Belonging, Blessing and God's Extravagance

When Jesus speaks about the world, he is very realistic. He speaks about wars and revolutions, earthquakes, plagues and famines, persecution and imprisonment, betrayal, hatred and assassinations. 
There is no suggestion at all that these signs of the world's darkness will ever be absent. But still, God's joy can be ours in the midst of it all. It is the joy of belonging to the household of God whose love is stronger than death and who empowers us to be in the world while already belonging to the kingdom of joy.

Henri Nouwen - From Return of the Prodigal Son

Eric Bibb 
I Want Jesus To Walk With Me
He also speaks about his faith.

The Place of Blessing
Where you are (however unchosen) is the place of blessing.
How you are (however broken) is the place of grace.
Who you are, in your becoming, is your place in the Kingdom.
Margaret Silf
  Eric Bibb In My Father's House

  A Purification
At the start of Spring
I open a trench in the ground.
I put into it
the winter’s accumulation of paper,
pages I do not want to read again,
useless words, fragments, errors.

And I put into it
the contents of the outhouse:
light of the sun,
growth of the ground,
finished with one of their journeys.

To the sky, to the wind, then,
and to the faithful trees,
I confess my sins:
that I have not been happy enough,
considering my good luck;
have listened to too much noise;
have been inattentive to wonders;
have lusted after praise.

And then upon the gathered refuse
of mind and body,
I close the trench,
folding shut again the dark,
the deathless earth.
Beneath that seal
the old escapes into the new.

(From Wendell Berry, Collected Poems: 1957-1982)
Accepting This
Yes, it is true. I confess,
I have thought great thoughts,
and sung great songs—all of it
rehearsal for the majesty
of being held.

The dream is awakened
when thinking I love you
and life begins
when saying I love you
and joy moves like blood
when embracing others with love.

My efforts now turn
from trying to outrun suffering
to accepting love wherever
I can find it.

Stripped of causes and plans
and things to strive for,
I have discovered everything
I could need or ask for
is right here—
in flawed abundance.

We cannot eliminate hunger,
but we can feed each other.
We cannot eliminate loneliness,
but we can hold each other.
We cannot eliminate pain,
but we can live a life
of compassion.

we are small living things
awakened in the stream,
not gods who carve out rivers.

Like human fish,
we are asked to experience
meaning in the life that moves
through the gill of our heart.

There is nothing to do
and nowhere to go.
Accepting this,
we can do everything
and go anywhere.
 Mark Nepo 

 Image from  from the Revised Common Lectionary page of Vanderbilt Library. Inspired by the Gospel text for the Fifth Sunday in Lent (Year C) – John 12:1-8.

Extravagant God

lavish God …
why do you waste so much time on us?

You create rainbows that no one sees;
shower down intricate
stunning autumn leaves by the billions
and one at a time
that we greet not with applause
but with complaints of inconvenience.

You place whales beneath fathoms of ocean
singing their plaintive, haunting songs
too deep for our ears to hear.
You create fantastic jungles
within a square foot of grass
a universe in an atom
breathtaking places that have never been seen
or appreciated by a single human being.

Why are we so bored and dull?
Why do we appreciate water most in the desert
health only during sickness
our friend when he leaves
our love when she dies?
Should we pray for less
for you to ration Your grace
to waste no rainbow?

Forgive us.
You don’t paint rainbows
just for us to see
nor make birdsong
just for us to hear.

Rebuke our terrible pride
and chastise our deism
that imagines You created only once long ago
and can’t perceive Genesis now
or Eden here
or what a new day means.

Help us to do two impossible things:
to take it ALL in (every miraculous atom of it)
and to waste our time on a rose
a place
a time
a person.

Perhaps one will bring us all full time to eternity
one blackbird to You.

Prodigal God,
may we find a millionth of the joy
that clearly is yours


Frank Ohler, Better than Nice and Other Unconventional Prayers, Westminster John Knox Press, 1989

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