Friday, October 21, 2016

oh hey, push notifications....

The past several weeks, I've received friendly reminders from My Fitness Pal.  
They've been pretty friendly, you know the usual, "You haven't logged any food for today.  Would you like to do it now?" 

Each morning I see it, sigh deeply and swipe it away.  
The deep sigh is because I know I need to watch what I'm eating and log my exercise.  
I sigh deeply because this fall seems to have kicked my butt (and it doesn't even feel like fall, but that's not the point).  Between an actual fall and several weeks of recovery and healing and now a week off because of a cold, ugh....I'm deflated.  

So, tomorrow, I will hop on the scale...and start logging again.  
I know this works for me, when I stick to a plan, log the calories and tell others about it, for accountability.
I've been here before, and know I can do this, I just need to start.  

Last time I worked on losing weight, I just took into account the numbers on the scale.  
Tomorrow I'll take some body measurements as well so I have a baseline.  
I plan on posting my weight weekly.  Good times.  
So, dear readers, thanks for reading, for holding me accountable and for your support.  
If you are on a similar journey, let me know how I can support you, too.  
Prayers are appreciated. 
See you on the other side of the scale...

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

"Increase our faith!"

October 2, 2016
Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4
Psalm 37:1-10
2 Timothy 1:1-14
Luke 17:5-10

Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock and our redeemer.  Amen.

Increase our faith! 
How often have we said something like that?

Increase our faith! 
That apparently the faith we have is not great enough. 
That faith comes in different sizes.  Small, medium, large….super sized? 
Is it a muscle that we can increase? 
Have you ever met someone and thought…wow their faith is amazing…I wish I had faith like that. 

I’m reminded of a scene from The Empire Strikes Back,
Luke is in the swamp with Yoda and his Jedi skills are being honed. 
He is lifting stones, backpacks, even the droid, R2D2….
Luke wants to get his ship out of the swamp…he tries to use the force to do so, but he lacks the force or the faith…he lifts is up a little, but can’t seem to get it out of the puddle.  He gets all pouty…and says,

Luke: I can’t. It’s too big.
Yoda: Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not.
For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us.
Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship.

Yoda then demonstrates by focusing on the X-Wing and using the force to move the craft out of the water and onto the land, next to Luke. Amazed, Luke says:

Luke: I don’t, I don’t believe it.
Yoda: That is why you fail.

To the apostles in our gospel passage this morning, faith is something that they want more of.  They feel that they do not have enough…that more is needed…

Would you really want to say to a mulberry tree be uprooted and planted in the sea…and have it do so?  If we had faith to uproot trees and move mountains, clean up days around the church would be much easier…not to mention moving from one house to another.  But that’s not what it’s all about. 

Perhaps this is similar to the person who states: "I can't do it," and a parent/mentor type insists: "Yes, you can."

My two and a half year old nephew has taken to using this phrase.  “I can’t.”  My sister and brother-in-law don’t know where picked it up.  The funny thing is…is that he will say it in the midst of actually doing something.  For example, while climbing up a ladder, he’ll say, “I can’t!”  And they’ll say you can…and you are…

 Sometime we need to hear that we actually can do something….even when we ourselves doubt that we have the ability to do so. 

How many of us have said, "I can't do door to door evangelism."
"I can't talk to him/her about the hurt they have caused me."
"I can't forgive him/her."
It would seem to me that the issue in such statements is not that of "can't do," but one of fear -- which is the opposite of faith.

It is more fitting with the Matthew and Mark parallels, that if people are unable to move mountains or trees into the sea, then their faith must not be as large as a mustard seed. I know that I haven't been able to conjure up such miracles with my faith. Sometimes we need to be reminded that we can't trust even our faith. It isn't even as big as a mustard seed. Salvation comes from trusting God to give us what we can't do ourselves -- including faith.

A brief prayer I read recently is related to this text. It goes something like: "O God, I don't pray for enough faith to move mountains. I can get enough dynamite and bulldozers to do that. What I need and ask for is enough faith to move me.” 

What I need and ask for is enough faith to move me. 

Because here’s the thing…

I can’t do it on my own. 
I know, I just said all those things about using the phrase, “I can’t” and then I used it anyway.  But that’s the real truth, isn’t it….
That I can’t do this thing called life on my own. 
I can’t love, forgive, heal or help on my own…

I am unable to life out God’s love and grace without that love and grace in my life already. 

The apostles cry out, “Increase our faith!”  As if to say, we don’t have enough to love others as you love us, we don’t have enough to feed the hungry, to speak out for the voiceless, to speak the truth to lies….but the real truth is God has equipped us with the faith that we need….we don’t need more…

God has given us all the faith that we need. 
Sometimes we just forget how amazing that gift and blessing is. 
We are given the ability to do exactly what God calls us to do. 

This faith is a gift.  And it’s not just free floating faith…that is just out there…it is faith and trust in Jesus Christ. 

Faith isn’t something that is ours alone that we can change and grow and increase…it is through God’s promise in Jesus Christ that we receive the basic forgiveness we are called to share…

Maybe this passage…Lord, increase our faith…needs a rewrite…
Bishop Bill Gafkjen suggests this,
Lord, draw us deeply into your creation and resurrection…into that forgiveness and grace. 
Lord, draw us deeply into your creation and resurrection…into that forgiveness and grace. 

That’s what it’s all about. 

Being drawn in to God’s promise, God’s love, God’s forgiveness and God’s grace. 

Being drawn into the community of a family of faith where we realize our imperfections, weaknesses, faults, mistakes, and are loved and used for service in the midst of them. 

Knowing that God calls us to tasks that we may not be ready for…but we go anyway, trusting in the promise of the resurrection….and knowing the forgiveness and grace we have already received and will continue to receive. 

That’s what this meal is all about…
This is the table that speaks to us and says…
All are welcome.
No matter what your faith, no matter what your sins…there is a place for you. 
No matter what your questions, problems, fears, doubts….there is a place for you. 

There is a place for you….to know and feel God’s love for you. 

That is what is at the root of faith…A loving, compassionate, forgiving and saving God.  Who wants the world to know that it is loved. 

So God, draw us in…
Into this place for forgiveness and fellowship, for honesty and love for one another. 
Draw us into this table…where bread and wine overflow for everyone, where sins are forgiven and grace is poured out….
And draw us more deeply into you…in our homes, in our schools, in our places of work…that you may guide our hearts and minds to share this redeeming love and grace with those whom we meet. 

And now may the peace, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, and let all God’s people say, Amen.