Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Do Me A Favor

Lectionary Reading- Philippians 2:1-13

Have you ever gotten so into the song playing in your earphones that you lost ‘sight’ of those around you and started singing, oblivious to the fact that, though you aren’t paying any attention to them, they are beginning to pay attention to you and your singing? And, they don’t know how awesome you sound with the music! It happened to me. I was shocked back into reality when someone in the room got my attention, I took the earplug out of my ear, and, very politely the lady asked, if I was going to sing, could I tune into the same station playing on the boombox in the room.

Apostle Paul has a similar wakeup call to a group of his friends. He asks, if you can at all understand the beautiful love song the Savior has been singing to you, then, will you do me a favor, and tune into the same love song and sing it in unison? If God’s extravagant love is as real to us as we say it is, let’s get on the same page of the song.  Let’s love each other, and the world, like our lives depended upon it.

[Lectionary Year A- Proper 21- for September 25, 2011]

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


For a hungry, wandering group of God-loving people, God decided to literally rein down bread from heaven. (See the Old Testament book of Exodus for the full story.) They were told that they should gather enough for each day. Fast forward to the time of Jesus, when his simple prayer included the idea that we trust God for our ‘daily’ bread. God has proved himself in this area- so much so, that one of his names is Jehovah Jireh- literally- our provider. Fast forward once again to the economic crisis of not just our nation, but others in the news. With billions and trillions of dollars (or Euros, or whatever form of currency,) in debt, and it is mind-numbing! How did we get in this situation? While I’m no political or economic expert, it appears to me that we just have not been satisfied with the amount of stuff we have been given, considered it not enough, and made ourselves a slave to those willing to indulge our wants today, for our future security.

Our contentment or lack thereof with what we’ve been provided is a spiritual matter.  It’s a matter of trust in our provider. It’s a matter of denying our flesh and its demands for immediate satisfaction. We all have a human appetite for the things of this world. But we are also given the opportunity to choose to have faith that our provider will give us our daily needs, and we can be content in each moment. We have an awesome God, Father, Savior and Provider- we have enough.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Courage in Suffering- Shields are for Arrows!

Philippians 1:21-30  Lectionary reading

We pray for faith. We seek courage. So we shouldn’t be surprised when we get the ‘opportunity’ to use them! Faith is called a shield for a reason! God gives us plenty of reasons to trust him, to grow in our faith of how awesome is our shield and defender, our provider and king! So, when we’ve been given the chance to grow strong and courageous, why should we be surprised when the darts of the enemy begin to fly our way? Are we not warriors for a reason? Is the shield of faith God has given us just for looks? We are clothed for battle! Apostle Paul writes this letter to Christians who will face battle just as he is facing at the time, he’s chained and imprisoned for his faith life, and his joy could not be contained!

Don’t be surprised. Don’t be taken off guard. And don’t be afraid-your shield of faith, a gift from almighty God, is more than a handsome shiny toy- it’s as perfectly effective when lifted into place as is our Christ, whom we lift up.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

When God Says, 'Stop Helping Me!'

Romans 14:1-12  Lectionary Reading

This passage reminds me of the famous line by Jackie Chan as Passepartout in the 2004 classic Around the World in 80 Days:

[Passepartout is fighting while the caged Phileas coaches him]
Phileas Fogg: Watch out to the right!
[Passepartout misses]
Phileas Fogg: No, my right.
[Passepartout is hit]
Passepartout: Stop helping me!

It is a lot like our trying to help God make moves, judgments, especially considering the level of God-relatedness of others. How fitting, on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, is this reminder from Apostle Paul: sometimes God tells us- ‘Stop helping me!’

We are each accountable to God. We grow in our relationship to God as we give God permission to transform us. Others around us do play an important role, that is, in the areas in which we have ourselves made our choice to allow God to shape and form us.

When we begin to put ourselves in the role of God, making the decisions, judgments, and punishments which belong to him, we step out of the God-like grace, mercy, and love, and toward the dark and relationally destructive side- a path that led ultimately into the kind of dark and violent actions which we saw so horribly that day the towers fell.

God does not need our help acting on his behalf in judgment and punishment of others, but does call for our help in sharing the debt of love we owe to each other.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Love Can't Go Wrong

Romans 13:8-14  Lectionary reading

With all the current talk about how to cure our national obsession with Debt, it sounds odd to our ears to think that there is a ‘good’ debt! Apostle Paul talks about how we owe a debt of love to each other. When we remember the kind of love that the Father had for us, to send his son to die for us, we are filled to overflowing with a joy and love that we can live out in our dealings with others. And we are all living in times where people are so hungry for honest, pure, love, that we are filled with the urgency to live in love…and when we live in love, we can’t go wrong!