Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Today’s text

Matthew 2:1-6, 9-11

After Jesus had been born at Bethlehem in Judaea during the reign of King Herod, suddenly some wise men came to Jerusalem from the east asking, 'Where is the infant king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage.' …Having listened to what the king had to say, they set out. And suddenly the star they had seen rising went forward and halted over the place where the child was. The sight of the star filled them with delight, and going into the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and falling to their knees they did him homage. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.


I wish I had been with the wise men. I wish I had followed that star. I wish I had traveled long days beside them and felt what was in their hearts--the uncertainty and longing, the hope and the anticipation of the unknown.

 I would have joined them in their blessed and holy search to witness this unique moment of time when heaven laid in a manger.

Walking with them into the humble stable, I would have knelt beside them and kissed the dirt at the place where the favor of God stooped to touch the crying needs of human hearts.

To kneel before the child would have brought the greatest joy and treasure of all, far greater than any treasures the wise men carried on their journey in search of heaven’s face.

For there, kneeling in the dirt, I would know the soul of the universe and the truest desire of my soul to dwell in the presence of the One who is all beauty and wonder, all love and peace.

But the ecstasy of this moment of splendid knowing is not so far away in time or space. I have knelt before him many times and places, at elaborate gilt altars and in thatched churches under crystal blue skies where grace found me.

In days of traveling far from home, I knelt in the dust of foreign lands and literally kissed the ground of places where the Christ became more real to me than ever before because of the loving struggle of peoples to live and give life amid immense tragedy and hatred.

There are those near at hand at whose feet I would kneel because of the presence of Christ so clearly in them, but they would think it odd to be so honored.

I kneel, too, some days in this holy place lit by a candle before putting my hands on these keys.

It is my Bethlehem, holy ground where heaven and earth meet. On precious days, like today, the Soul of the Universe chooses to be laid in the straw of my words that I might see and feel him … and be made alive.

It is then that I know the hearts of the wise men who followed the star. But I also know that I suffer no loss because 20 centuries separate me from their journey.

For the manger is not far away, nor is it long ago. The place of kneeling in joy before the Christ is close at hand.

The Holy One, the face of heaven, lies in the flesh of those who receive and love him. Our flesh and these poor words are the straw in which he lies. We are the manger; he is the treasure.

No words can express sufficient gratitude for this blessing

Pr. David L. Miller

Monday, December 30, 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013

 Today’s text

John 1:9-10

The Word was the real light that gives light to everyone; he was coming into the world. He was in the world that had come into being through him, and the world did not recognize him.


All true spiritual knowledge is re-cognition, seeing and knowing what is already deep within us, around us, what we might have suspected and felt to be real and true but could not quite name.

Two people meet. They talk. They find friendship or even love, and in the process they see, feel and just know something of themselves in the other person, something that fits, a missing part of themselves in the other.

Something just fits and brings completion.

This feels rather abstract, but it is as real as everyday encounters and as powerful as the love that draws and keeps two souls together in friendship, love and life.

It is also the dynamic between us and Christ.

All that is shares in his life. Every created thing bears the being of Christ. Our life is an expression of his life.
Just so, our being finds completion and peace as we share unity with him. He is the missing of our own being, which our souls might well recognize because he is in us and we are a part of him.

Sin, selfishness, deep wounds and fears blind so that we fail to see Christ as our true nature, as the missing piece, the unrecognized truth of our souls. They prevent us from recognizing ourselves as expressions of his being.

But when Christ appears to us in his word or another human life, when we hear and feel his truth authentically presented, our souls are drawn toward unity with him for he is our Source.

The depth of our souls know: His heart is the secret of our own deep heart, the truth of our being. Uniting with him in love feels like coming home and knowing yourself, recognizing that he was there in and with you … all along.

Pr. David L. Miller

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Today’s text

Luke 2:16-20

So the shepherds hurried away and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds said to them. As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as they had been told.


The sweetest praise and joy comes from a Source beyond and within us. It is spontaneous, a gift. It washes over and fills the heart when you are least looking for it.

Riding in the car, looking out the window, the sun illumines a field of snow. Corn stalks protrude through the gentle white blanket, shimmering silver in sunlight, reaching to a fence line a hundred acres west.

