Posts Tagged ‘ Scripture ’

Torn Loved Ligament

The Daily Selectionary

Monday, January 17, 2011

Today’s Readings:

Daily Office Readings: (AM) Psalm 25;(PM) Psalm 9, 15
Isa. 44:6-8,21-23; Eph. 4:1-16; Mark 3:7-19a

Eucharistic ReadingsHeb. 5:1-10; Psalm 110; Mark 2:18–22

 

Torn Loved Ligament

Christopher Hodge

 

Ephesians 4:1-16

1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. 7 But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.” 9 (When it says, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) 11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. 14 We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15 But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

                It amazes me how connected we all are.  We were all birthed out of the same moment of creation.  If we are the products of a six day sovereign God view, or a big bang in the darkness of the universe thought pattern, whether or not God pulled the trigger and created scientific theories, it makes no matter other than that all of creation is connected.  When the wind blows through the rustling leaves of a two hundred year old Live Oak, and that breeze brushes my hair and whispers in my ears, I start to feel the connection to all of which has been created; The squirrel on the massive limb along with the Brown Thrasher singing, hidden under the canopy of green connects with my consciousness and places it all together.  If we can block out the sound of cars and the stenches and poisons of human irresponsibility, if we will just allow ourselves to feel, it will be easy to acknowledge the interchange.

                In the reading from the selection from Ephesians today, Paul deals with our connectivity to the Spirit of Christ.  “But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,  from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.”  Paul is not giving an anatomy lesson.  Nor is he speaking of the mechanics of just one simple human body.  He is using the knowledge he had been taught in anatomy and making a parallel to the workings of a human body to that as the “body of Christ” as a whole.  Paul is saying that because of Christ’s love for us, he has given us all gifts out of his love.  We are connected to Christ.  It is through his followers that his love can travel, become mobile, and extend to all hearts across the vastness of the planet.

                But just as we are out of synch with our whole selves when one part of our body is not performing in its full capacity, so is the whole body of Christ when one of it’s members is not performing to its fullest.  The state of the church currently is wounded for sure.  There are torn ligaments slowing the maturity and growth of the love of Christ within us.  Because the whole body is not at one hundred percent, those aching tendons make the body of Christ cranky.  Look at the many warring factions of Christianity in the world.  Instead of embracing the differences and diversities and looking to see how each individual parts work to promote healthy workings of love as a whole, the body has been turning on itself.  And if Christ is the Head, imagine the headache that the warring ligaments have caused him.

                I have wondered much what it will take to get all body parts working together instead of rejecting each other.  I have at times been cynical if the body will ever work at full capacity.  If Christ is love and we are all part of Christ, and we are now making up his body on Earth, imagine what the world would look like if that body of love were free to roam about without the pain of torn ligaments.  If the body could function properly and work in the same direction, then the Kingdom of Heaven would finally be free to glisten and glimmer in the light of the sun on the Earth.

Daily Scripture readings are taken from The Revised Common Lectionary and can be read in full at www.satucket.com/lectionary.  NRSV translation of the Holy Scriptures.  Please feel free to pass along this devotion to whomever you feel may benefit from it. – © Christopher Hodge  2011   email: ChristopherHodgeWriter@gmail.com

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On the Chopping Block

The Daily Selectionary

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Today’s Readings:

Daily Office Readings: (AM) Psalm 20, 21:1-7(8-14); (PM) Psalm 110:1-5(6-7), 116, 117   
Isa. 43:1-13; Eph. 3:14-21; Mark 2:23-3:6 

Eucharistic ReadingsHeb. 4:12-16
Psalm 19:7-14; Mark 2:13-17

 

On the Chopping Block

Christopher Hodge

 

Ephesians 3:14-21

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,* 15from whom every family* in heaven and on earth takes its name. 16I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.

