Daily Riches: Disguised Comes God (Rudolf Bultmann)

“Just where God’s call meets each individual, you and me, in the course of our everyday life at work, in the hustle and bustle of daily affairs, I cannot tell you, nor should I even try. For that is the secret of the encounter with Jesus, that he meets us always disguised in different forms; that is the secret of God’s call, that it always sounds new, where and when one least expects it. I can only urge that each is prepared to hear the call, that each is ready to listen to it. The folktale of the poor and the rich with which we are all familiar certainly knows that encounters with God often are improbable and that whoever is not prepared for them misses them to his own detriment. The folktale relates how God once wandered the earth as a simple wanderer and was looking for lodging for the night. He knocked at the door of a rich man and requested shelter for the night. The rich man saw the unimpressive wanderer at his door–he did not exactly appear as if he could pay well–and he turned him away with all sorts of excuses; it just wasn’t convenient. Then God knocked at the door of a poor man and found a friendly reception. As the folktale later explains, the rich man had punished himself while the poor man received a rich blessing. Indeed, joyfulness and goodness, patience and willingness to sacrifice belong to the readiness that is required of us–eyes open for whatever the hour may demand of us. Disguised comes God, comes Jesus to us. And we have deprived ourselves of that hour’s blessing. For this reason we should make room in our restless and often hectic life for hours of quiet and reflection in order to examine ourselves and ponder the questions: What have I neglected? Who needs my help? Who longs to hear a kind word from me? We should not be consumed by the noise of the day, in our daily work with its cares, its joys and sufferings! We should not forget to notice what God wants to tell us here and there! … So it is that always and everywhere our brother’s need requires our sympathy and helping hand, there he [God] meets us, there his call sounds for us.” Rudolph Bultmann

“there was no room for them in the inn”
Luke 2:7

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • What have you neglected?
  • Who needs your help?
  • Who longs for a kind word from you?

Abba, may I prepare myself to hear you when you call.

For More: “A Sermon about the Parable of the Great Banquet” by Rudolph Bultmann

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Thanks for reading and sharing my blog! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: The Whole Scripture In It’s Briefest Form (Martin Luther)

“Here it is seen that [Christ] loved us and did everything for our benefit, in order that we may do the same, not to him, for he needs it not, but to our neighbor. This is his commandment, and this is our obedience. Christ helps us, so we in return help our neighbor, and all have enough. …if you see your neighbor going astray, sinning, or suffering in body or soul, you are to leave every thing else and at once help him in every way in your power and if you can do no more, help him with words of comfort and prayer. Thus has Christ done to you and given you an example for you to follow. …What more do you need, if indeed you know Christ, as above set forth, if you walk by faith in God, and by love to your neighbor, doing to him as Christ has done to you. This is indeed the whole Scripture in its briefest form: that no more words or books are necessary, but only life and action. Let everyone examine himself in the light of the Gospel and see how far he is from Christ, and what is the character of his faith and love. There are many who are enkindled with dreamy devotion, and when they hear of the poverty of Christ, they are almost angry with the citizens of Bethlehem. They denounce their blindness and ingratitude, and think, if they had been there, they would have shown the Lord and his mother a more kindly service, and would not have permitted them to be treated so miserably. But they do not look by their side to see how many of their fellow humans need their help, and which they ignore in their misery. Who is there upon Earth that has no poor, miserable, sick, erring ones around him? Why does he not exercise his love to those? Why does he not do to them as Christ has done to him?”

“This is my commandment,
that you love one another;
even as I have loved you.”
Jesus in John 15:12

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Would you have done better than the residents of Bethlehem?
  • Is the way you treat the “poor, miserable, sick, erring ones” around you evidence?
  • Take some time today to think of all that Christ has done for you–where you would be without him.

Abba, may I not look away from my fellow humans in need.

