Friday, November 30, 2018

You are worthy of God's love.

The word “worthy” keeps coming to my mind this week, and an amusing memory. My mom was kind of famous in our family for her banana bread. Baking was not necessarily her thing, but hospitality was, and when Mom had you over she usually made banana bread. Friends have told us how, if they stopped by Mom & Dad’s on a trip, Mom would send them off with banana bread to eat in the car. My kids have fond memories of Grandma’s banana bread and hot chocolate before bed on their visits. When we visited Mom & Dad we, too, could count on enjoying Mom’s banana bread.

My sister lived in San Jose for about 10 years. Then she moved to the same town as our parents and even to an apartment in the basement of their home. It was a wonderful move for her, but once, shortly after she had moved, my sister told me, “I am no longer banana bread worthy.” Ha ha. It was a real privilege to be “banana bread worthy.”

There are quite a few hymns with the word “worthy,” such as “You Are Worthy” and “He Alone is Worthy,” “Worthy is the Lord,” and others. It is true indeed that the Lord is worthy of our praise. I don’t know of hymns about another side of worthiness, though, which is that WE -- you and I -- are worthy of God’s love.

It’s easy to think we are not worthy of God’s love. I’ve heard -- and felt myself at times -- people talk about how they have a hard time believing God really loves them. Why should he even care about me, like Psalm 8 says, and I wrote about last week, “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” One time a woman at a retreat I attended said, “There are 6 billion people in the world, why would Jesus want to love me?”

Our own seeming unworthiness gets us down: I am so far from perfect, God would never love me; I’m not lovable, why would anyone love me, especially God. A friend told me about a passage from Praise of the Useless Life: A Monk's Memoir, by Paul Quenon, and a conversation the author had with Thomas Merton:  "One time he asked me, 'How do you know God loves you?' I fumbled out some vague reply. He said, 'You know God loves you because he brought you here and takes care of you.'”

We are worthy because we are God’s. You are worthy of God’s love because he brought you here and takes care of you.

What can I pray for you today?

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. --Matthew 10:29-31

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Jesus is with you. Give him your hand.

Jesus is with you. Give him your hand.

Some years ago our church told our life stories to each other. Our pastor encouraged us to draw and then paint what we would have as the book cover for our life story. Drawing is not a my strength but I attempted to draw a path that curved in the distance, with brightness around the curve. The image was to portray the fact that our lives are like paths that twist and turn, full of happenings we cannot foretell, but we know one thing: Jesus will be there, wherever the path leads.

The more we live, the more we know that there could be something totally unanticipated right around the corner. It could be something wonderful - a new baby, a promotion, a good grade, praise from someone whose judgment we value, a deep feeling of peace, a great opportunity. Or it could be something sad - a friend is diagnosed with cancer, we ourselves become sick, someone we love dies, we lose our job, we lose our savings, we find out someone we trusted betrayed us, depression descends. We just don’t know.

All we can do is trust that Jesus will be there, walking beside us every step. I thought of this when I heard the last line of this poem by Rainer Maria Rilke.

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.
Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.

-- Rainer Maria Rilke, Book of Hours, I 59

Hear Krista Tippett reading and talking about it here.

What can I pray for you?

If you would like to send me specific prayer requests and are reading this as an email message, just reply. I will gladly pray with you. If you are reading this in my blog, email me at mavis at moonfamily.cc. I'll keep all communication confidential.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Another Invisible Infrastructure


God is mindful of us. He focuses his full attention on us. He loves us.

A while ago I wrote a blog entry about the loss of an “invisible infrastructure” of the prayers and thoughts I knew my dad and mom had created for me. Today I was thinking that the thoughts and prayers of my parents may be gone (although we have no way of knowing how things like that work for those who have passed away), but we do have the infrastructure formed by God’s thoughts and care.

In Psalm 8, the writer says,

what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
   human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels
   and crowned them with glory and honor.

“Mindful” is a popular word right now. I use it often myself, as I try to be mindful of the present, mindful of what I’m eating, mindful of my thoughts and words. Various dictionaries say mindful means paying close attention to or being especially conscious of something; bearing in mind; attentive to; a technique in which one focuses one's full attention only on the present, experiencing thoughts, feelings, and sensations but not judging them.

God is mindful of us. He focuses his full attention on us; he pays close attention to us.

