PRAYER: Blessing Of Seeds And Rain

April 22, 2018

From: Catholic Rural Life It is not far-fetched to say that our health, our very lives, depend on the sprouting of seeds. The planting of seeds and nurturing through harvest, we receive God’s choicest blessings when we break from our labors and enjoy a simple meal. Saving some of the new seeds allows us to continue this miraculous cycle of nature. Besides planting in the good earth, seeds cannot grow without fresh water. The cycle of rain blesses us, and water stored in the ground is our true treasure. Let us seek God’s guidance in finding ways to better utilize seeds and water so that farming can become more sustainable for all who find their vocation on the land. Opening Prayer God, who created everything and everyone, we ask you to [...]

EASTER: Counselor by Trevor Hudson

April 22, 2018

From Pauses for Pentecost I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever. (John 14:16) There are moments when we need consolation.  Someone misunderstands us and makes an unfair judgment about us.  A dear friend betrays us with false accusations behind our back.  We are excluded from our church for some reason.  A terrible depression descends bringing a sense of disconnection from everything and everyone around us.  We lose someone whom we have loved deeply.  In painful moments like these, and there are countless others like them, we need to know someone has our back and is there for us.  We need to know that we are not alone.  We need someone who will be with us through it all. As [...]

EVIL: Seeds

April 22, 2018

And so the process of separation was complete. Night could now bow to the rising sun.  Seas could caress the dry land.  Birds could watch the grass below for any signs of food. Man could hold woman in his arms and sway with the wind. The most important separation lay where no one was paying any attention.  In the heart of the garden.  Two trees.  Separate in their concepts themselves. But on one tree there existed the ultimate separation: Good from Evil. This divided wholeness came in the form of fruit, which we know is defined by having seeds. Strangely, given the context, but still very applicable, seeds are life. Literally. Figuratively. Spiritually. Nothing alive can live without seeds. Every seed has life in it, and every seed is [...]

EASTER: Fellowship by Trevor Hudson

April 21, 2018

From Pauses for Pentecost May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14) Imagine yourself in Paul’s place as he finishes this letter to the Corinthians.  He wants to offer a blessing from the Trinity in such a way that each Person’s main characteristic gets emphasized.  He thinks of Jesus Christ, and grace immediately comes into his mind.  When he meditates on the Father, his thoughts focus on love.  Now what word will he choose to say about the Holy Spirit?  Will it be power?  Or maybe gifts?  He decides against it.  He chooses the word fellowship.  For Paul, this is the most important characteristic describing the Holy Spirit.  The [...]

ATTENTIVENESS: Paying Attention—An Invitation To Practice The Hours by Leighton Ford

April 20, 2018

From The Attentive Life Observing the hours can be a helpful practice for us in learning to pay attention to God throughout our days.  Further, the hours can also be an illuminating way to reflect on the seasons or passages of our lives.  I invite you to explore with me as we pay attention to how God has been and is at work in each of the “hours” we have lived. Our word hour goes back to the Greek word, hora, which, David Steindl-Rast points out, originally meant more than a unit of time. It was “not a numerical measure,” he writes, “but a soul measure.”  Isn’t it true that we usually think of the seasons of the year less in terms of the dates they begin and end than in terms of their effect on us: the cold of winter, the [...]

POETRY: The Good Portion by Paul J. Willis

April 20, 2018

Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:42) Is it waking to this calm morning after a night of dry winds? Is it scrambled eggs, the ones with cheese, or the hot glaze of a cinnamon roll? Is it the way you laugh over breakfast, that generous gift, your laughter? Is it rinsing the plates and pans in the sink? Or leaving them in a cockeyed stack, these things of use, these things of beauty that will not be taken [...]

EASTER: Intercedes by Trevor Hudson

April 20, 2018

From Pauses for Pentecost The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. (Romans 8:26) Sometimes in our praying we come to the end of words.  We don’t have the words to express what we want.  Here is one common example: For some time we have prayed for someone’s healing or maybe for our own.  We pray continuously, but nothing positive seems to happen.  Things remain the same, or they even get worse.  We begin to ask questions: Is it because we are praying the wrong way?  Or have we failed to discern rightly what we need to pray for?  Or is it because we have lacked faith, not prayed enough, or lacked expectation in our praying?  I [...]

EASTER: Abba by Trevor Hudson

April 19, 2018

From Pauses for Pentecost The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15) One of the deepest things that the Holy Spirit does within us is to help us to cry out, “Abba,” when we come to God.  It is one thing to acknowledge God formally as our Heavenly Parent when we say the Lord’s Prayer.  It is quite another matter to interact with God intimately and personally when we pray.  Our hearts yearn for this.  When we come to God, we long to know, deep down in our hearts and minds, that we are coming to someone who really loves us, who knows us personally by name, and who has [...]

