Thursday, December 29, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: Framing

Psalms 18:1-20 * 18:21-50; 2 Samuel 23:13-17b; 2 John 1-13; John 2:1-11

The Gospel writer we call John has provided us with a work of art. This Gospel is structured, created, planned and arranged in such a manner so as to resemble a masterpiece painting. Each verse, each story, each interaction is a brush-stroke illuminating and creating a whole piece.

Today's brush work brings us to the story of Jesus attending a wedding in Cana, where his mother is present. She knows him so well, that he can seemingly brush her off rudely and yet she knows he will do what she asks. John begins this account with the phrase "on the third day"....a relatively important phrase in the life and ministry of Jesus. At the beginning of John's Gospel the importance of "the third day" is emphasized. John has framed the Gospel, at the beginning here and at the end, with the significance of this third day. An artful piece of craftsmanship.

But within that frame, we have a story of Jesus being so well known that he can brusquely cast off a suggestion from his beloved mother, and yet go and do this changing of water into wine, because he is so well known.....with John once again framing the importance of wine to the greater masterpiece he is painting....water into wine here, and wine into blood later.....

It is easy to get lost in these "frames", these bookends, John is creating for us. But there is an important metaphor in this story too. The "well-knowing" factor....Mary knows Jesus so well that she is confident that he will do the right thing even though he acts as if he will not. How often in life have we seen this play out? How often have we been the main character in this story, where we are asked to do something, or we know we must do something, act childishly about performing whatever that task is, and then, when no one is looking, go ahead and do it...... We are known so well...... God knows us so well that we are given the gift of Jesus to remind us of that which we already know.....we are to build this kingdom here and now.....we are to work night and day in making it so......and although we may be quarrelsome about doing so, we are known by God so very well, that there is a confidence-building-quality to this relationship that we can and will do the right thing when faced with the challenges in life.

On the third day.....water and wine.....being so well known and loved......Some good things to think on as we approach the end of our secular year.
jfd+

Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo; The 35W Bridge, 2011, jfd+

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: Fast Paced

MP: Psalms 97, 98; Proverbs 8:22-30; John 23:20-35
EP: Psalm 145; Isaiah 44:1-8; 1 John 5:1-12

With Christmas carols still ringing in our ears, our Daily Office readings take us, today and yesterday, to the end of Jesus' life and well past his departure from earth. Today we remember and celebrate St. John, yesterday, Stephen. John, thought of as "the one whom Jesus loved" and Stephen, one of the first seven deacons in the church and one of the first martyrs. Christmas carols and a babe in a barn two days ago, and a snippet of the Passion narrative today, and the story of the founding and formation of the church after Jesus' ascension, yesterday. The folks who selected our lectionary are certainly whip-sawing our attention away from the birth narratives.

Is that dramatic shift a signal of the lack of importance of Christmas? Is this shift meant to take us out of the sappiness that can come from romanticizing God's lowly birth and remind us of his challenging ministry and life and death? On what do we focus this time of year?

God's taking human form, and living and being among us, as one of us, is not to be sentimentalized, but rather should force us to evaluate our past year's activities and accomplishments in being the change agent we are called upon to be as the Body of Christ in the world today. That seems to be part of the intent of the lectionary builders: to shock us out of our sentimentality and remember the work of building the kingdom we are called upon to be doing on a daily basis.

Fast paced, yes. But so is life. And there is a lot to do.
jfd+

Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Downtown Minneapolis from the Eastside, jfd+ 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: Specially Touched

Psalms 80 * 146, 147; 2 Samuel 7:18-29; Galatians 3:1-14; Luke 1:57-66

We are not often gifted a full week for this 4th week of Advent. Because of that, we don't often hear the story of John's birth to Elizabeth and Zechariah. We hear about his conception quite often, but not his bodily arrival in the world. Zechariah is mute until he writes his assent to Elizabeth's choice of name for the child, and then he cannot stop praising God: which terrifies those neighbors who have come to see this miracle child born to a couple in their old age. And we hear all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. All who heard them pondered them and said, "What then will this child become?" For, indeed, the hand of God was with him.

What, indeed, became of that child? Those expectations placed on his tiny shoulders, those glances and whispers from neighbors as he grew....no wonder he ended up in the wilderness, unfashionably dressed, proclaiming the coming of the kingdom founded by his cousin. John was specially touched by God and he lived into that call, at a cost.

We are all specially touched by God in unique and individual ways. We do not all honor those gifts, all the time. Many times these gifts, talents even, cause us to stand out in ways that make us uncomfortable. Or perhaps we utilize these gifts for our own purposes as opposed to, for the greater good. John's birth story reminds us of the responsibility to live into our gifts given us, whatever they may be, and joyfully utilize them for the building of the kingdom, the opening of which we celebrate on the 25th.
jfd+

Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Eros, 2006.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: Fourth Candle Lit

Psalms 61, 62 * 112, 113; Zephaniah 3:14-20; Titus 1:1-16; Luke 1:1-25

The beginning of Luke's Gospel is so different from the others. And today we have the beginning sentence and than the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth and Gabriel's first appearance, this time to Zechariah in the temple sanctuary. Zechariah has trouble believing and is struck mute, but that doesn't stop God's plan for this couple: the announcement of their son, John, and his work of preparation.

A number of things to take note of in this story: the comparison of Zechariah's response to Gabriel, and Mary's, which comes tomorrow (and was yesterday's Gospel in church). We should also note how Gabriel describes John's work: With the spirit and power of Elijah he (John) will go before him, (Jesus) to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Gabriel is saying that in order for us to be prepared for the Incarnation our hearts and our actions must be rightly directed. It is that complicated and simple, all this Advent work of preparation: whom do we love, for whom do we care? Ourselves or those to whom we are called to love and serve?

