Friday, December 23, 2016

If Julian of Norwich had been a temp

This poem was inspired by the saying "all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well," which is found in the writings of Julian of Norwich.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Open Mic Night

Read some of my poetry at Uptown Bill's.  I step on stage around 34:45 into the clip.

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Lack of ἀπόλλυμι Experience

  Janine di Giovanni's documentary "7 Days in Syria" obviously made an impression on me. Because of it, the images of what is left of the city of Aleppo are at the forefront of my mind as I contemplate the word απολέσει.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Fibro Fog

Fibro Fog


He put a half-filled jar of
roasted garlic pasta sauce
in the cupboard
instead of
in the frig.


He could remember the word "Isolate,"
but the word he really wanted was
"Atomize."


He stepped off the curb
against the light,
in front of a semi.

That's when it hit me.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Lamentation

A combination of reading Eugene Peterson's paraphrase of Psalm 28 and the 15th anniversary of the attacks on September 11 brought on the need to write this lamentation.  I was living in New Jersey at the time, and these are the accusations I shouted at the ceiling.


Friday, September 2, 2016

Temp Job Week Two

Kelly Girls
The hit-and-run of your emphatic abruptness.
I had to talk to Jesus about you.


Then you said your son was
driving in from Texas in an old pick-up truck,
and you requested prayers from them that do,
and you showed me an image of an electric guitar
like the one your husband plays in the praise band at church,
the one that usually sells for three thousand dollars,
but that he got at a super discount,
and later you said your son had arrived safely
and had delivered a wonderful surprise --
your mamma had come for the weekend.


I hesitate to give the glory to God.
Jesus has never worked that fast before.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Simple Things

My first week as a temporary office worker passed by very slowly.  I caught myself delighting in miniscule details.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Jesus is My Superhero

Studying Mark 5:1-20 while at the same time reading Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People by Nadia Bolz-Weber with these results . . .

Friday, July 29, 2016

A poem of gratitude

A neighbor shared his echinacea flowers with me, and his kindness inspired a poem.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Praying Like a Fruit Tree

Parable of the Sower: Part 4 of 4


Photo Credits:
Weeping Willow -- https://www.pinterest.com/pin/306174474644541276/
Mulberries -- Photo by Green Deane
Tree with Vine -- http://www.canstockphoto.es/ingl%C3%A9s-hiedra-subidas-arriba-dogwood-17183868.html
Vines at Base -- Photo by George Weigel
One Dead Branch -- http://westernfarmpress.com/orchard-crops/walnut-dieback-troublesome-central-california-orchards#slide-0-field_images-151121
Branch in Fire -- https://www.worthychristianforums.com/topic/129346-fire-2/
Covered in Vines --  http://s19.postimg.org/qie1dbbyr/gw_n_140211_01.jpg
Super Plump Mulberries -- http://www.phillyorchards.org/tag/orchard/
Weeping Willow -- https://countryliving4beginners.wordpress.com/tag/weeping-willow/
Towering Tree --http://www.easyfreeclipart.com/california-state-tree-redwood-clipart-1082436.html

Friday, July 15, 2016

Friday, July 8, 2016

Friday, July 1, 2016

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Corporate Living #13 & #14

#13. Keep up the prayer life and underneath that prayer life keep a surrendered heart.

#14. Keep the power of laughing at yourself.

Jones combined three necessities in the last two Corporate Living Principles. The habit of prayer should be maintained. An attitude of surrender towards God is required in order to get along with others. The ability to not take ourselves too seriously is also called for.

The instruction to keep these three qualities suggests that we already possess these traits. We are already people of prayer. We have already cultivated an attitude of surrender. We already have the capacity to take ourselves with a grain of salt.

If we are already this type of person, then we must be involved with some type of group that encourages these kinds of behaviors. The converse would also be true, if we are not already this type of person, then we have not found a group that cultivates these kinds of kingdom-reflecting traits.

For the sake of your own growth in faith, ask God to direct you to a group of people whose lives show evidence of prayer, surrender, and good humor.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Corporate Living #12

Corporate Living Principle #12 -- "Side with the group against yourself."  

