Do We Climb Mountains with Jesus or With Moses?

Yesterday’s gospel portion was Matthew 5:1-12 one that most of us are familiar with because it contains the Beatitudes, the very heart of Jesus message to his disciples and what many regard as the commandments of the kingdom of God.  The passage begins with a phrase I had never noticed before When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain… Sounds like Moses our rector commented.

Moses I thought yes Moses also climbed a mountain to receive the ten commandments, the laws of the old covenant but here the similarity of his climb seems to end.  Moses climbed alone.  The people stayed behind.  Moses disappeared into a cloud that hid God’s presence and separated God’s glory from the rest of the Israelites.  He received the laws alone, written on a tablet of stone – rules and regulations that unfortunately the Israelites had never seen modelled and I suspect really did not understand.  I wonder if Moses understood them either.  No wonder they all, Moses included, needed forty years in the desert.  It was there that they learned generosity, compassion and caring.  It was their that they learned to trust God in an intimate, personal way no other people had ever known.

Jesus climbed the mountain together with his disciples and the crowds that followed craving something new out of life.  They already knew he was different and wanted to know why and what he had to offer.  On this mountain Jesus taught them the laws of the kingdom of God that were written not on a stone tablet but on his heart and in his life.  Yearn for justice, work for peace, show forth compassion.  These were the very things that his followers had seen Jesus live out. They were woven into the very fabric of his being.   These were the things that had made them crave something new and made many of them willing to leave their livelihoods and their job security to follow him.  They were not only written on Jesus heart but became imprinted on the hearts and lives of his followers too – a new and living covenant that turned the world upside down in a way that the laws Moses brought down from his mountain never could.

How I wondered do we climb our faith mountains today?  Do we climb together with Jesus and with others who crave the same life transforming knowledge we do?  or do we climb as Moses did – alone into a cloud that hides God from those we walk together with?  I am not sure if this analogy is what the Biblical scholars intended but it certainly has me thinking as I begin this week and I would love to hear your thoughts too.

 

Grunewald Guild – Something Good Happening in Leavenworth

This morning Dan and Lois Orberg from the Gruenewald Guild came to visit us at the Mustard Seed House.  It was another delightful encounter as we discussed our respective ministries and overlapping passions.  The mission of the Grünewald Guild, an ecumenical Christian community in Leavenworth Washington, is to promote and encourage creativity within individuals and congregations in response to the mystery of creation through the exploration of art & faith.

They are getting ready to host a series of Living Room Lectures – the first being on Art and Earthkeeping February 25 – 27 .  I wish that I could attend.

Parish Collective – Learning to Belong to A Place

Last night we met with Paul Sparks, Dwight Friesen and Ben Katt involved in the Parish Collective here in the Pacific NW as well as Steve Knight from the Transform network.  It was an exciting time of learning as we grappled with what it means to incarnate Jesus in the places within which we live.

The Parish Collective is one of the most encouraging networks I have come across for a long time as I strongly believe that churches of the future will need to be deeply rooted in their local communities.  It is very much in keeping with the emphasis on sustainability that we are concerned.  In fact the whole network is about local presence and sustainability and I would highly recommend it for all those who are looking for resources on how to be more locally present in your neighbourhoods..

They will be hosting a conference Inhabit together with Mars Hill Graduate School and Transform Network April 29th – May 1st.  Yes I know it is the same weekend as my spirituality of gardening seminars in Portland and Hood River.  So time to struggle with those choices between local and distant.

Here is how the Parish Collective is described:

Welcome to a collective of people who have begun rooting in neighborhoods and wish to develop supportive relationships that link their groups to:

a) Stories from similar contexts
b) Critical resources and guides
c) Friends and partners in their neighborhood, city, and region.

Learn more here

Who Says It Always Rains in Seattle – the Sunsets Just Get Better Every Day?

Nothing speaks to me more powerfully of the awe inspiring nature of God than an beautiful sunset.  In the last couple of days we have had the most beautiful sunsets in Seattle and I wanted to share their breathtaking beauty with you.  Notice not just the sun but the amazing cloud formations too.  Enjoy!

