Monday, August 31, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Today's artwork is Celtic Cross, Book of Kells

This week's opening and closing prayers are from Sounds of the Eternal: A Celtic Psalter by J. Philip Newell

Opening Prayer
As the day's light breaks the darkness of the night, as the first movements of the morning pierce the night's stillness, so a new waking to life dawns within me, so a fresh beginning opens. In the early light of this day, in the first actions of the morning, let me be awake to life. In my soul and in my seeing let me be alive to the gift of this new day, let me be fully alive.

A Reading from 1 Peter 2:19-25
For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. 20If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

Closing Prayer
The strength of the rising sun,
the strength of the swelling sea,
the strength of the high mountains,
the strength of the fertile plains,
the strength of the everlasting river
flowing in me and through me this day,
the strength of the river of God
flowing in me and through me this day.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Monday, August 31

Today's artwork is Celtic Cross Vodicka

This week's opening and closing prayers are from Sounds of the Eternal: A Celtic Psalter by J. Philip Newell.

Opening Prayer
In the silence of the morning
I am alive to the day's light,
alert to the early stirrings of the wind
and the first sounds of the creatures.
In the silence of my heart
I hear the yearnings that are in me and the fears,
the hopes that rise from within
and the doubts that trouble my soul.
In the beginnings of this day, O God,
before the night's stillness is lost to the day's busyness,
open to me the treasure of my inner being
that in the midst of this day's busyness I may draw on wisdom.
Assure me again of my origins in you,
assure me again that my true depths are of you.

A Reading from 1 Timothy 4:6-16
If you put these instructions before the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with profane myths and old wives’ tales. Train yourself in godliness, for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. These are the things you must insist on and teach. Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I arrive, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. Put these things into practice, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Closing Prayer
Like an infant's open-eyed wonder
and the insights of a wise grandmother,
like a young man's vision for justice
and the vitality that shines in a girl's face,
like tears that flow in a friend bereaved
and laughter in a lover's eyes,
you have given me ways of seeing, O God,
you have endowed me with sight like your own.
Let these be alive in me this day,
let these be alive in me.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

Today's Quote
It was not into my ear that you whispered but into my heart, Was not my lips you kissed but my soul. Judy Garland

A Reading from Song of Songs 2:1-7

I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.

As a lily among brambles, so is my love among maidens.

As an apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his intention toward me was love. Sustain me with raisins, refresh me with apples; for I am faint with love. O that his left hand were under my head, and that his right hand embraced me! I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the wild does: do not stir up or awaken love until it is ready!


The astute reader perceives something more. Its tale of love, courtship, compassion, intimacy, longing, and mutual delight resounds with many of the elements that characterize God's dealings with God's people. Bawdy, titillating, cryptic, and bordering sometimes on the lewd, the lovers' unpredictable love affair - characterized by halts, jerks, lurches, twitches, and inconstancy - shows remarkable parallels with the history of the relationship between human and divine love. We are forced to ponder the powerful emotions underlying the divine-human bond: what it means to be demanding yet fickle; desperate, but timid; what it means to wound those we love and to be wounded by love, to disappoint those we love and to be disappointed by love, to be hopelessly attached to each other and trying to hear what the other is saying. The New Interpreter's Bible, Volume V, p. 391

O Cosmic Christ,
in your heart
all history finds meaning and purpose.
In the new millennium,
in the celebration of jubilee
help us find that which we all seek:
a communion of love
with each other
and with you, the Alpha and Omega,
the first and last,
the yesterday, today, and tomorrow, the beginning without end. Amen.
Mary Lou Kownacki

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Today's Quote
Passion is seldom the end of any story, for it cannot long endure if it is not soon supplemented with true affection and mutual respect. Kathryn L Nelson

A Reading from The Song of Songs/Solomon 1:1-17
The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine, your anointing oils are fragrant, your name is perfume poured out; therefore the maidens love you. Draw me after you, let us make haste. The king has brought me into his chambers. We will exult and rejoice in you; we will extol your love more than wine; rightly do they love you. I am black and beautiful, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon. Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has gazed on me. My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept!

Tell me, you whom my soul loves, where you pasture your flock, where you make it lie down at noon; for why should I be like one who is veiled beside the flocks of your companions? If you do not know, O fairest among women, follow the tracks of the flock, and pasture your kids beside the shepherds’ tents. I compare you, my love, to a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots. Your cheeks are comely with ornaments, your neck with strings of jewels. We will make you ornaments of gold, studded with silver.

