Tag Archives: Living Love

Living Love

Ordinary Time
January 25, 2018

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that ‘all of us possess knowledge.’ Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him.

 Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that ‘no idol in the world really exists’, and that ‘there is no God but one.’ Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. –1 Corinthians 8:1-6

How do we glean from the experiences of our first-century brothers and sisters in Christ ways to address the issues we face today? While eating meat offered to idols is no longer an issue, we still have idols. Greed and lust for power are two of the most virulent. Perhaps purchasing fair trade products is a counter to both of these idols. Greed and lust for power are directly related to all kinds of injustice in our world today. How we invest our money whether simply buying groceries or purchasing stocks matters.

The key Paul provides, for us to measure how we are to act, is love. We may spend hours comparing products to buy hoping to get the best appliance or the best deal. How much time do we spend discerning whether what we cannot live without was made by child labor working long days in horrid conditions? How much of our food is harvested by undocumented aliens because our government stalemates on creating an immigrant system that is effective and efficient? Who benefits from an antiquated and disjointed immigration system? Would border safety issues decline if a workable immigration system operated?

In the first century Corinth, Christianity was judged by the actions of its practitioners. It still is today. Reminds me of a children’s song I sang many years ago:

Watch your eyes and ears and lips and hands and feet
Watch your eyes and ears and lips and hands and feet
For there’s a Father up above, looking down in tender love
Watch your eyes and ears and lips and hands and feet.*

Prayer: Parent of All, help us remember what we learned as children and if we have not yet learned your message of love, teach it to us anew. Amen.

Summary last verse of Watch your Eyes, see at https://gospelchoruses.wordpress.com/2015/01/02/watch-your-eyes/

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.

Ethnocentric

EthnocentricityLiving in the Spirit
July 29, 2016

Scripture Reading: Colossians 3:1-11

In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all! –Colossians 3:11

Ethnocentric*
1: centering upon race as a chief interest or end
2a: inclined to regard one’s own race or social group as the center of culture
b: exhibiting an incapacity for viewing foreign cultures dispassionately

I first discovered the word “Ethnocentric” in Sociology 103. A required basic college course taken in my first semester, it changed my life and my major. I came to school in pursuit of a degree in speech pathology, left with a degree in pre-social work sociology. The Watts Riots, happening in August 1965 a few days before I left for college, also had an impact. Fresh off the farm and small town life, entering a college world that challenged thinking was a going home experience. I found myself there.

I am the substance of my background and upbringing. I probably sang Jesus loves the little Children, All the Children of the World** by the time I could speak full sentences. Singing songs and reciting memory verses about doing unto others and loving our neighbors plants the seeds of Christ’s way. Most of us never realize when we have picked up cultural norms without even thinking. The realities of racism, elitism, sexism, and the other areas of life by which we take on our ethnocentric tendencies while subtly acquired, require intentionally expunging.

The lessons of the early church apply to us today. What is of God and what is of culture? Discerning the answer to these questions was necessary for the fledgling way of Christ to come to fruition. It remains necessary today as we journey geographically and culturally to the ends of the earth and perhaps even beyond.

Prayer: Lord, you call us to serve in a diverse world. We can see it either as a dangerous threat to our ethnocentric ways or as an opportunity in which we can see even more facets of your glorious love. Give us courage to discern your way and live it. Amen.

*http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com/unabridged/Ethnocentricity
**Jesus Loves the Little Children, words by C. Herbert Woolston. See at http://www.allaboutgod.com/jesus-loves-the-little-children.htm. An updated version.

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 American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved.

Living Love

Love like JesusEastertide
April 30, 2016

Scripture Reading: John 14:23-29

Jesus answered him, ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me. –John 14:23-24

John begins with: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1) He is not talking about holy scripture, he is talking about Jesus who came to live among the peoples of the earth and among other purposes, modeled God’s love.

Either we live love or we don’t love. The author of Hebrews 12:4 puts it pretty succinctly, Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. God created us, I believe, with an infinite capacity to love. For our souls, it is easier to live love than to not. We actually invest more energy in not loving: holding grudges, discriminating against others, feeling the need to be better than others because we cannot accept the fullness of God’s love for ourselves. What is the old saying, it takes two muscles to smile and 40 to frown?

The greatest testimony and praise we can give to God is to love like Jesus loves. Such love is unconditional. It is enabled by the unconditional love we receive from God.

