Meditation

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”

- Meister Eckhart, 13th century mystic

 

“Before you know what kindness really is, you must lose things…”

- Naomi Shihab Nye, poet

Week of October 13

Dear Friends,

A couple of weeks ago I was called in for jury duty. Though I had been called up in the past, I had always been excused for one logistical reason or another. This time, I found myself down at the New Haven courthouse early on a sunny September morning in a large room with dozens of other folks. If you have served jury duty, you know it usually involves a lot of sitting around and waiting.

I’ll admit: at first, I felt pretty disgruntled about having to spend my day in an hermetically-sealed room. But as I sat there, looking around at all the other good people putting their normal routines on hold in order to fulfill their jury duty, my inner narrative began to shift. Rather than begrudge a “wasted” day, I focused instead on gratitude: how grateful I am to be healthy enough to be there that day, what a privilege it is to live in a country with a legal system that entitles us to a fair trial by a jury of our peers, how amazing it is that our system works as well as it does when so many countries have no due process at all-- and that average citizens play an important role in it.

To be sure, there are broken places within our system and within our country, nowhere more glaringly so than in the ongoing disparity of justice between our white and black citizens. But it is a justice system built on the principle that all people are created equal, and entitled to equal justice in the eyes of the law. The foundations are extraordinary, even if the execution of justice has been and sometimes still is imperfect and inconsistent.

My day of jury duty ended as uneventfully as it began. My perception of the day, however, was transformed as soon as I chose to lean into a posture of gratitude, rather than one of disgruntled attitude. I left the courthouse feeling it had been a day very well spent indeed.
This Sunday I will be preaching on Luke 17:11-19 and exploring more on the topic of gratitude. Come, and bring an open, grateful heart to Sunday morning worship, to be in fellowship together once again.

Gratefully yours,

Jennifer

Meditation

"The whole person, with all of their senses, with both mind and body, needs to be
involved in genuine worship. It is designed to elicit awe, adoration and gratitude. What begins with holy expectancy must pass through the heart, and become a conscious choice."

Jerry Kerns

Week of October 6

Dear Friends,

Faith is not a possession.  It is not to be put on the shelf for safe keeping.  It is not a cross around your neck.  It is not magic. 

Faith is not mental exercise that arrives at right belief.  Faith is not a moral exercise that ends in right behavior. 

I like these three invitations.

First, faith is a dynamic invitation to tell the truth.  Douglas John Hall offers this frame, “The truth is simple: you have a short time between your birth and your death, and important questions need to be answered.” 

Second, faith is a dynamic invitation to set aside fear and be fully alive.  The poet Joy Harjo speaks to this element of faith:

I release you, my beautiful and terrible fear.

I release you, so now

I am not afraid to be angry
I am not afraid to rejoice
I am not afraid to be hungry
I am not afraid to be full
I am not afraid to be black
I am not afraid to be white
I am not afraid to be hated
I am not afraid to be loved
To be loved
To be loved, fear.

Third, faith is a dynamic invitation to be fully responsible and responsive to the presence of Love.  The world is good, and waiting to be loved.  Dorothy Day speaks beautifully, “It is love that will make us want to do great things for each other.  As such, no one has the right to sit down and feel hopeless.  We have too much work to do.” 

I want this faith.  Maybe you do too. 

Carter 

Meditation

“Have compassion for everyone you meet... for you do not know what wars are going on down there, where the spirit meets the bone.”

—Lucinda Williams, from her song "Compassion"