Saturday, December 17, 2011

An Advent Letter

Dear God,

Inviting us to make a home for you. Really? That’s how you save the world? Isn’t there some other way? It all seems so intimate. I’m not sure I’m ready for God in here. An arms-length relationship seems much safer. Much more reasonable. Much less of a commitment.

The angel says, “God is with you.” Perplexed by these words, we ponder what sort of greeting this might be. How can God be with me? I’m not holy enough. I’m too much of a heathen. I’m far from perfect. I could work out more often. Eat better. Be more generous, more hospitable, more forgiving. And if you want someone sitting in holy contemplation and prayer, I’m not necessarily your go-to gal. But you persist. You send angels who point to a fallible, frail, all-too-human being and say, “here.”

“Favored one?” Who am I? I’m an ordinary person from a small town far from the seats of power. In all these Christmas specials, I’m more like the anonymous townsperson in the crowd, not a main character. How can I be an adequate vessel? Isn’t there someone else? Somebody more holy? More special? Somebody with a little more free time?

The words are hanging in the air: “Holy Spirit…power of the Most High…Nothing will be impossible with God.”

I can’t speak for everyone, but I don’t think I’m the only one: Greatly perplexed. Questioning, “how can this be?” Thinking, “I’ve got enough things to worry about. I have other commitments. Maybe I’m mistaken. The angel could be here for someone else.”

But we look around, and realize that the angel is indeed talking to us. “Hail, O favored one! The Lord is with you. Do not be afraid.”

It’s hard to know what to say in such a moment. It doesn’t last long. We don’t have a ready-made script like Mary does. But when we’re lucky, the stars align over our heads and we can manage to stammer a complicated, “yes.”

Dear God, let that be enough.

Love, us.

PS: Merry Christmas.

Preached at McFarland UCC Dec 18 2011

Text - The Annunciation, Luke 1:26-38

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Echoes: A sermon

McFarland UCC, September 11, 2011

Text: Genesis 3 and 4

It was a beautiful morning with a blue sky, a clear morning at the start of the harvest season. It was a good beginning, until it all went horribly awry. A stain upon the land, a stain on the fabric of our souls, images seared into our imaginations. Part of a story that we just can’t shake, that has shaped us.


It goes back to the beginning.

Not a very auspicious beginning for the human family. Almost right from the start, we have these terrible stories. Lies, mistrust, jealousy, murder, and yet more lies.

A tree, an apple, a snake, a choice. A choice to take, a choice to participate in the taking. A choice to hide. A choice to separate ourselves. A choice to let things die.

The seeds were sown. And in the next generation, they came back to haunt us.

It is not easy, coming back to God. It is a struggle. We hold parts of ourselves back.

Right from the beginning, folks, we turned against one another. Seeking to worship God, we let it divide us. The whole family, Casa Adam-n-Eve, brought gifts, offerings to God. Genesis tells us that Cain brought “some” of the harvest, but Abel brought “the best parts” of his firstborn lamb, a prize gift from his flock. The struggle – do I offer the best parts of myself to God, or what I can spare? Do I turn over to God the beautiful bits, or just the nasty bits?


When Cain murdered his brother Abel it was a catastrophe of monumental proportions. One quarter of the population of the known world, dead. Four, reduced to three. Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel. Abel, lost. Then Cain was sent into further exile by God, sent to wander, without a home.

“And God saw that it was good.” Until it wasn’t. Until we let the better angels of our human nature be overshadowed by a grasping after things we were never intended to have. Until we began striving for “better, best, first, most, mine.” Until we started the arguments over who was more holy and who God loved more, and just what was holy ground. “Am I my brother’s keeper?,” asked Cain, while Abel’s blood was still flowing into the ground.


It was a beautiful morning with a blue sky, a clear morning at the start of the harvest season. It was a good beginning, until it all went horribly awry. A stain upon the land, a stain on the fabric of our souls. Part of a story that we just can’t shake, that has shaped us.

This is also the story of September 11th, 2001. That morning where the world skipped a beat, where the world stopped and watched in horror. That morning where a soul-shattering cry echoed beyond the range of human hearing, but touched us all.

“Your brother’s blood cries out from the ground,” said God.