A cloudless sky, crystal blue, stretches from one horizon to the other, a dome of wintry peace over this little patch of earth.

My mind and heart rest, no thoughts great or small when unsummoned emotion rises from a place within me that I cannot touch or command, a surge of gratitude and joy for this unrepeatable moment.

Of its own accord, my mouth forms two simple words, “thank you.” The words, barely a whisper, are totally inadequate and absolutely unnecessary. They cannot speak the joy of this moment, the beauty and grace of just being alive.

But it doesn’t matter. The Heart who creates such moments from all eternity knows … . This One knows what is in my heart at this moment. Of that I am as certain as I am of my own existence.

For the heart I feel within is the Great Heart who seduces me in moments of greatest beauty and joy.

So, once more, thank you, for this life, this love, this grace.

And although they feel utterly inadequate, the words matter. I need to speak them even as I need to write them now.

We can will ourselves to praise God. We can make ourselves do it, meditating on God’s beauty and glory, grace and blessings that have come to us, and give simple thanks.

But the sweetest joy and praise is total gift. It comes when the heart is overwhelmed with beauty and grace, with love and hope.

Looking out the car window, carried on a wave of gratitude, I know how the shepherds felt as they departed the stable after seeing the infant Jesus. I know why they had to speak what was in their hearts.

They had seen and held the grace that holds us all. And when the heart is full, it must speak.

So glory to you, Holy One, and highest praise, for the favor that shines in your son’s blessed face and in every graced moment of living.

Pr. David L. Miller

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Today’s text

Luke 2:16-19

So the shepherds hurried away and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds said to them. As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.


Mary pondered these things. And what is this?

To ponder is to throw things together in one’s mind to compare, to see what fits, to notice what sticks together to create meaning and significance.

Mary might have pondered the angelic messenger who told her she would bear a special child, the child of God. She might have relived her fear, her uncertainty, her incredulity that this could happen at all, let alone to her.

She might have savored her prayer of thanksgiving to God for choosing her, for blessing her, as well as the stares of those who shamed her for this out-of-wedlock child.

The discomfort and uncertainty of the long trip to Bethlehem would have come to mind, the night search for a place to lie down and labor to birth this child, feeling alone and afraid of what birthing would mean for her.

A thousand thoughts could well have raced through her heart and mind, awakening conflicting feelings and confusion, so much that it was impossible to sort it all out, pain, joy, promise, anxiety, relief, elation, apprehension

All this washed over her as a few smelly shepherds, fresh from their sheep, arrived with an unbelievable story and the voices of angelic song still ringing in their ears.

What was she to think, to feel, to know … from all that came together in her mind?

But maybe this moment was much simpler.

Maybe as she gazed into her infant’s face, maybe as she played with his tender fingers the torrent of feelings disappeared and all that remained was the wonder of the precious life in her hands--and the awareness that somehow, beyond her knowing, this child was a holy blessing to the world.
Maybe all that mattered was loving and caring for this child. Maybe the love this child awakened in her overwhelmed all the thoughts, questions, fears, uncertainty, shame, elation, pain and anxiety that had filled her for the past nine months.

Maybe if you add it all up, that is all that really matters much to God … or to Mary.

Maybe that’s the crystal clear message of this night for every new day.

Pr. David L. Miller

Friday, December 27, 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013

 Today’s text

Luke 2:15-19

Now it happened that when the angels had gone from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let us go to Bethlehem and see this event which the Lord has made known to us.' So they hurried away and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds said to them.


I wonder what the Shepherds thought about what they were seeing. What did they make of it?

Tell them the child is the “incarnation” of God in the flesh, and they would have scratched their heads and walked off.

Dumbfounded stares would have been their reaction to discussion of the two natures of Christ, God and human. They knew no creeds or doctrine. This was beyond them.

Their actions are concrete and plain: They hurried. They saw. They told their story. Simple.

They make me realize how I--and most of the Western church--have made Christian faith unnecessarily complicated and difficult.

I like knowing complicated words and concepts. They give understanding of the faith in depth and help me know what I believe, the God I trust, stripping away false and foolish notions.

But such knowledge can also puff up the ego, distracting the heart and the mind from what we most need, from what I most need

Like the shepherds, I need to see Jesus--and seeing, I need to tell what I see.

