Saturday, February 23, 2013
The tenderness and longing in Jesus words cannot be overestimated.
He imagines the city, its peoples and places, the broken bodies of those in need, and the lostness of those seeking a sign that God is near and has not forgotten.
He sees those who care nothing for knowledge of God yet wonder about the inner gnawing they cannot name.
He imagines the hungry and those burdened by poverty and the oppression of Roman occupation. He sees people who need leaders who will lift their spirits with God’s loving presence. He imagines the rulers and bureaucrats who care less about justice than about keeping Rome happy and protecting their privilege and pay.
Jesus sees their struggle for bread and their hunger for Spirit. They live aimlessly for want of the Love who comes and fills them; so that they feel their dignity and live truly human lives of grace, beauty and holy purpose.
He sees … and is moved. His words bear the fullness of God’s holy heart.
“If only … . If only you would come to me. If only you would taste the wonder that is in me. If only you would once be filled with the substance of Spirit I would awaken and pour into you.
“If only you knew me, you would know your dignity, your beauty and the purpose of God in you. If you knew me, no suffering or oppression would steal your dignity, your strength, your beauty or your hope.”
Jesus sees … and longs … for us.
But it is our longing for wholeness and peace, for grace and holy purpose that moves us to cry our, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Longing for life, we open our hearts and allow ourselves to be drawn into the heart of Jesus. In him, we feel the holy longing of God for each of us, a yearning echoed in our longing for that Love that is so hungry to come and complete us.
Blessed is he who comes … .
Pr. David L. Miller
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Just at this time some Pharisees came up. 'Go away,' they said. 'Leave this place, because Herod means to kill you.' He replied, 'You may go and give that fox this message: Look! Today and tomorrow I drive out devils and heal, and on the third day I attain my end.Reflection
Anyone who expects a smooth path hasn’t lived much. Everyone has stuff, stuff to carry, stuff that gets in the way, stuff we could do without.
To speak plainly, there is resistance to what God’s Spirit requires in every life. Some resistances are internal; many are the temptations and fears that keep us from truly being ourselves and fulfilling the hope of our hearts, living out who we are created to be.
Some resistances are external--the attitudes of others, the refusals of our gifts and ideas, the people and situations that don’t change or stand aside so we can move forward with the hopes we have, the missions of grace calling within us.
Years ago, I served as editor of our church’s national magazine. Coming into that office, I wanted to change the culture of the publication to make it easier for staff members to suggest and act on their ideas.
Everyone welcomed the idea, but change was hard. The gravity of established patterns and internalized habits kept us in familiar ruts. It took concerted effort over a long period of time to overcome internal and external resistance before much happened.
Resistance to the good, the true, the beautiful--to the work of God’s Spirit--is not hard to see or find. It is deeply rooted in human egoism, in the desire for comfort and human anxiety to hold onto what power and influence one has. Change is fearful.
Jesus brought the ultimate good and final grace of God’s kingdom. He healed and crossed the boundaries that excluded people from entering the inner circle of God’s love. He made the broken whole and drove out the forces that disfigure human life.
But he encountered resistance almost every step of the way. He was a threat to those in power because he acted with a power they didn’t have and could not understand, a power that was for others not over others, a power that was for all people … not just for a favored few.
So resistance came from those he threatened, from rulers and religious leaders who immediately knew he didn’t fit into their way of living and thinking--and that he didn’t much care about preserving their privileges.
Others resisted because it was just too good to be true. Can God’s kingdom, God’s rule really be for me? And if it is, am I willing to let it change me, how I think and feel, what I do and risk?
Resistance came, too, from within, even for Jesus, who was subject to the same human fears that we all have--fears of suffering, rejection, loneliness, and I suspect there were moments when he may have wondered if what he was doing was truly God’s will.
In each case, he retreated to prayer and then moved forward, having found in his prayer reinforcement of his identity as God’s beloved. He found the assurance needed to stay his course, to reveal God’s kingdom … to share the soul of God within him.
His way is the way to which we are called. Not an easy path, but the path the Spirit writes inside each human soul. Only in listening closely to the heart of God within can we find … again and again … the strength needed to walk the path of grace when resistance comes.
Pr. David L. Miller
Monday, February 18, 2013
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.’ But Abram said, ‘O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ And Abram said, ‘You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.’ But the word of the Lord came to him, ‘This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.’ He brought him outside and said, ‘Look towards heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.
An old man looks into the future and sees … nothing, no legacy, no promise, nothing that endures and no one who will carry his soul and hopes into the future.
He looks into the darkness of his heart, but you lead him into another darkness, Holy One. You lead him outside his tent and bend his neck the other way.
You turn his face from the ground to the stars and tell him to do the impossible … to count the billion points of light burning in the cold immensity of space. No, more.
“How many?” You ask. “How many? Go ahead and count. Tell me how many you see.
“That’s how many descendents you shall have. That’s how many blessings will come. That’s how many will know the blessing of my faithful promise.”
Go, look up. Look at the stars and imagine.
Imagine the power that fashioned and still creates them as they burst into being and flame out thousands of times each day. Imagine the yawning immensity of space.
See the unique beauty of each star, some a bare twinkle that seems to blink out if you don’t look hard. Others shine so brightly their refection glows in the night on lakes and rivers by which you stand.
Imagine and see.
See not the starts but their Infinite Source, the Promiser who says all things are possible with me. Imagine being addressed by this Greatness.
Imagine your face in the loving and gentle hands of this One who lifts your head from the ground to the stars that you may see, hope and know the staggering love who holds your life.
Imagine it all, and know: This is not your imagination. It is your reality.
Pr. David L. Miller