For more: Watch For The Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: You Give Them Something to Eat (Rachel Held Evans and Pope Francis)

“[Millennials are] tired of the culture wars, tired of Christianity getting entangled with party politics and power. Millennials want to be known by what we’re for …not just what we’re against. We don’t want to choose between science and religion or between our intellectual integrity and our faith. Instead, we long for our churches to be safe places to doubt, to ask questions, and to tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable. We want to talk about the tough stuff—biblical interpretation, religious pluralism, sexuality, racial reconciliation, and social justice—but without predetermined conclusions or simplistic answers. We want to bring our whole selves through the church doors, without leaving our hearts and minds behind, without wearing a mask. …Millennials aren’t looking for a hipper Christianity …We’re looking for a truer Christianity, a more authentic Christianity. …we’re looking for Jesus–the same Jesus who can be found in the strange places he’s always been found: in bread, in wine, in baptism, in the Word, in suffering, in community, and among the least of these.” Rachel Held Evans

“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. …More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: ‘Give them something to eat’ (Mk 6:37).” Pope Francis

“‘Send the crowds away
so they can go to the nearby farms and villages
and buy something to eat.’
But Jesus said,
‘You feed them.’ ”
Mark 6:35-36

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your church focused on “starving people” or mostly on blessing members?
  • Can people talk about difficult topics (religious pluralism, sexuality, racial reconciliation, social justice)? Is conversation characterized by loving listening and allowance of diverse opinion? Is doubt permitted?
  • Are church people leaving their comfort zones to minister–and sometimes getting bruised, hurt or dirty in the process–or is there a culture of “playing it safe?”

Abba, help me find Jesus in all the “strange places”–as I meet him there anew.

For More: Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. My goal is to give you something of real value in 400 words or less. Thanks for reading /sharing my blog. I appreciate your interest! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

 

Daily Riches: The Church of the Future (Joseph Ratzinger)

“The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes … she will lose many of her social privileges. …As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members…. It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek…. But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret. And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.” Joseph Ratzinger (These words are from 1969.)

“At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him.
Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, ‘Are you also going to leave?’”
John 6:66,67

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • If the church shrinks through atrophy and persecution, so that only those who are truly committed to Christ remain, will you still be there?
  • Would you still be a Christian if it didn’t come with social privileges and power? …if it meant being part of  something “weak”–”a little flock of believers?”
  • Think of your church. Does it need to become “poor” before it can rich enough to be seen as “man’s home?”

For more: Faith and the Future by Joseph Ratzinger

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and God seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

 

Daily Riches: The Church as Refuge (Rachel Held Evans, Kathy Escobar and Dallas Willard)

“Any successful plan for spiritual formation . . . will in fact be significantly similar to the Alcoholics Anonymous program.” Dallas Willard

“As a counselor, Kathy had encountered Christians who kept their battles with pain and depression a secret from their churches, so she helped found and pastor The Refuge, an eclectic and growing faith community in Denver inspired by both the Beatitudes and the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Kathy discovered that when a church functions more like a recovery group than a religious organization, when it commits to practicing ‘honesty for the sake of restoration,’ all sorts of unexpected people show up.

People who make $600 on mental health disability and never graduated from high school are hanging out with friends who have master’s degrees and make $6,000. …Suburban moms are building relationships with addicts. People from fundamentalist Christian backgrounds are engaging those with pagan backgrounds …orphans, outcasts, prostitutes, pastors, single moms and dads, church burnouts and everything in between are all muddled up together…. It’s wild.

…Rather than boasting a doctrinal statement, the Refuge extends an invitation: The Refuge is a mission center and Christian community dedicated to helping hurting and hungry people find faith, hope, and dignity alongside each other.

We love to throw parties, tell stories, find hope, and practice the ways of Jesus as best we can. We’re all hurt or hungry in our own ways. We’re at different place on our journey but we share a guiding story, a sweeping epic drama called the Bible. We find faith as we follow Jesus and share a willingness to honestly wrestle with God and our questions and doubts. We find dignity as God’s image-bearers and strive to call out that dignity in one another. We all receive, we all give. We are old, young, poor, rich, conservative, liberal, single, married, gay, straight, evangelicals, progressives, overeducated, undereducated, certain, doubting, hurting, thriving. Yet Christ’s love bind our differences together in unity. At The Refuge, everyone is safe, but no one is comfortable.