While the king was on his couch, my nard gave forth its fragrance. My beloved is to me a bag of myrrh that lies between my breasts. My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms in the vineyards of En-gedi. Ah, you are beautiful, my love; ah, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves. Ah, you are beautiful, my beloved, truly lovely. Our couch is green; the beams of our house are cedar, our rafters are pine.

Reflections on the Reading
by James T. Dennison, Jr.
My own view of the book is that it is a divinely inspired love poem of the affection between Solomon and his Shulammite bride. The sexual imagery of the book is appropriate to a man and his wife experiencing what God gave to that first man and woman in the garden of Eden. We have a canonical poem celebrating marital love after the fall—"and behold it is very good!" Garden imagery in a fresh-blooming world is emblematic of the setting for man and woman in their unashamed intimacy.

Every chapter of the Song is fraught with images that strike our senses—sight (flowers), sounds (animals and birds), smells (perfumes), taste (fruits) and touch (physical attractiveness). Love—marital, sexual love—is the exploration and intoxication of all the senses. Our lovers are delighting in one another as God intended from the beginning. They possess one another, longing and yearning for that union which fittingly consummates their love. They taste something of the mystery which exists at the heart of intimate union—a mystery expressed by Paul as reflected in the union of Christ and his Bride, the Church (Eph.5).

Creator God,
You have loved us passionately into being.
We come today seeking your presence
and to know we are your beloved.
Enter our sanctuary and enter our hearts
that we may look into your loving gaze
and see ourselves reflected there, as you see us.
Let our love for you reflect and mirror your perfect love
as we gather as your beloved community. Amen

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Today's Quote
In this world, all are not guilty but all are reponsible. Rabbi Abraham Heschel

Lord, take this song and fill it with your presence. Let it bring a word of hope to weary care-full hearts. Take this song, and fill it, Lord. Fill it with yourself.

A Readig from 1 Kings 6:1-14
In the four hundred eightieth year after the Israelites came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, he began to build the house of the Lord. The house that King Solomon built for the Lord was sixty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and thirty cubits high. The vestibule in front of the nave of the house was twenty cubits wide, across the width of the house. Its depth was ten cubits in front of the house. For the house he made windows with recessed frames. He also built a structure against the wall of the house, running around the walls of the house, both the nave and the inner sanctuary; and he made side chambers all around. The lowest story was five cubits wide, the middle one was six cubits wide, and the third was seven cubits wide; for around the outside of the house he made offsets on the wall in order that the supporting beams should not be inserted into the walls of the house. The house was built with stone finished at the quarry, so that neither hammer nor ax nor any tool of iron was heard in the temple while it was being built. The entrance for the middle story was on the south side of the house: one went up by winding stairs to the middle story, and from the middle story to the third. So he built the house, and finished it; he roofed the house with beams and planks of cedar. He built the structure against the whole house, each story five cubits high, and it was joined to the house with timbers of cedar.

Now the word of the Lord came to Solomon, “Concerning this house that you are building, if you will walk in my statutes, obey my ordinances, and keep all my commandments by walking in them, then I will establish my promise with you, which I made to your father David. I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel.” So Solomon built the house, and finished it.

Loving God, you have always known us completely. From the hour of our birth to this very moment, you have been there for us.

May we know you through all our years, serve you in all places, experience you in every circumstance, and love you with all our hearts, until time and space are no more and we are gathered together into your eternal light. Through Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. Amen.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

The art work is entitled Island Cypress

Today's Quote
There are three things in life that are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind. Henry James

A Prayer
For the expanding grandeur of Creation,
worlds known and unknown,
galaxies beyond galaxies,
filling us with awe and challenging our imaginations,
We give thanks this day.

For our human community,
our common past and future hope,
our oneness transcending all separation,
our capacity to work for peace in the midst of hostility,
We give thanks this day.

We pray that we may live not by our fears but by our hopes,
not by our words but by our deeds.

Read 1 Kings 5:13-18

History has a way of repeating itself, often with a cruel twist. King Solomon is re-building the Temple, and his slave labor is supplied by men from Israel. Pharaoh now wears a Hebrew crown.

The Israelites at least have a more humane schedule. They spend a month working, then two months at home. The forced laborers - carvers, stonecutters, supervisors - are not so fortunate.

