Reflecting Reflections – Day Six

Living Faith

Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.’ Isaiah 30:20-21

We are challenged to always follow the Lord’s way, especially in times of difficulty. In these times, when the wind is fiercely in our face, we struggle and battle to get through it on our own. But the Lord is telling us to lean into him by simply turning our back to the wind, and feeling him behind us, pushing us along, ever so gently.

Henri Nouwen

It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to the end.  Deuteronomy 11: 12 (NIV)

Both Henri and Pope Francis speak eloquently of how we are brothers and sisters with all of creation. How do you care for and reflect the beauty and majesty of God’s creation?

Magnificat

At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity. Matthew 9:36

God bends down to care for the lowly. He sees and cares for all of us. He seeks to transform us in and through his love. In this way, he became human and came to us, in love, as a child in need of love. Who are you reaching out and loving today?

The Word Among Us

Go to the lost sheep. Matthew 10:6

How many are lost in this world? What are they searching for? Where can they find true happiness? These real questions are surrounding so many in this world. Today’s reading is asking us to both tell our story of our joy and happiness, and to also be that example of Christ love to others.  

Give Us This Day

The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few. Matthew 10:37

Jesus is not only calling the disciples, he is calling us! To do God’s work, we must be open to being guided and nourished by the Spirit of God.

In a world that is despairing, in a world where violence and hatred have reared their ugly heads, what work are we called to do so that the love of God reigns? What preparation do we need to bring healing to a sin-sick world? Through prayer and being open to the Spirit, we are being prepared for the work of making a better world.

Richard Rohr

Love is the outflowing way that we must relate to God and to everything [because everything flows from God] and the outflowing way we must relate to each individual person.

Practicing Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, and Right Diligence expands our realm of conscious freedom to choose love. God cannot and will not give us any gift that we do not want and freely choose—usually again and again.

Strengthened in Stillness

Be still and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:11)

In the noise and distractions of everyday life, we can find it difficult and uncomfortable to be in silence. Fr. Ron Rolheiser notes “Achieving stillness seems beyond us and this leaves us with a certain dilemma, we need stillness to find God, but we need God’s help to find stillness.”

The disordered world continues to challenge faith. We seem to either see God as distant in chaos or in chaos choose to distance ourselves from him. When we find ourselves feeling distant from him, it is at this moment we should find a place where we can be still in silence.

Fr. Rolheiser tell us that silence creates the space for itself. “Sometimes when we feel powerless to speak words that are meaningful, when we have to back off into unknowing and helplessness, but remain in the situation, silence creates the space that’s needed for a deeper happening to occur.”

In that moment of stillness, I have found comfort in reflecting on the words of this prayer:  “Lord, still my heart so that I may know that you are God, that I may know that you create and sustain my every breath, that you breathe the whole universe into existence every second, that everyone, myself no less than everyone else, is your beloved, that you want our lives to flourish, that you desire our happiness, that nothing falls outside your love and care, and that everything and everybody is safe in your gentle, caring hands, in this world and the next.

Friendship

Henri Nouwen said that “Friendship is one of the greatest gifts a human being can receive. It is a bond beyond common goals, common interests, or common histories. It is a bond stronger than sexual union can create, deeper than a shared fate can solidify, and even more intimate than the bonds of community. Friendship is being with the other in joy and sorrow, even when we cannot increase the joy or decrease the sorrow. It is a unity of souls that gives nobility and sincerity to love. Friendship makes all of life shine brightly. Blessed are those who lay down their lives for their friends.”

A dear friend just found out they are very sick. While this sickness has a hopeful path to recovery, it is still a great concern to me. Through a mutual love and service to the church, we have come to appreciate and care for each other. Through God’s grace and healing touch, I will look forward to visiting the house where we worked together, to once more shake the walls with our laughter. It was in this house that our friendship began.

