Thursday, February 14, 2013

Today’s text

Deuteronomy 26:1-9

When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket … . When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the Lord your God, you shall make this response before the Lord your God: ‘A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. The Lord brought us out of Egypt … and brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.


You shall remember, for remembering restores and reinforces identity. It tells you who you are, where you have come and what you shall do.

When Israel came into the promised land the first fruits every year were to be offered to God as an offering that they might remember what had happened to their ancestors and how they came to be in this good and gracious place.

They brought offerings not because God needed to be fed but because they needed to offer themselves in thanks, a way of celebrating and reliving the goodness of God and of the life they lived, lest they forget who they are.

Those who forget begin to live in ways that contradict their inner being, their character. They get lost, allowing others to choose how they see and act.

The ways and opinions of those around them assume the role of their own conscience, and they no longer act according to their own purpose

The central question of living as a child of God is to remember and ask, “Who am I? Who are we, and what does this mean for how we should live and act?”

Like the ancient people of faith, we need to remember are people who have received many rich blessings. We receive life as gift. We didn’t make ourselves or fashion creation.

In this good land, we receive a way of living that is the envy of most of the world.

No less than the people of Israel, we are chosen, wanted and loved by God who writes our names on the palms of his hands.

The Holy One claims us in our baptism, fills our empty hands and hearts with the bread of life and pours unmerited forgiveness and constant love into our being through every beauty, every gift and every love we know--each a sacrament of the love of God who seeks to touch us each day and make us truly alive.

Who are we? We are a people gifted, a people bound to greet each day with two words. “Thank you.”

When we don’t we begin our days this way we begin to forget, and consequences soon come.

Our joy and gratitude for life is diminished. We are more likely to be saddened when life challenges. We are weaker.

Who are we? We are a people bound to celebrate the love of the God who seeks us at every hand. We are a people who can bask in the knowledge that there is nothing in all creation that can stop the constant loving of God … for us.

This makes a people bound for joy, for strength, for hope, a generous people who have received much and share generously.

That’s who we are. When we remember the days are beautiful, laced with gratitude and our hope is boundless.

Remember, … and live.

Pr. David L. Miller

Monday, February 11, 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Today’s text

Psalm 126:1-2

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
   we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
   and our tongue with shouts of joy.


Sometimes our reality outstrips our hopes and expectations. Sometimes what comes to us exceeds what we thought was possible. So it was for your people, Holy One, when they returned from exile, home to Zion, the city of their sweetest dreams.

Their longings were fulfilled, and they breathed the fresh air of the home to which they never expected to return.

Their story is my story, our story, for we live so much of our lives in exile, far from home.

You made us for this earth, to tend and till, care and nurture with our hands and hearts, giving all that we are to the life of this precious planet and the lives therein.

This is home, this is life, this is our place of being. Joy comes as we give our hearts away in care and nurture of what you have made and given us. Heaven is not our home … this is. This is where you placed us to live, to grow and love.

Yet, this is not quite home.

We do our work, care for homes and families, jobs and community, striving to do and be all we can be, all the while hoping and craving something more, fearing it will never come, distressed that we may never reach it.

A sense of exile disturbs the soul.

We long for unity in love with the Love who made us. We seek the More beyond whom no more is or can be.

We try to still our restless longings with success or money, fun and ever-more crowded schedules, but these never fully satisfy the soul’s desire for more. We will always want more.

Except, … there are moments when we feel ourselves inside the More you are, Holy One, and we enter a home that exceeds every expectation of joy and peace we have ever had.

Moments come, faces appear, grace and beauty find us, touch us, fill us, carry us away into the Heart that is the home our hearts seek.

Every biblical story about God’s exiled, wandering people hungry for home, every story, myth and fairy tale that speaks of separation from home, from lost love or from a promised land not yet found--all of this speaks our soul’s unsatisfied longing to enter the heart of God.

But even in this life, moments come when our longings are stilled, when dreams are fulfilled, when reality exceeds hope and expectation, and our souls are released in joy.

And God’s dream for us comes true.

Pr. David L. Miller

Monday, February 11, 2013

 Today’s text

Psalm 32:10-11

Many are the heartaches
  of those separated from Love;
Steadfast love abides with those
  who surrender their lives into
     the hands of the Beloved.
Be glad and rejoice,
  all you who walk along the path of truth!
And shout for you, all you upright,
  of heart.


Late Sunday afternoon. The day is soon spent, but well-spent among your people, listening and loving, praying and singing.

Once more, I witnessed tears welling in the eyes of those facing threats to life and health, and I was hugged by grinning children who know they are safe and treasured, their smiles a reminder of that grace we sought in this sanctuary.

Sought and found, my Lord.

Dispersed from our Sunday gathering, we retire to living rooms and feel the weariness of winter as an anemic February sun fades into shades of gray.

Monday will soon be here, and our flagging energy seems unequal to the task.

So I retreat to this quiet place where I listen in my heart for your Heart, seeking that inner point of soul where the energy of your ceaseless loving flows into me.

I surrender my weariness into your accepting arms and rest. That is all I want, but I receive more.

A surge of joy and surprising energy lifts my heart and chases off Sunday afternoon lethargy. Weariness is replaced by a smile of knowing that there is enough for me here in this place and in this soul, enough for all of us.

I feel connected. There is no separation from your love. The influx of your constant loving stirs my body to a strength for life that shall always be there for me, for you always are loving.

You are steadfast. So little do we understand this.

Nothing in our lives is steadfast and sure, certainly not our physical resources on Sunday afternoons. Everything we know … and touch … and are … withers and wanes, sooner or later. All that rises falls. Every flower fades. It’s only a matter of time.

But not you. You are Steadfast Love.

You are a ceasless stream of grace that never runs dry; a boundless love that is always enough for us, stirring that joy that lifts the soul and makes us strong.

We come in weakness to you, Holy Love, seeking solace for the fatigue that weighs our souls and shoulders. Feeling far from you, our hearts grow cold, cynical and small.

But you never cease to pour the warm stream of your divine blood into our veins that we may return to the joy and love and beauty we each are, vessels of your life.

We want too little, Lord. I came to this place after moping about on a lazy afternoon, wanting only to be held and comforted. But you filled me with gladness and joy, the flow of your constant loving.

That is who you are … Steadfast Love.

Pr. David L. Miller