The Reign of God as more than expected is that power that takes us beyond our own world - our opinions - the way we say things must be - how we name people and things. There will always be another way to go - another way to see - another way to be. I find that I do not climb out of my box very easily. I have expectations and I attempt to see to them come to fruition. The Reign of God as more than expected is the background giggling making fun of all my ways that just must be! Hopefully I hear that giggling and learn to look around and also join the laughter. It is then that I will learn to let go of my expectations and become open to something more than the world I think is under my control - which is usually a lot less than I think.
O God of love and new life, help us to laugh at ourselves and then be open to your ways that call us into new life. Amen.
The Reign of God as more than expected keeps us awake. Tonight there will be handfuls of children who will come to my house. That's it. We do not have lines of children going house-to-house in our neighborhood. Therefore, my expectations are usually low. In fact, I purchase candy knowing that much of it will not be given out. I have found that there is always something little that makes the evening at home worth spending at the door. It may be one character showing up at the door - one character that simply makes me smile. It may also be a simple thank you from a band of young teens who don't even take the time to dress up anymore. And yet, they are still kids - still love their candy. The Reign of God as more than expected will always remind us of the character of God's love that may not be our own character. It is then that we are given the opportunity to step into that character even as we did not anticipate acting in such a way.
O God of love and new life, thrill us with the life of those around us so that we may see more than the biases we lay on the day. Amen.
The Reign of God as more than expected is the power that is able to transform our lives - right now. This also means that the we may be pulled into the routine of the day in a manner that is not as comfortable or as familiar as we would like. I know that all of us have certain patterns to our day. Some of these patterns are a necessary aspect of our work and play - protocols to follow - programs to observe - deadlines to meet - rules to obey. The Reign of God as more than expected works within all of those patterns. Then again, it may be that those patterns are interrupted by the character of God's Reign as it becomes a part of our lives. We then may find ourselves in the middle of more than we ever expected within this day that we tend to know so well. I don't always like it when the day now includes more than that which I expected. For now, my life and my patterns and my preferences/priorities may need to bend to find room for something I did not anticipate. I usually don't like when that happens. As we all know, we can simply step away from that morethat may be making its way into our day. We do it all the time. Our priorities have a way of shutting out that which is beyond our expectations. That, is unfortunate for it may be the Reign of God passing among us.
O God of love and new life, keep us open. Keep our hearts aware of the way you arrive among us to bring life we have yet to experience or even expect. Amen.
The Reign of God as more than expected calls us beyond the patterns placed upon us and the patterns we call our own. I am so inspired by people who act in the ways of the character of God's Reign. They remind me that it is a real life - the vision is not fantasy. The Reign of God as more than expected cracks open the package I carry around with me. The package can be all the ways I put a ribbon around God's Reign as though it is something to simply open and enjoy. There, right when I am quite sure I have it, I am tipped over and must look again for God's Reign will always be a bit more. Therefore, mercy can always be extended a bit further and reshape the world in ways I may have never anticipated. That is a thrilling thing to witness. So often, I try to leave myself open to receive that which I do not expect. I find that even beyond that attempt to be open is the life that is beyond that first expectation. It is there that I can become full of excitement but also fear. This is where I see what I want and what I may not want to see. It is there that I pray that the Holy Spirit leads me and pulls me beyond my own expectations.
O God of love and new life, thrill us with that which is yet to come and that which keeps making your promises of new life unfold before us. Amen.
The Reign of God as more than expected makes sure that we will always be brought in front of life that is not as we have it or want it. It is like walking into a room and seeing that the party has people other than all the folks we thought would be there - some for which we are happy and others - well, ones we did not want to see. And yet, there in this Reign is a fullness that is not under our control - thanks be to God. Sunday at our 11am worship there were moments when I looked out over the congregation and was caught up in the experience of seeing something more than expected. I realized this is a part of the Reign of God as more than expected. It may not mean that all is good or all is just as we like it. I thought of it more as we can be that also - we can stretch and move and come to see the wonder in our diversity even when it opens us up to a life we have yet to expect.
