Month: January 2013
Scripture: Exodus 15:13
In your unfailing love you will lead
the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them
to your holy dwelling.
Thought for the Day: So much of Scripture is about journey—the flight of the Jewish slaves from Egypt and their 40 years in the desert, decease their travels to and from Jerusalem and Babylon, there the wanderings of Jesus and the disciples, Jesus’ own desert experience. Our lives are one big journey, and much of that time is also spent in one desert or another. We all go through periods of time when we feel unfulfilled, unloved, or simply tapped out. Being human is hard work.
But just as the Bible is about journey, it is also about finding a light out of the deserts of our lives, a light that always leads us closer to our true dwelling place: with God, intimately and always. God will lead us out of any turmoil, like a beacon from a lighthouse on a rocky shore, guiding us away from the craggy cliffs of despair or disenchantment, and leading us straight into God’s own loving arms of strength, redemption, and holy love. And the great news is, all it takes is a little faith.
Prayer: Strengthen me for my journey, Lord, that I may know your unfailing love and, have the faith to see your light shining the way out of the darkness for me. Amen.
Scripture: Jeremiah 31:3
The Lord appeared to us in the past, medical saying:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”
Thought for the Day: It’s funny, rx in a sort of depressing way. In a landmark agreement, order the U.S. Roman Catholic Church and several Protestant denominations have agreed to recognize each other’s baptisms. Yet even in this display of unity and acceptance, a true reflection of God’s everlasting love, there is a dogmatic hardline: baptisms must be performed only once, and they must invoke “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” in a throwback to the severity of Middle Ages Trinitarian doctrine. I guess we take a few steps forward and 1000 years back.
More than anything I want the body of Christ healed. I want to see the Catholics and the 33,000 Protestant denominations in America work together for reform—but not internal reform. We’re supposed to be working together to change the entire socioeconomic structure of the planet, the way Jesus attempted to overthrow the oppressive rule of the Roman Empire in his time. As Christians, as followers of Jesus, we are called to work together for healing, justice, love, and compassion. Yet, we continue to focus on our own rituals, condemning those who practice their faith differently, and finding it necessary to sign accords about—ritual. I think we’re missing the point, folks. Being church is not about ritual. The ritual is there to remind us of our connection with God and our duty to Jesus, so that we will then go out into the world and do something radical. The ritual is not church. It’s just an expression of our worship of God, and we should expect it will be different for different groups of us. Signing a sheet of paper stating the obvious is not progress.
I’m glad the Catholics and the Protestants are reconciling their differences though, I really am. Because now maybe they’ll start to actually become the church Jesus intended: a radical voice for social change, a mass movement of peaceful non-compliance against an empire that is as oppressive and dangerous today as it was 2000 years ago. Of course, for that to happen, we’re going to have to admit we’re part of the problem.
Prayer: Help us see the big picture, God who sees all, so we’ll stop arguing about insignificant details and get to the hard work of global reconciliation with you and each other. Amen.
Scripture: 1 John 4:7-8
Dear friends, troche let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Thought for the Day: The letters of John (and the Gospel of John for that matter) tend to be very strict, promoting a sort of “you’re in or you’re out” ideology. Written to heal a fractured community that was in conflict with both itself and its Jewish brothers and sisters in Jerusalem, the letters have caused more divisions and horrendous acts of intolerance than they have healed any wounds. This is largely because faith can never be about “you’re in or you’re out.” If we’re to learn anything from the teachings and life of Jesus, it’s that everybody is in. And this means in God’s love, in God’s redemption, in God’s forgiveness—whether they call themselves Baptists (or Southern Baptists or United Baptists or Old Baptist Unionists) or Disciples of Christ (or United Church of Christ) or Catholics (Orthodox or reformed? Eastern or Western?) or Muslims (Ahmadiyya, Sufi, Suni or Shi’a?) or Jews (Orthodox? Reformed?). We’re all in. God is good with us.
However, I do agree with John’s “either/or” proposition when he talks about love. Whoever does not know love does not know God. For God is truly love, and once we are filled with the power of God’s love, it is no longer possible for us to even entertain the notion that someone who is not like me is somehow inferior or out of God’s favor. Once we’re filled with God’s love, denominational and religious differences make no difference, because we have realized that no matter how we worship or believe, we believe in the One God of the Universe. When we are filled with love, we truly know God, and we come to realize that these artificial divisions like those espoused by John have no place in our thinking or our actions. When we are filled with God’s love, we cannot help but love everyone we meet. And isn’t that what Jesus was all about?
Prayer: Holy and loving God, may I stop looking for divisions and differences, and start accepting my human family as an incredible revelation of your love and diversity. Amen.
Scripture: Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, sales joy, view peace, recipe patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Thought for the Day: I’m afraid that perhaps we’ve stopped trusting the Spirit in our lives—that we’ve become so caught up in dogmatic drama and discussion that we’re missing the big picture: no matter how we worship, no matter what our religious beliefs, are called to serve God and each other. Yet, Christians have hacked the body of Christ into 33,000 denominations, arguing about completely unimportant details like carpet color, style of music, or even styles of baptism and communion. Other religions have fared little better. And all the while the world around us begs for compassion, love, joy, kindness, and gentleness. Are people of faith missing our calling because we’re too sidetracked by denominational and religious differences? Have we forgotten to let our lives, our churches, our synagogues and mosques to be led by the Holy Spirit, which unites all people as one with God? Perhaps it’s time to start experiencing the fruit of the Spirit again, rather than throwing fruit at each other’s perceived differences.
