Let me sow love

Psalm 85:8 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
    for he will speak peace to his people,
    to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.[a]

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With war always looming on the horizon, I wish that the whole world would hear words of peace. We must make God very sad with all the hatred and violence that goes on in the world some of the worst of it in the name of God. Even his faithful people don’t hear his voice. None of us are exempt.

The Hebrew word shalom means fullness having everything you need to be happy and fulfilled. It’s easy to be peaceful when you have everything you need. That’s where the world’s problems are. Not everyone has what they need much less what they want.

Christ tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. If I want my neighbor to be happy and fulfilled as much as I want that for myself then things will be good.

Frederick Buechner says “for Jesus peace seems to have meant not the absence of struggle but the presence of love.”

Prayer: Lord God of peace, let us grow in love toward you and our neighbor until wars cease and shalom rains. Support us with your Holy Spirit and surround us with your love, now and forever. Amen

Do we really see them?

Psalm 41:1

Happy are those who consider the poor;[a]
    the Lord delivers them in the day of trouble.

We don’t want to see the poor and needy. It disturbs us. Probably because we feel guilty about not doing something. We see homeless people on the streets and they are dirty, wear layers of clothing (have everything they own on their backs) and often smell bad. They are not pleasant to be around. They often beg for money and we generally assume that they will use the money for liquor or drugs. Hoe much we assume! I wonder if we would fee the same way if we knew their story.

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Christ calls us to give out of our abundance. Maybe we think we don’t have much to give but by comparison we are very rich. The psalmist tells us that we will be happy if we help…that help will come to us in our time of need if we do. It reminds me of the saying “what goes around, comes around!” If we do nothing that could be a scary thought.

Prayer. God of the homeless and needy . Help us to not pass by when we encounter the poor. Le us see the incredible plenty that we have and inspire us to share. Remind us that we, also could be one of those in need but for your grace. AMEN

Put away anger and hatred

Ephesians 4:31-32 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

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This world needs this verse from Ephesians. Everyone seems so angry. So much division and hatred. It seems to me to every major religion in its pure form teaches peace, compassion and love. Put away your anger and bitterness and every day show your love for one another.

Prayer

Today as I watched the forecast for the hurricane I thought about how to pray about it. Normally I would just pray that the storm would not hit us but then I thought how selfish that prayer is. As I wishing that I would hit someone else? It does look as if it will land somewhere on the southern coast so I need to direct my prayers in a different way.

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Lord, guard and keep all those who are in the path of Hurricane Dorian. Give them strength and courage during the storm. Help them as they recover from any damage and give them the strength to help others as well. Hold in your loving arms those in the tropics who have been hit so hard in the recent past and help us to aid them where we can. We pray in your Holy Name. AMEN

We earn it

Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.
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Our behavior sets the tone for how we will be treated. These things in the quote are earned. Christ had respect for everyone he saw. No one was beneath him. Even the homeless on the streets deserve respect.

Cruelty from weakness?

All cruelty springs from weakness.        Seneca

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This quote really make me think. Are those who are cruel using their dominance to assure themselves of their strength? They are looking for strength in themselves. The place we need to look for strength is our God. God is always there ready to hold us up. We are not weak when God is with us. My aunt always said “God hates ugly.” By that she meant those who are unkind or cruel. We don’t need to be cruel to find strength.

Regret

The other day I saw a man on the side of the road. He was bent over and was holding a small sign. The traffic was moving and I didn’t have time to read the sign or to give him the package I keep in my car to give to those in need. I have regretted this since that day. I should have stopped and held up traffic and handed him that pack.

We have a responsibility to each other. We are a community. The things that I do affect others. I am responsible for helping others. God has reminded us of this so many time that we ought to get it by now.

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What would they learn?

When visitors come to a worship service in my own religious tradition, a great deal depends on how warmly they are welcomed and whether they feel included or excluded by what they hear during the whole time they are with us. We may have exactly one shot at communicating who we are to people who know nothing about us–or who think they already know a lot about us–but who, in either case, will remember us as the embodiment of out entire tradition, the prime exemplars of our faith.

Barbara Brown Taylor in “Holy Envy”

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I had a friend who said “you may be the best Christian someone knows.” That is a scary thought. What do the people around us learn about Christianity from how we behave. Do we live up to what we say?

It’s not fashionable

Today it is fashionable to talk about the poor. Unfortunately, it is not fashionable to talk with them. –Mother Teresa

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This is so true! Most of us would prefer to avoid the homeless or those begging on our streets. We see them as “less than” us. It’s as if we are concerned about becoming contaminated by them. We have to begin to look through Jesus’ eyes and see them as children of God just like us. Then we will be willing to talk with them.

Compassion is learned

Suffering is a journey deeper into the heart of life.  From the movie The Human Experience

 

How shallow we can be if we have had very little problems in our lives. We just float through each day wondering why other people seem to struggle so. Compassion for those suffering is hard to grasp since we have nothing to measure it against. Travail in life is not what we would choose. But the fire of its pain brings the beauty of understanding and love for those who suffer.

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Compassionate God, you sent you son to suffer and in so doing chose to experience our pain, sorrow, and  grief. Help us to use what we have learned in our own trials to ease the path of others.