Monday, March 23, 2020

Sun spots


Tuesday, March 24

Colossians 1:12-13

[T]hanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son.

Sun spots

Go sit in the light. The sun just came out as I write this. Snow from late Sunday melts among green shoots of the day lilies. Spring whispers her promise that winter is about to lose its grip.

So find a place where sunlight finds you. A window where the light streams through is especially welcome. So is a walk.

But sitting is best … or standing still.

We need to feel light, warmth, penetrating. It’s liquid hope, filling the inner reservoir of our hearts.

So go sit in the light until you feel a smile rising within and finding its way to your face, spreading there.

And know, we live in the light that shines from eternity. That sun warming you is one expression of the Father of all Lights, the Enveloping Love who is looking for ways to embrace you.

Let him.

Pr. David L. Miller

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Whatever, whatever


Psalm 23:6

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
   all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
   my whole life long.

Wherever, whatever

Life is a journey of unknowing. Surely, we feel that now. It’s undeniable.

We do not know what’s coming next. We don’t know when the present crisis will release its grip. We don’t know exactly how it will affect us, our job, our town, our church.

The darkness of unknowing turns some to fear, and others to the Great Heart who says, “Be still, and know.”

This Voice speaks peace deep within our being and reminds us there is something, no, Someone who holds us … and every future we will ever know.

We dwell in the house of the Lord, in the house of Everlasting Love … no matter where the currents of time carry us. For this earth, this universe, the reality we share … is the Lord’s house, the place Love lives and moves, enveloping every moment of time and space.

Breathe. Just breathe in this awareness, and you will know what is sure amid every unknowing.

Whatever comes … you live in the house of Lord, the land of the Beloved, whose mercy and goodness attend every step of your journey.

Pr. David L. Miller

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Thursday, March 12, 2020

You know



He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible … all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
(Colossians 1:15-17)

You know

Let fear be gone. Let anxiety vanish. Let joy rise and courage fill your heart like the radiant sun of early spring.

You know everything you need to live with hope and grace. For you have seen the beginning of time … and you know the end.

You know the One from whom you come and the One to whom you will go at the end of your earthly journey. You know the energy of life and love that holds creation together, drawing all things into unity.

Everything is destined to become one, united in the love of our Lord Jesus, the Christ.

Look at him. Just look at him. Imagine him as he reaches out to bless children, heal the sick and comfort the broken hearted. Look at his eyes as he forgives those burdened by guilt. See how he rebukes hate and turns away those who judge and condemn.

Look and know: He is the beginning and end of all things … and of each of us.

Jesus is the face of the eternal Christ, who has been working in all things since the birth of time. He reveals what will evermore be—the Eternal Love from whom we come and to whom we go.

Smile and know: The beginning is love … the end, too.

Pr. David L. Miller

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Expansive hearts


A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)

Expansive hearts

Real spiritual growth moves us toward being magnanimous, literally big-hearted. Anything else is an impostor.

You can know the Bible front-to-back and be able to quote a verse for every occasion, annoying your friends while doing so.

You can pray for hours, meditate on scripture and practice an array of spiritual disciplines fit for a monk, but if you heart doesn’t get roomy and expansive its all for naught. You might as well save your time.

If you have not love, the Apostle Paul says, you are nothing, and you are definitely on the wrong road, not the way of Jesus, who is the way.

A contemporary assumption, growing rapidly in recent years, is that being Christian makes you narrow, judgmental. Christianity gets portrayed as anti-gay, anti-woman, anti- science, anti-intellectual; you get the idea.

Unfortunately, some Christians, including high profile preachers, produce enough arrogant, judgmental nonsense to suggest these perceptions may be correct.  

But the real mark of faith is a new heart, an expansive, magnanimous heart that can embrace others and this crazy world God so loves.

If you’ve recently accepted or forgiven someone through a major change of heart, you can be sure God had something to do with it.

