A Confessional Prayer

Ever-patient God, 
Jeremiah's ancient words stir within me
You let truth tumble from his lips
down through the ages
to land on my restless spirit
sour grapes are frequently easier to ingest
than the word You would inscribe on my heart
this troubling truth awakens desire in me
yet do I reach for society's sour fruit
or the sweetness of Your words and ways?

Maker of mercy and miracles,
the psalmist sings of Your help and Your hope
while I continue to reach for grapes
knowing my lips will pucker and I will remain hungry
my reluctance to accept the sweet abundance You offer
makes me wonder if I am wrestling with You
or with my own misguided need to be strong and fr
please hold me fast until I hear you calling my name
one more time, breaking the spell woven
by society's deceitful lies
masquerading as nourishing,desirable fruit
though they serve only to sour all
may I have the courage to endure Your grip
and the wisdom to receive Your word (again)


Fierce and gentle God,
how often I have turned from Your ways
let go of Your promises
as if Your word means nothing
as fragile and fleeting as ash in the wind
Your love is endures through all things, all times, all places
when pain is overwhelming, You abide
when I am lost and wandering, You remain
when I insist on eating those deceitful grapes
You wait with honey in hand
for that moment of repentant return
how is it that any of us are worthy of Your love
Your mercy
Your forgiveness
Your eternal patience?

Giver of life and love,
Forgive me for choosing simple, self-serving actions
over the complexity of Your ways
of loving neighbor and self
of serving You and creation
Forgive me when I pester You with trivial concerns
and the sourness of my prayers distances me
from the sweetness of Your love
Forgive me when I fail to turn to you with gratitude
with full recognition for all that is good in my life
Forgive me each time I don't see You
in a neighbor's need
Forgive me for thinking I am on my own in the wilderness
as if You aren't there
along with that immeasurable cloud of witnesses

Gracious God,
write Your word on my heart anew
even knowing that we will wrestle again (and again)
and my pestering prayers
won't always be filled with true need
my deepest desire is to live in Your abundance
build Your kingdom
travel Your holy ways
and embody Your love
always
I am yours

Amen.

RCL – Year C – Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost – October 13, 2019
Jeremiah 31:27-34 with Psalm 119:97-104 or
Genesis 32:22-31 with Psalm 121 and
2 Timothy 3:14-4:5 and
Luke 18:1-8

Photo: CC0image by Elias Sch

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On Healing and Gratitude

Gratitude is a part of true healing. One can regain wellness, but without gratitude healing remains incomplete, at least on a spiritual level. Think about the ten lepers Jesus healed as he traveled between Samaria and Galilee. Ten were healed and told to show themselves to the priest. Only one of them returned to give thanks. Perhaps the others were off doing as they had been told. They were no longer lepers and a priest could allow them back into community. Maybe they were grateful. Yet only one expressed gratitude to Jesus and received a pronouncement of wellness. His faith had made him well.

There is a link between gratitude and wellness that we don’t spend much time thinking about. Today is World Mental Health Day with an emphasis on suicide prevention. Maybe we should make a day next week that is World Gratitude Day to help combat the sense of hopelessness that contributes to the every-climbing suicide rates. What might happen in the world if we all to time to give thanks for moments of healing, however fleeting? What might shift in us all if we trusted that God views us as whole and desires healing for ever person? What might ignite in us if we thanked God for healing, large and small? Would we be able to join that one leper in faith making us well?

Over a decade ago I found redemption while working as a clinical chaplain at a state hospital. I had spent so much of my life hiding my struggles with depression, an eating disorder, and suicidality. By the fall of 2008 these struggles were mostly in the past, but I felt a lot of shame about them. I still wondered if my early mental health challenges were a reflection of my inadequacy as a Christian. Gratitude wasn’t absent from my life, but it wasn’t at the center. I was too busy trying to hide where I had been, that I never took time to be grateful for having made it through.

When I started working at the state hospital, I discovered that my past struggles were an asset. I knew what it was like to be a psychiatric in-patient. I knew what it felt like to feel hopeless and powerless. I knew the lies depression whispers in the bleakest moments. I also knew that these things were survivable. I could offer authentic hope. One day I found myself remarkably grateful for all that I had been through. I was not grateful for the suffering. I was grateful for the survival, survival that led to me embracing and enjoying life. Survival shifted to wholeness when gratitude entered in. God had placed people and opportunities in my path that all led to healing. I didn’t know how well I was until I could whole-heartedly give thanks to God for all things.

