Friday, 28 April 2017
"I ask for the grace to pray and meditate regularly. I ask for patience, tolerance, gentleness, empathy, and compassion. I ask to abstain from anger, anxiety, compulsive behaviour, discouragement, arrogance, and self-importance. I ask to know and follow Jesus more closely, seeking justice, loving kindness and walking humbly."
21that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us,* so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
25 ‘Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. 26I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.’
1) "...that they may all be one;" "...believe;" "...glory;" "...they may be one;" "...we are one;" "...I in them and you in me," "...completely one;" "...the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."
2) "I in them and you in me, that they may be completely one." John, of all the gospel writers is the most explicit about the difficulty in explaining the experience of God/salvation/the kingdom of heaven/new birth/truth/light. Everywhere else in the gospel, John has Jesus saying something, someone trying to understand him literally, then Jesus explaining, no, I'm using a metaphor, I mean something else: Jesus is not a loaf of bread, Jesus is not water, Nicodemus was not expected to crawl back in his mother's womb and be born a second time. But here, John is struggling to be explicit about the experience of loving union offered to the disciples. As Jesus has union with God, he has union with the disciples, and the disciples can have with each other, and Jesus and God. Glory. There is a parable from the Talmud, I believe, in which the rabbi asks of his disciples, when is the Night over? various disciples describe different signs of dawn: silhouettes on the hill, the fading of stars, the break of the sun above the horizon. But the star pupil speaks up and says, "When I look into the eyes of a stranger and see a lover." "completely one"
3) What is the invitation in all this. To receive the offer of union when it is offered.
"Holy One, receive me."
Breathprayer: "You in me... completely one."
NB: I will be off grid for the next two days so will not be posting again until Monday, May 1. Peace be with you.
Thursday, 27 April 2017
"I ask for the grace to pray and mediate regularly. I ask for patience, tolerance, gentleness, compassion and empathy. I ask to abstain from anger, anxiety, compulsive behaviour, discouragement, arrogance and self-importance. May I know and follow Jesus more closely, seeking justice, loving kindness and walking humbly."
28 ‘What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” 29He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went. 30The father* went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go. 31Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax-collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.
1) "...the way of righteousness;" "...believed him;" "...you did not change your minds;" "...eve after you saw it;" "...Son;" "...he changed his mind;"
2) there seems to be a virtue in changing one's mind. This last week, we heard from John about Thomas who believed because he saw. He hadn't believed when his friends told him about seeing Jesus, but he changed his mind when he saw the resurrected Jesus with his own eyes and touched his wounds with his own hands. "...and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him." Saw what? Of course, it all leads back to doing the will of "his father." Is there a call here to be gentle with our own resistance to doing what God beseeches? (I like 'beseeches', Paul beseeches because how do you 'command' people to do something they don't want to do?) How about other people's resistance? Can I be tolerant of other people's resistance? I'm resistant to showing grace in the face of other people's resistance to doing what God beseeches, thus resisting what God beseeches of me!!! So can I change my mind? Can I now find mercy? Can I now let living water flow from my heart? Or do I still have some resisting to do?
3) What is the invitation in all this? to do what "the father" beseeches. To let go of resistance and trust more often.
"Holy One, help me change my mind and teach me gentleness until I do."
Breathprayer: "Going... into the kingdom of God."
Wednesday, 26 April 2017
"I ask for the desire to pray and meditate regularly. I ask for patience, tolerance, empathy, gentleness, and compassion. I ask to abstain from anger, anxiety, compulsive behaviour, discouragement, arrogance, and self-absorption. I ask to know and follow Jesus more closely, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly."
10 And as he sat at dinner* in the house, many tax-collectors and sinners came and were sitting* with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners?’ 12But when he heard this, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’
1) "...with him;" "...learn what this means;" "...I desire mercy, not sacrifice;" "...I have come to call... sinners;" "...learn what this means."
2) "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." Jesus is citing one of the prophets, probably Jeremiah or Isaiah, could be Micah, possibly all three and others, this is a common theme. What is mercy? How do I exercise it? I am still moved by the image from yesterday's prayer of "living water flowing from the hearts of believers." Could "mercy" be another way of describing that living water? Mercy is certainly good things: compassion, empathy, patience, gentleness, tolerance, kindness, humility, forgiveness, hope, joy... It is shorthand for all the fruit of the spirit. Jesus doesn't want us judging other people in this passage, but living out of the same mercy we have received. But are we the righteous or the sinners? the well or the sick? And do we understand the nature of our illness, or do we just rattle off a list of traits we see quoted often in the bible? I am impatient, arrogant, I draw attention to myself, I can be self-important, and I'm easily discouraged and distracted when things don't go as I expect or hope. I have a list around here somewhere, funny how I so easily forget my character defects.
3) What is the invitation in all this? To be honest. to pursue mercy, not so much to receive mercy, but to offer it.
"Holy One, have mercy on me, and inspire mercy in me that I may have it for others."
Breathprayer: "Learn this... I desire mercy."
Tuesday, 25 April 2017
"I ask for the desire to pray and meditate on behalf of my congregation. I ask for patience, tolerance, empathy, compassion and gentleness. I ask to abstain from anger, anxiety, compulsive behaviour, discouragement, arrogance and self-absorption. I ask to know and follow Jesus more closely, seeking justice, loving kindness and walking humbly."
37 On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, 38and let the one who believes in me drink. As* the scripture has said, “Out of the believer’s heart* shall flow rivers of living water.” ’ 39Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit,* because Jesus was not yet glorified.
