May 29, 2008
Scripture: Matthew 12:9-14
After listening to two readings of the passage here is what we noticed.
The Pharisees seemed to be trying to come up with rules against doing good deeds. It often seems that religious leaders in today’s world aren’t that concerned with doing good. They are more concerned with following rules and putting up a good appearance. But the everyday person who has a sheep fall into a pit, as Jesus mentioned, isn’t concerned with following rules, they just want their sheep out. Religious professionals are there to help and to guide in those moments of need, even if those moments only come by once in ten years. Religious professionals are not there to make sure people are constantly keeping rules.
The man had a withered hand but the Pharisees had withered hearts.
What is it like to be made whole? How did this man’s life change? Was his life more difficult now that he couldn’t beg and had to go out to work? Did he have any skills to make a living?
For the business part of the meeting we discussed the Health and Spirituality Program and various calls we need to make concerning the MICAH building site. We discussed holding MICAH meetings on Friday’s at 9:00 for the summer.
May 15, 2008
Scripture: Mark 11:20-25
After checking in we read the passage and sat in silence. Here is what we noticed.
- It is good to forgive.
- If you take the passage literally it sounds like a cheap little formula to get what you want.
- The importance of forgiveness when we pray.
- Why does prayer happen or not happen?
- This formula doesn’t seem to work, however what if we look at it backwards? If we forgive we are giving up our ego, our self-interests, and learning to have the mind of Christ. It is then that we can pray more purely with God’s interests in mind.
For the business part of our meeting we discussed the well drilling saga and the Rural Ministry Event.
May 9, 2008
Scripture: Acts 2:1-13
After listening to this reading and then spending some time in quiet reflection here is what we noticed.
Flames of fire on their heads- the image of literal flames came to mind. How would they respond to literal flames on each other’s heads? They would freak out! They would try to put out the flames until they realized no one was getting burned and that it must be something to do with God. What if this happened today? What if in the next board meeting or session people began to realize the Holy Spirit was present? How might the board meeting change? How might people change?
"What does this mean?" When supernatural events happen there can be a lot of attention on the event. Often we want to talk about the event or try to recreate the event, which seems normal. But the event is not the main thing, God is. The event can actually distract us from God and people. When they ask the question “What does this mean?” it’s as if they were not idealizing or focusing on the tongues of fire event but on what God is communicating to them. It’s a good question to ask. What would happen if we asked that question more?
One can see this as time to connect people. God is letting everyone know that they all are relevant. God’s "chosen people" aren’t the only ones chosen. Can the world accept this?
The multiplicity of revelation came to mind. It was not that everyone suddenly
understood Aramaic at once but that everyone heard and understood in his or her own dialect. Just the opposite of when Americans comment that everyone should speak English. How did they communicate this tongues of fire event with one another afterwards?
For the business part of our meeting we discussed our recent trip to various colleges and seminaries in the Twin Cities area to promote the Rural Ministries Event in October. We also discussed the saga of the well drilling on the MICAH property. No water yet.
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March 28 , 2008
Scripture: Matthew 28:11-17
After a time of checking in and reflecting on this passage we noticed the difference between doing what is true and doing what you are paid to do (the soldiers). It is amazingly difficult at times to follow and act upon the truth that is before you. We doubt the truth or don’t follow it because it may be so remarkable that it is simply hard to believe or it may be that the truth is completely against what the world or conventional wisdom has to say. If the world says the sky is green and we’re looking at a blue sky thinking to ourselves “The sky is blue,” it won’t be long until we start thinking that maybe everyone else is right and we’re color blind.
How we react to the truth was a question that came to mind. We want to live our lives a certain way and try to orchestrate everything around our lives, but then the truth inconveniently blocks our way. What do we do? We can accept it or ignore it. One mark of a person with spiritual courage or who has been transformed is that they actually see the truth, accept it, and then mold their lives around it.
We thought of corrupt leaders. The government is corrupt, church leaders are corrupt, and so the question pops out, “Does anyone care about the truth?” To some degree yes, but only until it gets in the way of our lives and what makes us happy.
For the business part of the meeting we discussed the MICAH Dinner next Friday. We decided to make it a discernment process. We discussed the meal preparation, the program, setting up, etc.