I often think of Psalm 8 when I am taking off in an airplane, watching the people, buildings, and land become tinier and tinier. Here we are, so small, and God is so huge. Yet he pays full attention to us. He cares what happens to us. He gives us the world to live in, take care of, and enjoy. He loves us.

Lord, our Lord,
   how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
   in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
   you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
   to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
   the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
   which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
   human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels
   and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
   you put everything under their care:
all flocks and herds,
   and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
   and the fish in the sea,
   all that swim the paths of the seas.
Lord, our Lord,
   how majestic is your name in all the earth! -- Psalm 8

What can I pray for you?

love and blessings,

Mavis
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c: 408 318 2037

If you would like to send me specific prayer requests and are reading this as an email message, just reply. I will gladly pray with you. If you are reading this in my blog, email me at mavis at moonfamily.cc. I'll keep all communication confidential.

Friday, November 16, 2018

It sounds kind of boring, but...

It sounds kind of boring, "When the Market Is Our Only Language," but I thought this interview was full of thought-provoking questions and ideas.


I thought I would do a kind of 2L:DR (Too long; didn't read) thing and post a few things that really struck me, so you could read something shorter if you didn't want to take the time to listen to the podcast (about 10 minutes short of an hour). It'd be like 2L;DL (Too long; didn't listen). But there were so many I'm afraid my 2L;DL is 2L;DR.

Anyway, here are some points of discussion that I am still pondering.
You can tell the rich and powerful in our age to do more good, but you can never tell them to do less harm. You can tell them to give more, but you can’t tell them to take less. You can tell them to share the spoils of extreme capitalism, but you can’t tell them to renovate capitalism. 
It’s language like the “win-win,” which sounds great, but in some deep way is actually about rich people saying, the only acceptable forms of social change are the forms of social change that also kick something back upstairs — language like “doing well by doing good,” which, again, is like, “The only conditions under which I’m willing to do good is under which I would also do well.”
Part of what I found was that a lot of wealthy folks are incredibly decent and upholding an incredibly indecent system.
I meet people in Silicon Valley who, I think, truly believe and wake up every day trying to make the world better and truly think that they are doing so and that they’re sitting on tools and capabilities that could allow them to liberate humanity faster than anybody on earth. But because they are so confident in that, there’s an assumption that the tools they’re building will always make things better. The more people are connected, the more people are online, the more people are on Facebook, the more, the more, the more — it will always be better.
     There’s a failure to understand that the same tools that will empower people to be online can very easily be used by the Chinese government to prevent people from speaking their mind in a way that actually makes it harder, rather than easier, to do so. That happens all the time in history.
I think if you were to go back a little bit in time and think about business people in 1950 or whenever, they would always have — in addition to their businessman hat, they’d have a second hat. That hat may just be “strong community member” and “T-ball coach” and “volunteer for the Rotary Club” and whatever. But that second hat was often a spiritual hat. They were in the church. They went to see other people in that church every week. They had a parallel set of values that were in some ways reinforcing of or in tension with the first hat.
     I think what’s happened in the business world is, a lot of the people with wealth and power and real decision-making authority over how our society goes don’t have a second hat anymore. They don’t have some other set of values that competes with their business values.
I was just in Ohio. The public schools in the city of Akron get $10,000 a year, that’s the per-pupil spending in Akron. There’s another district in Ohio where the per-pupil spending is $31,000 a year. Maybe one of your listeners can explain that to a six-year-old child; I know I would be unable to. I’d find it very hard to explain to a child why they have to get one-third as much educational resource as someone else because mommy and daddy’s house is less expensive. Those are the kinds of things that we all sort of tolerate.
Another way to think about inequality is the line you draw between your love for your own children and your love for everybody else’s children. At one level, it seems obvious that you love your own children. But actually, if you think about what makes this society as decent as it is and the achievements that we’ve built to get here, we actually don’t value our children to the infinity point. We all love our children. But we all, generally, embrace a bunch of rules that set a cap on just doing best by our children and also makes sure we do right by other people’s children. That means paying your taxes. You pay your taxes because we understand you can’t just give it all to your children. We’ve got to take care of everybody’s. We nourish common institutions and systems and welfare and various programs that we may not use and our children may not use but that we think should be part of a system and available to someone else’s children.
    I think one way to think about where we are in America now is that our love for our own children is far outstripping our concern for other people’s children. And whether it’s my own child or you and yours, no one’s ever going to take that away from you. But I think the question of a healthy society is, where do you draw that line so that there is place in your heart not only for your own children but for everybody’s?
Part of the drum that I’ve been beating, as much as, personally, I would love to see Donald Trump gone, is, I think Trump needs to be the end of something bigger, which is an end of the veneration of money, an end of the faith in billionaire saviors, an end of the trusting that the people who cause problems are the best at fixing them, and actually could be the spark of a moment and an age where we actually solve problems together again, through deep reform at the root, for everybody.

