Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Glory in This Day

Well into July, there is a glory in this day seldom experienced around here this deep into summer. We have traded winds from the southwest for winds from the northwest, a pattern not unheard of but infrequent for our summer weathers. In the low 80s, humidity is tolerable. Clouds and sky have not hazed into each other in nondescript color. Rather the clouds, white and light gray beneath, insubstantial as they would be were we flying through them, but seemingly massive and dense from earthly vantage, slowly move in sharp relief against the clear enamel of cerulean sky. Leaves of tulip poplar and bigtooth aspen and beech, on fractal branches from sturdily rising trunks, play their solid and varied greens on the breeze, under the pure light. A cardinal flits about, feathering the trees and grasses with bolded red. Today these created things body forth glory and praise without trying - simply by being. The kingdom of God is near.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Leaves Live Light upon the Wind

In this trinity of tree and dawn and air,
chlorophyll now greens your glory, Lord,
as leaves live light upon the wind.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Love is Grace, Love is Gift

St. Paul makes clear that none of us deserves a relationship with God on the basis of our worth, in character or deed. "For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God ...." (Romans 3:22a-23, New Revised Standard Version.) All of us must say in the end, whether to God or to any person who loves or cares for us, "You are good to me; I don't deserve it." Hence, in our relationships with each other, in marriage or in family or in friendship, when we love and care for one another, we image in our own small but true way the divine character and deed, that we are all "justified by ... grace as a gift." (Romans 3:24a, NRSV.)

It is true that for various reasons we experience some people as simply, intrinsically more lovable. We find that caring for certain people - spouse, family member, or friend - comes more easily and naturally, perhaps even compellingly. Yet no one is
wholly lovable, even ourselves. We may joyfully and affectionately connect with the best self in another person, yet no one is entirely his or her best self. Therefore, when we truly love and care for another, we embrace both that person's best and worst self - in grace as a gift. Likewise, when a person truly loves and cares for us, that person embraces both our best and our worst self - in grace as a gift. In the end we all must acknowledge that, in God's sight and even in the sight of those around us, we fall short, we sin, we do not deserve. None of us merits love from and a relationship with another person.

So when we love and care for another, we image God's character and act, in creation and redemption. Love is grace. Love is gift. Essentially. From first to last.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Consider a Basic Thought about Work and Worth

Consider a basic thought about work and worth which is most essential to understand. Work is not the measure of our person. If it were, then many persons would measure as worthless. I think here of those for whom work is no question at all – the severely handicapped, the chronically infirm, the imprisoned, the utterly destitute in this land and other lands. For them work as the measure of their person would be but burden and condemnation. But in God’s sight, important as work ought to be, it is but part of a total scheme of things, and in this divine scheme the ultimate and therefore true measure of a person’s worth is God himself. Namely, it is God who measures the person, so to speak. It is God who accords worth to each person. When we seek the measure of a person, we go to the cross on which our Savior and Lord died, and we see God’s ultimate affirmation of this world and the persons who live in it. Do we see there the intrinsic goodness of persons or the intrinsic value of human beings? No, we see that God gives worth, and so in this ultimate giving do we see where persons – equally, with no pleading of one’s ability or skill or virtue or ambition or perseverance of courage, for at the cross all such illusions and oppressions of self-worth are stripped of their vain power and appeal – stand. They stand judged and redeemed by the holy mercy of God, incarnated and manifested in Christ. They stand made worthy by the very God who made them stand at all.