Thursday, December 29, 2011

Friday, December 29, 2011

Today’s text

From a sermon by Saint Leo the Great (pope, 391/400-461)


Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s kingdom.

Reflection

The greatest dignity of the human soul is to bear the nature and substance of God--to know oneself as part of the body of God, sharing in God’s life. I know this dignity and joy and would know it fully, which is why I am here, writing again.

In you, Holy One, I live and move and have my being. I come here to consent to you one more time, as I do again and again. I acknowledge you as the Maker and Lover of my being.

Thank you for my life, for the breath I breathe that it not my own, but gift. Thank you for the love that is Love, which is to say … You, which I bear in my tiny heart.

I come here again to allow your immensity greater access to my little life. I come so that you might fill me with the love that is your nature and substance.

This filling appears to be a lifetime project. I pretend to be more advanced in this process than I am, but I am constantly a beginner. That’s all I will ever be.

I know the immensity of your fullness of the Love you are, only to feel cold and unfulfilled the next hour.

I see again the image that appeared at Christmas. I see all that is surrounded by you. I see how you contain us--and everything, every world, every cell, every leaf and snowflake. You encircle and envelop us like the air, like the rays of the sun, like the waters of sea.

I see your silent immensity, a constant flow of liquid love, seeking entry into the narrow confines of our being that you may flow into and through us.

Your substance seeks entry that you may seep--or rush!--into the interior of who and what we are … that we may become what you are, fully sharing your nature. And in precious moments, the Love you are fills me, and I taste your nature as it becomes the substance and of my own heart.


Then, it is, that I know my dignity as a bearer of the Divine Wonder. Then, it is, that all that is in me--struggles and failures, sin and confusion, even the longing ache of my unfulfilled life--are washed away.

All that is left is the joy of knowing you.

Pr. David L. Miller

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Today’s text

From a treatise against the heresy of Noetus by Saint Hippolytus (priest, 170-235)


God gave utterance to his voice, engendering light from light, and then he sent his own mind into the world as its Lord. Visible before God alone and not to the world, God made him visible so that the world could be saved by seeing him. This mind that entered our world was made known as the Son of God.

Reflection

All the world came into being through you, in you and for you, O Christ. There is nothing that does not bear the mark and resemblance of you who are before time and beyond imagination.

Yet, you are as close as the goodness flowing through the beauty of all things, each thing revealing the mind of the Maker.

You are the mind of God, the intelligence and intention of the Infinite Source of Being, the Loving Mystery, the Eternal Wonder my naming cannot catch or fathom.

The immensity of your heart, O God, dwells in this child, this infant Christ, a peasant’s child. And that heart embraces all creation. It reaches out to see all that is made and to love it, to delight in it, to treasure it, to bless it, to desire fullness of life for all it sees.

I do not believe Jesus understood the mysteries of science, the depth of the farthest galaxies or the intricacies of the grass and flowers that spoke to him of the wonder of God.

Being the mind of God did not mean he possessed superior knowledge beyond that of any other peasant of his day. He was and remained human.

But truly so, in ways we are not, except in the blessed flashes of graced moments.

What he knew, O Lord was you. He had your mind, he was your mind, and your mind is a mind of love that hungers for the earth to sing its beauty and every human soul to bubble with joy.

This is your mind, O God, the mind that is in Christ--and in me.

You, Christ, are the Son of God for you stand in constant communion with the Mystery who is love, the Source who is infinite, the grace from whom springs every beauty of creation. God is how we name this wonder, whose mind you are.

In revealing the mind of God, you also show us also ourselves. You show us the person we become when, in those flashes of graced moments, your mind is born again in us, in moments when we feel the rush of love and gratitude for life and all that lives, when we are amazed at beauty, moved beyond ourselves to compassion and angered by all that wounds and disfigures created goodness.

So come, Lord Jesus. Let us look upon you again as you rest in Mary’s lap. Open our eyes to see that you are the loving beauty of the Father. And in seeing, may the mind that is in you be born again in us that we, like you, might be truly human.

Pr. David L. Miller

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Today’s text

From a commentary on Luke by Saint Ambrose (bishop, 337/340-397)


You are blessed because you have heard and believed. A soul that believes both conceives and brings forth the Word of God and acknowledges his works. Let Mary’s soul be in each of you to proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Let her spirit be in each to rejoice in the Lord. Christ has only one mother in the flesh, but we all bring forth Christ in faith.

Reflection

I am fascinated by this mystery. You whom heaven and earth cannot contain dwells also within this heart of mine in light and love, in peace and purpose--and sometimes in frustration.

Frustration comes when I fail to express the heart of Christ in words and deeds of blessing. It comes when my fingers do not return often to these black keys to praise you, Holy One.

It comes when I turn from the depth of my heart to the details of the day, failing to see and seek what is in my heart. For your heart resides here within my own. It is known in the hunger to bless and the eagerness to proclaim that you are love--and that this love is what we most need to know and feel.

Frustration come when anxious chatter and furious figuring obscures the grace that we know and are when we gather around your word and open our hands to receive simple bread and words of blessing.

This grace is what matters among us. It is all that really matters to me. All else is distraction, the annoying clatter of faithless worry.

You live in this heart, and you are not all comfort and peace. Sometimes you are a prod, a frustration, an irritant that demands attention and expression.

Long ago you became my life and joy, a joy I know when I name your love and share your presence. Tension and disquiet build when even for a day or two I don’t say what I see and feel, blessing another soul with the love you are within me.

Then you become an uncomfortable presence. The discomfort disappears only when I do acts of blessing or speak words of love and praise of you who are the highest and best, the most lovely and wonderful--and yet who dwells within.

Did I give you birth by having faith? I cannot claim any merit in my own faith. I am not entirely sure how I got it other than by the example of parents and the witness of teachers, pastors and friends, old and young.

This faith is not something other than you, my Lord. My faith is you, present within, trusting the Eternal Father in me even as you trusted and called out to the Loving Mystery during the days of your earthly pilgrimage.

How, then, do I ‘bring forth Christ in faith,’ giving you birth again in my flesh? How do any of us do so if our faith is your presence already within? What can we do? What is your call?

Perhaps it is just to return to the places of your presence--to your word, to the worshiping community, to the voices of your grace.

Return again and again and listen. Listen for the Love who awakens love within--and trust that this is the eternal love of God who is pleased to dwell in you.

Each time this happens, each time Love is born within, Christmas comes again.

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Today’s text

From a letter by Saint Leo the Great (pope, 391/400-461)


But through this wonderful blending the mystery of new birth shone upon us, so that through the same Spirit by whom Christ was conceived and brought forth we too might be born again in a spiritual birth; and in consequence the evangelist declares the faithful to ‘have been born not of blood nor of desire of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.’

Reflection

Be born in us, O Lord. This is my prayer as Christmas comes near. Be born again in the dark mystery of my heart. Illumine my soul with the light of your loving presence.

Be born in me that my coldness might be overwhelmed by your warmth,
that my confusion might be washed away by the certainty of a love that always was and always will be,
that my mortality might be filled with your immortality,
that my narrow heart might be expanded by the immensity of your all-encompassing, unfailing compassion.

Let Christmas come and banish all sadness. Let every soul see the cold winter world drenched in sunlight. Fill us with the joyful awareness that the golden rays of your divine love are filling every dark corner of creation.

Be born us. Raise us from the lethargy of grief, from preoccupation with what we have lost and from anxious fears of what we must face. Let us feel your love deep within that we may know that you are in us.

Then we shall know that you are greater than every sadness, stronger than the anxieties that erode our joy and more powerful than the forces of death that steal hope and cloud the future.

Make my soul like bright winter morning. I gaze out the back window of the house. The sun pours joy on the patio. It may be cold, but the world is clothed in light, joyous light, hilarious light. It laughs and plays.

It seeks out every cold corner. It does not force its way in, but silently rushes forward at unimaginable speed, lest the darkness get away and hide somewhere beyond its reach. But there is no such place.

You are light, O Lord, the light of onrushing love. And your light lives within me, or how could I know you? How could I be moved to praise you, to hope for you, to call out for you?

My prayer has long since been answered. You already have been born in me. And what is born in me--in us--is light, the light of eternal day, the joyous light of winter mornings playing on the patio.