The last thing that strikes me this morning, is the long introductory (run-on) sentence Luke uses as preamble to this Gospel. He says he is providing an orderly account of things handed down from those who were actually eyewitnesses....So many people take these words, these "Gospel-truths", as literally coming from Jesus' mouth, written down contemporaneously with their being spoken. Here, at the beginning of this long and beautiful account of Jesus' life and ministry, we have the author saying "Hey, I've put this in an order that I think appropriate, from the stories past down to us and from my own research."

The "easy way" is to say Hey it's in the Gospel, the Bible says..... The better way is to read these holy texts with an understanding of their origins and build a conversation from that point.

A lot to take in this last week of Advent. All good and precious and loving work though.
jfd+

Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: An Advent "Wreath", 2011, jfd+

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: Hunger, Thirst, Strange, Naked, Sick, Imprisioned

Psalms 55 * 138, 139:1-17(18-21); Zechariah 8:9-17; Revelation 6:1-17; Matthew 25:31-46

The Gospel writer we call Matthew has Jesus say four times (!!) today that if we are to be true followers we need to dedicate our lives to feeding the hungry, making sure people are not thirsty, are not left alone to feel strange in a new environment, unclothed, uncared for when sick or forgotten in prison. Four times these "lesser thans" are cited as the focus of our mission and ministry. And it has to be said, we don't do a very good job about paying attention to these directives.

Our world would be such a different place were we to literally live into these instructions by Jesus. Our economic and sociological and cultural systems would be vastly changed. And because we live in a world (much like the one Jesus trod) that does not pay attention to the hungry, thirsty, lost, exposed, sick and imprisoned, these directions by Jesus as to what building the kingdom is like, seem impossible, and we can end up doing nothing because of the overwhelming nature of the job at hand.

If we looked at these individual groups, these outcasts of society, to which Jesus points as metaphors, what would that mean to our daily interaction with the world? Could all of these descriptors be considered a single metaphor for those who need to know the love that enters the world eight days hence, for which we have been preparing these past weeks of Advent? Are they hungry for this knowledge? Thirsty? A newcomer seeking to have that hunger and thirst quenched? Naked in their exposure to the desire to understand this belief that there is something more to life than the unfulfilling consumerism that surrounds us? Sick in their heart and life at the emptiness of much of our culture of selfishness? Imprisoned by that sickness?

What if we took today's Gospel account and thought about the joy and fulfillment we sing about on Christmas morning, and looked around at the newcomers present who are hungry, thirsty, naked, feeling strange and sick and imprisoned, and truly welcomed them? What kind of Christmas present would that be? Unwrap-able but joyous and fulfilling nonetheless. And a present that can be offered every day of the year.
jfd+

Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: The Stone Arch Bridge, 2011, jfd+

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: Are We Done Yet?

Psalms 119:49-72 * 49 (53); Zechariah 5:1-10; Revelation 4:1-8; Matthew 24:45-51

In our Gospel reading from Matthew this morning Jesus talks about being ready, about working and caring for those for whom we are responsible. He uses two examples: an individual who is "wise and faithful" and one who is "wicked." The wise and faithful one takes good and appropriate care, diligently working at the tasks at hand. The other, knowing the "master" is delayed, goofs off, mistreats people and purposefully hangs with the wrong crowd to have a good time. The latter will not be treated well in the end, Jesus says.

It seems that Jesus is being pretty simple and direct today. Continue in our work, the work of being the Body of Christ in the world today, building the kingdom Jesus opens for all of us. Be diligent and faithful and trustworthy. The rub is, the challenging part is, this work is never done. We are called to be doing this work constantly, always and everywhere. And the allure of the "drunkards" can be quite strong. We can easily ask: Aren't we done yet?

Jesus is being clear that we aren't ever done. And there can be, and there is, great joy in that knowledge, for the richness that imbues our life by this work of the kingdom far outweighs, by far outstrips, any of the transitory joys that hanging with the "drunkards" can bring.

For what are "drunkards" a metaphor in our individual worlds? What distracts us from our work being Christ's Body in this world?
jfd+

Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Stone Arch Bridge, 2011, jfd+

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: The Love of Many Will Grow Cold

Psalms 30, 32 * 42, 43; Haggai 2:1-9; Revelation 3:1-6; Matthew 24:1-14

A challenging reading in our Gospel selection from Matthew this morning. Jesus first predicts the utter destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. And then, in answer to the question "when," Jesus gives warnings about false leaders, and torture and death to believers, and rampant lawlessness causing the hearts of many to grow cold. He holds out a carrot, though, to those who persevere: salvation. He never directly answers the timing question.

Matthew was writing after the fall and destruction of Jerusalem, to a community under siege on all sides. They were living, what to them felt like (and was), an apocalyptic existence. The world as they knew and understood it had ended. What could their life be like without those familiar constructs around them?

We turn the midway-point-corner in Advent tomorrow. Today's reading is an excellent one on which to reflect what the Incarnation means to us, to our world. Jesus' presence here was meant to be, and continues to mean to be, apocalyptic: we are a people who must live, and be a model of, change.

And change scares almost everyone, particularly in church-land where everything that has been done must be repeated or "it's not my church anymore." The truth is, it was never our church: it was, is and will continue to always be, God's church. We are stewards for a short period of time.

We all can have a penchant for control and many times church is that place where we think we can place some structure around an unstructured life. If we are honest with ourselves, and with this concept of "church," than we can and should admit to ourselves that those control-mechanisms we are enforcing on an institution that is not ours, are actually strangling it, and are anathema to the definition of its existence. Those enforced structures are examples of our not being good stewards.

Jesus says that people's love will grow cold because of abounding lawlessness. For what is lawless a metaphor in our existence in our intentional communities? Could our resistance to change, and our insistence that all remain the same as it always has been, be lawlessness? Isn't the very nature of Jesus, of the Incarnation we are preparing for this Advent, the very definition of apocalyptic change? How do we let go of the comfort-of-the-familiar and live into the unknown of the future?
jfd+

Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: St. Anthony Falls, Minneapolis, MN, 2011.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: Justice, Mercy, Faith v. Mint, Dill, Cummin

Psalms 37:1-18 * 37:19-42; Amos 9:1-10; Revelation 2:8-17; Matthew 23:13-26

"Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'Whoever swears by the sanctuary is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gold of the sanctuary is bound by the oath.'"

