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Kindom Unity

Rev. Katherine Todd
Acts 4:32-35
Psalm 133:1-3

 

Acts 4:32-35

Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

 

Psalm 133:1-3

How very good and pleasant it is
when kindred live together in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down upon the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down over the collar of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion.
For there the LORD ordained his blessing,
life for evermore.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Now this passage from Psalm 133, feels dreamy.  It feels like a hot shower, like a warm towel, like soft sheets.  This passage feels like a spread of delicious food, like time in the presence of friends – laughing, like the road rising to meet us…

This passage from Psalm 133 – about how very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity – feels dreamy, feels exquisite, feels like a deep breath – because it is so entirely rare.  There are few in life with whom we feel this level of peace, are there not?

 

And do not get too hung up on the literary meaning of the word kindred – for our God has shattered our worldly delineations of family, opening the doors wide in Christ Jesus that all might come in and sit at the table of the family of God…

So, we do well if we recall the Native American concept of “all my relations” referring to the connections we have with all creatures and all creation.  For we are all connected.  We all affect one another.  We directly and indirectly impact the lives and well-being of one another.

 

And this kind of unity implies a harmony between creatures and all creation. 

 

What would it take for us to live in unity like that?
What would it take for us to be of one mind, and in full accord?
What would it be like to be of one heart and soul, as the writer of Acts describes the first believers in Jerusalem?
Of one heart and soul…

 

This implies an investing in the well-being of others.
This implies a binding of our lot to the lots of others.
This implies a laying down of race, of creed, of background, of education, of wealth, of political belief, of one’s own way…of control.

We lay down our very selves – our preferences & desires, dreams and hopes, fears and wants – trusting God with the whole, trusting God with the tiny, trusting God with all of us…

Can you imagine?!??

 

Each and every decision would be weighed by its impact to the whole.  Sacrifices would be made.  Love would be baked and cooked, prepared and eaten.  Love would be given and shared, broken and passed around.

Love would reign.
God would reign.
…God’s Kindom among us! 

 

But this is far from our daily experiences, is it not?
Not only is it far from our experiences in our neighborhoods, our communities, our city,
But it is far from our experience in church.
Is it not?

 

For all the love professed and often shared,
We also bicker and fight.
We keep score.
We take sides.
We remember perceived wrongs – telling and retelling and retelling them.
We grumble and complain.
We point the finger.
We blame.
…You know what I’m talking about.

 

THIS Is far from the UNITY Christ prayed for us at his end that we might have – by which others would know God’s love…
THIS is far from the UNITY the believers of Acts shared – pooling their resources for the well-being of all…
THIS is far from the UNITY the Psalmist writes of
…the kind that feels like warm fresh sheets, a delicate soft breeze, a meal shared among friends. 

And while some here are friends, others have remained perpetual outsiders, often uninvited to join in.  There are those who decisions are always questioned, their choices often doubted.  There are those whose ideas are not welcome but are kept at distance.  The inner circle may not be visible to those inside it.  But it is very visible to those outside it.

 

What would it take for church to feel good – like a delicious spread of food, or deep sweet rest, like a sigh of relief?
What would it take for church to be that experience of unity that gives us hope for the rest of the world, and our daily lives?
What would it take for us to be unified? 

How might Love require us to open ourselves, to make room for someone different?
How might Love require us to set aside our preference to prioritize another’s sensibilities?
How might Love compel us to bind ourselves to the well-being of one another?

 

What if our meetings were more characterized by excitement and joy than drudgery and keeping score?
What if Session operated less by Robert’s Rules and more by consensus, a coming together, a unity of heart and soul?
What if we stopped using guilt to try to persuade others to be more like ourselves?

What if church was truly a place we could try our best, mess up, and give it another go – in the grace and mercy of fellow believers – who too “go by the grace of God.”

What if church was truly the place where our society’s ranking system was laid down, surrendered, and “the least of these” are valued for their thoughts, their perspective, their insights and life experiences?

What if we can’t wait for church – because nothing compares to the welcome, the acceptance, the support, the encouragement, the forgiveness, the UNITY we know there?

What if? 

 

 

May Jesus’ prayer for us to be one – as he and God are one – be more than just words
…a nice thought
…a sweet dream.

May Jesus’ prayer be made real in us.
May WE become one – as one heart and soul –
…like fragrant anointing oil running down the head and into the beard,
…like the smell baked goods coming from the kitchen,
…a meal savored among friends,
…the comfort of your four-legged companion curled up beside you,
…like hot shower on a winter’s day.

How very GOOD and PLEASANT it is when kindred live together in unity. 

 

May WE know that UNITY
here
and
now:
God’s Kindom
among us. 

Halleluia!

 

 

 

“To Empty Myself”

Rev. Katherine Todd
Luke 15:11-32
1 Corinthians 9:6-2

 

Luke 15:11-32

Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

“Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”

 

1 Corinthians 9:16-23

If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.

