Blog posts

JESUS: New, by Mark G. Boyer

April 23, 2017

  Scripture:I, John, saw a new Heaven and a new Earth; for the first Heaven and the first Earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, I am making all things new.  Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.” (Revelation 21:1, 3a, 5a, 7)   Reflection: Once all is left behind, newness is experienced.  However, a person cannot have the new until the old is abandoned.  The first Heaven and the first Earth must pass away.  The chaos of the sea must be replaced by a new order.  God is the God of this new order, and those who have left all behind are his children.  They have conquered their fear and been [...]

EASTER STORY: The Church Of The Washing Of The Feet, by Alan Paton

April 22, 2017

From Ah, But Your Land Is Beautiful The Reverend Isaiah Buti, pastor of the Holy Chuch of Zion in Bochabela, entered the room of the acting chief justice, if not with awe, then certainly with deference.  And certainly with respect too, for not only did Judge Olivier occupy one of the highest seats in the land, but he was held in high esteem by the black people of Bloemfontein.  Was he not the man who had tried to prevent Parliament from removing colored voters from the common roll? The room was the biggest Mr. Buti had seen in his life.  The table was also the biggest he had seen, and behind it was a grand carved chair, and behind the chair, portraits of those who had been chief justices of the Union of South Africa.  And now from the [...]

POETRY: Making The House Ready For The Lord, by Mary Oliver

April 22, 2017

Dear Lord, I have swept and I have washed but still nothing is as shining as it should be for you. Under the sink, for example, is an uproar of mice—it is the season of their many children. What shall I do? And under the eaves and through the walls the squirrels have gnawed their ragged entrances—but it is the season when they need shelter, so what shall I do? And the raccoon limps into the kitchen and opens the cupboard while the dog snores, the cat hugs the pillow; what shall I do? Beautiful is the new snow falling in the yard and the fox who is staring boldly up the path, to the door. And still I believe you will come, Lord: you will, when I speak to the fox, the sparrow, the lost dog, the shivering sea-goose, know that really I am [...]

JESUS: Knocking On The Door, by Mark G. Boyer

April 22, 2017

    Scripture:The Son of Man said to John of Patmos, “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God’s creation: ‘I know your works; you are neither cold not hot.  I wish that you were either cold or hot.  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  Listen!  I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.'” (Revelation 3:14-16, 20)   Reflection:In the book of Revelation, John of Patmos receives a revelation from the Son of Man, who tells him to write seven letters, each to a specific [...]

SOUL STRUCTURE: Islam, ISIS, And The Confusion That Lies Therein

April 21, 2017

This is not going to go well. That’s my prediction anyway. But I hereby restate my primary assertion about spiritual warfare: If you don’t know what you are dealing with, you don’t know how to address the problem. It’s as simple as that. A doctor is going to be much more effective with his patient if he already knows both what the disease is and what the best methods are to treat it. Otherwise he is swinging about in the dark. Which pretty much sums my opinion of most writing about spiritual warfare. In my humble opinion. Well, maybe not so humble. So let’s begin. I began studying the Muslim soul structure around about the time that Princess Diana died.  I remember this because I found the soul-structure [...]

JESUS: Patience, by Mark G. Boyer

April 21, 2017

  Scripture:Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord.  The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.  You also must be patient.  Strengthen your  hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.  As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  Indeed we call blessed those who showed endurance.  You have heard of the endurance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. (James 5:7-8, 10-11)   Reflection: One who leaves all behind in order to follow Jesus must cultivate patience as part of his or her spirituality of mission.  [...]

BLESSING: To Learn From Animal Being, by John O’Donohue

April 21, 2017

From: To Bless the Space Between Us Nearer to the earth’s heart, Deeper within its silence: Animals know this world In a way we never will. We who are ever Distanced and distracted By the parade of bright Windows thought opens: Their seamless presence Is not fractured thus. Stranded between time Gone and time emerging, We manage seldom To be where we are: Whereas they are always Looking out from The here and now. May we learn to return And rest in the beauty Of animal being, Learn to lean low, Leave our locked minds, And with freed senses Feel the earth Breathing with us. May we enter Into lightness of spirit, And slip frequently into The feel of the wild. Let the clear silence Of our animal being Cleanse our hearts Of corrosive words. [...]

