Thursday, December 10, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

The picture is of Thomas Merton's bed in his hermitage at Our Lady of Gethsemini Monastery in Kentucky.

Verse of the Day
The time is surely coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it. Amos 8: 11-12

Voice of the Day
Spirituality is not exhausted in the private prayer closet. We carry our experience of God into the places where we conduct our business, raise our families, enjoy our leisure, engage in social and political involvements, and refresh ourselves in friendships. John Indermark, The Prayer Paths of Jesus, p. 43

Prayer of the Day
Faithful God, we await the advent of your final glory when every tear shall be wiped away and hungry people shall have their fill. Grant us the Spirit of all hope that the darkness of war and oppression may give way to the fullness of the victory of Christ. We ask this through Christ our peace. Amen.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Verse of the Day
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water. Isaiah 35: 6-7

Voice of the Day
Since, for the Christian, God is always incarnate and present, there is no place on earth that is not a possible route to God. In nature's health and beauty, I see God; in nature's deterioration and destruction, I see that God is here also. In the first case a Yes and in the second a No. Sallie McFague

Prayer of the Day
Christ in all things
restore our senses
and give us again
that experience of joy
in all created things.

Christ in all things
in the waves breaking on the shore;
in the beauty of the sunset;
in the fragrant blossom of Spring;
in the music that makes our hearts dance;
in the kisses of embracing love;
in the cries of the innocent.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Verse of the Day
The Lord will make himself known to the Egyptians; and the Egyptians will know the Lord on that day, and will worship with sacrifice and burnt offering, and they will make vows to the Lord and perform them.
Isaiah 19: 21
Voice of the Day
The oldest Christmas tree to be decorated standing in a parlor is described in a fragment of a 1605 travel diary left by an unidentified visitor to Strasbourg. The writer tells of fir trees set up and hung with paper roses of many different colors and with apples, flat wafers, gilded candies, and sugar. In early Christian art the rose was a symbol for the Virgin Mary, and the flat wavers are obviously related to the "host," the communion symbol for Christ. By the seventeenth century, then, the age-old, winter-defying evergreen was a common sight in Christian homes honoring the Christ Child.
Phillip Snyder
Prayer of the Day
We rejoice with joy and singing, for the coming of the Lord is near.
For all who walk in God's Holy Way, those in the pews and in the pulpits, those at home and on the streets, for all who ponder God's promise in their, and all who carry the good news into the world; For all who are nearest to you, O God - the lonely, the out-of-work, the sick, the fearful, the cold, and the hungry. For the one who is sorry, and the one who is ashamed. It is you, our God of hope, who sets all prisoners free.
We are waiting, O God, with all the patience we can muster. Beloved of angels and archangels, Lover of saints and sinners, God our Savior, to you alone we pray, Amen.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Art History Reading Challenge: The Challenge

The Art History Reading Challenge: The Challenge
I am participating in the 2010 Art History Reading Challenge. There are a variety of such reading challenges on the web. This one requires reading 6 fiction or nonfiction books dealing with art history during 2010. I will soon post the list of books I have chosen. Find a challenge which matches or stretches your current reading, and enjoy!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Friday, December 4,2009

The Japanese Bridge at Monet's Waterlily Pond

Verse of the Day
For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me, and I do not know which I prefer. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. . . . I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith.
Philippians 1:21-25

Voice of the Day
Joy because we die not into dust, into nothingness; we die into life, life more complete, more intense, more satisfying than anything we now experience, life face to face with God. Life without end. Joy because we die into love.
Walter Burghardt, S. J. To Be Just Is to Love, p.49

Prayer of the Day
Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the way for your Son. By his coming give us strength in our conflicts and shed light on our path through the darkness of this world; in the name of Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Verse of the Day
“This generation is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be to this generation."
Luke 11:29-30

Voice of the Day
People need to learn how to offer and accept forgiveness and how to serve and be served. As a school of love, the church becomes a congregation where people learn from one another how to love. People need to know that life is not having something to live on but something to live for, that life comes not from taking for oneself but by giving of oneself. People need a sustaining sense of purpose.
Robert Schnase, Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, p. 18

Prayer of the Day
Father in heaven, the day draws near when the glory of your Son will make radiant the night of the waiting world. May the lure of greed not impede us from the joy which moves the hearts of those who seek him. May the darkness not blind us to the vision of wisdom which fills the minds of those who find him. Amen.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Verse of the Day
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."
Revelation 22:13

Voice of the Day
They watch for Christ
who are sensitive, eager, apprehensive in mind,
who are awake, alive, quick-sighted,
zealous in honoring him,
who look for him in all that happens, and
who would not be surprised,
who would not be over-agitated or overwhelmed,
if they found that he is coming at once.