Maybe those other nine lepers took time to figure out that they, too, had been made well. They could see their healing, but maybe it took a while to experience their wholeness and give thanks. Gratitude doesn’t always come immediately. Some of us are slow healers and need time to realize just what has happened in our lives. Maybe gratitude would come quickly if we practiced it more freely and more intentionally.

What are you thankful for today? In this moment, I am grateful I have access to good healthcare. I’m also grateful for the dog curled up under my feet and the cat curled up behind my head. When I stop to look around, I’m thankful for season change and the beauty of autumn leaves. I can list a number of people I am grateful for, too. Mostly, though, I am thankful for my life, my work, my wife, and all that God calls me to be a part of.

Gratitude doesn’t depend on our wellness, though. We can be grateful for the simplest things when we are struggling in body, mind, or spirit. Being grateful for a hot cup of tea, a text from a friend, a smile from a stranger can shift our spirits. In those moments we step closer to the wholeness God sees in us. Perhaps in our moments of gratitude, we also bring a little healing into the world for someone else.

Gratitude won’t fix anything that is wrong in the world. It will, however, open us to the possibilities of a better future, a future that honors God, neighbor, self, and creation. If we stop taking our lives for granted and give thanks for this day (and every day), we might discover that we are bearers of divine love and hope that the world desperately needs. It doesn’t matter if gratitude comes quickly to you, like that one leper, or if it is slower to come to your lips, possibly like the other nine. What matters is that we cultivate gratitude always and everywhere. It’s not a contest or a means to show God’s favor. Gratitude is simply acknowledging all that God has done for us.

Thank you for reading. May you be filled with gratitude. And may you run and tell the others the glories of God.

RCL – Year C – Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost – October 13, 2019
Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7 with Psalm 66:1-12 or
2 Kings 5:1-3,7-15c with Psalm 111 and
2 Timothy 2:8-15 and
Luke 17:11-19

Photo: CC0image by John Hain D

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A Season of Lament

There is so little room for grief in western society, yet it is not something anyone can avoid. Today grief sits heavily on my heart. I’m returning home from a trip to my childhood home for the Celebration of Life for the woman who was often more maternal than my own mother. She had been my next-door neighbor and my mother’s best friend for many, many years. It was good to be there and spend time with her daughters who are the sisters I didn’t have by birth. Still, I head home full of grief for Ellie, for my mother, for all the others who touched my life in some way and have since died. And there is the expectation that I will be done with grief and resume my daily life. How do I honestly grieve in a world that wants us all to “move on” and “put the sadness behind”?

I read the laments of ancient Israel and my eyes fill with tears. They had lost so much – people, home, identity, a way of life, a sense of being God’s chosen. They were able to sit by the rivers of Babylon and weep, not just once but over and over again. They did not want to sing the songs of happier days. They could, however, look back and name what they lost and turn it into a prayer for days yet to come. This is what is missing today. We feel the sadness. That’s the not the problem. It’s the pressure to put it away and move on with life long before the blessings bubble up. Before we can find laughter and hope amid our tears we are supposed to be back to work, school, life, whatever. And no one really wants to examine how every fresh grief touches all the other grief that came before it. We’re just supposed to get back to “normal.”

That’s the funny part. I’m sitting here thinking that all of the women who raised me, who were a generation or two older, have died. Yes, I have women friends who are that generation or two older, but that is not the same as the ones who remember me in the years before I remember me. There’s nothing “normal” about this and all that is lost with them. While there have not been shared holidays for many years, now the hope of “just one more” has died as well. I’m not sure what to do with this loss, this sadness over what will never be. However, I don’t want to ignore it and pretend that there isn’t this enormous sense of loss running through the middle of my life.

I want to continue the conversations begun over the last few days of remembering. I want to think of those Christmas dinners where my mother made way too much food and invited seemingly random people to share the feast. I want to dream about having all the people I most love in the world around a table for just such a Christmas feast. I want to remember the laughter and be honest about the tears. How great would it be to name the fears, the challenges, and the struggles that separated what was once family? Moreover, to honor the loss of our mothers by maintaining the connections we’ve started to reform. There is much to lament. Yet, there is hope.

