Archive for the ‘spirituality’ Category

Waiting is an Art

November 27, 2012

PLEASE NOTE:  This Advent season at Faith Lutheran we are using Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “God is in the Manger” devotional booklet for daily devotions and weekly sermon themes.  What follows has been taken from that booklet.


A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth… Isaiah 11:1-4a


Celebrating Advent means being able to wait.  Waiting is an art that our impatient age has forgotten.  It wants to break open the ripe fruit when it has hardly finished planting the shoot.  But all too often the greedy eyes are only deceived; the fruit that seemed so precious is still green on the inside, and disrespectful hands ungratefully toss aside what has so disappointed them.  Whoever does not know the austere blessedness of waiting – that is, of hopefully doing without – will never experience the full blessing of fulfillment.


Those who do not know how it feels to struggle anxiously with the deepest questions of life, and to patiently look forward with anticipation until the truth is revealed, cannot even dream of the splendor of the moment in which clarity is illuminated for them.  And for those who do not want to win the friendship and love of another person – who do not expectantly open up their soul to the soul of the other person, until friendship and love come, until they make their entrance – for such people the deepest blessing of the one life of two intertwined souls will remain forever hidden.


For the greatest, most profound, tenderest things in the world, we must wait.  It happens not here in a storm but according to the divine laws of sprouting, growing, and becoming.


Let us pray:  Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come.  By your merciful protection alert us to the threatening dangers of our sins, and redeem us for your life of justice, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.


Mark 1:21-28

September 26, 2011

“They went to Capernaum; and when the Sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.”  Mark 1:21-28


This past weekend here at church we celebrated the 25th anniversary of our Faith House ministry.  Faith House provides an affordable home away from home for people seeking long term treatment at the Texas Medical Center, just down the road a bit from the church. Church volunteers both staff and manage the facility. 


It stays full because many people come to Houston for medical treatment.  The M.D. Anderson Cancer Center is world renowned as a research and treatment facility.  People come here because it is known as the place to go.  It has authority based on both its track record and its reputation.


Jesus had neither when he entered the synagogue in Capernaum.  Although Nazareth wasn’t terribly far from Capernaum, it was far enough and the population immobile enough, that Jesus wasn’t a known quality. Yet, when given the opportunity to speak in the synagogue (picture a small group of people gathered for prayer and Bible study instead of a big official congregational gathering on Sunday morning), those gathered immediately sensed something different about Jesus.


He didn’t just quote what other smart and insightful scholars had said through the years, which would have been the way a scribe would teach.  He spoke directly about his understanding and personal experience of the faith.  He spoke with authority. 


Suddenly their conversation is disrupted by a man with an unclean spirit.  My first call was an urban church just off the main bus line.  It wasn’t terrible unusual for some rather unbalanced characters to make their presence known in church. While we always practiced good hospitality, welcoming them and doing our best to see that they had a good experience at church, I’ve never seen what Jesus did that day. He commanded the unclean spirit to go…and it went.


Authority is one thing.  What one does with the authority is another.  Jesus used his authority to do good in people’s lives. 


The unclean spirits, very aware of their goal of bringing pain into people’s lives, immediately sense how dangerous Jesus is.  For the religious leaders, still quite blind to the potential pain they are causing in people’s lives, it will take a little longer to realize the same thing.


Let us pray:  Dear Lord, there is a lot of pain in our world, even in our lives.  You are the Author of life and have authority over all that troubles us.  May we recognize that authority.  May we bring our hurts and cares to you.  May you use us to bring respite and hope to others.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.