We die alone

24 Apr

Not a really happy way to start the day, but it is a true statement.  Is it why many people do not like solitude?  In our generation we not seem to learn the lessons of death because we avoid any conversation of death, except in flippant sayings like, “you can’t take it with you.”

I like the Christian faith because, at its best, we talk about real things: Life and Death, Blessings and Curse: Choices we are given; and the hope of transformation in this life and in the life after this one.

In the text today, although Simon the Cyrene is compelled to carry Jesus’ cross (he was so beaten he could not carry it), Jesus dies alone on that Cross.  I think the feeling of isolation in death is felt through Jesus’ cry on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”.  There is a lot of writing on this sentence and certainly it is the text from Psalm 22, but I think it also reflects the reality of aloneness in death.

I was the last family member to be with Dad before he died.  He was so sick at the end, his breathing was long and labored, I also sensed a fear in him of the unknown.  As much as I wanted to make everything OK for Dad, he had to travel the last leg on his own – as we all will.  Solitude.

Friday;  The solitude of the cross                        Matthew 27:32-36

32 As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots;36 then they sat down there and kept watch over him.

I pray this day you have time to sink down into the discomfort of death.  It is OK to be there, to know that it is sad; yet even in that aloneness and sadness the Eternal is there.  It is the hope of our faith.  I think if we can become more comfortable with our discomfort we can enjoy all the realities for life.  The United Methodist funeral ritual says,

“Give to us your grace, that as we shrink before the mystery of death, we may see the light of eternity.  Speak to us once more your solemn message of life and of death.  Help us to live as those who are prepared to die.  And when our day here are accomplished, enable us to die as those who go forth to live, so that living or dying, our life may be in you, and that nothing in life or in death will be able to separate us from your great love in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Amen.”

Peace and grace attend you way,  Mary

Alone, but supported

23 Apr

Good morning,

The description of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane has always touched my heart and raised questions in my mind.  One question was whether events of Thursday night and Good Friday would have changed if the disciple could have stayed awake while Jesus prayed.

This morning, while thinking about solitude, I think about the support Jesus would have gained if disciple could have prayed for him that night.  I know in my life I have had friends praying for me during difficult time and it has been a wonderful source of support.

Thursday:  The solitude of the garden                                 Matthew 26: 36-46

36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. 38 Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” 39 And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” 40 Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? 41 Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”

I think it is good lesson that when Jesus knew life was getting harder, he wanted to be alone to pray and he wanted his friends praying for him.  Have you ever thought about that?  Who prayed for Jesus and his ministry?

I pray you continue to find quiet moments.  It is difficult to sense the Divine Presence in the midst of noise and hurry.  God is waiting; draw near and find strength for the day.   Peace

I have been seduced

22 Apr

The reading for today is one of my favorites.  It is from the prophet Jeremiah and speaks to his emotions at having to be a prophet for God.  I even did a paper on this passage while I was in seminary.

One of the translations of the text uses the word seduced instead of enticed.  I like that translation better, I guess because it resonates with me.

Wednesday:  “The dark night of the soul”             Jeremiah 20:7-18

O Lord, you have enticed me, and I was enticed;
you have overpowered me, and you have prevailed.
I have become a laughingstock all day long; everyone mocks me.
For whenever I speak, I must cry out,

I must shout, “Violence and destruction!”
For the word of the Lord has become for me

a reproach and derision all day long.
If I say, “I will not mention him,  or speak any more in his name,”
then within me there is something like a burning fire

shut up in my bones;
I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.
10 For I hear many whispering:  “Terror is all around!
Denounce him! Let us denounce him!”
All my close friends are watching for me to stumble.
“Perhaps he can be enticed, and we can prevail against him,
and take our revenge on him.”
11 But the Lord is with me like a dread warrior;
therefore my persecutors will stumble, and they will not prevail.
They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed.
Their eternal dishonor will never be forgotten.
12 O Lord of hosts, you test the righteous

you see the heart and the mind;
let me see your retribution upon them,

for to you I have committed my cause.

13 Sing to the Lord;  praise the Lord!
For he has delivered the life of the needy
from the hands of evildoers.

14 Cursed be the day on which I was born!
The day when my mother bore me, let it not be blessed!
15 Cursed be the man who brought the news to my father, saying,
“A child is born to you, a son,” making him very glad.
16 Let that man be like the cities that the Lord overthrew without pity;
let him hear a cry in the morning  and an alarm at noon,
17 because he did not kill me in the womb;
so my mother would have been my grave,
and her womb forever great.
18 Why did I come forth from the womb
to see toil and sorrow,
and spend my days in shame?

I know I was known as a “jerk for Jesus” and high school was interesting with me telling anyone who would listen about how wonderful God is, but I have loved every minutes of my journey.  It is an amazing ride.  Peace.  Mary

Quiet

21 Apr

Good morning,

I like being older.  I think there is a real gift in living to the point where you know what is important and what is not.  I am less likely to get upset about stuff that use to upset me.  There is a quietness that comes from journeying with the Divine Presence.

I have met people are who anxious in their prayers.  Actually, I think they are just really worrying and part of their routine is to ‘talk to God about it.’  My experience of these people is they are not really surrendering their concerns to God and they are not really waiting on God’s leading, they are just trying to turn their worry into a religious activity.  It is an external attempt to create an inward reality, but I think it fails.

The text says to go in quiet and secret, between you and God, and ‘have a talk about it.’