O God of love and new life, enable us to experience the horizon of your Reign - to take in that which is not yet embraced by us and begin to see more still coming. Amen.
The Reign of God as blessed remembrance may be like the slight mistake I made at the end of yesterday's devotion. You may not have noticed. I ended with a comma and not a period. That always means there is something more coming. The Reign of God as blessed remembrance helps us into the future - whatever will come next. That is the promise in the Sinai covenant. "I am the Lord your God - who rescued you out of the land of Egypt" - remember that!? It is the word of remembrance so that the people would know that the covenant into which they were about to enter has an anchor that is already in place and will be. The Reign of God as blessed remembrance gives us a ground on which we can step off into this day no matter how the day looks or how we have evaluated our own lives. Our remembrance is focused on the God who promises and delivers - not on what we have been doing. That is an amazing power for new life even in hopeless days.
O God of love and new life, continue to awaken us to your presence that knows no end and is available to shape us today. Amen.
The Reign of God as blessed remembrance should mean that I would at least remember to post these devotions this week. Geez. Well, that may be a bit of the meaning to these posts this week. The Reign of God as blessed remembrance is that power that keeps calling us back - reminding us of who we are - inviting us back into the way. It is that power that will not let us go - even if it is the simple nudge of a word or image that helps us recall the life into which we have been invited in each of our days. The Reign of God as blessed remembrance may simply be a passing moment in which we come to experience room for the expansive realm of peace and mercy and kindness and justice in a day when our minds have been filled and even consumed by other notions of life,
O God of love and new life, touch us and call us again. Amen.
The Reign of God as blessed remembrance is the experience of taking hold of that which has already been a part of the powerful work of our God. Sometimes it is the simple remembrance of the telling of a parable. Yes, in hearing the story of - let's say - the two sons and the father, we are drawn into the love that we are told will not let us go. In the middle of that remembering, all other judgments in the world and all other actions and all other opinions become null and void. There is one rule - one Reign and there are so many was to remember that it is available to us no matter what this day may bring upon us. The Reign of God as blessed remembrance is a touch - a word - a gesture - a old face - a babe in arms. It is the way we once again find ourselves right in the place God intends us to be - God's eternal embrace. I don't know how when it happens - there is nothing to be planned our figured out. It happens and blessed is the day and time in which it moves over us to open our hearts and lives to the journey of life God has been inviting us to enter. The Reign of God as blessed remembrance cracks open all the wonder and glory and peace of the Scriptures and invites us to take part in the next chapter.
O God of love and new life, bring to mind and heart the blessed ways of your Reign for this day. Amen.
The Reign of God as blessed remembrance is how we are held together over time and nurtured to continue on the way and expect only to be a part of blessed witness of God's beloved. Last week I was sitting and working at a coffee shop (imagine that) and in walked a man whose face I thought I recognized. He wandered by and was simply checking out the place. I spoken up and in a hesitant voice said, "Grayson?" He turned in response. I introduced myself in case he didn't recognize me. He said that I've changed my hair style - then he noticed my ponytail and said, "I guess not." This is for me one of the saints of today that has stood up against all the odds and boldly took his church (United Methodists) in a direction they would not go on their own. He is one of the lead figures in the longtime work of making sure all of God's children are welcome even if the institution says 'NO'. The Reign of God as blessed remembrance keeps us grounded in the lives of ordinary people who stepped up and spoke up and did not let the world of today quiet the eternal word of God's boundless love - even when in so doing they lose ground with some folks. Grayson slipped out of the coffee shop and continued on his walk. It is then that I almost burst out in tears. I wanted to stand up and tell the handful of people in the room that we were just visited by a bold witness of God's Reign - a saint whose resistance against what is has allowed many to become born anew. Whew. What a blessed remembrance that brings with it the power to continue on the way - even when no one notices anymore.
O God of love and new life, thank you for ordinary saints who disrupt the world with your love alive. Amen.
