The Passion of Christ

May 22, 2015

Today’s Reflection

I’D JUST FINISHED a breakfast meeting with some friends in midtown Manhattan. It was a glorious fall morning when I said good-bye, hopped on my bicycle, and pedaled up Madison Avenue toward home just north of Central Park. Rush hour was rushing and dreams were flying all around me as I passed 57th Street and rode north. … Just a few feet from my bike, a woman walked in slow motion across the street, her horrified eyes on the sky behind me, her face pale from what she saw.

I glanced over my shoulder. Thick white smoke mixed with the morning air, pouring out of silver buildings and stealing the blue of the sky. “Another bad fire in New York,” I thought, as the traffic light turned green and I rode through a still-summer-lush Central Park, behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and out the north end into my neighborhood.

When I walked into the apartment my husband and I shared, the phone was ringing. And for the next few hours, darkness blurred my vision, shredding the city I had come to love, shattering — again — the place I had called home.

I did the only rational thing I could think to do: I got back on my bike. I could not sit in my living room watching the television’s burning images of the World Trade Center while begging God for mercy in the horror happening outside. Instead, I rode south, along Riverside Park and over to Broadway. …

I listened to the most terrible silence I have ever heard, afraid of the measureless pain that hovered around us.

“Just keep moving, folks, keep moving,” a woman in a blue uniform shouted.

The advice seemed profoundly wise, so I obeyed. I pedaled some more, offering water and companionship when I could and wondering just how we would all survive this shipwreck.

Then, at the corner of Thompson and Houston Streets, I had to stop riding. An enormous statue of Jesus — with outstretched arms — looked down at me, and a sign the width of the Catholic cathedral above him read, “Peace to the World.” I read the words aloud, over and over and over, looking him straight in the eye and reaching for something in the air, anything to hold on to. But all I felt was a raw ache.

What happened next surprised me as much as anything ever had. As I stared at that statue, … The image of another dark sky came to mind as I watched gray ashes smoldering in the sunlight. I stared at the face of Christ, and in my mind’s eye I saw fists slamming into his chest, nails slicing his wrists and feet, sharp thorns rammed into his head as he choked on his last breaths of air. …

A gruesome death spilled onto this street corner where I stood enraptured. It was not like a religious experience or a spiritual vision. It was simply an acknowledgment, a moment of recognition on a road. Suddenly I saw that the only understanding for the despair around me — if there could be such a thing — was this passion.

– Jo Kadlecek
Woman Overboard

“From pages 34-36 of Woman Overboard: How Passion Saved My Life by Jo Kadlecek. Copyright © 2009 by Jo Kadlecek. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Fresh Air Books.
“http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Think of a time when you have experienced compassion. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

Romans 8:22-13, NRSV

This Week: pray for those who are displaced from their homes. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section below.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers, call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center web site.

Saints, Inc.:

This week we remember: Bernardino of Siena (May 20).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2015, a ministry of Discipleship Ministries | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Time for Stillness

May 21, 2015

Today’s Reflection

MONASTIC CHANT of the Psalms appeal to many today who find the gentle, rhythmic singing a soothing introduction to meditation. Recordings of chant sell in great quantities, and monasteries are receiving a record number of guests looking for a different pace of life. The Psalms draw people in because they represent prayer uttered from the whole range of human experience.

Even those of us who do not participate in community singing of the Psalter can relate to the down-to-earth cries of God’s people in these ancient songs. Through the Psalms God’s people have wept together, celebrated victory, danced, made music, lamented, and found hope in Yahweh. Jewish and Christian people alike have cherished the Psalter as a means of praying with integrity.

The Psalms of the Hebrew scriptures quickly acquired a fixed place in the church, which chanted the entire Psalter weekly. Over the centuries our liturgies have reduced the number of psalms in worship, but the practice of reciting the whole Psalter on a regular basis has been preserved within monastic communities. …

We seldom take time for stillness in our culture. Monastic life is countercultural in that it punctuates each day with periods of silence. Monastics are no less busy than the rest of us; the telephone rings, guests arrive at the door, the grass needs to be mowed, food must be prepared — but when they (and we) attend to tasks from a place of stillness, it enhances the quality of Presence. … As I sat each day with the monks and learned to pause at the end of each line of a psalm — alien to my usual way of reading — I began to let the Psalms pray me. Today, with no community to assist my praying, I find that if I continue to practice the frequent pauses, I am more able to “hear” what God is saying through these ancient prayers.

– Elizabeth J. Canham
Finding Your Voice in the Psalms

From pages 10-11 of Finding Your Voice in the Psalms: An Invitation to Honest Prayer by Elizabeth J. Canham. Copyright © 2013 by Elizabeth J. Canham. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Take time for stillness today. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

Psalm 104:24, NRSV

This Week: pray for those who are displaced from their homes. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section below.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers, call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center web site.

Saints, Inc.:

This week we remember: Bernardino of Siena (May 20).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2015, a ministry of Discipleship Ministries | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Living a Deeper Christian Life, or a Broader One?

May 20, 2015

Today’s Reflection OVER THE COURSE of my life, I have often heard Christians refer to their desire to “live a deeper Christian life.” I have said the same and sought it. But in the last 20 years or so, I have begun to respond to another desire within me: the desire to live a broader […]

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Deeper

May 19, 2015

Today’s Reflection GOD, SINK ME into the depths of your Spirit, Beyond words Beyond creeds Beyond theology Beyond logic To the Truth beyond truth To the Love beyond love To the You beyond you. … Make a spiritual spring Well up in my soul Bringing from your boundless depths Your boundless truth and love. –Josh […]

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Encountering God As Mother

May 18, 2015

Today’s Reflection IN JESUS, GOD BECAME PERSONAL and real to the human family. Jesus introduced us to a God who is not distant and disapproving but who desires intimacy and freedom in a mutual relationship of love and commitment. He summed up this relationship in the beautiful name he called God, Abba. Abba is best […]

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An Act of Hope

May 17, 2015

Today’s Reflection MANY CHRISTIANS RECITE A THREE-PART PRAYER that starts with an “act of faith,” affirming, “Lord, I believe in you.” It ends with an “act of love,” avowing devotion for God and charity toward neighbors. As a hostess I’ve latched on to the descriptive phrase that’s nestled in the middle of the prayer. It […]

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Where Strangers Enter and Become Friends

May 16, 2015

Today’s Reflection HENRI J. M. NOUWEN defines hospitality as “the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy.” The world we live in is sometimes hostile, sometimes indifferent, often lonely and confusing. So many people feel isolated from friends, family, and God. As Christians, we […]

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Not Just a Onetime Thing

May 15, 2015

Today’s Reflection THE CALL TO LOVE GOD and to serve with enthusiasm comes in the midst of many other demands and priorities. When God began speaking to you – through situations, friends, parents, a Sunday school teacher, or a pastor – you may have heard the message of God’s love only faintly. God uses all […]

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A Future with Hope

May 14, 2015

Today’s Reflection I KEEP THE WORDS from Jeremiah 29:11 on a card in my office desk drawer where I will see them several times a day. I placed them there because I am traveling through a difficult place now. When my husband was 55, his job was eliminated. After raising a family and reaching middle […]

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Take My Hand

May 13, 2015

Today’s Reflection In my life, God’s grace shows up unexpectedly. I began volunteering for a local church’s program that provides lunch on weekdays for anyone who wants to eat. Agnes, a tall, dark woman with a sullen face, came daily. I tried to reach her with a smile and a touch but didn’t get a […]

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