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Everyone as Christ

Today’s Reflection

IN VIRTUALLY EVERY Benedictine community, we see the affirmation, “Treat everyone as Christ.” This statement illuminates the heart of the Benedictine ethic and the hospitality for which many know it. Benedictine hospitality stems from the belief that Christ is present as guest and host in every encounter. Jesus proclaims a divine-human synergy, as recorded in Matthew 25. …

We reveal our love for God in our love for one another. Christ feels the pain of those who are marginalized and neglected, who experience injustice on city streets, long waits in line for social services, and exclusion of voting rights. God rejoices in children welcomed in church in all their chaotic creativity, in families receiving shelter, and in foreigners provided safe asylum. In ways beyond our imagining, God feels our pain and celebrates our joy. Everything we do touches God.

—Bruce G. Epperly, The Mystic in You: Discovering a God-Filled World (Upper Room Books, 2018)

Today’s Question

When have you seen Jesus hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, or in prison?  Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me…. Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
—Matthew 25:35-36, 40 (NRSV)

Prayer for the Week

Peace Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.
Submit your prayer to The Upper Room or share it in the comment section.

Something More

The Academy for Spiritual Formation creates transformative space for people to be in communion with God, self, others, and creation for the sake of the world. Learn more.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Tempted to Judge

Today’s Reflection

WHEN YOU FIND yourself tempted to judge others, say a prayer of blessing for them. This morning as I took my sunrise walk on Craigsville Beach, I found a number of opportunities to bless my predawn morning companions! Tempted to judge the high school student who drove up with hip-hop music blasting, I chose to bless him and his day. Annoyed by the smoker who fowls the pristine morning air, I chose to wave “hello” and say a prayer of blessing…. I can assure you that life will give you plenty of opportunities to bless those who inspire judgment and alienation!

—Bruce G. Epperly, The Mystic in You: Discovering a God-Filled World (Upper Room Books, 2018)

Today’s Question

Do you judge others more than you bless others?  Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
—Matthew 5:44 (NRSV)

Prayer for the Week

Peace Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.
Submit your prayer to The Upper Room or share it in the comment section.

Something More

The Academy for Spiritual Formation creates transformative space for people to be in communion with God, self, others, and creation for the sake of the world. Learn more.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Interdependence

Today’s Reflection

GOD’S GRACE of interdependence invites us to accept our own and others’ imperfections and to lean on one another and God to find our own personal healing.

Letting go of judgment does not mean we tolerate bad behavior, let criminals go free, or let down our nation’s defenses. Letting go of judgment means that we recognize our imperfections as the inspiration to affirm our common humanity with sinner and saint alike. Letting go of judgment enables us to see the divine in others, no matter their current behavior. Love joins us as we seek to respond with grace and helpfulness.

—Bruce G. Epperly, The Mystic in You: Discovering a God-Filled World (Upper Room Books, 2018)

Today’s Question

Is it hard for you to face or admit your own imperfections?  Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?”
—Matthew 7:3 (NRSV)

Prayer for the Week

Peace Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.
Submit your prayer to The Upper Room or share it in the comment section.

Something More

The Academy for Spiritual Formation creates transformative space for people to be in communion with God, self, others, and creation for the sake of the world. Learn more.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Awkward Silence

Today’s Reflection

TWENTY-FIRST-CENTURY North Americans live in a noisy world. Virtually wherever we go, we encounter music, television, or conversation. We perceive silence as awkward, while we babble as a way ostensibly to connect with others. We often talk incessantly throughout the day and chatter needlessly to fill the empty spaces. The desert fathers and mothers present an antidote to our world dominated by constant chatter, 24-hour newsfeeds, and ever-present background noise. … Still waters run deep, and in challenging situations, silence—or at least pausing before speaking—leads to fewer regrets than ceaseless commentary. … We easily become distracted and benefit from a quiet place to experience God’s presence and encounter our own temptations. As Jesus discovered in the wilderness, silence is not always quiet. Once our minds are at rest, the “monkey mind,” as the Buddhists call it, goes to work. We must cultivate silence to hear the voice of God amid the conflicting voices of culture, self-interest, and desire to please others.

—Bruce G. Epperly, The Mystic in You: Discovering a God-Filled World (Upper Room Books, 2018)

Today’s Question

What distracts you?  Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: … a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.”
—Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7 (NRSV)

Prayer for the Week

Peace Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.
Submit your prayer to The Upper Room or share it in the comment section.

Something More

The Academy for Spiritual Formation creates transformative space for people to be in communion with God, self, others, and creation for the sake of the world. Learn more.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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‘Tis a Gift to Be Simple

Today’s Reflection

[SAINT] FRANCIS discovered that simplicity of life is the key to God’s realm. Downwardly mobile, he chose to focus on serving God in every encounter and responding to the deep needs of everyone he met. His focus changed from self-interest to world loyalty….

Eight hundred years after Francis, most of us question how to live simply and yet be part of the economies in which we live. While I don’t live extravagantly, this morning I checked my bank account; paid my mortgage, utility bills, and life insurance; and inquired about refinancing my home. I regularly check my retirement statements, and I live in a comfortable Cape Cod home. While my wife and I limit our use of fossil fuels, use sustainable bags at the market, and turn off the lights whenever we leave a room, we still consume more resources than most of our planet’s citizens.

Simplicity is a spiritual and ethical issue. The wisdom of the hedgehog in daily life is to know one thing and have one focus in the many tasks of each day. My sense of simplicity involves following Mother Teresa’s counsel to “do something beautiful for God.” Still, I need to follow Mahatma Gandhi’s advice to “live simply so that others may simply live.” I need to see my possessions and personal economics in light of the well-being of others. This economy of grace will enable others to live more fully as well as to be a first step toward an ecologically affirming and economically just civilization.

