Epiphany

Light in the Darkness

Light in the Darkness

Today is the feast of the Epiphany—the culmination of the Christmas season. In the darkest days of the year, we have been proclaiming Christ made manifest as the Light of the World that is in darkness. In Christian Orthodoxy, this is the Christmas. When we first moved to Georgia, I learned two things. I was extremely jealous of my Jewish playmates. They got presents for 12 days! I also noticed that Christmas decorations came down right after Christmas whereas in Pennsylvania they came down after Epiphany. Continue reading

Christmas Reflection

DB0A1089If “God” is not up there and out there, if the “God” of theism is dead, then incarnation (Christmas) takes on significant new meaning. Incarnation means that divinity is refreshed in matter, in the physical and material. The Cosmic Christ speaks to incarnation. Divinity has been enfleshed in materiality from before that explosive moment in time when the divine became stardust, when hydrogen life began. “God” is Life as it comes at us, Life bursting forth.

The Buddhist perspective gives me a new focus on the Cosmic Christ. Buddha is not divine. The Buddha became more than what he was. Buddhists are very aware of the Buddha within. The Buddha, more than most, became the incarnation of compassionate living. Buddhist prayer is distinct from Western Christian prayer. Buddhists do not pray to a superpower up there and out there who will come to their rescue. Buddhists bless one another. They are Buddha to one another.

In post-modern thought, the Christ is not divine as coming down from above to rescue a fallen humanity. In the case of Jesus of Nazareth, myth has been translated into fact. For example, when I stood in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, I did not think for one moment that I was at the actual place of Jesus’ birth. Jesus was born in the backwater town of Nazareth. Interpreting Jesus, the early followers came up with the Bethlehem story to show that the Christ was descended from David. Jesus, like the Buddha, became more than what he was. He became the Christ.

The Cosmic Christ, enfleshed “divinity,” now lives in all of creation and in each of us. Paul had it right–“I live. Now not I but Christ lives in me.” This is Christmas. This is incarnation as all mortal flesh keeps silence, pondering the immensity of Love pouring forth. Incarnation is a growing awareness of unity with all that is. Christmas is compassion.

Incarnation is justice, right order, flowing down like a mighty river. Incarnation is reaching beyond our survival instinct to become more than what we are.

Thomas Merton had a profound experience of Love incarnate at the corner of Fourth and Walnut (now Muhammad Ali Boulevard) in Louisville when, looking at the people scurrying about their daily business, generalized, “I am one with all these people. . . It is a glorious destiny be a member of the human race, though it is a race dedicated to many absurdities. . . If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, No more cruelty, No more greed.” Merton further described his experience as enfleshment, as incarnation, “I have the immense joy of being [human], a member of the race in which God became incarnate.” When we accept and bless others, we become more than what we are, more Buddha-like, more Christ-like, more divine, more of what we are meant to be..

Russ Parker, an Episcopal priest from the UK teaches that we are called to be people of blessing. When we have positive expectations and bless others, powerful things happen. The Cosmic Christ–Love Incarnate–works all things for good. The Cosmic Christ Love Power bends the universe toward justice where slalom wholeness rules. Cosmic Christ Love changes the game. Poverty is power.

Love pours forth as blessing, blessing for the cosmos and all creatures. A few weeks ago, as I was approaching the Wal-Mart in Titusville, I saw a woman walking on the sidewalk. She had a purse and a shopping bag and had just finished talking to another man. As she looked at me and approached, I was beginning to wonder what she wanted. Was she going to ask me for a handout? Then, I was completely taken aback as she said, “Can I pray for you.” I said, “No.” Then, for some reason, I stopped and went back asking, “Pray for what?” She said, “For your healing.” (I should add that I had just finished a one hour bike ride before my shopping trip and I had a hitch in my giddyup.) I said, “Okay.” She took my hands and prayed for me and my legs. The evangelical tone of her prayer made no matter. The fact that she blessed me with healing prayer mattered. I came out of the store. She was no longer there. I was haunted for the rest of the day with, “I was visited by an angel–Love in the flesh.”

Christmas tells me that we are here to be Christ for others. We are here to bless all creation. We are here to be Love incarnate for one another.

Have a blessed Christmas.

 

Homily Third Sunday Advent

Great Egret

Great Egret

Today’s reading from Thessalonians reads, “Rejoice always.” In Philippians, Paul expanded this and wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near.”

He exhorts us to rejoice always. We say, “Always?” Are we to rejoice when all is going wrong?  Paul would answer, “Yes, always.” Paul is not speaking of happiness which is a “mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.” Happiness would have us rejoice only when things were positive. Paul is speaking about joy. The dictionary definition again stresses the positive. The scriptural definition of joy goes much deeper. Continue reading

Homily Second Sunday of Advent

Grey Bloc Belgrade

Grey Bloc Belgrade

On our Danube cruise last summer, we were in five former Soviet Bloc countries as we went from Budapest to Bucharest. Years after the end of Soviet domination, signs of drab life under Communism still remain. In the cities there are block after block of dull grey bloc apartment buildings where workers were forced to live an equally drab existence. Retried Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong recently reflected on his visit to former Soviet bloc countries and said Communism fell apart because Communism misunderstood human nature. From “each according to ability and to each according to need” is a prescription for failure. Our basic instinct is for survival, not for the common good. People came out from under Communism just as the Israelites escaped the drab slavery of Pharaoh’s Egypt. They set forth with a dream of a just society where everyone mattered. Time and time again, they would go astray but prophets, like Isaiah, called them back to the noble vision. Continue reading

Homily for Christ the King

P1040403In 1925, Pope Pius XI established the Feast of Christ the King. His intent was to emphasize that secularism does not hold the answer for Christians. Ultimately our allegiance is to the Risen Christ and not to worldly things. In today’s consumer world, we need to examine what drives our lives. Some pundits say it is the economy that has replaced religion, “The economy is my shepherd, I shall not want. My IRA leads me to restful waters.”

