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Thursday, 30 November 2017

"Live... We Are the Lord's"

I ask for the grace to pray and meditate faithfully.  I ask for patience, tolerance, empathy, and compassion.  I ask to abstain from anger, compulsive behaviour, discouragement, and distrust.  I ask for the grace to make space in my heart for incarnation and transformation.  May my words, thoughts and actions bear witness to a God of justice, kindness, and humility.

Romans 14:5-9
5 Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. 6Those who observe the day, observe it in honour of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honour of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honour of the Lord and give thanks to God.
7 We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. 8If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

1) " honour of the Lord;" "...give thanks to God;" "...we do not live to ourselves;" "we do not die to ourselves;" " to the Lord;" "...die to the Lord;" "...whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's;" "...For this is the end Christ died and lived again;" "...Lord of both the dead and the living;" "

2) I always get that quote backward... I always say "Lord of both the living and the dead."  Watch me try to change that... "Whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's."  I wonder if I could hear that "Whether we succeed or whether we fail, we are the Lord's"?  Today, I feel like I fail so much.  I seem constantly called beyond my resources and I have such mixed feelings about that.  I feel that after all these years, shouldn't I have some store of patience and tolerance?  Shouldn't I come to empathy and curiosity more easily?  Shouldn't I have dealt with those triggers and buttons that set me off again and again?  Shouldn't I trust as an automatic response?  Shouldn't I be more practiced at letting go?  Shouldn't I recognize my own ego when it is staring at me from across the room?  It is a good thing that "whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's." I "know" that it is in the wilderness beyond our comfortable limits that we learn to follow more faithfully.  But it is so painful being here all the time.  This is the work I want to do... I just wish it was done already.  Suddenly, I feel like I'm going into Lent, not Advent!

3) What is the invitation in all this?  To trust that it is okay to die/fail, and it is okay to live/succeed, because whether we live/succeed or whether we die/fail, we are the Lord's.

"Praise God, for God is Lord of both the dead and the living."

Breathprayer: "Live... We are the Lord's"

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

"Welcome... God Has Welcomed Them."

I ask for the grace to pray and meditate faithfully.  I ask for patience, compassion, and empathy.  I ask to abstain from compulsive behaviours.  I ask to find centre and make space for the revelation of the Holy as the Advent season of preparation begins.  I ask that my words and actions reflect a will to seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly.

Romans 14:1-4
14Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarrelling over opinions. 2Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. 3Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgement on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. 4Who are you to pass judgement on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

1) "Welcome;" "...must not despise;" "...must not pass judgement;" "...for God has welcomed them;" "...who are you to pass judgement;" "...they will be upheld;"

2) If only we spent more time with this passage.  "Who are you to pass judgement."  How much freer would I feel if I ceased to pass judgement, on others -- and myself?  If I just let go of passing judgement and exercised a more intentional acceptance of others and myself?  Life might be a lot easier.  And where is the boundary between not passing judgement and letting someone get away with abuse?  It's really hard to abstain from passing judgement on someone who is yelling at me, my staff, or my volunteers!  Especially when I start out with the judgement that a particular person ought to know better!  It is a good season to exercise an abstinence practice.  A "judgement jar"?  Every time I catch myself judging, I put a coin in a judgement jar?  I'm not sure.  I'm sure that if I called certain meetings to account for judging others and made them pay into a jar every time I heard a judgement, I'd leave rich!  In this case, Paul is making it clear that the difference is one of religious practice, and not judging other people's practices.  I'm just reading on the wall in front of me I have "the four steps to expressing anger" from Nonviolent Communication: 1) stop, breath; 2) Identify our judgmental thoughts; 3) connect with our needs; 4) Express our feelings and unmet needs.  That might be more productive.

3) What is the invitation in all this?  For the season of Advent, can I abstain from passing quick judgement on others? 

"Holy One, help us to abstain from passing judgement on others, and help us all to connect more with our feelings and unmet needs."

Breathprayer: "Welcome... God has welcomed them."

Monday, 27 November 2017

"Wake... Salvation Is Nearer."

I ask for the grace to be centered and focused.  I ask for the grace to attend faithfully to the stirrings of the divine.  I ask for our hearts to be moved to know and trust and pursue something new.

