“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you.” -Ephesians 1:17-18(NIV)
I’ve recently heard from different people their anxiety over events/circumstances in their lives. I find it interesting how many fret over the same things regardless of their age; what they are going to do with their life now, how they are supposed to cope with things, their hopes and dreams and where God fits in to it all. These good souls are constantly searching in their relationship with Christ, others and their world. In my case here, their ages range 35+ years from the youngest to the oldest. I admire their seeking and hope I can grow myself from their own searches. I pray we all do.
The words from this chapter make me think about feeding the spirit within from the Spirit above. I think when we do that we starve the fear in our lives. So dear reader, as you and I search we should also remember these words from Paul “…ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”
Fed by one so we can starve the other.
Tending the vineyard,
Maybe you know someone that may need to be reminded of these words of Kipling.
I came back to them tonight as I remembered the last meal I had with my father two years ago tonight. The next morning he was in Paradise.
IF, by Rudyard Kipling
“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired of waiting, or being lied about don’t deal in lies, or being hated and don’t give way to hating, and yet don’t look to good or talk too wise;
If you can dream and not make dreams your master;
If you can think and not make thoughts your aim
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and meet those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken Twisted by Knaves and made a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken, and stoop and build them up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings and risk on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose and start again at your beginnings and never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew to serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you except the Will which says to them: “Hold On.”
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, or walk with Kings nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty-seconds’ run,
Yours in the earth and everything that’s in it, and which is more—you will be a man, my son!”
These words represented the best of Daddy. My prayer is they find the best in you.
Tending the vineyard,
“But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bares fruit.” -Matthew 13:23 (NRSV)
This story from Matthew about Parable of the Sower, from the 1st verse all the way to this one, is one of my favorites in all of scripture. It reminds me of the gardens my grandparents and father had; how it took a few years for the soil to get “just right.” You remember those gardens in your family don’t you? Remember the compost piles that would stand for a season until turned and tilled with the gardener sporting a smile as he labored?
For months and months after my father died packets of seed from one company or another kept coming to his home. My mother was perplexed amidst grief. With each packet’s arrival, I was reminded that for years Daddy “sharecropped” in my back yard when they moved into a condo. He did the work. We at the produce. He knew it took some time for “the good stuff” to show.
I think that’s the way God is with us. He keeps throwing the seeds, the garden being tended by His children and the family being nurtured along the way. We become trained to “hear and understand” it takes steady purpose to bear good fruit. It all starts with that seed stuff being thrown about. When the heart is right, open to God, those seeds start to sprout.
Tending the vineyard,
“Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Keep straight the path of your feet and all your ways will be sure.”-Proverbs 4:25-26(NRSV)
I’m trying to stay “off the grid” this week, but have had to slip back on today for some work-related matters. When I did I saw a “Facebook Memory” from five years ago this very week. It was from the very place I am again at this very moment; for the same purpose in fact. In the days between now and then much has happened in the world and in our lives.
Look back on the last five years in your own days. Were you really where you thought you’d be today in your mind’s eye from 2012? What changed? What stayed the same? Draw a map in your mind from one point to another distant point. I imagine as you were on this quest there were some diversions. What draws us back to center is always there, I think. Sometimes it may seem very far away, clouded and even silent.
Just take a moment. My prayer for us is that in our map-quest we always see the Alpha & Omega.
Tending the Vineyard,
“O God, the fountain of wisdom, whose will is good and gracious, and whose law is truth: We beseech thee so to guide and bless our Senators and Representatives in Congress assembled, that they may enact such laws as shall please thee, to the glory of thy Name and the welfare of this people; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” BCP page 821
Last week we all sat in awe at the mass shooting during baseball practice by members of Congress as one Party prepared to play the other in a tradition which began a hundred years ago. It seems we are sitting in awe more and more every week from seeing violence all over the globe.
For some reason I got to see both the Speaker of the House and the Minority Leader speak their complete speeches from the well of the floor in real time that fateful day. They spoke of dismay. One, of whom I’m not particularly fond, reminded me of the humanness of all of us. The listener was able to see/hear what the sound bites of the nightly news are never able to do….or perhaps want to do. I saw a person of faith speak of faith and prayers for the colleagues there. I was humbled by what I heard.
As much as we often let our blood pressure rise over those people and issues professing opinion and promoting policy with which we do not agree, I was humbled by a tragedy showing us the passion and friendship and, yes, the common faith in God we don’t see enough. That revelation broke my heart more than the madness of hate fired all over the baseball field that same morning.
Some days the “he said-she said” doesn’t really matter in the big picture of things. Lord, help me see the big picture in others rather than the small ones that get blown out of proportion. Help us all do that Heavenly Father, help us all.
Tending the vineyard,
“O judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” -Book of Common Prayer
Tending the vineyard,
“Then he said to them all, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves…’”-Luke 9:23
Way back in 1985 a group of artists got together at the invitation of Quincy Jones (then of Motown Records) to make a remarkable statement about feeding the starving in Africa. Back then I was spinning records at a radio station. MTV was only 4 or 5 years old. Today as I watched the video/song that would become “We are the World” I saw a future Nobel Prize Laurette, at least two artists now deceased and a screen full of “big hair” from back in that day. The song spoke of coming together. It speaks of having more impact as a group than as an individual. Millions of dollars were raised from the sale of the album.
Luke 9:18-27 speaks in plural forms of “them.” I was reminded that earlier tonight. That let me know this was what I was to write. Take a look at all the verses then come back. I’ll still be here. Go ahead…..Look at all the different plurals.
I don’t believe Jesus expected us to make a difference on our own; though we certainly can. The power of being in community makes a greater difference on the world. It did thousands of years ago. It does today. Many times the most effective difference happens when we sacrifice something personal for a greater purpose. In letting go of control we gain freedom unimagined. In believing is something unseen, vision becomes clearer. My prayer for us as we wind down the “Great 50 Days of Easter” and come to Pentecost is that we recognize all of us matter in mission.
Tending the vineyard, Tom Welch