1) "...the great day;" "...come to me;" "...drink;" "...Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water;" "...rivers of living water;" "...believers;" "...believers in him;" "...not yet glorified;" "...let anyone who is thirsty come to me," "...anyone who is thirsty;"
2) Am I thirsty? I love John's Jesus. John's Jesus is always teaching us to listen metaphorically. Thirst and hunger are associated with longing for intimacy with God: justice, love, acceptance, comfort, wholeness, satisfaction, reconciliation, forgiveness, an end to all suffering - all the things that make up God's reign. What does it mean to "believe" in Jesus for John? I think it is utter non-sense that John's Jesus expects us to believe propositions about God or Jesus, especially since the propositions that will eventually become orthodoxy won't be fully formulated for another three hundred years. I believe that for John "believing in Jesus" means trusting God, trusting in the teachings and the way that Jesus is leading, trusting in the way of vulnerability, humility, non-violence, unconditional compassion and empathy, risk taking, courage, acceptance of God's way, challenge to human ways. On those rare occasions when we genuinely trust the way of Jesus enough to follow, our hearts become fountains of "living water." I was challenged by a parishioner the other day that I shouldn't pray for patience. Because if I pray for patience, God will send things to test my patience. There is a certain logic to this challenge. But, if I want rivers of living water to flow out of my heart, then I need to increase my patience, so I ask for patience. I need to trust that I will be given what I need to meet whatever tests, challenges and trial will come.
3) What is the invitation in all this? To trust what God has placed before me. To keep asking for what we need. To take advantage of the opportunities to exercise patience.
"God, give me patience."
Breathprayer: "Out of the believer's heart... rivers of living water."
Monday, 24 April 2017
"I ask for the grace to pray and meditate on behalf of my community of faith. I pray for all the young new families that were in church with us yesterday. I pray that they find what they are seeking with a hope that they might find that with us, but if not, that they find it wherever it is. I pray for Wendy, Gwen, Helena, Dianna, Irene, Iain, George, Kim, David, Thomas, Chloe, Jo-Ann, Beth, Pat, Betty, and so many more. I ask for patience, tolerance, empathy, compassion and gentleness. I ask that we abstain from anger, anxiety, compulsive behaviour, discouragement, arrogance and self-interest. May we know and follow Jesus more closely, seeking justice, loving kindness and walking humbly."
14 But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me,
my Lord has forgotten me.’
15 Can a woman forget her nursing-child,
or show no compassion for the child of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
16 See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are continually before me.
1) "...nursing-child," "...the child of her womb;" "...I will not forget you;" "...I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands;" "...I will not forget you;"
2) Funny that I should be giving thanks for all the infants in church yesterday and come to this passage about a woman and her nursing-child. I remember my first pastoral charge where the pianist would go back in the pews during the sermon to nurse her baby while I preached. For that child, at least, message time was a time of nourishment, comfort, and intimacy. I wonder if we are still creating that kind of safe, comforting, affirming space during worship? Was it Ignatius or Augustine who used the metaphor of suckling at the breast of God for prayer? I am also aware, once again, how felt experience is so often the opposite of what is promised and proclaimed in Scripture. We can feel forsaken and forgotten, but God asserts, "Even if these may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you in the palms of my hands."
3) What is the invitation in all this? To receive the nourishment offered.
"Holy One, may you be inscribed on our hands as we pray and serve."
Breathprayer: "Child... I will not forget you."
Sunday, 23 April 2017
"I ask for the desire to pray and meditate on behalf of my community of faith. May we learn patience, tolerance, empathy, gentleness, and compassion. May we abstain from anger, anxiety, compulsive behaviour, discouragement, self-righteousness, and arrogance. May we know and follow Jesus more closely, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly."
1 Peter 1:3-9
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you rejoice,* even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, 7so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Although you have not seen* him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1) "...great mercy;" "...a new birth;" "...a living hope;" "...an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading;" "...ready to be revealed in the last time;" "...you rejoice;" "...for a little while you have had to suffer;" "...more precious than gold;" "...praise and glory and honour;" "... you love him;" "...indescribably and glorious joy;"
2) What is the outcome of our faith? What is the salvation of our souls? There are many describers: imperishable, undefiled, unfading, kept in heaven, inheritance, something worthy of rejoicing, praise, and glory, and honour... and worth various trials to obtain. I'm not always convinced that the trials are worth it. But its not like one can avoid the trials. The Buddhist proverb says, "Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional." God help me to choose not to suffer. That's a skill I could develop... it is a skill that could use developing. Sometimes, I've just had enough of a particular trial and I want to walk away. Though I know that will only lead to other trials that could be worse than this one!
3) What is the invitation in all this? to keep the context of "for a little while you have had to suffer various trials" and "an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading. Sometimes if feels like its the opposite: the suffering is unfading and the inheritance is a little while. But Peter turns this on its head.
"Holy One, help us hold to the living hope born in us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, as we for a little while suffer various trials."
Breathprayer: "Inheritance... more precious than gold."
Saturday, 22 April 2017
11 And I will turn all my mountains into a road,
and my highways shall be raised up.
12 Lo, these shall come from far away,
and lo, these from the north and from the west,
and these from the land of Syene.*
13 Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the Lord has comforted his people,
and will have compassion on his suffering ones.
