Lenten Devotion: The Truth he is

Good Friday, April 19, 2019

Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’ Pilate asked him, ‘What is truth?’ (John 18:37-38)

The Truth he is

Pilate’s question is exactly the right one to ask. What is truth?

This is not a question about facts and details but about the meaning of life, the meaning of the universe itself, if it has any meaning at all.

For the Pilates of every age, the meaning of life is power, to have and hold it, to wield it for one’s advantage. He is not an inordinately evil man. He is a personification and an exaggeration of common wisdom.

We use what small or great power we manage to accumulate to protect ourselves and our interests. There is a certain amount of Pilate in every human being.

But is this the truth of the universe? Is this … what it is all about? Is life a matter of getting what you want, protecting it and satisfying the demands of ego to be as comfortable as you can?

Or is there something more that calls us beyond ourselves into a greater enterprise? Does the universe actually have an overriding meaning that implores us to align our hearts and actions to its call?

It has always been telling to me that Jesus doesn’t answer Pilate’s question, what is truth?He just stands there … because he is the answer, his life, everything he is and does is the truth.

He is totally given and totally filled with an Extraordinary Love, which is the best name we have for God.

Extraordinary Love seeks to gather all that is in an eternal embrace, a great and holy oneness in which everything is imbued and filled with the Love who pours from Jesus as he simply stands there, refusing hatred and retaliation, loving in the face of evil’s rampart power, loving right to the end.

This is truth. We praise, reverence and serve this One … that our hearts may know the truth he is.

Pr. David L. Miller

Lenten Devotion: Watch his hands

Thursday, April 19, 2019

Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God,4got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. (John 13:1b-5)

Watch his hands

Jesus takes off his outer robe, picks up a towel, ties it around his waist, lifts a pitcher and pours water in a basin and motions for his friends to sit by him.

Watch his hands. He touches and washes their feet, placing a heel in his palm and pouring water over each foot. He washes one, then another and another, until he has washed all of them, even Peter, even Judas, even those who will run away. He humbly does what only slaves could be required to do.

The moment is intense, intimate; words fall away. The only sound is the drip of water into a bowl. Jesus gives himself to his friends, lest they forget the love that pours from the Father through him and onto them.

Jesus’ hands tell us what he is doing as he allows himself to be taken and crucified. He is bathing us in a great love that makes our hearts new.

He is washing away the weight of shame and guilt, regret and sorrow, loneliness and despair. He is seeking every lost corner of our hearts where we imagine we are abandoned or of little worth.

He immerses us in an ocean of Love that we may feel the freedom of being saved and experience the radiant Spirit of Life and Love filling us.

He tells us to break bread together and wash each feet not so that we might remember him, but so we can experience him here and now, a present reality, touching us, entering our bodies, caressing and consoling our hearts with the warmth of infinite love.

In the intimate, tender acts of touching and breaking bread we share the union, the oneness, the closeness, Jesus shares with the heavenly Father that our hearts my know, truly know, the healing Presence for which we long.

Pr. David L. Miller

 

Lenten Devotion: A Prayer for Notre Dame

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

A Prayer for Notre Dame

Loving God, in every age you have moved your people to acts of great reverence and devotion, stirring the hearts of the faithful to create music, art and symbols of beauty that have stirred the longings and prayers of countless millions. 

Look with mercy on the burnt embers of Notre Dame Cathedral where countless souls have been moved to prayer, praise and to seek you whom no human walls can contain. Console the people of France and Paris for whom the cathedral’s beauty and noble spire have been a symbol of faith, pride and national identity. 

Send the Spirit of your love to all who mourn the immensity of this loss, and unite the hearts of all the faithful on this holiest of weeks that knowing your love we may trust ever-more greatly in you, who bring life from death and hope from the flames of destruction, through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Pr David L. Miller

Lenten Devotion: Tragedy to Triumph

Friday, April 12, 2019

Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,

and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out himself to death,
   and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
   and made intercession for the transgressors.
 (Isaiah 53:12)

Tragedy to triumph

We stand on the brink of Holy Week when unholy things will occur. They occur every week, but this is the week when we consider the great tragedy of the human heart and history.

