Month: August 2014
Scripture: Job 38:19
What is the way to the abode of light?
And where does darkness reside?
Thought for the Day: This line from Job reminds me of the famous tagline from the old radio drama “The Shadow”: Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows! It’s true. The darkness of humankind resides in our hearts. We are the fabricators of terror and infamous treachery. We are the perpetrators of slavery and genocide. Even in a world filled with light, here we hide in the shadows, full of of fear and loathing for people who cross our borders or challenge our religious ideas. Even when the light of the universe blinds us, we snuff it out rather than accepting it as the way to eliminate and illuminate the dark alleyways of our minds and souls.
I have learned, though, that no matter how dark and despairing the world looks, God is always at work turning on the lights. We are beings in conflict, creatures of light in a constant battle with our darkness, because truthfully, the light frightens us more than the dark. We make up stories about things that go bump in the night, but we’re afraid to turn on the light and expose them, because deep down we know the monsters are us.
Yes, we are in a dark place. But knowing that is half the battle, and now that we are aware of our own darkness and capacity for treachery, it is time to let God open the light of Christ consciousness within us all. Only light eliminates darkness, and faith turns on the light of God, which incinerates the hatred, mistrust, jealousy, selfishness, greed, and political polarization from our world.
God is constantly inviting us into a new way of thinking. This too sets up conflict though, as those who perpetrate the old rules, who are afraid of change and so cannot affect change, fight tooth and nail to hang onto their power. You know who these people are, we find them in all walks of life. Many of them claim to be people of faith. But faithful people give away power rather than cling to it. Faithful people go to the cross and die for their belief that the world can and should be very different.
If we want a better world, if we want better education for our children and better healthcare for our people, if we want a world of peace and cooperation rather than war and coercion, then we must allow the light of God to transform us from the inside out, then be willing to go to the cross to change the world. And believe me, we will go to the cross, in many different ways, because standing up for what is right and good and new causes all manner of slings and arrows to be thrown your way. The path of light is not easy. It’s often frustrating. But it is the only path that we, as people of God, can walk with any integrity. It is the only path we can walk if we are going to be participants in the creation of God’s new, loving, peaceful and completely different world.
Prayer: Make me an instrument of your peace, Holy God, and ignite the loving light of Christ within me, a light powerful enough to destroy the inevitable brick walls and closed minds any instrument of change runs into. Amen.
Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6
You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, tadalafil let us not be like others, ed who are asleep, and but let us be awake and sober.
Thought for the Day: It’s been popular of late to claim that you’re “spiritual but not religious,” and the religious folks have rallied against that idea, for some pretty good reasons. I think the people who make the “spiritual but not religious claim” (and I used to be one of them) tend to associate religion with organized religion. Certainly, one can be intensely spiritual without belonging to an organized religion. But one cannot be spiritual and not be religious. Spirituality will always lead to religious practices.
The word “religion” is derived from the Latin word religiosus, which means “reverence or obligation.” When we are awake and ever more exposed to the light of God burning deeply within us, we are filled with reverence for God and all of God’s incredibly diverse and insanely beautiful creation. This reverence also leads us to a joyful feeling of obligation to God, which leads us to protect creation and everything in it, because the spiritually awakened now see that God’s light shines strongly within everything and everyone. To truly be spiritual means we have a religious respect for all of creation, and that we approach others with the reverence we have for God.
Once the light of awakening is lit within us, we cannot help but become religious. This doesn’t necessarily mean we join an organized religion (although we might). We do, however, quite naturally become religious in our spiritual and moral disciplines. We pray and meditate regularly, we gravitate towards jobs and hobbies that somehow assist others, we read books and watch movies to keep us inspired and illuminated. Spirituality and religion go hand in hand. It’s fine if someone doesn’t want to be part of an organized religion, but it’s just impossible to be spiritual but not religious.
Prayer: Loving God who lights my way, make me reverent in my approach to life and obligated to act with the love, compassion, justice, mercy and sense of fairness shown in Jesus Christ. Amen.
Scripture: Psalm 37:5-6
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, sickness
your vindication like the noonday sun.
Thought for the Day: Imagine we live in the Middle Ages, and our job is to light all the torches around the perimeter of the castle. Even though we move as quickly as possible from one torch to another, it takes hours to light the entire perimeter. Yet, when all the torches are finally lit, darkness still pervades the night sky. All our effort has accomplished very little. There is enough light for the citizens within the castle walls to feel safe, but beyond the castle walls there is still darkness, and all the dangers that lurk therein. All our hard work lighting the exterior of the castle won’t help us if we venture beyond the castle walls, where the Orcs wait to devour us.
