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ETERNAL LIFE – Does that mean Forever?

It is a misconception that Eternal Life is time related, that it is something in the future. Eternal Life does not mean everlasting. Its meaning is better expressed by the word limitless. It is not related to time or space. It is being with God who is beyond time and space. The Good News is that “being with God” is not something that only happens after we die.

In John’s Gospel, John has Jesus say, “Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life” [John 3:16].   Eternal life is now. Eternal life is a limitless part of God’s gift, God’s grace, given to each of us that we experience now. In a recent Easter sermon, Rev Dawn Hutchins describes it as follows:

“The gift of breath itself is pure grace. Thirteen billion years of evolution have resulted in the cosmos producing human life and each and every breath we breathe is pure gift. We are living breathing, walking, talking, loving, miracles. The breath that flows through us, enlivens us, and empowers us. This breath is the Spirit of all life, that emanates from the One who is the source of our being. The eternal quality of our life, of all our lives is knowing. To know, is to experience deeply. The ancients understood this as the essence of what it means to be human; to know.

“The storyteller we call John, puts into the mouth of Jesus words that I am only beginning to know, to experience deeply. Jesus said, “And this is eternal life: to know you, the only true God.” [John 17:3] The words translated from the Greek as “to know” are the same words used in the scriptures to describe the intimacy of love-making. This is eternal life, to know, to make love to God. Eternal life is a quality of living that shares a deep intimacy with the One who is the source of our being.”

Eternal life is the experiencing of intimacy with God now, each day, without time or space limits What those early disciples saw as they were living with Jesus was that he knew God in this way, and the Cross became the sign that with the resurrected Jesus within them, they too knew God as an intimate and deeply transforming experience. It changed their lives and changes each day of our lives too.

“Know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” [John 14:20]

Loren Bullock
November 14, 2017

Rev Dawn Hutchings is pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Newmarket (nr. Toronto), Ontario, Canada
Her blog is


A Timely Prayer in Church

O Ever-Creating God,

We live on this blue planet Earth that we call home, and it is alive with your presence. And we are grateful. Help each of us to learn to honor it, to protect it, to care for it, to take from it responsibly, and to enjoy it respectfully.

We sense your presence as we sit in this sacred space – with its glorious music – with its spoken words – and whenever we become aware of the quietness of your spirit within each of us, of your presence within our hearts. And we are grateful.

We are also aware of those sitting around us – that your presence is also in each one of them. We are a community. We belong. You are a part of us, and we are a part of you. And we are grateful.

But we are also aware of so much turmoil in the land – so much suffering from hurricanes and floods and fires – but also suffering from the hands of other humans. There is so much hunger in the world – so much anger – so much hate. Help us as human beings to let go of our own self-centerdness, our selfishness. Help us rise above our strong survival instincts that are such a basic – even controlling – part of all of life. It’s so easy to lash out – to hurt.

Rather, help us to practice your presence each day, recognizing your love within us – expressing your love to those around us – and living each day as Jesus lived, by letting your Spirit take control of our very beings.   Help us as we reach out to your world – our world –  with our love and our hands.

May the peace of your presence, which surpasses all understanding, guide our hearts and minds in the wonderful mystery that is Christ Jesus.


Loren Bullock
October 15,2017

When We Say Goodbye

What a universally used phrase, “Goodbye,” is when two people part. And the vast majority have no clue as to what they are actually saying. For in spite of the secular nature of much of our society, they are all calling for God’s blessing upon the other. “Goodbye” is simply a contraction of the phrase, “God be with thee,” or “God be with you.” The meaning is perhaps more obvious in the corresponding Spanish, “Adios,” or the French, “Adieu.” that show their Latin base. But even in those languages, most people still do not make the connection of wishing God’s presence within you.

What a lovely irony, then, that millions and millions of people – even the non-religious and even those claiming no belief in God at all – are nevertheless invoking God’s blessing to each other over and over each day, whenever they say, “Goodbye.” What a wonderful wish it is, to wish that the presence of God be a part of you.


Loren Bullock
October 12, 2017

At 93 – That’s Old

Self reflection comes easy now. I sense that my view of life around me has changed in the last year or so. I’m still interested in what’s going on in the world, I listen to the news. I read the Washington Post every day. Family includes me in activities. But I don’t seem to be involved as much in what goes on. I’m not really making the decisions of the day. They are increasingly being made for me. There’s no good or bad, right or wrong about this. It’s just different.

