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.