God, give us work til our live shall end and life til our work is done.
The New Zealand Prayer Book
This is something I think about a lot. I do feel that we are here for a reason and each of us want to finish our task. Sometimes it is not possible but our lives still have meaning. We leave things behind us like ripples in a pond. God has given us life. Now it is up to us to use it well.
There were no “functional” families in the Bible. After all what do we mean by “functional.” Do we mean that they don’t make mistakes? I doubt it.
The Bible uses flawed characters to let us know that no one is perfect. Yet somehow, God used them to do his will. Some of them went dragging their feet but they went. We are all flawed but God can use us. If you let him!
Psalm 19:7-9 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure,
making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear,
enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is pure,
the ordinances of the Lord are true
and righteous altogether.
This is a remarkable passage. It tells us what we will be like if we please God. If we follow God’s law our soul will be revived. We will be filled with joy when we please God. Following his commandments lights us up. Fearing God is being like glass…transparent with nothing to make us cloudy.
We can be beautiful inside and out. We only have to please God. It is possible….just look carefully at the life of Jesus Christ and try to follow Him each day.
Following the rules can be good but sometimes the rules can be stifling. We have to learn when the rules keep us in a safe place and when they need to be discarded. In our religion rules can be either. Discernment is needed to see when they are helping us to follow Christ’s way or when they are holding us back. Throwing out the rules in favor of heeding Christ’s word can be scary. Sometimes doing so can be disruptive and does not show respect for those around you. When, where and how must be chosen carefully. Much prayer and listening is needed but there are times when stepping out in faith is important.
We can end up in a box created by rules. The rules are supposed to allow us to move closer to God. Some of the rules seen in ritual can help us to “center down” and experience God. Bowing at a certain time, in some faiths taking your shoes off in a holy space, genuflecting, saying the proper responses can make you part of the experience.
However, some rules that are more related to following Christ’s actions may not be for you. These are not true of all Christian denominations but each denomination has their own set. Rules that keep us from reaching out in compassion to all others by condemning them do not seem to be Christ’s idea. He treated all people with love.
Some ideas block us in and make us feel unworthy: You are not knowledgeable enough. You are not educated enough. You are not holy enough. Most of all you must believe what those around you believe. You must see the same God that they do even though in truth none of us see the same God in our minds. These things keep us in the box.
These things can be meaningful if we do them because they move us in an emotional way closer to God. They can make us comfortable. But if we are doing them just to follow the rules then they put us in a box. In the box we must follow the rules in order to be accepted by God but the truth is that we are already accepted by God’s grace. There is nothing we can do to make us perfect enough to reach the level of God. No matter how hard we try.
I don’t remember anywhere in the Bible that Christ told anyone they could not heal or bless. He encouraged his disciples to baptize in the name of the father. He never said anything about forming a church or setting people apart from others. He encouraged us to go and make disciples of ALL. He said we could do all these things on our own. He never said you needed anyone’s permission except that you follow the 2 great commandments; love god, love one another. I will do my best to follow that.
Going to church no more makes you a Christian than standing in a garage makes you a car. Garrison Keillor
I love this quote. It reminds me that just attending church each Sunday doesn’t make me a Christian. Neither does attending Sunday School and church events. It is so easy to fall into complacency. I have to do more than that. Being a Christian is deeper, more taxing, more uncomfortable. Becoming a car might be easier.
Prayer: God of wisdom, I need to understand that I must “Go forth in the name of Christ” and do your work. Amen
Your talent is Gods gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God. Leo Buscaglia
Some people have obvious talents. They can sing or write books or act in plays. Most of us don’t even realize we have talents. The things we can do seem so ordinary. Who would care if I could teach a class …so many others can too…or compute someone’s taxes or paint their house for them? I’m just an average Joe. But God cares. No matter if you think you can’t do anything for his glory he knows that you can. Every skill can be used for the glory of God.
Prayer: Lord, help is to see and use the things we can do for the glory of God. AMEN
We come up with wonderful plans for Lent. We decide to pray more, do more, give more. And then we slip. One day goes by without us doing what we planned. Don’t worry about it. Pick up the next day and just keep on. We are imperfect. God is aware of our failings. He forgives us. Get up and keep going.
A Psalm of David.
1 Fret not yourself because of the wicked,
be not envious of wrongdoers!
2 For they will soon fade like the grass,
and wither like the green herb.
3 Trust in the Lord, and do good;
so you will dwell in the land, and enjoy security.
4 Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will bring forth your vindication as the light,
and your right as the noonday.
7 Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over him who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
We read part of this Psalm in church this morning. I was struck by verses 1 and 7. Too often we are envious of those who seem so much better off than us. It is so easy to wish that we could be rich or famous. Maybe someone else’s life seems easier. God reminds us to not sink to envy. It just makes us unhappy. We must no “fret” about those who seem to do well. For one thing we are not traveling in their shoes. Their life may not be as perfect as it seems. Peace and happiness have nothing to do with what we have. It is more about how we live.
Chronic illness, whether mental or physical, is so draining. It can be a struggle to get through each day. It takes the knowledge that God’s love is with us no matter what. Even if life is difficult it is still important and you have something to share with the world. When I visited sick and shut-ins as a parish nurse they always felt they could do nothing to help anyone. I reminded them that prayers are needed and possible even though ill. There is always something we can do to help heal the world.