Romans 13:11-14
11 Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light; 13let us live honourably as in the day, not in revelling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarrelling and jealousy. 14Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

1) " know what time it is; " "...wake from sleep;" "...salvation is nearer;" "...the day in near;" "...put on the armour of light;" " honourably;"

2) A timely text as we prepare for the first Sunday of Advent.  I'm terribly grateful for sunshine today.  The fist we've seen in a while.  In this part of the world, even when the Sun is up, it is behind dark rainclouds.  The Coquitlam is running fast and high.  I do like that.  It's exhilarating walking next to it... and it no longer smells of rotting fish.  Paul is pointing out that "the time" is just short of Jesus' immanent return, "salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers."  It is the time for living honourably.  How honourably do we live?  Sometimes, not so.  We don't like being woken us.  Slumber is so much more comfortable, and being shaken awake from deep sleep is not prone to make us behave honourably.  It occurs to me that I'm not waking well these days.  I used to be much better at waking in the morning.  But the last month or so... maybe since I've returned from Nova Scotia?  My mornings are later, slower, less enthusiastic.  My morning practices are more sporadic.

3) What is the invitation in all this? To seek to behave honourably, even when being rudely awakened.  Maybe seek to waken more "sharply."

"Holy One, Wake us from sleep."

Breathprayer: "wake... salvation in nearer."

Thursday, 23 November 2017

"Owe No One... Love One Another."

I ask for the grace to experience presence and to be present.

Romans 13:5-10
5Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. 6For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. 7Pay to all what is due to them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honour to whom honour is due.
8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet’; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 10Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

1) "...conscience;" "...respect to whom respect is due, honour to whom honour is due;" "...Owe no one anything, except to love one another;" "...the one who loves another has fulfilled the law;" "...Love your neighbour as yourself;" " is the fulfilling of the law;" " is the fulfilling of the law;" "...

2) For Paul, the end is near.  Jesus is coming back.  The expectation is in this lifetime.  So Paul is not interested in overturning the social order.  He's interested in living peaceably within the social order until the coming of the Risen Christ.  So he will affirm the social conventions of slavery and the Roman client/taxation systems, but he will expect them to be lived out with love and not abuse.  The Commandments apply to how one is to treat slaves.  He doesn't challenge the ownership of people, but he asserts a behaviour/attitude change.  "Love your neighbour as yourself."  Had he known we'd still be working things out 2,000 years later, would he have thought differently?    Jesus certainly challenged us on "who is my neighbour."  Love is the fulfilling of the law.  Love is the fulfilling of the law.  Love is the fulfilling of the law...

3) What is the invitation in all this?  To enquire, what would love do?

"Holy One, guide us on the way of love."

Breathprayer: "Owe no one... love one another."

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

"Do What Is Good..."

I ask for the grace to remain present and mindful, to be productive and inspired.

Romans 13:1-4
13Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. 2Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement. 3For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; 4for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer.


2) Wow... where did this come from?  Given the previous texts I'm feeling a little smacked out of left field.  Which Authorities is he talking about?  The Roman Authorities?  The Church Authorities?  "Governing Authorities"  "for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God."  This sounds like a recipe for disaster, frankly.  I understand "due order."  "I recognize the discipline of the presbytery."  In our world, people have been given authority that certainly doesn't come from God.  Paul has just given us a list of "Marks of a True Christian" perhaps I would be most willing to honour the authority of someone who manifest these marks?  With congregations, I often talk about three kinds of Authority: Military (do what I tell you or else), Negative (I tell you what to do and you do the opposite), and Relational (I wouldn't think of making a major decision without talking it over with my loved ones first, they don't tell me what to do, but they contribute to my decision making).  I try to emphasize a notion of relational authority with scripture, I sit with it every day and it forms me, but it doesn't tell me what to do.  When I apply that kind of authority to this text, it is a little easier to digest...

3) What is the invitation in all this?  to continue to build relationships, to trust the authority of relationship in making decisions.

"Holy One, Help us forge relationships that can be authoritative when discerning you will."

Breathprayer: "Do what is good..."

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

"Rejoice... Overcome Evil with Good."

