One Team — God’s team

I am an athlete. I love competition. If I am on a team, I am loyal to that team and instantly an “enemy” to anyone not on my team. This works well in athletics. Not so well in life.

But it seems lately that the world is dividing up into teams, We are drawing sides. We are becoming enemies to those not on our team. Everything seems divisive. I do not agree with everything that the media reports or others say. But I have become afraid to speak. Afraid to create enemies. I don’t know what team I am on and don’t really want to be on any of the teams forming. It is all too divisive. We have lost our focus. We are focused on the past rather than the future. We are focused on the sins of a few rather than the gifts of many. We categorize whole groups of people based on the acts of a few. We focus on categories and teams of people rather than individuals, making everything a race issue, a sex issue, a political issue. We focus on the things of the world rather than God. And as a result we are failing! As a nation, as a people, as God’s children.

We are in fact one team. God’s team. We are all God’s children. Sisters and brothers. If we stop and focus on God. Focus on our real purpose on earth. Stop listening to the media and Facebook, and Twitter. Listen to God. Listen to each other as individuals, as fellow children of God — not members of any other team or race, or political party, we will change the world.

In Galatians, St. Paul told the people, 2000 years ago:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

Today, we should read this as: There is neither Black nor White, there is neither Republican nor Democrat, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

I pray that we can put away our labels. Put away our teams. Put away the division. We are not enemies or foes. We are all children of God. One team. Let’s focus on God together and pray.

Dear Lord,

We are hurting. We are lost. We have taken our eyes off of you and forgotten that we are all one in your eyes. We are all created for your good. We are all your children, sisters and brothers. Lord, help me and all of my sisters and brothers to focus our attention back on you. Help us to put away the pettiness, to put away the hate, to put away the things that separate us and instead focus on the one thing that unites us. The one truth in all of our lives: You!

Lord, we need you. Please help me and everyone in this great country that was founded on a faith in you, to find you once again. Bring us together in the peace that can only be found through you. You are my God. You are great indeed. Help us to stop lauding historical figures, politicians and others. You alone are worthy of praise.

Strong Faith, Big Heart, Can’t Lose

The snow fell today — like the dewfall — silently coating the world in a white soft blanket.  Like a baptismal gown or a white funeral pall covering the casket, the snow seemed to wipe away the gray and darkness of the winter skies.  Beautiful, silent, purifying and slowing down the world.

The perfect backdrop for a funeral.  God wiped the world clean with snow as he welcomed home his son today.  And while there were tears for the human loss, there was glory in the hope and love of God.  And we were reminded of our call to love.  The priest’s words still resonate in my ears and in my heart.  As he praised the love and big heart of the man we lost, he encouraged the rest of us to “pray to have a big heart.”  The priest went on to state that those who have a strong faith, can’t help but love.  You cannot have one without the other.  Something I had never thought about before, but as I thought about the people in my life who have a strong faith, their lives do brim with love.  Love for God, love for their families and love for strangers.  They have big hearts and they show it.  It is not enough to simply claim faith, to simply claim to love God.  When I opened the Bible this evening, it opened to Galatians:

For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love.  For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Galatians 5:13-14

We are all called to love.  Faith requires love.   It is easy to love God.  He is all powerful, He has given us everything, He is our salvation.  It is harder to love our fellow man — what have they done for us?  But true faith requires true love.  God’s love.  Love even when someone might not deserve it.  Love even when someone hurts us. Love even when someone doesn’t show it back. Love in the good times and the bad.  True love.  Not just words.  But actions.  Indeed, the priest today reiterated that we must pray for that big heart — and then act upon it.  It is not enough to simply say it.  It is not enough to simply have a big heart.  It is not enough to just have faith.  We must act upon it.   We are called to make Christ visible.  To share His love.

As I read further in Galatians, it again echoed the message from today’s funeral:

Make no mistake: God is not mocked, for a person will reap only what he sows, because the one who sows for his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows for the spirit will reap eternal life from the spirit.  Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up.  So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith.

Galatains 6:7-10

We reap what we sow.  Let us sow love.  Let us act upon that love.  While we have the opportunity (and today’s funeral is a reminder that we never know how long that opportunity will be), “let us do good to all,” especially those in our faith family.

Our friend is ready to reap his harvest.  God’s white blanket of snow, purifying the earth before his body entered it,  tells me that his harvest is good.  I hope to one day be ready to reap mine.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for all of the people that you have blessed me with.  I see your heart in so many of them.  Through them I see how powerful and pure your love is.  I am inspired and contrite.  Lord, I pray for a big heart.  Help me to love like you do.  Help me to share your love with others.  Help me to get out of my self and my own wants and needs, fears and desires, and live for others.  Help me to act in love and faith with everyone I encounter.  Help me to make your son visible to others.  Thank you for renewing my spirit today, and wiping the world pure in snow.

O Lord, Create in me a pure heart and renew within me a steadfast spirit.

Discipline and Love

We discipline our children hoping that it will lead them in the right direction, but knowing that one day they will have to make choices on their own.  I don’t enjoy the disciplinarian role of being a parent.

I have often wondered about the Old Testament.  God often feels like a disciplinarian in it.  We hear about Him destroying cities, smiting and raining fire and brimstone.  He feels much different than the loving God revealed by Jesus.  Today the Bible opened to Galatians:

Before faith came, we were held in custody under law, confined for the faith that was to be revealed.  Consequently, the law was our disciplinarian for Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a disciplinarian.  For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus.  For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:23-29

When we are immature, we need discipline, rules, order to try to keep us on the proper path.  The Old Testament is filled with stories of human immaturity.  We were not ready for faith alone.  As we individually grow, we also go through phases where we need discipline, rules, and order.   Sometimes we are not ready for faith alone.  We need to be confined by rules so that we are in place for faith to be revealed.  But ultimately, like a child, we must grow up and make our own choices.  Ultimately we must choose faith.  We must choose God.   Jesus opened us to faith.  He came into the world so that we might have faith.  So that we could see and believe.  He came into the world to show us love.  The love of our Father.  Despite all of the times that we deserve discipline, God loves us.

Lord,

Help me to be a good parent.  Help me to set rules and order but also to show love.  Help me to have the faith that you have made available.  Help me to grow from my immaturity.  Thank you Father!