Listen! A sower went out to sow… Matthew 13:1-16 This is a parable in which I’ve heard so many interpretations. However questions from a young couple seeking a spiritual home helped give rise to yet another; how we experience the soil (environment) in which the seed (Word of God) falls. The environment of the Church was intended to be good soil. More often many are experiencing it merely as either a pathway for baptism and burial rights; rocky ground where the gospel is preached but not lived out; or a thorny patch where the Word is used as severe judgment rather than encouragement for spiritual growth. Thus, many who are seeking knowledge of God, struggle to find “good soil.” Even the earliest churches struggled with understanding faith as they cultivated their soil according to God’s Law (instructions for living) and nurtured their soil according to God’s Love. While today we are all too willing to share the inheritance of the Law, let us not forget that the Law is to be nurtured by Love.
Saturday’s Meditation: Last Sunday after Epiphany
‘And now, my children, listen to me:
happy are those who keep my ways.
Hear instruction and be wise,
and do not neglect it.
Happy is the one who listens to me,
watching daily at my gates,
waiting beside my doors.
For whoever finds me finds life
and obtains favour from the Lord…
…real circumcision is a matter of the heart—it is spiritual and not literal. Such a person receives praise not from others but from God. Romans 2:25-3:18 I’d worn this combination before, a cute little cross-body bag and a matching scarf. It never failed to get at least one compliment except on this one particular day. I’d been in a store for a little while when a salesperson approached and asked if I needed any assistance. I thanked her and politely stated that I was slowly making my way to the cash register. All the while I noticed that she was alternately looking at my scarf and my bag but she never said a word. Clearly she noticed my fashion statement. How dare she not say anything when clearly I was expecting her to say something – nice! By the time I reached my car I’d realized my vanity. No doubt, we all want people to recognize something about us. Yet when it doesn’t come a whole flood of emotions surfaces to the forefront of our thoughts. Some of these emotions can be difficult to shake off and subsequently overwhelm us into actions we may regret, affecting our selves or some one else. A physical circumcision involves one layer of skin. When we begin the spiritual journey and accept Christ as our savior, the delicate process of circumcision involves multiple layers, some of which will take time to peel away. But God gives us every opportunity to peel back every layer each time we give praise instead of wondering why we aren’t receiving it or looking for it from other people. What God praises has a far greater reward than praise from any one person.
Circumcise, then, the foreskin of your heart, and do not be stubborn any longer. Deuteronomy 10:16-18
O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Psalm 95
‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Mark 10:46-52 Ever notice how everything in Marks Gospel seems to happen immediately? Bartimaeus wanted to see again and immediately, because of his faith regained his sight. It seems clear that Bartimaeus wasn’t always blind. At some earlier point in his life he had vision and for reasons unknown to us he lost his sight. Who among us has not experienced a period of “blindness,” an inability to see the things right in front of our veiled eyes. It can be scary, confusing and frustrating. Life certainly can be like that sometimes. The good news is that we can do exactly what Bartimaeus did, and in faith call Jesus out to help us “see” again. For God would much rather we follow him with our eyes wide open than eyes wide closed.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me,
and delivered me from all my fears.
Look to him, and be radiant;
so your faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord,
and was saved from every trouble.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
O taste and see that the Lord is good;
happy are those who take refuge in him.
With weeping they shall come,
and with consolations I will lead them back,
I will let them walk by brooks of water,
in a straight path in which they shall not stumble;
for I have become a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my firstborn.
I recently read “The Struggles of Forgiveness,” a post on a very good blog on the website deepthinkings.wordpress.com. Well, the bump in the road was that I didn’t know exactly what I had done, but I had earlier sensed something amiss because of the way she was responding to me. So at my first opportunity, I asked if I had hurt her (keep in mind I was a visiting priest and this day was my third and last Sunday to be with this congregation). As the saying goes; “If looks could kill,” I wouldn’t be writing this today. At the end of the service I made one more attempt to find out why she was upset. I assured her that I honestly did not know what I had done but she apparently believed differently. Although the encounter was brief, it was painful, kind of like a stick from a needle. To this day I am not certain as to what the issue was (she never shared it with me), or whether she ever forgave me, but in my mind I’m okay with that. Perhaps she will one day forgive me for my “mystery act” until then the good news is that I believe God has forgiven me. On the surface there will be people who may never forgive us regardless of the time and emotion given to the circumstance. However, the heart that pursues God is a heart that in time will forgive others. Far deeper, is the reality of God’s measure of forgiveness that is always given to us.You may want to visit the sight for yourself as it got me thinking about the times when I have earnestly asked for forgiveness from someone and they looked at me like I was crazy. More specifically, I had one woman tell me to take it God and ask him for forgiveness. Since I had already given the matter over to God I smiled and assured her that I had already done that and was now asking for her forgiveness.
Matthew 6:12 Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Psalm 86:5 For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you.
Mark 11:25 ‘Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.’
Luke 23:34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
Just finished watching “Jesus Christ Superstar” Awesome Musical based on the Rock Opera! Purposely told through the perceived eyes of Judas Iscariot, practically every fear known to man portrayed from every voice in this story of the Gospel and if truth is to be told within us we can find a bit of our selves in every voice. The musical begins with a frustrated Judas in red and just before Jesus is raised on the cross, Judas descends from above dressed in white yet with the same frustrations, still not understanding that to live one must die. Although we may suffer some of Judas’ frustrations we don’t have to live that way. Believe , Jesus has already paid the price. He has given us Pentecost (gift of the Holy Spirit) to help remind us. Let the Spirit of God sing out.
Acts 2:1-21 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.