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Showing posts from February, 2017

Surprised by the presence of God

Daily reading: Luke 7: 18-35 Friday February 17, 2017
Focus passage:  John’s disciples informed him about all these things.  John called two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord.  They were to ask him, “Are you the one who is coming, or should we look for someone else?”  Luke 7:18-19
In this season of epiphany, this season of being surprised by the presence of God, this season of Ah-ha moments, we may find that when we open our eyes to see the presence of God, we want to know if anyone else is seeing or experiencing what we are seeing and experiencing.
“Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” is the question of this season of Epiphany.  Where we like the wise men are called to seek out the presence of God in our world.  It draws us into a place where our uncertainty is given voice.
“Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” reflects the questions we ask that reveal the prisons of our own perception that lock us into one world view and cl…

Are you the one?

Daily reading: Luke 7:18-35 Thursday February 16, 2017
Focus passage:  John’s disciples informed him about all these things.  John called two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord.  They were to ask him, “Are you the one who is coming, or should we look for someone else?”  Luke 7:18-19
“Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”  John does not get a straight answer from Jesus, rather Jesus tells John’s students to go back and tell John what they see and hear.  If they look around, they will see that the blind are receiving their sight, the lame are walking, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf can hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.  That is answer enough.

Prayer:  God, who invites us to wrestle through the night, be with us as we struggle to match our expectations with yours and know that in these moments of unrest you are working on us, transforming us into Kingdom dwellers.  Help us to be agents of justice, love and compassion…

The cost of following

Daily reading: Luke 7:18-35 Wednesday February 15, 2017
Focus passage:  John’s disciples informed him about all these things.  John called two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord.  They were to ask him, “Are you the one who is coming, or should we look for someone else?”  Luke 7:18-19
On a base level, John’s question brings light to the reality that all of us struggle with the call to follow Jesus, we all seek certainty.  If John isn’t quite sure what to make of Jesus, we probably shouldn’t be all that surprised that throughout all of the gospel accounts, there is confusion.  Jesus constantly pushes against our expectations.  Jesus’ actions redefine what it means to be God’s anointed one and that is met with both delight and disappointment.
John has reached a point where he is no longer in control and he wants to know, was he faithful?  Has the anointed one of God really arrived?  Is Jesus really the Christ?  Is this imprisonment really the cost of following?

Prayer:  God, who invit…

Expectations

Daily reading: Luke 7:18-35 Tuesday February 14, 2017
Focus passage:  John’s disciples informed him about all these things.  John called two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord.  They were to ask him, “Are you the one who is coming, or should we look for someone else?”  Luke 7:18-19
Perhaps John was hoping that the Messiah would be a political figure that would work to other throw the likes of Herod and free him from prison.  This expectation was not out of line with Israel’s history.  The words Messiah and Christ mean the same thing, they mean “the Anointed One.”  The Kings of Israel were anointed ones or Messiahs.  Cyrus of Persia, who freed the exiles and allowed them to return to their homeland, was called a Messiah.  There is a strong link with the name Messiah and a political figure.
We do not know what John’s expectations were, other than he was uncertain and wanted clarification.  Perhaps he was wondering why Jesus had not come to Jerusalem.  Perhaps he was wondering what …

Change of perspective

Daily reading: Luke 7:18-35 Monday February 13, 2017
Focus passage:  John’s disciples informed him about all these things.  John called two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord.  They were to ask him, “Are you the one who is coming, or should we look for someone else?”  Luke 7:18-19
Just moments after we read that Jesus has raised a dead man to life, we hear that John the Baptist is in prison awaiting torture and possible death, at the hands of Herod Antipas.  His situation is foreshadowing in many ways.  The message that he brought and the message that Jesus is bringing will cost him his life. I can hear the desperation in John’s voice, as he asks his disciples to go and find Jesus and inquire, “are you the one who is coming, or should we look for someone else?”
There is some urgency in John’s question.   John wants to know if he is in prison for the right person.   We can imagine that he is in a lonely place, separated from his community and now is in a place where he has a lot of…

Expectations

Daily reading:Luke 7:18-35 Sunday February 12, 2017
Focus passage:  John’s disciples informed him about all these things.  John called two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord.  They were to ask him, “Are you the one who is coming, or should we look for someone else?”  Luke 7:18-19
Today’s passage is an honest look at how our life of faithfulness calls us to constantly be seeking ways to interpret how God is active in our world.   It calls us to look at how we balance our expectations with our relationship with God, with one another and with our larger community.   It also calls us to see the real struggle in what we have to let go of in order to follow Christ.

