For My Own Good

I have been preoccupied lately with the extent to which USA culture has shifted towards belief that life is a “zero sum game” – when you gain, I must lose. Compassion and generosity then require “self-sacrifice” and we become fearful of losing too much. But Jesus taught that only by losing do we win. Losing is not sacrifice but gain. Compassion and social justice are not just to benefit others but are the highest good for ourselves.

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Psalm 96

Sing to God a new song
A song of blessedness, a song of salvation
A song of God’s glory, marvelous works, and greatness
Sing to the God who is above all gods, above all troubles
Proclaim God’s honor and majesty, glory and strength
God’s holy splendor
I offer myself before my God
I offer myself and I tremble
God is Sovereign
And so God’s world is firmly established
And shall never be moved
God’s world around me
God’s world inside me
God’s living Word around me
God’s living Word inside me
I live in God’s world and God lives in me
God is fair and equitable
God is holiness and mercy
And so I shall be judged
With fairness, with mercy
Let me rejoice with all of God’s creation
With seas and land
With field and trees
With thoughts and deeds
With feelings and senses
All sing for joy
Because God comes, God abides, God lives, God reigns
Judging all, judging me
With righteousness, with truth, with love. Amen

Freedom from Thought

I read about Ignatius’ three types of people exercise and, as I tried to think my way through it, I began to feel that my faith wasn’t “good enough.” I think because I misunderstood the exercise.

Then, believe it or not, Divine intervention came through Facebook. I saw a link on Facebook to an interview with Karen Armstrong and in that interview I read this, “thinking can only take you so far. Action, behavior, especially compassionate behavior, is more important than thinking. By constantly exercising compassion, the golden rule, you enter a different state of consciousness. This rather than thinking will get you to enlightenment.”

And there it is. There’s the freedom that God wants from me. Freedom from attachment to always thinking my way through life.

Psalm 97

There is one God, Sovereign and Almighty
I can relax, I can rejoice
There is one God, Sovereign and Almighty
One God who rules the universe and my life
With power and majesty, mystery and awe
With righteousness and justice
Burning away my doubts
Lighting my darkness
Melting my mountains of failure
From the heavens of hope
I proclaim God’s righteousness
With clouds of witnesses
I behold God’s glory
The glory of unfailing love
The glory of unending faithfulness
The glory that is stronger, brighter, surer
Than the false gods of despair that threaten me
I hear, I know, I laugh, I rejoice
For the certainty that You are greatest
Highest, bestest over all
Exalted far above the dark gods who trouble my peace
I rejoice for the certainty that You love me
You protect me, You rescue me
Light and lightness rise up in my heart
Joy and hope are born again in my soul
How can I help but sing?
Let me rejoice in God
And give thanks to God’s holy name. Amen.

Psalm 98

I sing to God a new song
My own unique-to-right-now new song
And my new song sings of the eternal song
Of God’s marvelous saving majestic powerful unfailing love
Of the times in my life when God’s love is victorious
I sing because that is all times
I sing of the times when I know it to be true
I sing of God’s steadfast love
God’s enduring faithfulness
To me
All my life, all my life
When I know it and when I deny it
I live within God’s victory for me
Make a joyful noise to God, o my soul
With that great cloud of witnesses
Sing and dance and shout for joy
Forget those terrible Ds
(At least for now)
Enjoy this sureness, this confidence
In the greatness, the triumph, the love of God
With all the waters of the seas
With all the depths of my feelings
With all the lands of earth
With all the breadth of my thoughts
With all the floods and mountains
With all my love and hope
I will sing my own ever-new song
Joining the everlasting song of joy
For the coming of God
For the righteousness of God
For the saving grace and equity of my God. Amen

Psalm 99

God reigns supreme over all my life
The good and the bad
The wanted and the unwanted
The then, the now, the will be
God is supreme over it all
I will praise Your great and awesome name
You are holy
I remind myself that You are
Not only the almighty Sovereign
But just and holy
With me as with Leah and Rachel
You rule with loving equity
Though I do not see or understand that truth
By faith alone
Let me praise and thank You
Do I dare join Miriam, Ruth and Deborah?
Do I dare call on You, depend on You?
Will You let me be Your people?
Though I fail so often
Though I love so little
Will You answer me?
Will You forgive me?
Is Your promise for me?
Am I Israel?
Trying but failing
Needing forgiveness
As much as correction
All I can do is hope, believe
Exalt and worship You in my life. Amen

What Counts

If time is what counts, then we have little left
Most of life is behind us

If money is what counts, then we have enough
Mostly we can do what we want

If friends are what counts, then we have a few
Good and close and cherished

If family is what counts, then we have complications
Some good, some bad, some indifferent

If faith is what counts, then we have doubt
Trying to worship a God we are not sure exists

If achievement is what counts, then we have satisfaction
Good careers behind us

If security is what counts, then we have an abundance
Because we live as middle class white Americans

If class is what counts, then we have risen
Above our parents’ class

If service is what counts, then we have opportunities
Every day, in small ways and larger

If love is what counts, then we have everything