Jesus was a Jew, not a Christian. He followed in the footsteps of the revolution begun by Moses. Moses led the Hebrew people out of Egypt where Pharaoh oppressed them. The Exodus story is not about locust plagues and parted seas. Moses and the Israelites were setting about the task of creating a system where justice prevailed. Continue reading

God Shelters Us

Photo by Leandro Taub

Photo by Leandro Taub

God is my shelter,
My refuge in troubled times.
I can count on God.

God delivers me
From the trapper’s snare
And deadly diseases.

God covers me with pinions
And under God’s wings I find
Shelter from all terrors.

Terrors of the night
And the threats of terrorists
Do not make me fear.

From all evil threats-
Ebola, ISIL, and all-
God is my shelter.

Sickness, famine, war
Will not cause me any harm.
God is my refuge.

God walks at my side
And my foot will not stumble
And I will not fall.

Homeland Security
Is not the place for our trust.
God alone will deliver us.

Call upon our God
Who will rescue and save us,
Our protector always.

Christ Pantokrator*
All powerful and mighty
God is our protector.

*Lord of Hosts, God Almighty (Orthodox icon)

c. J. Patrick Mahon, 2014

Lord of the Sabbath

Lord of the Sabbath

Lord of the Sabbath,
Jesus the Christ has now come
To give us freedom.

Freed from the old law,
We participate in new life,
God’s adopted children.

It is not the law.
It is all about people
And their human needs.

Christ became human
So that we might become God,
Made in God’s image.

God is related love
Going way beyond God’s self
For the other’s sake.

Spirit led are we
To transcend survival instincts
For the good of all.

God is e’r faithful
That we too may be faithful,
Disciples of love.

Feeding the hungry
We give food to Christ himself,
God love incarnate.

Housing the homeless
We give Christ a new manger,
A loving shelter.

Caring for the sick
We bind up the wounds of Christ,
Healing balm anoints.

Freeing the imprisoned
We set free the fire of love
To bring new freedom.

Swords mage plough shares.
We bring God’s shalom to all.
Peace trumps violence.

God comes to us
Disguised as life’s encounters,
Incarnation made real.

The Christ comes to us
In the poor’s distressed disguise-
Their god life shines.

Love one another.
Be faithful to the Good News,
God dwells among us.

Lord of the Sabbath,
Lord of the Dance bring us joy.
Teach us to dance life.

© J. Patrick Mahon, 2014

The Beast

This is one of the readings for the feast of the Assumption. This haiku is dedicated to the people of Gaza, the Ukraine, Ferguson, MO and all people who are enduring the attacks of the Beast, the evil Leviathan.

Revelation 12

 

Heavenly temple

Filled with the ark of the Word

A symbol of hope.

 

The woman appeared

Clothed in stars, the sun and moon

Wailing to give birth.

 

The woman represents

All God’s people—old and new

Seeking life’s fullness.

 

Eternal feminine

Life giving nurturing love

Prevails forever.

 

Church of the Christ

Assaulted by the empire

Trying to destroy life.

 

Dragon Leviathan

Hurling down the stars above

Thrashing all about.

 

Technique* driving on

Destroying life in abundance-

Alienation abounds.

 

The woman gives birth

God takes up the child; the Christ

Will overcome the beast.

 

Safe in a desert

The woman enjoys refuge

Awaiting the new age.

 

From desert places

Comes rich life in abundance—

God-Love abounding.

 

The desert of silence

Will overcome the deathly din

Of evil’s empires.

 

Empire will not rule.

God’s kin-dom overcomes evil

And all will be well.

 

Indeed all is well

And all will ever be well

In God’s Love Kin-dom.

 

Sing praise to the Christ

Who leads us on shalom** paths-

With life in abundance.

 

*Jacques Ellul, French philosopher, describes the fact that in our technological society, technique orders our lives. Technique relies on reason to find the most efficient solutions to problems and challenges. Technique excludes morality and God from life choices. As such it is a false god, an idol.

 

**Health, wholeness, well being.

Psalm 16

Matthias Church Sanctuary, Budapest

Matthias Church Sanctuary, Budapest

Thomas Merton and Jacques Ellul, French philosopher, shared common views about technology and its potential to sap us of our true selves. While technology enhances many human endeavors, technique, Ellul’s term, points to the dangers in a world that focuses totally on reason and the best, most efficient technological solutions to problems. In Psalm 16, the psalmist reminds us that God alone is our allotted portion and cup, our sanctuary. In God alone will we find our true selves, the image of God dwelling deep within us yearning and moaning to come to full exposure in our lives.

This is a psalm about the temple as sanctuary. The temple is a symbol of God’s presence to us and in us.

Psalm 16

You are my refuge.

I place all my trust in you.

You alone are God.

 

Others chase idols—

Power, pride, and possessions.

Technique* rules their lives.

 

Their choices add to

Their sorrows, woes, and troubles.

Their lives are in vain.

 

But you are my God—

My allotted portion and my cup.

I find peace in you.

 

I lead a good life.

You fill me up with grace.

And blessings abound.

 

Even in the night

When darkness encompasses,

You give me counsel.

 

You are with me now

You save me from deep despair

You promise me life.

 

In you I rejoice

I am filled with shalom hope

I glorify your name.

 

*Jacques Ellul, French philosopher, describes the fact that in our technological society, technique orders our lives. Technique relies on reason to find the most efficient solutions to problems and challenges. Technique excludes morality and God from life choices. As such it is a false god, an idol. In the thought of Herbert Marcuse, German philosopher, technique makes us one-dimensional people with no real choices in life.