Prayer: Lover of my Soul, cleanse me of all that blocks my ability to love like you. Make me whole, make all your people one, and lead us to live our love through justice. 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 American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved.

Living in a World of Tabernacles

monarch-emerging-300x209Eastertide April 21, 2016

Scripture Reading: Revelation 21:1-6

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
‘See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.’ –Revelation 21:1-4

The book of Revelation is fraught with extremes. Horrid, violent battles are tossed together with some of the most gloriously and beautiful songs of celebration. It asks where is God in the midst of famine and war. It challenges us to really see the destructive side of our lives and the grief that results when it is allowed to run amok. It seems to rob us of all hope that we can do anything about evil, yet declares ultimate victory by God of which we are a key element.

The scripture selection for today tells us that God will pitch God’s tent among us or tabernacle with us. It is the end of the book and it is still talking about temporary housing. It is talking about the now of the Kingdom of God, the work necessary to bring about making all things new, and the future that will result.

I am not a great fan of camping out. It requires a lot of hard work that is never really finished. I like to drive up to a nice motel and register. About the only work I am required to do is carry my bags into a clean room with a bath, temperature control, a good restaurant a few steps away or, if I am really tired, room service. What I really do not want to acknowledge is that a lot of hard work by a lot of people made my rest haven possible.

If we want a world that is ruled by love, where God, the very essence of love, is in our midst, we must make that vision our life’s work becoming the source of, as well as the recipient of, its reality. We were blessed to receive a wonderful role model for such a way of being: Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Lord, help us build a world where love rules and as a result where we rest in the joy of your salvation as we continue in the work of 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 American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved.

Living Love

heart-of-love2Epiphany
January 14, 2016

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says ‘Let Jesus be cursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit. –1Corinthians 12:1-3

Is Paul teaching tolerance here? Or perhaps, is he letting people know that they do not benefit from claiming a corner on the Jesus market? We no doubt in our world today need to be attentive to both messages. I must confess, I bristle a bit, when I hear things being proclaim in the name of Jesus that are totally alien to my faith. I, too, am sure that others have heard me say things that they consider to be heresy. How do we deal with faith elitism?

Mark 9:38-41 might give us some food for thought:

John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.’ But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

We are sent as messengers to love God and love one another. By living love we fulfill our role in the Kingdom of God. It is a hard assignment and it will take a lifetime to get it right. Living love all the time leaves us no time to judge others for their understanding of God.

Prayer: Lord, strengthen my ability to live love as you showed us. 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 American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

saints and Saints

being love living love graphic finalLiving in the Spirit
October 28, 2015

Scripture Reading: Psalm 146

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
   I will sing praises to my God all my life long.  

Do not put your trust in princes,
   in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
   on that very day their plans perish. –Psalm 146:1-4

A wave of thoughts flashed through my mind as I read this Psalm designated for use on All Saints Day. Do not put your trust…in mortals, which all saints are. Interesting. The other instant theme that popped into my head was all the bluster and bravado with which our lives are being blasted by the various candidates for office. Do not put your trust in princes. Perhaps this Psalm was the source of our governmental policy to trust but verify.

As far as the saints are concerned, I am of the lower case faction of sainthood. I think we are all called to be one belonging to the entire company of baptized Christians as Paul addresses us in 1 Corinthians 1:1. Indeed I have known mentors in my own life for whom I would capitalized the “S” and there certainly are many of our ancestors in faith who have demonstrated levels of devotion and dedication that probably do deserve the honorific that goes with the capital “S”. The irony to Paul’s writing is that he is surely one deserving of the honor.

How do we deal with governmental leaders regarding trust? First, I think we must recognize that they are all human and as capable, as each of us are, of making mistakes and having to recover from them. More importantly though for those of us who live in a democracy, we must be trustworthy ourselves in our selection of leaders. The only purpose of government is to foster the Common Good. Governments cannot create a world where we can each have our cake and eat it too but that is what we all seem to want. I see a lot of anger and fear and even hate driving our stances on how to foster the common good and that is just not possible. The very essence of the Common Good is loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. We know the Author of that commandment; we would do well to follow it in every aspect of our lives including our governance.

Prayer: Lord, I rededicate my life this day to living your commandments of 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 American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.