Imagine if every church became a place where everyone is safe, but no one is comfortable. Imagine if every church became a place where we told one another the truth. We might just create sanctuary.” Rachel Held Evans

“I will build my church.”
Matthew 16:18

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your church a place where “everyone is safe?”
  • Is your church a place where “no one is comfortable?”
  • Do others experience you as a “safe” person? …as comfortable with discomfort?

Abba, lead us into good places.

For more: Searching For Sunday by Rachel Held Evans

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow/share my blog. – Bill

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Encountering Others in Love (Johannes Baptist Metz)

“Every stirring of genuine love makes us poor. It dominates the whole human person, makes absolute claims upon us (cf. Mt. 22:37), and thus subverts all extra-human assurances of security. The true lover must be unprotected and give of himself or herself without reservation or question; and must display lifelong fidelity. Every genuine human encounter must be inspired by poverty of spirit. We must forget ourselves in order to let the other person approach us. We must be able to open up to the other person, to let that person’s distinctive personality unfold–even though it often frightens or repels us. We often keep the other person down, and only see what we want to see; thus we never really encounter the mysterious secret of their being, only ourselves. Failing to risk the poverty of encounter, we indulge in a new form of self-assertion and pay a price for it: loneliness. Because we did not risk the poverty of openness (cf. Mt. 10:39), our lives are not graced with the warm fullness of human existence. We are left with only a shadow of our real self.” Johannes Baptist Metz

“If you cling to your life,
you will lose it;
but if you give up your life for me,
you will find it.”
Jesus, in Matthew 10:39

Moving From the Head to the Heart

When you think about attempting to lovingly encounter another (an Other)…

  • Are you able to “forget” yourself, opening up so that the other person can approach you? …where you make the encounter about them, not you?
  • What do you do when someone’s “distinctive” personality frightens or repels you? …do you abort the encounter–or trust God and attempt to engage anyway?
  • Can you ask God to show you what ego issues, expectations or biases you may have that make conversations with others simply “a new form of self-assertion” for you?

Abba, help me love others as you have loved me.

For more: Poverty of Spirit by Johannes Baptist Metz

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and God seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Religion and Violence (Jonathan Sacks and Dan Clendenin)

“Sibling rivalry is ‘the most primal form of violence,’ and ‘the dominant theme of the book of Genesis.’  We desire what others have, become rivals for it, and then fight to get it in what we wrongly think is a zero sum game. And so Jews, Christians and Muslims all claim to be the one, true heir of Abraham. We fight to be the sole inheritor of the divine promise. The stories are familiar to those who know their Bibles, but in Sacks’s ‘close reading’ of them, he offers new interpretations in which sibling rivalry is revealed and then subverted. With Isaac and Ishmael, God chooses Isaac, but he doesn’t reject Ishmael. The story of Jacob and Esau is ‘the refutation of sibling rivalry in the Bible.’ Recall how Jacob returned the blessing that he stole from his blind father Isaac. The story of Joseph and his brothers who tried to kill him takes up a third of the book of Genesis—in the end, the victim forgives and the perpetrators repent. Rachel and Leah exemplify the ‘rejection of rejection.’ Sibling rivalry is natural, says Sacks, but these stories remind us that it’s not inevitable. Human beings cannot live without a group identity, and religion might be the most powerful of them all. By definition, groups require an Us and a Them. …There’s no middle ground, no subtlety or nuance, only black and white, in and out. By nature, we extend altruism toward my In group, and hostility toward my Out group. Here again the Hebrew revelation subverts our natural inclinations by commending a radical role reversal. Do not oppress the stranger, the people outside your group. Why? Because you know what it’s like to be oppressed as a stranger in a strange land (Exodus 22.21).  …have mercy on them, remember that you too were once aliens. …Protect the weak, care for widows and orphans, help the poor, speak up for those who have no voice. Do justice, love kindness. Don’t long for power, for you can’t impose faith or truth by force. Religion, argues Sacks, is an anti-politics that lives without power. Instead, it persuades by example.” Dan Clendenin

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite,
but love your neighbor as yourself.
Leviticus 19:18

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Does your religion subvert the tendency to create “insiders” and “outsiders?”
  • Does your religion persuade by power … or example?
  • Is there any good reason why Jews, Christians and Muslims must fight with each other? Can you imagine ways we might be able to learn from each other?

