Archive, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Trusting God to Provide

Trusting God to provide sounds almost cliche, but it’s just about where I am as I reflect on our Gospel for this weekend. As I was writing, my wife called in a panic and upset. Her car died in the fast lane somewhere in Connecticut, about two and a half hours from home. In unfamiliar surroundings, she didn’t know what to do. I gently calmed her down, made sure she was in a safe place, and instructed her to call 911. Thank heaven for technology, and thank you Jesus, she was unharmed. The car was towed, and she called from the shop, “I got bad news and more bad news.” “OK” I said. “The timing belt went and ceased the engine, it will cost $2300.00 at least to repair,” she said, “or I can sign the title over to the shop.” The car is more than 11 years old. “Go ahead and sign the title over. We’ll figure it out.” I said. “God will provide.”

How this all ties in:

I find it hard to extract this week’s Lectionary Gospel reading Luke 21:5-19 from the rest of the chapter without being led astray into an apocolyptic wonderland. It’s easy to insert ourselves and think of all the doom and gloom destruction happening in our world around. Famine, earthquakes, floods, war; we have become all too accustomed to seeing violence and death. The images from our news of rubbled buildings and crushed stone from missile and rocket launches easily come to mind as we read the warning from Jesus in our Gospel. Even today, as I write from the comfort of my own home, nations, and people are being bombed, and another senseless school shooting grasps our attention.

Do not be dismayed. Do not be led astray. There is more than this impending destruction. There is more, much more to the story. There is more to this chapter, and what Christ has to offer, what Christ is promising. It is ever so important to understand this passage in its proper context to the whole of the chapter and not isolated from the entirety of the story. It is more than a warning of impending doom. It is wisdom and promise.

The Wisdom:

At the end of Chapter 20, Jesus warns against the scribes, the teachers who are well dressed, and speak lofty prayers but devour the widow, the poor and those who are most in need. It’s a warning against being led astray by those who live false lives.

In the beginning of Chapter 21, Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, and the story continues with Jesus in a part of the temple known as the court of women. This is where the treasury boxes for donation sat out for worshippers to donate. Seven in total, one was dedicated for temple tax and the others were freewill offerings. These freewill offerings were used to expand and adorn the temple over a 46 year period under Herod the Great.

He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”

Jesus shares with the diciples the story of the poor widow and explains that this woman, giving her two coins gave more than any other. He exclaims that the wealthy gave out of excess, but she havng no excess willingly gave all that she had and was. She did not live on money and riches; she lived with strength and faith trusting that God will provide, putting God first above all things.

The disciples see the external adornment of the temple, its grandiosity takes them and they fail to see the spiritual bankruptcy. I heard a priest from a wealthy congregation once say, “People think my congregation is just fine because they are sitting in six million dollar homes, but they fail to realize that they are sitting alone with their stuff. They are sitting worried over their heroin addicted child. They are coping with their terminal diagnosis, or the loss of their spouse.” He wanted to state a point. He wanted to let us know, his people were hurting too, they weren’t their adornment.

Jesus makes the disciples aware of their failure to see past the facade, to see the hypocricy, and the oppression of the institution. He prepares them for rejection, and the impending death of the Son of God, which will happen at the hands of the well-adorned religious authority. Jesus brings them awareness, then prepares the disciples for the difficult times ahead. He warns them again against false prophets, political chaos, natural disasters, and persecutions. He then gives the disciples assurance, that they will not be alone, that the Holy Spirit will be with them, comfort them and give them the words they need when the time comes. God will provide.

The Promise:

19 By your endurance you will gain your souls.

I don’t ascribe to the saying, “You will be tested.” I don’t believe God “tests” us. I do believe however, that life our lives on earth will experience with human heartache and pain. That there are disasters and wounds beyond our control and that God calls us to remain steadfast in faith with trust and prayer. The poor widow stood in the temple. She had the gift of strength, the gift of resiliency and endurance, and gave it back to God, trusting and believing, putting God first.

