November 19, 2017

Finding Holy Ground: Love

As we near the end of this series of meditation of Finding Holy Ground, we’ve arrived at the source of where Holy Ground is deeply rooted. Love is the soil of all Holy Ground. All that we experience of Holy Ground through our senses, our interactions with one another, in our work and our rest begins in love.

It is God’s love for us that is the core of all Holy Ground. The Holy Ground of Creation was based in the Love that desired beauty, life, and companionship. When God spoke to Moses from the burning bush and said ‘remove your sandals because you are standing on Holy Ground’, it was God’s love for the enslaved Hebrews that sparked the bush. Seeing or tasting or hearing God’s Holy Ground in the world around us is our response to God’s love for us. Life itself is the Holy Ground where God’s love meets us.

We do live in a broken world that only dimly perceives that Holy Ground and that Love. We are called to be the hands and feet and lips of God’s Love to the world. Teresa of Avila notes “Christ has no body now but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he works compassion on this world...”

I am reminded that when Naaman the Syrian was healed of his leprosy, he asked to take some of the dirt of Israel back to Syria so he could be reminded of Who is truly God. “Then Naaman said, ‘If not, please let two mule-loads of earth be given to your servant; for your servant will no longer offer burnt-offering or sacrifice to any god except the Lord.” (2 Kings 5:17) We carry and spread the Holy Ground around us each day, too.

In I Corinthians 13, Paul explains Love. He says, “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”

As we go through our daily lives, we are challenged and sometimes respond in unloving ways. It is easy to respond to criticism with anger; to demands with stubbornness; to hatred with more hate. Love is not the easy path to take. It requires ‘turning the other cheek’, as Jesus counselled in Matthew 5:39 and following. He advises, “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also…”

Love is, as Paul says, “patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.

The truth, despite all the media coverage of rage and hate and killing, is that Love has triumphed. As Ann Voskamp noted on November 6, “Never forget it: That serpent is crushed on the ground and Jesus is on the throne.” 
What can you and I do today and tomorrow and the next day to bring more of God’s Holy Ground and Love into our world? We can start by bringing just a bit more into the places we are and with the people we relate to. Like Naaman, we carry the Holy Ground with us. It may not be easy, but with God’s help, we can spread some Holy Ground around us.

November 12, 2017

Finding Holy Ground: Rest

Last week we considered how to discover Holy Ground in the busy-ness of our work-a-day lives. This time, we’re contemplating finding Holy Ground in Rest and Relaxation. This is a category I have difficulty with. I am much more comfortable getting things done, than in sitting and doing nothing.

Jesus commends the practice though. “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’" (Mark 6:31)

Jesus himself went away for quiet, when the crowds became too crushing. “But the news about Jesus spread all the more, and great crowds came to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. Yet He frequently withdrew to the wilderness to pray.” (Luke 5:15-16)

It is often very easy to think we are too busy to take time off. The world won’t stop spinning if we take a day or 2 of rest. In My Fair Lady, Eliza sings “There'll be spring every year without you/England still will be here without you/There'll be fruit on the tree/And a shore by the sea/There'll be crumpets and tea without you.” She is, of course talking to Professor Harry Higgins. However, it is a reminder that we could all use sometimes. God tells us, “Without your pulling it the tide comes in/Without your twirling it, the Earth can spin/Without your pushing them, the clouds roll by”.

My spiritual director has advised me to take a retreat, in order to refill the cup of my soul, so I can continue in the various work and ministry I do. She is reminding me that I’m not irreplaceable in any of my roles. The assorted tasks will get done (or not) just as well with me there or away. After all, “without much ado we can/All muddle through without you.”

The One we cannot do without is the One who too often gets ignored or pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. Next weekend, I’ll be at a retreat focusing on Sabbath. It won’t be totally without work for me, as I’m the coordinator. Still, I hope to find some quiet for myself somewhere in the midst of it all.
Is it time to find a Sabbath time for yourself? Is it time to step away from some of what you do in order to get a drink from the well of life? Is it time to put God at the top of your to-do list?

November 5, 2017

Finding Holy Ground: Work

Over this series we’ve been contemplating how to identify Holy Ground in all sorts of ways. We pondered how our senses help us find that Holy Ground. We looked at the Holy Ground within ourselves and those around us. Have you been able to look for, and see, Holy Ground more readily over the past couple of months?

Many of us spend much of our time involved in work of some sort. Do you find it difficult to think of the daily work as Holy Ground? It is easy to get so involved in doing or finishing a project that we don’t take time to look for God’s presence in what we are doing. We can also compartmentalize our lives into ‘work for money’ and ‘work for God’. The Theology of Work Project focuses on pointing out the truth that everything we do in life is ‘work for God’. It may be sweeping a floor or running a multi-billion-dollar corporation. Everything we do, as we live, is part of bringing the Kingdom of God into existence

Some days we do it better than others. I don’t know about you, but often I get focused on the task at hand and can easily resent an interruption in the form of a phone call or someone coming into the office. I have to remind myself that as Br. David Vryhof of the Society of St. John, Evangelist says, “Interruptions are not always obstacles; sometimes they are opportunities. If we fail to recognize them, we will miss the experiences of grace that are hidden in them.” There is a good chance that God is showing up in the form of that person on the other end of the phone or standing in front of you, disguised as a coworker or visitor.

When I do take time for what is happening around me, I discover that I generally have enough time to finish my work, even with the ‘interruptions’. I also realize that I have been enriched and even blessed by the people I interact with. When I stop and refocus and remind myself that each thing I do is a Kingdom action, even mundane tasks do feel more fulfilling.

