St Andrew Blog

Open My Hands

There are books of the bible that I turn to more often than others.  Like everyone, I have my “canon within the canon,” so to speak.  I love the gospels, but probably favor Luke for its insistence on Jesus’ preferential option for the least of these, for those on the margins.  I also look to Romans for a theology of grace and to Philippians, where Paul exhorts a Christian community in Greece to encourage one another, to pray for one another, and to rejoice together.  I have to say,I DON’T generally turn to the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible book of Deuteronomy.  I’ve always thought of the book as a book of laws.  So somehow through the years, I’ve missed this gem of a text which was our scripture reading for Sunday:

Deuteronomy 15:7-11

7 If there is among you anyone in need,

a member of your community in any of your towns

 within the land that the Lord your God is giving you,

do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted

towards your needy neighbor.

8You should rather open your hand,

willingly lending enough to meet the need,

whatever it may be. 9Be careful that you do not

entertain a mean thought, thinking,

‘The seventh year, the year of remission, is near’,

and therefore view your needy neighbor with hostility

and give nothing;

your neighbor might cry to the Lord against you,

and you would incur guilt.

10Give liberally and be ungrudging when you do so,

for on this account the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake.

11Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth,

I therefore command you,

 ‘Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.’

Open Our Ears

Open Our Ears

 “The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher,

that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word.

Morning by morning he wakens—wakens my ear

to listen to those who are taught.

The Lord God has opened my ear,

And I was not rebellious,
I did not turn backward.”

Ancient Greek philosophy notes that we have two ears and one mouth—so that we can listen twice as much as we speak!  That’s a lesson I’m still trying to learn . . . . .  That’s why this week’s theme speaks to me.  The verse above talks about the value of words; of being able to “sustain the weary with a word.”  But it also reminds us that God wakens not only our mouths for speaking, but our ears for listening. 

Jesus also reminds us that sometimes we don’t listen OR we listen but don’t understand.  Opening our ears isn’t always as easy as it sounds, but it’s one of the ways God wants us to be open.  It’s one of the ways God opens us.

How will you listen for God this week?  How will you open your ears to hear the good news of the grace of God?  To hear the stories of others in need?  To listen to the feelings behind the words of those you love?  

Open Our Eyes

bulletineyeOpen Our Eyes

On Sunday, Knute Ogren from Camp Calumet (…if you don’t know about Calumet, learn more about this transformative camp at calumet.org…) told us a story about a restaurant he used to go to a few times a week. He’d sit at the bar, and while he was at that bar, he’d have conversations with the folks who worked there or the person who sat a few bar stools away. And it turned out, that those conversations were amazing and transforming. All because they actually saw one another.

How often do we not see people around us? We’re caught in our own little bubble, trying to get back to work after a lunch break, that we don’t notice the young man sitting on the curb with his head in his hands. We’re trying to get through the line at the grocery store as quick as possible that we miss the frantic face of the cashier. Maybe we purposefully look away, or make assumptions, or judge the person who doesn’t meet our standards.

We hear in Genesis that all of us are created in the image of God. Which means that God is in that young man sitting on the curb…and that grocery store worker…and that person we unfairly judge…and sitting at the bar in a restaurant. Let’s slow down and open our eyes, so we can see God all around us. And we’ll be transformed by who we see.

Be OPEN!

 

 

Be OPEN! 

Can you believe it is already time to think about Ash Wednesday ?  Didn’t we just celebrate Christmas???? 

Well, like it or not . . . .ready . . . . or not. . . . . this week is Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of lent.  This year we started making the turn towards lent a bit early.  Last Sunday we heard the story of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness.  That story helps us see the temptation—so close at hand for all of us, too—of closing ourselves off from God’s grace and mercy.

It’s not that we’re tempted exactly like Jesus was tempted—we’re not confronted with “Son-of-God” level temptations . . . . But we are tempted all the time in our culture . . . . .  to close ourselves off.  We’re tempted to close our eyes and ears to the truth about our deepest selves and the needs of others.  We’re tempted to divide our loyalties, to withhold our whole hearts.  We’re tempted to close our hands and refrain from helping others and sharing what God gave us . . . . . .

That’s why we need a season like lent.  We need a 40-day cleanse . . . . . . not so much in terms of what we eat or don’t eat, but in terms of coming clean about who we are, what we need and who’s strength and love we ultimately depend on. 

Lent at St. Andrew this year will be about being OPEN—or really being OPEN-ed.  The five Sundays will focus on letting God open our eyes and ears and hearts and hands and our lives.  It will be about going deeper in our faith to make the connection between the painfully open hands of Jesus on the cross and our need to be opened by the healing that flows from those hands.  Join us.