Pr. David L. Miller









                                                                                        

Monday, March 09, 2020

Never alone


Christ, however, was faithful over God’s house as a son, and we are his house if we hold firm the confidence and the pride that belong to hope. (Hebrews 3:6)

Never alone

You are not alone. You belong.

You belong to the Love who greets you every time you retreat into yourself to pray your life and name you pains, joys and hopes. In the quiet space of your prayerful heart, you meet the One who shatters the existential loneliness that haunts every human soul.

So go there and pray, but do not stay there. The life of faith is not a solitary exercise but an invitation to belong to a house Christ builds as we are drawn into him.

All of us. As we are. Old and young. Accomplished and struggling. Sick and well. Progressive and conservative. All colors and ethnicities. All.

Christ joins us to each other, one people, one house. In our gatherings, we touch and know; we exchange the peace and break the bread of life to share—together. Never alone.

Christ is lives in our togetherness, and there we know his love as surely as we touch, hand-to-hand, and feel the warmth arms about our shoulders … welcoming us home, into the community of Love he is.

We need each other. In our togetherness, we meet the One who says, “You are never alone.”
Perhaps this has never been so important, for a terrible loneliness chills the heart of our society today. 

Google the word ‘loneliness’ and you quickly discover hundreds of articles detailing the nature of loneliness, its causes and damage to our physical and emotional health.

So do not resist opportunities to worship together and meet with other believers. Receive with joy invitations to share food and drink … and your life … with others who, like you, need to feel the truth: You are never alone.

Pr. David L. Miller

Saturday, March 07, 2020

One perfect moment

The centurion sent friends to say to him, ‘Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof…. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, “Go,” and he goes, and to another, “Come,” and he comes, and to my slave, “Do this,” and the slave does it.’ When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and said, … ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.’ (Luke 7:6b-9)


One perfect moment

There are perfect moments in life when exactly the right thing is said at exactly the right moment.

Such moments glisten in mind and heart, drawing our attention back to examine them again and again, reliving their joy, savoring their wisdom and marveling at how … in one exquisite instant we … or anyone … could have been so graced.

So it was for the Roman centurion who sent messengers to Jesus, seeking healing for his servant.

For one perfect moment, he epitomized what it means to be truly human and blessed. For one moment, he trusted that there is a Love that hungers to heal what is most broken in us.

For one moment he actually believed that Love would bless him and the one he loved.

For one moment he revealed the simple trust to which this extraordinary Love invites us.

His words, no, his heart reveals the trust to which Jesus invites each of us and the life God hungers to give us.

Jesus reveals the boundless heart of God, inviting us to know, truly know this Love hungers to make us whole, to heal what is broken, forgive what is wrong and assure us beyond every doubt that Love surrounds and holds us every moment, wherever we are.

“Trust me, Jesus says. Trust the One, the Love, who sent me.”

Trust, and you may just have one perfect moment … and more.

Pr. David L. Miller

One perfect moment


The centurion sent friends to say to him, ‘Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof…. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, “Go,” and he goes, and to another, “Come,” and he comes, and to my slave, “Do this,” and the slave does it.’ When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and said, … ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.’ (Luke 7:6b-9)

One perfect moment

There are perfect moments in life when exactly the right thing is said at exactly the right moment.

Such moments glisten in mind and heart, drawing our attention back to examine them again and again, reliving their joy, savoring their wisdom and marveling at how … in one exquisite instant we … or anyone … could have been so graced.

So it was for the Roman centurion who sent messengers to Jesus, seeking healing for his servant.

For one perfect moment, he epitomized what it means to be truly human and blessed. For one moment, he trusted that there is a Love that hungers to heal what is most broken in us.

For one moment he actually believed that Love would bless him and the one he loved.

For one moment he revealed the simple trust to which this extraordinary Love invites us.

His words, no, his heart reveals the trust to which Jesus invites each of us and the life God hungers to give us.

Jesus reveals the boundless heart of God, inviting us to know, truly know this Love hungers to make us whole, to heal what is broken, forgive what is wrong and assure us beyond every doubt that Love surrounds and holds us every moment, wherever we are.

