Daily Riches: Those Annoying Children (Michael Card and N. T. Wright)

“Some of the Passover pilgrims who are traveling along with Jesus and his disciples to Jerusalem have brought their young children with them. They ask Jesus to do a very rabbinic thing: to lay his hands on the children and impart a blessing, a berakah . . . . His disciples, who already seem to have forgotten his last lesson about humility, try to prod the parents away. Their rabbi is too important for such trivial things. . . . [But] The children themselves are parables that need to be listened to. People will not be allowed to enter the kingdom of God unless they can enter innocently and unashamed to receive it freely.” Michael Card

“Luke emphasizes how young the babies were that people were bringing to Jesus. Jesus’ rebuke to the disciples rings out still today in a world where thousands of children are treated as sub-human, as disposable commodities. These are the ones, he says, who most truly show us what it means to accept and enter God’s kingdom. There is something about the helplessness of children, and their complete trust of those who love and care for them, which perfectly demonstrates the humble trust he has been speaking of all along. Jesus doesn’t offer a romantic or sentimental view of children; he must have known, in the daily life of a village, and through growing up as the oldest of several children, just how demanding and annoying they can be. But he sees to the heart of what is means to receive God’s kingdom; it is like drinking in one’s mother’s milk, like learning to see–and to smile!–by looking at one’s mother’s eyes and face.” N. T. Wright

“Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary,
and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?
Aren’t all his sisters with us?”
Matthew 13:55-56a

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you “see” children, or are they just like “background noise?”
  • What is it that you can learn from children?
  • Can you still yourself in God’s presence, and gaze into the face of Jesus, like a child gazes into its mother’s face? Why not try this each day for a month, and see what happens.

Abba, I admit my helplessness. It is only you who can bring me into your kingdom.

For More: The Spiritual Life of Children by Robert Coles

Daily Riches: Jesus Calls Us To the Chutes, Not the Ladders (Mark Ralls and D. L. Moody) *

“We may easily be too big for God to use, but never too small.” D. L. Moody

“There is a game for children that has been around for generations, and I expect almost every reader has played it at one time or another. . . . The game is Chutes and Ladders; since it is a game for little ones, the rules are about as simple and straightforward as you can get. Spin the wheel and move around the board. As you go, you wish for ladders and hope to avoid the chutes or slides. Land at the base of a ladder—All Right!—you get to climb all the way to the top, advancing beyond where even the highest spin can take you. Land at the top of a chute—Oh No!—you must slide all the way to the bottom, back toward the square where you started. Chutes and Ladders gives us some insight into the culture in which Jesus lived. Scholars tell us that first-century Mediterranean culture operated under the binaries of shame and honor. This basically means that people’s behavior was shaped by two things: the threat of being publicly shamed and the promise of being publicly honored. It is difficult to grasp the emotional power of one’s reputation in the ancient world. Our individualistic culture has muted its force. To be shamed was a terrible setback. To be honored moved you forward in the eyes of everyone who mattered most to you. It was akin to Chutes and Ladders. One evening Jesus tells two parables while he is a guest at a dinner party that includes the most honorable folks in town. Sitting there, Jesus cannot help but grin as he observes that this dinner party has all the social subtlety of a junior high cafeteria. Everyone is jockeying for a seat at the cool table. . . . So what does Jesus do? He stands up and tells all those guests a little story . . . . ‘Here is a little tip,’ Jesus says. ‘The next time you are invited to a wedding, do not take the best seat in the house. What is going to happen if someone more distinguished than you shows up? Hard to imagine, I know, but it could happen. When it does, you will find yourself at the top of the chute, and you will have to slide from the seat of honor all the way down to the seat of shame. Oh, what a long, lonely walk it is, from the first table to that one in the back, right beside the swinging door of the kitchen!’ To sharpen his point and to make sure we do not confine his advice to dinner parties, Jesus adds this: Those who make their own honor the goal of their lives will be ashamed of themselves in the end, and those who are humble, repeatedly putting others first, will experience the true, deep, and lasting honor of the kingdom of God. . . . these parables go much deeper than practical advice. They speak to the general arc of our lives. What if the point of our lives is not about climbing all the right ladders of achievement and prestige and power? What if our true purpose is to slide down as many chutes as possible to offer compassion and service and love to all those on the rungs below? While our culture may operate under different rules than honor and shame, we still live in the land of Chutes and Ladders. We fool ourselves into thinking that contentment lies on the rung just above us. So we reach for ever-new heights and climb as fast as we can. The rest is simple math. The more time and energy we dedicate to this all-consuming endeavor, the less we notice those who reside on the rungs below. We forget those we have passed along the way. It is just as true that we will most likely miss Christ himself. Born in the back room of a barn, spending his days bending his back to touch the hands of lepers, to caress the cheeks of widows, to place children on his knee, this humble Savior rode a donkey through the gates of Jerusalem and then knelt before his disciples to wash their feet. The only time he chose to ascend was up a hill called Calvary, where he bore our sins and carried our sorrows on his bent and holy back. On Easter morning, we discovered that his humility is what God truly honors. Climbing up, we are likely to pass right by the Son of God, who is intent on coming down. According to Jesus, we have completely misunderstood the point of the game. We are out there looking for ladders, when Jesus is calling us toward the chutes. We are climbing up, when he is calling to come down. If we dare to follow, he promises that in the end we will find deep blessing and true honor.” Mark Ralls