"And you say, 'Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gift that is on the altar is bound by the oath.."

"Woe to you, for you tithe mint, dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith......You blind guides."

Jesus is in full-bore-attack-mode against the scribes and the Pharisees in today's selection from the Gospel of Matthew. In regard to the sanctuary gold, he says which is greater, the gold or that which makes the gold sacred. In regard to the altar he asks which is greater, the gift on the altar or that which makes the gift sacred. In regard to tithing, Jesus is demanding that we set our priorities in the correct order.

We can so easily become those blind guides because of the pressures of the world in which we live. Today's forceful reading is a sharp reminder to us that as the Body of Christ in the world today, we are called to dwell in that which is truly holy and sacred and not be distracted by, enticed by, made desirous for those things that are not holy and sacred in and of themselves. Today's reading from Matthew asks us to reflect on our priorities, our wants, our desires, and challenge ourselves about whether those are things that help in the kingdom's creation.

A hard lesson at this time of rampant consumerism rampaging all around us, getting ready for the celebration 17 days hence.
jfd+

Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Art: At the Gloaming, jfd+, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: You Are Wrong

Psalms 25 * 9, 15; Amos 7:1-9; Revelation 1:1-8; Matthew 22:23-33
The Sadducees question Jesus about resurrection in today's Gospel selection from Mark. Jesus tells them plainly, and quite bluntly, that they are wrong. The Sadducees considered themselves the guardians of the law, the strict constructionists, so to speak. And Jesus tells them that they are trying to put God in a box, Scripture in a tidy little box, making both clear and understandable and simple. God and Scripture are none of those things.

In Holy Women, Holy Men today, we remember Clement of Alexandria, a 2nd Century theologian, thought to be a "liberal" because of his fight against Gnosticism, and his belief in non-literal interpretation of Scripture. Gnostics, generally speaking, believed there was secret knowledge about God and Jesus, available only to a few. Clement pointed out that they were seeking salvation from the world, while Jesus and Scripture is all about salvation of the world. Two very different theological constructs. The gnostics could be considered the Sadducees of their day.

Where are we falling into gnostic believes, seeking salvation from, as opposed to of the world? In this season of Advent, where we are seeking a quiet place in our heart for the love coming into the world in the form of a babe in a manger, where are we being too literal? Where do we need to be more open in our hearts, minds and souls, allowing that unfathomable love a place to enter?
jfd+

Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: Hypocrites, Caught

Psalm 20, 21:1-7(8-14) * 110:1-5(6-7), 116, 117; Amos 5:18-27; Jude 17-25; Matthew 22:15-22

The Pharisees set out to trap Jesus, sending folks who work for them, along with representatives of the Roman hierarchy, to Jesus in our Gospel selection from Matthew today. They set themselves up for failure. Sending folks who work for them along with the hired guns of the Romans, and then ask if payment of taxes to the conquerers is okay, is a bit of a set up for not succeeding.

And Jesus sees the obvious, calls them hypocrites, quite deservedly, and then gives an answer worthy of volumes of reflection. Looking at a Roman coin with the depiction of the emperor emblazoned on it, Jesus says Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's. This simple statement sums up so much of what Jesus has been trying to teach in Matthew: a different world view of what is important, of what we should be focused on while living into being the Body of Christ in the world today.

In this season of Advent, as we prepare ourselves, once again, for the celebration of God coming among us as fully human and fully divine, on what are we focused? Are we caught up in something that would be better set aside? Are worried about "what to get (fill-in-the-blank)" as opposed to considering giving a gift that will actually last? What can we focus on this day that will bring the coming celebration of the Incarnation more relevant for us, more personal, more real.
jfd+

Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: Short Cuts & Easy Answers

Psalms 5, 6, * 10, 11; Amos 3:1-11; 2 Peter 1:12-21; Matthew 21:12-22

A full and rich Gospel selection from Matthew today. Jesus "cleanses" the temple courtyard. He heals the blind and the lame. Children cry out praises to him, which draws the attention and ire of the temple officials. Jesus responds to that ire by saying perhaps they need to listen to the truth coming from infants. And we have the story of the fig tree made to wither for its lack of fruit and the value Jesus places on faith. A lot to take in today.

One of the things that attracts attention is Jesus and the temple clearing: the money-changers and those who sold doves chased from the temple. These people traded in currency, allowing people to more easily fulfill their "obligations" around the temple tax and worship. Making things easier undermines the point of worship and the point of sacrificing something to God. The "first fruits" tagged for honor to God had been cheapened down to meaning nothing, and is behind Jesus' outrage at what is transpiring in the central house of worship for the people of Israel. This stark and strong reaction of Jesus is meant to highlight for us the importance of not looking for short cuts in our faith, in our understanding....to not settle for easy answers to the complexities and mysteries of our faith.

Struggling with, thinking about, studying, having conversations about, praying with others about God's ready involvement in our lives is part of what Jesus' cleansing of the temple courtyard should direct our attention. Short cuts and easy answers are not the way to a more full and rich faith-life.
jfd+

Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: Cloaks & Branches & Hosannas

Psalms 1, 2, 3 * 4, 7; Amos 2:6-16; 2 Peter 1:1-11; Matthew 21:1-11

For the next three weeks we will be traveling with Jesus through Matthew's Passion narrative. In the fourth week of Advent we will be gifted the birth narratives of Jesus as presented by Luke. For now, we walk a challenging path, these first weeks of Advent.