We still ache. Ten years of war have not softened the blow; nor have they made our pain, anger, or fear disappear. Ten years of Homeland Security procedures have not offered security. The killing of Osama Bin Laden earlier this year had young Americans dancing in the streets of our cities, in a celebration of vengeance, a moment that attempted to purge the scar on our national soul. But still, ten years of memories bump around inside us.

We constantly scratch off the scab of a wound that does not heal.

The blood of thousands cries out from the ground. In New York City. In Washington, DC. In Shanksville, Pennsylvania. And in other places, too. In Arlington National Cemetery. In the Walter Reed Army Hospital. In VA Medical Centers across the country, where traumatized veterans learn to deal with haunting images. In the hills of Afghanistan and the streets of Iraq, where parentless children weep, walking upon a land they no longer recognize. In mosques where Muslims worship under the fear of death threats, churches where Christians do the same, synagogues where Jews worry about suicide bombers attacking on their way home. Holy places that we have been wrestling over for centuries, waging war in God’s name.

In all these sacred spaces, where human beings walk the land, we are reliving the story day by day. The events of that terrible day ten years ago have destroyed too many lives. With Cain, we cry out, “This punishment is too hard!”, wandering, searching for security that seems to be absent.


We are mere steps away from the beginning. Three chapters away, as the Bible tells it. Less than a generation away from the garden and the promises and the One who provides everything we need.

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” asked Cain, in the wake of bloodshed.

Stop fooling yourself, Cain. Of course you are. You are and always will be.

We are a family – many more than we once were, but still, a family – walking on the land. Some nearby and some far away, some settled and some wanderers. Seeking the security that was lost when we decided to make our decisions on “better, best, most, first, mine.”


The story is not over.

We bear the imprint of the day the world came crashing down around our ears. It is in our heads and our hearts, our national memory and our own memories.

A terrible day. One we wish we could forget. And yet, hope is not lost.

The psalmist writes, “I run to you, God, for protection…Send your light and your truth to guide me. Let them lead me to your house on your sacred mountain.” (Psalm 43, CEV) “Why are you cast down, my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?...Hope in God.” (Psalm 43, NRSV)

That is where we find security. We may wander, we may be in exile from the Garden, we may be separated from our sisters and brothers, we may consistently make choices that move us away from God, but even so, we are not alone.

In his final meal with the disciples, Jesus offers a benediction: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (John 14:27) Christ’s peace. God’s reconciliation. The Holy Spirit driving us toward a hard-won wisdom, whispering truth in our ear.

We live in a story of death and separation, our human family having descended from this time of murder and grief. But we also live in a story of God’s protection – even jealous, murdering Cain was marked, protected from vengeance. A story of God’s forgiveness and new beginnings – because the family line does not end with Abel’s murder. Adam and Eve have another child, Seth, and life goes on. Even Cain, who becomes a city-dweller, somehow manages to raise a family. And people begin worshipping the Lord. We are part of the great human story of hiding ourselves from God, of falling away and forgetting, and the great God story of reconciliation, and restoration, and new life.


There is a beautiful morning with a clear blue sky, at the beginning of the harvest season. This is the day that the Lord has made. A new day. A new beginning. Let the former things pass away.


Saturday, August 06, 2011

Family Problems

A sermon on Genesis 37.

The big family fight continues. You would think that Jacob’s descendants might have learned from the experiences of their father and their uncle Esau. There was an awful lot going on for the family of Isaac and Rebekah. The trauma of infertility, sibling rivalry, stolen birthright, homicidal threats, wage theft in the family business, and stolen family heirlooms would be plenty of excitement for several generations. It would be nice if Jacob’s transformation at the riverside actually translated into a peaceful future for his wives and his children and his children’s children.

Not so much. Family problems seem to show up, generation after generation. There is no peace between Joseph and his brothers. Daddy’s playing favorites just like his parents did. Joseph’s got some ego issues; he knows how to play his spot as favored son. And his brothers…well, let’s just say the homicidal thoughts didn’t end with Uncle Esau. A wise woman once said that right relationship – peace, and wholeness – exists when we balance self respect with regard for others. There is no peace in this family. Joseph thinks a little bit too much of himself; his brothers think too little of him. Jacob sends Joseph off to make peace, shalom, with his brothers. And despite all of Jacob’s urgings, things don’t improve. They get worse.

