Category Archives: Love

Andrei Rublev (c. 1360–c. 1430): The Hospitality of Abraham

Unity and Relationship

Andrei Rublev (c. 1360–c. 1430): The Hospitality of Abraham
Andrei Rublev (c. 1360–c. 1430): The Hospitality of Abraham

Passover just ended, it is Eastertide, and Ramadan just started. The three Abrahamic religions celebrate Spring differently, but with similar gratitude and hope. Yet we are divided and sometimes violently so.

Perhaps the biggest issue that keeps the Abrahamic religions divided is their seemingly incompatible answers to the question of the nature of God (that is our unique Theologies).

The post-Exilic priests in Jerusalem who invented monotheism in the first place (Isaiah and Jeremiah), made it clear that we can’t answer the Theological question.

Yahweh/Allah/Deus (aka “the Divine Other”) is and must be transcendent (or else we invent God, and whatever we invent can’t be God).

Jews (still) believe that even giving God a name violates the 2nd Commandment and is Idolatry. Early Christians struggled to defy and oppose Roman Emperor Worship, so imbued Christ with the attributes of the anti-Emperor (God, Son of God). Preaching to a very polytheistic culture, Muhammad and his followers stressed that Allah is One / El La, The One.

Early theological thinkers applied adjectives that we can invent; creative, provident, merciful, wise, graceful, just, omnipotent, omnipresent, and so forth. Be careful, however, because it’s almost impossible not to project your own psychological needs and cultural biases.

Early Christians were Jews. They worshipped One Lord. So how did their Trinity idea (a symbol for unity and relationship) become so divisive?


By the 4th Century, Jesus, rather than representing non-violent resistance to Roman power, had replaced the Caesar at the top of the power pyramid… or just above it with a direct connection to the man at the top. Not long after that, Islam quickly became the state religion of the Caliphate. Both religions were corrupted to justify terrible violence and murder and theft. Jews were cast in the scapegoat role. However they are just as capable of inhumanity when they are in power.

So where does that leave us today?

Are we freed from the Pharoah or still in Exile? Is it still Lent or Easter? Is Muhammad in Mecca or Medina?

Here’s an icon from the Eastern Church (not influenced by Rome) from before Islam existed. It’s a painting of the Three Angels that visited Abraham and Sarah, hospitality, a shared meal a blessing and a promise. It’s a key moment in the history of all three of our religions.

In this icon, one man/angel is wearing Gold (a symbol for The Creator). One of them is wearing Blue (symbol for the suffering Messiah) and one is in Green (symbol for the Spirit/Advocate/Lord of Life). In those three, Sarah saw the One Lord. This icon omits her laughter. What is important in this old icon is the gesture. One (The Spirit) is inviting the viewer to sit at the Table of Blessing and Promise. Originally there was a mirror attached so you could see your own face in it.

Around a table graciously provided with the hospitality to share everything, there is no divide. Yesterday we took Holy Communion. This month, Linn and I will attend a seminar on resisting anti-Semitism. The Seder is over. We will share at least one Iftar meal with Muslim friends. We are not God but are in Relationship with the Divine and each other, there is just One Author of Love. The gesture to sit at the table is real. The empty place is for you.

Prayers of the People

The Prayers of the People,
Redmond United Methodist Church,
February 3, 2019
Led by Pastor Lara Bruce Bolger

Let us pray

Loving and Gracious God
Where Love and Charity are
You are here; You are there.
You are where all Love can be found.
Even in the places where we don’t think it might be.
We praise you that your Love reaches into far places
Of this world and in our community.
We thank you that it reaches deep into our hearts
In our struggles and in our joys
In our hidden places of fear and shame
In our sorrows and disappointments
We’re so grateful that, in your Love, you meet us where we are
You sweep aside any sense of inadequacy
You overturn misplaced dependencies
You open windows of light and hope
So we can see our true home.
Thank you God.

Thank you for your love that comes gently
That sits beside us
That enters into the stillness of our hearts
We are here with You.
Just as you care for every detail of our lives
Help us care for others
Especially for those people who feel overlooked
For those people who are unnoticed
Driven away by policies that do not include them
Pushed away from the corners of our minds and our society and our world.
Just as you give us people who look us in the eye
Who do not turn away from our vulnerability and pain
Help us to have eyes of love so that we may not turn away from theirs
Give us a different way of seeing
May we see with clarity
Your love.

For all those people who are suffering this day
Due to weather, due to violence
Help us to see them.
All the people you have placed on our hearts this day
We take this time now to lift them up.
(Pause while the people in the congregation mention names of those they’re praying for)
We pray for them
Your Love came to us embodied in the person of Jesus Christ
And we can embody your Love as well
Thank you God.

