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  • karen horst cobb: January 2007

    Friday, January 26, 2007

    Meditation: State of the Kingdom of Heaven Address

    After listening to the State of the Union Address this week I imagined what issues a “State of the Kingdom of Heaven ” speech might address. This is the context of this week’s meditation.

    “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of heaven. Luke 9:62 “The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons (and daughters) of the kingdom….Matthew 13:38

    Ladies and Gentleman, we are a people who have pledged our allegiance to a kingdom which is not of this world. We are a citizenry who lives within a borderless land. As we seek first the Kingdom of Heaven we sense her mysteries. We have been taught that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a well plowed field and that anyone who has put the hand to the plow, but then looks back, is not up to the calling of citizenship.

    If we remain committed to those things we feel we are losing, we can not walk in faith. Like good seeds we birth, in faith, the Kingdom here on earth. We continue to experience these principles when our spirits pass on. We are not only born of flesh and blood but of water and of Spirit. Our Kingdom is not about eating and drinking but it is of righteousness, peace, and Joy. The Kingdom of Heaven is in the past, the present and the future. We are first and foremost citizens of an eternal kingdom.

    The temporal, earthly state of the Union of the United States was addressed this week. But, the state of the citizens of the eternal, spiritual Kingdom of Heaven is seldom addressed. It is unpopular to point out those areas where our dual citizenships clash. Many of us have pledged our allegiance to both the United States and to the Kingdom of Heaven and have not considered the wisdom or the challenges of doing so. The focus of worldly kingdoms is power which uses malice, war and fear to reach its goals but the Kingdom of Heaven is righteousness, peace and joy.

    The core of worldly citizenship is a focus on material things which satisfy physical wants and needs. The desire for more (and fear of not having physical comfort) fuels our competition for money and natural resources. Alternatively, the citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven focuses on the things of the Spirit. Love replaces the fear of want. Citizens of the temporal world store up treasures on earth but citizens of the eternal world invest in acts of love and kindness where decay can not destroy.

    Rather than asking what else can I get, the Kingdom followers ask what more can I live without? What more can I share with others? The earthly citizen looks to comfort as a measure of success but the spiritual citizen enjoys right living and the bounty of the fruits of the Spirit which are: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is no law against these things.

    So, as we address the state of the Kingdom of Heaven we consider our attitudes and actions. Which things motivate our actions? Are we moved to action by fear or moved to action by love? Are we depressed by what we perceived we do not possess or are we filled with joy for what we can share? Do we support and explain away Christians who support war or do we preach peace and pursue it? Do we look to immediate self-gratification or do we rest in the confidence of our faith.? Do we look to aggression and violence to solve problems or do we bring kindness to all situations? Do we seek relief of our suffering at all costs or are we willing to suffer long? Do we use force to get our way or do we treat all people with gentleness? Do we explain away our bad behavior as “human instinct“ or do we practice spiritual discipline and self -control?

    We have put our hand to the plow and desire not to look back to the fallow land of earthly kingdom citizenship. Instead we, the children of the heavenly Kingdom, are to be seeds planted in fertile soil here on earth. The world cries out to us to demonstrate a better way than the way of man-made kingdoms. One modern-day prophet challenges us to “be the change we want to see.”

    In conclusion I proclaim in confidence that The State of the Kingdom of Heaven is strong, constant and eternal. The state of her citizens however requires passionate vigilance. As the parable reminds us, weeds have sabotaged the field. Earthly wisdom calls for pulling them out by their roots but Spiritual wisdom knows that those seeds which have deep roots will be produce a bountiful harvest of love no matter what surrounds them.

    Those who have ears who hear the still small voice of the Spirit know that we are enlarging the Kingdom of Heaven and bringing forth fruit. We are salt, we are light, we are yeast, we are well watered gardens, we are plowed fields we are living vines. We are the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. So, with this “state of the Kingdom Address” I challenge each of us to go deep in our fertile earth and bring forth divine action.

    Prayer: Creator and Divine Presence we pledge in a fresh way our allegiance to the spiritual Kingdom of Heaven. We are your citizens here on earth. Help us to plow the fallow fields and plant ourselves deeply in your land no matter what grows up around us. In faith we know that living water and your eternal Spirit will spring forth green sprouts and grow to bear fruit. - Amen

    Action: Read the verses which describe the Kingdom of Heaven. Read with the heart rather than the mind. Reflect upon them in a new way. In the past the focus has been on escaping this earth. It was about a location rather than a condition of the heart. Consider that we become Kingdom citizens when we are reborn in the Spirit and are eternal. In which fertile fields are your seeds of faith growing?

    If you are planting a physical garden this spring consider buying your seeds online from http://www.turtletreeseed.com/ where your money goes to support the special needs communities of Camphill Village http://www.camphill.org/

    Wednesday, January 17, 2007

    article: The Truth Shall Set Us Free

    We do not need more military or political experts, more troops, more study groups or more money to solve the problems in Iraq. We need people willing to tell the truth and act on it! If our nation can only think about winning and losing, then we are committed to future participation in mass suffering. Our national mindset seems identical to the mindset of our national past time. The skills of both war and football are trickery, deception, endurance, stamina and brute physical strength. As a nation these skills do not serve us well.

