THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY

Through a Glass DarklyFor now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 1 Corinthians 13:12

One of my very best friends has survived cancer twice in the past two years. She has survived a heart attack and a stroke, both events happening while in the hospital after yet another surgery. Then, about two weeks ago, she woke up to discover her husband, who had apparently been in good health, died in his sleep.

My question to God is, “Why her? Why now? Is this part of some huge divine plan?” and “Why not me?” I have no answers. Am I to trust and not feel any emotion in the face of this injustice? Is this just the way of nature and not some lesson in sanctity?

Then, two weeks ago on a Friday, I read these words by Abraham Joshua Heschel: “In Jewish tradition, dying in one’s sleep is called a kiss of God, and dying on the Sabbath is a gift that is merited by piety. For the pious person, my father once wrote, it is a privilege to die.”

Again, how do I comfort my friend? Do I simply sit with her and say nothing?

I am brought to the Book of Job: “This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East” (Job 1:1, 1:8, 2:3).

An upright man who lost absolutely everything, and I mean everything, yet he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (Job 1:22).

God knew we would hurt and struggle greatly in this life, some more than others. Jesus, His only Son died on a cross, misunderstood, even hated for the message of salvation that He brought. We can look to Him and will find that anything we suffer, He has also suffered. We will find peace and comfort in Him, no matter how great our pain.

Lord, only You know me, the real me—Your fickle, sometimes angry, ever questioning servant. Thank You for Your patience. Comfort my friend in her grief, and stay with us. Help our unbelief. Help us grow in wisdom, grace, faith and love. Amen

 

Midwife-turned-author, Stephanie Sorensen seems to swim seamlessly through cultures, religions, superstitions, raw fear and ecstasy to the first breath of a new baby. She invites her readers to join her, taking us on a tour to the innermost workings of another world in her first book, Ma Doula: A Story Tour of Birth. She lives among one of the most diverse populations on earth and has given birth to a book that takes us on a bizarre journey, giving us a rare, intimate glimpse into her daily life. With graphic prose we enter with her into the Land of Birth. Midwife, mother, grandmother, doula, world traveler and author, Sorensen lives and breathes birth. She has five children scattered around the world, grandchildren, and over a thousand babies she calls her own, even when she cannot pronounce their names correctly. After writing three books about birth, she has begun the next phase of her writing career: A memoir about death. Stay tuned.

Email: ssskimchee@gmail.com   Blog: www.callthedoula.blogspot.com

THE FOURTH ESTATE

Five Dead at Annapolis GazetteThen Jesus said to (them) who had believed in him, “If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:31-32

 

I do not want to write about ugly things. I want to write about the love of God and the peace of Christ. But we keep getting bombarded with tragedy, and as practicing Christians, it’s important to examine our secular perspective. Last week, a man entered the offices of the Annapolis, Maryland, Gazette newspaper with a shotgun and smoke grenades and killed five employees. He intended to kill many more but was stopped by law enforcement. They said the man once unsuccessfully sued the paper and must have somehow felt his attack was justified. And then, the same rhetoric began again: the nation’s “leader” said he stood in solidarity with the Gazette and would stop at nothing to ensure our nation’s safety; the debate began again about the Second Amendment and whether the problem was guns or mental health or both or neither; the period of “watchful news reading” began, but can be expected to fade with very little time, just as it has each time our nation has faced gun violence.

 

But this time the debate is really about the value some place on the First Amendment and others place on the Second Amendment. The Washington Post has coined a “new” slogan within the last two years: “Democracy Dies In Darkness.” Some of that “darkness” was on vivid display at the Annapolis Gazette, when five innocent people, just doing their job on an ordinary day, fell prey to the madness that has become The Gun Safety Debate. More darkness: our nation’s “leader” has called the press “the enemy of the people.”

 

In British government, the “three estates” were the king, the clergy and the commoners. The United States was founded to separate church and state, and the term “fourth estate” is sometimes used to place the press alongside the three branches of government: legislative, executive and judicial. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.” Christians are to be peacemakers. Their role in gun safety matters.

