Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Ever here

John 16:5-7

But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, “Where are you going?” But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate [Paraclete] will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

Ever here

No one who has ever known you, Jesus, can imagine it is advantageous that you go away. For having known you, having felt your presence, we know this is our highest good and our most profound desire.

But it is for this that you go away. You, Jesus, warm sun of God’s own face, leave this physical sphere that the mystery you bear may be everywhere and everywhere with us, stilling the sad fear of separation.

You go that we may know this mysterious Presence you call Spirit, Advocate, Paraclete. And this name tells us what we most need to hear in these days.

Paraclete … one who answers the call. So answer our call in these days, separated, as we are, from many bearers of divine presence and love.

Answer the silent cry of our souls for which we lack words adequate to express the depth of our desire to feel your presence, the warmth within, the blessed knowing that you are not near but ever here.

Every ‘good bye’ I have ever felt—some that still bring tears for hearts and faces long ago—reveals the pain of those with whom you walked as they imagined losing you, having known you in the flesh, as we do not.

Or, do we?

Those whom I miss this day, are they not you, their flesh an incarnation of some facet of the immensity of Love you are?

In missing them, I miss you; so come. Answer the cry of our hearts that we may find your dwelling place deep within, that place where the warm sun of your divine heart quiets our own and awakens that smile … that knows: All is well, for Love is here. Always.

Pr. David L. Miller

Friday, May 08, 2020

Knowing peace

John 14:17

This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

Knowing peace

To know has less to do with the mind that we normally expect. Knowing is a full body and soul experience, an inner awareness that overrides everything else happening in our lives at the moment, whether sadness, fear or this confounded isolation cutting us off from things we want and the people we love.

The Spirit of truth, an abiding presence, invites us to descend beneath the surface of life where nothing feels right to that place where everything is right. The Spirit draws us to that place within where you know as you are known … by a Knower, a Presence who is Love, uncreated, real, there ... and totally undefinable.

This is the Spirit of truth, a truth that is a Presence, a person, not a statement or idea. To know this One, to feel this Presence for even a moment, stills our anxieties and quiets the unruly waves that toss us about. In that moment, you know, with body and soul, that this Love holds you, and there is nothing on the surface of life that can ever change that.  

Now and forever, you are held in the all-encompassing Love that you know at the quiet center of your soul, the center point where all the noise fades away and there is just you and this Love you will never understand.

My peace I leave you, Jesus said. Millions have known this peace, which is his presence within them calming their fears and giving strength amid even the most difficult circumstances.

This peace passes all understanding, according to St. Paul. Of course it does. The busy mind likes to understand, manage and control things. But peace comes only in the presence of a Love no one can control.

Rest there and know.

Pr. David L. Miller

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Always more

John 19:38-42

After this, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus -- though a secret one because he was afraid of the Jews -- asked Pilate to let him remove the body of Jesus. … Nicodemus came as well … and he brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, following the Jewish burial custom. At the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in this garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been buried. Since it was the Jewish Day of Preparation and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Always more

Well, that is that. Close the book. The most remarkable life ever lived is finished. Over. Done. Time to go home and forget it ever happened.

Caiaphas returns home to celebrate Passover. Pilate stretches out on his couch and drinks more than usual, knowing he has executed an innocent man. But it wasn’t the first time. It needed to done, he tells himself.

Joseph of Arimathea and friends go to prepare the tomb, brush away the dust and lay out the spices and linens.

Fumbling with the dead weight of Jesus’ body, they wrap him in strips of cloth—his feet and legs, hands and side, chest and shoulders, until, finally, his face … the face they loved even if they seldom understood him.

They carry out their heartbreaking work and lay their hopes to rest, burying the yearning they felt whenever they heard his voice.

All is quiet now. The crowds have dispersed. Public order is restored. The ancient lust for the blood has been satisfied.

Now is the hour of regret and sorrow, of whispers in the silence and echoes of what might have been. That’s all we have.

But that is not all God has. God has more. God is always more, more love, more life. Jesus trusted that more all the way to the cross.

And so we wait, trusting the One who is all life and all love because Sunday’s coming. The gloom of despair will be lit with the light of everlasting morning. The garden of sorrow will bloom with the fragrance of eternity.

Because God is more. Always.

Pr. David L. Miller

Friday, April 10, 2020

Hold me to it

Mark 15: 33-35, 37

When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ … Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.

