...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Women Find the Empty Tomb (2)

The Sabbath was over, and it was almost daybreak on Sunday when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. Suddenly a strong earthquake struck, and the Lord's angel came down from heaven. He rolled away the stone and sat on it. The angel looked as bright as lightening, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards shook from fear and fell down, as though they were dead. The angel said to the women, "Don't be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was nailed to a cross. He isn't here! God has raised him to life, just as Jesus said he would. Come, see the place where the body was lying. Matthew 28;1-6 CEV

Finding Jesus' burial place with no body present would not have been a good thing. Those crucified were cursed, according to Deuteronomy 21:23. The humiliation was further "perfected" by Roman armies when the executed were refused burial. To be denied any possibility of a burial would have been the final insult. Finding the tomb empty would have been worst of all possibilities.

Into this terror and trauma, the messenger of God speaks the words of faith, of trust. They are echoed to all generations of the faithful before and since: "Don't be afraid." The women are reassured that the burial was completed; Jesus' absence only means that he is alive now and forever.

Of all the temptations to lure us away from God's love and light, the queen bee may be disappointment, because it flies in the face of all our programs for managing our own happiness. It's the lie that God is responsible for making me happy, mostly with lots of goodies. In the American theology of prosperity, health, wealth and success all are the certain reflections of God's blessing.

One of the fruits of Christian spiritual practice is to be assured of God's love in Jesus, a love from which no one and no situation can unhinge us. Which means we have a choice to trust God- or not. In the words of Andrew Young, whose daughter once announced she was leaving home to serve the Peace Corps in Idi Amin's Uganda. "We had no choice but to trust God or go crazy!" (Young's memoir is A Way Out of No Way)

The only real choice for disciples is for a regular and habitual acclimatization to God's living and loving presence, so that, in all circumstances, we know that God's love in Jesus Christ is for us, now and forever.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Jesus Rises from the Dead (1)

The angel of the Lord said to the women: "Do not be afraid! I know you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for He has been raised just as He said." Matthew 28:5b-6a.

Do you find it interesting that, even though no one saw the central event of our faith, we, like the apostles, are still invited to bear witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ? It's an invitation to trust and rely on God's love, grace and faithfulness.

"The desire for certitude is an obstacle to launching full sail on the ocean of trust," wrote Thomas Keating. For anxious, terror-struck disciples not knowing how Jesus left the tomb, the only way forward is to consent not to know, to trust the words of God's messenger. The voices are many who declare otherwise. Our program for security seeks an end to mystery and unknowing. As the gospel Easter song declares we indeed like the idea of "all fear" being gone. But is that the measure of our spiritual life? I hope not. If all fear being gone is what it's about, then I'm afraid I've missed the bus!

Faith accepts the unknown. From Abraham to Moses, from Mary to Peter, we take the next step in the journey not because all our questions have been answered, but because God gives us enough faith to take the next step. It's God's goodness and mercy that chases after us as long as we live- the real measure of faith.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Enrich Your Easter with the Stations of Light

The Stations of the Resurrection is a timely devotional tool for the Easter season:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Let's stop using Jesus's name to hurt others

I find the "Statement on Wesleyan/Methodist Witness in Islamic and Christian Cultures" from the World Methodist Council, 2004, very helpful. It states,

Wesleyan/Methodist Christians are called by God, first, to lovingly accept Muslim brothers and sisters as persons of faith; second, to stand firm against violence and hatred in all its forms; third, to stand with persons who are being persecuted and are suffering for their faith; and fourth, trusting in the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, to share with all persons, including Muslims, the love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ through our words, deeds and signs by the power of the Holy Spirit, and invite them into life-changing relationships with God through Christ.

You can find the complete copy here.

Christ, have mercy on all of us who use and abuse your name to hurt or belittle others. Forgive us for what we do not know. Forgive us for what we knowingly do.

Holy Spirit, restrain us from doing harm with our words, actions, and intentions. Help us to listen to you.

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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If you want a formula for making the best of the less-than-perfect and making the most of what you have been given, then begin to compare your lot to what you were before you were born, and it will empower you with wonder every time. John Claypool

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