                We have all found ourselves on our very own chopping blocks at one time or the other.  We are all born into this world and are given special gifts and talents.  Our dreams of who we wish we would become are birthed out of these gifts from God which he has placed within us.    Yet, so many times these desires lay dormant.  They may hold a prominent place in our lives while we are still playing as children.  A young girl who pretends that she is a famous singer may have a talent that could propel her to indeed become one later in life.  A young boy who spends his time alone in his room creating objects from his Play-Do could be exercising a talent that he could use later in life to become an influential artist.  Children do all sorts of things, and many times we pass their play time away as just kids being kids. 

                Maybe this is where our blocks come from as adults.  Somewhere during our passage into adulthood we were forced to throw away our passions because we were told it was time to grow up; to leave our play time behind us and to find a suitable trade that will give us money so we can get married and raise a typical American family.  After all, digging around in clay will not feed our kids, or buy the new washing machine when it goes kaput. 

                Most of us have given up on the things that make us happy, that make us become ourselves for the sake of popular conformity.  Even though we kicked off our ballerina slippers and hid our colored chalks in a drawer to become doctors, electricians, lawyers and automobile mechanics, at the end of the day there is something nagging at us making us feel that we have somehow let ourselves down.  We may watch a movie or read a book and find ourselves become instantly depressed.  There was a character we related to that was performing a work and lived a life that we strongly desired we would have done.  We go to sleep and wake up the next day and leave those desires behind for the sake of our “safe” jobs.

                There is no doubt in my mind that these inklings within us are formed before the beginning of our first cry.  God had a plan in mind for each one of us and has given us the tools necessary to see that we make it happen.  We may think that it is easier said than done.  But as long as we hide our talents and our gifts from ourselves and from the world, we will always have that constant nagging in our hearts prompting us to wonder what could have been. 

                Are you doing what you are supposed to be doing?  Are you fulfilling your dreams?  I admit that I am extremely guilty of placing my gifts on hold.  Now, at 34, I have finally embraced them again and I am finding that there has been an explosion of energy within my spirit.  I am getting back in touch with that child who used to be free.  ”Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine.”  The old cliché that it is never too late is entirely true. 

                Let us make a commitment to each other that we will schedule a play date with our inner child sometime this next week, maybe even today.  Have a tea party with the younger you and have a conversation with her.  What part of your talk opened you up?  What do you want to be when you grow up?  Can we make a commitment to ourselves to allow ourselves to become what God set out for us to do?

Daily Scripture readings are taken from The Revised Common Lectionary and can be read in full at www.satucket.com/lectionary.  NRSV translation of the Holy Scriptures.  Please feel free to pass along this devotion to whomever you feel may benefit from it. – © Christopher Hodge  2011   email: ChristopherHodgeWriter@gmail.com

The Rogue Ninja Child

The Daily Selectionary

Friday, January 14, 2011

Today’s Readings:

Daily Office Readings: (AM) Psalm 16, 17; (PM) Psalm 22   
Isa. 42:(1-9)10-17; Eph. 3:1-13; Mark 2:13-22 

Eucharistic ReadingsHeb. 4:1-5,11
Psalm 78:3-8; Mark 2:1-12

 

The Rogue Ninja Child

Christopher Hodge

 

Mark 2:13-22

13 He went out again beside the sea; and all the crowd gathered about him, and he taught them. 14 And as he passed on, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. 15 And as he sat at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were sitting with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” 18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; if he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but new wine is for fresh skins.”.

                There has been this inner turmoil with me since I can remember.  My interests have always been in the arts.  In kindergarten I was even writing short stories.  I can not recall most of them.  I can remember that I gained a lot of popularity from my school chums and some recognition from the teachers.  All of the talk about my writing was not all positive.  It had nothing to do with the writing itself, grammar etc.  It had to do with the content.  I remember when I was in third grade there was a parent-teacher conference pulled on me to discuss worry about my state of mind.  Apparently I had scared the powers-that-be with a story I had written about a rogue ninja child who, in part of his initiation, had to ransack through his own house and kill his parents.  Where that scribbled story came from I have no clue.  I was highly into ninjas then.  I watched a lot of movies and some of them probably were too violent for a nine year-old, but they fueled my imagination.  It was just a story.  They finally chalked it up to a “wild mind.” It is comical thinking back on that story and the reaction that came from it.  That is when I decided I wanted to be a writer one day.  That reaction from my readers fed me something then that I started craving; I wanted more.