Prayer: Help me, most patient God, to remember my true mission is to be a bearer of peace, love, justice and equality to a world torn apart by selfishness and greed. Amen.
Scripture: Ephesians 4:2-3
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, sovaldi sale bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Thought for the Day: Now, unhealthy Hank felt more than his physical body. His thoughts were about more than simply “making a living.” Now, mind he was thinking about making a life. Freed from the physical chains of material bondage, now the world—the universe, opened before Hank in an awesome, unfathomably huge and miraculously miniscule ballet. Life was about the vastness of the Milky Way and the incredible smallness of the atom, and it was all connected to us, through us, and from us in One Source: God. Suddenly for Hank, God was everywhere he looked. And his life, now God’s realized life, would never be the same.
Hank cleaned himself up (he kept the beard) and went outside to meet his friend Tom on the porch. “It’s been like, three days man! Where’ve you been?” Tom asked with obvious worry. “I was home the whole time,” Hank said, “but I saw all of creation revealed to me. I felt the stars vibrating in my heart, and the planets singing songs in my soul.”
As Hank began to tell Tom about everything he had experienced and learned, other neighbors gathered to listen. Soon, Hank was telling his inspirational and joy-filled story to lots of different people. And his new life had begun.
Prayer: Make me the humble, gentle, loving, patient being I so desire to be, Lord, so that I might proclaim your love to everyone who asks. Amen.
Scripture: Jeremiah 23:24
Who can hide in secret places
so that I cannot see them?”
declares the Lord.
“Do not I fill heaven and earth?”
declares the Lord.
Thought for the Day: Perhaps Hank was simply getting used to the weirdness his life had become over the last few days, troche but he was changed. Just like that. One night you go to bed from a hard day’s work, the next, you wake up invisible; a few days later, you feel like every person on the planet is your brother or sister, and that you and the stars have the same parents. “Yeah, that’s a little weird,” Hank said. And talking to yourself is a sign of insanity, they say.
Hank was done with what “they” thought, though. He had never felt so full of love before. He even loved “them,” whoever they were. He’d never felt so liberated! He could do anything. He could be anything. He felt it in his soul. Something had changed. Hank felt fresh, renewed, and more alive than ever, and he wanted to tell everyone about it. His intense time spent letting go of everything he thought he was, deeply reflecting upon every moment of his life, had opened him to an experience he could only describe as Holy. He felt every molecule of his being vibrating with the energy of the entire cosmos. God was real. Hank was positive.
To be continued…
Prayer: Here I am, Lord! See me! Fill me! Lead me! Amen.
Scripture: Revelation 3:20
[Jesus said] Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, sildenafil I will come in and eat with them, and they with me.
Thought for the Day: “Man, what a rush!” Hank exclaimed, as he jumped up from his chair with more energy than he could remember having in years. He almost fell on his face rushing to find a mirror. He felt complete, yet somehow weightless. “I don’t even care if I’m invisible anymore,” he said. “I understand now who I really am. What I am.” Hank looked in the mirror, kind of expecting not to see anything. But there he was, with a rather formidable beard on his formerly clean-shaven face. Wait a minute… how long has it been? He wondered.
Hank wasn’t too concerned about the beard, but it seemed strange so much could have grown overnight. He glanced at his phone and discovered he hadn’t been sitting there pondering his existence, the meaning of life, and listening to the Voice of the Universe for a few hours—it had been a few days. “Yipes!” Hank shouted, a little too loudly. The sound of his voice was jarring, like an alarm that wakes you out of a deep sleep. But Hank didn’t panic. He was serene, elated, connected. He went back to his chair and picked up a book his mother had given him many years ago.
To be continued…
Prayer: May I have the presence of Spirit to drop whatever I’m doing when you call, God of Life, and share Holy Communion with you. Amen.
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 2:13
I saw that wisdom is better than folly, pharm
just as light is better than darkness.
Thought for the Day: Hank had a realization, here an epiphany of sorts. “Maybe I can’t see myself,” he thought, “because I can’t see myself.”
He immediately rushed back into his house, leaving Tom staring quizzically behind, thinking perhaps his friend had lost his mind. Hank ran into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. “Why can’t I see myself, when others can see me so clearly?” Hank asked. “Have I become a figment of my own imagination?” He started to wonder where these new ideas were coming from. He wondered about the events in his life that helped form who he thought he was. Soon, he asked the big question: “Am I who I am meant to be, or who I think I am meant to be? And how do I know the difference?”
Hank sat down in his favorite chair, millions of thoughts pouring into his mind, heart, and soul, coming almost faster than he could keep up with them. So he quit trying so hard, and just let it happen. Even though he had no idea what “it” was.
Every now and then, a particular thought would attract Hank’s attention, and he would chew it over, almost a spectator inside his own mind. It was as if he wasn’t really doing the thinking, but watching something else (someone else?) do the thinking for him. It was as if the secrets of the universe were being poured into him, and his capacity was endless. Hank suddenly found himself part of an endless sea of information, truth, and without question, the most intense love he had ever experienced.
To be continued…
Prayer: May I learn through the Spirit to let go of me, so that I might be filled with you, God Almighty. Amen.