For the lost and the least

“Now when the Human One comes in his majesty and all his angels are with him, he will sit on his majestic throne. All the nations will be gathered in front of him. He will separate them from each other, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right side. But the goats he will put on his left.

“Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who will receive good things from my Father. Inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world began. I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’

“Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

“Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Get away from me, you who will receive terrible things. Go into the unending fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels. I was hungry and you didn’t give me food to eat. I was thirsty and you didn’t give me anything to drink. I was a stranger and you didn’t welcome me. I was naked and you didn’t give me clothes to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and didn’t do anything to help you?’ Then he will answer, ‘I assure you that when you haven’t done it for one of the least of these, you haven’t done it for me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment. But the righteous ones will go into eternal life.” ~Matthew 25:31-46 (CEB)

I have never felt ashamed to look at the cross until one day when a young woman came with her child in her hands. She said to me she had gone to two or three different convents asking for a little bit of milk for her child.

She was answered, ‘You are lazy. Go and work!’ And so on.

By the time she came to our house, when I took the child it died in my hands. I felt ashamed to look at the cross because Jesus has given us so much and we could not give even a glass of milk to this little child.” ~From My Life for the Poor by Mother Teresa

Almighty God, in every age you have called out men and women to be Your faithful servants. We believe You have now called us to join that great company who seek to follow You. Grant unto us today and always a clear vision of Your call and strength to fulfill the ministry assigned to us. We pray in the name of Christ. Amen.

Play we must

“Happy are people who are hopeless, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

“Happy are people who grieve, because they will be made glad.

“Happy are people who are humble, because they will inherit the earth.

“Happy are people who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, because they will be fed until they are full.

“Happy are people who show mercy, because they will receive mercy.

“Happy are people who have pure hearts, because they will see God.

“Happy are people who make peace, because they will be called God’s children.

“Happy are people whose lives are harassed because they are righteous, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

“Happy are you when people insult you and harass you and speak all kinds of bad and false things about you, all because of me. Be full of joy and be glad, because you have a great reward in heaven. In the same way, people harassed the prophets who came before you. ~Matthe5 5:3-12 (CEB)

“Nothing surpasses the holiness of those who have learned perfect acceptance of everything that is.

In the game of cards called life one plays the hand one is dealt to the best of one’s ability.

Those who insist on playing, not the hand they were give, but the one they insist they should have been dealt- these are life’s failures.

We are not asked if we will play. That is not an option. Play we must. The option is how.” ~From Taking Flight by Anthony de Mello

Lord God, Creator and Redeemer, claim my life and ministry for Your high and holy purpose. Help me to remain faithful and steadfast all day long, and when evening comes grant a peaceful rest in Your presence. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

To follow

“I assure you that when you were younger you tied your own belt and walked around wherever you wanted. When you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and another will tie your belt and lead you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to show the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. After saying this, Jesus said to Peter, “Follow me.” ~John 21:18-19 (CEB)

“To follow Jesus Christ, who was betrayed, wept, bled, and died before he rose again, is to be at high risk of being taken where we had not intended to go. Eugene Peterson pinpoints the trouble with praying: We are often asked to respond in ways that we never intended when we first began to pray.

It matters little where or in what century we are called to live out our Christian life. The witness of those who have gone before informs my own experience, telling me that we are often taken to places where we receive unwarranted accolades and to other places where we receive unwarranted suffering and pain. A disciple, one who chooses to be student and follower of Jesus, is not a ‘self-made person’ and is not on a personally designed journey.

The key word in this theme is taken. Just as Jesus was taken into the wilderness after his baptism, so we are taken into the experiences  of discipleship that we do not necessarily choose for ourselves. We choose to follow Jesus and then Jesus chooses where we will go. It is that simple.

The saving truth here is not that we are taken where we do not want to go; rather the saving truth is that we are not alone. There is One who leads us and foes with us. Jesus arose from baptism and ;the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness’ (Mark 1:12). But even there the angels (messengers of God) were with him and tended to his needs. While we may not choose the place to go, we can choose to remain with the One who sends us and there find comfort, companionship, grace, peace, and joy.” ~Ruben P. Job

Almighty God, help me this day to present my body as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to you. By the power of Your holy spirit make us strong to fulfill my ministry this day. In the name of Christ. Amen.