This then is to watch:
to desire his second coming, from our affectionate
and grateful remembrance of his first.
John Henry Newman

Prayer of the Day
God of majesty and power,
Hasten the advent of that day
when the weapons of war shall be banished,
our deeds of darkness cast off,
and all your scattered children gathered into one.
We ask this through him whose coming is certain,
whose day draws near: your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Manday, November 30, 2009

Verse of the Day
For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness,and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1: 5-8

Voice of the Day
The only way that we become convinced of our own sense of empowerment and the power of the Spirit and the truth of the Gospel is by crossing a line -- a line of decision, testing, asking, doing, and owning the consequences. It has a certain degree of non-sensical-ness, unprovability to it. That's why we call it faith. When we cross that line we act in a new way based on what we believe the Kingdom values are. Walking is probably a lot more important than talking, even if we walk the wrong direction for awhile. Richard Rohr

Prayer of the Day
O God, help us to be alert this Advent, alert to your presence in our world today and alert to the salvation you brought through your incarnation in Jesus, and alert to my deep longing for your Kingdom. Amen

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Verse of the Day
pray without ceasing
1 Thessalonians 5:17

Voice of the Day
In the most general sense, every presence of man or woman before the face of God is a prayer; but this presence must become a constant and conscious attitude - prayer must become perpetual, as uninterrupted as breathing or the beating of the heart.
Vladimir Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, p. 209

Prayer of the Day
O God, you created the world from the silence of nothingness. You became flesh in the quiet of the night. You claim us with the mere trickling of water. May we continue, day by day, to be attentive to your presence, as near to us as our breath. Amen.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The photograph is of Devil's Tower in Wyoming

Verse of the Day
I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage, I have conquered the world.
John 16:33

Voice of the Day
Hugging is a beautiful Western custom, and we from the East would like to contribute the practice of conscious breathing to it. When you hold a child in your arms, or hug your mother, or your husband, or your friend, if you breathe in and out three times, your happiness will be multiplied at least tenfold.
Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step, p. 85.

Prayer of the Day
O God of peace, you weave your way through our hearts to share with us covenantal love. May we broaden our understanding of being peacemakers in our world today. Grant this in the name of Jesus whose birth heralded peace on earth. Amen.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This illustration, a caricature of Charles Darwin as an ape, appeared in The Hornet, a satirical magazine, on March 22, 1871. Darwin's book, On the Origin of Species, was published on this day in 1859.

Verse of the Day
The nations raged, but your wrath has come, and the time for judging the dead, for rewarding your servants, the prophets and the saints and all who fear your name, both great and small, and for destroying those who destroy the earth.
Revelation 11:18

Voice of the Day
Modern evolutionary theory continues to develop. Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, with its tree like model of branching common descent, has become the unifying theory of the life sciences. The theory explains the diversity of living organisms and their adaptation to the environment. It makes sense of the geologic record, biogeography, parallels in embryonic development, biological homologies, vestigiality, cladistics and other fields, with unrivalled explanatory power; it has also become essential to applied sciences such as medicine and agriculture. Despite the scientific consensus, there has been political and religious controversy over how evolution is taught in schools, especially in the United States.

