God is God

By Melodious Monk

God is God

…should we forget our Savior’s praise, the stones them-selves would sing!

As we finished the final stanza of James Montgomery’s hymn on Sunday, I turned to the person next to me to point out the humor and multiplicity of meanings to this last line. I was chuckling at the literal picture of a singing stone, and two other aspects as well: firstly, how it puts us in our place; and secondly, how it shows the bottomless depth’s of God’s love for us. Let me explain.

How quickly I forget that God is God. God loves us — but he doesn’t need us. I’m reminded of a conversation I had earlier this week were I was discussing how disappointed I feel with myself when I so often turn bitter and angry in certain situations. I fall again and again into the same trap of accusation and self-pity. It feels pathetic, and I assume God surely feels the same way about me. Or does he? A wise friend suggested to me that since God continually seems to be calling each of us to move  on with him, maybe He doesn’t care about my failings the same way I do.

Which brings me back to the stones. Why does God even bother to care for us? After all, he has the stones, or the ability to just create someone else who would be better at praising him! But God hasn’t given up on me, even though I give up on myself all the time – and I don’t know why, I just know he hasn’t. God calls us to life. The remembrances of Holy Week, especially, remind us of how much God wants each of us to live our lives to their fullest potential.

The Community of Jesus

 

Worrier or Warrior?

By Sr. Nun Other

In Matthew 6:25-27, Jesus tells us not to be anxious. He reassures us he’s in control, and we have nothing to worry about. I’ve always found comfort in that concept, but I think its intent is more than to make me feel better. It really is a command and an important one, mentioned multiple times in the New Testament. Jesus knows what we can carry and what we cannot. When I allow my mind to dwell on all things negative, I become weak and ineffectual. I’m no longer a spiritual warrior, focused on my spiritual journey. Worrier or Warrior — it’s a daily choice.

The Community of Jesus

About Feet

By Melodious Monk

I got to thinking about feet this week.

Way up high in the ceiling of our church I find lots of them. While changing some light bulbs along the wood trusses, I begin to notice some faint, yet clearly distinguishable foot prints high up on the beams. Unknown and unnamed prints left from the original construction of the church. Little did these construction workers know that they would be leaving their lasting footprint in this house.

And I got to thinking about feet – which turned into a series of prayers.  Feet evoke action and choice. As I leave my footprints this day–where are they headed?


‘Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established.’
‘He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm’
‘…and(Jesus) began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel’
‘guide our feet into the way of peace’
‘Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil. ‘
‘For You have delivered my soul from death, Indeed my feet from stumbling’
‘and they laid them down at His feet; and He healed them’
‘I have restrained my feet from every evil way’
‘My steps have held fast to Your paths My feet have not slipped.’
‘..but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair’
‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden will be an inheritance to you and to your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God fully.’

The Community of Jesus

 

No Easy Thing

By Sr. Nun Other

I believe true forgiveness is a process, and not a single event. I can say the proper words to end an unpleasant and difficult encounter, but I know words are not enough. I’ll rehash the hurt, sense of injustice, and anger many times before the work of genuine forgiveness is complete. I’m not proud of my slowness of heart, nor am I particularly ashamed of it. Forgiveness is a cherished commodity, forged as gold, and worthy of the perseverance it requires. It equally benefits both the forgiver and the forgiven.

The Community of Jesus

 

Discipline of Gratitude

By Melodious Monk

One November many years ago, our first president proclaimed: 

“Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country…” 

Following in Washington’s footsteps during a difficult time for our nation, Abraham Lincoln said this:

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.” 

Fast forwarding to our generation, the late Henri Nouwen, a man who seemed to know and cherish man’s universal purpose to glorify and give thanks to God, left us this advice. “In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy. Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint…the choice for gratitude rarely comes without some real effort. But each time I make it, the next choice is a little easier, a little freer, a little less self-conscious.”

Each day, and especially today, we can continue the generations-old tradition of choosing to place our thanks and trust in the loving “great disposer of events” as president Lincoln affectionately worded our creator.  I hope that in some way, my small offering of thanks today, together with yours, can join myriad legions of angels to help guide all of us to taste some inestimable blessings.

The Community of Jesus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit:  Artist’s depiction of George Washington praying at Valley Forge. (Public Domain)

Assume The Best

By Sr. Nun Other

It’s so easy to assume the worst, at least if you’re anxious by nature. I think of the Pilgrims, who, for the sake of their children and love of God, surrendered their fear of the unknown. They embarked on a rigorous journey of sacrifice, to establish one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.  Facing fast and furious seas, starvation, disease, and desolate wilderness, they pressed on. Then, in thanksgiving, joined hands in a symbolic feast of community. May we all be thankful, assume the best, and rest in God’s love this Thanksgiving!

