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Showing posts from June, 2018

Seeds Part Three

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By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.  Galatians 5:23-24

Having just considered a parable about planting seeds and what we might call, "weeds", the next step might be to ponder prayerfully, what is growing in our lives right now?

What kind of fruit do you feel like you are harvesting?

Is there a taste of fear in a world where if it wasn't for bad news there wouldn't be any news at all?

Is there a plateful of uncertainty? Frustration? Unrest?

Paul, after processing his pain in the first four chapters that the Galatians were not living the way Paul thought they should, lands in offering the nine fruits of the spirit.

In the next few posts, we are going to ponder these fruits. 

But first, an invitation to you.

Look over the list/litany above.

Which fruit is one you would like God to help nurture and nourish in your life?

For me, I find tha…

Seeds Part Two

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He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it?  It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth;  yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” Mark 4:30-32

In the last post, we centered around a farmer...who planted a seed...sat back...did nothing.  And yet, there was growth.  The image confronts our need to be constantly in control...as if God's realm was all up to us.  As if, we can force growth.  And we know this to be true.  As Richard Rohr says, "You cannot think your way into a new way of living, you have live your way into a new way of thinking."  This is what is so difficult in our world today.  We want instant and immediate results.  We want to microwave our way through growth.  Let's change the world now!  The moral arc may bend toward just…

Seeds Part One

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He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how.  The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head.  But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:26-29
There exists a seed right now that as a child I planted more times than I can count without realizing that in the soft, fuzzy-like seed contained numerous health benefits. 

Once this seed matures, which it can do practically anywhere, and you, like the person in the parable go out to harvest the plant, eat it, it can reduce high blood pressure, help with liver problems. 

It has been shown to relieve an upset stomach and improve digestion.  Other studies say the flower lowers bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. The greens contain significant fiber, protein, vitamins from A and zinc. 

The scientifi…

Stirring in my Heart Part Three

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Friday Prayer

We arrive at the threshold of the weekend.
One week of working, volunteering, learning coming to a close.
Another week of our daily rhythm yet to begin.

Before we rush/race through the door.
Can we pause?

Where was that moment you felt closest to God?

Was it reading/listening/looking at some art?
Was it recognizing God's unconditional love in the face of brokenness?
Was it just sitting here for a few moments reading, breathing, and being?

Where was that moment of distance or disconnect from the sacred?
When peace felt elusive
Or love like a foolish dream
Or hope crumbled like a piece of paper tossed toward the trash can,
And, of course, it hit the rim and felt with a thunk to the ground.

Both moments have something to teach and tell us.
Every thing can be our teacher if we are willing to be a student.

I'd rather not always pay the tuition of life where stumbling and bumbling happen as much as succeeding and soaring...but the lessons are there in all moments...
E…

Stirring in my Heart Part Two

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Literature, painting, music—the most basic lesson that all art teaches us is to stop, look, and listen to life on this planet, including our own lives, as a vastly richer, deeper, more mysterious business than most of the time it ever occurs to us to suspect as we bumble along from day to day on automatic pilot. In a world that for the most part steers clear of the whole idea of holiness, art is one of the few places left where we can speak to each other of holy things. Frederick Buechner 

Buechner invites us to see art not merely as something aesthetic, but as a prayer.  So, what helps stir your soul?  Is it words written on a page in the form of story/poetry?  Is it a painting that invites you to pause, see one moment forever frozen around a frame?  Is it music where one note leads to another creating a melody?

Is there a reason why that speaks and sings to you?

I love words.  I find encountering and engaging ideas awakens new insights within me.  I find music to communicate emotion…

Stirring in my Heart

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Embracing our brokenness creates a need for mercy. . . . I began thinking about what would happen if we all just acknowledged our brokenness, if we owned up to our weaknesses, our deficits, our biases, our fears. Maybe if we did, we wouldn’t want to kill the broken among us who have killed others. Maybe we would look harder for solutions to caring for the disabled, the abused, the neglected, and the traumatized. . . . We could no longer take pride in mass incarceration, in executing people, in our deliberate indifference to the most vulnerable.  Bryan Stevenson

Owning our weaknesses is not something we are taught in school or in our work life.  We are taught instead to deflect/defend/dismiss/discredit.  We are taught to blame others.  We are taught to point fingers and say, "They are the problem."

This is not unique to the 21st Century.  When a fire destroyed much of Rome in 64 C.E., Nero blamed Christians for causing it...even though there are some historians who suggest th…

Friday Prayer

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Every morning when we open our eyes
God invites us to notice the blessings that ties...
Us to the sacred stirring
And relationships all around whirling
Slow down from too much gawking and blurring.

We need to be open to all that is around
To want we can see as well as sounds
To name what can help us feel ground-ed
There is so much within and around to astound.

Do we really see, sense, taste, touch or feel?
Or are we distracted, caught up in what others call, "Real",
Or use our energy to push down the pain rather than heal.
God's grace here and now is not concealed but revealed.

So, this day, is an invitation to me and you
The hours before us like a canvass brand-new,
Just like a flower last night a few centimeters grew,
So can we find more than a trace of God's grace which is true.

