Daily Wonder 12-31-13

Scripture: Jeremiah 10:12
But God made the earth by his power;
he founded the world by his wisdom
and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.

Thought for the Day: Wisdom and understanding. Our ancestors attributed these qualities to God, cialis and ascribed so much importance to them, that they became part and parcel of God’s creative process. Wisdom, in fact, is pre-existent and inseparable from the being of God. Wisdom is the force through which God creates all realities (thousands of years after this Judaic concept was developed, these qualities would be ascribed to Jesus Christ as well).

Biblical ideas of wisdom and understanding are much deeper than our modern view of them as simply intellectual concepts or character traits. They are both blessings—gifts from God for any human willing to notice God tapping them on the shoulder, awakening us from the slumbering fog of the commercial world. Wisdom bursts into our being when we realize there is more to life than the rat race. Wisdom leads to all kinds of understanding: that we are more than we seem (or, too often, than we are allowed to imagine); that the world is more than our physical senses allow us to experience. Wisdom and understanding show us that each and every human being, no matter their gender or color, is literally Godstuff—walking, breathing, talking, thinking, and creating this tenuous physical realm.

Tonight, most of us around the world will celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of the new. Let’s pray throughout the day that 2014 brings an awakening of God’s wisdom and understanding in each of us, so that we might all move a little closer to the sort of peaceful, loving, and just existence Jesus, Buddha, Moses and Mohammed all proclaimed is not only possible, but is, in truth, the birthright of every person on this planet.

God creates change not by swinging a mighty sword, but softly and gently, through every man, woman and child wise enough to tune into God’s activity in the universe. May the coming year make us all more open to God’s infinite and eternal wisdom.

Prayer: Help me bring a little more wisdom and understanding into the world, God who is all wisdom and understanding. Awaken me to the mystical that surrounds me all the time, so I might better understand the connectedness of all things, and then respond with love, kindness, compassion and understanding. Amen.

Daily Wonder 12-30-13

Monday Meditation:
Holy God, check
Creator of the universe,
Sustainer of my soul:
Ignite a fire for service within me.
Fan the flames of Divine Love,
which burn in me with an intensity
too unbearable to ignore,
and motivate me to acts of loving kindness.

I adore You because you compel me to act with love,
with mercy,
with understanding,
and with compassion.
You are the fuel that keeps the flame of forgiveness
lit within the depths of my being.
You are the inspiration that is the very engine of my creation,
and my creativity.

I adore You and thank you,
because you teach me how to love.
You remind me that I am as You are, pure love.
I adore You and thank you
because you show me how to care for others above myself,
and how to see the world with a childlike wonder,
in awe of the beauty and majesty
of Your inconceivably complex creation.

Still, I confess I often fumble and fall.
My busy life sidetracks me from thoughts of You,
from prayer and meditation,
from study of the holy aspects of being alive.
I forget that human life—every human life, is holy.
The world makes me cynical,
and my own human imperfections
cause me to lose my innocence.
Worse, I forget who You are, and whose I am.
I forget that You are with me, always,
even when I think I have shut you out of my life.

I need your help, Holy One.
The world needs Your help.
We cannot do this alone.
We cannot take this journey back to Your embrace alone.
We cannot evolve into a higher state of being, like Jesus, alone.
So we rejoice, because we know we are not alone:
You are with us.
The Christ is within us,
through every trial,
in each stressful moment of every day,
in every person we meet.
You show us that no one is our enemy,
and that by reaching out to others in love,
we are reaching out to you.

I give you every ounce of love I have,
asking for nothing in return,
for I already know You have given me everything
by simply giving me the gift of life.
Glorious life!
Wondrous life!
Eternal life!
Life that is meant to be shared with others,
so that everyone might come to know you more intimately,
follow you more closely,
and love you more dearly.
For it’s in recognizing the Holy in all of us
(and every one of us is holy),
that the world truly changes—
one person at a time,
a few people every day,
until Your kingdom is fully realized.

