Monthly Archives: December 2015
“Absolute faith and its consequence, the courage that takes the radical doubt, doubt about God into itself, transcends the theistic idea of God.” a quote from the Protestant theologian, Paul Tillich. He describes this as when we realize that God is the “ground of our being.”
This resonates with me because by my age, I’ve walked through not only my own valley of doubt, but that of beautiful life-long Christians who in the last stage of life come to grips with the challenge of recognizing their own limits of understanding.
This isn’t loss of faith, but instead the loss of the delusion that we can grasp what God is by cutting God down to our size. It is facing our own limits and becoming comfortable with our “unknowing,” because we have simply finally become grounded in God. God, whatever God may or may not be, has become our home.
I studied Tillich many years ago and didn’t have a clue what he meant! Recently, this spoke so clearly that I was dumbfounded. It was a bell ringing, a moment of clarity, a light bulb going on in my mind! But even more, it was a sense of finally being home.
Wow! I am filled with wonder, but also humbled. It has taken me until the age of seventy-eight to experience this. I am a very, very slow learner.
Today, the first Scripture reading says: “Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and with the people.”
In the Gospel reading it says of the twelve year old Jesus who has caused his parents great anxiety, “Then he went down with them and was obedient to them. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.”
The important words for us here are grow and increase. If Samuel and Jesus had to grow and increase, even in wisdom and in favor with God and man, it’s a pretty safe bet we do too. And the growing doesn’t stop when we are 12, or 21, 78 or 95.
Today’s second reading says to us: “As God’s children, holy and beloved,”(Don’t you just want to wrap that word ‘beloved’ around you like a warm soft comforter?)
But it continues, “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.”
The word clothe implies that compassion and humility and patience are not necessarily natural human traits. What follows points the way to grow and increase in them: “Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Not should or ought, but must.)
The scripture continues “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom.”
Oh boy, there’s the rub. I don’t know about you, but I am not very teachable and if you decide to admonish me, you probably should be prepared to run.
Here’s the good news, when we admit our own need to grow and change, accepting forgiveness brings the grace to change. Forgiveness actually has the power to free us from being trapped even in a lifelong destructive response to people or events.
THEN and only then, can we like Jesus be a witness by visibly fleshing out the power of grace through growing and changing. The best way to teach is to show how it’s done. (It’s probably the safest also.)
Listen please with an open heart to the PRAYER OF CONFESSION followed by a time of silent reflection:
God, you call us beloved. Jesus you showed us that we are called and can be freed to grow and change. Let us feel your hand on our shoulder as you gently shake your head at our blindness. As we listen in silence, free us by your tender love to see where we need to grow and change. Then help us to completely accept forgiveness in the depths of our hearts, so we may be living witnesses to God’s saving grace.
………Take time for reflection…………………
We are all God’s children. We are all God’s beloved. Feel that. Cling to it. Rejoice in it. Give thanks for it. And trust God to complete the good work he has begun in you.
Reflections on Scriptures from the Revised Common Lectionary for Sunday, December 27, 2015 NRSV
1 Sam 2:18-20, 26 Col 3:12-17 Luke 2:41-52
Particularly connect with the lines: God’s concern is with the whole. God’s dream is that we all will one day see: What affects one affects all.
NASA Cloudy Earth, Flickr Creative Commons
What was spoken through the prophet is fulfilled:
Look! A virgin will become pregnant
and give birth to a son,
and they will call him, Emmanuel.
(Emmanuel means “God with us.”)
In bomb-shattered cities
children unable to play freely in the streets
In poverty-wracked slums
families struggling to put food on the table
In violence-plagued neighborhoods
the young learning early that life is cheap
On tear-soaked refugee trails
people desperately looking for a way to freedom
On vulnerable island shores
communities fighting the futile battle against rising sea levels
In the midst of everyday pain,
in the grip of widespread suffering,
the promised one comes and takes up residence among us.
Emmanuel – God with us in our deepest need.
There is no one left out of this divine scheme,
no one whose accident of birth disqualifies them,
no one whose skin color…
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Her mom’s reply: My 11 year old asked me why people (Donald Trump) were saying we should deport all immigrants, Hispanic and Muslim, why he wanted to start a database or have people wear numbers, why he thinks we should close our borders to an entire race/culture, why he said such angry and ugly words about people. She said ‘a lot of my friends wear scarves on their heads. They are not bad people, they are nice and my friends’. I have tried to explain to her what’s going on. I have told her both sides. That bad people have done horrific things in the name of a perverted view of a religion. That those things keep on happening all over the world. She has seen some of the news coverage about it. She, in her 11 year old head, is trying to understand something none of us will ever understand. She also immediately understood something I think all of us should.
Let’s step back for a moment everyone. Step back and truly listen to what’s being said right now. Hate is rampant and being applauded. This has all gone too far. Do we not remember the holocaust? What’s happening in our country right now, is the beginning. Yes, there are people (monsters) who pervert a religion to justify killing innocents as there always have been. This is not new, nor is it confined to a disgusting perversion of the Muslim faith. Yes, we DO need to do something about it. No, we don’t need to incite fear and hatred.
My 11 year old understands this. Why can’t adults? After I explained, as impartially as possible, which I will admit was difficult for me, why Trump (and others) were saying the things that they are, she looked at me and in all her 11 year old wisdom asked quietly ‘isn’t that what Hitler did?’ She, as a babe, understands the ramification of what is being said. She has little 11 year old friends who are scared because they wear a headscarf or go to the mosque. She sees their fear and hurts for them. Isn’t about time we, as adults, took a page from her book of wisdom and say ‘this is enough! We will defend the innocent, but we will not do it by punishing the innocent!’
My heart hurts and my brain is tired. Please stop this hate. Stop applauding it and spreading it. Stop before it’s too late to bring this freight train of bigotry and racism to a halt.
My annual post before Christmas to remind myself to focus!
Jesus loves you, but I’m His favorite. NOT!
I do have stories about making good choices. And I will tell some of them as I blog along. But, it seems more important to share about God staying involved in our lives when we are screwing up; to remind myself and others that God loves us, not because of who we are, but because of who God is.
My mother always made Christmas extraordinary, even when money was in short supply. She polished and decorated every square inch of our apartment. The presents may not have cost a lot, but they were wrapped beautifully. There was a constant flow of guests, often widows without family near-by or young families without parents and grandparents around. There were special treats to eat, but also even the plain old potted meat sandwiches were trimmed and cut into triangles with parsley sprigs around them on…
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I’ve never gotten a message from God in a bottle, but I’ve gotten them a lot of other ways. God is amazingly creative in getting His point across.
When our five children were still young, my father-in-law gave us a side of beef every Christmas. One Christmas some friends with seven children were starting a new business and money was in very short supply. So, my husband and I decided to share some of our beef with them.
Now, I had by this time read the Scriptures quite a lot, so I was very familiar with the many times and ways Jesus told us to love others as ourselves, to share what we have, and even His comparison of the poor woman who gave all she had and the rich man who did not.
But as I loaded a basket with hamburger, pot roasts, and even some round steaks, every…
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