CHRISTIANITY: Humor—No Monkey Business by Gary M. Schimmer

April 18, 2018

From: Emmaus Road Then God spoke all these words: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no gods before me.” (Exodus 20:1-3) No Monkey Business What can we do to keep the attention of children in Sunday school?  A new Bible curriculum may include the latest technology with fast-paced songs and flashy lessons to nurture faith. But before the latest technology hit the classroom, we used flannel boards, brightly colored Bible story leaflets, and songs with hand motions.  (Remember the old Sunday school song, “The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock?”)  And some Sunday school teachers even tried show-and-tell in class to capture the attention of restless [...]

POETRY: Once by R. S. Thomas

April 18, 2018

God looked at space and I appeared, Rubbing my eyes at what I saw. The earth smoked, no birds sang; There were no footprints on the beaches Of the hot sea, no creatures in it. God spoke. I hid myself in the side Of the mountain. As though born again I stepped out into the cool dew, Trying to remember the fire sermon, Astonished at the mingled chorus Of weeds and flowers. In the brown bark Of the trees I saw the many faces Of life, forms hungry for birth, Mouthing at me. I held my way To the light, inspecting my shadow Boldly; and in the late morning You, rising towards me out of the depths Of myself. I took your hand, Remembering you, and together, Confederates of the natural day, We went forth to meet the [...]

EASTER: Where by Trevor Hudson

April 18, 2018

From Pauses for Pentecost Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? (Psalm 139:7) Many of us live with a split spirituality.  This happens whenever we divide our lives into what we call sacred and secular compartments.  On the one hand, we have the religious compartment of our lives.  This part consists of when we pray, go to church, study the Bible, attend a retreat, and so on.  On the other hand, there is the nonreligious compartment of our lives.  This is the part that involves things like going to work, hanging out with friends, playing a sport, shopping at the mall, and going on vacation.  We tend to connect the Holy Spirit with the first part and not the second. The psalmist encourages us to see our [...]

WILDERNESS: The Wilderness—An Oasis In Hiding by Brian & Candice Simmons

April 17, 2018

From The Wilderness Who said life has to always be difficult?  God seems to sprinkle our problems with Heavenly surprises of joy.  There really is an oasis up ahead – a place with flowing streams and palm trees waiting for you on your journey if you’ll just keep going! We all too often measure our life by our weaknesses instead of his breakthroughs, by our difficult day instead of a glorious decade, or by the momentary mess instead of the amazing miracle of grace.  Soon our measurements will change.  We will be absorbed by the gaze of the fiery Lover who comes to consume us into the living flames.  Then we’ll measure our life by eternity’s treasures and love’s conquest. In Exodus 5:1, God made it clear that the reason he [...]

PSALMS: Psalms 86 And 87 by W. Robert Godfrey

April 17, 2018

From Learning to Love the Psalms Psalms 86 and 87 illustrate different emphases in the section of Book Three that deals with crisis and the hope of rescue and restoration, (Psalms 79-87).  Most of these psalms contain cries for rescue that fit the broader theme of a crisis of faith in Israel.  Psalm 86 illustrates this type of psalm even though the central section of the psalm is quite hopeful.  Psalm 87, by contrast, is one of the psalms in Book Three that looks away from the crisis and is filled with a remarkable confidence in God’s anticipated restoration of his people and a blessing for the world. Psalm 86 is the only psalm in Book Three that is attributed to David.  To the extent that this psalm reflects a crisis of faith, it [...]

EASTER: Craft by Trevor Hudson

April 17, 2018

From Pauses for Pentecost Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel, son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver, and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. (Exodus 35:30-33) Have you noticed how often we “spiritualize” the work of the Holy Spirit?  More often than not, when we speak about the Holy Spirit, we tend to confine the activity of God’s Spirit to what we do at church.  We talk about the Spirit moving in a time of worship, speaking to us through the sermon, or [...]

PRAYER: Chapter One (Part One)—Soul Of Christ, Sanctify Me by Marie Paul Curley

April 16, 2018

From Soul of Christ The beautiful Anima Christi prayer begins with a deeply personal petition that immediately draws us into a genuine encounter with Christ.  In fact, each of the first six petitions of this prayer focus our attention on a specific aspect of Christ’s humanity, similar to our recalling the cherished qualities of a friend or loved one.  This first line delves into the deep desire of Christ’s soul to encounter us and be united with us. Soul of Christ… “Soul of Christ” is a unique, familiar way to address Jesus, and it sets a personal tone for the entire prayer.  This might not be obvious at first glance, because “soul” is a term with many nuances.  From a Roman Catholic perspective, the soul is understood [...]

