Friday, April 26, 2013

Free to be me!

"Freedom in Christ produces a healthy independence from peer pressure, people-pleasing, and the bondage of human respect."
Brennan Manning, "The Ragamuffin Gospel"

I had to do a double-take on that last one. The respect of other humans is something we all strive for, isn't it? I must admit that so much of what I do and how I live is to obtain and retain the respect of other people. I want to be liked and well-thought of! But that is somewhat a bondage. I certainly cannot control what others think of me. And yet, if that is where I get my self-esteem and affirmation, I could be sorely disappointed! Others will think of me what they think of me. I shouldn't be as concerned about that as I am rejoicing in God's love for me, just as I am. Now, that doesn't give me a free ticket to be a hooligan! But it frees me up to be myself--the real me--faults, foibles and all. As an only child of older adults, I learned early how to converse with adults, impress adults, and, yes, please adults. And I've been honing my skills ever since. And, admittedly, not so much for the glory of God! I need this healthy independence from peer pressure, I certainly do! Let's think about why we do the good we it for God's glory or our own? Is it impress our peers or get a pat on the back? Ponderous thoughts for a spring weekend! Bless yours! Love, heidi

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sing joyfully!

"Happy the people who know you, Lord, who walk in the radiance of your face. In your name they sing, joyfully all the day; at your victory they raise the festal shout."
Psalm 89:16-17

Given the Good News that we believe as Christians, we should really be happy all the time! Brennan Manning quotes Robert Hotchkins from the University of Chicago who states, "Christians ought to be celebrating constantly." (The Ragamuffin Gospel) The difference between happiness and joy is that happiness seems to come from the outside while joy resides within. We can be happy in situations, when things fall into place and go our way. But we can hang onto our inner joy even when things seem to be falling apart around us. The joy we have within comes from our relationship with God...the home-within-our-hearts where Jesus lives. We may have a happy day or a miserable day, but with Jesus with us our response to either is to sing joyfully and raise the festal shout! That may seem ridiculously hard to do on a bad day, I realize! But we are Easter people who know the Lord. We know that our salvation has been won for us and that we are loved immeasurably. That should surely put a smile on our faces, no matter how the day goes! Love, heidi

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

God, surprise us!

"The Father and I are one."
John 10:30

This must have been so disturbing to the people of Jesus' time! And why? Because they thought they had God all figured out. They had a long history of relationship with God and this really didn't fit into their image of God. The prophets had foretold the coming of the Messiah, but this guy didn't seem to fit the bill. Who could blame them, really? Just when they were so comfortable with God, this Jesus comes along and stirs up this hornet's nest...saying he and God are one. It points out the problem we often have, too, of confining God to what we think God should be. Maybe it is because of the way we were raised, our spiritual education, our ancestor's experience. Or maybe it is because of the way we want God to behave. But the fact is, God is God. The whole New Testament is God being astounding, surprising, knocking convention on its ear. If we believe in the New Testament, we can believe that God cannot be confined or contained. As much as we know about God, we don't know it all about God and that still leaves God lots of room to surprise us! And thanks-be-to-God for that! Love, heidi

Monday, April 22, 2013

So good, so good, so good...

"Good times never seemed so good, so good, so good."
Richard Penniman and Neil Diamond,"Sweet Caroline"
After all the tragedy and sad news last week I decided to concentrate on good news...the positive and heart-warming stories that always come out of the difficult times. It didn't take long for me to find too many to list here. There was the Boston Jewish synagogue, Temple Israel, who opened their doors to Trinity Episcopal Church, whose church was part of the bomb scene. The Trinity folks were able to have their Sunday services inside the Synagogue yesterday. Beautiful. There is the father-son running team of Dick and his disabled son, Rick Hoyt, who were participating in what they thought would be their last marathon, hanging it up after thirty years. Yesterday, they said they would come back once more--next year's Boston Marathon. There were the employees at Forum, a bar/restaurant right there near the bomb site, whose employees stayed, comforted and cared for the victims, bringing them into the bar, out of harm's way. There are stories of love, loss and human compassion--too many to list. But, one of my favorites is the one about Neil Diamond showing up at the Red Sox game Saturday to lead the crowd in the singing of "Sweet Caroline," their eighth inning ritual. I watched, teary, as he pointed to the crowd and let them take over the song. With incredible spirit, the crowd boisterously interjected the customary, "So good, so good, so good!" It struck me as a real sign of hope for all of us. After a week like last week it would seem hard to sing "so good." But we can learn from Boston and know better. Love, heidi