Seriously

Before the Festival of Passover, Jesus knew that his time had come to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them fully.

Jesus and his disciples were sharing the evening meal. The devil had already provoked Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew the Father had given everything into his hands and that he had come from God and was returning to God. So he got up from the table and took off his robes. Picking up a linen towel, he tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he was wearing. When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You don’t understand what I’m doing now, but you will understand later.”

“No!” Peter said. “You will never wash my feet!”

Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t have a place with me.”

Simon Peter said, “Lord, not only my feet but also my hands and my head!”

Jesus responded, “Those who have bathed need only to have their feet washed, because they are completely clean. You disciples are clean, but not every one of you.” He knew who would betray him. That’s why he said, “Not every one of you is clean.” ~John 13:1-11

“What distinguishes the Christians whose faith is deep, burning, powerful, and luminous is . . . seriousness. Seriousness is not the opposite of joy but of superficiality. Francis of Assisi was such a lighthearted, whimsical, musical, gentle man. But that was only part of his character. On the other side was the totally dedicated, unbending, relentless search for truth and reality. A Jesus-haunted man who gave up all to obtain all. His seriousness changed him from the wealthy son of a comfortable Umbrian home into the blind ragged beggar of Mount Alvernia. It was his seriousness about what he read in the Gospel that turned his life into what it was. ~From Lion and Lamb by Brennan Manning

Heavenly Father, help me to take seriously the words I read in scripture. In my search for truth and discernment may I not overlook the commands I see. Bolster me for the day ahead. May I not fear but do what is right. Amen.

Reorganization

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Seek the LORD when he can still be found; call him while he is yet near. Let the wicked abandon their ways and the sinful their schemes. Let them return to the LORD so that he may have mercy on them, to our God, because he is generous with forgiveness. My plans aren’t your plans, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my plans than your plans. ~Isaiah 55:6-9 (CEB)

“It is unlikely that we will deepen our relationship with God in casual or haphazard manner. There will be a need for some intentional commitment and some reorganization in our own lives. But there is nothing that will enrich our lives more than a deeper and clearer perception of God’s presence in the routine of daily living.” ~From “Ways of Prayer: Designing a Personal Rule” by William O. Paulsell in Weavings September/October 1987

I know that when I spend time with God first thing in my day the day just seems to flow better. It isn’t that bad things don’t happen because I spent time with God, but that I find it easier to turn to Him for guidance when the door of communication has already been opened for the day. Nurturing my relationship with Him keeps Him foremost in my mind when bumps in the road happen or when fear is sneaking in the back door again. Because my ears have already been listening for Him it is easier to hear His voice say “This is the way you should go.” (Isaiah 30:21) Because I have already looked to Him it is easier to see His blessings in my life.

Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your Presence in my life. I Thank You for Your guidance and the blessings that You bestow. Help me from slipping into a causal relationship. Instead, help me to keep my life intentionally organized so that I have a clearer perception and a deeper understanding of You. Amen

Companions in the desert

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We are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives. ~Ephesians 2:10

“Hospitality is the virtue which allows us to break through the narrowness of our own fears and to open our houses to the stranger, with the intuition that salvation comes to us in the form of a tired traveler. Hospitality makes anxious disciples into powerful witnesses, makes suspicious owners into generous givers, and makes closed-minded sectarians into interested recipients of new ideas and insights.

But it has become very difficult for us today to fully understand the implications of hospitality. Like the Semitic nomads, we live in a desert with many lonely travelers who are looking for a moment of peace, for a fresh drink and for a sign of encouragement so that they can continue their mysterious search for freedom.

What does hospitality as a healing power require? It requires first of all that the host feel at home in his own house, and secondly that he create a free and fearless place for the unexpected visitor. Therefore, hospitality embraces two concepts: concentration and community.” ~From The Wounded Healer by Henri J. M. Nouwen.

As I wander through life I stumble across other travelers looking for something. When I take a moment to visit I may find it to be a simple moment to freshen us to journey on or I may find a companion to travel life’s rugged roads for a longer period. I never know when I come across another traveler if it will be a brief encounter or deeper friendship. I am only asked to take notice of those whom I come in contact with as I travel along.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for the travelers You have sent along the way. I thank You for the community You have given me. Help me to be ever aware of others that You may want in my life. May I always be open to new traveling companions. Amen

An adventure

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This is why I, Paul, am a prisoner of Christ for you Gentiles. You’ve heard, of course, about the responsibility to distribute God’s grace, which God gave to me for you, right? God showed me his secret plan in a revelation, as I mentioned briefly before (when you read this, you’ll understand my insight into the secret plan about Christ). Earlier generations didn’t know this hidden plan that God has now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets through the Spirit. This plan is that the Gentiles would be coheirs and parts of the same body, and that they would share with the Jews in the promises of God in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I became a servant of the gospel because of the grace that God showed me through the exercise of his power.

