Thursday, September 07, 2017

Thursday, September 7, 2017

 Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

A body of love

We pray it every Sunday, Some of us pray it every day: “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Too little attention is paid to what those words mean, especially since we are conformed to a world that runs contrary to God’s holy will.

Your will is for everything to be joined in one great body of love where each soul knows its worth and each has its part to play.

‘The world’ is a system of judgment where each thing is assigned a value, some better than others, some deemed worthless. Life is a competition, a struggle to get more for yourself. Others are competitors. If they get more, you get less. Life is a Darwinian fight to get ahead.

That is the world to which we are not to be conformed. For there is a new world and a new way of being, which we can live, however imperfectly.

This world of grace … the kingdom of God … is a unity of love where all things ae drawn into a body of mutual love, the body of Christ.

Every interaction of the day is an opportunity to seek this unity in love with every person we meet and in each task we touch.

The world is redeemed one moment at a time. The body of love that is God’s holy will is accomplished one gracious word, one caring act, one moment at a time. Then comes the next … and the next … and the next.

And it all starts here, now, at the start of the day as I see your smile and feel the warmth of Love speaking in my soul: “You are my beloved. There is nothing to win or lose today. Nothing to prove or gain. No need to prove that you matter … that you are important. You are treasured more than you can ever understand.

“Just know … the Love I am encircles and warms you. This is all you need.

 “Now go be who you are.”

Pr. David L. Miller

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Romans 12:9-15

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 

To be ourselves

Who knows how and when love will appear? What stirs the heart until you notice love is there, in you, love you didn’t summon or even seek, love that simply appears?

Love is a gift that must be lived lest the heart’s embers cool and we forget the joy of being moved beyond the prison of ourselves into communion with another human heart.

Love is our nature, created in God’s image, the image of the Love Who Is beyond all imagining. Our truest joy and deepest pain comes in knowing and living the Love that is God’s nature and ours.

Love lives in blessing and sharing, in giving and forgiving, in standing with those who suffer and celebrating with those lifted into joy by life’s sweetest blessings.

Every act of love is an expression of our truest nature and of God’s heart.

But what stirs this love so that it bubbles from our depths and nudges or nags or demands that we do something?

I think it is seeing the need or beauty of another human heart. We truly need to see each other. When we see need or the beauty and joy of others the love that is God’s nature in us is stirred. We are coaxed beyond the narrow confines of busy self-interest to become the love we are.

Then, we have a decision to make. Shall we ignore what is moved in us, deny it or pretend we are too busy to care, to bless, to rejoice or weep with others? Or will we be who we are, the image of a Great Love, the hands and voice of God’s unending compassion?

The call to love is the call to be ourselves, to know the joy of it … and the pain that lives, too, in God’s heart for the brokenness and suffering of the world.

If you want to see people being themselves, turn on your TV and watch the boats churning the waters of Houston’s flooded streets. Watch people wading through water to rescue people from inundated homes. Look at the faces of those clinging to their rescuers. See the pain and relief, the determination and the joy.

This is the face of our truest selves, the face of Christ living in people like us.

Seeing this, how could we want to be anything else?

Pr. David L. Miller

Monday, August 28, 2017

Monday, August 28, 2017

Romans 12:1

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 

Beautiful souls

Jacques Marquette left France likely knowing he would never return.

Marquette was a priest, a Jesuit, sent to ‘New France’ to proclaim the grace of Christ to peoples unknown to him before arriving in the new world. Now, his statue overlooks the harbor on Michigan’s Mackinac Island.

He stands on a grassy hillside beneath the fort whose cannons guarded the strait connecting Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. His dates, 1637-1675, speak of a soul given away to a Love he couldn’t deny.

He died just short of 38 years old after starting several missions, founding the oldest town in Michigan and bringing the faith I hold dear to native peoples. During his short life, he also explored the Mississippi, the Wisconsin and the Illinois rivers with his native guides, once wintering in Chicago.

Towns, universities, rivers and many landmarks are named for him. But it is his dates and the fact that he left home not knowing if he’d ever return that moves me more than the morning sun on the rich, blue waters of the strait over which his iron eyes keep silent watch, day and night.

Today, vacationers sprawl on the grassy hillside around him, soaking in the beauty of this place as thick Belgian horses clop by pulling wagons of tourists. Ferries sound their horns as they leave the island, while others arrive disgorging their human cargo onto the main street where fudge shops and shirt stores are eager to receive them.

But the noise of trade fades on this green expanse where Marquette stands vigil.

All I can hear is his heart. All I can feel is the beauty of his soul, so taken by the mercy of God that he gave himself to this work and died an early death. He inspires devotion but also makes you question whether you have ever given yourself to anything more than your own comfort.

The forests and lakes are beautiful underneath Marquette’s ever-watchful eyes. The morning sun shimmers on gentle waves and makes me glad I have senses to drink it in and give thanks.

