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flame RwandaWednesday, April 14, 2014

Romans 8:11

Genocide

When the country of Rwanda commemorates its anniversary of horrific genocide not with more invective speech but with forgiveness and reconciliation, the people remember with a passion for mercy.  As St. Paul reminds us, with God all impossibilities become possible. In Christ all hope becomes reality. In the Spirit all that was once dead comes to new life in Christ.

The one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.

And so we pray.

As we continue our journey through Eastertide, let us continue to change ourselves, to bring the light of change to the world, and to live always in the peace of the Living God who raises all death to new life.

As we continue to celebrate the Easter Passion, let us consider how one million dead in Rwanda now rise in the reconciliation of enemies, now live in the acts of forgiveness offered by victims, and in the repentance felt by murderers.

As we move beyond Holy Week, let us pray that we always hear the voice of God. Let us pray that we always see Christ’s light in the darkness. And let us pray that we allow the Spirit to move us as we put the woes and words of the prophet Amos to work for the Gospel of the Christ. Amen.

Rwanda hopes to rise from the ashes of their brutal history to be the light of remembrance, the light of life for Africa and for the world. Now the cleanest and least corrupt country in Africa, Rwanda is hoping to become the Silicone Valley of their continent. Listen here at NPR: http://www.npr.org/2014/04/06/299708652/20-years-later-rwanda-hopes-to-be-a-light-for-the-world

rwanda victim


For more on finding grace and relying on faith after genocide, listen to an interview with the Reverend Celestin Musekura from National Public Radio. Let at: http://www.npr.org/2014/04/04/299054435/finding-peace-after-genocide

For a story from AP News describing Rwanda’s reconciliation villages, go to: https://apnews.com/article/719ac8f0c4da4d2b80976057d869562a 

Or click on the image above to read an article in the Sydney Morning Herald by Daniel Flitton, and The Malay Mail Online.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

road to mountainA Prayer to Hear and See

For this reason you are great, O Lord God; for there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. (2 Samuel 7:22)

Good and generous God, you are quick to give us every opportunity to amend our ways, to make the most out of our life’s path.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear. (Matthew 11:15)

Faithful and ever-present God, you are available and open to us in every moment of every day, in every step of our journey’s path.

Lift up your eyes round about and see. (Isaiah 60:4)

Bold and powerful God, you abide with us everywhere in every way, at each curve of the trail, at each hill, in each valley.

Then again Jesus laid his hands on [the blind man’s] eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly. (Mark 8:25)

Serene and peaceful God, we sometimes create idols to worship as we wander along life’s path.

[We create idols who] have mouths, but they do not speak; they have eyes, but they do not see; they have ears, but they do not hear, nor is there any breath at all in their mouths. Those who make them will be like them, yes, everyone who trusts in them. (Psalm 135:16-18)

pathway between treesKind and loving God, we need constant reminders to remain always in you. As our journey winds and rolls through obstacles, keep us close to you. As our journey brings us both fear and delight, keep us ever in you. As our journey moves inexorably toward you, keep our ears and eyes open that we might hear your word and see your light. We ask this as always in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Images from: http://brainpathways.net/college.aspx 

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paths 17Easter Saturday, April 10, 2021

John 13:24-30

A Prayer for the Journey

We have examined a number of different pathways our lives might take as we journey with God.  Some offer no options and seem to have little hope. Others are open and give us a variety of choices.  As we move through these last weeks of Lent, let us pause to consider the Parable of the Weeds Among the Wheat.

A man sowed good seed in his field . . .

Good and gentle God, you sow your word in our hearts and minds. May we come to fully hear your word.

While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off . . .

Good and wise God, you offer us the grace of your love. May we come to completely see you in others.

When the crop grew and bore fruit then the weeds appeared as well . . .

Good and gracious God, you plant a desire in each of us to know you intimately. May we arrive at seeing you in all of creation.

paths 20The slaves of the householder came to him and said, “Master, did you not sow good wheat in your field? Where did all these weeds come from?

Dear and humble Jesus, you accompany us when we need you most. May we respond to your quiet and healing touch.