    It is time for another way! We need to value different skills. Our mothers, grandmothers, wisest fathers and grandfathers and many others can teach us different skills. Some are good at solving problems so each person knows that they have been heard, valued, understood and their problems addressed. These are not aggressively competitive people who “win” elections or religious leaders who “win” the favor of the masses. Even the religion most of our elected officials profess has reverted into the human default program of aggression. The non-confrontational language and imagery of the lamb, the virgin, the dove, the gentle shepherd, and the kind father have been cast aside in favor of aggression and violence. Instead, we are raising a “righteous” army on the battlefield of Armageddon. Everything is used to further the black and white, good vs. evil, mentality of domination and superiority.

    Most admit that there are no good solutions to the problems in Iraq. Therefore, my idea is as valid as any other. It is not a strategy, it is not a tactic, it does not involve domination of others, obtaining objectives, or benefiting the financial situation of myself, my friends or even my country. I suspect it has a good chance of making things better for everyone because it is based on the highest principles, those things we profess we aspire to. The core of the idea is to just tell the truth. I would tell the truth about why we invaded Iraq, how we have kept the war going, and what our true objectives have been.

    The idea begins and ends with telling the truth. If the truth had been told from the outset there would have been no invasion of Iraq. If the truth had been told war plans would never have come before the Security Council. After it was brought before them, telling the truth could have prevented the invasion. After the invasion, telling the truth would have resulted in handing over complete control to Iraqis within months. If telling the truth were the policy then war plans involving provocateurs who foment acts of terrorism would never have been implemented. At any point the answer to the increasingly dangerous problem is to simply tell the truth.

    In truth we must admit that the US worked along side of Saddam as long as he protected our interests in the Middle East. By 1998 the architects of this war desired to invade Iraq. We need to tell the truth about who attacked us on September 11, who covered it up, and who is using it to reach their objectives. We need to tell the truth about the anthrax attacks on media personalities and political leaders who opposed the invasion. We need to tell the truth about the American “way of life” which we are told is in danger. We need to tell the truth that since the fall of Soviet Union our Pentagon budget has been in jeopardy. A bad guy always can be used to increase military funding. Falling towers were exactly what many needed for a “new Pearl Harbor” and Osama Bin Ladin and Saddam Hussein morphed into a scary composite bad guy to rally the people to war. In our truth telling we acknowledge that we know there has been conflict between Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds since the fall of the Ottoman Empire. We know it was no surprise that the area would become unstable when invaded.

    We know that we are not the first nation to covet the resources of Iraq and tell lies to justify it. We also know that invading armies are always met with very determined “insurgents” (in truth they can be called patriots). I can, with certainty, say that nearly everyone in my neighborhood would fight back if a foreign army invaded. We did not invade Iraq to bring democracy because we know that this is something people have to pursue for themselves. No one can decide what cost in human life others should pay to obtain it.

    How have we kept the violence alive? The plan from the outset was “Shock and Awe.” We know that many are glad Saddam is gone but we also know that jobs, electricity, and safety are essential. The truth is none of these needs have been honestly addressed. Instead, private foreign contractors using imported materials benefited from lucrative contracts. We know the truth that US contractors and or military personal ordered or carried out orders of unspeakable violence against many people who were not “terrorists” or even “insurgents.” These acts are not strategic mistakes. They are crimes. On the January 14 broadcast of Meet the Press, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said that it looked like “we were winning.“ just prior the bombing of the Golden Mosque. A little research reveals that the incident was unlikely carried out by Sunnis as explained. Immediately after the incident US press began using the term “civil war.” Iraqi religious leaders wisely counseled that no one should retaliate because they knew this incident was designed in fuel sectarian fighting.

    We know about the programs and plans of the US government to pose as terrorists and evoke terrorist‘s acts. Telling the truth means we have to admit that we have covert operators who foment terrorism and then they attack and kill others who “foment terrorism.” There is no oversight of these clandestine programs. We know there were credible reports of British soldiers who killed Iraqi police while posing as Arabs. We know that people in high places know how to keep the violence alive. We know implementation of the El Salvador Option and the appointment of John Negroponte as Director of National Intelligence immediately preceded the emergence of Iraqi death squads. The truth is, death squads escalate local conflicts. Religion, money and power have all been used to keep violence alive.

    What are the objectives of invading Iraq? To the winners go the spoils. When Iraqis were warned not to destroy oil fields, the lies about humanitarian concerns and democracy became evident. The president did not advise them how to protect the children and the elderly, only the oil fields. The focus from the beginning was the oil. We have all been lied to. One “tactical decision” after another keeps the Middle East unstable. The final assessment of the Iraq study group calls for the privatizing of Iraqi oil so it is open to foreign investors. Other areas of the globe which are rich with oil and uncooperative with the United States face threats by these same forces. The goals of the oil industry seem to be synonymous with the goals of today’s US foreign policy. This is a truth we must tell.

