Daily Meditations - May 11-23

Saturday, May 23

Saturday’s Easter Word: Heaven

Luke 24: 50-51: Then Jesus took them to the outskirts of Bethany, and with upraised hands blessed the disciples. While blessing them, the Saviour left them and was carried up to heaven.

Acts 1:10-11: They were still gazing up to the heavens when two messengers dressed in white stood beside them. “You Galileans - why are you standing here looking up at the skies?” they asked. “Jesus, who has been taken from you - this same Jesus will return, in the same way you watched him go into heaven.”

Did you know that Luke and Acts were written by the same person? “Luke” is really “The Gospel according to Luke” and “Acts” is the second part of the story, “The Acts of the Apostles”, also written by Luke. At the end of Luke and at the beginning of Acts, we find this same story of Jesus’ ascension into heaven, as a connection between the Gospel, which is focused on what Jesus did on earth, and Acts, which is focused on the early church.

This scene is also about connection. Even as Jesus leaves the disciples, he blesses them, and he sends them to be his witnesses, to continue his ministry.

The disciples don’t quite know what to do next, they just stand there, gazing up to the heavens! A couple of “messengers” (angels) brought them back down to earth, reminding them that Jesus isn’t as gone as he seems to be, and that the heaven he went to isn’t so far away as they think. In his time on earth, Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of heaven to be near at hand, and there were times he said that his disciples, through understanding God’s love and living God’s Way, drew close to the kingdom of heaven.

I saw a joke about Ascension Day this week saying: “It’s the day Jesus started to work from home.” And yet, Jesus isn’t really in some far off heaven, connecting to us through a bad wifi signal. Jesus connects to us through the Holy Spirit, and through the kingdom of heaven, which he brought to earth, lived out and then gave us the ministry of continuing.

Let us pray:

Loving God, sometimes, like Jesus’ disciples, we want to just stand and look up at the heavens, wondering what to do next, hoping you will come and do it for us. Instead, O God, help us to live into the ministry we have been entrusted with, to live out your kingdom, so that it may come on earth, as it is in heaven. Help us to draw closer to your kingdom of heaven in the way Jesus did, through love, compassion, and justice. We pray in his name, Amen.

With Blessings,
Kristin and Maureen.

 

Friday, May 22

Today’s Easter Word: Promised

Gospel Reference: Luke 24:44-53

When I was exploring where the word “promise” comes up in other parts of scripture, I learned that the original title of a very familiar hymn is “Hymn of Promise”. The title we know it by, “In the Bulb There is a Flower”, is simply because a lot of hymns in our tradition are known by their first line. This hymn is often sung at funerals, (including my father’s funeral) and composer Natalie Sleeth wrote it for, and dedicated it to, her husband, Ron, who had recently been diagnosed with cancer, and who died a few weeks after the hymn premiered.

I think it’s a beautiful hymn with inspiring words that we can sing or listen to any time, and this video has some particularly lovely pictures to go with it.

Although it’s called “Hymn of Promise”, the word “promise” only shows up once, in this line in the first verse: “in cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!” And yet, the entire hymn is about the promises of God. It moves from the promises of Creation that we may take for granted, like bulbs and seeds turning into flowers and trees, and winter turning into spring; to the promise of God’s continued presence with us, even in silence and darkness, and as we move from the past into an unknown future. The final verse speaks of promises that we sometimes doubt, and struggle to understand and believe: our endings becoming new beginnings, eternal life, and resurrection; the hope of these promises is why the hymn is so popular for funerals.

Each one of these promises, from the ordinary to the extraordinary, the hymn says, is “unrevealed until it’s season, something God alone can see”.

In the scripture passage today, Jesus says he will send what God has promised: the Holy Spirit, which is God with us always, in winter and spring, in silence and darkness, in doubts and belief, even into eternity. Just like those first disciples, we can’t see what the future holds, it is a mystery, but God has promised to be with us in all things as we travel towards it, and so we have hope.

For our prayer today, I invite you to sing or say the words to the Hymn of Promise, thinking of the words as a prayer of thanksgiving for the promises of God, and looking with hope towards the seasons when they will be revealed.

Hymn of Promise” or “In the Bulb There is a Flower

In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter, there's a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see. 

There's a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;
There's a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity.
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

Thanks be to God! Amen.

With Blessings,
Kristin and Maureen

 

Wednesday, May 20

Today's Easter Word: Forever

Gospel Reference: John 14:16 “I will ask God, and God will give you another Advocate, to be with you Forever.”