“When he had finished washing their feet,
he put on his clothes and returned to his place.
‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ he asked them.”
John 13:12 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you listening to Jesus about the Chutes?
  • Are you climbing up, whereas he was always bending down?
  • Jesus’ humility (his “downward mobility”) was for the purpose of showing compassion to those at the bottom of the Chutes. Isn’t he a beautiful person? Is this the person you’re making known with your life?

Abba, keep me off the Ladders . . . for the sake of compassion.

For More: The Selfless Way of Christ by Henri Nouwen

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Cynthia A. Jarvis & E. Elizabeth Johnson. Feasting on the Gospels–Luke, Volume 2: A Feasting on the Word Commentary. Westminster John Knox Press. Louisville, 2014.

Nouwen, Henri. The Selfless Way of Christ: Downward Mobility and the Spiritual Life. Maryknoll: Orbis, 2007.

*One of the great things about making the rules, is that you can break them when you want. I thought that what Mark Ralls wrote was worth breaking my rule to limit posts to 400 words.

 

Daily Riches: The Downward Path To Freedom (Richard Rohr)

“Jesus himself taught and exemplified the path of descent, which Christians have often called ‘the way of the cross.’ The path downward is much more trustworthy than any path upward, which tends to feed the ego. Like few other Christians, it was Francis of Assisi who profoundly understood that. Authentic spirituality is always on some level or in some way about letting go. Jesus said, ‘the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32). Once we see truly what traps us and keeps us from freedom we should see the need to let it go. But in a consumer society most of us have had no training in that direction. Rather, more is usually considered better. True liberation is letting go of our small self, letting go of our cultural biases, and letting go of our fear of loss and death. Freedom is letting go of wanting more and better things, and it is letting go of our need to control and manipulate God and others. It is even letting go of our need to know and our need to be right—which we only discover with maturity. We become free as we let go of our three primary energy centers: our need for power and control, our need for safety and security, and our need for affection and esteem. Francis sought freedom in all three parts of life. My good friend Fr. John Dear puts it very well: ‘Francis embodies the Gospel journey from violence to non-violence, wealth to poverty, power to powerlessness, selfishness to selfless service, pride to humility, indifference to love, cruelty to compassion, vengeance to forgiveness, revenge to reconciliation, war to peace, killing enemies to loving enemies. More than any other Christian, he epitomizes discipleship to Jesus. . . .'” Richard Rohr

“the truth will set you free”
Jesus in John 8:32

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • We often think of spiritual formation as mostly an “adding on” of virtues–for instance patience or love. Have you even thought of approaching spiritual formation by subtracting behaviors–like hurry–a practice that prevents love and contradicts patience?
  • To say “we have no training” in this is an understatement. Everything in our society teaches us the opposite. Are you seeking out other voices to teach you these kinds of truths and reinforce them in your heart and mind?
  • What can you do to more effectively “epitomize discipleship to Jesus?”