Realizing harmonious relations between group members requires prioritizing. For Jones, the group-claim becomes our priority and that claim is stronger than any personal preference.

Casting a vote that limits my authority and influence in favor of a polity that more broadly shares power between group members would be one example of this principle in action. I would only be willing to do this if I felt 

  • the others could be trusted with more power
  • the needs of the group were greater
  • the mission of the group was more important
Consider Principle #12 as an invitation to reflect on the power dynamic within the group. If you are willing to choose the group's side and forego your own, that's a pretty good indication that you agree with the direction the group is heading, and the group's leading is pulling you in a new direction. The group is transforming you, and you like the results. In such a case, handing over power to the group was the correct decision.

If you find that you are unwilling to side with the group, then let your objection be known. Let God know about it. Let the leadership know about it. Let all the members know that disunity exists within the body. Living well with others depends upon such honesty.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Corporate Living #11

"Refuse to look for slights regarding ourselves."

That's how Jones phrases Corporate Living Principle #11. Living well with others will become easier if we stop searching for personal attacks in what's said and done in the group .

My version of this principle is to remind myself that I can not read minds. Because I am not a mind-reader, there are many things about another that I can not know with any certainty. Such as --

  • how someone feels about me right now
  • what someone's opinion of me is at this moment
  • what someone's intentions towards me will be in the future
  • why someone is behaving a certain way towards me
Regarding this last point in particular, I can never know for certain when someone's behavior might change. An improved attitude can change behavior, and many things that have nothing to do with me can improve a person's disposition --
  • beautiful weather
  • adequate sleep
  • delicious food
  • laughter shared with friends
  • tender moments with a loved one
  • reconciliation of an estrangement
Given all this, I try to maintain an open attitude towards someone who has slighted me.  Just because someone has been dismissive towards me in the past does not mean I should expect more of the same treatment every time we speak.

Rather than being on the defensive, I try to be polite and engaging. At the same time, I am looking for an opening from my former enemy that suggests a willingness to improve our interactions. When I succeed in maintaining a non-anxious presence, the other person usually responds in kind. Not always, but enough that I keep asking for God's help to develop this interpersonal skill because I like the person I am becoming when I treat others this way.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Corporate Living #10

Corporate Living Principle #10 -- "Give way in small things that do not involve principles"

This principle assumes that the group can agree on which matters are trivial and which are non-negotiables. So if you find yourself wondering why so much time is being spent debating inconsequentials, the reason may be that you have a different set of priorities than those of the group.

If this is the case, then living well with this group of people may be a challenge for you. Maintaining your patience with the group may require divine intervention. Ask for that divine assist in the patience department.  

This is one way that corporate living can become a means of grace. When we recognize that --

  • willpower alone is not strong enough to keep our attitude positive, and then
  • admit our need for help with interpersonal relationships within the group, and then
  • seek that help from God, and then
  • discern that God has answered our prayer.
then corporate living becomes a spiritual exercise that strengthens our faith. I think of this as the heavy weightlifting spiritual exercise because of the way it builds up my faith muscles.

This is a prayer for patience over small matters, which is different when the disagreement involves a faith principle. When the point of contention is a large matter, then pray for the courage to do God's will. Imagine yourself in the Garden of Gethsemane with Jesus, praying so hard that the sweat pours off of you, and plead "Not my will, but yours be done."

Monday, May 16, 2016

Corporate Living #9

Corporate Living Principle #9: "Be willing to be criticized for our own good."

I have been following the #umcgc twitter feed seeking updates on what is happening at General Conference. I have also been following Facebook links to blog posts on General Conference. I am seeking evidence of someone receiving criticism, reflecting on its content, considering its source, weighing its merits, and only then responding.  

Such a process would be an indication that this person is someone who is willing to receive correction if their behavior and actions need to be improved. It would also reveal that the criticized trusts the person who gave the critique -- Trusts that the critic has their best interest at heart; Trusts that they share with the critic shares a common set of goals and values; Trusts that the critic will hold them to those shared goals and values.

