Saturday, July 25, 2015

people like us

People like us
had no right
to live in a place like this

but Jim, the stepdad,
was a good con man

so we signed the lease
on a four bedroom
two bath rambler
with a swimming pool out back
and a fireplace in the center
of the living room.

We had no right
to live in this place.
We never had
warm company
over to dinner,
never made the most
of Lakewood.

People like us
had been spit out
of places like Texas.
Drunkards we were,
brawlers.

Someone like me
awakened at night,
confused by pleading sounds
in the kitchen,
cries to stop,
curses and clapping noises.

Someone like me,
eleven years old,
in the bedroom closest to the kitchen
figured out what was going on
in the next room.

People like us
who live in nice homes
for the time being
think of taking knives,
ridding the world of wife beaters.

Little boys
think about killing at night.

Big brothers
stop little boys
from being so foolish.

People like us
live in houses like this,
waiting until morning
when the beating stops
for the time being.


………………………………………………..


people like us
by troy cady








Thursday, July 23, 2015

awakening

Overnight the
overhead fan
moved the right panel of
the deep red curtain
just inches from closed.

When the sun rose
light’s lips kissed
my closed eyes
till sleep’s mist lifted,
leaving only
the ground of Hope.

The fresh day
has enough alarm
to awaken me from apathy
so I thank you, God,
for the wind
that opens this room up to the Holy
in the night
so I may rise to Rest
in the day.


…………………………………………….


awakening
by Troy Cady
written during The Creative Call PlayGroup
July 23, 2015




Tuesday, July 21, 2015

on our island

Cross the short bridge with me
to the small island
off this curving lakeshore,
the line of the water shaped as if God’s hand
held a fine jewel for us to enjoy.
The lake is still this spring night
as we return
to climb the rungs
of the lifeguard chair.

As we sit in silence
and understanding
let’s kiss the tears away,
wordless and holy
as the old chapel uphill--
tender friendship,
fine as the sand below--
hope like the waxing moon above—
love, untraceable and clear
as the stars.


………………………


on our island
by Troy Cady













  

Monday, July 13, 2015

the One who was and is and is to come


Note: in the Exodus text, when God appears to Moses in the burning bush, He refers to Himself as “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Later, when Moses asks for God’s Name, the Lord replies with a phrase that could be translated in two possible ways: “I AM WHO I AM” and “I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE.” The Hebrew text suggests both meanings.

.................................................


Artistic rendering of Moses at the burning bush
by Troy Cady

The One Who Was and Is and Is To Come
by Troy Cady

We spend most of our time living towards the future…planning ahead, predicting what will come next. Why do we do this? I believe it is because God made us to live towards the future; after all, God is there already. Somehow we have a sense of meeting God in the future, even though the future is the one thing we can never catch.

Still, the God of the future draws us out of the present into something we don’t have yet. This is a God who knocks on the door, compelling us to open it. We don’t know what awaits us on the other side. We will only find out if we open the door. When we open the door, there is a God who draws us out, who invites us to join him on an adventure, a God who invites us to wander and wonder with him because, as Tolkien says, “Not all who wander are lost.”

The theologian Jurgen Moltmann refers to this God as the God of Hope. Moltmann has developed a whole theological paradigm around the theme of hope—that’s how powerful it is. Hope is like an experiment, Moltmann says. You can’t tell exactly how it is going to turn out but you’ll never find out if you don’t commit to the experiment.

Hope requires commitment. It takes courage to hope. Hope is risk; hope is faith-with-moxy. Hope is childlike and playful—daring and bold, open to something new.

Hope says, “I don’t know how this is going to turn out but let’s just try it. We’ll never find out if we don’t try.”  

That’s when the doubter asks, “But what if we’re wrong?”
  
And Hope replies: “Well…God is still God. So we may as well try.”

May as well hope.

The future: hope or fear

The strange thing about the future is that we live towards it but it is also the source of our biggest Fear. Mostly, we fear the Unknown.  

