Worship October 4,2020

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Empty Words

A brother went to find Abba Serapion. According to his custom, the old man invited him to say a prayer. But the other, calling himself a sinner and unworthy of the monastic habit, did not obey. Next Abba Serapion wanted to wash his feet, but using the same words again, the visitor prevented him.

Then Abba Serapion made him eat, and he began to eat with him. Then he admonished him saying, ‘My son, if you want to make progress stay in your cell and pay attention to yourself and your manual work; going out is not so profitable for you as remaining at home.’ When he heard these words the visitor was offended and his expression changed so much that the old man could not but notice it. So he said to him, ‘up to now you have called yourself a sinner and accused yourself of being unworthy to live, but when I admonished you lovingly, you were extremely put out. If you want to be humble, learn to bear generously what others unfairly inflict upon you and do not harbor empty words in your heart.’ Hearing this, the brother asked the old man s forgiveness and went away greatly edified.

—-Sayings of the Desert



These empty words and feelings are bitterness, anger, jealousy, strife, and others too numerous to mention. Abba Serapion calls on us to bear unfairness with generosity and grace. Society tells it very differently. If we are wronged we must get even, or at least make it right. People spend far too much time trying to sort out the unfairness of life, and precious little effort is given to generous forgiveness. With that generosity in our hearts, we can put away empty words and replace them with words of grace and forgiveness. We, like the monk who visited Serapion, can rise up edified, and an edified man can accomplish much. All of us have times that we feel unworthy of the place we have been given in life, but God has a way of turning that feeling into elation. Look hard at the empty words that clutter your heart, and give some of them away to the generous grace of God.

When we give our bitterness and anger to the generous grace of God we become different people. We once were self-centered and bitter because we never experienced the grace of God, but we now are people who understand grace and can live at peace with ourselves and others. That peace allows us to live a healthy and productive life. Our lives are then freed from the “empty words” of anger and strife.

Perhaps today is the day that you should seek to give away your “empty words.”



Prayer BannerLord, It is very difficult to put hurt and anger aside. Too often we strike back with words that defile ourselves and the one that offended us. This is not your way. Help us to follow your path of grace and forgiveness by inviting your grace into the very center of our being. Free us from the “empty words” of contempt and anger and fill us with your words.

Amen

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THIS WEEK – LISTEN

Listen – Give attention with the ear to some sound or utterance or to hear attentively and understand a person speaking; make an effort to hear something.
(Oxford Dictionary)





It is hard for me to imagine what the world would be like if we would truly listen to one another. Often the concept about the word listen is one we were taught as children. It is,” Listen to me. That means do what I tell you, because I am always right. I believe that Steven Covey has that concept in mind when he said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Because of our conditioning we are always ready to defend ourselves, because if we really listened we might change. All of us have some resentment bottled up on the inside that roots back to those “listen” days.

Let us capture the true meaning of “listen” which will allow us to hear the words of those we encounter. The art of listening is not obedience but becoming fully aware of the world around us. We then see people as they really are and understand their feelings and natures. We hear the cry of the needy and learn from the wise. Our lives are deeply enriched when we begin to listen.

Just imagine what would happened if you listened to every word that was uttered to you. Suddenly you would discover the heart of the people that you interact with daily. They would become much more alive to you. Their stories would be a part of your story, and I would expect that your story would become a part of theirs. To listen is the giving of the heart. Hearing the words of others is the greatest gift that you have to give.

How do you learn to listen? I believe it begins when we fully believe that everyone is created in the image of God. After we climb that hill, we are ready to hear with the ears of our hearts the messages of their hearts that they are trying to relate to the world. In a less mystical way, I would suggest three things. The first is eye contact. Look at the person that is speaking to you in the eye. The second is to always give a slight pause or take a breath before you reply to the other person. This pause will give you time to digest what was said and make that person feel you are listening. The third is to try to feel what the speaker is feeling. That is called empathy, and for some people this is very difficult. I believe that, even if you are not naturally empathetic, it is a skill you can develop if you take time to truly listen to those that come your way.


Quotes BannerWhen people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.

― Ernest Hemingway

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.

― Stephen R. Covey

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

― Leo Buscaglia

If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.

― Brené Brown

We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say.

― Zeno of Citium

Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.

― Bernard M. Baruch

It takes a great man to be a good listener.

― Calvin Coolidge

There’s a lot of difference between listening and hearing.

― G. K. Chesterton

You’re short on ears and long on mouth.

― John Wayne

The word ‘listen’ contains the same letters as the word ‘silent’.

