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    Immigrant children are coming to Portland

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 1:22 PM [General]

    For the past several weeks we have watched the news reports of children from Central America coming into the United States.  The focus has been on the border.   Now some of these children are finding their way to Portland.  While there are people who are unwelcoming to these children who have left their homes and parents to escape violence, their coming close to our home gives us an opportunity to show hospitality.  There may be opportunities for us to volunteer to welcome them and help them settle into temporary living places.

    In any case this is an opportunity for us to demonstrate the attitude of Jesus, who said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” 

    We lift these children up in our prayers, Loving God, as you guided the Holy Family to Egypt to deliver the infant Jesus from violence and the threat of death, so you see these children coming to our cities.  Relive their suffering; grant them peace of mind, and renewed faith in your protection and care.  Protect us all from the violence of others, and restore all your children to tranquility and peace.  We ask this in through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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    Spiritual practice: Your Weakness and Your Strength

    Sunday, July 20, 2014, 12:35 PM [General]

    In one of Jesus’ parables,  wheat and weeds grow together.  At one stage they are indistinguishable.


    Sometimes our strengths--skills we have counted on to help us protect ourselves and achieve our goals--are also our weaknesses which cause us hardship in relationships and burden us with expectations. Conversely, sometimes our weaknesses are really our strengths.


    During this week make a list of your strengths.  Then ask of each one how is it also a weaknesses?  Do the same for your perceived weaknesses.  How are they also your strengths?


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    Spiritual practice: Hear the Parables for the First Time

    Sunday, July 13, 2014, 12:45 PM [General]

    The first people to hear Jesus’ parables heard them without any interpretation.  We think we know what the parable means because we have an interpretation, sometimes provided by the evangelists and sometimes provided through the centuries of Christian proclamation.


    Try to hear the parables for the first time.  For this week use the parable of the Sower and the Seed, Matthew 13:1-9.  One way to do this is to put the parable in a different context.  You can hear this parable when you are sitting in a meeting, driving down the street, or shopping at the supermarket.  What is the message of the  parable for you in each of these contexts?  


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    Spiritual Practice: Live like a child

    Sunday, July 6, 2014, 12:51 PM [General]

    In today's gospel, Jesus was thankful that “these things” were revealed to children. This is a variation of another saying of Jesus, “Unless you become like children, you cannot enter the kingdom.” Children have a marvelous capacity to accept what is, to revel in it, and enjoy the moment.

    In light of this lesson, I'm suggesting the following spiritual practice. For today, live like a child. If necessary make it an act. Exaggerate your ability to enjoy life. At the end of the day write in your journal about what happened that day. Would you like to live that way more often?

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    No Separate Self

    Sunday, June 29, 2014, 1:11 PM [General]

    Jesus said if someone receives you,

    they receive me,

    and if they receive me,

    they receive the one who sent me.

    This is Jesus’ way of reminding us that we are all connected.

    It is not a matter of saying,

    I am here,

    you are there,

    and God is outside of both of us.

    Jesus reminds us that we are not separate.

     

    During this week notice the places where you feel separated from another and notice the times when the distinctions blur and you feel that to serve another is really to serve yourself and to serve God.

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    Spiritual practice: Discernment

    Monday, June 23, 2014, 12:29 PM [General]

    The gospel lesson for yesterday included Matthew's encouragement for disciples to persevere in their commitment. My reflections lead me to ask, when to persevere and when to change course. I've written a spiritual practice to consider that question.

    Kenny Rogers sings about this spiritual practice: “You’ve got to know when to hold 'em; know when to fold ‘em.” All of us have made commitments or started a significant project only to come to a place where the going got rough. We had to decide whether to persevere or to cut loose and change course.

    During this week, especially if you are at one of those decision points, reflect the decision (either past or present) to stay the course or to turn away.

    Then pray a modified form of the serenity prayer: 

    Give me the wisdom to know whether to stay or turn
    And the courage to take action.

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    Spiritual practice: Speak up for Justice

    Monday, June 16, 2014, 1:24 PM [General]

    Yesterday was Peace with Justice Sunday in the United Methodist Church. I wrote my spiritual practice for the week with that in mind. I'm sharing it here with my Beliefnet friends.

    When you see or become aware of an injustice, speak up. Words carry their own power.

    To the best of your ability name the injustice and suggest a solution. Your words can take several forms--a prayer, a word in a conversation, a speech, a letter to congress, the president or someone in authority.

    *******
    I have recently published a collection of 52 spiritual practices at Amazon.com for Kindle readers.

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    Spiritual Practice: Experience the Invisible, Untouchable Spirit

    Monday, June 9, 2014, 2:40 PM [General]


    Spirit is invisible and untouchable. In the Scripture lessons for Pentecost Sunday, the writers spoke of visible things to make Spirit known. 
    the sound of a fierce wind 
    spiritual gifts visible in human action
    flames of fire 
    rivers of living water 

    Pay attention this week to how you experience Spirit--in sounds, in objects, in actions, in feelings?

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    Spiritual Practice: Be the Revelation of God

    Monday, June 2, 2014, 2:21 PM [General]

    Jesus revealed God by his deeds and presence.  Jesus prayed that we might be one with each other, with him and by extension with God.  In his absence, we take up the mission of Jesus to reveal God by our presence and our deeds.  Here are five specific ways you can reveal God this week:

    a compassionate eye

    a smiling face
    a warm heart

    loving words

    physical service


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    Spiritual Practice: Offer a blessing

    Sunday, May 25, 2014, 3:38 PM [General]


    Begin by asking for blessing for yourself: may I be happy; may I be free from suffering; may I have peace.

    Extend the blessing to your family and friends. You can bless them in person or you can bring them into your imagination and bless them. May you be happy; may you be free from suffering; may you have peace.

    Extend your blessing even further to those you don’t know very well or maybe don’t even know at all–a stranger on the street, a person you see in the newspaper or on the evening news.

    Extend your blessing to those you think of as enemies. In so doing, you are practicing the teaching of Jesus: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”

    Peace and Blessings!

    Bob

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