Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Monday, February 27, 2012
Prepare the way… what a great call… what a great reminder.
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Gospel: John 17:20-26
Old Testament: Eze 39:21-29
Psalms: 30, 32, 42, 43
Jesus in Father. Father in Jesus. Them in Me. Me in Them. You in Them. Perfected in Unity.
In the swimming pool I settle my eyes level with the surface. I poke my fingertips up through the skin of the water and wiggle them. Are they “five”? Sort of. But invisible from this angle; under the surface, they are all part of one hand. Their separateness is real, but only a part of the bigger story, and all it takes is a change of angle to see that.
It seems to me that Jesus said it again and again, every way he could think of until he was blue in the face. I am the Vine, you are the branches. (I am the hand, you are the fingers?) Change the angle of your gaze and realize that you are One – one with me, one with the Father, one with each other. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I wiggle my fingers and think, (it’s not ‘love your neighbor the way you love yourself.) He is saying your neighbor is your actual Self.”
Jesus taught this over and over using parable and metaphor. Apparently people weren’t catching on. Finally, here in the farewell lesson, he comes right out and says it plain as day. "I am one with the Father. Wake up and realize that you are too. I am one with you. Wake up and realize that you are also one with each other."
I think of the rare fleeting moments I have felt that unity, and felt that we are not alone, never isolated except in imagining our lack of wholeness.
It’s a start.
Friday, February 24, 2012
Old Testament: Eze 18:1-4, 25-32
Gospel: John 17:9-19
When I think of the book of Psalms, I think of praise, worship, and prayers for deliverance. When David wrote the Psalms, he wrote so many of them in praise and thanksgiving for answered prayers that had been lifted up to God. The Psalms for today are 3 different ones, yet all of them follow along with David's continuing praise to the Lord and his thanksgiving for protection from his enemies.
Isn't it amazing how we have enemies when as Christians we are to love our neighbors as ourselves? We are to go about the Lord's work in His name and to be kind to all, yet Satan would like nothing more than to see that believers in the Lord have enemies and experience adversity. That's why the Psalms are special to me. On days when nothing seems to be going right, I let my thoughts go to words from the Psalms, words that provide a respite to my angst or my frustration. Once the words from a Psalm permeate into my thoughts, there is a calm that settles into my spirit, and I am able to see that the day's struggles are just temporary. I can find refuge in knowing that the spirit of the Lord dwells within me, and there isn't anything too big for Him.
Hope, refuge, strength, trust, and courage are all words that we can take from the Psalms. I encourage you to read one of today's Psalms… you'll be blessed by the words that David so eloquently wrote in his praises to God, often while he was tending his flock. Memorize passages from the Psalms, and let those words guide you through difficult times. Chances are you know more passages in the book of Psalms than you realize, as many wonderful worship songs come from the book of Psalms. Can you think of one that is special to you? Sing the ones you know, and you'll be amazed at the lift your spirit will have throughout the day.
Psalms: 37:1-18, 37:19-42
Old Testament: Hab 3:1-18
Gospel: John 17:1-8
One of the reasons I am a Christian is because Christians have hope. We can have hope because Christ’s sacrifice allows us to. I cannot imagine being without hope. I have travelled in some very poor places, including Africa and Haiti, where I have seen people in seemingly hopeless situations. And yet, I think I see more hopelessness in the faces of the people right in my neighborhood and workplace, people who seem to have no belief that there is something better than this. Talk about depressing!
Psalm 37 speaks of this hope so clearly. “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: he will make your righteousness shine like the dawn…” Those who believe are entitled to delight in the Lord; but they (we) still have a job to do. We also have to commit ourselves to the Lord. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he goes on to describe the prize that waits for those who continue to do the work of Christ. That prize: everlasting life.
Hope is one of the major lessons of Lent and Easter. While the crucifixion is a horrific event, it was necessary for Christ to endure such horror to set us free from our sin. It is the sole reason we have hope. What we have in the here and now has nothing to do with what we will have in the hereafter – only because Christ died for our sins and opened the door to everlasting life.
Do you look for hope in your everyday life? It can be in the smallest of places -- in someone’s kindness, or perhaps in your child’s story of success with a school assignment or test. Where have you seen or heard or spoken about hope? How can you express hope to those around you?
Old Testament: Amos 5:6-15
Psalms: 95, 32, 143, 102, 130
A Butler, a Baker, a Hebrew Dream-Cracker
(from Genesis 40)
A year, two years, have come, are gone. I wait
For Someone's light to pierce this dungeon wall.
I had two friends here; dreams foretold their fate,
Summoned to show their worth at Pharaoh's ball.
The baker's loaves and luscious honey cake
Ought to have sweetened that festival day
Save for his critical, fatal mistake
Of leaving them to cool where ravens prey.
The butler bore the cup of his salvation
With rightful sureness to his master's place
Just as his dream (through my interpretation)
Three days before, saw him restored to grace.
I asked if he could speak a word for me
Before the king; seems he forgot to do
This for me. I had a dream too, when I was young and free
Naively thinking all good dreams come true;
Losing my name, my home, my family
Hope fades to black. Lord, any dream will do!
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right
spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your
holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a