Posts Tagged ‘living temple’

Luke 14:25-33: Discipleship

Tuesday, May 23, 2023Grow.-Plant.-Discipleship

If we ever forget what it means to be a disciple, here is a quick summary; and some of these sayings are difficult to take.

Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.

We can see that following the Master means that God must be before all else, even our most intimate and longest relationships. I do not believe that Jesus is telling us that family is not important. I do not believe that we are to reject family and friends in order to be a good disciple. I do believe that if we must choose to pretend that all is well in an intimate relationship when it is not, then we must do what we know to be correct. We must exit this relationship but (and this is the hard part) we must continue to leave ourselves open to the possibility that the abusive people in our lives will transform.

Or can you imagine a king going into battle against another king without first deciding whether it is possible with his ten thousand troops to face the twenty thousand troops of the other? And if he decides he can’t, won’t he send an emissary and work out a truce?

We must pray that the impossible people and situations in our lives become temples for the Indwelling of the Spirit. We must pray that those who have abused us will find a softening in their hearts and an unbending in their necks. We may not walk away completely and cleanly, because Jesus does not walk away completely.

Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. 

What we reflect on here is this: in the calculus for building a good and holy temple we must not only plan for the solid foundation and protective walls, but the windows and doors which let in the light, the voice of God as it travels on the wind, and the people who come and go in our lives. We must allow for both solitude and community, justice and compassion. This is the Way of Discipleship.

Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.

DiscipleshipWe do not travel this way alone. As we peel away those people and influences which lead us astray rather than toward God, we look for fellow travelers of The Way. Yet even these friendships cannot come between ourselves and the one who created us. And even though we will always need one another’s help in remaining open to the resolution of the impossible people and situations, it is God who acts and moves in these fellow pilgrims to bring us pockets of consolation and refuge. As long as we place God before us each day, we will have a true path. As long as we abide by the Law of Love, we will know which way is the true way. This we need not doubt.

Each day, in each prayer we ask that God make us good and loyal servants. Each day, in each prayer we ask that God continue to show us the Way of discipleship.

This is the cost of discipleship. We do this in Jesus’ name. This is the cost of kingdom-building. We do this with and in the Creator. This is the cost of living in love. We do this through the transformative healing of the Holy Spirit. We will want to figure the cost of this way of life. Let us consider it well.  Amen.

Image from: https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/trevinwax/2014/06/23/4-marks-of-biblical-discipleship/ and http://www.safercommunitiesministry.org/programs/discipleship/

Adapted from a favorite from May 12, 2008.

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Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part VIfoundation-277x156

Monday, September 19, 2022

How do we begin to build a strong foundation that will withstand the storms of life and be our constant restoration? Paul’s letter to the people of Corinth show us the way.

Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:10-11)

What do we do once the foundation is laid? Can we expect the difficult part of our work to be complete? Paul tells the Corinthians and he tells us.

1 cor 3-1As long as you grab for what makes you feel good or makes you look important, are you really much different than a babe at the breast, content only when everything’s going your way? (1 Corinthians 3:1-4)

How do we make certain we are doing the correct work? Paul tells the Corinthians and he tells us that we must look to God for our assignments.

We each carried out our servant assignment. I [Paul] planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow. It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God’s field in which we are working. (1 Corinthians 3:5-9)

What is the great reward we expect to have? Paul tells the Corinthians and he tells us that we are each living stones in God’s living temple.

1cor3-16-17-temple-of-god-holy-building-1024x575You are God’s house. Using the gift God gave me as a good architect, I designed blueprints; Apollos is putting up the walls. Let each carpenter who comes on the job take care to build on the foundation! Remember, there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ. Take particular care in picking out your building materials. Eventually there is going to be an inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials, you’ll be found out. (1 Corinthians 3:9-15)

Can we expect to find peace if we hide from the potential God has placed in us? Paul tells the Corinthians and he tells us that the reward may seem like a punishment, but then God’s world is always about inversions.

