Search This Blog

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Fall Vacation Notice

I will be on vacation until Oct 24 and won't be updating my blog until my return.  Blessings,  Rev David Cathcart.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

"My Heart's Desire... the End of the Law."

May our prayers be genuine.  May we not comfort ourselves with prayer alone without hearing the call to action and change.  May we be open to the Spirit's movement in our hearts.


Romans 10:1-4
10Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2I can testify that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened. 3For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness. 4For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.


1) "...my heart's desire;" "...but it is not enlightened;" "...ignorant of the righteousness;" "...seeking to establish their own [righteousness];" "...Christ is the end;" "...righteousness for everyone who believes;"


2) In how many ways do we seek to establish our own righteousness?  As soon as conflict becomes about winning instead of discerning the truth; being right, instead of discerning what is right.  Sometimes it is hard to discern which is which.  Is our zeal enlightened?  Is mine?  Unenlightened zeal could be a dangerous thing.  It abounds in the world.  God save us from unenlightened zeal... our own and others.  What is our heart's desire?  Do we really pray to God that "they" may be saved?  How often do other desires sneak in?  a desire to be right, a desire to win, a desire for comfort and rest, a desire for distraction.


3) To clarify our heart's desire.  To be honest about what we really want, then determine, is our zeal enlightened?  or self interested?


"Holy One, clarify our heart's desire, enlighten our zeal."


Breathprayer: "My heart's desire... the end of the law."



Wednesday, 4 October 2017

"Isaiah Cries Out... People Stumble."

I ask for signs of grace in a world full of violence and white male aggression.  I ask for a way to thanksgiving and praise through a land of disparity and injustice.  I ask for a felt sense of truth and assurance in a world of self-righteousness and delusion.  May we follow Christ and no other and willingly pay the price for genuine resurrection.


Romans 9:27-33
27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, ‘Though the number of the children of Israel were like the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved; 28for the Lord will execute his sentence on the earth quickly and decisively.’ 29And as Isaiah predicted,
‘If the Lord of hosts had not left survivors to us,
   we would have fared like Sodom
   and been made like Gomorrah.’
30 What then are we to say? Gentiles, who did not strive for righteousness, have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith; 31but Israel, who did strive for the righteousness that is based on the law, did not succeed in fulfilling that law. 32Why not? Because they did not strive for it on the basis of faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling-stone, 33as it is written,
‘See, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make people stumble, a rock that will make them fall,
   and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’


1) "...only a remnant of them will be saved;" "...quickly and decisively;" "...survivours;" "...as if it were based on works;" "...They have stumbled over the stumbling-stone;" "...a stone that will make people stumble;" "...a rock that will make them fall;"


2) I want to challenge the notion of God "laying in Zion a stone." But there are certainly stumbling-stones.  I don't think we stumble over them.  We worship them, race, gender, guns, wealth, beauty, power, knowledge, ignorance, self, violence, aggression...  A "remnant" doesn't sound very promising.  I remember reading a story about ants crossing a river.  The first soldiers get swept away, until there are enough ants entering the river that the later ants cross over on the backs of those who have drowned.  How many need to drown before the survivors cross over?  Will the survivors remember?  Will they be grateful?  Will they just feel like they've earned the privilege to continue walking on the backs of others?  Paul is trying to give hope.  At least there is a remnant.  Is a remnant enough for hope?  Hope isn't a feeling, its an action.  Hope is continuing to do what is right, because it is the right thing to do, whether there is hope or not.  I will continue to seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly.


3)  To not stop at the stumbling-stone, even if we stumble.  To not worship the stumbling-stone, but to continue to follow the way of justice, kindness, and humility.  Humility does not mean silence or not attracting attention to myself.  It means risking everything I am and have to continue doing what is right.


"Holy One, even as we stumble, help us to not worship the stumbling-stone, but to rise again and follow the way of Christ, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly."


Breathprayer: "Isaiah cries out... people stumble."



Tuesday, 3 October 2017

"Who Indeed... Beloved."


