Lenten Devotion: With gratitude and hope

Now the festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people. (Luke 22:1-2)

With gratitude and hope

We are people of gratitude and hope. As Christians, this is our orientation to life no matter what is happening to us. Whether present circumstances are sunny and bright or threatening and cold, we face each new day and every fresh circumstance with these attitudes.

Because we know … God. We know the Love God is. We know what God has done and promises to do.

At the end of his life and ministry, Jesus prepares to celebrate Passover with this friends, the 12 he had chosen as disciples on brighter days back home in Galilee.

Passover is a meal of identity and hope. It recalls and celebrates the Exodus of the people of Israel from Egyptian slavery. This event marked their identity as a nation, a people chosen and cherished by God.

Passover also looked forward to the appearance of the Messiah, the Promised One who would usher in the rule of God’s mercy and justice, filling the earth with God’s holy Presence even as the waters cover the sea, the prophets said.

It was a meal of gratitude for everything God had done to choose, love, guide and abide with the people, and a meal of hope for a world so much better than the one we experience.

Knowing he will soon suffer rejection and death, Jesus prepares for the Passover meal where he will renew God’s ancient covenant with Israel and extend it beyond one nation to every nation.

He will expand the promises of God beyond one people to every soul ever born … that we may greet every day with gratitude for the immensity of love God pours out on us… and with hope for total union with the Love who wakes us each new morning.

Pr. David L. Miller

Lenten Devotion: Filled and falling

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. (Luke 4:1)

Filled and falling

Filled with the Spirit, Jesus goes into the desert. He goes to battle demons of self-interest and greed, sloth and narcissism that bedevil the tangled wilderness of our minds and hearts.

I see him … and smile, for I know he will not fail.

He refuses to compromise with the powers of evil. He will not do the right thing for the wrong reason. He will not turn from the painful way when resistance and hatred oppose him. Nor will he seek power for himself; power is for one thing only: loving service of the Father’s will.

We could reflect on how different he is from our tangled hearts. Our egos are busily at work even in our best moments, curating our image, subtly serving ourselves. But guilt and shame are not the point of Lent. They are the very opposite of the point.

Jesus is the point. Falling in love with him and everything in him, that’s the point of watching and knowing him.

Look and see the love, the commitment, the freedom, the suffering and the beauty of his life, given to reveal the will of the Loving Mystery he calls Abba, Father.

Filled with the Spirit, he knows the wondrous and beautiful heart of God. God fills him. This filling frees him to be for others, for us, giving himself even unto death. All this, that we may be filled with Love in him … and know what he knows.

Pr. David L. Miller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lenten Devotion: Friends of God

Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you”, and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” ’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is said, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” ’ (Luke 4:9-12)

Friends of God

I’m not quite sure what it means to test God. Our best explanation comes from stories in Hebrew Scripture, our Old Testament, in which people refused to trust God’s provision for their needs.

They demanded a sign from God, something clear, even spectacular that proved God is God and would do what they needed God to do for them.

Doesn’t sound like much of relationship. Most of us would back away from a “friend” who always wants something from us and who pouts if we don’t produce.

At other times, the people of God took God’s blessing for granted: Blessing and divine protection are ours because we are favored, even if we ignore God’s call to be just and merciful, welcoming the stranger and caring for those in need.

Such presumption is not the relationship the Holy One desires with us.

We are invited into a relationship of mutual love and trust in which we do not take God’s presence and blessing for granted, but live in joyful gratitude for every blessing in our lives.

We are invited to be partners in God’s loving mission to the world, caring for the goodness of creation and extending loving care to those who suffer or struggle.

It is incredible but true: God seeks our friendship … your friendship. Friends don’t presuppose on each other. They share their hearts, their hopes, their joys, their needs, wants and goals.

So we do not take God’s blessing for granted or demand that God better do what we want or we will turn away. We trust the Love who wants to walk day-by-day with us.

Pr. David L. Miller

Lenten Devotion: Simple souls

Lenten Devotion 2019

Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, ‘To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.” (Luke 4:5-8)

Simple souls

All great souls are simple souls. They know one thing. They think and feel one thing. They live with one clear image, one definite purpose to which they surrender their lives.

They seek to praise, reverence and serve God with their every word and action.

I don’t think Jesus wavered for a moment at the temptation to worship and serve the powers of evil and hate to gain power. I don’t think he blinked an eye as the evil one displayed the kingdoms of the world.

His heart was calm and his mind clear because he knew who he was … and whose he was.

His eye, mind and heart were fixed upon a single purpose: To reveal the loving beauty of God’s kingdom that we may see, know and enter the blessedness God has for every single soul … and for every single morsel of creation.

Jesus was pure of heart. Purity of heart is to will one thing: to love God and all that God loves with the fullness of heart, mind and soul.

Our divided, complicated hearts are not simple. We long for contradictory things. We often do not know what we want … or need … or what is truly good for us.

Jesus’ unwavering heart shows us the way. The purpose of our lives is to worship the Loving Mystery who reveals the divine heart to our hearts in Jesus … that, we, too, may have simple souls.

May your soul be simple, simply given to him, today.

Pr. David L. Miller

Lenten Devotion: Staying true

Luke 4:3-4

The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone.” ‘ (Luke 4:3-4)

Staying true

The Judean wilderness is a barren moonscape burnt beige-to-brown by the relentless blaze of the blinding sun, century after century. Years can pass without rain and weeks with barely a cloud.

It is there that Jesus wandered for 40 days, tested for his mission, sitting, walking, praying, sweating in the day and shivering in desert nights.

Like prophets and mystics before him, he communed with the mystery of God’s call echoing in his mind and heart, while suffering deprivations of hunger and thirst that would deter him from whatever it was that God was calling him to do.

He could use his power to ease his struggle, avoiding the bitterness of hunger and thirst. But he does not. There can be no shortcuts around the difficulties of his mission. He must live out his call in the face of challenges and hardships.

He knows: Life … Life … is not entered by satisfying our most human hungers, but by hearing and obeying the Divine Inner Voice calling the soul to surrender to the loving call of God to give itself away in loving service.

Jesus listened, heard, obeyed and carried out the mission of revealing the absolute fullness of divine love for me … for you, even through rejection and the cross.

We are enveloped in the Love that was tested in the heat of the Judean desert. This is our deepest truth, to which we return in every need. Imagine him there, staying true to the Father’s voice. He does this for you … that you may know the Love that is always for you.

With shame, we also should acknowledge that we shy from the difficulties of following him, fearing rejection or hardship, holding our tongue when we might speak a word of love, justice or guidance, refusing to interrupt our purposes and needs to serve another soul.

The way of life is to obey the Divine Voice of Love within you, no matter the cost. It is the way of Jesus. The way he shows us the Love that is ours, always.

Pr. David L. Miller