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The Second Coming

falcon

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

Photo accessed through Google images

For Today

fall-leaves2

For today

There is too much to take in,

News that I did not want to hear.

A deep sense of something that disintegrates

Before my eyes.

And yet.

And yet.

 

Despite the swallowing darkness

That lurks at my edges,

Despite the swirling waters that rise,

God is.

God’s eternal answer is

“I Am.”

 

The psalmist’s answer is

“Answer me, O Lord, for your love is kind;

in your great compassion, turn to me.”[1]

 

For today,

The sun shines her light on my face.

Crisp fall air awakens my body.

The moments of life wait

For me to hold, to savor.

 

For today, the morning breeze

Stirs wind chimes

On my back porch.

 

That sweet, gentle music

Is enough

To lift my spirit.

To bring gladness to

A heavy heart.

 

Sheila N. McJilton

Nov. 4, 2016

[1] Psalm 69: 18

Creation: SKY

Sept. 25, 2016

Readings:  Jeremiah 4:23-28  Psalm 19    Philippians 2:14-18   Mark 15:33-39

sky-and-clouds

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky proclaims God’s handiwork. Day to day makes utterance, night to night speaks out. There is no utterance, there are no words, whose sound goes unheard. Their shout carries throughout the earth, their words to the end of the world.”[1]

Sky. Psalm 19 is a poetic and powerful witness to God’s creative majesty and God’s creative word. “Pay attention!” the poet shouts to us. Look up!  See these heavens? They proclaim the glory of God. Those fluffy white clouds that drift and flow with the wind, those clouds that arrange themselves into creative shapes, those clouds have voices. All their voices praise the God who created them, who set them free to roam the heavens.

This morning, I have three images to share with you.

sky-with-cloudsImage #1. This summer, I sat in a window seat of an airplane, 30,000 feet above the earth. As I looked out, all I could see below the airplane wings was clouds.Fluffy, white clouds in a brilliant, blue sky. It suddenly occurred to me that had I not known where I was—that is, buckled into the seat of a 737 airplane, en route to BWI, I might now have been able to tell you that I was ABOVE the clouds. Without being able to see the ground, I could just as easily have been looking UP as DOWN. I must admit that it was a bit unnerving to think about this possibility—and glad the pilot and co-pilots were more skilled than I!

rocky-coastline-maineImage #2. Another afternoon this summer, I lay back on a blanket on a flat surface of some rocky cliffs. As I watched fluffy, white clouds move slowly across the blue sky, all that was in my vision—if I looked straight up—was the sky. Had I not turned my head to the right and seen the row of tall spruce trees there, or turned my head to the left and watched the waves that crashed against the rocky shoreline, I would have had no way to orient myself. Continue Reading »

Creation: HUMANITY

Readings:  Genesis 1:26-28          Psalm 8           Philippians 2:1-8           Mark 10:35-45

Genesis 1:28: “God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Genesis 2:15:  “The LORD God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden, to till it and tend it.”            

A photo by NASA. unsplash.com/photos/rTZW4f02zY8Two Sundays ago, the theme of our first Creation series was EARTH. In Week #1, you may remember that I made a couple of points. The first was that the Genesis story is not a logical, scientific account of what happened in the beginning of time. Instead, Genesis was intended God’s people engaging in theological reflection,with God as the subject. God as the first cause.

I noted that there were at least three implications of the Creation story for you and me. First, I said God challenges us to recognize and acknowledge that God is the first cause of all life that we know: Light and darkness.  Sky, sea and earth. Fruits and vegetables. Daylights and nightlights.  Birds and sea creatures. Cattle, creeping things and wild animals.  Human beings.

worship

The second implication was that IF God is the first cause of all creation—from night and day to human beings—then our best and highest response to God is worship and adoration. We exist as created beings to worship the Holy One who created the world and all that is in it. Coming to church may have other benefits, such as socializing with friends or Sunday School for our children. However, the foremost and deepest reason we come to church is to worship God, the loving Holy One who created us. In the face of such a mystery, we kneel, give thanks, put our hands out to receive bread and wine that represent God to us through Jesus Christ.In response to what is in our hands, we say, AMEN.

There is a third implication, however, and I left that one for this week. It is this:  If we acknowledge God as first in importance in our lives and in the world, then this begs the question of how you and I take care of God’s created order.

Continue Reading »

Creation: EARTH

Sermon #1 in a Creation Season series

Genesis 1:1-25     Psalm 33:1-9

prospect-hill-b-bThis summer, Pat and I stayed at a historic bed and breakfast in East Tennessee. This 1889 house features amazing windows. They are made of “historic stained and colored glass.” In addition, the old house features handmade moldings and site-formed bricks, crowned by a metal shingle roof that is a close approximation of the original one.”[1]  In our room, the two windows—tall, with very old, wavy glass—were topped with palladium shaped windows that were a lovely shade of rose. At sunset, I happened to look up from my book. As the sun set, the leaves and branches of a large tree outside the window created an intricate, dark, lace etching against the glass. The background of that delicate etching gradually deepened; pale rose to deep rose. Crimson, then purple. Finally. . .darkness. The beauty of God’s creation was exquisite that evening. Too exquisite to capture with any cell phone or camera.

Not until you sit still and pay attention to a setting sun—or a rising full moon—do you realize how amazing God’s creation is.

Whether creation happened gradually over millennia, or in one burst of cosmic energy, we cannot know. What we do know is this: God speaks.  God creates. God asks human beings to worship God.

One of the ways I prepare for preaching is to look carefully at the biblical passage upon which I plan to preach. I look at the context in which that scripture was originally written. Continue Reading »

You may have noticed recently that most people are taking sides in politics. Whether you are an American in the midst of a Presidential election year, with two distinctly different candidates, or whether you live in the U.K., where England has just voted to leave the E.U., people are taking sides. In most cases, extreme sides.

In anticipation of next week’s national Republican convention in Cleveland, the GOP’s platform has shaped up to follow the Right Path on immigration, family values, and LBGT issues. For example, CNN reported today that the 112-member GOP panel approved a platform “that opposes same-sex marriage rights, supports efforts to restrict bathrooms to individuals’ birth gender and protects businesses who refuse services to individuals based on religious objections to gay marriage.” (http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/13/politics/gop-platform-lgbt-social-conservatives-rift/index.html)

MiddlePath2

Despite LGBT advocates’ strong efforts to move the GOP’s position closer to the middle path, they were not able to do so. No thank you, we’ll just hug the Right Side of the Right Path here.

On the Left Path of politics, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, recently fierce primary opponents, have forged what seems to be a forced and uneasy alliance. In an unprecedented public way, Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg has publicly spoken out against Donald Trump—calling him “a faker’ and “inconsistent,” that “he says whatever comes into his head at the moment.” http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/12/politics/justice-ruth-bader-ginsburg-donald-trump-faker/

Continue Reading »

Tea Candles Holy Wed

How long, oh Lord, how long?
For the souls who have died,
for those who love them,
for those who must look at gaping wounds
and bodies with no earthly life, and 
for those who narrowly escaped death. . .
we give You thanks for their lives, oh God. And we pray. . .

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

The angels have already met you in Paradise.
God’s Table is ready for you.
God’s Choir has sung you into Light.
And we, here, left behind,
continue to light our feeble but loving lights
in the face of darkness.

~Sheila N. McJilton