Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Mark 11:15-18

Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, 'Is it not written, "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations"? But you have made it a den of robbers.' And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him.

One thing the same

This is a very different Jesus than the one in my office.

Every morning I switch on the office light and see a painting I love on the opposite wall. Jesus is blessing children. A tender smile spreads across his face as he welcomes and touches children gathered around him.

But not here. In today's story, Jesus is violent, filled with passion and anger. He throws tables around. Coins clatter across the stone pavement of the temple court.

He rages at those who distract human hearts from connecting with God.

Jesus looks so different, but he is not different at all. One thing always remains the same. He hungers for you. He hungers for each of us to know God, heart-to-heart, and he hates everything that gets in the way.

What gets in your way?

Pr. David Miller

Monday, March 05, 2018

Monday, March 5, 2018

Psalm 84:1-2

How lovely is your dwelling place,
   O Lord of hosts! 
My soul longs, indeed it faints
   for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy     
   to the living God.                                 

Dwelling Place

You dwell in the outer reaches of space yet are near as my breath. You are the light that opens my eyes as bird choirs chant your praise. You are the silent watcher who speaks in the night when sleep will not come.

There is no place you are not and no place you refuse to meet us. Wherever we go, you are there ... waiting.

Yet, you seem more real in some places than others. For the ancient Jews the temple was that place their hearts sang with the joy of knowing you.

But I come here, a gray chair, a desk in the basement quiet. This is your dwelling place ... for me. I know you in the sweet silence broken only by my fingers on the keys and the gurgle of steaming coffee.

I hurry down the steps to sit and listen to your word, craving that one exquisite moment when a word will carry me into a Great Love and fill me with joy and tears.

You are the Great Love who haunts my days and refuses to rest at night, for you long for me to know you. You crave me as much as I need you.

Having known and tasted you, nothing else can satisfy. There is no joy like simply being ... with you.

Pr. David L. Miller

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

John 2:18-21

The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 

The place

Some places are holy. They are like temples, where heaven and earth are one and we taste the grace of God.

Some holy places are not places at all, but a person … or a group of people … in whose presence we feel and know God’s presence touching and filling our hearts.

We should hurry back to these places of presence … and to these people, look into their eyes and listen to their laughter. It revives us and breathes joy into our hearts. The life of God comes alive in us.

God is and can be known everywhere for God is an everywhere God. True, but this everywhere God is known in special places, and the temple was central for the Jewish people. The temple was ‘the place of meeting.’

Jesus says that central place of meeting was being replaced by his body. Knowing him, seeing him, praying to and with him, listening to him, being with those who know and love him … this has become the place where God is known.

Everyone and everything and every place where the Spirit of his grace and mercy breathes is the place of meeting.  

I recently heard someone described as a ‘safe place’ for the troubled people he served. He was not very religious, I was told. But listening, I knew, his life was a holy place, a temple of grace.

Pr. David L. Miller

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Mark 8: 34-35

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.

Be large

Come into a larger world. See it. Feel it. Let it full your heart. It is right there ... where you are.

The world of Jesus is the community of love, the kingdom of God revealed in his every touch and healing, every time he blesses the broken, in his invitation to see every moment as a gift and every human soul as God’s beloved.

Give yourself to this, he says. Set aside your narrow ego, step beyond what it good only for you and seek this world of communal grace. Enter the struggle of living the truth of this world, and you will find yourself.

You will discover your truest heart and the love you were created to know and live. You will find the joy of hearts more beautiful and alive than any you have ever known.

And you will know me, your highest joy.

Life is not getting what you think you want or achieving the goal you imagine will make you important ... or happy.

You were made for this larger world where the Love breaks every boundary and makes your heart as wide as the sky. Anything less is beneath you.

You are Love’s precious child.

Pr. David L. Miller

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Mark 8:27-30

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ And they answered him, ‘John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ He asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Messiah.’ And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.


The life of faith is one of expectation, holy expectation. We expect something … make that someone to appear.

We lean into each day eager to see and know and feel God … the Love God is … visible and knowable, so that our hearts might smile within us, alive with the joy that carries us through to day’s end.

