Friday, October 30, 2009


I just got back from a week visiting my sister-of-the-heart in Alabama. I've heard several writers and speakers talk about the different types of friends we have in our lives. In one of these descriptions, we can have "Friends for a Reason, Friends for a Season, and Friends for Life." I've know this friend for over 25 years, and we are definitely friends for life. We bonded during two years shared in Kansas and when our families separated, we promised each other that we would visit at least once every year. During this year's visit, we compiled a "Visit Journal", recording the dates, locations and memories of all our visits. We discovered that we had missed only one calendar year, but there were many years when we were able to arrange more than one visit.

I have as many reasons as there are stars to feel blessed by this friendship.

So today, I share a few verses from Proverbs because nobody says it better.
A friend loves at all times, and kinsfolk are born to share adversity. (17:17)
Some friends play at friendship, but a true friend sticks closer than one's nearest kin. (18:24)
One who forgives an affront fosters friendship, but one who dwells on disuputes will alienate a friend. (17:9)
Well meant are the wounds a friend inflicts, but profuse are the kisses of an enemy. (27:6)
And I close with that powerful verse from John (and for this, I love King James):
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.(15:13)

If you have a friend like this, give thanks this day. If you do not, give thanks for the friends for a reason or a season that you do have and keep your heart open for that friend for life.

May it be so. Amen.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Charity and Justice

My Christian Fellowship has just completed its reading and discussion of Marcus Borg's The Heart of Christianity. Toward the end is a section entitled "Practicing Compassion and Justice" (pages 200-204), and I will share with you what we shared in my group.

Borg writes that the practice of compassion is the way in which Christians pay attention to God and participate in God's passion--the redemption of the world. Borg emphasizes the last word because in traditional Christian interpretations, God seeks--and therefore, so should His followers--the redemption of individuals. "God loves the world," Borg says, and the world is God's passion.

Borg goes on to say that the compassion Jesus taught works on two levels. Compassion directed toward the individual, the victim, is charity. Compassion directed toward society, social reform, is justice. Charity directly helps the victims; justice asks, "Why are there victims?" and works to transform the system that produces victimization. Both are good; both are critical. Christians are real good at charity, Borg says, but pretty weak on justice. One reason? " never offends; a passion for justice often does."

What would happen if Christians, as individuals and as a group, shifted their emphasis from mostly charity to a balanced 50-50, charity-to-justice giving model? Borg challenges the reader to try it out. Rebalance your giving of time, talent and treasure to offer 50% to charitable causes that support the less fortunate and 50% to causes that strive to change the social system which produces economic, educational or social inequity. Borg suggests adding to your current donating level instead of dividing the current level in two, but hey, any movement toward the justice side would weigh in as a positive ripple.

Can you do a 50-50 balance? Are you doing it now? Share some of the efforts in which you're involved. Let us know how your rebalancing is going.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Give Me Life

I've felt like a slug for days now. I don't feel rested. I have done what absolutely needs to be done, but not one thing more. I've spent hours reading romance novels. I've avoided activities that would bring me closer to my goals. I've filled the evenings with TV season premiers--and haven't even gotten to the Ken Burn's National Parks series yet.

Could be the change in weather. Fall is settling into the Carolinas with lingering shadows and dark, cool mornings. Makes me want to hibernate. Could be a natural break from a busy September and lots of soul searching to uncover the right path for the next few months.

I have tried to add a spiritual discipline to my day. Each afternoon, I try to fit in a half-hour practicing my guitar and singing praise songs and hymns that come from my modern Catholic-Anglican heritage. It's my daily meditation, my prayer. I decided to add reading the psalm of the day and a New Testament verse for the day before practice. It's a way to revisit the Word on a more regular basis.

And here is Psalm 119, verses 145-176, and a recurring line that jumps up off the page. From the New American Standard:
Revive me, O Lord, according to your lovingkindness.
Revive me, O Lord, according to your ordinances.
Revive me according to your Word.
I immediately thought of lines from two of my favorite hymns: "Hear our cry, and revive us, O Lord!" and "Lord, light the fire, again."

Yeah, that's what I'm needing right now.

Lord, light a fire under me to get me off the couch.
Pull me through this wilderness of my own design.
Reactivate me with a clear vision of what I'm meant to do, where my efforts are best directed.
Let your Spirit surge through me again, so that I can continue on the Way with renewed vigor and fresh energy.
Restore my faith in your positive spin on the world.
Remind me that, out of the still waters of my rest, I'm here to make positive ripples, joyful splashes.

Lord, give me life.

May it be so. Amen.