It comes and reminds me that you, who come in Jesus, indwell my soul, seeking out every dark corner, every fearful place, every sadness over loss, every wound that hinders joy and purpose, every doubt that you, my Lord, are something less than all-embracing love.

And when my heart knows this, you are born again, not in Bethlehem, but in this soul, which is your holy purpose--and my great joy.

Pr. David L. Miller

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Today's text

From the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965)


He sent his Son, the eternal Word who enlightens all [people], to dwell among [human beings] and make known to them the innermost things of God. Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, sent as a man to [all people] speaks the words of God, and brings to perfection the saving work that the Father gave him to do. To see him is to see the Father also.

Reflection

I wonder about the work the Jesus the Christ was given to do. What is that work?

Many of the ways Western Christianity has emphasized in recent centuries make no sense to me. They never did. As a boy, I heard the idea that God sent Jesus to be strung up on a cross to pay the price of human sin, so that God, the Father, might be satisfied.

It made no sense. It God less forgiving than I was, and anything that does that must be mistaken.

This traditional “atonement theology” burns at the heart of virtually all conservative preachers and movements. It is at their core. But if to be Christian one must believe that this is Jesus work, well, I am not a Christian.

But I am, profoundly so, and I am more so as the years go by.

But this year again I come to the cradle of Bethlehem with the same question: How does this child, this Jesus help me? How does he help anyone? What difference does he make for those who are dying … or watching a loved one fade away? What does he mean for people I know who may be losing their little daughter? And what difference does this child make in a world where a billion or more are hungry today, or even starving?

Jesus is born to peasant parents with no prospects that they or he will amount to much, just more child in a world of poor children. The only thing that has changed in this regard is there now are far more poor children.

So what difference does Jesus “work” make; what work does he do?

The grand theories of theologians hold scant hold on my mind and less on my soul. They do not excite the imagination or touch the heart.

What does, however, is standing close to manger of Jesus and imagining that this child is the eternal desire of God for me and for all.

God’s eternal desire is to unite the great and uncreated divine heart with our created hearts, so that the Infinite Source of loving joy might pour through us. The loving and infinite God, who is everywhere as present, seeks to unite the created soul with the eternal heart of God--and has been doing so since before the beginning of time. All progress in humanity and grace is the product of such divine effort and presence.

This was God’s desire, an eternal desire, which has nothing to do with human sin and imperfection.

God’s great heart always seeks to give itself away for the sake of creating free and full communion of love and joy between himself and the created order. This is not the result of sin and human error. It is the eternal desire of God whose will is and always was love, and love wants but one thing--to unite with the beloved.

In Jesus, the eternal divine desire is fulfilled; the union of God’s heart and a human heart appears most clearly. And I see--no, I feel--that this child, this Jesus, shows me the union of Heart with heart, of Love with love, of Divinity with humanity, the union God is working to make happen in me … and in all.

When I look again at the child, when with shepherds I draw near the manger, listening again to the story … a love is awakened. I should say Love is awakened. God is born again in me. The heart of God is awakened in the narrow confines of my heart.

And at one and the same moment, my humanity and the great heart of the Divine Wonder dance with joy.

Pr. David L. Miller

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Today’s text

From a treatise Against Heresies by Saint Irenaeus (bishop, second century C.E.)


The Spirit prepares man to receive the Son of God, the Son leads him to the Father, and the Father freeing him from change and decay, bestows the eternal life that comes to everyone from seeing God. As those who see light are in the light sharing its brilliance, so those who see God are in God sharing his glory, and that glory gives them life. To see God is to share in his life.

Reflection

Seeing is all I want on most days. I want to see God. I want to be moved by the presence of the Holy One. This vision transports me beyond daily anxieties to a different space, a transformed consciousness in which fear cannot exist and daily anxieties cannot be found.

For the duration of this blessed vision of the Blessed, nothing else matters. Life’s purpose is clear, and the heart is at rest because it has arrived home. We see the loveliness we seek, the beauty from which we came. We experience the wonder toward which we move, until the day we fall asleep in the arms of the Blessed Mystery you are, my Lord.

Thank for you this vision, this awareness.

Through these tears, I move back through my week and see again where I have seen you. Sometimes I have seen with physical vision only because my spiritual eyes were blinded by anxious preoccupation with daily concerns.

I saw you on Wednesday, at a funeral. I stood and spoke, remembering a holy moment between me and a dying man.

He spoke his need for faith and hope, and I knew what to say. “Remember. Remember all the grace and beauty you have seen and known in your days, all the love you have given and received.”

Small pictures, I said; each one is a snapshot of the great love with which you are loved, a love stronger than death. Every graced moment is the Spirit leading us to the Son who is God’s eternal Word, spoken in time. Each one is a gift of eternal life right here and now, for those with eyes to see, each a share in God’s glory

Look and see, I said. And if I had held a mirror to my face, I would have seen the face of my brother, Jesus, calling him to the Father, for I had become the face of the Eternal Glory. I had seen light, and for a blessed moment shined with its brilliance.

There is no pride in this, only humility and the joy of being a small part of a great and holy purpose, a tiny flame in the immensity of God’s heart.

Thursday I saw you, again, My Lord, in an old woman’s wrinkled face. She had just turned 90, though she looks younger. There were many hard days in my life, she said to friends. But looking back, she continued, I know how good my life has been, what a wonderful life I have had.

There was no regret in her words or her eyes, only gratitude. She had seen your light in her life, and now in the shadows of old age, she shared its brilliance, your brilliance.

She saw you, and in seeing she shared in the life you are. And so did I.

May it happen again today. This is my prayer.

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Today’s text

From a discourse On the Contemplation of God by William of Saint Theirry (abbot, 1075/1080-1148)


We hold you dear by the affection you have implanted in us. You are the one supremely good and ultimate goodness. Your love is your goodness, the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son! From the beginning of creation it was he who hovered over the waters--that is, over the wavering minds of men, offering himself to all, drawing all things to himself. By his inspiration and holy breath, by keeping us from harm and providing for our needs, he unites God to us and us to God.

Reflection

Are you hovering near, Great Spirit? Do you inhabit this quiet space where I wait for words to come out of the nothingness and flow through my fingers?

If so, come with all the love that you are--the love that ever flows between Father and Son at the heart of the Holy Trinity. Come so that my wavering mind may be drawn to you and my still heart may flow with the warmth of your goodness.

In the beginning, you hovered over the watery chaos of what was to be creation, a universe billions of stars that burn in the cold dark of space. But this morning I cannot think of their multitude or the wonder of yawning light years of dark space.

For reasons I do not know, I think again and again of a small grove of birch trees along 75th Street. I see again the huge yellow moon hanging over the dark wooded ridge high behind them, a quarter mile or so. The moon glistened on pale patches of snow beneath the birches, reflecting gentle white light on the trucks, as I drove home.

Right then, I knew you. I don’t know how or why, unless it is that every beauty and wonder in this world has the tendency to awaken thoughts of you as Ultimate and Loving Source.

But sometimes such scenes awaken faith and sometimes they do not. It is not automatic. On this average ride home from the office, wonder happened in my heart and my mind leaped into awareness that love lies at the heart of this crazy world. The earth in its wonder leaps from the heart of an impenetrable Loving Mystery, who speaks in the glisten of snow in reflected moon light.

The Holy Spirit hovers over the wavering minds of men and women and calls them home. In that moment, as I drove home, you brought me home. For home is awareness of you as Love, a love which manifests in the sacrament of the world, in the reality of life, and my Christian faith says, in the face of my brother Jesus.

Pr. David L. Miller

Friday, December 09, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

Today’s text

From a sermon by Saint Peter Chrysologus (priest, 380-450)


In all the events we have recalled, the flame of divine love enkindled human hearts and its intoxication overflowed into men’s senses. Wounded by love, they longed to look upon God with their bodily eyes. Yet how could our narrow human vision apprehend God, whom the whole world cannot contain? But the law of love is not concerned with what will be, what ought to be, what can be. Love does not reflect; it is unreasonable and knows no moderation, Love refuses to be consoled when its goal proves impossible, despises all hindrances to the attainment of its object. Love destroys the lover if he cannot obtain what he loves; love follows its own promptings, and does not think of right and wrong … It is intolerable for love not to see the object of its longing, That is why whatever reward they merited was nothing to the saints if they could not see the Lord.

