Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010

Today’s text

Luke 24:49-50

'And now I am sending upon you what the Father has promised. Stay in the city, then, until you are clothed with the power from on high.' Then he took them out as far as the outskirts of Bethany, and raising his hands he blessed them.


You blessed them. This is my favorite posture in which to see you, an image carved deep in my soul.

Perhaps it started in the old limestone church in Warren. From behind the high pulpit a mural looked back at me every Sunday. You were risen and ascending high in the air, your hands held head-high, your palms open and wounded in a gesture of blessing.

You looked down at your huddled friends in the painting and at us, a huddled few, gathered to go again through motions of standing, sitting, praying, singing and listening.

Week after week it went on, always under your gaze from the wall, as you silently blessed us, the confused and uncomprehending

Simple things, frequently seen, seem to leave the deepest mark.

The mural is still there, looking down on the generations who followed me in those pews. You are still there, Jesus, blessing them … and me. Only now, miles and years removed from the old church I carry the image in my mind. But it is no less vivid.

It tells me that blessing is what you are about, blessing the confused and uncomprehending, the failed and the fools, the stumbling and the wounded, the arrogant and those who believed they had no need of you or that room and fled as quickly as they could.

Sinners, all of us, that we much held in common, that and the truth that you bless us with a peace and presence that is ever for us, if we realize for the briefest moment that our lives are forever held in the mystery of those up-raised hands.

Silently, unceasingly, they tell us who we are and that we, who huddled beneath your gaze, are intended to live as free beloved, owing you nothing more than to be ourselves, that self that comes out to play and laugh when we know what those hands tell us.

I am sure I undershoot the mark, but for me this is the power from on high, the power, the freedom to be what we are, ourselves, and to give ourselves to those who need us without anxiety or arrogance, self-importance or worries about how we shall be seen or judged. This is power. And it flows from those hands.

You blessed me from that wall. Your hands told who I am, for what I am made and gave me the life you intend me to live. They tell me the power I will have from the Loving Mystery on those days I have the good sense to let you bless me.

Pr. David L. Miller

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Today’s text

John 24:44-46

Then he [Jesus] told them, 'This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms, was destined to be fulfilled.' He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, 'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead … .'


Destined … it needed to happen. But didn’t you have choices, Jesus? Surely you did, or you are not human like me, and I know that you are, though perhaps with fewer struggles over whom you really are and for what you were made.

You knew your destiny, and your decisions were guided by that knowing. You knew your life was to be a sign of the Father’s rule.

You knew every moment of your existence--of every person’s existence--was lived in the field of Loving Presence. You knew the truth you lived would be resisted and denounced.

You knew your life was a threat to ‘business as usual,’ a contradiction to life as we most often live it. You knew this contradiction would bring conflict and that faithfulness to God’s dream would destroy you.

It was destined, necessary, and you chose that destiny. I love you for this. You move me. You chose, and the life you choose is a portrait of everything I want, everything I most value and everything the world should and will be.

But try as I might may soul falls downcast when the things I do are not successful, when my life seems so forgotten and lived in a corner, so different from once upon a time.

Can I surrender to this destiny, to living and loving in my place, knowing my successes will be few and small, my failures common and my best labors soon forgotten or dismissed as having little import?

Can I choose, as you chose, the necessity of living and loving in the place and way the Loving Mystery has given me?

And why, oh why, should that last sentence bring such tears?

They are tears not of shame but of recognition of the central truth of one’s life: how small and yet how great one person’s life truly is … when the destiny of time, place and circumstance are not refused but chosen.

In that choosing, we--I--become as you, one who recognizes in the next task, in the day’s simple duties the destiny for which one came into the world, a simple destiny: to love, to give oneself, to choose one’s place and time as gift and grace, however great or obscure.

In that choosing, the Father’s holy kingdom shines amid whatever struggles, resistance or apathy prevails. But by choosing and living that destiny, in given-ness to our moments the Word in us is fulfilled, and the heart comes to know that this, alone, is enough.

Pr. David L. Miller