Archive | June, 2014

Who Am I

30 Jun

Who am I, the song by Casting Crowns, comes into my mind this day. I have tried and failed at being a more faithful Christian. It is not a big deal, but I had wanted to soften my heart, look with God’s eyes, at a situation that was annoying me. I failed miserably. So, I take solace in the words of this Casting Crown song.

Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart

Not because of who I am
But because of what You’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done
But because of who You are

It is particularly the turn of phrase in these four lines that always goes straight to my heart. It is not because of who I am that I am loved and made whole by God, but because of the Divine works on my behalf. I am not able to change the fundamental nature of my life, but it is the nature of God the can change everything. God’s love for each of us it the power in the universe that gives us hope in each day.

I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
A vapor in the wind
Still You hear me when I’m calling
Lord, You catch me when I’m falling
And You’ve told me who I am
I am Yours, I am Yours

Who am I, that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love and watch me rise again
Who am I, that the voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me

I also like the reality check in the song that we exist in just a moment in time, a vapor in the wind. It is God who is – existing in all of time – continuing to be present to all of creation. And it is the same God who comes to us, to rescue us, and give us our name. We are God’s children.

I think I am no closer to being the open, loving, non-judging person God would want me to be, yet I can trust in God’s love to help me again and again and again as I try.

Praise God that the Divine does not give up on us! Peace.

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Spending Time

25 Jun

On what do you spend the precious commodity of time? For the past two years I have had more down time than I have had in a long time. I think about how I spend that time.

In Joan Chittister’s Rule of Benedict, the daily reading in on the ordering of the psalms for the community. One thing that is made clear by St. Benedict is that the community should recite all the psalm each week. Do not do at least that is spiritual sloth. (Joan’s word).

She also writes this:

We are to tap into every human situation that the psalms describe and learn to respond to them with an open soul, an unfettered heart, and out of the mind of God.

So, again I wonder; on what do we spend the precious commodity of time? with what do we fill our mind and our soul? I think reading scripture to draw close to the heart of God has gone out of fashion. It seems that most people I see read or use scripture to prove a point that their point of view is correct and most importantly, God’s will.

Most of the time I am clueless to “the will of God”. I am disturbed when someone says, “it was the will of God,” or “meant to be.” I have never found life that clear cut. I believe the heart of God is to love all of the Divine creation. And love is always a messy business.

I think that on this journey of dailyness that it is helpful to immerse our hearts and minds in the writings of faithful people. Maybe that is the psalms or the writings of the Dalai Lama or the Tao de chings.

One thing our book of faith says clearly is that God desires to be our God and we can be God’s people. What better life is there. To be God’s person. To open ourselves to the Divine love and be messengers of that grace.

I pray you find something wonderful to fill your mind today, and to the spend the precious gift of time you have been given in ways that draw you deeper into the mind of God. Peace

A Wonderful Celebration

23 Jun

Yesterday was my birthday, it was wonderful.

I went to worship in the morning. A great way to start the day. Dear friends there gave me beautiful roses and a lovely card.
Then I came home to my Mom’s signature pancakes with fresh blueberries, yum. And then, the Orioles shut out the Yankees and won the rubber match! What could be better.

A special blessing of the day were so many birthday greetings from so many people. I got traditional cards from a number of friends, e-greeting cards from others, phone calls from some of my family and lots and lots of Facebook greetings.

The interesting part for me is that there were greetings from “different lives” I have had: a phone call from a childhood friend, Facebook greeting from a friend from my seminary days, more Facebook greetings from my days in Tunkhannock and Vestal, and conversations with both my sons.

Is this what heaven is like? All the people from past and present come together to enjoy a day with you. It is not like the days of your ordinary life, but a different way to enjoy the blessing God has given to you.

I see God’s blessings everywhere. From the time I wake up from a warm and comfortable bed to the time I lie down in it again. And, in the midst of that comfort I pray for people around the world who live in difficult circumstances and I do have the luxury in which, I am by chance, blessed to enjoy.

These are my thoughts on my journey today. God’s blessing abound and the work of God’s people is so needed in our world. I pray you enjoy God’s presence today and find good work to do. Peace.

Baptism

19 Jun

This past Sunday I was honored to perform a baptism for a young woman who has been attend St. Paul’s UMC. She is in her late twenties and has seen more hardships than many of us will experience in a life-time. For me, there was a true sense of the power of God to transform lives and a beautiful gift of new life in Christ.

This Sunday’s lectionary reading from Romans explores this very subject.

That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!

3-5 That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country.

6-11 Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin’s every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did.

I like one of the last lines particularly, “Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word.”

What if we really believed this? That our old lives, lives of sin, meanness, jealously, envy, anger, etc. . . can be dead. Dead by God’s power. And we can have a new life, free from stress, full of love and grace and gentleness. I believe it is possible if we will yield to God.

Also, that we never need to fear anything. We have already died in Christ, what’s left to fear. And if we have died in Christ, the life we now live is in the power of God. What’s left to fear???

I think if we took seriously the power that Paul is writing about we would be a different type of Christian and a different type of Church. The freedom in Christ to dwell deep in the love and grace of God has been given to us. We just have to let our old selves die and accept this new and wonderful life.

When I got sick in my 40s with food allergies, I found corn products caused lots a pain. Someone, who had similar problems, asked me how I had gotten well after being so sick and I told her about giving up corn and corn by-products. She said she loved corn too much and could possibly give it up. I said, “even if it made you well,” she said, “no”.

I found this unbelievable. But as I write about what our Christian faith offers us and the compromise most of us live as Christians, maybe we do not want to be well badly enough.

Peace

Prayer

12 Jun

It feels like a long time since I have blogged. I attended Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference, which is huge. I know about 5 people in the conference and saw one of them.

The news is that I am taking on another small church, Garfield UMC. This will make me 3/4 time and give me health insurance and pension. YEA!!

Also, I am working out at the YMCA again, so my body is benefiting, but my blogging is suffering.

I continue to enjoy Joan Chittister’s The Rule of Benedict. This morning it is about the office of Vigils, which at Mt. Saviour Monastery is at 4:45 a.m. It is one of my favorite service there. Well, here is what was in my devotional today.

“The opening scripture phrase Benedict puts in our minds is a simple, but important one:’O God, open my lips and my mouth shall proclaim your praise’ (Ps 51:17), he teaches us to pray. All life is in the hands of God. Even the desire to pray in the grace to pray. The movement to pray is the movement o God in our souls. Our ability to pray depends on the power and place of God in our souls. Our ability to pray depends on the power and place of God in our life. We pray because God attracts us and we pray only because God is attracting us. We are not, in other words, even the author of our own prayer life. It is the goodness of God, not any virture that we have developed on our own, that brings us to the heart of God. And it is with God’s help we seek to go there.”

Sometimes, I think people believe their worry is prayer, so long as they say God’s name first in their worry list. Or people believe their request list is prayer, so long as they say God’s name first.

I think prayer is conversation with God. So, if I am communicating with the author of life, grace, creativity. . . all that is; then being respectful and silent is not a bad idea. I think we can bring our request to God, but it is in the knowledge that God knows our lives, our wants, our failings and listen to God is a good idea.

For me, prayer is the simplest and most complex and most demanding work I have in my life. My goal is that it would be all of my life.

God’s is the author and hope of everything I desire for my life. It is a good place to begin each day.

Blessings and peace,