Facebook is another world to me. Texting and messaging are too immediate for me to respond. I need time to reflect. Tweeting makes it too easy to blurt out thoughts without thinking. Phones aren’t just telephones any more. I can’t type with my thumbs. Many kids can’t read cursive writing today. It’s just that much of the cultural world around me is different from what I spent most of my life in. I am fascinated to watch it, but I’m no longer so involved in it.

I find myself as an interested observer, looking out at everything going on around me , and not always being a part of it. But I am still an integral part of the world. I have come to feel my strong connection to life – all life – all around me. I am not alone. I am comfortable using the word God to describe both the mystery and the reality of this awesome universe with its incredible distances and equally incredible minuteness. And I am a specific and integral part of that universe, for God is an integral part of my very being.

So I am 93.   I am and have been privileged in so many ways.  I am grateful for all the abounding love that surrounds me and still gives my life meaning as well as its zest and deep contentment.

Loren Bullock
October 17, 2017

Creativity – the Beating Heart of God

God has long been described as Creator. “God created the world.”  In this familiar statement,  “created” is a verb in the past tense. But our new understanding of the world, of our universe of reality, is that creation is not just something that happened a long time ago, but has been and is a continuing process. Creativity is an integral process at the very heart of the cosmic evolution that is happening right now, and each one of us is a participant in it.  Listen to how Matthew Fox in his book Creativity describes it:

“With today’s new creation story, we are learning how fully committed to creativity the universe has been for its [13.8 billion] years of existence.  Creativity is its thing; it is about constant birth and rebirth, life, death, and resurrection. Stars do it, galaxies do it, atoms do it, mountains do it, animals do it, birds do it, grasses do it. All of life, it turns out, is busy being creative. To me the creativity that is the heart of the universe is the heart of God.”  John Dominic Crossan’s words are “the beating heart of the Universe.”

Michael Dowd, in his book, Thank God for Evolution, describes how our new understanding of the universe, with its constantly evolving galaxies and stars, and planets, and life on Earth, includes a way of looking at the universe’s creativity in terms of its nestedness.

“The whole of reality is created in a nested sense, and we are a part of the process. Like nested dolls, smaller realities are contained within larger ones – from the infinitely small to the infinitely vast – and every one of them is divinely creative. Each scale of reality is blessed with an ability to bring forth novelty through natural processes of emergence gloriously specific to its unique station within the nested whole. “Divinely creative” expresses, too, that each nested level has the power to bring into being something that never existed before. This is the primary characteristic of God: “Creator.”

“Everything is part of something bigger and is made of smaller components nested within it. Each of these “whole/parts” is creative. Each one of us is such a unit of “whole/parts”. Within, we find organs, tissue, molecules, atoms, subatomic particles. Without, we form families, societies, planets, solar systems, galaxies. At every level, each “whole/parts” unit is creative in ways distinct from the powers that operate at both larger and smaller scales. Nested creativity thus is the source of emergence, of continuing creation by the collective and within each of its parts. At the human scale, we find ourselves smack in the middle of this creative enterprise. Ultimate Reality, or God, is the One and Only Whole (Holy One) that is not part of some larger, more comprehensive reality.

“We now know that stars create almost all of the atoms in the periodic table of elements. Atoms in community give rise to molecules. Molecules assemble into living cells. Out of cells emerge multi-cellular plants, animals, and fungi. Ants, termites, crows, prairie dogs, and human beings generate societies. Societies spawn cultures and technologies. Cultures yield artistic and religious expressions. And the creativity of all of it, at every level, is possible only because of the Ultimate Whole of Reality that I enthusiastically call “God.”

“The importance of nested emergence cannot be overemphasized. Creation is a self-organizing, nested, process of divine creativity – creative wholes that are part of larger creative wholes within still larger wholes. Each level has its own “intelligence,” capabilities that its constituent parts do not have full access to. . . . One of the greatest ironies in the history of Western thought is this: by examining Reality as though it were a machine, humanity discovered that Reality is not a machine. Our mechanistic paradigm opened our collective sensibilities to the presence of a decidedly non-mechanistic Universe that requires our use of non-mechanistic metaphors (e.g., “nested creativity,” “self-organizing Universe”) in order for the Universe to faithfully be made comprehensible . And all this can be accomplished “to the glory of God,” that is, in ways that serve the Whole.”


