

In the Bhagavad Gita…(the idea of an “eternal soul” is more prominent here than in the Bible—not to mention, in Plato)

“For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” (Bhagavad Gita 2.20)

This points to a part of our being that survives, perhaps transcends (?), the rebirth process?

In any case…a couple of things I would rather NOT do with tonight’s discussion:  

  1.   Try to dissect which religion or tradition is “right”
  2.   Get bogged down in a discussion about the afterlife

 What I WOULD like to do…Recognize that different spiritualities honor the idea of rebirth, perhaps pointing to something of truth.

How does the cycle work out in our present lives?

What are the benefits of going through the various “deaths” we experience (metaphorical)?

Does the cycle ascend? Automatically or with help—or at least attention?

 

Do religions go through “rebirths”? What prompts such a change? (Awakenings?)

What do rebirths look like in something like science? (paradigm shift—what qualifies?)

What about the life of a church?

Come to think of it, just about any system or process I think about goes through ‘rebirths’!

 

Dying before you die: 

“In the larger-than-life people I have met, I always find one common denominator: in some sense, they have all died before they died—and thus they are larger than death too! Please think about that. At some point they were led to the edge of their private resources, and that breakdown, which surely felt like dying, led them into a larger life.” 

“All great spirituality is about letting go. Instead we have made it to be about taking in, attaining, performing, winning, and succeeding.”

 Rebirth from the perspective of Alcoholics Anonymous (Bill Wilson, Christmas 1944) 

“Nor can men and women of AA ever forget that only through suffering did they find enough humility to enter the portals of that New World. How privileged we are to understand so well the divine paradox that strength rises from weakness, that humiliation goes before resurrection; that pain is not only the price but the very touchstone of spiritual rebirth.”

touchstone—a standard by which something is judged or recognized 

Rebirth in Male Initiation rites: 

We cannot experience rebirth, being ‘born again’, without experiencing some real form of death first. Most “born again” churches do not seem to have recognized this. The old self always has to die before the new self can be born, which is the Passover experience we resist.

 Some ritual of death and resurrection was the centerpiece of all male initiation. It is probably why Jesus sought out and submitted to John the Baptist’s offbeat death and rebirth ritual down by the riverside, when his own temple had become more concerned with purity codes than with transformation.

Honorable Mentions: Who You Truly Are, December 2, 2018

Honorable Mentions: Who You Truly Are, December 2, 2018

What are Honorable Mentions?  They are the quotes, book references, videos, etc that may have been brought up during Sunday’s sermon and are posted here in case somebody would like to check them out.  Please remember that all references occurred within the context of the sermon.

Bible References: Psalm 25:1-10; Jeremiah 33:14-16; Luke 19:41-44; Luke 21:25-36.

Quotes:  “The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.”–James Garfield

Video Links: Moana Restores the Heart:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4QuKwfv6Wk&t=2s

Links:  The season of Advent is upon us.  Pastor Bryan often uses the Revised Common Lectionary as inspiration during this time.  Here is a link for those interested: https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/lections.php?year=C&season=Advent.   Next Sunday, December 9th, will be the second week of Advent.  For the this week, the first reading is Malachi 3:1-4; the Psalm is Luke 1:68-79; second reading is Philippians 1:3-11; and the gospel is Luke 3:1-6.

 

Food for Thought: All Things New, November 28, 2018

Food for Thought: All Things New, November 28, 2018

Our mid-week services are designed for open discussion among a group of people with diverse philosophies and beliefs. These are the notes from those meetings, and reflect the desire to explore thought within and outside the Christian tradition. They do not represent official doctrine, but a willingness to explore our shared humanity. As such, they are somewhat incomplete without the experience of actual discussions. We post them here for the sake of those who would like to have them but cannot always make it out to a mid-week service.

Video Link:  Here is a link to the video that goes with this discussion.  It is the first video on the page.   https://cac.org/faculty-advent-messages/

Behold, I make all things new. —Revelation 21:5

As I’ve recently faced my own mortality through cancer once again, I’ve been comforted by others who have experienced loss and aging with fearless grace. Over the next few days I’ll share some of their thoughts. Today, join me in reflecting on this passage from Quaker teacher and author Parker Palmer’s new book, On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity and Getting Old.