Solomon has sold out his own people in order to achieve a personal desire. They had to bear the burdens and suffer injustice for the sake of Solomon's Temple.

Even in a worthwhile project, done in the name of God, one's own personal agenda may get in the way. The questionable deals that are made, the oppressive costs that are paid, may compromise the integrity of the Lord's Temple and its human builder.

Lord, if you have to break me to remake me, let your will be done. Marian Wright Edelman

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

The artwork is entitled 'Birds of Paradise Riot.'

A Reading from Romans 15:11-14
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; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

It's so easy to dream of the days gone by.
It's a hard thing to think of the time to come;
but the grace to accept ev'ry moment as a gift
is a gift that is given to some.

What can you do with your days but work and hope,
let your dreams bind your work to your play.
What can you do with each moment of your life
but love til you've loved it away,
Love til you've loved it away.
Bob Franke

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

Quote of the Day
It took me a long time to learn that God is not the enemy of my enemies. God is not even the enemy of his enemies.

Opening Words
I want to make poems while thinking of
the bread of heaven and the
cup of astonishment; let them be
songs in which nothing is neglected,
not a hope, not a promise. I want to make poems
that look into the earth and the heavens
and see the unseeable.
Mary Oliver

A Reading from Another Voice
The place to begin to understand the politics of God is with the prophets, the ancient moral articulators in the Scriptures who claimed to speak in "the name of the Lord." What were their subjects? Quite secular topics really -- land, labor, capital, wages, taxes, economic divisions, equity, fairness, courts, prisons, immigrants, other races and peoples, social justice, war and peace -- the stuff of politics. And whom were the prophets usually speaking for? Most often the dispossessed, widows and orphans, the hungry, the homeless, the helpless, the least, last and lost. Jim Wallis

A Reading from Acts 6:1-7
Now during those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables. Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.” What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

Be still and aware of God's presence within and all around.

O God, we labor in the heat of the day,
and so often the labor feels hopeless, unproductive, useless . . . .

And yet you hear our silent cries.
You give us one another
to speak that which we in our pain cannot speak.
You give us your Word
that utters those things we cannot find the words to say.

And you have promised,
even in the silence,
to give us the sweet sound of peace.
John McCullough Bade

May God make safe to us each step,
May God open to us each door,
May God make clear to us each road.
May God enfold us in loving arms.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

Today's artwork is The Burning Bush

Quote for the Day
Not all are called to be artist in the specific sense of the term. Yet, as Genesis has it, all men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their own life -- in a certain sense, they are to make it a work of art, a masterpiece. John Paul II
Opening Words
You are the peace of all things calm.
You are the place to hide from harm.
You are the light that shines in dark.
You are the heart's eternal spark.

A Reading from Another Voice
Imagine your having no need to judge anybody. Imagine your having no desire to decide whether someone is a good or bad person. Imagine your being completely free from the feelings that you have to make up your mind about the morality of someone's behavior. Imagine that you could say, "I am judge of no one."
Imagine-- Wouldn't that be true inner peace?
Henri Nouwen, Here and Now
2 Samuel 15:19-37
Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why are you also coming with us? Go back, and stay with the king; for you are a foreigner, and also an exile from your home. You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander about with us, while I go wherever I can? Go back, and take your kinsfolk with you; and may the Lord show steadfast love and faithfulness to you.” But Ittai answered the king, “As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether for death or for life, there also your servant will be.” David said to Ittai, “Go then, march on.” So Ittai the Gittite marched on, with all his men and all the little ones who were with him. The whole country wept aloud as all the people passed by; the king crossed the Wadi Kidron, and all the people moved on toward the wilderness.

Abiathar came up, and Zadok also, with all the Levites, carrying the ark of the covenant of God. They set down the ark of God, until the people had all passed out of the city. Then the king said to Zadok, “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me back and let me see both it and the place where it stays. But if he says, ‘I take no pleasure in you,’ here I am, let him do to me what seems good to him.” The king also said to the priest Zadok, “Look, go back to the city in peace, you and Abiathar, with your two sons, Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan son of Abiathar. See, I will wait at the fords of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.” So Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem, and they remained there. But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, with his head covered and walking barefoot; and all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went.
David was told that Ahithophel was among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, “O Lord, I pray you, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.” When David came to the summit, where God was worshiped, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat torn and earth on his head. David said to him, “If you go on with me, you will be a burden to me. But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your father’s servant in time past, so now I will be your servant,’ then you will defeat for me the counsel of Ahithophel. The priests Zadok and Abiathar will be with you there. So whatever you hear from the king’s house, tell it to the priests Zadok and Abiathar. Their two sons are with them there, Zadok’s son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan; and by them you shall report to me everything you hear.” So Hushai, David’s friend, came into the city, just as Absalom was entering Jerusalem.