Reflection

I love you Lord for the way your people reach across 16 centuries and touch my heart. What have I in common with a soul from so long ago? And could I hold in common with one the church has name ‘saint?’

Nothing, it would seem, yet Peter’s words tell me that I am not alone. Other hearts have longed and long still for the fulfillment of their love, eager to see the One they love, the One who is Love.

And as he said, there is no moderation in such love. It never finds complete satisfaction but always pushes for more.

Oh, there are moments, of course, when the soul gazes into the early winter snows or looks into the faces of children and is seized by the awareness that a boundless loving beauty stands at the heart of all life.

The elevation of heart that occurs in such moments transports us beyond anxiety and fear, and a ‘Julian’ feeling washes through the soul, as we know with that old saint that all is will and all shall be well. But the moment passes.

And even in the moment of transport to higher awareness of life’s center and meaning, we know there is more. There is always more, and we want it. We are never quite satisfied.

You are the More, Holy One, the One immoderate love hungers to see and know, that we might touch and experience totally union with you. We hunger to be enraptured, so that nothing that is us is outside of you. It is an immoderate desire stirred by your immoderate desire for us.

The state of enrapture is known in this life, even by the likes of me because you are gracious love and give yourself even to the unworthy. Even now, as tears fog vision of these black keys while washing obstruction from the eyes of my heart so that I know you as that total love that gives peace passing all understanding.

I wonder: What was it like for Saint Peter Chrysologus 16 centuries ago? He speaks words that leap the great gulf of time to touch me and tell me that I stand in an ancient line of those who knew your love and wanted more, find final fulfillment.

I can’t get inside of his experience, but his words (golden words, which is the meaning of his name, Chrysologus) move me into awareness of you who inspired them. And I know Peter is my true brother, brothers in longing … to see you.

Show yourself to the eyes of our hearts in this holy season.

Pr. David L. Miller

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Today’s text

From a treatise on The Ascent of Mount Carmel by Saint John of the Cross (priest, mystic, 1542-1591)


By giving us, as he did, his Son, his only Word, he has in that one Word said everything. There is no need for further revelation. … God has spoken so completely through his own Word that he chooses to add nothing. Although he had spoken but partially through the prophets, he has now said everything in Christ. He has given us everything, his own Son. …[God says] Fix your eyes on him alone for in him I have revealed all and in him you will find more than you could ever ask for or desire.

Reflection

I have heard what I need to hear. I know what my heart needs to know. I await no further word of life’s meaning, unfolding its mysteries. That Word has been spoken in time and space--and in me.

Simple hearts rest it this Word without seeking great understanding, knowing this Word of ultimate grace and presence is enough and always will be. Sophisticated minds plumb its depths and never reach the bottom. There is always more to be known of this Word. It remains as inexhaustible as the Love who speaks it, and always will.

Sometimes, it is enough for me to be simple and simply trust, neither needing nor wanting depth of understanding. My heart rests totally at peace, simply knowing a final word of love has been spoken over my life, no, over all life, a Word that encompasses every pain, every loss, every sorrow, every broken dream and promise.

All of it is encased, embraced and encompassed in that single Word, in Christ.

In Christ God has spoken, a clear and unmistakable ‘yes’ to the human race and more. The Word is spoken in creation, through the means and substance of created matter, and it is spoken to all that is, all that ever was or ever will be. It is a Word, a word of promise and deliverance, spoken to the rocks, the rivers and everlasting hills as much as it is to me, a human soul

For, all that exists came to be in Christ--in him, through him, for him. He is the Word in which God says all we need to know. In him created matter and divine substance combine to reveal the beauty God intends and will work in and through all that is.

In this Word, divine reality and created substance unite, and God speaks the uninhibited, joyous communion of God and creation, the holy union God is working in me and all that is.

In this Word, God speaks unfettered love for all that is, a love that takes all that is into itself for the sole sake of a love spoken in a Word, a single life, the life of my brother Jesus.

Pr. David L. Miller

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

Today’s text

From the Proslogian by Saint Anselm of Canterbury (bishop, 1033-1109)

Lord most high, what shall this exile do, so far from you? What shall your servant do, tormented by love of you and cast so far from your face? He yearns to see you, and your face is too far from him. He desires to approach you, and your dwelling is unapproachable. He longs to find you, and does not know your dwelling place. He strives to look for you, and does not know your face.


Reflection

The metaphor of exile is fitting to describe the feeling of those who hunger for God. We long for the One to whom we intuitively know we belong. We crave union with the Love from whom we feel separation, knowing no final peace on this earth until our tormented love is satisfied.

Saints and writers of every age have written of this experience, Christians, Jews, those of other faiths or of no faith at all. Awareness burns in the human heart, unsettling us, a restless knowledge that we are not at home until we are united with … something … someone.

We feel cut off from that mystery to which (to Whom) we ultimately belong. For the person without faith in God, this restlessness is an inescapable existential condition, the normal condition of the human heart living in a world in which one can never find the peace that the human heart is moved to seek for reasons it does not understand.

Although we find no peace here, we still want it, and we either live with the dis-ease of not having what we want, or we try to kill the desire with substances of constant busy-ness. We might tell ourselves that the unknown something we want is an illusion we had best ignore. Eat, drink and be merry, but don’t kid yourself: your hunger for final fulfillment is a false hope; it is chasing after the wind. You will never catch it.

But for the person of faith the yearning for the One to whom we belong is a search for home. It is the desire to return from the wandering of exile where we feel alone and lost, forgotten and perhaps forsaken, for we feel far removed from the One in whom rest and peace is found.

The Great Soul who is God, the One who loves and creates sentient beings out of an abundant store of love, creates us in order to share the boundless store of divine life and love with us, we who have life and love only by God’s gift.

God has fashioned our small souls so that in our exilic wanderings our hunger might moves us to seek to be reunited with the Mystery from whom we came, to return and find the holy union with the place, the Person, the home for which we have long searched, wondering at times whether it is even real.

It is, of course. It is real as are you, Loving and Holy Mystery. The pains of our wanderings through life are a great grace. They whisper in our ears that we belong to a Greatness which we cannot begin to imagine, the greatness of You, who made us for yourself.

So let us not run from the pain of our exile, nor kill or drown out the desire that moves us to search and long for union with the One who is always more. Our pain is a tormented love, moving us to search and watch for our Beloved, who continually draws us to the place where we might find oneness with the Source of our Being--and there, finally, to see the face of our Lord, face to face.

Pr. David L. Miller

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Today’s text

From a biblical commentary by Saint Ephrem (deacon, 306-373)


About that hour no one knows, neither the angels nor the Son. It is not for you to know times or moments. He has kept these things hidden so that we may keep watch, each of us thinking that he will come in our own day. If he had revealed the time of his coming, his coming would have lost its savor; it would no longer be an object of yearning for the nations and the age in which it will be revealed. He promised that he would come but did not say when he would come, and so all generations await him eagerly.


Reflection

Just so, yearning, not satisfaction, remains the larger part of our lives.

We are always oriented and drawn to something more, hoping that the goodness we have known is but a part, a sample of what will be. We also yearn that the injustice and suffering, which is part of every time and every life, will pass away like a bad dream in the dawning light of our Lord’s eternal morning.

St. Paul counseled that it is a holy and good thing to be content with what the possessions and wealth one has. But contentment with what we have known and experienced of Christ is a sickness unto death. It invites a sleepy lethargy, pathetic apathy, depression and timidity.

To be content with what we know and feel of Christ turns us from the grace he is eager to share. We no longer meet each day, no, each new moment and encounter with the hope that the face of the person before us may turn transparent to that Love who seeks our hearts. It deadens the mind to the possibility that we might glimpse signs of the kingdom of God’s peace breaking into our daily routines, stirring our hearts to gratitude for the One who is ever at hand, always near.

To be content with such fragments of Christ’s reign, as we now experience on earth, turns us from the plight of the poor and those who suffer injustice. It makes us content with the status quo so that we become a friend of death, no longer challenging the powers and injustices that feed poverty and starvation while protecting the rich, not to mention our comfortable lifestyles.

