Tag Archives: Kingdom of Love

Christ with Me

Living in the Spirit
September 11, 2017

Scripture Reading: Exodus 14:19-31

The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night. –Exodus 14:19-20

There are times in all our lives when we are forced to rely on God totally. When the Israelites left Egypt was one such time.  The angel led them out and then the pillar of cloud moved behind them to protect them from the Egyptian Army. Saint Patrick wrote the following prayer that is an apt description of the faithfulness of God.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

What we need to understand is this is true all the time not just when we are at a breaking point. In fact, we would many times avoid reaching our wit’s end, if we walked in faith with God continuously. God is not only an emergency call center. God wants us to live and move and have our being so that our lives are led by peace and love, being cognizant of how our actions impact our world and all that is in it.

Prayer: Lord, make us mindful of dialogue with you in every moment of our lives. Help us to Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) Amen.

 All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

A Tapestry of Love

Living in the Spirit
July 14, 2017

Scripture Reading: Romans 8:1-11

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.                                                                                                                                                  –Romans 8:1-5

What does it mean to be in Christ Jesus? I think to explore this question; we must delve into why God sent Jesus in the first place.  Was Jesus sent for humans to interact more closely with God? Was Jesus sent as a model of humanness demonstrating our potential to create a world ruled by love? Was he sent to lay out a plan to attain such a world, if we learned to work together and share our diverse gifts becoming one? Paul talks about being a part of the Body of Christ. Is this what it means to be in Christ Jesus?

What is freeing about being in Christ Jesus? Having purpose is freeing. Knowing what we are and whose we are give us the courage to pursue the vision set before us without fear and with the full assurance that we have our Creator’s support. Living free of condemnation opens doors to exploration and development. A life filled with learning from our mistakes as well as our successes is crucial for progress.

Two thousand years ago Jesus charged us with feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, restoring people to wholeness in both health and behavior, and welcoming the stranger. God’s Kingdom when fulfilled is a place of abundance where all have food and clothing, all experience wholeness, and all are welcomed. We have come a long way; we have a long way to go. We are promised the freedom to make such a world as we work together as one toward God’s righteousness.

Weave, weave, weave us together.
Weave us together in unity and love.
Weave, weave, weave us together.
Weave us together, together in love*. Amen.

*Weave by Rosemary Crow, 1979, Chalice Hymnal page 495, Copyright Chalice Press 1995, St. Louis, Missouri

Who is This?

Palm Sunday
April 9, 2017

Scripture Reading:
Matthew 21:1-11

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
‘Hosanna to the Son of David!
   Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’ –Matthew 21:6-11

As we enter Holy Week, who are we looking for? The people who celebrated Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem apparently hoped in him what they saw in King David. David was first and foremost a military leader, a general with great success. He grew from that roll into a great King setting the stage for the nation of Israel to prosper in peace. Peace than as now coexisted with war for battles continued even after David became king.

What was it then that the people saw in Jesus making them relate him to King David? He was not a soldier but a traveling Rabbi. He emboldened loving not only neighbors but even enemies. He taught ways of being that were mutually beneficial. He fed the hungry and healed the sick. He restored wholeness and encouraged oneness among his followers. He championed distributive justice in God’s Kingdom of love. He called on followers to become coworkers with him in actualizing this Kingdom ruled by God’s love. David was a dedicated lover of God and the spirit of God rested with him. While those spreading their cloaks before Jesus may not have fully understood who he was, they surely saw that he was a man of God too, identifying him as the prophet. It would take the events that happened later in the week to solidify who he was.

In ancient Israel as well as first century Jerusalem, the people hungered for righteousness and longed for a savior to make it a reality. The peace that David’s military prowess provided was gone one generation after his death. Jesus taught a new way of being and trained his disciples to spread it throughout the world. The rule of God’s love through Jesus Christ is designed to last not only through generations but through eternity.

Prayer: Lord, journey with us during this Holy Week. Broaden our understanding of your way, your truth, and your life. Embolden our loving all your children. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the new Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Houses Divided

March 20, 2017

Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 16:1-13

The Lord said to Samuel, ‘How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.’ Samuel said, ‘How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.’ And the Lord said, ‘Take a heifer with you, and say, “I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.” Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.’ Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, ‘Do you come peaceably?’ He said, ‘Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.’ And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. –1 Samuel 16:1-5

How does a group recover from leadership mistakes? 1 Samuel 9:1 seems to indicate that Saul’s credentials for being king were that he was tall and handsome. Granted that was written with hindsight, but it speaks to the panic running through the Hebrews regarding all their neighbors having kings when they did not. Find a king, any king, and all will be well. Of course, it was not. The paradigm shift being experienced in the Middle East at that time required far more skills than Saul possessed.

Good leaders rise to the top when people have a common vision worth pursuing. Jesus noted in Mark 3:25, if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. Abraham Lincoln took that scripture to heart when he strived to keep the United States together during the Civil War. Defining commonly held values is important. Turning those values into a vision and goals creates the framework for progress. Working together to make the vision a reality should follow.  Treating all sides with respect matters too.

A lot of innocent people were hurt as Saul blundered through being king. Eventually his own son was killed. A lot more were negatively impacted as David led the way to peace through bloody war.

Many reading this follow a risen Savior, Jesus Christ. His vision of creating a Kingdom of Love stretching to the ends of the earth is still very real. We need to get about the business of identifying the things we can and do agree on, and work with all are hearts to implement them, while letting the things that divide us lie fallow. When we fully love God, and love our neighbors as we love ourselves, we may be surprised by how easily those thorny issues that separate us now, melt away.

Prayer: Lord forgive us for getting so caught up in the world that we forget your purpose for us. Guide us to find the work you have already laid out for us and strengthen us to do it with all our love. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the new Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.