Abba, help me to join Jesus and Francis on the path of descent.

For More: You Will Be My Witnesses by John Dear

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

Daily Riches: Unperturbed In Jerusalem (Søren Kierkegaard)

“Although the scribes could explain where the Messiah should be born, they remained quite unperturbed in Jerusalem. They did not accompany the Wise Men to seek him. Similarly we may know the whole of Christianity, yet make no movement. The power that moved Heaven and Earth leaves us completely unmoved. What a difference! The three kings had only a rumor to go by. But it moved them to make that long journey. The scribes were much better informed, much better versed. They sat and studied the Scriptures like so many dons, but it did not make them move. Who had the more truth? The three kings who followed a rumor, or the scribes who remained sitting with all their knowledge? What a vexation it must have been for the kings, that the scribes who gave them the news they wanted remained quiet in Jerusalem! We are being mocked, the kings might have thought. For indeed what an atrocious self-contradiction that the scribes should have the knowledge and yet remain still. This is as bad as if a person knows all about Christ and his teachings, and his own life expresses the opposite. We are tempted to suppose that such a person wishes to fool us, unless we admit that he is only fooling himself.” Søren Kierkegaard

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.’  When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. (Matthew 2:1-4)

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • The status quo surrounds us. Sometimes it takes an outsider to help us see our mistakes. Are you open to the voices of those from outside your usual circle? …even, as in the story, from outside your religion?
  • Everyone is wrong somewhere, and everyone is right somewhere. Are you more intent in pointing out the wrongs of others, of in learning from others where you might be wrong?
  • Could you be described as “sitting with all [your] knowledge?” What needs to change?

Abba, don’t let me fool myself about myself.

For more: Meditations from Kierkegaard translated and edited by T. H. Croxall

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

Daily Riches: When Ego Is Celebrated (David Benner, Parker Palmer and Sogyal Rinpoche)

“Our society is dedicated almost entirely to the celebration of the ego, with all its sad fantasies about success and power, and it celebrates those very forces of greed and ignorance that are destroying the planet.” Sogyal Rinpoche

“Ego is a usurper. We are neither the center of the universe nor should ego be the center of our being. At some deep level of spirit we know that we were meant to live in alignment with forces transcendent to our self. We long to be able to put our trust in someone or something greater than us. To refuse to find our place in relation to that which transcends the ego is to be lost within the illusion of being in control. To not become free in relation to something or someone beyond self is to become un-free in relation to tyrannizing powers within self.” David G. Benner

“I believe [in], what Thomas Merton calls ‘true self.’ This is not the ego self that wants to inflate us (or deflate us, another from of self-distortion), not the intellectual self that wants to hover above the mess of life in clear but ungrounded ideas, not the ethical self that wants to live by some abstract moral code. It is the self-planted in us by the God who made us in God’s own image–the self that wants nothing more, or less, than for us to be who we were created to be… True self is true friend. One ignores or rejects such friendship only at one’s peril.” Parker Palmer

“But you said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God,
And I will sit on the mount of assembly
In the recesses of the north.
‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’”
Isaiah 14:13,14

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Think of someone you know with an oversized ego. Can you sense the danger?
  • Are you in touch with “the self-planted in you by the God who made you in God’s own image?” If not, can you ask God for help with that?
  • In what ways are you “living in alignment” with the transcendent One who created you, rather than “refusing to find your place” and insisting on control?

Abba, I want only to be who you created me to be. No more and no less.

