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Showing posts from November, 2018

Kingdom Life: Forgiveness

For you are the Lord Most High,
of great compassion, long-suffering, and very merciful,
and you relent at human suffering.
O Lord, according to your great goodness
you have promised repentance and forgiveness
to those who have sinned against you,
and in the multitude of your mercies
you have appointed repentance for sinners,
so that they may be saved. ~ Prayer of Manasseh 1:7


Forgive us our debts as we have also forgiven our debtors. ~ Matthew 6:12

I will heal their disloyalty; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily; he shall strike the root like the forests of Lebanon ~ Hosea 14:3-5

Forgiveness does not erase accountability. It is not about turning a blind eye or even turning the other cheek. It is not about letting someone off the hook or saying it is okay to do something monstrous. Forgiveness is simply about understanding that every one of us is both inherently good and inherently flawed. Within every hopel…

Kingdom Life: Powerlessness & Vulnerability

(The Lord) said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

(Jesus) called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. ~ Matthew 18:2-4

Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection. ~ Brene Brown

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable. ~ Step One of AA's 12 Steps. 

To be a minister means above all to become powerless, or in more precise terms, to speak with our powerlessness to the condition of powerlessness, which is so keenly felt but so seldom expressed by the people of our age. ~ Henri Nouwen


I probably could have included even more quotes about powerlessness or vulnerability.

It isn't something most of us are comfortable talking about. It certainly …

Kingdom Life: Compassion & Service

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of your possession? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in showing clemency. He will again have compassion upon us; he will tread our inquiries under foot; you will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. ~ Micah 7:18-19

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. ~ Matthew 9:35-36

The purpose of life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others. ~ Albert Schweitzer 

True compassion means not only feeling another's pain, but also being moved to help relieve it. ~ Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence


Compassion is another word that we hear and say, but don't always know how to exactly d…

Kingdom Life: Generosity

He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on. ~ Luke 21-1-4 Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor. ~ Proverbs 22:9 Too many have dispensed with generosity in order to practice charity. ~ Albert Camus. True generosity is an offering given freely and out of pure love. No strings attached. No expectations. Time and love are the most valuable possessions you can share. Suze Orman

Generosity is, I think, one of the most misunderstood words in faith. It is so often, as Albert Camus says, confused with charity. But there is a tried and true way to tell the difference. One that modern psychology has backed up! Neuroscience has shown that generosity actually makes us happy! Even thinkin…

Kingdom Life: Community

Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. ~ Acts 4:32-34
We cannot live only for ourselves. A Thousand fibers connect us with our fellow (humans). ~ Herman Melville.

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. ~ Helen Keller


Why is it that the chief way we tend to worship God as Christians is in a place we call church?

What exactly IS church?

When I was a kid, to me it was simply a building. It was the place we went on Sundays. You know the old children's hand play: "Here's the church and here's the steeple, open the doors and see all the people." As if the church and the peopl…

Thanksgiving

A Thanksgiving Devotion for the long weekend. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.  Regular devotions will return on Monday.

I hold and believe that I am God’s creature, that is, that God has given me and constantly sustains my body, soul, and life, my members great and small, all my senses, my reason and understanding, and the like; my food and drink, clothing, nourishment, spouse and children, servants, house and farm, etc. Besides, God makes all creation help provide the benefits and necessities of life—sun, moon, and stars in the heavens; day and night; air, fire, water, the earth and all that it yields and brings forth; birds, fish, animals, grain, and all sorts of produce. Moreover, God gives all physical and temporal blessings—good government, peace, security. ~ Martin Luther (Large Catechism - Explanation of the first article of the Apostles' Creed)


Fear not, Earth! Be glad and celebrate!
 God has done great things.
Fear not, wild animals!
The fields and meadows are greening up.
The trees…

Kingdom Life: Peace

Jesus said to them again: "Peace be with you. As the father has sent me, so I send you." ~ John 20:21

Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation." ~ Luke 28-30

You cannot find peace by avoiding life. ~ Virginia Woolf

If we ourselves remain angry and then sing world peace, it has little meaning. First our individual self must learn peace. This we can practice. Then we can teach the rest of the world. ~ Dalai Lama

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. ~ Jill Jackson-Miller & Sy Miller


These quotes strike me as having something very much in common.

Peace is more than just stillness and solitude.

Peace is something created by God to be shared. 

Peace is something created by God to be lived!

It is what Jesus sent the disciples out with. It was what Simeon was able to be released into after holding the baby Jesus.

We cannot live in peace alone…

Kingdom Life: Justice as Mercy

But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God: it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others. ~ Luke 11:42 

It is well with those who deal generously and lend, who conduct their affairs with justice. ~ Psalm 112:5

For the Lord your God is God of god and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome; who is not partial and takes no bribe; who executes justice for the orphan and widow; and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. ~ Deuteronomy 10:17-19

I do not pretend to understand the moral universe, the arc is a long one; my eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. But from what I see, I am sure it bends toward justice. ~ Theodore Parker (later paraphrased by Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Punishment is…

Kingdom Life: Humilty

Next we'll take a look at The Kingdom of God. Following elections which affect our earthly "kingdom," let's take a look at some of the qualities of God's kingdom: humility, justice, mercy, peace, compassion, and service, as well as take some time to give thanks.


Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” ~ Matthew 19:23-26

When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your…

Prayer: St. Francis - Who are you?

Who are you, Lord God, and who am I? ~ St. Francis of Assisi

Those who would save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. ~ Matthew 16:25

So once again, for the last time or the first, we face that face. ~ Frederick Buechner

The more we let God take us over, the more ourselves we become. ~ CS Lewis.



We had a discussion recently in Bible Study about how important it was to first figure out who we are - to know ourselves and see ourselves as having value - before we can then reach out to see who others are and to love and serve them.

We have to know we are a child of God before we can fully see that the other is also a child of God.

We have to love ourselves (because God loves us) before we can truly love our neighbor.

This is not an ego driven exercise. This is about seeing ourselves with the eyes of God: to see ourselves as God sees us.

For St. Francis of Assisi the first step was to ask who God is. We all have our own notions of the Divine. We are lik…

Prayer: Peace Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek 
to be consoled, as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, 
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen

~ St. Francis of Assisi


Other than the Lord's Prayer, I cannot think of a more perfect prayer than this one.

And really, apologies to Jesus, but I might love this one even more!

It's really all here, isn't it? 

Who we are meant to be: a way for God to bring about peace.

How we are meant to do that: with love, forgiveness, faith, hope, light, and joy.

How we are to live with our neighbors: seeking first to love and serve them before we ask to be loved and served.

What it is that happens to us…

Prayer: St. Patrick's Breastplate

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me. Christ beneath me. Christ above me. Christ on my right. Christ on my left. Christ when I lie down. Christ when I sit down. Christ when I arise. Christ in the heart of everyone that thinks of me. Christ in the mouth of everyone that speaks of me. Christ in every eye that sees me. Christ in every ear that hears me. ~ St. Patrick 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being with him was life, and the life was the light of all people. ~ John 1:1-4

The Word of God is living and active. ~ Hebrews 4:12a

For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. ~ Galatians 2:19-20a





What does it mean to have Christ with me? With those I come in contact with?

With every …