With Merry Abandon

Good morning. Today is pre-Friday, May 23, 2013. Not much happened yesterday, except that the city is doing utility construction at a major intersection between our house and the 24 Hour Fitness center we visit. Getting there was not a big problem. Getting home, though, took an hour. I am not exaggerating. Ridiculous. I don’t know how long this will be going on, either, but at least I know which way not to turn when we leave the gym tonight.

Christi’s foot continues to feel better each day, but her tailbone hurts where she slipped out of the chair she was rolling in at the doctor’s office. She had her first day of working from home since the surgery, and it seems to have gone fine.

Not looking forward to this weekend, but at least I have a Monday holiday to look forward to. (I have to work Saturday.) And Tuesday, even though I will have to be at work, will be an easier day.

Today is Lucky Penny Day. So be sure and pick up all those pennies you find. That’s about all they’re good for, any more. Of course, I don’t believe in “luck,” even though I occasionally still use the word.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

On this date in 1498, Girolamo Savonarola was burned at the stake in the Piazza della Signoria, after finally having been convicted of “heresy and promoting schism within the True Church.” It seems that Savonarola had spent his life on a mission to purify Florence from “corruption, pleasure-seeking and vanity.” His greatest enemy was the Borgia Pope Alexander VI, who excommunicated Savonarola, and finally placed all Florence under interdict, meaning that there could be no Mass, no Communion, no weddings, baptisms or funerals. This finally incensed the people enough that they chased Savonarola from his pulpit, where he was arrested by the civil government.

Today’s birthday is Robert Moog, born on this date in 1934. Moog was the inventor of the musical instrument that bears his name, the Moog synthesizer. The Moog probably enjoyed its biggest success in the seventies, being used by people such as Stevie Wonder, Jan Hammer, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, even Gordon Lightfoot and the Beach Boys. Probably the most commercially successful song to use the Moog was a song by Hot Butter, in 1972, called “Popcorn.”

Moog died in 2005.

Honorable mentions go to Scatman Crothers, 1910, James Blish, 1921, and Rosemary Clooney, 1928.


Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name! Psalm 97:12

Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God. Psalm 86:1-2

Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. Psalm 28:6

Father, I pray this morning that you will open my eyes to see and focus on things above, setting my mind on the things that you would have me see. Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “We Boast in Our Hope of Sharing the Glory of God.” The scripture reading is Romans 5:1-5, 11.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Right off the bat, I notice that the difference in translations is significant, here. The book quotes from the New Revised Standard Version, while I always quote from the English Standard Version. Where the ESV says, “we rejoice in hope of the glory of God,” the NRSV says, “we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.” Either way, Paul’s exuberance shows forth. The idea that we can, someday, share in the glory of God is most certainly worthy of rejoicing or boasting. Every time the NRSV says “boast,” the ESV says “rejoice.” The major thing is that, as stated in verse 11, we are either boasting or rejoicing in God, not in anything we have done. We live a life, justified by faith, “out of the abundance of God’s grace instead of our own meager sin resources,” and this life is “explosive with energetic thanksgiving!” I like that description, for it fits what our lives should look like, as Christians. Sadly, I don’t see too many people walking around in explosive, energetic thanksgiving.

We need to start looking for ways to boast in God, rejoice in God. Have we considered this along with the practice of praying for the success of others? Can I boast in God’s work in someone else’s life?

“For a man ever to do well and to think little of himself is token of a
meek soul. For a man not to wish to be comforted by any creature is a
token of great purity and inward trust. He that seeketh no outward witness
for himself, it appeareth only that he hath committed himself all
wholly to God.”
Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

Mercy number 13 from 19 Mercies, by Brennan Manning, is called “Healing through meal sharing.” The opening lines of the reading say this: “Christian servanthood is not an emotion or a state of mind. It is a decision to live the life of Jesus. It has nothing to do with what we feel, and everything to do with what we do.” I pray daily for this “life of Jesus” to be manifest and formed in my life. I decided quite some time ago that the life of Christ is exemplified in what we call The Beatitudes.

If we think back on the meal that Christ shared with Zacchaeus, the tax collector in Jericho, we have to consider the scandal that this action caused. In this time frame, “table fellowship with beggars, tax collectors, and prostitutes was a religious, social, and cultural taboo.” You can bet the Pharisees noticed that Jesus intended to be friends with Zacchaeus, which not only broke the law, but rejected “the very structure of Jewish society.”

After seeing the impact of this action from the perspective of the Pharisees and culture, what about its impact on Zacchaeus and others like him? “By accepting them as friends and equals, Jesus took away their shame, humiliation, and guilt.” (I’m not sure about the “equals” part; no one was “equal” to Jesus.) “By sharing bread with them, He proved to them that they matter to Him first as people.” What is our response to this action of Jesus’s? We must consider “the healing power of a meal shared.” We must consider welcoming “sinners” into our community. We must consider that, “with merry abandon, we must in every way possible scatter abroad the indiscriminate love of God.”

After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:27-32

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Romans 12:9-16

God loves what in us is not yet. What has still to come to birth.
What we love in a person is what already is:
virtue, beauty, courage, and hence our love is self-interested
and fragile. God, loving what is not yet and putting faith in us,
continually begets us, since love is what begets.
By giving us confidence, God helps us to be born,
since love is what helps us emerge from our darkness and
draws us to the light. And this is such a fine thing to do
that God invites us to do the same.

Carlo Carretto

Father, open my eyes. Show me in people “what is not yet,” that I might love them as they are, just as you love us as we are. May I cease loving “what already is” in people, that my love may not be self-interested. Father, we do all too well with that part in Romans 12 about abhorring what is evil. But we fail so miserably at the rest of those instructions. Let my love be genuine! Let me rejoice or boast in you and your grace and mercy; let me boast in what I see you doing in someone else’s life! Let me “constant in prayer,” while being generous with other resources you have given me. Let me rejoice with those who are rejoicing, as I rejoice with Bridget right now over the birth of her much loved and much desired daughter. Let me weep with those who are weeping, even as those in Granbury, Texas, and Moore, Oklahoma, are weeping today. Most especially, may I never be haughty, and may I never consider myself wise in my own eyes. Let me love both you and all around me “with merry abandon.”

I pray for this day, Father. I pray that Christi will continue to heal, and that her tailbone might also be relieved from pain today. May her day of working from home be smooth today. I pray for Stephanie, that you might draw her heart into yours today, giving her inspiration to look into your word for promises found. I pray that my work day will be smooth today, and help me repel stress and anxiety, seeking out your peace that surpasses understanding.

I lift up a prayer for Joel and Jacob today, as they have traveled up to Moore to help out in relief efforts. May you protect them and give them supernatural wisdom and strength as they minister to victims of the tornado.

Your grace is sufficient.

See what you can accomplish today “with merry abandon!”

Grace and peace, friends.