The gift of God’s own presence is refused and killed, hung on a cross. This is the rejection of the Love the human heart most needs, but most fears.

Fears? Yes, because receiving the Love who is our Source not only gives joy but moves us beyond ourselves in acts of great care. Knowing the Love Who Is carries us beyond our comfort zone. It asks us transform the world by caring for those who are difficult for us, forgiving what we don’t want to forgive and loving this world even when it is most unlovely.  

It coaxes us to release our delusional grasp on our futures and trust that Love, after all, is enough to hold and give us what we need in the great unknown that stretches before us.

This week, we watch Jesus pour himself out to death, receiving the brutality of those who do not want the world or themselves to be transformed by Love. He bears their abuse, refusing to pay back evil for evil, even praying for those who do not understand that they are trying to kill the very Love they most need.

But they cannot, of course. For the week that witnesses the great folly of the human race ends in startled wonder, as we see once more that Love, indeed, is stronger than every death that has ever been. 

Seeing this, our hearts will fill with life once more.

Pr. David L. Miller

Lenten Devotion: Gentle rider

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Then they brought [the colt] to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! (Luke 19:35-38)

Gentle rider

Jesus knew exactly what he was doing when he mounted the colt and rode it into the Kidron Valley on the outskirts of Jerusalem. He was fulfilling God’s promise of the Messiah:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.  (Zechariah 9:9).

He looked gentle, but his act was a threat to the Romans who occupied the city and to the authorities who ran the temple.

For the gentle rider on his colt was claiming to be the Messiah, which means “Anointed One,” who judges and shepherds the nations, brings light to those in darkness and mercy to the poor and oppressed.

The Messiah would command peace to the nations and break the instruments of battle into pieces.

Of course, this king will be rejected. We know how he was arrested, condemned and brutally executed. But we also know that the life that was in him could not be killed but rose again. The peace he proclaimed, the mercy he poured out, the care and justice he embodied has ruled the hearts of those who name him Lord and changed the entire course of history.

All the armies that have marched and navies that have sailed don’t begin to match the power of this Jesus, who still commands and makes peace flow from the hearts of those who know him.

And he will, until the day his peace covers the earth as the waters cover the sea.

Pr. David L. Miller

Lenten Devotion: In your hands

Lenten Devotion 2019

Date

But I trust in you, O Lord;

   I say, ‘You are my God.’ 
My times are in your hand;
  
 deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors. 
Let your face shine upon your servant;
   save me in your steadfast love.
 (Psalm 31:14-16)

In your hands

To know salvation is to know a great and enveloping love surrounding, holding and filling you. It is to such everlasting love that the heart cries out and confidently declares, “My times are in your hand.”

Every hour of every day, past, present and future … “in your hands.”

I wrote a sermon using this phrase years ago when studying for pastoral ministry. Our professor assigned the task of writing a funeral sermon. I chose this text and wrote a funeral sermon … for my father, who was still alive at that time.

But he was failing. His health failed for years as post-polio syndrome wore him down to a crumpled, frail shadow of a man, whom I still love greatly as my tears attest. A small photo of the two of us is on my desk, right in front of me as I write.

I thought of my father’s days as I wrote that sermon years ago, a few lines of which I used when Dad finally passed. His days were bright until 29 when polio struck him down in a single day. All the days that followed, until we laid him to rest on a hillside outside our little town, were marked with more struggle than most ever endure.

At the end, when all strength had failed and the loneliness of dying weighed heavily on his heart, I marked his head with the sign of the cross and assured him that he rested in the arms of an everlasting mercy … who held every moment of every day he’d ever lived.

I wanted for him what I want for myself and every soul I have ever counseled, consoled or comforted: Know this, precious heart, everything you are, everything you lost along the way, everything you suffered and every joy that sparkled in your eyes—all of it—rests in the hands of an everlasting love. Now and forever.

Pr. David L. Miller