Abba, help me see others as insiders, included with me in your love.

For More: Not in God’s Name by Jonathan Sacks

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Thanks for reading/following my blog! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

 

 

 

Daily Riches: Don’t Walk By (Deepti Hajela and Henri Nouwen)

“The homeless man lay face down, unmoving, on the sidewalk outside an apartment building, blood from knife wounds pooling underneath his body. One person passed by in the early morning. Then another, and another. Video footage from a surveillance camera shows at least seven people going by, some turning their heads to look, others stopping to gawk. One even lifted the homeless man’s body, exposing what appeared to be blood on the sidewalk underneath him, 20150507_211748-1before walking away. It wasn’t until after the 31-year-old Guatemalan immigrant had been lying there for nearly an hour that emergency workers arrived, and by then, it was too late. Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax …had died. ‘I think it’s horrific,’ said Marla Cohan, who teaches at P.S. 82, a school across the street…. ‘I think people are just afraid to step in; they don’t want to get involved; who knows what their reasons are?’ Tale-Yax was walking behind a man and a woman on 144th Street in the Jamaica section of Queens around 6 a.m. April 18 when the couple got into a fight that became physical, according to police, who pieced together what happened from surveillance footage and interviews with area residents. Tale-Yax was stabbed several times when he intervened to help the woman….” Deepti Hajela

“One of the hardest spiritual tasks is to live without prejudices. Sometimes we aren’t even aware how deeply rooted our prejudices are. We may think that we relate to people who are different from us in colour, religion, sexual orientation, or lifestyle as equals, but in concrete circumstances our spontaneous thoughts, uncensored words, and knee-jerk reactions often reveal that our prejudices are still there. Strangers, people different than we are, stir up fear, discomfort, suspicion, and hostility. They make us lose our sense of security just by being ‘other.’ Only when we fully claim that God loves us in an unconditional way and look at ‘those other persons’ as equally loved can we begin to discover that the great variety in being human is an expression of the immense richness of God’s heart. Then the need to prejudge people can gradually disappear.” Henri Nouwen

“with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Jesus, in Matthew 7:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you aware of the negative forces at work in your life? (apathy, fear, anger, hurry)
  • Will you commit to following Jesus in his love for Others–in spite of such forces?
  • Will you allow him to show you his great love for you–and for Others–in the process?

Abba, we claim your great unconditional love for ourselves, and for all.

For more: Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen

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Thanks for reading and sharing my blog! Please leave a comment. – Bill

Daily Riches: That Filth on the Street (Brennan Manning)

“Ironically it was April Fool’s Day, 1975, 6:30 a.m., and I woke up in a doorway on Commercial Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I was thick in an alcoholic fog, sniffing vomit all over my sweater, staring down at my bare feet. I didn’t know a wino would steal my shoes during the night to buy a bottle of Thunderbird, but one did. I had been out on the street for a year and a half, drunk every day, sleeping on the beach until the cops chased me away. You could find me in doorways or under the bridge, always clutching my precious little bottle of Tequila.13071807_10156744822040251_2539662960200497518_o And it wasn’t just that this good Franciscan priest drank too much. I broke every one of the Ten Commandments six times Tuesday: adultery, countless acts of fornication, violence to support my addiction, character assassination to anybody who dared to criticize me or remonstrate with me. The morning I woke up in the alcoholic boozy fog, I looked down the street to see a woman coming toward me, maybe twenty-five years old, blonde, and attractive. She had her son in hand, maybe four years old. The boy broke loose from his mother’s grip, ran to the doorway, and stared down at me. His mother rushed in behind him, tucked her hand over his eyes, and said, ‘Don’t look at that filth. That’s nothing but pure filth.’ Then I felt her shoe. She broke two of my ribs with that kick. That filth was Brennan Manning, thirty-two years ago.” Brennan Manning

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in,
I needed clothes and you clothed me,
I was sick and you looked after me,
I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you something to drink?
When did we see you a stranger and invite you in,
or needing clothes and clothe you?
When did we see you sick or in prison
and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you,
whatever you did
for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine,
you did for me.’
Jesus, in Matthew 25:35-40

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Notice how the woman saw the drunken priest as a “that.”
  • Imagine, breaking the ribs of Jesus with your kick.
  • In this story would you be the woman or the priest?

