Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Today's text

John 14:1-3

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father's house there are many places to live in; otherwise I would have told you. I am going now to prepare a place for you,and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you to myself, so that you may be with me where I am.


It is important to know your place.

Everything Sunday morning a ritual is acted out on the step at the front of our sanctuary. Readings from the Bible are read, and children are invited forward to sit on this step to hear the children’s sermon.

Children rush … they run forward to beat me to this step because I have a place, my place, right there in the middle. But I am too slow. They beat me to it. They look at me and giggle.

I try to squeeze in, and they push their skinny butts together so that I can squeeze in. But I can't, so I must sit on the floor in front of them. This is my place they tell me.

So I sit on the floor and talk to children, as they line up on that step and sit with me. In mock anger,I shake my finger at them and say, “You’re in my place.” But they just laugh … because they are in their place. It belongs to them, and they know it.

We are all in our place: We belong there. We are safe there; we are wanted there … and cherished. So we tell stories and laugh, and they make fun of me, and between the lines of all that happens we realize how much we love each other.

And the love that we share there, sitting together, is not ours, but flows from the reservoir of an infinite love that draws and holds us together.

Whether the congregation knows it or not, whether they see and recognize it or not, whether they have ears to hear what is happening, we are a living sacrament, sitting right there before them. We act out and make present the central truth of our lives. The truth: There is a love that is for us, a love that always has a place for us, a place with our name on it.

Right there on those steps … heaven appears. The love of Jesus enfolds us and silently whispers in our ears: 'You belong. You belong to me. In my love there is a place just for you … and it is yours forever.'

This day, O Lord, let us know our place.

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Today’s text

Luke 18:1

Then Jesus told them a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. 'There was a judge in a certain town,' he said, 'who had neither fear of God nor respect for anyone. In the same town there was also a Widow who kept on coming to him and saying, "I want justice from you against my enemy!" For a long time he refused, but at last he said to himself, "Even though I have neither fear of God nor respect for any human person, I must give this widow her just rights since she keeps pestering me, or she will come and slap me in the face." ' And the Lord said, 'You notice what the unjust judge has to say? Now, will not God see justice done to his elect if they keep calling to him day and night even though he still delays to help them? I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily. But when the Son of man comes, will he find any faith on earth?'


A comic appeared in last Sunday’s paper, a single frame. A thick, muscled arm descends from a cloud, setting an enormous elbow on the ground. A huge hand extends to a stump where a small person grasps that hand and says, “On the count of three.”

There was nothing funny about the cartoon. I suppose the artist sought to comment on the lunacy of arm wrestling with God, “on the count of three” or any other count.

But such contests are not quickly over and done as the drawing suggests. They go on … and should.

Oh, we lose every skirmish. We are not going to wrestle God to the ground and demand whatever it is that we want.

But in the struggle with God we might find ourselves in the presence of a Mystery worthy of our worship, a mystery who in the end is Love, even when our heart’s desire doesn’t happen, even when what we fear becomes the bitter crust of our reality.

It is not uncommon for me to sit with souls who rail again heaven for the injustice and pain in their lives. Often as not, heaven has nothing to do with their pain, which has obvious causes closer to home.

Even then, we want what we want, an end to pain, relief from threats to those we love and healing from whatever illness, misfortune or just plain bad luck that makes life hard.

“Step in God. I demand that you do something about this. I’m talking to you God.”

For the strong ones, the blessed ones, the fight against heaven doesn’t soon end. They persevere. They press on, pressing home the justice of their cause, their honest need for blessing and relief from their unending run of miserable luck.

Blessed are they, for you, my most holy Lord, are real to them, even when your silence brings them pain.

Blessed are they, for they will wrestle with you (losing every skirmish) until the mystery of your love breaks their heart, and they stand, like Job, before the inscrutable chances of life, blessing you for being a God who refuses to be reduced to our size.

Pr. David L. Miller