It might be self-affirming to check off all the items on the daily to-do list, but it is much more important to be present to the opportunity to welcome God. Henri Nouwen (In the Name of Jesus, 1989) suggests that we need to be “people with an ardent desire to dwell in God's presence, to listen to God's voice, to look at God's beauty, to touch God's incarnate Word and to taste fully God's infinite goodness.” We can only do that when we are open to the interruptions to our plans.

It is gratifying to get a lot of work done and be recognized as a ‘good’ or ‘dedicated’ worker. Again, it is the Brothers at the Society of St. John, Evangelist who remind us, “We should not seek external reward for service to God and to others because we could easily be distracted from the true reward. The greater satisfaction, the greater gratification, the greater reward is God. God promised to be with us always; God promised to abide in us as we abide in God.” (Br. Mark Brown)

This week, I’m going to try to be more aware of God’s interruptions to my daily routine. As Mrs. Brown Sparrow says, in one of my all-time favorite children’s stories, The Contented Little Pussycat, “There are so many things to trouble a body.” I would add, there are many, many things to keep us busy. The Contented Little Pussycat responds, after much thought, that he is contented because he ‘never worries about what might happen tomorrow’ or what happened yesterday. To be contented, this wise kitten lives in the Now.

Since ‘now’ is all we really have, we would be well advised to follow his advice and live this second and then the next. There’s a Christian song by Steven Curtis Chapman that says all we have is ‘right now’, and we should live The Next 5 Minutes like it’s our ‘last 5 minutes’ .

Being aware of God in and through us in 5 minutes segments might be a start to discovering that we are on God’s Holy Ground even in the middle of our ‘working’ life. What might you do this week to live in the present, the now, and take living 5 minutes at a time? 

October 29, 2017

Finding Holy Ground: In Self-Denial

Last week, we tackled the difficult idea of finding Holy Ground in one another, esp. those we don’t really like or agree with, or perhaps even hate or fear. Did you have any luck in looking for Christ in someone you typically have trouble dealing with? It calls for a bit of dying to self to do that, doesn’t it?

With All Hallow’s Eve (Halloween) just around the corner, it is a good time to ponder how exactly we can find Holy Ground in death and loss. Whether that is physical death of a loved one, death of a dream or hope, or just ‘dying to self’ it can be a holy time.

The ancient Celts, whose practices gave birth to the celebration of Halloween, believed that this season of the year was a ‘thin time’. It is a time when the veil between the living and dead is pulled aside and the dead can return to their homes. Other cultures have similar practices. The Mexican Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations are based on the idea that the dead need fed and nurtured at this time of year. Chinese families also leave food offerings for their dead relatives. All these practices recognize that the past, and esp. our ancestors, have an impact on our lives now.

In the Disney movie Mulan, the Ancestors awaken when Mulan takes her father’s place as a warrior. She is willing to put herself at risk to save her father’s life. It is only in letting go of the cultural restrictions that Mulan becomes who she really is. It is not as a woman dressed as a man, but as a woman, that she ultimately saves China and the Emperor from the invading Huns.

Perhaps our forbearers, both familial and in the faith, can help us find the way to Holy Ground, when the veil is thin. Recognition of the thin space between preserving our life as status quo and denying ourselves for the greater good is Holy Ground.

In Luke 9: 23-25, Jesus tells his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?

It is not easy to follow this teaching. There is so much in the world that encourages us to put ourselves first. This product or that one will make you beautiful or popular or rich or even famous. Jesus’ followers are told to live in exactly the opposite way. To ‘deny themselves’ and love one another. That will almost certainly lead to being counter-cultural. Denying our desires and wants in order to honor the Holy Ground in someone else is not easy. Maybe it’s simply letting someone merge in traffic when you are in a hurry, or allowing another person to get the closer parking space at Walmart. Or it could be standing up for the rights of the homeless, the poor, the sick, the abused and thereby becoming one of ‘those’ radical activists.
Take a few minutes to think about the impact of the faith, or lack of faith, in your family tree. How has Holy Ground been nurtured in your by family or friends throughout your life? Can you recognize times when your family or friends did ‘deny themselves’ so that you could prosper? What one thing can you do this week to ‘deny yourself’?

October 22, 2017

Finding Holy Ground: In Others

Last week we paused to consider the idea that we are God’s Holy Ground, and God’s co-workers. We each bear fruit in and for the Kingdom. The hypothesis would be: If I am God’s Holy Ground: then every other person on the planet is also God’s Holy Ground.

That can be difficult to believe when there is so much hatred and violence. There are wars and shootings, there is pain and suffering, there is loss and death. How can the person or people who cause the death and suffering be God’s Holy Ground? It’s easy to see that someone like Mother Teresa is Holy Ground. It is harder to identify Holy Ground in a drug addict or terrorist.

However, isn’t that exactly what we are called to do? Called to see God’s flame in each and everyone we meet? Called to notice the Holy Ground in the lost and frightened? Called to recognize that God is present in those we’d prefer to categorize as ‘other’ or ‘different’ or ‘bad’ or…all the other titles we can give one another?