Don’t fool yourself. Don’t think that you can be wise merely by being up-to-date with the times. Be God’s fool—that’s the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid. (1 Corinthians 3:18-20)

lord is spiritWhat will our reward look like after our travail? Paul tells the Corinthians and he tells us that our reward will be greater than any other we will know. Our reward is our life in Christ.

I don’t want to hear any of you bragging about yourself or anyone else. Everything is already yours as a gift—Paul, Apollos, Peter, the world, life, death, the present, the future—all of it is yours, and you are privileged to be in union with Christ, who is in union with God. (1 Corinthians 3:21-23)

Spend time with these verses today and compare varying versions. When we spend time with God in this way, God’s wisdom seeps into our bones. Christ’s peace settles into our hearts. And the Spirit binds us to God forever, bringing us restoration.

Tomorrow, words from the master builder, Jesus.

Images from: http://thisismosaic.org/media/messages/ and https://www.flickr.com/photos/cruglobal/8428028010 and http://www.agodman.com/blog/building-the-church-with-and-becoming-gold-silver-and-precious-stones/ and http://ilovemybible.tumblr.com/post/23464357873/2-corinthians-317

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Exodus 36-38The Altar of Our Lives

Friday, December 28, 2018

At this harvest time of year when we gather to give thanks for all that we are and all that we have, let us consider our thoughts, words,and deeds in light of the Hebrews’ desert experience and in gratitude for the fulfillment of God’s best hope in us.

Written on November 16, 2008 and posted today as Favorite . . .

The Israelites were faithful to Yahweh in constructing a residence for their one true God, and this one God Yahweh – who tolerated no other gods before him – was faithful in accompanying his people to guide and protect them.  Today’s reading describes the detail the Israelites followed in order to provide the appropriate altars, veil, table, ark and lampstand.  The chapters preceding these describe the collection of materials and artisans.  The chapters following these describe the vestments, and dwelling . . . and how Yahweh settles into his home on earth among the human race.

El Greco: Christ Cleansing the Temple

In the New Testament story, Jesus comes to earth to be the new high priest . . . and to construct a new temple in place of the former one.  He also calls his artisans and gathers his materials . . . his original apostles and disciples . . . and all those apostles and disciples who have heard his story . . . and who have acted in faith to join this story.  He also settles into his home on earth . . . in the hearts, bodies and minds of all those who follow him today and all days.

In Acts we read about the coming of the Holy Spirit settling upon the original apostles in flames of fire.  The Spirit still settles upon and in those who join with Christ in his mystical body to become living stones in the new living temple of Yahweh.

The Hermitage of San Girolamo, Italy

We are creatures seeking the God who created us, the God who walks with us, the God who abides with us.  We are formed for worship and for joy.  Each day at our rising, each noon at our pausing, each night at our entering into the world of dreams and sleep we have a new opportunity to refurbish our temple . . . to keep it always a pleasing place of adoration . . . a place where our souls sing in communion with others who wish to walk and live in this liminal space of love and peace, mystery and serenity.

What does our God require of us?  This is no mystery.  He does not require holocausts or sacrifice.  He does not require incense morning, noon and night.  But this is what he requires: that we do what is right, love goodness, and walk humbly with our God.  (Micah 6:8

Let us offer our sacrifices of fear, anxiety, pain and anger on the altar of our lives.  Let us do what is right; let us love goodness; and let us walk humbly as we work at the building of God’s temple with the surrender of our lives.

John Pettie (1884):Fixing the Site of an Early Christian Altar

A re-post from November 25, 2011.

