Monday, January 15, 2018

Monday, January 15, 2018

Romans 2:24-25

For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes* for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Saved by hope

Life-changing lessons must be relearned again and again. At least it seems so for me. And often, my teachers are those I go to help. They frequently turn the tables on me.

I recently visited a woman who has endured chronic, debilitating illness, physical and emotional suffering, and threats to her life from armed political forces which forced her to flee her country and come to the United States.

Middle aged, she may or may not ever walk well again. Debilitating medical conditions will be with her as long as she lives and will slowly strip of her of physical function during the next decades of her life.

But she is not worried about this. Nor does she seem to obsess about how much … or how slowly … she might improve through physical therapy.

I visited expecting we would discuss anxieties about the future or frustration over not yet being able to return home after surgery. But we spent almost no time on such things.

We talked about the future, of her hope to be useful, to teach others Spanish, her native tongue. We discussed her hope for her daughter and made plans to help those hopes happen, and finally we talked of her desire to give back to this country, knowing she will never be able to pay back as much as she’s received.

Her life and moods are controlled by her hope, not by her past or what she has lost. She is saved by hope. So are we.

Hope pulls us forward toward the goodness of what will yet come, of what we may yet give, of the joy that is yet to be.

Without this, we fall to the temptation, obsessing over what has been lost, or what might never be, or wallow in understandable sadness. It’s an obsession that sucks the joy and vitality from living.

I left her room realizing I forget to ask a question ... of myself and of those I serve: What are your hopes?

Hope saves us from ourselves, from obsession of what is lost, what we have suffered and the feelings of the moment. Hope opens our hearts to the future of what God will yet do in and through us.

Hope trusts the goodness of the One who gives us life each new morning. Hope says, “Yes, I’m on my way. God’s way for me. So let I be.”

Pr. David L. Miller

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Sunday December 31, 2017

Luke 2:30

 … for my eyes have seen your salvation …


Thank you for eyes that see and a heart that feels much more than my words can say.

A lifetime is not nearly enough to find just the right words, with just the right sound. I struggle and long for words that resonate in the soul’s deepest chamber to speak the Love I see and know, the Love I feel … that I might give adequate praise to you.

I look upon all of Love’s creations, especially the lowliness of this peasant’s child, and I know who you are and what you think of us.

Taking our human form, you come to us that we might see your kindness and throw away our fears. I see his face, and salvation fills my heart; the Love you are fills me and we are one. There is no distance between us.

This is salvation … to dwell in union, oneness with you, where the Love you are fills me and leaves me with no words to speak, only tears of gratitude and a joy like no other.

I am speechless, and I feel your smile. For this is what you want me see and know and feel. This is why you come in a peasant’s child.

And this is why you invite me into the woods on cold winter days to watch the December sun set through the limbs of barren trees and feel the beauty of it all … and be saved once again.

You are the Love who comes and speaks in … everything … that we may hear and see and be saved. Every day.

There is so much more to say, but for now maybe two words are enough. Thank you … for eyes that see and a heart that feels salvation.

Pr. David L. Miller 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Luke 2:36-38

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

New day

Praise to you for snow that blows and glistening white mornings. Praise to you for the sun, bright with promise in the endless blue. Praise for the joy of walking a winter path that leads always to you.

Praise for the new day kissed with light and for the joy of basking in sun spots that warm the heart with knowing … you.

This is a day for praise. Today, we know the joy of seeing the child of your favor.

Anna sees and praises. She raises her old lady voice and looks across the centuries, lifting her arms to direct our song of wonder and hope, of love and praise for the God who comes to favor us.

We need to praise more than anything else. The world is too much with us, in us, on us. Our hearts become laden with troubles near and far.

But the child of God’s favor has come. He breaks every power of sorrow or fear that would steal our joy. So surrender every trouble and worry to him. Lift your head, raise your arms to sky and join Anna’s song.

This is the song of saints and angels, the song of every soul who has ached to know the Love for which they were born. It is a song of laughter and unbridled happiness.

“Do not fear. Do not fear,” It goes. "Love is your day and Love your future. Love is your present and Love the light of each tomorrow.”

The child of God’s favor shines with the light of a new day that shall not end. Ever.

So lift your heart and join the song of the blessed. Your praise will chase away every sorrow. Your joy will crush the worries that bind you. Your voice will cast out demons of doubt and fear.

And all that will remain is the joy of basking in the light of a new day.  

Pr. David L. Miller

Friday, December 29, 2017

Friday, December 29, 2017

Luke 2:21

After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

The name

I love to hear my name when spoken by someone who loves and respects me. I turn immediately and pay attention, wanting to with be them. I hear what I need in the sound of their voice, and I am eager to respond to what they need from me.

