Meditation on Hebrews 12:12-24, Saint James of Jerusalem, Brother of Our Lord Jesus Christ and Martyr

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Paper Cutout, Phillip Schwartz

 

Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled.

 

I have become defiled. Like so many others, I am bitter and angry that there is a corrupt, and possibly fascist, liar in the Whitehouse, who surrounds himself with other bigots and other liars. I have given power to the very people to whom I object so fervently. I have allowed that root of bitterness, of which Paul warns, to spring up in my own heart. I’m glad that this particular reading came up today because I needed to be reminded of whom it is that I want to be. I want to be a loving and caring man. I want to love my neighbor as myself. I want love to be what governs my life. It’s not wrong to be angered or upset by injustice, but if I let my anger define me, then I have lost my humanity and my identity. I resolve right now to repent for my stubborn refusal to love those people whom I find it difficult to love.

Phillip Schwartz

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Meditation on Day 366

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Self Portrait With Calendar, Paper Cutout, Phillip Schwartz

 

When I started writing daily meditations I decided to blog them, in part to share them, but also to give myself a tangible goal which I had to meet. I thought that I’d do this for a year and then decide whether to continue going, or to stop. I’ve come to realize that it takes a lot of time for me to write and make a piece of art to go with each meditation. It’s been a wonderful discipline for me, but it’s also been a huge surprise that people actually read them, and for that I’m truly grateful. When I began I thought of the blog as sort of sending radio communications out into space, not knowing if anyone would pick up the signal. I’ve gotten some wonderful feedback and some incredible messages of support which have really helped me to continue at those times when I’ve felt too tired or uninspired to write. I’ve learned that when I read scripture there are times when I’m not sure on what I’m meant to focus. Those are the times that I’ve read and reread the day’s passages countless times until finally I give up and I just ask God to help me figure it out. I know that there are days that my writing is better than others and I apologize for any sub par meditations that I’ve put out there or will put out in the future. I reached my three-hundred-sixty-fifth meditation yesterday, and so I’m going to make a change. I am going to switch from a daily meditation to a weekly meditation, which I’m hoping will give me more time to work on my other artistic pursuits, which have suffered over the past year due to my spending so much time on the blog. When I began the blog I was feeling uninspired and blocked artistically, which is another part of the reason I started blogging. Today I’m feeling renewed and disciplined enough to get myself back to my painting and iconography. I’ve fallen in love with paper cutouts as an art form and I’ll continue to make them to illustrate my future meditations.

Phillip Schwartz

Meditation on Psalm 19

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Self Portrait With Dove, Paper Cutout, Phillip Schwartz

 

The law of the Lord is perfect and revives the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure and gives wisdom to the innocent.

Following the law of the Lord should bring us joy. If living a life of faith is drudgery and constant struggle, then maybe we’re overthinking it, or missing the point altogether. God’s law is love above all else. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with and all your soul, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) It isn’t always easy to follow a law based on love, but if it doesn’t come from love, it doesn’t come from God.

Phillip Schwartz

Meditation on Mathew 8:18-27

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Grant Me Strength O Lord, Paper Cutout, Phillip Schwartz 

 

No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

Sometimes it feels as if we have hit the limit. We’re tapped out, there’s just no strength left in us to face a challenge that appears overwhelming, but we reach deep inside of ourselves and we find a well of strength that we didn’t know we had. That’s the strength that God gives us when we need it most.

Phillip Schwartz

Meditation on Psalm 102

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Self Portrait in Green, Paper Cutout, Phillip Schwartz

 

 

My heart is smitten like grass and withered, so that I forget to eat my bread.

 

What can one do but feel anger, frustration and sadness in the face of an avoidable tragedy? Our lawmakers have the will to protect the right to bear semi automatic weapons, but they don’t have the will to ensure access to healthcare if we are shot. It appears that their belief in the right to life extends only to fetuses, once we are born we’re on our own.

Phillip Schwartz

Meditation on Psalm 25

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Paper Cutout, Phillip Schwartz

 

Look upon my enemies, for they are many, and they bear a violent hatred against me.

For LGBTQI people the world over, the sad reality is that we do have enemies that bear a violent hatred against us. In The US we are luckier than in many places, but there has been a significant increase in attacks against LGBTQI people over the past year. In Chechnya gay men have been rounded up, beaten, tortured and killed. In some other Islamic countries consensual, same sex relations are a capital offense and people thought to be gay are executed regularly. Isis proudly and routinely kills gay men, often by throwing them off of the roofs of buildings and then stoning their bodies. This week the United States voted against a resolution condemning the use of capital punishment for homosexuality at the UN. The State Department stands by the vote, claiming that it was too broad a resolution to endorse, because the US uses the death penalty at both federal and state levels.

Phillip Schwartz

 

Meditation on Psalm 19

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Paper Cutout, Phillip Schwartz

 

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

When the words of my mouth and the meditations of my hearts preclude love, I know that I’m falling short of being the person I’m capable of being.

Phillip Shwartz

 

Meditation on Psalm 94

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Paper Cutout, Phillip Schwartz

 

 

How long shall the wicked, O Lord, how long shall the wicked triumph?

 

After the horrific act of violence that has taken place in Las Vegas, all I can do is ask, “How long shall the wicked triumph O Lord?” When will we as a nation finally choose our lives and the lives of those we love over the over the NRA and it’s evil agenda of arming our civilian population with weapons of mass slaughter?

Phillip Schwartz

Meditation on Matthew 6:25-34

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Grandma Beattie, Oil on Canvas, Phillip Schwartz

 

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

When I was an anxiety filled teenager and voiced my worries for the coming day or week to my grandmother, she would ask me, “Why do you look for more trouble?” It’s a question worth asking.

Phillip Schwartz

Meditation on Philippians 2:1-13

 

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Paper Cutout, Phillip Schwartz

 

If there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.

 

I long for the days, in the not so distant past, when we had a president who led with compassion, sympathy and love for his country and the people he governed. The lack of empathy, compassion and human kindness displayed by our current president toward the people of Puerto Rico since hurricane Maria is shocking. Everything that he says and does appears to be motivated entirely by conceit, self interest, ambition and greed. It is up to the rest of us to show our love for the people of Puerto Rico by helping in any way we can. Please click on the link below if you’d like to make a donation to the Episcopal Relief and Development Hurricane Relief Fund.

Phillip Schwartz

Episcopal Relief and Development