The suffering of this age and every death we see should stir us to pray, ‘Come Lord Jesus,’ moving also to watch and not lose heart. For Christ promises to come, and we should be eager for his appearance. We have seen and felt the pains he has promised to erase, when he comes to make all things new and wipe every tear from our eyes.

We are eager for his appearance not only because of our own and the world’s pains, but because we have seen the graciousness of his love in our brother, Jesus.

We have witnessed his coming in a thousand ways and places, a thousand days and faces where the One who is Love shows his beauty and awakens the same gracious loveliness within our hearts that it may flow from our hands and our words.

All this should well move us to be eager for Christ’s every appearance, looking for him in all the places of our lives. For he who is … is pleased to come to you.

Pr. David L. Miller

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Today’s text

From a sermon by Saint Bernard (abbot, 1090-1153)


Keep God’s word in this way. Let it enter into your very being, let it take possession of your desires and your whole way of life. Feed on goodness, and your soul will delight in its richness. Remember to eat your bread, or your heart will wither away. Fill your soul with richness and strength. If you keep the world of God in this way, it will also keep you. The Son and the Father will come to you.

Reflection


Come to us, O Lord and set us free from bondage to our fears and sorrows, our selfish sins and worried souls, anxious for the future. Come to us and remove every impediment that prevents our entry into the heaven of your nearness, the presence that sets our hearts to soar.

There are three comings of our Lord, Saint Bernard tells us. Two are visible, one is not. The first is the appearance of a child in Mary’s arms, come to win our hearts with the humble courtesy of God. Our Lord comes not to overwhelm but to awaken love in us. The Immortal and Incomprehensible One puts all that aside to touch our flesh with divine gentleness.

In the final appearance, our Lord will come in glory to lift every valley and make low every mountain, to raise up the downtrodden and judge the proud and indifferent, and make all things new. All will reflect God’s glory, and we shall see it. Not like now, when we see … but so dimly, as if through dirty lenses, and so occasionally as if God’s glory was not visible in all God has made.

These two comings of God are visible, but in between is a silent and hidden appearance as God comes to our souls and lives there, seeping through the pores of our being to reveal the Love that God is, however obscured by our faults and failings.

This coming of our Lord is a path, a way that we walk. Each day is an invitation to enter again the goodness of the One who is all goodness, to taste the Love of the One who is all Love, to witness the beauty of the One is all beauty. Each morning is an invitation to draw the breath of earth into our lungs and know every breath as the hunger of God to give us life as a holy and irreplaceable gift.

So I come again, O Lord, to the start of the day. I come seeking to hear and be blessed by your word, hungry to see, no, to feel the Love that is the boundless source of every love and all life, so that you may live and have greater place in me.

I have no idea how this happens. I cannot describe the way it occurs. I only know that when I listen to you, when I read the words you speak through prophets and saints and in the stories how you came to us in the gentle flesh of Jesus, when I do this I find a life of gentleness and grace that takes larger place in me.

And in this I know you, and I know that although I keep your word … it is you who are keeping me.

Pr. David L. Miller

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Today’s text

From a pastoral letter by Saint Charles Borromeo (bishop, 1538-1584)

The Church asks us to understand that Christ, who came once in the flesh, is prepared to come again. When we remove all obstacles to his presence he will come, at any hour and moment, to dwell spiritually in our hearts.

Reflection

It has taken years to know the longing in my heart as a longing that is not my own.

I hear the words and songs of the Advent season. Isaiah, in particular, moves me. He speaks of deep and universal longings for a world made whole and for souls healed by the restoring love the One who is Love and most lovable of all.

The prophet writes that the Lord shall judge among the nations, and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks. One nation will no longer raise the sword against their neighbors, nor shall they learn war again (Isaiah 2:4-5).

The words stir the heart, awakening longing to be the peace God brings, so that every interaction of my life becomes a moment for offering the peace and gentleness of God in Christ to every soul I meet, whether on the phone, in the coffee shop, at the hospital bed.

I hunger for my whole bearing to be peace, the peace of God, the peace of heaven, the peace that fills the heart when one knows all is well, all is wrapped in the embrace of God, the Father.

Peace comes in quietness when the rush of the daily world fades, and we can hear the voice our heart. We feel our wounds, our hunger for healing, listening also to the longings that reside within us for a life beyond the life we are living, a life more beautiful and good, more graced and gracing, a life in which we are ruled more by joy and hope than disappointment and criticism.

Such longing is stirred when we hear the words of those, like the prophet Isaiah, whose souls have heard the Voice of the Eternal One in their own heart … and spoken what they have heard.

But we miss the point if we think the longings within us for peace, for love, for rising to a new kind of life are our own creation. They are the presence of God, the reality of Christ again taking on flesh within our flesh to make us the peace of God, the blessing of God, the presence of God in our time and place, wherever we are.

For God is not pleased to take on human flesh only once, in a manger, the child of peasants, in a time far distant from our own. Christ is born a million times and more in every heart where inner longing becomes words of peace and acts of mercy in a world that needs this most of all.

Pr. David L. Miller

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Today’s text

From On the Contemplation of God by William of Saint Thierry (monk and abbot, 1075?--1153)

O Lord, salvation is your gift and your blessing is upon your people; what else is your salvation but receiving from you the gift of loving you or being loved by you?

Reflection

It is the gift of loving that I find most freeing, dear Friend. But I cannot separate this gift from the gift of knowing your boundless love. These are one gift, not two, two experiences of the same reality.

There are moments in which I feel the world loved, totally, fully, completely--and me in and with it. Creation shines more beautiful and graced than any words can say, as I feel Your immensity embracing me and all that is.

Immediately, my soul flies open. A river of grace breaks loose in my heart, and my greatest joy is pouring that love into another life, onto another soul.

A flood of generosity fills me and flows from my smile, bursting free from a Source so deep in my soul that it is no longer my own soul, but yours. It flows in abundance from a dark and hidden place I cannot see, the place where my heart and your divine heart are one and the same.

This is salvation.

This word seldom crosses my lips, even in sermons. It’s so worn and weak it awakens no great thoughts or deep emotions in common conversation. I avoid it because it has no meaning for so many, no connection with felt experience.

But the experience of knowing great love and loving greatly, about this I cannot say enough. I crave this experience, for when I am in the midst of knowing the immensity of your love I become the Love you are. I am most human, most alive,

That is why I cling to certain stories of your ministry, Jesus. A leper kneels at your feet and says, “If you want to, you can make me whole.”

“I want to,” you say, as you reach to touch him.

And seeing this I fall in love with the Love you are. Love fills me again, freeing me every prejudgment and negative thought I have, thoughts about myself and even about those who hurt or dismiss me. Such thoughts cannot exist in the presence of Love.

The experience is fleeting, of course, but while it lasts I am free to be the person that hides so deeply within. I am free from wounds, anger and hatreds. I become your generosity, Holy One, knowing the Love you are in the Love that flows from my eyes, my face, my hands, my arms, my smile, my words.

And I know what salvation is: knowing You, knowing you as Love within my own heart and mind. It brings a sudden transformation into the image of God that I am, the image of the One who loves and always will.

This is salvation. One day I will enter its fullness. For now, I will allow whatever beauty and grace I know to awaken in me you, who are Love.

And I will look again and again into the face of Jesus, whose words and touch reveal your divine heart. He comes bearing a salvation we can feel in our flesh, a salvation that reveals who I am … and who You are.

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Today’s text

Luke 17:12-19

12As [Jesus] entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. 15Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”
Reflection

Teach me to see, Holy One; then I shall be free. Then my heart shall soar, for all I see shall sing the praise of you who staggers my imagination and moves me to tears in the morning hours … and beyond.

Teach me to see with compassion; give that God’s-eye vision that it is penetrating mercy.

You looked and saw 10 lepers. You saw their need. They were not flawed human beings, their skin, peeling, ugly, sickly white. You were not repelled. You saw their isolation from the rest of society, from family and friends, from long evenings when human souls lay down the weight of their lives and laugh over wine and food, reveling in the company of those among whom they are at home.

They were at home no where, and nowhere were they welcome. Children ran from them at the edge of towns they could not enter. Unclean, unclean, the cry would go out, and human faces fled their sight.

