Saturday, September 01, 2018
But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus.
Part of the miracle
We are all part of the miracle. Every one of us. We each have a part to play in making Immanuel, God with us. Each of us exercises a role that enables the Incarnation, the enfleshment of the Loving Mystery, to happen and bring the laughter of truest joy to our lips.
Some roles are quiet and small but no less essential to the mystery of God’s dwelling among and in us. Little is said of Joseph, husband of Mary. And he says even less, nothing actually. We never hear his voice.
Believing a nocturnal vision, he takes the risk of becoming the protector and husband of a girl pregnant, under suspicious circumstances, with a child who can never be his. The family will be forced to flee murderous tyranny, becoming refugees in a foreign land soon after the birth of the child, Jesus.
There is nothing flashy about Joseph. He just does his part, brings his wife and child back to his little home town when the threat is past … then disappears. We hear nothing more about him and can only assume he taught young Jesus the tricks and tools of his trade.
He reminds me of so many quiet souls who live and love in their own way. Never calling great (or any) attention to themselves, they live their lives, doing what is needed, giving what is in their mind and heart to their families, towns and neighborhoods, seldom receiving many thanks and never any accolades except when they pass from this life. Then, it seems, we feel the ache of their absence and realize what a difference they have made … and how much love they quietly gave.
They remind me a bit of my father. They are Joseph.
Joseph played his role and because he did we know the saving power of the Love who lived and spoke and touches each of us through Jesus. He helped Immanuel, God with us, to happen.
But he was more. Joseph didn’t only help Immanuel happen. He was Immanuel, too. The Loving Mystery was real and present, speaking in his care and unassuming faithfulness to the task the Lord gave him.
He was part of the miracle. We all are. The miracle happens every time we do our part, living the Love who is in us through the tasks we are given, small and great. Each and every time, Immanuel happens in and through us.
So be as Joseph and let it happen. Today.
Pr. David L. Miller
Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’
A touching and much-loved Advent song asks a poignant question, “Mary did you know?”
Did you know your child is the gift of God’s loving presence? Did you know he would bless, heal and set souls free? Did you know he would experience the heights of joy and the bitterness of hatred? Did you know you would watch him die, executed in excruciating pain?
No, how could she? None of us know where following Jesus will take us.
Jesus calls us to be with him, to share his life and love and to reveal his kingdom in acts of compassion, liberation and justice in the common places of our lives. But we do not know exactly what will come.
We do not know who we will meet or what surprises, pleasant or not, are just around the corner. We do not know whether we will serve him in a life filled with health and vitality or amid the struggle and disease. We do not know if our families and friends will accept our commitment to Jesus and his mission or whether they will think us strange ... or worse.
But we do know this: Jesus invites to stay near him, in prayer and meditation, worship and fellowship that we may know him. He longs for intimate companionship with us that he may generously share all that is him.
Amid all we do not know, we know this. And that’s enough.
Pr. David L. Miller
Monday, August 27, 2018
‘Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also
A communion of souls
No one can steal what the heart knows. Everything else can be lost, stolen, defaced or destroyed, but not the Love the heart knows … and to Whom it cleaves.
I see you Jesus. The scene appears clear and clean in the eye of imagination. You turn your head to look at me as you lead us down the road of our lives. “It is the Father’s good pleasure,” you say. It is your pleasure, too. The twinkle in your eye tells me that you know the treasure, the kingdom, so freely given.
The kingdom is not a thing nor even a place, but being with you. It is communion with you and with all whom you draw into the circle of hunger and knowing around you.
It is a circle of hunger … for we long to be home where we are fully welcome and wanted, where our restless hearts release life’s burdens and our souls breathe free. And a circle of knowing … for when we are with you we know you are our home, the souls you gather are our true family, our soul mates.
The kingdom is a communion of souls gathered by the Love you are.
Gathering us into this communion makes you smile. It brings you pleasure. Your eyes sparkle with joy at the gift you give us.
I see your pleasure, Holy One. I feel it, and in feeling it I know you … and I know what you want for me, for us all—a treasure that is now and forever.
So I will follow you and try to do what you want me to do, so that I may know you … in that smile.
Pr. David L. Miller
Sunday, August 26, 2018
After this he went out and saw a tax-collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up, left everything, and followed him. Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax-collectors and others sitting at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax-collectors and sinners?’ Jesus answered, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.’
Know what I know
I want you. It is exactly this simple. I … want … you.
This is what Jesus means when he says, “Follow me.”
Don’t tell me your life is a mess. Lose the self-denigrating evaluations about why you are not good enough, ‘religious’ enough or talented enough. Forget the nonsense that there is little you know how to do or can do.
Jesus doesn’t want to hear any of it. He wants you, just like he wanted Levi, this tax collecting shyster who, like others of his time and trade, collaborated with a foreign power and charged more than he should, keeping the extra for himself.
All this would seem to exclude him from the company of a rabbi who called people to open their eyes to see and their hearts to feel the presence of God breaking into their lives.
It surprised Levi, who was likely shocked out of his shorts by Jesus’ invitation to come with him. It certainly alarmed those who believed a real spiritual teacher would have nothing to do with such an unsavory character.
Didn’t matter. Jesus still invited him along for the ride just as he invites you.
Listen to his voice: I want you. I want you to walk alongside me, to learn from me, to live the way I live, to love the things I love, to share the bread I eat and to know what I know in my heart. I want you to see and share the joy of doing what I do.
For when we do, when we follow him, when we bless as he blesses, when we share as he shares, joy soon follows, the joy of knowing the Love he is.
Pr. David L. Miller