Jesus lived at a time of high expectation. Periodic fevers ran through a land hungry for a Messiah, a God-ordained figure who would bring deliverance, physical, political and spiritual.

I wonder how Peter came to the conclusion that Jesus was the One. What did he see? What did he feel? What did he remember from the Scripture that led him to the conclusion that Jesus was the Messiah?

For me … it is always the Love I see and know in him. It is the wonder of a healing touch, the gentleness with the children and the anger at all that mars and defaces the richness of human thriving. He loves like God loves.

I wake each day expecting that somewhere, somehow, in someone that Love will touch me.
It’s what faith does.

Pr. David L. Miller     

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Friday, February 23, 2018

Romans 4:3-5

For what does the scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.’ Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness. 

Just be

Just be. That is the welcome invitation hidden in these words. Just be with me and know ... it is okay. You are ok. Perfect? Hardly. But wanted and welcome. Always.

The Holy One invites you to come close and live in heart-to-heart communion. You cannot do that if you are always wondering, “Am I good enough? Do I have to prove myself? Will I have to do something today to make up for yesterday?”

Let it go. Let it all go.

There is no need to prove yourself or earn your way into the good graces of the God who is grace and love beyond all knowing, poured out for us in Jesus Christ.

The Holy One invites us ... welcomes us ... into a true friendship where we know the divine heart and share our own hearts with God.

Frankly, I don’t like the language of righteousness and justification. It feels cold to me, legal and impersonal. But it is here, in Scripture, amid a rigorous argument about how anyone can be right with God.

And it bears good news: God has made everything right through Christ. So it’s okay. Just be.

Pr. David L. Miller

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Matthew 4:1-4

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ But he answered, ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” 

Know this

Forgetfulness lies at the root of every temptation. We forget who we are. We are beloved. The Holy One has promised never to abandon or betray us.

Jesus knew. He was constantly aware that God’s promise and nearness accompanied him wherever he went. He trusted God’s Spirit would provide what he needed each moment as he revealed God’s kingdom.

He did not fall into the temptation to use his power to serve and protect himself. He used his power for others, knowing his security rested in the eternal, unfailing love of God.

Every day, each new morning we should rise and remind ourselves who we are ... and who God is.

God is the Loving Mystery whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.

And we are the beloved of this great God who goes before us into every circumstance, hungry to bless us amid the wilderness of living.

Knowing this, we can live with open hearts and gentle confidence, using our power to serve the Love who loves us.

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Psalm 77:5-8, 11

I consider the days of old, and remember the years of long ago. I commune with my heart in the night; I meditate and search my spirit: ‘Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? Has his steadfast love ceased forever? Are his promises at an end for all time? ... I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord; I will remember your wonders of old. 

Remember joy

Having presided at many funerals, I know few things are quite so sweet or powerful as moments of laughter as we tell stories and remember the grace of being human ... together. God’s love pierces our gloom in such searing moments and tells us nothing is ever lost because the love of God is steadfast.

There is an old bit of spiritual wisdom. When in desolation remember moments of consolation.

When in sadness, remember times of joy. When struggling, remember when you felt satisfaction in your work and the life you lead. When your heart grows heavy and negative thoughts prevail, send your mind to moments when the light of life filled you. Remember feeling glad to be alive as you enjoyed the grace of companionship and the beauty of sun and sky.

Remembering ... is re-membering. It puts our broken hearts back together again so that we feel whole. Sadness endures for a time, but joy will come. For the love of God is steadfast and true, ever ancient, ever new.

Wait and know. Grace comes.

Pr. David L. Miller

Monday, February 19, 2018

Monday, February 19, 2018

1 John 1:8-9

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Hold me to it

A black Jesus drew me into to a side chapel in the great Gothic cathedral in Barcelona, Spain, last fall. I almost walked by but the sight of him on the cross would not let me.

He was leprous and beaten, bearing the pangs of death as he hung before a half-dozen people praying among the spare wooden benches facing the crucifix.

I took my place among the benches and watched him. A great love for every suffering of every human soul whispered from the crucifix, “This love will never abandon you. This love will meet you everywhere you go. Look at me … and know. There is no place this love will not go for you.”

