"And may the gracious care of the Lord our God be ours;
prosper the work of our hands for us!
Prosper the work of our hands!"
Our hands are very busy right now, aren't they? Families, students and teachers getting back to school. Many hands are harvesting the gifts of the earth we will all enjoy throughout the winter. Our hands are busy, Lord, please help us to do it all with you and for you! We pray for all those whose hands may be idle due to illness, injury or the loss of work. We pray for all those whose hands are folded in prayer due to terrible life circumstances and suffering. We look around and can feel so worried and fearful about our world, and yet, know that you, Lord, carry us in your Hands. Help our hands to prosper, sure, but also help us to roll up our sleeves and put our hands to work, helping to heal our hurting world. Love, heidi
"Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing."
Ouch! This must be what people mean when they talk about having a "Come to Jesus" talk, right? Jesus calls it like he sees it, and we may cheer from the sidelines as he gives it to the scribes and Pharisees, but should we be cheering? These self-righteous tassel-lengtheners seem to be so obviously in the wrong as they are called out by Jesus. But, rather than throwing stones at them we maybe want to look at our own lives and make sure our insides match our outsides. Even as we profess to follow Jesus, white-washing our outsides, do we harbor prejudices and attitudes on the inside that don't match up? Let's put away the pom poms and spend some time sitting and talking with Jesus about this in our own lives. And, as we may feel a bit chastened, we can be grateful that our merciful and marvelous God still loves the dickens out of us! Thanks be God! Love, heidi
"Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know the whole of it."
And, since this is true, O Lord, could you please keep me from saying it? All too often, it seems, I say the wrong thing, think about it later, and cringe. Just last week I had a very cringe-worthy experience with a health care worker and, in my head, was mired in the encounter for days afterward (who am kidding? I'm still upset about it!) When we are "in the moment" of an issue we just talk, perhaps not giving as much thought as to what we should say or how we are being perceived while saying it. I guess it's reassuring to know that God knows what's about to come out of our mouths, but I sure wish God would control my tongue a bit more vigorously! Lord, you know everything about me, including my tendency to speak before thinking. Please help me slow down and really consider what I'm saying; help me to be kind and loving to others. Wrestle with my tongue, if you have to, but please, help me to be a better witness of you when I speak! Love, heidi
"Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."
I had a lovely Silent Sunday to devour this reading and it was rich and chewy! Jesus' followers are finding his message in John 6 about eating his flesh and drinking his blood a little too hard to swallow (sorry), and they were leaving and returning to their old lives. Jesus then asks Peter and a few others they plan to leave, too. That's when Peter says, "Master, to whom shall we go?" Our homily Saturday night was about keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus and, thus, finding our way through those times of doubt and difficulty. I can totally relate to that, remembering my times of difficulty with the Church. It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I have struggled with the institutional Church, but when confronted with going to another church, my answer has always been similar to Peter's, "where else could I go?" The answer for me is the same as the answer for Peter: keep your gaze fixed on Jesus. Even as Peter attempted to walk on the sea, beckoned by Jesus, he stayed upright as long as his gaze was fixed on Jesus. When he looked down, he faltered and realized his fear. So, no matter what troubles us, beguiles us, causes us difficulty and doubt, let's keep our eyes focused on Jesus, who will help us weather any storm. Love, heidi