Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Stories, Beloved and Gardens to Tend

Loving God remind us to be truly grateful of these gifts that You bestow upon us. Guide us with your steadfast love.

We thank you for us, Your Beloved, and for the many stories we share about your grace. 

Remind us to value all of your people and their stories with the many ways we call ourselves as Beloved children of God.

We are wondering why we are here;
Wondering what we are supposed to do,
and wondering if we are where we should be;

Yet, we sometimes forget about the garden where we are.

It is a garden that needs tending and some love from us.
It has some weeds,
dirty air, ugly water, dusty rocks,
barren patches,
and some things we haven’t identified yet.
Also, there are some patches that really show the beauty of Your work.
In that whole garden, Your grace that is revealed (each part.)
You have given to us a garden that is full of opportunities, in the midst of our wonders.

If we let go of what we cling,
If we let go of what we think we want to say,
if we look at what God has given to us in this garden,
and if we just listen with open heart;
We may experience the authentic,
The Spirit, the Christ here on Earth still speaking to us.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Devotions - Love of All Creation

Devotions - For Love of all Creation
Tony E Dillon-Hansen

Tai chi and martial arts give us a way feel the energy around us in this creation.
If you like, stand with balance in your feet 
and let your spine stack one bone on top of the other,
Breathe in and out, 
let go of everything that came here with you.
All, With Left arm under right feel and hold a ball of that essence.

“Ooh, [Maybe], do you know what that's worth?
Ooh, heaven is a place on earth!
They say in heaven love comes first.
We'll make heaven a place on earth.”

Genesis 1:26-31 (NRSV)
26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind[a] in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth,[b] and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”
27 So God created humankind[c] in God’s image,
    in the image of God We were created[d.
28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 29 He said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 [She] saw everything that [She] had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

We are wondering many questions about creation.
We are wondering about us.
We are wondering why we are here;
Wondering what we are supposed to do, 
Wondering if we will have peace, justice, or have health;
and wondering if we are where we should be;

Yet, we forget about the garden where we are.

A garden that needs tending and some love from us
It has some weeds,
dirty air, ugly water, dusty rocks, 
barren patches, 
some things we haven’t identified yet, 
And also some patches that really show the beauty of your work.
In that whole garden, Your grace that is revealed (each part.) 
You have given to us a garden that is full of opportunities, in the midst of wonder.

We may not recognize these opportunities.
In this garden, 
We are blinded by many visuals, 
isolated by many walls, 
and deafened by many noises; 
these distort our vision from what is real and true.

From Psalm 46, 
“Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted in the earth.”
The LORD of hosts is with us,
The God of Jacob is our refuge.”

If we let go of what we cling, 
look at what God has given to us in this garden, 
and just listen with open heart;
We may experience the Spirit, the Christ here on Earth.

There are many injustices, bigotries, pain, and worry; 
but humbly ask Your guidance 
through the pastures of opportunities
and the waters of living 
to find You and to realize what is already around us.
So that, We may experience that Heaven on Earth. 

“When I feel alone, I reach for you,
And you bring me home.
When I'm lost at sea I hear your voice,
And it carries me.

In this world we're just beginning
To understand the miracle of living.
Maybe, I was afraid before,
But I'm not afraid anymore.

Ooh, maybe, do you know what that's worth?
Ooh, heaven can be a place on earth.

They say in Heave, loves comes first--
because every child of God comes from 
God’s love to live in God’s creation.

We can make Heaven our place on Earth.
Maybe, we can observe Your beauty among us (especially on days like this.)

You gave us this time and this place 
to be here in Your Creation on Earth
As a temple of Your faith in us 
This is Your garden that You have given to us—our Earth
Let us be reminded and cherish this precious gift
Our Heaven on Earth.

Now rotate that ball of essence you have been holding.
Rotate it up to see into this essence.
Creation has been there all along
Witness and breathe and listen.

Thanks be to God

When No One Will Listen - Matthew 11

When No One Will Listen
Tony E Dillon-Hansen

A Sermon based upon Matthew 11:16-19,25-30; Zechariah 9:9-12 and Psalm 145

Will you pray with me?  Let God guide our senses, our hearts and our ears to receive the lesson given to us.  May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our Rock, Our Redeemer.


Have you ever been rejected or ignored? 
Good! You might understand what John the Baptist and Jesus felt like in our lesson.  Simply, their communities are hearing but the people are not listening -- instead conjuring stories.  
We know this happens in our society (sometimes with brutal consequences) where people are skeptical and cynical of messages, but we should question why. 
With that, I would like to consider what you would do “when no one will listen.”

One evening, I was tasked to take care of a couple young boys.  Once the parents left the kids in my care and closed the door, I asked the kids what we should do, thinking that we might play some video games or watch cartoons. The older child (5-year-old) Randall had, however, already worked out another mission, and it did not take long for him to point out a green jar on the counter.  I see young Randall pointing at the jar and say “Can I have a cookie?”  I politely declared to little Randall, “there are no cookies.” 

So, I thought maybe the kids were hungry and started thinking about what to make for dinner. After a bit of consideration, guess what? Little Randall comes over and points once again at the jar and asks, “Can I have a cookie?” Again, I said “there are no cookies.”  This time, Randall did not just go away, but you could see the pondering in that young mind.

For a third time, the young one says, “there are cookies” and that he would like a cookie (adding appropriate manners,) “Please?”  I pull the jar over and pop open the jar --low and behold, there were some cookies!

With that, I ask you what would you do when no one is listening?

Young Randall spoke truth to power.
Maybe, it was generational differences.
We humble ourselves and find different ways to be accepted.
Then the powers-that-be may be humbled because of the experience


Let us walk through other cases, and I challenge you to walk with me on these.

