Bread?

I have been watching a Lenten series produced by the brothers of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist. I was struck by something said and it clarified my feeling about some things in the church.

The quote is: We reduce the symbols (used by the church) so much that they lose life.

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The reason that this resonated with me is that some churches (including mine) give communion in the form of ?bread? and wine. The wine is real but the bread is in the form of dry, tasteless wafers. The bread has been reduced until it has lost its life. I was so glad to find the right comment to make when discussing this. We can, and should, use real bread! Some could be made gluten free for those with Celiac disease.

The ten commandments

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who maintains covenant loyalty with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,

Deuteronomy 7:9 NRSV

God is asking us to do two things. One is to keep a covenant. A covenant is something that both parties have agreed to. We are called to keep our part of the deal. God will be our God and we will remain loyal to him.

We are also called to keep the commandments. You would think this is not hard so they are basically a way to live without hurting each other. Not so, just read them from The Message in more modern language. I wonder how many we mess up on each week.

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No other gods, only me.

4-6 No carved gods of any size, shape, or form of anything whatever, whether of things that fly or walk or swim. Don’t bow down to them and don’t serve them because I am God, your God, and I’m a most jealous God, punishing the children for any sins their parents pass on to them to the third, and yes, even to the fourth generation of those who hate me. But I’m unswervingly loyal to the thousands who love me and keep my commandments.

No using the name of God, your God, in curses or silly banter; God won’t put up with the irreverent use of his name.

8-11 Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don’t do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day.

12 Honor your father and mother so that you’ll live a long time in the land that God, your God, is giving you.

13 No murder.

14 No adultery.

15 No stealing.

16 No lies about your neighbor.

17 No lusting after your neighbor’s house—or wife or servant or maid or ox or donkey. Don’t set your heart on anything that is your neighbor’s.

Do we know God?

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9 NRSV

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How often we create God to be what we want. Each of us has an image of God and I wouldn’t be surprised it they were all different. If we were raised as Christians our earliest images were probably Jesus with the children or some other pleasant and kind fatherly image. As we grow that image can change along with us. The more we learn the more we alter that image. We have to be careful to read the Bible and pay attention to the words of Jesus. His statements about and the parables give us an image to think about.

A Holy Lent

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Today is Ash Wednesday. I was crushed because things conspired against me getting to the service. I love Lent. Some people find it depressing but I see it as a time to reflect, to read something uplifting and search ourselves. It is a time to think.

Whether you choose to give up something for Lent or take something on or both Lent can bring us closer to God. Have a Holy Lent.

[ The Call of Matthew ] As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.

Love everyone!

He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

Matthew 22:37-39 NRSV

love everyone
from the Gut and Grace project

The verse says that this is the first and greatest commandment. It is also the most difficult to follow. By neighbor it means everyone. Not just the people we like but everyone! Not easy to do. There are so many people that for one reason or another I would rather not love but God calls me to do so.

I hope that God teaches me every day how to love those that are hard for me.

Seek the Lord

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart,

Jeremiah 29:11-13 NRSV

The Lord is waiting for us. He wants the best for us. All we have to do is seek Him.

Speak words of encouragement

 Every blade of grass has its Angel that bends over it and whispers, “Grow, grow.” The Talmud

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Each of us need someone to watch over us. Each of us needs someone who cares enough to be there for us and help us to grow. It is said that plants that are spoken to and urged to grow do better than those that are not. God is always watching but he needs our voices to urge the growth. Speak kindness, urge healing, growth and encouragement.

 

Don’t hold on to affronts

One who forgives an affront fosters friendship, but one who dwells on disputes will alienate a friend.

Proverbs 17:9 NRSV

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When we are hurt it can be so difficult to forgive. We often nurse the hurt so that we can carry it with us. That only hurts us as well as the other person. We can’t continue to dwell on hurts but have to let them go. Doing so opens the chance for understanding and friendship.

Grace

Ephesians 2:8-9 [Full Chapter]

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.
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In my youth I believed that good works would get me into heaven. The thing is, that made getting into heaven up to me. If I was good enough, if I worked hard enough, if I kept on the straight and narrow I could earn my way.
My belief has changed. It is important for me to be a good person and strive to be what God wants me. However, God’s grace has been given to me as a free gift. That is so hard to grasp. Does it free me from responsibility for my behavior? No but I am not perfect and never will be. It is only God’s grace that can save me and it has been freely given.
Thanks be to God!

Down the rabbit hole

down the rabbit hole.

In order to get the most from our faith we have to dive in. Like Alice we need to jump down the rabbit hole. Immersed in scripture and fellowship with other Christians we can plumb the depths of God’s plan for us.

Down the rabbit hole can be a scary place and jumping down can feel like letting go of everything that feels safe but it is the way to draw closer to God. Take that leap.