Monthly Archives: May 2015

Overloaded

mount_nacheesmo (2)I’m thinking plates. Electrical outlets. Suitcases. You know: anything we have the tendency to overload. Keep putting more on/in and before you know it: boom! A seam splits. The current is cut. The airline charges you an extra $100 overweight fee.

A few months ago I was meeting a nun for a spiritual direction session that was to be followed by body work. I told her all about the painting I started. The book I began writing. The blog to which I tried to post each week. Not to mention, in those very moments, I was preparing to attend the first of six spiritual direction training intensives followed by three months of beginning to work dreams in a clergy dream group. I was like a kid in a candy shop who finally found her professional life manageable enough that personal pursuits were once again possible. I had taken up yoga. I got back to working out each day. I even started juicing fruits and vegetables for breakfast every morning. The sister and I had a wonderful conversation about all the amazing ways life was opening up before me. Then, I got on the massage table to have my energy read as the first part of a healing touch exercise. After our conversation, she was more than a bit puzzled that my creative energy was closed.

I wasn’t. It was a gentle wake up call. A reminder to re-prioritize. You see, I finally am in professional work that allows enough energy and time to put towards personal, creative endeavors. And little by little, it all had become a chore. Not something to look forward to each week when my regular day of Sabbath rest rolled around; but tasks on a list that I have to accomplish by certain, set deadlines. I was starting to dread Sabbath instead of welcoming it as the blessed gift of renewal it is meant to be.

We might be able to pull a fast-one on a nun who really doesn’t know us well, but the instrument in which we live our daily lives – our bodies, minds, and spirits – cannot be fooled. My personal life, with all the possible creative pursuits, has become overloaded.

I admit: I’ve felt guilty about it. There are so many wonderful things I want to do these days. So much I want to undertake in hopes of putting something beautiful and inspiring and helpful out into the world. And then I remember all the over-stuffed suit cases with which I’ve tried to travel the world. The mounded plates from buffet tables I’ve done my best to consume. Balance remains my life-long struggle.

I’ve put down the paint brush, at least for now. I think words are more my gift than acrylics. The dream work commitment soon will come to an end and I am re-thinking how I might use that time instead. Perhaps for more journaling and blogging or getting on with chapter ten of the book. Finally I’ve decided that if I have to do as much reading as I must for spiritual direction training, I will NOT choose to read the 500 page Jungian analysis book just because I already own it. I ordered Thomas Merton instead today. And Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Thomas Keating. Only one of the three is required, but how can one resist the beautiful insights of such iconic, spiritual gurus?!

The balancing act continues.

How about you: how are you doing on NOT overloading?

Keep in mind the wisdom from one of my favorite refrigerator magnets: Only a field that lies fallow will produce great fruit!

In other words, pick one or two favorites and remember to rest really well too!

-RevJule

Hello and Good Bye

A sermon for 17 May 2015 – Ascension Sunday (7th Sunday of Easter)

Acts 1:1-11  (NRSV scripture included below.)

Today is the Sunday closest to Ascension Day – which is celebrated 40 days after Easter – two Thursdays before Pentecost every year. The idea being that for 40 days (the same amount of time Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for his ministry); likewise, for 40 days the Risen Christ was among the disciples preparing them for the ministry before them and readying them for their empowerment by the Holy Spirit. Listen for the word of God to us in a reading of Acts of the Apostles 1:1-11.

“In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.””

This is the word of God for the people of  God. Thanks be to God!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never really liked goodbyes. Whether it be from a best friend moving across the state or a beloved family member dying. Such endings are emotionally tough. Oh, I realize for certain Enneagram types, which we’ve been learning about on Wednesday nights, goodbyes are no big deal. But for most of us, it feels like a part of our insides is being ripped out and taken along. Like the security blanket is being snatched right out from under our feet. We might do all we can to make it not so: avoid the feelings of loss. Deny the intense emotions with which we are left. Still, we wake up the next morning and the person’s not there. And the world seems worse than when they were with us in it.