Prayer of the Day - A Blessing
May the good Lord show you
how to be frugal, till all are fed;
how to weep, till all can laugh;
how to be meek, till all can stand in pride;
how to mourn, till all are comforted;
how to be restless, till all live in peace;
how to claim less, till all find justice.
Then you will be blessed indeed
and the earth itself shall be blessed
through you.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Monday, Novenber 23, 2009

The artwork is an Advent Cross

Verse of the Day
Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up hither!" And in the sight of their foes, the two prophets went up to heaven in a cloud. Revelation 11:12

Voice of the Day
A common temptation of religious people who claim to be prophets is to speak at a level of generality that ignores the specificity of context and situation. Christian speakers are too often quick with a general comment, manifesting a vagueness that floats over a situation at a sufficiently uncontroversial and nonthreatening level. This ignores one of the major elements of prophecy, the necessity of commenting on specific matters.
The New Interpreter's Bible, Vol XII, p. 646

Prayer of the Day
O God of Compassion, you come to be with us in our humanity. Enable us to move beyond our stagnant places to embrace your life giving waters of new birth. We ask you to bless us in the name of the Eternal Word, who was, who is, and who will always be. Amen.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thursday, November 19,2009

Verse of the Day
As for those who in the present age are rich, command then not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 1 Timothy 6:17

Voice of the Day

How can I maintain access to the spiritual in myself while living a life of relative affluence and awful money tensions that leave me feeling at times dead and at times in doleful exile from myself? How can I justify wanting and having money when people are starving? How can I let go of my fears about money which totally absorb my thoughts? Why should I want more when I have enough? Why does spending money cause me so much pain?

Prayer of the Day

Set me free, O God, to go off with you today on one wild, specific tangent after another, immersed and amazed in the wonder and even terror of your immense creative beauty. Amen

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Verse of the Day
When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and put him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong. Luke 4:28-29

Voice of the Day
For different purposes we belong to different groups and we live by our loyalties, among which loyalty to the search for truth does not rank as high as it ought. The secret of a good life is to have the right loyalties and to hold them in the right scale of values. The value of dissent and dissenters is to make us reappraise those values with supreme concern for the truth. Norman Thomas, Great Dissenters, p.13

Prayer of the Day
In the silence before time began, in the quiet of the womb, in the stillness of the morning is your beauty. At the heart of all creation, at the birth of every creature, at the center of each moment is your splendor. Rekindle in me the sparks of your beauty that I may be part of the blazing splendor that burns from the heart of this moment. J. Philip Newell, Sounds of the Eternal, p.38

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Verse of the Day

I would have younger widows marry, bear children, rule their their households, and give the enemy no occasion to revile us. 1 Timothy 5:14

Voice of the Day

We need the vision of interbeing -- we belong to each other; we cannot cut reality into pieces. The well-being of "this" is the well-being of "that," so we have to do things together. Every side is "our side"; there is no evil side. Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace is Every Step, p. 14

Prayer of the Day

Your gift of life is a source of joy for us, O God, but the challenge to grow often weighs us down. Give us the courage to live responsibly in all the areas of our lives. Let all that we do radiate our faith and hope in your love for us. Bless all who encourage us on the way, as together we strive for the unity that is yours, Creator, Word, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

An icon of Jesus calling the disciples.

There will not be a post today. Our friends Frank and Juliette are in the hospital after a motorcycle accident. Please hold them in your prayers.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The photograph is of the Japanese Bridge draped with wisteria at Monet's garden in Giverny.

Verse of the Day
The rich in this world are to do good, to be rich in good deeds, liberal and generous, thus laying up for themselves a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life which is life indeed. 1 Timothy 6: 18-19

Voice of the Day
Jesus suggested that our giving of alms is one of the ways that we can make our repentance real and can live in imitation of God. The church does not take up a collection in worship simply to pay its bills. The church collects money to teach us to be generous like Jesus, to give us the opportunity to practice our repentance in a community of grace. Unruh, Finding Christ Finding Life, p. 13

Prayer of the Day
We confess, O God, that we have not been a repentant people. Frustrated by feelings of hopelessness, we have looked after ourselves rather than care for your people. Instead of giving generously, we have hoarded our possessions and sought more income. Instead of fasting spiritually, we have eaten on the run and satisfied only our stomachs.