On Oct. 15 in her Episcopal Café Speaking to the Soul post, Linda McMillan quoted Anne Lamott, “You can safely assume you‘ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” McMillan goes on to note, “A lot of times our actions and our talking have an edge, an undercurrent of hostility, to borrow a phrase.” She is talking mainly about social media interactions that are mean-spirited. However, it has become the norm in many face-to-face conversations to have just the slightest edge when talking about some topics, or to be snide or sharp about this or that person. Perhaps it’s a co-worker, or a politician, or another public figure, we do what my mother used to call ‘damn with a word’. We don’t necessarily even say anything, but the sigh, the rolled eyes, the slight sneer all say volumes.

McMillan reminds us, “another danger is to become so angry that we forget the real answer to that question my friend posed. Who do they think they are? I know who they are. They are beloved children of God; complicated, and reviled, but also loved. I don’t like it, but there’s no getting around it. It is neither just nor wise to judge a person’s life based on the worst things they’ve ever done. I want to be judged on the best, kindest, noblest things I’ve ever done, after all, how about you?”

In the Epistle from last Sunday, Paul says, “I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.  Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:2-9)

Paul urges the community at Philippi to be like-minded, not mean-spirited. He encourages them to think about GOOD things-honorable, just, pure things, rather than focusing on the negatives of circumstances or of one another.

How can we see God’s face in everyone? How do we respond to the question of ‘Who do they think they are?’ Can we possibly look for the good in those we would rather categorize?

Linda McMillan concludes her meditation, “When you feel the hostility rise, and the blanket of being right enfolds you, ask yourself this? What kind of person am I becoming? Who will I be when this is all over? Then go out and actually be the kind of change you want to see in the world: Do a kindness for someone who needs it, or for yourself! You probably need it! Let some joy enter the world by letting it enter your own life. Laugh, and dance, and sing as if the kingdom of God had already come, because it has!”

Perhaps this week you can find something uplifting to post on Facebook instead of responding to a negative comment. Perhaps, instead of entering into conversations demeaning another of God’s beloved ones, you can find something positive to say. Look for the Holy Ground in each and every person you meet, talk about, or see on TV. It won’t be easy, but it might take just a touch of the anger out of the cosmos and replace it with something beautiful. It might replace hatred with Holy Ground

McMillan adds a PS to her meditation. She says, “And I will keep looking for [the image of God] in you, in my students, in my boss in whom it is also fairly dim… You get the idea. Our sacred pledge in baptism is to seek and serve Christ in every person. If you don’t even seek Christ, you can’t serve Christ. So, keep looking. Even if you never find any image of God in another person, don’t let it be because you weren’t looking.”

October 15, 2017

Finding Holy Ground: In You

Since the beginning of September, we’ve been looking for God-for Holy Ground in our 5 senses. To really find the Holy Ground of God, we’ve had to slow down and pause. We’ve tried to really look, smell, taste, hear, and touch things that we often take for granted. As we pause to experience the things around us, we can come closer to finding Holy Ground in ourselves.

Br. Curtis Almquist of the Society of St. John Evangelist notes, “For us to take in the promise of Jesus’ presence, we need to be really present to life. Now. If you’ve been living your life at such a pace that you’ve forgotten what now even looks like, try doing one thing at a time. Start small; start now. Try just drinking a cup of coffee. Don’t be on the phone; no newspaper; no conversation. Just drink coffee.”

We can be so busy that we lose sight of who we are and, more importantly, Whose we are. We cannot be aware of the Holy Ground around and in us when we are multi-tasking. There are lots of things that distract us from taking time for ourselves. There’s the text to answer, the Facebook to update, the phone call to make, the meeting to attend… Sometimes it seems like we are running from ourselves-or from God.

Tim Yee writes meditations for the site Life for Leaders . On October 1, he referred to God’s response to Samuel about the choice of David as the next king for Israel. “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7b). He goes on to say, “We can fall into the trap of defining our value based on external criteria demanded by others and even ourselves…we each must know that the Lord is looking at our hearts—our inner-lives of being God’s children called to join God in his kingdom expansion on this earth.”

God looks at the heart and God loves each of us. God wants to work through and with us in all that we do. We are God’s Holy Ground. We are co-workers in the vineyard. “I am the vine, you are the branches,” Jesus says. (John 15:5) We are to remain in relationship with God in order to bear fruit and be fertile, as well as holy, ground. Jesus continues, “I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.” (John 15:15-16)

Laurie Gudim in the Speaking to the Soul meditation at Episcopal Café on October 12 says, “I had a dream once in which God leaned close, smelling my hair, much as I used to bury my nose in the hair of my children when they sat on my lap, to catch and treasure that unique scent that was such a part of them…” She says, “I dare an open moment, an expectant silence. I dare to believe that I matter, that God has many things that God would say to me. I dare to believe that God yearns to say them.”

What might God desire to say to you? Can you imagine yourself in God’s arms? Do you hear God say ‘you are beloved’, ‘you are my child, my daughter, my son’, ‘you are mine, I chose you’?
Listen to God and make a list of the affirmations God is trying to say to you. Set aside the busy-ness and just listen. You may be surprised at the Holy Ground you will find!