Jesus enters Jerusalem today, riding a colt and/or a donkey, Matthew doesn't specify which one he is riding. Cloaks are spread on both animals and on the road in front of Jesus. Freshly cut branches, too, are placed on the ground, making for a grand and crunchy entrance, accompanying the sung Hosannas to the proclaimed king.

These praise-filled people disappear over the course of the Passion narrative, leaving Jesus to die on Calvary hill, accompanied by a faithful few. Excitement and expectation in this story lead to a resounding silence. What expectations have we established that have gone in a completely different direction? In hindsight, what should have been those expectations and how would have that changed landscape altered our life and our experiences?

Something hard, but important, to think on this first Monday, this first week of Advent.
jfd+

Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Provincetown Harbor, 2006.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: Last Day of the Church Year

Psalms 137:1-6(7-9), 144 * 104; Micah 7:11-20; 1 Peter 4:7-19; Matthew 20:29-34

We end our church calendar year today with a Gospel reading from Matthew. Jesus is headed toward Jerusalem and has just passed through Jericho. On leaving the town two blind individuals shout out their belief in Jesus' ability to help them. They persist through attempts at hushing them and Jesus stops and asks them what they want.

He asks them what they want. An auspicious reading as we enter Advent and the Holiday season. What do we want? World peace? The end of hunger and poverty and socio-economic and cultural inequality? Peace of mind and heart and soul? The end of loneliness? Cures for untreatable illnesses? A way out of difficult situations in which we find ourselves? A way forward in a challenging relationship? What would we ask for if presented with an opportunity to respond to Jesus asking us What do you want me to do for you?

The two outside of Jericho asked that their eyes be opened. For what do we need to have our eyes opened? What blinders can we remove through prayer, and asking God for help, so that we can see anew? How do we get fresh eyesight for a new church calendar year?
jfd+

Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: VTS, 2004, jfd+

Friday, November 25, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: Even Them

Psalms 140, 142 * 141, 143:1-11(12); Isaiah 24:14-23; 1 Peter 3:13-4:6; Matthew 20:17-28

In Matthew's Gospel today, we have the twelve disciples acting "badly." Jesus tells them, again, about the coming Passion (the betrayal, trial, torture, death and resurrection) and immediately two of them come forward with their mother asking to be treated in a more special fashion then the ten others who have been traveling along with Jesus. Those other ten get pretty pissed off at these two seeking better treatment, and Jesus, quite gently, upbraids all of them for their self-centeredness, ending with what many believe is a thesis statement for the Gospel of Matthew: the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Matthew is showing that even those who had been closest to Jesus could fall victim to the "me, me, me" syndrome - thinking and caring more about our own aggrandizement than the betterment of the world around us. The whole of Jesus' ministry is an example of being self-less, not self-ish. Reaching out and caring for, correcting, leading by example are ways in which Jesus chose to live his life and live out his ministry.

What one thing can we do today that will emulate this self-less aspect of being the Body of Christ in the world today? We can start small, helping us to make the "-less" our habitual response as opposed to the "-ish" when we think about "self" and how we operate in the world.
jfd+

Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: Thanksgiving Day, 2011

MP: Psalm 147; Deuteronomy 26:1-11; John 6:26-35
EP: Psalm 145; Joel 2:21-27; 1 Thess 5:12-24

Growing up, Thanksgiving was my mother's side of the family's turn, descending on our house for cocktails and a huge meal. 3:00 in the afternoon was the appointed arrival time and I can remember waking up to the sounds and smells of cooking coming from the kitchen, Mom and Dad being up early to start the prepartions: turkey in the oven early, pealing potatoes, cutting turnips (hard to do!), pealing onions, setting the table, cleaning the house, getting appetizers ready and the bar prepped, moving furniture around in the living room and dining room so everyone could fit. All this going on with the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade on in the background, phone calls from relatives unable to make the get-together but wanting to be there in spirit, and eventually the string of football games, in the background, that pervade this day.

A tremendous amount of food and work, all given in thanks, although it took me a long while to figure that out. Growing up, this day was all about family, and of course eating. Historically this day has its roots in traditions from early settlers of this country, and their thanksgiving for the success of their harvests. As we have matured, our understanding of those settlers' actions, and our own country's treatment of those who were here before us and were aggressively pushed out of our forbearers' way, has helped in making this holiday more about family then thanksgiving for harvest. In addition, our society and culture have moved beyond our agrarian past, allowing these traditions, like today's, to continue on, with different meanings for many.

Our faith journey can very much mirror this maturing of how we understand this national holiday. Many start their faith lives with a literalist understanding of our faith. Some never leave the seeming comfort of that simplistic approach. Many simply walk away because they believe, and have been told, that there is no other way to have faith and belief in our Triune God. Yet there is a far richer understanding, a deeper conversation that can alter how we see, appreciate and understand Scripture and our faith. Almost any kind of literalistic approach in life shutters us from deeper perceptions and meanings and these narrow understandings quite often lead to abusive treatment and the creation of barriers between people.

We can give thanksgiving for complexity, and the richness seeming contradictions give our lives and our faith. We can give thanksgiving for a God whose very complexity begs us to live into the richness of a life-long conversation with each other about these scriptural contradictions, with our Triune God right in the middle of all those discussions.

Happy Thanksgiving.
jfd+

Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: P-Town Harbor, 2006, jfd+


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: Teaching All Ages, Always

Psalms: (120), 121, 122, 123 * 124, 125, 126, (127); Nathum 1:1-13; 1 Peter 1:13-25; Matthew 19:13-22

In Matthew today, a number of little children are being brought to Jesus, the disciples try and chase them away, probably thinking to protect him, and Jesus tells them to let the little ones come to him. This is immediately followed by a young man asking how to be holy, even though he already keeps all the teachings Jesus tells him he must in order to be holy. Jesus then gives him more: to sell all his possessions, give them to the poor and then follow along after him. The young individual leaves Jesus' presence "grieving" because he has many possessions.

