Archive | April, 2015

Praying for Baltimore

28 Apr

Good Morning,

You have probably heard that there were riots in Baltimore last night and too many fires that lit up the night.  In the midst of the violence many Baltimore residents took to the streets to try to calm the city and area clergy walk with them.   This morning, in an interview with one of the pastors, he said that Crypt and Blood gang members walked and prayed with them as well.

Jesus’ concern for Jerusalem has been running through my head.  Jesus loved the city, as all Jews did, yet he saw the unwillingness to address real issues that face them. (Of course the writer of the gospel of Luke has experienced the siege and destruction of Jerusalem).  It is a recurring theme throughout history.  Our cities hold the diversity and injustice of who we are as God’s people in this world.  The richest have the select home near the harbor with a beautiful view and the poorest have broken concrete and decaying building as their only view.    In Luke 19, Jesus expresses his pain over his city.

41 As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. 44 They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”

Baltimore Riot

One of the effects of last night’s riot was that the Orioles baseball game was cancelled.  Many of you know that I love the Orioles, not just because they play great baseball, but because of their leadership.  John Angelos’ comments on the riots is not exception to the greatest of the Orioles organization.

Orioles executive vice president John Angelos:

We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the U.S., and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don’t have jobs and are losing economic civil and legal rights, and this makes inconvenience at a ballgame irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.

So, I continue to pray for peace.  There seems to be a conversation emerging about the real issues of injustice and poverty and unemployment and racism.  There is so many levels of problems.  Freddie Gray’s death has sparked a terrible riot, I pray it can begin an important dialogue and change for Baltimore.  Mary

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Time off

27 Apr

Good Morning,

My Celebration of Discipline group met yesterday to talk about Solitude.  I really was a good discussion, although we began by agreeing that an afternoon nap might be more helpful.  I was reminded how little time we spend in quite before the Divine.  This is different than meditation.  I think in meditation we try focus our minds; intentional moving towards a link with God.

I think in solitude we just sit – almost like sitting with an empty bucket and waiting for God to fill it.  In solitude we are completely relaxed, not yearning for anything, just waiting.  It is a very restful discipline.  The video we watched pointed out that it is this discipline where all the others arise.  Until we are silent before God, seek solitude with the Divine, we can not discern where God is leading us in our spiritual life.

I enjoy solitude.  It has helped me to not be anxious, be relaxed in the present moment, not need to defend myself or my decision.  It help me to find that holy leisure.

I often think if we are not spending time trying to develop the holy center of our lives, then what are we doing.  Maybe that was what Paul was talking about when he said, “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Here’s to a day of being silent before the Eternal Divine in solitude, waiting for our empty bucket to be filled by God.  I really think this empty bucket is better than a bucket list.

Peace

Healing; a byproduct of proclaiming

25 Apr

Good Morning,

I really like blogging, although I hate the disciple of sitting down to write.  Yet, when I sit down to blog and read the text for the day, I often read it from another angle.

I think it is clear that the purpose of Jesus’ journey was to proclaim the Good News (God’s kingdom is near).  To let all who could heart that God was present  and caring and ready to forgive and welcome all people.  Because of his compassion, when he encountered “broken” people along the way, he would heal them.

Since the means of communication was limited he had to walk from town to town to get his message out.  At one point in the gospels one of his disciples says, “why don’t you stay in one place and we will bring those who need healing to you.”  As always with the disciples, he missed the point.

Saturday;  The compassion that comes from solitude

Matthew 9:35-38      35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Since Jesus compassion prompted him to tell he disciple that the harvest was plentiful, he seems as through he wanted us; all of us to be about his work;  Teaching, Preaching. and see if healing become our byproduct.  Maybe we should try that for awhile.

Enjoy the day; I am off to help with the “Slippery Pot Pie Dinner.”  What is that you may ask?  I will find out soon.  Peace

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