Ask yourself …

… do you pray for that brother or sister
who’s in difficulty for confessing their faith?

That is the question Pope Francis asked of the crowd in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday, September 25, 2013.

Grieving after a suicide bomb attack in Peshawar, Pakistan

The Pope’s comments came in response to an attack on an Anglican Church in Peshawar, Pakistan that left 78 dead. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, also spoke of the courage, the willingness to forgive, and the ‘cry for justice’ arising from the ashes of the destruction. Listen to his comments on Radio 4’s World at One.

Well, do you pray for brothers and sisters you may never meet, but who are family to you?

Bobby McFerrin: Sharing the gift of music

Bobby McFerrin on Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

Bobby McFerrin is interviewed on the PBS show Religion & Ethics Newsweekly today (5/24/13). He talks about music and faith and spirituality. The video clip lasts just over 8 minutes and I found it inspirational (and hope you will, too). Click the image to go to the video interview.

Some insights from the interview:

[Music] elicits so many emotions. Have you ever listened to a piece of music and for some reason that you don’t, you just can’t understand, you simply burst into tears? Music has a way of communicating in a way that language does not. It can go past language.

I love the Scriptures. I still read the Bible through, you know, over and over and over again. Because you always find things there, you know, that you hadn’t seen before. I could read the same verse 1,000 times, but the 1,001st time I read it I’ll find something in it that I hadn’t seen before.

Kim Lawton, Interviewer, “McFerrin says he believes God speaks through his music. But he says that doesn’t make him unique.”

God doesn’t speak through me and not through you for some reason. He speaks to everyone, and we in turn can open up our mouths, or open up our hands, or our minds or whatever, our professions, and let God speak through us to other people. My father used to say, “The Lord has entrusted me with a talent. It’s not my gift. The Lord has entrusted me with a talent,” and I absolutely feel that way, that He’s given me this gift to share with other people to uplift hearts.

Read the entire interview here

Wind Chimes: 13 Dec 2012

Clean water: part of the effort of Foundation Cristosal in El Salvador

John went into all the region around the Jordan,
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins …

Luke 3:3 NRSV

Perhaps the chimes are as persistent as John the Baptist, singing to us to turn around, change direction, find and go toward the music. What do you hear?

Repentance

In our ‘Spiritual Day Hike’ at St. Margaret’s (Palm Desert) yesterday we talked about repentance, among other things. It turns out we, who have participated in many a Bible study and have sat through many a sermon, are good students and seekers. More importantly, each of us could report continuing efforts, even daily efforts, to re-turn to the Lord.

Our wide ranging musings and reports accord well with the succinct description in the Oxford Companion to the Bible:

Repentance: Sincere contrition, involving acknowledgment of wrongdoing in the sense of both admitting guilt and feeling guilty […] remorse must be accompanied by resolve to cease doing wrong and do what is right […] In biblical idiom, the sinner is called on to “circumcise the heart” (Deut. 30.6; Jer. 4.4), “wash the heart” (Jer. 4.14), or become “single‐hearted” (Jer. 32.39); to make a new heart (Ezek. 18.31), a heart of flesh, not stone (Ezek. 36.26)

Such feelings and behaviors, we agreed, are developed one day at a time, one experience at a time. It was encouraging to me (and I believe each of us ‘on the hike’) to hear of triumph and failure and resolve to do better each day. ~dan

It is part of our Baptismal Covenant

Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord? — “I will with God’s help.”

A promise we make to God and to each other in our Baptismal Covenant.

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Links to online Advent Calendars

Each of these has a different approach. Find one that helps you “prepare the way.” Find one that helps you focus on God as you make your way into the loving arms of God.

Trinity Wall Street Online Advent Calendar

Busted Halo Online Advent Calendar

CREDO Online Advent Calendar

“Black Friday” began the “Shopping Season” and retailers are relentless in keeping us focused on buying often and buying more. “#GivingTuesday” (11/27/12) was an invitation to give and use our “buying power” in a way that benefits others for more than just a day.

I intend to keep that invitation in front of us throughout the “Shopping Season.” I believe  that It is always the right time to be generous. If you haven’t participated in “#GivingTuesday” how about today? ~dan

Today’s give-a-gift-to-help-others idea:

  • Foundation Cristosal —  “We are a faith-based organization of Anglican roots dedicated to human rights and community development work in El Salvador. We partner with people and organizations from diverse philosophical, religious, and political backgrounds to accompany the Salvadoran people in the construction of a just society.” (Home Page Welcome and Introduction)
  • A personal testimony from Ms. Alexandra Howard a member of St. Paul’s Cathedral in San Diego.