1) "...raised up;" "...sing for joy;" "...exult;" "...break forth... into singing;" "...the Lord has comforted his people;" "...and will have compassion;"
2) It has already happened. God has already "comforted his people," has already had "compassion on his suffering ones." We forget. We overlook. We get distracted. We get impatient. But it has already happened, again and again. God has been good. Over and over, God has been good. God will be good again. God is good currently. Currently there are lots of distractions: I'm tired; the world is going crazy; my newsfeed is full of horrible news from around the world; the church is struggling to adapt to a totally new reality; and there are some genuinely ill-intended people out there who take advantage of vulnerability, openness, and trust. I remember the saying that came across my Insight Timer feed: "Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional." Suffering is what we make of pain. God is already offering compassion and comfort.
3) What is the invitation in all this? To remember that "The Lord has comforted his people." To keep my "suffering" in context, to let pain and discomfort be just that, pain and discomfort, and nothing more. To let God be in the pain and discomfort. Now, that feels good... let God be in the discomfort.
"Holy One, open my lips that I may sing for joy and break forth into singing!"
Breathprayer: "Break forth... into singing."
Friday, 21 April 2017
Thus says the Lord:
In a time of favour I have answered you,
on a day of salvation I have helped you;
I have kept you and given you
as a covenant to the people,*
to establish the land,
to apportion the desolate heritages;
9 saying to the prisoners, ‘Come out’,
to those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’
They shall feed along the ways,
on all the bare heights* shall be their pasture;
10 they shall not hunger or thirst,
neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them down,
for he who has pity on them will lead them,
and by springs of water will guide them.
1) "...a day of salvation;" "...a;" "...day of salvation;" "...answered... helped... kept... given.. established... apportion;" "...the desolate heritages;" "...to those who are in darkness;" "...they shall not hunger or thirst;" "...by springs of water;" "...will guide them."
2) I'm feeling discouraged. I feel like we spend a lot of time doing things so that we can do the things that might actually lead us to doing ministry. I feel like we spend a lot of time dealing with photocopiers, internet that doesn't work, webpages that don't function the way we need them to function, communication networks that are only partial networks, roofs that leak, toilet tanks that leak, dishwashers that leak, computers that blow up, sockets that don't have power... The list gets very long. I want to be engaged in "real" ministry, helping people make meaning of their lives, visiting with people, communicating effectively and broadly, feeding, clothing, housing people. But the passage today reminds me that "they shall feed along the ways, on the bare heights shall be their pastures." Some days, we don't travel very far.
3) What is the invitation in all this? To feed along the way.
"Holy One, give me patience and gentleness."
Breathprayer: "Come out... by springs of water."
Thursday, 20 April 2017
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.
1) "...the grace given to me;" "...to think with sober judgement;" "...not all the members have the same function;" "...one body in Christ;" "...members one of another."
2) What comes to mind is how much I wish the final statement just wasn't the case sometimes. "We are members of one another." What is the best function of each member? What is my best function? Sometimes I feel like a very few of us are expected to perform all functions all the time. And sometimes it feels we have a superabundance of some functions and way to few members able to perform other essential functions. "each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned." It is confusing... and exhausting.
3) What is the invitation in all this? To trust that the "assigning" is out of my control, but being done. And if it is needed of us, it will be provided.
"Holy One, keep us mindful that we are one body with many parts."
"One body... in Christ."
Wednesday, 19 April 2017
10 I rejoice* in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it.* 11Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. 12I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. 13I can do all things through him who strengthens me. 14In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress.
1) "...rejoice;" "...learned to be content with whatever I have;" "...In any and all circumstances;" "...well-fed and going hungry;" "...having plenty and being in need;" "I can do all things through him who strengthens me;"
2) I'm not sure why, but this passage resonates deeply with me this morning. In some ways, it feels like a bit of a slap in the face. It is so easy to think when I have plenty that God is with me and when I have little God is absent. I forget that I have had little and felt incredibly blessed at the same time. I wish I'd remember this passage when I'm feeling cranky about resources being lower than I wish they were. These days "low resources" usually refers to time. I've so much that needs doing and so little time in which to do it. Or we have so much that we do as a congregation, and so many people willing to do the work, but so few people making the decisions and running things from above. But, following Jesus entails being well-fed and going hungry, having plenty and being in need: any and all circumstances. I often reflect that the miracle on the hillside when Jesus fed the masses, is not just that the people were fed, but that the people were satisfied. I wish I had a better discipline around being content. In honesty, I have so much to be content with. But how often to I just want/crave more? There is something very settling, just contemplating the word "Contentment."
3) What is the invitation in all this? To exercise a day or two of being "content with whatever I have." To practice contentment. To learn that enough is enough. to simply breath the word, "Contentment."
Breathprayer: "Rejoice... content with whatever I have."
Tuesday, 18 April 2017
8 Finally, beloved,* whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about* these things. 9Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
1) "..beloved;" "...whatever is true... honourable...just...pure...pleasing...commendable;" "...excellence;" "...anything worthy of praise;" "...keep on doing the things that you have learned;" "...The God of peace will be with you."
2) I am particularly cranky this morning and I know it to be the "cranky" of not enough exercise. I'm amazed that it has taken this long to catch up with me. I haven't run since the snow came last fall, almost six months. Since 2011, I've not gone more than a few weeks without running at least three times a week. I call it running, but actually, it was jogging - slowly. And I never made it more than a few weeks without running because I'd get cranky and know to start running again. This winter, the cranky has stayed away. But now I need to make a change. This morning, just a couple days following Easter, I'm cranky. I've stopped "doing the things that I have learned." I have stopped doing whatever is "true, honourable, just, pure, pleasing, and commendable." I've done other things, but my "rule" is incomplete if it doesn't include care of my body. I'm feeling the "I don't have time," "I don't have energy," "I don't have desire." We proclaim a "bodily" resurrection because the body is important... the divine is made manifest, incarnate.
