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