Christ awaken us to ourselves: An offering from Eunice Cheshire

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Romans 8:9-11

Our God is not one who holds us at a distance, but a God whose Spirit comes to dwell within us.  Our God is a God who shares his very life with us!  This is exciting news even to us who are accustomed to hearing it, and I find it fascinating to imagine the looks on the faces of the members of the Roman community to whom Paul sent this letter.  In our busy world, the challenge in this scripture for us may be in first learning to be present to ourselves in whom God dwells.   Otherwise, could it seem that we are dead to Christ alive in us?  Our Easter prayer may be a sincere request that Christ awaken us to ourselves and to His presence alive within us.

(c) 2018 Eunice Cheshire
HeartPaths Core Faculty
Spiritual Director and Supervisor

Remembrance of the sacrifice: An offering from Nancy Jagmin

The precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.

1 Peter 1:17-20

It’s a pretty difficult image to live up to.

Peter reminds us that we have the responsibility to keep this image before us, however.  The sacrifice was too perfect to be remembered only today.

Our self-centered lives seem almost contemptible in comparison. It’s tempting to use the inspiration (or the guilt) to launch a spate of good intentions for more Christ-like living.  However misguided our self-reliance, we know it’s not time to start trying yet.  Today I am called merely to let the remembrance of the sacrifice settle deep into my consciousness.

(c) 2018 Nancy Jagmin
SMI Board of Directors
Heartpaths Faculty
Spiritual Director

Grace in denying: An offering from Rev. Lil Smith

 Jesus said to [Peter],

“Truly I tell you, this day, this very night,

before the cock crows twice,

you will deny me three times.”

Mark 14:30

I say I will not deny you, but my gut tells me better.  My actions and my words don’t match.  We must deny you.  It is who we are at the very core of our being.  Our ego is too strong.  We can’t always deny ourselves.  Sometimes we deny you.

Help us, O Holy One, to be gentle with ourselves when we deny you.  For your love goes deeper than denial.  Help us return to you and breathe deeply and let go of self jugment and doubt and anxiety and shame.  For if we remain in this place we deny the Fruit of Your Spirit, and this becomes a viscious cycle.  So help us claim gentleness for ourselves so we can return to you and serve you.

O God who never denies us, forgive us for our selfish ways.  Help us learn why we deny you so that next time we may choose to deny ourselves.  AMEN.

(c) 2018 Rev. Lil Smith
Retreat House
Spiritual Director and Supervisor

The cornerstone: An offering from Rev. Lil Smith

 10 Have you not read this scripture:

‘The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
11 this was the Lord’s doing,
    and it is amazing in our eyes’?”

Mark 12:10-11

Builders and vineyard tenants can be greedy.  It doesn’t take long before we say, “I deserve this.  Get out of my way.  I am better than you.  So I am going to take this from you.”

Political and religious leaders can be greedy.  It didn’t take long for them to say, “We must kill him, or they will reject us and we will no longer have power.”

Despite our need to design the culture and create our own agendas, God has a plan for us.  It won’t look like you expect.  In fact, you may find that the very thing you rejected is the cornerstone of God’s kingdom.

This is what the Lord is doing.

And it is amazing!  Open your eyes!

(c) 2018 Rev. Lil Smith
Retreat House
Spiritual Director and Supervisor

Desolation and confusion in Holy Week: An offering from Nancy Jagmin

How lonely sits the city that once was full of people!  – Lamentations 1:1-2

We have entered the most solemn week of the liturgical year.  This is a week when many Christians feel it’s okay to feel at least a bit sad.  If fact, it might be inappropriate to enjoy life too much for at least a few days.  Still, many of us must alternate attempts to intensify our Lenten practices and prayers with necessary preparations for the observances and festivities of next weekend.  It is simultaneously a somber and an unsettled time.   This verse, which references the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians, can evoke unsettling images in our imaginations.  It also seems to capture the mood of desolation and confusion that many of us experience as we enter Holy Week.  It’s kind of hard to stay here.

I urge myself into the darkness, trying not to anticipate the promise of the end of the week.