Jesus is good for all age groups, all generations, all genders. He is willing to teach his disciples (constantly), young children (always), young adults. Jesus gives life lessons on how to create the kingdom, here and now among us, which all individuals, no matter age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, income level, can benefit and learn. Today he teaches his disciples by word and example how to treat and be involved with children, their parents, each other and those seeking to be members. Children, he lays his hands on publicly and blesses; disciples, he says let them come, they will not be a bother to me; wealthy and religious minded, we are never done being asked to do and give more. We are never too old or too young to learn what it means to be one of his disciples.

No matter what "time zone" are we in, what can we learn from Jesus today?
jfd+

Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Art: Untitled Cross, 2009, jfd+

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Daly Office Reflection: Care and Forgiveness

Psalms 107:33-43, 108:1-6(7-13) * 33; Isaiah 65:17-25; Revelation 22:14-21; Matthew 18:21-35

Yesterday, Jesus instructed his followers to care for a "child." This word in Greek can be translated as child, little one, young one. Many believe Matthew was using a wider definition than a youth when he wrote this Gospel, that he was saying Jesus' instruction was for people young/early in their faith journeys. With this in mind, what follows, Jesus talking about a lost sheep and the effort to find that lost one, offense given by a member of the community and actions involved in bringing them home, and the important words "where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them," make far more sense. (Notice the "I am" in the quoted phrase, I am being the Hebrew word for God.)

Today, Peter asks about forgiveness and Jesus says we must live in that state, be generous beyond our understanding in having a compassionate heart that bleeds forgiveness. Yesterday's selection from Matthew, and today's, are of one developing piece. We are to care for those new in the faith, patiently helping them develop, finding them when they are lost and rejoicing at their coming back into the fold, have a forgiving nature, and always remember that God is in the middle of all that we do when we are acting out our faith.

It is so important to step back, and look at the broader picture being given to us in our Gospels. To see the larger pattern of what Jesus is weaving for us is a vital part of our charge as being his Body in the world today. As we walk through this coming week, and approach the close of this church calendar year and enter a new one a week from tomorrow with the beginning of the Season of Advent, taking a step back and seeing the whole, and not just parts of our faith, can help each of us in caring for ourselves and others and appropriating for ourselves a nature of forgiveness.
jfd+

Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: Unless You Change

Psalms 105:1-22 * 105:23-45; Maccabees 4:1-25; Revelation 21:22-22:5; Matthew 18:1-9

Who is the greatest in God's kingdom, the disciples asked Jesus in Matthew today. Jesus tells them that they must change, be child-like, be humble, unknowing, welcoming the seeker, not mis-directing people who are seeking. Probably the hardest of all of these is the first three words Jesus starts with: unless you change. Many times we want to change, be different, and yet we end up being the same, doing the same things.

Certainly the weight-loss industry has figured that out. Most studies show that when we lose weight, the majority of people end up putting the weight back on, and then some, in a rapid period of time after stopping the "program". Many of us revert back to our old habits, which caused the weight to be packed on in the first place. We change for a while, but then we stumble back to where we started, perhaps because we really didn't want to change in the first place.

Jesus tells us today that there will be stumbling blocks for us in the building of the kingdom. He says for stumbling blocks are bound to come. That does not mean those difficulties have to be our undoing. Persistence, creating a new way of living, prayer and belief in our own ability to actually be different, are all part of the complicated equation of actually living into change. One of the things Jesus is driving at today is the concept of community verses individuality. Perhaps not being concerned about whether we are better than the other, but instead seeing our efforts as part of a greater whole can make change easier: taking the ego, the I, out of the equation.

Change is possible. Being humble, welcoming and kingdom-focused are all possible. Not a foregone conclusion or easy, but they are in the cards for us should we desire to work with the hand we are dealt. Helping in the creation of this kingdom is worth that effort, for we are changing our piece of the world by that work.
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Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Art: Four Fold Action, Panel Three: Broken, jfd+ 2008

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: Our Mountains, Moved

Psalms 97, 99 (100) * 94, 95; Maccabees 3:25-41; John 21:1-8; Matthew 17:14-28

In Matthew today, Jesus cures an epileptic child and then tells the questioning disciples that due to their little faith, they were unable to perform this healing. He concludes by saying that with the faith the size of a mustard seed they can make mountains move, that "nothing will be impossible for you."

Now, I don't know how many of us have ever tried to will Mount McKinley out of our way, but if we had, we would have found that no matter how much faith we have, that beautiful heap of rock isn't going anywhere, soon. So, instead of looking at this teaching by Jesus literally, what might we consider a stand-in for this seemingly immoveable mountain? What in our life seems to be an impossible task, but through prayer and faith can actually be accomplished?

That's the thing about prayer and faith, impossible things become probable things. We can learn how to approach them with a different attitude, a new focus, a re-imagined and creative way of reaching a goal thought out of our grasp. We can, so often, decide that we do not want to even bother trying to explore new avenues, to find a way to an imagined goal that appears too hard to accomplish. This is understandable, as we are creatures of habit, because the familiar can make us feel as if we are secure, comfortable. But that feeling is quite often a self-delusion. By saying we can move mountains, one of the things Jesus is saying is that residing in our familiar security can box us in to not finding a way to do those things that seem impossible. It thwarts creativity and the movement of the Spirit in our lives.

How do we think outside the box today and move toward a goal that prior to the shift of our focus, seemed an impossibility?
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Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Art: Incomplete Wet Feet, 2010, jfd+

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: And Then, Sometimes, Maybe, Not So Right

Psalms 87, 90 * 136; Maccabees 2:1-28; Revelation 20:1-6; Matthew 16:21-28

Yesterday, Peter gets it right. A few verses later, in today's Gospel selection, he steps in it, yet again and Jesus confronts him with his error. Sometimes we get it right, sometimes, stemming from a place of fear, we can get it wrong.

