Thursday, June 20, 2019

Together, we


But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:6)

Together, we

I come to this private place where there is just you and me. That’s all. Nothing else exists in the entire world, but we two, together, sharing one love.

Here, the soul wakes, if only for a fleeting second. But one moment of awareness is enough, exquisite and precious, a pearl of inestimable value.

The restless heart quiets, having all it needs, knowing as only love knows the Love you are, the Love we are, together, two, yet one.

So you invite me to be here, Holy One, alone with you, beyond every distraction, with no other purpose, no goal other than togetherness that we may be … we.

So I come, to be made human and alive again, to know what the heart most needs to know, to be healed of every broken thing within.

And I will protect this private place, a holy preserve within, where you are pleased to live and give yourself to me, we, two, together.

Pr. David L. Miller




Friday, June 14, 2019

Your servants, the bees


Friday, June 14, 2019

All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
   and all your faithful shall bless you.  They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom,

   and tell of your power, 
to make known to all people your
* mighty deeds.  (Psalm 145:1-12)

Your servants, the bees

I sit in the breezeway and watch the bees work their way through lavender blossoms of catmint, sage some call it. They ignore me, and even though they are but 10 feet away, I do not fear them though they number in the dozens.

They are too busy to concern themselves with one human observer of their tireless work. They gather sweet nectar and pollinate creation’s goodness so that I can sit here each morning and be carried away by the myriad diversity of exquisite colors and an extraordinary universe that bursts with life everywhere I look.

Their labor calls to mind a few words from the Easter Vigil liturgy that always makes me smile … even laugh. Sometimes weep.

The writers of that ancient prayer thank the Holy One for the burning candle, a pillar of flame signifying the breaking of death’s power, fed by the melting wax which “your servants, the bees” have provided.

I give thanks for the bees on their morning mission. They carry me into awareness that we live in a universe where everything belongs, everything has a place, and everything has a role to play in a great and holy work, called life.

All that I survey in my morning ruminations makes the life I live and love possible … and beautiful … and filled with hope. The bees and the innumerable processes of nature that surround go about their business, serving the divine Creator’s great work, paying me no mind, yet blessing me every moment.

So I thank you, O Lord, for everything that blesses and gives us life. Thank you for every hand that has touched and cared for me in these days when medical challenges reveal how profoundly I am dependent on the expertise, the skill and the common human goodness of others.

Thank you especially for your servants, the bees, who tell that we each have a part to play to make life real and good, beautiful and bountiful. May I be as faithful as they, loving all you are, all you have made… and doing my small part.

Pr. David L. Miller

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Smiles


 ‘You are the light of the world.’ (Matthew 5:14)

Smiles

Let my heart be light today, whatever comes, whatever happens. Let the light of the Love you have privileged me to know and feel shine in every room, on every face, in every moment today.

Let me not lose myself, fearfully forgetting who I am and everything you have given me in a lifetime more surprising than any I could have conceived for myself.

Let me live in the warmth of the smile that fills your face and sparkles in your eyes, as you tell me who I am, “You are the light of the world.”

The joy in your eyes beckons me to wake up and realize I am not empty or wanting. I hold a treasure, the Love that you are, the Love that shines in your face for me, for every human soul and all of creation.

This Love lives in me. This is who I am. And it is enough. It is always enough and always will be.

So I will look at the sun and the sky. My eyes will embrace the greening of the earth, flowers purple and red, lavender and pink, the trees finally full. I will savor the cardinal’s call and follow the flight of the heron that splits my vision as I gaze heavenward.

And somehow I will see your smile in all of it, and I will know everything I need to know … to smile.

Pr. David L. Miller




Monday, June 10, 2019

Born for joy


[T]he fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Born for joy

Joy finds you when you are not looking for it, when your heart is wholly fixed on the moment, when you give something from your depths and the voice of the Spirit whispers in your heart, “It is for this joy that you were born.”

Sunday’s baptism was more boisterous than usual. Three small children bounced against the font making waves across the face of the waters. I handed them the two baptismal candles to hold until the moment we lit the light of Christ for Amelia and Madeline, twin girls.

Wide-eyed and impressed by their great responsibility, the children stood quietly until they discovered baptismal candles make fine swords. The ensuing fencing match proceeded half-way down the center aisle until they were summoned back to the water’s edge as each twin girl was lowered into the waters of eternal blessing.