We are coming closer to the end of the Season of Easter. Tomorrow, the 40th day after Easter, is the Day of Ascension, which marks when Jesus left the disciples and ascended to heaven. Ten days later, we will celebrate the Day of Pentecost (which means “fiftieth”), the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the church.

In our passage today, as Jesus is saying goodbye to the disciples, he tells them that God will send another Advocate, to be with them forever, by which he means the Holy Spirit.

It’s hard for us to quite imagine “forever”, and what it means that God’s Spirit is with us forever. “Forever” means for all time - and that’s more time than we can picture.

Did you know that the ancient Greeks had a couple of different terms for time? The first, Chronos time, means chronological time, what we can measure. So on one hand the idea that God’s Spirit is with us forever, for all time, means all the Chronos time from when those words were written in the first century AD, until this moment and even beyond. And more personally, God’s Spirit is with each of us forever, for all the time we have existed, and will exist.

But the ancient Greeks also had “Kairos” time, which means “the right time”. It can mean the perfect moment of opportunity and in the Greek scriptures Kairos means God’s time, the moment when God acts, and it makes the connection between a moment in time and God’s eternity. So to say God’s Spirit is with us for all Kairos time, means God’s Spirit is not only with us in a “forever” that is bigger than we can picture, but also in every moment. And I think it especially means that God’s Spirit is with us at “the right time”, at that very moment when we need God’s strength, hope, and love.

Let us pray:

God, Holy Spirit, you who swept over the waters in the beginning, who has existed beyond the time we can imagine, I thank you for being with me in this very moment in time. Help me to be aware of your Kairos time, O God, to know when it is the right time for me to act. May I never forget the promise that you will be with me forever, for all time, and for every moment when I need you. Amen.

Blessings,
Kristin and Maureen

 

Monday, May 18

Today's Easter Word: Commandment

Gospel Reference: John 14:15 If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

It’s confession time. I asked to write the meditation on this Easter word because I found a lovely anthem and I wanted to share it. Click on ‘Watch’ beside the picture of the anthem cover, then click the play button on the blue rectangle. 

Did I think about what I would write to accompany the music and the scripture? No, not at all—I trusted that inspiration would strike. Have I struggled with writing it? You bet!

My first thought was to look up the commandments of Jesus. It turns out that there are a lot, not just (as I believed) the ones in which he says flat out, “This is my command.” You know the Bibles with Jesus’ words printed in red? That’s it; pretty much everything he said is a command to us. “Whatever causes you to sin, get rid of it.” “You must be born again.” “Store up your treasures in heaven, not on earth.” You get the idea.

The scope was daunting, to say the least, so I had to narrow it down. I came back to the two that many of us memorized in Sunday School. Jesus was asked: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' ” (Matt 22:36-40)

It's fairly easy to love our neighbour when they are in line with our ideologies and values; it’s so much harder when their core values fly in the face of what we honestly believe to be right and true, and even more difficult when what they are preaching, in our opinion, threatens our own safety or comfortable circumstances. In our current technological climate, the definition of neighbour has expanded to include people from around the globe.

Who is the neighbour whom you have trouble loving? That relative who embarrasses you with their racist remarks? That acquaintance who moved far away (but is your Facebook friend), who advocates conspiracy theories? The person from a social group who is either derisively atheist or a fundamentalist who dismisses your theology? How do you deal with that neighbour? Label or stereotype them? Block them? Dismiss them? Avoid them? Keep silent to avoid an argument? Try to reason with them, although you believe that to be futile? Love them and agree to disagree?

It’s such a complex issue, one which I discussed with friends yesterday, hoping for inspiration and clarity. There is no easy answer, but Jesus did say “Love your neighbour as yourself”, which demands that we treat them with respect and understanding. And that, my friends, brings us back to another commandment. Matthew 7:12: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” And there it is, the Golden Rule.

Let us pray:

God of all times and places, God of all people and circumstances, we come to you knowing that we often fall short when it comes to following your commandments. We tend to love our neighbour only when it’s convenient or comfortable. Help us find ways to disagree with others in a spirit of caring, compassion, and understanding rather than of dismissiveness and anger. Give us wisdom to discern the time to be forthright in our beliefs or to be prudent and wait for a more receptive time. Amen. 

Blessings,
Linda Rodgers

 

Saturday, May 16

Today’s Easter Word: Way

Gospel Text: John 14:1-14, Verses 4-6

Have you ever been lost, I mean really lost? I give thanks for the GPS in my ‘iPhone’; it is a trusty friend to someone as directionally challenged as I am!

