Contemporary Scripture Reflections for Spiritual Seekers
Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart, BCC, PCC
October 25th, 2020
Excerpt from
A Pocketful of Sundays
Elizabeth-Anne Stewart

In the west, we tend to treat worship as an intellectual activity performed during designated times, usually on Sundays. Typically, we gather in consecrated spaces, recite communal texts by rotes, watch the liturgical action like spectators, sing minimally and sit, stand, kneel according to the prompts in our missalettes. If the whole self were to be involved, both public worship and private prayer would be transformed. Prayer involving "the whole self" does not leave heart and soul at the church door; nor does it negate the body. Instead, the whole self weeps, laughs, celebrates, mourns, dances and feasts, along with all the other "whole selves" in the assembly. Mere piety and religious observance are things of habit; prayer as breath, as energy and as love are inspired.

Congratulations to Isabel Anders and Paula Franck on the publication of Circle of Days: A Church Year Primer, Year B. The first of three "Primers" on the major themes and texts of the Church Year, Circle of Days
invites us into a tapestry of texts for each Sunday; it weaves together key events, symbols, allusions, and opportunities for reflection, as well as solid biblical exegesis in the context of the liturgical seasons. A text that anyone can pray with and learn from, it will also serve as a great resource for scripture study groups and for those who proclaim the Word.
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  1. How would you describe your relationship with God?
  2. How does God reach out to you?
  3. How do you respond to God's invitation to love?
  4. Do you practice self-love?
  5. In what ways do you love your neighbor?
Greetings, Readers!

My photo of a protest march against the separation of migrant children from their families says it all: HATE HAS NO HOME HERE-- or should have no home here! Ice raids, the deportation of asylum seekers, and hate-filled actions and rhetoric towards immigrants (whether documented or not) are violations of the commandment to love one's neighbor. The same, of course, can also be said of racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia and all other forms of discrimination.

The Golden Rule is clear: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Unfortunately, it seems that humankind lacks imagination when it comes to mistreating others, especially if they differ from ourselves. If we focus on our differences, it is easy to become indifferent, even callous; however, if we can view the "differing other" through the lens of Love, then we are more likely to see our common humanity and to experience compassion and empathy.

Many Blessings,


PS Try my spiritual self-assessment tool! After you take the Quiz, you will automatically receive a computer-generated diagram and explanatory comments regarding your strengths and "growing edges." I hope you find the Quiz useful!


When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they approached him, and one of them,
a scholar of the law tested him by asking,
"Teacher, which commandment is the greatest?" 
Jesus answered, "You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.
Likewise, the second is: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."
Mt 22:34-40

The Trickster Again
The archetype of The Trickster is active in Matthew 22: first, the Pharisees pose a trick question regarding whether it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar; then, the Sadducees, in an attempt to deny the resurrection of the dead, present Jesus with a ridiculous scenario in which a woman outlives her seven husbands; and, finally, the Pharisees strike again, testing Jesus' knowledge of the Law. I should add that Jesus actually poses a trick question of his own at the end of the chapter, asking his opponents how the Messiah can be both David's son and his Lord. Matthew remarks, "No one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare to ask him any more questions" (Matt 22:41-46).

Love is not...
Love is not a "trick," though many have broken the hearts of those they profess to love through lies, double-speak, and game-playing. Nor is Love a commodity that can be bought with fancy gifts, business deals or lavish lifestyles; true, there are those who enter into "relationships of convenience" for the sake of acquiring wealth, power, status or other advantages, but these relationships are built on calculated transactions, not on Love. Nor is Love cloying, feel-good sentimentality of the Hallmark and Godiva chocolate variety. Then, again, Love is not living vicariously through others, nor allowing oneself to be abused and disrespected, nor clinging to another out of fear of being alone or lonely. Love is not driven by ulterior motives, nor by expediency; Love is neither limited nor limiting, neither controlling nor conditional...

Love is...
To quote St. Paul, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres" (1 Cor13:4-7).

And Shakespeare would add,
"Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken"
(Sonnet 116)

God is Love...
While it may be appropriate to describe a human as loving, it is inaccurate to reduce Love to a divine characteristic or possession: God does not have Love, and nor is God merely loving. God, in fact, is Love itself-- the infinite source of all Love, infinitely Self-giving, infinitely forgiving, infinitely inclusive, always reaching out, never withholding... The mystery is that Love seeks out humankind to be in intimate relationship -- and we, flawed mortals that we are, have little skill in responding. Some of us are too busy; others, indifferent; still others, tied to habitual devotions. Then there are those who are more afraid of God's Love than of God's anger because it touches them too deeply, calling for a response they are unwilling to give.

To love God with all our heart, all our soul and all our mind involves returning love for Love, self-giving for Self-giving -- not out of duty or obligation, not out of religious conformity, not to earn a heavenly reward or benefits in this lifetime, but purely out of the desire to delight God and to live in union with the Holy One. It is this experience of Love that awakens in us the sense of our own lovability as well as compassion for our neighbor; and it is in loving that we actualize our deepest identity.

This video explains my approach to this ministry, while my website provides further details as well. During COVID-19, sessions are by phone or on Zoom; I am also available to facilitate "virtual" retreats for groups and individuals.
Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart | |

C. All Photos by Elizabeth-Anne Stewart,