October 8, 2017

Finding Holy Ground: Touch

Were you more aware of the smells around you last week? Have you been more conscious of seeing and hearing God in all things? There is Holy Ground all around if we can just let ourselves experience it. As Barbara Brown Taylor notes, “Earth is so thick with divine possibility that it is a wonder we can walk anywhere without cracking our shins on altars.”  (Altar in the World)

And so, we come to the fifth of our senses: the sense of touch. Have you ever stopped to think about how many things you touch each day? We touch the alarm clock when it goes off. We touch the sheets and toothbrush. We touch the coffee pot and cup. We touch the keyboard and the cell phone. We touch the hand of a friend or spouse. We touch the fruit in our lunch. The list is endless. How many times are you really aware of what you are touching? Do you take time to feel the texture of the skin of the orange, or wrap your hands around the warmth of the cup of tea? Do you pause to caress the cheek of your child or feel the smooth fur of your pet?
In times of crisis, the touch of a hand can be just as important, or even more important than words. Reaching out to touch and hold someone who is ill, or grieving, or sad is a powerful way to give comfort, and to be the hand of God. Touch brings Holy Ground to that moment

For me, I’m afraid that usually it’s more a cursory touch and much more often it’s really absent-minded. I don’t necessarily feel the steering wheel in my hands or the warm water when I’m washing dishes. My mind is somewhere else entirely. Brother Lawrence (1614-91) is famous for his words recorded in Practicing the Presence of God. Despite being assigned to washing dishes in the kitchen, he took time to really find God in the work. He touched God in the dishes and noted, “We can do little things for God; I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of Him, and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before Him, who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king. It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God.”

There is a well-known song (Holy Ground) that reminds us

This is holy ground

We're standing on holy ground
For the Lord is present
And where He is is holy
This is holy ground
We're standing on holy ground
For the Lord is present
And where He is is holy

These are holy hands
He's given us holy hands
He works through these hands

And so these hands are holy
These are holy hands
He's given us holy hands
He works through these hands
And so these hands are holy

These are holy lips
He's given us holy lips
He speaks through these lips
And so these lips are holy
These are holy lips
He's given us holy lips
He speaks through these lips
And so these lips are holy

(1982 Universal Music - Brentwood Benson Publishing (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.), Birdwing Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

We may think that we don’t have the time, or the concentration necessary to realize that we touch God every time we use our hands. I wonder if we did pause to really touch a few things, if we’d find ourselves touching the hand of God. The well known image from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel can be a reminder that God touched Adam and touches us. It is that touch that gives life! Why don’t you try this week holding and really touching something, or someone? Feel the smoothness or roughness. 

We find the Holy Ground of God in all our senses, as we’ve been discovering over the past few weeks. Next time, we’ll move on into finding the Holy Ground in ourselves and others.

October 1, 2017

Finding Holy Ground: Smell

In our exploration of finding Holy Ground through our 5 senses, we’ve come to the sense of smell. We started this series the beginning of September and have looked at finding Holy Ground in sight, hearing, and tasting.
There are a lot of odors in the world. Some are lovely, like a rose. Others make us grimace, like the smell of a skunk or garbage. Sometimes when you walk or drive past a restaurant you can smell the burgers or spicy food or cakes that are being prepared. The smell invites you to come in and try something. Smell can also repel us if we get too close to someone who hasn’t had a bath in a long time or who has bad breath.

Depending on where you live, sitting outside and inhaling the scents in the air can be refreshing or not. If you have fragrant flowers in your yard, you’ll experience their lovely smell. There is a cereal factory in my city and we always hope they are baking when we drive past because it’s such a yummy and delicious smell. Living near a chemical factory or freeway will bring you different odors when you breathe deeply. When we have forest fires nearby, you can smell the acrid odor that even leaves a taste in your mouth.

We all know what it means when someone says, ‘he’s a stinker’. It’s not that the person physically smells. Rather it’s his actions that are unsavory. Or someone can ‘come out smelling like a rose’. Again, it’s not the physical, but the moral aroma that is referred to.

The Old Testament has many references to the sweet smell of sacrifice, and how that pleases God. In the New Testament, we are encouraged to “and walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant sacrificial offering to God.” (Ephesians 5:2) In Second Corinthians the people of God are compared to that beautiful scent. Paul says, “thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)

Saint Paul tells us we are supposed to be a ‘fragrant sacrificial offering to God’ in all that we do. We are called to be the ‘fragrance from life to life’. We are to live so that our lives provide good ‘smells’ to one another. Perhaps Paul was thinking about the difference between walking past an oven baking bread, and walking past the local refuse pile. The bread is good for food and life. The dump is full of decaying things. How can our lives be like the sweet smell of something delicious? In what way are you and I the ‘aroma of God’? We do this by ‘knowing him’ and letting our lives point to God instead of ourselves. Matt Redman’s song Heart of Worship is an offering of self to God’s service.

When the music fades
All is stripped away
And I simply come

Longin' just to bring
Something that's of worth
That will bless your heart

I'll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required

You search much deeper within
Through the ways things appear
You're looking into my heart

I'm comin' back to the heart of worship
And it's all about You
It's all about You, Jesu
As Redman says, “It’s all about You…Jesus”. That is where we find Holy Ground in being a fragrant offering to one another. 

September 24, 2017

Finding Holy Ground: Taste

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve started looking for Holy Ground in the most basic of places-our 5 senses. We looked at the world around us to find Holy Ground with our sight. We listened to the sounds of God in the world to discover the same Holy Ground through our ears. Today, we consider how we might find Holy Ground in our tasting.

Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” How do we taste the goodness of the Lord? Certainly, there are many ways. Today we are contemplating the Holy Ground found in the actual sense of taste.

Scientifically, there are 5 basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami (or savory). We detect these via the bumps on our tongue that are called papillae. These aren’t the actual taste buds, though (I always thought they were). Each of the papillae has hundreds of taste buds AND each of the taste buds has 50-100 taste receptor cells! Isn’t that amazing? There are also taste buds on the roof, sides and back of the mouth and even in your throat! The various types of taste developed to help our bodies identify good vs. bad foods. For instance, sweet signals something good for giving you energy; while bitter tells your body ‘this could be poison’.

