Archive for the ‘Fine Lines’ Category

Hubble Photographs

Yesterday Ireceived a beautiful Hubble photograph of the Orion Nebula rendered on to canvas. It was a gift from my daughter and her husband given with this message: “Hope the divinity of the creation of Orion’s Nebula fills you with joy and awe”. It does. I have a DVD of the Hubble telescope photos set to music and every time I see it, I weep at the exquisite beauty hidden away in the heavens for millennia. And now I also have a beautiful reminder to look at every day.

When I told my mother about this beautiful gift, her comment was, “and to think we all thought Edwin Hubble was a kook!”. Mr. Hubble was from my hometown of Wheaton, Illinois. Mom went to Wheaton Community High School way back in the day when Edwin Hubble’s telescope sat in what is now downtown Wheaton. She remembers walking past it and laughing with her classmates about this kooky scientist!

This reminds me that greatness is seldom either appreciated or recognized in it’s own time. And that perhaps it would be wise to be circumspect when confronted with things we do not understand.

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God be in me

God be in my pain and in my enduring. God be in my plans and in my deciding. God be in my mind and in my growing. God be in my limbs and in my leisure. Amen. 

From Coventry Cathedral 

Thoughts:  there is only one way to oneness with the Divine which is Christ in us but there are many understandings of the process.  It does not matter because we see as if through a mirror darkly ,  our understanding compromised by our experience and culture and fears.  It is God’s grace, God’s will to bring us home to God’s Self.   Frankly, it isn’t our business to determine if God is doing that “right” for ourselves or anyone else. What is required is basically self-acceptance, mentally resting in the knowledge that Christ is at work in all our foibles, ideocentricities, talents, passions, even our fears. All that we are is God’s temple.


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And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. (Luke 1:46-51 NIV)

Mary’s song is my favorite part of the Christmas story even though is is placed while Jesus is still in the womb. There is a peice of Christmas that gets lost in my country and it is this: God despises arrogance. We hear this first in Mary’s Song and then again in the singing of Heavenly Angels to poor, despised, hard working shepherds. We see it in Christ Jesus lowly birth and then in Herod’s attempt to over-power the Promised Messiah by slaughtering untold numbers of baby boys under the age of two. I heard a radio preacher recently proclaim that the one thing God cannot stand, throughout the teachings of the Bible is pride. I believe the meaning of this term is arrogance, not pride in a job well done.
In this season of Christmas and New Years, my prayer is that this country which I so love, and am so hopeful about, will turn from our arrogance of power and bend our knees to the God who deigned to come to earth as a helpless child to inexperienced parents in a place of lowly animals celebrated only by despised and filthy barely awake shepherds. May we open our sleepy eyes. Blessed Christmas to all.

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The least often told part of the Christmas story is the slaughter of baby boys done at Herod’s behest. And now, just a few days ago, in the midst of this Christmas season, we have been horrified at the slaughter of innocents as well as of our own innocence in Conneticut. It is only natural that we look for something or someone to blame other than the murderer himself. I think this is a time for us to mourn together as a nation and ask ourselves how we have gotten to this place. The answers to this question will be many things, not just one thing such the lack of prayer in school or the proliferation of guns. These far-too-often massacres are evidence of a rise of evil in our society, an evil empowered because we have lost our center, no longer seeing ourselves as a nation under God but as a collection of consumers centered in self gratification.
However, I do not believe that these particular children and teachers died because of the lack of prayer in school. These children were children of faith. Psalm 139 reminds us

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. (Psalm 139:7-12 NIV)

 God’s ways are not ours.  I believe there have been many murders of children, including the slaughter of the innocents at the time of Jesus’ birth that are beyond our understanding. It is when we admit that we truly do not understand that our faith is strongest.  Breathe in God’s peace even as we mourn. Remember that history is beyond our grasp.  But it all is in God’s hands, even the ugliness and horror. This life is merely a flicker of a much larger story. Even so, there is something required of us – we must let God fill our own hearts so that God’s light can shine through us in these very dark days. Be the Light whatever your circumstance. The darkness can not overcome us.

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Lord, if we are to be afraid of anything, let it be the fear of not committing ourselves fully to you. Let us fear that the day will pass without our having lightened the load of another. Let us fear that someone will come looking for you and find only us. Amen.