In short, I am looking for a gracious response to constructive criticism that can serve as an example of Corporate Living Principle #9. I'll let you know when I come across one.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Corporate Living #8

This one is a good test of our attitude as a member of a group:  
Corporate Living Principle #8:  If you want to live well with others, then . . . 

"Be more inclined to compliment and encourage than correct."

How about it --  

  • What is your inclination when you get with this group of people?  
  • Think back over your recent interactions with members of the group. Did you spend more time complimenting or criticizing?  
  • When was the last time you complimented someone in the group?  When was the last time someone compliment you?
  • What was the compliment about? Someone's outward appearance or their inward resemblance to Kingdom of God values?
To be healthy, we need to have at least one group of people in our lives that nurtures our inclination to praise more than our tendency to complain. Be thankful that you've found such a group, and let the members know how much you value their positive influence.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Corporate Living #7

The seventh principle that guided the experiment in corporate living founded by Jones was: "Never criticize a member behind his or her back."  

For Jones, criticism should always be open and frank and always redemptive.  To help group members achieve this end, Jones suggested asking three questions before offering a critique --

  1. Is it true? 
  2. Is it necessary?
  3. Is it kind?
I particularly like question two.  Wasted time nitpicking could be avoided if the group is in agreement on its priorities and keeps the debate limited to those points.

Is the criticism you would offer another an observation that the discussion has devolved into trivialities?  Maybe the fault does not lie with that person but with the group.  Debates on low priority tasks could be another indication that the group has lost its kingdom-focus. 

Recovering that sense of purpose will require admitting that the group has lost its way, asking for God's guidance, and trusting that God still has a redemptive purpose for the group.  A sense of hope for the future of the group will be a gift from God.  The means of grace are the spiritual practices that will communicate that gift to the group.

A corporate bible study on the contemporary meaning of Jesus' teachings on the Kingdom of God might be the means of grace that helps the group find agreement on the purpose of the corporate body, as well as agreement on what is necessary to achieve that purpose.  If I were planning such a bible study, I would start with the Beatitudes.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Corporate Living #6

Corporate Living Principle #6: "Look more to our duties than to our rights."

In order to live well with others as a corporate body, Jones encouraged his readers to value the privilege of being servants more than the privilege of being served. Again, Jones was writing about our membership in a Christian community that orients itself around Jesus' vision of the Kingdom of God.  

To get along with the other members of this group requires servanthood. In his writings, Jones gave personal examples of times when he surrendered the perks of being the founder of an organization. He swept the floor, ate a simple meal, or deferred to others because serving the needs of the organization was more important to him than defending his status or position.

Some implications of this principle:
  • When members of General Conference are not free to prioritize servanthood because their rights are being abused, that is a sign that the corporate body has lost its kingdom-focus. This reality should lead to corporate confession, repentance, and resolution.
  • "Respecting the office" is not a duty that should be required of a member of a kingdom-focused group.
  • To encourage affable relations within the group, the members should clarify what their duties and responsibilities are to the group and to the Kingdom of God.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Corporate Living #5

Corporate Living Principle #5 -- "Rejoice that the strength of any is the strength of all."  

This principle is Jones' remedy for the jealousies that can sometimes arise as members of the group compare their contributions to the group to that of others. If a person feels envious of another's accomplishments or talents, Jones suggested concentrating on this reminder -- "You are striving to get a corporate job done."

Someone with this attitude would have to agree that getting the corporate task done well is the priority and not personal promotion. Achieving the corporate goal might mean that some individuals' skills are more relevant to the job at hand than those that we possess.

Steps to a more positive attitude could include:

  • Consider the task at hand and the skills that will be needed to complete the task.
  • Take an inventory of your strong and weak points within the context of the project, and then look for ways that your weakness can be supplemented by the strength of someone else.
  • Give thanks that someone with the necessary ability is a member of your kingdom-focused group.
  • Contemplate 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, "Moreover, you (plural) are Christ's body, and part of the membership."

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Corporate Living #4

Corporate Living Principle #4: "Since life is lived corporately, I should contribute to the whole."

With this point, Jones was trying to shift our focus.  Instead of identifying what the group has to offer us, how it can enhance our status, or create opportunities for our personal gain, Jones argued that Christians should focus on what actions we can take that will improve the group.

