Category Archives: scripture reflection
A Christmas card came in the mail last week from Beth’s cousin. The Bible verse on the outside cover was Psalm 46:10; “Be still and know that I am God.” This has been my favorite Psalm for longer than I can remember.
Before I was diagnosed with a Chronic Major Depressive Disorder and a Severe Anxiety Disorder I knew there was a lot of chatter in my head. Regrets about the past, being unworthy in the present, and fear of the unknown and uncontrollable. Combined with incessant negative self-talk and panic in many situations, this verse was a plea, a prayer, a reminder.
I still pray this verse every day. My mind, despite therapy and medication, still swirls. Filled with unwelcome thoughts and ruminations this verse can anchor me sometimes. Other moments it’s a desperate hope that maybe one day the verse will be one of of thankfulness.
You’re Forgiven, You’re Free –
Woke up with a bad headache this morning. After finishing some work I laid down on the couch and closed my eyes. As I rested I thought about the Kavanagh/Ford dueling testimonies yesterday. An image based on the Gospel, According to Saint John, Chapter 8:4-11 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+8%3A4-11&version=NRSV) came to mind.
In the story overzealous, law-abiding, religious leaders bring a woman caught in adultery. They want to know what Jesus thinks should be done. Instead of quoting statutes, arrogant platitudes and taking sides, he instead bends down and begins writing in the sand. (Legend states he was writing down the sins of those who stood around demanding justice be done.) Jesus, never looking up says; “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” He hears nothing but the thud of stones as the accusers leave. He then stands asks the woman where her accusers had gone, she didn’t know, and he told her to; “Go and sin no more.” (You’re free.)
Between dreaming and thinking I saw in my mind Jesus going in to the Senate Confirmation Hearing yesterday. There’s no sand so he brings a White Board. Everyone’s bewildered and irritated at this man causing a scene and taking up their precious time and those watching. This is important! Cameras are flashing, capturing it all for the world to see. The protest gets louder and then Jesus begins writing. First the White Board is facing the politicians, then the reporters, finally the seated crowd behind the two victims and accusers. He finally looks away from the board to the crowd and says: “Let she or he who is without sin be the first to judge.” He turns to the Judicial Nominating Committee and adds; “Or cast a “yes”, “no” vote.” One by one the politicians, reporters, onlookers, and anyone else in the room leave. Now Jesus stares at the two people, human beings, who are both being used one way or another. He speaks in a calm, loving, voice; “You are free. You are forgiven. Both of you go and sin no more.”
In my dream, I can’t see which one he says what to but I’m sure he’s speaking to us all!
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When Truth Isn’t Truth –
This past Sunday, on a news show, President Donald Trump’s attorney uttered an interesting phrase; “Truth isn’t truth.” I don’t want to get into the politics of why it was said and how similar the statement was to Bill Clinton’s; “It depends on the definition of what ‘is’ is.” For those who know their history, this whole investigation is eerily similar to what happened in the late 1990’s except the two parties have switched sides.
My question is; “What is truth?”
It is the same question Pontius Pilate asked Jesus before he was crucified. In the gospel of Saint John, chapter eighteen reads; “Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” 38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate.”
Pilate’s world was politics, not conviction. He was stuck in this black hole of a place called Jerusalem and wanted to get out as soon as possible. Jesus had upset some influential people and he wanted the mess to go away. Later in the chapter, he gives Jesus over to these people to have him killed and even “washed his hands” of the whole situation as if choosing not to be involved is not being involved. He even questions Jesus, stands toe to toe with the Master, declares that he has no evidence against Jesus, but allows his crucifixion anyway. The truth was too dangerous.
“What is truth?” “Truth isn’t truth.” “I am the truth.” “Know the truth and it will set you free.”
Wisdom is the search for truth and to accept it wherever it leads us. The problem is that the truth leads us on a journey that often stands against power, sides with the poor and downtrodden, make choices that angers influential people, puts us on the side that often loses. Truth has never been and will never be an easy way.
Idols and Illusions –
I would add to the quote attached to this post anything that’s fleeting, temporal, transitory, this that tell us lies about ourselves or others. Things like politics, money, jobs, reputations. Idols are all of these and more which fix our focus on the illusion that we are in control, we are powerful and by our wills, the world can be recreated in our image. It is this illusion that destroys our world and ourselves.
This morning part of my contemplation and meditation time included a portion of the Second Book of Kings, chapter seventeen, verse 15; “They worshipped false idols and became false.” I have read that several times today, talked about it with a friend and wrote it down in a journal. It says we become what we worship. Where our heart is, our mind, emotions, spirits, where our energies are applied is what we are and what we become.
Idols and illusions are hard to see sometimes. Breaking free from them isn’t easy. #AlbertEinstien said; “All of reality is an illusion, a persistent one, but still an illusion.”