                I tell this story from my early childhood because it does somehow relate to today’s reading.  At least it has done some relating for me.  Growing up in a religious household as the son of a Southern Baptist preacher, my mother took notice of my creativity, my “wild mind,” and decided to try to direct it toward a positive door passage: evangelical Christian publishing houses.  She was afraid that I would be hanging with the wrong crowd if I did not invite Christ into my writing.  She knew I loved horror.  Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness was very popular then and I decided to read it.  Not bad.  It did satisfy me in some way, but I knew even then that I did not want to be pigeon-holed into a category; especially a rigid evangelical one.  I was a Christian.  I was proud of that fact, and as my faith grew as I got older, I started taking Christ’s reactions to nay-sayers, like those in today’s passage to heart.  “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”  My writing has developed a spiritual slant over the years.  Flannery O’Connor comes to mind as one of my inspirations, how she welded together her deep Catholic upbringing with the peculiarities of the deep-south. 

                Jesus enjoyed hanging out in the bars with those whom the religious elite found offensive.  Why would he spend his days inside the church talking scriptural law with those who already knew it?  Sadly, a lot of the leaders in the churches knew the law but lived like they were above God’s laws; like they were there to make sure everyone else was following them.  When Jesus spoke to those who were not part of the inner circle of Pharisees, God’s words fell on receptive ears for the most part.  The spirit quenched their thirst for their deserted longings.  The religious leaders could mutter whatever they wanted against him, but Jesus stayed his course.

                As I pursue my fiction, I hope to somehow be what Jesus was.  I want my subtly worded stories to speak to hearts.  We never know what is going on in the minds of those around us.  Preaching to people is not going to lead them to the love that Christ set out to give.  It is only by being among those in the world, and by living a real and not a fake “churchy” life among them, that God’s creation can embrace all that He has created for them.

Daily Scripture readings are taken from The Revised Common Lectionary and can be read in full at www.satucket.com/lectionary.  NRSV translation of the Holy Scriptures.  Please feel free to pass along this devotion to whomever you feel may benefit from it. – © Christopher Hodge  2011   email: ChristopherHodgeWriter@gmail.com

Christ on Sorok

The Daily Selectionary

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Today’s Readings:

Daily Office Readings: AM Psalm 18:1-20; PM Psalm 18:21-50   
Isa. 41:17-29; Eph. 2:11-22; Mark 2:1-12 

Eucharistic Readings: Heb. 3:1-14
Psalm 95:6-11; Mark 1:40-45

 

Christ on Sorok

Christopher Hodge

 

Mark 1:40-45

40 And a leper came to him beseeching him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 And he sternly charged him, and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to any one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to the people.” 45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.

                One of my fondest memories of Pope John Paul II is when he visited the leper colony on Sorok Island, Korea in 1984.  I remember as a child hearing the story in Mark’s Gospel about the leper that Jesus had healed.  I heard that people with Leprosy were horrible creatures who were disgustingly wrought with filth.  They were considered unclean and no one could be around them.  In my Sunday School class when I was a little boy, all I could picture in my head about Leprosy was that it was equated much with the physical looks of Chicken Pox:  bumps all over the body and a lot of bandages.  My young mind was not ready to know exactly what Leprosy really was.

                I have seen video footage and pictures of the visit from the Pope to Sorok.  The lepers were dealing with something that I never could have imagined this disease to be.  No wonder that back in the Biblical days these men, women and children were treated like worthless outcasts.  No one understood the disease.  The most everyone saw was the outward appearance of what Leprosy had done to the people’s bodies.  After I had seen that Leprosy is more than just bumps on skin, my whole perspective on the Leper stories have been drastically altered.  I saw a woman with no jaw; A little girl with no nose.  There was a boy in one picture who was even missing an eyelid.  Yes, there were the bumps – boils – that I had come to expect, but the horrific images gave my sight more than what I had come to see in my favorite horror movies.