Be still and aware of God's presence within and all around.

Come Holy Spirit, Spirit of Love, Spirit of Discipline,
In the Silence
Come to us and bring us your peace;

Rest in us that we may be tranquil and still;
Speak to us as each heart needs to hear;
Reveal to us things hidden and things longed for;
Rejoice in us that we may praise and and be glad;
Pray in us that we may be at one with you and with each other;
Refresh and renew us from your living springs of water;
Dwell in us now and always. Amen.

May God our Creator breathe into you new life and a whole new meaning.
May the Spirit of God breathe into you a new spirit and a new understanding.
May the Wisdom of God breathe into you new hope and a new awareness.
And may all who hear the Word of God be blessed forever. Amen.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Today's artwork is Tree of Life, found on

Quote for the day
There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness but of power.
Washington Irving

Opening Words
Come among us, Jesus,
You who hurled the stars into space
and shaped the spider's weaving,
Come, Jesus, and meet us here.

A Reading from Another Voice
Idols, in whatever shape or form, grab our attention, and if we are not careful, our ultimate loyalty. Once they have our attention in this way, idols - things we make - pull a treacherous switch: they begin making us. The problem is that we never own up to how dangerous they really are. The best idols remain cloaked in the garments of innocent acceptableness. By these criteria, "hurry," or busyness, may be seen as one of our culture's most dangerous and pernicious idols. Unattributed

A Reading from 2 Samuel 15:1-8
After this Absalom got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run ahead of him. Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the road into the gate; and when anyone brought a suit before the king for judgment, Absalom would call out and say, “From what city are you?” When the person said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,” Absalom would say, “See, your claims are good and right; but there is no one deputed by the king to hear you.” Absalom said moreover, “If only I were judge in the land! Then all who had a suit or cause might come to me, and I would give them justice.” Whenever people came near to do obeisance to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of them, and kiss them. Thus Absalom did to every Israelite who came to the king for judgment; so Absalom stole the hearts of the people of Israel.

At the end of four years Absalom said to the king, “Please let me go to Hebron and pay the vow that I have made to the Lord. For your servant made a vow while I lived at Geshur in Aram: If the Lord will indeed bring me back to Jerusalem, then I will worship the Lord in Hebron.”

Be still and aware of God's presence within and all around.

With you is the source of life, O God.
You are the beginning of all that is.
From your life the fire of the rising sun streams forth.
You are the life-flow of creation's rivers,
the sap of blood in our veins,'earth's fecundity,
the fruiting of trees, creatures' birthing,
the conception of new thought,
desire's origin.
All these are of you, O God,
and I am of you.
You are the morning's freshness.

I bless you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Sacred Spirit:
the One and the Three.
May God give you to drink of His cup;
may the sun be bright upon you;
may the night call down peace;
and when you come to His household
may the door be open wide
for you to go in to your joy.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Today's artwork is Paisley Nasturtium by Alma Lee,

Quote for the day
You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket.
John Adams, 1735-1826

Opening Words
It is good to sing praises to our God;
it is pleasant and right to praise God.
The Lord is restoring Jerusalem,
God is bringing back the exiles.

God has decided the number of the stars
and calls each one by name.
Great and mighty is our Lord;
God's wisdom cannot be measured.
Psalm 147:1-2,4-5

A Reading from Another Voice

Christians have always known that they can only make real and credible their relationship to the great mystery of their lives through unconditional love for their neighbor. This love for others in all the varied forms it can take is the liberating grace of God. Where this love is real, the spirit of Jesus is at work, even if it is not named. Everything depends on this, absolutely everything. Karl Rahner, The Practice of Faith.

A Reading from Acts 21:15-26
After these days we got ready and started to go up to Jerusalem. Some of the disciples from Caesarea also came along and brought us to the house of Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we were to stay.

