Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

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Food for Thought: Being in the Question, September 4, 2019

Food for Thought: Being in the Question, September 4, 2019

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.

Being in the Question

 The Lamb, by William Blake

Little Lamb who made thee

Dost thou know who made thee

Gave thee life & bid thee feed.

By the stream & o’er the mead;

Gave thee clothing of delight,

Softest clothing wooly bright;

Gave thee such a tender voice,

Making all the vales rejoice!

 

Little Lamb who made thee

Dost thou know who made thee

 

Little Lamb I’ll tell thee,

Little Lamb I’ll tell thee!

 

He is called by thy name,

For he calls himself a Lamb:

He is meek & he is mild,

He became a little child:

I a child & thou a lamb,

We are called by his name.

 

Little Lamb God bless thee.

Little Lamb God bless thee.

 

 

TheTyger, by William Blake

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,

In the forests of the night;

What immortal hand or eye,

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

 

In what distant deeps or skies.

Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

On what wings dare he aspire?

What the hand, dare seize the fire?

 

And what shoulder, & what art,

Could twist the sinews of thy heart?

And when thy heart began to beat,

What dread hand? & what dread feet?

 

What the hammer? what the chain,

In what furnace was thy brain?

What the anvil? what dread grasp,

Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

 

When the stars threw down their spears

And water’d heaven with their tears:

Did he smile his work to see?

Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

 

Tyger Tyger burning bright,

In the forests of the night:

What immortal hand or eye,

Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

 

Further ideas about Nonduality/Unitive Consciousness 

  • NOT saying that there is no difference, but holding both in a single source
  • The essence of life, which is unitive, creates both the lamb and the tiger
  • Everything belongs

 I have talked in the past about “both/and” instead of “either/or”—which we see in particle physics, for example, which insists that light is BOTH and wave AND a particle.

 

Blake explores but does not answer the question, “Did he who made the Lamb make thee?”

  • It is not about avoiding the reality of the differences, nor coming to a certainty about the underlying reality, but holding in the mind something perhaps “too wonderful” for comprehension, so to speak.

(A simple and emphatic “yes, he made both” just circumvents the depth of the pondering sometimes with an “I don’t want to think about it any further” decision.)

The question, “How did these two come from the same source?” doesn’t get quick satisfaction!

Another subject with questions that are “left open”—Death

Does he who makes alive also kill?

‘Now see that I, even I, am He,

And there is no God besides Me;

I kill and I make alive;

I wound and I heal;

Nor is there any who can deliver from My hand.

What happens when we die?

Why does the Bible say it is the “last enemy” to be defeated? Is it always an enemy in the Bible? In life? In Spiritual experience?

Does God need it for the time being for the plan to come to pass?

Why do good people often die early and wicked people live on and on?

 

Are questions without final answers part of spiritual growth and development?

Why is the poet OK with remaining in the question?

Does spiritual growth demand that we let go our need for control of the answers?

 

A Lamb who knows that somehow God is also responsible for the tiger

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,

The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,

The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;

And a little child shall lead them.

 The cow and the bear shall graze;

Their young ones shall lie down together;

And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

 The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole,

And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.

 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,

For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord

As the waters cover the sea.

 

Despite the unanswered questions, the biblical vision is for the transformation of the tigers, while the little lambs remain the same. (speaking of humans here now)

Jesus the Lamb (also the Lion), calls “sheep among wolves”

A lamb who knows the one who also made the wolf—what a trip!

He who bears the sword is a minister of god.

                              The authorities that are set up are to be respected. (despite being under wicked influence)

But still aiming at their transformation and riddance of violence.

What difficulty! What unanswered questions!

Honorable Mentions: If You Imagine, August 18, 2019

Honorable Mentions: If You Imagine, August 18, 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.  Sermon delivered by Pastor Bryan Hackett. 

