Having chosen to use the Alternative
Gospel from John:
Jesus’ Story and Love, contrary to common practice, included Women.
And Jesus Love Heals; thus we heal one another.
Acts 16:9-15 – Lydia
if you judge me to be faithful, come and stay with me. Response of
faith: to provide what is needed: hospitality for travellers, for
homeless. Now common? Enough, but in those days, accepting a woman as
one of the disciples was a rare act of equality.
matter our traditions, our culture norms, our expectations; Jesus
love reaches all people.
are to love as Jesus loves us,
to love those whom our tradition excludes from consideration.
Psalm 67 – Let all stand in Awe!
Revelation 21:10, 22–22:5
The city, no more night, only
the healing of the nations
New Jerusalem, in the City of God, An exclusion: no unclean, only
those written in the Book of Life
other light needed than the Light of God, no night, no darkness, no
abominations, nothing unclean.
chaff will have already been burned away.]
produces fruits and leaves, the leaves are for the healing of the
Gospel (alt.): John 5:1-9 Heal one
as Jesus healed even on the Sabbath
travails last and last: this man’s for 38! years!
during that time no one has helped him.
a heartbeat Jesus heals him, even though it is the Sabbath.
acts to restore health without regard for expectations and artificial
limits (which do not provide health in following them.)
Love one another as Jesus Loves us means HEAL one another, even if the stink of rot has surrounded the illness or circumstance of sin for decades, for generations even!
Previous Post for
Themes of Each Sunday in
one theme for this entire Easter:
another as I have loved you. Jesus’ single command that encompasses
everything else that is God’s story of love, encompassed in the
life of Jesus, (so that we -finite creatures- can comprehend what God
-infinite divinity- wants us to know.)
Jesus is the Good Shepherd, We are
called to love one another as Jesus love us:
We are to be Good Shepherds to
is able to bring the young girl and Lazarus back from the dead, so
Simon Peter is able to bring Dorcas, Tabitha, back to life after she
can be as life giving as Jesus’.
Handle with care!
needs for life, abundant life, of a sheep, (green pastures, still
waters) the good Shepherd provides for us.
the dark valley of the shadow of death (the greatest evil) I need not
fear, the shepherd’s tools: rod and staff, comfort us.
along with my enemies! My cup runs over!
and mercy shall follow me all my days. I dwell eternally in God’s
are those who will survive the Great Ordeal, the silence of Beale
Street in every generation. They will be gathered at Christ’s
will be washed white in the blood of the Lamb!
food, water, no scorching by sun, but water of life, and tears wiped
the Jews, want to know plainly, though Jesus has told and done
enough. Like doubting Thomas we want to put our hands in Jesus’
side and feel the nail marks in his hand, but that is not enough. The
HS must transform our hearts, teach us to know Jesus’ voice.
and sheep and shepherds and gathering in and gathering to go out to
green pastures and still waters.
will never perish, die but not perish! No snatching, not from God.
Jesus is God, one and three persons.
to know plainly, though Jesus has said and done enough, and
there is no more that would help us.
trying to argue the existence of God, futile. Every argument for or
against God’s existence begins with a presumption that is equal to
the conclusion of the argument.
transforming our hearts. The
gift of faith, the growth of faith, the exercise of responding to
the Good Shepherd, 23rd
and repeated in Revelations:
from destruction and all loss
are to exercise that same love for one another
brings Dorcas back to life,
as Jesus did with talitha cum, and Lazarus.
love, as Jesus’ Love, is a life changing thing.
Label Volatile Potential Handle
with Care Negative Potential:
always, what can be so positively powerful, with a slight twist, a
few degrees off from original, and there can be as much destruction
as there could have been profound positive change.
is so tempting, looks like Jesus the shepherd, just not.
looks so tempting, looks like good life, it is not.
with Care Positive Potential:
life, but in the lack of exercise, leave
needed of giving life (being the good shepherd
for one another), of degrees of destroying life, of
withholding means destruction.
Day, possibly use stories as above, of mothers in action giving life?