Two lines of reflection occur to me based on this principle
  1.  Am I contributing to the group?
    1. If yes, then what is the quality of that contribution?
      1. Does it reflect the Kingdom of God?
      2. Does it reflect the best of my abilities?
    2. If no, then why am I holding back?
      1. Do I feel inadequate?
      2. Am I waiting to be asked to participate?
  2.  What are the needs of the group?
    1. What do I love about this corporate body?  How can I strengthen that attribute?
    2. Where does it lack a kingdom focus?  How can I redirect the body so that the Kingdom of God is its priority in all areas of activity.
Today, I am particularly mindful of the call to divest the UMC pension fund from fossil fuel companies.  Our pensions are one example of a contribution made to the corporate body.  General Conference has the responsibility to direct the investment strategy of the pension board.  That duty includes instructing the board on the values that pension investments should reflect and uphold.  I hope the delegates will send a clear message to the pension board that stewardship of God's creation is a value that should guide our investment strategy.  Earth care is a value that reflects a Kingdom of God priority, and this commitment requires us to stop benefiting from investments in fossil fuels.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Corporate Living #3

The third corporate living principle according to Jones is "Fix your loyalty to the Kingdom of God."  In other words, the group that deserves your greatest support is the group of people that is helping you transform into a person who embodies the values and priorities of Christ.  All lesser loyalties must give way to your loyalty to this kingdom-focused group.

This principle raises some questions for self-reflection.

  • Are we a member of a kingdom-focused group?
  • What does it mean to be loyal to the Kingdom of God?
  • What are the values and priorities of Christ?
  • What does a life look like when it reflects those values and priorities?
The answers to such a line of questioning can lead to different responses.
  • Some will admit that no, they are not a part of such a group, and either
    • wish they were, or
    • realize that they do not want to be involved with such a group
  • Some will feel grateful that they have the support of such a group, and either
    • ask for the grace to persevere in their commitment to the group, or
    • ask for the grace to strengthen a wavering loyalty to the group
In terms of living as the corporate body of General Conference, this principle can serve as a reference point as plans for the future are made.  Delegates can debate whether or not the plan under consideration is one that makes the Kingdom of God a priority and that encourages others to fix their loyalty to the Kingdom.  I imagine delegates will have differences of opinion regarding what it means to be loyal to the vision of human existence that Christ taught us.  Discovering points of consensus around this subject would be worth the effort if that consensus could help General Conference work more efficiently.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Corporate Living #2

Jones' next piece of advice regarding how to live well in a corporate group is based on Matthew 5: 25, "Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court."  The focus here is on finishing the most difficult or unpleasant task first.  Do not put off the challenge, or the disagreement will fester between members of the group and strain relationships.

Seems like a sound guiding principle for the legislative committees.  Do not wait until late in the evening to work on the most controversial amendments.  Debate the most contentious issues first while the group is still fresh.

This principle requires honesty because the group has to admit that strong differences of opinion exist.  The principle also requires confession that we are not wise enough to know how to quickly settle every matter.  Finally, the principle requires faith that God is at work in the process and will lead the group past the differences and towards a place of greater unity.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Walk This Way

The chart below is the 40-day reading schedule I plan to use the next time moral outrage starts to get the better of me.


It's based on the reading schedule I followed during my lenten reflection on Whiteclay.  The readings start with Jesus setting his face towards Jerusalem and end with the Cross.  The exercise helped me cope with the frustration and anger I felt over the injustice happening in Whiteclay and move into a healthier frame of mind.

I walked the road to the Cross with Jesus, and he walked the streets of Whiteclay and the Pine Ridge Reservation with me,  I trust that he will walk with me the next time I'm confronted with an ugly social truth and try to respond by sticking with it and not look away or get distracted from it.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Light to Darkness to Light Again

“Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth,
but the glory of the LORD rises and appears over you.”
--Isaiah 60:2



The reference to darkness in the Crucifixion scene intrigues me because it seems to be an allusion harkening back to the Genesis Creation.  The same phrasing appears in Matthew 27:45, Mark 15:33, and Luke 23:44 just before Jesus dies* --


“darkness (σκότος) there was (ἐγένετο) on the whole earth (γῆν)”.


