When there is no vision, a people perish.–Emerson

Morning Light on Smoky Mountains–photo by Julie McCarty, Eagan MN USA
(click on image to enlarge)

When there is no vision, a people perish.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Funny how getting away from it all for a time can give one a new perspective. Vacations and retreat experiences are important to our well-being. Unhurried time with family, long walks, extra sleep, and different surroundings are good for us on every level.

This summer, while taking some breaks from blogging, I’ve been focusing on other creative activities. I’ve experimented with new plants in the garden and practiced taking photos of nature. I attended a couple of seminars connecting art, writing, and spirituality, and vacationed with my hubby.

Although I haven’t blogged much during the summer, I think the break will be fruitful in the long run. Funny how that works: sometimes when you stop trying, something good is percolating deep down inside. (We’ll see if this is true…!)

In future blog posts, I hope to bring some fresh ideas and new formats. In addition to the longer spiritual reflections now and then, I hope to add some simple creative images (photos, artwork) along with spiritual quotations. I hope to provide starter dough for your own prayer and spiritual reflection, as well as my own.

Mid-August is a time of preparing for the new school year, planning church ministries, and signing up for sports and recreational programs. As I plan activities, the words of Emerson draw me to think more deeply than mere scheduling:

When there is no vision, a people perish.

What is your vision for today and tomorrow? How will you make the world a better place? What is the one thing God is hoping you will do?

Take a moment and just think about it. What is the best thing you could offer God right now? How do you envision your future–and the future of your children, community, and world? What one step you can take today, headed in the right direction?   

(pause and pray if you are a praying person)

Until next time, Amen!

Jesus, Barabbas, and Mob Mentality

But they all cried out together, “Away with this man and release to us Barabbas”—a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city, and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus; but they shouted out, “Crucify, crucify him!”    —Luke 23:18-21.

When I was young, my church began to read the story of Christ’s passion in group format on Palm Sunday. At first, I thought it was rather exciting to be included in reading the gospel aloud—that is, until I realized that we were given the part of the angry mob that chose Barabbas over Jesus.  I hated saying the words, “Crucify him!” In my child’s mind, I thought, I certainly don’t want Jesus on that cross. Why do I have to read this?

Today, when I read this bible passage I think to myself how often I have indeed chosen “Barabbas” over Jesus over the course of my life–not literally of course, but in terms of the many times I have chosen something over or against the ways of Christ.

When we ignore the cries of the poor, we choose “Barabbas” over Jesus. When we refuse to own up to our responsibility for our actions, we choose Barabbas. When we prefer lording over others instead of servant-leadership, we choose Barabbas. When we allow any group, be it a political group, workplace team, media, or social group, push us to act against the teachings of Christ, we choose Barabbas. At times, we may become part of the angry mob of a nation that turns against Jesus, calling for his crucifixion.

Holy Week is a good time to remember that we are all sinners—we all fall short in many ways. It is a good time to ask God for forgiveness, with a humble heart, recognizing our need for the Holy Spirit to guide us in the future. We can trust that Jesus, who willingly suffered on the cross for our salvation, will lead us into newer, better ways of living.

Will you pray with me? . . . .  Lord, help us to be more aware of our sins and failings– and to truly repent of them. I especially ask your forgiveness for …  Please forgive all our sins and help us to trust in your mercy. Pour out your Spirit upon us, so that no matter what the angry mob says or does, we might live more like Jesus. Amen.

 Yes, until next time, Amen.