18 December 2014

"Lord, Make Me An Instrument of Thy Peace"

We hold our fourth session of the Creative Call PlayGroup tonight and the topic is forgiveness. Here is a prayer by St. Francis of Assisi we'll encourage participants to adopt as a way to embrace a grace-filled life. We invite you to pray with us.

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.





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06 December 2014

Ferguson, Children, Grace and Christmas


Yesterday afternoon my colleague in ministry called to talk about something our church will be doing tomorrow when we gather for worship. We’ll be walking and praying in our neighborhood, joining other churches across the city in doing the same.

We will walk as a cry for justice, a cry for peace, a visible call for others to add their voices to these cries, to link hearts in solidarity.

If the church is God’s people, and if God identifies with the oppressed—reaches out to them in love, longs to love the downtrodden through God’s people—then it is the church’s responsibility to identify with the oppressed, to call for justice. If we do not, we are not God’s people.

So, we are walking and praying tomorrow as a symbol of our resolve to take a stand, to be responsive to God’s heart for everyone. The walk itself is no great feat, but if it serves as a symbol for something greater…then that will be world-changing.

To be sure, the recent events in the United States in Ferguson and New York have prompted this simple peace-walk but what should trouble us more is that these events are the same old story: “You’re different”—and “difference is bad.” What should trouble us is that racial discrimination (and all manner of injustice) happens every day all over the world, not just in the United States—and we do nothing or little more than nothing in response to it.  Yes, this should trouble us.

Someone looks and acts differently, so we use coercion to call them to conform—and the result is deadly.  

Even if we engage in arguments about who is “right” and who is “wrong” in these tragic scenarios, those are the factors at play: difference and coercion. And something dies in our heart and soul when things like this happen. We know something is not right. It doesn’t sit well with us. It disturbs us—and rightly so. The anger should tell us something. We were not made for anger. Even so-called “righteous anger” should be tempered with humility and gentleness—we’re only human, after all. Invitation is the most powerful kind of confrontation.

Since it is the Christmas season, I hasten to add that this lies at the core of the Christmas message. In the Christmas story we see God’s humble self. We see a confrontation with humanity in which God (the Almighty Most High) became the weak and vulnerable, gentle. God sent his Son to make peace—and peace was offered not loudly and in anger, but softly, quietly. That was a risky, bold move for God to make. Vulnerability, gentleness, solidarity with the powerless…the most powerless.

Who threatens Herod, the tyrant? A displaced Jewish baby, so wondrous.

God the peacemaker is shocking, truly.




Each Sunday in Advent has a distinct theme. Last Sunday, it was Hope. This Sunday, it is Peace. Week three is Joy and week four is Love.

I am thinking a lot about the sequence to those themes just now. We cry out in hope, longing for a better world—longing, waiting, expecting, praying and working for the day when all will be well, and all will be well, and all will be well.

That is our deepest heart-cry. It is a cry for peace.

When the hope for peace is fulfilled, we will have joy and live in love.

What more do we need? Nothing. There is nothing lacking in this. That is what makes this season so wondrous.



I have the privilege of serving as a children’s ministry coordinator at our church and I am grateful for the opportunity to help the children wonder deeply about all this. So, they will be invited to walk and pray right with the adults.

In fact, I think of children in the midst of this prayer walk like the secret ingredient in an award-winning recipe. If you leave them out, you lose the essence of what makes it so special.

Whether we realize it or not, anyone who joins the peace-walk tomorrow is doing it for the children. We do not really think that on Sunday we will walk and on Monday everything will be hunky-dory (that’s Minnesotan for “just fine”). No, what we want is real, lasting change. We hope that the world 50 years from now will be better—truly better, safer, more loving. We want to see the young grow up to be concerned for others, to rise to the aid of the poor and disenfranchised.

That is change. It is slow and will take a long time to nurture. It is a work the older generation can begin now but it must be embraced by the younger generation or nothing will really change.


Here is another reason I am glad the children are invited to join us on our prayer walk tomorrow: Racism is learned. It is handed down from the old to the young.