Years ago Joyce Rupp wrote an incredible book on the goodbyes of life. It’s called: “Praying our Good Byes.” From the loss of a job, to the death of a dream. From goodbye to health in our bodies, to grieving the loss of a pregnancy. From the shattering of trust in times of betrayal, to the letting go of the lies with which we let ourselves live. From the best friend moving across state, to the loved one whose life slips from this world. Rupp includes beautiful liturgies for acknowledging the loss of all sorts of the goodbyes we experience in life. Feeling that pain and finding a way to let it go. In a way, she seeks to normalize life’s goodbyes – or at least give us some tools to navigate through them. One of the greatest insights she gives for those broken by endings is that life is in fact goodbyes. And life is hellos too. Life is hello and goodbye. One cannot be without the other. Rupp is a deeply devoted Christian who is influenced heavily by the death and resurrection of Christ. So that as we face the mystery of the Ascension we hear of in Acts of the Apostles, Rupp’s reminder rings. She writes: “hello always follows goodbye in some form if we allow it. There is, or can be, new life, although it will be different from the life we knew before. The resurrection of Jesus and the promises of God are too strong to have it any other way” (joycerupp.com). Life is hello. Life is goodbye. And, if we face the loss so that it doesn’t get the chance to take us down all together, sooner or later we see that life is hello again!

It seems a fitting metaphor for the experience we hear about today from Acts of the Apostles. The Ascension of the Risen Christ. Like I said, forty days earlier he had been raised from the death of Good Friday to the new life of Easter. It must have been an incredible time to be a part of his inner circle. Surely they were much afraid. But then they’d open their eyes to see the Risen Christ standing in their midst. He’d be greeting them with peace. Truly trying to bring healing to their hearts and minds from the reality of his violent death. We don’t know everything he said to them during that forty day period back among them. But Acts of the Apostles does record that he told them to wait. Something soon would be coming upon them. The Holy Spirit of God would be the power they would receive to turn any fear in their bodies into unstoppable courage. And then, like grains of sand that quickly slip through an hourglass, like a flash of a star shooting across the dark night, like something that seems to be before your eyes in one second until it vanishes in the next; he’s gone. The imagery here should remind us of a few other unfathomable experiences. Who can forget Moses being up on Mount Sinai in the thick cloud of God while the Israelites fidget below? (Exodus 19-20). And remember Elijah being taken away in the whirlwind – which I’ve heard a Jewish teacher describe as a tornado coming to carry him off on the winds (2 Kings 2:1-12). It wasn’t even the first time a few of them had seen Jesus in a cloud. It happened on that mountain of transfiguration when two men – presumably figures of Moses and Elijah – appeared with him then as well (Luke 9:28-36).

One commentator writes of the ascension that “so long as Jesus was physically present, he was available only to those he encountered (directly); by the Spirit he became powerfully present to many” (A. Katherine Grieb, Feasting on the Word, Yr. B, Vol. 2; p. 507). In other words, he had to go. Like it or not, the goodbye was necessary. There’s really no need to waste our energy on where exactly he went, how, or when he’s returning. Like the figures said to the disciples who remained there mouths gapping as they searched the clouds of the sky to see if they could spot him again. I love the way the translation called The Message puts it in the quote on the front of the bulletin today: “Why do you just stand there looking up at an empty sky?” (Acts 1:11, The Message). They just received instruction from the very mouth of the Risen Christ. They were to wait for the promised gift of God’s Spirit and then they were to get out there in the world, beginning right there in Jerusalem where he’d been crucified, then to the rest of those in and around their land, until they entered even among their bitter enemies the Samaritans, and at last to break the barriers between them and the gentiles all over the world. There’s a hello to get ready for so that time and effort wondering the where and hows and whens is as fruitless as the disciples asking the Risen Christ if in his resurrection he now was going to overthrow the Romans and restore the throne of Israel. He obliterates all such concerns with a re-focus on the hello. The Holy Spirit will be upon you – in you – in us all! Get ready for a great hello that will empower us to carry out his world-wide revolution of life according to the ways of God’s kingdom!