Images from: http://www.oceansbridge.com/oil-paintings/product/73395/fixingthesiteofanearlychristianaltar1884 and http://taniarubimenglish.blogspot.com/2011/02/bible-trivia-furniture-of-tabernacle.html and http://www.journeywithjesus.net/Essays/20060313JJ.shtml and https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/cucco711.jpg

A good website for information concerning the Hebrew temple furnishings.  http://taniarubimenglish.blogspot.com/2011/02/bible-trivia-furniture-of-tabernacle.html

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Luke 10:20: Written in Heaven

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

You are not that important AND your name is written in heaven. (Rohr 133)

A friend once told me that if she gets to heaven to see that Adolph Hitler is seated at the banquet, she doesn’t want to go. We laughed a bit and then she said, “Well, of course, if he is there, God must have worked a miracle. I wonder what it was”. We sometimes re-visit that conversation and marvel at God’s generosity. We explore the many ways God might have called Hitler to conversion in his last moment of life in this world. We debate, in our child-like way, what might be the best strategies to call someone away from fear and toward compassion. No matter the length of the conversation, we can never agree on how God works with us to strip away our suspicions and temptations to divide. We listen for God’s voice as we move slowly toward the transformative understand that everything in creation belongs to, and with, and in God. And this is how it should be. God is God, and we are not.

“If we cannot trust that we have an eternal identity in God, then we are burdened with creating our own personal importance day after day . . . We become lost in comparison, envy, competition, and codependency . . . Authentic spirituality is an experience of abundance and mutual flourishing instead of a limited world of scarcity (‘Their success is my loss!’).” (Rohr 133)

When we are able to see that each of us is a living stone in the living temple of God, we are better able to put aside our small conceits to accept the greater gift of God’s promise and grace. When we agree to calm our fears and to accept “the other” as a vital piece of God’s mosaic, we find a firm place to plant our feet.

I can never forget you! I have written your name on the palms of my hands. (Isaiah 49:16)

When we accept the idea that we are born with original blessing as well as original sin, we take up the tools God gives us to come together at the great banquet that is heaven. We build bridges in order to sit beside our former enemies; we tear down walls so that we might fully understand that our names truly are written on the palms of God’s hands.

Today we practice letting go of the personal importance we have given ourselves, and we open our hearts to the common wonderful idea that the inclusive, equalizing banquet of heaven awaits us here and now.

Richard Rohr, OFM. A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016.

Come Sunday is a Netflix film based on an interview from NPR’s This American Life. https://www.netflix.com/title/80152625 A preacher’s desire to tell the world about the common wonderful promise of God turns his world upside down. Read a Sundance review at: http://collider.com/come-sunday-review-netflix/ or a Variety review at: http://variety.com/2018/film/reviews/come-sunday-review-1202671818/ 

When we compare different translations of these verses, we see that our world is full of paradox, and that our names are written in heaven.

Images from: http://variety.com/2018/film/reviews/come-sunday-review-1202671818/ and http://callmevictorian.com/252/handwritten-signatures/

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1 Peter 3:8-22: Salvific Suffering – Part I

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


Esteban Murillo: San Pedro en lágrimas

Why must we suffer?

This is a beautiful idea that reminds us that we are called to be living stones in the living temple of Christ.  The letters of Peter are full of wonderfully good advice about how to build a Christian community and this is no surprise. Peter is The Rock on whom Christ builds his church. Peter denied Christ three times during the Passion, as Christ himself predicted, but he bridges any gap he had created by following Christ so ardently. Today we examine Peter’s suffering to learn how we might also learn to suffer well.

Studying The Acts of the Apostles slowly is refreshing if we can give ourselves the space and time to reflect deliberately and carefully on the story of the passion with which the first Christians feel Christ’s presence after his death.  When we believe ourselves to be in dire straits, we really only need turn to this story.  It reveals so much about the hope we called to live joyfully.

In Chapter 5, Ananais and Sapphira are struck dead by the Lord for withholding the gifts given to them. We hear about the second trial and imprisonment of the apostles, their mystical release by the angel of God, and rabbi Gamaliel’s wise argument to let the apostles go with a flogging – rather than execution – because if their work comes from God, you will be able to destroy them; you may even find yourself fighting against God. 