He answered, “An enemy has done this”.

Dear and practical Jesus, you see each of us entirely and totally. May we seek to love you as you love us.

His slaves said to him, “Do you want us to go and pull them up?

Dear and loving Jesus, you give us your full and total attention. May we learn to spend time with you each day.

He replied, “No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them . . .

Loving and serene Spirit, you see both eagerness and reluctance in each of us. Help us to find unity within sunset-barn-and-wheat-field-steptoe-craig-tuttleourselves and with one another.

“Let them grow together until harvest; then I will say to the harvesters, ‘First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning . . .

Loving and compassionate Spirit, you provide endless time and limitless space for us to grow in you. Help us to forgive ourselves and one another without reservation as you forgive us.

‘But gather the wheat into my barn’.”

Loving and providential Spirit, you persist against all odds. Help us to move forward on the path of our life . . . even when we are wearied by the trials of the journey.

God the Creator, God the Redeemer, and God the Healer, abide with us this day and every day. We know that the obstacles along our way are stepping stones to encounter ourselves.  We know that you are with us even when we cannot see or hear you. And we live in the expectation that the harvesters will bundle us in to your enormous and generous barn. Amen.


Images from: https://www.joe-ks.com/2012/amazing-paths

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paths 12Easter Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Matthew 13:1-11

So Many Paths – Part II

How many ways are there to live a life? How many paths of wisdom lead to God? How many times are we called to modify, change or persevere in our chosen journey? Only a close and intimate conversation with God will bring us the answers we seek.

Some journeys look impossible. They are full of traps, and barren of sustenance. We become exhausted just thinking of how we might prepare to travel such a pathway. The heights are dizzying. The precipices terrifying. We begin our journey with downcast eyes and laden heart. We are too frightened to think about the future. When this happens, let us consider that the stony way may be more difficult but that Christ will be all the more present for God knows the treacheries that lurk along the way. The Spirit knows full well that we will tire, that we will seek refuge in a hostile land. And let us consider that when we journey with God, there are always tools available – although we may not see them.

Some seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil . . . it withered for lack of roots.

path 14Some of us travel with blessings abundant. We have few fears, light hearts, and a song in our soul. Yet there is a danger hiding here that we begin to think that we alone are responsible for our good fortune. When this happens, let us be certain to spend time with God each day. Let us give thanks for the abundance of God’s grace. And let us celebrate and share the blessings God has bestowed on us.

Some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.

paths 7

Sometimes our journey is a déjà vu of experiences. We know the subtle changes before they take place. We anticipate the loops and curls and we struggle to untangle a series of events that feel all too familiar. We fight to orient ourselves. We wonder how we might move forward rather than spend endless time moving back and forth. When this happens, let us remember to turn to Christ with our questions and fears. Let us consider that God always provides refuge in any storm. And let us celebrate the goodness and love of God.

The disciples approached him and said, “Why do you speak to us in parables?”

 

paths 10

Some journeys are shrouded in mystery; we find it impossible to see ahead. Even when we plan well, when we spend time with God, when we do all that God asks of us . . . nothing seems to work until . . . we finally realize that trust is the only necessary commodity we need take on our journey. When this happens, we understand how and where to find peace. We begin to understand that serenity cannot be earned. We see the wisdom of allowing ourselves to fall into Christ’s arms rather than flail against our journey for a lifetime.

Jesus said to them in reply, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted”.

And so we pray: Good and gracious God, we trust you with all that we have and all that we are.

Kind and gentle Jesus, we follow you when we cannot see and cannot hear.

Abiding and faithful Spirit, we lean on you, we rely on you, we look to you for all that we need. Amen.


Tomorrow, So Many Paths – Part III

Images from: https://www.joe-ks.com/2012/amazing-paths

 

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Holy Saturday, April 3, 2021

psalm 124Psalm 124

Contemplating Amos

Amos describes the effects of corruption and greed, and today we wait in hope for the triumph of mercy and love over these destructive forces. We await the triumph of life eternal over death.

Had the Lord not been with us, when people rose up against us, they would have swallowed us alive.