I ask for the grace to receive what I need for this day.  I pray for the homeless couple that spent the night camping inside our hedge whom we have now had to ask to leave.  They are leaving now, though his behaviour is aggressive.  We don't need to watch the news about Las Vegas to experience pain, aggression and violence.  I am deeply grateful for the ministry we do to reduce the pain.  But "the poor will always be with" us.  May we know an follow Jesus more closely, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly.

Romans 9:19-26
19 You will say to me then, ‘Why then does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?’ 20But who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God? Will what is moulded say to the one who moulds it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ 21Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one object for special use and another for ordinary use? 22What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath that are made for destruction; 23and what if he has done so in order to make known the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24including us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25As indeed he says in Hosea,
‘Those who were not my people I will call “my people”,
   and her who was not beloved I will call “beloved”.
26 ‘And in the very place where it was said to them, “You are not my people”,
   there they shall be called children of the living God.’

1) "...still find fault;" "...his will;" "...who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God?" "...Why have you made me like this?" "...endured with much patience;" "...made for destruction;" "...the riches of his glory;:" "...my people; " "...beloved;" "...children of the living God."

2) The mistake is in thinking the will of God is anything like the will of human beings.  I think it is a mistake to even call it "will."  We only understand "agency" from our own small view.  God's will is nothing like that.  "Who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God?"  If God willed the way humans "will" then God would seem capricious, and unjust.  But God does not "will" the way humans will.  God's power is not like our power.  God's knowledge is not like our knowing.  God's wisdom is not like our wisdom.  It is arrogance  and conceit to compare God's way of being with our way of being.  All in all, I think it better to accept that what is, is.  And God offers us what we need to meet the circumstances before us.  Like Mr Rodgers said, "look for the helpers."  Look for where grace breaks in.

3) To reserve judgement for God alone.  To focus on the glory.

"Holy One, make your glory known."

Breathprayer: "Who indeed... beloved."


Monday, 2 October 2017

"On Whomsoever... On Whomsoever."

I ask for the grace to be brought back to the way of praying and meditating faithfully, to trust the word and promise of God, to let go of ego and to embrace the true self, made in the image and likeness of Christ.  May we know and follow Jesus more closely, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly.


Romans 9:6-18
6 It is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all Israelites truly belong to Israel, 7and not all of Abraham’s children are his true descendants; but ‘It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named after you.’ 8This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as descendants. 9For this is what the promise said, ‘About this time I will return and Sarah shall have a son.’ 10Nor is that all; something similar happened to Rebecca when she had conceived children by one husband, our ancestor Isaac. 11Even before they had been born or had done anything good or bad (so that God’s purpose of election might continue, 12not by works but by his call) she was told, ‘The elder shall serve the younger.’ 13As it is written,
‘I have loved Jacob,
   but I have hated Esau.’
14 What then are we to say? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15For he says to Moses,
‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
   and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’
16So it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy. 17For the scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.’ 18So then he has mercy on whomsoever he chooses, and he hardens the heart of whomsoever he chooses.


1) "...the children of the promise are counted as descendants;" "...by his call;" "...By no means;" "...I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion;" "...it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God;" "...he has mercy on whomsoever he chooses, and he hardens the heart of whomsoever he chooses;"


2) Here is where it helps, to stop thinking of God as a willing agent.  As if God is sitting above all things picking and choosing who will suffer more, who will suffer less.  Our circumstances are our circumstances.  They are not punishment or reward, temptation or test; they just are.  It is what it is.  God gives us what we need to navigate our circumstances.  Perhaps the real mistake is in comparing our circumstances to others, considering some circumstances as "mercies" or "blessings" and others as "curses" or "burdens."  Our circumstances are our circumstances and we either accept the grace of managing/navigating those circumstances with grace, or we do  not.  We do not "earn" our circumstances, but, like Job, we can chose a faithful way through them.  I hate to think of God as hardening Pharaoh's heart.  Is it God who hardens the hearts of the recalcitrant individuals in our community?  Really?  Do they have no choice but to be stiff-necked, murmurers in the wilderness?  But maybe I'm conflagrating the stories and I should stick with Paul's used of Pharaoh who needs to remain an unsympathetic villain?  Or maybe, when I witness another's heart being hardened, I am being offered the opportunity to develop more empathy and compassion for the hardening of their hearts, rather than letting the hardening of their heart motivate the hardening of mine?  Can I find empathy for those with hardened hearts?


