Joesph’s Gift-A Lenten Devotion

Every morning, if at all possible, I gather with others at our church to do our morning office. Each day we begin our office with the Angelus.

About a year ago, I was told I was no longer welcome to participate in a local ministry at a state school for girls. The primary reason I was told was that I told a young Hispanic girl that it was okay for her to pray and ask for Mary to advocate for her. I was told this was not accepted by the majority of Christians.

Some people can be so ignorant and arrogant in their prejudicial beliefs. The majority of Christian throughout history have asked Mary to pray for them now and at the hour of their death.

Joseph desired to take Mary as his wife, but when he found out that she was pregnant he planned to divorce her quietly. Then God intervened.  An angel was the messenger and like his young bride, Joesph was faithful and willing to obey.

When we pray the Angelus, we do not invoke the name of Mary. We do remember who she is and what she did. We do believe she is with her Son and that she and all the other saints do advocate for us. It is not heresy or idolatry to pray and ask for this advocation. It is understanding Mary is special, just as Joesph did, and making her a part of our spiritual lives and Christian homes.

Thank you, Joesph, for your faith. Thank you for your example.

Harder than It Seems-Lenten Devotion

Luke 6:36-38

Forgiveness, this is the centerpiece action of Biblical belief. We are told, and should believe, that we commit actions that offend God. God wants to forgive us. God has provided a way in Jesus his son for us to be forgiven.

We are also told we should forgive others. This is part of the Lord’s prayer. Our failure to forgive puts our security, our salvation, our beliefs into question. So we forgive, right?

But then those thoughts begin to rise. Thoughts of holding others accountable. Thoughts of what we might be able to do, say, or hope that might even the score just a little. Thoughts that have nothing to do with forgiveness and everything to do with what we think is just, or right, or ought to be. Thoughts that are hard to stop or eliminate.

If we have such thoughts, have we really forgiven? Have we followed the model of God by putting the wrong away as far as the east is from the west? Forgiveness is harder than it seems. In many ways, it is a process. Forgiveness requires the disciple of spiritual replacement. Thoughts about the perceived or actual wrong must be replaced with thoughts of love. This takes emotional and spiritual work. It requires reflection, recognition, repeat repentance and replacement.

This work is aided by our Lenten focus. When we remember what God has done for us, how God has forgiven us, we should be inspired to do the work of forgiveness in our own lives. I believe we will find it worth the effort, no matter how hard it may be.

It’s Lent-What Do I Ask For?

Matthew 7:7-12

Ask and you will receive. Wow, did Jesus really say this? Yes, Jesus did!

I wonder how many people have taken this verse and asked for things like money, houses, girlfriends or boyfriends, a new job, or any of many other things that they think are important to their being happy? And I wonder how many of them considered God a liar when they did not get what they asked for?

There are some who hold to a modern day heresy of a “name it, claim it” pseudo-theology who use this verse as a proof text. Perhaps many of the TV preacher who promote this shallow, deceptive and false way of thinking get what they want by duping their listeners into sending them money. I really do feel sorry for such deceived and empty souls. Note that this verse says God will give. It does say when God will give them to us.

What if God gives us what we ask for as we stand before the divine presence giving an account for our lives. The word “given” in the language the Bible was written in means it will be obtained at a later time. What if one was given the money only to realize just how petty, how foolish, how condemning such a request was for all of eternity?

Ask and you will receive. These words scare me. What in the world would I dare ask of God except that I do not have to account for all the things I have done that deserve the most severe punishment imagined?

Yet, I find these words spoken by Jesus in a time when he is instructing his disciples on how to live a life pleasing to God. He speaks to them about things that please God, about behaviors God accepts and rejects. These are words spoke to disciples. Disciples are individuals who are learning how to fulfill God’s greatest desire to share love with them and to have them share this love with their neighbors.

If I love someone and they are willing to fulfill my deepest desire, would I not want most of all for that desire to be centered on them?  I think this would be the best request.

It is Lent, a time of preparation, a time of remembering the price Jesus paid, a time to exam our lives in the light of God’s holiness and love. So, what do I ask for?

Lenten Devotion from the Lectio

Luke 11:29-32

Something greater! Awareness blindness is a terrible malady of the soul. It is a spiritual sickness that can cheat us out of years of joy. It can break our hearts, limit our purpose, stifle our growth and damage our relationships.

