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Another Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity

to stop beating myself up

for not doing things perfectly,

the courage to forgive myself

because I’m working on doing better,

and the wisdom to know

that you already love me

just the way I am.

 

Amen?

 

[Let’s spend the month of August 2018 looking at some quotes, lines, memes, and other timeless ephemera — how’s that for an oxymoron? — that are too good not to share. Let’s contextualize some, let’s dissect others, and let’s simply enjoy still others. Let’s go!]

 

Amen.

 

God, grant me the serenity

to stop beating myself up

for not doing things perfectly,

the courage to forgive myself

because I’m working on doing better,

and the wisdom to know

that you already love me

just the way I am.

 

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Think of Yourself

“My identity shifted

when I got into recovery.

That’s who I am now,

and it actually gives me greater pleasure

to have that identity

than to be a musician or anything else,

because it keeps me a manageable size.

It gets me in tune.

It gives me a spiritual anchor.”

— Eric Clapton

 

“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought,” writes St. Paul in Romans 12:3, “but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

[Let’s spend the month of August 2018 looking at some timeless ephemera — how’s that for an oxymoron? — that are too good not to share. Let’s contextualize some, let’s dissect others, and let’s simply enjoy still others. Let’s go — ]

 

“My identity shifted

when I got into recovery.

That’s who I am now,

and it actually gives me greater pleasure

to have that identity

than to be a musician or anything else,

because it keeps me a manageable size.

It gets me in tune.

It gives me a spiritual anchor.”

— Eric Clapton

 

 

You: an Artist. Yes, You!

“A person who works

with their hands is a laborer;

a person who works with their hands

and their mind is a craftsman;

but a person who works

with their hands, brain, and heart

is an artist.”

— St. Thomas Aquinas

 

“Don’t just do the minimum that will get you by,” says Colossians 3:23.

It rolls on through verse 25, advising and reminding and warning us, “Do your best.

“Work from the heart for your real Boss, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance.

“Keep in mind always that the ultimate One you’re serving is Christ.

“The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible.

“Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.”

And THAT is quite a paragraph in Colossians 3:23-25…amen?

 

“A person who works

with their hands is a laborer;

a person who works with their hands

and their mind is a craftsman;

but a person who works

with their hands, brain, and heart

is an artist.”

— St. Thomas Aquinas

 

Pay More Attention

Pay more attention

to your Creator

than to your critics.

 

Why is this so hard for so many of us to remember?

 

[Let’s spend the month of August 2018 looking at some quotes, lines, memes, and other timeless ephemera — how’s that for an oxymoron? — that are too good not to share. Let’s contextualize some, let’s dissect others, and let’s simply enjoy still others. Let’s go!]

 

And then why is this so hard for so many of us to do?

 

 

Pay more attention

to your Creator

than to your critics.

 

 

 

I Screamed at God

I screamed at God

about the starving child

until I saw the starving child

was God screaming at me.

 

“When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

 

[Let’s spend the month of August 2018 looking at some quotes, lines, memes, and other timeless ephemera — how’s that for an oxymoron? — that are too good not to share. Let’s contextualize some, let’s dissect others, and let’s simply enjoy still others. Let’s go!]

 

“Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’

“Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’

“He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’

“Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.”   (Matthew 25:31-46)

 

I screamed at God

about the starving child

until I saw the starving child

was God screaming at me.

The Real Presence of Christ

“Last time I checked, we’re all on the same team,” I’ve been known to say about other Christian denominations.

One of our own United Methodists, Bishop LaTrelle Miller Easterling recently shared something written by Richard Rohr of the Roman Catholic tradition.

Our Bishop says this as a preface: CLARIFICATION: As noted in Article XVIII of the Book of Discipline, United Methodists DO NOT adhere to a belief in transubstantiation. We believe that the “means whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten in the [Lord’s] Supper is faith.”

That notwithstanding, I find deep import and benefit in this meditation by Richard Rohr. Communion is not just a ritual or an intellectual activity, when we are fully present during the meal, and we seek the real presence of Christ, the effect is more lasting and complete.

— She then, as do I here with you, turns things over to our brother in Christ —

All my life as a Catholic, I have held the orthodox belief that the “Real Presence” of Christ is communicated in the bread and wine of the sacred meal (rather shockingly taught by Jesus in John 6:35-58).

This is not a magical idea, but simply the mystery of incarnation taken to its logical conclusion—from creation itself, uniquely to Jesus’ body, to the human Body of Christ that we all are, and then to the very elements from the earth and human hands like bread and wine to serve as food for the journey.

Why believe the universal Presence is “Real” if it is not also real in one concrete ordinary spot? (We are meant to struggle with this realization, as we see in John 6:60-66.)

The very notion of presence is inherently and necessarily relational and also somehow embodied.

Note that Jesus did not say “Think about this,” “Prove this,” “Look at this,” “Carry this around,” and, surely not, “Argue about this.” He just said, “Eat this . . . and drink all of you” (Matthew 26:26-27).

As Augustine (354-430) would preach later, the message is that you are what you eat and drink!

We spent much of our history arguing about the “how” and the “if” and who could do what Catholics called the “transubstantiation” of the bread and wine instead of simply learning how to be present.

We made the Eucharist into a magic act to be believed instead of a personal transformation to be experienced.

We changed bread more than people, it seems to me. We emphasized the priest as the “transformer” instead of the people as the transformed.

We made “Real Presence” into a doctrine (which has its very good meaning!), but we seldom taught people how to be really present (which is contemplation).

When you are really present, you will experience the Real Presence for yourself.

The Eucharist is an encounter of the heart, knowing Presence through our available presence. In the Eucharist, we move beyond mere words or rational thought and go to that place where we don’t talk about the Mystery; we begin to chew on it.

We must move our knowing to the bodily, cellular, participative, and unitive level.

Then we keep eating and drinking the Mystery until one day it dawns on us, in an undefended moment, “My God, I really am what I eat!”

Henceforth we can trust and allow what has been true since the first moment of our existence: We are the very Body of Christ.

We have dignity and power flowing through us in our naked existence—and everybody else does too, even though most of us do not know it.

This is enough to guide and empower our entire faith journey.

— Amen.

Momentous, Urgent, & Glorious

“Christian worship is the most momentous,

the most urgent, and the most glorious action

that can take place in human life.”

— Karl Barth

 

[Let’s spend the month of August 2018 looking at some quotes, lines, memes, and other timeless ephemera — how’s that for an oxymoron? — that are too good not to share. Let’s contextualize some, let’s dissect others, and let’s simply enjoy still others. Let’s go!]

Psalm 100:4 — “Enter God’s gates with thanksgiving, and God’s courts with praise! Give thanks to God and bless God’s name!”

“Fruitful and acceptable worship begins before it begins,” says Alexander MacLaren.

Psalm 8:1 — “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.”