Woman-crying

One Single Act

Then Peter remembered…  Matthew 16:69-73  Sometimes, memory convicts us. It takes us back to places we don’t always want to go. Yet at the same time it can serve to keep us honest with ourselves and humble with our words. Early in Jesus ministry, he predicted that from Peter,”on this rock” Christ’s church would be built. The fact that the latter prediction by Jesus concerning Peter came true before the earlier one leaves me wondering if the reality of Peter’s own words of contradiction, is perhaps what brought him to tears and reminds me to never say never. Jesus however, already knew that Peter’s denial wasn’t the end. By God’s grace, one single act ever is. Remembering is a gift and a tool, which helps us live out God’s grace. No doubt, when Peter stopped crying, he dusted himself off and remembered that according to God’s plan he still had work to do. Even in our calling we are capable of falling, but know that out of divine calling God has already lifted us up.

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Body And Spirit

Those who are honored, but have no understanding, are like the beasts that perish.   Psalm 49:20 When Jesus stood before the Jewish authorities (Matthew 26:57-68), he didn’t have much to say. His actions spoke loud and clear. The problem as I see it was the authorities did not understand the actions. They equated wealth with knowledge, understanding and favor from God. The Psalmist seems to make clear that honor without wisdom is futile. Nor does having honor render wisdom automatically. What is perhaps not as clear is that one refers to physical position and the other refers to spiritual position. With certainty, we know that the body dies but of more certainty, it is the spirit which lives, that we remember. Through Christ the gift of the Spirit doesn’t need wealth. So whom do we serve; the body or the spirit? Up to and including that day before the authorities, Jesus chose the Spirit.

 

 

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A Short Lived Run

…for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.  Matthew 26:47-56  As a senior, I fenced in college. Although I was quite late to the sport the coach of the fencing class saw talent and asked me to try out for the team. Subsequently, I was chosen to be the first alternate which meant I got to travel with the varsity group. I loved it! Something about that saber was a rush particularly when I won, and I won a lot. That is until my last match of the season. I got the first touch easily and then my opponent started doing what looked like magic tricks. Before I knew it the match was over. Ego bruised; I was devastated. It wasn’t until later that my coach told me I was matched against the number one fencer in the state. That didn’t make me feel any better. A short lived run; it was a fun sport but not the kind of “sword” to live by.  If we must live by the sword, let it be the sword of God’s righteousness. Let it be the sword of love, social justice and truth. Then death perhaps becomes a thing of God’s glory and not devastation.

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No Sleeping

Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping…. Matthew 26:36-46   When your heart is totally devoted to something, at times it can be frustrating when those closest to you don’t seem to share in your passion and the urgency that you feel to act is unsupported. This passion we have is part of the gift God has given us. If our mission is to use the gift for God’s glory, then our faith must be in God who will also provide us the laborers. This coming Saturday, The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania will celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Women Ordained to the Priesthood. We have definitely overcome some of the oppressive and hurtful “isms” in our society, and yet 2000 plus years after Jesus lifted up the marginalized, there are some who still sleep. When the larger church of believers fully reflects the peaceable Kingdom of the love of God, perhaps the world will be affected by the church’s baptismal vow, as we lift high the cross and the love Christ proclaims, in order that no flesh will attempt to ignore.

4th Anniversary of Women Ordained to the Priesthood

Church of the Advocate

18th & Diamond Streets

Philadelphia, PA

3:00PM-4:30PM

Centering Prayer

Saturday’s Meditation : Psalm 30:4-5, 11-12

Thanksgiving & Praise

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones,
   and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment;
   his favour is for a lifetime.
Weeping may linger for the night,
   but joy comes with the morning.

You have turned my mourning into dancing;
   you have taken off my sackcloth
   and clothed me with joy,
so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.
   O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you for ever.

