Tuesday, November 20, 2012

When I stumble

From today's reading:  Jesus said to his disciples, 'Occasions for stumbling are bound to come. . .   Luke 17:1  

Occasions for stumbling are found around every corner - some of them we know quite well - those are pretty easy to avoid.  But others are more elusive, they sneak up on us without our even being aware; things like indignation, self-righteousness, pride, attraction, gluttony, temptations of all kinds.  They are most often subtle, attractive, seemingly innocuous.  As a human race, we often make excuses for the questionable behavior.      

Jesus knows that we are not perfect, and his ability to wait for us through our indiscretions is unbounded.  His ability to forgive us for our transgressions is without end.  His willingness to reach down into the dusky places we go and to draw us up again is the example of his great love for us.

Jesus, when temptations are placed in my path, help me to overcome, but on the occasions when I do fall, pick me up, help me to repent, and place me back on the path.  Amen.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Open my eyes, Lord

From today's reading:   The rich man called out, "Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames."  Luke 16:24

This is from the story of Lazarus and the rich man; you know - that joke that Jesus told that starts, "two men died and went to heaven and Father Abraham met them at the gate..."  Jokes are often used to tell great truths, such as this one.  The point is "the first shall be last and the last shall be first..."  or maybe "we reap what we sow..."  or "be careful how you treat the little guy..."  

In our story today, the rich man (whose name is never mentioned) is still thinking of himself as above Lazarus, wanting Lazarus to serve him.  He wants Lazarus to be merciful to him, even though he was never merciful to Lazarus.  It's all part of what Jesus was talking about when he said, "Do unto others what you would have them do unto you."  We are expected to treat others in the same way that we would want them to treat us if our roles were reversed.   

Too many people in today's world automatically take offense at the slightest provocation, especially when we see ourselves as being above or better than the other.  When dealing with other people, it would serve us well to think: "If our roles were reversed, how would I want to be treated."  That might cut down on a lot of friction we see in today's world.  The next time you feel irritated at someone, before you respond, picture yourself in their place - and act accordingly.

Lord, open my eyes to see the world the way you see it, not through my limited vision, but through your loving and merciful eyes.  Amen.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment

From today's reading:  So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment  James  2:12-13

Just a short note today - about the last four words in the verses above:  I think this is something that is preached over and over in the Bible - but it is overlooked by a large number of Christians.  I think the human need to validate ourselves often shows up in our insecurity in our own being..  For some people, it seems to be easier to attack and judge others, to run them down than to find something commendable in ourselves.  And even when we are right, Micah reminds us what the Lord wants of us: "to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." (6:8) My motto is if I err, I will err on the side of mercy.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Lord, keep me faithful

From today's reading:  He asked them, 'Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did.  Luke 13:2-3

When Katrina happened, a young man told me that it was God's just punishment for the wickedness of the people of New Orleans.  A friend tells me that it was the arrogance of the people who defied nature by building below sea level that paid the price.  What Jesus is telling us here is that calamity striking does not indicate disfavor from God.  These things just happen and as it says elsewhere in scripture, both rain and sun fall of the just and the wicked alike.  And I don't even believe that Jesus is saying that the people died unrepentant.  What he is saying is that we can't predict when or where we are going to die and that we should at all times be prepared to meet our Lord.

The Roman Catholic Church advocates weekly confession - anytime you are going to take communion.  Some people believe in doing a nightly examination of conscience - just a quick check on the day.  What have I done that was right - what have I done that was wrong?  How can I improve myself tomorrow?  You don't have to go down some long check list - just a quick personal check in - and a prayer for God to help you do better tomorrow.

Lord, keep me faithful, remind me of those things I need to change, help me let go of those things I cannot change, show me where I can make the difference in someone else's day.  Amen.    

Friday, November 2, 2012

Comfort in the Lord

He will swallow up death for ever.  Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces.  Isaiah 25:8a

These are comforting words from Isaiah for those who have lost a loved one.  Today is called All Souls Day and is set aside to remember all those who have died.  All those we love but see not more.  We remember them and raise them up to the Lord, asking a blessing on each and every one of them - today and always. God loved us so much that he sent his son Jesus Christ to be our advocate and the sacrifice for all.  Jesus Christ died that all might be saved.  We can take comfort in knowing that God cares for each and every one of us as we are his creation, made in his image.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

For all the Saints, who from their labor rest.

Today's reading from the apocryphal book of 2 Esdras 2:42-47
42 I, Ezra, saw on Mount Zion a great multitude that I could not number, and they all were praising the Lord with songs. 43 In their midst was a young man of great stature, taller than any of the others, and on the head of each of them he placed a crown, . . . 44 Then I asked an angel, ‘Who are these, my lord?’ 45 He answered, ‘These are they who have put off mortal clothing and have put on the immortal, and have confessed the name of God. . . 46 Then I said to the angel, ‘Who is that young man who is placing crowns on them and putting palms in their hands?’ 47 He said to me, ‘He is the Son of God, whom they confessed in the world.’ So I began to praise those who had stood valiantly for the name of the Lord.  

Today is All Saints - a day of remembrance for those who have died. We remember especially those saints that have pointed the way for the church, but we also remember our local saints - our family and friends who have passed on during the year.  As we think about their lives, and about their impact on our lives, the vision of Ezra is a blessing to think that they are honored and we will see them again.  If you are in Alvin this evening, join us for a service of remembrance at Grace Episcopal Church at 7:00 pm.