You are my refuge… How very important it is to encourage ourselves! Our hope and our faith is our shelter from the heat waves of life. Because of God’s love we have absolutely everything to look forward to. Thank you God, for in the midst of it all, who else should we turn to? It is you who puts the words of praise in our mouths, fools for your grace and mercy – servants captivated by your Love.
For all of them have contributed out of their abundance… Giving at the most difficult times in our life can be a challenge. We desperately want to hold on to what little we have whether it be money, goods or even a way of living or a certain way of thinking. It’s a struggle to believe that by letting some of these things go we may be allowing space for a certain peace to take it’s place. It is a peace that passes all understanding. It is a peace that opens us up to the mystery of redemption and resurrection eagerly waiting to happen. If what we’ve been doing isn’t working, perhaps it’s time to we try another way. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. …but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on. Take time to remember – God is greater.
I have a hope for God. We are constantly being challenged. Yet to truly know The Way in heart and mind is to live it in heart and mind. To love God and love others as self is The Way. Together, along this way, we all are both the other and the self. Along this way we can expect to be challenged because the world gives us every opportunity to choose another way to live. But our hope means that we journey on, along The Way until we get where we are destined to be with God. Until then, along The Way we expect to be defended and we expect to be upheld according to God’s mercy; according to God’s grace and according to God’s love.
Awesome things will you show us … O Hope of all the ends of the earth and of the seas that are far away. I recently had the honor of baptizing a child. Leading up to the event and afterwards, all I thought about was the hope we have in our children. We hope that all of the care, protection and knowledge we try to impart on their lives will serve them well and lead them straight to God, even though we know from experience that the path is not always straight. Which is why I believe faith communities are important, that they strive to be vehicles that help to encourage and build up our faith and show God’s awesome love beyond the walls and the vastness of the earth and seas. Gracious God may we always stand ready to receive one whose path crosses into your spaces.
Let love be genuine… Romans 12:9-6 As I wind down my anti-racism facilitator training my thoughts are racing trying to figure out how to engage a diocese. I ask myself how effective can the words of a few even begin to make a difference. I suppose what’s most important is that the words are spoken and – over time, (perhaps a long time) we can get back to love in its most genuine form, without prejudice, stereotyping, bigotry, or discrimination. Gracious God, thank you for the awakening of your Holy Spirit within me which knows no color and desires only to see your face in others.
I’ve just spent the last two and a half days hearing about holding trusts and listening to Dr. Elijah Anderson speak poignantly about the Cosmopolitan Canopy, a metaphor for spaces of civility shared by all cultures and ethnicities. I left wondering about the possibilities of such a space existing in more than just a metaphor, a real place where all people actually feel safe when they enter and in particular real spaces where we can confidently encourage our children to enter without fear and anxiety of them being horribly violated or even acutely disrespected. Of the places that currently serve as closely as possible to cosmopolitan canopies, I still wonder about the genuineness of those who enter into the space, particularly since most leave and go back to places that are segregated and separate. Still fresh from the Trayvon and Michael Brown events the pain at least for myself re-emerges in my heart pushing out the wounds I thought were at least somewhat healed. Is there real hope? I want to say yes and yet I know that my effort and focus must be partnered with the efforts and focus of others. I know that with the grace of God in the midst of that work of two, three and many more we have much more work to do and yet much to look forward to.
As we enter into another season of Advent, is God Silent? Recently, it seems as if anything but justice is prevailing, let alone hope for a coming Christ. How can we be anything but restless and angry every time we hear of what seems like an unjust taking of someone’s life. The sad reality in our world is that the injustices and iniquities in our system have always been there, but in the best of times we forget they’re there. When things are particularly good, when it seems as if God is blessing us with awesome deeds that we don’t expect, we put down our guard. Our sensitivity to the injustices in the world seem minute, remote or simply an exception as if it only happens once in a while. Yet when the world is loud with restless protest, we remember and are awakened to the fact that injustice happens somewhere every day. Perhaps not in the taking of a life but in the mocking of integrity, belittling the sense of belonging, and demeaning the dignity of every human being. We must stop falling asleep! Keep awake and remind the world through our speech and knowledge of every kind given in grace and strengthened by our hope, that God is not silent.
Navigating the Wilderness
…like sheep without a shepherd… Mark 6:30-46 From my own experience, children go through a phase where they will follow you everywhere, including the bathroom. They want to know where you are and what you’re doing at every moment. It’s a time in which rest for the weary isn’t always an option. Looking back, knowing that one day they would be responsible for navigating there own way, those are times I am ever grateful to have had with my own little sheep. After having taught the crowd, the disciples were eager for Jesus to send them on their way. Though weary, Jesus, in his compassion knew that he couldn’t let them go without having fed them in body and spirit that they may be fully strengthened for the journey, as they were in a deserted place. Surely the time would come when they too would have to navigate their own journey in this wilderness and in both faith and hope, it will be times such as these they will remember as they see their way through.
I am the one you have bereaved of children; Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. Genesis 4:29-38 It is said that loss comes in threes. Certainly, there have been times I have experienced traumatic events in triple. Perhaps a coincidence, nonetheless the feeling is like the weight of a giant snowball rolling down a mountainside that can’t be stopped. We find Jacob at the foot of a mountain watching that rolling snowball, pushed at the hands of his own sons, and headed towards his youngest son Benjamin. Where is God? We are not the first to question God and we won’t be the last. In our most difficult times hope becomes a fine line that we must walk like a tightrope artist, knowing that if we don’t focus on the gravitational pulls of life we perhaps will stumble but we will not fall; or if down we’re never out. Our tunneled faith will guide us through until we reach firm ground and Paul’s words to the Corinthians come to light; ..do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within in you..? If God’s Spirit is within us, God’s strength is within us as well.
“How can this man give us flesh to eat?” John 6:52-59 The men who approached Jesus couldn’t understand. Their perspective is heavily connected to what could be seen by the eye, touched by the hand, heard by the ears, sensed by the nose or tasted by the mouth. I can almost envision the look on their faces when Jesus encourages that “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” I imagine it’s something like the times I turn my face when I think of eating beets, which I dislike immensely. However, I can say with great assurance that, if eating beets would save my life, I’d change my perspective and eat them everyday! Abiding in the life of Christ is not always easy. Yet the heart that strives to abide in God’s Love will have everlasting hope and life. I believe that God is not found in the human physical senses without first being found within the heart that longs for God. The body of Christ is his life. The blood of Christ is his sacrifice. How we live and what we sacrifice should help us put things in proper perspective. As the deer longs for water, my soul longs after you O God (Psalm 42:1). Daily, may the senses of the body, first be led by the heart that longs for God alone.
Featured Image : Google images.