I ask for the grace to be present and to experience Christ's presence in this time of prayer and meditation. 

Romans 12:14-21
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ 20No, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’ 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

1) " not curse;" " in harmony with one another;" " not be haughty;" " not claim to be wiser than you are;" "...leave room for the wrath of God;" "...overcome evil with good."

2) I want to argue that this is so much easier said than done!  How often does a false humility keep me silent in the face of evil?  I am silent in the face of bad behaviour because I fear speaking out will name me as complicit, or as a hypocrite, so I let it be.  But then when I do speak out, I do so vengefully, when I've simply had my fill and my ego is sufficiently bruised that I won't take any more.  It takes tremendous faith to believe that good can overcome evil, the temptation to be overcome by evil, to think I can fight evil with evil, is huge... impulsive.  It is one thing for me to desire and attempt to "live peaceably with all,"  but those I'm living with are not always peaceable.  Today I am so grateful for the Boston Declaration made yesterday.  I really have difficulty leaving room for the wrath of God... It comes out, "If I believed in hell, you'd be burning in it."  But I do believe that those who refuse to invest in kindness, don't experience kindness and kindness is a truly good thing, a horrible thing to deny ourselves. I don't even want to imagine what it is like to live in the head of someone who seems pathologically incapable of showing genuine kindness.  But I acknowledge that the limits of my kindness are perhaps closer than I wish they were.

3) What is the invitation in all this?  To trust that good can overcome evil without using evil methods.  To take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.  To leave room for the wrath of God.

"Holy One, strengthen my resolve not to curse anyone today."

Breathprayer: "Rejoice... overcome evil with good."

Monday, 20 November 2017

"Rejoice in Hope... Persevere in Prayer."

I ask for grace and presence as I prepare for a full week.  Advent begins for us with the Church Bazaar and a half dozen meetings this week.  Praying for those who are sick, and those who are grieving this week.  May we proceed with Holy Manners, holding one another in our hearts as stress, and non-sequiturs increase.

Romans 12:9-13
9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. 11Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

1) "...let love be genuine;" "...hate what is evil;" "...hold fast to what is good;" " one another with mutual affection;" "...outdo one another in showing honour;" " ardent in spirit;" "...rejoice in hope;" " patient in suffering;" "...persevere in prayer;" "...contribute to the needs of the saints;" "...extend hospitality to strangers;"

2) I was thinking this list was looking familiar and it is the beginning of the list we have used for our "Holy Manners."  It's a good list of how to be with one another.  I think the challenge comes in discerning "what is evil."  Why is it so hard to keep this list?  Why do we refuse to hold these commands at the centre of everything we do?  Why is it so easy to raise voices in anger?  Why do we hold fast to what is unjust, uncivil, unsustainable?  Why do we have such odd, non-sequitur, notions of what it means to show 'mutual affection'? And why do we race to outdo one another in showing pride, rather than honour?  I'm not sure we are always committed to serving the Lord, our egos are way more important.  I'm reminded of a quote from Richard Rohr in an interview with Oprah in which he says that the true self is never offended.  If we feel offended, it is the false self.  I'm offended a lot.  Especially by how some people are so offended by minutia.  What does genuine love look like?  Because, I feel like I tolerate a lot of non-sequitur.  Where is the balance between genuine love and suffering the non-sequitur? 

3) What is the invitation in all this?  to "be patient in suffering," and "persevere in prayer." 

"Holy One, hold us in prayer."

Breathprayer: "Rejoice in hope... persevere in prayer."

Sunday, 19 November 2017

"Holy... Acceptable."

I ask for the grace of focus and presence as I prepare to lead worship this day. 

