Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday, March 23, 2012

Today’s text

John 12:32-33

And when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all people to myself.' By these words he indicated the kind of death he would die.


The Spirit draws; the devil drives. This is old wisdom among spiritual directors.

The Spirit of God draws the soul by love, coaxing the heart to its true self, its true home. The Spirit moves us from the inside, drawing us to what we most need.

The spirit of the evil one drives the heart, whipping it along with accusations and the guilt of ‘shoulds’ so that we might satisfy some judge, whether internal or external.

We carry so many ‘shoulds’ from external voices we have internalized, voices of parents, teachers, mentors, friends and often adversaries. These voices may have given kindly advice about what is good and right, popular or seemingly wise.

We hear the voices thousands of times through the decades of living, too often in unhelpful ways. Our fears of inadequacy, our guilt about what we have done or not done, and our shame about who we are--all these turns gentle advice into a mass of shoulds, shaking accusing fingers at us.

“I should …. I should … I should.” The sentence always makes me take notice, whether I hear it from someone else or when it crosses my own lips.

Often, the should looks and sounds good, something worthwhile we might do or seek.

But the motivation comes not from the depth of one’s heart, from the love that is within us seeking expression. It comes from judgments of others (or self-judgment) and is not expressive of what the Spirit seeks to love out of us.

Jesus is lifted up on the cross, and the love that filled him flows out as surely as his lifeblood. He is lifted up, and the love in him draws hearts to him so they might know the love God is … for them.

Love does not whip us forward. It doesn’t move us by means of oughts and demands, guilt and obligation.

Love simply loves, moving love’s desire in open hearts. It invites us to come near because we want and need to do so. It is magnetic.

It doesn’t tell us what we should do. It asks, what do you want to do? What is in your heart? What is your joy? To what does love draw you?

'When I am lifted up I will draw all people to myself.' The drawing of love in a human soul is the presence of the living Christ coaxing us home to himself, to our true heart, to the person we really are.

Pr. David L. Miller

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Today’s text

John 12:26-28

Whoever serves me, must follow me, and my servant will be with me wherever I am. If anyone serves me, my Father will honour him. Now my soul is troubled. What shall I say: Father, save me from this hour? But it is for this very reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name! A voice came from heaven, 'I have glorified it, and I will again glorify it.'


What would happen if we came to each day convinced that we were born for this hour, this time, the challenges of this particular day?

I remember the days following September 11, 2001. I was in New York City interviewing people, listening as they poured out immense pain and hungered for loved ones who never came home.

I traveled with a friend, Stephen, who was then the Bishop of the Metropolitan New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

For several days, we visited churches and schools, listening to stories of bitter loss, of loved ones whose bodies had been turned to ash in the inferno of the World Trade Center. We heard about children waiting at school house doors for a parent who never came to pick them up.

Today, I most remember Stephen’s words to gatherings of pastors and parochial school teachers. “You were baptized for this time,” he said. “You were born for this hour.”

“What shall I say: Father, save me from this hour? But it is for this very reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”

Stephen never cited these words of Jesus, spoken as he contemplated the suffering of the cross on which he would die. But he might have.

We, too, might remember them as we come to each new day, especially days when the stakes are high, the work hard, the pain deep and the challenge daunting. There is no shortage of days we prefer to skip because they are too difficult, too painful … or because we are weary.

But each new morning brings the day for which I was born, the time for which the divine Spirit fashioned me, the hour in which I am to glorify God by giving myself in love to the needs of this time, whatever they might be.

The people of New York were soul-weary from grief and fear as Stephen and I met them up and down Manhattan, in Harlem, Queens and across the East River in Brooklyn. But Stephen’s words stirred many to rise to the challenge of a day no one wanted, to the pain of an unspeakable hour.

These servants of God knew; they were born for this time, for the facing of this hour.

This hour has not passed. It is now, always now, the hour God is glorified in the loving commitment we bring to reveal the mercy of the divine heart.