Here is a common scenario of how this happens: a wound was inflicted and a grudge is nursed. Just when the wound is on the brink of healing, it gets re-injured or we choose to open it up on our own again. Sometimes we grow so accustomed to being hurt that we hardly know what to do with ourselves without hurt. Hurt begins to define us. We label ourselves as “the wounded ones,” no matter what “side” we are on.

Regardless, we begin to form an identity that reinforces the notion of “us vs. them.”

“Those people…,” I heard someone say the other day. Yes, they used those very words: those people.

It is natural to “protect” our children, to seek to give them a space where they can grow and be free and safe. But it will be better to form in children an appreciation and love for people who are different than to cloister them in pockets of homogeneity.

Love and respect are better teachers than suspicion and fear.  Hurt does not need to define us anymore. Courage can.


This is heart work, at its core. Though laws may be passed and enforced now, if the work of peace does not take root in the hearts of children, no just society will flourish.

Legislation, however well-intended, is bound to fail in time. As the next generation matures and takes leadership, if they have no grasp of what it means to live peacefully with others (no experience of that), then interpretation and enforcement of once-good laws will be no more useful than learning to speak Homer’s classical Greek. People read it, but no one speaks it.

If, on the other hand, children learn to cherish peace in their hearts, their mouths will learn to speak it and their actions will embody it.

That is our task. It is akin to infection or art. You get caught up in it, without being “told” to do so. Beautify hearts and minds (especially the young—while they are not set in their ways yet) with a vision of dignity and respect for every living soul…

…young or old
…rich or poor
…male or female
…no matter the color of their skin
or the language of their tongue
or the condition of their body
or the afflictions of their mind (we all have them!).

Beautify and wonder. That is our task.



Tomorrow, before going out to walk, we will gather the children up front and take a good, close look at the Jesus-story that is there (via some small wooden figures). It looks like a nativity scene, but the figures also tell the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Never mind, the nativity itself is chock-full of the truths we need to consider before going on our walk. It’s all there. It is a vision of dignity and respect for every living soul…

…the young (Mary) and the old (the shepherd)
…the rich (the 3 kings) and the poor (the shepherd)
…male (Joseph) and female (Mary)
…people of all colors (the 3 kings, Mary, Joseph)
…Jew and Gentile, all together.

“I wonder where you are in this story?” I’ll ask. “I wonder where others are?”

We’re all in it. 

Beautify and wonder. That is our task.

I invite you to join in on it. Amen.




PlayFull is a non-profit, dedicated to helping people and organizations play from the inside-out. This includes racial reconciliation. We invite you to like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Thank you for reading. 

04 December 2014

Thursday Thought:: Brenda Ueland on The True Self

Tonight, we meet for session 3 of our new PlayGroup entitled The Creative Call. Participants receive notes each week that are designed to foster creative expression. This quote is just a slice of what we'll look at as we consider this week's theme: "Awakening".




“Remember always that the true self is never a fixed thing. You can never say: ‘Good. Today I find at last what I am really like: splendid type!’ You cannot say that because the true self is always in motion like music, a river of life, changing, moving, failing, suffering, learning, shining. That is why you must freely and recklessly make new mistakes—in writing or in life—and do not fret about them but pass on and write more. Active evil is so much better than passive good, which is just docility, feebleness, timidity.” 

-Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write 


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03 December 2014

see the tree

see the tree
on winter’s dawn
stripped clean of leaves—
her form poised,
her leg firm,
long arms outstretched.

now, look!
in this season,
at this time,
in this moment—
her fingers,
fine and strong,
have let go
and wait—
open,
beautiful,
patient without pretense,
moved only by the wind.






see the tree
by troy cady

















02 December 2014

O Come, Emmanuel

A beautiful song for Advent.




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28 November 2014

Waiting

It’s time to shop wait.

Sunday marks the beginning of a season that calls us to practice something that is hard for most of us: waiting. It is the season of Advent. The word Advent means “coming” but I suppose we could also call the season “waiting” because that is what we do during Advent. We wait.

For what do we wait? For whom?

We wait for the coming of the Christ.

“But, didn’t he already come?”

