Dave Brisbin | 4.2.17
On the fifth Sunday of Lent, looking at Lent as a positive-negative: an affirmative stripping away of anything that distracts, obscures, or keeps us away from God’s presence, the image at John’s last supper of Jesus stripping his garments, tying a towel around his hips and moving from friend to friend at table, washing feet gives us another Lenten principle in preparation for new life. It is extremely difficult for us as modern Westerner to appreciate just how mind blowingly outrageous and offensive Jesus’ actions would have been to his friends. There is no relevant analogy for us to bring home the shock of a revered teacher, rabbi, a spiritual master and healer doing what even Jewish slaves were not obligated to do–what was relegated to Gentile slaves. It was dirty, impure, and humiliating work, underscored by Peter’s initial refusal to allow Jesus to wash him.
Frank Billman | 3.26.17
On the fourth Sunday of Lent, looking at Lent as a positive-negative: an affirmative stripping away of anything that distracts, obscures, or keeps us away from God’s presence, Pastor Frank examines what it means to find our place in community. Using Paul’s beautiful simile for the body of Christ of a human body with all its parts forming a unified whole, identifying, becoming aware of our place, function, meaning, and purpose in our community in the various bodies in which we work and play and love is essential to being able to find acceptance of the present moment, to realize that we are exactly where we should be, doing exactly what we should be doing.
Dave Brisbin | 3.19.17
On the third Sunday of Lent, looking at Lent as a positive-negative: an affirmative stripping away of anything that distracts, obscures, or keeps us away from God’s presence, we use Jesus’ cleansing of the temple to give us our next Lenten principle. When Jesus rampages through the Temple court overturning tables, he is, in effect, calling into question a given in the daily life of first century Jews: that the Temple, the Temple priests, the Temple system were as good as God, were their means to connection with God and community. Jesus underscores the obvious—says right out loud what any thinking person could see but was afraid to say: that the system had become corrupt and instead of being a means to God’s presence, had become a hindrance, a limitation, a wall between the people and their God.
Dave Brisbin | 3.12.17
On the second Sunday of Lent, looking at Lent as a positive-negative: an affirmative stripping away of anything that distracts, obscures, or keeps us away from God’s presence, we naturally turn to prayer. What is prayer really? And specifically, what is the continuous prayer to which Paul calls us? Using the Hebrew bride as the bible’s metaphor for the balance of living a balanced life of awareness and presence, we can start to look at prayer in the same way. Not a constant stream of words pronounced verbally or mentally, but a continuous awareness of our place and position and relationship to everyone and everything in any given moment—all infused and sourced in unseen Presence.
Dave Brisbin | 3.5.17
On the first Sunday of Lent, we have begun to look at Lent, not as a negative—as a voluntary deprivation of pleasure in penance for sin—but as a positive stripping away of anything that distracts, obscures, or keeps us away from God’s presence. Looking at the Hebrew meaning of the parable of the ten virgins/bridesmaids—the five who are alert and present and keeping their lamps filled with oil and the five who are not—becomes not a statement of final judgment, heaven or hell, but another image of balanced life and awareness herenow. How do we balance our desires and plans for the future: how we think things ought to be, wish them to be, were taught they should be, need them to be…with a simple awareness of the flow of things as they are right now?
Dave Brisbin | 2.26.17
As we approach the Lenten season, many of us have not experienced the annual cycle of a liturgical church, and among those who have, many have never been taught what the liturgical traditions really mean to the spiritual life. This year, we want to try to make Lent, as preparation for the new life of Easter, come alive in a new way—really prepare us for that new life. What does Lent mean? What is Shove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday and how has the church celebrated these liturgical days for centuries or millennia? If Lent is meant to mirror Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness, how are we to understand his emptying, his moving into silence and suffering in a positive and affirming way for ourselves?
Dave Brisbin | 2.19.17
Living the balanced life of the Hebrew bride, between heaven and earth, between the reality of daily relationship and task and the promise of radically changed life at any moment is fragile and delicate and easily lost. In fact, it’s not so much about whether we’ll lose balance, of course we will; it’s about how quickly we can recover afterward. As Western Christians, we’ve been conditioned to see this life in a fallen state and our reward for finishing the race of this life well coming in the heaven of the next life. But Jesus is teaching that whatever we think heaven is, if we’re waiting for it, it never comes—being out of balance keeps us from seeing heaven where it always is: forever here and now.
Dave Brisbin | 2.12.17
Why try to understand Jesus’ message from a first century, Hebrew point of view? What will that change? There’s a question I get a lot. The answer is: mostly everything. Whatever we say about Christianity being a relationship rather than a religion, the truth is that Western Christianity has become heavily focused on an intellectual understanding of theology and a rational/literal understanding of scripture, a legal view of our relationship to God, a dualistic view of life—especially the separation of the spiritual and physical, and an emphasis on the afterlife as opposed to life herenow that sharply defines our view of and attitude toward life and spiritual practice.
Dave Brisbin | 2.5.17
Growing up, my church taught me to believe that a savior was coming—someone out there who would change me, save me from myself and my sin. I just had to believe and obey and wait. And that belief ordered the understanding of my faith, dictated day to day choices and attitudes. But reading through Hebrew eyes, Jesus is teaching something quite different…that no one is coming to save us. No one is coming because everyone and everything we’d ever need has always been and is already here. He says the waiting is over, the kingdom is here; he says we won’t find it by looking out there somewhere–it’s within and among. He really couldn’t be any clearer that the salvation, the transforming change we seek is already right here in our midst.
Dave Brisbin | 1.29.17
Just last week I was asked why churches and religions have to “always say that they are right and everyone else is wrong?” Great question from a young person looking at church from the outside in, trying to figure it all out: why the exclusion, the judgment. Why indeed? What is it about us that needs to build tall walls, delineate us from them, make our spirituality, which is inherently mysterious, an absolute certainty. In a word, it’s fear of course, and when we’re afraid that we may not be worthy of acceptance, love, or belonging, then we immediately begin the exhausting task of removing any pain, imperfection, and uncertainty from our near vicinity. We need to be right, be flawless, be certain, because the alternative is just too terrifying or at least uncomfortable to entertain.