But it is not they that most move me. More lovely by far is the beauty of souls, the souls of those who know Love and in love give themselves away.

There is nothing more beautiful.

Pr. David L. Miller

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Monday, August 21, 2017

Ephesians 3:18-20

I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Lost in the moment

All it takes is the turn of a head, a glance, a smile, the sparkle in a shining eye.

Or maybe it happens when a song you once knew lands again on your ear and awakens your heart to the Love that lives there.

Or maybe it is nature in manifold splendor, trees arching above a path leading you deeper into the mystery of your heart, your memories and the pain and beauty you hide.

It only takes a moment for eternity to rush in, filling you with God, which is to say with a Great Love that fills and spills from your heart, making you glad you’re alive just so you might know the joy of this one precious moment.

Just then, filled with the fullness of Love … that is of God … you know you are in God and God is in you. There is no separation.

Lost in the moment, you know: You live in a sea of Love that holds everything, your joys and hopes, your pains and fears. All of it is held in an ocean of Love, its tides moving also in you.

This is not crazy talk. It is an experience people of faith … and people of no faith … have tried to describe for centuries. Some call it ‘oceanic awareness'—the awareness of being one with all things, an awareness that awakens love and acceptance of others in all their humanness.

Jesus prayed that we may be one with God and each other. He spoke of the Kingdom of God, a community of shared belovedness.

The apostle Paul talks about being caught up in the third heaven where he felt and knew things no mortal could tell. The author of Ephesians talks of being filled with God. Filled with God! Filled with the Love nothing can contain.

Whatever we call it. The experience comes to human souls. And when it does … there are no words. How can there be? Lost in the moment—when immense Love fills, envelops and pours out of us—we finally know God.

You cannot make it happen. The Spirit blows where it wills. We don’t control it, but we can keep our eyes and ears and hearts open. You never know when the right word will be spoken, when that unexpected song will catch your ear, or when the sparkle in an eye will awaken the Love who treasures you and this crazy world beyond all reason.

Pr. David L. Miller

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Matthew 14:22-24

Immediately [Jesus] made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 

With you

I see you there and want to be with you. The new day dawns, and I want no more drama, no issues or questions to resolve, just quiet. With you.

I know that sounds selfish, especially when millions struggle with hunger, conflict, disease, heartache and sorrow. It's the human condition. Why should I have a little peace?  

But you, too, wanted to be quiet, survey the lake and sky, feel the breeze on your skin and let it all transport you into the depth of your soul where you know that Mystery, the Love who stills the heart and awakens a smile of knowing.

You needed that, and so do I.

Today I see you on that hillside, and I am there with you, watching as you look beyond the blue waters, your soul resting in the grace of a Love I have wanted to know all my life.

I know it here, with you.

Storms will come, anxious days when threats and misunderstandings abound. But I will remember the quiet of this time, the stillness of your heart encompassing my own.

I go to this day knowing … what it is to be with you here.

Beloved One, may I live your peace, today.

Pr. David L. Miller

Monday, August 07, 2017

Monday, August 7, 2017

Matthew 14:17-18

They replied, ‘We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.’ And Jesus said, ‘Bring them here to me.’ 

Where it all starts

My soul is quiet today. Still, I start here. I bring my heart to you. For that is what you command and invite, “Bring what you have to me. Bring what you are to me.”

So I come, not knowing what you will do with what I have and am.

When your friends brought you a few loaves and some fish you made a feast for more than 5000. I have no idea how you did it. Rational explanations have been tried. They all sound lame.

Maybe you inspired people to share what they already had. This may satisfy some minds, but not mine.

Something more is going on. Plus, I really don’t need to understand. That desire wanes as the years pass. You realize there are mysteries that are as real as the love in your beating heart which you will never understand.

What I know is this: You loved the people you saw on that rocky shore. You loved them and felt their hunger. The feast was born of the Great Love that beat at your heart. That’s how all miracles happen. They all start with love.

And today … as every day … I see it in your face, in your smile, in your joy.

So I bring myself, my heart and all I am to you, little knowing what you will do with me. So do as you choose, and we’ll see what the new day brings.

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Matthew 14:13-16

 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.’ Jesus said to them, ‘They need not go away; you give them something to eat.’ 

Soul food

You are the bread for which I hunger, the face I long to see. You are the Love I need to know in depth of heart, near and real.

You are bread for my soul, the food that gives life and joy, hope and peace.

Do not send them away. Feed them. That is what you say. 

Days come when I have nothing to give. So I come here, hoping my fingers will transport me into your Presence where you will feed me with the Love that is the bread of life.

Fill my soul with the bread that leaves me wanting and needing nothing more … than you. For it is you I need and you I seek with these trembling hands on these black keys.

So speak and feed me even as I pour out my heart. Lift me beyond the moments of sadness that I may live with holy purpose and joy, strengthened by knowing that it is your joy to come and feed my hungry heart.

Pr. David L. Miller