See and share: In seeing I receive precious knowledge, not of mind but heart, but of a Heart so great it has room for me and everyone.

In telling, this awareness fills me with the joy of being part of this Great Heart that embraces all creation, all humanity in all its need, joy and brokenness, an embrace of infinite love and red-hot passion for the healing of all things.

Near the end of Jesus ministry, before his crucifixion, out of town strangers came to Jesus’ disciples with a simple request, “We want to see Jesus.”

Here at the start of Jesus journey, shepherds come out of the cold with the same request, “Where is the child? We were told he is here. We want to see him.”

Seeing Jesus, hurrying to see Jesus should be the first order of life and of each day for us.

Seeing him transforms our minds and opens our hearts to see and share the beauty and grace he is. It gives purpose, hope and direction to daily life

Far more than complex words and ideas, we need to follow the shepherds. Their feet lead to the place of knowing what is most needed.

Pr. David L. Miller

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013

 Today’s text

Luke 2:15-16

Now it happened that when the angels had gone from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let us go to Bethlehem and see this event which the Lord has made known to us.' So they hurried away and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger.


What did the shepherds expect to see? What were they looking for?

Angels had promised something glorious and life changing. This part of the story is enough to stop most moderns from taking any of it seriously.

Angels are hard to imagine today, except for those messengers of grace in our lives who lift our hearts by the light of their presence.

But a peasant child in a manager, his parents huddled near to keep him and themselves warm? This sight is easier to imagine. Shepherds and the shivering poor are down to earth, as common as the evening news.

Even 20 centuries later we can understand the shepherds leaving the loneliness of the night watches to come out of the cold to see a child--or most anything that would warm their hearts and give a moment of happiness.

After all, that is why they came to the manger. They wanted to get out of the cold. And the manger where Jesus laid was the warmest place in Bethlehem.

No, it was and remains the warmest place on earth, which is why we come there, too.

We return each year to the stable to see the child because some messenger of grace has told or shown us that there is warmth there that penetrates that chilled soul. There is a love that comes from an Eternal Source to warm us through and make us truly alive.

We will never comprehend this love no matter how far we go or how long we live. It’s a mystery. You can describe it but never explain it.

Neither can you deny the warmth of the love or the beauty of the grace that emanates from this peasant’s child lying in a bed of straw at Bethlehem. It streams through the centuries and the souls of billions.

Drawing near to him--and to the angels of grace in which he lives--one is warmed by the heart of God become flesh in human form.

What ever the shepherds expected to see in Bethlehem there is no doubt in my mind that they tripped over the Judean hills hoping to come out of the cold, hoping to find and know the warmth of truest life and love.

It’s why I still come, too. And I am not disappointed.

Pr. David L. Miller

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Today’s text

John 1:1-5

In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things came into being, not one thing came into being except through him. What has come into being in him was life, life that was the light of men; and light shines in darkness, and darkness could not overpower it.


It is with relief and joy that we come to this blessed day once more. 

We are relieved that the season of searching and shopping has passed. The rush is hushed … or mostly so.

We are relieved that our preparations are done or near an end. And what is not done will have to stay that way … and it will be okay.

Relief comes from deeper places, too. 

The bright day for which we long has come, the day of Love’s dawning has appeared amid bows and wrapping paper and shared smiles—maybe tears, too—as packages are opened and love is given. Our hearts feel the affection of givers who again try to express in material terms what mere words can’t convey.

But each we gift open awakens our awareness of another Giver, the Giver of life who comes to shed light on our cold faces and make us feel alive and glad once more.

On Christmas Day there is little more to do than to feel the heart of the Great Giver, who has only one thing to give … himself, light and love, eternal blessing, grace and a warmth that awakens our chilled hearts amid winter’s cold.

We come to this day to feel the relief, once more, of being touched by the everlasting longing of God for each one of us.

What good is it that Christ is born in Bethlehem, in poverty and plainness, if I do not know and feel that it is for me that he comes?

For if all the world held but one soul, my soul, the God of heaven and earth would be pleased to come … for me, and to give me God’s own heart and life.

The Word becomes flesh … for me.

The light shines in the darkness that I might see and know that Christmas begins in the heart of an everlasting longing for me … and for you, a passion we can only begin to understand. 