― Alfred Brendel

You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.

― M. Scott Peck



Scripture BannerThe way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

~~~Proverbs 12:15 ESV

If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.

~~~Proverbs 18:13 ESV

Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

~~~Proverbs 19:27 ESV

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

~~~Proverbs 18:2 ESV

Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding;

~~~Proverbs 2:2 ESV

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

~~~Proverbs 17:28 ESV

My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge. For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; …

~~~Proverbs 5:1-23 ESV

Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.

~~~Proverbs 21:23 ESV

Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.

~~~Proverbs 19:20 ESV

Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear.

~~~Proverbs 25:12 ESV

Prayer BannerLord, Give me listening ears that hear what you are trying to tell me. Give me listening ears when you send your messengers my way. Give me listening ears when someone in need comes to me. Give me listening ears even when I want to be the center of attention. I know that the more I listen, the more I grow.

Amen

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Listen

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SEE YOURSELF TODAY


It is not only our hatred of others that is dangerous but also and above all our hatred of ourselves: particularly that hatred of ourselves which is too deep and too powerful to be consciously faced. For it is this which makes us see our own evil in others and unable to see it in ourselves.

~~~ Thomas Merton

Or how can you say to your neighbor, “Let me take the speck out of your eye”, while the log is in your own eye?

~~~Jesus


Perhaps the most difficult challenge we have in life is to see ourselves clearly and honestly. Jesus the Messiah took up this issue in his much quoted and much ignored Sermon on the Mount, and mystic monk, Thomas Merton, brings it a little closer to home. It is easy for us to dismiss the idea that we have a great sin but much harder to deny that we have never been harsh towards someone when we see our own failing in them. Intrinsically, we know that we are less than perfect even when we deny it. I really don’t believe we ever fool ourselves completely, but we try hard to look like we have done so. If we can crush the sin in others that is like a mirror showing us our own failing, then we never have to deal with our issue.

Today’s call is to see ourselves in all our frailties and failures. For when we see ourselves in truth , there is a wide open door for help. That help comes in the form of grace. The grace of God allows us to live and thrive in spite of our shortcomings. In receiving the grace of God, we not only have personal forgiveness but can begin to forgive others and be a reconciler of the world around us. As long as we hold back for our own sin, we are likely to be harsh with others. This harshness creates a tension for all we encounter. Offer your weakness to the ultimate strength that is offered by the grace of Jesus.

Merton acknowledges how powerful and painful it is to see this part of ourselves. Jesus says that he wants to take that burden away from us and that his burden is light. We spend a great deal of life fighting our pain and sin, and we do it the hard way. None of us will ever be able to save ourselves or reform the world enough to save it. God knew this, and he made the provision of Jesus the Savior and Messiah.

As people who seek to be followers of this Savior/Messiah, we have to realize that salvation is an ongoing process and not a one stop acquisition. As long as we live we will have to remove one log after another from our lives, but it begins with the first log. That log is admitting we can’t do it alone. Let us do so today and renew that grace everyday we live.

SEE YOURSELF TODAY



Prayer

Lord, Today is a day of confession and repentance. I confess that I have been hard on others, because I have failed to fully examine myself. I invite the Holy Spirit to convict me of my sin and shortcomings and ask forgiveness for them. I further ask that you remind me that I need a fresh dose of your forgiving grace everyday that I live and breathe. I ask this with a humble heart and a clear mind.

Amen

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THIS WEEK – Home



Home – The place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household; affect place of residence, representing the center of family life . 

(Oxford Dictionary)



It is said that home is where the heart is, but what is home? The philosopher, Kahlil Gibran, said, “Let your home be your mast and not your anchor.” He captured the true purpose of home, because home is not a place but a guiding force. In baseball the player begins at home and challenge the of running the bases is over, he returns home and is safe. That is where all of our lives begin. They begin with a source, a home, a place, an attitude that is of God’s making. We wander to many places in our lives but we, like the baseball player, are always searching and seeking to return home.

Home is where are comfortable and welcomed. Our home is where we find love and security. Home is a place that we can be ourselves. Home offers us a time when we can be weak and know that others will give us support and safety. Our homes are the foundations of our lives. The scripture says, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” Just as Jesus is the cornerstone of our spiritual lives, so our home is the cornerstone of our well being as we journey through life. Without a home we are rudderless and meandering from place to place.

God built into us a natural instinct to set a course to return home when we are lost and lonely. I read recently of the story of Bobby the Wonder Dog who found his way home in a rather miraculous way. Bobbie the Wonder Dog was a dog who covered 2,551 miles on his own to return home to Silverton, Oregon, after he was lost while his owners were visiting family in Wolcott, Indiana. Bobby set his course toward home and succeeded, and so can you.

