Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Selfishness and Rights


I don’t know the answer. But what I do know from reading just a few of the Facebook posts that have come out since the latest mass shooting is that selfishness is alive and well in our nation. This isn’t really new news, but fear and greed have taken the defense of our “rights” as Americans to a place where our first interest is MY rights, not your rights.

Contrast that with the instruction of Paul in Philippians and the way of Jesus, which Paul describes:
Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others. Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus:
Though he was in the form of God,
        he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit.
But he emptied himself
        by taking the form of a slave
        and by becoming like human beings.
When he found himself in the form of a human,
        he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
        even death on a cross.
Therefore, God highly honored him
        and gave him a name above all names,
     so that at the name of Jesus everyone
        in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow
        and every tongue confess that
            Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Especially in this season of Lent, which is time we set aside for contemplating how we need to conform ourselves to the image of Christ, should we not be watching out for what is better for others? Should we not be willing to empty ourselves of self-interest as Jesus did?

Is there no longer a place in our country for self-denial, compassion and willingness to listen to one another? At the very least, is there a place among Christians for such behavior?

What might be different in our nation if Christians “adopted the attitude that was in Christ Jesus”?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Ashes


The remains of those whose love brought me into life
I stared at. Two piles of ashes on the hilltop of the island
across the water from the house they loved
in their retirement.

Two metal tags the only marker of place.
I wondered how long these would remain.
Would the bald eagles that nest on that island
add them to their nest, a bit of shiny amid twigs?
Would deer step on them?
My parents would be thrilled with either possibility.

My life has changed much
since the day we paddled to the island
to place their ashes there.
I hold the memories, both good and difficult.
I hold the knowing of their love for me.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Object Lesson


Jesus left that place and went into their synagogue. A man with a withered hand was there. Wanting to bring charges against Jesus, they asked, “Does the Law allow a person to heal on the Sabbath?” Jesus replied, “Who among you has a sheep that falls into a pit on the Sabbath and will not take hold of it and pull it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep!”  --Matthew 12:9-12

They made me into an object, these
who needed to win, to be right.
They pointed their fingers,
asserted their accusations,
murdered with their meanness.
They withered my soul with coldness
and hate.
Convinced I was as they decreed
they ended my story, pronounced my sentence
and placed the period.
They were done reading my life.
But not you.
You saw the depth, the colors, the truth.
You opened my story and declared it good.
You unwithered me, reading my life back to me,
showing me my worth, my heart,
my sweetness.
You lifted out lines I’d long forgotten,
reminding me who I am—a vibrant soul-story,
bright with meaning and love,
a story held and read with your great tenderness.


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

All Things

My Father has handed all things over to me. No one knows the Son except the Father. And nobody knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wants to reveal him.  –Matthew 11:27

All things. Jesus is one with God, knowing and known perfectly, one by the other. All knowledge, all power, all love, all humility, all compassion, all generosity—all that is in God is in Jesus, and Jesus’ life and work reveal to us a glimpse of the Father’s heart, which is still beyond our comprehending.

To have been given this glimpse, which seems to us in our smallness so vast and deep a knowing, is such a gift, such a grace. Our whole lives—all we learn and know of God—is still only a glimpse of the Creator. No matter how much we know, our knowing is but a grain of sand compared to what Jesus knew of the Father.

Do you ever imagine what God knows of God’s whole creation? The thoughts of the hawk I saw soaring yesterday, the sound of sap moving in a tree’s body, the timing of my next breath, the location of every worm pushing through soil—God knows all this. And God loves each with a love I cannot fathom, but want to emulate.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Gifts

This has been and continues to be a meaningful Advent season for me, but not in the way I have experienced it in previous years. In the past, I have found meaning in different Advent devotional books, which I’ve read in the early morning darkness each day. And while I’ve read Advent devotions this year, the meaningfulness of this Advent has been found in relationships.

Reflecting over Advent thus far, what shimmers forth for me are the experiences of laughter, hugs, meals shared, worship, work done together with gladness and conversations that help me to know others better, that open doors to deeper connections. These have been for me the gifts of Advent for me this year. I am grateful for each of these experiences, which represent God’s lavish gift of love and koinonia.

What I’ve received so richly cannot be contained in a box, cannot be tied up with ribbon, cannot fit under the largest tree. The gift of relationships that incarnate God’s love is what I treasure this season.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

An Advent Prayer

“. . . you’ve hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have shown them to babies. Indeed, Father, this brings you happiness.”   Matthew 11:25-26

Loving God, don’t let me be so wise,
so intelligent, so busy, so practical, that I miss
the miracle before me. Do not let my heart grow numb,
unable to muster awe and wonder and love.
Keep me from the cynics, the complainers,
the rushing-arounders who have no time and
no use for a tree full of joy,
gifts given in love, or the sparkle in a child’s eye.

May I find a silent night, or several,
in which to sit with The Story,
in which to enter it afresh.
Light the Christ candle in my heart today and throughout
this season, that I may be aglow with your love
and presence. May my heart
be a welcoming womb for your Great Gift to us.
O come Emmanuel. Amen.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

All Flame


Therefore, everyone who acknowledges me before people, I will also acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven. But everyone who denies me before people, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.     Matthew 10:32-33

Let me not be one who denies you with
my life, while professing you with
my voice. I want my heart to be
open always to you, to be
your dwelling place. I want you
pulsing through my veins, filling every
cell with your presence. And yes, I know
you are already present in these places.
Yet I want to feel you there, in my heart,
in my blood, in my cells. I want,
like Abba Joseph*, to be all flame with you.
May it be so today, gracious Christ.
May it be so. Amen.



*Abba Joseph was one of the Desert Fathers. The reference is to this saying about him:
Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, “Abba, as far as I can, I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?” Then the old man stood up and stretched his hands toward heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, “If you will, you can become all flame.”