 

Come, Lord Jesus, give us tools and passion to bring about peace. Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan is the author of three books: Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child; Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist; and Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of New Mexico and has worked with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and war veterans.  Her books may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

PRESENT AND ACCOUNTED FOR

book-signing-300x200So is My Word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

 

As an author, one of the most rewarding times in my life is when people ask me to personalize a book they have purchased from me. I write books about my life in Christ and the tragedies that brought me to the cross. I am honored that people want to read my books, and I never take a personal encounter with a reader lightly. Writing is a way I can reach others with the story of God’s grace and mercy through the saving work of His Son Jesus. Many people I meet are excited to make contact with an author who writes about the human condition and the hope we have in Christ. I can’t meet all my readers, but it is a pleasure for both author and reader to connect in person.

 

The Bible is the only book every written where the Author shows up in person every time the manuscript is read. I often think my Bible should be smoking because of the power held within. I have read the Word when I was so low, I didn’t believe there was any chance I’d ever look up again. And I’ve studied many passages while in a state of profound gratitude and adoration for my God and King. Some passages are clearer to me than others, but I keep on studying those words, every day, day after day. The prophet Isaiah heard God say to him, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” God’s message to the prophet continued by saying that His Word—the Bible—would “not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). Each time a person—even one who is not sure of her faith—reads the Scriptures, God is at work through the Word and the Spirit to effect change in that very individual’s mind and heart. Pick up the Bible today and see how it can move you.

 

Keeper of the Sacred Word, stir our hearts to see and hear and know You in the Scriptures. Amen

HOLY FIRE

PentecostAnd…He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” John 20:22-23

 

Yesterday our congregation celebrated Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the twelve disciples and, later upon other followers of Jesus, as described in the second chapter of the book of Acts. Many Christians believe this event represents the birth of the Church. I believe Pentecost demonstrates the importance of patience!

 

After all the hoopla of Jesus’ ministry, crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, the disciples were understandably a little shell-shocked and ready for a little rest and relaxation. But their Friend Jesus had just challenged them to change the world, so there was no time for hanging around. Jesus had breathed the Holy Spirit on them first (John 20:22-23), leaving them to do the rest of the work. Acts 2:2-4 describes a mass infusion of the same Holy Spirit like this: “…they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house….They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” The original disciples must have stood in total awe that Jesus could make all of this happen when He was no longer even there in the flesh!

 

Fast forward to our little suburban church in Minnesota, where we gathered yesterday morning, many of us clad in red to commemorate the Holy Fire bringing down the Spirit. We sang, “Holy Spirit, come to us,” while the pastor and our music leader sang, “Come from the four winds…renew and strengthen your people….Kindle the flame in the darkness.” For over two thousand years, Christian churches throughout the world have celebrated this pouring out of God’s Spirit, which emboldens us to love, to serve and to work for peace among all people. Patience is needed to wait for God to accomplish all He said He would. Not all will come to believe, but for those who do, God promises the flame that will never be extinguished.

 

Come, Holy Spirit! Put fire in our bones and love in our hearts! Amen

BIBLICAL PAPARAZZI

PaparazziKeeping a close watch on Him, they sent spies, who pretended to be sincere. They hoped to catch Jesus in something He said, so that they might hand Him over to the power and authority of the governor.       Luke 20:20

 

Paparazzi are independent photographers who doggedly pursue celebrities everywhere they go, attempting to catch photos of them to sell to disreputable publications. The term came into popular usage after the release of the1960 Italian comedy-drama  La Dolce Vita directed and co-written by Frederico Fellini. In the film, Walter Santesso plays an overzealous news photographer named Paparazzo (singular Italian word usage). Today, this character, Paparazzo, lives on in the modern practice of reporters doing anything they can to get a story. Many paparazzi consistently try to cast famous people in a bad light, invading their privacy and causing great disruption to their lives. Compromising photos sell for big bucks. In 1970, Jaqueline Kennedy Onasis ordered her Secret Service agents to destroy the camera of one paparazzi. More recently, actor Alec Baldwin seems to be in constant battle with these enterprising reporters, with violent outbursts attributed to both actor and reporters.

