Archive for July, 2010

You Can’t Always Get What You Want….

Monday, July 26th, 2010

but, we get what we need from God.

Our prayers are always answered, but we don’t always get exactly what we prayed for.

The themes this week  are prayer and persistence.  In the first reading from Genesis (Genesis 18: 20-32), Abraham is haggling with God as if  God were his friend – God is our friend.  Abraham is bargaining with God to save cities from destruction if there are 50, then 40 ,  then 30, then 20  and finally 10 innocent people found in the city.  Abraham’s prayers and persistent negotiating with God resulted in God agreeing to save the cities if there were only 10 innocent people found. It’s Abraham’s prayers, persistence and relationship with God that allow his prayers to be answered.

Today’s Gospel reading from Luke (Luke 11:1-13) gives us a similar message with the themes of prayer and perseverance.  As some of Jesus’ disciples were watching Jesus pray, one of them said, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”

As always, it’s more important what we do with our actions than what we say with our words. Very importantly, Jesus’ disciples constantly see him in prayer.   Jesus then instructs the disciples to pray with the words of the “Our Father.”

Jesus taught us to pray to God as Our Father, Our Dad, Our Papa, Our Daddy.  God is just not Jesus’ Dad, God is OUR Dad! When we talk about each other as brothers and sisters, it’s true because we all have the same Dad.

He taught us to ask our Dad –  God –  to “forgive us our sins”, and he instructed us to show forgiveness of others too, “for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us.”  Did you happen to notice the word “everyone?”  Can we ask God to forgive us when there are still people in our life whom we have yet to forgive?

Jesus goes on to tell the disciples a story that you should read about a friend who is looking to borrow food in the middle of the night so that he can take care of a friend who unexpectedly arrived at his house.  Have you ever had to call a friend in the middle of the night to ask for help?  “My car broke down and I need a ride!”  or  “Some guests just arrived and we don’t have enough beds. Can I borrow a few sleeping bags and pillows?”  Our friend may respond by saying something like, “It’s 11AM, call me in the morning!”  We all know that when we persist in asking a friend for help, she always helps.

Jesus uses that story to remind us to constantly pray to God and to persevere in our prayers.  Jesus’ words are too perfect for me to paraphrase so here they are:

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive;

seek and you will find;

knock and the door will be opened to you.

For everyone who asks, receives;

and the one who seeks, finds;

and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

We’re being encouraged to seek and to find the things that conform with God’s will.  Our prayers are always answered. It’s up to us to look for the grace in God’s response – especially when it manifests in an answer which is different from our request.

We can’t always get what we want, but we have faith that we always get what we need!

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Too Busy to Listen?

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

In this week’s Gospel from Luke (10:38-42), it’s easy to apply words from 2000 year old scripture to our life in 2010.

In this very short reading, Jesus was invited to Martha’s home.  Martha’s sister, Mary, sits at Jesus’ feet listening to his every word while Martha (who invited him there in the first place!) is busy – probably preparing food and drink for her guest.

Martha is a little bit irritated because her sister is just sitting around while she’s doing all the work. So what does Martha say to Jesus?  She says, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” 

Haven’t you ever felt exactly like Martha?  I have.  I’ve been running around my home trying to prepare food and drinks for my guests while other family members have been leisurely enjoying themselves.

How does Jesus respond to Martha’s unsolicited advice?  He says, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.  There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

Jesus loves Martha and Mary and wants to remind Martha why and for whom she is laboring so hard.  He’s asking her to either listen to him while she’s working or to sit down with Mary and pay attention to what he has to say. True disciples eagerly listen to the word of the Lord.

Who are you rushing around trying to serve?  Are you also feeling worried and anxious quite often? Are you so busy with your every day life that there is no time for God?

Jesus is reminding Martha and each and everyone of us to remember who it is that we’re serving.  He’s asking us to put away our anxiety and fear and to put our faith in him.

If Martha had a hard time paying attention to Jesus when she was physically with him, how much harder is it for us today in a world of non-stop noise – TV, radio, computers, cell phones and piped-in music? It’s much more challenging for us to find silent time to simply be still and listen. Although it’s more challenging, it’s very possible.

Each of us has plenty of time for what we value. Jesus told Martha, “There is need of only one thing.”

We get to hear God’s Word not only in scripture but when we slow down long enough to listen.

Read his word.

Contemplate on what he’s asking of you.

Put his words into your mind and heart and most importantly, into your every day actions.

 You and I are the Body of Christ on earth.

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Monday, July 12th, 2010

This weekend’s theme is love.  In my opinion, if we boil down Christianity into one word that word would be love.

In the reading from Deuteronomy (30:10-14) Moses lets us know that within the human heart is a divine law that commands us to love. It’s something that we already possess within us.  Moses says, “No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.” 

We possess love within.  We are love. When we act like ourselves, we love God, others and ourselves.  Love is our natural state. It’s when we’re not loving that we’re acting contrary to our nature.

It today’s gospel from Luke (10: 25-37), a Jewish scholar of the law asks Jesus, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus responds to his question with two questions, “What is written in the law?” and “How do you read it?”

The scholar says, “ You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  He gave Jesus the correct answer: Love, love, love, love, love.

The scholar needed further clarification so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Was he expecting a response from Jesus like, “Only your fellow Jews”  or “Only people within 2 kilometers of your home”? 

In typical Jesus fashion, he responds to this question with a parable – The Good Samaritan.

As we know from hearing this parable numerous times, it’s not the priest or the Levite who stopped to help the man who was robbed and beaten, it was a Samaritan (Samaritans were hated enemy of the Jews).  The priest and Levite crossed the street and kept on walking ignoring the man.

When Jesus asked the scholar, “Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”, his response was, “The one who treated him with mercy.”  The scholar didn’t say the Samaritan. Maybe he didn’t say the Samaritan because it was the enemy of the Jews who helped the man – not the priest, not the Levite. He was probably embarrassed that a brother of the same faith didn’t help a fellow brother.

How often do Christians argue and fight with fellow Christians?

Which of our neighbors is Jesus telling us to love? Every one of them.  It’s a big world. There are lots of people who need our love.  Many of them are within our own families.

Are we really supposed to love our enemies?  Our family members who’ve hurt us?  Terrorists who’ve killed our brothers and sisters and changed our way of life?

You know the answer.  It’s in your heart.  Jesus is just reminding us because it’s very easy to forget when we’re surrounded by so much fear and hatred.

You and I are the body of Christ in the world. We are love. Go forth and love. Remind others of the love that they too possess.

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