Forgive us for choosing our way rather than your way. Amen.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

Verse of the Day
Whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8

Voice of the Day
When you hold a child in your arms, or hug your mother, or your husband, or your friend, if you breathe in and out three times, your happiness will be multiplied at least ten times. It takes some time to become comfortable hugging this way. But to really be there, you only need to breathe, and suddenly the other person becomes completely real. The two of you really exist in that moment. It may be one of the best moments in your life. Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step, pp. 85-6.

Prayer of the Day
Most gracious God, you are with us as we make our journey throughout this day. Help us to look lovingly upon all people and events that come into our lives today and to walk gently upon our land. In the name of Jesus who lives and walks among us ever present at each moment. Amen.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

The painting of Ruth, Naomi, and Obed is by Simeon Solomon (1840-1905.) It is in a private collection.

Verse of the Day
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When they came together, the Lord made her conceive, and she bore a son. . . . They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David. Ruth 4: 13, 17b.

Voice of the Day
When a person grows old, his deepest hope is to have a grandchild to hold in his arms. . . . We have to find ways for old and young people to live together again.
Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step, p.88

Prayer of the Day
God of peace, you call us to come to you in our need, as a mother or father might beckon a distressed child. When all else may seem to betray our trust, give us the faith to turn to you with renewed hope. Your ways are mystery to us, made life-giving through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. In your mercy, make of us a new creation through his gospel. Amen.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Thursday, November 4, 2009

'Boaz at the gate,' Figures de la Bible, 1782, The Bizzell Bible Collection, The University of Oklahoma

Verse of the Day
Then Boaz said, "The day you acquire the field from the hand of Naomi, you are also acquiring Ruth the Moabite, the widow of the dead man, to maintain the dead man's name on his inheritance." Ruth 4:5

Voice of the Day
Do everything you can to avoid the noise and the business of men. Keep as far away as you can from the places where they gather to cheat and insult one another, to exploit one another, to laugh at one another, or to mock one another with their false gestures of friendship.
Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

Prayer of the Day
Direct our activity this day, merciful God, that we may reflect your goodness and love to our companions. Help us to be mindful of the many people who are oppressed, and may we be aware of the ways that we oppress others. We ask this in the name of Jesus who died to set us free. Amen

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Another depiction of Ruth and Boaz

Verse of the Day
Though it is true that I am a near kinsman, there is another kinsman more closely related than I. Remain this night, and in the morning, if he will act as next-of-kin for you, good; let him do it. If he is not willing to act as next-of-kin for you, then, as the Lord lives, I will act as next-of-kin for you. Ruth 3:13

Voice of the Day
Men learn to expect status, service, and submission. They lose the right to be wrong. They are denied the obligation to learn from others. They use things -- money, power, and property -- to define themselves. They work till they drop, and they drop from working. They have little emotional release. They substitute authority for competency. Such a system is a long, long way from Galilee.
Heart of Flesh, Joan Chittister

Prayer of the Heart
God, give me the courage to be revolutionary as your Son Jesus Christ was. Give me the courage to loosen myself from this world. Give me the courage to stand up free and to shun no criticism. God, thank you for the vision of the future, but make it fact and not theory. Amen.
Henri Nouwen

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Today's artwork is Ruth at the Feet of Boaz by Marc Chagall

Verse of the Day
When Boaz had eaten and drunk, and he was in a contented mood, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then Ruth came stealthily and uncovered his feet, and lay down.
Ruth 3:7

Voice of the Day
Taking chances is a trait of a healthy spirituality. I mean taking chances on the really big things in life -- like God and the future. Hope means more than merely sitting around and wishing for a better future; it means working to make that better future a reality.
Traits of a Healthy Spirituality, Melannie Svoboda

Prayer of the Day
God help me to take a chance
on you and on the future.
Help me to bet on the good news,
to risk everything,
and to stake my life on Jesus. Amen

Monday, October 26, 2009

October 26,2009

Dear Friends,
As the pace of activities picked this this fall, it became increasingly difficult for me to post regularly with the present format of the blog. I am in the process of rethinking the ways I can be most helpful and also be a good steward of my time.

So the blog is not going away. I hope that in a few days I can switch to a format which is manageable on a daily basis. Any suggestions you may have about how I can be most helpful to you are welcomed! Please leave them in the Comment section below.