Churchill once said: “[People]
occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves
up and hurry off as though nothing had happened.”
Light of Christ is alarming, blinding, and demanding. Often we try to
control what part of the Light, what part of Jesus’ story, what
part of the awful freedom of forgiveness we acknowledge.
Other times we entirely deny the Love of Christ that shines a light into every darkness, exposing all our secrets and revealing every hidden truth. Instead we choose to slip back into the convenient darkness of our daily lives.
Jesus does not give up on us. He keeps showing up to get our attention. Have you seen Jesus talking? Or God giving a lesson? Or have you seen the crimson blood of Christ wash the stain of sin away to leave a person fuller white bright? For 200 years no one in England reported that they had, and then came Julian of Norwich who we commemorate this week.
the Black Plague, the Peasants Revolt, and the suppression of the
Lollards devastated the English countryside, Julian lived a mystic’s
life, profoundly assured of God’s care and love as few people in
all of history.
face of so much evidence that death, raw evil, and sin had the world
in its control, she famously quoted Jesus in her vision, “All will
be well. All will be well. All manner of things will be well.”
These simple words have given a thin thread of powerful hope to people in the most desperate situations. Among others, I know that it helped a young mother of two teenagers, living in Germany, stay alive. She was struggling to stay sane after years of abuse by her husband, when he had secretly already started another family with a much younger woman.
Julian wrote “God is nearer to us than our own soul”. God sees us as perfect and waits for the day when evil and sin will no longer hinder us.
these 7 Easter Sundays we keep in mind Jesus’ command to “Love
one another as I have loved you.” It will be part of the Gospel in
two weeks and we know these words contain everything else in Jesus’
today’s readings we hear how Jesus continues to surprise people
with visions of his love.
Jesus in a vision astounds Saul of Tarsus. A well educated Pharisee and righteous under the law for himself, Saul is dedicated to God. He stones and arrests followers of Jesus to cleanse the synagogues of them. Then the Light of Christ finds him. Saul has a vision of Jesus telling Saul he is persecuting Jesus himself. Blinded by the Light, Saul needs help from others to regain his sight. When he does Saul is baptized as Paul.
3 years of study Paul
spreads Jesus’ story of the Love of God
around the shores of the Mediterranean Sea
as far as Rome itself.
writings to his congregations
to encourage their faith we have the earliest accounts of the
which we receive, practice and proclaim today.
Our reading from the Book of the Revelation to John reminds us of what danger and persecution the early Christians faced. Any author, carrier, or reader of Words about faith in Jesus, if caught by the Romans, would be put to death. Difficult to produce and therefore very precious, the writings would also be destroyed.
To preserve the writings (and the people) the writing’s content was codified. The codes, colourful and out of this world, were popularly used by Christians but not understood by their Roman persecutors. Today we can estimate much but do not fully know their code. Revelation is the only one of these many writings accepted into the New Testament.
Written to inspire, comfort, and encourage faith in people who were mercilessly persecuted, Revelation has touched the hearts of desperate people through the generations and even today!
Jesus still appears in visions to people, though perhaps as rare as
in Julian of Norwich’s time. I personally know only one sacramental
mystic to whom Jesus appears in the ordinary things of creation: in
Light, in Truth and in Grace, in visions both troubling and
This mystic’s experience is quite like the disciples’, who, having encountered the awesome, fearful truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection, return to something familiar. They go fishing. Then Jesus appears, hardly recognizable, and asks them to fish on the other side of the boat. The results overwhelm the fishers and their nets, and open their eyes to who has spoken to them. Ashore he feeds them from their spectacular catch and with the bread of life. They leave the nets and resume Jesus’ ministry healing people with God’s love.
In the stories of the Fishers and of Paul, in stories codified to preserve them and in Julian’s visions and counsel, and in the words of mystics of all times, the constant in all of them is the brightly shining love of God.
Love was exercised at great expense by Jesus for us, and by many who
have gone before us and who handed on the faith to us.
love story is not a benign story, it is not a safe story, it is not
an easy story to get right. It is always a story of how we are to
love one another as Jesus loves us.