When we arrived in Jerusalem, the brothers welcomed us warmly. The next day Paul went with us to visit James; and all the elders were present. After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. When they heard it, they praised God. Then they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands of believers there are among the Jews, and they are all zealous for the law. They have been told about you that you teach all the Jews living among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, and that you tell them not to circumcise their children or observe the customs. What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. So do what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow. Join these men, go through the rite of purification with them, and pay for the shaving of their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself observe and guard the law. But as for the Gentiles who have become believers, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication.” Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having purified himself, he entered the temple with them, making public the completion of the days of purification when the sacrifice would be made for each of them.

A time for reflection on the readings


The sky does it simply, naturally day by day by day. The sun does it joyfully, like someone in love, like a runner on the starting line. The sky, the sun, they just can't help themselves. No loud voices, no grand speeches, but everyone sees, and is happy with them. Make us like that, Lord, so that our faith is not in our words but in our lives, not in what we say but in who we are, passing on your love like an infectious laugh: not worried, not threatening, just shining like the sun, like a starry night, like a lamp on a stand, light for life -- your light for our lives. (Kathy Galloway, The Iona Community)


May you see the glory of God in sun and sky; may you hear the Creator's song in bird and breeze; and may the grace of Christ's Spirit course through you, body and soul.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Monday, August 9, 2009

Read Mark 9:42-50

Was Jesus’ exaggerating when he urged his followers to use drastic measures to avoid evil and its harmful consequences? Jesus set before his disciples the one supreme goal in life that is worth any sacrifice, and that goal is God himself and his will for our lives which leads to everlasting peace and happiness. Just as a doctor might remove a limb or some part of the body in order to preserve the life of the whole body, so we must be ready to part with anything that causes us to sin and which leads to spiritual death. Jesus warns his disciples of the terrible responsibility that they must set no stumbling block in the way of another, that is, not give offense or bad example that might lead another to sin. The Greek word for temptation (scandalon) is exactly the same as the English word scandal. The original meaning of scandal is a trap or a stumbling block which causes one to trip and fall. The Jews held that it was an unforgivable sin to teach another to sin. If we teach another to sin, he in turn may teach still another, until a train of sin is set in motion with no foreseeable end. The young in faith are especially vulnerable to the bad example of those who should be passing on the faith. Do you set a good example for others to follow, especially the young?


God of the salt
God of the fire
God of anger
God of laughter
God of parables and riddles
God of story and proclamation
God of comfort
God of affliction
God of the salt
God of the fire
come now
be now
here now.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009

Read Galatians 6:1-10

Paul’s letters to his mission churches reveal the pains and pleasures of being the family of faith. To the churches in the territory of Galatia we overhear Paul giving advice on how to be a functional family. "So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up." We can almost feel Paul’s arm around our shoulders, giving us a squeeze, and his pastoral words of encouragement: Don’t grow tired of it all and for goodness’ sake, don’t give up!
Paul had been around the block a few times. He knew the problems in bringing together a multicultural, multiracial, multipolitical church and expecting it to be one big happy family. We have never quite managed it. Paul advises us not to grow weary in doing what is right.
The opportunities for growing weary of doing right are many. We think we are doing what is right when local clergy decide to plan an ecumenical Thanksgiving service for the entire community. What a wonderful symbol of unity this could be! But then they find themselves weary worship planners as differences over liturgy, music, appropriate service leaders and what to do about the offering come crashing in. We wonder why just believing in Jesus isn’t enough to gather us together. Sometimes we want to quit the family.
Paul was the first Christian to attempt doing the right thing in a pluralistic society. He not only attempted it, he believed it could be done. He believed in the family concept. He accepted the notion that very different people could coexist in one family; that they could love one another, and that they could work for a common good. He believed diversity was not a curse but a wonderful blessing of creation.
What makes us weariest, Paul teaches us, is not that we are different, but that we act as if our way of functioning in the body is the best way. This causes family fights like nothing else. We do right when we understand our differences as gifts of God and not devices of the devil. We do the right thing when we publicly acknowledge that left to ourselves we can do nothing right. We do right when we keep Christ in the center.

