Walking

25 Feb

Greetings,

With Celebration of Discipline delayed for a week, I thought I would share a writing from my morning meditation.  One of the gifts I brought myself this Christmas was a new book for my morning devotional time.  The book is Your True Home: the everyday wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh.  It is a wonderful book of blessing with 365 short writings.  The one for yesterday morning was

The Real Miracle

I like to walk alone on country paths, rice plants and wide grasses on both sides, putting each foot down on the earth in mindfulness, knowing that I walk on the wondrous earth.  In such moments, existence is a miraculous and mysterious reality.  People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle.  But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on the earth.  Every day we are engaged in a miracle that we don’t even recognize:  a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child – our own two eyes.  All is a miracle.

I love the simplicity of Thich Nhat Hanh’s writings.  I think it is a miracle to live with awareness in the present moment each day.  Recently, I have been with dear church members who know the disease in a loved ones body is winning the battle.  To watch the love and compassion of difficult decision, to trust the promises of our faith, to be privileged to be present when life is so hard is a miracle.

I think I find so much joy in this life because I have worked for many years to train my eyes to look at life with God’s love for all of God’s creation.  I know there is much in our world that is not right, but I think God rejoices at the smallest gifts of love and care; I think God rejoices in each smile and every time we turn to God.  I think God rejoices when we walk on this wonderfully created, diverse, complicated earth that the Divine Presence has lent to us for a season.

I pray you take time to breath and enjoy the gift of walking today. Peace.

The Four Letter Word

22 Feb

S N O W.  We did not have class today because of the snow up on the mountain.  So, we are delayed another week in starting the Celebration of Discipline study.

Of course, we can still start the disciplines.  One of the things I love about Richard Foster’s writings is the concept of the middle road.  There are some who go too far into legalism.  Thinking if you make rules, have measurable behaviors, then you can work yourself into sanctification.  There are others who go too far into free grace.  Thinking you have been saved by the grace of God and there is nothing else you have to do, but to relax and enjoy life.  The grace is always there no matter what.

It is the challenge of the middle path, the journey of faith, that makes the Disciplines a wonderful road map.  We know that there are behaviors that make in difference in our lives, but that is not all.  And we know that we have been saved by the grace of God, but that is not all.  We have been and are being called into a relationship with God. The reality is that all relationships take work.  And the more precious the relationship, the more we should be willing to give our time, our intelligence, our love, our very lives to bring depth and quality to that relationship.  The most precious relationship in my life is with the daily Divine presence that journey with me.

I pray you enjoy that presence through these snowy day of winter.

Details

21 Feb

Hello Friends,

I wanted to clarify how I will be using the blog for the next three months.  I am offering a study series on Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster to my churches.  The first class will be tomorrow, if the snow abates.  So, we will discussing the first chapter.  I will give you the highlights.

The scripture lessons I have been posting are the daily scripture readings listed in the participants guide.  The people in my churches are getting them printed out.

So here is the one for Saturday.

Saturday,  The victory of Spiritual Disciplines

Ephesians 6:10-20

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16 With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. 19 Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.

Have you ever thought about what you fight against.  I am not a warrior, not even a hunter, but I do know that I need to fight against evil.  I have never known how to fight against big evil – injustice, oppression, racism – all the ism.  But, I am learning how to fight against worry, and jealousy, and angry, and despondency.  For me this passage lets me know that evil is in our world and we need to seek God’s strength to fight for the joy and peace that the Divine has made available to us.

Peace to you on this snow covered day.

Belief that changes reality

20 Feb

Good morning,

For those of you who are working on the Celebration of Discipline study, you should be reading Chapter 1 of the book.  I will have a discuss of this first chapter with my church group on Sunday.  I will send an account of what was discussed.  This is all new, we will see how it works.

Many of you know I made a personal commitment to God in my life when I was 16.  It went something like,”Well, God, I really don’t think I’m worth much, but if you want me, you can have me.”  I think this way of looking at yourself is typical of teenage girls.  Yet, here is the wonder of my life.  God took me seriously and I took God seriously and it changed forever the path of my life.

Somewhere as a young adult I heard this passage from Romans, and again, I took it seriously.  I thought, “If I have already died in Christ, then I have nothing to fear in my life.”  I really believe this and it has also changed my life.  Taking the words of the Bible and having them live in your heart, and soul and mind changes reality.  I think it is part of what the resurrection of Christ mean; that by the power that raised Christ from the dead, that power can change our reality when we believe.

So, here is the scripture reading for the day.

Friday, sin the bodily members

Romans 6:5-14

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will    certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we      believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has     dominion over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13 No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

I prayer you find the beauty and power of the Divine waiting for you in this day.  Peace

The list

19 Feb

Good Morning,

The Christian life is one of intentionality and examination.  St. Ignatius created a system of daily examination to review the day and reflect on God’s presence in the day, and where he had failed in his faith.  It is an intensive system of questions about what we do, why we do it, and where is God in the midst of all of life.

The writer of Proverbs has their own process of examination.

Thursday, Sin in the bodily members

Proverbs 6:16-19

16 There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that hurry to run to evil,
19 a lying witness who testifies falsely,
and one who sows discord in a family.

