Food for Thought-An Alternative Communion Service

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Invitation

Christ, our main man, is asking you to a big time people meet. All of his homies, his whole crew, everyone gonna sit down and say, I’m through with sin and now we living in peace. People living in peace ain’t afraid to admit when they been wrong:

Confession and Pardon

God, you got mercy up in your house!
I ain’t been straight up with you.
We all been doing our own thing.
None of us doin’ nothin’ legit.
We all a bunch of gangstas.
We act like we care then do whatever the hell we want.
We at war with anyone and everything we see.
We can’t help nobody in need, what if they from some other crew?
We some messed up misfits JC, we praying to you TODAY,
Get some forgiveness up in here,
We tied up and can’t do nothing,
Let us go so we can ride with you,
In your most righteous name,
Jesus the Christ, our Main Man,
A to the Men.

Leader to people:

Listen up y’all:

Christ, our Main Man, went down for us while we were still on the street, gangbangin’ and livin’ mean. You need any more proof he loves you? In the name of Jesus Christ, our Main Man, you are off the hook.

People to the leader

You are off the hook.

The Great Thanksgiving

The Big Man be with you.

And also with you.

Lift up the beating center of who you be.

We’re gonna give our hearts to God.

How ‘bout let’s give some thanking to the Big Dude, the Main Man, the Lord our God.

What you gonna do but that? It’s the only right thing to do my brother (or sister).

It is the only right thing to do brothers and sisters, and we gonna do it with joy, up in here, over there, outside, and everywhere. Ain’t no place we not giving good thanks and joy to the one who done it all.

So, let’s do that song, all you homies, bangers, and gangstas here on earth with the winged rappers in the sky whose rhythm ain’t stoppin:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God is mighty powerful,
Heaven and earth cannot contain what he is and all he be,
Hosanna in the Highest
Blessed are those who come in the name of the Main Man, the Lord, the Big Dude,
Hosanna in the Highest.

Nothing is going lay a finger on you, your boy, our Main Man, JC.
When that dude went down to the water, when he was baptized by fire on the mean streets of south Jerusalem, when they beat him, killed him, and that brother still come back, we knew we was into something good. That’s when it started to roll. That’s what you call church, being came into being, was up in the house, in one fell swoop. You had paid the man off. We was clean. Free from the mess of yesterday. All of the death, the killing, the sin was gone.

In a world where people break promises. You made a promise by water and your Spirit.

On the night before they got you, here’s how it went down. You was with your c. You took some of the bread ya’ll had to eat. You ripped it in two, gave bits to everybody in the crib and said, “Eat up, this bread, it’s like my body which I’m giving up for you. Every time you come back to eat, remember what I’m doing now, do it like this.”

After they finished eating, you took your big ol’ cup and said how thankful you were everybody was eating together one last time. Then you wanted everybody to drink out of the same cup. You said, “Drink outa my cup, all of ya’ll. What’s in this cup represents my blood. My blood that I’m going to shed for you. When you eat and party like this again, remember how we did this and drink in my memory.”

So that’s what we doing here. We remembering. What you did for us. On the mean streets of south Jerusalem. We doing it cause we grateful. We standing up here saying, we want to be like you JC in every way possible. You got it going on. Make us like you, holy, living, examples on our streets, right now, as we say what you did.

JC; Christ has died; Christ has risen; Christ will come again.

Find that Holy Spirit pitcher and drench us with it! Put it all over the bread and wine on this table. Make this here be for us, like you said, your body and blood, so we can go out and be like you, the body of Christ, redeemed by your blood TODAY!

Bring all us homies together, with you, JC, working in your gang, until you get back to make all things cool, and we eating at your big party.

Through your boy, the Main Man JC, the Holy Spirit which we can’t hold a candle to, and the church we in, you getting all the props, from now until whenever you coming back, Amen.

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Food for Thought-Richard’s Morning Prayer

Blue-Sky

Richard’s Morning Prayer

July 31, 2014

Good Morning God,

Thank you for bringing us safely through the night and into light of this new day.