Moonrise Meditation

Kind of accidentally, we ended up having an Ansel Adams calendar by our bathroom sink every year. Years and years ago I hung one there because there was a handy nail, thinking I’d figure out where it would go later. But now I love having it where I see the images every morning. Each year when I change to the new one, I hate putting the previous year’s pictures away. Like a painting, you can gaze and gaze into the images, see more and more, and it sparks more and more thoughts.

Last month’s image was this one, “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941.” It’s always been a favorite of mine and I was glad to see it appear. Some thoughts.

The moon in the middle of all that dark black sky reminds me of the many verses about Jesus being the light of the world.
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” --John 8:12 NIV
“I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.” --John 8:12 The Message
“The Lord is my light and my salvation” --Psalm 27:1
“The Lord shall be your light forever” --Isaiah 60:19
Look at the graveyard with the crosses and gravestones shining white in the moonlight.
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. --1 Corinthians 15:55-57
Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose! --Chorus, “Low in the Grave He Lay”
The graveyard and buildings look like a little town surrounded by a vast landscape.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” --Matthew 5:14-16
The clouds, too, are luminous. The word luminous is beautiful. I think of luna, the moon (in Latin--and Spanish), and, of course, light again. Luminous can mean glowing with reflected light -- reflecting the love of God.
“Night will be no more, nor will they need light from lamp or sun, for the Lord God shall give them light” --Revelation 22:5
Luminous, light, luna, love.

Friday, November 9, 2018

So, here’s what happened

So, here’s what happened. In my devotions this week I read the story of Mary Magdalene and other women finding the empty tomb, when Jesus rose from the dead (John 20:11-18). After the others left, Mary stayed and was crying in the garden. The gardener came up and asked Mary why she was crying. Mary told him someone had taken her Lord. Then the gardener -- who was Jesus but Mary had not recognized him -- said, “Mary.” And Mary was full of joy.

I was captivated by the story. I kept imagining Jesus’ eyes and voice full of love. At church I shared it as our devotion before beginning a meeting. We read the story, then talked about ways we know God loves us. One person said that it was sometimes hard to feel loved because they had been brought up with the church saying more about what things you should do as a good Christian, and how full of sin we are, and less about how much God loves us. We discussed why we feel that way. We know we don’t deserve God’s love, but he tells us over and over how much he loves us -- now, just as we are, not IF we do all the things.

So there I was, basking in the love of God, imagining him saying, “Mavis,” with his eyes and voice full of love. My heart felt soft and warm. I could just see Jesus looking at me in love, the way a mother looks at her sleeping baby. ... And about an hour later, I said a mean, unkind thing to a fellow member at the meeting. Bam. So full of love. And boom. Blew it. Hurt someone. Messed up. I apologized and the person graciously forgave me.


Thinking of it later, it reminded me of Peter, and the way he told Jesus, “Not me, I’ll never betray you!” and then soon after, he denied knowing Jesus -- quite vehemently -- three times. It’s guaranteed -- right? -- that we’re going to blow it. One way or another we’ll prove that we are not perfect, that we are not always kind and sweet, we will not do the right thing every time, we will not always show God’s love to others. Yet...God loves us. He loves you. Always and forever.

What can I pray for you?

love and blessings,

Mavis
If you would like to send me specific prayer requests and are reading this as an email message, just reply. I will gladly pray with you. If you are reading this in my blog, email me at mavis at moonfamily.cc. I'll keep all communication confidential.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Easy Like Sunday Morning...um?