Completing the rite, Will, the twins’ four-year brother and victorious fencer, held back, not wanting to leave the font despite his father’s entreaty. He looked up at me, and I spontaneously reached for the shell of anointing oil and marked him as I had just marked his sisters, “Beloved Child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.”

“He blessed you,” his father whispered and led him by the hand back to the front pew.

The service continued with prayer and sharing the peace, when another child, Lilly, grabbed me from the back around the legs, giggled and refused to let go.

It wasn’t many years ago that we blessed her in the waters of life and lit a candle. Now we see the light of God’s love in her smile and little girl laugh.

“You were born for this,” the inner Voice of Love whispered as I returned to my place and sat down, thankful for everything that had led me to this single moment when I heard the voice amid tears and purest gratitude.

But it is not just me, of course. The Spirit’s inner speaking is the deep truth of every human life. Each of us is born to share the joy of knowing God’s love flowing through us. We are born to know and share this joy.

Just be where you are. Give yourself to bless the present moment, whatever it is and wherever you are.

Joy will surprise, even today.

Pr. David L. Miller

Monday, June 03, 2019

Planting Life


 I waited patiently for the Lord;
   he inclined to me and heard my cry. 
… 

He put a new song in my mouth,
   a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
   and put their trust in the Lord.
 (Psalm 40:1,3)

Planting Life

Planting season is late this year. A chill spring and incessant rain discouraged putting seeds and new plants in ground, lest they rot or drown.

But, today, an irresistible desire to share in the miracle of life moves me toward my flower beds. I want to hold life in my hands, put it in the ground and see it grow. I want to nourish beauty to life … and feel it deep within myself.

I do not plant to decorate the earth but because I need to feel something new coming alive within me.

Today, I plant and hope, knowing a day will come when waves of exquisite beauty, like no other on earth, will delight my heart and beckon me beyond what I am. Colors and contours will lift me beyond the confines of what I have known and felt and believed, and I will become more beautifully alive.

On that day, and there will be many, my heart will sing for joy at the wonder of life that awakens Life in me. And I will know you and love you and know that there is no separation between me and you, Holy One.

For it is not I who plant this day, but you, my Lord. You sow seeds of your own blessed life in me that will awaken a song of your love in my heart, a song that you give to me, alone, that I may sing the particular blessing for which you fashioned me.

This is what I want in all that comes, a new song, a new way of being and seeing and loving and blessing that whatever comes, I may feel you singing your song of Love through the life you have given me. 

Pr. David L. Miller



Tuesday, May 28, 2019

One little girl


Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:4-6)

One little girl

She was five, as close as I could tell, but I am not a good guesser about such things. She sat on the concrete walk by a Spanish river as adults sipped wine at outdoor cafes long into the evening.

A cascade of jet black hair, full and free, fell across on her shoulders and nearly half-way down her back. Her attention fixed on the doll she held in front of her face. Eye-eye with her baby, she carried on a spirited conversation in a language I do not understand.

She never looked up at me. I doubt she ever realized I was standing there, less than 10 feet away, transfixed by her beauty. My existence was irrelevant to her.

I raised my camera to capture her, but immediately changed my mind and slowly lowered it, knowing I had almost committed sacrilege, breaking the trance of total trust and innocence, perhaps introducing fear into a beautiful heart absorbed in the joy of this single moment.

She was free. Anxiety had no place. It was banished. All that existed was her, her doll and whatever point of conversation moved her to hug companion to her heart a couple of times.

Her image comes back to me today, sharper than any photo I might have taken.

Although she never said a word to me, she speaks of the life that could be mine … and on some days actually is mine, a life where every fear evaporates in the warmth of knowing Love, where all that matters is being in the moment, eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart, with the Love who speaks wisdom through little girls … in a world aflame with God.

Pr. David L. Miller







Monday, May 27, 2019

Real peace


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (John 14:27)

Real peace

Peace, one word for which there appears no definition. Not of real peace that is so much more than the absence of conflict.

Peace is not an inside job. You cannot give it to yourself. You can strive for it, but when it comes you know it is a gift you’ve been granted by a Source you neither control nor begin to understand. It is a gift from beyond that one knows ever-so personally within.

Even now.