At the end of this chapter we see the apostles return to their community and we find them rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.  And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Messiah, Jesus . . . even though the authorities warn them to cease healing in Jesus’ name.

Today we reflect on our opportunities to suffer as early church members did. We examine the zeal with which we carry out our own story of Christ’s hope and resurrection. We explore the choices we see in Acts 5 as we consider the words of Peter. And we begin to understand that we are each free to choose if and how we will suffer well.

Tomorrow, celebrating as we mourn.

Adapted from a Favorite written in November 10, 2007.


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Luke 24:13-35: The Road to Emmaus – Part V

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Helge Boe: On the Road to Emmaus

They urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.”

We journey toward our Easter resurrection, carrying our doubts and fears, measuring, and even judging, ourselves and those who walk with us. We hope to avoid obstacles, not realizing that they provide us with opportunities for transformation. We see ourselves in a race against time, not understanding that God’s time is eternal. We perceive ourselves as small entities in competition with the billions of earth’s citizens, not comprehending that we are all the living stones of the temple that is God’s kingdom.

They urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.”

A humble yet confident, vulnerable yet strong young man joins us on our journey. He speaks words that both comfort and challenge. He listens well. Asks thoughtful questions. We can feel the compassion and empathy coming from his eyes; his whole body exudes an essence we want to capture so that we might carry it along with us. Yet we need not. We try to possess what we already own. We try to control what we are already promised.

This man’s words are wisdom. His actions are mercy. He embodies hope, he enacts fidelity, he is love. Do we invite him to linger with us, or are we too busy tending to our pains and worries, monitoring our timelines and space?

They urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.”

Hendrick Terbrugghen: Supper at Emmaus

Christ walks with us today as surely as he walked with these disciples in the journey to Emmaus. He breaks bread with us today just as he did at the supper table in Emmaus. Let us set aside the time and space to share our uncertainties with him. Let us dedicate the time and place to share our joy. And let us allow The Teacher to open our hearts to the enormity of God’s love and promise as we journey toward the Easter promise.

They urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.”

For more on the Emmaus experience, click on the image of the Boe painting, or visit: http://www.jesus-story.net/emmaus.htm 

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1 Corinthians 3: Becoming God’s Fool

Friday, December 9, 2016build-on-christ

This week we explore how to put our love on the line just as the Creator does by abiding with us, just as Jesus does as he shows us The Way, and just as the Spirit does as she comforts and remains in us.

Paul tells the people of Corinth – and he tells us – that we are not separate islands looking out for our own interests; rather, we are all interconnected and dependent on one another.

You are God’s house. Using the gift God gave [us], . . . let each carpenter who comes on the job take care to build on the foundation! Remember, there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ. (MSG)

Paul tells the people of Corinth – and he tells us – that we are all holy members of God’s sacred temple, standing on Christ and rising in the Spirit.

Take particular care in picking out your building materials. Eventually there is going to be an inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials, you’ll be found out. The inspection will be thorough and rigorous. You won’t get by with a thing. If your work passes inspection, fine; if it doesn’t, your part of the building will be torn out and started over. But you won’t be torn out; you’ll survive – but just barely. (MSG)

Paul tells the people of Corinth – and he tells us – that we are all held to account by a loving and compassionate parent. We are all asked to change. We are all asked to live on the margins. We are all asked to love as Jesus loves.

Don’t think that you can be wise merely by being up-to-date with the times. Be God’s fool – that’s the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid. (MSG)

Paul tells the people of Corinth – and he tells us – that inversion takes control in God’s plan. When we want to be wise, we must put aside our own ego, empty our hearts and minds, and allow the Spirit to dwell within. And it is in this special way that we might more easily learn to put our love on the line for the Architect, the Builder, and the Artist.

When we explore various translations of these verses, we discover that becoming God’s fool gives us the perfect strategy to put our love on the line.

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