(c) 2018 Nancy Jagmin
SMI Board
HeartPaths DFW Faculty

Prisoners of Hope – An offering from Rev. Jackie Linden-Schade

Zechariah 9:9-12

In Zechariah’s time, as well as our own, the world was a scary place. Today we know what it is to be afraid of violence, to be fearful of an uncertain future, and to see so many on the margins of society.

Yet Zechariah called his people ‘prisoners of hope.’ He invited his people to return to their stronghold.

As people of the way, we Christians have a stronghold in Jesus Christ. The cross of Christ claims us and points us to a future beyond imagining. A humble Messiah, riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and not a war horse, is coming to suffer and die.

At first glance, it seems like more of what we already know. But we will soon rediscover that suffering love transforms all of life. As Desmond Tutu once said “Don’t give up! Don’t get discouraged! I’ve read to the end of the book! We win!”

(c) 2018 Rev. Jackie Linden-Schade

The Joy of Wasting Away – An offering from Brad Syverson

 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

I used to think forgetfulness was funny.  As I turn 60, it’s not so funny anymore.   My toe nails have turned yellow. And my children think I should get hearing aids.   We are all growing old but that’s putting it politely.  We are mentally and physically wasting away.  So I take great joy in 2 Corinthians 4: 16.

We do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.

Growing old is required but growing in God’s love is optional.  Our eyesight lessens but our heart can see more clearly.  The absence of what wastes away makes clear our essence and what a joy to discover each day that God is our essence!

Be within our decay, O God.  Renew us inside.  And maybe you could see about those toe nails as well?

(c) 2018 Brad Syverson
Spiritual Director

My love shall never leave you: An offering from Eunice Cheshire

 For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you.

Isaiah 54: 9-10

“My love shall never leave you” – the words of a God of unmeasured, unconditional and never-ending love.  Perhaps because of its immensity, we struggle to wrap our arms around this Love and to take it in – we hesitate to trust it fully.  Yet if we can do so, it makes all the difference because it changes how we respond to God, to ourselves and to others.  Abbe Henri de Tourville (1842-1903) in a letter of spiritual direction advises: “Accustom yourself to the wonderful thought that God loves you with a tenderness, a generosity, and an intimacy which surpasses all your dreams.  Give yourself up with joy to a loving confidence in God and have courage to believe firmly that God’s action towards you is a masterpiece of partiality and love.  Rest tranquilly in this abiding conviction.”  Good advice still for today!

(c) 2018 Eunice Cheshire
HeartPaths Core Faculty
Spiritual Director and Supervisor

God is pleased with such a servant: An offering from Dr. Nancy Kate Dunkerley

Isaiah 53:10-12

Hard to understand that “it pleased” God that the good servant suffered, was crushed in pain. What? It sounds like God wanted the undeserved pain of one who serves! How can that be?

I try to see more… to see the love the servant has for everyone else, for all the others, the many who sin, whose relationship with God is broken (including me and many whom I love). That the servant’s love for God is great enough to restore all those others? That one person’s love can have such an effect on the many?! That one person can save so many?!!

Yes, surely God is pleased with such a servant.

And there are such servants among us. One was David Sherrard, 37, husband, father, police officer in Richardson TX. Killed in the line of duty, February 7, 2018.

May his soul and all similar faithful servants rest in peace. Surely God is pleased with them.

(c) Dr. Nancy Kate Dunkerley
HeartPaths Core Faculty
Spiritual Director and Supervisor

Little Children Come to Me – An offering from Eduardo Ugarte

Mk 10:13-16 Let the little children come to me.

This is a wonderful invitation that Jesus makes to all of us, be like a little child.  How can I be or become a child?  A child is simple, all trusting, without agendas, and no control is needed.  A child comes to its parents simply to ask a question, to ask for something it wants, perhaps to ask for a hug, for a kiss or for something to eat.  They trust/believe what the parents lovingly give or tell them.  Children are totally reliant on their parents to the point that their life depends on them.  We must remember that is child is totally dependent on its mother for nine months.  It is crucial to recognize our dependence for everything on our Father/Mother in heaven just as a child is to its parents.  We must become children to enter a loving relationship with the Father/Mother.

(c) 2018 Eduardo Ugarte