Thoughts for this week: Where are we? How far have we come? What are the gifts God has given us? Do we use these gifts to put God first. Perhaps you are in a time of life that is in the midst of destruction, that is tearing down the old and all that you knew. Have faith and know that a resurrected life in Christ is coming. It’s hard in the middle of pain, in the middle of illness, in the middle of trauma, in the middle of whatever it is that distracts us from God to recognize the promised life to come. Hold still, endure, keep faith. Give what has been given to you and know, God will provide!

And if you happen to be in a place of grace, whole and uplifted, having come through adversity or pain, give thanks and reach for another.

Blessings and Love,

Mo. Allison+

Archive, Uncategorized

Saints and Mosaics, the shaping of our Lives

One of the magical pieces to visiting the Holy Land are the remnants of many lasting mosaics left by those who came before us. Floors of synagogues, homes, public spaces and temples that withstood the test of time, speak stories. Speak stories of those who cultivated the tile, those who colored and designed it, those who carefully cut and laid it, those who commissioned it, those who walked upon it, kneeled and prayed on it, shared in liabations, created families and built relationships. Deep, in the grit, they tell the stories of the footsteps of war, and peace, and education, knowledge, hope, faith and history. They echo ancient voices in song of wonder and lament, absorb tears from heaven and invite us to touch our ancestors today. Though weathered, through the dust of ages they remain. They take to the shape of the ever shifting ground on which they were laid. Uneven swells and decline, like the softness of clay, pressed upon by the potter’s hand, perfectly imperfect. We are witness to their display, and formed by their existence.

Our lives, like that of the mosaic, are similiarly formed. Bit by bit, piece by piece, reflecting both darkness and light. We are formed by the people we encounter, ever changing , ever growing, ever shifting, even if so slightly amending to the swell and decline of life’s waves, rippling ups and downs over the course of time.

There are those who have touched our lives with soft and gentle hands, with the sweetness of oil whose memories remain dear and wholesome, leaving that piece, that section, that time of our life with buffed and soft edges adding to the brightness of our mortal soul and the gladness in our hearts. These are our teachers, mentors, loved ones and friends, sometimes even strangers who left their tender mark with kind words, an assist, a smile, a nod or lent a hand when we were in most need. Oh, how we remember these our Saints.

There are also those long dark pieces, the ones with the sharp and ridgid edges. The ones that have been shattered, put back together and repositioned. The ones that were left and marked by the people who disappointed us, let us down, betrayed or hurt us deeply. These special pieces mended and re-afixed, they too are the beautiful pieces that create and form us into becoming who we are as one body in Christ. Though sometimes we wish to forget, these too, we are compelled to remember.

This weekend, we celebrate the Saints, we celebrate all who have come before us and have left an indelible mark on our lives and the life of our Christian Body. We recognize and give thanks for the struggle, the strife and the ultimate victory of each who followed in the footsteps of Christ, creating the mosaic of our lives. Perfectly, imperfect.

As we remember, may we also hear the charge. Christ calls us to strive and to live as the Saints, picking up our cross, marching to Calvery and proclaiming Christ’s victory over death. Here we have a responsibility to each other and to the body of Christ; to Love one another, to Love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us, to bless those who curse us, to pray for those who abuse us, to offer forgiveness and mercy and to selflessly give to everyone, no barrier, no exception, everyone! Diligently working in good faith, may we act toward each other as we would have others act toward us, for we are the crafters of the mosaics in each others lives. Be the person who buffs, shines and smoothes the edges of another. Leave no ridgidness in scar. Heal and mend the broken pieces.

Dying for our sins, Christ has given us new life, eternal life in him. Give thanks for the gift of witness, the gift of all who have come before us and for those who continue to touch our lives and buff our edges and color our soul with the brightness of Christ, the Love of God. Soon we too will be called and welcomed home; until then may we continue to form, grow and add lovingly to the mosaic of our lives.

Blessings, 
Mo. Allison+
Archive, Prayers

 

9/27/2018

senior sermon

The Collect

Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and mortals: Mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

 

Archive, Holy Land 2018, Uncategorized

Holy Land 2018: We have arrived!

