Friday, March 17, 2017

lent 2: water


"lent 2, 2017: water"
mixed media (acrylic paint, found papers, gel medium, glitter, waterpaint, glass beads)
march, 2017
gregory a. milinovich

as i continue to journey through my lenten discipline of creating something each week that serves as my response to the theme and text in worship that week.  since we are focusing on "the landscapes of lent" at St. Paul's UMC and Wesley Foundation, we began on ash wednesday by looking at ashes, then last week at the wilderness.  this week we turned to the story of the woman at the well, and talked about water, and about what really satisfies us.  

somewhere in us - in all of us, i daresay - is a hole.  a hunger.  a desire.  a need for fulfillment.  some have called it a God-shaped hole.  in any case, the lining of that cavity, at least for many of us, is lined with the scars of many attempts to fill it with that which doesn't quite fit, or fulfill, in any case.  that must have been true for the samaritan woman, drawing her water at jacob's well in the heat of the day, so she didn't have to deal with her neighbors' judging glares and whispered gossip.  after all, she had quite the reputation, and had gone from man to man, from lover to lover, in search of fulfillment.  she was still at it, with a man to whom she was not married, trying to fill that space, satisfy that soul-need.  

and as she prepares to gather her water, Jesus speaks with her.  he points the obvious: that she has to keep quenching her thirst at this well.  everyday.  she comes back.  time after time, the thirst - the hunger - returns.  he may be talking water.  or he may be talking about a deeper desire insider her.  either way, he says he has something that could truly satisfy her: living water.  he tells her that this gift, while it starts with the jews, spreads outward like ripples on the surface of a pond, to samaria, and to the ends of the earth.  

so i'm thinking about water.  in my faucet.  in my shower.  in my glass with dinner.  in frozen form, blanketing our front yard right now.   water everywhere, to the ends of the earth.  and i'm thinking about what i'm filling myself with.  how am i trying to be satisfied?  do i keep going to the well, day after day, trying to feed a spiritual hunger with a physical cure, all the while scarring myself and forgetting that there is One who is all i'll ever need?  i'm trying to drink deeply of that truth.  

Sunday, March 05, 2017

lent 1: wilderness


"lent 1 2017: wilderness"
acrylic, crayon and found papers on stretched canvas
gregory a. milinovich
march, 2017

today was the first sunday in lent, and as i have often done, i have decided to practice the lenten discipline of creativity.  for each of our sundays in lent i will be making a collage that emerges from my dealing with and responding to the theme for that sunday in worship.  this year we are focusing on "the landscapes of lent," with any eye to some of the physical elements that mark Jesus' journey to jerusalem, and help to serve as landmarks for us, to guide us and keep us on the right path.

we began to today with wilderness.

fitting, because Jesus began in the wilderness, too (matthew 4:1-11).  he started with prayer, with fasting, and with grounding himself in the truth of who he was and who he was called to be.  in the midst of this visionquest, he was tempted by the deceiver, who tried to convince him to be something other then the one he was meant to be.  he was tempted to be a popular need-meeter (turn the stones to bread), to be a celebrity demi-god (jump off the temple and be saved in front of everyone), and to be a king of kings with unlimited power ("just bow to me.").  but none of these were who he was meant to be.  lord knows that he would have liked to find another way ("Lord, if it is possible, please take this cup from me.....but not my will, but yours be done.).  but the way wasn't one of convenience or pleasure or self-reliance.  it was a way of suffering and humility.  it was the way of serving others.  it was the way of working with a ragtag group of disciples with big mouths and bigger blunders.  it was the way of hanging out in the margins, with the forgotten and the frustrating.  it was the way of angering the elite, disappointing the religious, and never quite fitting in among the bigwigs.  it was the way of calvary and cross.  it was the way of being betrayed.  it was the way of being arrested and unfairly tried and convicted and sentenced to death. this was the way.  the only way.  any other way would have been something less than authentic.

and here we are thinking we are pretty great giving up ice cream or facebook.

it's not about counting calories or reducing our data usage, friends.  it is about cutting out the lies of the deceiver about who we really are, and who we are called to be.  it is about remembering that we are grounded and centered in who God made us to be, and we can find that truth in the word (just as Jesus used the scripture to frame his responses to the tempter...we find our identity in the logos [word] of God - Jesus).

our journey begins in the wilderness.  it is there we find our true selves, and a vision for who we are called to be.  not short cut takers, but servers and sojourners.  bound to be broken, of course.  but made whole by the one who was broken for us.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

the "other" do nots




"thou shalt not."

three words that, for many, seem to define the very essence of christianity, or even religion in general. i was thinking about this the other day as i was thinking about the fear that sometimes gets it's stiff grip on us and keeps us from moving forward or outward or upward or any-ward.  and i was thinking about fear, i remembered another "do not" commandment.  you won't find it on any list of the 10 commandments, even though it is a commandment given by Jesus himself.  you can find it in luke 12:32:

"do not be afraid, little flock.  for it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom."

do not be afraid.  there is a commandment i need to start being more careful to obey!  in a world full of tyrants and terror, i need to be reminded of Jesus' firm command.  it is not for me to be full of fear and worry.  why? because it isn't God's desire to punish us or crush us or let us rot, but Jesus says it is God's great joy to give us the Kingdom.  to bring us into a reign when there will be no more suffering.  when i start to live as if that is really true, i can start to really live.

which leads me to another "do not."  you can find this one in galatians 6:9:
"do not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up."
do not give up on doing the right thing.  standing up for the oppressed.  being an advocate for the marginalized.  telling the truth. putting others first. standing against racism and sexism and ageism and all the other isms that entitle some at the expense of others.  do not give up.  fight for equality, for freedom, for justice.  do not give up.  because there will be a harvest someday. and we will bear the fruit of this hard work, if we don't give up.  and what is it that compels us to work so diligently at doing the right thing?

that's the last "do not."  i'm quoting from romans 13:8-10 (the message):
" don’t run up debts, except for the huge debt of love you owe each other. when you love others, you complete what the law has been after all along. the law code—don’t sleep with another person’s spouse, don’t take someone’s life, don’t take what isn’t yours, don’t always be wanting what you don’t have, and any other “don’t” you can think of—finally adds up to this: love other people as well as you do yourself. you can’t go wrong when you love others. when you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love."
do not stop loving.  we owe it to one another.  we are better when we worry less about splinters in other people's eyes, and pay attention to the giant branch sticking out of our own: we need to love more, better, deeper, more freely.  all the "do nots" come down to this in the end.  the old "do nots" are fine, but they aren't nearly as important as these:

do not be afraid.
do not quit doing the right thing.
do not stop loving.

do not.
 

Friday, January 13, 2017

no.matter.what.



it's been kinda quite here for some time now.  life has changed for me, in terms of how i need to manage my time and my writing.  i keep the blog alive, only because i hope to continue to use it as a way to write more, once i discover a healthier rhythm in this new season.  i'm working towards it.

in the meantime, my fanaticism for all things black and gold has not waned.  fan is still short for fanatic.  and while i haven't been posting my fanatical pictures and rantings this fall, i have been no less interested rabid.

so, as the steelers now finish preparations for their second playoff game of the season, against the kfc chefs, i just wanted to offer a subtle HERE WE GO STEELERS HERE WE GO!!!!!!!!  and a reminder that, no matter what happens, i'm a steelers fan for life!

also, watch this video and try not to punch a hole in the wall because of the sheer adrenaline coursing through your system.





and if you're still here, read this article by cam heyward.  awesome.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

stop-motion lego Christmas

check out this cool video that Jackson made out of legos, his camera, and some video software...