Amos warns of the danger that lies in complacency and comfort.

Had the Lord not been with us, when their fury blazed against us, the waters would have engulfed us.

We have the illusion that we have created all that we own and all that we are.

Had the Lord not been with us, when people rose up against us, they would have swallowed us alive.

We take credit for our talents and ideas.

Had the Lord not been with us when the torrent overwhelmed us; seething waters would have drowned us.

Let us give thanks to God the creator who has given us an abundance of gifts.

Blessed be the Lord who did not leave us . . .

Let us give thanks to Jesus the Messiah who remained to rescue us all.

Blessed be the Lord who is always with us . . .

Let us give thanks to the Holy Spirit who abides and heals and comforts.

Blessed be the Lord . . .

Let us give thanks.

Our help is in the name of the Lord . . .

Let us give thanks. Amen.


 Image from: http://www.pinterest.com/rhondajoaldrich/healing-mind-body-spirit/

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Holy Wednesday, March 31, 2021

good and faithful servantAmos 7-9

A Prayer for Faithful Servants

The prophet Amos has accompanied us on our Lenten journey over these past several weeks to bring us the Words of God, to force us to look at the Woes of the world, and to show us stark warnings through his Visions for the future.

Amos is often described as the angry prophet with no tolerance for the corrupt rich who subjugate the poor. This will also be our impression of him if we do not linger with the last images of his prophecy. We will miss the gift Amos brings to us if we do not stay for a while with these ending verses in which we see the beauty of Amos unfold, for it is in these final chapters that we experience his Messianic perspective and promise. It is here in the last pages of Amos’ prophecy that we understand the stories in the New Testament, and fully come to terms with what it means to be faithful servants of God.

And so we pray.

When we feel unimportant and are dwarfed by the colossal forces around us, we petition God as we say with Amos: How can we stand? We are so small!

And God replies: What do you see?

We remember the many times God has rescued us from sure destruction, and we reply: Evil will not reach or overtake us.

And God replies: I will raise you up!

We recall the occasions when only God was able to pull us together after we have been so battered that we can not imagine how we will ever be whole again, and together we ask: Will you wall up our breaches?

And God replies: I will raise your ruins!

We feel frustration and fear when we see all the good that we have built begin to crumble, and so together we ask: Will you rebuild us as in days of old?

And God replies: I will bring about your restoration!

We remember all the work we have done to build your Kingdom. We look into the future and fear for the work yet to be completed, and so together we ask: Who will rebuild and inhabit our ruined cities? Who will plant vineyards and drink the wine? Who will set out gardens and eat the fruits?

And God replies: I will plant you upon your own ground; never again shall you be plucked from the land I have given you. This is my promise. I have spoken. I am the Lord, your God.

And we reply: We who struggle to be your faithful servants thank you. We who strive to follow in the steps of Jesus rely on you alone. We who long to always live in the Spirit look to you for guidance as we say, Amen!

And God replies: Well done, my good and faithful servant.  (Matthew 25:21)


To purchase the plaque above, click on the image.

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Palm Sunday, March 28, 2021

Curacin_del_paraltico_Murillo_1670

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo: Curing of the Paralytic

Amos 5:1-2

Fallen

She is fallen, to rise no more . . . she lies abandoned upon her land, with no one to raise her up.

These are sad lines which are somehow appropriate in this Lenten season as we consider our relationship with God. We all fall; none of us is exempt. And we all have opportunities to rise, to change and to transform. Amos’ prophecy tells of a fierce God who exacts punishment for crimes committed and if we only read this far we might never read scripture again. The next part of Israel’s story, the best part, is about this Word Fulfilled through the Messiah, the Christ.

In John’s Gospel we read the story of Jesus curing a man at the Jerusalem Sheep Gate pool of Bethesda.  This man has been crippled for thirty-eight years (John 5:1-16) and as Jesus enters the area, he sees a large number of ill, blind, lame and crippled people; yet Jesus moves toward this one man and asks: “Do you want to be well?”

