#Three Words

It’s Fat Tuesday!

The roar of Christmas has faded and the Madison ad men have gone back to their offices to hatch new schemes to sustain the premise of anxious consumerism and chronic dissatisfaction that permeates our culture.  I emerge from the green respite of ordinary time and find myself today, the day before Lent begins, on the edge of the desert.  God’s invitation has brought me here. My heart and mind wonder what spiritual gifts I might glean from this journey into a wilderness where I am free to walk empty- handed and silent with you and with God toward Golgotha and the mystery of an empty tomb. I scan this naked and barren milieu seemingly devoid of life and treasure and know looks are deceiving. I will have discipline myself to see the invisible and grow from sacrifices.  Rather than being gluttonous, as many often are on Mardi Gras, today I will open my senses to the many possibilities that lie beneath the surface and make a plan for the forty days ahead. The Spirit calls me forward, and so, in faith, I take the first step.

by Andrew

Always Be Grateful

In my opinion, “grateful” is one of those words that is sometimes over-used. I’ll hear people say “Oh, I am so grateful!” when just a simple, “Gee, thanks a lot!” would do. I try to save my use of this word for something that is just about “over the top,” and of course, all of God’s gifts to us fall into that category. I do try to have many more “thank you’s” than “gimmes” in my prayers, but there are times that I do forget and just send up request after request and sometimes my petitions are even a bit silly. So beginning this week, I am going to try to pay attention to the little things that people do for me and express a sincere thank you, but I am especially going to try to remember to “always be grateful” to God for loving us unconditionally.

by JAM

All Is Well

Julian of Norwich was 30 years old on May 13, 1373, when she contracted a serious illness. She expected to die. The Black Death had ravished the countryside killing much of the population.  She prayed feverishly and was gifted with sixteen visions. In 1395, “A Revelation of Love — in Sixteen Shewings”  became the first book written by a woman published in English. This is her lovely prayer:

“Lord, let not our souls be busy inns that have no room for thee or thine, But quiet homes of prayer and praise, where thou mayest find fit company, Where the needful cares of life are wisely ordered and put away, And wide, sweet spaces kept for thee; where holy thoughts pass up and downAnd fervent longings watch and wait thy coming.”

And her famous quote:“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”  I read this quote to my wife, Kerry.  She said, “That’s like my mantra when I run.”All is well!”

by Nathaniel

Embrace The Change

Two things in life I have learned are constant: change in circumstances and constancy of God’s Love. Sometimes life changes are a result of something unwanted; someone dear to us is taken away either by death, divorce, or change in living circumstances.The aftermath can be emotionally devastating. It is in those times that I embrace God’s love deeply. Our God is a God of delightful surprises. I try to find the silver lining in the midst of the clouds. For me, clouds represent majesty, mystery, and mercy. Silver linings remind me that while this earthly experience is happening on one level, something beautiful and eternal is going on in another. When I turn to God for salvation and resurrection, my soul is enlightened by God’s grace. Some life changes bring us happiness and joy, like weddings, a newborn baby, or perhaps new job opportunities. The God experience is one of something new, a surprise, a mystery experienced as a renaissance or a reawakening in the soul of the abundant grace of God. Today, embrace the change. Be open to God’s delightful surprises!

by Gracie

Teach Me Contentment

Years ago we had to move our whole family to Florida for my husband’s job. Moving to a place where you did not know anyone, your children had no friends, and it was a completely new culture was quite a challenge. I had compared it many times to being like Israelites wandering in the desert for forty years. One day I received a card from my husband’s aunt with a caption that read “Bloom where you are planted.”  I had two choices, I could continue looking at this move as a dry, unenlivened experience or I could take the timely advice and bloom. That same day God put this Scripture before me and I realized I needed to learn the grace of contentment, grow in faith and learn to trust God. “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13) Prayer practice: Teach me Contentment.

by Cathy

Great Sacred Presence

There is a prayer I found several years ago on my many field trips to bookstores, thrift stores, bead shops and garage sales.  Once I happened upon it, it caught my eye and drew me in.  It is written in white lettering on a piece of artwork; A calm blue tinted river or lake, surrounded by green grasses and trees lit by the auburn sun. There is a wooden path that leads to the water’s edge and a person standing, as if waiting for someone, with a longing heart:

“May I always behold your beauty.

May I always hear your voice.

May I find your handprint on all that is whole and good.

May the beauty of the earth speak to me of you.

May I live to bring the teachings of peace, family, and connectedness to all people.

May your heart beat in my chest.

May your voice speak through my lips.

This is my constant prayer.”

I saw this. It spoke to me. I had to purchase it. God’s great sacred presence.

by Liz

Morning Mantra

Less of me.  More of You. This has been my morning mantra for quite some time now. Upon awakening, I sit on the side of my bed, intentionally make the sign of the cross, and slowly repeat it three times in silence, hoping that I might internalize the message and walk out into the world and live the Jesus Way.

Less of me,

more of You

in the workplace

in the parking lot

on the freeway

in the meeting

at the market

at the gym

on vacation

with my family

with friends

the list goes on and on.

When I can think of others first (which is not always my go-to idea!), then I find myself happier, less stressed, freer and closer to God.

by Andrew

 

Cross For Eternity

There’s a story about a fictional country in Central America where politics, greed and civil war has erupted into the streets of the local town. The title of the story is “A Flag For Sunrise”.  The flag is a powerful symbol of a choice the indigenous people have to make. Their decision will put them on one side or the other and as war rages on they wait for the morning to see if their flag will be flying. There is a poignant correlation between these homegrown people and us Christians.  Except we have the Cross in front of us all the time, at sunrise and sunset, year in and year out. We have no worries as to who will be in power the next day or the next day after that. We have A Cross for Eternity. There are no questions, no fears no praying for one side or the other. There is just faith, forgiveness and love.  Let the world around us find its place in history. Our Cross has saved us. Our time is of eternity.

by Diego