    The populations of both Iraq and the US have been manipulated. Most Americans do not want to spend our treasury on futuristic weapons and killing for foreign oil. The only way to change that is to cause all of the people to be afraid. The “war on terror” diverts huge sums of money from the US treasury into a new war machine by way of contracts to private corporations with global goals. Lies and deceit have been used to polarize Americans. With the “right” and the “left” arguing about how to “win” at war, and the masses gripped by fear, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are being systematically destroyed. As we destroy Iraq we destroy ourselves. All the evidence leads to the truth that there are global objectives carried out by global players who see life only in terms of winning or losing and suffering or domination. This powerful few value money, power, and advanced weapons programs. They are not confined to a single nation they are a nation unto themselves. They reside on every continent.

    I am an average civilian yet I knew what the consequences of our actions would be each step of the way. It is simply not possible that those who study the effects of tactical military operations, and responses of the citizenry, could have created what they have by mistake. War is not a game and citizens do not need to be categorized as owners, coaches, players and spectators. The globe is not a playing field. Our lands are part of who we are. They are the elder’s past and the children’s future. There are no winners or losers in war. There is only suffering and loss. Jesus stated it well when he said, “what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world but loses his own soul?” We do not benefit from strategies, deceits, manipulations and conquests. The best hope for us all is to tell the truth and learn to listen. That is this women’s plan for Iraq. The next thing we should do is tell the truth!

    Published on the Common Dreams News Center Jan 18, 2007

    Meditation: When the Going Gets Tough the Tough Go Shopping

    …while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, And those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Matthew 25:10

    According to a recent Associated Press poll 25 % of those questioned believe that Jesus (the bridegroom) will return in 2007. Pat Robertson has issued dire warnings for the latter part of this year. Scientists warn us of cataclysmic earth changes and weapons developers are creating the most devastatingly violent weapons known to humanity.

    The scriptures admonish us to watch for the signs of great earth changes, selfishness, wars, oppression, suffering and great unrest and false prophets. This things are the natural consequences of unloving human behaviors. “People will be lovers of themselves rather than lovers of God.” It is said that the “last days” will be as in the days of Noah when people were “buying and selling, marrying and giving in marriage.” They will be going about their daily lives and trying to acquire that which will make them more secure and more happy. As followers of the teaching of Jesus what is our response to all of these things?

    The story in Matthew 25 tells us about 10 virgins waiting for a groom. Five were wise and five were foolish. Half of the virgins were committed to waiting a reasonable amount of time and invest a reasonable amount of their resources in preparation for the wedding. The other five were committed to the wedding no matter how long it took and how much of their oil reserves were needed. They were prepared to shine their light through an extended dark night and be ready at any time. We are told that the foolish virgins missed the groom because they were busy shopping for more oil. The going got tough so they went shopping.

    As darkness and crisis occurs in our culture and our world we are advised by the president and the media machine to keep shopping. Buildings crash to the ground and we are admonished to just keep shopping, War plans are failing, people are dieing, many are suffering and we are counseled to just keep shopping. In essence, we are told to forget about it all and distract ourselves from the suffering of others by running after more stuff.

    Some preach that very soon the bridegroom (a physical Jesus) will emerge from the clouds to rescue his bride (the church). When Jesus came as a baby many refused to hear the wisdom of his life story because they were looking for their human idea of a savior. God’s ways are not our ways so human ideas of the end time events are no doubt ill-conceived as well. Scriptures explain that The kingdom of Heaven is both “at hand” and “is to come.” The kingdom of the bridegroom is eternal- past present and future.

    Some of us are overwhelmed by world events and the extreme suffering we see. We leave the wedding party and go shopping for more because we fear the darkness and our lights are growing dim. Some of us are like the wise virgins and are vigilant in lighting the walkway in the middle of the night. We are walking confidently on the narrow path. Will the “groom” find us advocating for the innocent people of Darfur, standing with the suffering in Israel/Palestine, feeding the hungry, comforting those who mourn, looking after orphans and widows, preaching Jesus’ message of love in the face of fear and sharing with those in need in our own communities?

    We are to live in love rather than fear. We do not need to view life as a long stretch of delayed gratification. Our life is not a long horrible trial to be endured. We do not “follow him “ or “believe in him” in hope of one day escaping and being rewarded because we did not break the 10 commandments. Instead, we count it a joy to live the life which stretches before us. We carry with us that extra oil and light the path as we practice living the lifestyle of the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. Those who “are called according to his purpose” will be found by the lover with our lamps held high and shining brightly along love’s path.

    Prayer: We actively wait for a more clear revelation of you , the lover of our soul. Your grace will find us shining through the darkest night. May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We will come to meet you in joy through the darkness of our times for it was for such a time as this that we were born. Amen

    Action: Evaluate your commitment to the principles of the Kingdom. Consider how you can use your resources to bring light to the world and ease the suffering of others. Among many other things consider shining the light in Washington DC on March 16th.