The breezeway beckoned this morning. Early morning sun slanted through the bushes and iron grates that frame this sanctuary, making a mottled light, golden patches and gentle shade dappled across the padded arm chairs and concrete floor.

The light warm, yet requiring loose sleeves for comfort, led to the chair and book, the coffee and quiet, to sit and know that I am within, not just here but everywhere, within the compass, encompassed everywhere, inside a Love that beckons me here that I might know … and know that this knowing is all I will ever need to live the life of blessing and being blessed that my heart wants beyond all else.

There are so many people I want to bless so that they know … what I know … here, in this light.

Peace, it seems, is about being within … and knowing it. It is not something produced or arising from deepest soul, but the ultimate well-being, the blessed and holy quiet the soul knows when it steps into the awareness of reality, which is not what we usually imagine that it is.

Reality is the Love who meets us in every love. Reality is the Love who speaks in dappled light, beckoning us to know, always, “I am with you and I will never let you go.”

Reality is the Love in whom we find our peace.

Pr. David L. Miller



Monday, May 20, 2019

Sanctuary



So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
   beholding your power and glory. 
 Because your steadfast love is better than life,

   my lips will praise you. 
 So I will bless you as long as I live;
   I will lift up my hands and call on your name
(Psalm, 63:2-4)

Ronnie fell into my arms as we both wept tears of sorrow. We’d just laid his beloved Peggy to rest the previous week. He’d lost his partner of 65 years, wondering how he could ever go on.

Now, here he was, lumbering up the communion line to the front of the sanctuary, cane in hand, his miserable hip giving him pain with every step.

At the front, I wrapped the bread in the linen in which I held it so I could wrap him in my arms. The moment, the place, the intimacy of sharing the bread of life, provided a container, a holy vessel, where the bubbling cauldron of emotions we shared could spill out and be held in loving reverence.

Everyone present would understand even if they knew nothing of what Ronnie has just gone through.

For we were gathered in a sanctuary expansive and gracious enough to hold us and everything that is in us—pain, sorrow, confusion, hope, joy and especially love, great love that needed tears not words that could be shared in a place where they would be honored and considered holy.

This was the moment and this the place big enough, safe enough, gracious enough where great sorrow and great love could meet and be transposed into an even higher key where love shared becomes the Love who holds and heals every wound of ours.

This is Holy Communion where hearts shared know the Heart who shares everything truly good and loving with us.

Where else does this happen? Where else can it happen? In this cynical world, what other space—except maybe a 12-step recovery group—invites our vulnerability, offering sanctuary to our tears where great love and hope can be shared unashamed?

The sanctuary that held us was not a room but a people who gather to receive a grace and be made into grace that they might become the human beings they were always intended be and, at our best, that we actually want to be.

For a moment we were those people, Ronnie and me, and everyone present and looking on, too. We knew the Love who gathered us that we might finally become ourselves.

Pr. David L. Miller


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Shepherd's voice


[T]he sheep follow [the shepherd] because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.’ (John 10:4-5)

The Shepherd’s voice

The shepherd’s voice resonates deep within us. We recognize the voice for it is the voice of a great and unsurpassable Love, a Love we know because our souls are made in Love’s image.

Soul, a word so impossible to define, is the presence of this Love within the human being, longing for communion with its unlimited Source. Only so, do we know ultimate safety and peace and freedom to be whatever it is we truly are.

The soul hears and recognizes the Love who is its Source in all that is born of Love—in kindness, in sacrificial acts of care, in heartfelt service, in true friendship, in those who carry on in hope when life is most difficult.

The voice of the shepherd is heard in all of this and more. Each such sounding of Love in our soul in some measure fills and fulfills our hearts, unless we have succumbed to the illusions of the world that suggest fulfillment is about personal victory and getting more than others.

Our souls are made by and for the Love who is creation’s Source. We can and do forget this. All of us do, and some never know.

There are those so abused or simply denied the Love the soul craves that they cannot hear or trust the deepest cry of their own hearts to know Love’s care and presence. Something must break through the hard crust around their souls before they know the beauty of their own creation and the One who seeks them in every love that comes their way.

For it is true: The Shepherd, the Christ, speaks in every love crying out for our souls. Love calls for the beloved. Calling us home.

Listen, just listen. Love seeks you. Everywhere.

Pr. David L. Miller




Saturday, April 20, 2019

To know



After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:28-30)

To know

My soul grows quiet as Jesus surrenders his spirit to the Father. Tears form as he shows me how to live and die … and how truly safe I am.