March 20 , 2008
Scripture: Luke 22:24-30
After checking in Dan read this passage twice and then we sat in silence paying attention to what came to mind. Here’s what we noticed.
The disciples disputing at the beginning of the passage and then judging at the end of the passage reminded us of our present world. Christians seem to do an awful lot disputing and judging. This is yet another reason to keep asking our church communities and ourselves if we’re living like Jesus.
Who’s the greatest? Passover just happened, and Jesus tells them he is going to give up his life. All the disciples can do is whine about who will be the greatest. We’re reminded of children fighting and refusing to share or work together. All of the class systems in society also came to mind. We as a human race seem bent on classifying and segregating. Why at the end of the passage did Jesus give the disciples seniority?
The saying about the greatest shall be the one who serves completely changes the disciples out look on life. Jesus tells them how the world functions with those in power being first. But then he says God’s way is for those in power to be last, to serve. Foundational issues are turned on their heads. To me it seems similar as if Jesus had said 2+2=875. Our whole way of thinking is challenged. The disciples had such a hard time accepting this new way of living and seeing, how much more difficult for us who live at a different time and culture. Another question to ask is what really is ministry? Are we doing what God wants? How do we see the new reality?
For business part of our meeting we discussed plans for the dinner on April 4 and the cartoons Trey is drawing.
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February 8 , 2008
Scripture: Luke 9:51-62
“They did not receive him” ~ Jesus moved on when people rejected him. He didn’t push it. There is a sense that if you don’t receive what God has for us God just continues on and won’t force it. What could we learn from this model?
“Let the dead bury the dead” ~ At times this can appear to be a harsh and unsympathetic saying of Jesus. However Jesus seems to be saying either accept the presence of God or don’t. But none of this, “I’ll be spiritual, but first I want to do this or that.” A new reality is starting to come into play. The song by Bob Dylan about getting out of the way if you can’t be a part of it comes to mind.
“Set his face toward Jerusalem” ~ There is momentum here. All this stuff is happening now that Jesus is going to Jerusalem.
“Call down fire” ~ A reminder of the force some people use to get others to believe. The disciples wanted a quick fix and they wanted judgment but Jesus is extremely patient and compassionate. He isn’t about judging people. We’re reminded of the “Yes, but…” syndrome. People say they want to follow God but… Maybe the disciples wanted the pain to be gone for those who keep saying “Yes, but…” The more we put God on hold the more pain we create for ourselves and for others. You don’t solve pain by creating more you solve pain by absorbing it. This is not easy.
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January 31, 2008
Scripture: 2 Peter 1:16-21
Some thoughts from this passage: This author was a witness to something real. They actually saw something, had some kind of experience. Did they look back and wonder about what they really saw and experienced? Did they question if it was real? That questioning process happens today. We follow God, serve God, listen to God and then a time comes when we stop and ask, “Is any of this real?” God is beyond all scientific research. We can’t touch, feel, see, and dissect God. God is beyond all explanation.
Modern day leaders and outstanding figures like Martin Luther King Jr. came to mind. The fabled “Champion Doctor” is what we strive to be like. And then we wonder about what we’re doing here at MICAH. We’re not being that “Champion Doctor,” we’re not striving to be heroes found in history books. We’re simply trying to do what is right, what we’re supposed to be doing. That leaves a lot of questions.
To describe the indescribable, to name the unnamable is challenging to say the least.
What do we tell others? How do we tell others about the spiritual life, about God? As the writer describes this experience and as we describe out experiences we realize they are buffeted by our uncertainty and by our various childhood and life experiences, prejudices, desires, and so on. It’s hard to know what is truth because of the endless filters of interpretation that we all have to deal with. To transmit truth into our delusion filled world is so extremely difficult.
Waiting for the light to dawn in our hearts is encouraging. This reminds us of the spiritual practice of waiting. We wait for additional spiritual experiences. We wait for the re-creation of spiritual experiences. Trying to figure it all out, trying to interpret things correctly, wanting to have all the answers and to understand everything is a huge burden. It is okay to rest in God and to not have it all figured out.
January 25 , 2008
Scripture: Colossians 3:12-17
Here’s what caught our attention:
“Put on.” The idea of connecting with God by putting this or that on is encouraging. This ‘clothing yourself’ implies a strong sense of the availability of God.