At the end of June, the Supreme Court of the United States reached an important decision and the internet exploded with opinion borne of fear.

But what are we afraid of? If the Supreme Court decides one way, God is still God. If they change their mind next year, God is still God. What are we so afraid of?

I have a confession to make: I’m a professional worrier. “Hello, my name is Troy and I’m an anxious-holic.” Who else is with me? I spend my days oscillating between present contentment and worry about the future. I worry things aren’t going to work out. When they do work out, I’m happy and content. For a while…until I start worrying about the next thing that might not work out.

But Jesus asks worriers like me: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?”

Do not fear. What are you worried about? What are you afraid of? Give it to God now. God is ahead of us. God is to come. Good is to come.

So, “seek first God’s kingdom,” Jesus says. That is what you can do now. Seek. In fact, seeking is something you can only do now. It’s not something you put off for the future. If you keep putting it off, you’ll never do it. Seek. Do it now.

Jesus says, “Seek and you shall find.”  Pascal wrote there are three kinds of people in the world: the first is the person who does not seek and will not find. The second is the person who seeks but has yet to find. The third is the person who seeks and has found.

I think all of us are, at various times, all three people plus a fourth. Ultimately, I think God is the Primary Seeker and we are the Found. But, because God wants to make us like him, he bids us seek like he does.

The present: abide or hurry

So, how does God seek? That is the key question. Here is how God seeks: God seeks moment-by-moment and he never stops. Jesus used the word “abide” to describe it. God abides and invites us to abide with him the same way he abides with us: moment-by-moment.

Let’s try it. Take a minute now. Pause, truly. Each moment, with each breath, think: God is near, God is here. Now. And now. And now. Try it. Just abide, just seek.

And remember: “In him we live and move and have our being.”

Notice that when we seek like this, we do not hurry. In fact, you can’t hurry and seek at the same time. Seeking is not something you do in 17 seconds. If you’re hurried in your seeking, you’re not truly seeking. Seeking is slow.

And, anyway…why do we need to be in a hurry? All we have is right now and now is never hurried. So don’t worry and don’t hurry; just abide. Just as Jesus rested in his Father, so he invites us to rest in him. Just rest. Just trust. Abide.

The irony is: when we live this way…in the present…we are leaning towards the future. The apostle Paul described seeking as “pressing toward what is ahead.” We do that now, though. Seeking now is how we practice hope for the future. But, we can only do this present-and-future living as we make our peace with the past. Paul says that the flip-side of pressing on toward what is ahead involves forgetting what is behind, specifically all our misguided ways…the mistakes and sins of the past.

The past: redemption or regret

I think living in the present and hoping for the future is hard because we all have regrets that keep us chained to the past. Our regrets pertain to things that have been done to us, or things we have done to ourselves or others. These are things we wish we could change…go back and do differently.

For example, I had a fight with my wife once. Okay…more than once. But this one particular time I said something I wish I could have unsaid. Okay…more than that one particular time.

And there are more regrets, too. For example, I have a friend who needed some help once and I just carried on, ignoring him. I wish I could go back and help him when he needed it. When another friend betrayed me, I harbored resentment. In my youth I nursed lust and in my adulthood I reared envy. I wish I could do some things over again.

The biblical patriarch Jacob had the same experience. When he met his brother Esau after so many years, I suppose he wished he could have done some things over again. I suppose he wished he hadn’t used deception to get God’s blessing. But he couldn’t undo it. He had to come to terms with the truth: that he would always be a wrestler.

We are all Jacob. We all have various deceptions in our past. We all have a history of wrestling with God and others. To live in hope and trust we need to make our peace with the past.

How do we do this? Through forgiveness. Forgiveness is no simple thing, though. Genuine forgiveness is not like a snap of the fingers and…voila…you’re forgiven. No, it’s a process.

Think of the apostle Peter. After he denied Christ, Jesus pronounced forgiveness while hanging on the cross, but it took Peter time to apply that forgiveness to his own life. In fact, the rest of his life was spent coming to terms with the grace of Jesus.