We are bound together by a love that never ends. We can honor that love with our tears and our laughter and let it keep us connected. If not, then we allow unacknowledged grief to feed the all that conspires to keep us disconnected and lonely. We can learn from those ancient ones and make room for ourselves and others who grieve to sit down and weep. We can make it acceptable for the songs to be silent for a time. We can stop expecting people to be fine within a week, a month, a year, or ever, when they have lost someone or something dear to them. The only wrong way to grieve is not to do it.

Lamenting what we have lost helps us heal, helps us realize what we have and make room for what might come. Strangely, I think Jesus’ comments about faith the size of a mustard seed has something to do with this. We get so focused on what we think is “normal” or expected and we do not allow room for the Spirit to stir within us. We try so hard to do what we’re supposed to do, that we forget how deeply God knows us and loves us. There is no feeling, no loss, no sadness in which God cannot find us. This means that we are never cut off from Love. We try to make everything about us instead of remember that God wants nothing more than for us to live into a future filled with goodness and hope. Faith can help us move through the mountainous grief that threatens to bury us, if we let it.

God does not take the people we love from us. However, there is comfort and healing in trusting that God’s love is greater than our pain. In time, healing will come, especially when we are seeking to bring more Love into the world. The hard part is being honest with where we are and what we need. God’s love for us does not end even if it seems inaccessible when we grieve. Today, I am sad and tears come easily, and I’m okay with that. I can already see glimpses of hope and healing through my tears. For now, though, I will continue to lament even if the rest of the world thinks I should move on.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
   God’s mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
   great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,  
   “therefore I will hope in God.”

RCL – Year C – Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost – October 6, 2019
Lamentations 1:1-6 with Lamentations 3:19-26 or Psalm 137 or
Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4 with Psalm 37:1-9 and
2 Timothy 1:1-14
Luke 17:5-10

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Unexpected Godliness

Did you know that Mattel, the maker of Barbie, introduced a gender-neutral doll this week? It’s true. It’s a doll with a child’s shape prior to puberty and comes with wigs and gender neutral clothing. The doll is gender fluid with accessories to embrace diverse gender expression. What an amazing gift for children who are gender expansive as well as children who identify as male or female. As a girl who loved dolls and dresses as much as baseball and jeans, I would have loved this doll. In fact, I kind of want one now, even though my pronouns are she/her/hers and I am comfortable with my cis identity. If I had a child today who liked to play with dolls, I would purchase these dolls without hesitation.

Unfortunately, my delighted response to these dolls is not shared by everyone. In fact, there are a whole lot of people who call themselves Christian who are horrified by these dolls. They think  that because the Bible only mentions male and female being created in the image of God, then only male and female can exist. This is a fairly narrow reading of Genesis 1:26-27. There is room here for a far less literal interpretation. God (who is referred to in the plural here) creates humanity whose gender ranges from male to female, on a continuum. Of course, the ancient peoples would not have heard this verse in this way. However, there is no reason to limit what we hear just because the first hearers had a different experience of God and the world than we do.

This tendency to limit how God continues to speak through scripture is really my point. A toy company ought not to be more inclusive, understanding, supportive, and embracing of people than the church is. This just shouldn’t happen. We haven’t learned anything if we are not leading the world in practice of love, healing, and true inclusion. Jeremiah’s symbolic purchase of land reflecting God’s promise that the people of God will always have a home, means nothing if we don’t trust the continuing promise. The warnings of Amos fall on those who refuse to listen if we continue in our comfortable, “normative” lives while others barely survive on the edges of society. If we count ourselves among the godly while those around suffer for a lack of love and acceptance, then we have not followed the advice given in 1 Timothy. What have we learned from Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus if we treat those around us as less than human while enjoying our riches?

I am tired of the Bible being used as a weapon or a litmus test for God’s blessing. The full diversity of human beings is not mentioned in the Bible, nor is the full diversity of creation. Just because the Bible doesn’t mention something, it doesn’t mean that it is not pleasing to God. The people who wrote down the stories that are included in our sacred texts could only write from what they knew. They could only experience God through what was familiar to them. They did their best to tell what they knew of God based on their experiences of the world. They did not experience all there is to know about God or all there is to know about human beings or all there is to know about the created world. I think they would all be surprised to know that we are still reading their words today, maybe even more surprised at the contortions (and distortions) people go through to take the words literally.

The theme of God’s liberating love comes through the texts more strongly than anything else. When human beings fail to attend to these holy, loving ways, then the consequences can certainly be ugly. God does not inflict divine punishment nor divine rewards on individuals of communities. Yes, to the ancients it seemed that way. However, we can see that the disasters that struck God’s people were a direct consequence of them straying from God’s ways. And the better times were a consequence of keeping with God’s ways. These things are descriptive, not prescriptive. Selfish ways bring about destruction and devastation. Loving ways lead to strength and growth.

