Thursday, March 21, 2013

Wisdom from Gordon Cosby

I just read Gordon Cosby's last sermon at Church of the Saviour, preached two years ago, where he and Mary gave their lives for 60 years. Such wisdom! The church lost a great man yesterday. And yet, he is not lost.

The best preaching I ever hear is the kind that launches me into an internal dialogue with the preacher. I might not be able to tell you what the preacher said, but I can tell you about the journey we've been on.

Fortunately, I have his sermon in writing, so I can tell you what he said. Here's a bit of my journey through Gordon Cosby's final sermon...

"Most of us don’t live as if we believe. Jesus asked us to take care of him, feed him, visit him in prison, but many of us don’t really know one poor person or one prisoner in any deep way."

I'm learning to believe all over again... not in some otherworldly heaven but in a this-worldly one, a kingdom that is really kin-dom, where the insecurities and fears that keep us apart fall like Jericho's walls. I'm learning to believe what Jesus believed, that God calls us to be for and with one another in love, and that love guide all we do. But do I know any prisoners? Do I know anyone Jesus calls me to serve in a deep way? I may not believe as much as I think I do.

"If we do believe, there are ramifications. The first is that we are going to have to know the bad news—and it is everywhere. Until one really embraces bad news, one cannot live into any authentic good news. For Moses, embracing the bad news meant going into the heart of enslaved Egypt."

This takes me out of myself. I tend to think bad news is bad because it's bad for me. My own struggles with health or money or snow on the ground in March are not bad news. Embracing bad news isn't about naming what's wrong in me. Or how I've been inconvenienced. How individualistic! It's about the injustices and hurts of the world.

"The scale at which God has to think if we are to have the kind of human family that God desires is both small and immense. We likewise need to think on both ends."

I'm tempted to think either small or large, not both at once.

"Older people are often too willing to step aside and let young people take over, but younger people have not gone through disillusionment—and dis-illusionment (the release of illusion) is essential. Disillusionment allows us to be detached from outcomes. It frees our ministries of ego deeds. (Many, many things come from our egos rather than God.) Disillusionment teaches us not to care too much if something we are investing in is not going well, and has to be laid down. It pushes our creativity."

I wonder if younger people know a different kind of disillusionment, not the sort that releases illusions, which sounds liberating, but the kind that tears them away, which sounds like it hurts. Maybe they're the same thing, one just coming with practice.

Can I lay down a project I've poured myself into and walk away, letting go without myself dissolving? Not if I've mistaken what I do with who I am. To be creative is perhaps to gain a little distance from one's creation.

"I no longer try to judge things. God is a forgiving God who can forgive big stuff. I don’t have to prove myself every day. I don’t have to be a great, successful Christian. I can be afraid, because I have a God who deals with my specific fears."

It's that large and small scale again, isn't it? My fears seem as nothing compared with global problems, which i am all too willing to judge. Can people like me with all our tiny fears and judgments really band together to bring about the kin-dom God is calling forth? I wonder. And hope.

"I need to cultivate not worrying. In a culture as addicted to knowing and doing as our own, this is difficult. We all want to know what we are to do. Most everyone I know is too busy. I’ve reached the point where all I’m interested in doing is being—and the knowing which springs from that being; the doing rooted in that being. I aspire to live the goal-less, purposeless life: a life of being."

This may be the most difficult of all. I don't know how to live without goals, and thus without worry. That would mean living without direction or control. It seems irresponsible not to worry. Do we have enough money, people, or motivation? Will the project get done on time? ... Too busy? Ouch! I wonder what it would be like to slow down enough to focus first on being, and then on the knowing and doing that arise from being. It's not about achieving goals, then. It's about being authentic to the source of existence.

"This is the nature of God. His intentions become ours, and we become one with the totality of creation. This is something we could not ourselves achieve."

Thank you, Gordon Cosby, now one with the totality of creation. May it be so.

Blessings and Peace.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

To the MN Senate Judiciary Committee: Support Marriage for All

I just had the opportunity to testify before the MN Senate Judiciary Committee along with other pastors, business leaders, Republicans and Democrats, couples and adult children of gay couples, in support of the legislation that recognizes marriage for all. The testimonies have been poignant and moving.

Here's what I said.

Mr. Chair and Members of the Committee, it is an honor and privilege to testify in support of legislation to recognize marriage for all loving, committed couples.

I serve as pastor of Spirit of Joy Christian Church in Lakeville. For 23 years, it has been my deep privilege to officiate at weddings for loving couples in every church I've served. It is a humble joy to stand with a loving couple as they commit themselves to one another in love. I look forward to the day our 14 year-old son meets someone he chooses to marry—just not yet!

Five years ago in Lynchburg, Virginia, two young women who met in my church came to me asking to marry. I considered their request as I would any other church members. Of course the church would bless their covenant of love and mutual commitment.

In our months of premarital counseling I saw first-hand just how much pain we inflict on a minority of loving families when we deny them the privileges we gladly grant others. I realized just how very many privileges my wife Katy and I enjoy simply because we are married.

For 23 years, Katy and I have shared the good, hard work of life together "for better for worse, in sickness and in health." We have been blessed with opportunities, privileges, and responsibilities because we have the freedom to marry.

No pastor, church or religious institution can ever be forced to solemnize a union they do not support. I have said no to couples before, as have many pastors. But many congregations, like mine, yearn for the day we can say yes to all loving, committed couples equally, not only as a church but as a wider society.

I urge you to support this legislation that affirms what we already know: not only that marriage is good, hard work, but also and especially that it is rooted in love, commitment, and responsibility, and it is a benefit to society. It is time to end the discrimination and honor loving, committed, same-sex couples with the same freedoms and opportunities as the rest of us.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Widow's Mite

Some have lost what they never had
And yet gave all.
All that they had, though it was nothing.
God saw, and it pleased him.
He read their hearts aright.
He didn’t take their offering at face value.
Why do we – why do I?

I thought I gave all and yet it was nothing.
Now I want all and have nothing to give.
I give my nothing.

Help me to open my heart and
my hands to receive your all
– or your nothing.

Community of the Sisters of the Church

Saturday, March 2, 2013

How to Follow Jesus

I saw this today at

How to Follow Jesus
Catherine Doherty

Arise--go! Sell all you possess. Give it directly, personally to the poor.

Take up My cross (their cross) and follow Me, going to the poor, being poor, being one with them, one with Me.

Little--be always little. Be simple, poor, childlike.

Preach the Gospel with your life--without compromise! Listen to the Spirit who will lead you.

Do little things exceedingly well for love of Me., never counting the cost.

Go into the marketplace and stay with Me. Pray, fast. Pray always, fast.

Be hidden. Be a light to your neighbor's feet. Go without fear into the depths of human hearts. I shall be with you.

Pray always. I will be your rest.

Source: The Little Mandate