Monday Meditation – Love Your Enemy

Love Enemy

“But I say to you who are willing to hear: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you.  Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you.  If someone slaps you on the cheek, offer the other one as well. If someone takes your coat, don’t withhold your shirt either.  Give to everyone who asks and don’t demand your things back from those who take them.  Treat people in the same way that you want them to treat you. Luke 6:27-31 (CEB)

How can I love my enemy? They have done me wrong and they have hurt me.  How can I muster up love for them?

Luckily, God shows us the way.

To love one’s enemy is not an emotion – at first.  However, for those of us “who are willing to hear,” the latest readers of Luke’s gospels, in order to love our enemies we must “do good” (verse 27).  To love your enemy is primarily a verb, an action, a thing to do, whether or not you feel like it.

Second, to love one’s enemy is to speak to them.  “Bless those who curse you.  Pray for those who mistreat you.”  Blessing and praying are active verbs. When they are spoken, they are potent and effective.  God created the world out of words, speaking it into existence.  As God’s creation and the vessel of God’s own breath, how much are we allowed to speak words of righteousness and grace powerfully to those who come against us?

Third Luke tells us to again “do” love. “If someone slaps you on the cheek, offer the other one as well. If someone takes your coat, don’t withhold your shirt either.  Give to everyone who asks and don’t demand your things back from those who take them.”

And somehow in all the doing, comes the feeling.  The feeling of treating others as you would want to be treated.  Out of love and grace, justice and righteousness.

To love our enemies is first and foremost an action.

Almighty God you command us to love our enemy.  Thankfully, you show us how to do that.  Help our actions precede our feelings and in the end perhaps bring about that love in thought and emotion, as well as deed.  Amen.

Monday Meditation – Doing Good

Do good blog

Why are we good?  Is it because we act “good?”  Is it because we are good?  Is it because we calculate that if we are good, others will be good towards us too?  Do we reason ourselves to good behavior?  Are we inherently good?

As it is written in Luke, Chapter 6:36-38, reason nor character is why we must behave well.  It is our relationship with God that should determine what we do specifically, be compassionate, do not judge, do not condemn, forgive and give.

A more exacting translation of the passage would read as follows,

“Become compassionate (to others) as your father is compassionate (to you).  Do not judge (others) and you will not be judged (by God).  Do not condemn (others) and you will not be condemned (by God).  Forgive (others) and you will be forgiven (by God).  Give (to others) and it will be given to you (by God).  (Luke Johnson, Gospel of Luke, pg. 113.)

Our behavior toward one another is dictated not by what we want or feel but by what God will do for us for our good behavior toward each other.  “A truly radical notion, that God adapts for the judgment of humans the standard they use is their relation with each other.” (Luke Johnson, Gospel of Luke, pgs. 113-114)

Dear God, help us to remember to be good to one another even though we often try to calculate our goodness.  Remind us to do good because you ask us to do good.

Yet you do more than we could ever do for each other.  Your grace knows no bounds.  Amen.

Monday Meditation – Happy New Year!

Happy New Year blog

After a tumultuous and sometimes painful year, we have survived to live another day!

Thank you, God!

In a time when it seems our thoughts and prayers were sorely tested by the evil of the day, we clung to the hope implied within them.

Thank you, Jesus!

While we have lost some loved ones this past year, new ones have come into our lives.  We celebrate the beginning of new relationships and endeavors for the coming year.

Thank you, Holy Spirit!

As the year ends, we remember the good and bad times that came and went.  We saw great devastation but we also saw and knew great love triumphing over hate in every occurrence of evil.

To this we cling to – love.  The love upon which our thoughts and prayers are grounded surely still matters and will always have victory over indifference and evil.  It provides the impetus to do more.  To feed the hungry.  To seek out the lonely.  To visit the imprisoned.  To quench the thirsty.

Let us begin this New Year acknowledging what has gone on before but looking forward to what will be waiting for us in the coming days.

Thank you God for another day!

Amen!

Monday Meditation – Taking It For Granted

Taking it for granted

Second Sunday in Advent

 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

 Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
 rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
 And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross! Philippians 2:6-8 NIV

What was the last thing you anticipated?

The birth of a child or grandchild?

Going to church?

Going back home during the holidays?

A vacation?

Nowadays anticipation is not a feeling we normally experience in our day-to-day living.  Perhaps you anticipate going to church every Sunday. Too often, though, many think of church not as something new and exciting but mundane and obligatory.  We no longer anticipate the weekends because we have to accomplish all the things we put off during the week.

Christmas can become boring or obligatory too.  Buying gifts and celebrations, may all seem the thing to do, a necessity of living in a nation that celebrates the holidays.

Yet we cannot forget that the incarnation of our God in human form is a highly anticipatory event in history.  We must not take it for granted despite its annual commemoration and all the perfunctory circumstances that seem to come with it.

Let’s refresh our minds and understand anew the grandness of the event.  The awesomeness of our God being born into our world to live among us and love in a way that is almost incomprehensible.  When we give ourselves over to this awesome love, it invades our very being with a light so bright and warm it can chill the coldest heart or soul.

How awesome is our God?!

Dear God, help us to feel again the anticipation of your coming to Creation.  Let us bask in your light of love and goodness.  You are our Savior!  Amen.