We can spend our lives running around trying to light up our world, but ultimately we’ll end up exhausted and surrounded by darkness. The good news is that we don’t have to run around lighting torches. The real light shines from within, so that wherever we go, we are bathed in the comforting light of God. When we commit ourselves to following and trusting God, an intense spiritual light is switched on within our hearts and souls. This is the light of vindication—the banishment of our dark thoughts and desires, disintegrated by the light of God that always exists within us. This is a light which the material world attempts to snuff out from the moment of our birth, and as long as we get caught up in the rat race with its quest for better jobs, more money, fancier clothes and all the other things society tells us we need for success, we might as well be lighting torches around the castle walls.
But when we are lit by the glory and love of God from within, we no longer have to run around lighting torches. Once the light of God is switched on within us—once we are exposed to God’s love, grace, mercy, and compassion, we become the light. The light always embraces us, and though we may still find ourselves slipping into darkness now and then, our faith—our trust in God, is all that’s needed to flip our spiritual switches back on, so we are once again bathed in the constant and eternal Light of the Universe.
Prayer: I’m so tired of trying to keep the torches lit, Lord! Light me up instead. Set my soul afire with the knowledge of your infinite ways. Warm my soul with your love, and send me into this dark world as a shining light, an example of the power of your love, the power of faith. Amen.
Scripture: John 3:20-21
All those who do evil hate the light, health and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But those who live by the truth come into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
Thought for the Day: Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, New York City was a pretty scary place. I remember walking around and feeling like there was someone waiting to pounce in every shadow, around every corner. Too often I was drawn into a shell game (it turns out you really can’t win, even if you do know where the ball is). Broken street lamps darkened alleys making every nook and cranny a hideout for society’s dark underbelly. There was a palpable evil lurking in the shadowed hearts of the denizens of Gotham.
All that started to change as mayors Koch and Giuliani turned on the lights. Through a series of sweeping reforms (literally) and almost unfathomable cleanup efforts, New York City has become a brightly lit, clean, welcoming place for millions of tourists every year. Turning on the light makes it impossible for “those who do evil” to persist.
The light also invites us to a change of heart. Once the darkness has been exposed, we can choose to run away from the light and find a new place to hide, or to accept the light and let it change our thoughts and actions. The light of God always exposes what’s hidden in darkness, whether that darkness is in our cities or in our souls. God’s light exposes our hearts to eternal love, which changes us forever by eliminating our own darkness within. God’s love ultimately turns us into beacons for others to find in the darkness, so that we might introduce them to the light of God. This is how God is slowly, one person at a time, bringing about sweeping reform to a world still hiding in the shadows.
Prayer: God who first created light out of darkness, lead me out of my darkness and into your loving light. Make me a beacon of hope for this world so torn apart by hopelessness. Amen.
Holy and gracious God, ailment
we worship your compassion and grace.
We worship the message of love
you sent to us in Jesus Christ:
a message full of paradox
that seems to make no sense
and defies all logic.
Loving God, sildenafil you show us that
our enemies are to be loved, stuff not hated;
outcasts are to be embraced, not discarded or scorned;
the humble and the meek are to be applauded, not the rich and powerful.
We have been called as disciples of Christ
to be examples of your paradox kin-dom,
to a world that continues to resist change,
especially the loving,
that you have been guiding to and through us
for all of human history.
Give us courage
to embrace kin-dom living,
to serve each other graciously,
and joy and patience
as we watch your love
ever breaking into this world.
We recognize, glorious Lord,
that try as we might,
we still often fall into the traps and snares
of a world that tells us
we don’t have enough,
we aren’t good enough,
and that we must always strive
to acquire more wealth and beauty,
mistakenly believing that stuff
can fill the great, gaping holes in our souls.
Help us overcome our desire to acquire,
and recognize the mistake of materiality,
by filling our hearts with the joy and compassion
that can only come from a relationship with you,
the One who saves us from ourselves
over and over again,
the one who fills us so completely
that our desire for more stuff,
almost always at the expense of others,
is eliminated from us, and our world, forever.
We know through the life and death of Jesus Christ
that you share in the sorrow,
sadness and pain in our midst.
We pray that those of us shedding tears of pain
will find, through you,
infinite paths to joy.
We pray that those who are sick
will find health and wellness.
We pray that those who are unemployed
will find satisfying and fulfilling work.
We pray that those who are disillusioned
will find clarity.
We pray that those who sow hatred, and anger, and disgust
will find love, and peace, and forgiveness.
Scripture: Wisdom of Solomon 7:15-22
I pray that God will allow me to speak knowledgeably and to ponder well what God has taught me. God is the guide even of Wisdom, sovaldi and God keeps those who already possess wisdom on the right course. We’re in God’s hands, store as are our words, find all our reasoning, and all our practical knowledge. God’s given me accurate knowledge of all that is—of how the world is made and holds together, and of the forces at work in the world’s essential elements. God’s given me knowledge of the beginning, end, and middle of time; of the alternation of the solstices and the changes of seasons; of the cycle of the year and the positions of the stars; of the nature of animals, the temperaments of beasts, the extraordinary powers of spirits, the thoughts of humans, the different types of plants, and the healing powers of roots. I now know everything, visible and hidden, for Wisdom, the designer of everything that is, has taught me.