Prayer:  God, who invites us to wrestle through the night, be with us as we struggle to match our expectations with yours and know that in these moments of unrest you are working on us, transforming us into Kingdom dwellers.  Help us to be agents of justice, love and compassion in our communities.  Amen.

Invitation to Rise

Daily reading: Luke 7:1-17 Friday February 10, 2017
Focus passage: He stepped forward and touched the stretcher on which the dead man was being carried.  Those carrying him stood still.  Jesus said, “Young man, I say to you, get up.”  The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.” Luke 7:14-15
God graces us with compassion even when we don’t ask for it, even when we don’t seek it out, even when we don’t believe it is possible. In the face of great loss, Jesus speaks words of life.  He invites the dead to rise.  He invites us to see the need in others and to meet them in that need with solidarity.
He invites us to rise:  To allow God into the dead places of our own lives, in our communities, in our nation and world.
He invites us to listen with compassion, so that we hear what is under the surface of the words we share.
He invites us to see with compassion, so we can see what might be hidden in plain site.  Today embrace the compassion of our Lord.  Let it rise wit…

Solidarity

Daily reading: Luke 7:1-17 Wednesday February 8, 2017
Daily reading:  As he approached the city gate, a dead man was being carried out.  He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow.  A large crowd from the city was with her.  When he saw her, the Lord had compassion for her and said, “Don’t cry.” Luke 7:12-13
Jesus’ compassion is not an act of helping those who are less fortunate than we are. This notion of helping those beneath us is a privileged notion that would not have been part of our Savior’s vocabulary.  Not to say that it isn’t important to serve others or to meet them in their pain or suffering.  But we should not think of ourselves as above others and say that they are less than we are.
It is not an over and above reaction, no it is an “I am with you reaction.”  I am here to share in your pain, because we are connected.


Prayer: God help me to see need, in the faces of those on the margins, in places I would rather not look.  Open me to your expansive grace that breaks down …

Compassion

Daily reading: Luke 7:1-17 Tuesday February 7, 2017
Daily reading:  As he approached the city gate, a dead man was being carried out.  He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow.  A large crowd from the city was with her.  When he saw her, the Lord had compassion for her and said, “Don’t cry.” Luke 7:12-13
Luke uses a particular Greek word for compassion only three times in his gospel.  It is a deep seated, visceral response of compassion.  In the face of death Jesus has compassion, it is the same compassion the Good Samaritan has for the man who has been robbed, stripped and beat and left for dead on the road.  It is the same compassion the father has for the prodigal son when he returns home.  It is deep compassion that stands in the starkness of loss and brings about life.
It is the type of compassion that notices, that sees real need when it is presented.


Prayer: God help me to see need, in the faces of those on the margins, in places I would rather not look.  Open me to your ex…

Faithfulness

Daily reading: Luke 7:1-17 Thursday February 9, 2017
Daily reading:  As he approached the city gate, a dead man was being carried out.  He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow.  A large crowd from the city was with her.  When he saw her, the Lord had compassion for her and said, “Don’t cry.” Luke 7:12-13
Jesus meets the widow where she is, in her mourning, in her pain and has compassion for her.  Compassion is the foundation from where abundant life springs forth. 
In the merging of the two crowds we don’t hear a response from the widow, her reaction is lost in the awestruck crowd that is praising God.
The uniqueness is that Jesus’ actions come from this place of compassion and are not necessitated by the woman’s faith.  The faithfulness then comes from Jesus; he even pushes against this self imposed boundary that says that God only helps the faithful.