Looking for other give-a-gift-to-help-others ideas?
Go first to Charity Navigator for those ideas
and for an evaluation of how your dollars will be spent

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Image: Foundation Cristosal

Wind Chimes: 11 Dec 2012

Night descends upon the wilderness

John went into all the region around the Jordan,
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins …

Luke 3:3 NRSV

Even in the dark the chimes sound. Hope? Love? Homecoming? Presence? Peace? Listen. What do you hear?

Wilderness

Each one of us could tell a story about the wilderness. … Our stories would be ones of struggles, ups and downs, highs and lows, stories of being lost and overwhelmed, stories of stumbling, falling down, and wondering when, how, or even if we will get up again.

So begins a homily by one of my favorite preachers, Michael K. Marsh, an Episcopal Priest serving a parish in the Diocese of West Texas. Later he reflects,

The word of God and the wilderness always go together. There’s something about the domesticated places, the illusions of power and prestige, the distractions of the city that separate us from the word of God. The word of God did not come in the empire of Tiberius, the governing of Pontius Pilate, the ruling of Herod, his brother, Philip, or Lysianias, or the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas. The word of God comes in the wilderness. That was true for John the Baptist and it is true for us.

Name any wilderness of your life and there will be a corresponding word of God.

I believe you will recognize (perhaps even experienced) the wildernesses he names. i encourage you to read his meditation/homily: A Welcome Word in the Wilderness.

Today I have added a link to his blog: Interrupting the Silence in the side panel. It is my hope that you will find the blog a welcome resource in studying the lectionary and maturing in your journey with Christ.

Think about it

It is much easier, I think, for God to get through our defenses when we’re in a wilderness. —John Lionberger

From an interview of the Rev. John Lionberger on PBS Religion and Ethics Newsweekly 12/11/2009

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Links to online Advent Calendars

Each of these has a different approach. Find one that helps you “prepare the way.” Find one that helps you focus on God as you make your way into the loving arms of God.

Trinity Wall Street Online Advent Calendar

Busted Halo Online Advent Calendar

CREDO Online Advent Calendar

“Black Friday” began the “Shopping Season” and retailers are relentless in keeping us focused on buying often and buying more. “#GivingTuesday” (11/27/12) was an invitation to give and use our “buying power” in a way that benefits others for more than just a day.

I intend to keep that invitation in front of us throughout the “Shopping Season.” I believe  that It is always the right time to be generous. If you haven’t participated in “#GivingTuesday” how about today? ~dan

Today’s give-a-gift-to-help-others idea:

  • Camp Stevens —  every summer the staff of Camp Stevens (our Episcopal Camp and Conference Center in Julian, CA) leads wilderness trips into the Eastern Sierras. I have been privileged to take part in these trips. And, yes, it is easier for God to get through to you in the wilderness. Your gift will help others, especially the young, begin to discover this truth.

Looking for other give-a-gift-to-help-others ideas?
Go first to Charity Navigator for those ideas
and for an evaluation of how your dollars will be spent

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Image: James Brown and posted by Indian Country Today Media Network on Facebook

Wind Chimes: 10 Dec 2012

U-turn OK

John went into all the region around the Jordan,
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins …

Luke 3:3 NRSV

How often the chimes sound a call to action. Not like a bugle call, but rather softer, like an invitation rather than a demand. What do you hear?

John, a voice in the wilderness

John’s proclamation, his call to a “baptism of repentance,” is God-focused. It is a call to re-turn to the Lord we have come to love. We are asked to leave the distraction of mountain top and valley and meandering path and travel with intention and directness into God’s immense love.

Through daily examination and “repentance” we keep our focus and walk with directness and strength. I imagine that Marian Wright Edelman “proclaims” in the same manner John did. Let her prayer be your prayer on your journey. ~dan

God did not call us to succeed

God did not call us to succeed,
God called us to serve.

God did not call us to win,
God called us to work.

God did not call us to live long,
God called us to live for Him.

God did not call us to be happy,
God called us to be hopeful.

God did not call us to fame,
God called us to faith.

God did not call us to seek power,
God called us to seek peace.

God did not call us to loot the earth and each other,
God called us to love our earth and each other.

O God take our tiny acorns of service and turn them into towering oak trees of hope.

Marian Wright Edelman in Guide my feet, p. 118

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Links to online Advent Calendars

Each of these has a different approach. Find one that helps you “prepare the way.” Find one that helps you focus on God as you make your way into the loving arms of God.