Thought for the Day: The author of this text, as with the authors of all the Wisdom texts (including the Gospel of John) understands that humans are perpetual students of the creative force of the Universe, God. We are in a relationship with God, and as we evolve, God reveals evermore about the workings of the universe to us. Could people of the First Century understand the revelation of DNA? Flight was considered impossible for most of human history. Disease was associated with demonic possession before bacteria and viruses were discovered. Today, discoveries in the field of quantum physics are forcing us to realize that what we call “reality” is a tenuous proposition at best.
As our species evolves through the process of natural selection, we become more capable of understanding the process of nature—what the ancients called Wisdom, on a deeper level. The revelation of God’s subatomic nature is becoming more and more clear to us. It might take another 250,000 years of evolution for us to transcend the limits of our current imaginations, but as today’s text shows, humans have obviously believed, for a very, very long time, that God is in the process of revealing both the visible and hidden (quantum) worlds to us.
Prayer: I pray that you will continue to impart insight and wisdom to us, mighty God who is and who creates all the Wisdom in the universe. Amen.
Scripture: Deuteronomy 27:19
Cursed is anyone who withholds justice from the foreigner, decease the fatherless or the widow
Thought for the Day: The key to understanding this verse is that we are all foreigners. No human has any right to claim ownership of any piece of this planet. This world, and everything in and on it, belongs to God. We have all been given the gifts of this reality to use while we’re here. But rather than sharing the abundant blessings of the Earth as God so graciously shares with us, we’ve decided to carve the planet up into artificial countries, with imaginary borderlines that we’ll kill you for crossing without permission. This is MY land. You stay out!
From ISIS, Gaza, Hamas and Israel in the Middle East, to race tensions here in the United States, humans everywhere are withholding justice from everyone. Not one of us is blameless in this. We’re all acting with malice toward all. To make matters worse, many of us claim our malicious actions are justified by our belief systems. Nothing could be further from the truth. People of faith must delve more deeply into their relationship with God and read beyond the all too common, shallow interpretations of their sacred scriptures (which we must also always remember were written by human hands, no matter how divinely inspired they may be).
The Bible and the Qur’an both admonish us from withholding justice to others, especially the strangers in our midst. In fact, these ancient texts tell us that we are to extend radical hospitality to the foreigners in our lands. Unfortunately, we’ve ignored the real messages in our Holy texts, read them way out of context, and decided they somehow give us the right to wipe each other off the planet—this glorious planet, which isn’t even ours to fight over in the first place. I swear. We’re like little kids fighting over a toy mommy gave us, not realizing we wouldn’t even have the toy if mommy hadn’t been so nice to us in the first place. And how do we thank mommy? By fighting and scratching each other’s eyes out and screaming at the top of our lungs. I’m sure mommy is just thrilled by our behavior.
Prayer: Lord, give us love, give us light, give us peace on Earth. Amen.
Special Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-KAvPbO8JY
Scripture: Romans 14:13
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, prescription make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.
Thought for the Day: Paul had to deal with a lot of conflict in the early days of Christianity, hospital for many reasons. I think one of his greatest challenges had to be integrating Jews and Gentiles into a holistic group of believers. Remember, click before Paul came along and started preaching the Gospel to everyone who would listen, the Jesus Movement had mostly been a Jewish phenomenon. So, followers of the Christ still worshipped in the Synagogue and followed the traditional Jewish dietary laws. It’s important to understand that the dietary traditions were not only about what could be eaten. There were also regulations about how food was prepared, and where and with whom one could eat.
In those early days, the worshipping community shared many meals together. Communion was a huge feast at every service. Since the worshipping community in Rome was a mixture of Jews and Gentiles, in some cases it was difficult to know whether or not the meat being served at these Agape feasts was kosher (it most likely was not). Many Jews decided to err on the side of caution and only eat vegetables, and started pointing fingers at the Gentiles, whom they believed should also be following the dietary restrictions. They also pointed fingers at each other, as some Jews chose to partake of the meat whether or not it was kosher. Paul argued that the community shouldn’t be putting up roadblocks to people who have been called to follow Jesus. He basically told them, “If you want to eat kosher, eat kosher. If you want to eat anything, eat anything. Just don’t do something that will make it difficult for a fellow believer to focus on Christ. Don’t destroy the work of God for the sake of food” (v. 20).
We don’t necessarily have to let go of our cherished traditions, but when they start preventing us from enjoying the full bounty of God’s glorious spiritual banquet, perhaps we should loosen our grip a little bit. After all, God is constantly doing a new thing, and if we’re living as the body of Christ, hopefully we’re always inviting new people to the table. And who knows what delicacies they might bring with them!
Prayer: I know I can be stubborn, God, but please give me the wisdom to recognize when you’re trying to broaden my palate. Amen.