We know this story. It shows up over and over again in the Bible, over and over again in the news. To paraphrase the prophet Jeremiah, we cry, “peace, peace,” but there is no peace. We say we want wholeness, right relationships – and yet we continue behaving just like the sons of Jacob. We squabble, and resent one another, and try to tear one another down.

The story of Joseph and his brothers is our story.

Like Joseph, we use our individual power to oppress one another – using favored position or inside knowledge to get a leg up in the world, often at someone else’s expense. Like the other brothers, we use the power of the group to exile perspectives we’d rather not consider. We consign our siblings to the pit; we sell them into slavery; we silence them because we’d rather not hear what they have to say.

This is the human story, our broken relationships with one another, and with God. The story of Joseph’s generation is not merely a campfire story; a just a cute story to tell the kids, or to turn into a light-hearted musical that has us humming as we leave the theatre. This is a story that is being lived out in our time. On a daily basis, in our homes and workplaces, in towns and cities, and even in our governments, we bring this family story back to life once again:

Bragging, swaggering Joseph…when one political party says, “elections have consequences,” and uses the power and privilege of their position to disenfranchise their sisters and brothers…

Siblings blinded by jealousy…when in our public life, we hear, “it’s not fair that those other workers get a higher wage than I do, better benefits and more secure employment… we need to do something about that!” The something, of course, involves a taking away. And in a frenzy, we strip off Joseph’s coat, leaving it in tatters, and throw him down a deep hole.

Or, when our official recordkeepers, government statisticians, find ways to stop counting the long-term unemployed, as if they no longer existed…each one of them a Joseph, who has been stripped of his or her dignity, thrown into a pit from which there seems to be no escape.

The oldest brother, Reuben, who takes a few steps to preserve Joseph’s life, suggesting that we throw him into a pit, rather than kill him – prolonging the agony with a slow death.…when we choose not to see the exhaustion of those who work two or three low-wage, part-time jobs and get little sleep and even less respect. When we rationalize, “at least they have a job,” as if there were any wholeness, any shalom, to the way they must spend their days and their nights.

When siblings take up arms against siblings, as in Norway, as in Tucson earlier this year, as in the interminable wars we wage around the globe, we are reliving the tragic moment when a great rift opened up between Jacob’s sons. When we choose to make the opposing party seem less than human, so we can do what we will to them, without moral consequence - whether the weapons are bombs, or guns, or knives, or words, they are equally sharp, equally destructive, equally opposed to God’s hopes for God’s children.

My friends, we are part of a family in which there is no shalom, no wholeness.

When the rich are rich enough to buy the news they want, the candidates they want, and buy government policies that are favorable to them….and our judicial systems roll over to their whim. When siblings lie and cheat one another, take up arms, sell one another into slavery on a daily basis – literally, as well as metaphorically…

There is no peace.

We cannot fix this ourselves. We have made the breach too big to repair simply with our own efforts. So we can spend our time pointing at Joseph and saying, “see, he was a tattletale, a braggart, a show-off” – his fault. Or at the brothers and say “how abusive, how ugly, how immoral what they did.” But in the end, it’s a waste of time. There is still the pit; still the breach of relationship; still the horror of a lost child and a lost brother. The blame game is simply another way of living out our brokenness.

But there is one, whom we worship, who is the repairer of breaches. The reconciler. The healer. The Great Creator of all good things, who has the capacity to make all things new. There is a Holy Spirit at work, always. She breathes in our ear, “Peace”…and it is not a false or a shallow peace, but an invitation to turn back from the edge. It is not an easy peace she promises, but, oh, is it worth it.

Open your heart, this day, to the One who speaks peace, deep peace, into our broken spirits and broken relationships. Whatever is broken, however deep the pit, however great the distance, it is not too much for God to overcome. This is not the end of the story, it is only the beginning. The Good News will make itself known in every place, and every time. God is at work, even here.


Thursday, August 04, 2011

Blessing Things

We've been doing a lot of blessing lately at our church.