Jesus told the parable about the rich man and Lazarus for a reason, and it wasn’t to say that wealth is bad. People who enjoy wealth and treat others as less than human are not living out God’s love. They may one day find themselves on the outside of community, looking in and wondering where they went wrong. This is a lesson church would do well to pay heed to.

If we do not embrace the fullness of humanity in all its diversity, including gender diversity, the church will be pushed further and further from the center of society. God promised all that the people of God will always have a home. Jesus warned us again and again to care for the vulnerable among us. We must trust God’s love for us enough to embody it for everyone, without exception. This is what it means to be godly and to live in that home God has promised.

Mattel shouldn’t be more godly than the church. It’s that simple. Now what are we going to do about it? Do you trust God’s promise of a home, God’s liberating love for all people, to embody that love and share it with all whom you meet?

For more sermon help, try here.

RCL – Year C – Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost – September 29, 2019
Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15 with Psalm 91:1-6,14-16 or
Amos 6:1a, 4-7 with Psalm 146
1 Timothy 6:6-19 and
Luke 16:19-31

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Questioning Faithfulness

I grew up in a racist household. My mother said she never saw a person of color until she was in her early twenties and moved to Massachusetts from Upstate New York. She believed a lot of nonsense about people of color. She used a lot of racist slang when she talked about people who were not white. She believed the foolishness about immigrants of color taking jobs from white people and receiving government assistance that white people did not qualify for. She was angry and hateful to the point that we were not allowed to eat at any restaurants she associated with people of color. Early on, I knew she was wrong with her thinking, her language, and her behavior. What I didn’t know is how common her perspective was and is.

My mother wasn’t a religious person. She had quite a bit negative to say about the church in all its varied forms. She didn’t see the point in God or trying to follow Jesus teachings. She believed it was every person for themselves and that money could in fact buy happiness. While she grew up in an upper middle class, Irish Catholic family, her adult years were spent a few inches away from the poverty line. As a single mother of two children, there was never quite enough money to pay all the bills. But we had a house and all the necessary things. Yes, the food we usually ate was cheap and the house was always a bit chilly in winter. She resented that she made slightly more than was allowed to receive food stamps or fuel assistance. We did qualify for reduced lunch at school, but that wasn’t enough to curb her racist views. In her mind, her life would have been better if there were no people of color around. It was the way she thought. Religion or God had nothing to do with it.

In fact, she blamed my unwillingness to share her views on my affinity for religion and the bit of French blood that I inherited from my father (which makes no more sense than some of her other beliefs). Honestly, I’m not sure where I learned that my mother was wrong in her racist understanding of the world. I can say that my current understanding of Jesus’ teachings underscores how very wrong my mother was.

Race is a human construct that the Bible is silent on because it was written long before the modern concept of race existed. God’s love for humanity is not limited by human perspective. Just because it is currently fashionable in the U.S. to believe that being a white, nationalist is somehow the definition of “Christian,” does not mean God agrees. Just because white people can justify the systemic racism that permeates U.S. culture, doesn’t mean that we live in a “Christian” country. Every time we fail to recognize that racism fuels poverty, lack of education, poor physical and mental healthcare, housing insecurity, food deserts, and so much more, we fail to recognize the foolishness of our ways. God has not divided humanity by race or economics or wellness or ability or gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, country of origin, or religious traditions. The divisions that lead to hopelessness and violence are entirely human made.

We, my friends, have not been faithful in much. We have let the voices of Empire lull us into complacency, ambivalence, and inaction. While we as individuals may not ascribe to the white supremacy, white nationalism, and rightwing Christianity that serves the Empire, we as congregations, as Christians, have remained (for the most part) frighteningly silent. We want to blame the current Administration for all that ails this country. Make no mistake though, the growing sense of division and hopelessness predates the current situation. The tendency to blame those we perceive as “other” is woven into the very foundations of this country. Nothing will change unless we change it. Nothing will change until we stop accepting the worship of mammon by those who serve the Empire and refocus our worship on the God whose love endures forever. We can choose to remain in service to those whose greedy pursuit of wealth casts all “others” as villians. Or we can choose to server the One who calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves with all that we have and all that we are.

