Tag Archives: SPIRIT

Gospel Reflection for June 4, 2017, Pentecost

2 Jun

Photo via Flicker user Lawrence OP

Scripture Readings: Acts 2.1-11; 1 Corinthians 12.3-7, 12-13; John 20.19-23

This weekend the Church celebrates Pentecost, the climax of the Easter season and the birthday of the Christian community. In Acts, Luke describes 120 disciples awaiting the Holy Spirit. They have no cell phones for messaging, no practiced words for public speaking, no organizational flow chart. They have only their lived experience of Jesus out of which to weave a new community.  These disciples learned by accompanying Jesus, learned by his doing, found hope in his teaching, and awakened to the promise and purpose of his resurrection. At Pentecost the Spirit sets them on fire to live and spread the good news Jesus is. Crowds from around the Mediterranean hear Peter’s first fiery sermon in their own language.

Our world today challenges us to live the gospel globally as well as locally. We of the third millennium have seen Earth from space. We can phone home from almost anywhere on the planet. Evolution tells us we are part of one great cosmic whole. Our mission seems clear: love one another, heal, forgive. Feed the hungry, welcome the stranger. Weave common bonds.

Around what does your tongue catch fire in your daily conversations? Who do you hear speaking in your own language?

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Gospel Reflection for May 22, 2016, Trinity Sunday

17 May

creationmandala-blue

Sunday Readings: Proverbs 8.22-31; Romans 5.1-5; John 16.12-15

“The Spirit will glorify me because the Spirit will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

(John 16.14)

Most Christians grasp as Creator and God as incarnate Son more easily than an image of God as Spirit and guide. We see the creator in parents and grandparents and as one who gives birth to all that is. We see in Jesus God become human, revealing as one of us what God is like.

The Spirit in whom we live, move, and have our being may elude us, until perhaps we lose a parent, grandparent, or friends and experience his or her spirit and voice arising within us. The Spirit is the love or relatedness between Creator, Son, and all that lives.

Jesus shows us God is triune, a community of loving interrelationships that is both one and many. In our human experience three is the beginning of the social threshold. Two people in I-Thous relationship make room for one more and one more to form families and communities. God’s love is always opening out to hold more in communion.

God is not only the Creator of old or the Savior of 2,000 years ago but the Spirit of our daily breath and the deepest present desires, conflicts, and challenges. The Spirit breathes in us today.

How do you experience the Spirit guiding you in your present life?

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2nd Week of Easter

7 Apr
Photo via Flickr user Mark Sardella

Photo via Flickr user Mark Sardella

“Do not persist in your unbelief, but believe!” – John 20.27

Most of us doubt at times in our lives. We doubt faith matters or can change the world. We sometimes doubt that we ourselves, or people we love, or religious institutions can respond to the renewing Spirit.

Identify a specific doubt you carry. Ask for the guidance of the Spirit to resolve the doubt or to live into a new insight. Seek insight by walking and observing creation awakening to new life.

Prayer for the Week: I believe. Help my unbelief.

Gospel Reflection for April 12, 2015, 2nd Sunday of Easter

6 Apr

Sunday Readings: Acts 4.32-35; 1 John 5.1-6; John 19-31

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, Jesus breathed on his disciples and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you shall forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

(John 20.21-23)

The risen Jesus brings his disciples two gifts — peace and new life. Jesus breathes the new life of the Spirit upon his disciples just as in the beginning God breathed the spirit of life into the first earthling in Genesis 2.7. The new life Jesus’ Spirit inspires is forgiveness. The gifts become a commission. Jesus sends the community out to make the lives of others whole as he has made their lives new and whole.

When have you found new life in forgiving or being forgiven?

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Gifts of the Spirit

22 May

Each weekday morning at our house progresses remarkably the same. My bleary-eyed sons stumble their way downstairs to cuddle with me for a bit before watching a show of their choice on pbskids.org. The viewing of a television episode insures that I can have approximately twenty-three minutes to myself to shower and get ready for the day. I frequently use this wonderfully quiet alone time to reflect on and mentally work through challenges I am facing: a writing project on which I am blocked, an intractable issue involving my sons for which there seems to be no creative solution, a break in a relationship that seems resistant to mending. Often, as my sons’ refrain of “Is it time for breakfast, mom?” rings in my ears all too soon, the thought upon which my rumination ends is, “I want someone to tell me it is going to be okay.”

