Monthly Archives: March, 2012

Lent 12

Listen

Listen.
God is speaking,
Speaking in the sounds that you
try to ignore.

He speaks.
He speaks
in the scrape squeak,
clatter and rumble
of human activities.
Humanity,
created in His image,
doing what hands
have found to do.

Listen.
God is speaking,
in the silent spaces,
the pauses
in the music.

Lord, still
the anxious thoughts
the crazy zigzagging
of my to-do list.

Listen.
Be alone with your thoughts,
and let them pass
unengaged,
and then

Listen.

JM,
August, 2007

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Lent 11

Morning Stretch

Lord, in these quiet moments,
While robins chirp, and the sun creeps
Higher in the sky,
I reach out to you –
To your infinite self and strong love,
Knowing, too that it is you who are
Reaching out to me.

I am awake at your bidding.
I seek you because you move me.
I respond to the beauty of this moment
That you have put there.

I listen for your voice,
And I hear a crow calling – nature singing,
The clock ticking – time passing,
Aeroplanes, cars and busses – the city coming to life,
And all is held and moved by you.

Breathing in and out,
Heart beating,
Thoughts darting this way and that,
Like small trout in a
Sun-dappled stream.

Alive, and in your care,
I listen and wait and pray,
And try desperately to
Be still and know
That you are God.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

JM
March 24, 2012

Psalm 40:6-10 (NIV)

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
but my ears you have opened —
burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.
Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.
I desire to do your will, my God;
your law is within my heart.”
I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips, LORD,as you know.
I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness from the great assembly.

Lent 10

“Women Change”, declared the sign as I walked down the hall from the men’s change room at Hillcrest Pool just before 8:00 this morning. Groucho Marx could almost be heard to say “they soitenly do,” tapping his cigar.  Relaxed and feeling good after a swim and hot tub, “odd sign,” I thought to myself.  Glancing back, just to check where I had been, sure enough, the other sign proclaimed “Men Change.”

Just two words: no punctuation.  The message of that sign turned over in my mind.  Several meanings, other than the original intended message, occurred to me:
– command- “you, woman / man! Get changed!”
– description / declaration: Men and women are in the habit of changing their clothes.
– have you any change?
-…

Waiting for my wife to change, I thought of the hope embodied in those two signs.  Both men and women can, and do, change.  We are not stuck in one stage or place.

For me this is a hope to which we look forward.  We are not stuck in the troubles and trials of the moment.  Change happens.  Growth, learning, healing and development are all dynamics at work in people.  I have no right to keep others in the place where I think they ‘belong’.  I need to make allowance for the fact that people change.  Even within aging, degeneration, disease and loss, we have seen people change and grace at work.

Much can be done through effort of will, work and self discipline, but there comes a limit to what we can change.  There are the brick walls of life, against which no amount of pushing makes any difference.  Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other twelve-step programs refer to a Higher Power – a power greater than us – being the something needed when all our other resources are not sufficient.

As a Christian, I have a name for that higher power. God has made himself known in the person of Jesus.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ (Jesus), he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18 (ESV))

The message of Lent is looking to Jesus for the change that we cannot bring ourselves.

People Change.

Lent 9

dead end road sign crucifix

dead end crucifix

In Rome recently, I came across a dead end road sign that had been creatively altered to become a crucifix. I like these quirky graphics in the style of Clet Abraham, so I eagerly took a picture of it.

I thought about the image and what it means to me. The juxtaposition of “dead end” with the crucifixion, being Jesus’ “dead end” came to mind.

Jesus’ life ministry was lived with the cross in view. Early on in Luke’s Gospel, (Luke 9:51) we read about how Jesus determinedly set his sights on Jerusalem. Jerusalem was where he had to go to complete his mission. Jesus knew what had to be done. He knew that he was heading into a dangerous dead end, but he willingly went to Jerusalem and to the cross.

In life there are ugly, dangerous things that we would never want to meet on a sunny day, let alone in a dark alley. Jesus looked all those things full in the face, and proceeded. Jesus saw all the evil that Satan could throw his way and went step-by-step towards the cross – his dead end.

When he was eventually nailed to the cross, Luke records Jesus’ last words as “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” This is the dead end response – to commit my life into The Father’s care.

John’s Gospel records Jesus’ last words as “it is finished.” Jesus has died. His physical life is over. Jesus faced all our sin and the ugliness we have made. He willingly took our sin upon himself and was executed – the only just way to deal with evil. He suffered and died, but thank God that the history does not end there!

On the third day after his brutal death, Jesus came back to life! He was dead, and buried, but death could not keep him! That is what all the excitement of Easter is about!

The evil in my life is, for me, a dead end, but Jesus walked into that blind alley for me, and dealt with what I could not handle on my own.

Hebrews 4:14-16 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Lent 8

Can stones be Bread?

In this wilderness,
can stones be bread
to meet the needs of self;
make sure my flesh is fed?
I take my own steps
to ensure my wealth

After a long time of deprivation,
am I my weakest, or strongest?
Loss and disappointment
will not beat me, nor wear me down,
but ensure that I will not bow
or submit my heart’s passion
to anything short of
my own highest call.

Spiritual ministry arrives.
The battle was almost
more than I could bear.
But I did not bow the knee.

March 5th, 2012.
JM

Matthew 4:5-12 (NIV)
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:  “‘He will command his angels concerning you,  and they will lift you up in their hands,  so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Lent 7

Worthily lamenting our sins

Do I indeed lament my sins?
Do I return again and again
to the things that brought
pain, sadness and shame?

“Create in me a pure heart,
oh God and renew
a steadfast spirit
within me.”

“Against you,
you only have I sinned
and done what is evil
in your sight.”

When I can begin to pray like that,
it shows that I am not satisfied
to remain sitting in my sin.

“Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.”

I am beginning to think differently about this all.  When I ask God to blot out my sin, it is not only a request that he remove the stain of sin from my account – to pardon me from past sins.  I am also asking him to wash away my sinfulness; to soak up the sin in my life. Lord forgive the sin that I have done and remove the sin from my heart. Remove the sin that I would do.  I am saddened for the sins I have committed and for the sins that I am committed to doing.
Clean it all away.

The cross is a killing place, not just a coat rack where I hang comfortable sins until the next time I need them.  I need to die to self — to self-interest, and begin, step by step, to agree with God; that He is good; that he can be trusted; that he has provided all that I need.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. (Psalm 23:1)

When I choose selfishness and sin, I am disobeying Him. When I obey God, I Love him. Lord have mercy on us.  Strengthen us. We struggle to live in joy in your provision.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+51&version=NIV

Lent 6

Subject: Fw: Angels

A friend sent me an email that contained the following:
“God is going to fix two things BIG tonight in your favor. DROP Everything and pass it on.  Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. Don’t break this chain. Send to 14 friends in 10 minutes. It’s not that hard. Whoever sent this to you must care about you.”

My response:

God sees us struggling with things, and God cares about our struggles.  He is not just sitting idly by. Many blessings are coming our way every day.

We all have ongoing things with which we struggle. God can turn things around instantly, if he chooses, but he knows exactly what we need and when we need it. I find rich blessings in having his presence with me as the struggles gradually get solved.  And in the few that seem never to get solved, God’s grace is enough to get me through those, too.

So, If tomorrow is the best day of your life, it won’t be because you didn’t break the chain. We cannot earn God’s favour. There is nothing we can do that will put him in a position of owing us anything. All the rich blessings we have are not because we deserve them.

If you have two BIG things that you want God to fix, DROP Everything and pray.  God knows what we need, and we partner with him when we pray.

I could go on about this, but not right now.

God bless you.