Jesus tells the disciples what awaits him at the end of the journey: his Passion and coming Resurrection. And Peter pulls him aside, saying, Hey, cut that out, we've just told you that we believe that you are the Messiah, and now you tell us this!? And Peter gets dressed down by Jesus for missing the change in course that Jesus' life and ministry means to the world. And the iconic words about taking up crosses, and gaining the whole world but losing life are spoken.

Peter is not tossed into the outer darkness for reacting to difficult news in a manner for which Jesus did not care. We know he continues on with Jesus and becomes the de facto leader of the apostles. Mistakes happen. We can learn from them, even when we have been publicly dressed down. We're all human, frail and faulty, and at the same time capable of amazing leaps of progress.

We need to remember to be patient with each other. Lovingly correcting one another when we stray, and at the same time being able to be embraced and move forward into the creation of this kingdom Jesus has prepared for all of us. Really good news this morning.
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Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Art: Me @ 48, jfd+ 2009

Friday, November 11, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: Right Answers

Psalm 8 * 91, 92; Maccabees 1:41-63; Revelation 19:11-16; Matthew 16:13-20

Sometimes in life we just get it right. We don't know from where our correct answer or attitude or response comes, but we know from somewhere deep within ourselves that this is just right. And hindsight proves us correct, making those instantaneous decisions all the more poignant.

Peter gets it right today. The Peter who so often in Scripture is portrayed as the lumbering, doddering and dense individual answers Jesus with ten words: You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. And Jesus, in his response seems to be leaping for joy: You Got It! And then, of course, Jesus tells them to be quiet and not spread the news of this revelation. The latter is for another time, but Jesus' joy at Peter's gut response always makes me smile, for Peter, who has been with Jesus from very early on in his ministry and travels, gets it. Gets what Jesus is at some very personal level, spoken without deep thought or reflection: Peter just knows and says what he believes.

When I am painting or writing, if I over-think, or try to be too technical, when I am done and step back and look at what I have wrought, I usually find that I say: well it's good (or perhaps rotten), but it looks too labored over, not natural enough. For those pieces of art where I allow myself to simply "do it", get the image in my head on canvas or paper, allow that deep inner voice to direct my hand, eye, paint and brush choice, technique to utilize, just respond and do....when I step back, I have almost always been pleased with the result.

It seems that in this account of Peter's speaking a response to Jesus' question about his identity, Jesus is asking all of us to listen to and trust that deep seed of knowledge. To trust that God is in that gut-response, that natural-response. We can over-think later.
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Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Art: Crosses, jfd+ 2007

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: Widening a Narrowed Vision

Psalms 78:1-39 * 78:40-72; Nehemiah 9:26-38; Revelation 18:9-20; Matthew 15:21-28

How often in life do we set a course for ourselves, put our blinders on, and keep going in the direction we believe is the appropriate one for us to be heading? When we do this, and we do not keep a wider view of the world as part of our journey, we can easily miss important things along the way.

Jesus isn't very nice today. He is dismissive and insulting to the Canaanite woman begging for him to help her daughter. His disciples are annoyed by her chasing after them, begging for help, as opposed to allowing her pleas to enter into their hearts. This strong woman does not allow this inappropriate behavior by Jesus, enabled by his disciples, to continue. She challenges Jesus, tearing off those blinders that he has set on his face, making him hear and see her. And he does. By stopping, enlarging his view, he is continuing the widening of his mission that is a developing story-line in Matthew.

Believing something so strongly is laudable and important, but not if we lose sight of the wider perspective of a world in need of our leadership, guidance, support and attention. Who are we going to pass by today because we are to pre-occupied with our own issues and dilemmas? Would it be possible for us, today, to stop for one of those many we chose to ignore and widen our perspective, and theirs, just a bit?
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Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: High Tide from Unit 2, 2006, jfd+

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: Tempests Surrounding

Psalms 75, 76 *23, 27; Ezra 9:1-15; Revelation 17:1-14; Matthew 14:22-36

In our Gospel reading today we have Jesus caring for the five thousand, sending them on their way, telling the disciples to get in their boat and go ahead of him, and caring for himself by praying. And then, and then the walking on water and the calming of the disciples' fear and the raging storm takes place.

What if we were to think of this latter part of this portion of today's selection from Matthew's Gospel as metaphor. There is no one in this world who has not had some tumult in their life. Perhaps those tempests arise from unemployment or under-employment. Perhaps from a fracturing or ended relationship. Perhaps from sickness or the death of a loved one. Perhaps from loneliness or the sense that we have no one to care about us. Perhaps those rough waters arise from disagreements or arguments or unfaithfulness or betrayal. From wherever they arise, this account of Jesus in Matthew can be a basis from which we can find a way to live through those tempests.

By allowing Jesus and an intentional Christian community to be at the center of our lives, we can find a way to calm our fears and live a life that allows us to find a way through those raging seas. With Jesus' presence at the center of us, and the intentional community with whom we are sharing our lives there too, we can weather whatever storms rage around us. We can find a strong anchor to keep us safe and provide the necessary balance and strength to face all that comes our way.

This reading, that so many scoff at, is truly one that we should permit to inform how we approach all of life's situations that can rise up that seemingly try to frighten us and take us off our intended trajectory. Having trust in Jesus and the support of our intentional community can help us to deal with all that comes and find a way to calmer waters.
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Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Welcoming a New Rector, 2011, jfd+

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: Challenging Our Concerns

Psalms: (70), 71 * 74; Ezra 7:(1-10),11-26; Revelation 14:1-13; Matthew 14:1-12

"The king was grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he commanded it be given; he sent and had John beheaded in the prison."