THe Community of Jesus

The Greatest Commandment

By Melodious Monk

Recently I’ve come across a few writings of Father Alfred Delp, a Jesuit priest executed by the Nazi’s for his outspoken faith and opposition to the regime. He seems to have been a bold man, with a very ecumenical heart. Something in his writing reverberates inside me, not with a sense of full comprehension, but with the sense that I’m being brought through a door that offers layers of wisdom and discovery. He wrote:


“A person can be rigid in many ways. He can have a one-track mind like the rich young man in the Gospel….This paralysis in the realm of things, this fixation about property, riches, gold, jewels, art, and good living was characteristic of the last century…..Even more dangerous is that inner paralysis which induces us to betray the fundamental laws of our existence. No longer “living to all truth, to all goodness” we pull up short, set ourselves apart, rest on our laurels, and lead the life of a pensioner. We no longer strain with all our might to achieve ideals, reaching for the stars. The command to love God with all one’s heart, with all one’s mind, and with all one’s strength no longer has any meaning for us; we treat it as something handed down like a legend, something that has served its turn and can be thrown aside. All the truths have already been discovered, we think — no need to go to the trouble of looking for any more. The world has grown dumb–we no longer hear the underground rumblings as the secret forces collect their strength for the great fulfillment which can only be brought about by humanity’s conscious recognition and decision.”


If we wish, God has much more for us in life than, as Father Delp puts is, a retired “pensioner.” I hope I can discover some of the ways I’m rigid, and awake my spirit and heart to the “underground rumblings” of the Holy Spirit.

 

The Community of Jesus

 

 

 

Immediately

By Melodious Monk

Every time I hear Matthew’s account of Jesus walking on water I think of John Ortberg’s book, “If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat.” It was some time in the late spring about 12 years ago– I had gotten sick with a seasonal flu, and I stayed home for a day. I had just finished my first year of college and was living at the Community for the summer. I was in a lot of turmoil inside, trying to figure out what to do with life. A friend had recently been reading this rather short blue-covered book and sent it over to me.

It was the perfect book for me at the time, and a huge comfort. I was quite anxious of the decisions about college and life, and how these decisions would affect the rest of my life!

I was thinking back on this transition time as the Gospel was read this past Sunday. At the end of the familiar gospel passage, I realized I’ve forgotten a very important part of the story. Yes, action is needed. We must take a step, must “get out of the boat” which undoubtedly can present challenges interiorly and exteriorly, physically and emotionally. What I tend to forget each day is what happens after we step toward Jesus. Matthew recounts that Jesus immediately catches Peter (and you and me) when we start to sink. Immediately. How much time does that leave for danger to occur?

When we are willing to step out toward God’s calling, every day we can choose to walk into any storm, whether big or small, dangerous or joyful, with the assured faith that if we start to sink, “immediately” we will be rescued.

 

 

Purposefully Waiting

By Melodious Monk 

As part of the memorial acclamation each morning at Eucharist, all the congregants say aloud together, “we await your coming in Glory.” Think about this phrase for a minute. If you were always keeping in mind that Jesus may come again today, wouldn’t you live the rest of this day differently?  I know I certainly would. 

From what I’ve read and been taught about the first disciples, they believed Jesus would be coming back very soon, probably in their lifetime.  Two Millennia later, I usually assume Jesus won’t be coming back to earth during my life. I figure it’s already been a long wait, so what’s another mere 60-70 years in God’s eyes. But what if he does come soon? How would I change my day if I might meet my Savior this afternoon or perhaps tomorrow morning at breakfast? 

It gives me reason to approach my day with more of a sense of purpose. I want to ask God questions like, “what do you want from me today, right now?” There’s a relief in trying to live this way, with giving up a sense of control. It’s a way to stay safe in the arms of someone who knew my life’s path even before I started living it.

Rocky_mountain

 

Choices

By Melodious Monk 

We are given so many choices everyday–what to wear, what to put in our coffee, what to read out of the newspaper, what to say or not say to others, whether to read the Bible or not. Millions of tiny choices all day long. 

I’ve been reading and re-reading the first chapter of James the last couple of weeks, and am amazed at how many verses feel like they were written just for me today. Perhaps it is an example of God’s limitless ability to not be bound by time or space; that some words written down so long ago can still have the power to infect us. 

James chapter one says, “If any of you is lacking wisdom, (for all those daily choices!) ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.”  James further explains his point: “for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” 

So today, like everyday, we have a choice to make, and in many ways a simple clear choice – Need wisdom?  Just ask!  Feeling like you’re in an emotional cyclone you can’t find the way out of?  Stop doubting and ask!  For the same truth still holds true nearly 2000 years after St. James lived: “Every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

photo (1)