60 James Mitchner, a man of grand words and acquaintance of powerful
people everywhere, including many US presidents, told a story about
the most influential person he ever met.
years old Jim was orphaned and sent to live with relatives. The
couple was so poor both husband and wife worked seven days a week.
That first weekend, with apologies, his foster parents set off to
work leaving Jim alone. He was bored, bored stiff. He walked around
the house. Nothing happened. So when he heard a truck coming down the
alley just before noon, he went out on the back step. The truck
stopped at each house until it stopped at his house. The driver got
out with the truck running, emptied the garbage cans, got back into
the truck, and drove on. That was the day’s greatest action.
The next Saturday, again Jim was just as alone, just as bored. Nothing was happening in the empty house. So just before noon he sat down on the back step to wait for the garbage truck. He waited and waited. Finally after an hour of waiting Jim heard the truck. It followed the same routine, stopping at each house until it stopped at his house. The driver got out with the truck running, emptied the garbage cans, got back into the truck and drove on. Lonely Jim was left to go back inside … to boredom.
The third Saturday, same story. Except the truck didn’t come. With nothing else to do Jim sat and sat, and waited. Finally about 3 o’clock he heard the truck. The truck kept the same routine, stopping last at his house at the end of the alley. The driver got out with the truck running, grabbed and emptied the garbage cans, and got back in the truck. But then the driver turned off the truck, walked through the gate and said,
“Hi, what’s your name.”
answered, “I am Jim and I am lonely.”
have seen you for the last few weeks. I’ve thought of you each day
and I am sorry I have not stopped.”
garbage man sat and listened to Jim, not only that day, but each
Saturday. James’ foster parents set out chairs for the garbage man
and for Jim.
James Mitchner, a man of many words, acquaintance of most US presidents of his adult life, and of powerful people everywhere was most influenced by the garbage man who took the time to turn off his truck each Saturday from the time Jim was seven until he was seventeen. (story told at Asset Build Workshop – Powell River)
God’s love story was lived out by a garbage man on Saturdays with a lonely child. What followed for James Mitchner was a life of military and civilian travel, adventure, and writing books that inspired a generation and more.
Light will find us, shock us, blind
us, turn us around, and make us into new
people. Jesus’ love will send us into lives of real work filled
with real excitement and
abundantly filled with real adventure, … if not in travels, then in
learning, sharing, and bringing abundant life to others. The Light of
Christ will repeatedly interrupt our work and dreams, guiding us
onward, correcting and even reversing our courses, but always moving
us towards loving one another with God’s love in all things.
The only question is what we are going to do with the brilliance of Christ’s Light, the Freedom of God’s Forgiveness, the comfort of the Spirit, the abundance Jesus helps us catch, and the abiding assurance that all will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well?
What are we going to do in response to the Love that resurrected Jesus from the dead, and saves us each day?
Gather…for this Sunday
1342 Julian of Norwich was a mystic, counsellor, and lay theologian.
We commemorate her on May8th. We know little directly about her life,
but what we know leaves us to think she was married, lost her husband
and children to perhaps the plague. We do know she became sick
herself at age 30, thought she would die, received her last rites,
and had 16 visions of Jesus.
Julian did not then die, though. She lived on, secluded in a cell attached to St. Julian’s Church, as an anchoress.
unusual is that she wrote down short descriptions of her visions.
Only later people learned they were written by her.
Though living apart she received people for counselling and became known affectionately by many. Through many years she rewrote her visions adding theological reflections in what survive today as her book Revelations of Divine Love. Her words of counsel have provided inspiration and hope for generations of people. She died at least 74 years old, sometime after 1416.
morning we remember Jesus’ last hours, as the soldiers, by Pilate’s
orders, in response to the crowd’s demands, hung Jesus on the worst
instrument of torture, the cross.
the many characters in Jesus’ last hours. Judas, the soldiers, the
High Priests Annas and Caiaphas, Pilate, Malchus, Peter, the crowd,
Jesus’ Mother Mary, her sister Mary of Clopas, Mary Magdalene,
Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, and of course Jesus.
of us were present in that horrific drama more than 2000 years ago.
