Friday, October 31, 2014

Pin God First -- November Challenge

Jennifer Dukes Lee has challenged her readers to a "Pin God First" challenge for the month of November. She'd found that with her iPhone by her bed, her prayer time for God at that waking time had been lost to playing with her iPhone.

I knew I had to read this before I left for work this morning because I have been struggling to not go to the computer first thing in the morning (that is, after getting dressed, feeding the dog and getting breakfast for myself to bring to the computer). My iPhone wouldn't last a second on my bedside table, it'd get lost amidst all the books. 

I read a catalog this morning in order not to be on the computer first thing. Normally, I pray to God during my commute, because I take a bus and I do tend to get off track in my prayers sharing my concerns to God. I think for me, the hook is getting caught up -- this need to know what's been happening in the world and in my family and friends' lives. For Jennifer it's a rollercoaster of emotions and has the negative effect that she is not enough (because she hasn't got a exotic vacation planned or whatever, read her blog for how it affects her.)

yes, this view.
I have fasted from the computer and have not missed it. You see, when I go on retreat, I get a spectacular view where I can sit in the early morning with a cup of tea and just be with God. I don't have a spectacular view at home, but I miss that time. So I'm hoping I get a new habit here -- although the day Daylight Savings departs? That's gonna be *hard*.

The challenge is doing lectio divina with Scripture quotes first thing in the morning, which involves reading a selection of scripture and listening to where God is speaking to you in it. 

I love lectio divina so I'm going to take this challenge on (and write about it too). However, I will take a more traditional approach to the lectio divina practice than what is listed over at Jennifer's site. There, it says to read it three times and respond to it.  I have learned a couple of different ways of lectio divina, but the one I come back to is:
  1. become present (via prayer, breathing, etc)
  2. read it (noting the phrase or word that leaps out), 
  3. read it again (ditto)
  4. read it a third time (ditto). The reading can be aloud, or silent. I've listened to meditations where it is read for me.
  5. Ponder why this word or phrase resonates -- what images and stories come up? (This is where any knowledge about the quote in context (audience, history of the time, what it might have meant to that audience to hear this) usually comes into play for me, but if I don't know, I don't got to look it up at this point.) Tell God about it.
  6. Listen to God's response (which means ceasing the chatter)
  7. Thank God for the time together.
  8. And at this point I usually journal and/or sketch something
If you would like to join in, head over to Jennifer's blog to download the printables.

I'll be blogging my reflections, as part of an accountability practice, but it might not be the whole journaling session, and it certainly won't be first thing in the morning -- 'cause that means getting on the computer! I'll also link back to Jennifer's reflections for the day. There are going to be days where I don't hear God, and I'll share those too.

You're welcome to join in -- and if you'd like the accountability but don't want to share how the session went, that's fine too!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

God's Love Stories .... lots of links

I'm not even sure why I'm calling these God's Love Stories, except that they point to God and us working toward God's kingdom here and near us.

Plus, there were a lot of really good links and I needed to close some tabs on my browser.

And to end with a delightful song written based on text between Jennifer and Joe Fulwiler about their kids. (I read Jennifer's blog Conversion Diary)

Anything you read lately (or written) that's impacted you?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Let's Get this Party Started: Blogging the Lectionary

This Sunday's lectionary readings are:
Isaiah 25:1-9
Psalm 23
Philippians 4:1-9
Matthew 22:1-14

The gospel is another parable about the kingdom of heaven, which Jesus is sharing in the temple. It's the wedding feast for the king's son. Invitations go out and are ignored, or excuses are made, or the messengers are even killed. The king does some killing right back, and invites anyone his slaves can find in the streets, those who wouldn't normally get invitations, to the wedding feast instead. Then this poor guy shows up, without a wedding robe and is cast into the outermost darkness as a result.

And I'm thinking, geeze, God, have a heart. It's not like he had time to go buy something to wear.

I really dislike this gospel, not just because it seems so damn unfair, but because it has resulted in some pretty huge atrocities against Jews. Christians do love to take things out of context. It's very judgemental, and seems to be focused on who gets in and who doesn't.

So what does one do when one doesn't like a gospel reading? Dig deeper.

According to the Jewish Annotated New Testament (a great resource for the mindset at the time), clothing often represented righteousness in the New Testament. OK, so that tells me we shouldn't be taking this quite so literally. Plus, the gospel points out it's a parable, which means it's a way of telling a deeper truth about the kingdom of God.

But is the deeper truth God slam dunking unprepared guests who arrive at the kingdom of God?

No. The deeper truth is not about what God does, but about what we do in response to God's invitation. I can't be alone in making my excuses not to participate in God's kingdom, or of choosing the busyness of work (or Pinterest) instead of enjoying the presence of God.

And "enjoying" is the key here.

This man without a wedding robe has turned up, but is not rejoicing in the wedding banquet.  As it says in Sunday's selection of Philippians:
"Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone." (Philippians 4:4-5)
The no-wedding-robe guy has arrived, but is not participating in the kingdom of God. He's not even happy to be there. In a sense, he's already in outer darkness.

The invitation to God's kingdom is extended to us all. Our response is to show up and rejoice in the Lord's presence.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

God's Love Stories .... post High Holy Days

So I got caught up in the combined overwhelm of High Holy Days and catching a dreadful cold and have neglected this blog for the last couple of weeks. I thought I'd reboot with a selection of interesting blog posts from the last month or so.

Sarah Bessey Fan Club (she wrote some amazing things this past month)

Other Worthy-of-Reading Posts