Friday, April 29, 2016

Open My Heart to Eagerly Listen

ACTS 16:14-15
A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home." And she prevailed upon us.

Oh that you would do for me
what you did for Lydia:
"The Lord opened her heart
to listen eagerly..."

Open my heart to you.
Make me eager to listen to you.

I am also reminded
of what The Letter of James says,
"let everyone be quick to listen,
slow to speak,
slow to anger"

Let that be me today
in my relationships,
as a colleague,
as a parent,
as a friend,
with strangers,
with clients,
with those who serve me,
and as you Lord teach us,
with those who hate me
and seek to do me harm.

Open my heart to eagerly listen.
Listening for your voice in their cries.

If you judge me to be faithful,
come, Lord Jesus,
and stay with me.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Place to Pray

ACTS 16:11-13
We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there.

where is it?
Where do we suppose
there is a place of prayer?

I hear people bemoan
the loss of prayer in our schools,
and yet I see students leading their teams
praying at sporting events.

At my son's school everyday,
they have a moment of silence
-- just silence --
Lord, remember when that started in my high school?
It was a time when
I thought, "Good! Time I can pray!"
and I did.

As I read the news today,
I prayed.
As I drove today,
I prayed.
When I ate today,
I prayed.
When I got that phone call,
I prayed.

Where is a place of prayer?
at school,
at ball games,
in the silence,
in the emergency room,
with the newspaper/app,
behind the wheel,
at the table,
on the phone,
in a text,
with an email,
on a blog,
along the way,
at the wreck,
beside the sea,
on the boat,
in bed.

Where do we suppose
there is a place of prayer?
you are everywhere
in every circumstance
and you care.
You invite us into prayer.

So today,
may my prayers never cease
but one prayer blend to another
as I go about
in my work and rest and play;
its all a place to pray.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Convince us to Care

ACTS 16:9-10
During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.
I hear their voices everyday:
"Come over and help us."
The children in our school
who do not get the parental support they need.
The hungry in our neighborhoods
who depend on social services
but also on a monthly bag of food from our food pantry.
The depressed in our midst
who try to hide the hollow hurting in their chest
that aching emptiness.
The lonely elder in our nursing homes
widowed, sick, forgotten, friendless.
"Come over and help us."
They call to me.

Forgive me when I choose not
to take the time.
Forgive me when I choose not
to hear their voice.
Forgive me of
my indifference,
my complacency.

Lord Jesus,
you took the time.
King of the World,
you took the time.
You are the most important One
and you made them your priority.

Convince us that you are calling
me and my generation
to take the time,
to proclaim good news,
to do as you did,
to care,
It may be 
THE most important work 
we will ever do.


Monday, April 18, 2016

The Gospel on Social Media

I often wonder what Jesus' ministry would look like on social media.

This is an interesting take:

may our following you
not be limited to
quiet moments in church,
quiet times at home.

Remind us that faith is personal, but not private!
Help us to live out our faith in you publicly
on social media
and in our every day interactions with others.


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Your blessings FLOW

Psalm 23:5-6
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
so many gifts.
Indeed, you are the giver
of every good and perfect gift. (James 1:17)

Even in the midst
of enemies and threats,
you feed and bless
and pour out your love.

My cup runs over.
What shall I do
with the abundant grace you give?
Enjoy it.
Bath in it.
Give it to others
in the same manner it was given to me:

Goodness and mercy
given every day
to every one.
That's what it means
to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

May it be so
in my life,
in my circle of influence

Friday, April 15, 2016

You are WITH me

Psalm 23:4
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

you are clear
that the life of faith
does not spare us from trouble,
from hardship,
from pain.
Indeed, just the opposite
you speak of your faithful
loving enemies,
praying for those who persecute us.
You model compassion
and solidarity with those who suffer.
You tell us that is how we are to live.
And you die with forgiveness on your lips.

But your promise,
indeed the promise that gave you strength,
is that GOD IS WITH US.
Through it all,
the good, the bad, the ugly,

So today I face life --
its joys,
its trials,
its hardships --
confident of your promise:

Help me live
into that promise today.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Shepherd provides

Psalm 23:1-3
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
indeed you are the Good Shepherd.
You provide for my daily needs:
a way forward,
a future.

