A Journey Begins….

Today, a joined with a group of five to begin a journey, an adventure into the depths of God desire for a relationship, a true, intimate encounter with humans beings as God intended from the beginning.

Some of my fellow travelers have experienced difficulties in life and understand this journey will be challenging.  The others are aware of the challenges we likely will face and believe as I do the journey is worth the effort. I believe this small group has what is the most important character trait to accept the challenges we will most certainly face if we are to reach the top of the mountain.

So, each Tuesday we plan to gather and focus on wisdom that speaks to us from the past to help us go deeper into the desert that leads to the mountain where God speaks. I will seek to guide the group through the initial desert to the base of the mountain. When we reach the base, the Holy Spirit will be our primary guide as we seek to ascend to the place where God will is more easily discerned and our fellowship joins the divine dance which is the Trinity.

One this our first gathering, as we said the prayer to the Holy Spirit, I felt the need to change the way I have lead groups in the past. Instead of my leading the final part of the prayer, I ask the group to continue reading with me. This group is different than others I have led. This group has a spiritual maturity to it. This group is willing to join me in the priesthood of believers and fully participate in this journey/spiritual adventure. This will be a wonderful group to join with and grow with.

Amen……

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Brother Sickness and Sister Morality

Several weeks ago I walk to the front of the church before the altar and had my priest make a cross of ashes on my forehead and remind me that I am mortal. From ashes, I came and from ashes, I will return.

It is one thing to be reminded of your mortality through a ritual of grace and quite another to reminded by the words of your doctor that if you do not go to the hospital now, you will die. When facing the possibly imminent demise of your mortal body, the reality of death has the power to call you to think about the journey of life you have traveled. It also can remind you of how far you have to go.

Death is no longer my enemy to be feared. Death no longer can force me into denial.  I have an assurance, a confidence that comes from God who loves me no matter how much I have been the prodigal in my life.

I am slowing moving toward the state of being an old fool and that is what I most hope to obtain. I am still struggling to fight against attacks from my past. I still must catch myself and repent of thought and work to replace them with acts of penance and love. I still am letting go of things however I am enjoying more and more the true happiness of contemplation and the sweet consolations of the whispers of acceptance God sends my way.

Tomorrow, I will likely leave the hospital. My brush with pneumonia and sepsis is passing and I am again able to breathe without struggle or pain. I am thankful to my doctor and the wonderful hospital staff who helped my body fight this fight. I am thankful to my priest who came, anointed and prayed. I am also reluctantly thankful to Brother sickness for giving me the time to allow silence and rest give me an opportunity to contemplate on what is important. Amen

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I Will Not ARGUE with You- Lectio

John 8:12-20

I really hate to get into arguments with people I love and care about. As I read today’s Scripture passage I get the feeling that Jesus did as well. Now as much as I hate getting into arguments, I am aware there are people who live to argue. They thrive on the tension, the perceived competition, and the emotion that can come when people enter into a war with words.

Jesus makes the most positive statement, “I am the light of the world.” Jesus follows this statement with one that is as much an invitation as it is a statement of fact. But there are those who want to challenge, to debate, to argue the point. Those in dispute with Jesus use an argument from authority. “What testimony is there to back up what you are saying?” they challenge.

Jesus answers them, not for the purpose of winning a debate, but to offer an apology that speaks to the heart of problem those who oppose Jesus. They think they know Jesus, they think they know God, and so they really are not interested in the truth, just pressing the argument.

I feel certain that Jesus was exasperated with them. If they would but listen to Jesus, really listen, then their own hearts would testify to the truth of what Jesus was sayings. But instead, they were too busy projecting their own darkness upon Jesus so they had no chance of seeing the light.

Jesus was not there to argue with them, but to guide them to the relationship that had been looking for but always falling short. Jesus words come in agreement with the words of the Father. Jesus words come with the validity of a relationship and commitment of words desiring to lift up, renew and restore. Arguments seldom do any of these things.

A commitment not to argue is a difficult one. The commitment to speak the truth in love requires focus and discipline. It requires looking at all people differently. I pray I can come to live with such an expectation of myself.

Simply Time-a Lenten Lectio devotion

John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

In the Book of Ecclesiastes, the Scripture reveals that “There is a time and purpose for everything under heaven. John reveals while Jesus was in Jerusalem for the feast of Tabernacles, he was not arrested “because his hour had not yet come.”

Being a human being means that we are bound by time. We are prisoners of the present. We cannot go back and change our past neither can we go forward to know our future. We can guess, dream, worry, or even ignore, but we cannot change or experience what is to be until our hour comes.

