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UnRavelings… J. Wayne Yawn

  • March 20, 2018
The NCAA Basketball Tournament is at full throttle! It is the annual peak of basketball ACCOMPLISHMENT. But this accomplishment is just the winner of one game! The result might be different if they played again, as any total season demonstrates when the same two teams have played one another but each team experiences a victory. Basketball is a social rather than an individual activity. But individual players decide they NEED to work at their highest level for the team’s good. Moreover, this social versus individual dimension even includes the fans! You have often seen a coach or player urge the crowd to cheer and get more involved to be part of the accomplishment. Socially, “There is no ‘I’ in Team!”

The same is true with the team called church. Jesus’ idea of church wasn’t a house, but a team of Holy Spirit self-controlled individuals using Jesus’ attitudes of patience, kindness, generosity and gentleness to SERVE anyone they came across who was NEEDY. Helping that person, but at the same time they were self-conscious or aware that their inner sudden feeling was empowering joy and serenity from its personal self-satisfying ACCOMPLISHMENT from having filled one’s own NEED to be Needed. A single individual, like a single basketball player, can’t experience such an accomplishment. It takes working with other NEEDY persons. It takes giving in order to receive the accomplishment of fulfilled genuine human existence. It is the existence that Jesus called the sense of being GLORIOUS, complete, life as intended. So, Jesus taught that each individual is the church SERVING other NEEDY individuals and when that happens, church happens, turning the noun “church building” into a verb as the activity of serving, with its subsequent inner sense of most humane existence. As with a basketball team, the church has no ‘I’ in its team.

We are nearing the end of the Christian season of Lent. In light of these thoughts about church as a team of individuals serving persons in NEED to fulfill individual team members’ NEEDS to be NEEDED, I suggest that Lent can be seen being about individuals committed to serve other individuals in order that the total HUMAN team lives at its best—at its eternal quality level of existence. The small cardboard folded “tents” which were offered to each congregant at the beginning of Lent, had weekly suggestions to heighten awareness of the world’s level of physical hunger, to remind us that we cannot be fulfilled individuals without fulfilling the human NEEDS of others, like hunger. Our victory of human accomplishment depends on the accomplishment for everyone. That, my friends, is church! Sadly, the institutional idea of church has yet to have enough of its institutional congregants embrace this! It causes undue consternation about institutional decline. It need not! “There is no institutional ‘I’ in God’s Team” either.

  • March 13, 2018

Sunday at 2 a.m. Daylight Saving Time for 2018 started! “Spring Forward” one hour may allow us to make better use of longer afternoon sunlight. So, DST started to make better use of natural energy; perhaps increased driving safety and provided a better quality of life for those working the normal eight hour work day.

But, the benefits from DST depended on how humans managed this time—as with the benefits of anything. Highest quality life is and has always been God’s benefit for humans! But that depended on that which we humans did with life. Highest quality life or Eternal life was Jesus’ goal for teaching the importance of serving one another. Jesus taught that God created all humans needy AND with the need to be needed. Indeed, he said that need is where God, he called Agape-type Love, is best experienced. Love stimulated the desire to attempt to meet need. I have recently suggested that it was the first four fishermen apostle’s experience of same NEED of Jews and Gentiles for food (fish) that planted the idea in the four that Jews and Gentiles were more alike than dissimilar, contrary to the teaching of current Temple leaders. Surely, the fishermen’s personal experience made them question this prejudice. Thus, when a religious teacher named Jesus (also a Galilean) made their acquaintance, saying that as God’s chosen people they should do that which their personal experience taught them, they “quickly” (as the text says) left their fishing nets to become fishermen of men of both Galileans and Jews by announcing this transforming conclusion. In many ways life suddenly became less internally and externally stressful. Jesus’ teaching fit that which their personal experience authenticated as real! Jesus made more human and humane sense!

Jesus, a religious man, gave them religious justification and authority for that which their personal experience indicated to them. It made more sense to live a better life and helped to transform their inner and interpersonal social conflicts from antipathy to empathy. At least it made their lives less internally contentious, even if everyone didn’t agree with them. They began to feel freer, more joyous, serene and more authentically human and humane. Their inner experience was that which Moses verbally heard said from the burning bush as God’s “handle” to identify God. God is “existence” by which one is warmed-but-not-consumed—as prejudice consumes. Indeed, just as satisfaction with DST always depend on what we do with the need for more sunlight, as did the apostle’s satisfaction depend on whether they embraced Jesus’ confirmation of Jews and Gentiles both being needy. Today, many are increasingly finding LGBTQ persons just as needy as all persons, thus lowering their fear and prejudice! True Divine reality may “burn, but not destroy” until we hear Jesus confirming God’s diverse, yet humane reality! Well?