It’s not just the molecules in the food that creates taste, though. Our senses of smell and even touch (or the way food feels in the mouth) contribute to how it tastes. And chefs will tell you that the sense of sight is involved too. A lovely presentation is tastier than a monotone or scrambled together plate.

How can we ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’? Take time to savor your favorite food, without the distraction of TV or reading or other multi-tasking. Let your tongue and other senses really taste the ice cream or corn on the cob or steak. What tastes do you detect? Often there is more than one taste in an item. Isn’t it amazing that God developed our sense of taste so that we could enjoy all sorts of foods in all sorts of ways? We can remember God is good as we taste the food God provides. 

We can ‘taste’ and find Holy Ground in our lives, too. There are times in life that could be considered sweet or sour or even bitter. Also, there are things in our life that add salt and savor to living. Jot down one time in your life that could be categorized as like one of the tastes. Maybe your graduation was a sweet time, or perhaps it was sour because you didn’t make the top 10 in your class. Was there some vacation that still brings memories that are so good that you want to continue to savor them? Probably there is a sad time in your life that still leaves an almost tangible bitter taste in your mouth.

Yet through it all, God’s love is present. The Psalm says, “blessed is the one who takes refuge (or trusts) in him.” The New Living Translation exclaims, “Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” We taste the love of God in our sense of taste, but even more in the blessings and joys of God’s love through all the ‘tastes’ of our lives

September 17, 2017

Finding Holy Ground: Hearing

Last week we looked for Holy Ground in really seeing things. Were you able to take a few minutes to sit and really look at a leaf or your hand? Were you surprised? When I studied my own hand, I was awed by the lines and veins. I was astonished to consider all the various things that hand had done. There were the mundane things like cleaning and cooking, but also the loving caresses and the hands held in prayer.

This week, let’s consider another of the 5 senses. Take time to hear the sound of Holy Ground. Have you ever wondered if Moses heard anything while at the burning bush? Was there crackling and popping like in most fires, or was it intense silence? Did Moses hear wind blowing and the sheep he left behind? What can we hear when we listen for God present on Holy Ground?

Not all of us are blessed with hearing. In the Gospel of Mark, we learn how Jesus healed a man who was deaf and mute. Some people brought to Him a man who was deaf and hardly able to speak, and they begged Jesus to place His hand on him. So Jesus took him aside privately, away from the crowd, and put His fingers into the man’s ears. Then He spit and touched the man’s tongue. And looking up to heaven, He sighed deeply and said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means, “Be opened!”) And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. (Mark 7: 32-34)

Jesus put his fingers in the man’s ears, which is typically something we do when we don’t want to hear. Yet Jesus’ touch opens the man’s hearing and gives him speech. Hearing and speaking go with each other. Those who are deaf from birth have a hard time learning to talk because they have never heard the sounds. If you go deaf later in life, you retain the memory of sound.
Science tells us that sound is created by waves moving through the air. Most of us cannot feel those waves, except with our eardrums. Sometimes you can get a sense of feeling them if you are at a loud concert or next to a car with the music playing really loud. Then you CAN actually feel the sound.

This year on America’s Got Talent, there is a young singer who became deaf later in life and is able to sing again by feeling the musical vibrations. Then her muscle memory could create the sounds that she can no longer actually hear. She is hearing through feeling and is sensing the Holy Ground through her entire body. We might in fact envy her that ability because very often we don’t listen to what’s around us.

Sit outside in the early morning or late evening to just listen to the sounds. Some are natural and soothing like birds calling or the breeze through the trees. Others may be more jarring like the neighbor’s dog barking or sirens in the distance. Close your eyes and let the sounds wash over you. Feel the Holy Ground swelling and ebbing in the noises you hear. Is that baby in the distance crying for joy or anger? Perhaps the dog is barking because it is lonely, or because the neighborhood tomcat just walked across the street. Do you wonder what the birds might be saying to each other as they twitter and coo? What is God saying to you in the wind and other sounds?

You might imagine the sounds of things you don’t really hear-like the tea in your cup. Is the steam giggling as it evaporates into the air? Does the tea bag sigh with delight sinking into the spa of hot water to steep? Or do seeds underground moan like a woman in labor as they split open to let the seedling out? And does that seedling grunt while working up through the soil?
What do you hear God saying to you in the sounds you hear? Is God saying ‘take off your shoes for this is Holy Ground?’ To what does God need to open your ears?

September 10, 2017

Finding Holy Ground: Seeing

Today we start a new series about “Finding Holy Ground”. I recently re-read the Barbara Brown Taylor book An Altar in the World. It was a good reminder that God is found in all things and places. I’ll be referring to her and to others in this series that will take us to Advent. Our journey to finding Holy Ground starts with reflecting on how God is found very close to us-in our senses. I invite you to come along and take time to find Holy Ground.

In the September 4 meditation, Ben Brown noted, “Moses had packed a bag for watching his father-in-law’s flock, but he was unprepared to encounter God through a burning bush. Life is dynamic, and sometimes we’ll encounter God in surprising places” He asks, “will we recognize the holy ground and take off our sandals?” As Taylor notes, when we become aware of all the Holy Ground, we have to be prepared to be surprised.

I invite you to encounter the Holy Ground through our senses. Today we start with sight, which many of us take for granted. Even if, like me, you wear glasses, you probably can see if you are reading this blog. Admittedly I wouldn’t be able to read it without my glasses, but thanks to modern medicine, the blurriness of astigmatism is correctable so that I can indeed see to read.

