Quotes: Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

love your neighbor sign godMatthew 22:34-40 NRSV
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

See also Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14, and James 2:8  

Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” not “as much as you love yourself.” We are to love our neighbor in the same way we love ourselves. “We love because God has first loved us” (1 John 4:19). When we accept the unconditional love and undeserved mercy that God offers us—knowing that we are not worthy of it—then we can allow God to love others through us in the same way. It’s God in you loving you, warts and all, and God in you loving others as they are. This is why the love you have available to give away is limitless. As Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “The water that I shall give you will turn into a spring inside of you, welling up into limitless life” (John 4:14). – Richard Rohr

A man is called selfish not for pursuing his own good, but for neglecting his neighbor’s.
– Richard Whately

We hermetically seal ourselves off from the undesired ‘other,’ the stranger, and in doing so, we seal ourselves off from God. By rejecting God in the neighbor, we reject the love that can heal us. -Ilia Delio

“Leave me alone”, is not a good news!
“Let’s be together” is not a bad news.
We were made to be each others keepers.
Let love lead
― Israelmore Ayivor

We become neighbors when we are willing to cross the road for one another. (…) There is a lot of road crossing to do. We are all very busy in our own circles. We have our own people to go to and our own affairs to take care of. But if we could cross the road once in a while and pay attention to what is happening on the other side, we might indeed become neighbors.
― Henri J.M. Nouwen, Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith

There are really only two religions, two ways of living, and every moment everyone, religious of every flavor and atheist alike, is choosing which way we go. One is the Religion of Being Right. The other is the Religion of Being In Love.
click here for the rest of this thought provoking log post by Steve Garnaas Holmes entitled Choose Love

For practical ideas on building community in your neighborhood, check out this blog post by Ed Stetzer entitled 10 Ways to Love your Neighbor. In it he interviewed the good folks at Apartment Life, an organization who exists to foster environments where apartment residents can build quality relationships through a renewed focus on community.

Love your neighbor by Steve Garnaas Holmes
Love your neighbor as yourself.

Love your neighbor as deeply,
as instinctively, as surely
as you watch out for yourself.

Love your neighbor knowing
God sees you both alike,
with the same loving delight.

Love your neighbor to be true to yourself,
to discover yourself.

Love your neighbor as you love them,
with your gifts and presence,
not as someone else.

Honor your neighbor’s reality
as real and valid as yours.

Love your neighbor,
who is your self.

Let loving your neighbor
be your self, your life, who you are.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

************
For more information on the art, scripture translation and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Why this Waste? Worship in Times of Great Need (Matthew 26:6-13)

woman anointing jesus 700xMatthew 26:6-13 NRSV
Now while Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. But when the disciples saw it, they were angry and said, “Why this waste? For this ointment could have been sold for a large sum, and the money given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. By pouring this ointment on my body she has prepared me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”

The oil is poured
The criticism comes
even while the scent is still thick in the air

Why this waste?

Why worship?
Why take the time?
Why spend the money?
The poor, remember the poor
There’s so much work to be done

Yes beloved, remember
Remember the poor and remember her
The way is And not Or
Worship and Work
Loving God and Loving Neighbor
Looking Up and Looking Out For
The cross shaped life

The work doesn’t work without the worship
The worship’s unfinished without the work

********
Why This Waste? © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Quotes: God’s Power Made Perfect in Weakness (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

bible-verse-2-corinthians-my-grace-is-sufficient-for-you-for-my-power-is-made-perfect-in-weakness1

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 NRSV
Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

God’s power is made perfect in weakness. When we finally surrender to the truth of our weakness, to our primal need for God and others, we open ourselves to the full presence and movement of God in our lives. The weak walls of pride and self sufficiency crumble so that something new and better may rise from the dust of that death. God reminds us of this in Jesus, who in his vulnerability and poverty most perfectly revealed the strength of God’s love and power. – Lisa Degrenia <><

Poverty is not just a life of simplicity, humility, restraint, or even lack. Poverty is when we recognize that myself—by itself—is largely powerless and ineffective. John’s Gospel puts it quite strongly when it says that a branch that does not abide in Jesus “is withered and useless” (John 15:6). The transformed self, living in union, no longer lives in shame or denial of its weakness, but even rejoices because it does not need to pretend that it is any more than it actually is—which is now more than enough! -Richard Rohr

Extended quote from Journey: The Divine Reversal by Steve Harper
We do not go far into the biblical narrative before we run into an essential truth–one that if missed will skew everything else: God does not operate on our terms. When the fallen world is in charge, the rich, famous, and powerful are the heroes . When God is in charge, the “weaker ones” are most often people God chooses to use.

I put “weaker ones” in quotes only to make it clear that we are the ones who categorize, hierarchialize, and stigmatize. When God looks at the world everyone is a beloved son or daughter–a human being made in the image of God, just a little lower than the angels (Gen 1:26, Ps 8:5). With this identity, every person is precious and contributive to God.

But it takes a new set of eyes and ears to recognize this. If we want to go with God’s flow, we must repent (look at life in a new way) and convert (make a 180° turn). In this way we participate in the divine reversal rather than work against it.

Extended quote from The View from the Bottom by Richard Rohr
Most of us in the Northern Hemisphere have a view from the top even though we are nowhere near the top ourselves. The mass of people can normally be bought off by just giving them “bread and circuses,” as the Romans said. Many Americans can afford to be politically illiterate, hardly vote, and terribly naïve about money, war, and power. One wonders how soon this is going to catch up with us.