Created in the image of God, the image of infinite love, we live out our lives seeking to satisfy an inner ache for this love, which we know is our home. 

Our hunger is fanned by unfulfilled dreams, unhealed wounds and our need for release from all that weighs on our souls and steals our joy. Our hearts are restless until we know life unlimited and love unbounded.
Such is the nature of the human heart … and the heart of God.

God longs to fill us so thoroughly that every fear evaporates and all that remains in us is the delight of being alive and the joy of holding within ourselves the light and love no darkness can destroy.

Christmas begins before the dawn of time, before the first gentle fall of snow, before winter’s frost made brilliant art, silver and blue, on barren limbs and car windows; before the red cardinal’s flight excited human hearts at the miracle of color, before it all … was the Word, the heart, the passion, the hunger of the One who is Love and nothing but Love. 

Christmas was already there in the divine heart. The Word was ready even then to be planted in our earth-bound souls and give us life.

From all eternity, the Great Giver was hungry to be born and joined as one with us.

After all, Love wants only one thing … to give itself away.

There was never a moment when Christmas was not on the way, never a moment when God did not plan to become flesh in a peasants’ child to reveal his beauty, never a moment when the Holy One did not hunger to share all that he is with us. 

Christmas comes on the wings of Love’s everlasting desire … for you. 

So let Christ come and fill you. His light seeks every lost corner of creation and every cold place in your heart that you may shine with the beauty … of Christmas morning. 

 Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Today’s text

Luke 2:1-7

Now it happened that at this time Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be made of the whole inhabited world. This census--the first--took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria,
and everyone went to be registered, each to his own town. So Jospeh set out from the town of Nazareth in Galilee for Judea, to David's town called Bethlehem, since he was of David's House and line, in order to be registered together with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. Now it happened that, while they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to a son, her first-born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the living-space.


What difference does it make if Christ is born at Bethlehem, if he is not born also in me?

My Mexican friends have a wonderful tradition at Christmas, Las Posadas. It is play, a re-enactment of Mary and Joseph arriving at Bethlehem and knocking on doors, seeking a place where they may enter and stay that the Christ might be born in warmth and safety.

But each place they go the door is locked or harsh voices refuse to open and let them in. So they continue on their way, lonely hearts seeking shelter, until someone opens the door and welcomes them that Mary might give birth to the God-child who brings the blessing of God to earth.

The tradition follows the pattern of Joseph and Mary coming to Bethlehem and being refused hospitality until someone gives them shelter in a stable where Christ is born.

But it holds deeper meaning. It is a parable of the heart of God hungry to born in this world, longing to be born in human hearts and mortal flesh that the world might be blessed, forgiven and made warmed by the light of the world shining in a human life.

We come to this night hungry for something to happen, eager to feel something. 

Like Charlie Brown in the 1960s cartoon, A Charlie Brown Christmas, we want to know Christmas as more than something to believe in. We want to feel it happening in us. We want to feel Christmas happening in our all-too-human lives that we might know the love that came in the Christ, born in a Bethlehem manger long ago.

We want to taste and touch Christmas now. We want to feel Christ not out there somewhere, not way back in time, but deep within, making us feel fresh and new, washed and clean, hope-filled and love adorned.

But much as we might want this there is One who wants it more. This is the message of Christmas.

The Love who was born in Bethlehem is a lonely and constant hunter, who goes from door to door, knocking and being refused, again and again, until someone gives him entry, until he can be born again in human flesh and shine grace and beauty on our troubled world.

He stands at the door … and knocks.

But we live in a time of no room, when everyone is obsessed with the lack of time and space for matters of heart and meaning.

There is no room for quiet, no room for solitude, no room for thought, no room for awareness of what we most need, no time to notice what waits in our hearts, ready and eager to be born.

Little wonder so many feel so alone or wonder who they are and what they need.

But the Love who shines from the manger in Bethlehem refuses to go away. He stands and knocks …on your door. His voice is always there.

“I hunger to be born again in you, to fill you with the light and love of the eternal God.

“Look at how far I have searched. I come from the wonders of eternal heaven in dimensions beyond all your science. I come in humility to a manger of poverty to be laid in straw that you may know my heart. I come that you may know … there is no place from which I turn, no soul so dark or troubled which I refuse.

“Even these, even you … are a proper home for me to be born and live.