Abba, teach my eyes to see the precious person behind the distressing disguise.

For More: The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning

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Thanks for reading/sharing my blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: Testing Christianity in Harlem (Thomas Merton and Catherine de Hueck)

“Few Catholics stop to think that Communism would make very little progress in the world, or none at all, if Catholics really lived up to their obligations, and really did the things Christ came on earth to teach them to do: that is, if they really loved one another, and saw Christ in one another, and lived as saints, and did something to win justice for the poor. For, she said, if Catholics were able to see Harlem, as they ought to see it, with the eyes of faith, they would not be able to stay away from such a place. Hundreds of priests and lay-people would give up everything to go there and try to do something to relieve the tremendous misery, the poverty, sickness, degradation and dereliction of a race that was being crushed and perverted, morally and physically under the burden of a colossal economic injustice. … If Catholics, she said, were able to see Harlem as they should see it, with the eyes of faith, as a challenge to their love of Christ, as a test of their Christianity, the Communists would be able to do nothing there. But, on the contrary, in Harlem the Communists were strong. They were bound to be strong. They were doing some of the things, performing some of the works of mercy that Christians should be expected to do. If some Negro workers lose their jobs, and are in danger of starving, the Communists are there to divide their own food with them, and to take up the defense of their case. If some Negro is dying, and is refused admission to a hospital, the Communists show up, and get someone to take care of him, and furthermore see to it that the injustice is publicized all over the city. If a Negro family is evicted, because they can’t pay the rent, the Communists are there, and find shelter for them, even if they have to divide their own bedding with them. And every time they do these things, more and more people begin to say: ‘See, the Communists really love the poor!'” Thomas Merton, loosely quoting Catherine de Hueck

“Those who give to the poor will lack nothing,
but those who close their eyes to them
receive many curses.”
Proverbs 28:27

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Would anyone say of your church, “They really love the poor!”?
  • Is “loving the poor” central to your life of faith? (It was for Christians at least up to the time of the Reformation.)
  • Do you know any Christians who live like the Communists Merton describes? I do. It’s not a fantasy.

Abba, teach us to love.

For More: The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton

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Thanks for reading/sharing this blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: Determined Simply to Love (Gregory Boyd and Roger Olson)

“Love is God’s essence, not just an attribute.” Roger Olson

“It was not without reason that Jesus acquired the scandalous reputation of fellowshipping with the dregs of society (Matt. 9:10–11; 11:19; Mark 2:15–16; Luke 7:34; 15:1). He loved and fellowshipped with prostitutes, tax collectors, and drunkards. He loved, gave attention to, and helped the ‘unimportant’ people as well as the ‘important’ people. Indeed, he even loved those who crucified him to the point of praying for their forgiveness (Luke 23:34). This is how we are to love, for this is how we are loved! God’s love is impartial and universal, and so must ours be (Deut. 10:17–19; 2 Chron. 19:7; Mark 12:14; John 3:16; Acts 10:34; Rom. 2:10–11; Eph. 6:9; cf. 1 Tim. 2:4; 1 Peter 1:17; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 4:8). Anyone in need whom we happen to come upon is our ‘neighbor’ whom we are called to love (Luke 10:27–37). Nothing is closer to the heart of God than this kind of love. Indeed, love is the very heart of God. Hence, loving as God loves—manifesting the truth that we are in union with Christ and in fellowship with the triune community—must be the singular concern of the Christian. Whomever we encounter, whatever situation he or she may be in, whatever his or her lifestyle might be, however much we may approve or disapprove of the person’s appearance, words, or deeds, our one and only concern must be to affirm his or her unsurpassable worth with our words and deeds. This is the concern that must be above all other concerns. It is the concern we must wear and live in. With every person we encounter, the only question that should be on our mind is, How can I, right here and right now, affirm the unsurpassable worth of this person for whom Christ died?” Gregory Boyd

“for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”
Romans 13:8

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your religion mostly about treating others such that they sense God’s incredible affection for and interest in them?
  • Can you do this even when you strongly disapprove of someone’s situation, appearance or lifestyle?
  • Are you preoccupied with the question, “How can I, right here and right now, affirm the unsurpassable worth of this person for whom Christ died?”
  • President Obama was called a “Muslim lover.” Isn’t that a fantastic compliment disguised as a slur? What if you were called a “Muslim lover”, or “n—– lover” or “queer lover?” Would you be gratified? proud?