Monday:  Prayer and solitude                  Matthew 6:5-6

“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Luke 5:16  16 But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray

The text for today is a beautiful psalm

On Saturday I went on a motorcycle ride in memory of a young man who was killed by a drunk driver.  Now, I didn’t actually ride a motorcycle, but I did ride in a mustang convertible.  It was really cool.  The day was absolutely beautiful.  The sun was shinning, not to hot, trees and flower were in blossom and everything was so green.  Psalm 8 came to mind.

Tuesday:  The insights of solitude Psalm 8

O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.
    Out of the mouths of babes and infants
you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,
to silence the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them?

Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet,
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

I hope in these beautiful day of Spring you find a quiet time was mindfully walk through the wondrous creation that has been given to the children of God.   Peace

A Lesson to Learn

20 Apr

Good morning,

This week begins the discipline of Solitude.  I think solitude really begins with controlling our minds, but maybe that’s just because I have a hard time controlling my tongue.  C. S. Lewis said that what slips out our mouth when we are most under pressure and do not have time (or take time) to think is what is really inside of us.   I think of a frustrating experience with Medicare the other week and think I must have some unresolved anger somewhere inside me.  I think that contolling my tongue will be a lifetime quest.

Sunday:  The freedom to control the tongue                    James 3:1-12

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.

How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.

Luke 23:6-9

When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him off to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had been wanting to see him for a long time, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some sign. He questioned him at some length, but Jesus gave him no answer.

Silence is a gift.  To be silent in the midst of accusations is a difficult thing.  I remember a wonderful passage from Brother Lawrence in “Practicing the Presence of God”.  In the monastery a lot of nasty rumors where going around about him.  He was washing the dishing and looking out of the wash begin whipped by the wind on the line.  God spoke to him saying, “Just as those clothes are being whipped around so is your reputation, but I will protect and defend you.”  Imagine, thinking that it is God who is protecting our good name.  Then we don’t have to say to word.  What a liberation!

Peace

Source of all kinds of evil

18 Apr

There is a scripture that says Money is the root of all kinds of evil.  People make fun of the scripture and treat is lightly, but the more I live the more I find the truth of it.  Money can be such a source of blessing when it is used generously, but so often we are a covetous world.

How many times have you hear of a families fight over an inheritance/will; my mother’s family did.  That is where this scripture text begins.  Spoiler alert; the guy does not get the answer he wants from Jesus.

Saturday,  The freedom from covetousness     Luke 12:13-34

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to  divide the family inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” 16 Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17 And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ 18 Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have   ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

22 He said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear

23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.

24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest?27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. 30 For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

As I read this text again I have just finished moving all my possessions into my parent’s house. (even though Dad is gone, it will always be the house that he built).  I have tried to clean out, give away, lighten my load, but I find myself unwilling to give away some things.  Like the dress I wore to my brother’s wedding (4 sizes too small) or the suit that my mother worn in the 50s (5 sizes too small) or bins and bins of fabric waiting for sewing inspiration.  I don’t think it is a bad thing to enjoy “stuff”, but I think we have to keep on the watch that it doesn’t own us.  (I am willing to share my fabric!)

I think it is always a good idea to think about what we really desire; what occupies our mind; what gets our hearts races.  The truth is that the Divine want to be that thing.  Wants to have our heart and mind and soul extravagantly center in the presence of the Eternal.  And the other truth is that that is the most whole and holy way to live.  Peace

Simple talk

17 Apr

 Good morning,

Sorry I missed yesterday morning.  All I can say is that I learned how to weed and prune knock-out roses which I have never done before in my life.

Do you ever notice how much of the day is filled with nonsense conversation.  Especially when someone is trying to impress you or feeling guilty about something.  I like these passage from yesterday’s reading.  Let your yes be yes and let your no be no.  Let is go.

The axiom I have learned goes through my head quite often: those who are going to like you are going to because of who they are, not who you are; and those who are not going to like you are not going to because of who they are not who they are.  This doesn’t not release us from trying to live a life filled with the fruits of the spirit, but it does free us from making sure everyone is happy, likes us, or understands who we are.  Life becomes more free and more fun when they only one we try to please is God.

Thursday, Simplicity in speech               

Matthew 5:33-37  33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.

36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

James 5: 12  12 Above all, my beloved,[a] do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “Yes” be yes and your “No” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

So, catching up; here is today’s scripture.

Amos clearly says that how we treat other people, particularly the most vulnerable people, makes a difference to the Divine.  Gustavo Gutierrez, a noted liberation theologian, said that God has a preferential concern for the poor.  Certainly, this passage would confirm that understanding of the Scriptures.

Friday,  Simplicity and justice

Amos 5:11-15, 24

11 Therefore because you trample on the poor
and take from them levies of grain,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
but you shall not live in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
but you shall not drink their wine.
12 For I know how many are your transgressions,
and how great are your sins—
you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
and push aside the needy in the gate.
13 Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time;
for it is an evil time.

14 Seek good and not evil,
that you may live;
and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you,
just as you have said.
15 Hate evil and love good,
and establish justice in the gate;
it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts,
will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

24 But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream

Mike Slaughter, an reforming voice for the United Methodist Church, says that this passage from Luke are the marching orders/job description for the church.  It always amazes me how quickly the church becomes clueless about what they are suppose to be doing.  Finding the money to say open often takes priority and we forget why we are open in the first place.

Luke 4:16-21  16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Both of these passage are a wonderful source for reflection and inspiration.  I hope they encourage you today.  Peace

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.