Aside

Thou who art of purer eyes than to behold evil
and canst not look on wrong,
why dost thou look on faithless men,
and art silent when the wicked swallows up
the man more righteous than he?
Hab 1: 13
And the LORD answered me:
“Write the vision;
make it plain upon tablets,
so he may run who reads it.
For still the vision awaits its time;
it hastens to the end — it will not lie.
If it seem slow, wait for it;
it will surely come, it will not delay.
Behold, he whose soul is not upright in him shall fail,
but the righteous shall live by his faith.
Hab 2: 2-4

Here I was, busily thinking how life does seem so unfair at times. People do all sorts of dreadful things yet still they prosper, whereas I ….. and then the phone rang. It was a marketing call. I hate them, they are so intrusive. Yet that doesn’t excuse the rudeness with which I hung up the phone. Nor should the irritation of something so minor still be coursing through me. People in glass houses …. I’m not the innocent righteous person I like to think I am.
God, thank you for pricking the balloon of my false pride. I need reminding that I am no better than anyone else. Stir self-knowledge in me so that I can address the ways in which I annoy others and treat them badly. Teach me humility.

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Aside

The point is this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
2 Cor 9: 6-7

It’s good to be reminded sometimes that with God, we don’t have to do anything. It’s our choice, we have free will. But we need to understand the consequences of our choices. If we’re mean, selfish, unkind, lacking in generosity, that’s how the world will ultimately deal with us. On the other hand, if we open ourselves to others, giving of all the gifts we have, those gifts will multiply. We reap what we sow.
God grant me the heart of a cheerful giver.

Aside

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Ps 51: 5

What is original sin but to be born human, with all its attendant frailties. We have our own flaws and we’re likely to absorb something of the flaws of our parents and those with whom we spend significant time. But we have our good points too and we absorb the good from those around us as well. Both of these, the good and the bad, become ingrained as though at times we’re on autopilot. What we really need to do is stop and think. What am I doing unconsciously? What is bad and needs to be curbed, what is good and needs to be encouraged?
God grant me the ability to know myself and to promote healthy growth within me for my benefit, for the benefit of those around me, and to give praise and thanks to you.

Aside

Thus says the LORD:
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
With weeping they shall come,
and with consolations I will lead them back,
I will make them walk by brooks of water,
They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,
and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the LORD,
over the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and over the young of the flock and the herd;
their life shall be like a watered garden,
and they shall languish no more.
Then shall the maidens rejoice in the dance,
and the young men and the old shall be merry.
I will turn their mourning into joy,
I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
Jer.31: 2, 3, 9, 12-13

A prayer for beloved friends in times of trouble, that God will lead them through stress to calm, from turmoil to peacefulness.  
May our tears be turned into dancing …. in the city of God.

Aside

… in the fourth watch of the night he [Jesus] came to them, walking on the sea.
But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.
But immediately he spoke to them, saying, “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.”
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus;
but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”
Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?”
And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
Matt 14: 25-32

Fear is such a stumbling block, for some it’s crippling. Fear of doing the wrong thing, mucking things up, displeasing those whose opinions matter to us (or worse, people whose opinion doesn’t matter), pain, illness, getting the sack, losing the roof over our heads. Yet these things happen all the time and people survive. How? Something in us drives us on, doesn’t let us give up. To those of us who believe, that’s God in action. Oh that we would recognise it a bit more often. Our fears would lessen, our courage grow.
Let me pray the prayer of the father of the sick boy (Mk 9: 24): “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Aside

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves; and he was transfigured before them,
and his garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
And there appeared to them Eli’jah with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus.
And Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli’jah.”
For he did not know what to say, for they were exceedingly afraid.
And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”
And suddenly looking around they no longer saw any one with them but Jesus only.
Mark 9: 2-8

We believe that Jesus is both the Son of God and a fully human person. But mostly it is the human Jesus we relate to. Rarely we might have an experience of God, as the disciples had at what we now call the Transfiguration. I count three such experiences. I have no idea of that is more or less then others. It’s not a competition, it’s not something you can call up at will, no matter how you might try to “think yourself” into the moment. It is a gratuitously given, graced, overwhelming feeling of the presence of God, like no other, not something that can be described. One was like God coming in the wind, not a gentle breeze but a raging off-shore gale. But the others were in mundane situations, walking down the street like any other day but not like any other day. A momentary departure from ordinariness.
Thank God for making your presence known to me in the ordinary and the occasional extraordinary. Help me use these moments to transform my life for good.

Aside

Now this I affirm and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds;
Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts,
and be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Eph 4: 17, 22-24

To be counter-cultural has usually meant not following prevailing fashion, be it where you live, what you wear, what job you do, what your drugs of choice are. To be a counter-cultural Christian means a change of mind and heart. It can, of course, affect home, clothing, livelihood – but to do good, not to be different. We who want more are the new Gentiles. We are the ones who need to change.

It is frankly immoral that FTSE 100 chief executives increased their pay last year by 12 per cent as the rest of society suffered the austerity caused by the greed of bankers in the first place.
After 400 years of capitalism, 40 per cent of the world’s wealth is owned by 1 per cent of its people, leaving only 1 per cent of the wealth for the poorest 50 per cent. We spend more money on ice cream in Western Europe than it would cost to feed the entire world, and I believe that the same is true of pet food. The three richest people in the world own more assets than the 600 million poorest.
Paul Moore – The Tablet, 7 July 2012

God, grant the needs of all the world. Soften the hearts of stone of those who build walls around themselves to protect their unwarranted fame and fortune.