Romans 12:1-7
12I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
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. 6We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

1) "...the mercies of God;" " sacrifice, holy  and acceptable;" "...spiritual worship;" " transformed by the renewing of your minds;" "...good and acceptable and perfect;" " to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think;" "...sober judgement;" " body in Christ;" "...individually we are members one of another;" " that differ;" "...I appeal to you;" "...spiritual worship;" " transformed;" "...discern;" "...what is good and acceptable and perfect;"

2) Where is the line between genuine and false humility?  That which builds the body up is genuine, that which pulls the body apart is false.  Sounds like a lot of trial and error is needed.  For Paul, "spiritual worship" is worship that increases the wellbeing of the community of faith.  There is a gift in being able to discern what is the will of God - what is good and acceptable and perfect.  There are so many people who think they are better than others at discerning the will of God.  That's why the very next line is "not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think."  So to whom is it assigned to have sober judgement?  I'd like to think that with 5 years of seminary and training and 15 years of ministry experience, its me.  But there are a great many people who would like to challenge me on that.  How do I hold my responsibility responsibly?  How do I claim "the grace given to me" without thinking more highly of myself than I ought?  It would be so much more simple if God just struck down bad people with lightning on the spot.  But then, we'd all be crispy fritters.

3) What is the invitation in all this? To be transformed.  And to humbly accept that being transformed is an incomplete activity.  And we are all transforming at our own time and pace.  It's never done.  To be present to each moment of transformation, and to be open to and encouraging of the transformation of others.

"Holy One,  help us each discern and accept our part in the whole body of the living Christ."

Breathprayer: "Holy... Acceptable."

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

"Unsearchable... Inscrutable."

I ask for the grace of focus and the ability to be fully present.  To receive what I need to do what I need to do this day.  As I read sacred text, I pray for the Abbotsford Police Department and a family, grieving their loved one.  I pray for so many victims of violence this week.  I pray for the Syrian family we are trying to sponsor to resettle to Canada.  I pray for the clients who make use of our extreme weather shelter, and the volunteers and staff who make our extreme weather shelter happen.  I pray for those who are left outside during cold days and nights.

Romans 11:33-36
33 O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways!
34 ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord?
   Or who has been his counsellor?’
35 ‘Or who has given a gift to him,
   to receive a gift in return?’
36For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory for ever. Amen.

1) "O the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God;" " unsearchable are his judgements;" "...inscrutable his ways;" "...who has  known the mind of the Lord;" "...from him and through him and to him are all things;" " him be the glory;"  "O the depths;" "...riches and wisdom and knowledge;" "...unsearchable;" "...inscrutable;" "...all things;" "...unsearchable;" "...inscrutable;"

2) "Unsearchable" and "inscrutable."  I don't even like calling what God calls "judgements."  "Judgements" are a human valuation.  If God's ways are indeed, "unsearchable" and "inscrutable" we need to exercise extreme caution when talking about "judgements."  Funny how Paul takes with one hand and gives with another.  It's like he talks out of both sides of his face.  "We can't search the mind of God, but by God, I know God has judged you!"  Of course, I do want to say I know something about the "ways" and "judgements" of God. God's ways are ways of empathy, justice, compassion, peace that isn't just an absence of violence, but an affirmation of all creation.  God does not approve of violence, selfishness, greed at the cost of the wellbeing of others.  God longs for our wholeness, healing and reconciliation, but I can't say specifically what that looks like for anyone without extended dialogue.

3) What is the invitation in all this?  To exercise extreme caution when contemplating "God's judgments."

"Holy One, instill in us a sense of you unsearchable, inscrutable ways."

Breathprayer: "Unsearchable... inscrutable."

Sunday, 5 November 2017

"The Gifts and Calling... Are Irrevocable."

I ask for the grace of focus and presence as I pray through the sacred text.

Romans 11:25-32
25 So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. 26And so all Israel will be saved; as it is written,
‘Out of Zion will come the Deliverer;
   he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.’
27 ‘And this is my covenant with them,
   when I take away their sins.’
28As regards the gospel they are enemies of God for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved, for the sake of their ancestors; 29for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, 31so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. 32For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.

1) "...wiser than you are;" "...mystery;" "...Israel will be saved;" " regards election they are beloved;" "...the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable;" " the mercy shown to you;" "...God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all;"

2) If only we could all remember the humility we are called to when we are feeling wiser than we are.  The Christian tradition has completely ignored this passage... except for the words "they are enemies of God."  Someone stopped reading, the very next words are, "for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable."  If the Christian calling is to make any sense at all, the inclusion of Israel in God's mercy is absolutely necessary.  I'm not so big on "God has imprisoned all in disobedience..." but I am very aware than every last one of us fails in our holy manners.  How do we call others to justice without risking "to claim to be wiser than you are"?  Is it even possible to ask for accountability to justice?  I feel  like every time I try to call someone accountable, someone shoves a log in my eye.  Or rather, I start knocking people over with the log in my eye.  If only those who are holy and blameless can call for accountability to justice we are in a whole lot of trouble!