—Bruce G. Epperly, The Mystic in You: Discovering a God-Filled World (Upper Room Books, 2018)

Today’s Question

In what ways can you live more simply?  Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“If we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.”
—1 Timothy 6:8-10 (NRSV)

Prayer for the Week

Peace Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.
Submit your prayer to The Upper Room or share it in the comment section.

Something More

The Academy for Spiritual Formation creates transformative space for people to be in communion with God, self, others, and creation for the sake of the world. Learn more.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Peace of Christ Be with You

Today’s Reflection

PEACEMAKING is more than just saying “The peace of Christ be with you” in the passing of the peace at church. It involves a commitment to see the divine in each person and to behave in such a way that others discover their own holiness. I realize experiencing the world in a peaceful manner is challenging in our time of political and cultural polarization. It is difficult for me to see God’s presence in neo-Nazi marchers, white supremacists, and political leaders who intentionally fan the flames of polarization and division. I am tempted to see them as lost causes, unworthy of my respect. Yet beneath the bloviating politician is a child of God. Hidden in the neo-Nazi is the face of Jesus. Recognizing the holiness hidden in those whose politics or behavior I find repugnant does not require me to agree with their policies or beliefs, but it does invite me to respond to them in ways that bring reconciliation and peace, whenever possible.

—Bruce G. Epperly, The Mystic in You: Discovering a God-Filled World (Upper Room Books, 2018)

Today’s Question

Does being a peacemaker mean staying silent at all times? When might a peacemaker speak out?  Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
—Matthew 5:9 (NRSV)

Prayer for the Week

Peace Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.
Submit your prayer to The Upper Room or share it in the comment section.

Something More

The Academy for Spiritual Formation creates transformative space for people to be in communion with God, self, others, and creation for the sake of the world. Learn more.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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A God-Filled World

Today’s Reflection

[SAINT] FRANCIS REMINDS us that divinity resides in every creature. We can see beauty in every face and honor life in all its forms. Centuries later, Albert Schweitzer described this attitude in terms of reverence for life. Seeing the holiness in creation challenges us to claim our role as planetary healers through a simpler lifestyle, protection of endangered species and wilderness lands, and advocacy for policies that respond to global climate change. We can celebrate life by living more simply. We can prayerfully consider our patterns of consumption and discover how our local community can respond to global climate change. Life is beautiful, and God calls us as partners in healing the planet, locally and globally.

—Bruce G. Epperly, The Mystic in You: Discovering a God-Filled World (Upper Room Books, 2018)

Today’s Question

Name something you can do to better care for the environment. Does seeing the holiness in everything motivate you to help heal the environment?  Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
—1 John 4:11 (NRSV)

Prayer for the Week

Peace Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.
Submit your prayer to The Upper Room or share it in the comment section.

Something More

The Academy for Spiritual Formation creates transformative space for people to be in communion with God, self, others, and creation for the sake of the world. Learn more.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Freedom from a Facade

Today’s Reflection

PURSUING WHOLENESS HAS LED ME TO freedom from a façade. I’m not pretending to have it all together anymore. Seeking wholeness has trained me to live in very authentic, organic, consistent ways. I live with integrity and can be my true self; I’m not hiding from anybody. I’ve discovered that God’s love for me is not dependent upon my productivity or my positivity. Because I am close to Jesus, I can be vulnerable, and my vulnerability might help others on their spiritual journey. There is no substitute for closeness with Jesus on this soul reset journey. He is the first thing, the last thing, and everything in between!

—Junius B. Dotson
Soul Reset: Breakdown, Breakthrough, and the Journey to Wholeness (Upper Room Books, 2019)

Today’s Question

What steps can you take to experience a soul reset and live out your most authentic life? What do you need to lay down or take up to live lightly and freely with Jesus? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
—Matthew 11:28b-30 (The Message)

Prayer for the Week

“O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” —Psalm 63:1 (NRSV) Submit your prayer to The Upper Room or share it in the comment section.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Why We Do What We Do

Today’s Reflection

MANY OF US, if not most of us in the church, have forgotten why we do what we do in the first place. We’ve forgotten that the message of Jesus is actually good news of freedom, hope, and possibility, not just more things to accomplish, programs to run, and busyness to get swept up in. Especially for pastors and church leaders, we get focused on numbers, budgets, growth, and programs because those are the “measurables.” But we forget that Jesus invited us into a life-changing relationship, a companionship meant to bring wholeness.

—Junius B. Dotson
Soul Reset: Breakdown, Breakthrough, and the Journey to Wholeness (Upper Room Books, 2019)

Today’s Question

When have you felt like “it’s all on you”? How can you and your faith community create a culture where the work is shared and no one has to feel that way? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
—John 3:17 (NIV)

Prayer for the Week

“O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” —Psalm 63:1 (NRSV) Submit your prayer to The Upper Room or share it in the comment section.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Capacity

Today’s Reflection

WHEN WE DO EXPERIENCE WHOLENESS, we find capacity to handle difficult life situations and stress because we are connected to Jesus. It doesn’t mean we are free from trials, but it does mean that we have the capacity to handle them. It means that God’s love, mercy, and kindness sustain us through whatever we face. When we are growing in Christ and Christ is in us, we discover a joy that isn’t manufactured or dependent upon external circumstances. That joy is at our core and isn’t easily shaken.

—Junius B. Dotson

Soul Reset: Breakdown, Breakthrough, and the Journey to Wholeness Upper Room Books.

Today’s Question

How do tests and trials teach you about who God is and who you are? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
—Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

Prayer for the Week

“O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” —Psalm 63:1 (NRSV) Submit your prayer to The Upper Room or share it in the comment section.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

{ 6 comments }