I sat and prayed—offering my unanswered questions, the wounds from which I ache to be healed, my uncertainty about the future, my craving to feel the joy of God’s love warming me through.

When words were done I walked to the back of the chapel but still couldn’t leave. Turing to the crucifix, I shook my finger at Jesus. “I’m holding you to this … this love,” I whispered. I’m holding you to this.”

“It’s okay,” came his reply. “That’s what I am for. Hold me to it.”

Pr. David L. Miller

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Friday, February 16, 2018

1 John 1:5-7

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 
God's hunger

God wants me. This is the great truth missing in the consciousness of most Christians.

We may believe God wants something from us. But we miss the central and most life-giving reality when we fail to know and feel the great desire of God to know us, heart-to-heart.

The Loving Mystery wants you to share everything you are, your hopes and hurts, your failures and joys, your whole self so that the communion between you is an ever-flowing circle of sharing where nothing is off-limits and love is the air you breathe … together.

God hungers to share God’s own self so that the Love God is fills and spills from your heart.

All that is light and good, all that stirs faith and hope, all true love and beauty, all of this is the light of God drawing you into fellowship with the Divine Majesty and all who love the light God is.

So pay attention to every moment light and love stirs joy and generosity of spirit. You will meet Someone who wants you more than you know.

Pr. David L. Miller

Thursday, February 15, 2018

1 John 1:3-4
We declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
Imagine ...

I hear a tender voice in these words, the voice of someone who knows the Great Love God is … and who wants to share what they know.

Our hearts grow sad and heavy without this knowing. We need to feel this Love filling the reservoir of our hearts, again and again, so that joy and lightness of spirit bubbles from our depths and sets us free to live. This is what God wants for us.

Imagine parents holding their newborn, gazing into their infant’s eyes and hoping things no words can possibly say, longing for all the blessings they want to come to this …their child.
Imagine those parents parent on the first day their child goes to school or graduates college or on the child’s wedding day.

Imagine … and you will know what God wants you to know. The heart of the Loving Mystery brims with unceasing desire for you to sit in silence and let the flow of Love fill you with a joy nothing can steal.

Pr. David L. Miller

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Ash Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Psalm: 25:6-7

Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for your goodness’ sake, O Lord

Love's laughter
I sat on a cymbal on a high school band trip. I plopped down on a seat beside Kevin, who informed me someone had stuck gum on the cymbal which was now affixed to the seat of my pants. On those rare occasions we see each other, Kevin tells the story. And we laugh.
This is how God remembers us, with joy, with love over all the ups and downs we have known through our lives. God remembers it all, the things we forget as well as the wrong we wish we could erase from memory.
This is a problem for most us. Hurts and hatreds, regret and shame haunt us in the night … daytime, too. For we know we have sinned, fallen short of God’s hope for us.
But God’s memory is infinitely more kind than our own. The Divine Majesty looks at us with compassion, not with condemnation for wrongs done or the hurt we cause.
God is steadfast love, unceasing, ever flowing, bathing our fevered hearts in cooling waters, and with a smile, looks at us and says things like, “I remember you. You are that kid who sat on a cymbal.” And we laugh.
Remember us, Lord, according to your goodness.

Pr. David L. Miller

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Mark 9:2-4

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 

The circle of knowing

It is a moment of seeing. But Peter, James and John do not yet know what they are seeing or exactly what it means. Nor do we, I suppose.

Knowing God is an evolving process. Events happen. We see something, feel something and are drawn into an experience of the wonder of God. But it takes years for us to know what it all means, if we ever do.

The three disciples see Jesus wrapped in light, shining with a glory beyond anything on earth. The wonder of God shines in and through him. They see him speaking … heart-to-heart ... with Elijah and Moses, two prophets who listened and lived in intimacy with God.

But they do not know what to do or say. They do not yet understand that they are being invited into that circle that they, too, may commune heart-to-heart with the Loving Mystery of God.

They … and we … are invited to see the glory of God shining in Jesus … and be drawn into the circle of loving communion that surrounds him.

This is God's joy ... and ours.  

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

John 17:20-23

‘I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 

Beyond belief

Sometimes I don’t believe in God. I don’t need to. When I feel rapt in Love there is no believing, only knowing.