Jesus comes to us in this same way every day, singling us out of the crowd, asking us this question about our personal journey. Jesus does not worry about the fact that because of his actions some in the crowd tried all the more to kill him. Jesus risks all for each of us. And so might we risk a bit for Jesus.

Amos’ list of words and woes could well be our own. We can complain and cast guilt; we can be willful and ego-centric. We can operate from a foundation of envy, fear and pride, or we can be willing to change. We can listen for the Word, we can put our Woes into perspective, and we can answer yes to Jesus’ question. Sir, I have no one to put me into the healing pool; while I am on my way someone else gets there before me.  And Jesus will say to each of us: Rise, take up your mat, and walk. 

Then we must begin the work of healing, of nurturing our willingness to take on the challenge to look both inward and outward. Once we take up our mat that represents all we have known and put it beneath our arm, we take up the opportunity offered by Christ to rise and transform. Once “healed”, we will have to carry our mat. And we will, from time to time, be called to witness to others as to why we have the mat still beneath our arm. We will be called to witness to why we behave differently from our former selves. We will be called to tell our story of transformation. We will have to explain that once we were fallen, and that now we have risen.

And so, we petition God in this way. Good and generous God, we do not want to lie near a healing pool going over our list of words and woes; we want to rise and carry our mat that has become a symbol of all that holds us back. Help us to better understand how to step away from all that keeps us from transforming through you. Lead us to put our feet on the proper path in the proper way at the proper time. And remind us often of how it is that we now are strong enough, and brave enough, to rise and carry our mat. Amen.

On this Palm Sunday, we gather all those in our prayers who are fallen, and we offer our prayer in hope that we all will rise again.


Adapted from a reflection first written on March 20, 2007.

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Curacion_del_paralitico_Murillo_1670.jpg

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Saturday, March 27, 2021

vineyardAmos 9:12-15

A Prayer for Perspective

All the nations shall bear my name . . .

So let me begin to praise God now . . .

I, the Lord, will do this . . .

For all that God has done for me . . .

The ploughman shall overtake the reaper . . .

Just as the seasons turn so does God turn to us, all of us the children of God . . .

I will bring about the restoration of my people . . .

Once we understand the importance of humility . . .

They shall rebuild and inhabit their ruined cities . . .

Once we understand the depth of God’s wisdom . . .

They shall plant vineyards and drink the wine . . .

Once we understand the breadth of God’s reach . . .

057peachesThey shall set out gardens and eat the fruits . . .

Once we understand the height of God’s hope . . .

I will plant them upon their own ground . . .

Once we act in accordance with God’s plan . . .

Never again shall they be plucked . . .

Once we love as God loves . . .

Say I, the Lord, your God . . .

Say I, this child of God . . .

Amen.


Images from: http://www.meadorchards.com/ and http://www.ventanawines.com/sustainability

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Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Amos 8:5-6

Prayer for Generosity

Jesus says: Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  (Matthew 7:3)

We experience the richness of God’s love when we spend time changing ourselves rather than attempting to change others. As we reflect on the call we hear from Amos to think about how greed might invade our lives, we pray.

We have diminished the ephah . . . let us remember to be generous as God has been generous to us. For all that we have and all that we are, we pray: thank you, Creator, for the gift of body, mind and soul.  

We will add to the shekel . . . let us remember to be honest as God has been honest. For all that we are given and all that we love, we pray: thank you, Jesus, for the gift of your trustworthiness and truth.

We will buy the lowly man for a pair of sandals . . . let us remember that generosity is nurtured when we trust in God alone. Thank you, Christ, for your sacrifice of self that we might live in you.

We will sell the refuse of the wheat harvest . . . let us remember that big-heartedness flourishes when we live in the Spirit. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for the bounty and kindness you bring with your in-dwelling.

Jesus says:  Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (Matthew 7:15-20)

Honesty, truth, trustworthiness, kindness, bounty, transformation, big-heartedness, sacrifice. These are the signs of God’s generosity in our lives.  These are the fruits by which we wish to be known. This is the richness we receive.  This is the richness we share with others when we live in God’s generosity. Amen.


Image from: https://lifepointaz.com/a-priority-of-generosity/

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