“I come to this world hunting and hungry for a home for the Love I am. I seek to fill all creation, one end to the other, with the beauty of my presence.

“I come that my holy image may be seen in every place and creature, every life, every land.

“I come to mangers in the dark of night, to the arms of Mary in her poverty and shame, to silent Joseph wondering what will come next, and I come to you, to the dark inner-center of your heart, that place only love can touch.

I come to be born in you, to fill you with the light and the warmth of an everlasting love that you may shine with the glory of God, just like the child in Mary’s arms.

I come that you may know … Christmas is not a long ago event, but a miracle that happens every moment, every time Christ is born in us again with great joy and endless love.

Merry Christmas, my brothers and sisters. Merry Christmas.

Pr. David L. Miller

Monday, December 23, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

Today’s text

Matthew 1:18-25

This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being an upright man and wanting to spare her disgrace, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.' Now all this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: Look! The virgin is with child and will give birth to a son whom they will call Immanuel, a name which means 'God-is-with-us.' When Joseph woke up he did what the angle of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home; he had not had intercourse with her when she gave birth to a son; and he named him Jesus.


We don’t know much about Joseph. He never speaks in the Bible. We never hear this voice, his thoughts.
Mary’s voice rings with joy and faith through the stories of Jesus birth, but Joseph is silent. We know him only through his deeds.

If we imagine him at all, we might see him trudging along, rope in hand, leading a donkey on which Mary rides as they make their way south, to Bethlehem. None of this is in the Bible, but popular images long ago created this picture in our minds. 

We have no way of knowing what ran though Joseph’s mind as they made their way among the rocky Judean hills. But there must have been voices and questions.

There was the voice of reason that said, “Joseph, be smart. This child of Mary’s is not yours. Break the engagement and get yourself out of this mess. Nothing good can come from it.”

There was the voice of law and tradition that said, “Joseph, you are not required to take her or have anything to do with this child of questionable origin. This is not a new situation. Listen to the law, and let it guide you out of this embarrassment.”

Then there was that other voice, the one that came at night in the middle of his sleep … with an amazing message: “Do not be afraid, Joseph. Take Mary. Care for the child. The child within her is holy, from the Holy Spirit. He will save his people. They will call him Immanuel, God is with us.

“Joseph, the child is a sign. Every time you look at him, you will know … God is with you. This is Immanuel. Just look at him … and know.

Now, I ask you, who believes voices that come in the night? Who does what the voices tell them to do?

Crazy people? Foolish people? People who believe that God really does speak to us through our hearts?
Joseph has a decision. What voice should he listen to? What should he do?

Shall he do what rational, thoughtful people do? Or should he ignore the voice of reason and follow the voice that says there is something more important, something deeper and more compelling than reason or law … or even wisdom?

He listens … and follows the deeper voice, the messenger of God who comes to him at night and tells him that is better, more real and faithful to take a risk for the sake of loving God, for the sake of loving Mary, for the sake of trusting God will yet be with him.

He steps into the unknown as if stepping off a cliff, trusting that the Love who speaks in his dreams will be there to catch him no matter what.

He clings to the words, “Do not fear. I am sending Immanuel, God with us. Wait, watch, trust this … no matter what happens, no matter where your journey takes you. This child is a sign that you are never alone and never will be.”

Immanuel means God is fully immersed into human life. Our ordinary life is fully embraced by God, our highs and lows, our challenges amid the messiness of daily living.

I am here, God says. Where ever your path takes you I will meet you on the way. I am there at the start of the day and its ending. 

We never hear Joseph’s voice, but we see his faith. There is nothing showy or dramatic about it. It is the faith of one who listens to the voice of God that moves him beyond an ordinary life to a life of extraordinary love.
Have you ever known someone to do that? Have you ever done that?

There is nothing more beautiful. 

The people and that surrender themselves to extraordinary love are those that most move and fill our hearts. They are the ones who fill us with the awareness of Immanuel, God with us.

Joseph may be silent in Bible, but he invites us to listen to our souls, to pay heed to the voice of God, calling us beyond ourselves and what we think right and reasonable that our lives might become extraordinary, filled with light and love, a sign of Immanuel … even when we don’t say a word.