For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Have you heard scholars talk about the Prodigal son story before?

It has been pointed out that in the culture of this parable, elders do not run.  They walk.  They saunter.  They sit.  They wait.  Others come to them. 

Much as a Queen sits on her throne, awaiting the approach of callers and counsel, so too did the Elders of ancient societies such as this.  Therefore, the image of the father running would inherently stand out.  It would strike its listeners as odd:  what Elder would run?  …much less to meet an errant child!

It is the Elder’s right to remain seated.  It is the Parent’s prerogative to hold out on the son.  But this Father runs to his wayward son. 

He shows his hand.
He humbles himself.
He releases his power. 

 

And then looking at Philippians, we hear an echo:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
    he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.

 

Christ humbled himself.
Christ left the bliss of unity with God in heaven.

He, a Prince, left his throne and emptied himself, coming – in the stature of a slave,
teaching and healing – with the humility of a servant, and dying – in the stature of a criminal.

In both the Father of Jesus’ parable and in Paul’s witness to Christ, we witness a laying aside of power and control. 

 

And there’s more!

In the scripture we read in 1 Corinthians, Paul expressed that he does not make use of his full rights in the Gospel – in order to make the gospel free and accessible to all.

Unlike the oxen Moses commanded to keep unmuzzled, that he may freely eat as he labors, unlike the priests who eat from the sacrifices brought, unlike the other apostles who have taken wives, unlike the farmer who plows the field and eats of its yield, Paul chooses to take nothing from the “fields of his labor.”  Paul chooses to work a second job for his living.

Paul lays down his rights to income from his labors of ministry – that by doing so, more may come to know Christ.
He does this joyfully.
He does this willingly.

Paullike the Father of Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son and like Christ leaving heaven for humanity on earthlays down his rights.
He humbles himself.  He pours himself out.  …and all for the sake of the Gospel.

 

And I suspect Paul tells the Corinthians this BECAUSE they are torn in dissension.  They are dividing into camps.  Each to his own – some are doing as they think best but without regard for one another.

Paul is addressing a people like those of our nation.
Paul is addressing a church like our own.
…for as much as we love one another, we also bicker.  We argue.  We rehearse our litanies of wrongdoing.

And to this people, Paul sets himself as an example to them:  he has a right to take much, but he refrains, for their sake.  He has power to wield, but he lays it down, for their sake.

 

And like the Father of the “prodigal son,” Paul can sit down and wait for the wayward, repentant ones to come to him.  But like the Father, Paul runs.  He traverses land and sea, oft in peril, to bring this good news to any and all who will receive him.

Like Christ, Paul does not consider his position or rights something to be exploited or cashed in on.  Rather like Christ, Paul humbles himself, taking the form of a slave – working for nothing – that there may be no barriers between the gospel and the people. 

 

And so what of us?

 

Will we humble ourselves as such,
Becoming all things to all people,
Going the extra mile,
Laying down power and authority, possession and privilege,
Running to greet those who, like ourselves, cannot ever deserve the unstopping, never-giving-up, love of Christ?

Will we? 

We are a litigious society, knowing our rights and fighting for our liberty.
But will we lay those rights down, if it means one more soul might know Christ’s love?

 

Jesus teaches us,

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?

 

Those who save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for Christ’s sake, will find it. 

 

Will we
Lay down
Power and possession,
Privilege and authority,
Might and right?

Will we do so for the sake of unity?
Will we do so for the sake of sharing and generosity?
We will do so – relinquishing the reigns and making room at the table?
Will we do so – relinquishing power over the narrative?
Will we do so – relinquishing our will and our ways?

 

Will we release control over our lives-
Sliding over to let Christ into the driver’s seat-
That our lives
And our will
Might serve the least of these?

Will we release control over our passions
That our minds
And our hearts
Might drop what we are doing
And run to meet
Those

For whom
Christ died? 

“Teach Us to Love”

Rev. Katherine Todd
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
1 Corinthians 8:1-13

 

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant  or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned lie a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

 

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him.

Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “no idol in the world really exists,” and that “there is no God but one.” Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth — as in fact there are many gods and many lords — yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. “Food will not bring us close to God.” We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols? So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed. But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

I am so deeply appreciative to the apostle Paul for writing of such daily matters as eating food sacrificed to idols.

Now, I realize these aren’t occurrences in our day to day, but to me that matter’s little, for every time and place is contextual.  What matters more than a command or directive about doing or not doing something – is understanding the intention behind the command.

It matters more that we hold to the spirit of the law, than to individual, contextually-bounds rules and regulations found in the law.  Jesus often criticized the religious of his day for precisely this – getting all the rules & regulations but missing the entire point of it all.  The law is made for us and not us for the law.  The law is made to protect and preserve life, and not to squelch or stifle it.

