Blessed are they who dwell in your house, O Lord.
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!
My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the LORD.
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
Happy they who dwell in your house!
Continually they praise you. Happy those whose strength you are!
Their hearts are set upon the pilgrimage.
There’s been a
lot of research about the importance that being in nature has for our mental
and physical health. Scientists sound the alarm about generations staying
inside, addicted to media and electronic gadgets, spending no time even
being in nature much less interacting with it. Everything from our
short-term memories to inflammation and even cancer are positively impacted
by being outdoors. Unfortunately for some, just finding fresh air or a safe
environment in which to be in nature is getting harder.
“How lovely is
your dwelling place, O Lord,”
this magnificent earth you have created for us to enjoy and nurture. The
Living God for which both my heart and flesh cry out is found, not on
illuminated phone screens and laptops, and not just in darkened sanctuaries
and churches, but in forests and fields and mountains and seashores. Our
hearts and souls yearn for the pilgrimage back to the Garden from whence we
But the Garden is
at risk, due again to our greed and lack of awareness. Our need for
immediate gratification and for the ‘latest thing,’ at least in the West,
has led to a throw-away culture of waste and overuse; it is the coming
generations who will pay the price. As the indigenous people’s proverb
warns, “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from
Let us resolve,
as a new year is upon us, to praise God by caring for this dwelling place he
created for us and for all the creatures with which we share the planet; to
model for our children good behaviors by tempering our buying habits and
propensity for waste. Let us always remember how blessed we are to dwell in
God’s house, and let gratitude for that blessing guide how we care for our
Living the Word…
New Year’s resolutions, anyone? How about to care
for ourselves (God’s lovely dwelling places, as well) and to care for Mother
Earth. Commit to finding a way each day to spend a few minutes outside, not
just rushing off to the next thing, but looking around, taking in the vista,
even if it is a dark and dreary day. Exercise outside is even better, but
take time to at least notice the flowers! And resolve to develop new habits,
small changes that help the environment: reduce your energy consumption by
turning off seldom-used electronics; cut down on the use of plastics,
particularly plastic bags; plan meals to reduce food waste. Have the kids or
grandkids take the lead by researching changes the family can make. “And be
thankful.” (Col 3:15). An attitude of gratitude can make a world of
difference and enhance our awareness of God’s gifts.
the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only-begotten Son, full of grace and truth."(Jn
translation of “made his dwelling among us” is “he pitched his tent among
us.” How endearing! It hearkens back to the tent of the Ark of the Covenant
in which God dwells and travels with the Israelites in the desert. It is
God’s preferred place to be with the people as they journey to the Promised
Land (Ex 7:6-7). Jesus too wants to dwell with us in the comings and goings
amid our ordinary days. Are you aware of Jesus’ presence in your life? Is
his tent somewhere on the outskirts or is it a place you just visit on the
Sabbath? Invite Jesus to move closer, to pitch his tent right alongside
yours. Consider asking him to make his home with you.
“So may your way be known upon earth; among all
nations, your salvation. May the nations be glad and exult because you rule
the peoples in equity; the nations on the earth you guide. May the peoples
praise you, O God.”
pray this psalm verse together on this first day of the New Year. The
nations on earth are truly in dire need of God’s guidance and mercy; our
prayer is that God’s way will be know upon the earth and his salvation
granted to all, especially those who suffer injustice, spiritual and
material poverty, sickness in body, mind, or spirit. Prayer is particularly
important if, like me, you are feeling disempowered and unable to affect
change. It is precisely when we feel hopeless that prayer becomes an anchor
and our source of hope. Let us make a commitment to one another as we begin
2019 to be a force for change, through our voices, our actions, AND our
prayers. A Happy and Blessed New Year to you all!
“Beloved: Who is a liar? …Whoever
denies the Father and the Son, this is the antichrist.”
(1 Jn 2:22-28)
The term “The
Antichrist” makes for frightening headlines, but the term is used in
Scripture only by the author of John’s letters. It has evolved as more a
legend, the “beast” of Revelations, the evil one who will rule the world
before the last days. The actual meaning of the term as used in these
letters is clearly less dramatic: “an imposter or usurper of someone else’s
role.’ (David Bentley-Hart) It makes me reflect: do I always act in a way
that represents Christ to the other, or am I sometimes an imposter? Do I at
times deny Jesus by my lack of awareness? No, my sinful nature does not
make me an antichrist, but this passage does remind me how important it is
to really walk the walk. The only way to defeat real evil is with real love
“Beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been
revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we
shall see him as he is.” (1 Jn 2:29-3:6)
to say to the author, “But we do know. We have seen him as he
is. Our destiny as God’s children has been revealed in the person of Jesus.
Our goal is to be like him. Yes, we are God’s children and our earthly task
is to model our lives after his. We pray for the grace to follow Jesus’
example of compassion and love to all we meet, of being willing to stand up
for justice and righteousness in the face of hypocrisy and lies. It has
been revealed--in the face of the man from Galilee. Let us look to him for
courage and strength to live as he lived.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and
followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, "We have
found the Messiah," which is translated Christ.
Think about the
statement Andrew makes to Simon: “We have found the Messiah.” That’s a
pretty bold claim to make. Now we know Andrew has been one of John the
Baptist’s disciples and that John gives Andrew and his companion a head’s up
by pointing out “The Lamb of God.” But it’s obvious in this passage, Jesus
has a profound effect on people. Does Jesus have a profound effect on you?
If not, perhaps you really haven’t yet found the Messiah. Spend time reading
his words in the Gospels. Do they speak of salvation to you?
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, "Here is a true
child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him." Nathanael said to him, "How
do you know me?" (Jn 1:43-51)
Nathanael has just dissed Jesus’ hometown: “can anything good
come from Nazareth?’ Yet Jesus sees Nathanael’s honesty as a quality
(although some scholars suggest this could be a tongue-in-cheek joke on the
Jesus’ part, as Israel—Jacob—was quite duplicitous!) Put yourself in
Nathanael’s sandals: you’ve been invited by a friend to meet this man,
Jesus. Perhaps you’re skeptical as well. Jesus sees you approaching. What
might he say about you? What qualities does he recognize? You ask him, “How
do you know me?” Have a dialogue with Jesus about what he sees in and knows
about you. What can you learn about him?