Author Archives: ray

prayer for insight

Most merciful and compassionate God, we give thanks for another night of rest and day of beauty. You have kept us in safety throughout the night and have again gifted us with a day full of opportunity. 

Today we pray for deeper understanding for those in need. Help us see through the differences and see the commonality that binds us together as your children. Help us see through the filth and get beyond the stink of hunger and homelessness to see the pure beauty of those you love with a love that extends into eternity.

Grant us sympathy that becomes empathy as we reach out to those waiting to be loved, those hungry for more than food, and those withering from the lack of a caring touch.

Today, may we see through the eyes of your son. May our every action reflect the love which daily sustains us. And may we have the insight to see the Christ in the face of every person we might meet. – AMEN

covered in filth and dying of hunger

How can you say you have fulfilled the law and the prophets, when it is written in the law that you should love your neighbor as yourself? Look, many of your brothers, sons of Abraham, are covered with filth and dying of hunger. Meanwhile your own house is filled with goods, and not a thing goes out of it to them. – Origen

Faithfulness is never about what we say we believe. Even the early Church Fathers understood this. Faithfulness is about living out our beliefs in real and tangible ways. Faithfulness is about daily decisions.

Loving our neighbor as ourself means doing whatever is most necessary for his salvation, his shalom. That must start with meeting her need for bread and shelter. Everything else is secondary.

because we don’t recognize him

If sometimes our poor people have had to die of starvation, it is not that God didn’t care for them, but because you and I didn’t give, were not an instrument in the hands of God, to give them that bread, to give them that clothing; because we did not recognize him, when once more Christ came in distressing disguise, in the hungry man, in the lonely man, in the homeless child, and seeking for shelter. – Mother Teresa

Jesus is clear that on the day of judgement some will inherit a kingdom while others will be cast into the outer darkness. What sets the two groups apart is how differently they treated those most in need, those in desperate circumstances.

Those inheriting the kingdom are those who reached out in love and compassion to those who were hurting and needed help. Those being cast out will be those who ignored the cries of those in need.

In the end, Jesus tells those who will be inheriting the kingdom that when they showed mercy and demonstrated love to the oppressed, the ugly, the despised, and the lonely, they were actually demonstrating love to Him.

Mother Teresa is right. How often do we hurry by the homeless Christ, refusing to look at him? How often do we ignore the hungry Christ, simply because we don’t recognize him?

an early start…

The day started well. I decided to get an early start, so I left JoAnna’s house about 8am, even though my US Airways flight to Charlotte and Akron was scheduled for 12:45.

I knew I needed to eat some breakfast. I also knew I wanted to try to buy a pair of gloves before I got to the airport. According to the weather report the temperature in Alliance, Ohio was expected to be between 10 and 15 degrees.

I ate a nice breakfast at the Shiny Diner then was at Dick’s Sporting Goods when the doors opened at 9am. I found a good pair of gloves and was parked at RDU by 10am. Check-in was a breeze, as was getting through security. With time to spare, I even spent a half hour in the 2nd Edition Bookstore.

After getting to my gate I again checked emails before I started rereading my notes for the Carr Lecture I am scheduled to present tomorrow evening at the University of Mount Union. I was thankful for how smoothly the trip was progressing.

We began boarding for the flight to Charlotte right on time. But after the first four first-class passengers had started down the jetway the captain announced a “slight delay.” Within 20 minutes we were informed the slight delay was caused by smoke in the plane’s cabin (never a good sign), and were told the flight was cancelled.

I called US Airways and was told I could fly the Philadelphia at 3:30. My flight from Philly to CAK (Canton-Akron) would not get me there until 9:30.  But, even before I left Raleigh I received word that the flight from Philly to Ohio was delayed due to crew being late.  Then, we boarded the plane in Raleigh and had barely pulled away from the gate when the captain announced that Philly had a ground stop. No planes we landing or leaving.