The same three Greek words noted in this Crucifixion verse are also found in Genesis 1: 2 and 3  --


“But the earth (γη) was unseen and unready and darkness (σκότος) upon the abyss and God’s spirit bore down upon the water” (1:2)


“There was (εγένετο) light” (1:3)


The Genesis verses bring to mind the image of the earth in a lightless and watery womb, waiting to be born when suddenly God’s contractions begin.  God speaks the word and light is born.  Once the waters are parted, the earth will fully emerge.


As Jesus hangs upon the Cross dying, this process begins to be reversed.  The earth moves back into the darkness.  It is as if the creation is undone when Jesus is crucified.  


The Crucifixion marks the end of the world made in Genesis.  I imagine a reset button being pushed.  God calls a do-over so that the earth may be born anew.  After a three-day gestation period, the Resurrection occurs and the New Creation is born of the Spirit.


Faith that the Spirit is still causing the New Creation to mature from infancy to adulthood is the source of my hope for the social order.  I want to align my efforts with the divine creative process that is moving the Earth from darkness to light.  


My difficulty identifying what the Spirit is up to is the obstacle that impedes my sincere efforts and stymies my good intentions.  I confess my ignorance, attempt to temper my advocacy with meekness and humility, and keep trying to be faithful.
___________________

*  The darkness appears in the Gospel of John as well, but it is not an exact parallel:  
John 20:1 -- “it still being dark (σκοτίας), Mary Magdalene went to the tomb”

Monday, April 4, 2016

Hoping for the best in Whiteclay

On March 29, State Senator Pansing Brooks introduced a bill to the Nebraska Legislature calling for an interim study of the situation in Whiteclay.  On April 1, the responsibility to carry out the study was assigned to the General Affairs committee of the Legislature.

The purpose of the resolution is "to examine and review the sale of alcohol in Whiteclay and the secondary effects of such sales. The study committee shall develop recommendations for what should be done to address the issues arising from such sales and shall seek the input of the State-Tribal Relations Committee."  A link to the full text of the resolution is here.

Thank you to everyone who held Whiteclay in your prayers during Lent.  I am so grateful that the Nebraska Legislature is taking this step.  I pray that God will cause more people to care, and will inspire us with insight into a wise way to address and solve the problems there.

The members of the 2016 General Affairs committee are:
Tyson Larson (Chair)  tlarson@leg.ne.gov
Colby Coash (Vice Chair) ccoash@leg.ne.gov
Matt Hansen, mhansen@leg.ne.gov
Dan Hughes, dhughes@leg.ne.gov
Mark Kolterman, mkolterman@leg.ne.gov
John McCollister,  jmccollister@leg.ne.gov
Merv Riepe,  mriepe@leg.ne.gov
Ken Schilz, kschilz@leg.ne.gov

If you would take a moment to pray for the committee, I would appreciate it.  And if you'd like to take an additional step and email the committee members and let them know that you prayed for them, I'm sure they would appreciate it, too.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Forty

Jesus dies.  His body is taken down from the cross, wrapped in burial linens, and placed in a tomb.  (Luke 23: 46-56)
(Adaptation of "Christmas in Whiteclay" by Frank LaMere)

CHRISTMAS IN WHITECLAY
Written by Frank LaMere
     His father told Him it was a forlorn and fearful place, where you could see life but no willingness to live and where ghosts beckon their relatives and the weak to leave this creation less their suffering be prolonged…
     His father told Him of grandfathers and grandmothers who had been lost and of generations to come, whose fate has been sealed by those who would watch them die slowly as they hurry away…
     His father told Him to walk among them in this season as they celebrate His being, to make them smile and let them know He has not forgotten them for even one second…
     His father bid Him go to Whiteclay and be with them as they await brothers and sisters who will care for them…
     Jesus went to Whiteclay and found all there to be freezing, beaten, dying and forsaken. Jesus cried and through his tears saw it to be the holiest of places.
     He remains there, walking among the lonely and sleeping outside, as He slept on the night He was born. Jesus is there this Christmas season, huddled by a building, waiting for someone to recognize Him, if even for one second.
     You will see Him if you wish to. He will be the most pitiful among all those gathered. He always has been, and we have always known that.
Pray for Whiteclay.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Thirty-nine

Jesus is crucified.  Darkness falls across the land.  (Luke 23: 33-44)


(Bruce BonFleur of Lakota Hope Ministry posted this reflection on his Facebook page.)

