Praying to Love

For many Christians, a supernatural theistic God is a daily reality in their lives, but for many others, this kind of God is simply not there. They long to feel God’s presence and God’s love, but instead they experience emptiness and isolation. They worship God in church, but find that God is not present in the sanctuary. They pray fervently to God in private moments, but realize that their prayers often go unanswered. In the end, there is only silence.2 The biblical character of Job cried out to God in despair, “I cry to you God, but you do not answer. I stand before you, and you don’t even bother to look.”3

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On Prayer and Pentecost

When prayers in Jesus’s name go unanswered, and when unrelenting “knocking on heaven’s door” produces no result – even when bargains are offered (“I’ll stop smoking”) – instead of confronting the possibility that God is not going to intervene, the failure is treated as a “test of faith” that “God has a better plan for me.” But the transformation of human thought is far more powerful than petitions to a discredited god. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit, first given by John’s Jesus, descends in tongues of flames on the Christian community gathered in Jerusalem. They are empowered to tell the story of Jesus in every language of the known world. Peter quotes the prophet Joel, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Paul proclaims, “For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” The imagery of fire represents the outpouring of the presence of sacred being and of creative power. No magic is required.

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More Things are Wrought: A Jungian Excursion

As part of this evolving universe we have our personal psyches, our individual mix of influences that shape and mold our lives and nourish our unique creativity. Amongst the multitude of forces that work within us is a central energy pushing us toward integration and wholeness. This integrating and creative force Jung called the Self.

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A Few Thoughts on Prayer

The indication here is that the answer to prayerful request is not the new bike, not health, peace, or justice, not any of the results that we usually pray for. It is, rather, the gift of the Holy Spirit. What is this gift? It is a heightened awareness of who God is, who you are, and who your neighbor is. The answer to prayer, quite simply, is a level of consciousness that is more in tune with God’s ever-abiding love. Inasmuch as prayer leads to this result, prayer is its own answer! As that awareness grows, we will become ever more conscious of God’s presence. God is always for us, in every way we can imagine and those we can’t. Our task is to become ever more aware of this love, and talking to God can assist that process.

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Jesus’ Prayer Promise in John 14:13-14: In What Sense Is It True?

In John’s Gospel, Jesus says to his disciples, “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it” (John 14:13-14).
I’m sure most reading this recognize that this is not some universal blanket promise. So we have to ask, “On what level is this true?” Or, “Is it true on any level?”

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Prayer

I think we need some method of communicating with God and prayer is the logical answer. But prayer in which we stop everything we are doing, get down on our knees, fold our hands and pray is not my idea of prayer. I think we should try to communicate with God any time we have a second to think about God or ask God to be with a loved one or friend, or share anything in our life with God. While driving, when watching TV, while on the lake alone, working in the garden, any of those times and many more, we should take a moment to commune (talk, whatever word you want to use) with God. It may be that those moments are more for us than for God, but I like to think that God listens and cares. I admit that I get awfully frustrated when I feel God is not listening because my petitions are not immediately answered in the way that I have requested. I know God’s answer may be “no,” but that is difficult to swallow.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Sin

Can we actually believe that because Eve persuaded Adam to eat a forbidden apple the entire human race is doomed to hell? Can we truly believe that for several thousand years there was no chance for any human to be saved, even though none of them had anything to do with Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden? Isn’t it ludicrous that a child born today is doomed because Adam and Eve disobeyed God? That creation/damnation scheme sounds more like devil-worship than God-worship.

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Would We Recognize Jesus If He Came Today?

The idea of a second coming of Christ is a mystery, if not explicitly controversial. Jesus’ followers apparently believed he would return during their lifetime after he was crucified. When that didn’t happen, later followers gradually changed the belief into an indefinite “someday.” After two thousand years of waiting, most Christians no longer look for it to happen in their lifetimes and acknowledge that Jesus may have been speaking metaphorically about his return. It is just as likely that those words were put into Jesus’ mouth by the gospel writers themselves. Wishful thinking?