May we treasure this day as the gift that it is and share its blessings with reckless zeal.

May we look for you in the places we least expect, least want to see, and least hope to find.

May our love for you extend beyond boundaries and limits we have defined as “your standards”.

May our lives light a path for the pilgrims who follow behind us to travel safely and live in peace.

May we seek reconciliation for the hurts of the past and listen to the pains of today.

Hear Our Prayers,

Food for Thought-A Perspective Check on Israel, Gaza, and Our Christian Faith

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Perspective Check for Christ Followers on Israel, Gaza, and Our Christian Faith

As the war between Israel and Hamas drags on, I am growing more frustrated by the media coverage, violence, and senseless slaughter. Any wider perspective which may have existed a few weeks ago has long been discarded and distorted. Where, as Christians, may we locate some shreds of perspective in the rubble of Gaza and Tel Aviv? Begin at the beginning. Genesis 1:26 tells us that human kind was made in the image of God. If everyone is made in the image of God, whether these humans call God Allah, Yahweh, or God, we as Christ followers grieve the loss of life. Life is sacred. Body counts are not trophies to be touted as means to manipulate emotions, public opinion, or to provoke further violent responses. They should not lead us in search of false choices.

In one of my former ministerial incarnations, I worked with the mentally ill, the homeless, and drug addicts who came to my church seeking assistance. Many of the individuals had combinations of all three of these concerns in their lives. My friends from the street would say wild and untrue things to me about the world they inhabited and the people they encountered. They often lived in horrible conditions. Sometimes landlords took horrible advantage of them because of their illnesses and addictions. Their concerns and stories needed to be heard. The problems they faced were real. At times, they said outlandish things, things they believed to be true and things they wanted to be true, yet were products of their drug addled minds. Yet this didn’t change the fact they weren’t due to be evicted or owed money by an employer. No matter what paranoid delusions they invented, if they had no food, they were still hungry.

My point is this: when someone wrongly advocates the destruction of the state of Israel, we don’t have to take them seriously. Anyone can say anything they want to say. It doesn’t make it true. It’s not going to happen. Just as my friend Kevin believed aliens came into his room at a hotel on Capital Boulevard most nights, this knowledge can go in one ear and out the other. We can ignore it. It didn’t happen last night and it’s not going to happen tonight. It’s painful to hear and it is not true. However, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen and take seriously the other issues and concerns held by ordinary Palestinians who live in the Occupied Territories. People have lost their homes, jobs, and livelihoods. This is not widely reported in the western media. Few Christians are aware of their important concerns. When people feel ignored they lose hope. When people have no hope, they become more likely to do stupid things in the name of religion.

What would happen if Christians listened to the legitimate concerns of the Israelis and the ordinary Palestinians?  What if Christians preached this perspective openly and with abandon? It would get ugly. People would call us un-American, terrorist loving sympathizers, and a host of other mean epithets. Because it is said, does this make such words true? No. The more we acknowledge how out of line the world is with the reality of the Gospel, we’re bound to take some hits.

Remember, the crowds constantly wanted Jesus to pick a side. “Tell us who you are Jesus,” they asked. Jesus even queried Peter, “Who do you people say I am?” Whose side do the people think I am on? “Tell us”, they wanted to know, “are you on John the Baptizer’s side? Are you on Elijah’s side?”

Perhaps Jesus is not on a side at all? What if we found ourselves in Jesus’ favorite spot, between what some deemed the obvious right and others the obvious wrong? That would be a good place to be, wouldn’t it?

Food for Thought-Richard’s Morning Prayer

The Sky for the Trees, Ocracoke, July 2014

The Sky for the Trees, Ocracoke, July 2014

Richard’s Morning Prayer

Good Morning God,

Let’s do this thing! A new day is here, full of possibility and promise and we want to be part of your unfolding vision. Let us step into the opportunities for witness and service that are right before our eyes. Help us to meet those opportunities with smiles, compassion, and the love you have taught us to embody.

