A series of biblical readings and prayers from David L. Miller, senior pastor of St. Timothy Lutheran Church, Naperville, IL. David is the former editor of The Lutheran magazine and Director of Spiritual Formation at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.
All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your faithful shall bless you. They
shall speak of the glory of your kingdom, and tell of your power, to make known to all people your* mighty deeds. (Psalm 145:1-12)
servants, the bees
I sit in the breezeway and watch the bees work their
way through lavender blossoms of catmint, sage some call it. They ignore me,
and even though they are but 10 feet away, I do not fear them though they
number in the dozens.
They are too busy to concern themselves with one human
observer of their tireless work. They gather sweet nectar and pollinate creation’s
goodness so that I can sit here each morning and be carried away by the myriad
diversity of exquisite colors and an extraordinary universe that bursts with
life everywhere I look.
Their labor calls to mind a few words from the Easter
Vigil liturgy that always makes me smile … even laugh. Sometimes weep.
The writers of that ancient prayer thank the Holy One for
the burning candle, a pillar of flame signifying the breaking of death’s power,
fed by the melting wax which “your servants, the bees” have provided.
I give thanks for the bees on their morning mission.
They carry me into awareness that we live in a universe where everything belongs,
everything has a place, and everything has a role to play in a great and holy
work, called life.
All that I survey in my morning ruminations makes the
life I live and love possible … and beautiful … and filled with hope. The bees and
the innumerable processes of nature that surround go about their business,
serving the divine Creator’s great work, paying me no mind, yet blessing me every
So I thank you, O Lord, for everything that blesses
and gives us life. Thank you for every hand that has touched and cared for me
in these days when medical challenges reveal how profoundly I am dependent on the
expertise, the skill and the common human goodness of others.
Thank you especially for your servants, the bees, who
tell that we each have a part to play to make life real and good, beautiful and
bountiful. May I be as faithful as they, loving all you are, all you have made…
and doing my small part.
Let my heart be light today, whatever comes, whatever
happens. Let the light of the Love you have privileged me to know and feel
shine in every room, on every face, in every moment today.
Let me not lose myself, fearfully forgetting who I am
and everything you have given me in a lifetime more surprising than any I could
have conceived for myself.
Let me live in the warmth of the smile that fills your
face and sparkles in your eyes, as you tell me who I am, “You are the light of
The joy in your eyes beckons me to wake up and realize
I am not empty or wanting. I hold a treasure, the Love that you are, the Love
that shines in your face for me, for every human soul and all of creation.
This Love lives in me. This is who I am. And it is
enough. It is always enough and always will be.
So I will look at the sun and the sky. My eyes will
embrace the greening of the earth, flowers purple and red, lavender and pink,
the trees finally full. I will savor the cardinal’s call and follow the flight
of the heron that splits my vision as I gaze heavenward.
And somehow I will see your smile in all of it, and I
will know everything I need to know … to smile.
[T]he fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and
Born for joy
Joy finds you when you are not looking for it, when your heart is wholly fixed on the
moment, when you give something from your depths and the voice of the Spirit
whispers in your heart, “It is for this joy that you were born.”
Sunday’s baptism was
more boisterous than usual. Three small children bounced against the font
making waves across the face of the waters. I handed them the two baptismal
candles to hold until the moment we lit the light of Christ for Amelia and Madeline,
Wide-eyed and impressed
by their great responsibility, the children stood quietly until they discovered
baptismal candles make fine swords. The ensuing fencing match proceeded half-way
down the center aisle until they were summoned back to the water’s edge as each
twin girl was lowered into the waters of eternal blessing.
Completing the rite,
Will, the twins’ four-year brother and victorious fencer, held back, not wanting
to leave the font despite his father’s entreaty. He looked up at me, and I spontaneously
reached for the shell of anointing oil and marked him as I had just marked his
sisters, “Beloved Child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and
marked with the cross of Christ forever.”
“He blessed you,” his
father whispered and led him by the hand back to the front pew.
The service continued with
prayer and sharing the peace, when another child, Lilly, grabbed me from the
back around the legs, giggled and refused to let go.
It wasn’t many
years ago that we blessed her in the waters of life and lit a candle. Now we see
the light of God’s love in her smile and little girl laugh.
“You were born for
this,” the inner Voice of Love whispered as I returned to my place and sat down, thankful for everything that had led
me to this single moment when I heard the voice amid tears and purest
But it is not just me,
of course. The Spirit’s inner speaking is the deep truth of every human life. Each
of us is born to share the joy of knowing God’s love flowing through us. We are
born to know and share this joy.
Just be where you are.
Give yourself to bless the present moment, whatever it is and wherever you are.
he inclined to me and heard my cry. … He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.(Psalm 40:1,3)
Planting season is late this year. A chill spring and incessant
rain discouraged putting seeds and new plants in ground, lest they rot or
But, today, an
irresistible desire to share in the miracle of life moves me toward my flower
beds. I want to hold life in my hands, put it in the ground and see it grow. I want
to nourish beauty to life … and feel it deep within myself.
I do not plant to decorate the earth but because I
need to feel something new coming alive within me.