  • March 6, 2018

The month of March is known for its wind! At least symbolically, blowing away the snow covered frozen hard winter ground, making way for powerful, penetrating spring rains to resurrect long hibernating life. But I don‘t recall such a long period of continuous “angry” wind, absent the rain of a hurricane, than the wind of the last week! The damage was spotty, but fierce, as if some angry force was executing punishment on some and skipping others, up and down the north eastern coastland, like the Hebrew’s God inflicting horror on Egypt’s first born sons of the Exodus saga. People who discount scientist’s publications of climate change are fooling themselves! Refusal to use one’s God-given intellectual capability for critical observation and deduction finds one in dangerous company of chosen ignorance. The earth is like a man yelling “fire” in a theater, with viewers turning up the volume of the film to drown out the warning.

This is either the result of chosen head-in-the-sand ignorance; dependency on imperial supernatural divine intervening last minute salvation; faulty Biblical proof-texting quoting God never to get angry enough again to destroy human life, as at the Flood; or unbridled capitalism promising success to the greatest accumulators of material wealth. Remember, some current leaders are bragging they “love money” ignoring its cost to those by which they acquired it. They ignore: “the love of money is the root of all evil”!

These priorities contradict the way we are originally “wired”, not to live most fully by dominant power, but by the power of one-on-one service, using each person’s gifts, for the common “good” and inner sense of authentic life. The Apostle Paul wrote no power excels better than Agape need-serving power. We all die and not one of us can take that which we accumulate with us. All that our human experience can rightfully persuade us is our accumulation is left behind us to our fellow man to struggle, as should we, to build, “a life on earth as it is in heaven (from the Lord’s Prayer)”. If I ponder critically rewards being after physical death, my thinking easily becomes more about egotistic unholy “accumulation” rewards from a rewarding power after the fashion of a kingly, dominant power, rather than that of an incarnate Agape-type love-power God, who is about “serving” others, and fulfilling us as God designed. Think about it!

What makes the balance easy to tip in the unholy direction is that we humans can hold two opposing ideas at the same time. This drives us crazy until we are forced by physical death to face the unchangeable consequences of our decisions. Until death, we can rationalize the ideas of selfish accumulation and selfless distribution (serving) at the same time. We can unless we get tired of rationalizing or waiting for death to decide for us that a life of distributive serving is more trustworthy and indestructibly enhancing, than is a life of fear pushing us to maintain our destructible accumulations. Yes, rewards of trust and fear can exhaustingly co-exist, but only until one decides which is most enhancing, yes, even about global climate change “blowing” us both physically and emotionally with unusually strong winds. Instead, didn’t God create us to feel joy and peace when we act consistent with God’s designed best selves by serving one another, rather than by trying to excel over one another? Are you yet feeling the joy and peace of authentic life? Only serving does that! Well?

  • February 27, 2018
Pam Moyer, our Church Reception and Publication Minister, shared a recent experience during her lunch at a diner. I share with you with her permission. Pam noticed a mom, dad and grandmother with a female darling toddler, hilariously enjoying her newfound freedom to run about confidently with her slightly older brother, while the adults enjoyed their meals and conversation. Being the caring person she is Pam was watchful that the toddler might stumble and be injured. Sure enough, the toddler fell, surprised and with tears, obviously minus any injury but to her new found confidence. Looking around for an adult, her eyes caught Pam’s concerned and quick smile of assurance that she was okay, followed by Pam’s instantly outstretched arms, into which the toddler withered with satisfaction. The mother smiled permission to Pam as the father watched diligently, but without anxiety, which the grandmother took responsibility to best express. Pam shared with me that this obvious NEED, like a magnet, drew the adults of the tables together to be WITH one another in concern, conversation and joyous serenity experiencing being authentically alive from a toddler WITH need.

As Pam shared this dining encounter growing out of the sudden, yet surprising NEED of the toddler and the need of adults to be needed and to meet needs, it began to occur to me and Pam that the event was an experience of God, even literally WITH “a child leading them” to exist, in the moment, as God intends! Pam and I recalled that the Gospel writer referred to Jesus’ way of being with one another, as Emanuel, “God with us”! Oh, and none of this happened in a “church” building, but in God’s larger, real house, the whole earth—the universe!

This led us to discuss a conversation I had recently about the criticality of the institution of church and its facilities that absorb huge amounts of human time and money. Someone stated for the rest of us, “Without the church, who then would propagate the Gospel and guarantee its accuracy?” With Pam, I asked, hasn’t that always been God’s job? Didn’t God take care of that by making humans NEEDY and CURIOUS, so that when they “drifted” from designed existence they might be lured back to it? This design happened long before the institutional church! Aren’t we drawn together over NEEDS (like at the diner) to be our truest and best selves? God did this before a church existed. Would Jesus create an institution like that which killed him? Instead, didn’t he walk and dine among people to resurrect God’s designed spiritual presence of Agape NEED-triggered serving love, so people experience their designed “originality” and celebrate its joy and peace even with strangers, to become friends, in a diner, even? Wasn’t Jesus’ method the resurrection of God’s original serving human design? Is church really within us? Well?

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