Reaching out

Image result for woman anoints jesus with perfume

Jesus turned to the woman and said to Simon, ” Do you see this woman? When I entered your home, you didn’t give me water for my feet, but she wet my feet with tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but she hasn’t stopped kissing my feet since I came in. You didn’t anoint my head with oil, but she has poured perfumed oil on my feet. This is why I tell you that her many sins have been forgiven; so she has shown great love. The one who is forgiven little loves little.”
Then Jesus said to her, ” Your sins are forgiven.”
The other table guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this person that even forgives sins?”
Jesus said to the woman, ” Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

“It was the woman, not Simon or the male guests and disciples, who was doing, acting, caring, touching, anointing, giving and risking. And Jesus accepted her silent acts of intimacy and devotion with profound respect and reverent silence. Perhaps Jesus longed for the warmth and comfort of another’s touch. Perhaps the cool ointment cascading from his head over his face and neck was like a baptism of sorts. Perhaps this tender act of mercy brought healing to his heavy heart. Perhaps, just once, it felt good to receive To sit and be passive. To let someone minister to him. Perhaps to be cared for and loved was a balm to his soul. Perhaps this anointing was an act of emancipation for both Jesus and the woman. Jesus was not ashamed or embarrassed or defensive. He did no rebuke or resist or reject her. Rather, Jesus affirmed the woman for who she was and what she did.” ~Helen Brunch Pearson, Do What You Have the Power to Do

Lord, may I reach out to You this day. May I not look to others for approval, only to you for affirmation of love and acceptance. Amen.

A dry well

Just like a deer that craves streams of water,
my whole being craves you, God.
My whole being thirsts for God, for the living God.
When will I come and see God’s face?
My tears have been my food both day and night,
as people constantly questioned me,
“Where’s your God now?”
But I remember these things as I bare my soul:
how I made my way to the mighty one’s abode,
to God’s own house,
with joyous shouts and thanksgiving songs—
a huge crowd celebrating the festival!
Why, I ask myself, are you so depressed?
Why are you so upset inside?
Hope in God!
Because I will again give him thanks,
my saving presence and my God.
My whole being is depressed.
That’s why I remember you
from the land of Jordan and Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
Deep called to deep at the noise of your waterfalls;
all your massive waves surged over me.
By day the LORD commands his faithful love;
by night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.
I will say to God, my solid rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I have to walk around,
sad, oppressed by enemies?”
With my bones crushed, my foes make fun of me,
constantly questioning me:”Where’s your God now?”
Why, I ask myself, are you so depressed?
Why are you so upset inside?
Hope in God!
Because I will again give him thanks,
my saving presence and my God.

“And the well runs dry. It’s one of the most common experiences in the spiritual life. A practice that we have cherished, a habit that has deepened us and drawn us closer to God, a discipline that we perhaps have engaged in for years, no longer seems to work. Gradually over time or overnight with no warning, its familiar contours turn foreign, dull,, perhaps even painful.

Pondering the questions that lie at the bottom of a dry well offers a journey of its own. What I now is this: to find the answers, we have to pay attention to the dryness. This is a desert place. As uncomfortable as it may be, there is no substitute for these desert places in the spiritual life. They offer a wisdom that we cannot get any other way.”~ Jan L. Richardson, In the Sanctuary of Women

Guide me through the desert Lord. Quench this thirst deep in my soul. Do not leave me alone in my wanderings. Guide me safely home. Amen.

 

In desert wastes

I put all my hope in the LORD.
He leaned down to me;
he listened to my cry for help.
He lifted me out of the pit of death,
out of the mud and filth,
and set my feet on solid rock.
He steadied my legs.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise for our God.
Many people will learn of this and be amazed;
they will trust the LORD.
Those who put their trust in the LORD,
who pay no attention to the proud
or to those who follow lies,
are truly happy!
You, LORD my God!
You’ve done so many things—
your wonderful deeds and your plans for us—
no one can compare with you!
If I were to proclaim and talk about all of them,
they would be too numerous to count!

“A strange life-giver, the Holy Spirit, for the life given is compassed about by desolation. The story of Jesus bears a start testimony to this unsettling truth. At the birth of Jesus the Spirit-guided words of Simeon prophesy desolation for Israel and for the heart of Mary as well (Luke 2:34-35). Immediately after his baptism, during which God calls Jesus ‘my Beloved,’ the Spirit drives him in to the wilderness of isolation, vulnerability, and temptation (Mark 1:12-13). And at the end of a life exquisitely responsive to every subtle rhythm of the Spirit’s leading, Jesus chokes out the unthinkable words, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Matt. 27:46).

Christian tradition teaches that there are times when we, like Jesus, are led into arid soulscapes that bruise and distort us. These places seem bereft of God’s presence and filled with temptations to lose heart in God’s presence and filled with temptations to lose heart in God’s goodness, care, and sovereignty. In this harsh ‘winter of abandonment’ (Johannes Tauler), Jesus’ anguished cry of desertion becomes our own. Desert and cross- places of excruciating separation from the God we have come to know but equally unbearable intimacy with the God we are yet to know, places barren of all human possibilities but pregnant with grace. ‘Lord,’ exclaims the scorned and ill young priest in the Diary of a Country Priest by Georges Bernanos, ‘I am stripped bare of all things, as you alone can strip us bare, whose fearful care nothing escapes, not your terrible love.’ In ‘fearful care’ of the Holy Spirit we are stripped bare but not left naked and exposed in desert wastes.” ~John S. Mogabgab, “Editor’s Introduction,” Weavings (September/October 1993)

O Lord, even in the desert, place Your song in my heart. Help me hold onto those truths I know and trust You to see me to Your promises. And Lord, when I can no longer hope, send me those to hope for me so that I won’t totally lose heart. Amen.

