Friday, January 26, 2018

God's grace and purpose...

"God saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began."
2 Timothy 1:9

Pray-As-You-Go used this last verse in the reading today, while the US version stops at verse 8. This is my favorite part of the reading, though.  Paul tells Timothy (and us) that it isn't about us and our works, but about what God can do through us, with God's grace and purpose. It's so easy to get caught up in the economy of us spinning around in prayer circles so God will give us what we want. Or us praying enough that God will like us and reward us someday. Paul reminds us that it isn't what we do, it's only about what God does and until we can let go of our Me-ness we miss the Good News all together. God gives and gives and gives us more and more, not because we earn it or deserve it but because God loves us, the same today as before the world began. The Good News is that we are good and God loves us. It's that simple.  Or is it? We find it hard to be on the receiving end of a gift not earned, so I guess it's hard.  Sometime this weekend, let's sit still and just bask in God's love! Let's soak in it like a warm bubble bath. Let's melt into it and let it cover us. And then, let's go out and share it! Love, heidi

Thursday, January 25, 2018

What shall I do, Sir?

"I asked, 'What shall I do, Sir?'"
Acts 22:10

St. Paul reminds us that we are definitely changed when we encounter Jesus. Paul was literally knocked-off-his-feet changed and we may be changed less dramatically. But if we are not changed, we have not encountered Jesus.  Paul also seems to realize that the change just isn't in belief or mental, but the change must manifest in our actions. "What shall I do, Sir?" Paul asks. Not What shall I think or believe? We don't just believe in Jesus, we DO Jesus, by our actions and attitudes. How do we DO that? By loving like Jesus. By scooping up those on the fringe and in the margins and loving them, not based on what they can do for us, but because they are lovable children of God. We are all brothers and sisters,  and together,  we are God's beloved. If one of us is hungry, we all feel the hunger pangs. If one of us is persecuted, we all feel the sting. We are not Us and Them, but just Us, God's beloved. Today, as we go about our late January Thursday, let our actions in our world reflect that we have had a loving encounter with Jesus. We are changed by this loving encounter and the world needs to feel it, too. Love, heidi

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Jesus' family...

"For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."
Mark 3:35

I have usually felt that, rather than dissing his blood family in this passage, Jesus is including all throughout history who would follow his path of love.  And that includes all from every creed who do the will of God--which is loving others. No matter what our station or task in life is, we are to do it with love for others.  There were many more defined lines of service when I was growing up. I remember my dad telling me that priests and nuns were giving up their lives to God, for God's service. But now I see that anyone who does whatever they do with love is living in God's service and doing God's will. It sounds easy, but we all know it isn't at all. It's hard loving people sometimes! Clearly, in our world, there seems to be a definite shortage of love. I could go off on retreat for days to discern what the will of God may be for me, but, in reality, it is all very simple. God's will is that we love each other. Which means caring for each other's needs with compassion and mercy. Sharing God's love in this world is God's will for our lives and places us right in Jesus' family of brothers and sisters. Love, heidi

Monday, January 22, 2018

Love what we don't understand...

"The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus, 'He is possessed by Beelzebul,' and 'By the prince of demons he drives out demons.'"
Mark 3: 22

When people don't understand something they usually go straight to fear. The scribes were perplexed by Jesus, he was so out of the box. So they slapped a label on him and soothed themselves into thinking that he was the one out of line. We do this all the time, don't we? We don't understand the culture of another, it makes us uncomfortable, we condemn it. We don't understand an individual's actions, they make us uncomfortable, we slap on a label that may give us some kind of comfort. We tell ourselves we have it all figured out. We place ourselves back in control of what we don't understand. But what if we cannot control what we don't understand? And what if we refrain from labeling and soothing ourselves into some illusion of comfort? What if we accept discomfort? What if we just allow ourselves to not understand the ways of God? We cannot, for the life of us, understand the immensity of God's love for us. We can't figure that out so we find ways to justify ourselves or we find actions we can do to earn God's love. We would be further ahead just to take fifteen minutes, unplug, light a candle, and sit with God, basking in this vast love we cannot comprehend. God loves us because God does. And nothing we do can change that. We'll never understand it, but we can relish it and soak ourselves in it. And try to love each other better, whether we understand each other or not. Love, heidi