Pr. David L.Miller

Friday, December 13, 2013

December 13, 2013

Today’s text
 Matthew 11:2-6, 11

Now John had heard in prison what Christ was doing and he sent his disciples to ask him, 'Are you the one who is to come, or are we to expect someone else?' Jesus answered, 'Go back and tell John what you hear and see; the blind see again, and the lame walk, those suffering from virulent skin-diseases are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life and the good news is proclaimed to the poor; and blessed is anyone who does not find me a cause of falling.' In truth I tell you, of all the children born to women, there has never been anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of Heaven is greater than he.


Jesus sends the messengers of John the Baptist back to John who is in prison: Tell them what you have seen and heard, he says. The blind see, the dead are raised, the deaf hear and the poor hear they are favored by God, who will never forget them.

John expected the Messiah to be a prophet of doom come to judge the world and burn the wicked like chaff. He expected a powerful ruler. But Jesus appears as a healer, who makes the broken whole, who restores us creation to its beauty, who brings life to the hopeless.

Little wonder John doubted Jesus could be the Messiah, the bringer of salvation.

John was great, Jesus says, but greater still are those who have tasted the kingdom of heaven, who have tasted the union of their hearts with the heart of God’s all-surpassing love. They know the healing and liberating power of arriving at their true home, sharing union with God is who love and in all love.

At Christmas, we hunger for home. We want to discover a place in our souls where there is no separation between us and God, where great and impassable love fills us. 

We come to the manger where Jesus is laid, looking for home. We kneel and look in once more to see the Love who refuses to let us go and to feel that love in our deepest selves.

It is then that Christmas comes. It is then that Christ is born. It is then that we are truly and finally … home.

Gaze on the love he is and know ... this is your true home.

Pr. David L. Miller

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Today’s text

Matthew 3:1-3

In due course John the Baptist appeared; he proclaimed this message in the desert of Judaea, 'Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is close at hand.' This was the man spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said: A voice of one that cries in the desert, 'Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.'


They kneel at the center of the labyrinth, a man and a woman, having followed the winding path to the fleur de lis at the center of the canvas.

There is nothing in their hands. The serpentine path stripped them of all distractions and every extraneous weight they were bearing. Non-essentials fell by the wayside, too heavy to carry.

Theirs is a journey to the center of the soul. They have arrived at themselves, souls stripped down to a singular desire that brings them to their knees in a prayer that needs no words. Their posture says everything necessary.

His head low, nearly touching the canvas by a pot of candles, flickering light reflects from hair thinned by chemotherapy. The woman kneels nearby, eyes fixed on him, attentive to his every move, her heart clear in unwavering eyes.

At the center of the labyrinth the surface noise of life disappears. The daily clatter falls blessedly silent. And the voice of the soul, a voice that is always speaking, is finally heard, “I want to live. Just let me live.”

The voice pleads to be known and heard and loved. It pleads for real life where the deepest things in us breathe and are spoken to those most loved. It cries for joy of being the beauty and love it feels inside, the love and beauty the Creator intends.

At the center, you hear your own deepest voice and the voice of God, all at once. They are the same voice, one voice with a single cry, “I want to live. Just let me live.”

This desire takes different forms and assumes different words on different days. But underneath it all is this one, holy desire, first-born not in our hearts but in the heart of the One who made us.

Advent is a time to prepare for the Lord’s coming, a time to repent, to clear away that which that gets in the way of living from the center of God’s heart within.

As I watch them, the man and the woman, kneeling at the center, I see that they have arrived. Repentance has happened in them. There is no doubt they can live lives more real than any they have lived before. The voice of soul speaks even in their silence.

I hear it, also in myself.

Pr. David L. Miller

Monday, December 02, 2013

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Today’s text

Isaiah 60:1-3

Arise, shine out, for your light has come, and the glory of Yahweh has risen on you. Look! though night still covers the earth and darkness the peoples, on you Yahweh is rising and over you his glory can be seen. The nations will come to your light and kings to your dawning brightness.


The mind is a ready traveler, instantly flying to far flung rooms and places the heart knows well.

Today, I see a holy pilgrimage from afar, a hospice room, and an old friend, Bev, tired, played out, knowing it is about time to go. No more chemotherapy, no more trips to he hospital, just keep the pain at bay. Please.