Hold me to it

A black Jesus drew me into to a side chapel in the great Gothic cathedral in Barcelona, Spain, during my 2017 pilgrimage. I almost walked by, but the sight of him on the cross would not let me.

He was leprous and beaten, bearing the pangs of death as he hung before a half-dozen people praying among the spare wooden benches facing the crucifix.

I took my place among the benches and watched him. A great love for every suffering of every human soul whispered from the crucifix, “This love will never abandon you. This love will meet you everywhere you go. Look at me … and know. There is no place this love will not go for you.”

I sat and prayed—offering my unanswered questions, the wounds from which I ache to be healed, my regrets about the past and uncertainty about the future, most of all my craving to feel the joy of God’s love warming me through.

When words were done I walked to the back of the chapel but still couldn’t leave. Turing to the crucifix, I shook my finger at Jesus. “I’m holding you to this … this love,” I whispered. I’m holding you to this.”

“It’s okay,” came his reply. “That’s what I am for. Hold me to it.”

Pr. David L. Miller

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Street scenes

Matthew 21:7-9

They brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and [Jesus] sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’

Street scenes

There have been few more moving images in recent days than the cheers that accompany doctors, nurses and medical staff as they go into battle against the coronavirus. Images from Italy and Spain were among the first we witnessed. People leaned out windows along cobblestone streets shouting encouragement, and singing songs of pride and blessing.

They showered praise on those who do dangerous and exhausting work, day-after-day. Many are the stories of those who faithfully carry out this mission despite fears that they, like colleagues, may get sick or die.

These scenes of gratitude are heart-warming, but such thanks is not nearly enough. We must do everything we can to stop the spread of this plague through social distancing and using masks in public spaces like the grocery or pharmacy, etc.

These images from our streets also remind us of the Palm Sunday procession of Jesus on his donkey. “Hosanna,” people shouted at him, which means save us.

He came to Jerusalem to serve God’s kingdom by handing himself over to brutality and crucifixion. He did so to reveal the fullness of the heart of God and to establish a new community—a kingdom where love is the air we breathe and sacrificial service is our highest value and greatest aspiration.

Look at him as he rides toward his fate, as he forgives even from his cross, as he refuses to curse those who curse him. Just look.

To understand why, during these perilous times, we cheer those who serve at the risk of their lives, it has everything to do with Jesus on his donkey. His imprint on our civilization and our souls is unmistakable.

Praise him and give thanks for what is in his heart. Give thanks that this love is in your heart, too—and especially that this grace is in the hearts of those who battle for life, every day.

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Listen to the living

And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? He is God not of the dead, but of the living.’ (Matthew 22:31-32)

Listen to the living

At the Lord’s Table, I am often aware of a great crowd of people standing back of me, as I bless the bread and raise the cup. They watch and smile their approval, although no one can see them.

I feel their presence, and they lift me into the joy of knowing I belong to them and to the Love who joins us, even as I know that someday I will join them.

For they are every soul who has known and loved this Lord we receive into ourselves at that holy table.

Old friends are there, family members I have loved and laid to rest in the soil of this earth. My father is there, and I feel Grandma Miller; Bob and Fritz, and every soul who has ever blessed me.

As the years go by, that crowd gets larger, including faces I have served and loved at St. Timothy, people you know and love, too.

They are physically gone from us, yet they are so alive in our hearts and in this great cloud of witnesses that cheers us on, especially now.

Many of them faced greater crises and fears than those that haunt us during this time. And to a person they all say, “Keep on. Keep on. This time will pass. But Love who holds you never will.”

Listen to them. They know.

Pr. David L. Miller

Monday, March 23, 2020

Sun spots

Tuesday, March 24

Colossians 1:12-13

[T]hanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son.

Sun spots

Go sit in the light. The sun just came out as I write this. Snow from late Sunday melts among green shoots of the day lilies. Spring whispers her promise that winter is about to lose its grip.

So find a place where sunlight finds you. A window where the light streams through is especially welcome. So is a walk.

But sitting is best … or standing still.

We need to feel light, warmth, penetrating. It’s liquid hope, filling the inner reservoir of our hearts.

So go sit in the light until you feel a smile rising within and finding its way to your face, spreading there.

And know, we live in the light that shines from eternity. That sun warming you is one expression of the Father of all Lights, the Enveloping Love who is looking for ways to embrace you.

Let him.

Pr. David L. Miller