Yes, that is what Christians believe. And, yet…we look around and see pain, hunger, corruption, and greed. If Christ, the redeemer, has come…why does the world still look unredeemed?

There are many answers to this question but one answer is: We are still waiting. The king who came...is still coming. This is a mystery in which it seems there are more questions than answers. Christians do not like that. We want answers.

Advent is a time to make friends with unanswered questions. It is a time to quiet the noise so we can hear the questions; it is a time to sit in the midst of the tension those questions create. The tension awakens a longing. The longing cries out, often without words, “Come, Lord.”

…………………..

In our time, Christians quote nativity narratives during this season—we cite the early chapters of Matthew and Luke, with a measure of Isaiah and pinches of the minor prophets thrown into the mix. We like the parts about fulfillment. We like the part where the angels make an announcement to the shepherds.

But what do they announce?

“Peace.”

Do we have peace?

No. When we have peace, we will not read about carjackings and the health care crisis; when we have the peace God intends there will be no such thing as death row and deception.

We are still waiting.

A better text to mark the season can be found in Romans 8:

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption…the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”   -Romans 8:22-25

This is not our typical “Christmas season” text but it is well-suited to reality. There is much here to embrace. Slowly savor these formative words and phrases. You have time; we are waiting.

“creation”

“groaning”

“childbirth”

“wait”

“hope”

“wait for it patiently”

…………………………..

I understand that it is important to prepare for Christmas by making sure we have all our gifts purchased in good time, but as we hurry to shop maybe we can also find a way to be quick to wait.

Stillness and simplicity come to mind. This season of waiting is certainly counter-cultural. It is hard to wait, to be still, to pare down activity and shopping.

But it is good for us to do so.

…………………………

The word “redeem” carries with it the idea of “buying.” When Christians say that Jesus is our Redeemer, they mean that Jesus has “bought us back.” We belong to him now.

I think of that scene in Les Miserables where the kind, old priest refuses to charge Jean Valjean with theft. After the police leave, he tells Jean Valjean that he has just bought his life.

That is the picture of what Christ does for us. We are guilty but he buys our innocence.

What mercy! What grace! What freedom! With such a redemption, what more do we need? 

As we hunt for holiday bargains, I invite you to ask this question. It is an uncomfortable question—certainly counter-cultural—but I do believe it is a good question for us.

“With such a redemption, what more do we need?”

……………………………………….

Waiting does not preclude working. During this season of waiting, we consider those aspects of our world that are still “groaning as in the pains of childbirth.” And, we face the hard truth that just sitting and waiting for “the God who is coming” misses the point. In this in-between period we are given work to do.

At the end of the first Advent, Jesus commissioned us to do the work he modeled for us: heal the sick, feed the poor, “do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” He modeled forgiveness and grace, mercy and justice. He modeled humility and gentleness. He modeled truth, beauty and goodness—all categories that are up for debate in our departments of Philosophy. (We like to call them metaphysics, aesthetics and ethics to skirt the heart of the matter.)

The model of Jesus, however, is so wonderful because it does two things at once for us—and these two things seem to oppose one another.

On the one hand, the model of Jesus lays to rest the question, “How should we then live?” We have an example in the person of Christ. He shows us how to live. In Jesus, we have a crystal clear picture of truth, beauty and goodness.

On the other hand, the model of Jesus stirs a hornet’s nest in us because it begs the question, “How should we then live?” His model is one of freedom. He gives you the task of discovering how you will uniquely embody his character.

The model of Jesus also stirs us to a hoping kind of action because we see that our lives do not match up to his yet. We see that his will is not done “on earth as it is in heaven”—yet.

And, we see that that is precisely the work he has given us to do. When we say “Amen” at the end of speaking The Lord’s Prayer we are saying, “So be it—and empower us to make it so, to cooperate with God in making it so.” There is a tension implicit in calling out “Amen” because when we say it we are asking God to “make it so” while God’s “Amen” replies: “You make it so.” God’s will is that our will would cooperate with his will.

So, God forgives when we forgive. God feeds the hungry when we feed the hungry. We do not need to wait for God to do this because God has given that task to us.