VIRTUE: The Better Angels Of Our Nature, by John Bradshaw

April 20, 2017

From Reclaiming Virtue The mysterious complexity of our life is not to be embraced by maxims, to lace ourselves up in formulas of that sort is to repress all the divine promptings and inspirations that spring from growing insight and sympathy from a life vivid and intense enough to have created a wide fellow-feeling with all that is human. (George Eliot) Magnificent moral moments often move us to tears.  They can make chills run down our spine; sometimes they inspire us to change.  Why is this?  These stories seem to touch something deep within us, a part of us that is naturally attracted to what is good and virtuous. The psychologist Erik Erikson writes: Men have always shown a dim knowledge of their better potentialities by paying [...]

JESUS: Speaking Words Of God, by Mark G. Boyer

April 20, 2017

  Scripture:Another person said to Jesus, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.”  Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:61-62)     Reflection: The author of Luke’s gospel presents the same two examples of itinerancy as does the author of Matthew’s gospel (see above and Matthew 8:18-22 and Luke 9:57-60).  Both do this because both writers use material found in Q (referring to quelle, the German word for “source” and indicating material found only in Matthew’s gospel and Luke’s gospel).  In Luke’s version of the second person’s request to bury [...]

BLESSING: What Fire Comes To Sing In You, by Jan Richardson

April 20, 2017

From: The Cure for Sorrow This blessing had big ideas about what it wanted to say, what it wanted you to know, to see. This blessing wanted to open your eyes to the joy that lives in such strange company with sorrow— wanted to make sure to tell you, lest you forget, that no matter how long it seems absent, no matter how quiet it becomes, joy has never been far from you, holding a space of celebration, watching for you, humming as it keeps vigil. But now that it comes time to speak it— comes time to lay these words on your brow, your beating heart— all this blessing can think to say is Look— your life a candle, this day a match. Strike it and see what blazes, what fire comes to sing in [...]

POETRY: We Take The Sky, by Susanna Childress

April 19, 2017

We take the sky, as if red is something we could own, something we might find in the stillest moments, as if the earth is humane and wouldn’t break our bones. (None of His were broken. Not one.) Red is in the land too, is in the way we look at each other, the hardness of our sleep, the need to fall down, to tell of the pox that swept Aunt Jess, the drink that ushers Father, the path that never leads to wealth or rest or health—but the one we always take. Shalom, we say. Buena suerte. We always take the sky, fold it over ourselves, the soil, run it across our skin and cling to it, savoring the tart of a lemon, palming a bar of soap even when our hands are clean, naming the insects that fly across the white bulb of moon late at [...]

JESUS: No Pillow, by Mark G. Boyer

April 19, 2017

  Scripture: A scribe then approached Jesus and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”  And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”  Another of his disciples said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”  But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:18-22)   Reflection: Throughout the gospels, Jesus is portrayed as an itinerant preacher.  Itinerancy characterizes Jesus’s mission and that of his followers.  Using two sayings he found in Q (referring to quelle, the German word for “source” and indicating material found [...]

PSALMS: “Lord, Teach Us To Pray”, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

April 18, 2017

So spoke the disciples to Jesus.  In making this request, they confessed that they were not able to pray on their own, that they had to learn to pray.  The phrase, “learning to pray,” sounds strange to us.  If the heart does not overflow and begin to pray by itself, we say, it will never “learn” to pray.  But it is a dangerous error, surely very widespread among Christians, to think that the heart can pray by itself.  For then we confuse wishes, hopes, sighs, laments, rejoicings – all of which the heart can do by itself – with prayer.  And we confuse Earth and Heaven, man and God.  Prayer does not mean simply to pour out one’s heart.  It means rather to find the way to God and to speak with him, [...]

JESUS: Word Doers, by Mark G. Boyer

April 18, 2017

  Scripture: Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.  For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. (James 1:22-24)   Reflection: Listening and believing, one aspect of a spirituality of mission, includes acting on – in the word of the letter of James, “doing” – the word.  The letter of James addresses Jewish Christians in the late first century CE.  James, in contrast to Paul’s position on works, advocates the practice or living of the word heard.  From James’s point of view, if a person hears the word and doesn’t [...]

