Widen Our Understanding

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Eternal Companion, who is amongst and within us,
This moment is our to receive your beams of light and love no matter what our struggle. Help us admit that we are all empty and unfinished. Rather than allowing our circumstances to build walls, break down our resistance until understanding widens into ways of deliverance and peace. Remind us to persevere in the one relationship that helps us to navigate all the rest. Amen.

 

Transform Paths with Peace

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God of Day and Night,
whose wisdom invites us into divine collaboration,
We are grateful every day begins with change, for this new day is different from the last. Yet, in these silent moments, our breath in yours, assures us of the constancy of your loving Presence. Steady our souls to meet the challenges ahead. Guide our steps to gently transform hardened paths with peace. You have made this day different than the last, and have given us freedom in how to live it. Deepen us through experiences that move our minds toward our hearts. Help us to learn we are most free when we are bound with you and one another. Amen.

Lift to Life

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Guardian of Hope, who lifts us to life,
At the dawn of this day, we begin with you in Silence, opening space in our lives for patient waiting. Empty us even of our emptiness. Let gratitude rise in our hearts for places of pasture. Saturate us with your Presence to become truly ourselves creating a flow in our community where love and mercy prevail. Send us out into this day carrying compassion that helps others be true and whole. Amen.

Christ is King

extinction

Almost 99 percent of all species ever are now extinct. And according to some scientists, about half of the species now alive may be extinct by 2100.  The human relationship with creation may or may not have significant impact on why this is so. We could theorize that our presence on earth has a cause and effect relationship on some species. Or we could say that the extinction of species, like dinosaurs was random. Did you know there is a general decrease in amphibians world-wide, the Golden toad, a rainforest creature, was last seen in 1989.  I think I told you that I rescued a snake from this very floor a couple of weeks ago, “Save the snakes,” we could form a ministry around this. Is extinction, the cessation of species , a  part of God’s plan for the earth?

Today is Christ the King Sunday! Some people don’t like the suggestion that Christian’s  live under a monarchy,  that using the term king for God is not helpful, but Christ is not similar in any way to any form of democratic government, God is not up for re-election every four years, God does not rule under a system of checks and balances. And there is no similarity under the current democracy, where the result of the work being done by the government is increasing division rather than unity.

God’s plan is to move from death to resurrection. God can be trusted completely, to take us beyond where we have experienced love, mercy and peace. Our vision for Christ the King is so limited, we see the things that are becoming extinct, including wondering if the church will be extinct, instead of seeing all that is coming alive in the world. Even though the church is in transition, we are at an important time in history, never before have there been so many people who don’t claim to practice any faith, and yet clearly, God has set this sanctuary in the middle of community, God who holds all things in unity. God is not domesticated by us, not managed or manipulated, Christ brings us to live outside ourselves, to go beyond where we have gone before, sounds like star trek, but really do you trust God to take you beyond where you have experienced love before? Anyone who has had a taste of the love of God knows this is a scary thing to accept, because when you get a taste of God’s love, you don’t stay the same, everything changes. Yes, your whole life changes, what you do, who you spend time with, how you spend money, where you go, God’s love moves you to places and people you have never been to before. God’s love moves us from death to resurrection.

Do you trust God to take you beyond where you have experienced mercy before? There is no mistake, no transgression large enough for God to turn his back on you, God suffers your sin. God takes it into himself so you can be whole. Are you ready to let go of the sin, are you ready to let go of the behavior, of anything that holds you back from living fully in the face of God’s mercy, not just once but everyday. Have you thought that God might call you to forgive another’s transgression so they can have fullness of life? Has God given you that gift, that opportunity to experience that kind of mercy? God’s mercy moves us from death to resurrection.

Do you trust God to take the church beyond any experience the church had in the 1950’s? Are you getting what I am driving at? We don’t want God to work for us, domesticated by us, we don’t need God to take us where we have already been, we can do that ourselves. Christ is King, Christ alone is righteous and his kingdom extends beyond our experience. The pattern of our faith, is death and resurrection, are you ready to follow that pattern? Are you willing to receive the resurrection here? Listen up my friends, this is important: The resurrection is going to happen whether you are willing or not.

