Saturday, March 29, 2014

Saturday, March 29

Mark 6:56
 56And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the market-places, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.

Healing can mean so many things.  Jesus was so powerful that just touching the fringe of his cloak provided healing for many.  For most of us today, healing means freedom from physical pain and disease. Often times after praying for a person who is ill, I have been told that the person for whom I was praying felt the prayers.  I think God has much more in store for those who pray for healing though. Through fervent prayer for the sick, God helps us to understand what healing means if it doesn’t mean an absence of disease. By giving us understanding of this type of spiritual healing, God changes the people praying as well as the person who is ill.  This change in both parties can be the true source of God’s healing power.

For many other people, healing may mean healing from addictions, healing from mental problems, healing from bad relationships.  This type of psychological healing is often more difficult to see and to understand.  Many people today suffer from psychological pain that I cannot understand, but my prayers for those who are in this situation continue to be not only healing but freedom from anxiety and that God will surround them with His love.  

I know when I pray for any type of healing, God uses this prayer to change me as well as the person for whom the prayer is offered.  

For Healing of Body and Soul
May God the Father bless you, God the Son heal you, God
the Holy Spirit give you strength.  May God the holy and
undivided Trinity guard your body, save your soul, and bring
you safely to his heavenly country; where he lives and reigns
for ever and ever.  Amen.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday, March 28

1 Corinthians 9:22-23

I have become all things to all people, so that I might by any means save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.

Sometimes I try to be all things to all people and fail miserably, but Paul points out that he does this to try and save some even if he can’t save all.  I try to reach out to people in my life by calling, texting, Facebooking, and sending cards. And I do a pretty good job with that; however, I sometimes overlook those people who are with me because I focus on people who are far away.  During Lent, I am trying to be more intentional with my relationships to family and friends. I want to remember St. Benedict’s teaching of being present to everyone.  It is often too easy to get online with virtual friends and family and forget to be present for the people who are actually with you.  I hope that by attending the Wednesday night Lenten series at St. Thomas and continuing to reach out to people in Huntsville that I can be more present not only for people in my life, but for God as well.  The gospels tell us of many wonderful blessings that God has done for us through Jesus. I hope that I can use my presence to be a blessing to others during Lent and beyond.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thursday, March 27

Mark 6:30-46
41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied,

As seen in this story of the feeding of the 5000, Jesus was the consummate host. Jesus knew that hunger could take many forms, but in this meal, Jesus addresses the crowd’s physical and spiritual hunger.  

Physical hunger is not something with which I am personally acquainted. I cannot remember a time that I was truly, miserably hungry and could not get food.  However, my Papaw grew up in the North Georgia mountains in the 1930s where he often went to bed hungry. Papaw remembered the Christmas boxes that the Salvation Army brought filled with bounty--a turkey or a ham, canned vegetables, and fresh oranges, apples, and nuts.  This box only provided temporary relief for the family’s hunger, but it did provide some comfort around the holidays. 
I have known other hungry people.  Six months after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, I went with friends from Canterbury Chapel to provide a meal for the volunteers who were cleaning up a neighborhood. What I found was that the people of New Orleans were hungry not for food, but for people to listen and understand their stories of survival. Listening compassionately to people tell their stories is another way to satisfy hunger.

As a result of this trip, my husband Gus and I formed a cook team when we returned to Tuscaloosa. Gus and I began a to help with the Meals on Wheels fourth Sunday ministry. Although I didn’t think I was a good cook, I learned to prepare chicken pot pie, red beans and rice, and even Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas dinners for  150-175 people.  I began to recognize my gift for hospitality and cooking and realized I was feeding people’s physical hunger while allowing the MOW delivery drivers to feed their spiritual hunger with simple human contact.

Finally, in small ways, I continue to feed hungry people. I keep the list of what our food pantry at St. Thomas needs so I can pick up things whenever I go to the grocery store.  I donate money when asked at the grocery store for fighting hunger.  I write letters on behalf of Bread for the World to ask local, state, and national government to protect food stamps, food subsidies, and school lunches. And I have had examples of feeding people with love shown to me by a seven year old little girl who chose to have her birthday party at the soup kitchen so she could help others instead of getting presents herself. I try to live my life in a spirit of abundance and know with confidence that God will continue to allow me to feed others.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wednesday, March 26

Psalm 119:105
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
   and a light to my path. 

I love this verse from Psalms.  I have always approached the Bible as more of a human history than a rule book and this verse helps me see it in that way.  God gives us memory, reason, and skill; therefore, we should use them to read the Bible and other religious texts and make decisions about what it means for us today. 

I get very frustrated with people who use the Bible to be decidedly un-Christian.  Many people pull verses out of context and hold them up to “prove” that God does not love different groups of people.  I frankly don’t believe that my God is that narrow-minded. I believe that God gave us His word and other religious texts to help our little, feeble human minds grasp His holiness.  I, like most Episcopalians, believe that I am part of an Easter people, rather than a person who lives in darkness.  I choose to believe that God wants us all to be living in His light and presence.

This image of God’s word lighting my path is one that I love.  I know that I would be in darkness without it. I am glad that there is a path that I can shine light onto and find my way in the world.  I believe that God has a plan for me and that he wants me to be happy; however, I do acknowledge that I have free will and often make decisions that makes God sad.  Sometimes, I get upset with God and turn my back on Him. Yet his light never goes out. It is there whenever I am ready to pick it back up and begin on the path.  

I love this version of Amy Grant’s classic “Thy Word.”

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sunday, March 30

Ephesians 5:8
8 For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light

Children are often afraid of the dark.  Sometimes grown-ups are, too.  The fright comes from not knowing what is out there waiting for us--and just not being able to see into the darkness.  To remedy this fear, usually just a night light is all it takes.  Such a simple solution to a unnerving problem makes me wonder what other simple solutions are out there to intimidating circumstances.
God intends for us to live in the light rather than to be afraid in the dark.  He loves us and wants us to be able to see clearly in the light and not fear the dark. In fact, God put Jesus, His own son, on earth for us to reach out to the Light and take hold of it in our lives and in our hearts.  Yet so many people still curse the dark and refuse to accept the light of Christ.  Welcoming help from God and choosing light is not always easy, but it is a choice that will make a real difference in our lives.  Casting away the darkness of fear, prejudice, bigotry, and hatred will help the world to be a better, more light-filled place to be. So for another song that I love. . .

Click to see a video of “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light.”