Only by solidarity with other people’s suffering can comfortable people be converted. Otherwise we are disconnected from the cross—of the world, of others, of Jesus, and finally of our own necessary participation in the great mystery of dying and rising. In the early Christian Scriptures, or the “New” Testament, we clearly see that it’s mostly the lame, the poor, the blind, the prostitutes, the drunkards, the tax collectors, the sinners—those on the bottom and the outside—that really hear Jesus’ teaching and get the point and respond to him. It’s the leaders and insiders (the priests, scribes, Pharisees, teachers of the law, and Roman leaders) who crucify him. That is evident in the text.

How did we miss such a core point about how power coalesces and corrupts, no matter who has it?

************
For more information on the art, scripture translation and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

You Found It! A Simple Bible Reading Plan for Christmas 2014

christmas bible reading plan rustic 4Are you looking for a simple way to connect with God this December? You found it! This Bible reading plan will walk you through the timeless Christmas story from the gospels of Matthew, Luke and John. Some of the scriptures are even repeated so you can go slow and go deep.

Set aside time in your schedule now to curl up in your favorite chair with God’s Word this season. Consider sharing this time with loved ones. Read, reflect, remember, rejoice. May your time with God this holy season bring you comfort and joy.

Merry Christmas! – Lisa <><

Click this link for a printable version of this plan.
2014 Christmas Reading Plan

Click this link for suggestions on getting the most from your Bible reading
You Can Read the Bible: Two Approaches

December 1: Luke 1:5-25
Zechariah and Gabriel
Merciful God, you offer me new life. Help me receive it and believe it.

December 2: Luke 1:26-38
Mary and Gabriel
Holy One, reveal my role in your saving work and give me the courage to say yes.

December 3: Luke 1:26-38
Mary and the Holy Spirit
Power of the Most High, overshadow me and make your home in me.

December 4: Luke 1:39-45
Mary Visits Elizabeth
Jesus, fill me with a spirit of hospitality so I may see and welcome all people as you do.

December 5: Luke 1:46-56
Mary’s Song
Mighty God, open my lips with a witness to your just and saving power.

December 6 and 7 for worship and rest

December 8: Luke 1:57-80
Zechariah’s Prayer
Holy Spirit, complete your saving work in my life and fill my mouth with praise.

December 9: Matthew 1:1-17
Genealogy of Jesus
God of the Ages, help me to believe and respond to your plan, even when your plan is far beyond my imagining.

December 10: Matthew 1:18-25
Joseph’s Dream
Holy Comforter, you are near when my dream dies. You are near the brokenhearted. Thanks be to you.

December 11: Matthew 1:18-25
God With Us
O come, O come Emmanuel, encourage me with the promise of your steadfast presence and love.

December 12: Luke 2:1-7
No Room
Gift of Heaven, order my desiring and my time so I don’t miss you this season.

December 13 and 14 for worship and rest

December 15: Luke 2:1-7
Jesus Is Born
O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray. Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.- Phillips Brooks

December 16: Luke 2:8-14
Angels and Shepherds
Son of Mary, Son of God, bring peace to all on earth.

December 17: Luke 2:15-20
The Shepherds’ Visit
We welcome you O Christ, long awaited Messiah. We receive you with joy and pray others will as well.

December 18: John 1:1-18
Jesus, the Word of God
Jesus, make me hungry for you and your word.

December 19: John 1:1-18
Jesus, the Word Made Flesh
Holy Christ, I sit in wonder before your willingness to be vulnerable so we might be saved.

December 20 and 21 for worship and rest

December 22: Luke 2:21
Jesus is Circumcised
Heavenly Father, mark me, name me, claim me as your child.

December 23: Luke 2:22-38
Simeon and Anna
Faithful God, grant me a persevering and active faith.

December 24: Matthew 2:1-12
The Star
Bright and Morning Star, lead me with your truth and light.

December 25: Matthew 2:1-12
The Wise Ones
Jesus, what am I really searching for?

December 26: Matthew 2:1-12
Gift Giving
King of Kings, receive the best I have, with all my adoration and love.

December 27 and 28 for worship and rest

December 29: Matthew 2:13-15
Run for Your Life
Light of the World, protect all who are displaced by violence and evil.
Grant them a safe home.

December 30: Matthew 2:16-18
Herod’s Genocide
Lord of Life, hear our cry. Rescue your beloved.
Deliver us from bloodshed. End the madness.

December 31: Matthew 2:19-23
Returning from Egypt
Lord of Heaven and Earth, save me from my wandering. Lead me home.

********
2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in devotional settings with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Run Beloved, Run – a poem based on Hebrews 12:1-3

running feetHebrews 12:1-3 NRSV
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.

You are surrounded
By great and good companions

With witnesses who ran the race before you
Now cheering you on
Inspiring you with their courageous faith

With witnesses running beside you
Churning up the dust of this well-traveled-path
Encouraging you with the steady beat of their beautiful feet

Run beloved, run
Lay aside every weight
Every worry
Every excuse
Every inner critic shouting against inspiration

Lay aside the sin that clings so closely
Every self-serving motivation
Every self-medicating choice
Every weak thing you’ve trusted more than God

Lay them aside
and run

Run beloved, run
Run with perseverance the race
Daring
Enduring
Alive

Looking not to the dust, but to Jesus
The Pioneer and Perfecter of your faith
Look not to the right or to the left
Look to Jesus
Focus
Follow

Jesus is The Way, opening the path
The Truth, clearing the clutter
The Light, blazing the trail

He runs
He endures
For the sake of the joy
Of setting the joy before you
and in you

Run
Run remembering
Joy is your strength
Remember and endure
For this race comes with a cross
A course of blood and tears
Mocking and piercing

Take it up
Disregard its shame (that ancient enemy)
Let it fall by the wayside
Tired scraps on the breath of new life

Take it up and run
Sit down in the next life
Not this one

Run beloved, run
Following and looking and remembering him who endured
So that you may not grow weary
Or lose heart
For your strongest step is yet to come

********
Run Beloved, Run © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.