Years ago just after my daughter and family moved to Ontario, on a visit there I took my then 9 yr old grandson out one evening to buy him a gift; oh my goodness did I get lost! Kingston is not a very large place, but I hadn’t driven too much there and the streets did not lead to home as they should, and the daylight was fast disappearing. I kept driving, singing and laughing while panicking inside! We called it our adventure and I did not let Seth know I was lost!

In John’s Gospel the disciples were about to lose their life compass, their GPS. Jesus was about to leave them and they seem confused when he tells them, they ‘know the way’. He even points them to the answer in his words “I am the way”. Yet they don’t understand until they lose him, and lose their own way for a little while. They eventually find the path, after the promise of a guide is poured out on them in the form of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Finally they go about the business they were commissioned for and spread the message, that the crucified Jesus is now resurrected in them and they are empowered by the gospel! The good news of the ‘Way’ is Jesus Christ, their friend and guide. 

The El Camino de Santiago, known as ‘The Way of St James’ was the most popular route for Christian Pilgrimages in the middle ages. It is said that many pilgrims did it on their knees! It is 500 miles long and people who walk it on their feet report how blistered and sore their feet become; so it is hard to imagine the condition one’s knees might have been in upon arrival at the sacred shrine.  The marvelous cathedral there is built around what is thought to be the burial place of St James, the Apostle.

Walking the Camino has become a popular modern phenomena and people take it on for many reasons. There are many good documentaries and movies about this amazing walk.  One that comes to mind was a film made in 2011 and is simply called, ‘The Way’. It is the story of a father estranged from his son, and before they can reconcile the son is killed. The father decides to follow his son’s last journey and walk the Camino de Santiago. Along the way of course, he has to face his own challenges and is given the gift of learning, not only about his son but about himself.

Don’t you think that is what Jesus wanted to teach his disciples, and also wants us to learn? Our journey is not always smooth, often not the way we would like things to be. Yet deep inside each one of us is a place the ‘divine’ dwells! That is our compass, and all we have to do is acknowledge that presence, lift it out into the light and let the beauty of Christ radiate and guide our way. It takes trust and I know that can be hard.

At night it is said the Milky Way is so bright on the Camino that it actually points the way and keeps night walkers in the right direction. What a brilliant universe our creator has made with many wonders to keep us grounded and amazed!

Years after my Kingston escapade, my grandson told me “You know that night we went out in the car, I knew you were lost!” He didn’t want to worry me by showing he really was a bit scared that I was never going to find his house again!

Isn’t that the way we are sometimes? We don’t want folk to know we are just a bit scared? Right now we do have concerns, especially the fear of the unknown with Covid 19. However as Christians, you know and I know, we have a way to allay all fear and that assurance is only a prayer away.

Let us Pray.

Our God, you came in Jesus to show us the way. May we steadfastly and resolutely walk it, knowing you are always by our side. Bless us, comfort us and enliven us our God so we too may show others ‘the way’. Amen.

Here is the trailer of the movie ‘The Way’. Enjoy and maybe when Covid distancing is over, we’ll all need a movie night out!

 

Friday, May 15

Friday’s Easter Word: Ask

Gospel Reference: John 14: 13-14.  “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”

In this passage, “ask” refers to asking for something in prayer. Jesus promises to do whatever is asked in his name, but “in his name” does not mean just using the words “In Jesus’ name, Amen” at the end of the prayer. It means praying in Jesus’ way, with his spiritual longing for justice, love and compassion for one another, and the depth of hope and trust in God to say “yet, not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

But I couldn’t help think about “ask” in terms of asking a question. Sometimes on social media, people will post an “AMA” meaning “Ask Me Anything”. I wonder what it would be like to be able to have an “Ask Me Anything” with Jesus? What questions would you want to ask him? Questions about his time on earth? Questions about the meaning of life, or about death and what comes after? Or perhaps more personal questions, about your own life, and why certain things happened?

I can think of a lot of questions I would love to ask Jesus, but I wonder if I would quite dare to. I don’t know if I want all the answers to my deepest questions right away, it might be too much. Perhaps that’s why, when Jesus does answer the questions of his disciples, he doesn’t usually answer them directly. He uses metaphors and parables; he says things that can be interpreted in different ways. He gives his disciples the opportunity to learn and grow into the answers.

In our times of prayer, the responses to what we ask do not come directly either. Contemplative prayer is a practice that uses silence, stilling our thoughts so we can experience God’s presence with us. Some people discover the answers to their prayers come to them much later, sometimes in surprising ways in their lives. Our prayer life, how we talk with God, and how we experience God’s response, should be something that also helps us, as disciples, to learn and grow.