Trinity Wall Street Online Advent Calendar

Busted Halo Online Advent Calendar

CREDO Online Advent Calendar

“Black Friday” began the “Shopping Season” and retailers are relentless in keeping us focused on buying often and buying more. “#GivingTuesday” (11/27/12) was an invitation to give and use our “buying power” in a way that benefits others for more than just a day.

I intend to keep that invitation in front of us throughout the “Shopping Season.” I believe  that It is always the right time to be generous. If you haven’t participated in “#GivingTuesday” how about today? ~dan

Today’s give-a-gift-to-help-others idea:

  • Feed the Children —  which is “a Christian, international relief organization that delivers food, medicine, clothing and other necessities to individuals, children and families who lack these essentials due to famine, war, poverty or natural disaster.”  (Feed the Children Mission Statement)

Looking for other give-a-gift-to-help-others ideas?
Go first to Charity Navigator for those ideas
and for an evaluation of how your dollars will be spent

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Image: source not known

Wind Chimes: 13 Oct 2012

Today the chimes sound questions. What do you hear?

Was Job an explorer?

My own peculiar task in my Church and in my world has been that of the solitary explorer who, instead of jumping on all the latest bandwagons at once, is bound to search the existential depths of faith in its silences, its ambiguities, and in those certainties which lie deeper than the bottom of anxiety. In those depths there are no easy answers, no pat solutions to anything. It is a kind of submarine life in which faith sometimes mysteriously takes on the aspect of doubt, when, in fact, one has to doubt and reject conventional and superstitious surrogates that have taken the place of faith

—Thomas Merton in Faith and Violence quoted in Seeds edited by Robert Inchausti

Was Job a mystic?

Bernard McGinn says that mysticism is “a consciousness of the presence of God that by definition exceeds description and . . . deeply transforms the subject who has experienced it.” If it does not deeply change the lifestyle of the person—their worldview, their economics, their politics, their ability to form community—you have no reason to believe it is genuine mystical experience. It is often just people with an addiction to religion itself, which is not that uncommon.

Mysticism is not just a change in some religious ideas or affirmations, but it is an encounter of such immensity that everything else shifts in position. Mystics have no need to exclude or eliminate others precisely because they have experienced radical inclusivity of themselves into something much bigger. They do not need to define themselves as enlightened or superior, whereas a mere transfer of religious assertions often makes people even more elitist and more exclusionary.

True mystics are glad to be common, ordinary, servants of all, and “just like everybody else,” because any need for specialness has been met once and for all.

Daily Meditation by Richard Rohr on September 23, 2012. Adapted from Following the Mystics Through the Narrow Gate. (CD/DVD/MP3)

A prayer

O God:
Give me strength to live another day;
Let me not turn coward before its difficulties or prove recreant to its duties;
Let me not lose faith in other people;
Keep me sweet and sound of heart, in spite of ingratitude, treachery, or meanness;
Preserve me from minding little stings or giving them;
Help me to keep my heart clean, and to live so honestly and fearlessly that no outward failure can dishearten me or take away the joy of conscious integrity;
Open wide the eyes of my soul that I may see good in all things;
Grant me this day some new vision of thy truth;
Inspire me with the spirit of joy and gladness;
and make me the cup of strength to suffering souls;
in the name of the strong Deliverer, our only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

A Prayer For Today  a resource of Forward Movement

Game-show God — A Nuns Life

“This is not what we were praying for, but this is what God sent.” After last night’s [5/23/12] In Good Faith podcast with Jane Knuth, I couldn’t get these words out of my head. … Late into the night I thought about this story and about the various reactions I’ve had when God’s response to me was unfathomable at the time. Sometimes I felt disappointed, confused, frustrated. Other times I had a good laugh, a new way to look at a situation, a deep sense of trust.

Sometime after midnight, I started to imagine God as the host of a TV game show called Jeopardy. On the show, the contestants get an answer first, and then they have to come up with the right question.  It made me smile to think that maybe God is always giving me answers, and that maybe my prayers are actually questions.

What are some of the reactions you’ve had to God’s response to your prayers? What image of God and prayer does it bring to mind for you?

Read the entire post (I recommend it) here: Game-show God — A Nuns Life by Sr. Maxine

With Sister Maine I ask you “What are some of the reactions you’ve had to God’s response to your prayers?” I have experienced disappointment, confusion, and frustration—as she has. I would add disorientation, bitterness, and despair.

Fortunately God’s “angel” (messenger) has often been timely in arriving and helping me back to trust (in God’s love, and in God’s joy), back to hope (that with God all things are possible and all things will work toward the good), and back to that Peace that passes all understanding. Waiting for the angel, doing the work, takes patience. I know.

Please leave a comment, help me to hear your story, let us together fashion our story.