“Joy.” The importance of joy is this passage jumped out at us.
“What ever you do in word or deed.” Though we are in community we are not called to imitate each other. Community is not uniformity but unity. As a community of people and as individuals we are called to notice where God is calling us and then to move in that direction no matter what that may look like. This implies the great freedom God brings and also the importance of our uniqueness.
“Love.” It is love that binds all of this together. The Christian life is not about a certain way of interpreting Scripture. It’s about living a life of love. Although interpretation is important, the Christian life is about living not interpreting.
“Community.” Monastic rules came to mind. This passage has been used by various monastic order as a guideline to structure life. Community is a learning process. What is interesting is there is no mention of attaining power. The world seeks power and wants to have power over others. In fact it is very hard for us as humans not to seek power whether we are talking about a corporation or church. This passage implies we have no power of our own. We are simply to speak and act in the name of Christ and by the power of Christ. We are servants and messengers.
For the business part of our meeting we were glad to welcome Janet to our meeting. Janet is our new acupuncturist at the Integrative Medicine Clinic. We also discussed on line support for the new Health and Spirituality Program and we distributed copies of the Article of Incorporation for people to take home and look through.
January 11 , 2008
Scripture: 2 Kings 8:1-6
Here’s what we noticed in our morning lectio.
Famine ~ Women in the Bible often don’t have a name. Many also seem to undergo a tremendous amount of hardships. The hope that hardships don’t last forever is encouraging. God is with us, present in all of us. That truth gives hope.
Restore ~ The woman’s son is restored and in turn she trusts in God and in the man of God, Elisha. She packs it all up, leaves home and land, and now goes on a perilous journey. Somehow mother and son survive and somehow her land and home and produce are restore. This brings encouragement that whatever may be missing will be restored. This story is like a puzzle that God slowly puts back together before everyone’s eyes. Events of life change rapidly. Just as we think something is permanent it shifts and disappears making room for a new way of life.
How little God seems to be doing here. At first it seems God is very active and doing much but is this true? It’s wonderful that this woman escaped but what about the countless others who starved? Her son was saved but other children weren’t. Why did God do so little? This woman has to wander around for seven years without, we assume, God communicating to her? Finally she is told she can return. Sometimes there are little spaces and times of God doing something big or memorable but most of life we are just stumbling along, waiting and watching. What is it like to be faithful in the midst of a hidden and ordinary life? What is it like to be faithful in the midst of long-term suffering? There is such a difference between how fast our society moves and how slowly ancient societies moved. If a minister today said, “Nothing will happen at our church for seven years but after that God will show up,” the congregation would kick him out. We want, expect, and try to make God do exciting things for us constantly. Regular spiritual practice in midst of the slowness of life is important.
For the business part of meeting we discussed marketing ideas for the Health and Spirituality program. We discussed the acupuncturist moving to town next week. And we talked about our upcoming snowshoe retreat.
January 3 , 2008
Scripture: Matthew 3:1-6, 13-17
Locusts and wild honey ~ It’s interesting to think how strange John must have looked and acted. Here is this homeless looking man with bug breath who doesn’t have any tact but people follow him. What was so attractive? The spiritual life is about following God’s call no matter what that call may look like to others. We may end up living in such a way that looks completely foolish to others but following God isn’t about fitting in. To follow God no matter what it looks like is tremendous freedom and that’s what John is doing. Maybe that’s what attracted others to him.
This is my son ~ The relationship God and Jesus have is interesting to consider.
Crying in the Wilderness ~ Two things come to mind, being alone and weeping and being drawn to a lonely desolate place God calls you. When you go to the wilderness people come out from behind the rocks every now and then to listen.
Did only Jesus see and hear God? ~ God is doing something big here and the world doesn’t seem to notice let alone change. You would think if others saw the dove or heard the voice of God there might have been a bigger impact. God works so slowly in the world. The Kingdom of Heaven is here and nothing is changed. It would be nice to see changes.
For the business part of our meeting we decided on a date for our Snow Shoe Retreat which is Sunday, February 10. We discussed ways we might kick off the Health and Spirituality Program. And we discussed the arrival of our new acupuncturist!
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