Tag Archives: Religion and Spirituality

The God that Loves Us

During this time our Lord showed me a spiritual sight of His simple, homely loving. I saw that He is to us everything that is good and comforting to us. He is our clothing, which wraps and embraces us in love. He completely enfolds us in tender love so that He might never leave us, being to us everything that is good, as I see it.

—-Julian of Norwich

Julian newThe world that surrounds us is full of strife and anger. Loving relationships seem to very hard to develop and maintain. People are turning to drugs, legal and illegal, to make life work. If we can’t find love and security, we’ll just check into a fantasy. Julian did not live in a setting that was much more accommodating than ours. She had problems and insecurities that plagued her, and yet she found love and she found it in solitude. Her entire life was dedicated to finding divine love.

What do we discover when find divine love and how does it change our perspective?

Julian asserts that God has a homely love. The love of God is simple and unassuming, unlike the love of other people that can be so complicated. So many of us perpetuate our false selves, not only to the world but to ourselves as well. We try to avoid being simple because simplicity invites vulnerability and vulnerability leaves us open to hurt. God, however, give us the example of a love that disregards these dangers and it is a grand thing.

Shaker  Elder Joseph gives us a word in his “Simple Gifts.”

simple gifts

Some four hundred years later this follower of Jesus is seeing God in the same way that Julian did from her cell. Perhaps we can also look for this simple God in our hectic world.

God’s love is all that is good and comfortable to us. Untold amounts of money are spent every day by people that are seeking comfort. We long to hear a comforting word or see a comforting movie. The longing for comfort is an essential part of how we are designed, and yet it remains so elusive to us. Julian sees it as a simple act of God that is only waiting to be recognized. When many of us think of comfort, we think if comfort food or comfort waist bands in our clothing. That comfort implies excess ,but the only excesses that God holds are in his ability to give of himself to us. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.(John 3:16) What kind of comforting love is that?

The God that loves us never abandons us. We may lose touch with Him but he is always there. I know that is hard for many to process. All of us have had those times when we think God has forsaken us. Those times are frustrating and fuel anger and resentment. It helps to envision God as our clothing.  We never even think about what we are wearing, but we would quickly notice if we lost our coat on a cold day. In the same way God clothes us in our most difficult times.


Prayer

Lord, may we never forget the homely love which is simple and comforting . We try to complicate love but you make it simple. Your simple love is  reliable as the clothes on our backs and as available as the sun that rises every morning. Let us recognize this love.

Amen

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Living, Julian of Norwich

Lent Day 40

March 31

Holy Saturday

Everlasting Love

Isaiah 54:5-14

For your Maker is your husband,
the Lord of hosts is his name;
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
the God of the whole earth he is called.
For the Lord has called you
like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,
like the wife of a man’s youth when she is cast off,
says your God.
For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with great compassion I will gather you.
In overflowing wrath for a moment
I hid my face from you,
but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,
says the Lord, your Redeemer.

This is like the days of Noah to me:
Just as I swore that the waters of Noah
would never again go over the earth,
so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you
and will not rebuke you.
For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted,
I am about to set your stones in antimony,
and lay your foundations with sapphires.
I will make your pinnacles of rubies,
your gates of jewels,
and all your wall of precious stones.
All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
and great shall be the prosperity of your children.
In righteousness you shall be established;
you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;
and from terror, for it shall not come near you.


Prayer Thought

Lord, give me the faith and confidence to believe you can and will set things right.


“Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.”

English: Unity Church in Unity Village, Missouri

English: Unity Church in Unity Village, Missouri (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

—- Marianne Williamson

Leave a comment

Filed under Lenten Reflections 2018

Good Friday

March 30

Everlasting Love

Isaiah 52:13—53:12

See, my servant shall prosper;
he shall be exalted and lifted up,
and shall be very high.
Just as there were many who were astonished at him
—so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of mortals—
so he shall startle many nations;
kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
for that which had not been told them they shall see,
and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.

Who has believed what we have heard?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by others;
a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him of no account.

Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
Who could have imagined his future?
For he was cut off from the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people.
They made his grave with the wicked
and his tomb with the rich,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain.
When you make his life an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.
Out of his anguish he shall see light;
he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out himself to death,
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.


Prayer Thought

Lord, you have given all to me. I have nothing to offer but thanks and obedience.


“I am convinced that when we bring our griefs and sorrows within the story of God’s own grief and sorrow, and allow them to be held there, God is able to bring healing to us and new possibilities to our lives. That is, of course, what Good Friday and Easter are all about”

— N. T. Wright

Leave a comment

Filed under Lenten Reflections 2018

Lent Day 37

March 28

I Will Be Betrayed

Matthew 26:14-25

Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What will you give me if I betray him to you?’ They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.

On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ He said, ‘Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, “The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.” ’ So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.

When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.’ And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, ‘Surely not I, Lord?’ He answered, ‘The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.’ Judas, who betrayed him, said, ‘Surely not I, Rabbi?’ He replied, ‘You have said so.’


Prayer Thought

Lord, keep us on the right track. Help us to ward off temptations that sometimes seem so great.


Martin Luther King, Jr. showing his medallion ...

Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

Leave a comment

Filed under Lenten Reflections 2018

Lent Day 36

 

 

March 27

 

Light for the Nations

 

Isaiah 49:1-6

 

Listen to me, O coastlands,
pay attention, you peoples from far away!
The Lord called me before I was born,
while I was in my mother’s womb he named me.
He made my mouth like a sharp sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me away.
And he said to me, ‘You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will be glorified.’
But I said, ‘I have labored in vain,
I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
yet surely my cause is with the Lord,
and my reward with my God.’

 

And now the Lord says,
who formed me in the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him,
and that Israel might be gathered to him,
for I am honoured in the sight of the Lord,
and my God has become my strength—
he says,
‘It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to restore the survivors of Israel;
I will give you as a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’

 


 

Prayer Thought

 

Lord, make us aware of the work that you have designed us to do. Allow us to discover the gift that was built into each one of us.

 


 

“I have never known more thanfifteen minutes of anxiety or fear. Whenever I feel fearful emotions overtaking me, Ijust close my eyes and thank God that He is still on the throne reigning over everything and I take comfort in His control over the affairs of my life.”

 

——-John Wesley

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Lenten Reflections 2018

Lent Day 33

March 23

Praise the Lord

Jeremiah 20:10-13

For I hear many whispering:
‘Terror is all around!
Denounce him! Let us denounce him!’
All my close friends
are watching for me to stumble.
‘Perhaps he can be enticed,
and we can prevail against him,
and take our revenge on him.’
But the Lord is with me like a dread warrior;
therefore my persecutors will stumble,
and they will not prevail.
They will be greatly shamed,
for they will not succeed.
Their eternal dishonour
will never be forgotten.
O Lord of hosts, you test the righteous,
you see the heart and the mind;
let me see your retribution upon them,
for to you I have committed my cause.

Sing to the Lord;
praise the Lord!
For he has delivered the life of the needy
from the hands of evildoers.


Leave a comment

Filed under Lenten Reflections 2018

Lent Day 31

March 21

Freedom in the Son

John 8:31-42

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’ They answered him, ‘We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, “You will be made free”?’

Jesus answered them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there for ever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word. I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.’

They answered him, ‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did, but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are indeed doing what your father does.’ They said to him, ‘We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me.


Prayer Thought

Lord, the freedom that you offer is a true. Give us the insight to seek your freedom.


Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be

Life-size statue of John Wesley on the campus ...

Life-size statue of John Wesley on the campus of Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

clergymen or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon Earth.”

— John Wesley

Leave a comment

Filed under Lent, Lenten Reflections 2018

The Power of Love

To love is to be transformed into what we love. To love God is therefore to be transformed into God.

In the twilight of life, God will not judge us on our earthly possessions and human success, but rather on how much we have loved.

—–John of the Cross

clip_image002

‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

——Jesus

One of the hottest topics of all time is love. Love is so special that people die for it, kill for it, steal for it and mourn for it. John of the Cross teaches that love is transforming and far and away the most important attribute in the twilight of life. Jesus and Paul command us to love with all our being. In doing so we discover what is good.