Thank you.
May my life today
be lived in gratitude
for the great
and small things.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Do you love me? Follow me.

John 21:15-19
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go." (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, "Follow me."
"Do you love me?"
It's the question you ask everyday.
"Chris, do you love me?"

It's a question that cuts to the quick.
In the ways you treat your family,
do you love me?
In the ways you do your job,
do you love me?
In the ways you treat your neighbors,
do you love me?
In the ways you treat those you despise,
do you love me?
In the ways you treat those who hurt you,
do you love me?
In the ways you manage your money,
do you love me?

Do you love me more than these?

What am I supposed to say, Lord?
You know my love.
You know my failures to love, and be loving.
You know the places I need to grow in love --
tough love,
gracious love,
gentle love,
forgiving love,
generous love.

Then you say,
"Feed my sheep;
tend my lambs."

It's not enough to say,
"Lord, I love you."
Loving you must be lived out in loving others.
And that's the hard part.

Then you say,
"Follow me."
That is how we learn to love
by following you,
loving like you do,
forgiving like you do,
challenging like you do,
serving like you do,
giving of ourselves freely like you do.

Lord, help me love
as you love today.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Prom night prayer

It's High School Prom season in my community.

Today, Lord,
I pray all youth this prom season. 
Thank you for the opportunity to celebrate beauty, to laugh and dance, to make memories. As we dress in our finest, let us also act the part of ladies and gentlemen. 
Keep all involved safe. Help us make wise choices, standing up to temptation with your power, living out our faith, and building good clean fun.
Watch over all those who are not going to prom either by personal choice, parent's choice, or not being invited - no matter what the reason. 
Give all a fun evening that no matter what we decide to do tonight, we may look back on this night with healthy good memories.

I remember Prom well and the choices that I faced. Perhaps my favorite memory is that my senior year prom date was a German exchange student. She wore a beautiful scarlet dress. What I remember most is that she was baptized the next day at the Episcopal church!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Breakfast on the Beach

John 21:9-14
When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

I've always loved this story.
I'm not sure exactly what it is.
Is it because I come from a long line of men
who liked to cook breakfast for their families?
And there you are cooking breakfast --
charcoal fire, fish & bread --
for your disciples.
Perhaps the first men's breakfast ministry!

Or is that someone counted the fish
and recorded it in the story?
153 fish
There must have been an accountant!
Such an unusual number.
Does it mean anything?
I've read perhaps it is one fish
for every nation known to exist
at the time of the story's writing.

Or is it that no one needed to ask
"Who are you?"
They just knew.

Or is it the communion liturgy
with bread and fish?
"Jesus came and took the bread
and gave it to them,
and did the same with the fish"
A communion of bread and fish.

Simple graces.
Everyday life made extraordinary
by your Risen presence.
Still true today.
Give me the eyes
to see your Risen presence
in the ordinary holiness
around me today.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Great Catch

JOHN 21:1-19
After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will go with you." They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, "Children, you have no fish, have you?" They answered him, "No." He said to them, "Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.

whenever I read this story
I remember.
I remember the loving people
of that small fishing village
on the north east coast
of Scotland.
I remember the LATE sunset at about 10pm
and the EARLY sunrise before 5am.

I remember the Stewart family
my hosts for two nights.
I remember going on Mr. James Stewart's morning walk.
I remember it was chilly in May,
and how he told me the old saying,
"Don't put out your clout
'till May be out."
Don't put away your coat until after May!

And I remember preaching in
St James Church of Lossiemouth, Scotland.
I remember the LARGE stained glass window
above the balcony:

Most appropriate for a fishing village church,
A small boat with a GREAT CATCH of fish.
It was their livelihood.
It was their faith.

When your first disciples went fishing,
they remembered too.
"I will make you fish for people."
You made their livelihood
into their calling.

Help us cast your LARGE net--
your net of grace, forgiveness, and acceptance.

Make our livelihood
into our calling for your sake!