To Be a Pilgrim: Seeking God and Finding Christian Life

As I’ve been preparing to lead our group of youth and adult pilgrims to Banff this week, I have had the famous English hymn “To Be a Pilgrim” going through my head. Despite its 17th century protestant themes (it’s from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress of 1684), the hymn is useful for thinking about pilgrimage beyond the specific allegorical story for which it was composed. I think it is useful for meditation on the Christian life as pilgrimage from where we are to where God is.

When God puts words in your mouth: formation leads to proclaiming good news.

Some children know how to speak God’s truth early on. Some are more reticent, but I think the best Christian formation helps them to realize that God has known them since before they were born, and that God’s word is part of them, to be shared with the world in a unique way. Adults who have had the experience of growing up in the faith can help children to know God. Curricula help in Christian formation, and content matters, but relationships and the encounter with God matter more. Adults and children together can meet God and become prophets, apostles and teachers to others. They may not realize it, but God’s words are in them, right in their mouths, ready to come out when God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, calls them forth.

A multitude of camels

Oh, what a beautiful and comical image the prophet Isaiah gives us for the world’s response to the messiah coming in Israel. Multitudes of camels! How extravagantly the world will welcome him! Imagine if a multitude of camels arrived at your door. It would be a bit overwhelming and disorganized. That’s probably why our friend John Henry Hopkins Jr. trimmed the number down to three bearing his three kings of Orient for his famous Epiphany hymn. It is a bit overwhelming and a bit strange to imagine the camels, and presumably their riders, from three whole nations arriving to see “the glory of the Lord.” (Is. 60:1), but that is what the prophet says will happen.

Gratitude for God's care and the service of others.

This week I am grateful for the surprising ways that God takes care of us physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is a common theme in scripture to remind the people of God that their efforts are not what upholds the world and all living things, but God’s creating, sustaining and redeeming power. Our work as individuals, families and communities is all in response to God’s gift of our lives. It is this acknowledgement that everything belongs to God, including us, that makes care for others, service in the world and stewardship of resources and creation possible. Realizing that nothing we own or gain is ours opens us to a life that is less self-interested and more oriented toward service of others.

Sharing Worship, Seeking Christian Unity

This week’s collect is particularly suited to our ecumenical celebration of worship and friendship with Gaddiel Acquaah Memorial Methodist Church (GAMMC. We are celebrating Christian unity this week, and in the lesson from 1 Kings we hear Solomon proclaiming the greatness of God as he dedicates the temple he has built. In the collect, we pray: “Grant, O merciful God, that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your Name…” (Book of Common Prayer, p.232)

“Eat Me…Drink Me.” Jesus takes us to Wonderland.

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (John 6: 51)

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.” (John 5: 56)

If last weeks’ message about Jesus identifying himself as the bread from heaven, which is even better than the manna that God fed his people in the wilderness wasn’t strange enough, this is something entirely more difficult to understand. It is no wonder that Jesus’ listeners began to argue about what he meant and to reject his words. Jesus is setting himself up as a totally different kind of food than what they were used to getting from religion.

A Reflection on Mothers' Day!

Today we gladly offer warm Happy Mothers’ Day wishes to all mothers. This special celebration leads me to think about the great role that mothers play in passing on faith to their children. I realize that my own mom was instrumental in helping me develop a life of faith by her faithful instruction, but especially by her own authentic example.

A young man named Timothy, who lived a long time ago and became a Christian minister at a young age, was greatly influenced by his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother Lois—a little fact that we can all read about in the Bible in the Second Letter of Paul to Timothy, chapter 1, verse 5. St. Luke’s can even claim a founding-mother. St. Luke’s came to be thanks to the efforts of a woman, Aggie Finks, who began to serve children in our community with the zeal of a mother.  Happy Mothers’ Day to mothers everywhere! Effective mothers, grandmothers, and women who play mothers-like roles are treasured gifts to us all.

Good Shepherd Housing Facebook Campaign

This past Tuesday, I learned more about the continued efforts that Good Shepherd Housing and Family Services is doing to help others have a roof over their heads. An easy way to support the work of GSH this month is to LIKE their FB site. For each FB LIKE that GSH receives in February an anonymous donor will contribute $5 to GSH.