Yet we are characters in so many terrible dramas that have taken
place in our own life times, dramas that are devastatingly so
French Historian and Anthropological Philosopher Rene Girard
identified the similarity that ties Jesus’ last days with our all
too common dramas as a common human sin, scapegoating. Girard pointed
out that we all greedily strive to have more than just the
necessities of life. Thinking that life is a zero sum project (that
there is not enough for everyone) we try to take from others so that
we will have more. That’s greed. And greed eats at our souls.
nearly always happens next is worse. Since we cannot tolerate that we
would be mutually so terrible to those close to us, we together find
an innocent bystander, someone vulnerable and uninvolved, someone who
we do not know well and therefore can bring ourselves to not care
what happens to them. Without any justification we project all our
collective sin and guilt onto that person, condemn them, judge them,
and ruin them. Working together we ease the unbearable conflict
Joseph’s brothers in the Old Testament getting rid of the evidence
of their horrendous sin against their own brother, we exile the
innocent person. We’ve attached our sins to that person and then
collectively forgotten about them and our sins, so that we can live
together in peace. The darkness hides that our peace is bought at the
price of an innocent bystander’s destruction.
exactly like the characters
exactly this manner Judas, the high priests, the crowds, Pilate, and
the soldiers condemn and kill Jesus. And we do this so often to other
people today. We may not use crosses to crucify, because we want to
be able to say we are not as bad as those who have gone before us.
Instead we use gossip, innuendo, and rumours to ruin innocent
people’s reputations, ruin them financially, and drive them from
when we are not Judas or soldiers or the crowd, or the high priests
or Pilate, we stand too often with the crowds watching as another
person’s reputation and finances are ruined. We watch and are too
afraid to interfere. We are even entertained and reassured as if to
say to ourselves, “all is well in the world if evil is uncovered in
others and they are made to pay. We, though, are good enough for
Clear story of God’s intent: the last scapegoat
truth Jesus came to be the last scapegoat, the last sacrifice needed
to set us all free from all sins, especially these terrible sins of
greed and scapegoating, of hiding from our own sins.
led Abraham to the mountain to sacrifice Isaac. But then God
interrupts the sacrifice providing a goat instead for the ritual. God
says: no more child sacrifice.
God led Jesus to the cross, as the last scapegoat ever needed, and to
give us Jesus’ life and death story so that we might learn more of
God’s intention for us, which includes: no more scapegoats.
forgives those who betray, arrest, judge and crucify him. God calls
us, instead of scapegoating innocent bystanders, to be that same
forgiveness for all people.
we are still in bondage to sin and unable to free ourselves, and we
continue to sacrifice others instead of ourselves.
are in the crowd again
we remember how we are just like that crowd again, as Jesus is raised
on the cross to die a torturous death.
We beg for
forgiveness … and time
ask for forgiveness. We hope we will learn to stop sacrificing
innocent people as scapegoats. We pray that God will intervene,
transform our sins into blessings, and make God’s will clear also
among us, in our words and through our actions.
so, we know we will continue to sin, so remembering Jesus’ story,
we beg God for mercy, and forgiveness, …
lots of water spread across the low spots.
big, throny bushes, no green trees, and no crowds … in fact great
solitude and quiet.
settling in as a guest of the Queen,
chosen of my Lord,
shores of a small quite lake,
the oil company bought it all up,
means the Queen still has a small plot
shares, by law, with a few homeless,
quite a few wealthy land owners looking for
of nature: health and joy.
There’s also enough detritus left around that proves there are a number of irresponsible beer drinking, condom throwing, and garbage dumping foolish visitors.
So I took a bag with me on my walk around to collect some of the detritus. Lots more, like the condoms, still lay strewn on the ground, things that I needed more than just one bag to be able to pick up and haul out for other fools.
Why does the Queen receive such fools?
Why does the Creator tolerate such fools?
Perhaps because one fool is pretty much like another, and all are fools in one way or another.
