Can these bones live?

Dry bones. Do you ever feel like those lifeless, hopeless dry bones that Ezekiel sees in his vision (Ez. 37:1-14)? Maybe you are burnt out, or grieving, or are dealing with an extended illness. Maybe you’ve moved, or burdened with baggage from the past that has hit you again. Maybe you’re just sick and tired of the long, cold days of a winter that seems to be lasting forever.

Whatever it is, you wonder, can these dry bones ever live again? Will I ever know love again? Will I ever feel secure again? Will I ever be whole? Will I ever find creativity or energy or motivation again? Will I ever laugh again? Sometimes, from our viewpoint as “mere mortals” (as God calls Ezekiel) it sure seems impossible. But we lack the perspective of the Divine who is often able to see possibilities and opportunities that lie beyond our sight.

Often times the dry bones in our lives have a message for us if we will only listen. They may be telling us we need to slow down, get some sleep, eat better, get some exercise and take care of ourselves. They may be telling us that it is time to make a decision that we’ve been putting… you know, the difficult, life changing decisions that send your world reeling, but that you know you need to make. They may be telling us to get some help, someone to help us work through the issues in our lives. Or they may simply be telling us to sit tight, wait and trust.

As Ezekiel watches the vision unfold, God rejoins the bones with sinew, muscle and skin, then breathes new life into them. Instantaneously that which was dry and lifeless is now whole and alive. Life is hardly ever this expedient. But restoration and new life does happen, it’s just that it most often it creeps up on you when you aren’t paying attention. It’s like the winter snow slowly receding until suddenly you realize it is almost gone. Or the hours of daylight as they gradually lengthen from the depths of winter to the coming of spring. Each day gets imperceptibly longer until one day you realize how much longer the days have become.

Through the eyes of the Divine, life is always possible again.



Conscious Love

We’ve heard it over and over again, “Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus says that if we do this we will live. In other words, if we do this we will know the Eternal One, we will be connected to the Divine Source and we will be living with abundance and expansiveness. But do we DO it? Are we conscious of how we live and love moment to moment? I’m guessing not.

Cynthia Bourgeault, while discussing the concept of conscious love in The Meaning of Mary Magdalene states, “The bottom line is not the “who” but the “how”: the direction of the energy flow. On a path of conscious love the energy is always radiating outward; it is never self-defended or congealed.” It doesn’t matter where we are or who we are with, be it our lover or our houseplant, our child or the garage mechanic, conscious love can flow outward from us. The key to this, I believe, is to understand that this love already flows into us (or dwells in us) from the Divine. When we feel that and allow it to fill us, it will naturally flow out of us.

As we talked about this in worship yesterday, people described the feeling of conscious love flowing out as warmth, openness, connection, expansion, and an aura. We then described what it feels like when we don’t send that love out as stuck, rigid, judgmental, self-righteous, needy, afraid, angry, irritated and blocked. Interestingly, it was easier for folks to describe what it felt like when love doesn’t flow, then when it does!

Yes, it means we need to be vulnerable to let that love flow outward from us. It can be risky and even scary. But being a conduit for the Divine love is the only thing that will transform our lives and the lives of those around us. In fact, it is the only thing that will transform the world.  We need that love to flow through us like a river bringing nourishment and hope, not congealed and all stopped up and goopy. It is what will bring us life.

Love & Light,


Jesus, our Sophia

Have you ever watched a 3D movie without the glasses? Sure, you can see the movie, but once you put on the glasses it becomes a completely different experience. With the glasses there is a depth and clarity that didn’t exist before. Sometimes I feel like the dominant, mainline theological thought is like reading Scripture without the benefit of the 3D glasses. It’s flat and a little bit blurry, and doesn’t have anywhere close to the depth of meaning it could have.

Here is just one example: did you know that for the writers of the gospels, and for Paul as well, Jesus was the incarnation of Sophia (“Wisdom” in English, “Hokmah” in Hebrew)? Or at the very least a reflection or prophet of Wisdom. Over and over again within the gospels we find ideas, phrases, and words that echo the Old Testament and Wisdom Literature’s depiction of the feminine Divine presence known as Wisdom.