3) What is the invitation in all this? To listen to the cranky, but not dwell there. To return to thinking about "these things" - whatever is commendable. To pray for the desire to attend to the wellness of my whole being and know that means exercise (and diet). To keep on doing the things that I have learned and received and heard and seen...
"Holy One, I ask for the desire to attend to the needs of my body as well as my soul."
Breathprayer: "Whatever is true... keep on doing."
Monday, 17 April 2017
4 Rejoice* in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.* 5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
1) "...Rejoice in the Lord always;" "...rejoice;" "...let your gentleness be known;" "...The Lord is near;" "...do not worry about anything;" "...let your requests be made known to God;" "...guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus;"
2) I can find a dozen phrases in here that would be wonderful breathprayers: "Rejoice... again I will say, rejoice;" "Let your gentleness be known;" "Rejoice... the Lord is near;" "Rejoice... do not worry;" "prayer... and supplication;" "The peace of God... guard your hearts;" "Be made known... in Christ Jesus." It is always like that when Paul waxes poetic. Words to simply sit in and soak up. "Again... I say, rejoice." I remember when I was coming out of the closet and grieving deeply, fearful of how my family was going to respond. I printed out the word "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice!" and posted them all over my kitchen in the "dungeon" of the VST building on Iona Drive. I needed the constant reminder that what felt like doom, was actually the opening of a door. I just watched a video that's going about Facebook in which Will Smith talks about skydiving and says, the best things in life are on the other side of sheer terror. I know that. I know it in my bones.
3) What is the invitation in all this? to embrace the fear. to trust that fear is a proclamation that something new is happening. to remember that fear and excited anticipation are sometimes hard to tell apart. to rejoice in what is and stop fretting over what isn't.
"Holy One, guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus."
Breathprayer: "Rejoice... let your gentleness be known."
Sunday, 16 April 2017
17 Brothers and sisters,* join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. 18For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. 19Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. 20But our citizenship* is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21He will transform the body of our humiliation* so that it may be conformed to the body of his glory,* by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.
1) "...join in imitating me;" "...live according to the example;" "...our citizenship is in heaven;" "...he will transform;" "...the body of his glory;"
2) "Be conformed to the body of his glory," that is a tall expectation. It is the end, all else is in service of being conformed to the body of God's glory. Is it possible to keep our vision on our citizenship in heaven? It is so much easier to be citizens of things we can see right here before us: race, ethnicity, gender, class, culture, language, education, nationality. How do we live out citizenship in heaven? How do we live as though all creatures, all people, all creation is in citizenship in heaven? It is so much easier to create "us" and "them". How do we get beyond our petty citizenships and identify exclusively as equally members of God's Reign? Paul beseeches us to imitate him. As he awaits the verdict on his own death sentence, he writes what are essentially love letters to his communities, telling them to keep doing what is right, and not to lose hope, affirming that live or die, what happens affirms the Glory of God.
3) What is the invitation in all this? To choose glory over shame, "power" over destruction, transformation over humiliation. To celebrate hope.
"Holy One, transform the body of our humiliation so that we may be conformed to the body of your glory, lead us into citizenship in heaven, subject to you."
Breathprayer: "Join... the body of his glory."
Saturday, 15 April 2017
12 Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal;* but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Beloved,* I do not consider that I have made it my own;* but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly* call of God in Christ Jesus. 15Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. 16Only let us hold fast to what we have attained.
1) "...I press on;" "...Christ Jesus has made me his own;" "...I do not consider that I have made it my own;" "...straining forward;" "...I press on;" "...the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus;" "...who are mature;" "...hold fast;"
2) I am moved by the profound humility of this passage, "Not that I have already obtained this or have reached the goal;" "I do not consider that I have made it my own." Paul knows that he has not expressed Christ as fully as he is called to do, but he is "straining forward" and he will "press on towards the goal." He has attained something, some progress along the way, but he doesn't tell us just what progress. As I look back on the last seven weeks of posting my daily prayer, and of course, twenty years of morning prayer before that, I wonder what progress have I made? I know that I am not where I once was, not by a long shot. Life has certainly changed, my circumstances are very different. But how have I changed? Am I more patient, tolerant, compassionate, empathetic? Do I abstain more from anger, anxiety, compulsive behaviour, discouragement? I know that I am less often overwhelmed by my circumstances. Even though sometimes my circumstances can be worse than ever before, I'm less likely to be reduces to a complete dysfunction by them. And I have had some amazing relationships, and those keep deepening and becoming richer and richer. I have an increasing number of companions with whom I journey. I do believe that I have enjoyed life more and more as the years go by. It wasn't long ago, I was quite happy to announce that life started at 40. Will I be able to make a similar claim at 50? 60?
3) What is the invitation in all this? To keep straining forward, despite often feeling like I'm just treading water. To trust in the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. To hold tight to those who are mature and be of the same mind with them.
"Holy One, give us rest in the darkness of the tomb, as something new prepares to be born."
Breathprayer: "Christ... has made me his own."