What does this have to do with Advent?

If it seems like peace is a long time coming, work and wait—and you will see Jesus in the faces around you and—Lord willing—yours.

Advent is a good time for waiting and working…which is to say, hoping and redeeming.

I invite you to make friends with waiting these next four weeks.





15 November 2014

Puppies Vs. Stairs

Perfect for a Saturday morning smile! Playful puppies...:)




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11 November 2014

"Work freely and rollickingly" :: A Good Word from Brenda Ueland

“This creative power and imagination is in everyone and so is the need to express it, i.e., to share it with others. But what happens to it?

“It is very tender and sensitive, and it is usually drummed out of people early in life by criticism (so-called “helpful criticism” is often the worst kind), by teasing, jeering, rules, prissy teachers, critics, and all those unloving people who forget that the letter killeth but the spirit giveth life. Sometimes I think of life as a process where everybody is discouraging and taking everybody else down a peg or two...

“You know how all children have this creative power…But this joyful, imaginative, impassioned energy dies out of us very young. Why? Because we do not see that it is great and important. Because we let dry obligation take its place. Because we don’t respect it in ourselves and keep it alive by using it. And because we don’t keep it alive in others by listening to them...

“You have noticed how teachers, critics, parents and other know-it-alls, when they see you have written something, become at once long-nosed and finicking and go through it gingerly sniffing out the flaws. AHA! A misspelled word!  as though Shakespeare could spell! As though spelling, grammar and what you learn in a book about rhetoric has anything to do with freedom and the imagination!”

“Remember these things. Work with all your intelligence and love. Work freely and rollickingly as though [you] were talking to a friend who loves you. Mentally (at least three or four times a day) thumb your nose at all know-it-alls, jeerers, critics, doubters.”

excerpts from If You Want To Write by Brenda Ueland

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05 November 2014

Why So Many Souls by Meister Eckhart



Why So Many Souls

When were you last really happy?
Let that experience ferment,
bring it to mind once
in a while.
Surely in the genesis of that past moment, when you danced,
you would not have wanted a constable
to have knocked
on your
door,
or have said, “You just entered
a restricted ground.”
Why are there so many stars and souls,
with no end in sight for
them?
Because nothing can interrupt God
when He is having
fun,
creating!



By Meister Eckhart



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29 October 2014

Jim Carrey's Parody

Hump Day is humor day at PlayFull. Jim Carrey is hilarious in this parody of Matthew McConaughey's Lincoln ads. This is what happens when you take yourself too seriously, Mr. M!




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23 October 2014

Thursday Thought:: Anne Lamott on WOW



“Try walking around with a child who’s going, ‘Wow, wow! Look at that dirty dog! Look at that burned-down house! Look at that red sky!’ And the child points and you look, and you see, and you start going, ‘Wow! Look at that huge crazy hedge! Look at that teeny little baby! Look at the scary dark cloud!’ I think this is how we are supposed to be in the world – present and in awe.”

-Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

..........

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17 October 2014

Glad Hope

Do not fear.
God is near,
nearer than a moment’s breath,
closer than the truest friend in death.

Do not fear.
God is here,
a solid path under your feet,
the sun above to warm the day,
the star ahead to guide the way,
behind you in mercy,
within and without in grace.

Are you brokenhearted?
There is a healer.
He is the same
one who made clay
and you are a masterwork
in the making,
soft

and he is shaping
something new
with love moving his hands
and a song swelling
from the depths—
he sings from the gut
strong and sure.
The words have ancient weight
but the tune is ever-new.

These notes you hear,
this music,
is how God breathes
new life into dry dust.
When the pitch is low,
God mourns with you.
He suits the song
to the times,
a companion in sorrow.
But eventually,
when we are fully alive,
we will rise with
God’s wind in our lungs—
souls filled with glad hope.

Look! There is a child
dancing and laughing.
Do not fear.
God is near.






glad hope
a poem by troy cady












08 October 2014

Sister Wisdom



Sister Wisdom
by Troy Cady

Yesterday I posted a prayer that went like this: “Sister Wisdom, teach us that one humble prayer is greater than countless proud thoughts."