The amazing thing about the grace of God is that it will never run out and it has been there all along. Even in our deceptions, even in our regrets…grace was there, always there.

When God says he is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob he is saying in part that he is the God of imperfect people who lie and doubt and worry and steal. If he is their God, he is our God. He was there all along, loving, extending patience and hope.

What are your regrets? Bring them to God. He is the God of the past. He was there and he loves you, so bring him your regrets.




Using this labyrinth as a visual aid, pretend you are on the outside and begin walking in your mind’s eye towards the center. Don’t worry, this isn’t a maze. You can’t get lost. It will take you to the center if you just follow the path. Just walk towards the center.

And pretend you are carrying your burden…all the burden of the past. What are you carrying? Pride? Arrogance? Resentment? Fear? Betrayal? Deception? Shame?

Carry it to God. You don’t have to carry it far because you are already in God.

Now, you are at the center. This is holy ground. You are at the heart of God, the burning bush. Just abide. Just rest here. You won’t be burned up. Love and be loved.  Whatever it is you carried here, God knows it. He invites you to leave it with him. Jesus, on the cross, bears that burden.

Now, the burning bush begins to move. God becomes a column of fire, leading the way forward into something unexpected. Imagine you are walking outward from the center now…unburdened, with fresh hope…something uncertain but good. You don’t know the whole way; the road will twist and turn, but you know the final destination is good. Hope, follow…

What hopes do you carry? What courage will you need?

God remakes all things

What we have made cannot be unmade but it can be remade…by God. That is what God is doing. That is what he has been doing and that is what he will keep doing: remaking all things. He is the God of the past, present and future.

He is remaking the past in the present so that in the future all things will be made new. He remakes the past by forgiveness and grace. He remakes the present by abiding, resting and seeking to love and be loved by us. And he remakes the future by hoping, inviting us to hope with him for a day when there will be no more sadness or pain. The old has gone, the new has come.

So let us worship, know and follow the God Moses met in the burning bush: the God of our ancestors, the I AM and the I WILL BE. The God of the past, present and future. The One who was and is and is to come.

Amen.






Wednesday, May 27, 2015

disciple-making by worshipful play


Disciple-making by Worshipful Play
by Troy Cady

In the Scriptures we find the Story of a People formed by experiencing God. Because of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the experience of God continues…and the Story goes on. Thus, the action of God in history (both past and present) gives shape to a community that provides a grounding for the individual.
Throughout history the acts of God were relived as the stories of God and God’s People were retold—and the stories were told in a way children could understand so that the faith was handed down from generation to generation. That is a key component of classical faith formation: to declare the person and work of God to the next generation (that is, to children). When disciple-making occurs by placing a child in our midst, we discover there an inexhaustible supply of wonder for the adult, too.  
Therefore, disciple-making as worshipful play is centered on the story of God as we experience it in childhood—whether it be our first (biological) childhood or our second (new-birth) childhood. One needn’t have children or be a child to approach disciple-making in this way. Disciple-making by play is a method that responds to the story and movement of God by cultivating the qualities of childhood: wonder, imagination, freedom and relationship.  Discipleship by play is both personal and communal—personal because people are formed as the Spirit speaks to each individual and communal because our formation occurs in the context of a “circle of relationships”.
                Thanks to the pioneering work of Sofia Cavalletti, Jerome Berryman and Sonja Stewart we have a discernable pattern we can follow should we endeavor to practice disciple-making by play. It is derived from the movements of a “grown-up” worship service but it is adapted so the child (or childlike) can enter into God’s presence in a way that quickens their spiritual sensibilities.
                As is the case in “adult” worship, the pattern of discipleship by play boils down to a simple dialectic: hearing and response. We hear the Word of God and we respond to it. That said, it takes intentionality to fully hear and respond so the process includes a time of preparation prior to hearing as well as an array of responses, both “gathered” and “scattered”. Here are the stages in fuller form:

1. Turning our attention to God’s Presence.
-We cross the threshold
-We form the circle
-We focus our hearing
-We focus our sight
-We practice silence

We call this “Getting Ready” or “Call to Worship”

2. Listening to God’s Presence.
-We tell each story in the midst of the whole Story.
-We tell the story simply.
-We tell the story slowly.
-We tell the story visually.
-We unfold the story in the center of the circle.