3) What is the invitation in all this?  To stop comparing or judging "blessings" and "curses" and "mercies" and "burdens;" to let what is, be; and to accept God's presence and guidance to manage hardship.  In the hardening of another's heart, can I witness and be grateful for the opportunity for my heart to be liberated for compassion and empathy?


"Holy One, help us to rejoice when your blessing is apparent on whomsoever you have chosen; help us to rejoice when you have hardened the heart of whomsoever you have chosen."


Breathprayer: "On whomsoever... on whomsoever."



Wednesday, 27 September 2017

"My Conscience... Anguish in My Heart."

I ask for graciousness.  As the days continue to be full, as stress continues to be high, as diverse leaders manage different levels of tension and anxiety, may we be generous with each other.  May we be patient, compassionate, gentle, and empathetic.  May we abstain from anger, self-importance, compulsive behaviour, and discouragement.  May we know and follow Jesus more closely, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly.


Romans 9 1-5
9I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit— 2I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. 4They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; 5to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.


1) "...the truth in Christ;" "...I have great sorrow;" "...unceasing anguish in my heart;" "...for the sake of my own people;" "...my kindred according to the flesh;" "...unceasing anguish in my heart;"


2) There is a "but" coming, the reason for Paul's anguish.  I appreciate the sense of "unceasing anguish in my heart."  I think I'm there.  As I encounter my own shadow again and again, it's "unceasing anguish in my heart," that wells up.  Awareness that there is nothing I can do to will my shadow away... or the shadow of my community/country/species/planet.  And the more I ignore/deny/resist my shadow, the more authority it has.  The more I try to suppress or avoid my shadow behaviour, the more it asserts itself in the very way I would stop it.  The only thing that reduces the power of shadow is to acknowledge it, stay aware of it, and offer it, humbly, to God.  "The adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises;" make no difference except to perhaps raise my awareness. Only humble submission and grace rob shadow of its power.  God help us all.


3) To acknowledge the "unceasing anguish in my heart," and just let it be.  To hold that anguish up in humble supplication, again and again and again.


"Holy One, may your grace prove always to be greater than our anguish."


Breathprayer: "My conscience... anguish in my heart."



Tuesday, 26 September 2017

"The Love of God... in Christ Jesus."

I ask for the grace to pray and meditate faithfully.  I ask for patience, tolerance, empathy, and compassion.  I ask to abstain from anger, anxiety, arrogance, compulsive behaviour, discouragement, self-importance.  I ask to know and follow Jesus more closely, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly.


Romans 8:37-39
37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.


1) "More than conquerors;" "...him who loved us;" "...nor anything else...will be able to separate us from the love of God;" "...nor anything else in all creation;" "...the love of God in Christ;" "...more than conquerors;" "...through him who loved us;"


2) There simply isn't anything that can separate us from the love of God through Christ.  Paul's eloquent conclusion to a rich chapter.  Do we believe this?  Are we convinced?  "...neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God."  Are we always convinced?  While nothing separates us from the love of God... something does separate us from the conviction that nothing separates us from the love of God!  We do not understand ourselves!  What is required for conviction? 


3) What is the invitation in all this?  To hand over assent.  To let ourselves be convinced.  To let go of resistance to the absolute inseparability of us from God's love through Christ Jesus.  To practice sitting in the conviction.  Just sit in the conviction that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor power, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.


"I ask for the grace of conviction.  I ask to be able to rest in that conviction.  I ask for the conviction to fill me from my toes to the top of my head and to flow out my fingertips.  I ask that my thoughts, words and actions be motivated by nothing but this conviction."


Breathprayer: "The love of God... in Christ Jesus."