Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Blogging toward Sunday

Image via Wikimedia Commons

The gospel reading for Sunday, March 3, is Luke 13:1-9. This is a text that lends itself to the spiritual practice of lectio divina. As you likely remember, this is a term meaning "sacred reading." Sacred reading is not done quickly like gobbling up a plate of fast food. Oh no! With sacred reading the words must be consumed slowly, and with care, like savoring a delicious meal prepared by your mother's own hands. So find a comfortable place to sit with your Bible, along with paper, and pen and let us savor God's Word together.

For the first reading, simply read through the passage. Afterward, sit quietly for a time. Note what word or phrase stands out for you.

For the second reading, we will focus on the parable alone in verses 6-9. This time try to put yourself in the story. You are the gardener. Now, read the text. Again, sit quietly and prayerfully before God. After a time, consider what it felt like to play the role of the gardener. What did it feel like to be asked to cut down the tree? How much effort are you willing to put into saving it? Why do you care? What other thoughts and questions come to mind? Take time to jot them down.

Finally, read through verses 6-9 again, but this time you will attempt to place yourself in the story as the fig tree. Read the text. Sit quietly and prayerfully before God. What did it feel like to be the tree in the story? If you imagine your own spiritual life as the tree, are you in good health? Are you bearing fruit? Are there areas where you might need tender care in order to flourish?  If so, bravely lift them in prayer before the Lord.

I pray that you are making yourself available to the Gardener during your Lenten journey. May God bless you and those you love in every way.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Blogging toward Sunday

The readings for worship on Sunday include Philippians 3:17-4:1 and Luke 13:31-35. Prayerfully read through each passage at least twice. While reading, pay particular attention to how Jesus and Paul demonstrate their deep, deep love for God's children.

In the gospel reading, Jesus laments over Jerusalem, saying, "How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings..."

Image by Sarah Smith via Wikimedia Commons

During the week, take some time to reflect on the following:
  1. How do you tend to imagine God? 
  2. Do you tend to experience God only as Father, but never as Mother? If so, why?
  3. How does it make you feel that God longs to care for you in a gentle, maternal way? 
  4. Do you resist such care? If so, why?
May this prayer that I happened upon bring you ever closer to God's amazing love:
God of steadfast love, the third day will always set our hearts dancing with joy. For on that day, the work Jesus began in Galilee and carried to the cross in Jerusalem was finished in an empty tomb. Yet, we can never forget the powerful love needed to carry Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem's cross. That love was, and is, for us. And that love makes our Savior's name more precious to us. Thank you God, for Jesus Christ. Amen and amen!
I trust that your Lenten practice/s are going well and that throughout this important season of the church year, you will be strengthened, refreshed and renewed.

As always, I look forward to seeing you in worship on Sunday.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Blogging toward Sunday

Since Sunday, February 17th, is the 1st Sunday in Lent, it is no surprise that the gospel reading for the day comes from Luke 4:1-13. Make a point to spend some time reading and meditating on The Temptation of Jesus. Herein, Jesus fully embraces his status and mission as the Son of God.

During the season of Lent, we may wish to reflect on our own lives. How are we doing on the mission to which God has called each of us? Do we see areas where growth is needed? Is there need for repentance on our part?

The following is a meditation written by Kathleen Norris, entitled "Repentance."
When I'm working as an artist-in-residence at parochial schools, I like to read the psalms out loud to inspire the students, who are usually not aware that the snippets they sing at Mass are among the greatest poems in the world. But I have found that when I have asked children to write their own psalms, their poems often have an emotional directness that is similar to that of the biblical psalter. They know what it's like to be small in a world designed for big people, to feel lost and abandoned. Children are frequently astonished to discover that the psalmists so freely express the more unacceptable emotions, sadness and even anger, even anger at God, and that all of this is in the Bible that they hear read in church on Sunday morning.
Children who are picked on by their big brothers and sisters can be remarkably adept when it comes to writing cursing psalms, and I believe that the writing process offers them a safe haven in which to work through their desires for vengeance in a healthy way. Once a little boy wrote a poem called "The Monster Who Was Sorry." He began by admitting that he hates it when his father yells at him: his response in the poem is to throw his sister down the stairs, and then to wreck his room, and finally to wreck the whole town. The poem concludes: "Then I sit in my messy house and say to myself, "I shouldn't have done all that."
 "My messy house" says it all: with more honesty than most adults could have mustered, the boy made a metaphor for himself that admitted the depth of his rage and also gave him a way out. If that boy had been a novice in the fourth-century monastic desert, his elders might have told him that he was well on the way toward repentance, not such a monster after all, but only human. If the house is messy, they might have said, why not clean it up, why not make it into a place where God might wish to dwell?
During your Lenten journey, may God give you eyes to see and ears to hear. And may God bless you and those you love. I look forward to seeing you at the Ash Wednesday Service, Wednesday at 7 p.m. and/or on Sunday morning for our regular worship service at 11 a.m.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Blogging toward Sunday

Image via Wikimedia Commons
As you prepare for worship on Transfiguration Sunday, February 10th, spend some time reading through the texts for the day: Exodus 34:29-35, Luke 9:28-36 and 2 Corinthians 3:12-18. Note what common themes run throughout the readings. Then reflect on the following reading from When They Crucified My Lord: Through Lenten Sorrow to Easter Joy by Brother Ramon.

Transfiguring Light
Before I joined the Franciscans, I lived for a year with the Community of Transfiguration in Roslin, near Edinburgh. At that time the community had charge of the Sunday Eucharist in the famous and mysterious Roslin Chapel. I say "mysterious" because I felt some strange influences there—a place where light and darkness seemed in conflict. There were some dark stories about the Battle of Roslin and the bloodshed which was carried into the church of that time, and down into the crypt.

It was in the crypt which was most solemn in its light and darkness. You became aware of the descent below the ground level, and if there was no heat it was both dark and damp. But as you descended, you were faced with a glorious window, the base of which was at ground level, while you further descended into the crypt. It depicted the wonderful light and color of the transfiguration, the effulgent Christ radiating rays of glory toward the dazed disciples, while underneath were the words, 'In your light shall we see light.' I felt a creepy sense of historical darkness in the crypt, but also a theological and spiritual sense of glory.

Our [gospel] text is like that. It is a place of dazzling glory, but also of impending darkness, for here it is that Jesus sets his face and heart toward the cross. Here it is that law and prophet in the person of Moses and Elijah appear in glory, and speak with him about his exodus, the passion which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem.
A Prayer for the Day
Lord Jesus Christ, be our light in this new day. Let our lives reflect your glory, our words show forth your goodness, and our actions shine with your grace; in your holy name we pray. Amen.

May the Lord bless you and those you love this week. I look forward to worshiping with you at the Saturday Celtic Worship Service as well as on Sunday morning.