God has place this wonderful creation in our hands. As U2 sings, "It's a beautiful day, don't let it slip away." We have this one life to live on this beautiful planet so enjoy these reflections on God, faith, life, and music. "After the flood all of the colors came out. It's a beautiful day."

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Don't Stray From the Path

Yellowstone, Wyoming
One summer while we were living in Wyoming my sister came to visit and we went to Yellowstone and I was struck by the signs posted around the park.l “Don’t stray off the path or you’ll die.” Ok, maybe it wasn’t worded quiet that forcefully, but it did say stay on the designated trail. If you go off the trail you may fall through the thin crust and be burned by the volcanic activity. And yet it looks so tempting to stray from the trail. It looks solid enough. There is grass, bushes and what looks like solid land. And yet, there is the sign, people have died who have walked off the path. So if you are wise, you follow the trail.

Early Christians were known as people who followed the trail. The early name for Christians was people of The Way. “The Way” is the name Jesus gave himself in the Gospel of John when Thomas asks him “How can we know the way?” Jesus says, “I am the way” (14:5-6). The way is a difficult trail to follow. The Beatitudes give a glimpse of the people Jesus is calling us to become. A glimpse of what it means to live as if we are already within the kingdom of God. Jesus spoke these words when he was himself on a journey. The crowds were beginning to follow him. He found a quiet place on a hillside and began teaching the way:

Falls Yellowstone, Wyoming
You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. You're blessed when you're content with just who you are - no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought. You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat. You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'carefull,' you find yourselves cared for. You're blessed when you get your inside world - your mind and heart - put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family. You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom. Not only that - count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens - give a cheer, even! - for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble (Matthew 5:3-13, The Message).
 This version of the Beatitudes really makes you think of the new attitude you are being called to have while you live in a manner that will bring the kingdom closer and allow you to draw near to God. This path seems difficult and dangerous. In fact to follow the way may lead you to place your very life in danger by sharing a truth that makes the rest of the world uncomfortable. To follow Jesus makes us uncomfortable. But the journey on the way leads us to places and views that we never would have seen if we had not set out on the journey. As followers of the way: we come together to learn so that we can be sent out to teach, we are gathered to be blessed so we can be sent out as a blessing to the world. We gather to be refreshed and empowered by the Spirit so that we can go back out into the world as Jesus kind voice, loving hands, smiling eyes, and healing touch. And where we are sent, we encounter the most beautiful experience we have ever had. Like the journey my family had in Yellowstone, when you set out on the way you never know what the view near the end will be.

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