GRACIOUSNESS

Graciousness

If you had to bet your religious farm or wager your last spiritual coin or put all your theological eggs in one basket, grace would be more than an adequate choice.

Grace is the sine qua non of the Christian life.

It is the center of the gospel message of love and care for each and all of God’s creatures.

When we examine the life of Jesus, grace and graciousness are both his identity and his destiny.

Whether we’re at the beginning of a new year or at the tail end of an old one, whether we’re experiencing times of plenty or a stretch of need, whether we’re down on our luck or in high cotton, whether we’re plentifully satisfied or desperately empty, whether we’re feeling fine or we’re totally grim – there is no time when we cannot express graciousness toward others.

Initiating graciousness toward others comes easily to some, harder to others. But the receiving of graciousness is appreciated by everybody.

Through the rest of this week consider daily the following questions:
(1) Because grace is both the grounding gravity and the loving levitation of my life, how can I share grace with those around me?
(2) Because I know how pleasurable it is to receive graciousness and how delightful it is to pass along graciousness to another person, how will I increase the graciousness quotient in my daily walk with God and neighbors?

[From ALL YOU NEED IS (MORE) LOVE (to be published in September 2016)]

Prayers

Offering prayers of comfort and solidarity for the people of Brussels, as well as prayers of remembrance and solidarity for the people of Ivory Coast and Turkey.

HOLY WEEK BLESSINGS ARE COMING

Holy Week 2016Holy Week is weighted ‑ by tradition, experience, and imagination ‑ with tremendous meanings and life‑transforming consequences. The remembrances and liturgies of Holy Week serve as decisive turning points on the Church’s calendar and in the hearts of Jesus’ followers.

Holy Week events offer ample occasions and opportunities for grand spiritual deepenings. Consider the following guide for your journey through Holy Week and be wonderfully blessed.

Palm Sunday ‑ The launching of a week of palms and passion, triumph and trial. Rejoice with Christ’s entry into Jerusalem and remember God’s generous mercy for the world.

Meditative Monday ‑ A day to consider the greatness of Christ’s extraordinary compassion. Prayerfully meditate on the places where Christ’s love is being made known to people in need.

Tender Tuesday ‑ A day to affirm that tenderness is needed everywhere. Decide to make a gift of time, treasure, or talent to anyone or any place within your realm of influence where bruising or brutality has been experienced.

Wondering Wednesday ‑ A tipping point time, full of quiet reflection and mixed anxious wondering. Engage in learning something new about grace-laced caring and embrace the gifts of healing and wholeness in your life.

Maundy Thursday ‑ An evening of recollection of Christ’s shadowed trek toward an ultimate confrontation with the world’s principalities and powers. A moment for sharing bread and cup and prayer.

Good Friday ‑ A day of mute awe and reverence, contemplating Christ’s “Seven Last Words from The Cross,” as well as retracing the griefs of the early disciples and the world’s indifference.

Sacred Saturday ‑ An interlude for waiting and anticipation, an in‑between time of uncertainty and restless hoping.

Easter Sunday ‑ The Resurrection Day, full of joy and jubilation, affirmation and acclaim, feasting and festivities, celebrations through and through and all around. A new moment for shouting “Alleluia!”

© Robert Lee Hill, 2016

[An adapted chapter from LIFE’S TOO SHORT FOR ANYTHING BUT LOVE, Woodneath Press, 2015]

VOTE!!

Voting 2016 a(On the day after Missouri’s Presidential primary, I’m thinking about democracy.)
Next November the marquees of many a congregation will broadcast straightforward, simple statements of “Vote!,” as Americans once again will exercise the most toned musculature of any democratic republic in world history.
Not that we all exercise at the same pace or with the same intensity. And not that some folks won’t exercise at all. E.B. White, wry-witted New Yorker writer and beloved author of Charlotte’s Web, was partially on target when he said, “Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time.”
H.L. Mencken, as he was consistently wont to do, once offered a more cutting, cynical assessment of our political process: “Democracy is only a dream: it should be put in the same category as Arcadia, Santa Claus, and Heaven.” I would quickly point out that such a comment is wrong on so many counts! And yet, Mencken was 100% half-right about democracy being a dream.
Before democracy is enacted and embodied in the shared congress and common commerce of a human community, it is indeed a dream.
Democracy is the dream of citizens ever striving to be more and more of what we say we are.
It is the dream of immigrants who have heard from afar about democracy’s promise, have worked for it to become real in their lives, and have then tasted its full flavor when they actually have become citizens.
It is the dream of school children, as they learn of the sorely blemished but still blessed trajectory of the U.S. experiment with freedom over the past 240 years.
It is the dream of citizen groups, as their members organize and gather their collective will to press their cherished concerns.
It is the dream of all who want to live out the virtue of fairness.
Democracy is the dream of all who have been shackled – politically, culturally, and physically – by death-dealing totalitarian systems and deadly dictatorships.
It is the dream of us all when we take seriously the gifts of diversity and the challenges of living in a pluralistic world.
It is the dream of each one who carefully interacts with the advances of new technologies and their impact on the global village.
It is the dream of every person who enters a voting booth mindful that theirs is not the final say but part of the main in our nation’s grand laboratory of liberty.
© 2016, Robert Lee Hill
[This is an adaptation of a chapter from LIFE’S TOO SHORT FOR ANYTHING BUT LOVE (Woodneath Press, 2015)]

“Does everyone have a guardian angel, even bad people?”

Honored to offer a response to the question ““Does everyone have a guardian angel, even bad people?”  in today’s “Voices of Faith” column in The Kansas City Star, Sat., March 5, 2016.  http://www.kansascity.com/living/religion/article64022622.html

Portrayed and praised in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, theologically proclaimed by Jerome and Horonius of Autun, guardian angels are affirmed by Jewish, Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Muslim, and Zoroastrian traditions.

Whether they’re piously described as “ministering spirits” (Hebrews 1:14) or affectionately depicted like George Bailey’s angelic aide Clarence in the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life,” guardian angels provide hopeful assistance in unaccountable ways and in the most unexpected moments.

A main underpinning of the experiences we describe with the term “guardian angel” is this:  We are not alone in our struggles. We have help from beyond.

Sometimes such help is wondrously manifested in encounters we cannot rationally explain. Sometimes such help is mysteriously conveyed through the hands and hearts of those we meet in the flesh.

A corollary underpinning is like unto the first: Whether we recognize it or not, God wills good for all human beings.

The key, of course, is whether we welcome the help and the holy intention. These possibilities are up to each person’s conscious prerogative.

A third, crucial underpinning is this:  Guardian angels are not merely extensions of our will, doing what human beings want, fetching us what we desire, accommodating our every manipulation.

Rather, they remind us of the best in ourselves and in others, even when we have forgotten that we or anyone else ever had a best self.  In this sense especially, even the most hard-hearted can receive angelic help. Good or bad, what is required is humbly acknowledging one’s own neediness.