We bless bread and grape juice every communion Sunday. We blessed a baby earlier this spring. During children's time on a recent Sunday, we learned to pray St. Patrick's Breastplate (with hand motions!). This is an ancient prayer, and we prayed it to remember that God is all around us, and blesses us wherever we are, whatever we are doing. We blessed bicycles and riders and volunteers in worship in late July, as we sent a team of dedicated folks off to ACT9, Wisconsin's AIDS Ride. At the end of August, we're blessing backpacks and school supplies, students and teachers. At the beginning of October, close to the Feast Day of St. Francis, we'll be blessing animals.

Blessing something invokes our sense of God's presence in that place, and offers reassurance to the one prayed for that God is there. It's a reminder that holiness erupts, even into the brokenness that is all around us. Rachel Naomi Remen writes, "When we bless others, we offer them refuge from an indifferent world." Blessing is doing the work of Christ, making God's presence real for one another, and declaring to our neighbor that they are loved.

We seek blessings because of the relationship between us, because we have care and compassion for one another. We don't have to have any special qualifications to bless one another. Our Reformation forebears reminded us that we are all priests; we are all holy; we are not only empowered to be in direct relationship with the Holy, but also have the privilege and responsibility of doing so. Take a minute today to bless those around you. People, animals, things... As Barbara Brown Taylor tells us in An Altar in the World, "Celebrate your own priesthood"!

A Prayer for the Riders, offered in worship at McFarland UCC in July 2011:

God preserve you from all trouble; God to keep you safe.
God to watch over your going out and your coming in,
From the first moment of the first day,
Until you join the joyful throng at the end of your journey.

O God, we find your presence wherever we go.

We ask your blessing upon these bicycles,
For those who travel upon them,
For those who minister alongside them.
For those who feed the riders,
And for those who offer a drink of cool water
no less refreshing than water dipped from a well in the desert.
For those who heal, for those who encourage,
For those whose spirits join the ride, even when their bodies cannot,
We seek a blessing.

Surround them with your loving care;
Protect them from every danger,
Wrap them in the arms of a supportive community
committed to creating goodness upon the earth,
and bring them in safety to all their journeys’ end.

And let the people of God say, Amen.

Adapted from the Pastor's Blog at

Saturday, March 26, 2011

In their own words: The Adversary (Lent 1A)

During the season of Lent, the sermon series at McFarland UCC features characters from Jesus' story speaking for themselves. "In Their Own Words" will feature The Adversary, Nicodemus, The Woman at the Well, the Man who was Born Blind, Martha, the servant girl in the courtyard, and Peter.

The Adversary:

First of all, I need to set the record straight: I don’t do natural disasters. Not my gig. Don’t try to pin those on me. I might pop my head in after-the-fact, when things are all confusing, and stir the pot. But tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes: not my work.

That’s brute force. It’s beneath me. It’s inelegant. Give me more credit than that.

I’m more interested in letting you do the heavy lifting.

You have all the tools, you know. The raw materials.

All I do is offer some suggestions.

The plays are all yours.

Really. Let’s take a look:

Scene: A garden. A man and a woman are strolling around, not a care in the world. It’s an intimate little scene, just the two of them and some greenery, some birds singing in the background. It seemed like a nice time for a chat. Nothing pushy, I just asked some clarifying questions. “So, God said ‘no snacking on the produce?” Oh, no, she said…just this one tree is off limits. “And why would that be?,” I asked. Wasn’t God being a little possessive, not wanting them to know good and evil? Seems like a little knowledge would be a good thing.

A piece of fruit. It was a small thing. She wanted it, she really did. She just needed to justify it to herself. Let’s see…nutritious. Yep. Beautiful. Yep. Useful. Yep. They made the decision for themselves. Plucked that fruit right off the tree, because they decided it was time. She had some, and he had some, and boy, did they say it was good.

I just asked a few intelligent questions, at the right time. The consequences weren’t my problem. Everybody tries to blame it on me, as if I made them do it. Come on, now…you’ve heard about this little thing called “free will”, right? The two of them did the heavy lifting. Both of them. They made their own decisions. Nobody forced them.

Next thing you know, they were blaming one another, getting in that little spat with God, the one that got them thrown out of the garden, the one that folks have been talking about for centuries. That’s just how it played out. It was kind of fun to watch, because I got to see some of my favorite words in action. The D words: Division. Discord. Deconstruct. Demolish.