Monday Meditation – Anticipation

Anticipation Advent

First Sunday in Advent

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:15-17 NIV

Advent is a time of anticipation.  It begins the countdown to Christmas.

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of our Savior, an incarnation of God in our midst.  Nowadays this may seem typical given the success of Marvel Comics and their incarnated God Thor.

But long ago, the idea of God talking on human form was profane and secular.  And it is.  God no longer resides in the heavens but here on earth.  First as Yahweh, then as Jesus and now as the Holy Spirit.  God is alive in Creation, in partnership with it, showing us the Way to true life and living with one another.

How awesome is our God?!

Dear God, we expect with great anticipation Your coming to us in the form of an infant child.  To be so vulnerable shows us how we are to be just as vulnerable as You were to us.  Give us faith to do so.  Amen.

Monday Meditation – A Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, let us remember how blessed we all are.  We all probably have more than we need.  We all probably have more than enough to eat, a roof and four walls to protect us, clothes on our back and people who love us.

This feeling of gratitude reminds me of a song heard in chapel this month.

Curled up in a cardboard box

Joe gives thanks for all he’s got

The label says Frigidaire,

but it’s been home for one full year.

There’s a work of art on the wall,

Joe’s first attempt to draw.

It looks like scribble at first glance,

but that’s just Joe bowing his head.

Heaven help me when I feel low,

to be just a little bit more like Joe.

When he’s not at his residence,

He’s a landmark down on Rivers Bend.

Where he mans the mission and he combs the street,

Shines a light for those in need.

It’s his way of giving back, keeping who he is intact.

For all he does he don’t get jack,

but he’s got a few Jacks back on track.

Heaven help me when I feel low,

To shine just a little bit more like Joe.

There are some who have nothing.  We pray for those who are without this Thanksgiving, find some peace, protection, satiation and love for the rest of this year.

Let us not only do our individual parts to help but also support those institutions that now exist to help those in need, like our churches and our government.  Matthew 25 speaks to us not only as individuals but also collectively as nations.

A Little More Like Joe, Lyrics & Music by Robby Hicks ©2009

Monday Meditation – A Prayer

Prayer

Lord we pray for this world, Your creation.  A place you lovingly brought to life out of nothing.

With Your hands, You created man and woman in your image.  With Your very breath, You gave us life.

We forget how much of You is in us.  Yet as Your children, we can’t help but be a likeness of You.

How deep that likeness is depends on the time we spend with You.  Reading the bible, Your inspired Word.  Taking time to be in Your presence whether through prayer, meditation or worship.

You are our God.  There is none higher than You.

You take care with us.  Even when we deserve Your righteous anger, it is slow to burn.

Even when we spew hate and hurt against one another for no other reason than our differences in looks, culture, religion or identity, You remind us lovingly that we are all Your people.

Help us to understand one another.  To see one another as Your child, Your Beloved.

With understanding can come love and perhaps that is why we abhor sitting with each other and listening to understand instead listening to argue.

Lord forgive us our sins.  Show us the way of Love.  Amen.

Monday Meditation – You Don’t Have That Kind of Time

Time

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.  Psalm 90:12 ESV

“When I was 38, my best friend Pammy died, and we went shopping about two weeks before she died, and she was in a wig and a wheelchair. I was buying a dress for this boyfriend I was trying to impress, and I bought a tighter, shorter dress than I was used to. And I said to her, ‘do you think this makes my hips look big?’ and she said to me, so calmly, ‘Anne, you don’t have that kind of time.”  Anne Lamott, from “Beyond Bunnies: The Real Meaning of Easter Season,” with Michele Norris, NPR’s All Things Considered, April 18, 2011

If the past weeks have shown us anything it is that we are vulnerable.  We may be at the top of the food chain but we are not beyond our human frailties.  Hurricanes can kill us.  We can kill one another.  We can be killed in our homes and at entertainment venues.  Time can be taken from us quickly and without warning.

Life is too precious to waste on wondering if our “hips look too big.”  Life is for hanging out with friends who are dying and enjoying each other’s company.  It is about helping one another get out from underneath the mud and muck of a category five hurricane.  It is about risking one’s own life to save one’s neighbor, even a stranger, as bullets rain down upon a crowd.

Life is about more than the superficial.  It is meant to be experienced and all its audacity wrung out.  We cannot take it for granted.  It is too tenuous nowadays to be wasted.

Dear God help us to understand Your plans for us in this life you have given us.  When many conspire against us, let us know that You are God and love shall conquer all.  Amen.

Monday Meditation – God Is Always Here

God Is Always Here

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 29:20b NIV

I don’t know what it is like to not know God.  I don’t know everything about God but I do know God is real.  And that makes all the difference in the world.

I may feel it.  I may live it.  But I am never alone.  God is always here.

I may be confused. I may be scared.  But I am never alone.  God is always here.

The world may seem like it is crumbling.  But we are never alone.  God is always here.

Violence may be all around me.  Strangers may trample over me.  But I am never alone.  God is always here.

We don’t always understand.  Our confusion is confounding.  But we are never alone.  God is always here.

It is in this togetherness with God that allows us to withstand the trials and tribulations we go through.  Not because we know the “why” but because we know the “Who.”

We are never alone.  God is always here.