     Christ, you are the Light of the World.  Your Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can not overcome it.  Help us to shine a light on Whiteclay and drive the darkness there away.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Thirty-eight

Pilate pronounces the death sentence on Jesus.  Jesus is forced to walk to Golgotha.  (Luke 23: 24-31)
  
011716-nws-pilcher001.JPG
Martin Pilcher and his son Dominic at the Pilcher's new grocery store, Arrowhead Foods in Whiteclay, Ne.  Photo by Josh Morgan for the Rapid City Journal.
The opening of a Native-Owned store in Whiteclay, Nebraska is seen as a sign of progress in the community.

     Christ,  thank you for this sign of progress in Whiteclay.  Help those who are trying to do something positive and life-affirming in this community.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Thirty-seven

Jesus is taken before Pilate and then Herod for questioning.  (Luke 23: 1-16)
Shawna Thornton, a teenager from Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, looks out at the sweeping views of the prairie on the reservation. She has grown up surrounded by alcohol abuse. (Photo: Nikki Kahn/'The Washington Post' )
(New school for girls opening on the Pine Ridge Reservation.)
     Christ, thank you for this sign of hope.  We pray for the staff and students of the Pine Ridge Girls' School.  Help them to make a difference in the community.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Thirty-six

Jesus is beaten and then brought before the Sanhedrin for trial.  (Luke 22: 63-71)
(Update to "Standing Silent Nation," a POV documentary about Alex White Plume's efforts to legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp on reservation lands.)

     Christ, so many advocates have been beaten down by those in power that we are afraid to speak out for fear of something similar happening to us.  Give us the faith to speak your truth and lovingly rebuke those who obstruct your mission.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Thirty-five

Jesus is arrested and taken to the home of the Chief Priest.  Later that night, Jesus overhears Peter denying knowing him.  (Luke 22: 61)
(Excerpt from Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco)

     Christ, we pray for the girls on the reservation who have been traumatized by rape and incest.  Great Physician, heal them.  Reveal the truth to them-- that they deserve better; that they deserve family and friends who do not betray them; ones who will give them a stable and loving home.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Thirty-four

Judas betrays Jesus.  (Luke 22: 47)
(2014 Washington Post story of alleged sexual abuse on the reservation.  The accused was indicted by a grand jury but died in prison before his trial.)

     Christ, we pray for those who have been abused by a religious leader.  A sacred trust has been broken.  Individuals, families, and communities have been betrayed.  We grieve over the harm that has been done to the innocent.  In the lives of the perpetrators, in the lives of the betrayed, may your will be done.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Thirty-three

The disciples argue over which one of them is the greatest.  Jesus argues that greatness is shown through service.  (Luke 22:23-27)
(Fundraising video for a church mission trip with Re-Member non-profit)

     Christ, thank you for the opportunity to serve others.  Keep us humble.  Give us hope.  Show us how best to support the community's own strengths and possibilities.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Thirty-two

Jesus shares a last meal with his disciples.  He tells them that he eagerly anticipated celebrating Passover with them before his sufferings begin.  (Luke 22:15)
(Aaron Huey's 2010 TEDxDU talk)

     Christ, you generously share all that you are and all that you have.  We grab the best for ourselves, and claim that we deserve it more than others do.  Forgive us for our self-aggrandizing ways.  Save us, and train us to be your servants.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Thirty-one

Judas plots with the chief priests and the officers of the temple police.  He agrees to betray Jesus, and they agree to pay him.  (Luke 22: 3-6)
(Stephanie Schweitzer Dixon, Executive Director of the Front Porch Coalition and Amber Sam, Project Director of the Sweetgrass Project interviewed on KEVN Black Hills Fox.)