My call is to be a fool for Christ, so there is that.
And I took a quiet walk around tonight before enjoying a quiet night, with only a couple parking for hours, depositing another condom and toilet paper to found on a quiet morning walk before the full light of dawn.
Solitude is precious as are a good night’s sleep and the clear light of truth.
Tonight’s Theme Our continuing theme for this Lent is from Isaiah 58, that we hold a fast acceptable to God, one that brings justice, freedom, food, and homes to those in need. That combines with the weekly theme, always having to do with change, and tonight specifically we look at Changing Plans.
Lessons Psalm 2 Isaiah 52:13-15 Mark 10:32-34
Plans of Mice and [Wo]Men
all have had plans. But God’s plans for us are larger. How many of
us have planned our next steps as children moved out for jobs,
university, trade school or full-time employment and even marriage.
Then they rebound back home to recover before leaving again to make
their way in today’s fast changing world.
Lessons: God ‘Changes’ Plans OT vs NT God
readings seem to reflect an old tradition that God approached humans
one way in Old Testament times. Then God changed his plans with
Psalm 2 God observes the nations conspiring against God and God’s
anointed. God laughs at them and speaks to them with fury terrifying
them, before warning them to serve the Lord in trembling submission
or else God’s wrath will be quickly kindled against them and they
comparison listen to the Gospel from Mark where God’s own people
condemn the only Son of God to death. Then they hand him over to
others who mock, spit on, flog and kill him.
roles are reversed: God bears the fury and wrath of the people and in
the end God perishes. It is as if instead of demanding obedience God
finally figured out that humans could never stop sinning so
God decided to bear the whole cost of forgiving their sins.
Thereafter God asks, calls, entices, and inspires the people to do
what is right and needs to be done.
reveals to us the heart of God
know that Jesus came to teach, cure and care for people, and to die
on the cross as the last sacrifice or scapegoat required. The cross
on God’s heart becomes so undeniably visible with Jesus’ death
and resurrection that we can only be astounded.
though we deserve nothing but death and void, God chooses to forgive
our sins. God claims us as children, and we have the most meaningful
work possible: to follow Jesus’ example of giving everything we are
in order that others will have justice, freedom, food and homes.
abundant life in response to Jesus
sacrifice may even hurt, yet this is what God created us to be and to
do. This is God’s larger plan for us all so that we have life
abundant. Abundant life has very little to do with abundant wealth,
property, possessions, power and influence over others, or
self-serving pleasures. Instead God calls us to sacrifice and to then
celebrate God’s successes, when lost souls return to God. At times
that is each of us.
We see more
of God’s plan, God remains the same
tradition that I accept is that God does not change God’s plan or
approach to humans. Rather God was marked by the cross since the
beginning of time as is witnessed to also in the OT, for example in
tonight’s reading from Isaiah concerning the suffering servant.
What certainly does change, and markedly, is who we people think God
is. What changes is how we understand more and more of God’s larger
plan for us.
the ‘OT’ idea of God
we so often get stuck thinking that God demands and we have to obey;
that as we merit we get rewarded with God’s protection or we
perish by God’s fury, and the next generation starts all over
learning to obey God or else.
vs God’s larger plans
this view of God’s world, we must take control making worthwhile
plans for ourselves. We plan for a great house, or job, or spouse, or
children, or activities in retirement. Some even succeed with our
always has larger plans for us.
than 7 decades ago a farm boy, inspired by a missionary visiting at
his church, decided to become a missionary doctor. He worked his way
through college, through a tour with the army in Korea, through
medical school and reported to the church for service.
church eventually sent him to Africa. The man planned to spend his
life there with his wife and children. But God’s plan for him was
man got sick, was forced to return home to a family practice. God had
larger plans for him and the man ended up studying again to become a
pathologist. He set up a business in the ever-changing world of
medicine, brought in a partner to expand and improve their services.