I’m a professional melancholic, and for years my delight in the autumn color show quickly morphed into sadness as I watched the beauty die. Focused on the browning of summer’s green growth, I allowed the prospect of death to eclipse all that’s life-giving about the fall and its sensuous delights.

Then I began to understand a simple fact: all the “falling” that’s going on out there is full of promise. Seeds are being planted and leaves are being composted as earth prepares for yet another uprising of green.

Today, as I weather the late autumn of my own life, I find nature a trustworthy guide. It’s easy to fixate on everything that goes to the ground as time goes by: the disintegration of a relationship, the disappearance of good work well done, the diminishment of a sense of purpose and meaning. But as I’ve come to understand that life “composts” and “seeds” us as autumn does the earth, I’ve seen how possibility gets planted in us even in the hardest of times.

Looking back, I see how the job I lost pushed me to find work that was mine to do, how the “Road Closed” sign turned me toward terrain that I’m glad I traveled, how losses that felt irredeemable forced me to find new sources of meaning. In each of these experiences, it felt as though something was dying, and so it was. Yet deep down, amid all the falling, the seeds of new life were always being silently and lavishly sown. . . .

Perhaps death possesses a grace that we who fear dying, who find it ugly and even obscene, cannot see. How shall we understand nature’s testimony that dying itself—as devastating as we know it can be—contains the hope of a certain beauty?

The closest I’ve ever come to answering that question begins with these words from Thomas Merton, . . . “There is in all visible things . . . a hidden wholeness.” [1]

In the visible world of nature, a great truth is concealed in plain sight. Diminishment and beauty, darkness and light, death and life are not opposites: they are held together in the paradox of the “hidden wholeness.” In a paradox, opposites do not negate each other—they cohabit and co-create in mysterious unity at the heart of reality. Deeper still, they need each other for health, just as our well-being depends on breathing in and breathing out. . . .

When I give myself over to organic reality—to the endless interplay of darkness and light, falling and rising—the life I am given is as real and colorful, fruitful and whole as this graced and graceful world and the seasonal cycles that make it so. Though I still grieve as beauty goes to ground, autumn reminds me to celebrate the primal power that is forever making all things new in me, in us, and in the natural world.

Advent, Femininity, Rebirth, and listening to each other 

VIDEO: Questions and discussion

 I grew up in a Christian tradition that provided subtle whispers (or sometimes outright declaration) that the veneration of Mary was “idolatry” and to be avoided at all costs. What might be lost when these feminine expressions of the Divine are suppressed?

 

Mary, the “mother of contemplatives” (she pondered these things in her heart)—Is it fitting, perhaps, that the art of contemplation be nurtured by a mother figure?

This “richly feminine and gentle time of annunciation, gestation, and child-birthing”—how much of your experience with spirituality has been “richly feminine and gentle”?

How do poets say things better than theologians? Do you have any examples to share?

”God waited”—for her “yes”, her consent

“co-creators”—How does Mary’s fused “compassionate and intelligent” yes come in to our lives and hearts during Advent or at any other time?

What are you willing to say “yes” to? In prayer? In new modes of worship or understanding?

Does it help to know that God waited, and did not move without consent?

 

Seeds of Rebirth:             Birthing is decidedly feminine. The bible talks of a God with a womb.

How are fall and winter anticipation of rebirth?

Is it significant that the birth we celebrate as Christians is in the dead of winter?

Can the core ideas of a faith reach outside of that faith and inspire and/or include those of other persuasions? Where do we find the ideas of rebirth and renewal outside of Christianity?

 

A professional melancholic—I had to laugh at myself when I read this in Richard’s meditation. I am thankful that the Psalms are predominantly “laments” (turn on those sad songs!). The “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart” people were always difficult for me to handle.

 

READ:  All Things Newa meditation that came at the perfect time (back of this page)

 

Honorable Mentions: J’Adore, November 25, 2018

Honorable Mentions: J’Adore, November 25, 2018

What are Honorable Mentions?  They are the quotes, book references, videos, etc that may have been brought up during Sunday’s sermon and are posted here in case somebody would like to check them out.  Please remember that all references occurred within the context of the sermon.