For more: Care of the Soul by David Benner

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

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

 

Daily Riches: Jesus’ Reverse Mission (Richard Rohr)

“One reason we Christians have misunderstood many of Jesus’ teachings is that we have not seen Jesus’ way of education as that of a spiritual master. He wants to situate us in a larger life, which he calls the ‘Reign of God.’ But instead we make him into a Scholastic philosopher if we are Roman Catholic, into a moralist if we are mainline Protestant, or into a successful and imperialistic American if we are Evangelical. Yet the initiatory thrust of Jesus’ words is hidden in plain sight. Study, for example, his instructions to the twelve disciples, when he sent them into society in a very vulnerable way (no shoes or wallet, like sheep among wolves). How did we miss this? Note that it was not an intellectual message as much as it was an ‘urban plunge,’ a high-risk experience where something new and good could happen. It was designed to change the disciples much more than it was meant for them to change others! (See Matthew 10:1-33 or Luke 10:1-24.) Today we call it a reverse mission, where we ourselves are changed and helped by those whom we think we are serving. When read in light of classic initiation patterns, Jesus’ intentions are very clear. He wanted his disciples–then and now–to experience the value of vulnerability. Jesus invites us to a life without baggage so we can learn how to accept others and their culture. Instead, we carry along our own country’s assumptions masquerading as ‘the good news.’ He did not teach us to hang up a shingle to get people to attend our services. He taught us exactly the opposite: We should stay in their homes and eat their food! This is a very strong anti-institutional model. One can only imagine how different history would have been had we provided this initiatory training for our missionaries. We might have borne a message of cosmic sympathy instead of imperialism, providing humble reconciliation instead of religious wars and the murdering of ‘heretics,’ Jews, ‘pagans,’ and native peoples in the name of Jesus.” Richard Rohr

“Do not take a purse or bag or sandals”
Jesus, in Luke 10:4

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Can you imagine how different history would be if the church had followed the instructions (and personal example) of Jesus when it comes to doing ministry?
  • Are you willing to “plunge” into a risky experience “where something new and good could happen” to you?
  • Have you been helped in the process of helping others? Is God calling you to your own “reverse mission?”

Abba, lead me out of my comfort zone, and heal me as I heal others.

For More: Adam’s Return by Richard Rohr

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Thanks for reading/sharing my blog! – Bill

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

Daily Riches: The “Benedictine Century” (Joan Chittister)

“The Rule of Benedict was a spiritual document written for males raised in Imperial Rome. But to Roman men in the patriarchal culture who were trained that domination and status and power were their birthright and their purpose in life, the Rule insisted on new ideals: humility, listening, community, equality, and service. …Benedictine spirituality, then, is first and foremost a practical way to live the good news of the gospel today. This society is a complex, consumer society; we can be simple. We can reverence creation. We can refuse to have one thing more than we need. …We can refuse to keep anything we are not using. We can give one thing away for every one thing we receive. …This society exploits. It breaks the back of sugar workers; it destroys farm workers; it wipes out the working person; it discards the middle-aged and forgets the elderly. We can minister to the world by calling for justice. This society dominates and is selfish and has it’s own goals as the inner force of its life. We can be community. We can say by our lives that there are times when it is important for us to step back in life so that others can gain. This society depends on power. We can practice the power of the powerless who show us all how little it really takes to live, how rich life is without riches, how strong are those who cannot be owned…. We can be the voice of those who are not heard and the hands of those who have no bread and the family of those who are alone and the strength of those who are weak. We can be the sign of human community. Finally, this society is anxious and angry and noisy. We can be contemplative. In the midst of chaos, if the Scripture is in our hearts, if we are faithful to lectio, if we build the Jesus-life in our own souls, we can see God where God is. Everywhere. Those are the elements of Benedictine vision that saved the Western world over the centuries again and again and again. Then they can save us from ourselves once more.” Joan Chittister

“even more blessed
are all who hear the word of God
and put it into practice.”
Jesus in Luke 11:28

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Was God speaking to you at some point in this reading?
  • Do you long to be part of such a community of faith?
  • Have you adopted a “rule of life” which guides your practice of these ideals of Jesus?

Abba, change me as I rediscover and embrace these ancient ideals.