In the early part of the gospel of Mark, Jesus is teaching and he goes home, it was impossible for them to even eat because of the crowds gathering, and his family go out to seize him and they say, “He is out of his mind.”  The church should be dreaming for the day when we follow Christ so closely that we too, are accused of looking crazy.

Scott Harrison, a young affluent man who lived and worked in NYC in the 90’s living the kind of life he describes as having it all. He was a rep for alcoholic beverages,  he was paid to drink, he went from bar to bar being served by others, he spent all of his time in nightclubs, and even  his girlfriend was seen on billboards. He was up there in the ranks of those who live the NYC highlife. Eventually he found his outwardly successful life felt inwardly spiritually bankrupt. He started reading scripture. He decided to go do something worthy of serving others. When he first applied to work for a nonprofit, he was rejected by every one. His friends thought he was out of his mind. Finally one nonprofit told him that if he could pay them five hundred dollars a month, he could come on board their medical ship. They treated people in Africa who had facial tumors because of the poor quality water they drink. Scott Harrison is the man who began an organization called Charity water. Since 2006, they have funded 9, 458 water projects in 20 countries. He was willing to go beyond where his life experience had taken him.

A friend of mine lost her son to a brain cancer, he was 21. This coming week of Thanksgiving, her family is running a blood drive, to save the lives of other children dealing with the same illness. She is willing to go where her own life experience did not take her, she is going beyond to watch for relief in other families, because you know what, these other families, she will tell you that they are her family, too.  

I don’t for a minute believe that extinction is God’s plan for humankind. I don’t believe for a minute that extinction is God’s plan for the church, I believe that resurrection is. Resurrection was not just something that happened to Jesus, my good friends, resurrection is the transformation of life in all its forms, in all its need, bringing it beyond our current experience. It is not what we ourselves do, it is what God does in us. God alone gives us life. God alone is making us one. God alone will bring us to unity. Here these words from the prophet Ezekiel, “God alone will put the sanctuary among them  forever. “  Christ our King, is our God and we are blessed to be his people.

Freedom

Imagine allowing the winds to lift up the sails of a kite carrying you along with it! Freedom! Pure joy! Look again. The kite in the foreground is guided by a pilot. Each kite has harnesses attached to a fine system of tethers all working together to make flight possible. If even one of these connections is missing or tangled, gliding in this kite would not be possible.

The life of faith gives us opportunity to learn and experience the kind of freedom and joy that comes only when we are deeply connected to God and one another. It can take several relationships in order for us to grow. While we all make mistakes in our relationship with God or others, and we may at times feel lost and confused, when we stay connected, somehow, along with the other supports that we have, eventually the Spirit can lift us again. It is there we find the fullness of joy and freedom that comes with commitment.

Making a commitment is difficult today. We have so many choices. We want to experience so much. When making a new commitment, ask yourself if your new commitment will  help support the connections you already have in place. Living fully is not about experiencing everything, it is about living within the boundaries of our limitations and finding in those everything we need.

Happy sailing!

Songs of Sparrows

We had sparrows nest in an old ski helmet sitting on a shelf in our garage. Yesterday, five miniature birds flew for the first time. They made such a racket in their excitement. And today, the trees are alive with the songs of sparrows.

Do you remember the first time you flew? The first time you experienced what it was you were created to do? Did your heart sing with joy from deep within? Did you know complete freedom for the moment?  Did others see and experience your joy?

In all that we do to grow in our faith, for me, the most important is to practice and experience what we were created by God to do.  I believe living out our specific purpose is how God justifies and sanctifies our lives.  We can learn further about our divine purpose  by considering what we are already doing. What are the things that you do that bring you joy? What are the things you do that bring others joy? There are no mistakes, some part of our purpose is already being lived out. Recognizing and cultivating that understanding will however bring us to new depths of joy and peace.

Five New Songs Leave the Nest