EASTER: Hovering by Trevor Hudson

April 16, 2018

From Pauses for Pentecost Now the Earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (Genesis 1:2) The first image given to us in the Bible is beautifully poignant and powerful.  It is the picture of God’s Spirit hovering over the primal chaos.  Because of the presence of the Holy Spirit, we know that chaos is not going to have the final word.  There is the always present possibility that God will bring beauty, meaning, and order into the murky mess.  As we read further in the first chapter of Genesis, this is certainly what happens.  The Spirit causes chaos to become cosmos. We are no strangers to chaos.  Sometimes the chaos is internal as we wrestle with [...]

PRAYER: Easter by Adam of St. Victor

April 16, 2018

I see flames of orange, yellow, and red shooting upwards to the sky, piercing the whole clouds. I see the clouds themselves chasing the flames upwards, and I feel the air itself reaching for the heavens. Down below I see great, grey rocks beating against the earth, as if they were pushing their way down to hell. At your resurrection that which is light and good rises up with you, and that which is heavy and evil is pushed downwards. At your resurrection goodness breaks from evil, life breaks free from death. [...]

HYMN: Loving Shepherd Of Thy Sheep by Jane Elizabeth Leeson

April 15, 2018

1 Loving Shepherd of Thy sheep, Keep Thy lamb, in safety keep; Nothing can Thy power withstand; None can pluck me from Thy hand. 2 Loving Savior, Thou didst give Thine own life that we might live; And the hands outstretched to bless Bear the cruel nails’ impress. 3 We would praise Thee every day, Gladly all Thy will obey, Like Thy blessed ones above Happy in Thy precious love. 4 Loving Shepherd, ever near, Teach Thy lambs Thy voice to hear; Suffer not our steps to stray From the strait and narrow way. 5 Where Thou leadest we would go, Walking in Thy steps below, Till before our Father’s throne We shall know as we are known. [...]

EASTER: Put On by Trevor Hudson

April 15, 2018

From Pauses for Pentecost Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:9-10) Putting on our clothes for the day is an early morning ritual we all take part in.  Usually there are a few factors that we take into account as we do this.  What is the weather forecast for the day?  Will it be hot, cold, or mild?  Will the sun shine, or will it rain?  What are the tasks I need to do during the day?  Will I be going to work, relaxing at home, working in the garden, entertaining friends, or meeting important people?  Usually the choice of what clothes to wear boils down to one main thing: Will [...]

EVIL: Wholeness Broken

April 14, 2018

And so it begins. Or so the story goes: In the beginning. And like the good, little children we are, we begin there and go on. My prayer assignments during Advent and Lent can come with some very heavy lifting of some concepts.  It can feel like having one’s soul scraped.  With a wire brush. Nothing like a good cleaning, hey, Julia?  Hey, yourself. That anvil that invariably falls in there somewhere creates serious aftershocks. This Lent the assignment set itself up as my study of certain beliefs I have about myself. It’s always about me during these stirring parts of the church’s year.  That’s how I know that it’s going to hurt a lot. And then there was this strange clearing.  A clearing with just me in [...]

EASTER: Death by Trevor Hudson

April 14, 2018

From Pauses for Pentecost Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your Earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5) As Easter people we become newly created human beings.  Wonderfully, as God places us in the divine birth column, we are given a new identity.  We are now people who have been raised with Christ.  Today’s word reminds us what this means for us.  Not only does it mean that we must think differently but we are also challenged to live differently.  Living in God’s new world involves setting our minds on those things above, as we saw yesterday, and then working out what this practically means in our everyday behavior. In the verse above, Paul’s [...]

ATTENTIVENESS: Paying Attention—The Hours Of Our Lives (The Benedictine Hours) by Leighton Ford

April 13, 2018

From The Attentive Life Matins, lauds, prime, terce, sext, none, vespers, compline – that your hours will pierce me with arrows and sounds of praise. (Luci Shaw) Time is not our enemy, nor is it a hostile place from which we must flee. It is a meeting place, a point of rendezvous with God. (Dorothy Bass, Receiving the Day) Seven times a day do I praise you. (Psalm 119:164) Long centuries ago a young poet recorded praise to God that rose up in his heart seven times a day.  We can surmise that he was young, because the very long psalm he wrote (the longest of all the psalms) records the longing of a young man to keep his way pure by paying attention to the words of God. Could it be that this young poet, like David the shepherd boy, was an [...]