Long before Jesus is inviting people to eat bread and drink wine (John 7:37-38), and before he talked about being the bread of life (John 6:35), Wisdom had her say. In Proverbs 9:5 Wisdom says, “Come, eat my bread and drink the wine which I have prepared for you.” And in the Apocryphal book of Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus) 24:21, she says, “Once you feed on me, you’ll yearn for more; once you drink of me, you’ll thirst for more.”

In Ecclesiasticus 51:26 and 6, Wisdom says, “Put your necks under her yoke, and let your souls receive instruction.” “Give your shoulder to her yoke… For in the end you will find rest in her.” We hear this echoed in Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Wisdom is the one, according to Proverbs 8:22-31, who is with God at the beginning of creation and even before the beginning. In fact, she was there as the “skilled artisan standing next to the Almighty” when the seas and the sky and the foundation of the earth were laid out. John takes this imagery and switches Sophia (Wisdom) to Logos (Word) in order to reflect Jesus’ gender as he goes on to use this same description about Jesus: “In the beginning was the Word; the Word was in God’s presence, and the Word was God” (John 1:1-5).

In Ecclesiasticus 24:8, Wisdom says, “Then the creator of all things instructed me… “Pitch your tent in Jacob, make Israel your inheritance.” While John 1:14 reads, “The Word was made flesh, and pitched his tent among us.”

And Paul, in 1 Corinthians 1:24, comes right out and says, “Christ is the power and the Sophia of God.”

Truly, there has been much study in this area and I could go on for quite a bit about it. Suffice it to say that this information isn’t hitting the churches because it would seem a bit too heretical. What does it matter anyway? some may say. For those of us who desire more of a balance image of the divine, with the hopes that this balance might some day be reflected in humanity, it makes a great deal of difference. Sophia offers another image for the Divine feminine, a Divine Mother of the Universe, and a feminine balance to the male Jesus. It’s something to think about. Putting on those 3D glasses can be pretty exciting.



Being truly wise

You know this as well as I do… what the world tells us about who we should be and what we should do isn’t always true. You also know (as well as I do) that what our egos tell us is important and meaningful isn’t always true. We just don’t like to admit either of these things.

(For the full audio podcast, click here: SJ Sermon 2_2_14)

The Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 tells us that sometimes we have to let go of the “wisdom of the world” in order to know the wisdom of God. And then Paul points to Jesus. He says (in my astute paraphrase), “I know it seems foolish to follow some guy who was killed on a cross, but if you really understood the message of the cross – who Jesus was and what his life stood for – you would know that he was deeply spiritual, immensely wise and worthy of following. Jesus was not weak and foolish, even though he was betrayed, humiliated and executed. He was strong and sincere and full of wisdom.”

Paul never really knew Jesus when he was alive, but Paul’s experience of the spirit of Jesus after his death had transformed him so drastically that he lived the rest of his life hoping to lead others to that same transformation. What Paul learned of Jesus was that Jesus’ strength came in speaking his truth in ways that inspired and radically transformed people’s lives. Jesus’ strength came in putting love above the law as, over and over again, he treated all people (including women, children, outcasts, Gentiles, enemies) with love, respect and compassion. His strength came in never deviating from his path. Jesus never allowed his integrity to be compromised by fear, ambition, power or ego. But his ultimate show of strength was that he believed so strongly in what he was teaching that he was willing to die for it rather than deny it, run, hide or change his tune. How many of us could say the same?

What Paul tried to tell the folks of Corinth is as true for us today as it was for them. He told them that they were “heading for ruin” if all they did was buy into what society told them to believe or care about or work for. The world doesn’t care about your soul, and will leave you empty in the end. To “experience salvation” (as Paul puts it) in the here and now, all we need to do is follow the example of one who knew God intimately: don’t judge, trust in God, show forgiveness, show love and kindness, work for justice. This will fill our souls.