Friday, 14 April 2017
7 Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ,* the righteousness from God based on faith. 10I want to know Christ* and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
1) "...because of Christ;" "...surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord;" "...I regard them as rubbish;" "...gain Christ;" "...faith in Christ;" "...know Christ and the power of his resurrection;" "...like him in his death;" "...gains... loss;" "...faith in Christ;" "...gain Christ and be found in him;" "...gain Christ and be found in him;" "...the righteousness from God based on faith;" "...I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection;"
2) by becoming like Christ in his death, we come to know him and the power of his resurrection. I'm reading Bonhoeffer's the Cost of Discipleship and hear the evocation of "costly grace" the grace that demands obedience and belief at the same time. "The one who believes obeys; the one who obeys believes." Can we embrace a desire to know Christ that is so deep that we can become like him in his death? It is no easy thing to give up the things I feel I've earned: respect, regard, authority, leadership, decency, even a little curtesy. When I feel I've been denied any of these things I get angry and feeling empathy for the individual who has denied me is simply impossible. I struggle to experience empathy when I feel empathy condones sin. But does Christ condone our actions when he asks God to forgive us for we know not what we do? Or is he just showing empathy even though we haven't earned it, still in hope (in his case certain hope) that we will be transformed by that compassion?
3) What is the invitation in all this? To regard as rubbish the things I feel I've earned: respect, regard, authority, leadership, decency and even curtesy. To find empathy for the people who would deny me all things. To know Christ and the power of his resurrection.
"Holy One, help us to know you and the power of your resurrection by becoming like you in your death."
Breathprayer: "Gain Christ... and be found in him.:
Thursday, 13 April 2017
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I may be cheered by news of you. 20I have no one like him who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21All of them are seeking their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22But Timothy’s* worth you know, how like a son with a father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23I hope therefore to send him as soon as I see how things go with me; 24and I trust in the Lord that I will also come soon.
25 Still, I think it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus—my brother and co-worker and fellow-soldier, your messenger* and minister to my need; 26for he has been longing for* all of you, and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27He was indeed so ill that he nearly died. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, so that I would not have one sorrow after another. 28I am the more eager to send him, therefore, in order that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29Welcome him then in the Lord with all joy, and honour such people, 30because he came close to death for the work of Christ,* risking his life to make up for those services that you could not give me.
1) "...cheered by news of you;" "...trust in the Lord;" "...with all joy;"
2) I nearly passed up this passage as being too colloquial for Maundy Thursday, too familiar. I expected profound theological insights from Paul, not housekeeping, gossip and salutations. I want to hear about being true while Jesus is praying in the garden, I want to test myself and see if I am more true that Peter and his weak and tired companions. But then here it is so simple the work of Christ: friends caring for each other in illness; friends taking joy in each other; friends maintaining community over distance and time; friends loving one another intimately; friends admonishing and encouraging one another; friends holding tight even while Paul is imprisoned and facing what could be his own execution... and he's the one encouraging them! Paul is choosing hope over despair and attending to the minutia of living even while the potential end approaches. He is not "riding the bomb," but carrying on with what is important.
Suddenly, I have a memory from the few months I lived with my mom when I first returned to the Lower Mainland to live after living on the Prairies for 10 years. Every morning as I left for work, mom would accompany me down the stairs to the door and kiss me good bye. I've lived alone most of my adult life and the simple ritual of saying good bye at the beginning of the day was something I cherished. Those little daily rituals that we share with other people are important and sacred.
3) What is the invitation in all this? To attend to the minutia of daily relationships, to be present to the small, but important moments, the little words we say to each other. Even "Good Morning," is a sacred greeting between people who love each other.
"Holy One, lead us more deeply into the relationships you have given us as our path to following you."
Breathprayer: "Trust in the Lord... with all joy."
Wednesday, 12 April 2017
14 Do all things without murmuring and arguing, 15so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world.
Tuesday, 11 April 2017
27 Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, 28and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. 29For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well— 30since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
1) "...Only, live you life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ;" "...one spirit;" "...striving side by side;" "...one mind for the faith of the gospel;" "...the privilege... of believing in Christ... suffering for him;" "...struggle;" "...worthy of the gospel;" "...striving;" "...no way intimidated;" "...graciously granted;" "...believing... suffering... struggle;" "...worthy of the gospel;" "...
2) It is a graciously granted privilege, not only to believe in Christ, but to suffer for him. It seems to me that to be aware of what is going on in the world today is to suffer for Christ. Terrorist attacks throughout Europe, the US dropping bombs on Syria, gay men going missing in Chechnya and reports of concentration camps set up to detain them. Aboriginal people all over North America being denied the right to determine how their land is used. Corporations given the freedom to poison water and land that should be nourishing the population. "War" is the wrong term to describe the sense of turmoil experienced in the world right now. Wars are fought between nations, Civil wars within nations, but what we are experiencing in the world today is different. This is a new kind of horror and atrocity on a new kind of scale. I find myself wondering if my great-grandparents heard stories of libraries being burned, gay intellectuals, artists and journalists disappearing, families fleeing their homelands seeking refuge?
3) What is the invitation in all this? To hear and to bear witness and to denounce. To not let myself grow numb, but neither to let myself despair. Because I do not have to return hate for hate or violence for violence. Every time I elicit compassion instead of retribution, I participate in the resurrection. I can still live a life in a manner worthy of the gospel, by continuing to be aware and empathetic.
"Holy One, lead on, and bring us to an Easter that is real, and not just a numb denial of the atrocity in which we are complicit."
Breathprayer: "Live... worthy of the gospel."
Monday, 10 April 2017
18What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will result in my deliverance. 20It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in any way, but that by my speaking with all boldness, Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death. 21For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. 22If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labour for me; and I do not know which I prefer. 23I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; 24but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. 25Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, 26so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.