Our lives can be so complex. Our emotions and what drives us to do what we do can be simple as well: complicated and at the same time, simple. John the Baptist had been criticizing Herod for sleeping with his brother's wife, so Herod had him thrown in prison. At a seemingly wild party, his mistress/sister-in-law had her daughter perform, what I am guessing was, a provocative dance for Herod and the assembled guests. In joyful exuberance, he congratulates her saying, "what can I grant you for such an arousing performance," and she, having been primed, asks for John's head. And then Matthew gives us the quoted text above where Herod's concerns lie with being embarrassed in front of the assembled crowd in regard to an oath given when, more than likely, he was not really "thinking with his brain."

What drives us when we are making decisions? How often does pride, concern about our position/standing/perception in society enter into that process? Which is more important, that place we occupy in the minds of others, or the value of another's well being? Easier to ask than to truly answer.......
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Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Creativity in Waiting, 2010, jfd+

Monday, October 31, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: Close Ribbons

Psalms 56, 57 (58) * 64, 65; Nehemiah 6:1-19; Revelation 10:1-11; Matthew 13:16-43

The ribbons marking the readings for Year One and Year Two in my Contemporary Office Book are getting mighty close together. We are at the beginning of the week of Proper 26....the Church calendar year only goes through Proper 29......The turning of the Church year is nigh! Advent is fast approaching.

Advent comes early this year, starting the Sunday after Thanksgiving, as Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, pushing everything earlier by a week. All this, making our ribbons coming closer, earlier. I wonder, as we are in the middle of Matthew's Gospel, where Jesus is doing a good deal of explaining in regard to the meaning behind the parables he is telling, if Jesus knew that his time was growing shorter, making the data-dump of knowledge and understanding he wanted to pass over to his disciples more urgent. If he felt pressure to turn the minds of those disciples from the Pharisees' teachings, to his own.

As we approach the holiday season, the changing of the clocks, making it brighter earlier, and darker earlier, and the craziness that all the end of year busy-ness can induce, we can be challenged to be open to what Jesus is trying to impart to us. As the accelerator of society's pressure gets pushed down, and the looming events start approaching quicker and quicker, we are reminded that the Kingdom Jesus is pointing us toward, leading us to, is something about which our wondering can help slow the pace of the craziness that surrounds us. This slowing down can allow us to remember that which is truly important about the coming days.
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Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: 2010, jfd+, Dark Magic.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: Redefining

Psalms 41, 52 * 44; Zechariah 1:7-17; Revelation 1:4-20; Matthew 12:43-50

Jesus has been immersed in a heated conversation with the Pharisees and scribes in our readings from Matthew the past few days. They have accused him of getting his authority and power from Beelzebul. Jesus in turn has called them a brood of vipers, that they should learn from the story of the people of Nineveh, and that they represent an evil and adulterous generation. Pretty heated words back and forth. And today Jesus finishes with his chat with the scribes by saying that attempts to clean "their house" has proved fruitless. He is then told his mother and brothers are outside and can't get in to see him. Jesus redefines who his family is, by pointing to his disciples and saying anyone, anyone who follows him and helps make God's kingdom a reality now is part of his immediate family.

I have always felt sorry for Jesus' mother and brothers being utilized by Jesus as a metaphor of what Jesus opens up to all of us. Were they insulted? Hurt? Disappointed when they heard Jesus point to others and say "here is my family"? We know that his family stayed with him to the bitter end, with his mother watching him die on the cross, and his brothers becoming leaders in the post-resurrection communities that developed following those bitter and magnificent events. So, taking these words too literally, as with all things scriptural, can get us immersed in a barrel of sour pickles.

By redefining who his family is, Jesus is telling us to rethink all of our definitions, reshape our world view of who and what "church" is meant to be, who can be included, who is "in". Narrowly constructing our world, our ability to be accepting, is anathema to the point at which Jesus is driving. Just as Jesus didn't disown his mother and immediate family by his declarations today, he also widened the definition of who is part of this church family being established by his presence on earth. Widened to include everyone. A place where all are equal, all are understood to be made in the image of God and need to be equally loved. All being granted the same rights, no matter: the color of a person's skin, the color of their eyes, from where they arrived, their socio-economic position in society, their gender, the person they love.

All are part of this redefined world, all are equal and deserving of the same rights as the one standing next to them, all focused on our God-head, Jesus, at the center of who we are as a people.
jfd+

Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Christopher & Scott's Wedding, 2011.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: Hope and Justice

Psalms: 37:1-18 * 37:19-42; Ezra 1:1-11; 1 Cor 16:1-9; Matt: 12:15-21

In Matthew today we hear that in Jesus' name there is hope and that his presence on earth will change the world and "bring justice to victory." (This is a paraphrase from Matthew, who juggled other scriptural writings to bring this point to light.) Two questions come to mind this morning: who decides what is justice and victory; and what is the point of hope.

So much of life can seem to be unfair, unjust. Society and our culture seems to have a skewed understanding of justice, of victory. Is it quashing, smushing down to pulp, everyone who disagrees with us? Is justice murdering those who themselves have murdered? Is justice and victory winning at all costs? Being the best, the highest paid, having the biggest home, or homes, the most expensive car(s), and at what cost? At the cost of not caring for others? Having smaller, "more efficient" work forces so as to pay large bonuses to a few? Is justice chasing an unsustainable system for as long as it can hold out?

Where do we find hope? We can be inspired by the words and the mission and ministry of Jesus. We can alter how we approach the world, view society, interact with those to whom we are blessed to come in contact, and not only provide ourselves a centered place of hope in Christ, but infect others with that same radical hope. And from that place of God-centered hopefulness, we can and we have to continue to chip away at the unfairness that surrounds us, the unjust treatment we see all around us, helping to lead this newly defined "justice to victory".

This seems to be part of what all those individuals who are "occupying" various centers of power are trying to articulate. They are trying to find a means of bringing about change; all the while, the corporate-owned media is trying to define, put in a box and narrowly define something that is a much larger and more complicated issue. These "occupiers" seem to be trying to redefine justice, victory and hope. Redefine what it means to be a society where all are equal. To put it in the context of our Gospel: where all can share in the wideness that is God's love.