Looking at the list I think of our world and how much these things spin humankind into a terrible places. And maybe you think, “OK, don’t do any of that, I’m good to go.”, reflect honesty on your relationship with God.  Do you think there is anything that God would have you do differently?  Perhaps there are small hurts, lies, jealousy, or anger that hurt your soul and could your relationship with the Divine.

I am glad I have friends that are following along with me during this time of Lent.  Self-examination is difficult, but our ever-present teacher is loving us through it; drawing us forward to our spirit-filled selves growing in God.

Peace

Ashes, Ashes, we all fall down

18 Feb

Hello friends,  Did you know that this child’s game of Ring-a-round the rosy is dated back to the days of the black plague.  It referred to the flowers that were used to mask the smell of the diseased bodies and ended with the proclamation that, at some point, we all died.

I realize these are not happy thoughts for this morning, however, I think we spend a lot of energy producing happy thoughts and acting as if death doesn’t happen.  The reality of our lives is that all things die and our lives will end.  The question is how will we spend the days that we have been given.

The media spent a lot of time talking about “Fat Tuesday” and Mardi Gras yesterday, but zero time talking about Ash Wednesday today.  And of course, Ash Wednesday is the reason that Mardi Gras exists (I know they would find another reason to party if it wasn’t to get ready for Lent.)

So, no one in our world is going to encourage you to think about the disciplines of Lent, or the meaning of Ash Wednesday.  They will not challenge you to think about the limits of your life or the reality of death.  And I am not writing these things to make you sad, but to remind all of us what a gift this day is, what grace we can find in each breath, because we are alive today.

In today scripture reading, Paul writes about looking a our lives and seeing, through God’s eyes, what is important and what is garbage.

Wednesday, The bankruptcy of outward righteousness

Philippians 3:1-16

Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord.  To write the same things to you is not troublesome to me, and for you it is a safeguard.  Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! For it is we who are the circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh— even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh.  If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more:circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of    Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.  Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.13 Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. 16 Only let us hold fast to what we have attained.

Blessings on you and this holy time of Lent.  Breath in the spirit of God and know that you are loved and precious and a vessel to share God’s love with God’s world.   Peace

Hiberation

17 Feb

Good Morning,

Life has been slow.  Slower than I remember in many years.  Life at my previous church was crazy busy.  Then I can here to help Mom care for Dad.  Now, with Dad gone, life is slow.  I say all of this as my excuse for not getting the material for Celebration of Discipline in my blog.

There are two of you who have said you want to work along with my churches on this study.  Well, our first session was canceled due to weather.  We did not have church on the windy mountaintop when 55 mph winds were expected with below freezing wind chills.  It was a good call.  So, on blogging buddies could have started to do the prep work for the study in an orderly fashion, if I had started on Sunday.

There are daily scripture reading to prepare for each week study group.  Each week the group works through a chapter of Celebration of Discipline.  I have printed them out in a booklet for the folks who are taking the study, so I will print them in my blog for you who are following on line.  But, as I eluded to, we have some catching up to do.

Sunday, The longing to go deeper

Psalm 42

As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me continually,
“Where is your God?”

These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng,
and led them in procession to the house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving,
a multitude keeping festival.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.

My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
at the thunder of your cataracts;
all your waves and your billows
have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God, my rock,

“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I walk about mournfully
because the enemy oppresses me?”
10 As with a deadly wound in my body,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me continually,
“Where is your God?”

11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.

So that was Sunday’s reading.  I guess I will comment on each scripture.  Do you feel the passion?  What if our world felt that passion for the Divine without hatred.  I think of all the groups in the world who call on God, out of their passion, and kill others.  This text is a love song to God.  Searching for God, for meaning, for love.  I think that everyone is on this quest.

 

Monday, The slavery of ingrained habits

Psalm 51

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgment.
Indeed, I was born guilty,
a sinner when my mother conceived me.

You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and put a new and right spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from your presence,
    and do not take your holy spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and sustain in me a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
    O God of my salvation,
    and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.

 O Lord, open my lips,and my mouth will declare your praise.

16 For you have no delight in sacrifice;
if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
17 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
19 then you will delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

This psalm is part of the readings for Ash Wednesday – which is tomorrow.  A desire to let God have all of our lives, to give to God the sacrifice of our broken spirit and broken and contrite heart.  I once did a children’s message with hard packed dirt.  I show that you could not plant or water until the earth was broken apart.  I like this image when I am thinking about the sacrifice that is acceptable to God.  The sacrifice that will bring us closer to God and to our true selves.

Tuesday, The slavery of ingrained habits

Romans 7:12-25

12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good

13 Did what is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

14 For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. 15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17 But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, 23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!  So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.

I really do love the writings of Paul.  He is so very honest about his struggles in his faith journey.  My perfect and timely example of this text from Romans is that I really do want to study this book, and I want to talk about it with others.  And yet, and yet, it has taken me days to post these scriptures.  And it is not like I have been busy, just lazy and unfocused.

Well, I hope you have enjoyed these scripture readings as much as I have; I will endeavor to get them posted daily from now on.  I have been sitting at the sunroom window watching the birds at the feeder finding food through the snow.  So, I hope that even in the midst of the coldness and barrenness that is often marks our lives, you will find the nutritious sustenance of God’s word to feed on.through this study.  Peace.


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