1) "...I rejoice;" "...I will continue to rejoice;" "...my deliverance;" "...my eager expectation and hope;" "...Christ will be exalted;" "...whether by life or death;" "...living is Christ and dying is gain;" "...fruitful labour for me;:" "...for your progress and joy in faith;" "...share abundantly;"
2) Paul is contemplating his own possible death and has come to the conclusion that either by death or in life, Christ will be exalted and that is all that matters now. To be with Christ is better, but to remain in the flesh is more necessary so he can continue his ministry with the early Christian communities. Do we spend our lives in such a way that our deaths might exalt Christ? I do not hear this as a call to martyrdom, but a call to live like we really believe Christ/God reigns right here, right now. I can testify to moments when I have truly not been afraid of death. They are usually quite brief. But moments when I am entirely satisfied, reconciled, content. Moments, when I'm happy with who I am, who I've been and what I've done with what I've been given. Moments when I'm confident that the world will be fine with out me, and I will be fine. They don't usually last very long, but they have been frequent enough and they've left a lasting impression. And I live in confidence that I will know moments like that again... perhaps, hopefully, at my own death. I'm not so confident that my life always exalts Christ. In fact, I'm sure that there are days when my choices (as have the choices of my church) shame me and Christ.
3) What is the invitation in all this? To contemplate more on what it means to live a life that exalts Christ and then live it.
"Holy One, lead on."
Breathprayer: "Christ... will be exalted."
Sunday, 9 April 2017
I want you to know, beloved,* that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, 13so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard* and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ; 14and most of the brothers and sisters,* having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word* with greater boldness and without fear.
15 Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill. 16These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defense of the gospel; 17the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment. 18What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,
1) "...beloved;" "...my imprisonment is for Christ;" "...speak the word with greater boldness and without fear;" "...proclaim Christ our of love;" "...the defense of the gospel;" "...Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether our of false motives or true;" "...in that I rejoice;" "...I will continue to rejoice;"
2) It's quite a thing to assert that "Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true." This sounds like all publicity is good publicity. I can't agree with that. So many ways in which Christ has been "proclaimed" are completely false and a betrayal of the gospel: residential schools, genocide, violence, inquisitions, witch hunts, excommunications, the current persecution of LGBTTQ+ people all over the world. The narrative of Christ has been brutalized again and again. Like Christ himself. Is it possible that the Imperial Church from Constantine to the last century was the Palm Sunday of Christian history? Could it be that we are finally entering into the Holy Week and Good Friday of Christian history when there could be a genuine resurrection and right relationship will reign instead of violence and the threat of violence, arrogance, self-righteousness, xenophobia, oppression? I can only trust and keep following the path that has meant so much to me, the path that has constantly brought me meaning, a sense of connection, renewal, and life.
3) What is the invitation in all this? to seek true motives. To rejoice in the gospel I witness being shared genuinely. To continue this journey, one step at a time.
"Holy One, lead on."
Breathprayer: "Proclaim Christ... out of good will."
Saturday, 8 April 2017
Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak;
let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
2 May my teaching drop like the rain,
my speech condense like the dew;
like gentle rain on grass,
like showers on new growth.
3 For I will proclaim the name of the Lord;
ascribe greatness to our God!
4 The Rock, his work is perfect,
and all his ways are just.
A faithful God, without deceit,
just and upright is he;
5 yet his degenerate children have dealt falsely with him,*
a perverse and crooked generation.
6 Do you thus repay the Lord,
O foolish and senseless people?
Is not he your father, who created you,
who made you and established you?
7 Remember the days of old,
consider the years long past;
ask your father, and he will inform you;
your elders, and they will tell you.
1) "...may my teaching drop like rain;" "... speech condense like the dew;" "..gentle rain on grass;" "...showers on growth;" "...ascribe greatness to God!" "...perfect... just... upright;" "...degenerate children;" "dealt falsely with him;" "...a perverse and crooked generation;" "...O foolish and senseless people;" "...he... created you... made you... established you;"
2) "Degenerate children" who "dealt falsely," "a perverse and crooked generation," a "foolish and senseless people" resonates deeply with me today as violence breaks out around the world. More terrorist attacks in Europe, the USA bombing Syria at an outrageous expense, North Korea, I've heard, has declared war with the USA. "O foolish and senseless people!!!" I'm not feeling the empathy the author of this passage is feeling, though I prefer the author's approach. The author writes, "may my teachings drop like the rain... like showers on new growth." I want words to thunder and crash, "Perverse and crooked generation, stop this!" "Foolish and senseless people, put the weapons down!" But I expect letting "speech condense like the dew," would be more effective. Its hard to escape the dew in the early morning. It gets in and on and saturates everything. There is little way to guard from it. It just appears literally out of thin air. It doesn't come from any particular source and there is no denying it. But it is slow, and comes at its own appointed time, once a day, and only in certain seasons.
3) What is the invitation in all this? to pay attention to the dew. I do not need to be the source, it is already out there. Kind and gentle speech is in the world, I can add kind and gentle words to it.
"Holy One, let you words condense on us like so much dew, like gentle rain on grass. May we trust that you create, you made, you established and you will maintain and renew. May we consider the years long past and trust in your abiding provision."
Breathprayer: "Teaching... like gentle rain on grass."
Friday, 7 April 2017
"Holy One, I ask for the grace to pray and meditate on behalf of my communtiy of faith. May we learn patience, tolernce, compassion, gentleness, and empathy for ourselves and one another. May we abstain from ignorance, anger, anxiety, compulsive behavour, discouragement, shame and self-centeredness. May we know and follow Jesus more closely; seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly. I pray especially today for civilians in Syria."
8For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. 9And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight 10to help you to determine what is best, so that on the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, 11having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
1) "...I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus;" "...that you love may ooverflow more and more;" "...full isight;" "...to help you determine what is best;" "...produced the harvest of righteousness;" "...for the glory and praise of God."
