Friday, February 17, 2017

A believer or a follower be...

"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me."
Mark 8:34

What does this look like on our 21st century winter Friday?  Jesus calls us to follow him, not merely believe in him.  These are two completely different actions. Believing in Jesus just means you accept that he existed.  You may even acknowledge that he died for you and he is your Lord-and-Savior.  Relatively easy compare to being a follower of Jesus.  That's where the rubber means the road and it's much, much harder. If we are truly followers of Jesus we do what Jesus did. Jesus forgave people who were condemned in his culture. Jesus washed the feet of his friends AND those he knew would later do him harm. Jesus mingled with those he wasn't supposed to mingle with and made positive examples of foreigners and those cast out by his culture. Jesus welcomed strangers, ate with them and healed them. And how difficult in our day to do even one of these! I received a letter from one of our state senators, responding to my letter of disagreement with the Administration's recent travel ban and immigration policy. While I applauded the senator for responding (no one else did), I disagreed with his comment that the most important thing is to protect our country. No, sir, respectfully, the most important thing we are to do is follow Jesus. And that means denying oneself, welcoming and compassionately caring for the stranger.   For the complete list for how to be a follower of Jesus read Matthew 25:31-40.  It's a sobering list and we can only do it with Jesus' help! Love, heidi

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Not the end...

"He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders...and be killed, and rise again after three days."
Mark 8:31

Jesus foretells the end; how he must suffer and die.  What a shock for the disciples to hear that all they had worked for would end in Jesus' death (they probably didn't even hear the "rise again" part). No wonder Peter rebuked him! And what about us? How would we react if we sat down and had a conversation with Jesus about the end of our lives? Would we protest and say to Jesus, "Oh not that, Jesus! Not that way!" We wouldn't even hear the "rise again" part either. Death is not the end. The rainbow in Genesis (today's first reading, Genesis 9:1-13) should tell us that.  Death is not the end, especially our relationship with God. Death will mark a change for us, like moving into the next room, but it is not the end.  Jesus shocks the disciples when he talks about his death, but we know something they didn't at the time. We know he will be risen on the third day.  And, just as death wasn't the end for Jesus, it won't be the end for us either.  Love, heidi

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Deep healing...from the inside

"Then he laid hands on the man's eyes a second time and he saw clearly; his sight was restored and he could see everything distinctly."
Mark 8:25

There are so many wonderful nuggets to pull from this reading. I love that Jesus takes the blind man away from the crowd--even his own people who brought him to Jesus. Jesus wants to be alone with the man and wants to reach out and touch him. Jesus could have waved his hand to heal the guy, from a distance, but chose to take him away from the crowd, touch him and heal him in stages.  Our healing God is not remote or "out there" somewhere. Our God wants to take us away from our crowded lives to be alone with us. Our God desires an intimacy with us to physically comfort and heal us, not just to wave a healing hand. Because our God knows the healing goes much deeper than the surface need we may bring to God; God knows that healing may take time. We may think we want the instant fix, but, ultimately, a deeper healing may take more than one attempt.  Jesus wants to heal us, completely, into the whole and holy people God knows we are already.  To do that, God draws us to silence and solitude, away from our crowded lives. Jesus gently leads us into rich relationship, so that we may be healed from the inside. Love, heidi

Monday, February 13, 2017

God is just so good...

"My own sin will not hinder the working of God's goodness."
Julian of Norwich, "Christian Mystics," by Matthew Fox

In today's first reading, Genesis 4:1-15, 25, we meet the offspring of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel.  We know the story--Cain kills Abel due to jealousy; Abel's sacrifice was pleasing to God and, for some reason, Cain's was not.  God banishes Cain from his work tilling the soil and he is left to be a restless wanderer.  Similar to this truth from Julian of Norwich, Cain's murderous sin did not hinder the working of God's goodness.  God did not condemn Cain forever, rather, God put a mark on Cain to protect him from anyone who would have murderous thoughts against him.  God gave Cain a second chance, albeit with a new vocation, but a second chance was given.  What about us? If we ever have the notion that we are unlovable or not worthy of God's forgiveness and love, we must remember that anything we could ever do could not hinder God's good work.  We can help God by rolling up our sleeves, but our naughtiness cannot hinder God. God's goodness is just too good for that!  So, knowing that, let's get our there this February Monday and help in God's work of goodness in our world today.  What is God inviting us to do?  Love, heidi