For More: Wisdom Distilled From the Daily by John Chittister

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Thanks for reading and sharing this blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: Curiosity’s Own Reason for Existing (Annie Dillard and Albert Einstein)

“Down at the root end of things, blind growth reaches astonishing proportions. So far as I know, only one real experiment has ever been performed to determine the extent and rate of root growth, and when you read the figures, you see why. I have run into various accounts of this experiment, and the only thing they don’t reveal is how many lab assistants were blinded for life. The experimenters studied a single grass plant, winter rye. They let it grow in a greenhouse for four months; then they gingerly spirited away the soil—under microscopes, I imagine—and counted and measured all the roots and root hairs. In four months the plant had set forth 378 miles of roots—that’s about three miles a day—in 14 million distinct roots. This is mighty impressive, but when they get down to the root hairs, I boggle completely. In those same four months the rye plant created 14 billion root hairs, and those little things placed end to end just about wouldn’t quit. In a single cubic inch of soil, the length of the root hairs totaled 6000 miles. Other plants use water power to heave the rock earth around as though they were merely shrugging off a silken cape. Rutherford Platt tells about a larch tree whose root had cleft a one-and-a-half-ton boulder and hoisted it a foot into the air. Everyone knows how a sycamore root will buckle a sidewalk, a mushroom will shatter a cement basement floor. But when the first real measurements of this awesome pressure were taken, nobody could believe the figures.” Annie Dillard

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.” Albert Einstein

“Then God said, ‘Let the land sprout with vegetation….” Genesis 1:11

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Do you have everything pretty much figured out–whether you’re an apologist, or an atheist?
  • Did you leave behind your wonder at the world with your childhood? Have you lost your “holy curiosity?”
  • What, do you suppose, is curiosity’s “own reason for existing?”

Abba, help me comprehend a little of this world’s mystery every day.

For More: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

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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

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

Daily Riches: Make Up Your Mind About Others … Once and For All (Henri Nouwen and Marcus Borg)

“To the degree that we accept that through Christ we ourselves have been reconciled with God we can be messengers of reconciliation for others. Essential to the work of reconciliation is a nonjudgmental presence. We are not sent to the world to judge, to condemn, to evaluate, to classify, or to label. When we walk around as if we have to make up our mind about people and tell them what is wrong with them and how they should change, we will only create more division. Jesus says it clearly: ‘Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge; … do not condemn; … forgive’ (Luke 6:36-37). In a world that constantly asks us to make up our minds about other people, a nonjudgmental presence seems nearly impossible. But it is one of the most beautiful fruits of a deep spiritual life and will be easily recognized by those who long for reconciliation.” Henri Nouwen

“Those of my university students who have grown up outside of the church (about half of them) have a very negative stereotypical view of Christianity. When I ask them to write a short essay on their impression of Christianity, they consistently use five adjectives: Christians are literalistic, anti-intellectual, self-righteous, judgmental, and bigoted.” Marcus Borg

“Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another.
If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.”
Romans 9:8

Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • How often do you judge, condemn, evaluate, classify or label someone? …even someone you don’t really know?
  • When you catch yourself, do you beat yourself up? Can you just stop? Can you take another look and practice compassion–or attempt some understanding?
  • Can you make up your mind once and for all to see others as God does–with compassion, forgiveness and grace? …to see them as bearing God’s image? …as someone God loves? …as someone God is for? …as a confused person in need of a Savior? …as a broken person in need of a friend? …as someone like you?
  • Do you ever look at people (like while waiting in the doctor’s office) and just let your heart go out to them in love? Try it!

Abba, remind me daily that I’ve made up my mind to look upon others only with love. May your love for me spill over to others.

For More: Bread for the Journey by Henry 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.”