Love is almost always defined as physical attraction. We fall in love as a result of attraction, then we discover a greater love as we develop a relationship with our partner. This Greater Love can be compared to the love that Jesus, Paul and John of the cross are referencing. There’s no singular word to describe the love that is spoken about in Scripture.

The word that is used to refer to the type of love that Jesus and these great men are speaking of is agape. This love has no real translation in our English language. We can refer to it as love of God for man or man’s love for God. This love is one that transforms and comes to be the only love that really matters. Agape eludes definition and stretches our minds to imagine what God is really like.

Agape love transforms and brings about changes in us that we can scarcelyBlog-2-7-18 imagine. People from all walks of life have made horrid mistakes and come to understand the love of God, and their lives are radically changed. Dishonest people turn to honestly. People who live very negatively learn to see what is good and right with the world. Those who understand this type of love learn to see God and other people. That is transformation.

We all want to leave a legacy. A legacy is something of value that outlives us. If a person loves this way, they leave a legacy. Their legacy shows a glimpse of the Almighty to those they touch. That glimpse can touch the lives of people and change them in ways that are unimaginable. May we all strive to be people that show the love of God to all persons.

That is the power of love!


PRAYER

Awaken and enlighten us, my Lord, that we might know and love the Boston-Carmel_099bblessings which You ever propose to us, and that we might understand that You have moved to bestow favors on us and have remembered us.

O Lord, my God, who will seek You with simple and pure love and not find You are all he desires, for You show Yourself first and go out to meet those who desire You?

My spirit has become dry because it forgets to feed on You.

Amen

—–John of the Cross

Leave a comment

Filed under John of the Cross, Love, Love of God

Taking Action

The prophet tells us: “And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” In reply, he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none, and whoever has food must do likewise.” (Luke 3:10-11) The crowd was speaking to John the Baptist about how they would live the Missional life. They were confused and waiting for the Rabbis to tell them what to do. Perhaps the people-helping-people1Synagogue’s Missions Committee would set up a program so that they could “Plug-In”. Instead, John said: JUST DO IT!

What should we do? Do as the prophet said two thousand years ago. Share as you go, give your personal property away to those who are in need, live a life of simply caring about others. Caring becomes a way of life and the first thing you know it will be better to give than to receive.

OK, some action suggestions:

  • Give something of your own to a person in need.
  • Give food or help to a homeless person (it doesn’t matter WHY they are homeless).
  • Give a smile or a kind word to a stranger.
  • Pick up some trash in your neighborhood–just because.
  • Volunteer at a park, zoo or hospital.
  • Become a mentor for a child.

These are just a few ways that you can just do something Missional this week. The message -DON’T WAIT- just do it !


Prayer

Lord, compel me to take action where it is needed and give me the ability to show your grace to the people I encounter.

Amen

Leave a comment

Filed under Grace, Prayer

Labor and Humility

Abba Carion said, ‘I have labored much harder than my son Zacharias and yet I have not attained to his measure of humility and silence.’

 —-Sayings of the Desert

Very few of us would think of humility as a laborious task, yet the Abba speaks this word about himself. There are two distinct lines of thought in this very brief saying. First, humility is not only a sought-after state for the contemplative but Related imageis a lifelong labor. The second is the apparent unfairness of some people being rewarded even if they labor less than we do.

Humility is a hard task, and we must wake every day to the familiar words of the Jesus Prayer, “… have mercy on me, a SINNER.” Until we see ourselves as worthy of nothing but graciously gifted with His saving grace, we will never attain any sort of true humility.

Feeling cheated or let down by God is an age-old problem. So many times in our lives we have felt as though we have done all we can do, and we are still lacking. Exasperatingly, we are confronted with others who did less and received abundant blessings. The lesson here is that we do what we do out of love and worship of God, and not for reward from Him.


Prayer

Lord, give me that grace to be able to labor for you without question. Drive away the tendency to think that I work harder than other and am somehow cheated. Let me take each task as a blessing that only I can achieve.

Amen


Leave a comment

Filed under Desert Fathers, Prayer