“Let us come alive to the Splendor that is all around us, and see the beauty in ordinary things.” Thomas Merton

After a wild trip through JFK airport, a one hour delay and a 10 hour flight squished like sardines with some really awesome food, we arrived at the Leonardo Plaza in Netanya. We left the States in the dark and arrived here in Israel in the dark which is kinda weird but considering the lack of sleep I had, I think it’s going to work out just right. We entered our hotel shortly before nine pm, set our bags aside, grabbed a bite to eat, and set out for a short exploratory walk to stretch our legs.

All ready we are in awe of the Mediterranean Sea in which we are in walking distance to. The sand is as soft as pillows of powder beneath our feet. Unlike the ocean in which we are a custom, the sea smells different. I’m not really sure how, just different. Michael said, like pepper, maybe. Maybe that’s it, or maybe it’s just fresher as it fills the explorers, the seekers in us with new life. We walked down to touch the sea. Even in the dark its vast presence and carried history played the voices of hope, courage and mission from long ago. With every lap, lap, lap, we took a moment to recognize how Paul must have felt at that given moment before setting out for Greece. It’s those “spirit moments” even in the midst of joking seminarians and one Academic Dean, that just get at you and invade your being.

Netanya is a beautiful place. I sure can see myself spending some time here as a seaside getaway. It has that vibe with a mix of restaurants, amphitheater, even what appeared to be a flea market on the sand along the water. It’s alive. Being near the water has a way of doing that.

Short, brief update as we are ready to retire and have a truly early start. I close my eyes with a great sense of peace and an excited anticipation for our real first full day tomorrow. We will visit Joppa, Caesarea, Megiddo and make our way over to Tiberius for the night. I’m sure tomorrow I will have some really great pics to share.

Somehow we traveled through time and are about to embark on an adventure of a life time, funny how it feels like I’ve been here before.

Lord Jesus Christ, you are the pathway to all truth and the guide of our lives. It was you who led Joseph safely to Egypt and the Israelites through the Red Sea. You led Moses to Mount Sinai and all his people to the Promised Land. You led Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, to Egypt, to Nazareth. It was you yourself who traveled the side of Cleopas and his companion to Emmaus. Today, we pray you, Lord, lead us safely on this journey that lies before us. Save us from all enemies, visible, and invisible, and bring us safely to our destination: for you are our way, our truth, and our life, and to you we give glory and worship, now and ever and to the ages. AMEN – Adapted from St. John Garnetsi, the Armenian (1180-1245)

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Preparing to go!

Excitement is building as we scurry around campus with last minute details, printing boarding passes, downloading good music, books and movies for our plane ride ahead. Each of us have our own desires and expectations as we embark on this adventure to the Holy Land and we are bringing “all” of ourselves along.

Open to the Holy Spirit and where she moves, I feel the complexities of all that I am longing to know my God, my Christ more intimately; desiring also to see through our Mother’s eyes and know the sufferings and joy of her heart along the way. Here I am, an insignificant soul a midst the vastness of the world’s possibilities. I am a spirit, a mother, a wife, a seminarian, a servant of our most high God marked by experience, branded by genetics open to the love and will of our Savior. In this moment I feel so small yet so deeply loved and full of appreciation for all those who have made this journey for me, for us, possible. To all of you I have the responsibility to fulfill my promise and study, and learn and grow.

The further I study the theology of trauma the more I recognize that our identity as a spiritual people, as a Christian people, lay at the center of our pastoral application to those who suffer, to those who seek, to all of those in need. So is there really any better way to deepen my knowledge, faith and practice than to go back to our roots and touch the earth that our Lord once felt on the bareness of his skin. It would seem to me that there is no better way to come to my identity in Christ more thouroghly than on this journey.

Yesterday, I heard testimony to the transformation that has worked it’s way through me and still I hear in those around me, how this trip will further transform my very being. Even the woman at the Target cash register expressed her excitement for me with, “Oh how you will be transformed.” I didn’t know her, but she doesn’t stand alone. Her sentiments were repeated a number of times to me and oh, how I am embracing each moment.

Many of you have asked for me to keep this journal and post pics. I carry each of you in my heart and in my prayers. I pray you will take a moment from time to time and check in as I post pics, thoughts and daily adventures from us all.

Blessings and Love to each and everyone.

Allison