Tag Archives: Kline

August 9, 2015

Standard

“O taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Psalms 34:8 (NRSV)

Tasting God? I need to get out of my head and into my senses to take that in.

God as food is a powerful and pointed metaphor. Here in the psalms is this command to taste, and throughout the Bible are found a multitude of suggestions of edible God. Edible goodness. Necessary nourishment. Life-sustaining meals in manna, magnificent feasts and more. Not to mention Jesus’ eternal offering of flesh and blood as bread and wine.

In her recent book Wearing God, writer, professor and priest Lauren Winner suggests that the Lord tastes like what I crave—what my body, spirit, soul need—at any given moment:

Cool, clean tap water quenching my thirst after a long walk.
Intimate soul sharing with my dear friend over coffee.
Buttered toast, satisfying in its crunchy, golden goodness.
Sweet, still silence as I sit steeping in centering prayer.
Many foods-on-a-stick for once-a-year indulgence at the Iowa State Fair.

My mouth is watering. I reflect on all that’s provided me, sustaining my health, well-being, and satisfied appetite. And I must conclude that the Lord is good.

Prayer:
Generous Provider, let me be grateful for the food on the table, the air I breathe, the abundance supporting my existence. Amen

Question:
What does the Lord taste like to me today?

Written by Robin Kline

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry which provides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located at The Cathedral Church of St. Paul (815 High Street) and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com

May 3, 2015

Standard

“And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more.”
John 15:2 (The Message)

As any ardent gardener, or vineyard overseer, knows, pruning is a critical business.

Removing living tissue can be fraught with emotional second-guessing. Yet it is a necessary exercise encouraging a more abundant harvest. Larger clusters of grapes with intensified flavors produce a richer wine vintage in a few years.

Throughout my life there are times when I question whether what I am doing, thinking, or believing is still relevant, resonant and renewing. Whether it’s a relationship, job, social group or spiritual practice, everything is worthy of reflection.

An activity, attachment, a belief or relationship: What has once been fruitful may no longer be rewarding. Hard though it might be, it may be time to cut and make room on my vine for something new to grow.

It’s hard to know when to stay with what’s comfortable and when to let something go. Strategic pruning, after careful consideration and listening to my inner counsel, makes every cut a measure of trust.

“Is this still nourishing?” is a question I have learned to ask.

Prayer:
Holy Vinedresser, keep my heart and spirit open and attentive to your nudges. Amen

Question:
What is my inner voice calling me to prune from my life?

Written by Robin Kline

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry which provides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located next to the YWCA on Grand Avenue and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com

February 15, 2015

Standard

It so happened that Aram, on one of its raiding expeditions against Israel, captured a young girl who became a maid to Naaman’s wife. One day she said to her mistress, “Oh, if only my master could meet the prophet of Samaria, he would be healed of his skin disease.”
2 Kings 5:2-3 (The Message)

We typically look to exalted leaders for direction, solutions and answers. Politicians, collared clergy, media personalities and celebrities of almost any ilk are the pundits and glitterati to whom we tend to be captive. How often do we overlook the humble, sometimes anonymous, ones in our midst who speak truth, act kindly, and offer compassion?

A nameless young woman offers a solution for Naaman’s leprosy. Her gesture seems quite compassionate, her having been kidnapped and forced into servitude.

This story features quite a few VIPs: The king sends his commander Naaman with a caravan of payola to reward the healing prophet. Proud Naaman is insulted at the preposterous prescription—bathe in the filthy river Jordan!—and at Elisha’s refusal either to meet with this mighty military man or accept his generous tokens of silver, gold, and clothing.

Unnamed servants convince Naaman that perhaps he ought to follow Elisha’s directive to wash in the Jordan seven times. They approach their lord with common sense and gentleness, concerned for his well-being. As we know, Naaman is restored to health and a rosy complexion.

My dear friend, a pastor, recently observed “Too many voices from those in power are empty of meaning. Give me a poor single mother or ‘illegal’ landscaper any day for real wisdom.”

Prayer:
Generous and kind Healer, open my eyes, ears and heart to Your helpful presence. Amen

Question:
What message waits for me today from an unexpected source?

Written by Robin Kline

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry which provides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located next to the YWCA on Grand Avenue and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com

December 7, 2014

Standard

Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.
Mark 1:6, NRSV

Strange sartorial choices. Decidedly odd diet. A voice “crying out in the wilderness.”

Though Jesus’ cousin John was clearly someone at the margins of society, apparently his message was compelling enough in that day to gather throngs to the river for baptism.

I imagine that today he would be viewed with suspicion, skepticism and quite possibly malice. If I encountered a smelly, unshaven, raggedy street prophet, I would no doubt cross the street for my own comfort.

Those who don’t look, sound or behave as I do are suspicious. I have an inbred mistrust of The Other. It could be a person on the margins—unwashed, unkempt, unshaven. Or someone of another culture in strange dress. Or possibly someone behaving, worshipping or eating in a manner foreign to me.

