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.

 

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.

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.

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

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

 

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.

Centering Prayer

Saturday’s Meditation: Psalm 21:1-7

Thanksgiving

In your strength the king rejoices, O Lord,
and in your help how greatly he exults!
You have given him his heart’s desire,
and have not withheld the request of his lips.
Selah
For you meet him with rich blessings;
you set a crown of fine gold on his head.
He asked you for life; you gave it to him—
length of days for ever and ever.
His glory is great through your help;
splendour and majesty you bestow on him.
You bestow on him blessings for ever;
you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
For the king trusts in the Lord,
and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.

What Vultures Do

Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.  Matthew 24:15-31  I remember while at Kruger National Park in South Africa we noticed a group of vultures quietly boldly resting on a dead tree. The guide told us that it was possible that there was a dead animal somewhere and they were waiting there turn to feast on whatever was left of its corpse. My first reaction was “how gross.” The reality however, is that’s what vultures do. In referring to the end times in this passage of Matthew, Jesus is merely stating the obvious. It’s also a warning – a message about following what is dead, namely false prophets who lead people astray. Today, that’s not the only dead thing in this world that leads people astray. We must be able to recognize who and what they are, lest we become more like vultures and less like enlightened disciples of Christ.

Smile

I am laying in Zion a stone that will make people stumble, a rock that will make them fall…   Romans 9:19-33  Once while serving as a deacon, I was coming down the steps from the altar, I missed a step and I stumbled, falling face first with the Gospel book still in my hands. Without realizing it I had used the book to keep my face from hitting the tiled floor. Not letting go of the book kept me from being seriously hurt. I’d been doing this for seven years and never stumbled the way I did that day. Although I was completely embarrassed, I smiled my way through the rest of the service. In this journey, we are bound to miss some steps. Stumbling certainly isn’t any fun, particularly when we have worked really long and hard at something. When we find our selves stumbling. We must be careful to not let our faith in God’s plan stumble as well. Instead we build our faith on our desire to do God’s will as we hold firmly to the Gospel and let it embrace us. As obedience to our faith strengthens us, we will rise with a smile every time.

Be The Change

Open my eyes that I might see  Psalm 119:18  I remember a time while I was waiting in line to return an item, a woman at the counter had dropped all of the contents from her wallet on the floor. Almost immediately, another young woman who was also at the counter helped to pick up the contents. A gentleman behind me waiting in line remarked; “That’s something you don’t see up north.” I suppose he was comparing the  behavior to people in other geographic areas. The gentleman’s comment reminded me that we can’t know what someone is like without first having experienced them. If we assume that kindness is only found in specific geographic areas, why aren’t all of us as believers, living in those places? If we are not experiencing kindness from others in our current place, then others may not be experiencing kindness from us as well. Yet, if Christ is within us, then perhaps we are where we are in order that God working through us, we remember to demonstrate the kindness, that others like to see not only in the north, but the south, east and west as well.