God gave his grace to me, the least of all God’s people, to preach the good news about the immeasurable riches of Christ to the Gentiles. God sent me to reveal the secret plan that had been hidden since the beginning of time by God, who created everything. God’s purpose is now to show the rulers and powers in the heavens the many different varieties of his wisdom through the church. This was consistent with the plan he had from the beginning of time that he accomplished through Christ Jesus our Lord. In Christ we have bold and confident access to God through faith in him.So then, I ask you not to become discouraged by what I’m suffering for you, which is your glory. ~Ephesians 3:1-13 (CEB)

“Religion has not tended to create seekers or searchers, has not tended to create honest humble people who trust that God is always beyond them. We aren’t focused on the great mystery. Religion has, rather, tended to create people who think they have God in their pockets, people with quick, easy glib answers. That’s why so much of the West is understandably abandoning religion. People know the great mystery cannot be that simple and facile. If the great mystery is indeed the Great Mystery, it will lead us into paradox, into darkness, into journeys that never cease… That is what prayer is about.” ~From Everything Belongs by Richard Rohr.

In the good news about the immeasurable riches of Christ, we find a Great Mystery that promises us the adventure of a lifetime. If we aren’t in the middle of an adventure maybe we are missing something.

Heavenly Father, Help me this day to see with Your eyes, hear with Your ears, love with Your heart. Send me on a grand adventure as Your hands and feet. Amen.

Risky business

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It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple those who were selling cattle, sheep, and doves, as well as those involved in exchanging currency sitting there. He made a whip from ropes and chased them all out of the temple, including the cattle and the sheep. He scattered the coins and overturned the tables of those who exchanged currency. He said to the dove sellers, “Get these things out of here! Don’t make my Father’s house a place of business.” His disciples remembered that it is written, Passion for your house consumes me. ~John 2:13-17 (CEB)

“To find in ourselves what makes life worth living is risky business, for it means that once we know we must seek it. It also means that without it life will be valueless. More than just a few find their most valued selves despite the risk, although the majority seem to be… people who don’t wish to make any trouble- not even the kind that’s expected. The majority shrewdly stay dull to what in them is life and has meaning. A few brave souls, however, do look within and are so moved by what they find that they sacrifice, from then on, whatever is necessary to bring that self into being.” ~From Ordinary People as Monks and Mystics by Marsha Sinetar.

What am I consumed with for God? Do I take any risks for God? Am I brave enough to step out on a limb for God?

Embolden me Heavenly Father to find who I am and what it means to be a child of God. May I not shrink away from understanding Your will for me life. Help me to love mercy, seek justice and walk humbly with you. Amen.

 

Little things

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Teach me to do your will for you are my God, Let your good spirit lead me on a level path. ~Psalm 143:10

“Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy. It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.” ~From Bread for the Journey by Henri J.M. Nouwen

Changes may come slow but while I wait for change to come I can celebrate the surprises that each day holds. As I shift my sights from what I am not yet, I can celebrate new spaces and places in my heart. I can anticipate new friends and opportunities yet unseen. God’s promise to me is that He will never leave me or forsake me and that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Heb. 13:5,8) In the midst of changes I can hold onto the fact that God never changes.

Heavenly Father, as the year is still so new and with the unknown looming so large, I ask that You walk with me and help me see the little things along the way. Amen.

Beyond my own understanding

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So then, from this point on we won’t recognize people by human standards. Even though we used to know Christ by human standards, that isn’t how we know him now. So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!

All of these new things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation. In other words, God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ, by not counting people’s sins against them. He has trusted us with this message of reconciliation. ~2 Cor. 5:16-19 (CEB)

What is God’s new reality and what is of the old, dying reality? As we seek conscious and living communion with God, how do we distinguish between God’s activity and the many less than benign forces in the world? “He brought me out into a broad place; he delivered me because he delighted in me” (2 Sam. 22:20). These words, voiced by David celebrating God’s help in victory over enemies, offer dramatic images or understanding the mysterious work of discerning the spirits…

“True discernment calls us beyond the well-tended gardens of conventional religious wisdom to the margin between the known and the unknown, the domesticated and the wild. We incur risk any time we place ourselves in the presence of that which exists beyond our control. ‘Without the confidence of faith,’ comments St. Isaac of Nineveh, ‘ no one will rashly let his [or her] soul go into the midst of terrible and difficult things.’ How crucial, then, that our efforts to sift and sort the forces shaping our spiritual life be undertaken with some bedrock assurances. King David provides one which cannot be surpassed. We are guided through narrow paths and led to spacious vistas because God delights in us. Deep in the layers of history, beneath the great upheavals of infidelity that reshape the landscape of our life with God, there abides a divine pleasure in the human creature. In the fullness of time, this delight overflowed the bounds of worldly prudence and swept God into our very midst, one with us in suffering and hope. It is always in the gladsome company of this God that our discernment occurs.” ~From “Editor’s Introduction” by John S. Mogabgab in WeavingsNovember/December 1995

Help me to live Lord, in those margins between the known and the unknown. Help me live in that place that exists beyond my control. Strengthen in me the confidence to live for You. Guide me through the narrow paths ahead and lead me into Your spacious vistas. Amen.

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