The Reign of God as staying grounded undermines the grounding of the society around us whenever that society or culture acts in ways that our counter to the Reign of God that invites us to walk in its ways. The Reign of God as staying grounded is an available reality that is always calling the world to look again at what it means to be made in the image of our God who invites us into the way of peace and healing and mercy and forgiveness and reconciliation and new life. These are aspects of our grounding. At the same time, the society and culture around us will often ridicule and dismiss us when we walk within this Reign. The power of this Reign is not that it fits in to the prevailing powers around us. When we are a part of this life in which we stay grounded within he vision of God's Reign there is a good chance we will not fit in at all. In fact, we may be perceived as ones who create trouble or rock the boat or can never be satisfied with the way the world is going. The Reign of God as staying grounded means will cannot be simultaneously satisfied with the way things are and walk within God's Reign. We will begin to see and hear and feel the way the two realities approach life in very different ways.
O God of love and new life, when we see the ways of the world around us attempting to steer us into their rule, deliver us into your Reign, O God. Amen.
The Reign of God as staying grounded provides us with a place and a time to breathe. When we are able to breathe, we are more likely to take part in the gift of the Holy Spirit. When we are taken up by that gift, we begin to have eyes for a life that looks like the life of the one some of us call the Christ, Jesus. When we have eyes for that life, it becomes a life into which we can begin to live. It is not a fantasy. It is not a pipe-dream. It is not out of reach. In fact it is at hand. The Reign of God as staying grounded gives us the launching pad from which we will move out into this day when the breath of God takes hold of us and fills us with a life that is as real as the moment at hand. It is in this moment that we are grounded and are being encouraged to stay upon that ground even when there are all sorts of other promises being handed to us. The Reign of God as staying grounded will produce a life among us that may not reflect the culture or society around us - but it will reflect the image in which we are all made.
O God of love and new life, be the firm foundation that sends us out to greet the world today. Amen.
The Reign of God as staying grounded is a reminder that we are already adequately grounded within the ever-present love of God that is the power to transform our character. We are invited to stay in this place that is already ours. Routines like prayer, worship, contemplation, service to others - in all their various forms - keep us reminded of this ground on which we are to stay and from which we are to launch out into all things that we will encounter today. The Reign of God as staying grounded is how we come to see the promises of the world around us that attempt to pull us into their limited domains. As we remember whose we are and the life that we are invited to enter, the other options to life are exposed and we begin to see how they consume us rather than refresh us. We have all heard the words that try to open up to us the character of this grounding: peace, love, nonviolence, mercy, forgiveness, self-giving. They are easy to dismiss as just more words or they can form for us the ground upon which we will make them a part of our character. This is where we continue to included in our prayers the simple calling on God's Spirit to empower us to stay grounded.
O God of love and new life, keep us steadfast in the ways of your Reign. Amen.
The Reign of God as staying grounded opens our eyes to the life already present for us. When we are grounded in this love of God and the vision of what it is to be a living part of such love, there is no need to wonder when or how the Reign of God will come among us. It is already among us. So, as in the Lord's Prayer, we pray that we will be present among us. In that way, the long-winded explanation as to what is or is not the Reign of God becomes the simplicity of the life we enter and the life that is seen by others. The Reign of God as staying grounded enables others to come to an understanding of the concrete nature of this Reign even when there is quite a lack of evidence that it will ever come. It takes the embodiment of this Reign by one person to turn our heads and begin to see how present this new life can be even in our confused and dazed days. I know I can list people who have been such a presence of this Reign in my life. Part of the grounding then becomes real each time I remember them. When the Reign of God is grounded in the life around us, we can recall it - remember it - experience it again. That is part of what we do at the Eucharistic table. We hear of this Reign of God grounded in the life of Jesus and offered up for all to enter. We then remember it - we take that old, often-told story and we make it a part of our present lives. I suppose you could say we re-ground the whole witness.
O God of love and new life, when you come among us, take hold of us and keep us anchored to you. Amen.