Friday, July 24, 2015

Taking God's name in vain...

"You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain..."
Exodus 20:7
Today's first reading is a list of the commandments and it could be worthwhile to read the whole thing (Exodus 20:-17) and ponder which ones we struggle with the most.  The reflection in "Give Us This Day" really made me think this morning and I am so grateful for the gift.  I tend to think of taking God's name in vain literally; peppering my speech with "God this" or "Good God that."  Farmer and author Clarence Jordan writes in his reflection that taking God's name in vain is actually being "unchanged by the grace of God."  Those church people who play by the rules but have no love for others behind their playing the church game.  Like the Pharisees in Jesus' time, they may be doing it all correctly, but are they just fulfilling their Sunday obligation or paying their "fire insurance," as Richard Rohr puts it?   Are they putting God's name out there with love and compassion? Or are they just looking out for themselves? We are misusing God's name if we are just sitting in church for our own gain.  If our lives are truly changed by the grace of God we recognize the mission to love others and share God's grace with everyone.  This commandment much less about our speech and much more about how we live our lives. Powerful food for thought, Friends!  Love, heidi

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Lessons from Mary Magdalene

"Jesus said to her, 'Mary!' She turned and said to him, 'Rabbouni.' which means Teacher..."
John 20:16
What can we, twenty-first century dwellers, learn from first century Mary Magdalene, on her feast day? Well, first, we can follow her example of devotion to Jesus. She and a handful of women were there, at the foot of Jesus' cross, long after all but one of the fellows had fled.  Her devotion to Jesus didn't end there, either, as she went to the tomb early in the morning, with the plan of anointing Jesus' body.  Not even his death could keep her from loving him. We can learn to open our eyes and look for Jesus in the most unusual places, too. At first Mary didn't recognize Jesus there in the garden, but she was open to hearing him call her by name, "Mary!" We can listen, too, for the voice of Jesus in all the people we encounter today. And finally, she wasn't afraid to proclaim Jesus risen and alive to a doubting world.  She had courage to exclaim the seemingly impossible...Jesus is alive and risen! Mary teaches us devotion to Jesus, keeping our eyes open to seeing Jesus, and proclaiming Jesus to a waiting world.  Let's get out there and do it today!  Love, heidi

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Good question!

"As the water flowed back, it covered the chariots and charioteers of Pharaoh's whole army that had followed the children of Israel into the sea. Not a single one escaped."
Exodus 14:28

As I listened to this reading on Pray-As-You-Go this morning, I found myself feeling sad for the lost Egyptians.  When the reflection began, following the reading, the reader said, "You may find yourself feeling sorry for the Egyptians..."  It's like they read my mind!  Why did I feel badly for the Egyptians? I've heard this reading since I was a young child and can only remember cheering as the Good Guys escape the Bad Guys.  I wonder if, as I get older, I'm finally recognizing the value of all life.  The lines between the Good guys and Bad guys seem blurrier. The question on PAYG went on to ask if there are any situations in our lives where we feel captive or enslaved, like the Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians.  Is there anything, anyone, or any situation that keeps us from feeling like a beloved, free child of God? That's a great question that can distract me a bit from picturing all those dead Egyptians washing up on the shore.  What about us? What in our lives keeps us from being free? Can we take that God and ponder it on a summer Tuesday? Love, heidi

Monday, July 20, 2015

Another day, another crowd

 "When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd..."
Mark 6:34
Perhaps the last thing Jesus wanted to see as he stepped out of that boat was a "vast crowd." Earlier in this Gospel he had said to the apostles, "Come away by yourselves..." (v. 31) They thought they'd slipped away unnoticed, was this crowd. Jesus recognized the "lost-ness" of the crowd. They needed a shepherd--him.  They needed him. He saw that and responded by "teaching them many things" (v. 34). Jesus teaches us, too, all we will ever need to be  good disciples. He teaches us to see and attend to the needs of others around us. There are times we must put ourselves and our own needs aside, pitch in, and help. This is so hard for me! I'd much rather take Jesus up on his offer to "Come away by yourself!" Let others take care of the suffering, shepherd-less masses, I'm no good at that anyway! And, what do you think the apostles said as they climbed out of the boat, into the midst of the needy throng? Perhaps just like us, on a Monday morning as we head back to work, "Here we go again." Love, heidi