The Connected Communion of Saints

cloudPreaching through the Apostles’ Creed this summer at Genesis has been a fantastic learning experience. An exercise akin to preaching from the lectionary, it keeps us preachers a little more disciplined. We can’t just leap to favorite texts or themes and instead have to deal with material that can feel outdated and irrelevant. So, how to make it matter?

Helping a great deal in this roots exercise has been my congregation who have become accustomed not only to answering questions and joining the dialogue during the sermon, they take active part in our Offerings.

After the meditation and song, and following the prayers of the people and passing the offering plate we have another opportunity to give something back at Genesis on a regular basis. We call it Offerings because it is a way for disciples to respond by giving back after hearing the word and reflection. I typically have a question or two on the screen and proceed to play host for 10 minutes of discussion that usually takes off from where the sermon ended.

As we near the end of the summer and the “communion of saints” came up I suggested there was something rather outdated and quaint about the entire notion. Many of us were raised with the shame involved in assuming a cloud of our ancestors were watching over our shoulders. We have as a society worked to use shame less, since it can do such damage and is such a lousy long term motivator. Many of us have ceased speaking of heaven or the cloud at all.

Instead, the very new cloud many of us play in daily over the interwebs reminds us that while our concerns about privacy are well served we are also being invited to a new level of honesty and transparency. In the New Cloud where authenticity is of top value many of us by way of email, Facebook, web post responses and blogs are newly visible. It is scary! But it also presents a new opportunity for being living imperfect examples of faith in action.

The New Cloud of Witnesses has its problems, but invites us into the cosmic ether in a new way to support, challenge and give witness to the life that is in us.

Reclaiming and Beautifying Islam

.Islam..”we embrace a pluralistic interpretation of Islam, rejecting all forms of oppression and abuses…”

The Gatestone Institute is what you have been looking for.

It is so very easy, and understandable, to become utterly cynical about religion. Given the abuses in the name of Allah prevalent in the news over the past months it is easy to become very suspicious of Islam.

I have heard many folks wondering aloud why Muslims don’t speak out to denounce the inhumanities of ISIS, the kidnappings by Boko Haram, the killing of Christians in Iran, rampant anti-Semitism…(among a pretty nasty list). They are indeed doing so, but we have to listen in the right places. Continue reading