 

The ancient city of Corinth had chosen Aphrodite and Poseidon as their gods.  It was likely baked into the DNA of city life, much as Christianity historically has been in America.  Thus you can imagine much social life centering around idol worship and rituals.  Animals would be slaughtered in dedication to the deity, much as animals were sacrificed to God in Jewish culture.  And like in Jewish culture the priests and people ate of the meat offered to God, so here in Corinth, the dedication would result in a feast and food for the community.

The question then becomes, can followers of Christ partake in the meal?

Those with deeper theological understanding saw no sin in the eating of food offered to idols, simply because they believed idols to be mere fancies of the imagination, mere works of fiction.  On the contrary, those without such theological understanding saw partaking in such food and festivities to be wrong and would abstain.

 

Paul sees no problem in the response of either group – feasting or fasting, partaking or abstaining.  What Paul however is very concerned about is that folks act within the bounds of their own conscience.  One’s own conscious will vary from one’s neighbors, and that is okay.  However, what isn’t okay is violating our conscious.  That is sin.

That implies a willingness to disobey what we perceive God to instruct us to do or not do.
That is rebellion.
That is the root of the fall – to do what one believes God has instructed that one NOT to do…

And Paul wishes that none should be lost – spiraling down pathways of self-destruction, believing themselves to have broken God’s law and thus perceiving more and more distance between themselves and our most Holy God.

It is not belief but action that establishes our character.
For it is not belief but action that sets our course.

Usually, in fact, our minds and beliefs follow our actions or inactions…

 

And so Paul is pleading with those of greater understanding, that they set aside their freedoms for the sake of the weak.

This is most curious, for I would have rather preferred instruction to educate and strengthen the weak…  But perhaps Paul wisely knew that the weak shall always be with us (and sometimes will be us).  And it is the way of Christ, to lay down oneself for one’s friends.

It is the way of Christ to lay down oneself for one’s friends. 

 

As our churches, our communities, our nation, and our world have become – or perhaps have always been – deeply fractured – we too are given ample opportunity to lay down ourselves, our preferences, our freedoms, our rights, that others might live.

How might God be calling you to do so?

 

For what these readings from 1 Corinthians teach us is that knowledge matters little in the scheme of things.  What truly matters is love – how we behave with one another.

“Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly,[b] but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

Knowledge, prophesy, and speaking in tongues all come to an end.  All serve a purpose for such a time as this.  They guide us for a little while – until we gain greater knowledge, hear a fresh Word of God, or are lifted by the Spirit into the prayers of tomorrow.  All these, while good, have their end; they are like instructions left by a teacher, only useful while away from the teacher, but irrelevant once the teacher returns.

Christ is our Teacher, and when we finally come face to face, we may finally be at a loss for words – everything needful already being said.

 

Knowledge is passing.  We build on it, from age to age.
Prophecies come and go, each for their own time.

What lasts – truly lasts – is love.

Love

And love is not an ascent.
Love is not a belief or doctrine.
Love cannot be mandated by rule.
Love does not live with coercion.
Love does not live on the page of a letter
Or the lyrics of sweet songs.

LOVE is an action. 

 

If the greatest of all these attributes is love,

What might WE need to lay down, for Love’s sake?

Is there something Love compels us to abstain from doing?

Is there something Love is compelling us TO do?

 

In the words of St. Teresa of Avila,

“The important thing is
not to think much
but to love much;
and so
do that which best stirs you
to love.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

“UNITY with Those People”

Rev. Katherine Todd
Psalm 62:5-12
Jonah 3:1-5, 10

 

Psalm 62:5-12

For God alone my soul waits in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my deliverance and my honor;
my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.

Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us

Those of low estate are but a breath,
those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
they are together lighter than a breath.
Put no confidence in extortion,
and set no vain hopes on robbery;
if riches increase, do not set your heart on them.

Once God has spoken;
twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord.
For you repay to all
according to their work.

 

Jonah 3:1-5, 10

The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.

When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

As our nation has been reeling in the events of this presidential transition of power, our scripture from Jonah speaks more poignantly than ever.

 

Who are THOSE PEOPLE to you?

Who are the ones you prefer avoid, as Jonah preferred avoid Ninevah?

Who are those you struggle to understand?

…to respect?

 

Native American wisdom teaches us that all creation is family.  We are all related.  We are one family.
Jesus Christ earnestly prayed, just before his death, that we might be one as Christ is one with the Father.  THIS is how folks will know we are Christ’s disciples:

UNITY
Unity. 

 

Are we, as a nation, unified?

Do we claim and love one another,

As Christ has claimed and loved us…while instructing us to sin no more?

We seem sooner bent on surgically removing one another from among the living; removing folks from power; removing folks the body of Christ; removing others from this our own family of relations, kin as we are alike made by the hands of God…

Do we not? 