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Sharing a Greater Vision

Yes I and all the rest of us must, even today, realize that we are still part of movements in history that are larger than the century we live in. in this fast food, instant movies, Twitter land, Facebook, “electronic device in every pocket” world that we live in there are still movements that are larger than today and we are, all of us, part of something grand.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – The Evil One

When it comes to the existence of the devil, people normally have one of two reactions: they dismiss the devil and scoff at the idea that there is such an entity, or they exalt the devil, and attribute far more to him (or it) than is deserved. In a recent Gallup poll, 70% of Americans believe in the devil. Half of those surveyed believe that he (this evil force is most often referred to in masculine terms) is a personal force, while the other half believes he is an impersonal force.
Let us see what the Bible says about Satan, the devil and the evil one.

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Buckwheat Salvation: Native Plant Revival Coming to a Church Near You

To hold a bloom of California buckwheat in the palm of your hand is to admire an infinity of heavens. Each little round flower is a mass of tinier flowers, their delicate pink stamens pointing out in every direction of the universe. The tough stems of the plant, with their little spiky leaves, stay green even now during one of the worst droughts in memory. Hiking on the flanks of Boney Mountain in the Santa Monica range a week ago, in an area ravaged by wildfire, I stopped to gaze at a buckwheat bush and congratulate it on its survival.

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The Stunning Resurgence of Progressive Christianity

With each generation, the popularity of religious conservatism has declined. Forty-seven percent of the Silent Generation (ages 66 to 88) are religious conservatives, compared with 34 percent of Baby Boomers, 23 percent of Gen Xers and 17 percent of Millennials.

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Developing Rituals With Meaning and Life

Over the last few years I have spoken and written extensively about my concerns with churches that continue to use ancient rituals, hymns and icons that reflect an understanding of a Fourth Century Christianity while the church leadership claims to be part of a progressive or at least “emerging” church. I am referring here specifically to the story that Jesus was the only begotten son of God, came to earth with one purpose, to suffer a horrible death as God’s sacrifice for the sins of the world. More than one critic of religion over the last century has argued that religions control participants with rituals that few ever give rational thought to.

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Ritual in Sacred Community: Reclaiming Eucharist

The central focus for Christian liturgy is the ritual Eucharist. Traditionally Eucharist (which means “thanksgiving”) has reenacted the last meal Jesus ate with his followers before the blood sacrifice of his execution at the hands of the Romans, but with the dogmatic interpretation that Jesus died to save sinners from hell in the next life. Twenty-first century progressive Christians are concerned more with living a life of justice-compassion here and now (as Jesus taught) than reconciling with a god that demands blood sacrifice in exchange for a carefree afterlife. What is required is to act with justice-compassion in radical abandonment of self-interest. Suppose that instead of terrorizing ourselves with the Advent of violent judgment, we were to celebrate the Advent of the Christ consciousness; instead of a Eucharist mourning the personal holocaust of Jesus’s death, a Eucharist of Ordination, in which we recommit ourselves to the great work of distributive justice-compassion? We have the power, at any moment, to transform the way we live our lives. We can choose not to participate in the retributive system of imperial war and systemic injustice. We can step into the kind of ongoing parallel universe of God’s justice-compassion at any moment. We can change our consciousness, change the paradigm in which we live, whenever we have the will to do so. Jesus is not coming again. We are; and when the rare opportunity presents itself, we can break the alabaster jar in remembrance of her.

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Ritual in Progressive Christianity

When we look at Christianity in particular, there are three issues to address: the role of the sacraments of baptism and communion in the future, new ritual created by and for small progressive groups, and thirdly, ritual that would be inviting to all people, regardless of religion.

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The Power of Ritual

In the short interval between hearing the words and partaking of the symbolic body of Christ, I was enveloped in one of those rare moments of total oneness with all that is. The word “body” became present to me in a way I had not previously experienced. A feeling of connectedness with all mortal life swept over me. And beyond that an awareness of my aliveness being one with the aliveness of the earth and universe.

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Ritual as Part of Life

Let us hold gently to those rituals which have had meaning for us, but examine them diligently to be sure they are inclusive of others. Let us find richness in rituals which honour the Earth, our home; which revere the non-human community; and which draw together the human species in strength and compassion.

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Corporate Worship

My understanding of the flow of worship is that it is a four act drama beginning with a “gathering” and ending with a “send-out”. The four acts of worship between the gathering and send-out are: 1) CONFESSION; 2) PRAISE; 3) DEDICATION; and 4) COMMITMENT.

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