Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Today’s text

Matthew 25:38-40

"When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome, lacking clothes and clothe you? When did we find you sick or in prison and go to see you?” And the King will answer, "In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me."


The nobility of our call is to tenderly tend the life of God in the world where it is threatened on every hand.

The righteous in Jesus parable, who care for the sick, the imprisoned, the oppressed, don’t see or know the mystery of what they are doing. They do not care just for the troubled, but for the life of God that they bear, the life carried secretly by every child of earth and by all creation.

God does not merely identify with the lost of this earth. The lost--and all of us--are alive with the life that is God; the wondrous love that is in Christ resides at the depth of our being since we are made in God’s own image. That image is love, for God is love.

To care, to give the drink of water to the thirsty, the word of encouragement to those who struggle, the gentle blessing of a human hand to one who is sick or in sorrow, this is to nurture the life of love and hope in their hearts, the life of God.

This life is already there by virtue of their having been fashioned in God’s image but our care waters the tender plant so that it grows into greater abundance, the abundance of the life of Christ seeking unique expression in each created things.

Our care also expresses and nurtures the life of Christ in our mortal lives that we may be the fullness expression of loving hope that we might be.

In such care of the life of God, we find the nobility and joy that God intends. We become human beings.

Pr. David L. Miller

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

[Note: I have had little time to write or breathe in recent days. But I just completed the reflection below. Written for another purpose, I thought those few of you who read my scribblings might find it useful in your preparations as, too soon, Advent and Christmas come.]

Love your poverty

The grayness of longing settles on my soul this time of year. Perhaps the mid-November grayness naturally works melancholy in the hearts of those of us of northern European descent. The sun gradually disappears for longer portions of the day, and darkness descends on our hearts as much as on the earth. We long for the light to return and scatter the darkness.

Scholars long ago dispelled the idea that we really know what time of year Jesus was born. Biblical historians agree that it wasn’t in the dead of winter, during the shortest days of the year. But I am pleased we celebrate the holy feast at this time.

It is fitting. It comes at the time when I am most likely to feel my poverty, a poverty I have come to love.

The light fades, the face in the mirror, another year on, is bit more worn, and I am reminded that I have no real control over either one. Time moves on without asking whether I approve.

And I don’t approve of what time does to loved ones who fade and fail, to good souls who lose their jobs amid economic uncertainty, or to those who must look at the empty chair at the Christmas dinner table … and remember brighter days.

We all feel our poverty in one way or the other, no matter what our bank statement says. It’s a deep poverty written into the fabric of our lives. None of us willed ourselves into existence. We didn’t give ourselves the mysterious vitality of being, nor can we extend that vitality for a single moment.

Our life, our existence, our breath is ultimately a gift from a source we neither comprehend or control, no matter the ability of our science to describe how things work.

We are poor, all of us. We don’t possess the life within us. It comes and it goes. And we feel the truth when the winter light wanes or at the end of weary days when the limits of our strength are apparent to our aching shoulders, if not also to our minds.

When we are young, typically, we are blissfully unaware of the truth of our poverty. For a while, we are able outrun any awareness of it. We escape. Too bad.

Too bad, for our poverty is not a barrier to the fullness of life. It is a bridge.

It is our poverty that allows us to receive. It is our poverty that allows us to be human and kind. It is our poverty that brings us to the manger in which the Christ is laid.

Those who are full--of themselves or something else--cannot come. They cannot receive. Only those who want the fullness of life and love they know that they do not possess can kneel before him, peer over the manger’s edge and receive the love that does not waver, the life that does not wane in winter’s cold.

So love your poverty. Throw your arms around it, embrace and welcome it as the gift that it is. It will bring you to the One who will always welcome you in all your poverty.

He is the Holy God in the straw who wants you more than you can know.

He is the fullness you do not have. He is the light in every dark night.

Pr. David L. Miller