May God's presence surround, sustain, strengthen, and embrace you this and every day.  Amen.

Invitations take two

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As I have been thinking about invitations, regardless of the occasion, there is a process that is often followed.  It starts with getting ready.  This could involve shopping for a gift or writing a card.  The day comes for the party, you get dressed up, and head there.  The party is humming with activity and conversations...maybe some music and dancing.  Finally, there is the after-glow...which can sometimes last for awhile. 

I was at a party a few weeks ago, and the next time I saw the person in whose honor it was given, the smile was just as broad and bright as it was that night.  Some couples I've married seem to never let go of that honeymoon love dancing in their eyes. 

Yet, every day is an invitation for us to set our intention.  Yet, I was certainly never taught how to do this.  I thought that everyday was pretty much the same.  Get up, eat, work, eat, work some more, go to a meeting, eat one more time, go to bed...the cycle starts over again.  But that seems to be a color…

Invitations

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Recently, we've received a few invitations to parties and celebrations for graduations and anniversaries and birthdays.  In such a moments we are marking milestones and transitions from one stage of life to another.  High school to college.  We celebrate significant birthdays.  Perhaps you've made those rounds too over the last few weeks.  Sitting in chairs while balancing a paper plate of a sandwich, potato salad and cake.  Or maybe it was a fancy dinner for a special occasion.  Perhaps there was a ceremony involved or a formal speech given. 

At the same time, there are invitations to notice the sacred of mundane and ordinary.  God's presence is with us not only in times that Hallmark makes a card for you to buy, but also in the beauty of a Tuesday.  I ran across these invitations in an email from Richard Rohr this last week.  I found these four particularly helpful invitations:


1. In a situation that seems boring or mundane—like waiting in line or at a stoplight—pay clos…

Prayer from the Small Space

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God in the small spaces of our lives,
Keep writing new stories.
In the margins make room for new voices.
In-between words;
In-between the distance between our
head
heart
soul
Travel, traverse that distance, now we pray, O God, with a creative wisdom we all need.

We are in awe that all You need is a small space to awaken Your new ways.
We are in awe that all You need is thirty seconds of silence for us to stop.
Really stop.
All our to-do lists;
And monologues;
And litanies of what we want You to do.
So that You might get a word in edgewise.
Or even just sit with us in silence, in the word beyond words.
In the small space.

This is where we long to meet You.
This is where You promise to meet us.
May that small space be now as our eyes scan these words.
May that small space linger as we click over to check the weather; the news; social media.
Always realizing that it might not be in what we are reading,
But what is hidden in plain sight of the margin where You are.

Beckon
Encourage
Invite
Nu…

Story from a Small Space ~ Galatians part two

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Paul kept on pacing, words flowed fast from his lips, and he saw the scribe's hand fly across the parchment as the scribe tried to keep up.  As Paul's expressed his disappointment and dismay at what he had heard, how the Galatians listened to another preacher who said all the Gentiles in the congregation had to get circumcised if they really wanted to follow Jesus.  What is it about the human condition that wrestles so much with unconditional grace?  Sure the cliches are as old as time that there is no such thing as a free lunch.  Certainly living in Roman society where the Caesar demanded unwavering allegiance or the consequences were deadly.  Yet, Paul suddenly realized that the Galatians were not that different from him.  He had once lived a life where he thought in either/or categories.  You were either Jewish or you were not, plain and simple.  And then these people who had a teacher named Jesus, started showing up at synagogues, claiming that Jesus was God's son.  Y…

Story from the Small Space ~ Galatians

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Prelude ~ Paul's letter to the churches in Galatia is one of the most passionate prose in all of Scripture.  At one point, Paul calls them, "foolish"...showing us once again Paul really knew how to win friends and influence people.  Often when we read a book like Galatians we feel disconnected or distant from these words.  This is due, in part, to the fact that we are reading someone else's mail.  We stepping into a conversation midstream, like you might at a cocktail party.  No wonder we can feel flummoxed as there is no one to explain what is going on here.  We know that Paul established either one or a few house churches there.  We know that Paul was nursed back to health by the Galatians, (4:13-16).  So there is a sense of intimacy and interconnection here.  Paul is writing out of care to people he believes are going the wrong way, which we will explore in this small space story.  Perhaps one way to hear this letter is like a parent standing at the window watchi…

Breathing

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In the beginning,
when you and I were fashioned and formed.
When the cells rapidly multiplied and soft tissue took shape.
When life shifted by the second,
we were held in a womb.

When we slow down,
focusing on our breathing,
we return to that place and space where we are held,
in the womb of God's presence.

It isn't about monologues or dialogues or always having mountain top experiences.
As the saint once said, "In prayer, I listen for God...and God listens back."
Or another saint once said, "Silence is the first language of God."
Only it isn't silence.
There is the soft sound of breathing.
In and out.

And like Moses before the burning bush,
The name, "Yahweh" sounds like an inhale and exhale.
God breathing on Moses out of the flames.
That is the promise
And the possibility
Of every single breath.

May we sense a trace of God's grace as we slow down...and just breathe.