 

 

Stepping out

This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you. No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I don’t call you servants any longer, because servants don’t know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because everything I heard from my Father I have made known to you. You didn’t choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you could go and produce fruit and so that your fruit could last. As a result, whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. I give you these commandments so that you can love each other. ~John 15:12-16 (CEB)

“The church is the worshiping community. We are that body of people who are learning together to repent, pray, and serve in the light of our history and an imagination that is teaching us to do so. The focus of our history and imagination is Jesus Christ in whom we see what it means to live in repentance, prayer, and service. We seek to follow him, to be his disciples, and to undertake the disciplines that such a life requires.

As we follow him, we see that we cannot be the church and remain a closed system of intimate and exclusive social relationships through which we are protected from the world. To the extent that we actually are being transformed in repentance, prayer, and service, we find that we must continually strive to rupture our own boundaries. The church is just not the church except as it seeks to incorporate within its mutuality enemies and strangers. Its repentance, prayer and service is for all people, for the world as such, and not just for others as Christians. In the church we are impelled by the very dynamics of what it means to be the church to meet the enemies and strangers of our lives.” ~From Vision and Character by Craig R. Dykstra

Help me this day Lord to step out of my comfort zones and intimate circles of friends. Help me remember that we are called to take Your good news to the whole world not just to those we are comfortable with. Help me remember that I may be the only Bible some people will ever read or the only church they will ever see. Help me to remember what it means to be a Christian. Amen.

He came in peace

The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him. They shouted,

“Hosanna!

Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

Blessings on the king of Israel!”

Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,

Don’t be afraid, Daughter Zion.

Look! Your king is coming,

sitting on a donkey’s colt.

His disciples didn’t understand these things at first. After he was glorified, they remembered that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.

The crowd who had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead were testifying about him. That’s why the crowd came to meet him, because they had heard about this miraculous sign that he had done. Therefore, the Pharisees said to each other, “See! You’ve accomplished nothing! Look! The whole world is following him!” ~John 12:12-19 (CEB)

“The ass was the beast on which kings rode when they came in peace; only in war did they ride upon horses. The entry of Jesus was the claim to be King.

But at the same time it was the claim to be the King of peace. It was upon the ass of peace and not upon the horse of war that Jesus came. He came deliberately refusing the role of the warrior Messiah and claiming to be the Prince of peace. He was appealing for a throne, but the throne was in the hearts of men. In that entry into Jerusalem Jesus, in a dramatic symbolic action which spoke more loudly than any words, was making one last appeal to men, and saying to them: ‘Will you not, even now, even yet, accept me as your Lord and King, and enthrone me within your hearts?’

Jesus entry into Jerusalem was an action of supreme courage; it was an assertion of royalty and an offer of love; it was at one and the same time royalty’s claim and love’s appeal.” ~From Mind of Jesus by William Barclay

We miss the subtle things of life. The still small voice. The Prince of peace. The noises of this world grab at our attention more now than ever. The distractions of this world increase daily. Would we even notice a quiet entrance today?

Lord, Help me to see the small things in life and to hear You whisper my name. May I this day accept You as our Lord and King making a place for you in my heart. Amen.

To sit awhile with me

Jesus left and made his way to the Mount of Olives, as was his custom, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived, he said to them, “Pray that you won’t give in to temptation.” He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed. He said, “Father, if it’s your will, take this cup of suffering away from me. However, not my will but your will must be done.” Then a heavenly angel appeared to him and strengthened him. He was in anguish and prayed even more earnestly. His sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. When he got up from praying, he went to the disciples. He found them asleep, overcome by grief. He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray so that you won’t give in to temptation.” ~Luke 19:39-46 (CEB)

“When Jesus was in his excruciating moment in the Garden of Gethsemane he needed his disciples to be with him while he prayed. He longed for the comfort of their presence and was pained by their inability to provide this for him. Jesus didn’t need Peter to slice off an ear of his enemy. He just needed Peter and the others to be there with him as he faced his enemies).” ~From The Cup of Our Life by Joyce Rupp

Heavenly Father, help me to remember that sometimes others just need our presence. They may not be looking for words of comfort or even affirmations. Sometimes friends may just need someone to be “with them” in the sorry. Help me to see this day how I might “be with” others this day. Amen.

God’s peace

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion. Sing aloud, Daughter Jerusalem. Look, your king will come to you.  He is righteous and victorious. He is humble and riding on an ass, on a colt, the offspring of a donkey. He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the warhorse from Jerusalem. The bow used in battle will be cut off; he will speak peace to the nations. His rule will stretch from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth. ~Zech 9:9-10 (CEB)

Peacemaking must be the primary focus of all political leaders, whether in or out of power. But the temptations to personal power are too intense to be overcome by our insistently self-centered egos. Therefore, the peace must be God’s peace, a peace that is freely available when we turn inwardly to Jesus. Jesus is the model of the ultimate peacemaker, always pointing to Abba as the ultimate source of peace, justice, goodness, mercy, love, and creativity. In order to claim peace, we must relinquish our own private agendas and let ourselves be claimed by God. ~Robert A. Jonas from Henri Nouwen: Writings Selected with an Introduction by Robert A. Jonas

Heavenly Father, let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. May all I do this day point back to you the Ultimate Peacemaker, our source of justice, goodness, mercy, love and creativity. Not my will but Yours be done. Amen.

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