-From Common Prayer

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The Third Commandment

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. (Exodus 20:7 KJV)
My brothers and sisters, above all, do not use an oath when you make a promise. Don’t use the name of heaven, earth, or anything else to prove what you say. When you mean yes, say only yes, and when you mean no, say only no so you will not be judged guilty. (James 5:12 NCV)

I think the third commandment is the most misunderstood of all ten. I grew up afraid God would strike me down for saying Gosh or Darn much less swearing “real” swear words. Don’t get me wrong. There is way too much profanity across the airwaves, in the workplace and on the playground. I get weary of the “F” word lacing through everyday conversation. But profanity has little or nothing to do with the third commandment given to us by God through Moses.

This commandment is about the power of the God’s name and not misusing that power. The simple example of this would be praying to win the lottery or the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstake. And I have to admit that sometimes in jest I pray that God will wipe out the fat calories in something I should not eat. I should not pray this way but I’m counting on God’s sense of humor….perhaps it’s time to stop that one. Another way God’s name is taken in vain is when we lightly claim what Jesus would or would not do when our New Testament gives no evidence that our opinion is that of Jesus the Christ.

On the flip side, to pray in the name of Jesus Christ is to pray with power and authority. It is not something to be done thoughtlessly or as if we are just signing off before we say “Amen”. When we pray in Jesus name, we are calling on the forces of Heaven to make so what we have asked. So let us be careful and deliberate in what we ask for in prayer. And let us not be casual about assuming we know what Jesus would or would not due. This is far more important than the occasional profanity that might cross our lips. Pray as though your prayers have power and importance rather than in vain.

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Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

— St. Teresa of Avila

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 “But if I go to the east, he is not there;

if I go to the west, I do not find him. 

 When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;

when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him. 

 But he knows the way that I take;

when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. 

 My feet have closely followed his steps;

I have kept to his way without turning aside. (Job 23:4-11 NIV84)

I’ve been watching the beautiful colors of Autumn disappear outside my windows. The comforting fire crackles in the fireplace and the politicians are silenced with a light touch on the off button. Ahhhh! Such sweet silence! But somedays God too seems silent. There is an old adage that I despise that says: “if God seems far away, guess who moved?” This is supposed to make one feel even worse, the lowliest of the low, if one is in a time of spiritual drought. Not helpful. Not at all. These are the words of Job’s comforters whom God resoundly denounced as liars. Let these words of Job quoted above comfort you. It is only when God seems far away that we are required to flex our spiritual muscles. If God always carried us like a baby through times of trouble, then we would never learn to walk by faith, trusting in God’s unfelt presence, patiently waiting God’s warm embrace, accepting that our life is always lived in God’s presence.
These are dark days as the sunlight disappears with the falling leaves. These are dark days as we listen to news on any station or check our pockets for loose change or our retirement accounts if we are fortunate to have them. These are the days that require our faith, trust, patience and self-acceptance in order to have the inner strength of God within us. Let not your hearts be troubled.

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From Richard Rohr

The terms “Right” and “Left” came from the Estates General in France. It’s interesting that we now use them as our basic political terms. On the left sat the ordinary people, on the right sat the nobility and the clergy! (What were the clergy doing over there?!) I think you see the pattern, despite Jesus’ clear and consistent identification with the outsiders and the poor.

In most of history you will invariably have these two movements, because we didn’t have the phenomenon of the middle class until very recently. The vast majority of people in all of human history have been poor, as it was in Jesus’ time. Yet the people who wrote books and controlled the institutions have almost always been on the Right. Much of history has been read and interpreted from the side of the “winners,” or the Right, except for the unique revelation called the Bible, which is an alternative history from the side of the enslaved, the dominated, the oppressed, and the poor, leading up to the totally scapegoated Jesus himself. He tries to put inside and outside together, but is killed by those entrapped and privileged on the inside.

Adapted from the CAC Foundation Set: Gospel Call to Compassionate Action
(Bias from the Bottom) and Contemplative Prayer (CD, DVD, MP3)

I did not know that! And I always wondered where the terms left and right came from. Good to know God is the creator of us all.

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From the Book of Proverbs
22:1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold
22:2 The rich and the poor have this in common: the LORD is the maker of them all.
22:8 Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of anger will fail.
22:9 Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor.
22:22 Do not rob the poor because they are poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate;
22:23 for the LORD pleads their cause and despoils of life those who despoil them.

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