Alone, they were. Alone, always alone, the craving for human nearness echoed in their hearts, taunting their souls. They ached for companionship they knew they could never have, the gentle hand of a mother upon their cheek, the kiss of a lover in night, the playful hug of four-year-olds around their neck. Never theirs.

This is what you saw, Jesus. You saw them they way the Holy Father sees them, not the way they saw themselves. You saw their need. You saw their impossible hope for healing, for the holy human communion that love is. You saw all their hopes, all their sad longing for what their lives could never be.

You saw, and that’s the message. You see … me, all of me: my hopes and fears, needs and yearning, laughter and tears, the unending, incessant craving to live with fullness, to exhaust the possibilities of living and loving in this world so that my soul may find the utter contentment of tasting the life of heaven, where in loving my soul is one with the One who is Love and nothing but.

You see, Jesus, and in your seeing I know how I am seen by the One whom no eye has ever seen.

You eyes are upon me, and I feel the Love Who sees me, and heaven comes, here and now with the contentment of knowing, just knowing the Love I was created to know, that every human soul was created to know.

And I see. I see like the one healed leper. I see that I am healed, or at least that healing is well underway.

I see that healing comes in knowing, feeling the Love who made me and all that is, the Love who sees me, the Love who wants my soul to know joy.

I look and see. I see the late autumn trees, sparse, dull brown leaves clinging fast to branches against cooling winds that hint the snows soon to fly. I see, and I know they stand in the soil of the Source of all Being. I see that all that is grows from the Impenetrable Love who loves life and whose one business is life, making, nurturing, growing and bringing it to flower.

I see that everything that is expresses its Source, the Love who sees, and I know all is well and will be.

I see and my seeing praises You, Holy One. I see and I thank everyone who ever taught me to see, and everyone in whom I ever saw the One who sees me. You.

I see, and I know my brother is the one leper who saw you, Jesus, and returned to fall at your feet in thankful wonder for a Love that sees.

I see, and I know I am in the best possible company, those who see the One who sees.

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Today’s text

Ephesians 1:20-23


God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Reflection

The year draws to an end. For the church, the end is Christ, an end we celebrate on Christ the King Sunday, Nov.20.

Recent years have seen a spate of apocalyptic-tinged films offering cataclysmic visions of the end of the world--or at least the end of the ordered, civilized world as we know it.

Difficult times when social, economic and political structures seem to erode and crumble always spur speculation about the end of things. Most human speculation about “the end” is violent and fearful, pitting human strength and determination against irresistible destruction.

This tension provides fodder for movie plots with lots of explosions and improbable special effects that kill and maim, as lead characters employ their cunning and strength as they try to escape and thrive by force of their will.

Whether they survive or not, the “end of things’ comes as threat, and human beings are on their own. They must do the best they can without thought that other, more gracious forces are at work amid the crumbling of society and the shaking of Earth’s crust.

But this is not the end of things, nor is it our end.

The end is Christ. All things were made for him, in him, and by him. All is shaped by the life and power that is Being, Life and Love.

In the Church, the poor, confused, often failing Church, the grace and power of Christ is present, filling that broken body with the substance of grace and care, life and joy amid the pains and challenges of life.

Christ is filling the Church with the fullness of the Loving Wonder, the Eternal Mystery whom no eye has seen, except ours, of course, for we see him. We see him in every act of grace and goodness, in the morning sun across the autumn tress, in bread broken and wine poured of the Eucharist, in the eager and empty hands of those who receive this gift of the life Christ is. Knowing the limits of the life they hold, they long for that Life which is filling the Church … and will fill all until all that is left is Life.

And that’s the end--Life, the Life that shines in the face of Jesus Christ, the Life that is the Life of the Eternal One, filling all that is … and us.

No exploding buildings, no fearful violent destruction, just Life. Our end, the end of things … is only the beginning.

Pr. David L. Miller

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Today’s text

Matthew 25:19-25


19After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ 21His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ 23His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 24Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’

Reflection

Ah, but you were wrong, so you lived in fear. You took no risks. You buried yourself, your soul in the field of your fears, missing the joy of your master, never nearing the entrance of the joyous life you might enter.

My heart sings these words again and again, moving joy in my morning heart.

I am filled with the joy the Holy One intends for all the beloved, and that is what we are: Beloved of the Loving Mystery, from all eternity.

I enter my master’s joy as I dare believe that the God of the heavens and the earth is not a harsh master, reaping where he did not sow. In utter delight, the master sows life and beauty, love and gifts to we who inhabit this good Earth, another generosity from the Eternal Giver.

Our lives begin as gift, and when we see this, when we feel it, we are gripped by the revelation that the Source of all Life is generous and good. The master gives being where there is none, breathing life into that which cannot know the joy of simply breathing … were it not for the One who if the Breath of all the living.

We are ever in the hands of the Eternal Generosity. Feeling this, we have already entered the master’s joy of being and giving life. We taste the joy of receiving from the Love who wills us into being, willing also that I should live beyond the fears that hem me into the half-life of never trusting, never risking.

What could happen? That I fail? That I lose? That the life I have been given be lost?

Fears, all of this, damning fears.

My life is the effluence of the One who sows freely, who gives gifts and life without me asking, whose joy is being Life and making life that I, too, may be.

So it is: You, Loving and Living One, invite me beyond the anxiety that my life hangs from a single thread, held by harsh hands, ready to condemn and release me to the darkness.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Fear flows from wrong faith, mistaken ideas about life’s master. Entering the joy of the master happens the moment we feel and know the master’s joy in being and giving life.

It happens everywhere and every time when we know, when we just know that Love holds us and always will, freeing our hearts to live and risk, to try and fail, to live as the selves we are.

Pr. David L. Miller

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Today’s text

Matthew 22:1-10


Jesus began to speak to them in parables once again, 'The kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a king who gave a feast for his son's wedding. He sent his servants to call those who had been invited, but they would not come. Next he sent some more servants with the words, "Tell those who have been invited: Look, my banquet is all prepared, my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, everything is ready. Come to the wedding." But they were not interested: one went off to his farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his servants, maltreated them and killed them. The king was furious. He dispatched his troops, destroyed those murderers and burnt their town. Go to the main crossroads and invite everyone you can find to come to the wedding." So these servants went out onto the roads and collected together everyone they could find, bad and good alike; and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
Reflection

I am interested, Lord. I want to eat the feast. That is why I am here, fingers on the keys, trying to chase down your heart and capture it within the tiny confines of my own.

“Quit trying,” you say. “You need not chase me, for I Who Am run after you. It is my heart within your own heart that moves your fingers to the keys. My Soul within your soul is the surging desire to satisfy the hunger that moves you.

“I am your hunger, and I am the feast that satisfies. I am the desire, and I am food that fills it. I will chase you down every pathway of your busy days until you stop running and eat the feast of eternal goodness amid laughter and tears of discovery, as you recognize how much I have always wanted you.”

You chase us Lord, yet so many go about their business, uninterested in your feast. Why do we turn away? Why do we turn violent, rejecting your invitation?

Perhaps we just don’t believe. Perhaps we can’t imagine that life is more than getting by, amusing ourselves as much as possible, distracting ourselves from awareness that one day we will die.

Perhaps we cannot imagine that every moment and morsel of earth’s bounty is a crumb from an eternal table of divine sharing: You, sharing the life that you simply are.

Perhaps we imagine that all we have and are must be made our own by the force of will and accomplishment, like bread ripped from a crusty loaf. Just so, we get what we can, never asking who baked the loaf in the first place.

Perhaps petty busyness is so much the normal condition of human souls that we cannot see life for the feast it is … and promises.

Perhaps I can and will never understand. But I do understand one thing, dear Friend.

I understand that boundless generosity is your normal condition. You give life and limitless love to me, whether I be good or bad, true or false, success or failure this day.

You want me to taste the feast that is life … and to know this is only the beginning.

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Today’s text

Matthew 22:1-4


Jesus began to speak to them in parables once again, 'The kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a king who gave a feast for his son's wedding. He sent his servants to call those who had been invited, but they would not come. Next he sent some more servants with the words, "Tell those who have been invited: Look, my banquet is all prepared, my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, everything is ready. Come to the wedding."

Reflection

You want me, Lord. You want all of us at the table, eating and drinking, celebrating the goodness of feeling alive.