We call this “Hearing the Story”

3. Wondering in God’s Presence.
-We consider questions that quicken the imagination.
-We see the surprise of God in the story.
-We place ourselves in the story.
-We learn from each other.
-We reflect on aspects of the story that provide consolation or desolation.
-We discover continuity with other stories.

We call this “Wondering”

4. Responding to God’s Presence.
-We are free to respond as God prompts.
-We may respond with art.
-We may respond with reading.
-We may respond with writing.
-We may respond with telling a story to another.
-We may respond with singing.
-We may respond with focused prayer.

We call this “Responding”

5. Fellowshipping in God’s Presence.
-We share food together.
-We serve one another.
-We share joys and sorrows together.
-We pray for one another and give thanks together.
-We sing together.
-We practice generosity.

We call this “Feasting”

6. Going in God’s Presence.
-We remember we are the light of the world.
-We give and receive a blessing to “go with God.”
-We go, looking for where God is already at work in the world.
-We resolve to join God in God’s work in the world.

We call this “Blessing” or “Benediction”


This method of making disciples follows a weekly rhythm, but it could also be modified for practice on a daily basis. Further, it is presented in a larger annual rhythm since the stories can interface with the church calendar, if one so desires.
There are three main genres: stories that present historical narratives, stories that are parables and stories that orient worshippers to practices (liturgical actions) such as Advent and Lent, baptism and communion.  The main stories that propel the action of Scripture forward are considered first and then as the disciple grows older the supporting stories round out the narrative. Texts that are propositional in nature are considered in the light of the story in which they came.
Though this method was designed for use with children, I wonder…in what ways could adults benefit from it, too? How might it be adapted for use with adults?

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PlayFull provides training in children’s ministry and seeks to establish PlayGroups whereby young and old can grow via playful methods. Write Troy to inquire how PlayFull can help you and your ministry. To read a description of a training sequence we provide, click here. Thank you for reading.

In other news, we invite you to like PlayFull on Facebook or follow PlayFull on Twitter!






Monday, May 25, 2015

the memorial day parade

The Memorial Day Parade
By Troy Cady


Here
we
are
lined
up
single
file
along
State
Street,
downtown
Chicago.

There is     plenty     of     room    to    stand     on     the     sidewalk.
Shoppers
scurry
and
glance
at a few ROT
                C (see)
divisions,
marching to barks
of left and right
as drumlines rap
in crisp candence,
honoring the deceased.

The
file
(and
rank)
of
spectators
applaud in tepid claps,
as they listen to the standard
fighting songs played,
save Taps.

There is     plenty     of     room     on     the     sidewalk
but maybe not enough for all the wounded ghosts.

Have so many fatalities
deadened our senses?
How have we become deaf to their cries?





Thursday, May 21, 2015

tea flowers

Tea Flowers
by Troy Cady


It’s a puzzle
how each one unfolds
like a Spirit flame—
unpredictable
how each one becomes
(always Becoming!)
more open,
more beautiful
like a sunset
baptized,
risen from the flood.

That which we suppose dead
is alive.

Remember, flowers,
new days begin at dusk.
Precious flowers, wild-
sprung from earth,
give thanks and be glad
for the transparency
that magnifies the blooming.

Each flower unique,
a manifest of
the holy cloud of unknowing.
How will each unfold?
These flowers will surprise.

I wonder…
how is it that we hear
the flower’s voice by silence?

Dearly beloved, listen to these flowers,
flourishing quietly, slowly in the living water.

Dearly beloved, listen to these flowers—
their voice goes out to all the earth.

Amen and amen.







for the Gladness and Hunger PlayGroup
May 21, 2015