Entering there are familiar faces, friends, colleagues, members of the congregation, bearing prayer shawls and bread, wine and oil to do a holy thing, assuring a tired heart that there is One who never tires, who always watches and does not sleep.

They come bearing the peace of God and their grief, barely able to take in what decades of disease has done to their beloved.

I see their faces, their sadness and their overwhelming hunger to find some way--please God, some way!--to pour the love within them onto this soul who has barely enough strength to smile.

Still, there is that smile, dimmed, yes, but still there. I have seen and know it, and it whispers a gentle welcome to each beloved face that enters the room.

Even here there is joy; even in this darkness light shines. Each pilgrim to the bedside awakens joy for one more time to say thank you, one more time to receive the gifts of bread and wine they bear, to feel the warmth of a shawl and the blessing of the hands that made it.

Everything I see is a sacrament of a transcendent love that death cannot defeat. The windowless hospice room, dimly lit in shadows, glistens with light. The room is filled with knowledge of God. No words can speak it, but the heart knows.

Each pilgrim comes to this holy place bearing the gift of their life, their heart, their hands. Each comes to bless, yet wondering if they really have much to give.

They shouldn’t wonder though. They are well equipped for their holy mission. They bear the love who will never let us go.

I wish they could see themselves as I see them. They are more beautiful than they can possibly know. And when they leave, after they have blessed Bev with the beauty of their souls, after they received the grace of her whispered welcome, they will be more alive and glorious than when they first arrived.

I could pray my Advent prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus. Come to this place and lighten our darkness,” but it seems unnecessary. You already have.

And you have given me the eyes to see it. What more could I want?

Pr. David L. Miller

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thursday, November 28, 2013

 Today’s text

Isaiah 2:2-4

It will happen in the final days that the mountain of Yahweh's house will rise higher than the mountains and tower above the heights. Then all the nations will stream to it, many peoples will come to it and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, to the house of the God of Jacob that he may teach us his ways so that we may walk in his paths.' For the Law will issue from Zion and the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem. Then he will judge between the nations and arbitrate between many peoples. They will hammer their swords into ploughshares and their spears into sickles. Nation will not lift sword against nation, no longer will they learn how to make war.


Advent directs our eyes beyond the bumps and bruises of the day, beyond momentary successes and satisfactions to the big picture--to the fulfillment of God’s dream.

Some have called it the Cosmic Christ, which is actually for what we pray in Advent. There is no need to pray for the gentle Christ to come in our human flesh. We have seen and know him there. The sight still moves our hearts to love and deep affection for him and the heart of God he reveals.

Now, when we pray, Come, Lord Jesus we pray for the completion of all our lives and of all life. We pray that the wonder of Christ might become the reality of our lives and all creation.

The wonder of Jesus, the Christ, is that in him a mortal, flesh and blood human being dwells in utter union with the heart and mind of God. The Loving Mystery from whom all creation flows fills this man’s heart and mind, so that he becomes transparent to the Mysterious Source of all life.

In him we see that this Source is Creative Love beyond imagining, a Love who hungers to fill us and all life, so that we and all things become as Christ, a union of divine Spirit and created matter.

It sounds complex, and it is profound, but it is not far from us, for we have seen in others and felt in our hearts moments of complete and utter union when Love Itself fills us, every fear dissipates and love and gratitude flows from our pours into the life of the world around us.

We have seen and felt this! We have known what it is to say with utter simplicity and total joy, THANK YOU!

It may last but a moment, but in that moment we know and feel the Cosmic Christ. We are part of the Cosmic Christ, as our frame is filled by God, even as Jesus was.

This is the big picture, what Jesus calls the Kingdom of God. This is the holy dream God is working every day, seeking every opening in our hearts and minds, every opening in creation, to pour out the divine heart so that everything is incorporated into Christ, and all things become one harmonious and loving whole.

This is God’s holy dream, revealed in the unity of flesh and Spirit in Jesus, the Christ.

All we do--our prayers and work, our words and values--are to be aimed at fulfillment of God’s dream.

Advent directs our eyes to this completion of life. It ignites hunger to be filled ourselves and to see creation filled and healed. Just so, we pray: Come, Lord Jesus.

Pr. David L. Miller

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Today’s text

Revelation 22:17, 20-21

The Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come!' Let everyone who listens answer, 'Come!' Then let all who are thirsty come: all who want it may have the water of life, and have it free The one who attests these things says: I am indeed coming soon. Amen; come, Lord Jesus. May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all. Amen.