Christ, we see the horrific evidence that alcohol abuse hurts more than the body.  It hurts everyone around the alcoholic.  It unravels the fabric of a community.  It breeds despair.  It is the opposite of your will for our lives.  Enabling this to continue is a betrayal of you.  Show us how to withdraw our support from the system that keeps the alcohol flowing uncontrolled.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Thrity

Jesus spends his days teaching at the Temple and his nights on the Mount of Olives.  People are getting to the Temple early in the morning so that they can listen to him teach.  (Luke 21: 37, 37)

(Data from the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission)

     Christ, our leaders know the numbers.  Why doesn't this knowledge make them care?  Lord, we don't want to be like them, people who see others suffering and whose only response is a shrugging of the shoulders, a spreading of the hands, and a hardening of the heart.  Save us from such a weak moral imagination.  Early in the morning, we seek you out.  Teach us!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Twenty-nine

Jesus breaks the bad news to his followers.  Because of their association with him, they will be betrayed by family and friends, persecuted, arrested, imprisoned, and some of them will be killed.  (Luke 21: 12-18)
(KETV-News coverage of 2013 protest at Whiteclay.)

Christ, take away our fear of retaliation.  Help us to be brave advocates for the exploited.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Twenty-eight

Jesus praises the widow for offering everything she had to God and contrasts that with the offerings of the rich.  (Luke 21: 1-4)
(Video posted by Jesse Fruhwirth from 2013 protest at Whiteclay.)

Christ, help us to see the true worth of our offerings.  If we are holding back, provoke us until we keep nothing in reserve.  May our efforts, large and small, help to further your mission.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Twenty-seven

Jesus denounces the hypocrisy of the religious scribes.  (Luke 20:46)

(Coverage of protest at the Feb. 9, 2016 NE Liquor Control Commission meeting.)

Christ, we pray for wise leaders who will effectively control activities that have the power to destroy individuals, families, and communities.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Twenty-six

Jesus outwits the religious scholars who try to entrap him with their questions.  (Luke 20: 17-33)
Whiteclay
Ban on single-can beer sales could help Whiteclay's alcohol problem, some officials say - Omaha.com: Nebraska

Follow-up to news story:  On Nov. 9, 2105, Sheridan County Commissioners met with State Senator Al Davis, County Attorney Jamian Simmons, Sheriff Terry Robbins and more than 30 other people to discuss public safety issues in Whiteclay.  No action was taken.

     Christ, outwit the squelchers who try to smother new ideas.  Inspire the efforts of those who establish justice for all.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Twenty-five

Jesus, while teaching in the temple, tells the parable of the wicked tenants.  The religious leaders know he is talking about them, and they want to arrest him but fear the crowd,  (Luke 20: 9-19)

(An I Love Ancestry video: delegates from the Nation of Islam visit Pine Ridge.)

Christ, we don't want to end up like the wicked tenants, a group that only cares about themselves, that exploits outsiders and discards them when they are used up.  Save us and show us how to live a life that is based in respect for all.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Twenty-four

Jesus arrives at his destination amid shouts of Hosanna.  He weeps over the present and future state of the city.  His first stop is the temple where he disrupts the market set up inside the temple walls.  (Luke 19: 28-48) 
(Part of a Washington Post story, "From broken homes to a broken system")

Christ, the depth of your love for the people who will eventually reject you is amazing.  When you stick your nose into their business, it's because you want something better for them.  Fill us with your deep, abiding love.  Let it guide our involvement with others.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Twenty-three

Jesus passes through Jericho.  He tells the parable of the ten minas to illustrate what people should do with their time while they are waiting for the Kingdom of God.  (Luke 19: 11-27)
(Another episode from Hidden America)

Christ, who never fails us, forgive us when give up on ourselves and others.  We live as if the hard times smother any ability we might have to improve the situation.  We live as if outward circumstances are more powerful than inward grace.  Change the way we spend our time.  My we live in faith.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Twenty-two