He hands himself over to the Extraordinary Love who has animated him from the very beginning of his days. He knows that in death he will enter the fullness of this Love, whom he has trusted all along.

There is nothing new here. This is the culmination of what has always been. He handed himself over to this Love long before this moment. He has known this Mystery in his own heart, throughout his days.

So there is no panic amid his horrid end, no anxious fight for one more breath. There is only trust in the Love whom he has always know is always there.

He releases himself into the eternal mystery of Eternal and Everlasting Love who has filled his heart from the very start.

And for this, I say, Thank you, my brother. Thank you for showing me what I so often fail to trust.

You show me the way of living and dying, the way of trusting this Love who calls each of us and everything into being.

Handing over your spirit, you bid me to release myself, everything that I am, trusting Extraordinary Love will catch and hold me in every circumstance of life … and at life’s end, which is not the end at all.  

You want me to know the Love you know, the Love you are. 

And watching you, I know, more than ever.


Pr. David L. Miller 



Friday, April 19, 2019

The Truth he is

Saturday, April 20, 2019
After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:28-30)

To know

My soul grows quiet as Jesus surrenders his spirit to the Father. Tears form as he shows me how to live and die … and how truly safe I am.

He hands himself over to the Extraordinary Love who has animated him from the very beginning of his days. He knows that in death he will enter the fullness of this Love, whom he has trusted all along.

There is nothing new here. This is the culmination of what has always been. He handed himself over to this Love long before this moment. He has known this Mystery in his own heart, throughout his days.

So there is no panic amid his horrid end, no anxious fight for one more breath. There is only trust in the Love whom he has always know is always there.

He releases himself into the eternal mystery of Eternal and Everlasting Love who has filled his heart from the very start.

And for this, I say, Thank you, my brother. Thank you for showing me what I so often fail to trust.

You show me the way of living and dying, the way of trusting this Love who calls each of us and everything into being.

Handing over your spirit, you bid me to release myself, everything that I am, trusting Extraordinary Love will catch and hold me in every circumstance of life … and at life’s end, which is not the end at all.  

You want me to know the Love you know, the Love you are. 

And watching you, I know, more than ever.


Pr. David L. Miller 


Thursday, April 18, 2019

Watch his hands


 Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God,4got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. (John 13:1b-5)

Watch his hands

Jesus takes off his outer robe, picks up a towel, ties it around his waist, lifts a pitcher and pours water in a basin and motions for his friends to sit by him.

Watch his hands. He touches and washes their feet, placing a heel in his palm and pouring water over each foot. He washes one, then another and another, until he has washed all of them, even Peter, even Judas, even those who will run away. He humbly does what only slaves could be required to do.

The moment is intense, intimate; words fall away. The only sound is the drip of water into a bowl. Jesus gives himself to his friends, lest they forget the love that pours from the Father through him and onto them.

Jesus’ hands tell us what he is doing as he allows himself to be taken and crucified. He is bathing us in a great love that makes our hearts new.

He is washing away the weight of shame and guilt, regret and sorrow, loneliness and despair. He is seeking every lost corner of our hearts where we imagine we are abandoned or of little worth.

He immerses us in an ocean of Love that we may feel the freedom of being saved and experience the radiant Spirit of Life and Love filling us.

He tells us to break bread together and wash each feet not so that we might remember him, but so we can experience him here and now, a present reality, touching us, entering our bodies, caressing and consoling our hearts with the warmth of infinite love.

In the intimate, tender acts of touching and breaking bread we share the union, the oneness, the closeness, Jesus shares with the heavenly Father that our hearts my know, truly know, the healing Presence for which we long.

Pr. David L. Miller


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

A Prayer for Notre Dame

A Prayer for Notre Dame

Loving God, in every age you have moved your people to acts of great reverence and devotion, stirring the hearts of the faithful to create music, art and symbols of beauty that have stirred the longings and prayers of countless millions. 


Look with mercy on the burnt embers of Notre Dame Cathedral where countless souls have been moved to prayer, praise and to seek you whom no human walls can contain. Console the people of France and Paris for whom the cathedral's beauty and noble spires have been a symbol of faith, pride and national identity. 