“Trust me, Jesus says. Trust the One, the Love, who sent me.”

Trust, and you may just have one perfect moment … and more.

Pr. David L. Miller

Thursday, March 05, 2020

Look to the hills

I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)

Look to the hills

I suppose it was natural for those in earlier times to look at the rocky heights and crags of mountains and think of God. Who, after all, could create that which dwarfs mere humans? Their Creator must be greater still.

Feeling small before such immensity awakens a silent knowing of the wonder and gift of being alive, witnesses to an earth more beautiful and inspiring than anything human ingenuity can create. 

Everything … even the hard stuff … begins to feel like a gift from a Giver beyond our capacity to imagine or understand.

Why is there anything at all, we ask, and why … this? And why am I moved to such love for what my senses strain to take in?

Perhaps this wonder, this love is what the Great Giver had in mind all along. Perhaps this love and wonder is who this Mystery is.

Just so, ancient and modern hearts begin to hope that the One who fashions every stony crag through untold millennia actually loves and cares for their little lives.

But however well God etches the divine name on mountain tops, the heart of God comes most clear on a hill a bit less high where a man hung on a cross, forgiving his enemies and surrendering to the mysterious Love he called “Father.”

Golgotha is the name of that hill where Jesus gave himself for the love of a broken world … and our broken hearts … that we may look to the hills and smile. No long wondering, but knowing … what the mountains only whisper.

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Handle with care


 ‘Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven. (Matthew 18:10)

Handle with care

Jesus had a more tender view of children than was common in his era. When others shooed them away he gathered them around himself to bless them.

They were not a nuisance or distraction but tender hearts eager to accept the blessing he was so willing to share. He wanted them to know how precious they are to God.

I suspect he found as much pleasure embracing and blessing them as do we. Seeing their smiles likely gave him as much joy as he gave them. It was also a welcome relief from arguments with those whose hearts were far less tender.

So he handled them with care, showing us what the heart of God is really like.

The little ones he mentions are not only children. They are the awkward and disadvantaged, the slow and socially inept. They are any who are too weak or unable to protect themselves from onslaughts of words and deeds that insult, injure, exclude or deny their dignity.

Every one of them has special place in the heart of God who sees the indignities and oppression they suffer, which might make us cringe when we remember our own insensitivity and apathy.

But guilt is not the point or God’s desire for us— life is, to be handled with the same extraordinary care God has for each of us.

Pr. David L. Miller


Friday, February 28, 2020

Ashes of identity


Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. (Psalm 51:1)

Ashes of identity

A little girl, six or seven, studied my face last Wednesday. What’s on your head? She asked.  “Ashes,” I said. “Why do you have that?” She asked, tilting her head for a better look.

Yes, why did I have that? Why go through this ritual every year?

As a young pastor, I cringed as I marked the foreheads of worshipers with the grim reminder, “Remember that you are dust and to the dust you shall return.” These were my friends, my people, faces I love.

I still recoil, especially when marking the head of a baby or small child, their innocent skin soft and untouched by hardship. They have barely begun to live and already we speak of death. Seems cruel.

But these ashes are not a mere smudge but in the form of the cross of Jesus Christ, expressing the deepest truth of life: All that falls … rises, that which dies comes to new and vibrant life in the warmth of the great love of God, a love that is for all.

Marked with a cross of ash, we know who we are and who God is. We are mortal, and God brings life out of every death we die. We fall prey to our selfishness and egoism, but the arms of the cross embrace us and whisper, “Let it go; you are mine.”

We fail to live out our highest ideals and feel unworthy, and God says, “I will lift you again and again into the fullness of a love that will never let you go.” As Christ was raised from death by the glory of God the Father, this glorious love continues to shape in us the mind of and heart of Christ.

So we wear our ashes without shame or fear, marked by the Everlasting Love who claims us, always knowing we are defined not by our failures but by this great and holy Love.