Abba, let nothing keep me from loving well. Not “truth.” Not judgment. Nothing.

For More: Repenting of Religion by Gregory Boyd

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. – Bill

Daily Riches: The Kissing Church (Brian McLaren)

“As one arrives at a [church] gathering–in the parking lot, on the sidewalk–others are arriving too, and how one treats them is, at is turns out, a highly significant communal practice. If one habitually treats them as strangers–say, as one might treat strangers pushing carts down the aisle in a grocery store, or strangers sitting in the waiting room at the dentist, or strangers boarding a Boeing 747–then one is practicing a way of treating people that may or may not be in line with the way of this community. Interestingly, it was precisely this so-called detail–of how we welcome one another when we gather–that was of great concern to the first apostles (1 Corinthians 11; James 2). For example, Paul’s call to ‘greet one another with a holy kiss’ (repeated four times in his epistles) was more significant than it appears. Class-conscious Roman society required that people only exchange the kiss with peers, but the early church brought together Jew and Gentile, men and women, slave and free, rich and poor. That people transgressed (or transcended) normal social convention was essential to the early church in maintaining its higher allegiance to the way of Jesus instead of the way of Rome.” Brian McLaren

“Henri [Nouwen] wrote a lot about creating an ’empty space’ in your heart–like a guest room in your house–so there is room for others to feel welcome. The problem is, when I nearly drown in my own schedules and agenda, I leave no room for others and no time for hospitality. …I have discovered that when I allow my heart to contain too much resentment, busyness and anxiety, especially anxiety about getting to my next appointment or wishing I were doing something else, I leave no room in my heart for others. I raise a wall around me, and others probably wonder why they can’t come in. I imagine some of them go away sadly, tired of encountering a closed heart.” Christopher de Vinck

“Always be eager to practice hospitality.”
Romans 12:13

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Who do you notice at church? Who are you overlooking or ignoring?
  • Does the way you greet others, including those you don’t know, reflect the transcendent value and dignity Christ gives those individuals?
  • Is there a space for others in your life and schedule, or do they “go away sadly”, after trying to connect with you?

Abba, help me to “see” others and open my life and heart to them.

For More: Nouwen Then by Christopher de Vinck

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

Daily Riches: Beyond the Impractical Ideal of Love (Dallas Willard)

“Malice or desire and intention to harm is often rooted in how we think about the persons concerned: our image of them, the inferences we habitually draw about them, and so forth. Perhaps we see them only as an obstacle to our desires, or as less than ‘human,’ as worthless. Perhaps we need to take steps toward seeing them as objects of God’s love, or as beings of intrinsic value, like our own children or grandchildren or others we delight in. That will, in turn, require changes in how we think about our world and our self. All of this may be helped along by getting to know them, seeing what their life is like; or serving them. Now the question becomes, not just will we love them, drop our malice, but: Are we willing to make those changes in our thinking, willing to allow God to help us do it. …That is where the will comes into play. It is not the growth of ‘will power’ we are looking for in spiritual formation, but transformation of all dimensions of the self under the direction of God, through a will surrendered to Him and applied appropriately to bring about personal change. Now that we understand all of this, we can seriously undertake to become persons possessed by love…. Love ceases to be an intimidating and impractical ideal and becomes something we can see progress in day by day.” Dallas Willard

“The purpose of my instruction
is that all believers would be filled
with love that comes from a pure heart….”
1 Timothy 1:5
.
Moving From the Head to the Heart
.
  • Are you open to “getting to know” people you find difficult to love?
  • Are you willing to attempt “seeing what their life is like?”
  • Are you willing to “serve them”–to serve the people you find difficult to love?
  • Only if you can answer “yes” to these questions can you move, with God’s help, beyond an “impractical ideal” of love. Only your answer of “yes” creates the possibility of “progress in [love] day by day.”