                Pope John Paul II prayed blessings over these precious people.  He went up to them individually and placed his hand on heads, touched open and wounded hands.  The compassion in his eyes locked with the longing in theirs.  I can never feel what they were feeling because I have never dealt with anything remotely comparable.  The Pope was displaying an overflow of Christ-like love for these innocents.  When the people of Capernaum threw their lepers to the alleys and basements afraid to touch them, Jesus took their hands and healed them.

                Recently I was watching a documentary that included a snippet of the Pope’s visit that day on Sorok.  It brought me to an uneasy realization.  Would I be able to do the same?  I would like to think I would be able to.  But, really, could I get out of my own way and let the love of Christ in me show his love to his creation? 

Daily Scripture readings are taken from The Revised Common Lectionary and can be read in full at www.satucket.com/lectionary.  NRSV translation of the Holy Scriptures.  Please feel free to pass along this devotion to whomever you feel may benefit from it. – © Christopher Hodge  2011   email: ChristopherHodgeWriter@gmail.com

The Chlorinated Frog

The Daily Selectionary

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Today’s Readings:

Daily Office Readings: (AM) Psalm 119:1-24; (PM) Psalm 12, 13, 14 
Isa. 41:1-16; Eph. 2:1-10; Mark 1:29-45 

Eucharistic ReadingsHeb. 2:14-18
Psalm 105:1-15; Mark 1:29-39

 

The Chlorinated Frog

Christopher Hodge

 

Ephesians 2:1-10

1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

                One late evening, back toward the end of the summer, I was wading through the clubhouse pool.  The water was starting to get cooler by the minute it seemed and the beads of chlorinated water on my shoulders began to rival the goose bumps that were starting to form.  From the corner of my peripheral I could see that my partner and I were not alone.  Swimming faster than his legs could paddle was a tiny Rain Frog.  I don’t know if the little thing knew it or not, from his frantic behavior he probably did know – but he had jumped into something out of which he was not going to be able free himself.  The poor creature was just following his desires.  He saw water and he took a dive.  In the past I had seen many frogs just like this one who sadly ended their last heartbeat in that swimming pool.  I decided then and there that this cute swimmer would not experience that same fate.

                It took probably about the next thirty minutes trying to get the frog to safety.  With the sloshing of the water, the fright of the frog propelling him away from us, my partner and I were having an ill attempted drive to free him.  There were a couple of times that I did succeed in catching him, only for him to slip back out of my hands into the even colder pool.  Eventually we did it.  I cupped him in my hands and brought him to a bed of grass where he sat a few moments then flopped himself into the dark away from the intruding humans.  I don’t know if he was thankful.  Did he know what had just happened?  Maybe no.  But maybe so.  I will never know.

                I can compare the passage from Ephesians to our adventure in the pool that night.  That frog did not see the danger he had gotten himself into, but I recognized it.  I could have left him to his own demise, but I decided to help.  I had never met the frog before.  He had never done anything for me.  Actually, he didn’t even know who I was.  Out of my love for all of God’s creation, I did not think about any of that.  I began my scooping routine immediately upon recognizing the little amphibian’s plight.  It was grace.  He tried to get away from me because he did not know any better.  He was headed for death, and I wanted to stop that from happening as best as I could. 

                We who are living in this world have been given the same token from the saving grace of Christ Jesus.  At times we flail our legs in the water trying to escape his hands from guiding us to safety.  We have never physically met Him or have we audibly heard him speak to us, no deed we do will ever compare of his sacrifice for us on Golgotha, yet none of that matters.  His grace still keeps us from eternal death.  No matter how many times we jump back into that pool circling around in confusion, he jumps back in with us, attempting to scoop us back out again.

                I can only pray that after I left that night that the frog did not decide to find the pool again and take another dive.  I would not have been there to save him again.  Thankfully, God never leaves us.  He will always attempt to lead us to safety time and time again.

Daily Scripture readings are taken from The Revised Common Lectionary and can be read in full at www.satucket.com/lectionary.  NRSV translation of the Holy Scriptures.  Please feel free to pass along this devotion to whomever you feel may benefit from it. – © Christopher Hodge  2011   email: ChristopherHodgeWriter@gmail.com