Friday, October 5, 2012

Look who's coming to dinner

(Two days late!) 
LUKE 5:29-32
29Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others sitting at the table with them. 30The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" 31Jesus answered, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; 32I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance."
Who are the tax collectors and sinners today? It's so much harder to say, at least as a Protestant Christian in America, because there is no real common agreement on what people of our faith believe or how we should live - not as there was for the Pharisees. Christianity is expressed is so many different ways. So who could Jesus be eating with that would shock today's Christians? I think it depends on the Christian. Which means, anyone could be shocking. Anyone. People that shock me would not shock my neighbor. Perhaps that is the point. Stop being shocked. Jesus loves us all. And love in a way that comes in for dinner, acting as guest, showing true love and acceptance. Perhaps living out a model of this love means not pointing out flaws, but living alongside. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

You are my people

HOSEA 2:16-23

16On that day, says the LORD, you will call me, "My husband," and no longer will you call me, "My Baal." 17For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be mentioned by name no more. 18I will make for you a covenant on that day with the wild animals, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I will make you lie down in safety. 19And I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. 20I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the LORD. 21On that day I will answer, says the LORD, I will answer the heavens and they shall answer the earth; 22and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel; 23and I will sow him for myself in the land. And I will have pity on Lo-ruhamah, and I will say to Lo-ammi, "You are my people"; and he shall say, "You are my God."

As I am engaged, I loved reading the imagery of God taking God's people as a wife. I am learning during this engagement period what all married people know and what has been said many times over: that choice is a constant in covenant. You make the ultimate choice up front and then you choose each and every day to follow it through. What makes it great is the choosing. The constant saying yes when no is always an option. God says the perpetual yes to us all, with each transgression and every bad hair day. All the times we are short and careless with our tongues, all the times we are ugly and distrustful. And we can choose to say the yes back.

Monday, October 1, 2012

For God alone my soul waits in silence


1   For God alone my soul waits in silence; 
          from him comes my salvation. 
2   He alone is my rock and my salvation, 
          my fortress; I shall never be shaken.

3   How long will you assail a person, 
          will you batter your victim, all of you, 
          as you would a leaning wall, a tottering fence? 
4   Their only plan is to bring down a person of prominence. 
          They take pleasure in falsehood; 
     they bless with their mouths, 
          but inwardly they curse.                                             Selah

5   For God alone my soul waits in silence, 
          for my hope is from him. 
6   He alone is my rock and my salvation, 
          my fortress; I shall not be shaken. 
7   On God rests my deliverance and my honor; 
          my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.

During a run today, I was struggling to imagine how I would get through all twelve miles and had a generally sour attitude to the whole thing. For whatever reason, I said a little prayer for God to reveal to me as I ran, and I had this little conversation: "I'm sure I can see beauty on this run if I ask God to show me." Then I instantly re-thought, "I don't know why I expect that-- we're in the city, and it's harder to see beauty here." But then I heard, "Are you kidding? Look at the all the people. Where else can you see such beauty?" When my soul is silent on its own, it can either turn to joy or sorrow, thankfulness or criticism. It can hear truth or lies, and it's hard to distinguish between. If I can just remember that what my soul really longs for is God- love, the source of life, peace, and truth, then its worth waiting in the silence. And I shall never be shaken. Even when I am.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Awake my soul

1   My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; 
          I will sing and make melody.
          Awake, my soul!
2   Awake, O harp and lyre!
          I will awake the dawn.
3   I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples,
          and I will sing praises to you among the nations.
4   For your steadfast love is higher than the heavens,
          and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

I don't like getting up in the mornings. Actually, let me amend that. I don't like waking up before my body naturally awakens. And my body argues with my work schedule, which dictates getting up at 7:00am. I tend to hit the snooze alarm a few times, grumble, and then spend much time rubbing my eyes. Going to bed earlier helps a bit, but not entirely as I simply do not want to get up until I'm fully prepared. Preparation is important. I can help this process of preparation by waking up slowly and waking up well. My day starts better when I incorporate stretching to prepare my body for movement, and best when I incorporate devotions to prepare my soul for the same...yet a few extra moments of sleep often seems to call more fervently. In reading the Psalm this morning, I was struck by the cry to awake the soul. How I need to submit that plea to God each and every day! If I start my day with a request to awaken my soul, how different would that day be? I don't want to spiritually sleep-walk through my physically waking hours, but I think that has often been the case. Awake, my soul. Awake. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Should I stay or should I go...thoughts on moving and purpose

LUKE 4:38-44

38After leaving the synagogue he entered Simon's house. Now Simon's mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked him about her. 39Then he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. Immediately she got up and began to serve them.
40As the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various kinds of diseases brought them to him; and he laid his hands on each of them and cured them. 41Demons also came out of many, shouting, "You are the Son of God!" But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Messiah.
42At daybreak he departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowds were looking for him; and when they reached him, they wanted to prevent him from leaving them. 43But he said to them, "I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose." 44So he continued proclaiming the message in the synagogues of Judea.