I also hear what I need—the Voice of Love—in the name given to our Lord, “Jesus.”

Names have meaning, and Jesus means, “God saves.” Speak this name in every moment of need. Hear his name in the deepest well of your soul where your hopes, fears and hurts all come together, and know … God saves.

God saves not once upon a time, but here and now every time we repeat the name and feel the mystery of his presence.

God saves every time we look upon the beauty of the earth and know gratitude for life and breath, filled with the privilege of seeing and sharing this life with others and the wonders of creation.

God saves every time we hear a voice speak our name with love and respect, for there, too, Love speaks to remind us that we are beloved by the One whose name we should speak in every moment of joy, hurt, crisis or want.

JesusGod saves.

Use his name with greatest love and with hope in your heart. His name opens our future and lets us release the weights we carry. Jesus, God saves and will save us every time we call, filling and lifting our hearts so that we need not be crushed beneath past hurts or present fears.  

Perhaps his name should be our prayer … our only prayer. Repeated again and again, silently in our minds or whispered on the breath, we feel and know the Love he is and are carried into a place of peace.

He wants to hear his name on our lips … even more than I like to hear my own.

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

John 1:9

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

Christmas Day

And this is how I see you … on a cold Christmas Day.

My feet find their way again to Feather Sound. Mid-afternoon sun lights white as crystal on the snowy path. My boots crunch through the crust.

Golden glare assaults my eyes from the pond’s frozen face as the sun, low on winter’s horizon, makes it way west, soon to settle behind the trees, completing its daily journey. But here, I pause.

Years have brought me to this place, to this pier on a shallow pond where I squint into the shimmering brilliance to see light coming into the world, warming my chest with a Love the bitter wind cannot chill.

The brightness may burn my eyes ‘til I’m blind. But I cannot look away. Never. And even blind I would see and know you, the Light who comes in every light and love—and most certainly in the face we see each Christmas day.

Laughter is my praise to you, laughter in the cold wind as I lift gloved hands to sky.

Thank you. Just thank you.

Pr. David L. Miller

Monday, December 18, 2017

Monday, December 18, 2017

Luke 1:26-31

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 

The whole message

Who do you love? In the stories of Christmas the heart is overwhelmed because there are so many to love.

Gabriel, the angelic messenger to Mary, gets short attention in the story, but today … I see him. I feel him. I love him. Maybe I am him.

He stoops, craning his neck to look up into Mary’s eyes; her face is bent to the ground. His eyes seeks hers for she is troubled and confused, just like all the rest of us.

He wants to assure her that there is nothing to fear. … that the Great Love who always was and always will be favors her.

“Do not fear,” he says. “God delights in you. Out of all the women in the world you will bear the life who is Life, the love who is Love into this world.”

Tenderness flows through his soul for this young woman. He knows only love for Mary, for he is Love’s own messenger. He has one desire: “Mary, please believe. Please trust that Love has chosen you. Know that Love now grows within you.”

Gabriel’s pleading speaks the heart of the Love who chooses Mary … and each of us. Every one of us.

The angelic messenger cranes his neck. He bends to look you in the eye. He has only one message. “Please trust. Please know. The Heart of Love comes to live in you.”

“There is nothing to fear. Not again. Not ever.”

Pr. David L. Miller

Monday, December 11, 2017

Monday, December 11, 2017

Isaiah 40:6-8

A voice says, ‘Cry out!’
   And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’
All people are grass,
   their constancy is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
   when the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
   surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades;
   but the word of our God will stand for ever.

The grace of failure

I almost succeeded yesterday. I gave voice to the grace that is in me.

It is not my grace, but the grace of the One who is the Loving Mystery we have long labeled God. The word God, for me, gets in the way most of the time. I just know this Unspeakable One as Mystery and as Love who comes and flows through me and so many … and in so many places.

I seldom succeed to bring the Voice of Grace to the fullest expression, such as I am able. I usually stumble around and know how short I fall.

But yesterday I came close, or as close as I can come to speak the truth I know within.

But even this success falls woefully short. For the grace who comes and flows in us is eternal and steadfast. It does not waver. It is beyond every human capacity to express in word and act.

But it does not matter. For it is better to have struggled and failed at grace than to have succeeded in anything less.

Expressing the grace of God is our essential human endeavor. It is this that makes us human.

We always fall short. But our failures always bring us back to the wonder of grace who smiles at our every attempt to speak what can never be spoken.

Pr. David L. Miller