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Sunday, July 13, 2014, 12:45 PM
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?
Sunday, July 6, 2014, 12:51 PM
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?
Sunday, June 29, 2014, 1:11 PM
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.
Monday, June 23, 2014, 12:29 PM
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.
Monday, June 16, 2014, 1:24 PM
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.