We set on the plane for an hour and 15 minutes before we we allowed to take off for and hour and 10 minute flight. Oh, and I received a second notice that my connecting flight to Ohio would be further delayed.

So now it’s 8:30 and I have just finished a bowl of soup in the Philly airport. My flight to Ohio is now scheduled to leave at 11:15. That means I should arrive in Akron about 12:30 tomorrow morning. Then, after I pick up my bag, I have a half hour ride to Alliance.

Nothing like getting an early start.

prayer for comprehension

Today is yet another perfect day that You have made for us. Thank you for such a glorious creation. Help us take the time to properly appreciate the beauty that surrounds us and the perfection of the world You have formed.

Forgive us for the brazen contempt with which we treat such magnificence and splendor. Forgive us for our lack of caring and our refusal to be good stewards of this gift that sustains the entire human family. Forgive us for our willful wastefulness. Open our eyes that we might see the world as a home that we are wantonly destroying.

Grant us the grace necessary to pull our family together. Help us treat one another with the same love and respect we all seek and deserve. Allow us to fully comprehend that we are all connected, that all creation is one.

And then empower us to start cleaning house. Let each of us do whatever is in our power to make our perfect planet a place of sublime beauty, free of all the ugly and far too visible signs of misuse and lacking of caring. Help each of us walk far more gently and grant us the grace to treat our planet with the respect and reverence such a gift deserves. Amen

recognizing we are all one family

Whether people are beautiful or plain, friendly or cruel, ultimately they are human beings, just like oneself. Like oneself, they want happiness and do not want suffering. Furthermore, their right to overcome suffering and be happy is equal to one’s own. Now, when you recognize that…you automatically feel empathy and closeness for them. Through accustoming your mind to this sense of universal altruism, you develop a feeling of responsibility for others: the wish to help them actively overcome their problems. This wish is not selective; it applies equally to all. – the Dalai Lama

Ending hunger in our lifetime is possible. We all know it is the right thing to do. My prayer is that we recognize that we are all human beings, we are all one family, and we all have a right to life in all its fullness. Once we recognize that, the feeling of responsibility will lead us to do whatever is necessary to make sure each of us has bread.

GETTING OFF OUR BUTS…

I pastored rural United Methodist Churches in Virginia for eight years before beginning what is now more than thirty-five years as a professional hunger fighter. Although I felt called to the pastorate, and I loved being a pastor, I always felt a deep sense of frustration at my inability to help my congregations move off dead center in regard to mission outreach.

All my congregations wanted to make a real difference in the world. All of them wanted to reach out in the name of Christ to be involved in significant mission projects. But none of those congregations were able to make the impact they truly desired. And I lacked the leadership skills necessary to help them.

I wish I knew then what I know now.

Those are the open words of the Preface of GETTING OFF OUR BUTS: Making Mission Happen, my new book that will be published this summer. The book is a biblical blueprint for getting congregations and other organizations totally engaged in mission work that can change the world.

There is no reason for any person, group or church not to be actively engaged in making a difference in our broken world. GETTING OFF OUR BUTS is a manual that guides congregations through every step of successful mission work.The book is a guide to help congregations take the necessary steps to become real leaders in reaching out to those most in need, both in their local communities and around the world.

I will share excerpts from the book in the coming few months.

what does love look like?

I am constant in my admonitions that we are fooling ourselves if we claim to love God and do not love one another. This is biblical, and has been the subject of thousands of sermons down through the centuries.

There can be no love of God without our loving those around us whose needs and whose sorrows are ever before us. No amount of prayer, bible study or worship can get us around that simple fact. Loving God means loving those closest to us.

What does that love look like? Saint Augustine put it this way:

What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has the eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.

Each of us has the opportunity to demonstrate that love to others. Every one of us can reach out and change someone’s life for the better before the day is done. All of us can help heal our broken world today, and in so doing, we can become the answer to the question: “what does love looks like?”

Oh, and when we do, we won’t need to talk about how much we love God. We will be demonstrating it.