What a brilliant hello! A power that dissipates all fear. Dispels doubt and makes of us who we need to be to continue the work of the One taking his leave from the confines of his physical form so that he can be with us anew forevermore! The essence of ascension is that he had to go. To take his leave in that way that we all could be ready for the mighty hello of the Spirit. All that was to come after as the mission of God went forth from that one time and place to everywhere and always around this globe. . . . It might leave you wondering what else might need a goodbye in order for an amazing new hello? I’m sure we could make a list of a few things in our personal lives. Patterns and habits that are keeping us from living fully into our God-desired selves. Ways that seem to leave us drowning in the living of our days. . . . And what about in the church – in life together as the body of Christ in this place? For all the wonderful ways we are faithful week in and week out as Christ’s church, aren’t there a few things that need a goodbye? You all are an amazing expression of the love of God and I am honored to be journeying with you during this time of your pastoral transition. I know many of you have been around here a long time and others of you are just getting started. So that your eyes can become cloudy about who you are and the incredible potential in you for future ministry because of your genuine kindness, your helpful care, and your grateful generosity. It will take some rallying together. Some new ways of sharing ministry – every one of you taking on a piece or two of the whole work of God through this church. You’ve experienced it already in my time among you, it takes openness to new ways of worshipping and learning and serving and being led. Letting go of the pain in the goodbyes and looking forward to the joy of hellos. Recognizing the changes you will experience in yourself and in one another as you continue to move into a more intentional direction of making a difference in other people’s lives for the sake of God’s kingdom. As vital churches today seek to do. It will take some giving up and it will bring new life that cannot yet be known. We’re all having to learn new ways of connecting with God and others as the culture in which we live continues to change at break-neck speed and the circumstances of each of our lives keep right on shifting too. Another pastor in the Presbytery and I are banning together to organize a group for clergy who might want be honest together about the ways we need to change as pastors if we’re going to lead congregations of God’s people into this unfolding future with all the energy, intelligence, imagination, and love we can muster and God will give. It’s a challenging time to minister and be trying to live out our baptismal vows as Christ’s disciples. I know we all might hate the goodbyes and want to deny it’s so, but what a gift to be entrusted by God into this time and place for the sake of God’s mission in the world. Like the disciples at ascension who could not yet see the road ahead after Pentecost; we too can trust that amazing hellos await! Glory be to God as we mourn the loss of any goodbyes and get ourselves ready for the wonderful hellos ahead!

In the name of the life-giving Father, the life-redeeming Son, and the life-sustaining Spirit, Amen.

© Copyright JMN – 2015  (All rights reserved.)

The School of Love

A sermon for 10 May 2015 – Sixth Sunday of Eastertide

John 15:9-17  (NRSV scripture included below.)

A reading from the gospel of John 15:9-17. This is a continuation of Jesus’ words to his disciples while they linger at their last supper together. Listen for God’s word to us.

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.”

This is the word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God!

Standing in Nazareth today, with nods to the Holy Family all around, it’s easy to conclude that family is to be the social structure. The Virgin Mother Mary is everywhere. At Nazareth’s well, where tribute is made as the place God’s messenger first came to announce the plan for her life. Through the streets towers the beautiful basilica, which was built over the presumed site of her childhood home. Inside that church there are artistic creations of the mother and child from all over the world. Gorgeous interpretations of the woman who lovingly gave birth to and raised up the Son of God for the benefit of all the world. . . . Part of the story we often overlook is that of the earthly father Joseph. But in Nazareth, he too gets a beautiful sanctuary. Built over the site presumed to be his family’s house which became his home with Mary and young Jesus after their years of his early childhood in Egypt. The Holy Family’s home includes remains believed to be Joseph’s storefront carpenter shop. That’s the view captured on the front of the bulletin today. The scene of adolescent Jesus working with his hands alongside his father. Mother Mary is looking on so that the threesome is seen together as a complete family. And right smack in the middle of the photo is the angelic child. Halo and all as if to proclaim that he never gave his parents one bit of difficulty. Sure we have that story recorded only in the gospel of Luke. You know: the one where the twelve year-old Jesus is taking full responsibility for his own spiritual growth, as all bar mitzvahed boys were expected to do. Several days after they have begun the journey back home from Passover in Jerusalem, his parents realize Jesus is missing – which just goes to show Mary and Joseph weren’t always the most attentive parents. All the while, Jesus is engaging the rabbis in the Temple. When at last his parents find him, I’m sure Mary was ready to wring his neck over the panic he put them through. But even then we’re led to side with the boy Jesus instead of his frantically worried parents.

