Advice from Jesus about almsgiving

Words from Jesus about almsgiving:

21 Lent--week 3--almsgiving--Jesus in Matt 6 3

Jesus must have known people who were giving as a way of showing off to others. They gave to those in need (charities)  as a way to prove to others they were holy, and even “holier” than those around them. As a result, they received a good deal of praise for their actions.

It’s something to think about . . . Do we give to others because we care, or do we give to see our name emblazoned in stone for others to admire?   You can read more of what Jesus said in chapter 6 of Matthew’s gospel. (If you don’t have a bible, just google “Matthew 6  3 ” or “Matthew 6”.)

Until next time, Amen! 

Speaking of fasting . . .

Continuing our week about fasting:

17 Lent--week 2--fasting--Jerome

Guilty.

Need I say more?

On second thought, this also makes me think of how the hungry in the world might feel about academic talk of the value of fasting…  ?   Hmmmm…

Something to think about . . .

Until next time, Amen!

 

Good Friday–Remembering Christ’s immense love

Christians observe Good Friday today.

I find myself pondering what tremendous love God has for each one of us, and all of us together, one gigantic family of humanity.

Candles--palm--Were you there--Julie McCarty

Whether your life is full of joy now or weighed down with sadness, grief, or loneliness, I totally believe that God loves you, just as you are. God’s compassion and mercy is held out, as a gift, to all of humanity, to every single human, and that includes YOU.

You and I may not “feel” this love at all times (it’s only natural!). However, that love radiates out to us, nonetheless.  If I care about you so much, I totally believe that God cares about you much, much more… immensely, infinitely more!

My words are few today.  What can I say when all falls silent, hushed before the immense beauty and mystery of God’s love for you, for me, for all of us?

Until next time, Amen!

 

Whom do you trust the most of all?

While reading Psalms this morning, this verse caught my eye:

Some trust in chariots and
some in horses,
but we trust in the name
of the Lord our God.   (Psalm 20:7)

Whom do you trust--light blue image--Julie McCarty--April 7 2014This psalm is written for those experiencing a time of great trouble, a time of stress and fear. (The first line is “May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble!”)  So I think that the chariots and horses are ways of defending the people, ways of keeping them safe in the time of attack.

The psalmist isn’t saying not to use chariots or horses, but rather that one’s ultimate trust, the One to actually worship and stake your whole life upon is God.

I wonder, if the psalmist wrote this for us today, living in our own culture and time, what would he or she write? There are many possible answers, but here’s one…  a bit of a stinging challenge to us all (Lent is a challenging time, isn’t it?!):

Some trust in private investment,
others in government programs,
but we trust in
the love and mercy of God.

That’s not to say we don’t need private investment or government programs. It’s that these things are not as important as placing all our faith in God.

Trusting in God doesn’t mean everything will “go my way”… That might be what some think, especially those who subscribe to the “gospel of prosperity,” but the God I believe in is much more mysterious and beyond my comprehension. God is not at my beck and call, like a servant waiting to answer my petty little whims.

For me, trusting in God means staking my whole life on the message of love and mercy that Christ taught.  It means being willing to go the extra mile or take the risk to try something new for the sake of others.

Trust means believing that, in the end, it doesn’t matter if I have wrinkles or the Vikings win or which political party has the majority in Congress. Trusting in God means believing that there is something more important and more valuable than any of these things–and that the love we practice here prepares us for the loving embrace of God in the next life.

And, yes, at times, we do this very poorly–but that’s no reflection on the truth of Christ’s message. The fact that we fail to follow through on parts of the gospel is one good reason for the season of Lent: to recognize our sins, faults, weaknesses, and ways we “miss the mark” in our relationship with God and others.

Trust means believing that despite these sins and failings of mine, Christ has overcome sin and evil–and that Christ will continue to overcome sin and evil both now and in the future.

Now it’s your turn:

How would you rewrite the psalm verse for today?
What is the Spirit of God leading you to think about today?

Lenten reflection--Some trust in -- by Julie -- April 7 2014

Feel free to share your answer in the comment section if you like.

May the good Lord bless you. . . Until next time, Amen!

 

 

Lenten reflection: Marc Chagall’s White Crucifixion

I haven’t had the opportunity to blog as often lately, but I thought some of you might like to revisit a reflection I wrote three years ago about Marc Chagall’s “White Crucifixion.” I really enjoy Chagall’s unique style, and the “White Crucifixion” is  an amazing work of art –and good for Christians to ponder as we draw closer to the special time of Holy Week.

The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways: this post was brought back into my awareness when Pope Francis said “White Crucifixion” is his favorite work of art

White Crucifixion--oil painting by Marc Chagall, 1938
White Crucifixion–oil painting by Marc Chagall, 1938

 

I have found that reflecting on the “White Crucifixion” is a kind of visio divina— that is, a prayerful meditation on a work of art. It brings my mind and heart into the realm of paying attention to God. To read that post, visit April 2011 on this blog.

May the good Lord bless you with awareness of his loving presence in your life in the days ahead. . .

Until next time, Amen!

P. S.  If you enjoy this blog, look for “Spiritual Drawing Board by Julie McCarty” on Facebook. 

 

 

 

 

Psalm 1–Delight in pondering the ways of God

If your town is like mine, it has been a very cold, icy, snowy winter. This week my hubby is shoveling snow–off the roof!  (We have to prevent “ice dams” that could cause water to seep inside the house.)

At times like this, it’s nourishing to feast one’s eyes on the green in this picture:

Tree beside stream--photo by Julie McCarty

(click on photo to enlarge)

I was reminded of this photo while reading Psalm 1 this morning (sorry, the margins aren’t what I wanted):

Happy are those
who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
or sit in the seat of scoffers;
but their delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law they meditate day and night.
They are like trees
        planted by streams of water,
        which yield their fruit in its season. . .  (NRSV)

In my prayer journal, I have found it sometimes helps to paraphrase or adapt bible verses for our day and age. When I put something in my own words, it forces me to think about it more deeply. (As a straight paraphrase, one would stick to the text, considering what the author intended. As a prayerful meditation, one can be a little creative.) 

In my case, I reworked the words for my own Christ-centered beliefs. I have respect for the psalms just as they were written, and I know that not everyone will agree with how I have rephrased it. However, that’s one nice thing about a prayer journal: you can explore ideas without worrying so much about what others might think.

Green tree--photo by Julie McCartyHere’s how I adapted this passage:

Blessed is she who delights
in the way of Christ,
pondering it day and night.
She is like a tree
planted beside a stream,
drinking in the waters of the Spirit,
bearing fruit, with God’s help,
in due time.  

I encourage you to try this way of praying. Study a bible passage and then rewrite it in your own words–just for yourself. Seek to really listen to God’s word–and apply it to your own life.

Whatever way you like to pray, may the good Lord bless you this day, with the nutritious waters of the divine Spirit–and the renewed hope that spring is just around the corner.

Until next time, Amen!