2) Are we producing the harvest of righteousness? Are we producing a harvest of right relationships among ourselves, with others with God? That's a hard question to ask as Russia backs a government suspected of gassing its own citizens; as the US continues to bomb those same civilians; as Canada ties up refugee support applictions with red tape. Where is the production of the harvest of right relationships? We harvest self-righteousness all over the place. How I long for us to be pure and blameless on the day of Christ. The path to "knowledge and full insight to help determine what is best," is that our love "overflow more and more."
3) What is the invitation in all this? to continue the daily task of letting go of resentment and nurturing compassion and love. Resentment of world governements; resentment of religious fundamentalists; resentment of angry, ignorant self-agrandizing world leaders; resentment of puffed up members of my own community; resentment of my own helplessness and ineffectiveness. None of it helps. And to nurture love and compassion for the same.
"Holy One, melt away our resentment, and fill us with the compassion of Christ Jesus, that our love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help us determine what is best, so that on the day of Christ, we may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for your glory and praise."
Breathprayer: "That your love... may overflow."
Thursday, 6 April 2017
"I ask for the grace to pray and meditate on behalf of my congregation. May we learn patience, tolerance, compassion, empathy and gentleness. May we abstain from anger, anxiety, compulsive behaviour, discouragement, and shame. May we know and follow Jesus more closely, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly, as he prepares to enter the city of Jerusalem."
3 I thank my God every time I remember you, 4constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, 5because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. 6I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. 7It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel. 8For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus.
1) "...praying with joy;" "...I am confident in this... the one who began a good work... will bring it to completion;" "...you hold me in your heart;" "...share in God's grace;" "...God is my witness;" "...how I long for all of you;" "...the copassion of Christ Jesus;" "...I remember you;" "...constantly prayering with joy;"
2) How do we share in the gospel? Most days, I could create a log list of how we DO NOT share in the gospel. I'm more likely to take the ways we share in the gospel for granted. But there are many ways we share in the gospel from the many ministries we share from food bank, to soup kitchen, to thrift shop, to worship, to study, to fellowship, to affordable housing, to refugee sponsorship and support. We share abundantly in the gospel as we build lives and meaning together. But there is a but. Is what we are currently doing to share in the gospel sustainable? will we be able to keep doing it? And does it move us to pray with joy in every one of our prayers? Are we confident that the One who began a good work among us will bring it to completion? I think we often thank ourselves for the work, and forget that we serve more than our own sense of right and wrong. We serve out of self-righteousness, maintaining what has been, rather than seeking God's will for today.
3) What is the invitation in all this? To serve with joy. To continue sharing the Gospel through worship, fellowship and service. To trust that the One who began a good work among us will bring it to completion. To hold those with whom I serve in my heart, as I trust they hold me in theirs.
"Holy One, who began a good work among us, bring your work to its completion. Make us joyful in service to one another and help us to hold one another in our hearts."
Breathprayer: "Praying with joy... sharing in the Gospel."
Wednesday, 5 April 2017
15 I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love* towards all the saints, and for this reason 16I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.
1) "...I remember you in my prayers;" "...the Father of glory;" "...a spirit of wisdom and revelation;" "..the eye of your heart enlightened;" "...the hope to which he has called you;" "...the riches of his glorious inheritance;" "...immeasurable greatness;" "...great power;"
2) Wouldn't it be nice to "know what is the hope to which he has called" us? or "what are the riches of his glorious inheritance"? or "what is the immeasurable greatness of his power"? What is it to have the eye of the heart enlightened? What is the hope to which Christ has called us? what are the riches of his glorious inheritance? what is the immeasurable greatness of his power? Are we supposed to know the answers to these questions? Do we assume the answers? Do we just accept the slogans that we've been handed from generations before? Do we believe/trust the hope, the riches and the greatness of God's power? Are they eyes of our hearts enlightened?
3) What is the invitation in all this? To trust that the power God invests in us is of immeasurable greatness. To trust that, though I perceive scarcity, God promises a riches of his glorious inheritance. To choose the hope to which we have been called. To let our hearts be enlightened.
"Holy One, enlighten our hearts to know hope, riches and your immeasurable greatness."
Breathprayer: "The riches... of his glorious inheritance."
Tuesday, 4 April 2017
3So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, 3for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is your* life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
1) "...raised with Christ;" "...seek the things that are above;" "...set your mind on things that are above;" "...you have died;" "...your life is hidden with Christ in God;" "...Christ... is your life;" "...you... will be revealed with [Christ] in glory;:" "you life is hidden with Christ in God;"
2) I am so terribly conscious just how many times Paul says something to the effect of "set your mind on things that are above/on spiritual things/on spirit/in Christ." You'd think this was a recurring issue or something... It is so very easy to let our minds wander astray to "things that are on earth." Ego sneaks back in, self-centeredness, anxiety, fear, animosity, resentment, obsession, stubbornness, self-interest, greed, distrust, frustration, ignorance. Ignorance. IGNORANCE. Something happens in the world, the world changes and suddenly we are ignorant again, having to learn 1) that there is something we don't know, 2) what we actually don't know 3) that we need to go outside our own small selves to learn how to respond to the new world. What a trap we get into when we believe that we need to earn our way to Christ. If we have to "earn" our way to Christ, the ignorance is something to be deeply ashamed of because ignorance is an obstacle. But our life is already "hidden with Christ in God." We don't need to earn it. There is no shame in being incomplete, that's how we are made, our completion is in God.