Faithful God, the harvest is indeed plentiful. So much to do and so much to be done. Our communities, cities and towns, our own harvest fields today are ripe for the picking. Make us faithful to the task. When our bodies grow weary, when our arms grow tired, when the harvest to be gathered seems more than we can handle, speak a word of grace and envelop us in your peace. May we be reminded everyday that you have called us to sow and to reap in the Spirit for your kingdom. Grant that we may not feel tempted to give up. Amen.
The ole blogger takes a break over the weekend. Or rather, he prepares to go public at 10:55 Sunday morning. Hope to see you then.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Read Romans 15:1-6

Key Words and Phrases
** the strong ought to put up with the weak
** not to please ourselves
** please our neighbor for the purpose of building up the neighbor
** Christ did not please himself
** written for instruction so that we might have hope
** the God of steadfastness and encouragement
** live in harmony with one another
** together with one voice glorify God

Reflection Questions
1. How easily do you put up with the shortcomings of other people?

2. How likely is it that Christians will eventually reach the point of glorifying God with one voice?

God of steadfastness and encouragement, help us to receive and manifest those same characteristics: a steadfastness of love for one another, especially for those who need us the most, and the gift of encouragement which helps someone else to live in hope. As we live into a greater harmony with our brothers and sisters, may your glory be revealed to the world. Amen.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Read Mark 8:1-10

Key Words and Phrases
** a great crowd without anything to eat
** I have compassion for the crowd
** they will faint on the way
** How many loaves do you have?
** took the loaves, gave thanks, broke them, and gave them
** seven baskets full of leftovers
Reflection Questions
1. What is there about Jesus that would justify going to a deserted place to hear him without any "fast food" for three days?
2. Do we really need all of the resources that we consume for ourselves, or should compassion for others motivate us to share more of what we have?
Lord, you have compassion for the crowds and for each individual. Your lovingkindness is without limit. You not only provide for the immediate need, you give more than enough "to get us home." Help us to discern our true needs, and to be honest about our wants, so that we may follow your example of compassion and extravagant generosity. Amen

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

There is one Spirit, but a variety of gifts.There is one Lord, but a variety of ways that people serve.There is one God and Father, but a variety of ways that people work for the kingdom.

God gives different gifts to different people. Some, a passion for peace; Others, a passion for political freedom. Some, a passion for life and its sacredness, Others, a passion for forgiveness and mercy. Some, a passion for a more closed interpretation of the Bible, Others, a passion for a more open interpretation of the Bible. Some, a passion for evangelism, Others, a passion for justice.

All of these people are working for the common good. Each of them is inspired by the one and same Spirit, the Spirit who gives to each person their unique and different perspective. For
just as the human body is a unified whole, composed of millions of different parts, so is Christ and his body.

The human body is miraculously complex, with 60 million cells, with 36 million heart beats every year, with 300 billion red cells produced every day, With 60,000 miles of blood vessels in each body.

Just as the human mind cannot begin to fathom the complexity of its own body, so it is with us, with the body of Christ. Our minds cannot comprehend the complexity of the body of Christ.

Christ is a living body, composed of billions of parts, miraculously complex, with billions of members, located in millions of different settings, with thousands of different languages, with thousands of unique cultures and billions of expressions of the true faith…throughout all the centuries of recorded time.

The human mind cannot begin to fathom the complexity of the body of Christ, anymore than the human mind can imagine the 60,000 miles of blood vessels in one’s own physical body.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Monday, August 3, 2009

Read Psalm 107: 1-3,33-43

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 107:1).

This is the recurrent theme of Psalm 107. The psalmist speaks of the steadfast love of God. In Hebrew, the word means "an eager and ardent desire" and refers to the fact that God's love never gives up. We sing about it in the hymn,

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee.

The thing that finally gets to us, breaks the back of our rebellion, and sets us free from our emotional hang-ups is the unqualified love of God, which never lets us go. We might use a term that is more easily understood in our day. Instead of "steadfast love," read "unqualified acceptance." That is what God's love does. It accepts us without reserve.

"Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the steadfast love of the LORD" (Psalm 107:43). That means you are to think about all this! Ask yourself how this relates to you. Many people are going through a difficult situation. Many are wandering, restless, hostile, or bitter. They are held prisoner by some attitude, outlook, or habit. Or they are sick, neurotic, emotionally upset. Perhaps some are fearful, troubled by a crisis into which they have come. This may be your situation. Stop and think about how God accepts you, how He loves you, how He is deeply concerned about you and will meet you right where you are and take you just as you are. His love does not change a bit whether you are a failure or a success. It does not make any difference to Him how you appear in the eyes of others. God loves you; He is concerned about you and has already received you, already given you all that he can give in Jesus Christ. Begin to rejoice in that fact. You will find that love will set you free so that you can act upon the power and liberty God gives.