In light of the social and political divisions that are becoming more and more apparent, if not more prominent, in the United States and in the ‘Western World,’ I’d like today to offer a prayer and a reminder.
First, a prayer: “Lover of the poor, defender of the needy, sanctuary of the rejected: For those who suffer injustice today, for men and women who cannot provide food for their families, and for whole communities who fear today and have no hope for tomorrow, we offer the longings of our hearts in prayer. We seek for them, O God, the gifts that are dear to us: Food for the table, drink for the soul, shelter in the night and open arms to welcome us.” (from Celtic Treasure by J. Philip Newell)…Amen.
Second, in light of the multitudes of sermons preached this last weekend on the Beatitudes, which I applaud, a reminder from later in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they?”
So that’s my sermonette for the month. On to my ‘recommendations’ for the month. Here are some books, a podcast and a video that you might find worthwhile:
- The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation and Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr — I’m sensing a theme here. I’d already been doing some reading on the Trinity, and then earlier this month, I had the privilege of attending a local conference featuring Fr. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest, writer and theologian who founded the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, N.M. In several sessions, Rohr touched on the high points of his book The Divine Dance. He’s not alone in his assessment of how Christians have (mis-)appropriated the doctrine of the Trinity, and I’m convinced he’s on to something.
- Podcast on ‘Navigating Life’s Journey — If you’re finding yourself in the midst of transition and you’d like some help in determining where God might be leading you next, consider listening to “Navigating Life’s Journey.” (And read Rohr’s Falling Upward.) This recent podcast challenges you to ask four basic questions about your life in order to gain perspective, clarity and the ability to plan next steps. (Shared courtesy of Mary Wade and the Paterson LifePlan process.)
- This Month in the Church Year — I’ve learned over the years to appreciate the Christian ‘church calendar’ for marking important events from the Scriptures, from the story of Jesus and from the story of his followers. I’ve chosen to begin highlighting these rhythms here each month because they help me to remember, which for me is half the battle in faithfully following the way of Christ. Perhaps they’ll help you as well!…Each year in the West, Jan. 6 marks the ‘feast day’ of The Epiphany, also known as ‘Theophany’ or ‘Three Kings’ Day,’ during which many Christians celebrate the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ. Appropriately, Epiphany begins the liturgical season of ‘Epiphanytide,’ which runs through the entire month of February.
- Immigration & Casa de Paz — Last month I attended a presentation about immigration, definitely a hot topic right now. Two volunteers with Casa de Paz, a local ministry that serves families of immigrant detainees, talked about their experiences. (I profiled Casa de Paz and founder Sarah Jackson in 2012 and since then Sarah has taken things to a new level!) Below is one of the videos they showed to summarize some challenges surrounding immigration in the U.S. today.