Loren Bullock
August 29, 2017

Thank God for Evolution, by Michael Dowd pp. 84-86. Viking 2007
Creativity, Where the Divine and Human Meet, by Matthew Fox. Penguin 2004

Note: Dowd, following Arthur Koestler and Ken Wilbur, uses the word holon for the unit of nested “whole/parts” as used above.  A pointed contraction of “holy one.”  Each one of us is a holon.  My heart is a holon.  The planet Earth is a holon.

He Lives!

The Easter call is clear: Jesus lives! The experience of those first disciples was that, after his death, Jesus was now within each of them and is now within each of us. However that experience has been described and explained, whether by reading Gospel stories literally or metaphorically, the experiences were and are real.

Clarence Jordan, New Testament scholar and translator of Cotton Patch Gospels once wrote, “The proof that God raised Jesus from the dead is not the empty tomb, but the the full hearts of the transformed disciples. The crowning evidence that he lives is not a vacant grave, but a spirit-filled fellowship, not a rolled-away stone, but a carried-away church.”

“Know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”  [John 14:20]

Loren Bullock
August 12, 2017

Blue Boat Home


This is a hymn by Peter Mayer that is in Hymn Supplement (2005) to the Unitarian Universalist Church Hymnal, “Singing the Journey.”

Though below me I feel no motion,
Standing on these mountains and plains
Far away from the rolling ocean,
Still my dry land heart can say,
I’ve been sailing all my life now
Never harbor or port have I known.
The wide universe is the ocean I travel,
And the earth is my blue boat home.

Sun my sail and moon my rudder,
As I ply the starry sea,
Leaning over the edge of wonder,
Casting questions into the deep,
Drifting here with my ship’s companions,
All we kindred pilgrim souls,
Making our way by the light of the heavens
In our beautiful blue boat home.

I give thanks to the waves upholding me,
Hail the great winds urging me on,
Greet the infinite sea before me,
Sing to the sky my sailor’s song.
I was born upon the fathoms,
Never harbor or port have I known.
The wide universe is the ocean I travel
And the earth is my blue boat home.

[Tune: Hyfrydol #196 in Methodist Hymnal]


Loren Bullock

June 23, 2007



One of most amazing characteristics of being human is our ability and freedom to choose our actions and reactions of everyday living. A fundamental characteristic of all life seems to be the sensing and reacting to stimuli of our environment. That’s true of an amoeba or an oak tree or a mosquito or an elephant. And we humans have in our evolved brains, many of the basic responses of those evolutionary ancestors. But as human beings, our brains have also evolved – to an amazing degree – with frontal lobes with which we choose to control many of those more basic responses. The traditional term for this is free will, but it’s more meaningful to me to call it free choice.  Some threats to our body do produce an automatic reaction – like touching a hot stove.  But in most situations we can choose how to react .

We see examples every day of people letting their more basic “animal instincts” take over. We see news stories of a parent lashing out in anger at children or spouse. We see road rage. We have war! It’s the source of so much of the suffering and evil in the world that is all around us.  But then I think of Nelson Mandela. After years of imprisonment, he chose peace, not vengeance, and he changed a country.   And I also think of Mother Theresa who gave her entire life to others. When we saw people fleeing from the burning World Trade Towers, others, mostly police and firemen, were running towards the incident to help. We humans, both as individuals and in society have the capability either to let those animal instincts take over, or to choose a more “humane” response that reaches out to our potential of becoming more fully human. It shows in how we treat our environment, how we treat other people, and even how we treat ourselves.

The fundamental choice for me as a human is to recognize that “ME” within my consciousness as God. That is my direct experience of God as an intrinsic part of my being. It is that ME that reacts with awe and thanksgiving and praise at the glory of a sunset sky, or watching ocean waves breaking on a beach, or the holding of a newborn baby, or listening to the sounds of a Bach fugue, or feeling the touch of a loved one, singing a Brian Wren hymn in church, biking along the Moldau River, or attending the graduation exercises of my grandchildren.

I no longer think of God as a distant being somewhere beyond the sky who created the universe some billions of years ago and now watches and intervenes periodically. To me, God is that continuous creativity that we now know and see and feel as happening throughout the universe. God is in the life that is all around me on this planet Earth. I am an individual participant in this evolving universe at this moment and place in space-time! I am an integral part of something grand! Within me, within each of us, there is this spark of consciousness that is ME. Meister Eckert, a tenth century mystic, described it as, “My me is God.” The writer of the Gospel of John has Jesus say, “I am in my Father, and you in me and I in you.” [John 14:20]

I choose how I react to the Universe and to the Earth that is my home. I choose how I reach out to the people that I interact with every day.   I can choose to control those strong self-protecting animal instincts that are so close to the surface of my being.  I can choose to listen to those higher instincts of our human potential that lead us to wholeness, those instincts of compassion and care, of fairness and justice, of loyalty and love. It’s not always easy. It takes practice. But only then can we begin to reach into our wholeness as human beings.