It’s a beautiful thing about Nazareth with its prolific statutes and portraits that remind us of the Holy Family. But like all professionally done family photos, typically the very best of the clan is captured. So that it’s easy to begin to believe that everything always is as idyllic as the photo shouts. As we take it all in, we’re left concluding that families always are beautiful, happy, and overflowing with love. It’s just that: we’re all a part of at least one. So unless we’re totally delusional, we know better. . . . The other night I was reading a plea to Presbyterian pastors to ensure worship services on Mothers’ and the pending Fathers’ day are sensitive to the wide spectrum of experiences of families. And to the reality that today can be a sad one for some who grieve the loss of their mother, or of their child. The reactions to the plea I read got down-right ugly. Some people thought today should be widely inclusive of all women who have nurtured life in this world and some wanted today to be reserved solely for women who have endured the 9 months of pregnancy and 18 years of upbringing. A few gave leeway for parents who come to the job through marriage or adoption. No one mentioned that parenting really doesn’t stop after 18 years – especially not today when so many young adult children still can be found at home for whatever reason. Wouldn’t it be great, moms and dads, if the moment they turned 18 you were done? No more worry. No more pain endured for them. No more money sent off to cover whatever! . . . Whether or not you want Mothers’ and Fathers’ day to be restricted to one way of mothering and fathering in this world, the reality is families are not always easy. They’re never perfect – which should ring out as good news in all of our ears so we can stop wishing our families were something other than they are and start accepting one another for who we are. The gifts we do gain from one another – whether we had a wonderfully loving momma from whom we can learn by example, or not so much so that we’ve had to learn by contrast. Whether our fathers were engaged and available to us, or nowhere to be found. . . . Families are not perfect. I dare to say that not even the Holy Family was perfect, even if Jesus was – because other than him, we human beings are not able to be perfect. We are not loving at all times. Patience can grow thin and kindness may seem like a foreign concept in some households. Sometimes it may seem like we got the wrong child – or wrong brother or sister – like the nurses really did switch someone out at birth! Maybe you’re convinced the stork meant to leave you on the doorstep next door because things seemed so much greener in the family on the other side of the fence. Hopefully as we’ve each aged, we have made peace with our parents or actively are working on it – whatever form they took. And where needed, have found a way to overcome obstacles we might have had to face because of our family’s limitations. So that a day like the secular holiday noted today can be one in which we have nothing but gratitude for the mother and father who made our life possible – whether they were the best parents a kid ever could have asked for, or not. Thanks to them – or maybe in spite of them – we are here and are who we are today. Growing a little bit more each day in our love of God, self, and others.

We can breathe a sigh of relief that families are not the primary social structure where we are to learn of love. We all may wish it would be and it’s not a bad aim to make yours so today. But Jesus makes it clear in his words to his disciples. He didn’t say go back home to your mother and father, siblings and children and spouse to learn to love through them. Rather he said: “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12, 17). I’m guessing as they sat there in a circle around that table that he made them look around into each other’s eyes to really see each other. “Love one another,” he tells a ban of folks who haven’t known each other all that long. A few of them might have been blood brothers, but he’s making them family in a whole new way. Through his life, death, and resurrection; he gave birth to the church to ensure there always remains a people on earth where love reigns. Where we do experience the self-giving gift of another’s will being put before our own. Where we can wrestle with the difficulties of finding a way to love –when the circumstances are complex and in the situations where we may be feeling very hurt by another. . . . We, as the church, are the school of love. The people who, day in and day out, encourage one another. Who build each other up. Who help one another to believe in ourselves as much as we hope our own parents believe in us because God sees each one of us as precious enough to dwell within us through the Holy Spirit. We are loved so deeply as the church, Christ’s own body still on earth. We didn’t choose to be a part of it all; rather, as Jesus’ said: “I chose you!” (John 15:16). He’s even given us the special assignment of bearing the lasting fruit of his kind of love by loving each other. Being a sign to everyone – a kind of witness to compassion, and out-of-our-own-way care, and sacrifice even so that all can flourish. . . . If you were fortunate enough to have gotten the lessons at home too, then thanks be to God! And never stop striving to be about such love with one another – with your parents, children, spouse, or friends that make up your family. But know that the command lies here: among one another. That we teach each other how to live the love of God. That we bear with one another, practice forgiveness together, and be for each other because that is the way of the Great Teacher.