Daily Riches: That’s Me … Losing My Ambition (The Order of Julian of Norwich)

“What matters is to make space for God by embracing His will. In Advent the most beautiful exemplar goes ahead of us: ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word.’ I am yours absolutely, do your will in me and through me. I turn over to you all my ambitions even of the most religious and spiritual kind. Do your will in darkness or in pain if necessary; I do not ask to understand. I commit myself to you completely. However Mary spent her days, we are told the only things that matter and those things—surrender, holding fast to God’s promises, expecting fulfillment—must be true of all who belong to Christ. The contemplative life has this Marian attitude or mode of being writ large into it. The dynamism of this perspective comes from living out of the hand of God, and not our own resources. Otherwise, it is not a dramatic way; faith keeps us in the here and now—in this moment and no other; in this situation and no other. Here is my Jesus, here in this moment, this duty, this set of circumstances. What a test of faith is the daily round of duties, the pressure of seeming trivialities, in the dull, wearying pain, lacking all glamour and grandeur. Especially when, as Mary in her lifetime, we are among those who fall below the radar of the worthwhile, where nobody notices, no stories or articles are written, no photos appear, and we ourselves seem utterly forgotten and swept along by events, The essentials for Mary were offering herself absolutely, hearing the word and living it in all its challenges, and the final consummation of perfect faith and surrender.”

“Mary responded, ‘I am the Lord’s servant.
May everything you have said about me come true.’”
Luke 1:38
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Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • It’s common to make too much of Mary, and also to dismiss her. Instead, can you learn something valuable from Mary’s example?
  • Most of us “fall below the radar of the worthwhile” while wishing to be noticed or remembered. Can you offer yourself to God in the “daily round of duties … [and] seeming trivialities” and be unconcerned about the impact you’re making?
  • It’s “seeming trivialities” right? We never know what will matter in the end. Do you have a practice that “keeps you in the here and now?” … grounded? …above the circumstances? …unconcerned about your own “grandeur?”

Abba, teach me this Marian mode of being.

For More: the website of The Order of Julian of Norwich

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. Thanks for following and sharing my blog. I appreciate it! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Where God Goes … And Where God May Be Found (Henri Nouwen, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Karl Barth and Eugene Peterson)

“But it is not said of Jesus that he reached down from on high to pull us up from slavery, but that he became a slave with us. God’s compassion is a compassion that reveals itself in servanthood. Jesus became subject to the same powers and influences that dominate us, and suffered our fears, uncertainties and anxieties with us. …He gave up a privileged position, a position of majesty and power, and assumed fully and without reservation a condition of total dependency. Paul’s hymn of Christ does not ask us to look upward, away from our condition, but to look in our midst and discover God there. …In the Gospel stories of Jesus’ healings, we sense how close God wants to be with those who suffer. But now we see the price God is willing to pay for this intimacy. It is the price of ultimate servanthood, the price of becoming a slave, completely dependent on strange, cruel, alien forces. …Jesus moves, as Karl Barth says, from ‘the heights to the depth, from victory to defeat, from riches to poverty, from triumph to suffering, from life to death.’ Jesus’ whole life and mission involved accepting powerlessness and revealing in this powerlessness the limitlessness of God’s love. Here we see what compassion means. It is not a bending toward the underprivileged from a privileged position; it is not a reaching out from on high to those who are less fortunate below; it is not a gesture of sympathy or pity for those who fail to make it in the upward pull. On the contrary, compassion means going directly to those people and places where suffering is most acute and building a home there.” Henri Nouwen

“God had looked upon the poor of the world and had himself come to help. Now he was there, not as the Almighty One, but in the seclusion of humanity. Wherever there are sinners, the weak, the sorrowful, the poor in the world, that is where God goes. Here he lets himself be found by everyone.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”
John 1:14 (Eugene Peterson)

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Consider this. Jesus made himself “completely dependent on strange, cruel, alien forces” in order to serve you.
  • Does your compassion (like that of Jesus) transcend sympathy and pity and involve “servanthood?”
  • Do you think it’s realistic to talk of going “directly to those people and places where suffering is most acute and building a home there?” (In many ways Nouwen’s life shows what he must have had in mind.)

Abba, may you be found by everyone.