Let us encourage one another.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

October 21, 2009

The Call to Prayer
Glory be to you, O God,
for the rising of the sun,
for color filling the skies,
and for the whiteness of daylight.
Morning Psalm
Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.
I say to the Lord: "You are my God.
My happiness lies in you alone."
You have put in my heart a marvellous love
for the faithful ones who dwell in your land.
You will show me the path of life,
the fullness of joy in your presence,
at your right hand happiness for ever.
Psalm 16
A Reading from Job 41:12-34
Closing Prayer
O God, Father of Jesus Christ,
open our hearts to your word
and to the power of the Spirit.
Give us love to discover your will
and strength to carry it out today,
for you are light,
for ever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

The haiga form of artwork originated in Japan. In observing everyday life, haiga juxtaposes an image, from painting to photography, and zen-like or haiku poetry

The Call to Prayer
Let everything that has breath
praise the Lord. Hallelujah!

The Morning Psalm - 29
Ascribe to the Lord, you powers of heaven, •
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the honour due to his name; •
worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
The voice of the Lord is upon the waters;
the God of glory thunders; •
the Lord is upon the mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is mighty in operation; •
the voice of the Lord is a glorious voice.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedar trees; •
the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon; He makes Lebanon skip like a calf • and Sirion like a young wild ox.7
The voice of the Lord splits the flash of lightning;
the voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; •
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord makes the oak trees writhe
and strips the forests bare; •
in his temple all cry, ‘Glory!’
The Lord sits enthroned above the water flood; •
the Lord sits enthroned as king for evermore.
The Lord shall give strength to his people; •
the Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace.

A Reading from Job 40:1-24

Closing Prayer

As we pause to remember your faithfulness to us, O God, Source of Life, continue to abide with us this day. We give thanks for all people working for justice and peace, and we ask you to give your people courage and strength. In the name of Jesus, who gave his life in the cause of justice. Amen.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My Voice Because of You
Wake up. Day calls you
to your life: your duty.
And to live, nothing more.
Root it out of the glum
night and the darkness
that covered your body
for which light waited
on tiptoe in the dawn.
Stand up, affirm the straight
simple will to be
a pure slender virgin.
Test your body's metal.
Cold, heat? Your blood
will tell against the snow,
or behind the window.
The colour
in your cheeks will tell.
And look at people. Rest
doing no more than adding
your perfection to another
day. Your task
is to carry your life high,
and play with it,
hurl it like a voice to the clouds
so it may retrieve the light
already gone from us.
That is your fate: to live.
Do nothing.
Your work is you, nothing more.
~ Pedro Salinas ~

Help me to seek a way in life
that follows the quietness of the heart

The quiet heart in the storm of injustice
the quiet heart when the poor cry out
the quiet heart that knows goodness and joy
the quiet heart that feels gentle love

Help me to seek a way today
in your presence and your goodness
the gentle love of your quiet heart
and the stillness of your strong being
A Reflection Question
What place could incense have in your worship - "the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God"?
May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ go with you,
wherever he may send you.
May he bring you home rejoicing
once again into our doors.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Mary Oliver
Reflection Question
What does it mean to praise God with the words of verse 12?
"Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor
and power and might
be to our God forever and ever! Amen."
I will not Hurry.
I will not hurry through this day! Lord, I will listen by the way,
To humming bees and singing birds, To murmuring trees and friendly words;
And for the moments inbetween
Seek glimpses of Thy great unseen.
I will not hurry through this day, I will take time to think and pray;
I will look up into the sky, Where fleecy clouds and swallows fly;
And somewhere in the day, maybe I will catch whispers, Lord, from Thee!
Ralph Spaulding Cushman
May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

In the silence of our hearts
let us give thanks for the gift of this day
and pray for the life of the world.

A Reading from Hebrews 4:1-11
Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest is still open, let us take care that none of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For indeed the good news came to us just as to them; but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “As in my anger I swore, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’” though his works were finished at the foundation of the world. For in one place it speaks about the seventh day as follows, “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this place it says, “They shall not enter my rest.” Since therefore it remains open for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he sets a certain day—“today” —saying through David much later, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not speak later about another day. So then, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God; for those who enter God’s rest also cease from their labors as God did from his.

Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall through such disobedience as theirs.

The last verse says that a "sabbath rest" is open for the people of God. This might mean merely that there is a rest as complete as that of the sabbath - or it is just possible that the author was thinking of a schema of ages in which the previous time stood for six days, and then the time to come would be the seventh.

Naturally, an exhortation follows: Get busy so you can enter into this great rest. Do not think you can hide anything from God: God’s word is sharp; it penetrates everywhere. Everything lies open and bare to God, to whom we must give an account.

Do you see the great lesson here? The Christian life is a life of day by day, hour by hour trust in the promises of God to help us and guide us and take care of us and forgive us and bring us into a future of holiness and joy that will satisfy our hearts infinitely more than if we forsake him and put our trust in ourselves or in the promises of this world. And that day by day, hour by hour trust in God's promises is not automatic. It is the result of daily diligence and it's the result of proper fear.

Lover of the poor
defender of the needy,
sanctuary of the rejected:
for those who suffer today
and for whole communities
who have no hope for tomorrow,
we offer the longings of our hearts.
We seek for them, O God --
food for the table,
drink for the soul,
shelter for the night,
and open arms to welcome all.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Today's artwork is The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck

Opening Verses
Glory be to God who has shown us the light!
Lead me from darkness to light.
Lead me from sadness to joy.
Lead me from death to immortality.
Glory be to God!

Read 1 Corinthians 7:10-16

Paul's pattern throughout chapter 7 is to set up the ideal as the goal, but he regularly makes an accommodation to persons who for various reasons cannot attain the goal. Here the goal is conformity with Jesus' teaching that a woman not divorce her husband, but the accommodation immediately follows: "but if she does." So Paul does not forbid divorce, though to divorce is short of the ideal. In any case, divorce should not be an early step in the treatment of marriage problems.
The New Interpreter's Bible, vol. X, p. 878

Lord, help us to remember when we first met and the strong love that grew between us.To work that love into practical things so nothing can divide us. We ask for words both kind and loving. And hearts always ready to ask forgiveness as well as to forgive. Dear Lord, we put our marriage into your hands. Amen.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009

Opening Words
Millions and millions of years would still not give me half enough time to describe that tiny instant of all eternity when you put your arms around me and I put my arms around you. Jacques Prevert

Read 1 Corinthians 7:1-9

Paul's presumption is that human beings are sexual creatures for whom sexual passion, expressed in the marital context, is an appropriate part of human experience. In our own culture sex and sexuality are treated in two radically diverse ways. On the one hand, they are topics about which people seldom have serious, thoughtful discussions; they are treated in a hush-hush fashion that curiously only serves to mystify them even more and helps to make possible the commercial exploitation of sex and sexuality. On the other hand, they are used everywhere to sell everything from automobiles to toothpaste, and the entertainment media would be at a loss without them. In light of the gospel, homes and churches should be places where we could discuss human sexuality and its drives as a wholesome, even pleasurable part of life. Like anything else that is good, sex and sexuality can be perverted, but that possibility should neither prevent the discussion nor allow sexuality to be viewed as something intrinsically bad.
The New Interpreter's Bible, vol. X, p. 873

Among your good gifts, O God, is the gift of human sexuality. It not only provides pleasure, it is the means by which man and woman most intimately know each other. Forgive the church for allowing your good gift to be tainted as something less respectable. Forgive us when one partner seeks to have authority over the body of the other. Forgive those who misuse your gift to do great harm to others. Let us receive our sexuality as a cherished part of life. We thank and praise you for creating us man and woman and allowing us, through the Spirit in your church, to become one flesh. Amen.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

Opening Verse
Create in me a clean heart, O God

A Reading From Romans 8:1-11
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For 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, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 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.

But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If 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.

What does it mean to "live according to the Spirit?" What can these words of Paul signify -- not only for Christians who believe them to be divinely inspired, but for all people of good will? To be "spiritual," or to live according to the Spirit, is to know, and then to live by the knowledge, that there is more to life than meets the eye, that there is a deeper dimension to reality than first appears.