Prayer: God help me to see need, in the faces of those on the margins, in places I would rather not look.  Open me to your expans…

Compassion

Daily reading: Luke 7:1-17 Monday February 6, 2017
Daily reading:  As he approached the city gate, a dead man was being carried out.  He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow.  A large crowd from the city was with her.  When he saw her, the Lord had compassion for her and said, “Don’t cry.” Luke 7:12-13 There is something very unique about this healing story.  It stands out from the others in Luke’s gospel. 
Other healing stories come from a request, an act of faithfulness, a seeking out.  In the first part of our passage for today we read about a centurion who sends his servant to Jesus.  “Just give the word,” the man says, “and I know he’ll be healed.” 
But you see unlike in the other healing stories, the widow has not sought out Jesus, like the woman who pushes her way through the crowd to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, or the woman who seeks out Jesus at a dinner party and pours perfume on his feet, or the centurion who sent his servant to find Jesus.
The widow in today’s s…

Expanding boundaries

Daily reading: Luke 7:1-17 Sunday February 5, 2017
Daily reading: When Jesus heard these words, he was impressed with the centurion.  He turned to the crowd following him and said, “I tell you, even in Israel I haven’t found faith like this.” Luke 7:9
Luke is showing us that wherever Jesus goes, life is present and abundant.  The geographical boundaries are wide and Jesus is reaching people outside of the Jewish faith.  The first healing in today’s passage is for a centurion who is employed by the Roman state.  Jesus is expanding the boundaries of who is part of God’s family.

Prayer: God help me to see need, in the faces of those on the margins, in places I would rather not look.  Open me to your expansive grace that breaks down barriers and includes all. May I be an agent of your compassion today. Amen.

Sabbath

Daily reading: Luke 6:1-16 Friday February 3, 2017
Focus passage: Then he said to them, “The Human One is Lord of the Sabbath.” Luke 6:5
How do you embody Sabbath?  What do you do to rest and remember that God is God? Rather than think of Sabbath rest as a demand, think of it as an invitation.  The God of the universe that knows you better than you know yourself, created you for meaningful work and for rest.  Maybe it can’t be every week at the same time, but calendar in time for Sabbath rest.  If it works for today, wonderful, spend time enjoying life this afternoon, doing something that is life giving, something that rejuvenates you.
Prayer: God of Sabbath rest, help me to find time to faithfully rest and trust that you can provide for me.  Amen.

Sabbath

Daily reading: Luke 6:1-16 Thursday February 2, 2017
Focus passage: Then he said to them, “The Human One is Lord of the Sabbath.” Luke 6:5
Sabbath keeping is a sign of faithfulness.  It is grounded in a remembrance that the people were once slaves and now that they are free they have been given this gift of rest and worship.   It is a day to realign oneself with the reality that God is the center of our lives and is the center of our community.
Sabbath then isn’t just for the individual; it is for the entire community down to the livestock.  Sabbath is about trusting God and knowing that you can rest and God will provide. But what happens when someone is ill and it’s the Sabbath? What happens if you ox falls into a ditch on the Sabbath, do you have to wait to help him out?  What happens if you go into labor on the Sabbath, will the doctor come?  What happens when the intention of the day gets lost?  This is the point that Jesus is making here.  The concern for life is always deeper than the…

Sabbath Rest

Daily reading: Luke 6:1-16 Wednesday February 1, 2017
Focus passage: Then he said to them, “The Human One is Lord of the Sabbath.” Luke 6:5
I can see why the Pharisees stop and say, “wait, what are you doing Jesus?” If we do a little work today on the Sabbath then it will eventually be more than a little and before you know it no longer is Sabbath. The Pharisees get this bad rap in the gospel stories.  Out of all of the different types of religious groups presented in the gospels, they are the most like us.  Especially after the fall of the temple, they offered devotional practices for the people that could be done anywhere away from the temple and the oversight of the religious leaders.  Their concern then perhaps isn’t as legalistic as we often perceive it to be but was more about the welfare of the people and their religious observance.
Prayer: God of Sabbath rest, help me to find time to faithfully rest and trust that you can provide for me.  Amen.