For our prayer today, I invite you to pray the words that Jesus taught us: The Lord’s Prayer. Consider the words, and what they mean to you today, and follow this with some time in silent prayer.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory
forever and ever. Amen.

Blessings,
Kristin and Maureen

 

Thursday, May 14

Today’s Easter Word: Seen

Gospel Reference: John 14: 1-14, vs 9b - "Whoever has seen me has seen the father”

They say that seeing is believing; the disciples had been with Jesus for three whole years, spent every day walking across the country with him, living, eating and praying together. Yet in vs 9 of John Ch.14, Jesus more or less has to point out they have seen him, day in day out and it seems incredulous to him they have not seen God!

There is story of a Pilgrim coming upon a group of men working on a stone building, with a monk sitting close-by on a stone wall. Stating the obvious, a stranger made his approach to the man by saying, “You look like a monk”. The monk replied that indeed he was. The conversation continued with a question, “Who is that working on the abbey?” The reply came, “My monks, I am the Abbott”. “Ah” said the pilgrim, “it’s good to see a monastery going up again”.  “It’s not going up.” replied the Abbot. “It’s coming down”. Aghast the man spluttered “Whatever for?” “So we can see the sun rise at dawn,” replied the Abbott.

I love that story. It makes me reflect and then ask myself, what barriers block me from seeing the beauty I need to see or perhaps, ask myself, ‘how might I see God’ more clearly, in the world around me.

Is something blocking you from not being able to see the beauty of a sunrise, or like the disciples preventing you from seeing Christ clearly for who he was?  It is my prayer that during these uncertain times we might see glimpses of God in unlikely places; God is often in plain view in the most unlikely places.

I received the attached story from an American friend, now that is worth ‘seeing.' enjoy!

A Prayer written by Ted Dodd DM (Ted was my teacher at the CCS)

After weeks of isolation and unsettling news,
   many hearts are broken
   many hearts torn,
   many hearts in dis-ease.
And you say, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”
   Be at peace.
   Embrace the sacred holiness.
We gather from our many dwelling places,
   of isolation and social distancing,
of illness and grief,
   of economic hardship and upheaval.
And you tell us that there is room for all.
   You have space for others.
   You know each of us. 

And yet, we ask with Peter,
   “Where are you going?”
We question with Thomas,
   “We do not know where you are going?
   How can we know the way?”
We plead with Philip,
   “Show us God and we will be satisfied.”
You answer, “I am the Way”,
   follow me on a journey of prophetic challenge and pastoral peace.
You state, “I am the Truth”,
   let us be a revelation in
the world of radical justice and compassionate kindness.
You reply, “I am the Life”,
   may we live into active discipleship and prayerful reflection.
Holy one,
   Your way is not triumphalism.
   Your truth is not exclusionary.
   Your life is not legalistic.  

   Your mission is one of caring.
   Your message is one of welcome.
   Your vision is one of love.
Enfold us in your call and let not our hearts be troubled.

Blessings,
Maureen and Kristin

 

Wednesday, May 13

Today’s Easter Word: Prepare

When I think of the word Prepare, I don't think of the season of Easter, I think of Advent and Lent. Both of these are seasons of preparation for major Christian holidays.

Advent is a time to prepare ourselves for the blessing and gift of Christmas, the arrival of Jesus. In that season, we remember the promises of God to send us Emmanuel, God-with-us, as well as Jesus' promises to be with us again. We long, in that dark season, for the light of God’s promises to be fulfilled, and so we prepare ourselves by bringing light into the world, through song, story-telling, and gift-giving.

Lent, which many consider a somber season, is really a time to deepen our faith and prepare ourselves for Holy Week, a week that moves from the celebration of Palm Sunday, to the horrifying violence and heartbreak of Good Friday, and finally to the joyful and yet deeply mysterious resurrection of Jesus on Easter. We spend the season of Lent preparing ourselves by drawing closer to God, sometimes giving up things that get in the way of our relationship with God, or taking on new practices to strengthen our relationship with God.

But we are now in the season of Easter, and we hear these words, that Jesus goes to prepare a place for us. Looking ahead in the Christian year, this season ends with the day of Pentecost, when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit, often called the birthday of the church. So perhaps what we need to prepare ourselves for is to take on the mission that Jesus gives us. Throughout Easter, we explore the wonder of the resurrection, but we also hear Jesus speak about his ministry and mission; we hear him assure us, his disciples, that we will not be left alone; and we hear his ultimate commandment to us: to love as he loved.

Jesus says he goes to prepare a place for us, and he leads the way for us. But we also must prepare ourselves, as followers of Jesus, to continue his mission: to be his hands and feet in the world today, to love as he loved.