3) What is the invitation in all this?  To consider and seek the humble way of calling one another to just action.  This has to do with the "how" we call people into dialogue, rather than calling people out for ignorance or injustice.  Shaming teaches us nothing.  Trust in the irrevocable gifts and calling of God.

"Holy One, the way becomes very narrow between demanding just action and not claiming to be wiser than we are.  Be our guide."

Breathprayer: "The gifts and calling... are irrevocable."

Thursday, 2 November 2017

"Kindness... and Severity."

I ask for the grace to let go of the resentment I hold in my heart.  I ask for the grace to lower my expectations.  I ask for guidance as a person who seeks to be self-aware amidst people, some of whom are more self-aware than me and some of whom are much less self-aware, without judgment, even though their actions and my actions impact me and my community.  I ask for the wisdom to live out of justice, kindness, and humility, even when I am not feeling just, kind, or humble.

Romans 11:21-24
21For if God did not spare the natural branches, perhaps he will not spare you. 22Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity towards those who have fallen, but God’s kindness towards you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23And even those of Israel, if they do not persist in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24For if you have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree.

1) "...kindness and severity of God;" "...provided you continue in his kindness;" "...a wild olive tree;" "how much more;" "natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree;" "kindness and severity;"

2) So... I don't imagine God up in heaven judging humanity severely.  But I do know the world to be both kind and severe.  Another "terrorist" attack in New York yesterday in which some 30 people were driven down by an ISIS devotee in a truck.  And, closer to home, wading through difficult relationships.  There is so much out there in social media about walking away from people who do us no good.  But we can't walk away from the entire planet.  I can't walk away from the 45th president of the US.  How do we end up embodying both the kindness and severity of God, if we are images and likenesses of God?  Especially when none of us gets to claim anything like moral high ground.  How do we reduce harm?

3) What is the invitation in all this?  To maybe sit with the severity of God a little, without judgement, just knowing that the world is both kind and severe.

"Holy One, help me to trust both your kindness and your severity."

Breathprayer: "Kindness... and severity."

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

"A Wild Olive Shoot... Only through Faith."

Once again, I'm unsure for what I should be asking, which is probably indicative of needing more time in silence.  I have a task today that I feel unsure about, a relationship where there is pain and discomfort and I expect we are both avoiding conflict and trying to keep peace.  I ask for guidance and to trust what I don't know and to be open to affirming opportunities when they present themselves.  I ask for the grace to stay close to Christ as I walk a difficult path, to seek justice, love kindness and walk humbly... for both of us, and the community we seek to serve.

Romans 11:17-20
17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the rich root of the olive tree, 18do not vaunt yourselves over the branches. If you do vaunt yourselves, remember that it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you. 19You will say, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.’ 20That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe.

1) "...a wild olive shoot;" "...the rich root of the olive tree;" "...the root... supports you;" " stand only through faith;" " not become proud, stand in awe;" "...stand in awe;"

2) Okay, this little passage delights me.  I love the image of "a wild olive shoot."  I also hear the instruction to "not become proud, but stand in awe."  I wish it were as easy as deciding to stand in awe.  I agree.  I'm am much more responsive in any situation if I am in a state of awe.  But it is so easy to be pulled out of "awe" and think I know better, or to be offended, or hurt, or to take someone else's incompetence personally, or to get frustrated.  It is too easy to "vaunt" myself "over the branches." 

3) What is the invitation in all this?  To stand in awe.  Maybe spend some time remembering what it might feel like to be a wild olive shoot grafted to a rich root.  Funny, just this morning I was observing the shoots that need to be pruned on the Japanese maples in front of the condo.

"Holy One, increase in me awe and wonder.  Keep me mindful that I am a wild olive shoot grafted to a strong root only through faith."

Breathprayer: "a wild olive shoot... only through faith."