Friday, July 23, 2021

  AKing, A Victim, A Priest

A king,

A victim,

A priest,

A king accused,

A victim scourged,

A priest condemned,

A king crowned and robed,

A victim beaten and humiliated,

A priest on the altar of the Cross,

O Anointed One,

O Crucified One,

O Holy One,

Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done.

Eternal Priesthood won.

the poetry of Joann Nelander

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

An Irish Prayer

 Today I gird myself

 with the strength of God to direct me.

 The might of God to exalt me,

 the mind of God to lead me,

 the eye of God to watch over me,

 the ear of God to hear me,

 the word of God to speak to me,

 the hand of God to defend me,

 the path of God to go before me,

 the shield of God to guard me,

 the help of God to protect me,

 against the snares of demons,

 against the temptations of vices,

 against the tendencies of nature,

 against everyone who will wish me ill,

 far and near,

 among few and among many.


May Christ be with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,

 Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

 Christ to my right, Christ to my left,

 Christ where I lie down, Christ where I sit, Christ where I stand,

 Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,

 Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,

 Christ in every eye which looks on me,

 Christ in every ear which hears me.

Monday, July 19, 2021

 Slow me down, Lord. Slow me down!

Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind.... 

Give me amid the confusion of my day, the calmness of the everlasting hills.

Break the tensions of my nerves and muscles with the soothing music

of the singing streams that live in my memory.

Help me to know the magical, restoring power of sleep.

Teach me the art of taking minute vacations, of slowing down to look at a flower,

to chat with a friend, to pat a dog,  to read a few lines from a good book.

Remind me each day of the fable of the hare and the tortoise,

that I may know that the race is not always to the swift — 

that there is more to life than increasing its speed.

Let me look upward into the branches of the flowering oak 

and know that it is great and strong because it grew slowly and well.

Slow me down, Lord, and inspire me to send my roots

deep into the soil of life’s enduring values 

that I may grow toward the stars of my greater destiny.    

Wilferd A. Peterson

Friday, July 16, 2021

Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath.”   Matthew 12:1-3

The Pharisees so often seem to completely miss the point.

Imagine you had a birthday party for your little daughter. Imagine as she unwrapped each gift and she kept the wrapping paper and threw away the gift - she trashed it. 

That’s what the Pharisees were doing.  They were turning religion into something  God never intended it to be. They were keeping the wrapping paper (God’s laws) and trashing the gift (God’s love).

The question for each one of us today is: Do I do that?  

Do we realize that religion is not a set of rules to be followed but a life of love to be lived?

I try very hard not to mix religion and politics. But when I think of that question – “Do I do that?” If I’m being honest with you all, I think about our country’s immigration problems. Yes, laws are being broken, but I’ve been to the shelters and seen Moms and Dads, with absolutely nothing but the clothes on their backs, holding their beautiful little children who they have walked with for weeks to bring to a place where they can thrive and be safe.

And I hear the words of Jesus ringing in my ear … “I desire mercy.”  

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

“The irony is that while God doesn’t need us but still wants us, we desperately need God but don’t really want Him most of the time.”

― Francis Chan

Friday, July 9, 2021

I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Matthew 10:16

I think most of us would agree that the culture we are living in is a challenge.  And the interesting thing is  Jesus seems to know it too. He seems to know that conflicts between those who believe in Christ - in Him - and the culture are unavoidable. He said: 

“I am sending you out like sheep among the wolves.”

Sheep are such gentle creatures they seem no match for a wolf. But they are more intelligent than we give them credit. When a wolf comes around, their natural instinct is to come together into a tight flock and look to the shepherd for protection.  That might be the image Jesus intended for this message.  Whenever we are battling the wolves in our lives, he might tell us we need to look for the other sheep, our flock (each other) and Him for help. We are not designed to go it alone. We need each other and God.  

Jesus also told us “to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” When I was a boy, we used a term Jesus might have used if he knew it. The term was “street-smart.” We were good kids in a bad neighborhood. But we learned how to get out of danger if needed; we were good but crafty.

It is difficult to imagine a single person having the characteristics of the serpent and the dove simultaneously. Jesus is saying we must combine the toughness and craftiness of the serpent - we must be street-smart - and at the same time be gentle as a dove, to be effective as his disciples.  Jesus expects us to live outside our comfort zone and defend our faith in a culture that is full of hostility. To do that he says, we must have a tough mind and a tender heart.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

The Legacy

She could not give her children gold,

So she gave them faith to have and hold.

She could not give them royal birth...

A name renowned throughout the earth.

But she gave them seeds and garden spot

And shade trees when the sun was hot.

She could not give a silver spoon

Or servants waiting night and noon.

She gave them love and a listening ear

And told them God was always near.

She could not give them ocean trips

Aboard majestic sailing ships.

But she gave them books and quiet time,

Adventures found in prose and rhyme.

She could not give them worldly things

But what she gave was fit for kings.

For with her faith and books and sod,

She made each child aware of God.


 —attributed to Alice Leedy Mason

Friday, July 2, 2021

“I did not come to call the righteous but sinners” Matthew 9:13

Isn’t it interesting the kind of people Jesus hung out with and recruited?  He didn’t seek out the people most of us might expect him to the religious types in his culture, the priests or the teachers of religion, the Pharisees. 

None of his closest apostles had an impressive resume.  He sought out fishermen and women and ordinary folks.  And yes, he even wanted outcasts and sinners in his ministry. 

He made the hated Samaritan the hero of one of his greatest parables. His first evangelist, who converted her whole city, was a woman with multiple marriages and was currently living with a man, not her husband.

One thing we know for sure, Jesus sees the potential goodness in people despite their backgrounds or their sins. His closest friends included people like Mary Magdalene and Matthew. The good news is if he liked them, he'd probably like most of us too, warts and all.  

Jesus is unapologetically intolerant of sin, but he is all-inclusive in His offer of salvation for those who repent.  I think the message for us today is: no matter what we might think of our qualifications, Jesus reaches out to us to be his representatives.  

The question for us is:  Who would Jesus be attracted to today?                                             

He isn’t on earth now to seek out the sick, but we are.  He isn’t on earth now to reach out to sinners, sinners with hidden potential to become saints, but we are.

Maybe it is time for some serious reflection about reaching out in love to those who Jesus would if he were here. 

… “sinners”