Friday, September 14, 2018
From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
Hoping for heaven
Why did they follow Jesus? Why does anyone follow?
If they knew what was coming, they might have taken a pass on the whole discipleship thing. No one willingly chooses hardship or suffering. No one wants to be around when their teacher and friend is brutally executed. No one wants to live under the same threat. Unless....
Unless your heart aches for something more exquisite and beautiful, hope-filled and joyful than everything you’d ever known or imagined could happen to you. Then ... maybe, you would come along, pulled by the engine of hope.
Hope wakes the heart from slumber, stirring that niggling awareness that there is something better, more alive and life-giving than the life you know, something for which you’d lose everything.
Hope is the desire to know the life of heaven ... here and now.
This is exactly what Jesus promises. The kingdom of heaven is near. It is here, he says. As you follow me, you will know the presence of heaven even amid life’s hardships.
Heaven happens every time Immense Love appears in earthy existence and experience.
An act of mercy, a moment of beauty, the healing power of love, the joy of reconciliation, a simple act of understanding and care, the grace of friendship, a loving celebration of another year of life, the struggle for justice or just another day truly lived well—the rule of God, the life of heaven shines through all of this.
We follow Jesus that we may see and know glimmers of heaven shining through the messiness of our lives and world. We follow that the rays of divine light may shine through us and fulfill hope’s fondest desire.
Pr. David L. Miller
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! for it is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.” ’
God at the center
The temptations of Jesus are not unusual but common. The most basic is this: to put something other than God at the center of your life.
This isn’t one big decision. It happens through a million seemingly insignificant decisions that allow something to occupy the space in your heart that rightly belongs to God, the Source of your life and breath.
It happens slowly as we allow other concerns to replace knowing and loving God at the center of our life. Work or success or our bank account or personal acclaim or looking good or the newest digital gadgets or social acceptance or momentary pleasures or sports or a friendship group or … something eases God to the perimeter of consciousness.
And worship … knowing and loving and serving God … becomes something you do instead of the being the center of the wheel around which everything else turns, the great truth that guides and gives direction everything you do.
Daniel Berrigan, a wiser and (slightly) more profane soul than mine, suggested it is easy to see what you worship. It isn’t where your mind is or where your heart is. It is where your ass is.
Where do you habitually go, what commitments define you and which ones are set aside to service others? That tells you what you worship—the thing on which you place highest worth.
Jesus leads our way. He dismisses this most basic temptation, telling us we are to worship God and serve only him. It sounds like a command, a law we must obey. But that is a surface understanding.
It is actually an invitation to know and turn to the Loving Mystery in everything you do and in every place you go. It is an invitation to enjoy the privilege of being with Jesus, loving him and all he loves.
It is an invitation to be what Love is, go where Love goes and do what Love does, a life with Love at the center.
Pr. David L. Miller
Monday, September 10, 2018
And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’
With the beloved
I love to be with people who eagerly open their hands to receive the Eucharist. I relish being near those who love to hear and sing songs of grace and love and hope because something in their hearts require it.
I am lifted by those who share the beauty and joy they find in small things, who bubble with enthusiasm and gratitude for what each day brings. My heart warms when I see the sparkle in the eyes of a those who are truly and fully alive.
This why the church has always meant so much to me.
I could always find people of joy there, of sorrow, too, but there was this love and hope even amid the hard times. At church, I was more likely to run into people who felt truly alive, more alive than I felt; who loved more freely and easily than I loved; who touched and welcomed my touch, hand-to-hand or in a hug that told me my life is embraced regardless of how I felt at the moment.
Where else but in the congregation of the Beloved does this happen?
It is hard to say exactly what charisma flowed through Jesus and excited hearts to draw near him. But perhaps it starts here: He heard the voice of God naming him, “Beloved,” and he never doubted or forgot what he heard, not ever.
The belovedness that filled Jesus flows through anyone who gets close enough to feel what is in him. Get close, listen and your soul lights up as if you just discovered the secret which your soul has always longed to know.
There is no shortage of people, gob smacked by celebrity, who want to be near or just like the famous, powerful or wealthy. Not me. I want to stand among the beloved of the Beloved. I want to know what they know. Today and always.
Pr. David L. Miller