Lifting up the lowly

If Jesus did not intend for us to take this command completely literally, then how are we to take it? I think he’s saying, You don’t need most of what you want or already have. Simplify. Stop being driven by the acquisition of more. It is a false god. Your life does not consist in the abundance of your possessions. You cannot serve both God and money, so choose God instead of money. To whom much is given, much more is expected. God expects you to be generous. Give and it will be given to you, pressed down, shaken together, and running over — the blessings of God come when you are generous toward others. And, perhaps most important, you are the means by which God lifts up the lowly and ensures the hungry go home full.

— Adam Hamilton, Luke: Jesus and the Outsiders, Outcasts, and Outlaws, p. 86

Photo: Zweibr├╝cken Rosengarten, June 18, 2024

God of Second Chances

If God desires to continue the work of reconciliation up to the last second, how can we protest? A sermon I heard as a new Christian put forth one of my favorite images of God as a God of second chances, a God who never gives up on us, who pursues us like a hound of heaven, always offering opportunities for repentance and reconciliation. Why wouldn’t God offer that same invitation on that final day? Why would God’s work of salvation end just because someone’s body dies? The work of Jesus must still be effective after the end of time or even after time runs out.

— Sharon L. Baker, Razing Hell, p. 123

Photo: Iggelbach, Germany, June 20, 2024

It’s Okay to Have Needs.

The feeder is empty again
and no one is claiming
that the birds are greedy
for taking what they pleased.

Look at how the fat, pink flowers
are weighing the end of each branch,
sucking nutrients into each velvet petal.
How selfish.

Nature hungers, takes, and needs.
God, why can’t I?

Blessed are we, learning to take
what we need.
Sleeping past our alarms.
Reaching for another helping.
Staying a little longer
when the evening is unwinding.

— Kate Bowler, Have a Beautiful, Terrible Day! Daily Meditations for the Ups, Downs, and In-Betweens, p. 19

Photo: Tree Swallow, South Riding, Virginia, May 21, 2024

Lost Coins

We too are lost and dusty coins. We have gone unnoticed, rusted from others indifference, misspent and misused, and our friends and leaders did not see our neglect. But God, in big and little ways, has picked up a woman’s broom and swept every corner of creation. God, in big and little ways, has tucked up her skirts and flattened herself on the floor, dug through dust bunnies and checked every dress pocket. God has found us, dustier and rustier and without any luster, and held us up to the light to say: No matter how you rolled away or what corner you were dropped in, you are mine.

— Emmy Kegler, One Coin Found, p. 8

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, May 7, 2024

Experience of God

A very little bit of God goes an awfully long way. When another’s experience of God isn’t exactly the way i would describe it, it doesn’t mean that they haven’t had an experience of God or that their experience is completely wrong. We have to remain with Francis’s prayer: “Who are you, God, and who am I?” Isn’t there at least ten percent of that person’s experience of God with which I can agree? Can’t I at least say, “I wish I could experience God in that way”?

What characterizes anyone who has had just a little bit of God is that they always want more of that experience! Could it not be that this Hindu, this Sufi, this charismatic, this Jew has, in fact, touched upon the same eternal Mystery that I am seeking? Can’t we at least give one another the benefit of the doubt? I can be somewhat patient with people who think they have the truth. The problem for me is when they think they have the whole truth.

— Richard Rohr, Yes, And…, p. 218

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, April 23, 2024

Unshakable

People settle for saying that every human being is “worthy” or “valuable.” But these ideas are still stuck in the “measurable.” “He is a valuable member of our team.” “He is unworthy to be president.” But goodness is unshakable. Solid. The truth. There is not a thing one can do to make this not so. God does not hope that we become something other than what we are. The Pharisees kept trying to be somebody, but they didn’t know they already were. You teach children that they are valuable by valuing them. Not by insisting that they prove their value to you. There are lots of things and toxins and blindness that keep us from acknowledging this and seeing it as true, but nonetheless, it is immutably certain. Before we can love goodness, we need to find it, and see it. It’s there. It’s there.

— Gregory Boyle, The Whole Language, p. 37

Photo: Bull Run Regional Park, Virginia, March 29, 2024

Made to Be God’s Image

If you’ve ever felt the pull between being the woman you are and being the woman you think you’re supposed to be, if you’ve ever believed that the heart of God’s plan for us was doing more and trying harder — then this book is for you. I spent years and years tangled in the idea that I needed to measure up to the women around me, that I needed to fit in and look the part and check the boxes all to somehow prove that I loved God enough, that I was godly enough. I didn’t understand who I was created to be or how I was to live that out, and, as a result, I was left sinking in shame instead. But that is not God’s plan for us. His plan is not for shame but for freedom, not for comparison but for flourishing; his plan is that we be his image.

— Elizabeth Garn, Freedom to Flourish, p. 13

Photo: Bull Run Regional Park, Virginia, March 29, 2024

The Immensity of God’s Grace

What sin could be more damnable than the murder of God’s only begotten Son? What crimes could compare to crying out for his death, driving the nails into his wrists, mocking his pain, and then abandoning him to his cross? Yet at that very moment, with his last few breaths, Christ proclaimed their forgiveness — even as they were still murdering him.

Why hasn’t this become the lens by which we interpret everything the Bible has to say about the afterlife rather than pagan myths that we don’t even understand? Why doesn’t the immensity of God’s grace capture our imaginations in the same way as eternal divine vengeance? Why do we work so hard to defend the idea that in order for the gospel to be “good news” for us, it must be a curse for others?

— Derek Ryan Kubilus, Holy Hell, p. 45

Photo: Bull Run Regional Park, Virginia, March 29, 2024

Experiencing the Word of God

The word is made known in the person. It cannot be contained to the pages of Scripture alone. It is embodied and incarnated. If the word is constricted to the pages, the gospel is neutered. As a Christian, I believe that God is made known in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. The Jewish teacher who took the actual words of scripture and said, “You have heard it said, but I say to you…” suggests that there is more to God than simply knowing the scriptures. The fullness of God is discerned in the reality of existence. The word of God is experienced.

— Trey Ferguson, Theologizin’ Bigger, p. 12

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, January 23, 2024