Bible References:  1 Corinthians 2:9; Job 42:6; Psalm 8:3-4

Song Referenced:  “I Can Only Imagine,” by Mercy Me (Link to video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_lrrq_opng

Quotes/Readings/Poems:

Here is a link to the Richard Rohr meditation that referenced Eknath Easwaran:  https://cac.org/an-uncreated-spark-2019-08-15/

Bill Bryson:

“If You Imagine,” from A Short History of Nearly Everything

 If you imagine the 4,500-billion-odd years of Earth’s history compressed into a normal earthly day, then life begins very early, about 4A.M., with the rise of the first simple, single-celled organisms, but then advances no further for the next sixteen hours. Not until almost 8:30 in the evening, with the day five-sixths over, has Earth anything to show the universe but a restless skin of microbes. Then, finally, the first sea plants appear, followed twenty minutes later by the first jellyfish and the enigmatic Ediacaran fauna first seen by Reginald Sprigg in Australia. At 9:04P.M. trilobites swim onto the scene, followed more or less immediately by the shapely creatures of the Burgess Shale. Just before 10P.M. plants begin to pop up on the land. Soon after, with less than two hours left in the day, the first land creatures follow.

 Thanks to ten minutes or so of balmy weather, by 10:24 the Earth is covered in the great carboniferous forests whose residues give us all our coal, and the first winged insects are evident. Dinosaurs plod onto the scene just before 11P.M. and hold sway for about three-quarters of an hour. At twenty-one minutes to midnight they vanish and the age of mammals begins. Humans emerge one minute and seventeen seconds before midnight. The whole of our recorded history, on this scale, would be no more than a few seconds, a single human lifetime barely an instant. Throughout this greatly speeded-up day continents slide about and bang together at a clip that seems positively reckless. Mountains rise and melt away, ocean basins come and go, ice sheets advance and withdraw. And throughout the whole, about three times every minute, somewhere on the planet there is a flashbulb pop of light marking the impact of a Manson-sized meteor or one even larger. It’s a wonder that anything at all can survive in such a pummeled and unsettled environment. In fact, not many things do for long.

 Perhaps an even more effective way of grasping our extreme recentness as a part of this 5 -billion-year-old picture is to stretch your arms to their fullest extent and imagine that width as the entire history of the Earth. On this scale, according to John McPhee in Basin and Range, the distance from the fingertips of one hand to the wrist of the other is Precambrian. All of complex life is in one hand, “and in a single stroke with a medium-grained nail file you could eradicate human history

C.S. Lewis:  

It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Poems from Hafiz:

Spill the oil lamp!

Set this dry, boring place on fire!

 

If you have ever

Made wanton love with God,

 

Then you have ignited that brilliant Light inside

That every person needs. 

So—

Spill the oil!

You Better Start Kissing Me

Throw away

All your begging bowls at God’s door,

For I have heard the Beloved

Prefers sweet threatening shouts,

Something on the order of:

“Hey, Beloved,

My heart is a raging volcano

Of love for you!

You better start kissing me—

Or Else!”

 

Food for Thought: Accept Trouble, January 30, 2019

Food for Thought: Accept Trouble, January 30, 2019

Accept Trouble:  Discussion led by Pastor Bryan Hackett

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.

Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu

Accept humiliation as a surprise, Value great misfortune as your own self. 

What do I mean by “Accept humiliation as a surprise”?

When you are humble, attainment is a surprise–and so is loss.

That’s why I say, “Accept humiliation as a surprise.”

 What do I mean by “Value great misfortune as your own self”?

If I have no self, how could I experience misfortune? 

Therefore, if you dedicate your life for the benefit of the world,

You can rely on the world.

If you love dedicating yourself in this way,

You can be entrusted with the world.

 

Another Translation

Accept disgrace willingly. Accept misfortune as the human condition.

What do you mean by “Accept disgrace willingly”?
Accept being unimportant. Do not be concerned with loss and gain.
This is called “accepting disgrace willingly.”

What do you mean by “Accept misfortune as the human condition”?
Misfortune comes from having a body.
Without a body, how could there be misfortune?

Surrender yourself humbly; then you can be trusted to care for all things.
Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things.

A Note about holy books—they are ALL translated. The above example shows just how much meaning can change in translation!

  • What about this chapter from the Tao te Ching makes sense to you? What doesn’t?
  • What thoughts come to mind about accepting either disgrace or misfortune?
  • Can you think of other paths of teaching (philosophical, religious, etc.) that teach this?

The Bible, various authors: Job 2

  • Job is probably, by far, the oldest book in the Bible
  • Job is an “epic poem”, like the Iliad and the Odyssey by homer. LOTS of metaphor and other non-literal language
  • The “satan” (not a proper name) in Job is a member of the heavenly court, like a prosecuting attorney. NOT the ‘devil’ with which we have become familiar.