I’m not alone in this squinty-eyed view of the world. Read the headlines, listen to broadcasts: Gaza. Ferguson. Syria. Our daily news is testimony to our shameful human behavior.

God is not threatened by differences. It’s we who are.

Prayer:
Lover of all, open our hearts to those whose appearance, behavior or life circumstances differ from our own. Amen

Question:
Can I see beyond differences?

Written by Robin Kline

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry which provides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located next to the YWCA on Grand Avenue and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com

November 16, 2014

Standard

“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; the one who had received the five talents went off at once and made five more talents; but the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money;
As for this worthless servant, throw him into the outer darkness…”
Matthew 25: 14-30 (NRSV)

This startling parable about the master who leaves his slaves with “talents,” a form of currency, expecting them to multiply the riches while he is gone, is both a warning and a lesson.

The warning: Leaving your talents untouched, unplanted, unshared is unacceptable.

The lesson: Investing your gifts will result in abundant riches.

In this autumn season, I think about those who have harvested the fruit of their talents: Norman Borlaug planted the seeds of the Green Revolution, leading to crops resistant to drought, disease and other devastation. Julia Child inspired generations of us to get into the kitchen with gusto. Alice Waters nourished a movement of farmer’s markets and enthusiasm for local food.

Closer to home, in our community, I see: Carmen, igniting a passion for poetry among children from low-income homes; Kevin, coaching young, hopeful entrepreneurs in business savvy; Bruce, encouraging high school students towards creative solutions to community challenges.

All of these individuals, whether luminaries or local worker bees, have invested their talents to the betterment of their communities and world.

Prayer:
Inspired Teacher, encourage us to invest our gifts. Amen

Question:
What talents can I sow today?

Written by Robin Kline

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry which provides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located next to the YWCA on Grand Avenue and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com

October 5, 2014

Standard

“Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work.”
Exodus 20: 8- 9 (NRSV)

How quaint. This directive from God, among what we call the Ten Commandments, is implausible in our 2014 world.

Growing up with Blue Laws in suburban Chicago in the 1950s, I didn’t question this law of living. There was no commerce on Sundays; all retail stores were closed. We enjoyed Sunday dinner and a lazy afternoon.

Today that sounds like a story on The Twilight Zone—a program that my family, along with millions of others, watched every week from 1959 until 1964.

Keeping one whole day “holy”—being aware of God’s presence and reflecting on the goodness of the Divine—appears undoable. Enter The Sabbath Manifesto, an initiative created to slow down our lives. It suggests: 1. Avoid technology. 2. Connect with loved ones. 3. Nurture your health. 4. Get outside. 5. Avoid commerce. 6. Light candles. 7. Drink wine. 8. Eat bread. 9. Find silence. 10. Give back.

Sounds lovely, all of it. However, through a variety of mindfulness and contemplative practices, I’ve grown to appreciate the Sabbath in every day. Rather than devote one day to “no work,” I try to be more aware throughout every day of the miraculous nature of my life and the world around me. Call it hitting the “pause” button. Whether it’s taking time for a 20-minute centering prayer (Christian meditation) sit, stopping briefly to admire the night sky, or being aware of my breath as I wash the dishes, pausing in gratitude and wonder is my prayer.

Whether devoting a whole day to rest, or recognizing moments in every day as holy, I say Amen!

Prayer:
Provider of all, including our next breath, help us to be aware and in awe of your presence often, not just on Sunday. Amen

Question:
How can I “keep Sabbath” every day?

Written by Robin Kline

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry which provides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located next to the YWCA on Grand Avenue and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com

September 28, 2014

Standard

“Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!”
Psalm 25:7 (NRSV)

“Forget that I sowed wild oats; mark me with your sign of love. Plan only the best for me, God!”
Psalm 25:7 (The Message)

“Forgive the many times I have walked away from You, choosing to walk alone. With your steadfast love, once again, companion me along your way.”
Psalm 25:7 (Psalms for Praying)

It is always with delight, and sometimes trepidation, that we meditation writers review the lectionary readings for our assigned week. Occasionally we will turn to different translations for inspiration and insight.

Quite often The Message, a modern translation of the Bible by Eugene Peterson, paints a sassy and contemporary frame for a piece of traditional scripture. Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying is a dependable source of open-hearted and compassionate prayers based on the Psalms. The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) is a favorite translation for its clear, understandable English.

Today’s reading from Psalms led me to these three sources, and I couldn’t choose among them because they all grabbed me by the ear of my heart in slightly different, but significant, ways.

The sins of my youth! Cringe! I don’t want to go there.
…sowed wild oats! Ditto.
…walked away from You. Over and over and over again.

Though I do not like to be reminded of my faux pas, foibles, foul ups and fumbles, the Psalmist’s steady drumbeat tells me of steadfast love that is mine.

I am not just a sinner, but a forgiven sinner, beloved of the Lord. Whew!

Prayer:
Remember me, O Lord, not my embarrassing blunders. Amen

Question:
Where today can I remind myself to begin again?

Written by Robin Kline

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry which provides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located next to the YWCA on Grand Avenue and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com