The erroneous belief that wealth and worldly success will cure what ails us needs to come to an end. Our eyes must be open to the racism that fuels division, fear, hatred, and violence throughout all of society. More importantly, if we are to be faithful with what has been entrusted to us, we must care for the most vulnerable among us now. We cannot wait any longer. People are being murdered. People are dying by suicide. People are losing their lives to opiates. People are in desperate need of hope, healing, and being re-membered, reconnected, to the people of God.

If you believe this parable that tells us we need to be faithful in little so that more will be entrusted to us, faithfulness starts with our love of God, neighbor, self, and Creation. The lies of the Empire do not lead to life. The greedy pursuit of wealth creates far more problems than it solves and separates us from the Love that can save lives.

Most of what I learned from my mother about the way the world works has proven to be incorrect. I continue to do all that I can to live in Love and dismantle the ways of hatred and fear. Think of the change we could bring if we all sought to bring the Love of Christ into the world in tangible, lifesaving ways…

RCL – Year C – Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost – September 22, 2019
Jeremiah 8:18-9:1 with Psalm 79:1-9 or
Amos 8:4-7 with Psalm 113
1 Timothy 2:1-7
Luke 16:1-13

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Finding What We Lost

When Jesus told the parables about the lost sheep and the missing coin, he was trying to get his listeners to understand the magnitude of God’s love. No matter how many sheep are in the flock, the lost one is worth looking for. No matter how many precious coins in hand, the missing one is worth searching for. God does not give up on God’s people no matter what we do. If we go astray, God will search us out. This was good news to the original audience and it is good news for today’s audience. In the midst of National Suicide Prevention Week, these parables take on an even greater significance.

The core meaning of these parables does not change. However, they also contain a mandate that the church has generally overlooked. We like to think of ourselves as part of the 99 who remain, secure in our righteousness. While we remain safe within our rules about membership and what a “true” Christian believes, we assume that God will save the lost ones of today. We don’t want to take responsibility for what we have broken. We can be secure in our paddocks constructed by our “thoughts and prayers” while God searches out those who are lost. This way, we can keep our hands clean and pass judgement on those who struggle from the high vantage point of (self)righteousness.

That first audience might not have understood what Jesus was talking about. He was saying new things and talking about being the people of God in radical ways. However, Christians today have had generations of practice and we still aren’t living the way Jesus taught. We are to be the Body of Christ alive in the world today. This means we are to be living out the ways of love that Jesus taught. We are to be seeking the lost with more than just our prayers. People live on the margins and edges of society because we who live in the center have essentially let them go, if not actively pushed them out. We seldom recognize the value of what we have lost.

Life expectancy in the U.S. is declining for the first time since World War I. Climbing suicide rates and opioid-related deaths contribute to this decline in significant ways. I would venture to guess that the rising suicide rates and opioid deaths correlate to the decline in faith community membership. (Remember: Correlation does not imply causation.) The decline in membership suggests that organized religion does not meet the needs of people the way it once did, and religious institutions have not done a great job changing in order to meet those needs. The problem is that the spiritual needs for community, purpose, and identity are not being adequately addressed in the absence of church (or other faith community) membership and participation.

We, as human beings, need to be in community where we are known, valued, and have a sense of purpose. Without these spiritual needs being met, we tend to drift toward complacency, ambivalence, apathy, or, more often than not, a sense of hopelessness. This pervasive sense of hopelessness is at the core of declining life expectancy. In a world filled with violence and destruction, where do we find hope and strength outside of faith? In a country where it is no longer possible for each generation to be more “successful” than the previous one, where do we find purpose and value outside of faith?

Our faith communities are declining because we have failed to learn the lessons Jesus’ taught. We have failed to recognize the innate value, the Christ, in every person. The parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin tell us of God’s active and abiding love for us, a love that will seek us out no matter how lost we are. In our desire to be “perfect” disciples, we have become too attached to our rules and traditions. We have failed to see those we have excluded as worthy of seeking after, other than to, perhaps, save their souls. I think Jesus had something else in mind.

God doesn’t need our help saving souls; God needs our help saving lives. People are literally living on the edge of life, falling over into death every day. Church can no longer afford to remain silent about mental illness, addiction, or suicidality. None of these things are a punishment for sin, lack of willpower, or signs of God’s disapproval; they are all as biological as diabetes or cardiac issues. People with mental health challenges, addictions, or suicidality often remain silent in church, if they attend at all. People with these struggles are lost to us because our theology is out of date. Jesus embodied a Love that had no limits. When will we?