In the Gospels, Jesus heals more than one person of blindness. One instance is found in Mark 8:23-25. We hear, “So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then He spit on the man’s eyes and placed His hands on him. “Can you see anything?” He asked. The man looked up and said, “I can see the people, but they look like trees walking around.” Once again Jesus placed His hands on the man’s eyes, and when he opened them his sight was restored, and he could see everything clearly

Unlike many healings, this time the healing seems to be only partial at first. The man says, “I see the people, but they look like trees”. Certainly, that’s rather what happens to me when I’m not wearing my glasses. I can see shapes, but they are pretty indistinct.

I think that happens more often than we realize, because we don’t pay attention to what we are seeing. We are only seeing shapes not the reality of the people and things around us. We are not seeing God, and Holy Ground, in what we are looking at.

A few months ago, I came across an exercise for seeing more clearly. The author suggested taking a leaf or something else and really studying it for several minutes. Look at the veins and cells of the leaf, marvel at the delicacy of the feather, contemplate the tree branch until you are amazed at the complexity of the parts. Barbara Brown Taylor suggests doing something similar with your own hand. Study your veins, look at the lines or spots or scars. Think about all the places that hand has been and all it has done in your life.

I would encourage you to take time, as much as you need, but more than just a couple of minutes, to do one of these things. Find something in nature, or your own hand, and let yourself look deeply into it. Let God show you the Holy Ground in the object.

Then, take it a step further, the next time you are driving or walking or scanning through Facebook, take time to really see what is going on. Look at the faces you pass or the ones on the posts. Are they stressed, or happy, or afraid? See with the eyes of your heart and try to get past the odd, blurry ‘tree’ shapes that are safe, but which don’t tell us much. Look into the heart and really see the Holy Ground there.

The same September 4 post had this prayer to help us focus, “God of surprises, help me to notice you in the midst of my mundane activities. Prepare me for the holy ground I’ll encounter today. Amen”

September 3, 2017

Labor Day

Labor Day was an outgrowth of labor organizations at the end of the 19th century. On Tuesday, September 5, 1882 a local event was sponsored by the Central Labor Union of New York City. The picture is of the parade in NYC in 1882. Two years later, the first Monday of September was set as the holiday when more unions started celebrating a “workingman’s holiday.” Gradually cities and then states accepted the practice. Twelve years later, on June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday of September a legal holiday.

Now, the long weekend is more of a ‘last hurrah’ of summer festivities, with trips to the lake or camping. Some places still have parades or other recognition events to celebrate the important role ‘blue collar’ workers play in the life and livelihood of our nation. For most of us though, it’s the last long weekend before all the busy fall activities move into full swing. Most schools are already in session and the after school sports or other extra curricular activities are also starting. Places like the Cathedral, where I work, start fall programs and the busy rush up to the season of Advent.

It is easy to get caught up in getting everything done. Sometimes, maybe even often, we end up falling into a daily routine to get everything completed. The routine becomes numbing and we act on autopilot and don’t really experience each day.

Come unto me all who labor and are heavy laden,” Jesus says. “Take my yoke upon you.” (Matthew 11:29-30) When we are working in our own strength, life can be heavy and discouraging. However, when we are yoked with our Lord, the load is more than halved. “My yoke is easy and my burden is light,” he says. Finding God in the routines of our day-to-day life is not always easy, but it is essential to our physical and spiritual health.

Much of this post was copied from my 2010 post. Despite all the changes in the world over the past 7 years, it is still important to take time as the meditation suggests: 
"I close my eyes and breathe, inviting peace.
I open my heart and breathe, inviting love.
My soul rejoices, knowing God is with me"
In fact, in the seeming turmoil of day-to-day life and news, perhaps it is even more important to remember to breathe, and to 'come unto me' as Jesus invites. Ask Jesus to bring peace and love and joy. I hope you'll take time this Labor Day weekend to just take a deep breath. 

August 27, 2017

Lord's Prayer: Amen

Here we are at the end of the Lord’s Prayer. The final word in this, and nearly every other prayer is ‘Amen’. It simply means “Let it be”. We ask God that all that we have mentioned in the prayer be accomplished. Just as Mary of Nazareth said to Gabriel “Let it be according to your word” (Luke 1:38), we offer our petitions to God asking that they be done.

Recently I saw a special on the Beatles. Many will remember their song Let it Be. Although they always insisted that the ‘Mother Mary’ was not the Virgin, many hearers still hear her words in the lyrics. Whether the group meant to refer to Mary of Nazareth, or not, the words are a fitting end to our study of the Lord’s Prayer. They summarize the requests made in the prayer, and offer them up ‘Let it be’.

In light of a world where people are still at odds with each other, just as they were in the 1960’s, we might indeed echo “And when the broken-hearted people/Living in the world agree/There will be an answer/Let it be”.

Enter the Presence: Read Mary’s encounter with Gabriel in Luke 1. Put yourself in her sandals and say “Let it be according to your word”.

Are there things in your life where God is calling you to step out in faith like Mary? Can you open your hands and heart to say, “Let it be”?

Stand In Awe: It can be hard to say ‘Amen’ to some things that God asks of us. Consider the lives of some of those chosen by God, who didn’t have an easy time. Almost anyone in the Bible will fit that description. There is a saying that "God doesn’t call the qualified, God qualifies those he calls". Read through the list in this image and remember that God empowers each of us to do what we are called to do. Are you willing to ‘let it be’?