It has been interesting to be able to put this refrain into words (perhaps this ability coincides with my children getting old enough to do a bit more for themselves, thus freeing me for more self-care and self-reflection than the first few years of their lives made possible). I think it is a bass note that has been there all along, and it is only now that I am able to hear it more clearly and to think about what it portends. The first part (“I want someone”) indicates a desire for relationship, for companionship, for feeling that I am not alone in the world as I face its prosaic and more extraordinary challenges. The second part (“to tell me it is going to be okay”) means that I do not want people to fix things for me, but rather to assure me that I have the strength to make it through.

via flickr user justinbaeder

via flickr user justinbaeder

In the realm of human relationships, I am beginning to see how this need for a supportive someone in my life says little about the friends and family I already have and everything about me. If I want someone to tell me it is going to be okay, I first have to be willing to tell someone that I am not okay. Sharing my vulnerability, owning up to the times when I feel over my head, and openly expressing my emotions is truly challenging to me. When I do not do these things, I deprive the important people in my life the opportunity to be there for me. If I cannot open up about my weakness, they won’t know to reflect back to me what they see as my power and ability.

This Sunday’s Gospel from John 14 also reminds me that it is not toward human beings alone that I can turn to for the sort of compassionate and encouraging relationship that seems to be a deep necessity in my life right now. Jesus tells his disciples that he will ask the Father and that the Father will send an Advocate to be with them always. And Jesus keeps his word, as we find out later in the Gospel of John. Jesus appears to the disciples after his resurrection, breathes on them, and tells them to “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Put another way, Jesus insures that his disciples will have the help of the Spirit to assist them as they go into the world to do his work.

As members of the body of Christ, baptized into Jesus’ family, we can trust that the Spirit is with us always as a companion on our spiritual journeys. In fact, I do not need to “want someone to tell me it is going to be okay” when I realize that the Spirit of God is already with me, already empowering me with the gifts of the Spirit that are given us in baptism and that are renewed when we receive Eucharist. These gifts are:

  • Wisdom: the desire to contemplate the things of God
  • Understanding: the ability to comprehend divine truth, especially as revealed through Jesus Christ
  • Counsel: the ability to judge how to act based on faith
  • Fortitude: the courage to follow through on actions suggested by the gift of counsel
  • Knowledge: the ability to see our lives as God sees them
  • Piety: the desire to worship and serve God
  • Fear of the Lord: the desire to act out of hope and out of wonder and awe of God (which is different than acting out of fear of punishment)

When I feel as if I am alone, I need to make my vulnerability known to others and I need to reconnect with the Spirit who is already accompanying and empowering me. I can trust that I am never working alone, and while a problem may feel too big for me, who am I to say what is too big for God?

Get Angry for Women

7 Mar

A Guest post from Ellie Roscher

Really think for a moment about the Jesus you have been taught about since you were a kid. Think back to the puffy books depicting Jesus sitting in plush fields with sheep or the Sunday school versions of the Gospel stories translated for smaller children accompanied by Jesus with a halo and outstretched arms. We are shown serene paintings of Jesus with a peaceful face gazing silently up to the heavens or holding a small child gently in his lap. We are taught as children that Jesus is our friend. That he is perfect and sinless. And rightly so. This week’s image of Jesus getting angry in the temple, driving the moneychangers out and being consumed with zeal, stands in stark contrast to the Jesus of our childhood.

I think this Gospel story is very important. It is important for us to not equate perfection with being passive, not to equate our friend with someone who is apathetic. When we love God and we love God’s people, there are things worth getting angry about.

Rath’s story is worth getting angry about. Human trafficking, prostitution, and gendercide are real and pervasive. I have to imagine that if Jesus were here he would turn over a table or two in the name of the abuse women are enduring in the world today. Half the Sky, a book I highly recommend, also addresses how things like rape, honor killings, and lack of health care for birthing women are horrible forms of modern-day slavery. We have to care about our sisters around the world who were created and adored by God. We have to get angry enough to move toward action. The book offers solutions. We are seeing that educating women and giving them micro-loans can benefit entire villages and economies. We are seeing study abroad programs and social media activity activate young people to make a lasting difference. As the book and Spirit so powerfully state, women are not the problem, but the solution.

March 8th is International Women’s Day. This year, dare to get angry about oppression against women. Don’t let that anger consume you, but like Jesus in the Gospel, let’s realize that sometimes destruction has to come before creation. Sometimes anger can lead to creative friction and agitation can lead to action. Buy the book. Check out the girl effect. Spread awareness on social media on March 8th. You are powerful and can be part of the solution. Girls like Rath need your anger desperately.

NOTE:  If you are in the Twin Cities, Sheryl WuDunn co-author of Half the Sky speaks Wednesday, March 7th at 7 pm at the University of St. Thomas. Click here for more information. The event is free and open to the public.

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