Links:  The season of Advent begins next Sunday, December 2nd.  Pastor Bryan often uses the Revised Common Lectionary as inspiration during this time.  Here is a link for those interested:  https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu.  For the first week, the first reading is Jeremiah 33:14-16; the Psalm is Psalm 25:1-10; second reading is 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13; and the gospel is Luke 21:25-36.

Bible References:  John 6:15; Luke 7:37-39; Psalm 132; Daniel 7:9-14

Quotes:  From the book, The Cloud of Unkowing:  “Look. Every rational creature, every person, and every angel has two main strengths: the power to know and the power to love. God made both of these, but [God is] not knowable through the first one. To the power of love, however, [God] is entirely known, because a loving soul is open to receive God’s abundance…[God’s] very nature makes love endless and miraculous. God will never stop loving us. Consider this truth, and, if by grace you can make love your own, do. For the experience is eternal joy; its absence is unending suffering.”

  Video Clips:  “The Death of Boromir” from the movie Lord of the Rings:  Fellowship of the Ring.

 

Honorable Mentions: You Matter, November 11, 2018

Honorable Mentions: You Matter, November 11, 2018

What are Honorable Mentions?  They are the quotes, book references, videos, etc that may have been brought up during Sunday’s sermon and are posted here in case somebody would like to check them out.  Please remember that all references occurred within the context of the sermon.

Bible Verses:  Matthew 16:24-26; John 12:25; James 1:22-25

Quotes:  “The moment God is figured out with nice, neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God.” Rob Bell

“The search for God and the search for the true self cannot be separated.”  Thomas Merton

Meme:  You matter.  Unless you multiply yourself by the speed of light.  Then, you energy.

Book:  A Book of Hours, by Thomas Merton (https://www.amazon.com/Book-Hours-Thomas-Merton/dp/1933495057/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1542216027&sr=8-2&keywords=thomas+merton+book+of+hours)  wE do not make a profit off your purchase from Amazon.

 

Honorable Mentions: Christ Universal, November 4, 2018

Honorable Mentions: Christ Universal, November 4, 2018

What are Honorable Mentions?  They are the quotes, book references, videos, etc that may have been brought up during Sunday’s sermon and are posted here in case somebody would like to check them out.  Please remember that all references occurred within the context of the sermon.

Bible References:  Psalm 61:1-4, Matthew 15:24, Colossians 1:16-23

Books Mentioned:  Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love  (Link to the book on Amazon.  wE do not make any profit if you decide to purchase the book.  https://www.amazon.com/Revelations-Divine-Love-Short-Text/dp/0140446737/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1541439468&sr=8-2&keywords=Julian+of+Norwich)

Quotes:  “Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly.” Martin Luther

Questions and Parables:  What if Christ is a name for the transcendent within every “thing” in the universe?
What if Christ is a name for the immense spaciousness of all true Love?
What if Christ refers to an infinite horizon that pulls us both from within and pulls us forward, too?
What if Christ is another name for every thing—in its fullness?  —Richard Rohr

Parable of the Kite:  If Christ is the kite, Jesus is the person flying the kite and keeping it from escaping away into invisibility.

If Jesus is the person holding the string, Christ is the great banner in the sky, from whom all can draw life—even if they do not recognize the one flying the kite.

Jesus does not hold the kite to himself as much as he flies it aloft, for all to see and enjoy.  —Richard Rohr

These quotes are in relation to the conference (Universal Christ:  Another Name for Every Thing) to be held in March 2019.  If you would like more information on this conference, please visit this link:  https://cac.org/another-name-for-every-thing-the-universal-christ/.

 

Food for Thought: October 31, 2018

Food for Thought: October 31, 2018

Our mid-week services are designed for open discussion among a group of people with diverse philosophies and beliefs. These are the notes from those meetings, and reflect the desire to explore thought within and outside the Christian tradition. They do not represent official doctrine, but a willingness to explore our shared humanity. As such, they are somewhat incomplete without the experience of actual discussions. We post them here for the sake of those who would like to have them but cannot always make it out to a mid-week service.