 

Gratitude 2

Intentional Places

The manna ceased on the day they ate the produce of the land… the crops of the land of Canaan.  Joshua 4:19-5:1,10-15  Having been brought out of the wilderness, the spiritual food of manna was no longer provided. Rabbi Elisha Greenbaum writes: The Jews in the desert were provided with spiritual food, manna from heaven. For forty years, every morning was spent foraging for this special foodstuff. Now, if G‑d wanted to miraculously ensure His nation’s survival in a desert, He needn’t have invented manna and have it miraculously appear daily. He could have played around with nature in another way, by reducing our dependency on food. No appetite, no hunger, no problem.  Often, it doesn’t occur to us that as we hold to our faith in this journey, God is feeding us in more ways than we realize. If we are able to perceive God’s provision for every day with gratitude, every act of love along our journey helps to move us closer to the place physically and spiritually where God has always intended us to be, in the presence of God. Where ever you are today, take heart. Life is a gift.

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Alabaster Jar

Why do you trouble the woman, she has performed a good service for me.  Matthew 26:1-16  I remember the first time I gave away something of value. I thought to myself; “Am I doing the right thing, and what if I needed it later? Eventually, I managed to convince myself that I was in fact doing the right thing and the reality was that I really wouldn’t need later it because I had more of what I was giving away. I’d like to say that I made the decision that day to give the item away because the person receiving the gift needed it. However, I was far more conscious of the fact that I had more  - and one less wasn’t going to adversely affect my life. I was so naive about the blessings in my life, not to mention so lacking in my faith and understanding of God’s Kingdom. As she was making her way to the house of a leper, I wonder if the woman with the alabaster jar of costly ointment struggled with what she was about to do? Like the widow with the two copper coins, was that jar of ointment all she had or did she have plenty more where that came from? The fact that the woman in this story defied several Jewish laws is intriguing and yet quite powerful. The best news is that despite of her disobedience to the law, Jesus receives the gift and in fact welcomes it. He certainly didn’t need the oil, but his response in support of her act, gives rise to the significance of women of vision who daily choose to carry out the Gospel.

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Access

…when was it that we saw you hungry…?  Matthew 25:31-46  In No Man is an Island, Thomas Merton wrote; “The dying thief had, perhaps, disobeyed the will of God in many things: but in the most important event of his life He listened and obeyed. The Pharisees had kept the law to the letter and had spent their lives in the pursuit of a most scrupulous perfection. But they were so intent upon perfection as an abstraction that when God manifested His will and His perfection in a concrete and definite way they had no choice but to reject it.” In the end, our access to God is not about our “perfection”, being separated from the “imperfection”, but rather about access to one another. It is about our willingness to live recognizing that the face of hunger, thirst, nakedness, sickness and imprisonment is characteristic in each of us at varying levels and in various ways of imperfectness. But God has given us differing gifts for a reason. True access to one another reveals those imperfections and allows the gifts of God, physical and spiritual, to be for the people of God in order that what is weaknesses in us, may be supplemented by the strength in someone else, all for the glory of God.  Access - As you did it to one of the least of these…you did it to me.

May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, …so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Romans 15:5,6

Child Please

Go For It!

I knew that you were a harsh man….  Matthew 25:14-30  Fear, disappointment and judgment will cause anyone of us to focus on the pain rather than focus on the goal. I am convinced that this parable isn’t so much about being enslaved because we are all slaves to something. Rather, I think it is more about God’s desire for us to focus on the gift, however great or small. Each of us has a passion for something. When we discover what that passion is, it is our responsibility to look for ways to give it life. Much like anything that is planted, the passion needs to be nurtured by our faith in God, in order to grow.  If we are too focused on the external environments that sometimes work against us, we limit our opportunities to experience God’s grace and glory in our lives. Go For It! God’s love for us is greater than our fears. godsgift

 

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Work Still Necessary

Give us some of your oil.  Matthew 25:1-13  Ten were chosen to be bridesmaids, but only five took their place of honor seriously. The other five weren’t prepared for the long awaited coming of the groom. In fact it took longer than they anticipated. They assumed without consideration the process necessary for such a commitment. When the foolish five asked to be given oil, they were essentially asking the wise bridesmaids to risk their own opportunity. Commitment without accountability has no value. We are expected to continue to follow through on our faith, understanding that our work is still necessary so that when God’s grace as the bridegroom arrives, even as we rest, we are fully prepared to receive that grace.