Loren Bullock
Revised December 7, 2017


Resurrection – A Personal Experience

We have just celebrated Easter and Jesus’ resurrection – the central tenet of Christianity. The familiar stories in the Gospels, describe an empty tomb and actual physical appearances of Jesus, but they were written some 40 to 70 years later and appear to be later additions to the story.  Paul, writing in his letters only 20 to 27 years after the crucifixion, never mentions a tomb or bodily appearances, nor does he describe the risen Jesus as a physical human being.  Paul describes Jesus’ appearances to himself as visions.  The author of John refers to Jesus more mystically as being “raised into God” [John 20:17].  To Paul and all those early “Christians” (they were all still Jews), the resurrection was a profound personal experience that convinced them that God’s spirit that was in Jesus was now in them. It was the mystery of this spiritual experience of resurrection that transformed their lives, and still transforms each of us. In the Gospel of John, the resurrection is succinctly described when Jesus says “I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” [John 14:20]

All this is so beautifully expressed in Brian Wren’s hymn which we sang as a closing hymn in our church the Sunday after Easter. It is the Easter message written for us in today’s world. It is the heart of the Easter story, the meaning of the Resurrection, and an Affirmation of My Faith.

Christ is alive! Let Christians sing.
The cross is empty to the sky.
Let streets and homes with praises ring.
His love in death will never die.

Christ is alive! No longer bound
to distant years in Palestine,
he comes to claim the here and now
and dwell in every place and time.

Not throned afar, remotely high,
Unmoved by human pains,
but daily, in the midst of life,
our Savior in the God-head reigns.

In every insult, rift, and war,
where color, scorn, or wealth divide,
he suffers still, yet loves the more,
and lives, though ever crucified.

Christ is alive and comes to bring
good news to this and every age,
til earth and all creation ring
with joy, with justice, love and praise.

by Brian Wren 1968.  Methodist Hymnal 318

Loren Bullock
April 24, 2017

Life Is An Adventure

One of the most amazing evolutionary developments in humans is our mental capacity of self awareness. We are conscious of ourselves as individual personalities in relationship to other human personalities. To varying degrees we can be conscious of the me within. Living becomes a personal experience. At the same time, we share with earlier forms of animal life many of the earlier evolutionary developments of basic survival instincts, tribal instincts, and fears of the strange or unknown. It is these self protecting animal instincts that are still so strong within us that gets us into trouble. I have come to believe that this is the source of all the evil that we experience in our world; it seems to me that evil is a uniquely human experience. Evil is the result of humans letting their animal instincts take over with feelings or even urgings of distrust, anger, resentment, revenge, hate, murder, and even war! Evil is not from some external Devil, but is the result of what we humans do to ourselves, to each other, and to other life – even to the Earth itself!

But the evolutionary development of our brain’s frontal lobes gives us the ability to control those animal instincts. It is our self awareness and ability to recognize self awareness in others that can create compassion, understanding, forgiveness, and love. But it is our choice. We humans are very early in our evolutionary development, so it is not surprising that our animal instincts are still so dominant. Yet it is our ability to love that is our hope for us as living individuals on this living Earth in this still evolving Universe .

For each of us, life is an experience. It is an experience in time. It is an experience that include risks such as tragedies and even death from natural events like earthquakes or lightening. These events used to be – and often still are – identified as punishment from God. But in nature there is no punishment, only consequences. Other risks are the result of what people do to other people or to our planet. They can be either good or evil. An experience that has risks, known and unknown, is called an adventure. So the experience of life for each of us is an adventure. An adventure can be exciting, thrilling, dangerous, with new discoveries, free decisions, new relationships, peaceful interludes, random happenings, as well as tragedies, hurts, and pain. The adventure of life can have all of these.

For me my life is a gift of love from God – a gift in trust that I may use and then give back. I am an integral part of the Universe that is gradually being revealed to us humans as continuing creation with expanding and changing galaxies, with stars and atoms, energy and love, And through it all we humans are part of the evolving life on our planet Earth to which we humans are so intimately related. My life has been and still is an exciting adventure. And at 92, I now am understanding it, more than anything else, as an adventure in love.

Loren Bullock
March 11, 2017