Are you feeling lonely or lost? Has the life you have found been less than what it should be? If so, it is time to go home. Some people do not have a place that they can really call home, but God gives us a way to make one. Joshua , a humble disciple of Yahweh, made a simple decision when he said, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve –but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” That is the way we can make a home. A home is a place where the principles of God are the cornerstone of life. A home does not have to be a place of origin, but rather it is a place of being.

The reason many people never find a home is because they never build one. They perhaps have run away from the one they once had and are looking to build one that is absent of the cornerstone. A home will never be made in a selfish and conceded way but must be a place of sharing and love.

God wants us all to have a home and he is ready to help us build it.

Quotes Banner

Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.

― Robert Frost

The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.

― Maya Angelou

How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.

― William C. Faulkner

Home is the nicest word there is.

― Laura Ingalls Wilder

Home is where somebody notices when you are no longer there.

― Aleksandar Hemon, The Lazarus Project

If Light Is In Your Heart

You Will Find Your Way Home.

― Rumi

Man wanted a home, a place for warmth, or comfort, first of physical warmth, then the warmth of the affections.

― Henry David Thoreau

You haven’t really been anywhere until you’ve got back home.”

― Terry Pratchett

The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.

― Confucius

Nothing can bring a real sense of security into the home except true love.

― Billy Graham

One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night.

― Margaret Mead



Scripture BannerFor every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.

~~~Hebrews 3:4

My people will abide in a peaceful habitation,

   in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting-places.

~~~Isaiah 32:18

Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.’

~~~Joshua 24:15

He knew what they were thinking and said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.

~~~Matthew 12:25

The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked,

   but he blesses the abode of the righteous.

~~~Proverbs 3:33

Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue for ever before you; for you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed for ever.’

~~~2Samuel 7:29

Unless the Lord builds the house,

   those who build it labour in vain.

Unless the Lord guards the city,

   the guard keeps watch in vain.

~~~Psalm 127:1

You who live in the shelter of the Most High,

   who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,

will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress;

   my God, in whom I trust.’

~~~Psalm 91: 1-2

By wisdom a house is built,

   and by understanding it is established;

