Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-31-12

Scripture: Isaiah 49:13
Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his suffering ones.

Thought for the Day: I remember being a bit stunned when a woman said to me, “I’m glad the Lord has compassion for them (referring to a group of people she didn’t like), for I sure won’t.”  There is no question that God’s ability to show compassion is far beyond our capacity, but that doesn’t mean we relinquish our responsibility simply because God has that covered or God can do a better job of it.  Instead, God’s acts of compassion should be a source of inspiration.  Recently, I came across an article (CLICK HERE) about students who helped to build a community outhouse in Laos.  It doesn’t sound all that significant on the compassion-meter, but the addition of a toilet that takes waste to a septic tank will make a dramatic impact upon the health of a community.  Don’t look for excuses.  Instead, look for opportunities.

Prayer: O Lord of Compassion, guide me to more and more opportunities where I can demonstrate what I have experienced so beautifully in my relationship with you.  Amen.

Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-30-12

Scripture: Psalm 34:8
O taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in him.

Thought for the Day: CS Lewis once wrote that the greatest thing about happiness is that it liberates us from thinking about happiness.  It took me two readings of those words to gain a perspective on what he was saying.  I think about people who try to find their happiness in money, and even when they gain more than they really need, their lives become consumed with getting more.  They find themselves on a journey toward what they believe is happiness, only to discover that it leads nowhere except despair and emptiness.  The happiness spoken of in scripture is a state of being that allows our journey, no matter how difficult, to be one in which God  is able to provide peace, joy and grace.

Prayer: Provide for me, O Lord God, the happiness of a faithful existence with you.  Amen.

 

Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-29-12

Scripture: Matthew 7:24
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.

Thought for the Day: How can we make sure that others will hear the good news that has meant so much to us?  How will they learn to build their houses on the solid rock?  But even more importantly, who will be there for those who find the flood waters rising against their less than stable foundation?  We are called to be Christ-like on both sides of the crisis. We invite people into an experience of faith before a crisis, but even when they have chosen a different way, we are there without judgment when crisis comes and they have nothing on which to depend.

Prayer: Give me passion, Lord Jesus, to proclaim the Good News!  Give me compassion, Lord Jesus, to be the Good News!  Amen.

 

Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-28-12

Thought for the Day: Thomas Merton was one of the great 20th century mystics and writers.  He is one of those people whose works could produce a thought-provoking quote for every day of the year.  I saw this one come across Facebook the other day, and it caught my attention.  Merton wrote,

And the deepest level of communication is 
not communication, but communion.
It is wordless. It is beyond words, and it is beyond speech, and it is beyond concept.
Not that we discover a new unity.
We discover an older unity.
My dear brothers (and sisters), 
we are already one.
But we imagine that we are not.
And what we have to recover is our original unity.
What we have to be is what we are.

I think we too often confuse communion with God as offering our litany of wants and hankerings to God.  Of course, God wants to hear our concerns, but God wants us to be with God and listen to God and touch the wholeness God intended from the beginning…even if it is just for a few minutes.

Prayer: God, I come before you, quieting myself and…  …Amen.

 

Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-27-12

Scripture: Proverbs 19:21
The human mind may devise many plans, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established.

Thought for the Day: In yesterday’s prayer of blessing for all those who nurture our children, I prayed, “…God, you reveal the boundless character of your love that begins to dismantle those fraudulent and phony limitation that have convinced far too many young people that they are no good and unable to achieve the dream you have for them.”  In a world where some young people are devalued and ridiculed by the people who should embrace them, the church has an important task.  We believe God is calling each person, and in that calling is an inherent sense a value.  Of course, let us never forget that we are the means and mechanism God uses to make that call and instill that sense of value…so the purpose of the Lord can be established in the world.

Prayer: God, too many young people have no sense of self-worth, yet you have and continue to call your church to be a clear voice of empowerment and hope in the life of every person.  Amen.

 

Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-26-12

Scripture: 1st Corinthians 4:1 (the Message)
Don’t imagine us leaders to be something we aren’t. We are servants of Christ, not his masters. We are guides into God’s most sublime secrets, not security guards posted to protect them

Thought for the Day: There have been so many amazing teachers, mentors and guides along my life journey.  Many of them were incredibly smart folks, but those who had the greatest impact upon my life had other gifts and insights as well.  The great ones didn’t try to cram information into my brain.  Instead, they awakened me to a hunger for knowledge I hadn’t realized was there.  As Socrates put it, “Education is not the filling of a vessel, but the kindling of a flame.”  Those who inspire and ignite a desire to learn are those who have unleashed upon the world its greatest hope for the future.

Prayer: I pray, O Lord, for all those who will assist in the care and education of our children and youth.  May all who work in our schools see themselves as agents of your encouragement and motivation, guiding young minds toward their potential.  Amen.

 

Ecclesiological Etchings: 08-25-12

Scripture: Psalm 25:8-10
Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.  He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.  All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

Thought for the Day: Khalil Gibran was an artist and poet in the early 20th century, and through his own encounter with wonderful teachers and mentors he was inspired to pen the words, “The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.”  The Lord teaches us the Divine way, yet each person is so unique in how s/he comes upon and lives out this way.  I can’t imagine that God has a ‘one method fits all’ tactic.  And since steadfast love is the central strategy God uses, we can be assured that it will recognize the unique needs of every person, for love is never generic.  As God reaches out to the world with a diversity of approaches that is equal to the diversity of the creation, we should appreciate this method in our own approach to teaching others.

Prayer: Grant me, O Lord of Life, a willingness to stretch my understanding so I might better perceive the amazing capacity of your love to reach different people in radically divergent circumstance…all because you genuinely care.  Amen.