 

Jesus dealt with a kind of “biblical paparazzi,” otherwise known as the Pharisees, Sadducees and Sanhedren. These distinct groups of Jews were, in Bible times, political parties, social movements, and schools of thought, usually from the upper social and economic persuasions. The Sanhedren were also court officials. All these men were charged with keeping the Law of Moses and most viewed Jesus of Nazareth as a threat to their very way of life. But these Jewish leaders had strayed from what God wanted for His people. Throughout the Gospels, we see these men relentlessly questioning every word that came out of Jesus’ mouth. Odd behavior because, well, Jesus is the Word.  Christ rebuked these falsely pious leaders in many colorful ways. He called them a “brood of vipers” (Matthew 3:7); “a wicked and adulterous generation” (Matthew 12:38); and “full of greed and wickedness” (Luke 11:39). His words were well-chosen because Christ saw the hypocrisy in their actions.

 

Thankfully, our Lord was able to answer every demand of the Jewish leaders perfectly—sometimes by not answering them at all! As believers, we may not “hear” everything Jesus is telling us clearly all the time. But we know that He deserves our awe and worship because He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

 

Lord, cause us to doggedly pursue Your loving grace and forgiveness. Amen

I MISS YOU ALREADY!

Miss-You-This-Much-Clipart-ImageHow can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? I Thessalonians 3:9

Well, the blog just ended yesterday, and already I miss all of you! So many people want me to continue writing a daily devotional blog, BUT I just can’t commit to that for another year. I will, however, leave the link up and write occasionally when the Lord gives me something really great to write about (which really could be every day….). I wish all of you a joy-filled 2016 and I hope you will spread your joy to others, as I have tried to do with this 2015 blog.

Lord Jesus, bless all my blog followers and the people who have gotten the book (Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, amazon.com). Keep these wonderful people safe and active in 2016 and make it a year filled with all the good things You bring to us every day. Amen

 

http://www.megcorrigan.com

CHRISTMAS GRACE

Christmas Tree with Star

GOOD NEWS! THIS BLOG IS NOW AVAILABLE  IN BOOK FORM AT AMAZON.COM UNDER THE TITLE Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them. Luke 2:9

 

Around the corner and down the hall. Knock and enter in one smooth motion. It is my mother’s room at the senior center. She is sitting in her usual, dented spot on the love seat, her accoutrements—tissues, lip balm, manicure scissors, water—around her like sentinels. She is playing solitaire and she has forgotten it is Christmas Eve, that we are going to candlelight services. That information is locked away, behind the little slot in her head where she puts the things I tell her these days. No matter. We change her stained blouse, fluff her hair, and we are off on a snow globe drive with my husband Patrick at the wheel.

 

How frail she looks, as we enter church. She peers out at me from under her hooded coat with the same chiseled features I saw the day before: the same watery eyes and the same pointed nose and the same tight little frown. I say a silent prayer that she won’t be crabby… We have come early to herd her into the chapel without incident. “Merry Christmas!” says the custodian. She pulls down her hood and flashes a brilliant smile. “Merry Christmas to you too!” What’s this? In the short drive from the care center, my normally impossible mother has been transformed. She is friendly to all, does not complain once during the lengthy service, smiles at children, even sings the songs as best she is able.

 

It was a magic night, and I can only call it a Christmas miracle. When the angels came to the shepherds on that Holy night so long ago, they sang, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests” (Luke 2:13-14).  God’s favor seemed to be resting on my ninety-six year old mother that Christmas Eve, this woman whose entire adult life was scarred with pain, sorrow, depression and addiction. It was the first time in my life I saw her filled with natural joy. Maybe it was the dementia, but I prefer to believe that the Holy Spirit touched my mother that night and briefly gave her the “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

 

Jesus, thank You for the miracle of Your birth. Amen

I DIG CHRISTMAS!