Poured out

Therefore, my loved ones, just as you always obey me, not just when I am present but now even more while I am away, carry out your own salvation with fear and trembling. God is the one who enables you both to want and to actually live out his good purposes. Do everything without grumbling and arguing so that you may be blameless and pure, innocent children of God surrounded by people who are crooked and corrupt. Among these people you shine like stars in the world because you hold on to the word of life. This will allow me to say on the day of Christ that I haven’t run for nothing or worked for nothing. But even if I am poured out like a drink offering upon the altar of service for your faith, I am glad. I’m glad with all of you. You should be glad about this in the same way. Be glad with me! ~Philippians 2:12-18(CEB)

At a baptismal service recently, I was deeply impressed when the pastor did not dip his hand into a baptismal font already filled with water. Instead he took a pitcher, lifted his arm above his head, and poured the water into the font, creating a small waterfall. As he poured, he gave us scriptural verses on the water of life as a direct, loving energy from God that blesses and heals and flows from within us, through us, beyond us.

We begin to see our daily acts of love as flowing like a river from our center, and poured out on the dry and needy lands around us. Our actions become not willpower but released gestures of pouring, flowing.

When the woman of Bethany came to Jesus and poured precious ointment on his head, it was a released gesture of generous love. ‘She has done a beautiful thing to me,’ said Jesus to those who were scandalized at such an act.

To do a ‘beautiful thing’ to God in released, responsive love is intended to be the only source for the Christian’s words and actions. As one of my students once said to me, ‘The Christian is release from perfectionism to being a love of life.’” ~From Release by Flora Slosson Wuellner

Lord of life and love, help me to worship You in the holiness of beauty, that some beauty of holiness may appear to me. Quiet my soul in Your presence with the stillness of a wise trust. Lift me above dark moods, and the shadow of sin, that I may find Your will for my life; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen

To know Him

My little children, I’m writing these things to you so that you don’t sin. But if you do sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is God’s way of dealing with our sins, not only ours but the sins of the whole world. This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commandments. The one who claims, “I know him,” while not keeping his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in this person. But the love of God is truly perfected in whoever keeps his word. This is how we know we are in him. The one who claims to remain in him ought to live in the same way as he lived. ~1John 2:1-6 (CEB)

“We may see that to live as Jesus did is to experience what it means to be beloved sons and daughters of God. The more we know our belovedness, the more freely we may live by the measure of Jesus’ own example in the power of loving humility and transforming mercy. Here lie the spiritual roots of forgiveness and reconciliation. But the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation can be as difficult to embrace as the notion of our belovedness.” ~From The Way of Forgiveness, Participant’s Book by Marjorie J. Thompson

Lord Jesus Christ, You have shown me what it means to be a servant. I ask now for Your grace and strength to faithfully follow in the footsteps of servanthood. I pray in Your name and spirit. Amen.

A life hidden with Christ

Therefore, if you were raised with Christ, look for the things that are above where Christ is sitting at God’s right side. Think about the things above and not things on earth. You died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

So put to death the parts of your life that belong to the earth, such as sexual immorality, moral corruption, lust, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). The wrath of God is coming upon disobedient people because of these things. You used to live this way, when you were alive to these things. But now set aside these things, such as anger, rage, malice, slander, and obscene language. Don’t lie to each other. Take off the old human nature with its practices and put on the new nature, which is renewed in knowledge by conforming to the image of the one who created it. In this image there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all things and in all people. ~Colossians 3:1-11 (CEB)

“Fairy talks and myths have often been used as vehicles to teach a truth that is too deep for ordinary words. Our invitation to become one with God is too deep for ordinary words. How do we talk about a call to be like God? The early Christians were much more concerned about being divinized than about keeping laws. Sadly, somewhere along our historical journey we got preoccupied with law and doing things that would keep us out of hell. We lost sight of our original union with God and the continuing call to be like God. In fact, we became so busy keeping out of hell that we forgot we were on the way to heaven. We started loving God for the gifts we would receive or the punishment we would avoid. But is that truly love? What about the wonder and possibility of being simply and utterly in love, the only reason being that once upon a time before a burning bush the One Who Is said, ‘I am who Am!’ The bush still burns. What about our love? How bright is the flame?” ~From A Tree Full of Angels by Marcrina Wiederkehr

Almighty God, as you sent Jesus to be for us light and truth, send now Your Spirit upon us to grant us grace and strength to follow in His footsteps this day. Amen.