 

And when I say “we” I do not refer to you, individually.  I refer to us all, collectively.
For as individual as we want to believe we are, we are truly ALL CONNECTED, as so we are made to be.  “No man is an island” as John Donne famously wrote.  In fact, if we were each to be islands of autonomy, there’d be no story of Adam needing Eve, Moses wouldn’t have needed the help of Aaron, and you could chuck most of the New Testament Epistles – which spend a great deal of time addressing our interpersonal relationships.

It is this well-meaning but misguided individualism that has kept us so far from truth, time after time.

 

In self-defense, time after time, we claim not be to racists.
In self-defense, time after time, we claim not to be coercive or partial.
And yet, this defensive posture has blinded us all.  Has it not?
For in our eagerness to justify and excuse ourselves, we fail to see the larger arc of history, of the systems set up to protect some and not others, of the economic incentives and opportunities we have benefited from while others have been denied, simply because of the color of their skin…

And this is our house.  It matters not who nailed the board or shuttered the windows.  We live in this house, our nation.  It’s history is our reality.  We are responsible.

If we view confession as merely an individual, spiritual sport, we miss far too much.  We miss the big picture.  We miss the opportunity to pray with and for one another and the whole.  The WHOLE.  We confess together because we affect one another.  We confess together because we need one another.  We confess together because we have sinned together.  And our sins can be anything from action to inaction, from speaking to remaining silent.  We affect one another.  We struggle with these things collectively.  And so we confess together.

 

And this business of unity is not the responsibility of THOSE PEOPLE.
It is not merely the responsibility of our elected leaders.
It is not torn down only by those on the edges, in the extremes.
WE are responsible for unity.
ALL of us.

For as I have learned from our native brother, Edgar Villanueva, a healing circle is not complete until everyone is present. 

 

Have you heard that in some native tribes, when a member does something bad, they are brought into the circle, and for two days strait, everyone in the village  aloud every speaks good things about that person.  Two whole days.  Wow.

They were reminding that one who they are,
…beyond
what they’d done.

Edgar writes of a native mentor who told him the story of packing up to leave a community center for the night, when the elder at a table of youth said, “The problem was not the white man coming to America.”

The mentor was struck by this and quickly set down her things.  She had to.  This elder had been alive through so much atrocity.  How could HE say the problem wasn’t the white man coming to America?  Then the elder went on to say, “the problem was, they forgot their lessons.”

They forgot their lessons.

Not demonizing those who had demonized him.
Not returning terror for terror.
Not returning pain for violence.

This elder remembered that we are all one family,
We are all related. 

And he called attention to action, rather than person.
It wasn’t that the white men shouldn’t have come or shouldn’t exist.
It was WHAT THEY DID that mattered.
And what they did betrayed that they did not remember that we are all one family,
All kin,
All made by the hands of one God.

 

We can learn from these, our black and brown brothers and sisters.  They have endured things that so many of us of lighter skin have been sheltered from.

This elder was living the unity Christ prayed for his disciples.  

 Will we? 

 

Will we turn toward THOSE PEOPLE – as Jonah turned toward the people of Ninevah – speaking truth in love?
Will we go where we do not wish to go – as Christ went faithfully to the cross, after asking God that that cup might pass from him?

I am not proposing that we go and intentionally make martyrs of ourselves.
Rather, I am proposing, that we listen for God, as Samuel listened when God spoke to him in the early morning of his temple rest.

And when we hear God’s still small voice, instructing us where to go,
May we respond, not as Jonah did the first time – fleeing as fast as loose as we can in the other direction till he found himself in the belly of a whale with no other options but…well, God –
But rather as Jonah did the second time – obeying the Word of the Lord,
And watching as God redeems even those we have formerly despised. 

 

No one is too far from God’s reach.
And so it is that no one should be too far from ours.
For we are Christ’s body on earth,
Christ’s hands for serving,
Christ’s heart for loving,
Christ’s mind for teaching,
Christ’s arms for embracing.

 

 

 

PRAYERS

 

Leslie Weatherhead, England (1883-1975)

O suffering Christ, lay your hand in healing power upon those who feel they can bear no more, until their hearts are hushed and quieted, knowing that round about them and underneath them are the Everlasting Arms.

Amen.

 

Miriam Therese Winter

Life, spilling over the hills of our grief and filling the wells in our souls and our senses, come, lift us up into lighthearted laughter, so all the weight of our awareness does not overwhelm us.  Life of Our World, be life – in and through us, now and forever.

Amen

 

Kathleen Fischer

May you face life without illusion, but with gratitude.
Though you have known tragedy, may you nonetheless cherish laughter.
May you have an ever clearer sense of what is important and what is not.
May your encounters with evil heighten your appreciation of what is good.
May you learn to meet death in a way that leads you to celebrate life.