Christmas Presents

GOOD NEWS! THIS BLOG IS NOW AVAILABLE  IN BOOK FORM AT AMAZON.COM UNDER THE TITLE Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian

Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the Word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown. Mark 4:20

 

Oh, it’s so easy to love Christmas, isn’t it? We wait all year and then the magic begins to weave its way into our minds and hearts. We shop for just the right gift for all the people on our list, and we rejoice when we find that perfect item. And we gleefully anticipate what others will choose for us. Maybe we still even make a list so we won’t get stuck with something we don’t care for or won’t use. And the food at Christmas is like no other time of the year. We make special dishes and baked goods and candies, nibbling as we go. The music carries us to a vision of happy families and joyous reunions. The sights, sounds, and smells of the season captivate our senses and leave us almost speechless.

 

Do they really? Or have we become so accustomed to Christmas being a “big deal” that we just accept what the world says and go along with it? Sometimes all the world can offer us is a false idea of what will make us happy. We say we love to give and get gifts, but are we ready to accept the best Gift of all into our hearts and our lives? The gift of Christ’s love, grace and redemption is not like a fancy sweater that will eventually wear out or go out of style. It’s not a food gift that we eat and then it’s gone. And it’s not a monetary gift that we spend on some frivolous item. Christ’s gift to us is alive and it lives within us for the rest of this life and throughout eternity. He gives us living water so that we will never thirst again (John 7:38). Through Him we receive bread unlike any we can bake, the bread of His own body given freely so that we might live forgiven (John 6:35). He asks us to be “good soil” that His Word might take root in us and grow and produce more love and grace and forgiveness (Mark 4:20). Let’s rejoice this Christmas over the most wonderful gift of all-time: Christ Himself.

 

Praise You, Lord! You are our Christmas gift. Amen

POPE AND CIRCUMSTANCE

Pope Thumbs Up

GOOD NEWS! THIS BLOG IS NOW AVAILABLE  IN BOOK FORM AT AMAZON.COM UNDER THE TITLE Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian

They took palm branches and went out to meet Him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the King of Israel!” John 12:13

 

Pope Francis visited the United States in September, 2015. His humble manner was apparent from the moment he stepped off “Shepherd One” to be met by President and Mrs. Obama. The Obamas’ unprecedented personal greeting of the pontiff was a sign of the high respect afforded him during his visit to this powerful and well-to-do nation during a time of economic, social, and political turmoil. The New York Times described the visit as a “security circus,” but Francis seemed oblivious to all the fuss. He exited the plane carrying his own valise, reported to contain a razor, a breviary (prayer book), an appointment book and a book to read. When he wasn’t riding in his open-air, Fiat-Chrysler-made Jeep Wrangler “Popemobile,” he was ferried around in an ordinary Italian-built Fiat featuring the custom license plate “SCV 1,” the initials for Status Civitatis Vaticanae, Latin for Vatican City State. The Pope insisted on foregoing the bullet-proof glass bubble atop the Jeep, so that he could be closer to the people. No small task for the security guards entrusted with his safety.

 

While Pope Francis wanted his visit to be about the people, other players were busy putting the trip together. ABC News reported that the pontiff brought about thirty people with him, including Vatican clergy and press. Although the pope speaks relatively good English, Monsignor Mark Miles served as interpreter for him when the message got tricky. Also accompanying him were seventy-six accredited journalists from all over the world. Pope Francis stayed at the Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See, better known as the “Vatican Embassy,” nice accommodations but not as opulent as one might imagine.

 

Pope Francis is perhaps the best-loved leader of the Catholic Church in modern times. To his credit, he sincerely tries to keep things simple, honest and straightforward. The accompanying show of magnificence is in stark contrast to the way the Christ lived and moved and conducted Himself while in this world. I am quite sure this humble pope has considered how different his life style is than the Man Whom he represents.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for wise and humble religious leaders. Amen