… for even one who is perfect among human beings will be regarded as nothing without the wisdom that comes from you… Send her forth from the holy heavens, and from the throne of your glory send her, that she may labor at my side, and that I may learn what is pleasing to you. For she knows and understands all things, and she will guide me wisely in my actions and guard me with her glory. The more I come to know, the more I realize how much I have yet to know. Open my heart and mind Lord that I may fully know you to the extent that you can fully be known. Never let me stop seeking your presence and your purpose.
Who do people say that I am? I’ve often heard people say; “I’m Spiritual but I don’t go to church,” or “ She goes to church but she’s not very spiritual.” It would seem a natural relationship, a mutual magnetism of the physical and the mystical. Yet, I am finding that for many they are mutually exclusive, or at least they are treated as such. Spirituality and the Church in many instances is confusing. It’s so much easier to feel, see or smell, and accept that these things are the presence of God. While these things draw people toward that spiritual knowledge, that knowledge is not always grasped and claimed as ones’ own. Instead they would rather cling to the tiffany window, the sterling silver communion service or the third row pew on the far right side. Then there are the ministries; the music, the ushering and the reading of the lessons to name a few. Many have said that participating in these ministries has some spiritual affect of being just a little bit closer to that higher power. Yet when I ask about anything outside of the church that brings them a bit closer they always seem to struggle. Why does the church provide such comfort, but as “church folk”, our home, work or other environment not have the same affect?
“…teacher let me see again.” Mark 10:46-52 The Rev. Al Sharpton speaks of a time when he and two others were sentenced to 40 – 90 days in jail while protesting in Puerto Rico. Although his fellow protestors served the shorter time, he alone was held for the full 90 days. Alone with his thoughts he was forced to deal with himself. It was the beginning of a changed Al Sharpton in how he approached the causes, which for him – was out of his passion for justice. He began to understand that perhaps while his methods may have gotten attention he didn’t always get his desired result. He admits to a growth and maturity partly out of that experience which led him to change his attitude as a public figure. Sometimes we must have “sight” taken away from us before we can fully understand what it means to “see.” Now that we have gotten through Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and a few other national holidays, no doubt we all could use sometime away from the busyness of our lives. As we approach the season of Lent, perhaps we too can begin to ask ourselves if our approach to our way of “seeing” is giving us our desired result in life. The season gives us 40 days but in reality, the growth and maturity of the formation of our souls is a lifelong exercise. Does what we “see” today, keep us from seeing God who sees what we can not see? Going forward, are we ready to sacrifice our own vision in order that we may be reconciled to God’s vision for our lives?
Image Credit: Google Image
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…
…everyone who loves the parent loves the child. 1 John 5:1-12 I remember the time I felt courageous enough to share with my mother how I felt as I was growing up and her part in making me feel the way I did. I had recently graduated from college and working at my father’s business. I’m not exactly sure why it seemed the right time but I just needed her to know. It wasn’t pretty. She was gracious enough to listen to everything I said without interruption. After a moment of silence, she simply stated, “I did the best that I could.” If I had thought that I wasn’t her favorite daughter before, I certainly didn’t win any browny points that day. Although I had no way of knowing how much of life was ahead of me because of her, I immediately realized my mother’s perfect love up to and including that moment; how much life I had actually lived because of her. Coming from very humble beginnings herself, she had a college graduate as proof. She had done the best she could. It took me a while to forgive myself for being so cruel that day. In spite of my “audacity of the self”, she never held it over me. So much more is God’s perfect love deep enough to forgive things we think are unforgivable and not hold our selfish feelings against us. Each of us in our journey towards love through Christ must do the best we can.
…perfect love casts out fear… 1 John 4:7-21 Truly, who among us can perfectly love? Who among us walks without the occasion of some doubt? Who among us occasionally reconsiders decisions to be made or regrets decisions already fulfilled? As much as we strive towards this perfection it is not ours to perfectly attain. Try as we might there is always some wonder if we’ve done the right things or if we are moving in the right direction. How is the fear ever removed? If we could live with perfect love – would not the world be a perfect place? We have to settle for striving for perfection and recognize that we will make mistakes. When we make mistakes we must learn to forgive ourselves. Christ, the perfect love of the Father, understands this about us. Himself, called to the people of Israel, time and again stepped out of his own box to which he was called, to heal, bless and forgive those who brought their faith before him. So too we are called to love, knowing that what ever our dreams, desires, frustrations or fears, God’s perfect Love for his creation encourages us to continue striving towards him in spite of our imperfectness and because of our faith in him.
Image Credit: Kerry Shook; worshiphousemedia.com
“Lord if you had been here…” John 11:17-29 I remember the last night I spent with my mother in the hospital. I didn’t really want to go but I was scheduled to preach and I only had one day to write a sermon. I waited as long as I could, leaving my mother’s care to the evening nurse who assured me she would call if anything changed, and acquiesced knowing that my sister would be returning first thing in the morning . Exhausted, I took my time getting home taking an hour and forty five minutes as opposed to the usual hour and a half. No sooner had I walked into the house and sat down on the nearest chair, my cell phone rang. Along with my brother and sister we never left her alone. We spent evenings, nights and weekends making sure she knew that we weren’t going to leave her side. When we weren’t there one of her sisters was there to give us some time to do the things we needed to do in our our own personal lives. This went on for weeks. I hadn’t thought of what would happen when no one from the family was able to be with her. I only knew that I wanted to be there if she passed away. As time would have it she died while a stranger was in the room. Had I remained with her would she have lived another day? Jesus loved Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus. His ministry didn’t allow him to physically be with them 24 hours a day. He assures the Martha that her faith in Him makes the difference. So it is with each of us who believes in the presence of the Spirit of God. Even in death, we are never alone.
Saturday’s Meditation: Eve of 7 Epiphany
The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring for ever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
I am no prophet… Amos 7:10-17 In fact, Amos was a herdsman, a dresser of sycamore trees. Nonetheless, he was called out of his ordinary life to speak the word of God concerning the fate of Israel. His was a simple life called out by the spirit of God to speak the truth. How great do we have to be to simply live out God’s truth in the testimony of our own lives? Love God, love neighbor as self, speak the Word, have faith and know that the Lord is but a prayer away. A simple life perhaps, but in the eyes of God nothing and no one he uses is ever insignificant.
“…in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.” 2 Peter 3:11-18 I recently spent several days at a clergy conference which, except for the struggle with getting internet access that I needed, was very rewarding. At the most, the longest I like to stay away is 4 days. After that I begin longing for home. It’s the one place where I find everything I need (not want). Church for some is like being away, when it should be more like being at home. While there, you won’t always have everything you want, but you should always find everything you need. For me it’s the presence of the Spirit of God, genuine fellowship and mutual love.