The Followers of Jesus as upright become easy targets. For rather than go along with how the world runs along its ways, the followers of Jesus may step out of line and go in another direction. Therefore we will be easy to spot. It will not be because we are a preachy people who use a lot of God language and talk quite a bit about Jesus. If that is what we did, we would blend into the rest of the world. Rather, the Followers of Jesus as upright are the ones who wrestle with Jesus' words and actions as we embody them. Therefore, his peaceable rule becomes our standard - his graciousness toward all people becomes our dance - his self-giving love is made visible in the way we stand up for those who are usually forgotten and left out. We are never upright because of the story we can tell. We are upright because of the story we live that looks and feels and sounds like Jesus alive - right now - right here.
O God of love and new life, if we are to be the followers of your beloved, Jesus, make us wise and bold - keep us listening for how your Reign unfolds within this day so that we may stand up right in the middle of it all. Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as upright is how we appear through time. The story line of our character will not change simply to fit into the prevailing images of the day that claim to be able to bring life. Rather, we will hold onto the blessed image of the Christ in which honesty and truthfulness match the eternal image of God's Reign that we can see in the Jesus story. This will be our story even as the world attempts to persuade us to follow lies being sold as truthfulness in a world that seems to run on lies and is afraid of the truth - a world that thrives and prospers on dishonesty. The Followers of Jesus as upright may appear to the world as people with their heads in the clouds or people out of step with the rest of the world. That is because we are. In fact, as people walking upright in the life of the Reign of God it will appear to others that we are turning the world upside down. No - we are simply walking upright into the image of our God.
O God of love and new life, keep us walking within the character of your Reign - te way of Jesus. Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as upright witness to the in-breaking of God's Reign as we face the story of Jesus and call it our story. Such an action invites us to stay in the light of Jesus' witness to God's love and make that light be the light of our lives. This means we must let it shine - we must hold it up - we must walk in the promises of our God that we see realized in Jesus and even now becoming a part of the way we move through this day. The Followers of Jesus as upright are called to enter this day as though we can be a part of the healing and transformation of the world as we take on this character of Jesus' life and lift it up to be seen by others.
O God of love and new life, though it is not easy to embody the Christ within the ordinary days of our lives, you continue to hold us up and faithfully bear a witness to the life of your Reign we know so well from the life of Jesus. We thank you, O God Amen.
The Followers of Jesus as upright is a position of vulnerability. It invites potshots - criticism - humiliation - rejection. These kinds of responses take place because as we follow Jesus we do not settle for the world going along in the way it always has. When the world around us suffers from the dis-ease of intolerance we do not act as though it will simply go away. Rather, we are invited to step up and be a witness to lives that can be open to all without qualification. The Followers of Jesus as upright take issue with words and actions that feed off of stereotypes and fears and hatred. Therefore, we will not follow the crowd. You see, the crowd never follows Jesus. It usually followers a commercialized version that is made to fit into the shadows of the world powers and influences. The Followers of Jesus as upright have an understanding that as we step out of the shadows of the world powers, we will be identified as a different creature - a different character that is not appreciated for not going along with the world. And yet, we continue on the way.
O God of love and new life, sustain us as we hold onto the vision of the way of your beloved, Jesus. And then, teach us to rest on the ground that is handed to us for life. Amen.
For the last year I wrote devotions that started with The Reign of God as... Today i will start a series:The Followers of Jesus as... So. The Followers of Jesus as upright.. If you have any comments firstname.lastname@example.org .
The Followers of Jesus as upright is a reminder that no matter what the world may attempt to do to trip up the followers of Jesus, we are meant to brush ourselves off and keep moving forward - moving into God's Reign within the full character of our Lord, Jesus. The Followers of Jesus as upright turn their back to the conservative and liberal views of the world and that which they think will be the way the world is to be seen. Rather, we sit and stand and act in a way that makes sure God's living Reign is easy to view among us. There is nothing hidden - we display the upright nature of Jesus' presence.
O God of love and new life, fortify our lives with the power of your Spirit that we will be the light of our lives. Amen.
The Reign of God as a surplus of grace is like a shower that simply keeps dumping on us and will not let us get dry - at all. So bask in the grace - let it rain down - smile - give yourself up to what it will move you to do - enjoy - be at rest. Ahhh.
O God of love and new life, rain down your grace upon us. Amen.
The Reign of God as a surplus of grace makes Ash Wednesday a reminder of the eternal love of God. Even when we are dust - even when we are ashes, we are still handed a life that is shaped in the form of the cross. We are still invited to live as though the power of the Reign of God can be fashioned out of a smudge of ash or a reference to dust. The Reign of God as a surplus of grace takes what is and calls it holy. In that naming, the world changes - we change - those around us change. It is always the beginning of a journey into the very depths of our humanity. From ashes - from dust - God makes all that is needed to create the life of God's Reign. That includes you and me. Even when we think little of ourselves or even when we blow ourselves out of proportion - our God takes what is and shapes us. That will involve lifting some up and that will involve bringing some down. All in all, the Reign of God will become home for all of us.
O God of love and new life, bring us home into your Reign of grace. Amen.
