12/15/2014

I Love Abe



I love Abraham Simpson

I have a favorite Simpson’s Christmas episode.  It’s from just a few years ago, and it is called “Holidays of Future Passed” In the episode, Maggie Simpson has a baby.

And Grandpa Abe Simpson has a great line.

“If there’s one day a year to give unwed mothers a break, it’s Christmas.”

I love the line – and the sentiment behind the line. Just show some love.

In this week’s Bible reading from Luke 1:26-38, the angel told Mary not to be afraid.

She was afraid.

She was in trouble. And regardless of her circumstances and why she was in them, she needed a break.

If the Mary scenario were to play out today, too many people who claim to follow Jesus would look at Mary and shame her.  Unacceptable.

It would be much better to listen to Grandpa Simpson.

I wish everyone would take off their “look at how holy I am” masks and just simply show some love.

And I would love to put a Grandpa Simpson ornament, or ornament looking figure, 
on my Christmas tree.

12/08/2014

Sheaves

Something wonderful about music is that even in awful times it offers some tiny shouts of joy.

The last line of this week's Bible reading from Psalm 126 is this:

Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.

This year hasn't been my favorite, but I know that throughout the year there have been, and will continue to be, tiny shouts of joy. I'd like to bundle each tiny shout into a larger sheaf - a collection of tiny shouts of joy -- because I'm anticipating, awaiting, and hoping for the celebration to come.

I might have to sing.  Joyful blues.



Bluesing in the Sheaves 
Words and music by Kirk Moore – Refrain by Knowles Shaw (irr)

When God restored the fortunes of every dreaming girl and boy
Our mouths were filled with laughter – and our tongues with shouts of joy
Then everyone around here said “Our God has done great things”
We went on rejoicing – and bringing in the sheaves

Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves
We went on rejoicing – bringing in the sheaves
Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves
We went on rejoicing – bringing in the sheaves

Well we planted seeds as tears were flowing – on our face they burned
We went to the fields weeping but there was joy when we returned
Because God restored our fortunes – And in our God we do believe
We go on rejoicing – and bringing in the sheaves

Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves
We go on rejoicing – bringing in the sheaves
Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves
We go on rejoicing – bringing in the sheaves

Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves
We go on rejoicing – bringing in the sheaves
Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves
We go on rejoicing – bringing in the sheaves

© 2008 Kirk Moore

12/07/2014

What Are You Waiting For?

This week's Bible reflection (Not Me) started the roll that was this morning's sermon at St. Paul's UCC in Downers Grove, IL.
"What Are You Waiting For?" podcast

12/03/2014

Together

Last week's Bible reflection (Sure) brought up enough questions to become this past Sunday's sermon at St. Paul's UCC in Downers Grove, IL
"Together" podcast

12/02/2014

Not Me.


Mark 1:1-8. First there’s the title.  You thought it was the Gospel of Mark?  Well, that’s what we call it.  The writer had a different title:

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

It then begins with John, but John is quick to point out.

It’s not me.  There’s another on the way.

Is that all John was for?  Getting people ready for Jesus?  Telling people that he was nothing compared to Jesus? 

Well, Mr. Baptizer, you did more than that.
You told people to change their ways from selfishness and greed to kindness and generosity.
People from all over came to you and had life changing experiences.
You lived simply. You lived what you preached.

And that’s enough to make a difference.

During this “getting ready for Christmas” time.  We all can make a difference.

Be kind and generous
Live simply

That is enough to make a difference.

Me. You. All of us.

11/24/2014

Sure

There’s a comfort in being sure. Do you remember the 80’s TV commercial? “Raise your hand – raise your hand -- if you’re sure.”

Yes. Being sure you have worn the proper anti-perspirant – so as not to risk moisture under the arms, gives you a secure, confident feeling. A feeling of being sure.

Like the anti-perspirant commercial, I think a whole generation of people believes that being sure is best.

I’m not so sure. I think wonder, imagination, dreaming, questioning, learning, and doubting are what this world needs.

The early Christians were sure that Jesus was returning – very soon. They didn’t know exactly when, but it was definitely before they would all die. They had to be ready because it was going to happen – surely – any day.

And it didn’t.

Maybe “This generation will not pass until all these things have taken place” from this week’s Bible reading from Mark 13:24-37 isn’t about a 40 year generation. Maybe it is about “this generation” of humanity – meaning that all of humankind won’t pass before these things have taken place.

I don’t think so. I think that all who were sure that Jesus was coming back right away got it wrong.

And folks have been trying to figure out a way to be sure ever since.

11/18/2014

Negative?

Sometimes I feel really positive.  Other times, not so much. Lately I’ve really been paying attention to how often I think of things in negative terms, and it was too many. I can’t simplify everything into a “Look, I’m always going to think of things in positive terms and I’m not going to think in negative terms anymore” description, but I am noticing and consciously trying to see more positives. I really don’t want to rant against negatives. They are always present. So why not focus on what I support instead of what I'm against? For instance:

  • I support comprehensive, compassionate and fair immigration reform.
  • I support marriage equality
  • I support LGBT equality
  • I support a woman’s right to chose.
  • I support the paycheck fairness act
  • I support a $15 an hour federal minimum wage with annual cost of living increases
  • I support single payer healthcare reform.

And as I express those things, I recognize that many will have immediate negative thoughts. Some of them will probably be directed at the causes I just said I support. Others likely will be directed at me for supporting those causes. I also recognize that many will have positive thoughts about the causes I listed (and others I support) as well as about me for supporting them.

All those ideas are present here today. And, for right now, I want to focus on the positives. Not the positives relating to the things I just said I support, but rather “the positives” in general. This week’s Bible reading from Matthew 25:31-46 tells the parable of the sheep and the goats. There are negatives and positives. And I want to focus on the positives – and perhaps even enhance them.

  • I was hungry and you had a banquet in my honor.
  • I was a stranger and you introduced me to all of your friends.
  • I was naked and you took me on a shopping spree.
  • I was sick and you brought me soup and you took me to the doctor.
  • I was in prison and you told me I was loved no matter what.
How positive can we get?

11/09/2014

Ready to Shine

This week's Bible reflection (Lamps) kept along the same path -- and it became today's sermon at St. Paul's UCC in Downers Grove, IL.  Complete with some pointed words about the religious shaming culture
"Ready to Shine" podcast

11/03/2014

Lamps



So some had extra oil for their lamps and others didn’t.

Some leaders were really bothered by this.  They were bothered not only because anyone had a lamp, but also because they were waiting at all, lamps or not.  So these leaders came in and took all the fuel for the lamps because, they said, the lamps were dangerous.

And in other places, the leaders came and tried to push the lamps out. They tried to remove the lamps because they, all of a sudden, and after rarely, if ever, doing it before, needed to do a thorough cleaning of the places the lamps lit.

They also decided to pass rules to make it difficult for anyone who wanted to own, possess, or light a lamp.   They made rules that no one could keep their lamps trimmed and burning past a particular hour.

In some cases, they violently broke the lamps. 

But for every obstacle meant to dim, snuff out, or destroy the lamps, the lamps burned brighter. And more lamps appeared and burned still brighter

The lamps simply couldn’t be removed or extinguished.

The lamps were, are, and will continue to be trimmed and burning.

Lamps.

Here's a "Blues in Black and White" version of the spiritual, "Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning" - recorded  a few years ago in a storage garage.