by knowledge the rooms are filled

   with all precious and pleasant riches.

~~~Proverbs 24:3-4

Prayer BannerLord, I know that you have given me this house. May you now bestow upon me the grace to make it a home – home where there is rest and safety, a home where there is love and security, a home that offers hospitality to those in need and comfort to the troubled. Make this house into that home.

Amen

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Silence As Discovery

MP05SIN042 sunrise over Monastery


Silence is never merely the cessation of words…. Rather it is the pause that holds together— indeed, it makes sense of— all the words , both spoken and unspoken. Silence is the glue that connects our attitudes and our actions. Silence is the fullness, not emptiness; it is not absence, but the awareness of a presence.

—JOHN CHRYSSAVGIS


The writer of the Book of Romans says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. “(Romans 8:26) These words of scripture have been heavily debated and interpreted in many ways. In the Charismatic movement, they are generally interpreted as a “prayer language” that is bestowed upon someone in an ecstatic state. In 1 Samuel 1:13 we have this example, “Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard.” The link that is consistent is silence or the lack of words.

Theologian and scholar, John Chryssavgis, tells us that silence is so much more than a lack of words. It is indeed a joining of our spirit with the spirit of God. All of us want to find a way to God’s front door. We want to talk to him and hear from him. Sometimes the only way to do that is to embrace a “holy silence.”

The” holy silence” calls on us to pause. The purpose of the pause is to give us time to allow God’s words to surface in our crowded mind. Our minds and hearts are so jammed with the cares of life that God is never heard amid the cacophony of sounds and experiences that make up a single day. Somehow, we must find the glue of silence that binds our souls to our Creator. In doing so we begin to connect our attitudes to our actions.

As we connect our attitudes to our actions, we discover our true selves. Many of us spend a great deal of our life attempting to be what we think we ought to be instead of slowing down and silently listening to the message of God. When we do, he gives us things that are beyond words and vision that navigate our spiritual lives. We no longer need an abundance of words, because we possess an abundance of Spirit. That Spirit will enliven us with spiritual groanings that will be perceived by all that we encounter.

The concept of silence as fullness cuts against the grain of conventional thinking. Most of us would consider fullness as being active and involved in all ways with the church and the world. The Contemplative path takes us into a world of silence where we are not retreating but find a fuller way to be involved. Such a fullness allows our God to speak to us in ways that words fail. Through silent involvement we become fully aware of the presence of God in all things. We no longer limit God to a church, a class or a ritual that is prescribed by man. We find full awareness of him as we sit in the practice of a silence that is an invitation to his presence.

We should all carve out some time of silence and isolation so that we hear the voice of God and receive “words” from him.



Prayer

Lord, Allow me the courage to come to you without words and receive the words that you have hidden in my heart when you created me. I acknowledge that you have created me in your image. I confess that I have sorely neglected to develop your image, because I have been so busy making my own image. Let me take a pause so that I might allow your image to take root in me.

Amen

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This Week–INSPIRATION



Inspiration – The prompting of the mind to exalted thoughts, to creative activity, also , a quality of a thing that shows creative activity.

(Oxford Dictionary)





Inspiration is the beginning of all the work that we do. Without inspiration we will wander aimlessly through life and never fulfill the intent of God. He created us with meaning and purpose. We all have trouble finding that meaning and purpose, but when we do we are motivated beyond our imagination. Let me share a story that I adapted from sermons.com.

During World War II, Winston Churchill as Prime Minister was traveling around his country. He was trying to motivate and inspire his fellow citizens. He was willing to go almost anywhere to encourage people in the war effort. He would, of course, always visit the troops. But he also visited those who worked on the farms and in the factories. He knew that the odds against them were great, and that he must continue to help keep the morale high.

There was one group he had not yet seen. It was the coal miners. Someone asked him if he would be willing to see these men, who spent most of their time below the ground in such dangerous conditions. One man told Churchill that the miners did not feel that they were doing very much in the war effort. He said that no one ever gave them any credit for the work that they did. Would he visit them, he asked. The Prime Minister told the man that he would be pleased to visit these men.

When Churchill visited the coal miners they were absolutely amazed that he was there. They could not believe that he would come to see them. All they could do was to stare with their dirty faces at the man who would lead Britain to victory. His words will never be forgotten by those who heard him on that day. “We will be victorious!” he said. “We will preserve our freedom. And years from now when our freedom is secure and peace reigns, your children and your children’s children will come and they will say to you, ‘What did you do to win our freedom in that great war?’ And one will say, ‘I marched with the Eighth Army!’ Someone else will proudly say, ‘I manned a submarine.’ And another will say, ‘I guided the ships that moved the troops and the supplies.’ And still another will say, ‘I doctored the wounds!’ ” The men sat with rapt attention wondering what he might say about them. “They will come to you,” he shouted, “and you will say with equal right and equal pride, ‘I cut the coal! I cut the coal that fueled the ships that moved the supplies! That’s what I did. I cut the coal!”

What are you cutting in your life?

Quotes Banner

Inspirations never go in for long engagements; they demand immediate marriage to action.

~~~Brendan Francis

Inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic energy striving, but it comes to us slowly and quietly and all the time.

~~~Brenda Ueland

Families are the compass that guide us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter.

~~~Brad Henry

Inspiration does not come like a blot, nor is it kinetic energy striving, but it comes to us slowly and quietly all the time.

~~~Brenda Euland

We are all motivated by a keen desire for praise, and the better a man is, the more he is inspired by glory.

~~~Marcus Tullius Cicero

The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.

~~~Bertrand Russell

The essence of optimism is that it takes no account of the present, but it is a source of inspiration, of vitality and hope where others have resigned it enables a man to hold his head high, to claim the future for himself and not to abandon it to his enemy.

~~~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Confidence imparts a wonderful inspiration to its possessor.

~~~John Milton

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

~~~John Quincy Adams

Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others.

~~~Plato

Selfishness is one of the qualities apt to inspire love.

~~~Nathaniel Hawthorne





Scripture Banner

But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

~~~ Isaiah 40:31

Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.’

~~~Mark 10:27

But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’

~~~Matthew 19:26

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the LORD, knowing that in the LORD your labor is not in vain.

~~~1 Corinthians 15:58

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

~~~Proverbs 3:3-6

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

~~~1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Give thanks to the LORD for He is good: His love endures forever.

~~~Psalm 107:1

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~~~Jeremiah 29:11

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

~~~Psalm 34:8

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

~~~Romans 8:2Prayer Banner

Lord, Allow me to receive inspiration from the scripture I read, the people I meet, the life I experience and to know that it is all from you. For in this knowing, I can live in a way that spreads your wisdom and goodness to a world that so desperately needs it. Let this and every day be a day of divine inspiration.

Amen

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