Grace is pure gift, and because of this our most meaningful encounters with it will probably come at unintended times, when we are caught off guard, when our manipulative systems are at rest or otherwise occupied. The facts of grace are simple: grace always exists, it is always available, it is always good, it is always victorious. But although grace is always there, it doesn't simply happen. It is a gift we must prepare ourselves to receive, by living life in accord with the facts of grace, even when we do not sense them directly. The above words are taken from "Gardening the Soul" A spiritual daybook through the seasons by Sister Stanislaus Kennedy of Ireland. I chose the words for July eleventh, my birthday, and liked the idea that this day was about grace since I have been blessed throughout my seventy plus years and experienced numerous "moments of grace", as Father Exner refers to them. As the author says, grace catches us by surprise, like an unexpected phone call from a longtime friend you haven't seen or heard from in nearly forty years and whose photo you had found earlier on that same day, or, when God sets a rainbow in the sky after a difficult and strenuous day reminding you of his unending love. This line from hymn #677 comes to mind when I think of grace: "God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform", so be on the watch today for God's touch of grace in your life submitted by Barbara Carbonneau, Layreader, LEM, St. Matthew's Church
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"Lord, daily order my steps that I might be transformed into your likeness; imperfect as I am, make me a mirror that reflects your uncompromising love. Covenant-keeper, make me like You. Amen" - from Celtic Daily Prayer
Arise, O God, and rule the earth, for you shall take all nations for your own. Psalm 82:8 "Ok God, it's time for you to take over, we've made a hash of things again." It's the kind of thing that runs through my head every day as I listen to yet another disaster on the news. "We can't seem to figure any of this out; we're killing each other, destroying the earth around us, and generally making a mess of it all. It's your turn." Stubbornly, God remains silent to these prayers, or at least hasn't come in with fire and thunder to clean up the mess. Perhaps God is not as silent as I would like. Perhaps, when I ask like the little child, "Who made this big mess?" the answer is, "We did"-and we need to work on cleaning it up. Sigh . . . guess it's time to roll up my sleeves and sweep out my little corner of the world. It's time to clean up my act. What needs cleaning up in your corner of the world? I'll meet you in the middle with the dustpan. Linnae Peterson, M.Div.
Now I say to you, "You are gods, and all of you children of the Most High." Psalm 82:6 This is a decidedly odd bit of scripture, and in the gospel of John (10: 31-37) Jesus himself uses it against his detractors. "How can you call me a blasphemer, when even the scriptures call the people who do the works of the Father, 'gods'?" (my paraphrase). Somehow as we do the work of the Father, as we care for others as God has cared for us, we are drawn closer to the heart of God. By our actions we are reshaped and begin to reflect the love and kindness of God for the whole world, so that we are known as the children of the Most High. Find a place to practice kindness today and reflect the kindness of God to those you encounter. Linnae Peterson, M.Div.
They do not know, neither do they understand; they go about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. Psalm 82:5 One of the interesting things about the Psalms is that they reflect just about every human emotion. Some reflect our joy, some rage, some delight, and some despair. I certainly can relate to the Psalmist's words here. There are times when my world has been shaken up, and I feel like I'm just wandering around in the dark. I don't know where I am, much less where I'm going, and even the ground beneath my feet seems unstable. In those times I need something solid to hold onto, some ways to grab onto God. I go back to the basics: (1) Jesus loves me, to the core of my being, in all my particularity and uniqueness; (2) God will never abandon me, never leave me, no matter what, no matter what I have done or not, or what is happening, God is present at every moment. How do you grab on to God? What are the basics for you? What do you know at the core and center of your being? Linnae Peterson, M.Div.
Save the weak and the orphan; defend the humble and needy; Rescue the weak and the poor; deliver them from the power of the wicked. Psalm 82:3-4 My son attends a school with a required religion class. This year, in 7th grade, they are discussing ethics. At 13 he has strong ideas on many things, our care of creation, if war is ever justified, civil rights for all, and our responsibility for the poor. We joke that he is a radical, and in many ways he is. He has been shaped by his exposure to the radical stories of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. Over and over again we hear God telling God's people to care for the foreigners, because they were once foreigners, to feed the hungry, as God has fed them when they were hungry, to care for the orphans and the widows, because they were once without protectors. None of these people are other than us. When have you be cared for? How will you care for those in need? Linnae Peterson, M.Div.
God takes his stand in the council of heaven; he gives judgment in the midst of the gods: "How long will you judge unjustly, and show favor to the wicked?" Psalm 82:1-2 This judgment scene is somewhere between uncomfortable and terrifying. There is no way that I can stand up to the judgment of God. I am all too aware of my short comings, faults, and failures. Yet as a wise friend once noted, we have to name the fault before it can be forgiven, otherwise the forgiveness lacks substance. It is only because we know the love of God that we are able to lay before God all of ourselves, strengths and weaknesses, joy and anger, things done and left undone. As we are willing to open all of ourselves, good and bad, to God, we deepen our trust in God where we can discover anew God's love for us. Bring whatever is weighing on you to God, who is waiting to forgive and heal. Linnae Peterson, M.Div.
"The LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the LORD your God; him alone you shall worship; to him you shall hold fast, and by his name you shall swear. He is your praise; he is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things that your own eyes have seen." Deuteronomy 10:17-21 NRSV
The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and of great kindness. The LORD is loving to everyone and his compassion is over all his works. Psalm 145:8-9 "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me." Excerpts from "The New Colossus," by Emma Lazarus The Statue of Liberty stands at the entrance to New York harbor and on it Emma Lazarus's words welcome travelers. The words speak to the best in us, of what we hope to be and what we ought to be. These words speak of hospitality and care for all those who come in hope. Throughout the story of Israel, the nation is commanded by God to welcome the foreigner and the stranger, "The foreigner residing among you must be treated as native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God" (Lev. 19:34 The Message). All of us have been strangers somewhere, sometime, until the open-hearted hospitality of someone has invited us in. In that moment, a door is opened to a whole new world of possibly for relationship and understanding. What door is being opened for you? Or are you the one inviting someone else in? Linnae Peterson, M.D.
They shall speak of the might of your wondrous acts, and I will tell of your greatness. They shall publish the remembrance of your great goodness; they shall sing of your righteous deeds. Psalm 145: 6, 7 "If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead." William Law I love the fourth of July. Every year we go to a local parade. Friends and neighbors and friend-we-have-yet-to-meet line the route. In the parade are scout troops and local bands, and an honest-to-gosh Revolutionary War cannon that we get to see fired later in the day! So much fun! But there is always a reminder, somewhere in the back of my mind that as much as I love all of this, as much as I delight in being part of my town and state and nation, I am called to something beyond that. I have an allegiance that goes beyond all this, and may at times challenges it. I am a citizen of God's kingdom and it is to God that I must answer. God's compassion and justice for all people must be the standard for which we strive individually and as a nation. So today we celebrate how far we have come, and how our courage will take us the next step along the road. Happy 4th!! Enjoy the celebration! Linnae Peterson, M.D.