The prayer elicited this response from someone who knows me well and whom I respect greatly: “When I read your post this morning I was wondering, where you got ‘Sister Wisdom’?  I've never heard that phrase used and I thought God was the source of all wisdom.  I don't always get things, or I’m getting slower in my understanding, so I'm just asking.”

I thought it was a good question and I thought others might like to hear my response so I’m sharing it below. I hope it helps!

-Troy

……………………………

Thank you for asking your good question, Bev.  I especially appreciate that you didn’t just come out of the gate with accusations of “Heresy!” J

At the outset, I must say…I agree with you: a prayer addressed to “Sister Wisdom” doesn’t seem quite right, does it? I suppose it might feel to someone like I’m praying to a God other than the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Rest assured, that was not my intention. So…why address a prayer to ‘Sister Wisdom’?

I must confess, it’s an artist’s prayer—which is to say it is a prayer in which I took artistic license. I only hope I did not take too much license. That said, here’s where it came from…

The prayer was inspired by my reading of King Solomon’s book of Proverbs yesterday. In chapters 1-9, Solomon personifies the quality of wisdom by using feminine imagery:

“Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares…” (1:20)

In chapter 3, verses 13-18 we read another passage in which wisdom is personified as a woman. Again, in chapter 4, verses 5-9 we find the same.

With that in mind, we come to chapter 7 and in verse 4 Solomon writes: “Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,’ and call understanding your close relative.”

Primarily, the expression ‘Sister Wisdom’ is derived from this verse and from the anthropomorphic images of wisdom prior to this.

To be sure, Solomon is using poetic imagery here but it is an image he uses consistently and Jesus even uses it when speaking of himself and John the Baptist: “But wisdom is proved right by all her children.” (Luke 7:35)

After instructing us to call wisdom “our sister” in chapter 7, Solomon returns to the theme of “wisdom calling out” in chapter 8 with these words in verse 17:

17 I love those who love me,
    and those who seek me find me.

That “sister wisdom” would say that we should “love her” and “seek her” seems strange to our modern sensibilities. “Whom should we love and seek but God alone?” we might ask. “How can this be Scripture?” Well…it is poetry.

The chapter goes on to personify wisdom in terms that seem even more striking. Again, the words may sound heretical to us. The poetic device is made more effective by the shock of it, by the seeming-absurdity of the expression.

Observe carefully in verses 22-31. This is wisdom speaking again. The words “me” and “I” refer to “her.”  To identify with the shock of this text, it might help if you imagine in your head that it is a woman’s voice you hear:

“22 The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works,
    before his deeds of old;
23 I was formed long ages ago,
    at the very beginning, when the world came to be.
24 When there were no watery depths, I was given birth,
    when there were no springs overflowing with water;
25 before the mountains were settled in place,
    before the hills, I was given birth,
26 before he made the world or its fields
    or any of the dust of the earth.
27 I was there when he set the heavens in place,
    when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
28 when he established the clouds above
    and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
29 when he gave the sea its boundary
    so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
30     Then I was constantly at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
    rejoicing always in his presence,
31 rejoicing in his whole world
    and delighting in mankind.”

In speaking about the text, we are constrained to say, “Wisdom says that the Lord brought her forth as the first of his works. She was formed long ages ago, when the world came to be.” That said, in the early church, that first line of this passage would have raised some eyebrows—as if wisdom is somehow distinct from the Father of wisdom. “I was given birth…I was constantly at his side…” she (wisdom) says.

Those lines in a different time would have been condemned right alongside the heresy of Arius.  Of course, the wisdom of God is not literally some child that was given birth by God at some point in time prior to the earth being formed, but Solomon is using a poetic device to help us understand how God and wisdom go hand-in-hand.  

That is where the prayer addressed to Sister Wisdom comes from. It is a poet’s prayer that is trying to take into account what Proverbs is saying: “We never find true wisdom without finding God and we never find God without finding true wisdom.” The two go hand-in-hand. To seek wisdom is to seek God and to seek God is to seek wisdom. The prayer to Sister Wisdom is simply an expression to convey this but I also wanted to employ the same feminine imagery Solomon uses.  So…I am sorry if it caused offense or mislead anyone.