Still God’s plan for him was larger.
it went with God always moving the man about, even to Antarctica in
the winter when he was 70, until at the age of 75 with his back
crumbling, a double heart by-pass, and needing both knees and a hip
to be replaced the man was ready to rest and stay home. But God’s
plan for him was larger. The church sought him out to return to
Africa to rebuild a medical delivery system that had fallen apart
mostly due to corruption. Now in his 90’s he still travels six
months of every year raising funds and the other six months he
oversees the building of a children’s hospital in Zinga, TZ.
God’s plan sees that we need to be rescued from disaster. I heard
from another pastor about Sarah, who went to college in the States.
Sarah met Jim, through campus ministry. They made great plans. He
planned to be a surgeon and she a nurse. They both wanted lots of
children. God seemed to agree with their plans as they married and
both were accepted into their respective majors.
Jim was drafted for Vietnam. He served as a medic and came back in a
wheelchair with one arm and unable to have children. All their plans
were taken from Jim and Sarah.
not sure that was God’s plan for them, but God was there for
them. Then Jim died suddenly one night, a hidden complication
from his injuries.
changed plans and became a family doctor. She married a farmer and
they had three wonderful children, now grown up with families of
their own. God had a large enough plan for Sarah.
the Devil has his way with our lives, but always God’s plans are
we’ve thought God is vengeful, demanding, wrathful, and the warrior
protector of us, then we may be in for a great surprise.
protect US interests around the world the CIA often provided wet work
and weapons to bring to and keep in power tyrannical dictators who do
the US’s bidding and keep their people in line. It is a devil’s
plan, in response to which God often brings in a larger plan.
CAI vs CIA
Three Cups of Teaand Stones into Schools
Greg Mortenson tells the story of the Central Asia Institute, the
CAI, not to be confused with the CIA.
project was born of a plan to change the world toward peace through
providing schools and schooling to girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The girls, who would likely become mothers, would then educate their
daughters and their sons. We know education is the most
crucial piece to help the poorest in the world make life better for
Central Asia Institute was hardly perfect because Mortenson, raised
in Tanzania, was unpredictable and spontaneous. He rarely operated on
a clock or even a calendar. Still the CAI was an effective project
that made a real difference in a real way: by sacrifice and through
idea of education for young girls was picked up by the CIA as a model
for diffusing hostilities, to little effect. Hatred of the west runs
also adopted the plan, unfortunately with great success, destroying
schools for girls and establishing madrassas for boys which taught
hatred of the west, and trained them for terrorist attacks around the
real life the devil has life destroying plans.
As we Grow,
we see the appropriate fast for us
grow and change. Our plans change as we grow. As we learn more of
God’s larger plans for us, we can better be God’s agents of grace
for the strangers, refugees, hungry, homeless, the oppressed, and all
those suffering injustice. Yet often God’s large plans catch us off
challenge is to discern at this time a) what is God’s larger
plan for us to bring life abundant to others, and b) what the devil
is trying to do to our lives that takes life from us and others.
is always there for us, no matter what plans we have, but God wants
us to change our plans to better match Jesus’ model for our lives.
Jesus’ model is about making the acceptable fast, the sacrifice so
that others may have life abundant.
119 starts: Happy are those whose
way is blameless
it be spectacular if we could change our hearts and follow all God’s
laws and be blameless for the rest of our lives. We would be
loving the Lord our God with all our heart,
mind and strength! Nothing
would defile us from within or from outside ourselves.
we confess that we are all sinful and unable to free ourselves.
Jesus, Paul, Augustine, Luther and many others have made it crystal
clear that no one can be entirely blameless. If anyone were able to
be blameless the whole course of human history would be changed.
What then can we do to change our hearts? Can we change our hearts of stone for healthy hearts filled with God’s Spirit?
1967, when Bernard Christian transplanted the first human heart, we
surgeons transplant our diseased hearts
with new hearts.
Heart transplant patients report it
is more than just a physical experience. Something more changes, as
another person’s heart gives them life. The other person has met an
untimely death. The transplant patient carries on with life, for
themselves and in a small yet noticeable way for the donor.
our meaning tonight for changing our hearts
is hardly physically accurate,
talking about changing the seat of our
emotions, the centre
of our wills, and
the motive behind our
thinking and doing.
off this is
a very complicated idea.
it is nearly out of the realm of human possibility.