I find it a struggle to choose between building roots and staying open to the Spirit, movable, flexible. I think there is a time and place for each and I have had to remind myself of this anytime I get the whim to move on when I know in my soul I am meant to stay or the desire to stay when I know I must move. I have never been good at making decisions but I have learned that God will help me - in ways that never seem obvious, or come at the times I want them to - but I always really know, in some way, which way I am being led. If I am open to the Spirit. If I am constant in prayer and seeking. When I realize my purpose - or at least take baby steps forward trusting that I am living it out to the best of my ability, I find that God is faithful and I can trust the feelings that guide me. Others may complain and want me to stay, or maybe want me to leave, but we are called for a purpose, and that does not always align with logic or the will of the crowd.

Friday, September 28, 2012

For how can I bear to see the calamity

Reassured by a comment I just saw on my last post (close to a year ago!) that Sabbath is important in any area of life, and inspired by my own desire to become more dedicated in prayer and devotionals, I figured I would try once again to keep the musings coming. Looking back on past posts, it is interesting to reflect on how much has changed. I have in fact, become a pastor, though not in the particularly traditional sense. I run a program in a county jail, where I stay so busy I often lack time for reflection - which I know to be key in any ministry. I think I will be more dedicated to 1) reading the lectionary every day and 2) incorporating writing into my life if I commit to reflecting upon my daily readings in a semi-public way, if even in just a few lines. So here goes.

ESTHER 8:1-8, 15-17
1On that day King Ahasuerus gave to Queen Esther the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews; and Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had told what he was to her. 2Then the king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. So Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.
3Then Esther spoke again to the king; she fell at his feet, weeping and pleading with him to avert the evil design of Haman the Agagite and the plot that he had devised against the Jews. 4The king held out the golden scepter to Esther, 5and Esther rose and stood before the king. She said, "If it pleases the king, and if I have won his favor, and if the thing seems right before the king, and I have his approval, let an order be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote giving orders to destroy the Jews who are in all the provinces of the king. 6For how can I bear to see the calamity that is coming on my people? Or how can I bear to see the destruction of my kindred?" 7Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to the Jew Mordecai, "See, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows, because he plotted to lay hands on the Jews. 8You may write as you please with regard to the Jews, in the name of the king, and seal it with the king's ring; for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king's ring cannot be revoked."
15Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king, wearing royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown and a mantle of fine linen and purple, while the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. 16For the Jews there was light and gladness, joy and honor. 17In every province and in every city, wherever the king's command and his edict came, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a festival and a holiday. Furthermore, many of the peoples of the country professed to be Jews, because the fear of the Jews had fallen upon them.

Esther took great personal risk in sticking out her neck for the Jews, her people. As she cries, "how can I bear to see the calamity that is coming on my people?," I wonder how often I have struggled with the same question. How we all hate to see those we love in pain or danger! Yet, I live a privileged life where my inner circles are not frequently at great risk. The question ultimately becomes, who are our people? Our family? Our friends? Neighbors? Those who share our culture/faith/country/shopping habits? As Christians, aren't we told that we are grafted into the family of God? By adoption, we are all brothers and sisters. Yes, all. So what do we do when we see calamity coming on our family, our people? Those of different economic situations, of different lifestyles, in different countries, of different beliefs? I think the problem is that we often we don't see. We live far too segregated lives. Working at the jail I have the honor of being welcomed into the lives of those who are separated from society by design. I hear people's stories-- difficult ones. Stories that often invite me into holy ground. And yet it makes me realize how much calamity I am missing. Who is seeing the calamity of the victims? When do I truly see the plight of the oppressed? If we all saw and felt the pain and destruction of all our brothers and sisters, we also would not be able to bear the calamity. How could we bear it? We would have to fight. Take risks. Many do: whether in small ways or large. But it is so much easier to fall into a place of distance, and forget. Because it takes effort to seek out those so unlike us. It is painful to open ourselves to the pain. And yet that is what Jesus invites us into-- an incarnational faith. One that calls us to walk alongside our brothers and sisters...not just those nearest and most like us, but the cast out, the marginalized. And I think when we do, we can remember that we are not alone. God will be with us. The one who will ultimately restore...the one who provides "light and gladness, joy and honor."

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Well, this word of the day thing didn't last very long...! So, as I contemplate failure over the next several days, I will yet again take a respite from this blog. Maybe I should retire it altogether? 50 in 50 has a purpose. But the purpose of this one is...? Maybe that is at the heart of failure. Lack of purpose. Thoughts?

Is anyone out there?