BLESSING: Blessings, by J. Janda

April 18, 2017

From The Embrace Blessed be the shy blessed be the gentle blessed be the meek blessed be the mild blessed be the courteous blessed be the reverent blessed be the humble for theirs is the kingdom of heaven blessed be the scorned blessed be the rejected blessed be the outcast blessed be the mocked for all illusions as nightmares must pass but what shall remain is each soul’s light flashing forth from the Father of Light ringed in constellations of light now and forever [...]

THE LORD’S PRAYER: Introductory, by Evelyn Underhill

April 17, 2017

Prayer is the substance of eternal life.  It gives back to man, insofar as he is willing to live to capacity – that is to say, to give love and suffer pain – the beatitude without which he is incomplete; for it sets going, deepens, and at last perfects that mutual indwelling of two orders which redeems us from unreality, and in which the creative process reaches its goal.  There is, as Henri Bremond has said, even in the poorest and crudest prayer, “a touch of Pentecost.”  It awaits and expects the action of the Spirit, acknowledges the most mysterious and yet the most certain reality of our experience; the intercourse of the Transcendent God with fugitive man, and of fugitive man with the Transcendent God.  Yet all our [...]

JESUS: Two-Edged Sword, by Mark G. Boyer

April 17, 2017

  Scripture:Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)     Reflection: A  two-edged sword is one that is sharpened on both edges.  The person wielding a two-edged sword cuts another in two ways in opposite directions, leaving a huge wide-open wound.  This is why the author of Hebrews declares that God’s word is sharper than any two-edged sword.  The words God speaks are alive; they achieve the purpose for which God speaks them.  In the book of Genesis, God speaks the word, “light,” and light appears.  God speaks the word, [...]

BLESSING: Blessing Of The Resurrection, by Peter John Cameron

April 17, 2017

From: Blessing Prayers Word of God Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in Heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)  Litany of Resurrection Graces Lord Jesus, by your Resurrection you have reconciled all people to God.  Risen Savior, stay with me. Lord Jesus, when you rose from the dead you blessed us with the Easter gift of peace.  Risen Savior, stay with me. Lord Jesus, by your rising you restored us to friendship with the [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Station 15 — The Resurrection, by Joan Chittister

April 16, 2017

From: The Way of the Cross The Experience Perhaps the most difficult – even spiritually dangerous – dimension of the Stations of the Cross is that lacking a sense or slightest awareness of resurrection, they leave the Christian standing at the edge of the tomb.  Numb, lost.  Bereft.  Without a single thought of what comes next.  And all of that despite the fact that Christians are not meant to be the people of the cross; Christians are the people of the empty tomb.  We are alleluia people, Augustine writes, and alleluia is our cry.  Perhaps that’s true, theologically so.  But it is not the final emotional impression of those whose immersion in the life of Jesus centers around the crucifixion in the Stations of the Cross [...]

ART: Window Twelve — Easter, The Day of Resurrection, by Michael Sullivan

April 16, 2017

From: Windows Into the Light O God, who made this most holy night to shine with the glory of the Lord’s resurrection: Stir up in your church that Spirit of adoption which is given to us in Baptism, that we, being renewed both in body and mind, may worship you in sincerity and truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the Unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer) God, you promise new birth in the midst of life and you offer light wherever I find my darkness.  As you rise forth from the ashes, bring me with you along the pathway to a new hope and show me how to see my journey as an invitation to fullness in all that I encounter. Amen. Matthew 28:1-10 (Mary [...]

JESUS: Speaking Words Of God, by Mark G. Boyer

April 16, 2017

  Scripture:The one who comes from Heaven is above all.  He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony.  Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true.  He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. (John 3:31c-34)   Reflection: Several times in John’s gospel the narrator of the events gets carried away and inserts his own reflections on an event.  After narrating the account about Jesus and John baptizing and John declaring Jesus to be greater than John, the writer records a reflection about the one – Jesus – who comes from the world above (where God lives) to the Earth (where people live) to testify to what he has [...]