We so often get it all wrong.
a well-heeled congregation decided to look
outside themselves and do something really
good for a poor neighbourhood nearby.
After carefully looking through the neighbourhood they found a
deserted chunk of land, filled with weeds, stones, and
decided it would make the perfect neighbourhood playground. They
bought the land, and
brought in topsoil, sod, and playground
equipment. Then they headed to the
the community to make use of it. The
community leaders said only a
very polite thank you.
wrong?” a congregation member blurted out.
said one of the community leaders, “we had plans for that land. We
had been saving money and applying for grants, gotten corporate
sponsors, and invested in getting drawings made up. We were on track
to break ground in 6 months. Our plans included a picnic area, a play
area, community gardens and even a basketball court on one end.
“Now we’ll have to let all that go and enjoy the playground.”
can try to fix the world with our privilege, power, and wealth. Or we
can use our ears to listen to those in need, our minds to discern
what the real issues are, and our hearts to empathize with their
plight so that how we act will actually meet the real needs of the
people we try to help.
There are things we can do to change our hearts, to change how we feel about another person, our situation in life, and the events that happen around us. While we cannot change our individual emotional responses to events, we can slowly, through diligent practice of habits, change the range of our emotions. We can over time move ourselves from a destructive, disengaged range of emotional responses, to a hope-filled, engaged range of emotional responses to the same kind of events. It takes lots of time, diligent work, and a motivation that only the Holy Spirit can maintain in us.
The first thing we can do is forgive others. We act as if the other has not sinned against us. We treat them special, even giving them gifts they really want. When we behave as if they were precious, they become precious to us again. In time we will realize, we have actually forgiven them.
with the help of the Holy Spirit can we truly change our hearts. We
need God to send people to help. Hearts change the course of our
lives, and the course of our communities, our churches, our
countries, and even the course of human history.
St. Augustine, perhaps the most influential of Christianity’s early thinkers, writers, preachers, and practitioners of faith, did not start out a Christian. Born of a Christian mother and a pagan father, he was denied baptism. He spent his youth as a Manichaean, and according to his own account lost himself in pleasures and wanton living. He was befriended by Ambrose, who he met since they both shared exceptional skills as orators. While Ambrose’s preaching was exceptional and his message was the Gospel of Jesus the Christ, it was Ambrose’s friendship that deeply affected Augustine’s heart and drew him to convert to Christianity. St. Augustine gave himself to the work of Christ on earth, ending his life serving as the Bishop of Hippo in north Africa, where he wrote and preached. Imperfect, rescued, and saved Augustine steered the course of Christianity to be the faith we recognize today. He also steered the Roman Empire towards Christianity.
there was one human, Jesus, who lived entirely
blameless before God, the whole of human history is
changed. Yours and mine, and each of our lives are inexorably changed
toward God, toward life, and toward giving everything we have and are
in order that others may know God’s Grace as well. Augustine was
one piece of this course of history.
hearts inform and equip us to turn our lives in new directions. As
the Holy Spirit moves our hearts to love the Lord with all our
hearts, minds, and strength, then we focus on faith, ideas, words,
and actions which can affect others’ hearts with the same Grace
that saves us each day.
trust that God is always with us. We can be blameless and joyful
therefore, not because we are perfect,
but because Jesus steps in for us and we are reckoned to have Jesus’
blameless track record.
is something spectacular to being the donor of Christ’s heart to
those in need. It is to give to another the
seat of our will
and passion, the centre
of our life,
and to give our hearts
to another in order that
they may live, and that living
they may have life abundant.
a heart. Have a change of heart. Because the Holy Spirit helps us
surrender our hearts to the will, passion, and purpose of Jesus
Christ, therefore we live, heart and all, as God calls and equips us
live as never before. We live the fast that is acceptable to God, the
fast that through our sacrifice others receive justice, freedom,
food, and homes.