Brothers and sisters in the family of God, let us fulfill Christ’s command. Let us love one another as he has loved us. Just in case any miss the lessons at home. As the family of God right here together, let us be Christ’s school of love.

In the name of the life-giving Father, the life-redeeming Son, and the life-sustaining Spirit, Amen.

© Copyright JMN – 2015  (All rights reserved.)

“Fruit”

A sermon for 3 May 2015 – 5th Sunday of Easter

John 15:1-8  (NRSV scripture included below.)

On this fifth Sunday of Eastertide, we’re again in a part of the gospel that comes before Jesus’ death and resurrection. In fact, this is a part of his infamous monologue spoken during that last supper together, after he has washed their feet and given his disciples the new command that they love one another as he has loved us. Judas already has left them to do the deed he was up to and the rest remain – a bit puzzled and perhaps frightened as Jesus talks of going away from them. Certainly he was trying to comfort them and even give them direction for the days yet to come. . . . Listen for God’s word to us in a reading of John 15:1-8.

“’I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.’”

This is the word of God, for the people of God. Thanks be to God!

Dr. Oz declared it a few months back – at least I think it was him I heard proclaiming one afternoon that no longer is saturated fat our number one enemy. It’s sugar. Sugar. Good thing we don’t have fellowship coffee after worship today with all the yummy sweets that tempt us from that table. It was confirmed for me again this past week as I read a book on women’s health that stated: “It’s cellular breakdown that produces the physical changes we associate with aging, from wrinkles to minor aches and ailments.” The book stated: “The physical deterioration occurs in large part because of the accumulation of toxins, which results in cellular deterioration and damage along with tissue and organ breakdown.” It was explained that: in addition to the toxins released in our system when under too much stress, sugar is the number one cause of such toxins so that: “the candy bar, cupcake, or glass of wine (we often mindlessly grab) can spike (our) insulin, and . . . cause damage to LDL (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol) . . . (until) it ends up glued to the walls (of our blood vessels), forming plaques that create restrictions and, eventually, increased risk for Alzheimer’s, diabetes, arthritis, heart attack, and stroke” (Goddesses Never Age, Christiane Northrup, p. 29-30, 32-33). One way to prevent such a fate is to cut out – or at least cut down – the refined sugar and increase the consumption of fruit. Luscious strawberries. Juicy apples. Packed-with-potassium bananas. Peaches and pineapples and the one that’s really good for us: kiwi. Imagine how it would be if the next time your sweet tooth kicks in you seek to drown your sorrows by indulging in a bowl-full of freshly picked blueberries. Fruit. And not the kind that comes from a can. But plucked right out of your own backyard or fresh from the produce section at the market. Fruit does our bodies o so very good!

Jesus knew too the importance of fruit. At least according to this reading from the gospel of John. He’s speaking primarily to those from the fertile soil of Galilee where all sorts of wonderful fruits grow: figs, melons, and the favorite: grapes. Grapes from the vine are one of the top fruits of Galilee so that Jesus easily can use the metaphor of a vineyard to get across his point. In fact, one source claims: “Mentioned more than any other plant in the entire Bible, the grape vine was very important culturally and economically in biblical times.” Grape vines were so central in everyday life that the ancient prophets often spoke of the fruitful vine as obedient Israel and the empty vine as a symbol of Israel’s unfaithfulness (www.bibleplaces.com/grapevines-vineyards.htm). It should come as no surprise that any vinegrower would want sumptuous, prolific grapes. Huge clusters of them, like the ones the Hebrew spies first saw in the land of Canaan – so big that the abundant fruit had to be carried back during that scouting expedition on a stick between two men (Ibid.). Fruit – fresh from the vine. Jesus is telling his disciples about the process of production they know so very well. The one he expects – especially now before his crucifixion when he will be going away from them. The seamless connection from vine to branch to fruit that brings great delight every time the vinegrower sees such abundance. It takes cutting back the branches to keep them producing – pruning so that more and more and more fruit comes. Pruned branches that remain on the vine will give forth a hundred-fold. Such marvelous fruit!