Involve your Heart: Read through the words of the Beatle’s song.  

When I find myself in times of trouble/Mother Mary comes to me/Speaking words of wisdom/Let it be

And in my hour of darkness/She is standing right in front of me/Speaking words of wisdom/Let it be

And when the broken-hearted people/Living in the world agree/There will be an answer/Let it be

For though they may be parted there is/Still a chance that they will see/There will be an answer/Let it be

And when the night is cloudy/There is still a light that shines on me/Shine until tomorrow/Let it be

I wake up to the sound of music/Mother Mary comes to me/Speaking words of wisdom/Let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be/Whisper words of wisdom/Let it be

Do a ZenTangle of the word ‘Amen’. Include things you are called to do.

Write a song or poem expressing your love for God and new understanding of the Lord’s Prayer*

August 20, 2017

Lord's Prayer: For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, the Glory

Since the beginning of June, we’ve been ‘unpacking’ each line of the Lord’s Prayer. We have explored heaven (June 18) and asked for our daily bread (July 16). We’ve looked at how to ‘hallow’ God’s name (June 25) and offered ourselves to bring God’s will to earth (July 9). We’ve seen that God’s Kingdom (July 2) comes partly through our ability to forgive and receive forgiveness (July 23, 30). The past couple of weeks have been devoted to praying for protection from temptation and evil.

Today we consider the final phrase of the prayer “For Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever”. It is a summary of all the rest of the lines of the Lord’s Prayer. As some commentators note, it is a doxology of praise. In this last section, we return to praising God, as at the start. We acknowledge that God alone has the Power and Glory. Only God can accomplish all that we have asked. It is interesting to note that in the Luke version of the prayer (Luke 11:2-4) this phrase is absent. In some translations of the Matthew citation (Matthew 6:9-13) it is also absent with the note that this doxology was added early on by the church. Likely the early church fathers thought that the prayer should have some nice and tidy way to end.

Enter the Presence: This ending Doxology is a good reminder that to God do belong the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory. Saint Irenaeus, a second century bishop, wrote: “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.”

We are reminded in the Old Testament that “the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.” (Exodus 24:17) The New Testament encourages us to participate in that glory. In the First Letter to the Corinthians, Paul says “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) The Philippians are urged to have “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:11) Our every action is to be a doxology of its own-a hymn of praise in action to God.

Of course, as Paul tells the Roman community “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). Still, the Colossians are encouraged because we are those “to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27) Because Christ is in each of us, we can in fact be human beings, fully alive.

Stand In Awe: How awesome to think that we are, as Saint Irenaeus said, “the glory of God”, and we are to live and confess God in that Glory. Take a moment to think about what it means to have the glory of God in you. Look around you, sit in your garden and listen, smell, hear, see all around the glory of God in birds, grass, flowers, sky, sound. Everything proclaims the glory of God, if we pause to see it.

Barbara Brown Taylor talks about this in her book An Altar in the World. She notes, “the last place most people look [for God] is right under their feet, in the everyday activities, accidents, and encounters of their lives.” She suggests letting yourself get lost and get out of the daily routines of the same routes. When you do, you “agree to become aware of each step you take, tuning all of your senses to exactly where you are and exactly what you are doing.”
Involve your Heart: “Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory” says the Lord’s Prayer doxology. Take some time to be really aware of God all around you. Get off the normal, beaten path, and try a new route, or a new prayer routine, or a new version of the Bible.

Write the word ‘Glory’ or ‘Power’ or ‘Kingdom’ in the center of a paper. Add words or images that come to mind when you think of that word.

Color the tree of life image from Pinterest in this blog, or find your own image, and think about what being the Glory of God means to you.
This week focus on “Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever”. Next week, we will take a quick look at ‘Amen’.

August 13, 2017

Our Father: Deliver us from Evil

Our journey through the Lord’s Prayer is almost done. Last week we prayed to be delivered from temptations in our own actions. Did you have time to walk a labyrinth or other path?

Today we look at the request that God keep us safe from evil. There is evil in the world, of that fact everyone agrees. Watching the nightly news brings it right into our living rooms with scenes of war and destruction and hatred and violence. There have always been evil and frightening things. We know that God is our protector and shield. Psalm 28:7 tells us, “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” Sometimes though it can be difficult to remember that when assaulted by all the pain and problems and dangers in the world. With the ancient Scots we can beg,

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

Enter the Presence: Paul’s letter to the Ephesians advises, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

An important part of the armor is the final verse. Paul admonishes the Ephesians to “Pray in the Spirit at all times”. In the Lord’s Prayer we are asking God to clothe us with this armor, as we enter God’s presence with prayer. 
Stand In Awe: The Deer’s Cry is a prayer or song attributed to St. Patrick. Legend says that Loeguire, the High King of Tara, resolved to ambush and kill Patrick and his monks to prevent them from spreading the Christian faith in his kingdom.  As Patrick and his followers approached singing this hymn, the King and his men saw only a herd of wild deer and let them pass by. The words remind us of the power of God in the heavens, fire, sea, and rock. It is God’s strength that keeps us safe as Christ is behind, below, above, and all around.  