To be "spiritual" means, beyond that, to know, and to live by that knowledge, that God is present to us -- to all of us -- as the source of ongoing personal and communal growth and renewal. Christians call this divine presence the Holy Spirit. The theological term for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within us is grace, which means literally, "gift."

Grace is the gift of God's presence. And the God who is given to us as grace, the God who is present within us as grace, is the Holy Spirit. The term "spirituality," therefore, embraces everything that we are, everything that we think, and everything that we do by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Closing Prayer
Forgiving God, look not upon our sins but upon our desire to serve you and one another. Dispel our darkness, and help us to embrace our failings in living union with your goodness. Heal us that we may be a source of strength and courage for others. And may our prayer become one with the prayer of your Spirit that we may be one with you. Amen.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Opening Verse
You are the light of the world.
A Reading from Matthew 18:6-9
“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes! “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into the hell of fire.
Jesus now addresses the disciples directly about their personal responsibility for their own actions. Lest they deceive themselves into thinking that all sinful behavior is the result of others causing them to sin, Jesus declares that they must take responsibility for their own tendencies to cause themselves to sin. Similar to the hyperbole in the SM (5:29-30), Jesus indicates that cutting off one’s hand or foot or plucking out one’s eye in this life (18:8-9) is no comparison to the eternal judgment destined for allowing the passions of one’s own life to lead one into sin. Jesus is not advocating physical self-mutilation, but through dramatic figures of speech he indicates the rigorous self-discipline needed for committed disciples.”

“ ‘Little ones’ does not only mean children, but those who humble themselves like children as Jesus described. It is a wicked thing to sin, and it is a far greater evil to lead others into sin."
What kind of excuses have I been making towards resilient sin issues in my life? How has this affected others?
What kind of drastic measures am I called to take to deal with sins in my life? What should be my motivation?
O God, source of our light, you are ever with us to reveal the way of truth and justice. Be with us this day as we face the reality of our sinful imperfections. May we restrain our tendency to ignore or take advantage of the weak and, by our example,, to cause others to stumble. Rather, may we servants to those who need us the most. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our way, our truth, our life. Amen.

Monday, September 28, 2009

September 29, 2009

The artwork is Cutout by Matisse

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

A Reading from 1 John 2:18-25
Children, it is the last hour! As you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. From this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But by going out they made it plain that none of them belongs to us.
But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and all of you have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and you know that no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; everyone who confesses the Son has the Father also. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he has promised us, eternal life.

John's primary point is that if we get Jesus wrong, then we shall surely misconstrue the God who saves us; and if our understanding of God is corrupted, then the way we live will inevitably be deformed. The old saw, "It doesn't matter what you believe, so long as you're sincere" is an idea far more naive and dangerous than we imagine. It is also more cowardly because what often passes as 'tolerance' is really indifference. First John compels us to consider that some beliefs we may hold about Jesus are intolerably divergent from God's norm, that some activities in which we may engage are inescapably at odds with the One in whom we have experienced forgiveness and received new life.

Compassionate God, touch our hearts this morning with your mercy and love. Help us to be a source of love and light to those who are suffering this day. May all who die today experience the joy of being in your presence. Grant this through the intercession of all who suffered persecution for the sake of justice. Amen

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

Give heed to my words, O God, and listen to my morning prayer.

A Reading from I 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, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so 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 honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although 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, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
For the Christians to whom the author of 1 Peter writes, it is quite clear that Christian faith represented a conscious and difficult decision to move away from their old lives and from the predominant culture in which they lived. Today "born again" Christianity can sometimes refer to a particular spiritual experience without radical social or ethical implications. For Christians of Peter's time, however, it was clear that being born again not only meant adding joy to one's life, but also leaving behind one's congenial relationship with neighbors and community. Being born again hurt.
The New Interpreter's Bible Volume XII, page 254
Holy God, you continue to bless us with your gifts of creation. We give thanks to you for your kindness to your people and take delight in the gifts we share to bring about the fullness of your life in our world. All praise to you, Blessed Trinity, living in us and among us through all generations. Amen.