Sunday, March 3, 2019

Personal Jesus | Universal Christ

As the new year began, I added daily posts from Fr. Richard Rohr to my reading. He's a Franciscan priest and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque. His God and faith are expansive. His theology is challenging. I've been Bible studying with Scripture Union for 35 years. It's a traditional, conservative orthodoxy. I hope my faith is amplified by a contrasting perspective.

Over time, we confine the Magnificent God of All Creation to a tiny box of our own limited thinking, packed with our fears, prejudices, politics, etc. On that subject Fr. Rohr does a mic drop:

The Christ is always way too much for us, larger than any one era, culture, empire, or religion. Its radical inclusivity is a threat to power and arrogance. Jesus by himself has usually been limited by the evolution of human consciousness in these first two thousand years. His reputation has been held captive by culture, nationalism, and much of Christianity's white, bourgeois, and Eurocentric worldview...  He came with darker skin, from the underclass, a male body with a female soul, from an often-hated religion, living on the very cusp between East and West. No one owns him, and no one ever will.

Reading his post of February 15th, Fr. Rohr's prose was more like poetry...or a prayer! I took the liberty of reshaping some of his words...

Lord Christ,

Am I too narrow, too protective of my faith? Has that powerful personal encounter turned selfish?

Can my faith transcend creeds and denominations, nations and ethnicities, the vagaries of gender and sexuality?

Move me from I to WE.

To see God everywhere. In the mundane or mountaintop. My dog. The yard. In traffic. In a meeting. At the store.

To see God in everyone. In people who don't look like me, even people who don't like me.

Let Christ's light illuminate everything. Everything created by you, everything and everyone loved by you. That I may appreciate and engage. Amen.

Artwork: Image of Jesus with Prisma filters from Salvator Mundi by Titian

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Power in Patience

There is power in patience.
Rivers are my witness:
The Colorado,
for six million years,
carves the Grand Canyon.

Here at home,
in NC and TN,
the French Broad
slices through the Appalachians,
for 300 million years,
smoothing, nourishing the landscape.

Yes, God often comes
as lightening or quake,
but more often, most often,
with a river's patience,
with a river's persistence,
wearing down our barriers,
flooding our hearts
with his presence and love.

There's power in his patience.

Photo: French Broad River at Asheville NC

Browse Nature prayers.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Mary Oliver | The Heavens Have No Fist

Poet Mary Oliver died in January at eighty-three. She had a gift for expressing in words what she experienced of nature. Her numinous encounters were of the everyday/anywhere variety - in the woods, at the marsh, with her dog.

Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.
(from It Was Early)

Her theology inspired a 2011 prayer that I re-post to honor her memory.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Presents or Presence

Link to Forward Movement graphic

Christmas is not over. That's meant to be good news. If you are exhausted from the lead-up to December 25th, maybe you can find respite and spiritual refreshment during the observance of Christmastime, the Twelve Days of Christmas.

We can make an exchange - the season of Christmas presents for the presence of Jesus. This is a worthy pursuit from Patheos blogger Rev. Melissa Cooper:

God is with us now, in the quiet and stillness of the in-between time after Christmas but before the new year really kicks off; and God will be with us as we move all-too-quickly into a Lenten season of new and different chaos again. Friends, this year, reclaim Christmas for yourself. Celebrate those 12 days not with presents, but with presence.

Seeking God’s presence a significant theme for me. The idea that the Lord visited us in the physical presence of Jesus is a compelling part of the Christmas story. 

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Matthew 1:23 KJV)

I’m not well read in the theology of incarnation, however, “God with us” is my personal experience. Like Rev. Cooper, I encourage you to seek God’s presence during Christmastime. Carve out a space in your routine for God. He will fill it in a surprising way!

O Come, Emmanuel!

We gather at Christmas
to commemorate,
to celebrate
God with us.

It's history,
our tradition:
God visited.
God with us.

It's present tense,
real time:
God abides.
God with us.

It's the future:
Creation restored.
God returns.
God with us.

May we experience
your presence,
Jesus Christ.
God with us.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Advent. The Arrival.

Observing, pondering...
ADVENT. The arrival.

God makes an appearance
in the person of Jesus.

Church words...
Begotten. Incarnate.

Hymnal words...
Emmanuel. God with us.

An Old Testament change-up...
Not a pillar of cloud.
God in the flesh!

Physicality is the hallmark.
It inspires a muscular faith.

He comes to us,
as one of us,
walking with us.

So we decorate,
carol, feast and gift.
To commemorate
a personal advent.
The arrival of
Jesus the Christ
in heart and home.

Thanks be to God!

Browse Advent prayers:

Friday, November 2, 2018

Among Rocks & Thorns

I'm thinking about the Pittsburgh temple massacre, the Florida postal bomber...and Jesus' Parable of the Sower. 

Updating the Rabbi's analogy... 
If you could sample the soil of America's soul, I'm afraid you would find unhealthy levels of contamination. How do we "bear fruit" in these toxic conditions? 

Lord Christ, 
Where and how can I sew your Good News? 
On this rocky ground, beneath scorching sun, among thorns? 

A poisonous vine has taken root. 

A seed of resentment, in the soil of mental illness, 
Germinates in the manure of social media, 
Climbs a trellis of ordnance, forming buds of hate, 
And the spores spread, on tribal winds, 
Fanned by our contemporary Pontius Pilates. 

Father God, deliver us from evil! It's palpable. 

And use me as fertile soil, to sew your Good News, 
"and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold." 

Artwork credit (Sower at Sunset, Van Gogh)

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Supernal Creed

"He's got the whole world in his hands." That is more than a timeless spiritual. While I hear a children's choir singing it, the song is actually a metaphysical manifesto. It's critical that our faith rests upon an all encompassing God.

My Scripture Union Bible study recently cited the 1963 Christian classic The Christian Mind by Harry Blamires. "The first mark of the Christian mind is that it cultivates the eternal perspective."

That prompted a few deep thoughts about our boundless God.

Creator God,
Untether my earthbound faith,
hemmed in by science,
and the doctrines of other men.
Relax these limitations.

Holy Spirit,
Cultivate a faith of eternal perspective,
where time is contained within eternity,
where the natural order
depends on the supernatural.*

St. Paul instructs,
For in him we live
and move
and have our being.
(Acts 17:28)

Lord Christ,
Stretch my worldview,
bend it heavenward.

* - from The Christian Mind, Harry Blamires
A previous post on BIG GOD/little me.