POETRY: In Church by R. S. Thomas

April 13, 2018

Often I try To analyse the quality Of its silences. Is this where God hides From my searching? I have stopped to listen, After the few people have gone, To the air recomposing itself For vigil. It has waited like this Since the stones grouped themselves about it. These are the hard ribs Of a body that our prayers have failed To animate. Shadows advance From their corners to take possession Of places the light held For an hour. The bats resume Their business. The uneasiness of the pews Ceases. There is no other sound In the darkness but the sound of a man Breathing, testing his faith On emptiness, nailing his questions One by one to an untenanted [...]

EASTER: Raised by Trevor Hudson

April 13, 2018

From Pauses for Pentecost Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1) Becoming Easter people involves a radical transformation of our identity.  Here is an image that you might find helpful: When we consciously put our trust in Jesus, our old names go into God’s obituary column.  In that moment, God also places our new names in the divine birth column.  God gives us a new identity.  In the words of Paul, we have now been raised with Christ into a new life in God’s kingdom.  As the New Testament scholar Tom Wright puts it, “You were raised with the Messiah; so you possess a true life in God’s new world, the ‘upper’ or [...]

EASTER: Alive by Trevor Hudson

April 12, 2018

From Pauses for Pentecost Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions— it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5) Are there moments when you feel more dead than alive?  I am sure you know what I mean.  To be alive is to be responsive to whatever is around us.  It is to interact with people and circumstances in a way that is purposeful yet also joyfully spontaneous. I am always relieved when, on those occasions I go to see my doctor, my knee responds instinctively as she taps the nerve under my kneecap.  With a smile she will usually say to me afterwards, “You are still alive!”  Responsiveness characterizes the very essence of being [...]

CHRISTIANITY: Humor—Hey, Jesus! by Gary M. Schimmer

April 11, 2018

From: Emmaus Road Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God. (Matthew 19:24) Hey, Jesus! They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” (John 12:21) The congregation’s membership grew rapidly because it was located in a thriving community with many new businesses and housing subdivisions.  Young families climbing the corporate ladders were mortgaged to the hilt, enrolled their children in good schools, and looked to worship in welcoming congregations. It wasn’t unusual each Sunday for several new families to show up in the congregation I served.  One Sunday a new [...]

POETRY: Eastern River by Peter Huchel

April 11, 2018

Do not look for the stones in water above the mud, the boat is gone. No longer with nets and baskets the river is dotted. The sun wick, the marsh marigold flickered out in rain. Only the willow still bears witness, in its roots the secrets of tramps lie hidden, their paltry treasures, a rusty fishhook, a bottle full of sand, a tine with no bottom, in which to preserve conversations long forgotten. On the boughs, empty nests of the penduline titmice, shoes light as birds. No one slips them over children’s [...]

EASTER: Lead by Trevor Hudson

April 11, 2018

From Pauses for Pentecost “Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” (John 21:18) The resurrection encounter between Jesus and Peter ends on a challenging note.  After Jesus meets the disciples on the shore and shares fish and bread with them, he goes for a stroll with Peter.  As they walk together, Jesus asks Peter three times whether he loves him.  When Peter responds positively, Jesus commissions him with the task of shepherding his flock.  Then Jesus prophesies that Peter will be led into a costly laying down of his life for others. Following the [...]

WILDERNESS: The Wilderness—Where Our Attitudes Are Adjusted by Brian & Candice Simmons

April 10, 2018

From The Wilderness What a journey we’re on together.  We have discovered that the Lord is our healer as we “see the tree” that took away our sins.  He was crucified for our full healing.  Our bodies, our memories, and our emotions can be healed and made sweet by the revelation of the cross.  If your thoughts are bitter, cast the cross into your attitude.  If your body is broken and sick, cast the cross into your weakness.  Healing comes as you see the abundant provisions of his cross.  And the more you are healed, the more you will want to obey and follow his ways. I (Candice) can remember harboring hatred and unforgiveness toward one of our closest neighbors in the jungle.  She always seemed, in my opinion, to have a way of [...]

PSALMS: Psalm 81 by W. Robert Godfrey

April 10, 2018

From Learning to Love the Psalms Psalm 81 is a remarkable and important psalm in the Psalter.  This psalm of Asaph is more specific than many psalms about the original occasion for its composition.  The formal occasion for writing this psalm was to celebrate a season of important religious festivals in Israel: “Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our feast day,” (v. 3).  Only in the seventh month of the year do we find holy days at the new moon and the full moon.  In the festivals of this month, we see Israel called to reflect on God’s great mercy to and care for her, and we see Israel called to remember and repent of her sins. The new moon marked the new year in Israel’s ecclesiastical calendar.  Leviticus [...]