This morning my family gathered together to write my father’s obituary and order of service for his memorial. After a while, we took a break and I walked outside with my niece and spotted a huge Sycamore leaf. It was the biggest one at first we could see and then it became a competition on who could find the largest one of all. We searched a long time and when we were convinced we had discovered the most sizeable one we began looking for the smallest one. This was harder because we had to look under, beside and move other leaves to find the smallest. Finally, we believed we had the tiniest Sycamore leaf in the yard.
It was another busy day with people visiting, numerous phone calls, memorial service being organized, visiting the florist, and other errands. In the hustle and bustle of things, a family must do when one they love has passed it’s hard to find the peace one desires. The big things, the things which must get done are easy to find, it’s the small things; the glimpses of hope, the good memories, times when the good of a life well-lived shines in the darkness of a loved one parting.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Saint John, chapter 1
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” -Book of Proverbs, chapter 13, verse 20
Walking With –
The above scripture was included in my morning prayers today. As I meditated on it, I thought about the men and fathers in the addiction groups I lead.
One of the steps to becoming and staying clean and sober is to understand that those you consider friends, love like family, perhaps are family, if they use drugs or alcohol, can no longer be a part of your life. It seems harsh but staying on the path of sobriety tales tremendous courage and fierce determination.
This is truth not only for recovering addicts but for us all. If we aren’t careful with who’s a part of our lives we’ll find our lives falling apart.
This morning my Daily Office Reading had two sections dealing with focus. One was from the Old Testament, one from the New;
“When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. 3 The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?” “Yes, I know,” Elisha replied, “so be quiet.” 4 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, Elisha; the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went to Jericho. 5 The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?” “Yes, I know,” he replied, “so be quiet.” 6 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them walked on. 7 Fifty men from the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan. 8 Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground. 9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied. 10 “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.” 11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 12 Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two. 13 Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.” Book of Second Kings, Chapter 2
“Then the disciples gathered around Jesus and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 1
As I reflected upon these texts I thought about what we keep our eyes trained on also determines what slips by us as we watch other things. Knowing where not to look is just as important as knowing on what and where to keep our focus. Elisha was waiting, anticipating, looking for something predicted and present to happen. The disciples were staring at what once was and had now passed. To keep ourselves facing forward, living in trust that our purpose and passion are before us, never behind, we make sure what we’re looking for is worth seeing.
It was a simple request from one of the men in my incarcerated fathers group. It was the week after Easter and he wanted a piece of holiday candy, preferably, a Cadbury Egg. I told him I would check with the correctional facility’s supervisor and if she said; “yes” I’d bring some with me to our next meeting. The Lieutenant gave me permission as long as they ate the treats immediately and I collected the wrappers. This was no problem and on Wednesday evening I brought the guys some bite size candies. Unfortunately the store I went to didn’t have any Cadbury Eggs but that didn’t seem to matter. They relished each bite of the three pieces received. They were thankful for an act of kindness and that their request, that they, weren’t forgotten.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’”
–Gospel of Saint Matthew 25
Basic. Simple. Kindness. Love. Grace. Gospel.
The grass, shrubs, trees are a shade of brown that tells the aware observer that summer, a season of growth and beauty, has gone. Fall is sweeping in this evening with thunderstorms and tornado warnings pushing cooler weather into the area. Only yesterday the grandeur of budding plants, leaf covered limbs, sun drenched afternoons were the norm and now the rarity.
A friend commented on my Golden Retriever today saying; “she looks thinner, did you get her trimmed?” “Nope,’ I replied, “she’s just getting older.”
Isn’t this true of us all and all that surrounds us? The seasons of life, good and bad, pass by quickly. What we see, hold is temporary, fleeting, transient.
Wisdom tells us; it’s not what we possess that’s eternal but it’s who possesses us that lasts forever.
“Listen…the Lord says to you: ‘Do not fear or lose heart at the sight of the vast multitude of the enemy. The battle is not yours but God’s. It is not your battle to fight. Tomorrow, take your place, stand firm, and see how you will be delivered. Do not fear or lose heart. Trust for the Lord will be with you.’ …Then the people fell down before the Lord in worship.” –Second book of Chronicles, 20:1-9, 13-24
I needed this today. There are battles I long to fight, victories I want to win.
On my way to get coffee this morning I was reflecting on my Sabbatical journey, asking myself; “have you recovered? are you over the pain that was inflicted, the weariness of simply surviving?” I knew the answer before the questions were fully formed; “I don’t know.”
The one thing I am sure of is that the path can’t be forced, no part of the journey can be skipped, you can’t walk the next mile until you’ve traveled the current one. Healing doesn’t just happen, it’s a slow, rhythmic season, don’t ever let anyone tell you different.
The text above reminded me victory, recovery, is now and will continue to happen. Walk the path, stay true to it and “…see how you will be delivered.”
I like the people’s response; “…they fell down before the Lord in worship.” They trusted and worshiped. They weren’t sure how it was going to work out, what it would cost, what it would take, but they believed it, staked everything on it and were not disappointed.
A good word for me, and you?, today.blessings, bdl http://www.thewannabesaint.com