So apt! It's the Bay Area. With the mantra, "You should live better." "Church—especially the worship that takes place around the eucharistic table—does not fit into any optimization scheme. It does not help us to “live better” or design our lives with intention. For that reason, the promises and demands of worship can be inscrutable or puzzling to many people in our culture; they are also, paradoxically, practices that can interrupt, arrest, and redirect us in surprising and life-giving ways."



Sunday, November 4, 2018

I will rise

Today is the 12th anniversary of my brother Dan's death of ALS when he was only 52. Remembering that and also the death of my parents last year.

We sang this song today at church. It always makes me think of my dad now. In the last days of his life we had to put his bed close to the floor because we were afraid he'd fall. He couldn't walk without help but he'd always forget that. Every time he'd wake up, he'd fling back the blankets and get ready to get up. We'd say, "Dad, Dad, wait! We need to get someone to help you. We need to push the button. Hold on!" Now when I hear this song, I imagine him rising, and rising, "on eagle's wings," "no more sorrow, no more pain." And for all of them - Dan, Mom, Dad, all those who have gone before us: 
Jesus has overcome 
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead.

Drenched

God’s love shows up in answered prayer.

Answered prayer is a conundrum sometimes, isn’t it? Sometimes we wonder why God doesn’t answer them, or why it takes him so long, or even if he hears them. But when our prayers are answered, we know that is another reminder of God’s love for us.

Today I am borrowing a story from a podcast I heard for the first time this week, “Out of the Ordinary Podcast.” I’ve only heard two episodes and haven’t yet decided if I’ll become a subscriber, but this story, told by one of the hosts, was great. (If you love podcasts as I do and haven’t yet heard “On Being” with Krista Tippett, that is my absolute favorite!) I hope you enjoy the story, too. The storyteller, Lisa-Jo Baker, is describing a visit with friends in Zimbabwe.

It was a game farm, this huge beautiful game farm. They did a lot of photo safaris for you to come and take pictures of the animals, an “Out of Africa” kind of place. It was a billion degrees -- it’s summer in December in Zimbabwe -- and there's no AC. It's all of these cool cement floors and a billion degrees.

It is such a classic British culture that we've inherited over there. In the middle of the afternoon at 4 o'clock every day everybody sits down to tea -- hot tea! I remember we were preparing to have all these friends over to celebrate the new year and we had set up tables outside in the garden (you say yard in America). There was food on all the plates and the forks, everything set up outside because we were trying to be a little bit cooler and there were so many people coming over.

Now, at that point it was in the middle of a terrible drought. It had not rained for months and months and months. It was incredibly dry. Animals were dying, crops were dying. It was a very dire time. That night we sat down to dinner. Please picture with me, if you will, these farmers who are sitting in the heat. They were trying to make a living in a very brutal climate and they're all sitting down to dinner.

The first course (I never forget this because it seems so weird to me) was cold cucumber soup. That seems very British to me. We sit down at this beautiful table under the African night sky -- so picturesque. We take the first bite of the soup, and as we start to eat, the heavens open up and it begins to rain. I am not talking about a light drizzle -- it is gushing huge, giant raindrops. I vividly picture in my mind the cucumber soup splashing back at us.

I stand to rush into the house, because that's what you're supposed to do.I look down the table and every single one of these men and their wives are just sitting there eating cucumber soup in a rainstorm, the green soup splashing into their beards and all over their khaki clothes. They are just eating the soup and not moving. Over the noise of the rain, I yelled to my dad, “What are they doing?!” My dad said these words to me: “They have prayed for rain for so long they are not going to get up now that the rain has come.” They just sat there, drenched in their answered prayers.


“Drenched in their answered prayers.” Isn’t that such a beautiful phrase -- and image? You could also say “drenched in God’s love.”

What can I pray for you?

love and blessings,

Mavis

Mavis Moon
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If you would like to send me specific prayer requests and are reading this as an email message, just reply. I will gladly pray with you. If you are reading this in my blog, email me at mavis at moonfamily.cc. I'll keep all communication confidential.

A scientist who loves and welcomes faith!

This is so good. No science VS. faith. Science AND faith. Look especially at the last paragraph -- the last question. "Often paradoxes are our best approach to understanding the universe. Consider your two eyes — they let you see three dimensions. You don’t say: “My two eyes contradict each other, so I can’t believe either.”
I believe in a deeper reality than the laws of physics that we know now."
https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/11/04/breakthrough-prize-winner-aron-wall-on-faith-and-science/