Creator, Protector and Lover

The LORD’s trees are well watered— the cedars of Lebanon, which God planted, where the birds make their nests, where the stork has a home in the cypresses. The high mountains belong to the mountain goats; the ridges are the refuge of badgers. God made the moon for the seasons, and the sun too, which knows when to set. You bring on the darkness and it is night, when every forest animal prowls. The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God. When the sun rises, they gather together and lie down in their dens. Then people go off to their work, to do their work until evening. LORD, you have done so many things! You made them all so wisely! The earth is full of your creations! ~Psalm 104:16-24 (CEB)

“And in this [God] showed me something small, no bigger than a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed to me, and it was as round as a ball. I looked at it with the eye of my understanding and thought: What can this be? I was amazed that it could last, for I thought that because of its littleness it would suddenly have fallen into nothing. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and always will, because God loves it; and thus everything has being through the love of God.

In this little thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it, the second is that God loves it, the third is that God preserves it. But what did I see in it? It is that God is the Creator and the protector and the lover. For until I am substantially united to [God], I can never have perfect rest or true happiness, until, that is, I am so attached to [God] that there can be no created thing between my God and me.” ~From Showings by Julian of Norwich

Almighty God, in wisdom you have created us and all things. Provide my daily needs and grant me grace and strength to fulfill the ministry that You call me to today. I offer up my prayer in the name and spirit of Christ. Amen.

To touch Christ

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified self with its passions and its desires. ~Galatians 5:22-24 (CEB)

“I’ll never forget during the Bangladesh suffering: we had ten million people in and around Calcutta.

I asked the government of India to allow a number of other congregations to come to our aid, to help us, because we were working the whole time.

They allowed them to come” about fifteen or sixteen different sisters came to help us, and each one, on leaving Calcutta, said the same things, “I have received much more than I have given and I can never be the same person again; because I have touched Christ, I have understood what love is. What it is to love and to be loved!” ~From My Life for the Poor by Mother Teresa

Almighty God, grant that I may this day present my body as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to you. By the power of Your holy spirit make me strong to fulfill my ministry this day. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Love each other

“As the Father loved me, I too have loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy will be in you and your joy will be complete. This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you. ~John 15:9-12 (CEB)

“Giving needs not be confined to money or material gifts, but I would like more people to give their hands to serve and their hearts to love- to recognize the poor in their own homes, towns and countries, and to reach out to them in love and compassion.” ~From My Life for the Poor by Mother Teresa

Almighty God, You have called the church into being and have gathered us into one family. By the power of Your Holy Spirit help us to live in unity and peace with all of Your children. May my actions this day be fruit of my faith in Your kingdom. In the name of Christ. Amen.

Love makes the difference

When they finished eating, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” Jesus asked a second time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Take care of my sheep.”  He asked a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was sad that Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” He replied, “Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” ~John 21:15-17 (CEB)

“As I drove up the driveway, our children raced out the front door and met me at the car. Before I could bet my suitcase out of the car, they were telling me about Puddles, the dog that had followed them home from the little store a few blocks away. We had talked nearly every day about the dog we were going to get when we were able to move into the country. Everyone wanted a big dog like a Dalmatian or a black Labrador. But as I got out of the car I noticed a dog that was small and scraggly, of mixed origin, very soon to be a mother, and yet very personable. The chorus of affirmation for the dog from our children was compelling. But I gave no clear answer to their question, “Can we keep Puddles?” I did not want to adopt a dog like this, and I knew I had to move quickly to make sure we did not have a dog and a littler of puppies on our hands.

I suggested that after our evening meal and our shores were completed we would talk about what to do with the dog. Later, when we were all settled down in the family room, and with the dog in the garage, I asked each of the children to tell me why he or she thought we should keep Puddles when we could get a beautiful and large dog. Each of them had a good reason. She needed a home. We would enjoy the puppies. She would be a watchdog. Last I turned to our eight-year-old son and asked him what we should do with the dog and why. His eyes filled with tears and he said, “We should keep her.” I asked him for his reason why we should keep this scraggly dog. He responded through his tears, “Because she loves me.” We kept Puddles. She was with us while our children grew up and when they called home form college and career, their first question was always, “How is Puddles?” She lived with us seventeen years because one little boy lover her enough to save her.

Jesus knew that only love was strong enough to keep the disciples faithful in the days ahead. His repeated questions to Pete were meant to clarify for Peter what the real love of his life was. Only love is strong enough to keep us faithful and the question or qualification is first of all about our love. For God knows what we know: Only love is strong enough to keep us faithful . . . and joyful. May our love for God continue to grow in the presence of God’s love for us.” ~From A Guide to Prayer For All Who Seek God, Rueben P. Job

Almighty God, I thank You for loving me so much. Thank You for the adoption into Your eternal family. May the gratitude I feel for Your love strengthen me as I go about Your will for my life. In this time of prayer, come to me. Speak words of life and love into the depths of my being. May I feel Your presence this day, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Previous Older Entries