Advent begins at the pit of your stomach where you long from something or someone to complete you, to fill the emptiness in your inner being and obliterate the longing for something more.

Advent is this hunger for more.

It begins with awareness that you and this broken, tear-stained world are incomplete and unfinished. Awareness awakens desire and hope for the more to come fill the empty places and heal the division and discord that scars creation.

But from where is the fullness that fills our being to come, the healing that salves the world’s wounds and brings peace?

I lift my eyes to the hills, the psalmist writes, from where is my help to come? My help comes from the Lord, the One who made heaven and earth … and me.

Just so, we pray, come Lord Jesus. Come from eternity into time. Come to us. We were made in you and for you. We are not complete until we enter utter unity with you. Only then will our hearts rest in the peace of home, knowing we have arrived at the place for which you intend us.

With all creation, we yearn for the marriage of God and creation, the union of mortal flesh with divine substance. The completion of creation and of our mortal lives is found in the intimate bonding of our being with the God who is love and nothing but.

This blessed union appeared in Jesus, which is why we call him the Christ. He is the marriage of mortal flesh and the heart of God. He is the fullness for which we hunger.

Our longing is not simply to look upon his beauty and be moved to wonder and praise. This alone is great joy, but the more for which we hunger is to be as he is, a unity of mortal and divine life. This marriage of created matter and the heart of God is our completion and the world’s healing.

And so we pray with fervor and hope, “Come, Lord Jesus. Come to us. Come to our world and keep on coming until you fill us and all that is. Keep coming until all that is empty and incomplete is healed and whole.”

This is our Advent prayer, a prayer that is answered and will be answered until the end of time when there is no more need to pray it.

Christ is being born in a thousand ways and labors to be born also in you. The miracle of the manger happens all the time, every day, which is why the Advent admonition is, “Watch, stay awake.” For, our heart’s desire comes to us.

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Today’s text

Isaiah 2:2-3

It will happen in the final days that the mountain of Yahweh's house will rise higher than the mountains and tower above the heights. Then all the nations will stream to it, many peoples will come to it and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, to the house of the God of Jacob that he may teach us his ways so that we may walk in his paths.' For the Law will issue from Zion and the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem.


I can feel the drawing, the desire of those who come to Zion. It is in me, the deepest part of me. Call it soul, I suppose, or awareness. It is hard to describe and impossible to define.

There is part of me, of everyone, who can stand back and look at the parade of emotions and experiences that occupy the conscious mind, realizing that those emotions and experiences are not me, certainly not the center of who I am.

The center is this one who can stand apart and observe all that it is going on in me, aware it is something more and different from the thicket of fleeting thoughts, experiences and feelings that distract the mind each day.

This center is greater, free and not defined by the driven, busy parts of consciousness needed to navigate through the day.

It is here, at this center, that I feel the desire of the nations to come to Zion, to come home, walking as a pilgrim to the place where I may sit in silence before the Source of Wisdom, the Fountain of Justice, the Origin of my Soul.

The desire to come to the place where Yahweh speaks emanates from the center, the soul, the deepest part of me where I hunger for union with God, the Source, the Fountain, the Origin of all that is.

Only in this union am I completely at home and in peace. Only there do I know myself.

Mystics of the Christian tradition (others, too) suggest the center, the apex of the soul, is the reality of God within us. There is no end of the metaphors for this.

Some say the soul is a plant that grows from the ground of God. Others say it is the God-seed planted within us. Others suggest the soul is a Word spoken by God from eternity into time, a partial of expression of divine life.  Still others compare it to a coin, one side of which is an expression of God dwelling in this world, and the other side is the unseen mystery of Yahweh, himself.

Interesting thought, for it suggests that the home we seek, the pilgrimage we make to Zion to hear God speak, is an internal journey from the edges of who we are to our center where we also meet God.

God draws us home, to that deepest soul, Zion, the mountain of Yahweh where we are aware we are not the parade of emotions, ideas and experiences that fill us every day and too-often define us.

We are expressions of God’s own heart and mind intended for loving communion with the Mystery we each bear.

In this holy communion, we become, finally, human.

Pr. David L. Miller