That said, I do find it interesting that Solomon uses a feminine voice to portray wisdom. He could have just as easily used a masculine voice. I do believe this should not surprise us, because this male/female way of describing God is something we find right from the beginning. 

In Genesis 1, in the creation account, we are told that to be made in the image of God is to be made as “male and female.” Both sides together image the Creator. That means there is a male/female aspect to God. We have seen that Proverbs 1-9 bears this out and there are other texts that do so, too.

While it is true that most of Scripture employs the pronoun “he” in reference to God, properly speaking God’s self-description is not gender-specific because it is verb-expressed.  A key text is Exodus 3.

Moses asks, “Who should I say sent me?”

God answers: “Say I AM sent you.”

Again, it should shock us that God defines himself as a verb (we tend to think of God as a noun). But, because our language is so limited, we tend to use nouns and the pronoun “he” when we refer to God. I just did it in the first sentence of this paragraph. Notice: “…God defines himself as a verb.”  

But verbs are not gender-specific. They include both male and female. He can run just as much as she can run. With that in mind, notice the dissonance in Genesis 1.

“So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.”

Do you hear the dissonance? To be sure, the text says ‘in his own image’ and ‘he created them’ but in the same breath it says God created them ‘male and female’. So, somehow, to be made in the image of God is to be made male-and-female. Both-together image the Creator. That is what the text states. But the limitation of language constrains us to pick a pronoun to reference God and the pronoun of choice happens to be ‘he’.

This is not to say that I think we should start referring to God as ‘she’ all the time now. Indeed, Jesus taught us to pray ‘Our Father…’ and that is good enough for me.

But, inspired by Solomon’s poetic description of wisdom in feminine terms and…keeping mind that wisdom and God go hand-in-hand and…keeping in mind what it means to image God and…taking into account God’s self-description in Exodus…I took the liberty of addressing God as “Sister Wisdom.” I do not think there is a separate entity from which wisdom springs other than God our Father, but the poet/artist in me felt it was fitting to address God as such.

Once again, I hope this does not cause offense or lead anyone astray. At the same time, I do hope the prayer serves to strike a new chord in us about how incredible and mysterious our Maker is.

Thanks for understanding.

Love,
Troy


P.S. I am convinced that it is God’s both/and nature that confounds us on many fronts. He is both…

…near and far
…grace and truth
…Almighty and gentle
…at work and rest
…perfect in holiness and forgiving of sin

I notice that our tendency when speaking of God is to lean one way or the other. Indeed, my daily prayers bear this out from one day to the next. Some days, the words that form in my heart when addressing God are very formal; other days, I seem to be addressing God the Carpenter who visits me in my workshop.

From time to time, I have folks write me…asking about certain prayers. I can tell they are wondering if I’ve somehow “lost my way.” And…I have noticed that the prayers that elicit questions from others all fall into the God-is-near category. For some reason we are okay with a God who is high above and holy but not a God I would see stocking shelves at Walmart.

Yet that is precisely the gospel that Christians proclaim. The wonder of Jesus is that by him God came near. To understand the gospel properly, we should hear dissonance in that phrase: God came near. God came near.

This is why I started PlayFull…to help us appreciate the both/and nature of God, to live in the tension of it. Even the name of our organization Play…Full bears this out. It is misspelled on purpose. There is a fullness to play and a freedom (like play) to fullness that we often miss. The goal of PlayFull is to help us live in the tension, the art of that both/and. “To play from the inside-out.”  

Earlier I said that God defined himself as a verb. The wonder of it is that God is not only a verb, he is also a noun. It is both/and. If God were only a verb, we would not be able to know him personally, objectively. If God were only a noun, we would not experience his movement…we would not know him subjectively (which is the crux of Christianity). He is both verb and noun.