There is hope and justice and victory in our world. Perhaps just not the way our corporate-centered society presently defines those principles.
jfd+

Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: VTS Chapel Remains, 2010.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: St. Luke

MP: Psalm 103; Ezekiel 47:1-12; Luke 1:1-4
EP: Psalms 67, 96; Isaiah 52:7-10; Acts 1:1-8

Today is the feast day of St. Luke the Evangelist. St Luke holds a special place in my understanding of Christianity. A church in NYC, which was the place of a new-found, re-discovered faith for me, was named after this physician: a place where I found God again. This long and complex Gospel is also one that speaks to me at a number of different levels.

We have the beginning of the Gospel of Luke and the beginning of the Book of Acts as part of today's readings. (The latter is much disputed amidst and amongst Biblical scholars as to whether the author of Luke also authored Acts, but that is for another blog to sort out.) Luke is quite clear at the beginning of his Gospel that he is leaning on many other sources and is creating an account that more fully fleshes out the life, ministry and revelation that is Jesus Christ. He admits, freely and fully, that he was not an eyewitness, but he is utilizing their information to write his "orderly account."

Luke began his adult life as something different than where he ended up: a physician that somehow came under the tutelage and eventually a disciple of Paul. A doctor becomes disciple becomes author/prophet. We can all become afraid of change, concerned that we have set a life-course and cannot alter its trajectory. The life of the individual whose feast day is today should help inspire us, and give us the courage, to set off on new paths when we feel God's call to move in a new direction. Those changes are not failures. Those past decisions and experiences are not mistakes. They have aided us in becoming who we now are, and our present decisions will help us form ourselves into who we can and must become. A re-purposing, so to speak, like a rail-bridge, fallen into disuse, made into a walking and bike trail.

Luke's life and work can help us ask: where are we called to next? And with confidence take the first step in that direction.
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Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Stone Arch Bridge, Minneapolis, 2011, jfd+

Monday, October 17, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: Wisdom's Deeds

Psalms 25 * 9, 15; Jeremiah 44:1-14; 1 Corinthians 15:30-41; Matthew 11:16-24

Jesus has just finished talking with the disciples of John, and has sent them back to him, instructing them to tell of Jesus' deeds of power: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are up and about and the poor have been enriched with hope. Jesus then scolded the crowd around him for scorning John and proclaims that John is Elijah returned, for those willing to accept that fact. All of this just before today's selection from Matthew. There is a ramping up in the way Jesus is addressing the crowd, he is getting angry with them for the purposeful dense-ness.

Wisdom is vindicated by her deeds, Jesus says. The crowds scorned John as crazy for his asceticism and they brutalize Jesus for his spending time with those thought of as less than civilized in appropriate society. Jesus is pointing to all the work of healing and curing, all the miracles that took place in the chapters just before these words and saying there is all the proof you need.

Our Gospel selection today is asking us, directing us to examine what in our lives are we blind to because in seeing those things we would be challenged? What is blocking our ability to see and gain the fruits of Wisdom's deeds? For to truly see those deeds, very often, our self-constructed worlds would be inalterably changed. No wonder we don't endeavor to see them.
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Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Allie, Park Watching, 2008.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Daily Office Reflection: Not Giving Up

Psalms: 1, 2 3 * 4, 7; Jeremiah 36:11-26; 1 Cor 13:(1-3)4-13; Matthew 10:5-15

In Matthew today, we find Jesus hasn't given up on those to whom he believes are the ones he has been sent to bring back into God's fold. Jesus sends his newly named and handpicked twelve apostles only to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel" telling these newly minted power-brokers to stay away from the Gentiles and the Samaritans. Even though Jesus has been rejected by the leadership and by town-after-town, he has not given up on his initial trajectory.

Jesus knows that these twelve will have a rough time of it, as he tells them to be careful about which houses they enter and grant their peace and blessing, telling them to "shake off the dust from your feet as you leave" the houses and towns that do not accept them and their message of God's kingdom being near unto them.

It seems to me that Jesus is still developing in his own understanding of his mission. He hasn't given up on trying to convince his own people of God's invitation for them to follow and welcome into their lives God's Son. And is exclusionary in his focus at this early to mid point of Matthew's Gospel. Yet we know, at the very end of Matthew's Gospel, when he commissions these same apostles (absent one), he directs them to go and make disciples of all nations.

Even though Jesus broadens the scope of this mission at the end, he never gives up on anyone. He knows God's great embrace and forgiving nature: a trait not often revealed in the Hebrew Testament.

To whom do we need to remember to embrace....to forgive today?
jfd+

Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Alley running free on the PTown Flats, 2008, jfd+

Friday, October 7, 2011

Daily office Reflection: Blind and Mute

Psalms 140, 142 * 141, 143; 2 Kings 23:36-24:17; 1 Cor 12:12-26; Matthew 9:27-34

Yesterday Jesus was approached by "a leader of the synagogue" who pled on bended knee that a beloved daughter, believed to be dead, could be made otherwise by Jesus. Today, Jesus heals two blind individuals and a mute, and Matthew tells us the Pharisees say Jesus can cast out demons because he worships demons.

When we don't want to believe something we can be blind to alternatives, we can be deaf to hearing any other options. We can make wild statements about the motivations of the person(s) advocating for something we refuse to consider. We can also become blind to things when we simply become "used to" them: we just don't see them anymore to recognize that a change is necessary to create new life.

Perhaps these healing stories we have in Matthew today are metaphors for those things in our life that we have allowed ourselves to become blind to, about which we cannot speak because we do not even see them anymore. Perhaps the accusation of the Pharisees is an example of how we can be knee-jerk-reactionary when someone suggests, or points to something we have grown accustomed to and says: "Hey, have you ever thought of fixing that?" To what do we need to open our eyes and see as someone new sees? To what do we need to listen that may allow us to live a more engaged life?
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Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Water Garden, SW DC, 2010, jfd+