I readily and ecstatically return my life to you.
Do with me what you will,
for I know your will is a world of peace through justice,
and an end to violence against all of us,
all your beloved children, forever.

Daily Wonder 12-20-13

Scripture: Isaiah 32:16-17
The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert, case
his righteousness live in the fertile field.
The fruit of that righteousness will be peace;
its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.

Thought for the Day: The “fertile field” Isaiah described is not some plot of land in Iowa. We are each fertile fields, patient created to nourish the seed of God within—a seed we are born from, cialis and which we carry with us forever. If we nurture this God seed by living a “righteous” life, the seed of God grows into a sort of quiet, confident peace like none we have ever known.

Life is turmoil. But that turmoil can be exacerbated somewhat by concentrating on the seed of God within, by fertilizing our thoughts, actions, and body with right thinking and right acting. Righteousness does not mean we tell everyone else how wrong they are, or how condemned they are for not being Christian (or you can fill in the blank here with pretty much any religion). Righteousness means we live our lives in a way that always draws us closer to God.

God speaks to the world in an infinite variety of ways, many of which we can’t even begin to fathom with our human pea-brains, limited to perception of a four-dimensional world, limited by a lack of imagination about things we cannot see, touch, taste, hear or smell. We can overcome these limitations by believing we are more, and that there is more to the world than meets the eye. Peace comes to the world only after each of us makes peace with ourselves, and we make peace with ourselves by knowing that God is with us.

Prayer: Holy God of tranquility, bring me eternal, internal peace, so that by action and demeanor I might bring peace to others. Amen.

Daily Wonder 12-19-13

The Joy Bringer, pharmacy Part 4
Joshua laughed with delight as the pickup turned down the road to the plantation, store off the paved state road and onto the private dirt and gravel patchwork that was really more a system of potholes joined together by occasional mounds of dirt. Maria clenched José’s hand tightly, the pain of every bump and swerve like bolts of lightning running through her spine. She prayed silently as the pickup slowed to a halt at the entrance to their group home, where everyone was waiting. They had already heard about the happy baby, and welcomed the family back into the community with loud singing, music, dancing, and lots of hugs. Joshua laughed delightedly as everyone poked and prodded him.

As time wore on and Joshua began to grow, his exuberance for life never diminished. Everyone he ever came into contact with would be forever changed. Joshua would being hope, love, joy and peace to people during his life, and long after.

But that’s another story, for another time. Until then, may the joy and love of life Joshua was born with begin to inhabit all our souls more deeply and permanently. Amen.

Daily Wonder 12-17-13

The Joy Bringer, healing Part 2

José and Maria went to the hospital just days before the baby was due, and they were denied service. Because of their immigration and financial status (they were illegal and poor), they weren’t entitled to a nice hospital room, and the sort of health care everyone else in this country that was literally breaking José and Maria’s backs received. From hospital to hospital they trekked, only to be turned away every time. No insurance. No immigration card. No money. Dejected, they had no choice but to wait until the last possible moment, and go to the emergency room to have their baby delivered. So it was with no unnoticed sense of irony that José looked at his giggling baby Joshua, knowing the future was likely not going to be filled with joy.

As if he knew his father was in turmoil, Joshua reached out and touched José’s hand. This snapped José out of his darkness and brought him back to the present, joyous moment. He looked down at Joshua and saw the baby grinning wildly back at him, as if he was saying, “Come on, man, life is awesome!” José thought to himself, how innocent and joyful life is— before it kicks all your teeth in. Seemingly reading his mind, Joshua squeezed Jose’s hand so hard that José jumped in surprise.