 On another day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and satan also came with them to present himself before him. And the Lord said to satan, “Where have you come from?”satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”

 Then the Lord said to satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”  “Skin for skin!” satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life.  But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

 The Lord said to satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”  So satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head.  Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.

  His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”

 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.

  When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.  When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

 Is it a valuable insight to “accept” both good and trouble, regardless of our thoughts on the source of evil?

Some Christians would respond “resist the devil and he will flee from you”!—don’t accept, resist!

On the other hand, can this not be a damaging thing to tell people who are in distress? (sort of the way Job’s “comforters” do!)

 

Yellow Tape

Yellow Tape

Have you seen the yellow tape across the entrance of the church and wondered what is going on?  Well, a truck going at a high rate of speed jumped the curb and hit the building and did quite a bit of damage.  Thankfully, the building was empty of people at the time and the driver was not hurt.  The large hole has been covered but we have quite a bit of clean up ahead of us.  We are still meeting.   If you would like to join us for our Sunday worship and service or our Wednesday night discussions, please go around the corner of the church to the North building.  For right now, that is where we will be enjoying each other’s company and growing together.  We hope to see you there!

Honorable Mentions: For Now…Accept, January 20, 2019

Honorable Mentions: For Now…Accept, January 20, 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:   Romans 7

Books: Radical Acceptance:  Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha,by Tara Brach. Link to the book on Amazon (if you choose to purchase the book, woodsEnd church receives no financial profit) https://www.amazon.com/Radical-Acceptance-Embracing-Heart-Buddha/dp/0553380990/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1548347834&sr=8-1&keywords=radical+acceptance+by+tara+brach

Quotes:  Last night, as I was sleeping, I dreamt—marvelous error!—that I had a beehive here inside my heart. And the golden bees were making white combs and sweet honey from my old failures. -Antonio
Machado

If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.-Buddha

Meditation:  “I Apologize”

One day the shadows will surround me
Someday the days will come to end
Sometime I’ll have to face the real me
Somehow I’ll have to learn to bend
And now I see clearly

All these times I simply stepped aside
I watched but never really listened
As the whole world passed me by
All this time I watched from the outside
Never understood what was wrong or what was right
I apologize

One day I’ll face the Hell inside me
Someday I’ll accept what I have done
Sometime I’ll leave the past behind me
For now I accept who I’ve become
And now I see clearly

All these times I simply stepped aside
I watched but never really listened
As the whole world passed me by
All this time I watched from the outside
Never understood what was wrong or what was right
I apologize

One day the shadows will surround me
All these times I simply stepped aside
I watched but never really listened
As the whole world passed me by
All this time I watched from the outside
Never understood what was wrong or what was right
I apologize – Song by Five Finger Death Punch

Links:   The music video for the above meditation – recommended listening level, 130 decibels…

Preview YouTube video Five Finger Death Punch – I ApologizeFive Finger Death Punch – I Apologize

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.

 

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.

Honorable Mentions: Confident Enough, October 28, 2018

Honorable Mentions: Confident Enough, October 28, 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 one would like to ponder them further.  Please remember that all references occurred within the context of the sermon.

Books:  The Divine Dance:  The Trinity and Your Transformation, by Richard Rohr:  https://www.amazon.com/Divine-Dance-Trinity-Your-Transformation/dp/0281078157/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1540756927&sr=8-1&keywords=the+divine+dance+book (woodsEnd does not profit from your purchase).

Articles:  “Goodbye God:  A Final Letter to the God I Used to Believe In”:  Here is a link to the letter that Pastor Bryan read excerpts from today for those who are interested in reading the whole piece.  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlystover/2018/03/19/goodbye-god-final-letter-god-used-believe/

Quotes:  There were several quotes from Bertrand Russell, today:  “To teach how to live without certainty and yet without being paralyzed by hesitation is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can do for those who study it.”

“And if there were a God, I think it very unlikely that He would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence.”

Videos:  Here is a link to the profound video featuring Brennan Manning.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQi_IDV2bgM

Wednesday Night Services

Wednesday Night Services

Our midweek service is designed as a discussion of ideas, with more room to move than a typical Sunday morning. We are seeking open-minded and thoughtful pursuit of spirituality as a group of mostly Christians who are not afraid to interact with people of other spiritual persuasions and/or philosophies. Snack food at 6:30 p.m. and discussion at 7 p.m. Come join the fun!