We offer our own prayers for those among us and those around our world in need,

Hear our prayers..

Food for Thought-There Is A Dog Under My Desk

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There Is A Dog Under My Desk

There is a dog under my desk,
adjacent to my feet,
I feel her nasty breath,
she is staring back at me!
her wee little head,
looks so sweet,
when she tries to smile
with her canine teeth,
my toes while smelly,
rest comfortably on her belly,
she looks at me like I’m crazy,
I tell her she’s lazy,
life is never boring,
when Ruby is in your story.

–Richard Bryant

Food for Thought-Letting Go of Your Inner Narcissist-Meeting Jacob’s God, Thoughts on Genesis 32:22-31

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If this passage does anything it tells us with no uncertainty that our relationship with God can be both painful and elusive. Once we encounter God, we will be physically and emotionally different people. And yet we still may never be able to put into words what happened.

God is never something or someone we can “pin” down. As much as we try, as close as God may get to us, God remains both near and far at the same time. God is like a parent, a shepherd, but also a king and creator. God is so close and distant. These images are sometimes side by side in the Bible, in creative tension with one another, and reveal the central aspect of Jacob’s encounter with the Divine; God is with us at the most crucial moments in our lives. How this occurs and the form which this occurs, are questions that Jacob and we will never have answered. Yet the reality of these moments (and this moment) is undeniable.

Our relationship with God is something that happens on God’s terms. This is a story about God coming to us, not us coming to God. For me, this is where this story touches our lives most directly. The way Jacob encounters God is fundamentally alien to the manner to the way in which western Christian culture has come to describe their own relationships of redemption and salvation.  This is not the way we like to tell our personal religious stories. Face it, we’re narcissists when it comes to relating our own conversions and encounters with God.  Our stories are about all about us.  We sinned, we messed up, we knew we need to change, we met Jesus, then somewhere near the end He became our Lord and personal savior and changed our lives. Jesus, God, (however you want to term who you feel most comfortable with) works his way in near the conclusion and does his divine salvation magic. Up to that point, it’s been all about us and our drama.   Again, my point is, we made the call.   It reminds of a person with very dirty carpets.  We called in a cleaner to work on our carpet after realizing that no matter how much stain remover we applied it could ever do the trick. We only needed the carpet cleaner, the hard working service professional, for a specific task (to come in at the end), then he could leave. He wasn’t crucial to the emotional crux of our story; how we slaved over those stains, how we almost became comfortable with the filth and grime in our homes, until we saw the light during a carpet cleaning program on television or someone took us to a carpet cleaning seminar across town. My point is this: the focus is always on us and our lives. The action centers on us and decision we took in our own salvation. Jacob’s story and scripture really doesn’t want us think that way. Jacob is completely unaware he needs God.  He is physically, literally, spiritually, emotionally in the dark.  He never gets to the “Prodigal Son” point where he realizes that his fathers pigs have it better than him.  He’s simply, out there in the desert, trying to figure out on his own, how he’s going  to get out of the mess he’s made of his own life.  In fact, Americans should identify with Jacob.   He’s the ultimate pull yourself up by your bootstraps kind of guy.  He has a work ethic if he has no other kind of ethic.  He has no idea he needs God at all.   Yes, we may know and realize we need God. But the understanding here is that God is moving toward us. God is calling the shots. God is determining the time and place. We have very little, if anything to do with the meeting and encounter that eventually occurs.  If anything is going to occur, if redemption is going to go down, it’s not going to be due to anything we’ve done or said, it’s going to ultimately rest with God.  Jacob is in the dark and God ambushes him.  This should either scare the hell out of you or feel incredibly liberating. As for me, I’m not quite sure where I come down.

God cannot be defined, categorize, or quantified by human means. It simply won’t work. God will only be defined and determined on God’s terms and in God’s time.