Awareness blindness happens when a great opportunity, a profound truth or need, a vital connection is missed because we are too arrogant or ignorant to see it when it is right before us. Awareness blindness is cartooned in the tale of an old fish asking two young fish, “How’s the water?” The young fish ask each other, “What is water?”

God became a man and walked among people who had been promised God’s coming for centuries. Even with all prophecies and promised, many, many, many of them did not recognize who Jesus was or what his message meant. They had awareness blindness.
Every day, God gives us signs of truth that, vocatus atque non vocatus,deus aderit (bidden or unbidden, God is present).

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is being proclaimed. God is still sending messengers. The sign we should be looking for is not one we will see with our eyes, but the one that touches our hearts. Not a sign that creates certainty, but a sign that causes us to act in faith. This is something greater.

Lent Lectio Devotion March 12

I really do love to pray. I seek to find new ways of talking with God, new disciplines that can aid in my devotion and help me deal with my own nature and the external forces I struggle with.

I love the following quote from St. Teresa:

When I was crossing into Gaza, I was asked at the check-post whether I was carrying any weapons. I replied: “Oh yes, my prayer books.” Mother Teresa*

But our Lord warns us against prayer that is babble, that is formulated on the concept that prayer in a certain manner guarantees we will be heard.  The revelation of the entire Scripture makes it clear, God can, and has, turned the divine presence away from those whose prayers are self-serving or in any way an attempt at manipulation (magic).

Prayer must have a foundation in respect, in humility, and in a sincere outpour of our heart. God hears prayers when we are angry if our prayers are a sincere expressing of our pain and sense of injustice. God hears our prayers when we doubt, hears our prayers when we are places of darkness. We can beat our chest, use our beads, read our book, write our words, gaze lovingly at our icons, or simply empty our minds and God will listen depending on our heart.

The “Our Father” is a prayer filled with words of respect, of need, of fear, and of intercession. It is the model prayer given to us as an instrument to be spoken to our creator over and over.  It is a prayer that honors God. It is a prayer spoken to God by God thus it is truth and offers a path of sincerity if we but take its words seriously.

I do.

“Deliver us from evil,” I cry, while making the sign of the cross.

Amen.

 

*Pascoe, Sam C.. Our Anglican Heritage, Second Edition: Can an Ancient Church be a Church of the Future? (p. 30). Cascade Books, an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Lenten Lectio Devotion

Matthew 25:31-46

Every day of our lives we have the opportunity to act in a manner that brings happiness to our God. Every day we are given the chance to be blessed of God. And every day that we breathe, we are moving closer to the opportunity to inherit a kingdom God has prepared from the foundation of the earth for those who truly love God.

How do we love God? By loving God in others. Loving in both attitude and action.

Loving those who are hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, ill, or prisoners. In other words, loving people regardless of their circumstances. Loving people regardless of their poor choices. Loving people in spite of human laws and regulations.

Lent is meant to awaken the Christian consciousness.

There is not much I can do for the immigrants who are denied access to this country. However, I can do something. I can find a way to show love. I cannot do much about those who are incarcerated but I can do something. I can find a way to show love.

But I must be careful. These acts of love cannot come from a sense of superiority or from the “goodness” of my heart, for no good dwells in me. No, this love must come from my relationship with God. It must come from a growing desire to follow and become like Jesus. We must see Jesus in those who are marginalized and separated in our world.

The foundation of the kingdom that God has prepared is our faith, hope, and love of Jesus. He is the God with skin on that shows us just how much God loves us.

First Sunday of Lent Lectio Devotion

Luke 4:1-13

This is perhaps the most important lesson we can learn as we intentionally begin our journey seeking a deeper, more intimate, and effectively self-effacing relationship with our God and creator. The lesson concerns the reality of evil and the certainty of temptation. We are a big thing to God and the sentient powers and principalities understand this well.

Perhaps one of the best lessons I have learned is that we cannot prevent temptation in our minds. We will have tempting thoughts. We do however have the power to not dwell on those thoughts and thus limiting their influence in our lives. This is one of the gifts of engaging in contemplative prayer on a regular basis.

In contemplative prayer, one enters into the silence which begins as a desert to be crossed before we can be guided up the mountain. There is a river running through this desert that is the river of our thoughts. To not be taken in by the constant current of thoughts, a person must learn to let them go. A thought comes toward you, recognize it and let it flow on by. Temptations are but illusions of desire created either by our carnal desires or are demonically inspired. Either way, the only way they can influence us is if we dwell on them and allow them to travel with us. Let them go.

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Just as Jesus did, by the words, “Not my will Lord, but Thine.”