Today, I plant and hope, knowing a day will come when
waves of exquisite beauty, like no other on earth, will delight my heart and beckon
me beyond what I am. Colors and contours will lift me beyond the confines of what
I have known and felt and believed, and I will become more beautifully alive.
On that day, and there will be many, my heart will sing for joy at the wonder of life
that awakens Life in me. And I will know you and love you and know
that there is no separation between me and you, Holy One.
For it is not I who plant this day, but you, my Lord.
You sow seeds of your own blessed life in me that will awaken a song of your
love in my heart, a song that you give to me, alone, that I may sing the particular
blessing for which you fashioned me.
This is what I want in all that comes, a new song, a
new way of being and seeing and loving and blessing that whatever comes, I may feel you singing your song of Love through the life you have given me.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I
will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is
near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and
supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:4-6)
One little girl
She was five, as close as I could tell, but I am not a
good guesser about such things. She sat on the concrete walk by a Spanish river
as adults sipped wine at outdoor cafes long into the evening.
A cascade of jet black hair, full and free, fell across
on her shoulders and nearly half-way down her back. Her attention fixed on the
doll she held in front of her face. Eye-eye with her baby, she carried on a spirited
conversation in a language I do not understand.
She never looked up at me. I doubt she ever realized I
was standing there, less than 10 feet away, transfixed by her beauty. My existence
was irrelevant to her.
I raised my camera to capture her, but immediately
changed my mind and slowly lowered it, knowing I had almost committed
sacrilege, breaking the trance of total trust and innocence, perhaps introducing
fear into a beautiful heart absorbed in the joy of this single moment.
She was free. Anxiety had no place. It was banished.
All that existed was her, her doll and whatever point of conversation moved her
to hug companion to her heart a couple of times.
Her image comes back to me today, sharper than any
photo I might have taken.
Although she never said a word to me, she speaks of
the life that could be mine … and on some days actually is mine, a life where
every fear evaporates in the warmth of knowing Love, where all that matters is
being in the moment, eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart, with the Love who speaks wisdom
through little girls … in a world aflame with God.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled,
and do not let them be afraid.(John 14:27)
Peace, one word for which there appears no definition.
Not of real peace that is so much more than the absence of conflict.
Peace is not an inside job. You cannot give it to yourself.
You can strive for it, but when it comes you know it is a gift you’ve been granted
by a Source you neither control nor begin to understand. It is a gift from beyond
that one knows ever-so personally within.
The breezeway beckoned this morning. Early morning sun
slanted through the bushes and iron grates that frame this sanctuary, making a
mottled light, golden patches and gentle shade dappled across the padded arm
chairs and concrete floor.
The light warm, yet requiring loose sleeves for
comfort, led to the chair and book, the coffee and quiet, to sit and know that
I am within, not just here but everywhere, within the compass, encompassedeverywhere, inside a Love that beckons me here that I might know …
and know that this knowing is all I will ever need to live the life of
blessing and being blessed that my heart wants beyond all else.
There are so many people I want to bless so that they
know … what I know … here, in this light.
Peace, it seems, is about being within … and knowing it. It is not something produced or arising
from deepest soul, but the ultimate well-being, the blessed and holy quiet the
soul knows when it steps into the awareness of reality, which is not what we
usually imagine that it is.
Reality is the Love who meets us in every love.
Reality is the Love who speaks in dappled light, beckoning us to know, always, “I am with you and I will never let you go.”
beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than
life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your
Ronnie fell into my arms as we both wept tears of
sorrow. We’d just laid his beloved Peggy to rest the previous week. He’d lost his
partner of 65 years, wondering how he could ever go on.
Now, here he was, lumbering up the communion line to
the front of the sanctuary, cane in hand, his miserable hip giving him pain
with every step.
At the front, I wrapped the bread in the linen in
which I held it so I could wrap him in my arms. The moment, the place, the
intimacy of sharing the bread of life, provided a container, a holy vessel,
where the bubbling cauldron of emotions we shared could spill out and be held
in loving reverence.
Everyone present would understand even if they knew
nothing of what Ronnie has just gone through.
For we were gathered in a sanctuary expansive and
gracious enough to hold us and everything that is in us—pain, sorrow, confusion,
hope, joy and especially love, great love that needed tears not words that
could be shared in a place where they would be honored and considered holy.
This was the moment and this the place big enough,
safe enough, gracious enough where great sorrow and great love could meet and
be transposed into an even higher key where love shared becomes the Love who
holds and heals every wound of ours.
This is Holy Communion where hearts shared know the
Heart who shares everything truly good and loving with us.
Where else does this happen? Where else can it happen?
In this cynical world, what other space—except maybe a 12-step recovery group—invites
our vulnerability, offering sanctuary to our tears where great love and hope
can be shared unashamed?
The sanctuary that held us was not a room but a people
who gather to receive a grace and be made into grace that they might become the
human beings they were always intended be and, at our best, that we actually
want to be.
For a moment we were those people, Ronnie and me, and everyone
present and looking on, too. We knew the Love who gathered us that we might
finally become ourselves.