Pr. David L. Miller

Thursday, February 27, 2020

At one

Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:11-12)

At one

I long for you on these white winter days, O Lord.

I want to feel the warmth of your love welling up from deep within so that I know your presence. So I come here, to this place of prayer, where I speak and hear the sound of my needs echoing on the wall. 

I pray my emptiness, my regrets and my fears for those I love, hungry for the joy of simply knowing you. And it happens.

In the middle of a sentence, in a tear that springs to the eye, amid my awareness that I cannot give my heart what is most needed, you come. And in that moment, I know you.

Your heart fills my own, and I know you are pleased to come and fill me with a lightness of being where worry ceases and anxieties evaporate.  

There is only you … quieting my heart and letting me know that you long for my presence even more than I need yours.

So come to us on these wintry days, O Lord, lest our souls freeze hard as the chill winds that make us shiver. Teach us to pray our lives, and interrupt us whenever it pleases you.

We don’t mind. Not one bit.

Pr. David L. Miller

Friday, February 21, 2020

Red’s return


Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord; his appearing is as sure as the dawn; he will come to us like the showers, like the spring rains that water the earth.’ (Hosea 6:3)

Red's return

A sunny day this time of year has us itching for spring. Winter has gone on long enough. We’re tired of coats and eager to see the earth come alive in all its splendor.

Yes, it’s still too early to get our hopes up. Snow will cover the ground again. The temperature will dip lower than we like, but never mind. Hope wells from our depths, stirring impatience and anticipation for the first small signs of color and life to appear and wipe away winter gray.

And it happens. A familiar call interrupts a walk along a well-trekked path.  I hear spring, but cannot yet see it. Nothing in the high branches. The oaks are brown and bare as February can be.

The call sounds again, and I whistle, echoing the call, once, twice, three times, until a confused cardinal replies, likely thinking that’s the sickest bird I’ve ever heard.

But there he is, crimson fire in the low branches, alight against the blue of sky finally clear of winter’s gloom. A nearby female cocks her head at my clumsy attempt to enter her world.
I’m just glad she has entered mine.

Snows will yet come, ice and bitter winds, too. But the redbirds’ return awakens a smile of knowing that hope is not an illusion nor wishful thinking. Their call is the harbinger of tomorrow, the herald of life soon to rise from the cold earth … once more.

The message of hope is written into the fabric of creation, important to remember as we enter our annual Lenten confrontation with mortality and egoism. The message is clear. Never lose hope. Let it breathe.

The truth of Christ is etched in creation’s deepest code. Losses come, mortality is inescapable, and we are destined to fail our highest impulses.

But that which falls rises again, that which dies comes to life under the warm glow of a Love who holds each and every one. I know.

The red birds told me.

Pr. David L. Miller









Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The place of plenty


Do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?’ They said to him, ‘Twelve.’ ‘And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?’ And they said to him, ‘Seven.’ Then he said to them, ‘Do you not yet understand?’ (Mark 8:18b-21)

The place of plenty

You are the place of plenty, dearest Christ, and you are never far off.

Beneath the roiling emotions of the moment, you remain, deep within, love eternal and unbounded, waiting for us to descend into the mystery of who we are.

That mystery is you, deep within. You are close as our breath, saints of old tell us. But too seldom we believe it.

We confuse ourselves with the struggles or successes of the day, with what we have accomplished … or not, with guilt we carry or wounds that have never quite healed.

But our real identity is eternal and unchanging, even as the emotions of the hour toss us about.

We are the love that appears when we pray, aloud, releasing the tensions of the day into the air. It is then we discover we are something more, something profoundly alive and beautiful.

It is love, the Love Christ is, deep and ever-plentiful, we find beneath our fears and fa├žade, hidden by our defenses and the social clothing in which we dress ourselves.

We should go, often, to this place of plenty, and receive the food which satisfies the soul. The One who awaits you within is Love and nothing but, who wonders why you do not return every day to eat the food that fills and frees your heart.  

‘Do you not see?’ he pleas. ‘I am Love, always there, always enough, always plenty for every need.’