We continue to pray the prayer Jesus taught us to pray
(Aloud in unison)
Our Father who art in heaven
Hallowed by thy name
Thy kingdom come thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses

as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil
For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

An Epiphany

Edward Burne-Jones - Scanned from Stephen Wildman,Edward Burne-Jones: Victorian Artist-Dreamer, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998, ISBN 0870998595
Edward Burne-Jones – Scanned from Stephen Wildman,Edward Burne-Jones: Victorian Artist-Dreamer, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998, ISBN 0870998595

Matthew included a scene in his Infancy Narrative that was probably based on an actual event in history… arranged to make the point that Jesus came for all people, not just Jews. The Magi were an ancient sect in Persia, scientific thinkers, observers of the heavens, trusted with the task of reading the signs and identifying, as a child, the next King of Persia. That tradition lives on in Tibetan Buddhism in fact, where a similar process is used to identify the next Dalai Lama. So Magi showing up, following a star, to bring the gifts that designated royalty would, to his readers, helped them understand Matthew’s answer to Who do you say Jesus is?”

Matthew is clearly answering, in context of the entire Gospel, “The new Moses, God’s chosen leader, for the whole world.”

There were three Buddhist missionaries in Judea who brought ideas like the Golden Rule and Love is the highest commandment. Traditionally they were named Balthasar, Melchior and Gaspar. The ancient Church used those names for the Magi of Matthew’s story. In that conflation it becomes Three Wise Men (Matthew doesn’t number them). Balthasar is an Arabian name. Melchior is Persian and Gaspar is Indian.

Today it is conflated into the season and day of Epiphany (the Magi followed and saw the Light). But that is another layer of meaning in the conflation. The Epiphany at this season was, in Northern Europe, the day folks realized that all human hierarchy, in families, between men and women, in the economy between owners and servants, lords and tenants, in government… all of it is just an invented institution. On Epiphany our ancestors woke up basking in the realization that goodness and provision are gifts none of us owns nor earns.

No matter which layer of the story appeals to you; men on camels, the magical recognition of the next King, Eastern wisdom showing up in nascent Christianity, or pagan traditional world-upside-down celebrations, the meaning is about the same. We are loved by the Author of Love, gifted resources to spread that love to the whole world as a bright star, a light that leads others to truth, forgiveness and healing.

Healing a poor beggar lame from birth?

Peter and John healing a man lame from birth

Acts 3: Peter and John healing the lame beggar.

Sunday’s sermon was on the healing story in Acts 3. You probably know it. Peter and John command in Jesus’ name that a man born lame stand up. He does. He dances. Everyone’s amazed because a lame person is standing up and dancing. Faith healings often have people abandoning wheelchairs or throwing crutches to dance around stage as part of their “thing.” I’ve always been skeptical.
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No duaas in Coolidge

12000917_10207805403916413_8381081115954741162_oI’ve been to Coolidge Arizona, between Phoenix and Tucson on the old Butterfield Stage route. It’s south of the Gila River, mostly dry now. Once canals irrigated the crops of the Anasazi community, builders of Casa Grande, still-standing rock and mud building, an accurate solar calendar. Old West Coolidge was the site of Arizona’s first power plant and envisioned itself equal to the Old Pueblo and the new State Capital rising to the north.

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Disappointed in the Church.

Gay MarriageI love and care for my LGBT family members and LGBT friends and am very upset about the way modern American Evangelical Christianity is homophobic in the name of Jesus… It has almost made me not want to go to church… and certainly made me very angry at the homophobic Bible bangers and all the damage they do. They preach that all Scripture is God-breathed, then go straight into forcing their personal prejudices into mistranslations and misinterpretations.
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20140225-292C96A3-5056-9A00-0C9A8FCEA88C1429Let’s discuss The Book of Wisdom!

It was written in Alexandria, Egypt by a Jewish Greek-speaking scholar during a time of local unrest there (around 25 BCE). Most folks believed in the Cult of Caesar and Jews refused to worship Caesar. Alexandria was a place of great learning, a wonderful library, but nearly constant conflict until the Romans gave up and burned it all to the ground (I wish we still had that library).

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Are there homosexuals in the Kingdom?

hqdefaultIt’s a charismatic church that seldom discusses policies or doctrines. The emphasis is the Kingdom, on earth as it is in heaven. They seek more. Worship is authentic and heart-felt. The community is warmer than most in the PNW. Calls to faith and repentance are left to the work of God’s Spirit, changing lives touched by Love.

Sounds perfect, you say?

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Meeting Jesus in the Bible

bible-studyI was invited to a Bible Study here at the 55-and-older complex. I’ve been three times now. It’s not a Bible Study. It’s a local Baptist Church’s evangelism outreach to the old folks. In fairness, this church doesn’t use the word “Baptist” anymore. The “study” is in a small paper-backed study guide (published by the Baptists).
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Sharing knows no creed

decapolismapJesus feeds 5000 families (John/Luke).

Also known as the “miracle of the five loaves and two fish.” When Jesus heard that John the Baptist had been killed, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place near Bethsaida. The crowds came to Jesus on foot from the towns. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

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