Even now, I see myself gathered at the feast amid the commotion of many others. Smiles light every face. Hearts expand with startling joy, exceeding our expectation of what was possible to know and feel.

I raise my glass high to toast the raucous tumult of sheer abandonment.

So what is this, Lord, an image of the future?

I see into that future every time I lift the bread and the cup and speak of the day when we shall eat the meal in the fullness of your presence. I see it with my own eyes, sometimes tripping over myself to get to the table and exclaim the holy words again, hoping that a few others may see it, too.

I want this future now. I want to taste and feel it today amid whatever else may come.

I am hungry for the celebration and the laughter. I want the companionship and the complete and unwarranted acceptance of my and every soul at your table of grace.

I want this awareness to wash over my soul and cleanse me from every discouragement, every sadness, every wound that casts my eyes toward the dust.

I want to feel and be finally and fully alive. This can happen in only one place, and yet in every place: as I find myself at your table of feasting … even if I am driving my car, listening to another soul, working at my desk … or writing these words.

So let the feast of your blessed future begin here and now with me, in the awareness that, today, you want me, you hunger for me, you crave my nearness, my attention, my love, my joy. Today and everyday.

Today, you chase me along the ways of my life, hoping, praying that I may see that the banquet of your nearness is now.

And when I do, I can be joy and love amid the grayness that clouds human souls. And maybe they, too, can join the laughter of tomorrow … today.

Pr. David L. Miller

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Today’s text

Matthew 21:33-35, 40, 41-43


'Listen to another parable. There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard; he fenced it round, dug a winepress in it and built a tower; then he leased it to tenants and went abroad. When vintage time drew near he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his servants, thrashed one, killed another and stoned a third. ... Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?' They answered, 'He will bring those wretches to a wretched end and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will deliver the produce to him at the proper time. 'I tell you, then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.'

Reflection

Is it me, Jesus? Am I the one who will lose the kingdom to those who produce its fruits?

You planted the word of your kingdom in my heart long ago. As I boy I already wanted you. I wanted to know you, to love you, to serve you. I prayed, ‘Lord, take away everything I most love that I may love you most of all.’

I think you answered that prayer and still are. This is good, since there is still much work to be done.

Insecurities about self and success can still make me anxious to impress and curry favor. Angers over minor frustrations and irritations spring more quickly from my lips than words of blessing or compassion for your troubled world. Harried days erode the trust that all is well, since all that is--and all I am--is surrounded and held in your gracious hand.

But even the knowledge of my failures to produce the fruit of your loving rule is, in fact, a sign of your determination that the seed you planted is still there, still alive, still seeking to produce the rich fruit you intend.

For I still hunger as I did as a boy. But now I know so much more. I have felt so much more. I have tasted you. I have sampled the fruit of peace and strength, of hope and love. I have known the blessed intoxication of the awareness of your all-surpassing care.

Despite every failure, the seed of the divine vineyard grows in my soul. And on my best days, my words and life speak and share fruit of your rule.

And then I know: my real failure and deepest temptation is the failure to trust that you who have planted will bring a harvest even in and through my life.

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Today’s text

Matthew 21:33-35


'Listen to another parable. There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard; he fenced it round, dug a winepress in it and built a tower; then he leased it to tenants and went abroad. When vintage time drew near he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his servants, thrashed one, killed another and stoned a third.'
Reflection

They forgot. They don’t own it. Neither do I.

I don’t own the vineyard of your creation, Holy One. I don’t even own my own life. The breath in my lungs is on loan. Someday it will flee this mortal form, and I will return to the dust from which you made me.

But for now you give breath in my lungs, strength in my limbs and power in my soul.

You give the power to remember who I am--or to forget that all that I am and have is a miracle of a creation I did not fashion and cannot fathom.

I simply wake up in this world, surprised to be alive and existing, knowing only that I did not create myself but am the breath of the Mystery who is Life.

You are Life, and you freely give it, asking only that I do not forget you, the Giver, who makes life out of nothing and my life from the lives of those who have gone before.

Forgetting is the greatest tragedy. It is death. It is separation from you, the Source, the Eternal Fountain. To forget is isolation, loneliness and fear. It creates distance between my soul and the Soul who breathes life into all that lives in the vineyard of creation.

Little wonder that when I feel far from you my breath grows short and my heart feels alone and anxious.

But not today. Today, tapping raindrops of a grainy fall morning whisper, “Remember.”

Today, the laughter of gracious people still rings through my soul, as the joy of last evening lifts me to the awareness that the vineyard of life is not mine. I am here, sharing it with other souls who are gifts to me, as I to them.

We shared, laughed and felt alive. We didn’t forget that our lives and the shining moments of feeling alive--all of it--is gift … on loan from You, who breathed us out and who will take us back into yourself.

Pr. David L. Miller

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Today’s text

Matthew 21:28-32


'What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He went and said to the first, "My boy, go and work in the vineyard today." He answered, "I will not go," but afterwards thought better of it and went. The man then went and said the same thing to the second who answered, "Certainly, sir," but did not go. Which of the two did the father's will?' They said, 'The first.' Jesus said to them, 'In truth I tell you, tax collectors and prostitutes are making their way into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you, showing the way of uprightness, but you did not believe him, and yet the tax collectors and prostitutes did. Even after seeing that, you refused to think better of it and believe in him.

Reflection

Is it me, Lord? Is this the truth of my life and of the church’s life today?

Are we those who say, ‘Yes, we will go into your vineyard,’ but then refuse to do the work of your kingdom?

Meanwhile, are those who say they do not believe responding to your silent presence in all life and doing works of mercy and justice, the deeds of your kingdom?

Believing in you has less to do with words than we imagine, a sobering thought for me as I relish words and what they move in me and others. Truly believing is not about my formulas or sentences, and it has less to do with reciting creeds or knowing Bible stories and proper theological clich├ęs than most imagine.

It is about going and doing, entering the vineyard of creation and tending it with care. It is about loving as you love, Lord, giving as you give, healing bodies and souls and reconciling relationships.

It is about pouring out our lives in love as you poured yourself out for us.

Belief happens less in the mind than in the heart and intuition when we see people loving, nurturing and caring. It happens as our depths are moved to know that this is the truth of our life--and yours; this is that for which we were born; this is the face of the Loving Mystery of God.

The religious leaders saw people flock to John the Baptist and change their ways. They should have seen and known his actions--the affect he had on the human souls--bore the mark of God’s holy presence.

They should have seen that your healing touch, Jesus, flowed from that Eternal Source who hungers for the healing of all that is, including their own lives and commitments.

They should have seen divine authority at work in John and in you by the lives you made whole and free.

But the question is, do I?

Do I receive every moment as an occasion to pay attention to whatever mercy and justice is present--or needs to be? Do I see and celebrate the people who give life, who nurture love and beauty, joy and compassion, mind and strength?

And seeing, do I join them, working in the vineyard?

Every moment is a moment for seeing you, and joining the garden party.

Pr. David L. Miller

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Today’s text

Matthew 21:23


He had gone into the Temple and was teaching, when the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him and said, 'What authority have you for acting like this? And who gave you this authority?'

Reflection

Acting like what, Jesus? What were you doing to attract this challenge?

Those who obey the rules and follow the norm do not attract the interest of the big shots who run things. But you did something to threaten the daily order and those who control it.

Challenge was inevitable. Quickly, came voices telling you to stop, demanding, ‘who gives you the right to do this?’

The temple authorities were more interested in your authority to do things than in the things you were doing. But what were you doing to upset them?

You spoke, Jesus, and human hearts filled with hope. Wounded souls felt the loving goodness of the Father, the Loving Mystery who treasured them from all eternity.

You touched their bodies and souls, awakening freshness of heart and spirit in those whose ears were eager to hear. You called them to change their hurtful ways, and they turned to heal what was wounded between them.

Souls burdened and earthbound took flight in your nearness. Lighter than air, they took flight, basking in the crystal blue sky of the Father’s goodness. Their hearts swelled, and they knew that the joyous life that filled and surrounded them was the real truth of this life … and of their eternity.

This is what you did, Jesus. But by what authority?