Believing is directed toward something separate, apart from who you are.  Knowing is oneness, experiencing unity with something or someone … so that something of what they are is in you.

The Loving Mystery draws us beyond belief, beyond imagining a God, a Being, a Someone out there. The Mystery who is Love embraces us in moments of life, igniting the flame of Love, giving us a heart-to-heart knowing of Love Itself.

Moments of such knowing come and pass, but what they teach endures. We come to know Love is not a thing to be believed but a Heart we know in our hearts.

Having known this Heart, we crave more moments of knowing, the ecstasy of oneness that comes in a thousand ways, the light of a sunset, clouds on the wings of the wind, a flower, a scent, a smile, a tear.

Unity in Love is the glory which Jesus shared with the Father, and it is this for which he prayed for those who follow him.

I don’t think I will ever understand exactly how the experience of oneness with Love happens to us. I know only that it is this for which we are born. It is this that the Loving Mystery wants for us. This One, this Love who is God, desires us, even as we know the fulfillment of our desire in the Love Who Is revealed in Jesus and who chooses to speak to us … in everything.

Pr. David L. Miller

Monday, January 22, 2018

Monday, January 22, 2018

1 Corinthians 7:29-31

I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

Held in open hands

White clouds, islands in the stream of time, flow across the January blue of an afternoon sky, reminding me again that life must be held in open hands.

Moments pass by like clouds. No hand can grasp and hold them fast. They slip through your fingers and continue on, carried in the current of time, replaced by those that follow.

Each one is unique, each to be received with thanks as they pass through your hands and continue on, leaving marks on your soul and memories in your heart.

We cannot stop the flow, and efforts to grasp and hold only cause pain. Wisdom … and faith … is to let go, knowing the Love who is will never abandon but will come in ways you cannot receive unless you hold each precious moment of living, each blessing, with open hands and a grateful heart.

Then what has been will bless and not bring sorrow, for you will know … Love is and always will carry you in that unending stream.

St. Paul was wrong …and right.

He thought the present world would soon come to a crashing end when you returned, Holy One. His expectations proved false.

But he was right. The present form of this world is always passing away, every moment. But the Love Who Is … and which we know … does not. Love is the current, Love is the stream who carries the clouds … and us … to grace unknown.

Trust and know.

Pr. David L. Miller

Monday, January 15, 2018

Monday, January 15, 2018

Romans 2:24-25

For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes* for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Saved by hope

Life-changing lessons must be relearned again and again. At least it seems so for me. And often, my teachers are those I go to help. They frequently turn the tables on me.

I recently visited a woman who has endured chronic, debilitating illness, physical and emotional suffering, and threats to her life from armed political forces which forced her to flee her country and come to the United States.

Middle aged, she may or may not ever walk well again. Debilitating medical conditions will be with her as long as she lives and will slowly strip of her of physical function during the next decades of her life.

But she is not worried about this. Nor does she seem to obsess about how much … or how slowly … she might improve through physical therapy.

I visited expecting we would discuss anxieties about the future or frustration over not yet being able to return home after surgery. But we spent almost no time on such things.

We talked about the future, of her hope to be useful, to teach others Spanish, her native tongue. We discussed her hope for her daughter and made plans to help those hopes happen, and finally we talked of her desire to give back to this country, knowing she will never be able to pay back as much as she’s received.

Her life and moods are controlled by her hope, not by her past or what she has lost. She is saved by hope. So are we.

Hope pulls us forward toward the goodness of what will yet come, of what we may yet give, of the joy that is yet to be.

Without this, we fall to the temptation, obsessing over what has been lost, or what might never be, or wallow in understandable sadness. It’s an obsession that sucks the joy and vitality from living.

I left her room realizing I forget to ask a question ... of myself and of those I serve: What are your hopes?

Hope saves us from ourselves, from obsession of what is lost, what we have suffered and the feelings of the moment. Hope opens our hearts to the future of what God will yet do in and through us.

Hope trusts the goodness of the One who gives us life each new morning. Hope says, “Yes, I’m on my way. God’s way for me. So let I be.”

Pr. David L. Miller