When we think of spiritual practices that deepen our connection with God, we often think about spending more time in prayer, and of course there is nothing wrong with that. But what if we expanded our notion of prayer to include really being with and welcoming everyone who comes our way, especially those who are suffering.
In one of her letters, Flannery O’Connor writes “All human beings vigorously resist grace because grace changes us and the change is painful.”
The church should be a safe place for all voices, especially those that have been traditionally silenced, not just because it is the respectful and loving thing to do, but because we need each voice. We want to hear every voice, not just because everyone has a right to be heard, but because every voice potentially opens our ears to the ways we are deaf to the needs of others and to a deeper commitment to God’s mission. The mission of the Church is diminished when we remain silent and when we do anything to silence others.
Jonah’s God was turning out to be what Jonah had feared: A God whose love extends even to the Assyrian sinners. This is what Jonah’s final prayer reveals (4:2). Jonah’s real fear wasn’t that the Ninevites would reject him. No. The reason he had fled to Tarshish was that he had a hunch that God’s love was bigger than he wanted it to be. If God loves the Assyrians too, then Jonah wants out.
At times like this I wonder if, as in the story of the flood, God has once again had it with us and wants to start over; that the only answer is a total redo. But then I think of people of faith who want to keep at it. I think of people who embody God’s everlasting commitment to the human project, and I find hope that the intractable problems of our time can be solved
At the same time as Israel is reminded of God’s transcendence and incomparable nature and warned against idolatry, they are also told that there is indeed one created thing that makes God known...humankind.
When life breaks down, we have two choices: We can either redouble our efforts to put our lives back together again and pretend the breakdown never happened. Or we can realize that we are not self-sufficient and need help from a source greater than we are
It seems that about every other week I have a conversation with someone who is lamenting how much they struggle with their faith. “I just wish I was more convinced about the reality of God in my life and what it all means.” Of course, their assumption is that when it comes to the faith journey certainty and undiluted clarity is possible.
I realized that the course of my life has been shaped by forces beyond my control. Yes, my choices have impacted the course of my life, but it is truly the height of ignorance and arrogance to think that I was somehow in control of this journey.
What I have found in my own experience is that having a Sabbath day, which for me is Friday, is key to my well-being. Why is it so important for me? When I stop producing, I am reminded that my value is not connected with what I accomplish