Pr. David L. Miller






Saturday, February 15, 2020

The way of we


‘You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder”; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement.” But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool”, you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister (Matthew 5:21-24)

The way of we

We. This is the most important word for today. Each of us are essential members of much larger realities—families, congregations, communities, nations, relationships of all types.

How we speak and act in these groups affects whether the “we” to which we belong is a heaven or hell, bane or blessing for ourselves and countless others.

Jesus calls us to walk the way of we, not the way of me … that our life together may be seasoned with the blessing and joy God intends for human community. He lays out a way for us that is gracious and faithful to God’s will.

Anger and hatred must not be indulged. They poison the soul and rip families, communities and nations apart. They lace arenas of human care and nurture with bitterness and mistrust.

Measure words and actions by whether they nurture relationships of mutual care and concern. Resist the insatiable demands of ego to get your own way, lest your rights be infringed. 

Seek unity with others. Take the first step to reconcile and make peace where differences divide. Speak simply and clearly that your words may be trustworthy and true (and few), avoiding all deception.

You need not do this to win God’s favor. Christ has already named you blessed, beloved.  Everything that is in him is yours—overflowing grace, unlimited welcome, unconditional forgiveness, living water when your heart runs dry, eternal life when you think life is gone. All yours.

In Christ, the Holy One is creating a new world, the kingdom of heaven. In this community of divine love, the blessings of creation and the fullness of God’s favor are freely shared among everyone and everything.

Walking the way of Jesus, we are Christ’s partners in this holy endeavor, essential members of the great We our Lord is creating.

Pr. David L. Miller

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Let it shine

‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)

Let it shine

Luciana’s photo popped up on her mom’s Facebook page. The photo was blurry and a little dark, but her unmistakable, toothy grin shined even brighter than the flame on the baptismal candle sparkling in her eyes.

She’s six now, and that candle has been lit on her baptismal anniversary every year since the day I poured water over her head and held up her candle for everyone one to see. The candle burns … reminding her who she is.

She is a beloved child of God, a holy vessel of an everlasting love. The light of God’s joy and love dances in her eyes and illumines the heart of her family … and of our congregation.

Days will come that darken her eyes, when doubts appear, when she imagines she has done something wrong, when she feels rejected or doesn’t feel “good enough.” Moments of sadness will shadow her smile when loss and disappointments cause her to forget how precious and beautiful she is … and how much we need the love shining from her heart.

Whenever happens for her … or for any of us, I hope there is something or someone to whisper the truth: You are the light of the world. The love of Jesus shines in your heart. 

Never forget. This is who you are. So let it shine.

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Blessed are you


When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:1-3)



Blessed are you

Even here, even now, you are blessed, no matter what joy or struggle is yours today. Look and see.

Jesus looks and sees the crowds. They are male and female, young and old, sick and well, poor and, well, most are very poor. He sees beyond outward appearance to the urgency of their hearts, eagerly waiting, hoping to hear something that will bless and fan the flame of hope.

But he sees even more. Jesus sees the everlasting love of God at work in all of life and in their lives. They are blessed, but they do not see it.  

The poverty of their hearts is the presence of God’s Spirit drawing them to the fullness of love that is theirs. Their sadness over losses and painful lives opens their souls to the One who will pour life and love into their hurts.

Their hunger for mercy and peace reveals the Spirit laboring deep within them, crying out for God to heal the cycle of hurt and retribution that has scarred human history ever since Cain killed Abel.

Their thirst for righteousness is a prayer for the kingdom of heaven to fill the world with the very compassion with which Jesus sees the crowds as they gather around him.

The kingdom of blessedness is alive within them, working, praying, aching, crying out, drawing them to the feet of the One who will open their eyes to the everlasting love who heals their hearts and the troubled world they inhabit.

Blessedness is the deepest truth of their lives … and ours. So open our eyes, Lord, that we may see and know blessing you are. 

Pr. David L. Miller