That said, the best we may be able to do this side of eternity is to address God throughout the course of our lives one trait at a time. That is a limitation of being human, though God himself is completely unlimited. So, in my prayers I will address God as “Divine Love” or “Creator” or “Beauty” or “Joy of all joy” or “Gentle Lord”.  None of these expressions completely define God but all of them are true in their own way. Sister Wisdom is no exception to that. It is a form of address that says, “Wisdom and God go hand-in-hand. If wisdom invites us to call her ‘sister’, I may address God as ‘Sister Wisdom’.”

Today, however, I could have just as easily addressed God as “Brother Jesus”. To be sure, Jesus is Lord and addressing him as a “Brother” seems presumptuous, but…if we are God’s children by faith and Jesus is God’s Son, then Jesus is our brother—so the expression would be justified even though it is limited.

That said, the statement ‘Jesus is Lord’ should, in its own right, shock our ears: the name Jesus was just as common in first century Israel as the name ‘George’ is today. Imagine claiming ‘George is Lord’ to someone today and we will begin to understand more fully the scandal intrinsic to authentic Christianity. It is both universal and particular at one and the same time.

I do hope you don’t think I’m off my rocker now. On the contrary, I feel as though I’m discovering God all over again these days. He is so big and mysterious! Thanks, again, for understanding.

05 October 2014

The Sabbath Clock



The Sabbath clock
by Troy Cady

When you step into one of the children’s ministry rooms at our church you’ll see a large wall-hanging, prominent in the space. It looks like a clock but there is only one hand. In place of numbers and minute-marks are blocks of varied colors: purple, white, green and red.

There are more green blocks than any other and only one red block. The purple and white blocks always adjoin each other and there is a curious sequence of white blocks that feels to me like attention-getting laughter, unstoppable and overflowing.

It is definitely a clock but…what kind of clock could this be? Some people call it the “church clock” but I prefer to call it a Sabbath clock. Here’s why: it tells time by days of rest.

The children are both fascinated and frustrated by this clock. Each week they get to move the hand one block, but that is all. Time on this clock does not move very quickly. In fact, it is downright slow! Some children have made their peace with that while others invariably want to move the hand 4, 5 and sometimes 12 spaces at a time. I suppose adults are that way, too.

The Sabbath clock is a patient clock. Mostly, it is patient with people who are impatient. Never mind, try as we might to speed up what the clock wants to form in us, she will not be rushed. We can try to move the hand more, but that will not change what color marks the day. The Sabbath clock is always true, never too fast and never too slow. We do not control her; she is like the sun that way.

The Sabbath clock tells a story we’re in but it is not primarily our story. It is the story of God-with-us. It is the story of a surprise guest named Jesus. We waited and waited and waited for this guest until it seemed like we were waiting for Godot, the visitor that never comes. The surprise is that when God came, he came as a big God in the disguise of a little God. Jesus is the Godot that shows up at the end to make a new beginning. The story of Jesus starts small, as small as a baby—small, but new.

The story of the Sabbath clock goes on to include celebration, revelation, and Pentecost—both immanence and transcendence.

In a word, the story of Jesus is a Sabbath story. This clock tells a new creation story. That is why Christians changed the day of observing Sabbath from the seventh day to the first day of the week.  Something new happened and happens on that first day of the week. What was dead rises. What is dead rises. What was renews to become what is and is to come. That is why the Sabbath clock marks time differently. It is a clock of past, present and future. We will never be able to tell time outside this clock. In fact, strictly speaking, it is a clock that does not even tell time—it tells eternity, which is beyond time.

Yet somehow we meet this eternity in our time and place, like Christmas. We meet Sabbath in the here and now but, properly speaking, Sabbath is more a place in time than a time in place.

I like this Sabbath clock because it reminds me that God is God and I am not. It reminds me of things that are beyond my control. It reminds me of a story in which I’m swept up, in which we’re all gathered like children in a full-circle hug. 

I like this clock because it reminds me to slow down. I do not need to be in a hurry, because…God is not limited by what I can accomplish in a work-week. God’s work is restful. God’s work is Rest.

I wonder if you’d like a clock like this in your home? I wonder if you know…it’s already there, whether you realize it or not. Look for it. The Sabbath clock might be hiding in a closet somewhere, silently smiling, full-faced, waiting to be found. 