So, that’s the way I work. Those D words are my calling card. When you see and hear them happening, you know I’ve been around. When things are confusing, that’s a great time for me to drop in. Nobody really notices me at work. All I do is help people look at the world a little differently.

“You know, those Israelites, they’ll be trouble someday…”

“You know, that manager in the other office has been angling for a promotion, are you really sure you can trust them?”

“Lots of other pretty women out there…are you sure you don’t have any competition?”

“Do you think it might be a good idea to hang on to that stuff? You never know when you might need it.”

“What if that other kid wants your cookie?”

“Maybe you should take matters into your own hands.”

“Do you think you can really count on God?”

People arrive at their own conclusions. And, well, from that you get inequality. Jealousy. Mistrust. Division and discord. Sin. People using power, in an attempt to make themselves feel safe, or in control.

My favorite thing to do, is to get people to act under their own power. Like I said, brute force isn’t my gig. Free will is a wonderful thing. I ask the questions, sit back, and let it all play out.

It usually works out great. I’ve started a lot of wars that way. Blown up a lot of peace treaties. Turned protests into riots. Ended marriages. Unraveled countries and nations. Fascinating to watch. And I didn’t have to lift a finger. You all did it for me.


There was this one time, though, that things didn’t go smooth as silk.

Prophets in the wilderness are usually an easy target. They’re hungry. They’re lonely. They’re scared. They’re tired. Usually running from the world, running away from reality. Persecuted. They’re fun to play with.

So I show up, and wouldn’t you know it, none of my usual tactics work! Forty days and forty nights he was in the wilderness. The book even says it, right here: “he was famished”! I mean, really. I’m an expert in this wilderness stuff. Perfected it, with the Israelites, in that 40 years between Egypt and their Promised Land. Where’d you think the Golden Calf idea came from? “It’s been an awfully long while. Do you think Moses is ever going to come back down? Maybe the people need something to keep them occupied,” I said to Aaron. Used it again, on Elijah, got him whining and yelling at God. Managed to get John the Baptist, Mr. Locusts and Wild Honey himself, acting so loopy he lost his head.

Prophets in the wilderness – I’ve got that market cornered. A little hungry, thirsty, a little doubtful.

He was all alone out there.

It wouldn’t hurt anything if he did a little miracle or two, just for his own benefit, right?

I knew he had it in him.

“So, you’re the Son of God. You’ve got the power to turn stones into bread. Seems like now would be a good time to test that theory. What’s the point of power if you’re not going to exercise it? What’s the point of power if you die of hunger here in the wilderness?”

Not a thing. He spouts scripture back at me. “You can’t live by bread alone.”

So I had to paint a bigger picture. I took him to the temple.

“So, you’re the Son of God. Look at this. The temple, the center of the world, and here you are, above it all. Show how much God loves you…seize the moment. Jump off. That scripture you love so much promises that the angels will catch you.”

“Do not put God to the test,” he said. Argh. He knew my game. I had been testing, pushing at his defenses. Making him worry about his basic needs was the first approach. And my stones to bread maneuver struck out. Psychological needs were usually a sure-fire winner. “Just a little test, something simple, something to make him prove he loves you, that he’s never going to leave you, never going to give up on you.” And apparently, that wasn’t going to work either.

It was time to get serious. This guy was in a position to change the world, he had so much potential. So I pulled out the big one. “C’mere. Up on this mountain. Take a look. Everything you see, all these cities, and kingdoms, everything spread out before you. Think about all that power you have. Think about how much you could change, how much you could fix, how much you could make right, if all these things were in your hands.“

Did I mention that I like power plays? If he cared so little for his own welfare, then surely, this angle would work. Of course, he would be motivated by what he could do for others.

In the end, all of you, no matter how altruistic, how community-minded you think you are – are like this. Even do-gooders worship at the altar of power. Trust me. I have been watching humanity for thousands of years. You’ve been feeding me great material. Don’t think that I haven’t been paying attention. You all, secretly, want power. Admit it. You fill up the space around you, with stuff, with activity, with commitments, trying to create buffers, trying to control your world. Trying to use whatever power you can gain to shape things according to your will, your hopes, your view of the way things should be. If it’s not power to meet your own needs, it’s power for the sake of your family, or power to fix the world. It’s all about the power.