The answer to their question should have been obvious: By the authority of the One, who wants us to live, the One who is Life, the Loving Mystery who takes pleasure in the death of no one.

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Today’s text

Matthew 21:23-27


He had gone into the Temple and was teaching, when the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him and said, 'What authority have you for acting like this? And who gave you this authority?' In reply Jesus said to them, 'And I will ask you a question, just one; if you tell me the answer to it, then I will tell you my authority for acting like this. John's baptism: what was its origin, heavenly or human?' And they argued this way among themselves, 'If we say heavenly, he will retort to us, "Then why did you refuse to believe him?"; but if we say human, we have the people to fear, for they all hold that John was a prophet.' So their reply to Jesus was, 'We do not know.' And he retorted to them, 'Nor will I tell you my authority for acting like this.'

Reflection

And so it is in all ages: The powerful seek to maintain their power at the expense of truth, at the loss of soul.

Our lives shake in the winds of opinion and the changing styles and fads of the hour when position and status, reputation and influence replace our need to root our lives in the solidity of a truth that holds strong when all else is washed away.

Our conversations and our politics become empty and contentious (read the papers lately?) when our hearts seek standing, status, power and the good opinion of others more than the truth that satisfies the soul and creates common understanding and peaceful relations.

We are made to follow the scent of what is true, what is real, what is lasting, following it all the way into that Truth beyond all truths, all the way into the arms of One eager to receive us and give rest and purpose to our souls.

O Lord, may we seek what is real and lasting this day that we may fall into the arms of the Truth beyond all others. You.

Pr. David L. Miller

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Today’s text

Matthew 13:44

'The kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off in his joy, sells everything he owns and buys the field.

Reflection
We understand nothing of this until we have known freedom of heart, the kind of freedom that stirs us to surrender ourselves, risking who we are or what we have to give ourselves to a grace and beauty we have discovered--or which has discovered us.

So much of life commences with calculated care. Closely counting costs, whether in time or money or energy, we ask if each new activity, commitment or relationship in our path is “worth it.” Do we want to spend ourselves, our precious time, or protect our resources for something later?

It’s a safe way to live, and much of our living requires such care. But there is an element of soul that cannot and will not be fulfilled, its joy stunted, until we know a beauty, a grace, a cause, a holy love to which we can give ourselves without counting the cost, our hearts knowing that this is right, this belongs to the essence of my soul and life itself.

The freest human souls I have ever known are those who had found--or been found by--the treasure in the field, the pearl of great price which moved them beyond lives of bean-counting calculation to act, to love, to given themselves to a great love even though it cost them pain, or perhaps the various currencies our society most values--money, status and power.

In this culture, we sometimes have trouble understanding those who choose to step away from high-powered posts, moneyed positions or safe, easy lives for other values, commitments and joys that are not so easily enumerated.

Jesus did, and he invites us to listen to the depth of our hearts. The key to the treasure is in the field of our souls. There is a pearl of great price hidden there that, once discovered, draws us beyond the calculated life to one of joyful freedom--and perhaps risk and pain, too, which are always part of loving.

Before I graduated seminary, I, like all ministry students of that place and age, faced a panel of faculty members who could ask anything to test our knowledge and fitness for ministry. I have forgotten all but two questions from that inquisition, and only one is perfectly clear: “What would you die for? For what are you willing to go to the wall?”

Age 27 and foolish, I muttered an absurdity about a theological doctrine with which I had recently been infatuated. I’m surprised they didn’t laugh in my face. But a few years later I met people who truly did and would go to the wall for a holy love, a cause, a person God had given them to love.

Then I knew: My seminary inquisitor had asked me to name the pearl of great price, the treasure in a field that was so essential to my soul, my heart, my love that it freed me to rise above a life of mere calculation to give my life freely in service of more than my own petty concerns.

Find your freedom, the place where you don’t count the costs, and you will know yourself, you will know God and the treasure which the Loving Mystery gives you.

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Today’s text

Matthew 13:31-33

He put another parable before them, 'The kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the biggest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air can come and shelter in its branches.' He told them another parable, 'The kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was leavened all through.'

Reflection
For hours we sat in an emergency room last night. Our names are not important, only our anxieties and hope.

Two women, one man, waiting to find if a troubled body and soul could find the help needed to birth a new life (please God) in the stuffy box of a room where we sat and felt the walls close in on us.

Hours dragged on, medical staff made promises of updates seldom fulfilled, and we stood by, sometimes praying, sometimes working our phones, periodically stroking and reassuring the soul in the bed that she’d done the right thing to come to this room where agitation and sickness only seemed to grow as the hours wore on.

But we were there, standing by, doing what little we could, waiting for breakthrough moments when our words might penetrate the thicket of emotions binding the soul who made the difficult decision to come … finally … to the admission that life is too much too hard to handle all alone.

There were a few moments when our blessings and reassurance made it through, and this morning I am certain we are glad we stood there, providing presence if nothing else, because we cared for one troubled soul and for the mysterious leaven of God in our hearts moving us to hope that something new, fresh and alive might come.

Sometimes it’s hard to hope that the future can be different from the present. Troubles bear such crushing weight upon human hearts that there seems no way out. Trapped in the human condition, however that is for us, the future stretches out, holding nothing more inviting than the dismal repetition of present bondage.

But leaven was stirred into our souls somewhere, sometime, raising in us the desire to be in this dingy, cramped room, loving as best we can. The leaven worked its magic in us; we know not how, exactly. So why not now, again, here?

Pr. David L. Miller

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Today’s text

Matthew 13:24-30

He put another parable before them, 'The kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everybody was asleep his enemy came, sowed darnel all among the wheat, and made off. When the new wheat sprouted and ripened, then the darnel appeared as well. The owner's laborers went to him and said, "Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? If so, where does the darnel come from?" He said to them, "Some enemy has done this." And the laborers said, "Do you want us to go and weed it out?" But he said, "No, because when you weed out the darnel you might pull up the wheat with it. Let them both grow till the harvest; and at harvest time I shall say to the reapers: First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burnt, then gather the wheat into my barn." '
Reflection
The day of the lilies has begun to fade. Their stems stretch five feet high, the ambitious a bit more. Many of the stems now are stumps, their orange and yellow blossoms having trumpeted their beauty, opening and closing with each cycle of the sun through summer skies.

Maroon and deep purple blossoms open now as dog days approach, and the mercury pushes 90. Their colors divert attention from crisp, faded remnants of the vivid orange that have had their day and now hang loosely from dozens of stems. They hang, poised for me or the next breeze to separate them from the veins through which their life blood flowed. They fall into the soil and become the hope of a tomorrow that I know will come.

It will come. I know this even as I savor the late colors and remember carefully pulling the weeds that, two months before, threatened to choke the young plants. Button weed, thistles, switch grass and a half dozen others I cannot name were stronger, more aggressive, and I pulled them, careful not to break off young lilies only beginning to throw their height.

Sometimes I was clumsy and broke one, which is heartbreaking. A unique created thing, God-fashioned to sing divine beauty, was denied its day in the sun--and I, such joy as it would have given.

My spring-time concern for the weeds appears overwrought now. What few weeds remain long since have been shouted down by the lilies insistence that they, not the weeds, are the rightful heritage of the flower beds. Their beauty is stronger than the early aggressiveness of their opponents in the soil.

Beauty wins again. So it is and will be next year … the next, forever. Let those with eyes … see.

Pr. David L. Miller

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Today’s text

Matthew 13:24-30

He put another parable before them, 'The kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everybody was asleep his enemy came, sowed darnel all among the wheat, and made off. When the new wheat sprouted and ripened, then the darnel appeared as well. The owner's laborers went to him and said, "Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? If so, where does the darnel come from?" He said to them, "Some enemy has done this." And the laborers said, "Do you want us to go and weed it out?" But he said, "No, because when you weed out the darnel you might pull up the wheat with it. Let them both grow till the harvest; and at harvest time I shall say to the reapers: First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burnt, then gather the wheat into my barn." '
Reflection
What today am I to nurture? What goodness is here that I might seek to grow?

The questions are painful and pressing when one considers a loved one in pain, an adolescent living on the edge of trouble, a beloved soul who is hurting themselves--or the bottomless needs of the world’s poor strafed by evils of indifference, addiction, abuse or oppression.