You have been walking along one day with your friend, hanging out, and enjoying the day. 
Suddenly, police cars pull up, they get out of the car and tell you to get against the wall. 
You ask what is going on and what has been done.   
With your wisdom, you do not resist,
 but you are perplexed and maybe a bit agitated.
Clearly, this is a case of mistaken identity!
You plead your innocence over and over with emotions running high.  
You even ask for the time but get nothing.
Yet, these people are not listening to you. 
They put you in handcuffs and stuff you in the back seat of a car.
They take you downtown, but no one believes your story.
You did not have a chance to talk about your family at home.

Where is the justice? Again, I ask what would you do when no one is listening?

Do you feel powerless?
Do you get sad, question your friends, or get angry?
Again, what would you do when no one is listening?
In the midst of injustice, I suggest that Jesus understands.

Another recent story,
You are an officer of the law barely been on the beat and minding your radio on patrol.
A person walks up to the car, says incoherent words, and starts firing.
You had nothing to do with this other person’s pain.
You did not even have a chance to plead for life or to argue innocence.
You did not have a chance to talk about your family and friends at home.

When do you stop crying,
give up, get angry,
or find God?
Where is the justice? What would you do when no one is listening?
In the midst of violence, I suggest that Jesus understands.

John the Baptist and Jesus spoke truth to power,
And from our lesson, each one understood the rejection of no one listening.
We also know each knows the humiliation of unjust death.

Where was the justice then? What should Jesus do when no one is listening?
Clearly, Jesus understands what injustice feels like.
We know what Jesus did on the cross.
During that injustice, Jesus forgave us, blessed us and
Then turned to His faith in God.

Remember that Each of these are examples of bad things happening to good people:
to a Beloved innocent black man,
to Beloved Officer Martin,
to our Beloved Jesus
and to their Beloved families now facing loss.
I suggest the reason why things happen is less important as what we do about it.

These are opportunities
to come together as one,
to bring comfort to those hurting,
to learn more about faith, and to reinforce your faith.

You see, these are sad stories of deep issues that face our communities.
Then, the powers-that-be use these to divide us.

Thus, some people won’t even give you the time.
People assume they have all they need;
that they know everything,
They won’t even listen to the truth,
even when the “truths to be self-evident.”

That is what happens to John the Baptist and Jesus in our story. 
They have been speaking truth to power and telling the good news.
Yet, people are making fun of them and accusing them of stuff they never did. 

People simply do not want to listen, but Why?
Perhaps, they were tired of years of oppression and occupation.
Perhaps, they were ripe with fear from centuries of torture and exile.
Maybe, they were in denial of the cookies in the jar.

That is the power of fear that divides our communities from doing what is right. 
That fear diminishes when communities gather
to counter injustice or to support our Beloved fallen.


Instead of fear, there should be more listening and community.
When I finally listened to young Randall, I witnessed the truth. 

When no one is listening, what do you do?
Amid horrors, I suggest that we know that Jesus understands.

We know this from powerful examples of perseverance,
communities of comfort,
and honorable service.
The best in us is when we become examples of God’s image lived
 -- compassionate humanity is
God’s work here on Earth.

Our lesson from Matthew tells us that wisdom is in the truth itself,
and that is embodied in the work and burdens of Jesus.
When we are examples of Jesus in our lives and our communities,
We have a chance to witness the power of justice and peace embodied today.

There is no need for fear when you feel that power. 

What would you do when no one is listening? -- I am glad you asked.

You rest in the comfort and grace of Jesus. 
You embody the wisdom of Jesus by extending your help to those in need. 
Through Christ, we can be humble and find rest.
We can walk with people in pain because we know pain. 
We can walk with people because we know love.
We can walk with people because we know compassion.
When we personally extend our compassion
with full, unconditional love to our Beloved neighbors
both for the black community and for officers on duty,
(we should extend to our Hispanic neighbors, American Indians
and wounded warriors suffering PTSD and other injuries)
That is when we embody Christ in us.  

They all need our support, our love and our gratitude.

We are also told in Matthew that whenever you do for the least of my people, you do for me.
That is because we are all Beloved children of God (1 John).
Black Lives Do Matter.
Blue Lives Do Matter.
Yes also, Indians protecting their water Do matter.
Immigrant lives Do matter.
Queer lives Do matter.
There are rich cultures and communities to behold.
When you give them light, you give light to the work of God.

We know, full well, that our brothers and sisters, uniformed and neighbors, need our help
-- not just as token phrases
but from our revealed compassion
today and tomorrow.
That is what Jesus would do.
That is why “wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

When you have love of creation and love of neighbor
and you welcome all to the table of communion,
you are with your beloved brothers and sisters.
That is when your wisdom will be proven in your deeds.

Finally, our scripture lesson, from Zechariah, talks about a rider coming in to save the day.
That is a great image when we are suffering.
The comfort of Jesus riding to us:  Not alarmed, not hard and fast, but steady and gentle on a donkey.

When we need help the most,
Jesus assures of burdens being lifted and comfort given
with steadfast love.

It is just like the people around John the Baptist and Jesus
because those people had an opportunity to witness the Truth
but instead hid in fear.
In fact, we have an opportunity.
when we let go of fear and pain around our society.
We can come to the presence that is waiting.
Just ask, reach, and know that comfort awaits.

Even in the darkest hour,
Even during pain or betrayal,
Even when hope feels lost,
And Even when no one is listening…
There is someone.

There is someone
With whom you can let go of pain and injustice.
There you will find someone listening with whole heart--ready to help.
There is the comfort you need.

Yes, when you feel the presence of Jesus in Spirit and in Community,
you can feel comfort, justice and hope
because there is someone who will listen.

Thanks, Be to God.