Living In Awe

I have always been struck by the change in countenance that comes over many of us when we enter into a deep examination of our life, opening our hearts to God, as we come before Him in the spiritual nakedness of reconciliation.

The first time I heard the Holly Miller (aka Hollyn) song In Awe, I was spellbound. I felt she captured the power, beauty, and awesomeness of reconciling ourselves to the Lord.

Every day I fall
But You never let me go . . .
You know what I’ve been . . .
No, not innocent like you
Oh God, I’m sorry

When we separate ourselves from God through selfish actions, he never stops desiring our return – to be in communion with him.

I’m living in awe
Because You don’t need me at all
But You couldn’t love me more

This unconditional, unmerited, and unfathomable love is utterly awesome. We can enter this state of awe when we humble ourselves, embrace the servant heart within all of us, and know that even when we feel unworthy, he sees worth in us. Live in Awe.


Radical Discipleship

Contentment – a state of mental or emotional satisfaction maybe drawn from being comfortable in one’s situation, body and mind. Colloquially speaking, contentment could also be a state of acceptance of one’s situation – a milder and more tentative form of happiness.

Is this a proper definition for living as disciples? Is the path of discipleship all about reaching a level of contentment in our relationship with God, the Church and our community? Ron Rolheiser speaks in Sacred Fire: A Vision for A Deeper Human and Christian Maturity, of a longing that is at the very heart of our souls.

He writes that we are innately driven by a “yearning, a restlessness, a certain insatiable pressure to eat, to grow, to breed, to push beyond self.” He goes on to say that we “are meant to give our lives away in generosity and selflessness, but we are also meant to give our deaths away, not just at the moment of our deaths, but in a whole process of leaving this planet in such a way that our diminishment and death is our final, and perhaps greatest, gift to the world.”

This type of discipleship seems at odds with contented Christianity. Rolhesier’s thoughts are a radical concept for most Christians. Most of Christianity today is practiced in a state of contentment. Rolheiser says that walking in discipleship behind the master requires that “we too sweat blood and feel ‘a stone’s throw’ from everybody.”

This struggle, to give our deaths away, constitutes Radical Discipleship. It is not seeking contentment with our faith but seeking to die to self that is the path to true and everlasting happiness. When we do this, we find a new hope, a new joy, and a new purpose to our lives. We discover what it means to be Christ’s light and love to the world.

 

 

Impressions

I have been focused on the word impression over the two long days moving across the better part of the country to my new vocational home. There was ample time to reflect on the impressions made in my previous work and the imprints that were left; the impressions I expected to encounter as I began to take in the new surroundings; and the imprinted reality of meeting these new impressions as they are.

I am overwhelmed by the universal truth of God’s unconditional love and the reality that so many have rejected his plan of salvation. The imprinted certainty is one of choice. Ron Rolhieser says that for many, the choice is to remain in “a private hell of woundedness, of fundamental alienation, of sin, of paranoia, of fantasy, and of fear” that grips their lives.

The mission of faith is to walk with those caught in the rationalization of this disordered life and outside of true love. Someone once said that a true missionary is someone who goes where he or she is not wanted, but is needed; and leaves when he or she is wanted, but not needed. So the journey continues – new impressions to be made and understood – what a wonderful blessing.

Brokenness that can Lead to Wholeness

In 2011, a magnitude 9 earthquake and a resulting tsunami took nearly 19,000 lives and destroyed 230,000 homes in the region northeast of Tokyo. In its aftermath, The Nozomi Project, named for the Japanese word for “hope,” was born to provide sustainable income, community, dignity, and hope in a God who provides.

St. Paul declared, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness” (2 Cor. 11:30) because he had found strength through reliance upon God. While lamenting his “thorn in [the] flesh” (12:6-9), Paul affirmed, “I delight in weaknesses . . . . For when I am weak, then I am strong” (v. 10).

What areas of brokenness in your life can become pathways for strength?

Bill Crowder from Our Daily Bread