Jesus is making it very clear that as his own, we’re here in this world to produce fruit. Luscious, wonderful, life-giving fruit! . . . Now, it’s obvious that literal grapes aren’t the fruit that are supposed to come forth from our lives. Rather, the fruit that does the world o so very good is love. Like the kind of love he sums up in the new command he gives that mirrors the way he abides in the love of God – so we likewise are to abide in the love of the Risen Christ. Looking to the Apostle Paul in Galatians, we get a bit more of the texture of this fruit, love, which we are to bear. The fruits of the Spirit, which abound when we dwell in Christ and Christ dwells in us: “joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). All are particular aspects of the fruit of love. . . . I saw a glimmer of such fruit in a scene from Baltimore this week. Believe it or not! In the midst of all the other unrest, there’s a picture of a middle-aged African American women walking right up to the police barricade handing bottles of water to those who have to be a little bit tired and maybe even a little bit afraid as they stand there in the midst of the chaos doing their jobs. I don’t know what motivated that woman to carry out such an act of compassionate generosity – such thoughtful gentleness – such love in the midst of such bitter divides – but it certainly looks like a faithful fruit-bearer to me.

Imagine what it would take to make such a stand. To abide so fully in Christ that you would walk right up to a police barricade in the middle of a boiling outbreak of racial conflict. . . . He gives us the answer of how. How to bear the kind of often counter-cultural fruit this world desperately needs. All we need to do is remain in him. To linger long in his love. The epistle from John reminds us well that “God is love and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them” (1 John 4:16b). In other words, remain in love – soaking deeply in it. One sure way to keep ourselves in Christ and thereby ready to be fruit-bearers in this world is to be about the things that fill us with love. Is it reading the beautiful poetry of the Psalms? Or maybe writing your own love poems to God? Is it singing praises in the choir or sitting in quiet prayer? Maybe it’s the kind of things that fill us up with love but far too often have been overlooked as legitimate ways that we dwell in God’s love. Things like spending time with a grandchild or listening to a brilliant symphony. Cooking a delicious meal or connecting on a deep level with friends. Maybe just sitting outside in the beauty of this world or handing out food bags in our Food Bank on Fridays. What is it that fills you up with love from the top of your head to the tip of your toes? Do that – aware that as you do, you are dwelling in God and God in you; for God is love. Joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control will follow. Daily – like a practice we do until it just becomes natural. When we hang out each day in that which we love, God who is love is with us; in us; and will burst forth from us. Our lives will be an abundance of such fruit when we daily immerse ourselves in that which we love. We’ll be branches beautifully connected to the True Vine – producing an outpouring of sustenance for all in this world. Abundant, nutritious, life-giving fruit!

The next time your sweet tooth kick in and you reach instead for that fresh produce; let it be the symbol that reminds you: we’re here to bear fruit!

In the name of the life-giving Father, the life-redeeming Son, and the life-sustaining Spirit, Amen.

© Copyright JMN – 2015  (All rights reserved.)

Full Moon Rising

9:23 p.m. CST

9:23 p.m. CST

10:02 p.m. CST

10:02 p.m. CST

10:03 p.m. CST

10:03 p.m. CST

After watching this last night, these words came:

4 May 2015:  The moon rises all by herself. She doesn’t seem to care if anybody notices. She doesn’t seem to do so to please anyone else. It doesn’t even seem a process all that useful to anyone else. She sits there – twirling about with us in an unnoticed dance. Covered a little bit more one night. Fully exposed on another. Missing all together every now and again.

I wonder . . .

I wonder what it feels like to be the moon. Attuned, really, to her own pushes and pulls. Living by her own rhythm. Often ignored. Overlooked. Even dreaded.

But my how BEAUTIFUL she is! Photos don’t do her justice! Breath-taking! Just to sit – like this night. With every rock of my chair, she rose higher and higher and higher until in full she was aglow in the otherwise dark abyss of night. As we turn outward – literally into the unknown – she comes to greet us. Nowhere near as dazzling as her counter-part, the sun. She has no need to blaze like that; to overtake with her brilliance. Rather: simply, beautifully, with or without notice, she gives comfort to all who attentively search in the dark night. She guides – sometimes just by a sliver. Sometimes reminding us she’s still present even if she’s totally unseen.

I give thanks for sister moon! I turn to her for wisdom. Guidance. Comforting hope as I grope onward in the night.

Thank you!

Allelu!

RevJule