For More: Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life by Henri Nouwen

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Thanks so much for reading and sharing this blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: With Every Emotion (Saint Francis and Wayne Simsic)

“What is the ‘spiritual heart?’ It is our deep longing for God, the center of our humanness. Francis recognized the hunger for the fullness of God’s love in his own life, in the lives of others, and in the world. In the early days of his conversion, he walked into the abandoned church of San Damiano and knelt before its Byzantine crucifix. He prayed: ‘Most high, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart….’ From the beginning, Francis had a strong awareness of a center where he struggled to discern God’s will. As adults in a busy world, we find it difficult to act from a heart center. We are too often tired, distracted, or goal oriented. We think too much, and our thoughts are the source of anxieties, guilt, and fears. We allow ourselves to be pulled into the past, into the future, and into fantasy. Thoughts split our minds from our hearts. Francis reminds us of our fundamental desire for wholeness. We yearn to integrate mind and heart. We begin by first getting in touch with our heart, in other words, cultivating a desire for God’s love. In time, thought will be guided more and more by a deeper spiritual energy. We will experience the revelation of the Spirit in the here and now–in these people, these birds, this landscape. The heart knows no boundary and gives us the capacity to engage others and the world with surprising intimacy and as truly unique and deserving of our respect. Francis’s childlikeness was a sign that he truly acted from his heart-center. He knew that he could not make himself a child of God–he simply needed to open his heart and allow God to love him. Responding to God’s presence like a child who trusted completely in a loving Parent, his relationship with God was spontaneous, uncluttered by ambition and calculation. Rather than promote his own agenda or hide behind fear, anxiousness, and other barriers to trust, Francis humbly accepted the mystery of his life and relied on the guidance of the Spirit. Cultivating a childlike trust of God in our own lives, we do not forfeit but enhance our deepest selves. Like Francis, we will uncover an unusual sensitivity to people, animals landscapes, and special places. The world will come alive and possess soul. The Spirit will reveal itself in surprising ways, unleashing a dynamic energy in all our relationships. Truly, a life is measured by the capacity of the heart.” Wayne Simsic

“Love the Lord your God
with all your heart….”
Jesus in Matthew 22:37
.

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Are you “too often tired, distracted, or goal oriented?”
  • How often do you “experience the revelation of the Spirit in the here and now?”
  • Does your answer to the first question explain your answer to the second question?

“Let us love [you] Lord God … with every effort, every affection, every emotion, every desire and every wish.” St. Francis

For More: Living the Wisdom of St. Francis by Wayne Simsic

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

 

Daily Riches: Galumphing at God’s Heels (William J. O’Malley, and Matt Groening)

“The big black Lab galumphs beside me as I walk,
tongue lolling, eyes intent upon the stick.
He’s submissive to my whistle, not my trifling talk,
nor well-wrought reasons, much less rhetoric.
He trots ahead and turns, impatient for the throw,
snaps off a bark, then lumbers halfway back.
He cocks his head and huffs to tell me I’m too slow.
I throw and off he goes, a blur of black.
The world exists for him: the stick, the roadside, me.
We’re here to serve his simple solipsism.
Except for unpredictable caprice, he’s free,
without the humbling need for baptism.
 .
“To save him from a truck, I choke his collar short.
What earthly link? That noise, this loss of breath?
He punctuates his protest with a snort;
until they meet, no need to ponder death.
What a narrow scope of truth his mind explores:
betrayal, hunger, curiosity.
He knows my mind about as I do yours;
my thoughts as closed to him as yours to me.
How humbling to confront one’s hubris, open-eyed,
to fathom what this big black mongrel feels.
I’d thought that you and I were striding side by side,
when all the time I was galumphing at your heels.”
William J. O’Malley
 .
 “When I was a child, I used to talk, think, argue like a child–who has
just enough grasp of the truth to be thoroughly confused.
When I grew up, I was somewhat better than that, but hardly perfect.
I still see God through a smear of distorting glass.
Ah! but then we will see God face-to-face!
Now I know God so incompletely; then,
I will know God through and through, as God knows me now.”
1 Corinthians 13:8-12 (O’Malley paraphrase)
.

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Remember when Bart tries to explain to “Santa’s Little Helper”, how his disobedience is leading to trouble? The dog wants to please, but just can’t understand. He hears only noise, thinks only of food. Imagine the challenge God has in explaining things to you.
  • None of us are “striding side by side” with God – just “galumphing at [His] heels.” Have you made peace with this sometimes painful reality?