SAINTS: The Beloved Disciple — It’s All About Love, by Greg Friedman

April 16, 2017

From: Lent With The Saints Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Colossians 3:1-4; John 10:1-9 In 1984 singer Tina Turner had a comeback hit with her recording of What’s Love God To Do With It?  Years later I drew a lot of smiles when I began an Easter Sunday homily with the song’s title.  It’s a question that explains the Easter Gospel, John 20:1-9, which tells us that Peter and the “disciple Jesus loved” came to the tomb early on the first day of the week after hearing Mary Magdalene’s report of the empty tomb. The Beloved Disciple arrives first but waits until Peter enters and sees Jesus’s burial wrappings neatly folded.  Peter doesn’t understand what he sees.  But the other [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Station 14 — Jesus Is Laid In The Tomb, by Joan Chittister

April 15, 2017

From: The Way of the Cross The Experience Death is not a single action; it is many actions overlapping that haunt, plague, empty the soul of every strand of life and all at the same time.  It is a time of mixed emotions.  There is a relief that comes when the suffering ends.  The one we love cannot be hurt again.  And that is good. But now the focus shifts from them to us.  Everything that was glorious and challenging, uplifting, and meaningful in life has ended.  What is there left for us in life now?  Is there the means to go on?  And if the means is present, is there yet the will to go on, the energy the down-deep care of even beginning to go on again? There is the sense of weightlessness, the thought that life comes down [...]

ART: Window Eleven — Holy Saturday, by Michael Sullivan

April 15, 2017

From: Windows Into the Light O God, Creator of Heaven and Earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer) God, I don’t like to wait on you.  Too often, I prefer my own ways to yours and either stay stuck in darkness or afraid to consider new life because I can’t fathom turning things over to you.  Help me to let go and let you lead and guide, and through my own cross, may I too find my empty tomb.  Amen. Matthew 27:55-66 (Sealing the tomb) Many women were [...]

JESUS: Zechariah And Mary, by Mark G. Boyer

April 15, 2017

  Scripture:The angel said to Zechariah, “I am Gabriel.  I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.  Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. (Luke 1:19, 13)     Reflection: The author of Luke’s gospel likes to narrate a story about a man and balance it with a story about a woman.  He begins this literary technique with the twin appearances of the angel Gabriel to a man named Zechariah and, six months later, to a woman named Mary.  Zechariah hears the word of God as Gabriel delivers it to him, but he does not believe that he and his aged wife, Elizabeth, can conceive a child.  So, because he did not believe Gabriel’s [...]

SAINTS: Mary Magdalene — Witness To Death And Resurrection, by Greg Friedman

April 15, 2017

From: Lent With The Saints Exodus 14:15-15:1; Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Matthew 28:1-10 Mary Magdalene is one of the main characters in the story of Jesus’s Passion, death, and resurrection. Mary was not a public sinner.  Nor was she the figure who anointed Jesus’s feet with her tears or wiped them with her hair.  She was, however, a faithful disciple.  Unlike the male disciples, who fled from Jesus’s crucifixion, Mary was present.  Matthew and Mark place her among those “looking on from a distance.”  Luke identifies her, as do the other gospels, with the women who went to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus. We can imagine what she must have endured after Jesus’s violent death.  Like anyone [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Station 13 — Jesus Is Taken Down From The Cross, by Joan Chittister

April 14, 2017

From: The Way of the Cross The Experience Now when it is finally, irrevocably over, when there is nothing left to do but to admit the loss, the inevitability of reality takes over.  Faith is bruised.  Hope is gone.  The door to yesterday has clanged shut and we are forever bereft of whole segments of our life.  We are alone – the worst word in the English language has descended on our shoulders.  And suddenly we begin to realize how limited we ourselves have always been but only now had to admit.  We are not meant to be alone. The insight crushes us to the ground.  Where is the rest of me, if not in a coffin of pain in the front of the world, never to be able to hide again? The realization that death eclipses time, that it alone [...]

ART: Window Ten — Good Friday, by Michael Sullivan

April 14, 2017

From: Windows Into the Light Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer) Today, God, I go with you as we carry the cross.  Help me to let you take my life as we walk the journey toward Golgotha, and trusting in you, let me plumb the depths of your light and love in my life. Amen. John 19:1-37 (The crucifixion) Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged.  And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe.  They kept coming [...]

JESUS: Hear!, by Mark G. Boyer

April 14, 2017

  Scripture:Jesus said to those who were around him along with the twelve, “And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:10, 20)     Reflection: Once a person is called, he or she must hear the word of God.  As the Markan Jesus puts it, Let anyone with ears to hear, listen!  After telling the parable of the sower, Jesus interprets it, explaining that the sower “sows the word,” and those who hear the word produce amazingly.  In fact, the kingdom of God grows day by day in the lives of those who hear, according to the Markan Jesus. There is an aspect of trust that is involved in hearing.  Just like no one [...]