Daily Wonder 12-16-13

This week’s wonder is a serialized version of my sermon from Sunday, December 15

The Joy Bringer

Part 1: There had always been something special about Joshua. From the moment he was born, he laughed joyously. The first sound most babies make is panicked sobbing, but not Joshua. Joshua laughed, seemingly delighted to be alive, and his laugh was infectious. At first, the doctors and Joshua’s parents were a bit startled at this response to being born, but soon, they too were all laughing, captivated by this innocent, bemused child. Joshua giggled as the nurse gently set him in his mother’s arms. Maria smiled and looked up at her husband José, who couldn’t help but beam a snaggle-toothed grin and heave a sigh of relief, even though he was intensely concerned about their future.

José had been very worried about Maria’s pregnancy. They were poor farm workers, immigrants to a land that wanted their labor but didn’t want them. Life was hard. The days were spent under the hot sun, the evenings in the most makeshift of shelters, with eight other people all groping and poking each other as they did their best to find even the smallest of personal spaces. Maria worked in the fields until the last week of her pregnancy, when she simply couldn’t stand on her feet any longer, and that’s when their situation got worse.

Daily Wonder 12-13-12

Scripture: Acts 13:52
And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Thought for the Day: I moved to Lake Charles, drugstore Louisiana, view at the beginning of my sophomore year of high school. I’d never really spent any time with members of the Pentecostal church before, but we had several large Pentecostal churches in Lake Charles, and many of my classmates were Pentecostal. They dressed very conservatively, women always in long skirts with their hair up. They were mild-mannered and helpful, and appeared somewhat meek. I became good friends with a Pentecostal girl who was a fantastic singer. We met working on a talent show for school. I was playing piano for everybody, whether or not they could sing. Most of them couldn’t. But then this tiny, quiet little girl who looked like she just walked off the set of “Little House on the Prairie” walked up to the mic and just killed it. It was like she had become a different person on stage—effervescent, working the crowd, belting out one ridiculous note after another. After a day of “talent” that had worn all of us down, she set the place on fire.

When I talked to her about her performance later, she said, “It’s not me. When I sing, the Holy Spirit works through me.” At the time, I had no idea what she was talking about. It took years for me to understand that the Holy Spirit is indeed a powerful source of joy and inspiration, and that when the Spirit is flowing, your creativity is a blessing for everyone around you as well.

Prayer: Bless our days with the presence of the Holy Spirit, God of Spirit, God of life. Amen.

Daily Wonder 12-12-13

Scripture: 1 Chronicles 16:31-34
Let heaven celebrate!
Let the earth rejoice!
Let the nations say, click “The Lord rules!”
Let the sea and everything in it roar!
Let the countryside and
everything in it celebrate!
Then the trees of the forest
will shout out joyfully
before the Lord, because he is coming
to establish justice on earth!
Give thanks to the Lord
because he is good,
because his faithful love
endures forever.

Thought for the Day: By the time the Book of Chronicles was written, it’s likely the Book of Psalms was already complete and in the form we use today (more or less). However, when this same passage appeared in Psalms (check out Pss. 96, 105 and 106), the Jewish people were living in the Promised Land. By the time Chronicles is written, Jews have lived in diaspora (as they would for most of their history). Some scholars believe that this extended contact with other nations helped the authors of Chronicles develop a more universalist view of God, as Jews living outside the Promised Land spread monotheism to their polytheistic hosts.

During the Christmas season, I think it’s a good spiritual exercise for Christians around the world to remember that Judaism and the Jewish person of Jesus are the roots of our faith. The Jewish idea that there is only one God, and that God is all-loving, is fundamental to Christianity and Islam. In Chronicles, the authors beg their readers to celebrate life—all life, even non-human life. So great is God, and so great is God’s love for creation, that every single one of us should literally be jumping for joy, no matter what we call ourselves. No matter what we call each other. In fact, this song makes it very clear that all we are ever to call each other is beloved in the name of God.

Prayer: I dance, shout, and leap for Joy at all Your glorious creation, my beloved God. Help me see everyone I meet as a manifestation of your perfect love. Give me peace, grant me insight, and make me wise enough to feel the ecstasy of living in oneness with all Your creation. Amen.