We cannot influence time, but God can and does. We may be haunted by a past full of problems. God can make that past as though it never was. We may be unsure of what will happen tomorrow. God can give us assurance all is well and all will be well.

Amen, Amen – Lenten Lectio Devotion

John 5:17-30

This morning, during Morning Prayer, I will recite the Apostle’s Creed. This means I will start off with the words I believe. This beginning, this personal pronoun, and action verb join together to form a commitment, a ground of being for me.

As a man, fully human, Jesus had beliefs, he had beliefs that anchored him to his mission. He had beliefs he proclaimed with a confidence greater than mere certainty. Jesus as God, fully divine, brought faith to humanity that would become the essence, the foundation, the ultimate truth upon which we could make the statement, “I believe.”

Amen, Amen, Jesus says when he speaks about the relationship he as the Son has with his Father. Amen, Amen, Jesus says when he speaks about life and death, about the reality of the resurrection and lies beyond. Amen, Amen, Jesus says, and so I believe.

Today I will seek to do my best to live in this world. I will struggle with own nature. I will seek to do my part in the regularity of this life. I will seek the presence of my Lord and strive to find as much time as I can to give God my thoughts and prayers. Amen, Amen, I will hope to say because of what God, what Jesus, has said to me this morning.

Amen, Amen.

He Did Not Know-Lenten Lectio devotion

John 5:1-16

The man who was healed did not know who it was…..

I have been reading a wonderful book on confession. I was surprised and amazed to find out that the sacrament of confession is more about healing than it is about forgiveness.  Confession is not about making a list of the actions we feel were wrong, but about healing the damage done by the sickness of sin in our lives. It is about healing the damaged relationship we have with God.

Time after time we put ourselves in situations which damage our relationship with God. The whole world is in this situation. Yet in the midst of this ocean of human failure and folly, the power of the incarnate God stirs things up. From the pool of our Lord’s passion comes more than just hope, but the opportunity to experience transforming healing in our lives. At first, we might not understand that this agent of change comes from the mercy of our Lord.

The truth is that the only good in this world is good given by God. The world we live in is not concerned with good. It is interested in pleasure, in personal seeming self-satisfaction, and with those things that allow us to consider ourselves “good” and others as “bad”.

The man who was healed, who did not know who it was who healed him, was carrying likely his only possession his mat with him and this was perceived by the religious as bad. These same people considered the man’s healing as “bad” because it was done on a Sabbath day. They were “good” because they pointed this out.

Jesus finds the man, identifies himself and then gives the man so excellent advice. You have been healed. You are well. Don’t do those things that could make you worse off than you were. Sin always does exactly this. The man responses by giving witness to the one who has healed him. He goes and tells what Jesus has done.

Can we follow his example?

Approval/Validity versus Purpose -a Lenten Lectio devotion

Luke 15:1-3,11-32

For the last couple of days, I have been lost in a fog of non-productivity. This always happens when a pathogen decides to take up residence in my body. When I get sick from a virus or bacteria, I usually get a fever followed by an “I don’t want to do anything” attitude. So much for excuses for not blogging.

The story of the Prodigal son is a story told over and over. Likely, many people who have no belief in God whatsoever know this story. It has been taught, preached on, studied, and picked apart by scholars from every potential angle.

The lessons derived from the parable are always someway related to how a father’s love for his son can demonstrate the power of forgiveness. Yet forgiveness does not change the events of the story. Forgiveness can only give it a seemingly happy ending.

This is not a simple story. Jesus tells this parable in the context of answering criticism as to why Jesus eats and enjoys the presence of people who are not socially acceptable to the regular religious folk of the day. It seems, in the eyes of Jesus’s critics, to eat and fellowship with people is to approve of their lifestyle, to give validity to their choices.

I believe the purpose of the parable was to put forth one central teaching. I believe it was told to remind Jesus’s critics of the essence of the covenant. That essence is God’s desire to be chosen by the chosen.

“if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chr. 7:14 NRS)

We do not know how many of the “sinners” Jesus fellowshipped with actually came to their senses, realized their spiritual poverty, and returned to God. What we are told is that God hopes. God makes covenants as promises demonstrating God’s desire. Every covenant God makes comes out of God’s very nature, a nature revealed as love.

Do you wonder whatever happened to the prodigal son in the story? Did he ever reconcile with this brother? Did he face any consequences for his actions? Was he ever troubled by guilt? Did he learn from his mistakes? Was he changed by his father’s love?

These questions are not answerable using the text. Maybe they are questions we get to answer for ourselves.