Abba, I want to become possessed by love.

For More: Getting Love Right by Dallas Willard

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Following His Majestic Lead (Walter Brueggemann)

the one who had nowhere to lay his head,
no safe place,
no secure home,
no passport or visa,
no certified citizenship.

We gather around him in our safety, security, and well-being,
and fret about ‘illegal immigrants.’
We fret because they are not like us
and refuse our language.
We worry that there are so many of them
and their crossings do not stop.
We are unsettled because it is our tax
dollars that sustain them and provide services.
We feel the hype about closing borders and heavy fines,
because we imagine that our life is under threat.

And yet, as you know very well,
we, all of us–early or late–are immigrants
from elsewhere;
we are glad for cheap labor
and seasonal workers
who do tomatoes and apples and oranges
to our savoring delight.

And beyond that, even while we are beset by fears
and aware of pragmatic costs,
we know very well that you are the God
who welcomes strangers,
who loves aliens and protects sojourners.

As always, we feel the tension and the slippage
between the deep truth of our faith
and the easier settlements of our society.

We do not ask for an easy way out,
but for courage and honesty and faithfulness.
Give us ease in the presence of those unlike us;
give us generously amid demands of those in need,
help us to honor those who trespass
as you forgive our trespasses.

You are the God of all forgiveness.
By your gracious forgiveness transpose us
into agents of your will,
that our habits and inclinations may more closely
follow your majestic lead, that our lives may
joyously conform to your vision of a new world.

We pray in the name of your holy Son, even Jesus.”

Walter Brueggemann

“He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice.
He shows love to the foreigners living among you
and gives them food and clothing.”
Deuteronomy 10:18

Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • Is your God one “who welcomes strangers, who loves aliens, and protects sojourners?” Has God welcomed you in this way?
  • How, do you suppose, God “gave food and clothing” to foreigners living among Israel (Dt. 18) or ensured “that orphans and widows receive justice?”
  • Helping those in need can be a discomforting, even dangerous act. It’s also not always easy to know how to help. As one who belongs to God, how can you be an “agent of his will”, following God’s majestic lead?

God of the helpless–help me follow your majestic lead.

For More: Prayers for A Privileged People by Walter Brueggemann (2010)

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. Thanks so much for following and sharing my blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: The Chief Wounds of the Minister (Henri Nouwen)

“When loneliness is among the chief wounds of the minister, hospitality can convert that wound into a source of healing. Concentration prevents the minister from burdening others with his pain and allows him to accept his wounds as helpful teachers of his own and his neighbor’s condition. Community arises where the sharing of pain takes place, not as a stifling form of self-complaint, but as a recognition of God’s saving promises. Our loneliness and isolation have become so much a part of our daily experience, that we cry out for a liberator who will take us away from our misery and bring us justice and peace. To announce, however, that the Liberator is sitting among the poor and that the wounds are signs of hope and that today is the day of liberation, is a step that very few can take. But this is exactly the announcement of the wounded healer: ‘The Master is coming–not tomorrow, but today, not next year, but this year, not after all our misery has passed, but in the middle of it, not in another place but right here where we are standing.'” Henri Nouwen

“I lie awake,
lonely as a solitary bird on the roof.”
Psalm 102:7
.
Moving From the Head to the Heart
.
  • Can you relate to problem of loneliness in ministry, and the temptation to turn to others rather than God to sooth your pain?
  • Have you tried to accept your “wounds as helpful teachers of your own and your neighbor’s condition” – inviting God into that place of anguish, staying there with Him, receiving and learning from God?
  • In your own loneliness, have you learned that “the Liberator is sitting among the poor” (with you), so that you can testify to others that Jesus will care for the wounded, not when the misery has passed, not “in another place” but here and now?

Abba, help me take the difficult steps to seek you and find you in the midst of my woundedness and need.

For More: The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”