So of course, this one would be no different. He just had a lot more power to start with. That just made it more fun. So there we were on the mountaintop, and I was saying, “Just worship at the altar of power. Exercise your influence. Shape things the way you want them to turn out. That’s all. Then all this can be yours. You can fix the world. Call it, ‘the world according to Jesus.’ You can solve all the problems, make it just the way you want things to turn out. ”

What would you do, if you had that ability? Think about it for a minute. The world according to you. What would you make right? What would you change? What things would you un-do, and remake in your own image?

Go ahead. Think about it. I’ll give you a bit.


You came up with something, didn’t you?

Told you so.

Every human being I’ve ever met – except one - falls for that trick. Sin with a capital S. And the only one I’ve ever met, the only one who refused to reshape the world in their own image, was Jesus.

He turned me down in a heartbeat. Sent me away, defeated. I came back, again and again, with my offers, and he turned me down, every time. Even at the very end, he refused.

“Worship the Lord your God, and only God,” he said. Not self-sufficiency. Not happiness. Not your ability to change the world.

“Worship God, and only God,” Jesus said.

I don’t have anything that can trump that.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Buyer's Remorse - the Bible and the WI Situation

I have been mulling scripture with respect to the situation taking place in Wisconsin. Some folks have been calling Scott Walker 'Pharaoh'. I've seen a few smart quips about bricks, straw and mud on Twitter. But I keep going back to the 8th century prophets. Seems like the right place. Amos will have something to say about this, right?

"They hate the one who reproves in the gate, and they abhor the one who speaks the truth. Therefore because you trample on the poor and take from them levies of grain, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not live in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. For I know how many are your transgressions, and how great are your sins - you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and push aside the needy in the gate." Amos 5:10-12

Hm. Lobbyists in the balcony of the assembly, public can't get in, and are barricaded ever further away from their own government building? Sounds familiar.

Or maybe Micah?

"But you rise up against my people as an enemy; you strip the robe from the peaceful, from those who pass by trustingly with no thought of war." Micah 6:8
Deploying ever larger cadres of law enforcement to guard against peaceful protesters? Adding metal detectors and searches to the entry protocol of the capitol? Denying members of the public without an appointment the right to enter? Ejecting folks who have the temerity to turn their back on the governor?

But then, I thought some more. And I flipped toward the front of my study bible, to Judges and Samuel, and Kings. And I saw this:

"...give us a king to govern us, like other nations..." said the elders of Israel (1Sam 8:4).
Ah. That's it.

And Samuel tries to warn them.

"These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. he will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves;" (1Sam 8:11-18a)

Know what you're asking for, said Samuel. This is what your world will look like: The fruits of your labor will be passed up the economic and social food chain, and you won't be able to do anything about it. And still, they proceeded:

"But the people refused to listen...they said,"No! But we are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles."" (1Sam 8:19-20)

"Give us a tough guy," the voters of this state said. "Someone to fight our battles, somebody like all of the other states have." A few voices (but not enough, or loudly enough, or well-financed enough) said "Do you realize what you're asking for? Is that what you really, really want?" And the voters of Wisconsin clamored, "yes!," electing Scott Walker into our state's highest office last November.

Many of those who called for a king are now having buyer's remorse. And many of Wisconsin's residents are stunned at how quickly this has come. Law enforcement ringing the Capitol. Snow fences, and concrete barriers, keeping citizens away from the building. Lines to stand in while the government keeps us out. Draconian cuts to programs that make us a civil society. Decreasing education funding and increasing prison funding. Decreasing access to health care and decimating the ranks of skilled, dedicated public employees as they flee the Governor's power-hungry methods. This is not the Wisconsin I have grown to love. This is not the system of checks and balances I learned about in 9th grade American Government class. I was groping for a new metaphor, and I finally realized it was here, at the beginning of the reign of Israel's kings, in the Hebrew Bible.

And what disturbs me most is the end of Samuel's speech:

"And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day." 1Sam 8:18

We were warned.

People of faith, pray for wisdom and strength. We're gonna need it to get out of this hole we dug ourselves.