It is so tempting to be angry at evil, to rail and condemn people, systems and forces that maim and deface human life. Evil fascinates the soul. It seduces us to imagine that it is more powerful than it is, and that we can and should try to reach into others lives--or our own--and pluck out such evil influences we see or feel are there.

But the life of faith, it appears, is not about fascination with evil and its destruction, whether in our souls, those of others or the systems of the world, although we must seek to change and improve what we can.

Real change, truest growth comes not from the elimination of life’s weeds but in caring for the wheat, trusting the seed of God implanted in one’s soul and in the soil of the world.

Even in the poorest of places, in the most troubled adolescents and yes, amid the brambles of our own souls, seeds of the kingdom, the tender plant of God’s precious life grows.

Fixing our eyes on the beauty of this growth, on the health that exists amid the brokenness, on the goodness that is present even amid its opposite, we see the beauty of God, the strength of seeds of life, the wonder of the kingdom.

Tend to this, and divine beauty uproots our fixation with what is wrong with life, peace replaces anxiety and hope pushes fresh stems through sadness.

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Today’s text

Matthew 13:24-30


He put another parable before them, 'The kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everybody was asleep his enemy came, sowed darnel all among the wheat, and made off. When the new wheat sprouted and ripened, then the darnel appeared as well. The owner's laborers went to him and said, "Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? If so, where does the darnel come from?" He said to them, "Some enemy has done this." And the laborers said, "Do you want us to go and weed it out?" But he said, "No, because when you weed out the darnel you might pull up the wheat with it. Let them both grow till the harvest; and at harvest time I shall say to the reapers: First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burnt, then gather the wheat into my barn." '

Reflection

What quickly impresses me is the unperturbed response of the farmer to weeds in his fields. No startled exclamation or condemnation springs to his lips. He accepts the news as a matter of course. These things happen, and the best we can do is to wait and continue on without worry.

Who or what has disfigured the field is of no concern. He points no fingers and wastes no time trying to find or destroy the source of contagion.

The weeds will disfigure the field for now, getting in the way of the wheat. But the seed will produce its goodness in its time.

This is how it is, and it’s best to accept what is--evil and good, beauty and ugliness, love and hate, care and apathy inseparably mixed--as opposed to declaring war on the weeds, lest your violence destroy what is good.

Our job is not to root out evil, as if we could. Would to God that the makers of our nation’s foreign policy better recognized this, fewer innocents would get killed.

The same is true of too much Western Christianity, which historically (and especially in evangelical circles) has been more concerned with pointing out sin and impurity than with the goodness of the seed God sows everywhere in human hearts, celebrating and nurturing divine beauty in mortal hearts.

Trust is the word that comes to mind. Just trust. Good and evil, beauty, ugliness and all the rest are and will remain inseparably mixed in this world--not to mention in our own hearts.

Ours is not to sort it out, but to see and trust the beauty of God in the midst of it all.

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Today’s text

Matthew 11:16-19


'What comparison can I find for this generation? It is like children shouting to each other as they sit in the market place: We played the pipes for you, and you wouldn't dance; we sang dirges, and you wouldn't be mourners. 'For John came, neither eating nor drinking, and they say, "He is possessed." The Son of man came, eating and drinking, and they say, "Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners." Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.'

Reflection

It is not just Jesus’ generation. It is every generation.

Unrest distresses the soul. Deep at heart, we are confused about what we really want, better, what we truly need. So we keep ourselves busy, distracted, drowning out the echo of our inner emptiness.

And we look askance at the missions of the Spirit that come each day to our spirits, missing what is right before us.

Distrust colors the heart. We evaluate and discover what is wrong and flawed with what comes each day, missing divine beauty and invitation where they so regularly appears in words and faces and the new light of every sunrise, little asking: from what immensity, from what infinitely generous dimension does life (and my life) appear?

Blind to Spirit, we live dissatisfied lives, dismissing beauty, simple graces and moments of happiness and freedom as diversions or exceptions to “real life,” instead of invitations to truly living.

John appears, gripped by God’s overwhelming holiness, demanding a change of heart and action to honor the author of all life, and he is dismissed as a crazy man. Jesus parties with outcasts and no-counts--the well-heeled, too, and he is discounted as a party boy.

Both were an appeal of Spirit to human spirits, giving knowledge of the God who can never be fully known, the Mystery who seeks us in all beauty and comes in every small grace.

We discover what we want and need, amid surprising joy, as we give ourselves to the moment, to the now, receiving what is given there, ready to accept and receive rather than dismiss whatever the Spirit sends our way.

The Spirit’s missions of life come each day and in every moment. The wise do not dismiss but receive what comes, trusting that each is an invitation to know and become the Seeking Love who seeks them.

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Tuesday, April 5, 2010

Today’s text

1 Samuel 10:6


The spirit of Yahweh will then seize on you, and you will…and be changed into another man.

Reflection

I want this change. I want to be changed, not into some other person but into the man I am when the strong Spirit of God’s grace and goodness fills me. I want to bring out of my mind and heart the best I have, the best I have received from God through creation and all the days of my living.

Sometimes it happens, unleashing joy and immense freedom. I become what I am, powered by the Spirit of Love, who moves me into the fullness of my beauty and strength that I may pour it into the task of blessing and caring for the daily duties and people who have been given to me.

There’s no feeling like it in the world. The heart is filled with gratitude, and satisfaction of soul fills my being as I know that at least for one moment or hour I have done or said what I was born to say and do.

So it is when the Spirit of God fills us. Samuel, the Prophet, was sent to find and anoint Saul, a tall, strong, handsome youth who was traversing the hills of Palestine, looking for his father’s lost donkeys. Saul was to be king, the first one over Israel. But he could not lead until the Spirit seized on him and made him a different man, the leader God saw in him.

May it be so also for us.

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Today’s text

John 4:7-10


When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, 'Give me something to drink.' His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, 'You are a Jew. How is it that you ask me, a Samaritan, for something to drink?' Jews, of course, do not associate with Samaritans. Jesus replied to her: If you only knew what God is offering and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me something to drink,' you would have been the one to ask, and he would have given you living water.

Reflection

If you only knew … .

But I do know. I have drank the water of life and been refreshed by its sweetness. I have been lifted beyond the plane of earthly concern to know that everything I strive for on this earth is nothing compared with the ecstasy of being encompassed in the mystery of a love that has neither beginning nor end.

I know. I have dwelt in that delicious space where all earthly care is illusion and only you are real.

And I want to return, to flee this desert and rest at the well of life where all that matters is being with you, tipping high the cup until the water runs down my chin with no worries because there is always more.

It is hard to say what this water is. Divine presence? If so, it is a presence at once in me and surrounding all that is. It fills me with complete peace and freedom from every anxiety--and the knowledge that only this … flow of love … matters.

If you only knew ... .

I have known, yet the concerns of this age--human respect, accomplishment, reputation, the demands of time and work--replace you in my soul.

There is no time to sit and drink, no time for the refreshment of life, no time just to be with you at the well of life waiting for the moment when the waters of your soul fill my own and teach me again what I already know--and what I so desperately want to feel … again.

So again I pause from all doing and ask, “Give me something to drink. I want to live.”

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2010

Today’s text

Matthew 17:1-3


Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There in their presence he was transfigured: his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as dazzling as light. There in their presence he was transfigured: his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as dazzling as light.

Reflection

In a moment of graced awareness, they saw you as you are, Jesus, and they knew you as the light of heaven. I want to live in this awareness always.

My reasons are not noble, although they are quite human.

I have stood inside the light of your presence and known you as you are. Everything else goes away when I am in that space, and nothing else matters. I know everything, and I know nothing except that you are the love that holds all life … and me. And that’s all I need.

I want to live and die in that awareness. I have seen people do it. I always thought they were better than me. I suppose they were.

But I feel no shame in this, only an invitation to come to this place again and again, hoping that graced moments will come, and the light of heaven will wash from me all that is not awareness of you.

Then the light of your eternal day will illumine dark and anxious places of my soul, and I will know that the beginning and end of all things is love. My soul will breathe free, and for a fleeting time I will know the joy for which you created me.

And I will thank you, even as I do now, for this moment.

For again I come to you, and again the light of heaven warms a winter morning.

Pr. David L. Miller