Abba, I’m no longer thoroughly confused but I still don’t really understand myself or you. I look forward to when I will know you “as you know me now.”

For More: Daily Prayers for Busy People by William J. O’Malley

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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: Advent and Learning to Wait (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Celebrating Advent means learning how to wait. Waiting is an art which our impatient age has forgotten. We want to pluck the fruit before it has had time to ripen. Greedy eyes are soon disappointed when what they saw as luscious fruit is sour to the taste. In disappointment and disgust they throw it away. The fruit, full of promise rots on the ground. It is rejected without thanks by disappointed hands. The blessedness of waiting is lost on those who cannot wait, and the fulfillment of promise is never theirs. They want quick answers to the deepest questions of life and miss the value of those times of anxious waiting, seeking with patient uncertainties until the answers come. They lose the moment when the answers are revealed in dazzling clarity. …The greatest, the deepest, the most tender experiences in all the world demand patient waiting. This waiting is not in emotional turmoil, but gently growing, like the emergence of spring, like God’s laws, like the germinating of a seed. …Those who learn to wait are uneasy about their way of life, but yet have seen a vision of greatness in the world of the future and are patiently expecting its fulfillment. The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come. For these, it is enough to wait in humble fear until the Holy One himself comes down to us, God in the child in the manger. God comes. The Lord Jesus comes. Christmas comes. …But, not so quick! It is still in the distance. It calls us to learn to wait and to wait aright.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Rest in the LORD
and wait patiently for Him.”
Psalm 37:7

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Are you plucking the fruit “before it ripens?”
  • Do you know yourself “to be poor and imperfect?” Are you awaiting “something great to come?”
  • When you’re “troubled in soul” can you use that as a trigger to “wait aright?” …to “wait patiently” for the LORD?

“Lord Jesus, come yourself, and dwell with us, be human as we are, and overcome what overwhelms us. Come into the midst of my evil, come close to my unfaithfulness. Share my sin, which I hate and which I cannot leave. Be my brother, Thou Holy God.  …And make me holy and pure, despite my sin and death.”  Bonhoeffer

For More: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons edited by Edwin Robertson

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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. Thanks! – Bill

Daily Riches: Laughter and Taking Your Proper Place in the Universe (James Martin, Karl Rahner, and David Robb)

“If people don’t have some lightness in their lives then they end up taking themselves too seriously and are unable to move outside themselves. And a great deal of spirituality lies in putting yourself in an appropriate place in the universe. Those who can laugh at themselves can also look at themselves critically, but not harshly, a key element of emotional growth.” David Robb

“The truly holy are humble because they know their place before God. But how, with our accomplishments and our egos, especially in a culture that tells us that we have to be on top, to be number one, to be successful, do we keep that humility before us? Self-deprecating humor … is one way to do this. Laughing at yourself, not taking yourself too seriously, not making every situation about you, not demanding that life adjust itself to suit your needs, and laughing at yourself when you forget all this are good places to start.” James Martin

“Laugh. For this laughter is an acknowledgment that you are a human being. An acknowledgment that is itself the beginning of the acknowledgment of God. For how else is a person to acknowledge God except for admitting in his life and by means of his life that he himself is not God but a creature that has his times – a time to weep and a time to laugh, and the one is not the other. A praising of God is what laughter is, because it lets a human being be human.” Karl Rahner

“Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
‘The Lord has done great things for them.’”
Psalm 126:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is laughter in your repertoire? If so, how does it help you keep things in perspective?
  • If you can laugh at yourself, you can look at yourself “critically, but not harshly [which is] a key element of emotional growth.” Can you laugh at yourself?
  • It’s not about you. You’re not in control. Can you laugh at yourself “when you forget all this” and let humor bring you back to your senses and proper “place before God?”

Abba, keep me from taking myself or others too seriously. As your people, may our mouths be filled with laughter.

For More: Between Heaven and Mirth by James Martin

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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 please 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.”

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