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01 October 2014

The Parable of the Good Shepherd

Grace Covenant Church is one of the churches PlayFull is involved with. Here's a short video of one of the stories we adapted from Godly Play. When we tell stories in childlike ways, they have power to transform both children and adults. Enjoy!




PlayFull offers training in children's ministry and we create fresh ways of communicating Scripture stories that engage people of all ages at one and the same time. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Thank you for reading.

27 September 2014

Dumb Ways to Die

A playful and hilarious reminder to be safe. Guaranteed...you will not forget! Enjoy...




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20 September 2014

18 September 2014

Thursday Thought:: Brennan Manning on The Open-Mindedness of Children



Here are some challenging words by Brennan Manning from his book The Ragamuffin Gospel.

“If we maintain the open-mindedness of children, we challenge fixed ideas and established structures, including our own. We listen to people in other denominations and religions. We don’t find demons in those with whom we disagree. We don’t cozy up to people who mouth our jargon. If we are open, we rarely resort to either-or: either creation or evolution, liberty or law, sacred or secular, Beethoven or Madonna. We focus on both-and, fully aware that God’s truth cannot be imprisoned in a small definition. Of course, the open mind does not accept everything indiscriminately—Marxism and capitalism, Christianity and atheism, love and lust, Mo√ęt Chandon and vinegar. It does not absorb all propositions equally like a sponge; nor is it as soft. But the open mind realizes that reality, truth, and Jesus Christ are incredibly open-ended.”


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17 September 2014

You Pick the Winner!

Okay, folks: the time has come!

*Drum roll, please...*

Three weeks ago, we posted a contest on playfull.org in which one lucky person would win ONE DOLLAR!!! :-)

The contest involved thinking up a creative, new name for a common, everyday object.

Four respondents sent in their ideas and it's time for you to decide.

View the survey below, cast your vote and we'll announce the winner on Monday morning...


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Funny Dogs

Hump Day is humor day at PlayFull. Don't take life so seriously! Take a lesson from these dogs...

















Source. 


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12 September 2014

"I Wish You Happiness"

“Try saying this silently to everyone and everything you see for thirty days: ‘I wish you happiness now and whatever will bring happiness to you in the future.’ If we said it to the sky, we would have to stop polluting; if we said it when we see ponds and lakes and streams, we would have to stop using them as garbage dumps and sewers; if we said it to small children, we would have to stop abusing them…if we said it to people, we would have to stop stoking the fires of enmity around us. Beauty and human warmth would take root in us like a clear, hot June day. We would change.”

-Joan Chittister, In a High Spiritual Season

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*The quote came courtesy of the Daily Dig, sent by Plough.

04 September 2014

Thursday Thought:: Richard Rohr on The Trinity

Author Richard Rohr writes:

“The fourth-century Cappadocian Fathers tried to communicate this notion of life as mutual participation by calling the Trinitarian flow a 'circle dance' (perichoresis) between the three. They were saying that whatever is going on in God is a flow that’s like a dance; and God is not just the dancer, God is the dance itself! The Incarnation is a movement—Jesus comes forth from the Father and the Holy Spirit to take us back with him into this eternal embrace, from which we first came (John 14:3). We are invited to join in the dance and have participatory knowledge of God through the Trinity.

“Trinity is the very nature of God, and this God is a circle dance, a centrifugal force flowing outward, and then drawing all things into the dance centripetally. If this God names himself/herself in creation and in reality then there must be a 'family resemblance' between everything else and the nature of the heart of God.

“Scientists are discovering this reality as they look through microscopes and telescopes. They are finding that the energy is in the space between the particles of the atom and between the planets and the stars. They are discovering that reality is absolutely relational at all levels. When you really understand Trinity, however slightly, it’s like you live in a different universe. And a very good and inviting one!”


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*Note: the text above appeared in Richard Rohr’s daily email meditation on August 20, 2014. The meditation was entitled “The Trinity as a Circle Dance” and it was adapted by him from several audio teaching sources he provides.