Valentine’s Day Is Coming – How Do We Help to Encourage Fair Trade Practices?

Yesterday I received my email copy of ePistle Evangelicals for Social Actions weekly electronic communication.  This article caught my attention:

Ivory Coast is on the brink of civil war, and chocolate companies could play a critical role in saving lives and bringing peace.

In November, former President Laurent Gbagbo lost democratic elections but is clinging to power despite united international pressure, ruling through his brutal army that has killed hundreds. Cocoa is the country’s largest export, and if chocolate companies stop doing business with Gbagbo now, his cash supply to the army could dry up — and he could be forced to step down.

This situation could spiral into all-out war within days. Let’s flood our favourite brands with messages to suspend trade with Gbagbo now and commit to working only with the legitimate government. Click to send a message directly to leading companies — and we will publish which companies have cut their financial ties to Gbagbo.

To send a message click here

However it occurs to me that we need to do is more than send a short message of protest.  We need to protest with our feet too – (or maybe I should say with our mouths).  Are you planning to buy chocolates for Valentines this year?  If so where are you planning to buy them from.  Are you supporting conflict chocolate…yes, conflict chocolate, like conflict diamonds but with more caffeine.?  If we only buy chocolates that are produced by fair trade and that do not support civil conflict then I suspect it will create even more reaction than our sending of protest letters.

Cadbury’s in the UK already uses only fair trade chocolate for its milk chocolate bars, but there has not been enough outrage here in the US for them to consider making the same change.  And Hersheys has made no strides in this direction at all.  So Valentine’s day is a great time to educate ourselves and others about the Dark Side of Chocolate and how buying fair trade makes a difference.

And if you are afraid that you will need to cut back on your chocolate consumption think again.  There are lots of companies out there that produce high quality fair trade chocolate.  Divine chocolate is truly divine and Theo chocolates produced locally here in Seattle are a real treat.  In fact how about planning a tour of Theo chocolates as a Valentine’s “date” this year?  It is fun, educational and even supportive of a just world.

 

African Huts Glow With Renewable Power

This is a beautiful story.  Having worked in Africa I am very aware of how often those at the margins struggle to provide the basics of modern life that we so take for granted

As small-scale renewable energy becomes cheaper, more reliable and more efficient, it is providing the first drops of modern power to people who live far from slow-growing electricity grids and fuel pipelines in developing countries. Although dwarfed by the big renewable energy projects that many industrialized countries are embracing to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, these tiny systems are playing an epic, transformative role.

Since Ms. Ruto hooked up the system, her teenagers’ grades have improved because they have light for studying. The toddlers no longer risk burns from the smoky kerosene lamp. And each month, she saves $15 in kerosene and battery costs — and the $20 she used to spend on travel.

Read the entire article

 

Are You A Wasp or a Bee?

Bees on Borage

Yesterday I was talking to our good friend Graham Kerr about the garden seminar at Hillcrest Christian Fellowship in Mt Vernon.  We got to talking about mason bees.  In the midst of our conversation Graham asked me Are you a wasp or a bee?

Mason bees are the pollinators in the garden.  They are gentle industrious creatures that go from flower to flower and from garden to garden gathering pollen.  Unlike honey bees they do not develop hives but lay their eggs in holes in existing wood. Without them the fruit would not develop and we would have no harvest.   Even honey bees are a valued addition to any garden.  Their sweet nectar cannot be equalled and is regarded by some as the food of the gods.   Wasps on the other hand are parasitic.  They lay their eggs in the host and their young eat and eventually kill the host.

Graham reminded me that the Western church is filled with WASPS (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) when it should really be filled with bees.  What we need are church members who go out into their gardens (communities) and spread the pollen of God’s good news enabling the flowers (people) to produce fruit that will one day be harvested to feed others. At the same time are we bringing back sweet honey to our own communities that can nurture the young and make them able to become mature adult bees (followers of Christ)

I love this analogy.  So my question for you is: How can we all become part of God’s bee patrol today?