3) What is the invitation in all this? To accept that Paul needs to continually beseech us to return to setting our minds on spiritual things because it is simply our nature to want to set our minds on earthly things. Then to set our minds "on the things that are above" again. Over and over, once course correction after the other.
"Holy One, help us seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at your right hand. Set our minds on things that are above."
Breathprayer: "Your life... hidden with Christ in God."
Monday, 3 April 2017
29 As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30There were two blind men sitting by the roadside. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, ‘Lord,* have mercy on us, Son of David!’ 31The crowd sternly ordered them to be quiet; but they shouted even more loudly, ‘Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!’ 32Jesus stood still and called them, saying, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ 33They said to him, ‘Lord, let our eyes be opened.’ 34Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him.
1) "...followed him;" "...Jesus stood still;" "...let our eyes be opened;" "...moved with compassion;" "...immediately they regained their sight;" "...and followed him;" "...they heard that Jesus was passing by;" "...they shouted;" "...they shouted even more loudly;" "Jesus stood still and called them;" "What do you want me to do for you?"
2) They "shouted" twice, and "said" once. They needed to speak louder, to be heard over the crowd trying to silence them, then they needed to articulate exactly what they wanted. Jesus was moved with compassion. What do we want Jesus to do for us? as a congregation? What do we want specifically? Do we want ministry at Trinity United Church to continue into the future? Do we want it to change in the ways that it needs to change so it can be here? Or do we just want ministry here to be the way it has always been so it can comfort those who are already here until they are no longer in need of the ministry? What do we want Jesus to do for us? Do we want Jesus to magically make an entire generation of young people to suddenly show up and do things our way? Do we want Jesus to make the financial burdens disappear? Do we want Jesus to make us live really, really, really long lives so we can keep the church going? Do we want Jesus to make all of us win the lottery so we can tithe the winnings to the church? Do we only want Jesus to give us what we need so we can do what Jesus wants us to do? I believe that the purpose to "let our eyes be opened" was to make it easier to follow Jesus (it is a curious turn of phrase if they only wanted to see). What do we need so that following Jesus would be easier? Maybe we ourselves, need to ask Jesus to let our eyes be opened?
3) What is the invitation in all this? If we focus on asking for what makes following Jesus easier, we will receive everything that heals us, everything that sets us free, everything that renews our wholeness, everything that reconciles us to God.
"Lord, let our eyes be opened."
Breathprayer: "Son of David... Let our eyes be opened."
Sunday, 2 April 2017
6To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit* is life and peace. 7For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, 8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit,* since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit* is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ* from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through* his Spirit that dwells in you.
1) "...life and peace;" "...you are in the spirit;" "...the Spirit of God dwells in you;" "...Christ is in you;" "...the spirit is life;" "...raised Christ from the dead;" "... life to your mortal bodies;" "...his Spirit that dwells in you;" "...set the mind on the spirit;" "...to set the mind on the spirit is life and peace;" "...you are in the spirit;" "...the Spirit of God dwells in you;"
2) awareness of the constant assertions that "the spirit of God dwells in you." This is a base assumption of Paul's. And that Spirit means life and peace. It is easier said than done to "set the mind on the spirit." It is so easy to get distracted by anger, anxiety, compulsive behaviour, discouragement, shame... But I do know from my own experience, life is easier when I trust God's presence, trust that the spirit of God dwells in all that is happening around me, especially when things are going in ways that are contrary to how I would have them. As I reread the first verse: "To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace," I feel a sense of, "Yeah... duh... have you figured that out yet?" Setting the mind on the spirit is no just a daily practice, but sometimes hour by hour and moment by moment, constantly another course correction to come back to center, come back to the core.
3) What is the invitation in all this? To keep returning to the heart. To keep reminding myself, ourselves, to set the mind on the Spirit, to trust that it is there, and trust that by so doing, we will find life and peace.
"Holy One, help us to trust in your indwelling, and to know you life and peace."
Breathprayer: "He who raised Christ... dwells in you."
Saturday, 1 April 2017
"I pray for the desire to pray and meditate on behalf of my community of faith. May we learn patience, tolernce, compassion, gentleness, and empathy. May we abstain from anger, anxiety, compulsive behaviour, discouragement, and shame. May know and follow Jesus more closely, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God."
2 Corinthians 13:3-5
3since you desire proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful in you. 4For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.
5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless, indeed, you fail to pass the test!
1) "...proof;" "...powerful in you;" "...crucified in weakness;" "...lives by the power;" "...we live with him by the power of God;" "...examine yourselves;" "...living in the faith;" "...test yourself;" "Jesus Christ is in you;" "...Jesus Christ is in you;" "...examine yourself;"
2) I can't help but notice how approriate this text is given "The Work" I did yesterday. I am constantly frustrated with how often certain indiduals trigger the worst in me. They have a knack for drawing out the worst in me and I resent it... and consequently them, so much. And I trully hate myself when "bated" into pettiess, bitterness and anger. I lose alll empathy, and compassion. I get tunnel vision and grind away on what that person did, more often than not, my complaint may be perfectly legitimate, but my dwelling and obscessing on it does more harm than good. And I can't stand myself in the process. Ultimately, I'm triggered by my trigger and the downward spiral begins (continues?). "For we are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God." I'm not fair with myself to expect more than I would expect of anyone else. I can only continue to examine myself daily and continue to ask to find Christ.
3) What is the invitation in all this? To continue to test myself daily, but to also find gentleness, patience, tolerance, compassion and empathy with my own defects of character, in particular, my own triggers. To trust that Jesus Christ is in me, living by the power of God.
"Holy One, make me mindful of your presence."
Breathprayer: "Test yourself... Jesus Christ is in you."