Higher Thoughts, Higher Ways

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my tcays, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

Coming at this (unknowing) from the side of science…

‘ ‘l am not interested in this phenomenon or that phenomenon,” Einstein had said earlier in his life. t ‘l want to know God’s thoughts — the rest are mere details.

Do you think that perhaps this longing in Einstein fueled his genius in some way?

Not representing Einstein as a Christian—he was more of a ‘Deist’:

“Try and penetrate With our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable.  Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is religion.

Is a keen “awareness” of something beyond what we can comprehend a higher way of thinking?

Newton and truth:       I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

Again, is it a “higher way to think” to have in mind that the “great ocean of truth” lies undiscovered before us?

It seems to work well for scientific inquiry. It appears to me to even “unlock” the mind for discovery. Why not, then, for faith? For things that are, in some ways, far more difficult to discover?

Question: IF this is indeed a higher way of thinking, what, in contrast, is a lower way of thinking?

If I haven’t worn thin our tolerance for Bertrand Russell: The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.

Higher Consciousness: When you hear the term, what does it make you think?

In the verse at the top, with Isaiah speaking in god’s voice, what is being said?

“1 am a whole lot smarter than you, and you better keep that in mind”?

  • Or is this an invitation? A truth that can spark desire?

My way of thinking can change. There are higher planes of thought!

My point: Higher consciousness is a Bible concept too. Not just Buddhist or something like that.

Can you imagine planes of thought (higher consciousnesses) that are as far above where you are now as the heavens are above the earth?

Counterpoint: Newton also said that if he had ‘ ‘seen further than other men”, it was because he was standing on the shoulders of giants.

How does this apply to philosophy/religion? What place does tradition take as we forge ahead? How is “standing on the shoulders of giants” different than insisting “old time religion” be set in stone? (Who are we to question the fathers?)

  • What kind of ties should we have to what has been passed down?
  • Can you think of ways tradition has turned truth into a lie? (like Jesus said) O Can you think of ways tradition has carried truth forward?

LOWER THOUGHTS: Changing gears. First, think about the times your ‘lowest’ thoughts actually made it out of your mouth.

What emotions/feelings were active at the time? (I am guessing anger or fear)

What kind of thought patterns are being fueled by anger and fear in our lives today?

What else can you think of in our culture that are ‘lower thoughts’?

The Great Ocean of Truth:

If you were to wander in to the ocean and become a part of it, would you ever hold it captive in your hand like a possession? Or would it consume you?

Mystery Is Endless Knowability (Richard Rohr)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How do we live the contradictions? Live them—not just endure them or relieve ourselves from the tension by quickly resolving them. The times where we meet or reckon with our contradictions are often turning points, opportunities to enter into the deeper mystery of God or, alternatively, to evade the mystery of God. I’m deliberately using the word mystery to point to depth, an open future, immense freedom, a kind of beauty and truth that can’t be fully spoken or defined.

Many mystics speak of the God-experience as simultaneously falling into an abyss and being grounded. This sounds like a contradiction, but in fact, when you allow yourself to fall into the abyss—into hiddenness, limitlessness, unknowability, a void without boundaries—you discover it’s somehow a rich, supportive, embracing spaciousness where you don’t have to ask (or answer) the questions of whether you’re right or wrong. You’re being held and so you do not need to try to ”hold” yourself together. Please reflect on that.

This might be the ultimate paradox of the God-experience: “falling into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). When you can lend yourself to it and not fight it or explain it, falling into the abyss is ironically an experience of ground, of the rock, of the foundation. This is totally counterintuitive. Your dualistic, logical mind can’t get you there. It can only be known experientially. That’s why the mystics use magnificent metaphors—none of them adequate or perfect—for this experience. “It’s like. . . . It’s like . . . they love to say.

Mystery is not something you can’t know. Mystery is endless knotcability. Living inside such endless knowability is finally a comfort, a foundation of ultilnate support, security, ullrestricted love, and eternal care. For all of us, it takes much of our life to get there; it is what we surely mean by “growing” in faith. I can’t prove this to you. Each soul must learn on its own, hopefully aided by observing other faith-filled people.

Welcome

Welcome

Regular Services:  Sundays at 10:30

We are seeking and learning, and right now the first 20 minutes of service are reserved for quiet contemplation.

Be still and know that I am God.