The Reign of God as a surplus of grace gives no excuse to cutting off anyone. Somewhere in the depths of our humanity, we find it easy to say no - limit our love - forget about some folks. And then, there is the Reign of God in which grace abounds and all find an eternal home. That statement drives some folks nuts. That is especially the case because part of our limited selves is that we do not want this grand Reign of God graciousness - for them. The Reign of God as a surplus of grace means do not worry - rest in God alone - live in the light of the Christ. Though we live in a world and society that somehow makes grace a commodity or a special gift tucked away for the right kind of people, as people who live within the Reign of God, grace is the very breath of our lives. It is the power that sustains us and it is the power that moves us beyond whatever the world wants and brings us into this surplus of grace that will eternally hold us and shape us and build among us a character of life the world too easily dismisses.
O God of love and new life, let you grace sustain us and shape us.. Amen.
The Reign of God as a surplus of grace pushes us beyond anything we can imagine. I suppose we see it most when we are awakened to how much more forgiveness can be offered to others. Yes, we can go there - we can forgive again - we can be the instrument of forgiveness that moves everyone into the realm of God's love. The Reign of God as a surplus of grace is available for those times in which we cannot see how we will make it into the next day. Too often we think we must stop or pull back or we are not meant to go on. And yet, this Reign of God always leaves a door open - always leaves some crumbs that will sustain us for a new day. It is so easy to limit how we can experience grace - but we do not have a say about how abundantly God's grace will encounter us and change the world in which we live.
O God of love and new life, pour down your gracious presence and lift us up into new life. Amen.
The Reign of God as a pathway makes it real. It is not a dream world - it is not something out there after this life - it is not like a movie we watch of someone who really lived it all. It is a pathway. It is something into which we step - we take to the road. For too long, too many folks looked at biblical images and faithfulness as something we thought about - something we were simply to agree to - something we believed. The Reign of God as a pathway puts all that thinking and believing into 'boots on the ground.' The Reign of God as a pathway becomes the journey we each enter today as we turn the character of God's Reign into our character. It is as though as we are seen - so is a bit of the Reign of God. We are not getting some place - we are there already - the Reign of God is the pathway - the life - the love - the gift of life that reveals the graciousness of God's domain into which we claim to live and walk and talk.
O God of love and new life, take us along your way of life that we will be a living presence of your Reign in this day. Amen.
The Reign of God as a pathway is life written with a sense of a future. God's Reign leads us into a new life - a new world - a new opportunity to be simply who each of us has been called to be. Even when we feel as though we are at the end of what is possible, there is this pathway. Most often, we may never have seen it before that moment. It may also be a pathway that has not felt the weight of others. In a very biblical way, we are invited to take a step - enter the journey - leave one life behind and venture out into a new life that we cannot yet see completely. The Reign of God as a pathway invites us to take promise seriously and begin to move into that which is not yet - but will be just as promised. This could be why so many people decide not to step into this Reign - it is not something we control or can own or have in hand. It is always within the next steps.
O God of love and new life, guide us as we step forward and take you up on your promise of new life. Amen.
The Reign of God as a pathway shows movement. It is not right here. It also is there - down the road - around the corner - over the hill. The Reign of God as a pathway makes its way through strange place and into the midst of strange people. In fact, in those places and among those people, I may be the strange one. Too often, religious type folks like to think that we have arrived - this is it - nothing else can be the way it is to be. And then, our eyes are open. We may see that the place and life in which we live is really not the incarnation of the vision of God's Reign. We may also see that the life of the 'other' can be more like the way of life we hope we would live. The Reign of God as a pathway takes us beyond the places in which we find ourselves and the places we find to be just as we think life should be. For when we are so set in this place of our own, it becomes the place that takes on the character of so much of that which is not the Reign of God. When we do keep moving along the pathway, it is easy to become suspicious of others, afraid of what might come next, fixated on preserving our own lives over and against others. The Reign of God as a pathway, leads us into the possibility of life filled with that which is not yet known and that which may enhance our lives more than we ever expected.
O God of love and new life, let your Spirit take us down the pathway of your Reign so we might begin to see more and more of your glory. Amen.
The Reign of God as a pathway is something I really need to envision. There are weeks or days when I seem to be so 'off' - so 'out of it' - so 'lazy', that I need to know that life can still be transformed. It is then that I need to be reminded of this life that is always right out there in front of me - even as I feel so 'off' and 'out of it.' The Reign of God as a pathway is not run by how I feel. The pathway does not vanish when I'm not able to get up and get going. The pathway does not stay open only when I am walking on it. The Reign of God as a pathway is always there. Sometimes I stumble upon it as I am trying to go in another direction. Sometimes as I am attempting to go about life the way I want it to go, there is that pathway off in another direction inviting me to come and walk there. Last week I had a strange time of it. I was late getting things done - I was on top of other things - I had time to think - I felt like time was slipping away - I eventually got sick and slept longer than I have ever slept in one day. I was so off my game it was distressing. And yet, it is only as I have had the time to breathe today that I started to see that pathway again and life is not about being on my game. Now, I at least know there is a way forward.
O God of love and new life, be available again for us today. Amen.