Jesus, as he nears Jerusalem, again warns his disciples that he will be handed over, abused, and killed, but on the third day will rise again.  (Luke 18: 31-33)
(From Diane Sawyer's series, "Hidden America: Children of the Plains)

Christ, you knew your enemies would arrest you, and yet you kept going.  Kept moving towards your goal.  Kept teaching.  Kept healing.  Kept proclaiming that the Kingdom of God was in the midst of the people.  We admire your commitment to your mission.  Give us the inner strength to be more like you.  To persevere in the mission to which you have called us no matter what detractors might say or do.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Twenty-one

Jesus teaches about the simplicity of faith through parable and example (Luke 18: 1-17)
(Audio from 2012 protest mixed with the rap song "Poison!" by Che Christ)

Christ, you taught us to pray with humility, trust, and perseverance.  For decades, we have prayed for justice to be done in Whiteclay.  Like the widow beating upon the judge's door, we will not drop our prayer.  Like the tax collector humbly making his petition, we confess our need for your wisdom in this situation.  Like the child holding your hand, we have complete faith in you.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Twenty

Jesus corrects his listeners' conception of the Kingdom of God by telling them that the Kingdom is already in the midst of them.  (Luke 17:21)
(Part II of Pine Ridge High School video)

Christ, you are the source of our hope.  Thank you for those who live out this vision of hope and by doing so inspire hope in others.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Nineteen


Jesus heals ten lepers.  One of them, the only foreigner in the group, comes back to give thanks to God.  (Luke 17: 18)
(Part I of interviews with students and staff at Pine Ridge High School)

Christ, thank you for being there for us.  Help us to be there for each other, especially those who suffer.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Eighteen

Jesus tells the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.  "Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony."  (Luke 16:25)
(The Oglala Tribal President describes his attempt to meet with the Governor of Nebraska to discuss the problems in Whiteclay.) 

Christ, thank you for leaders who are like you.  Those who are servants of all the people.  Who do not abuse their position for personal gain.  Who do not exploit their power in order to enrich their family and friends.  Inspire more servant leaders among us.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Seventeen

Jesus teaches a simple truth -- You can not serve both God and money.  (Luke 16: 13)
(Video posted by Exposures Program about Camp Zero Tolerance in Whiteclay)

Christ, thank you for the prophets.  Even when maligned and ostracized, they continue to advocate for the innocent and vulnerable.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Sixteen

Jesus responds to complaints that he associates with sinners by telling the parables of the lost sheep, coin, and son.  (Luke 15)
(Another video posted by OYATE)

Christ, you are the Good Shepherd.  Your sheep hear your voice and follow you.  May we be wise leaders of the next generation, leading by example and showing them what it means to recognize you and to serve others as inspired by you.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Fifteen

Jesus warns those following him to Jerusalem of discipleship's cost (Luke 14: 25-35)
(Clip from Buffalo Nation: the children are crying) 

Christ, wipe away every tear from their eyes.  Let death be no more.  Neither mourning nor crying nor pain, for the old order of things has passed away

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Fourteen

Jesus tells the parable of the Great Banquet.  The invited guests decline to come, so instead the poor and the outcast are welcomed to the party.  (Luke 14: 23, 24)
(Video created by the Mitakupi Foundation about the teen suicide crisis on Pine Ridge)

Christ, our hearts break for the young people who feel there is nothing for them -- no future, no hope, no options.  You who broke free of the grave, show them the path that leads to life.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Thirteen

Jesus' enemies threaten that Herod is after him.  Jesus doesn't fall for their trick; he continues the journey even knowing that traditionally, prophets are killed in Jerusalem.  (Luke 13: 31-35)
(Second clip from the video Pine Ridge: Beauty and Despair)

Christ, transform the power of shame and turn it into the power to speak up for ourselves and others.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Lenten Devotion: Day Twelve

Jesus heals a woman who had been bent over.  His detractors complain because he healed on the Sabbath.  (Luke 13: 10-17)
(Clip from "Pine Ridge: Beauty and Despair" produced by The Strong Heart Preservation Movement)

Christ, our leaders don't know what to do.  We don't know what to do.  Help us find the solutions to the problems that plague us.