Let us pray:

Loving God, we thank you for the seasons of the church year, which help us prepare ourselves, deepen our faith, and grow as disciples. As we move through this season of Easter, towards the celebration of Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit, may we look at how we need to prepare ourselves, as the church, to more fully be the body of Christ in the world, and also how each of us can more fully love one another as he loved. We pray in the name of Jesus, who we humbly follow, Amen.

Blessings,
Kristin and Maureen

 

Tuesday, May 12

Today's Easter Word: Place 

John 14:1, 2

“Don’t be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me. My Father’s house has room to spare. If that weren’t the case, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you.?”

Psalm 4:8

In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety.

The word of the day is place. During these days of uncertainty and physical distancing, we are all looking for a safe place to be. Written by David Foster and Carole Bayer Sager, The Prayer is one of the most popular contemporary Christian songs and it speaks of just that. Carole wrote about how its theme of safety is so important to her work. “I think it embodies everything I looked for my whole life. ‘Lead us to the place, guide us with your grace, to a place where we’ll be safe.’

Composer David Foster described “The Prayer” as “a song that I just never get tired of playing, I never get tired of hearing it, and I never get tired of people telling me that they enjoy it. And it seems to mean a lot—it means a lot of different things to a lot of people. So it’s a powerful piece of music. I think it came through me, and I think Carole’s lyric is beautiful. And it’s very meaningful to me that when all is said and done, there is a piece of music like that, that will undoubtedly outlive me.” (The Tabernacle Choir Blog)

I recently discovered a father/daughter duo who have recorded this piece. Their work is going viral, (appropriately)! It’s received over 2 million views on YouTube and 4.5 views on Facebook. Mat and Savannah Shaw started recording their music to entertain family and friends. Fifteen-year-old Savannah didn’t even have social media accounts before uploading this video. Mat says that they want to spread hope through these tough economic and social times.

Let us pray:

I pray you'll be our eyes and watch us where we go
And help us to be wise in times when we don't know
Let this be our prayer when we lose our way
Lead us to a place guide us with your grace
To a place where we'll be safe.

I pray we'll find your light And hold it in our hearts
When stars go out each night find us where you are
Let this be our prayer when shadows fill our day
Lead us to a place guide us with your grace
to a place where we’ll be safe

A world where pain and sorrow will be ended
And every heart that’s broken will be mended
And we’ll remember we are all God’s children
Reaching out to touch you
Reaching to the sky

We ask that life be kind and watch us from above
We hope each soul will find another soul to love
Let this be our prayer
Just like every child
Needs to find a place, guide us with your grace
Give us faith so we'll be safe

Blessings,
Linda Rodgers

 

Monday, May 11

Today’s Easter Word: Dwelling

“In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.” John 14:2   

These words from Jesus, talks about this dwelling place prepared for us in God’s house, a place that Jesus will go and prepare for us. But read these words from Deuteronomy 33:27: “The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

In this passage, God is our dwelling place, it’s not something separate from God. This is also repeated in many of the Psalms, and in both cases, sometimes the word refuge is used instead of dwelling. It is God’s own Spirit, God’s own self, where we are invited to dwell and find refuge when we need it. When we think about God being in all the world, this makes a lot of sense. Psalm 139 says there is nowhere we can go where God’s Spirit is not there as well. From the heavens, to the depths, to the far side of the sea, God is there. You could say that we always dwell in God, whether we are aware of it or not, and our invitation is to be aware, to know that God is there, whenever we need God’s comfort and love.

Other parts of scripture, including 1 Corinthians 3:16 take this idea one step further: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”  

God is not only in all the world, God dwells in us as well. Again, I think this is something that is the case for each one of us, whether we are aware of it or not. But in this passage, the word you is plural. It is in relationship, in community, where God’s dwelling within us becomes all the more known.

1 John, chapter 4 tells us why this is: God is love. When we love one another, God lives in us.

Fortunately, we can love and care for one another even though we are not able to be together physically. Thank you all for the love you show, in giving to the food bank, offering help, phoning and reaching out to those who may be lonely. Thank you for allowing God’s love and presence to be made known in you.

Let us pray:

Loving God, thank you for your presence that is always with us. If we are troubled, may we remember this, and come to you for refuge and comfort. We also thank you for your love within us. Help inspire us to care for another well, even in this time of crisis. We know that your love cannot be kept out by walls or masks, so may we share love widely. May we dwell in you, and may we allow you to dwell in us. Amen.

Blessings,
Kristin and Maureen