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Archive for February, 2012

Wednesday, February 29

A leper came to Jesus begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.”  Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose.  Be made clean!” – Mark 1:40-42

The choice in Jesus’ day was whether to keep the leper, the untouchable, isolated from the rest of society.  What could be done anyway?  Best not to look, best not to go near.  Best not to disturb one’s peace of mind by dwelling on the impossible.  And yet Jesus’ immediate response to the leper’s cry was “I do choose.  Be made clean!”

Today the world cries out to us, the Body of Christ, “If you choose, you can help us.”  The images in the news and on our television screens make it harder to ignore the sight of starvation in Darfur, cholera in Haiti, HIV/AIDS orphans in Africa and homelessness in the streets of our cities.

Jesus moved without hesitation, even though the situation seemed hopeless.  As the Body of Christ in the world today, charged with carrying on his healing work, what will we choose? – Margaret Trezevant

JW – It seems to me that choosing to do something is part of the deal here.  But for me, being a member of the Body of Christ takes some doing:  it requires fortitude and courage.  And the big picture is mostly scary I think; at least for me.  Overwhelming.  These are things I need some help with, and thank goodness I know where I can ask for it.  I see the word ‘hope’ above, and when I remember that, and when I remember that the big picture is made up of a lot of little pixels, I know that I can choose to do something today.

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Tuesday, February 28

They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, Jesus entered the synagogue and taught…then there was in the synagogue a man with an unclean spirit…But Jesus rebuked him…and the unclean spirit…came out of him…That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons.  And the whole city was gathered around the door. – Mark 1:21-26, 32-33

The first chapter of Mark’s Gospel offers a glimpse into a day in the life of Jesus.  And what a busy day it was!  Teachings and healings and miracles – and crowds following him, pressing around him.  It all sounds exhausting.  And terribly familiar.

I am particularly thankful, then, when I come to verse 35:  “In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.”  In the midst of demands on his time and energy, Jesus took the time to find a quiet place, a “deserted place”, and there found renewal and refreshment.

I cannot prevent the calls and appointments and emails and texts that fill my day, but I can be intentional about taking time to find my own quiet place, rediscover myself as God’s beloved child and breathe once more the healing air of wholeness. – C.K. Robertson

JW – We don’t have to wait until just before dawn to take time out of our busy lives to stop and pray.  As Betsey suggested on Sunday, we can stop at any time, just for a few moments, to refresh before moving on.  For me, so doing helps to keep me right-sized.

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Monday, February 27

The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you are still a rat. – Lily Tomlin

One of the marks of the observance of a holy Lent is self-examination.  As you examine your life and commitments, perhaps you will discover you are in need of healing from excessive busyness.  We work too much for a variety of reasons – fear of losing a job, a desire to be recognized and rewarded, a means of escape, high  expectations and demands from self or others and sometimes love of what we are doing.  At what cost?  Like fire, excessive busyness can lead to burnout or consume us entirely if we are not attentive to how we approach work.

May you understand work as vocation – an endeavor to which you are called by God.  May you come to know that God’s dream for you doesn’t include exhaustion, stress-related illness, pressure to produce due to unreasonable demands or loss of time with those you love.  Give yourself a break.  – Gay Clark Jennings

JW – In my world, all of the above applied, with the exception of loving what I was doing, and I had no idea how exhausting it was.  I was the rat!  Things have changed.  Now I have time to do all sorts of things; just now the Lenten journey through the desert; even rubbernecking along the way.  God has shown me how to give myself a break, but not too much of one.

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You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased – Mark 1:11

Jesus taught us to pray to God as a parent.  This makes all of us siblings, not only with each other, but also with Jesus.  As God affirmed Jesus as a beloved son at his baptism, God also affirms that we are beloved sons and daughters, with whom God is well pleased.

Sometimes we feel that because we have sinned and alienated ourselves from God, we do not deserve this title.  But no matter what has happened or how bad things seem to be, you and I and Jesus are family.  To acknowledge and affirm this relationship is the ultimate source of healing for each one of us, for reconciling with others whom we have alienated or hurt and for reconnecting with God through our brother Jesus.

Repeat the following as your prayer mantra today:  I am a beloved child of God, with whom God is well pleased. – Eric H. F. Law

JW – I used to do this never, or way too much.  Now that I’ve figured out just who is the center of my life, surprisingly someone whose name is not Joe, I am doing much better with this.  Feeling loved; being loved, is wonderful.  I feel moved to say ‘thank you’ to Reverend Law this morning.

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Saturday, February 25

Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. – Matthew 9:35

Through his life and teaching, Jesus invited and continues to invite his disciples to be healed and take individual responsibility in helping create beloved communities.  Many of us have been brought to faith as followers of Christ through some engagement with liberation, which at its heart is about restoring us to reconciliation in a beloved community of care for the least among us.

So I grapple with the following question:  “Why are we reticent in some quarters of the church to proclaim our practice of justice and peace with the intention of making disciples who follow Jesus Christ?”  Could we consider using this season of Lent to bring those whom we care about to a closer understanding of Christ as healer and to invite them to follow him? – Prince Singh

JW – I’m not exactly sure what to say about the above comment, except to ‘okay, okay, I’m trying every day not to become complacent’.  And there’s no success with that unless I ask for help in replying ‘yes!’ to the invitation implicit in today’s reading from Matthew.

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Who then will offer willingly, consecrating themselves today to the Lord? – I Chronicles 29:5

One a recent trip to Ghana I toured several communities participating in the NetsforLife program.  Once the final community visit was complete, everyone gathered to share some of their stories with me at a “durbar”. At the end of the presentations, the leader came forward to say that he had a presentation to make to me.

As I sat down, the leader said that although they had a gift to give to me they were very embarrassed, as it was such a small gift.  He told me that they had wanted to give me an elephant as a gesture of thanks, as that was the grandest gift they could imagine presenting to show how important the malaria nets were to their community.

However, they weren’t able to give me an elephant.  Instead they had decided to collect all of the eggs laid that day and present them to me.

The eggs represented the entire village’s wealth for that day.  It was everything they had, and they wanted to share it with me – truly a living theology of abundance in a place of scarcity.

How can we do any less? -Robert W. Radtke

JW – Sometimes with these Lenten meditations, there’s nothing for me to say except ‘Indeed’, ‘Yes I agree’, Wow’, and today is one of those times.  Mr. Radtke’s words above, ‘living theology of abundance’ fill me up this morning and make me ask myself the question, ‘now what am I going to do, today, specifically, to honor those words?’.

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And Jesus answered them.  “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard:  the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them.  And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” – Luke 7:22-23

Hearing Jesus talk about his healing work reminds me of the extravagant nature of his ministry.  Jesus is not doing anything in small measure.  This is not a man who holds anything back.  I don’t imagine he ever looked at the task in front of him and said, “The job is so huge, I don’t know where to start – maybe I’ll just go back to bed.”  I have.

Yet I am uplifted by the knowledge that I am not alone in making Jesus’ vision of the world a reality today.  With my brothers and sisters in the body of Christ, we can continue in Jesus’ healing work, so that one day we can say:  “Go, tell the other what you have seen:  HIV/AIDS is cured, the children’s bellies are full, the mothers survive childbirth, parents can provide for their children.”

Please, God, let me share in your extravagant vision! – Margaret Trezevant

JW – I think we all share in the extravagant vision, and yes, I’ve gone back to bed, too.   A lot!   Now, I’m asking God for the strength and courage to stay out of bed once I’m up.  And, I’m beginning to be a little more confident that it doesn’t matter where I start or where I finish.  It matters that I participate.

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