I arise today through the strength of heaven
Light of sun, radiance of moon
Splendor of fire, speed of lightning
Swiftness of wind, depth of the sea
Stability of earth, firmness of rock

I arise today through God's strength to pilot me
God's eye to look before me
God's wisdom to guide me
God's way to lie before me
God's shield to protect me

From all who shall wish me ill
Afar and a-near
Alone and in a multitude
Against every cruel, merciless power
That may oppose my body and soul

Christ with me, Christ before me
Christ behind me, Christ in me
Christ beneath me, Christ above me
Christ on my right, Christ on my left
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down
Christ when I arise, Christ to shield me

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me

In fact, it is the Lord who is our armor. Paul’s advice to ‘put on the armor of God’ is to allow God to surround us.

Involve your Heart: Think about what each part of the armor of God means in your life. Draw a shield shape, and add these ideas to it.

Take time to listen to the hymn Deer’s Cry in this video. Let yourself rest in the protection of Christ above, and surrounding you.   

This week focus is on Deliver us from Evil. Next week we will come to the conclusion of the prayer. 

August 6, 2017

Our Father: Lead us Not into Temptation

Enter the Presence: In our adventure through the Lord’s Prayer, we are entering the last few laps. We’ve celebrated God’s glory as Holy and as Father. We’ve asked that God’s Kingdom be built and looked at our responsibility in building that kingdom. God gives us our daily sustenance, and asks us to join in him in forgiving one another, just as we are forgiven every moment of every day. Which of the exercises have you tried? Were they helpful?

Today we pray “lead us not into temptation”. We face the fact that we are tempted to do the wrong thing every day. With Paul every one of us can say, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Paul continues, “Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.” I’m sure each of us at some time has been driven to sob, “Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” We want to do the right thing, but it seems like the more we try the worse it gets. However, Paul reminds us, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:15-25) Through Christ, we are redeemed from the wrong things we do.

In the Lord’s prayer we say, “Lead us not into temptation”. The truth is, God doesn’t give us temptations. We find plenty of those on our own. We may spend time watching cat videos instead of taking time to pray. It’s easier to join the gossip than to find something positive to say. Shaking our head over a problem is simpler than working for a solution. Every day we make choices. Some of them take us down the well-traveled road that everyone else takes. As Robert Frost suggests “I took the road less traveled and that has made all the difference”.
Stand In Awe: Consider some of the citations for ‘road’ in the Bible, like these.  

“You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (Psalm 16:11)

“A highway will be there, a roadway, And it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, But it will be for him who walks that way, And fools will not wander on it.” (Isaiah 35:8)

The scripture promises that following God’s way, will be the way of joy and holiness. Jesus tells his disciples, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

When we pray ‘lead us not into temptation’, we are asking God to show us the proper path, the right road to follow. Probably it will be the ‘road less traveled’.

Sit with God and imagine what that road looks like in your life.

Involve your Heart: Think through yesterday. When did you give in to temptations to take the easier road?

What is your greatest temptation, the thing that lures you away from God’s path-power, social media, being likable…?

If there is a labyrinth nearby, take time to walk it thinking about how the path guides you without you having to determine which way to go. In the same way God guides your steps when you let God be in charge.*

This week focus on the phrase “Lead us not into Temptation”

July 30, 2017

Our Father: As we Forgive

Last time we considered how much we need to be forgiven, and how generous God is with forgiveness. This time, we look at the next phrase, which is perhaps even harder to accomplish. We ask to be forgiven “as we forgive those who trespass/sin against us”.

 Jesus is rather stern about the connection between being forgiven and forgiving others. In Matthew 18:21-22 “Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.’” It’s not that Jesus is saying we should keep tally of how many times we have forgiven someone, but rather that there should be no end to our forgiveness, just as there is no end to God’s forgiving us.

Jesus then goes on to tell a parable to illustrate the point. “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow-slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, “Pay what you owe.” Then his fellow-slave fell down and pleaded with him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.” But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow-slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, “You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33Should you not have had mercy on your fellow-slave, as I had mercy on you?” And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he should pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’ (Matthew 18:23-35)

It is not easy to forgive someone who has harmed you or even who keeps hurting you, and that is why we pray for help in doing just that. Not to excuse the behavior, but in fact for our own soul’s health and wholeness.

Enter the Presence: The daily post from the Society of St. John the Evangelist recently had a message about this line in the prayer. Brother David Vryhof says, “When we pray, “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” we are recognizing that a deep connection exists between our willingness and capacity to forgive and God’s forgiveness of us. God is not saying that our ability to be forgiven depends on our own efforts to forgive others. Rather, we are asking that the forgiveness we receive from God may lead us to forgive those who have wronged us.”

Think about someone that you have a hard time forgiving. Maybe it is for something that happened a long time ago. Perhaps it’s an ongoing situation. It could be that the other person is not even aware that they have angered or wronged you in some way. Offer this incident to God.

Stand In Awe: Read the parable again and imagine you are standing before the King of Kings and that all your sins great and small have been erased, like the slave in the parable. (They have you know.) This image of The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant by Pieter Coecke Van Aelst (1502-50) may help you enter the scene.
How does it feel to have a clean slate? Will you do things differently from now on? What difference does this new chance make to your life going forward?

Involve your Heart: Then leave the presence of the King. You meet someone who has sinned against you. What will you do?

Is it hard to remember that you are supposed to forgive when someone treats you poorly?

Praying for someone is the best way to change your opinion of them. Choose 5 people who you find difficult to deal with. (or less if you can’t think of 5-lucky you!) Choose one of the options from Thy Kingdom Come for praying for friends to remind you to pray, then be committed to praying for them this week. 

This week focus on Forgive those who trespass against us.

Next week we’ll ask for guidance and direction.