An Offering from Donnie: Peace I leave you

Peace I leave you; My Peace I give to you. John 14:27

The gift of Peace was given to us by Jesus as He was preparing His followers to face life on earth without His physical body being present.  It was a gift given to all of us who are His followers.

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(c) Bonnie Oden

Peace in the scriptural sense is an English word translated from the Hebrew word Shalom.  Shalom was a common greeting during Jesus’ time.

Christ entered the world as the Prince of Peace.  During Advent, as I strive to become the person God intended me to be, Peace is one of the avenues I will follow.  I will endeavor to share the gift of Peace with all whom I encounter.  Shalom!

As I journey down this Advent road,

grant me the courage to make Peace.

Peace in my heart.

Peace in my home.

Peace in my community.

 

Donnie Hawley

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An Offering from Eunice: Real Love

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”  John 15:12

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Jesus said a lot about love: about the Father’s and his love for us and about our loving others.  So if Christianity is about our learning to love as Jesus loved, then Advent must be about love.  Real love – not just the sentimentality that we feel when we see Nativity scenes or Santa holding baby Jesus.  Real love – the kind that is willing to say nothing in the face of undeserved criticism; the kind that says something kind when others are piling on; the kind that will hold within the tension of what is and what should be without getting impatient and exhibiting anger.  Perhaps this is what Silesius, the German mystic of the 17th century meant when he said: “Although Jesus was born in Bethlehem, that birth will be of no avail to us unless he is born into our hearts.” 

Eunice Cheshire
Spiritual Director
HeartPaths DFW

An Offering from Nancy J: I wonder…

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens
Your faithfulness to the skies.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. (Psalm 36:5,7)

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(c) Bonnie Oden

I wonder why I resist God’s love.

The Old and New Testament scriptures are full of stories of God’s abiding love for us, despite our many failings and transgressions.  The Incarnation was the glorious embodiment of God’s love, freely and abundantly given to us all.  Surrendering to the will of a loving God seems both right and liberating.  Yet, in a culture that prizes individual achievement above all, the practice of “letting go and letting God” often doesn’t seem natural or even “right”.  Is that why I cling to the notion that my worthiness is determined by what I accomplish? Or do I just prefer to believe that I am in control?

If I lived today with the full awareness that my life and my every breath depend on God’s love and mercy, how would I be different?

An Offering from Bonnie: Finding the Gifts in Chronic Disease

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‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

and do not lean on your own understanding.’

 Proverbs 3:5

I was thinking today about the many blessings I have been given in my life and God blessed me with a new insight.  Many of my blessings have come to me through living with Multiple Sclerosis over the last 37 years. I may not be able to walk tomorrow.  I may not be able to see tomorrow.  Tomorrow, my brain my not function like it does today.  This is the reality I have lived with for 37 years.

I decided early on to live a life full of gratitude for what I have been given instead of living a life in fear of tomorrow; to live a life in the sun instead of the shadows.

The MS episodes have brought me and my wonderful husband closer together.  He has always been there to hold me when I needed extra strength and when I was scared.  This melded us together as a couple until we have truly become one, as God intended.  What a blessing.

Another wonderful blessing I have been given because of MS is photography.  I call it “seeing with the eyes of God.”  Most of my MS attacks have affected my ability to see.  For example, I might wake up one morning and not be able to see out of one of my eyes.  An attack may have lasted only a few months, but I wouldn’t know that until my vision returned.  Photography has been a contemplative prayer way for God and me to communicate.  What a blessing.

I am so glad I choose to live in the sun!

(c) Bonnie Oden 2015

An Offering from PJ– The Trap

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32

Our worried ranch neighbor called and asked us to search for Blue Boy, her precious but curious Blue Heeler, who had gone missing. Because of coyotes and bobcats we sadly expected to discover only a collar or patches of fur, but wanted to offer our friend peace of mind. After hunting through brush, in the oak grove, by the pond, around the house and near the pole barn, we found him trapped but alive! He had survived two days on apples used to bait a 4 by 8 foot wild hog trap. What a pleasure to witness a joyful reunion between relieved ‘mom’ and one happy dog.

Has refusal to forgive trapped you? You venture out each day, trot along in the sunshine of regular routines, sniff out new experiences blissfully unaware of dangers when suddenly you encounter a person or situation that slams you to the ground.

Feelings hurt. “Why would they say that?” You grow angry. “That was incredibly heartless and rude!” Resentment increases. “How dare they! Who do they think they are?” A sense of betrayal rushes in. “How could they treat me like this?! I don’t deserve this!” And thick bitterness blankets and begins to smother. “I’ll get them back! They’ll pay!!”

We’re lured by sweet fruit of revenge, but quickly become trapped in bitterness within a cage of anger and resentment. We enter emotional bondage and find ourselves chained to the offender and bolted to the past. That is until we loosen strangle-holds of destructive thought and release all to God. Forgiveness opens cages and lifts trap doors. Forgiveness enables us to run out and into the open arms of a loving Heavenly Father. Forgiveness ushers in freedom.

God handles life’s injustices far better than you and I ever could. I’m learning to allow Him to do just that.

“Then Peter came and said to Him (Jesus), “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:20-22

Who needs your forgiveness today? Will you forgive?

Springing All Traps Only with God, PJ

COPYRIGHT ©2014 PJ Gover

www.PJGover.com

Holy Week Reflections: John

He is Risen!

 

John 20:12-18

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

An Offering from Eunice: Creating All Things New

“I am about to create new heavens and a new earth.” Isaiah 65:17
 

For me, there are some of the most hopeful words in Scripture. They are echoed in second Peter, “according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth” and in Revelation 21, “then I saw a new heaven and a new earth.” I like to think of the “Kingdom coming” as all of humankind each day becoming a little more like the vision Jesus expressed in the Beatitudes.

The hopefulness of “a new heaven and a new earth” seems so much more attractive than the fatalism expressed in some parts of our society today. We hear things like: “Well, I have always been impatient (or short-tempered, moody, etc.), that’s just the way I am.” Or “there have always been wars and there always will be.”   Why do we let fatalism cast such a dark shadow over us?

Henri Nouwen wrote, “Faith is the deep trust that God’s love is stronger than all the anonymous powers of the world and can transform us from victims of darkness into servants of light.”

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I become excited when I think of myself and the world being transformed little by little each day and evolving into the fulfillment of the “new heaven and new earth.”