As church it is our job to seek after the lost because we are not whole without those who are not present. Our wholeness as the Body of Christ depends on us including everyone in the love of God. People are dying because they have no hope, because they do not know their value, because they do not know they are beloved. If church does not share God’s unconditional, actively searching love with the most vulnerable among us, then we are not church; we are not the Body of Christ.

Embedded in these ancient parables is a call to love, a call to action. As the Body of Christ we have the power to save lives. Let’s commit ourselves to sharing a message of unconditional love, radical welcome, and steadfast hope. Isn’t it time we do something to prevent further decline in life expectancy and share a God’s vision of a future filled with hope and good things?

RCL – Year C – Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost – September 8, 2019
Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28 with Psalm 14 or
Exodus 32:7-14 with Psalm 51:1-10 and
1 Timothy 1:12-17 and
Luke 15:1-10

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On the Brink

Grief is an unwelcome visitor. She often comes without invitation and settles in heavily, as if she plans on remaining forever. Grief has, once more, come to roost in my life, in my body. It’s a struggle to hold her at a distance just so I can breathe. As I morn the loss of the last of the generation of women who raised me, I am overwhelmed with a sense of responsibility. It isn’t that these women were outstanding or even particularly good role models. They were the ones who mothered me to the best of their abilities. They were the ones I called or thought of when I had something to celebrate or grieve, some big change in my life, or needed the ingredients to a family recipe. Now there is no woman ahead of me in my family. I’m the eldest woman. It’s weird and, as I said, a bit overwhelming.

In the midst of grief for the woman who was my “second mother,” I feel a deep need to do better. I feel compelled to be sure I make better choices. I’ve seen what alcohol, cigarettes, and other addictions can do to a body and relationships. I’ve been the addict and I’ve been the one harmed by being in relationship with an addict. So, too, with the women who went before me. What I want now is to live fully. I want to honor these women who did their best, by taking what I have learned from them and making better choices.

On the brink of the Promised Land, Moses speaks hard truth to God’s people. On the edge of a new thing, God tells that people that the ways of life and death are in front of them. They can choose to follow the commandments of God and have life. Or they can bow down to other gods and lose their lives. God clearly wants them to choose life so that they may be blessed, even in the midst of suffering. Yet, God knows the hearts of people. God knows that it is highly unlikely that the people will choose life generation after generation. There is something within human hearts, human culture, human action that strays from God’s ways, especially when life is pretty good. Somehow, God still holds out hope that one day humanity will choose life from one generation to the next.

God is still hoping that we will choose life in this generation and the next. That’s why these ancient words from Deuteronomy have so much power. If choosing life and passing it on to future generations were easy, the scriptures wouldn’t have mentioned it. What we say matters. What we do matters. How we treat our neighbors matters. How we treat ourselves matters. How we treat our planet matters. We have a responsibility to choose, and to choose life over the gods of our own making. We have a responsibility to choose life first, before the little gods lure us away with flimsy gratifications that will not facilitate life.

This choosing life stuff is hard work. All around us are the false promises of glitz and glamour of the socially acceptable altars built to worship fashionable gods. What might happen if we all start making the challenging choice that supports life, not just for us but for all of humanity? We won’t accept the voices in our government that tell us guns lead to peace, fossil fuels lead to wealth, pricing medications beyond the reach of the economically struggling brings healing, and on down the line. If we commit to choosing life the ridiculousness of keeping kids in cages at a border and incarcerating those who struggle with addictions and mental illness won’t remain hidden. If we commit ourselves fully to following God’s ways – you know the ways that mandate caring for the vulnerable among us and loving our neighbors as ourselves – the generations coming after us might inherit something more substantial than the remnants of the “American Dream.”

Grief is the great equalizer. Grief sharpens our awareness of the fragile beauty of life and links us, at least for a while, with all those who mourn. From this place of deep sadness I experience a call or a yearning to move forward, to honor those who have gone before me with the choices I make. Today, I am recommitting myself to making intentional choices to follow God’s commandments to love fully and freely and work to dismantle injustice in all its insidious forms. My desire is to choose life. What is yours?

RCL – Year C – Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost – September 8, 2019
Jeremiah 18:1-11 with Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 or
Deuteronomy 30:15-20 with Psalm 1
Philemon 1:1-21
Luke 14:25-33

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