For this hour I was born, Jesus says. His words are true every morning … for us.

Pr. David L. Miller

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Today’s text

John 12:23-25

Jesus replied to them: Now the hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. In all truth I tell you, unless a wheat grain falls into the earth and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies it yields a rich harvest. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.


I do not hate my life, Jesus, but I recognize hyperbole when I hear it and this is hyperbole, deliberate exaggeration to make a point.

Saints of all ages have known the truth of what you are saying. And in our best moment so do we. St. Francis said it well: “in giving we receive, in pardoning we are pardoned, and in dying we are born to eternal life.”

The willing heart is able to give itself away for the sake of another--a friend, a family member, a colleague in arms, even an enemy. In losing yourself, surrendering who you are to bless and give life to another, we enter eternal life, here and now.

My soul knows this, Jesus, though I easily forget and act as if life is about protecting myself and what is mine.

I enter a new consciousness when I relax my defensiveness and release my need to prove myself. With joy, I freely give myself, my time, my blessing, my acceptance and welcome to all I meet. I flow like a gentle, joyful stream, knowing I am a single current in a great river of divine grace that extends through this world and into every universe.

I enter every moment knowing that this is all I really have, this moment, knowing, too, that life is found in bringing my whole self to each moment, to attend t it, to give myself to it, to surrender to its needs and demands, … losing myself in the moment.

And I discover once more that in giving I receive, in accepting the soul of another I taste again your great acceptance of me, and I am new. The fresh breeze of new-born spring gentles my heart and lightens my step, my soul and makes sweet my words.

I ask you, Jesus: How can I hate life in this world when in this world I can taste such grace, this beauty which is life eternal?

But you are right: Such gracious freedom comes in giving up, in pardoning, in our willingness to give ourselves away for the sake of loving the world as you love it. It is then that we know: in losing we gain, in giving we receive; in dying to what we are, we tasting the life of eternity … now.

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Today’s text

John 12:20-24

Among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. These approached Philip, who came from Bethsaida in Galilee, and put this request to him, 'Sir, we should like to see Jesus.' Philip went to tell Andrew, and Andrew and Philip together went to tell Jesus. Jesus replied to them: Now the hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. In all truth I tell you, unless a wheat grain falls into the earth and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies it yields a rich harvest.


Did they find what they were looking for, Jesus?

These Greeks came seeking you. You used the moment to tell your friends that you were about to be glorified. Like a seed, you would fall into the earth and die and bear a rich harvest

We are not told if they ever saw you. We are shown.

We see you give yourself to your mission of loving your own and loving them to the end. Dying on a cross, you give yourself to the task of revealing the Love who brings life from death.

From the seed of your life, Jesus, millions of souls have become human beings. Drawn by the Love who filled you, they came and they still come.

They are hungry. God, how hungry we are, every one of us. What brings us is not some doctrine about you or some truth you reveal.

What brings us is the Loving Mystery, the unspeakable, unimaginable God you bore in the depth of your soul. This Holy One pored from your every pour.

What pours from you is this One who is Love, the One who made us and all things, the One from whom we feel separate and sometimes so far away, the One who is the home human souls seek in every age.

This is what draws us to you, Jesus. This is what draws me. We want to come home, to feel at home, to feel connected once more--or for the first time--to this mysterious Love.

We want to feel the in-rush of life and love flowing into our hearts, minds and bodies from an invisible and Infinite Source and know, physically know that every moment we are connected with the Mystery from once we came to whom we go.

Then we will feel alive, filled with the fire of love and courage, fully aware that our finite lives grow from the soil of Infinite Love, just like the yellow daffodils spring through the forest floor and color the earth with hope.

The Greeks came to you. They believed that once they were near you, with you, looking into your eyes, listening to your words--and to the movement of their hearts in your presence--they would find what they were looking for, what we all are looking for.

They were right.

Pr. David L. Miller