Send the Spirit of your love to all who mourn the immensity of this loss, and unite the hearts of all the faithful on this holiest of weeks that knowing your love we may trust ever-more greatly in you, who bring life from death and hope from the flames of destruction, through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.


Pr David L. Miller

Friday, April 12, 2019

Tragedy to triumph


Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
   and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out himself to death,
   and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
   and made intercession for the transgressors.
(Isaiah 53:12)

Tragedy to triumph

We stand on the brink of Holy Week when unholy things will occur. They occur every week, but this is the week when we consider the great tragedy of the human heart and history.

The gift of God’s own presence is refused and killed, hung on a cross. This is the rejection of the Love the human heart most needs, but most fears.

Fears? Yes, because receiving the Love who is our Source not only gives joy but moves us beyond ourselves in acts of great care. Knowing the Love Who Is carries us beyond our comfort zone. It asks us transform the world by caring for those who are difficult for us, forgiving what we don’t want to forgive and loving this world even when it is most unlovely.  

It coaxes us to release our delusional grasp on our futures and trust that Love, after all, is enough to hold and give us what we need in the great unknown that stretches before us.

This week, we watch Jesus pour himself out to death, receiving the brutality of those who do not want the world or themselves to be transformed by Love. He bears their abuse, refusing to pay back evil for evil, even praying for those who do not understand that they are trying to kill the very Love they most need.

But they cannot, of course. For the week that witnesses the great folly of the human race ends in startled wonder, as we see once more that Love, indeed, is stronger than every death that has ever been. 

Seeing this, our hearts will fill with life once more.

Pr. David L. Miller




Thursday, April 11, 2019

Gentle Rider


Then they brought [the colt] to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! (Luke 19:35-38)

Gentle rider

Jesus knew exactly what he was doing when he mounted the colt and rode it into the Kidron Valley on the outskirts of Jerusalem. He was fulfilling God’s promise of the Messiah:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9).

He looked gentle, but his act was a threat to the Romans who occupied the city and to the authorities who ran the temple.

For the gentle rider on his colt was claiming to be the Messiah, which means “Anointed One,” who judges and shepherds the nations, brings light to those in darkness and mercy to the poor and oppressed.

The Messiah would command peace to the nations and break the instruments of battle into pieces.

Of course, this king will be rejected. We know how he was arrested, condemned and brutally executed. But we also know that the life that was in him could not be killed but rose again. The peace he proclaimed, the mercy he poured out, the care and justice he embodied has ruled the hearts of those who name him Lord and changed the entire course of history.

All the armies that have marched and navies that have sailed don’t begin to match the power of this Jesus, who still commands and makes peace flow from the hearts of those who know him.

And he will, until the day his peace covers the earth as the waters cover the sea.

Pr. David L. Miller



Tuesday, April 09, 2019

In your hands


But I trust in you, O Lord;
   I say, ‘You are my God.’ 
My times are in your hand;

  
 deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors. 
Let your face shine upon your servant;

   save me in your steadfast love.
 (Psalm 31:14-16)

In your hands

To know salvation is to know a great and enveloping love surrounding, holding and filling you. It is to such everlasting love that the heart cries out and confidently declares, “My times are in your hand.”

Every hour of every day, past, present and future … “in your hands.”

I wrote a sermon using this phrase years ago when studying for pastoral ministry. Our professor assigned the task of writing a funeral sermon. I chose this text and wrote a funeral sermon … for my father, who was still alive at that time.

But he was failing. His health failed for years as post-polio syndrome wore him down to a crumpled, frail shadow of a man, whom I still love greatly as my tears attest. A small photo of the two of us is on my desk, right in front of me as I write.

I thought of my father’s days as I wrote that sermon years ago, a few lines of which I used when Dad finally passed. His days were bright until 29 when polio struck him down in a single day. All the days that followed, until we laid him to rest on a hillside outside our little town, were marked with more struggle than most ever endure.

At the end, when all strength had failed and the loneliness of dying weighed heavily on his heart, I marked his head with the sign of the cross and assured him that he rested in the arms of an everlasting mercy … who held every moment of every day he’d ever lived.

I wanted for him what I want for myself and every soul I have ever counseled, consoled or comforted: Know this, precious heart, everything you are, everything you lost along the way, everything you suffered and every joy that sparkled in your eyes—all of it—rests in the hands of an everlasting love. Now and forever.

Pr. David L. Miller