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A Homily on the Feast of Gregory Of Nazianzus


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I had the opportunity to preach a homily on the feast of Gregory Of Nazianzus a few weeks back. I’ve been wanting to share it but haven’t really had the margin to do much other than finish seminary, which is done!!! I thought I would post this, I hope to post more in the days to come from my time at seminary; things I’ve learned, papers I’ve written, and ways I’ve grown in my faith.

Homily: The Feast of Greg Naz. I don’t preach often or very well from a manuscript (not my usual way) so if you listen and read, you’ll notice some differences.

Here’s the audio. It’s about 8 minutes.
I hope you enjoy!

 

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Learning to Prayer


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My time at Nashotah House has begun!

This week is orientation. All week, all the time! It’s a lot, but there is a lot that goes on at this place. Most notably, every day starts with morning prayer at 8 am, then bells ring at 12:30 pm for mid-day prayer, and then we gather again for evening prayer at 4:30 pm.

Everything revolves around this rhythm of prayer. Our life, our community and our learning all are rooted and sustained by this practice of prayer.

If nothing else is formative at Nashotah House, I know beyond a doubt this will be (even though I am quite sure many other things will be as well).

I thought I would share a prayer all the students and faculty pray every day at evening prayer.

11891237_10153607230635956_4106079202307804684_nA Prayer for Nashotah House

Bless, O Lord, this House, set apart to the glory of your great name and the benefit of your Holy Church; and grant that your Name may be worshipped here in truth and purity to all generations. Give your grace and wisdom to all the authorities, that they may exercise holy discipline, and be themselves patterns of holiness, simplicity, and self-denial.

Bless all who may be trained here; take from them all pride, vanity, and self-conceit, and give them true humility and self-abasement.
Enlighten their minds, subdue their wills, purify their hearts, and so penetrate them with your Spirit and fill them with your love, that they may go forth animated with earnest zeal for your glory; and may your ever living Word so dwell within their hearts, that they may speak with that resistless energy of love which shall melt the hearts of sinners to the love of you.

Open, O Lord, the hearts and hands of your people, that they may be ready to give and glad to distribute to our necessities. Bless the founders and benefactors of this House, and recompense them with the riches of your everlasting kingdom,
for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Know that Andrea and I are also praying for you—our friends and supporters. This will be a challenging chapter of our story, but one we are excited about because we know it will shape and mold our family for the ministry God has before us. And we know we have a great team of friends who are praying for us and supporting us every step of the way! Thank you!
Grace and peace
Erik

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REAL :: A life of transfiguration


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Icon_of_transfiguration_(Spaso-Preobrazhensky_Monastery,_Yaroslavl)Every once in awhile I will share a bit form my book Ordinary Time. This week the big idea was REAL, talking about the reality of the kingdom that sometime we can’t see but is always and already there. It is this reality that should shape and guide our lives, even in the face of the dark and negative realities that scream for our attention and smack around with fear and despair.

We also experience the feast of the Transfiguration this week. One of my favorites! The Transfiguration is a guiding story in this conversation. I wanted to share this Saturdays meditation and couple quote from this week to help you engage this story and to encourage you to begin to live a life of transfiguration.

DAY 70 // Luke 9:28-36

Transfiguration always seems to be followed by difficulty and darkness. It’s as if the higher we climb on the mountaintop, the further into darkness we descend on the other side. For a moment, we have glimpsed or tasted the beauty of the Kingdom, but we are soon reminded of our broken and bent world.

Maybe this is not such a bad thing. Instead of feeling disillusioned when we encounter darkness in or around us, one of the best things we can do is to take some simple steps to live as Kingdom people. To live as people who participate in the Kingdom of God breaking into our present age in big and small ways. We see, experience and participate in the in-breaking of the Kingdom every time we care for the sick, sit with the lonely, lift up the poor and broker peace.

Don’t make the highs what you live for. Don’t numb or distract yourself from the problems around you. Instead, let’s become a people who help answer the prayer “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done” in all our ordinary moments. This requires living a new kind of reality, one we caught a glimpse of on the mountain and now bring crashing into our everyday lives.

What is your response to the darkness and difficulty you face in your ordinary life? Do you shrink back and look for distraction, or do you figure out how to help the Kingdom break in?

A few meditations

“The world around us tells us that life is about money, security, power, success. Yet the Gospels tell us that life is about something completely other. Real life, the Gospels tell us, is about doing the will of God, speaking for the poor, changing the lives of widows and orphans, exalting the status of women, refusing to make war, laying down our lives for the other, the invisible, and the enemy. It is about taking everyone in instead of leaving anyone out.”

— from The Liturgical Year: The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life by Joan Chittister

“The Transfiguration reveals and outlines the whole mystery of salvation. And his transfiguration invites us to transfigure with him.”

— Andreas Andreopoulos: This is My Beloved Son

“[The Transfiguration] stands as a gateway to the saving events of the gospel, and is as a mirror in which the Christian mystery is seen in its unity. Here we receive that the living and the dead are one in Christ, that the old covenant and the new are inseparable, that the Cross and the glory are of one, that the age to come is already here, that our human nature has a destiny of glory, that in Christ the final word is uttered and in him alone the Father is well pleased. Here the diverse elements in the theology of the New Testament meet.”

— Arthur Michael Ramsey: The Glory of God and the Transfiguration of Christ

 

 

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The Prayer of Examen


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One of the greatest tools I’ve encountered for my ordinary life is St. Ignatius’ Prayer of Examen.
Here is a version I created, pulling from a handful of places.

THE PRAYER OF EXAMEN

BEGIN :: Become aware of God’s love and presence. Remind yourself

that God is with you. There is nothing to fear; you are safe and loved.

THANK :: Bring to mind the good things that God has brought into your life, and let gratitude begin to bubble up. What gifts, big or small, has God given you today? Thank him for every good and perfect gift.

REVIEW :: Ask God to show you where you have failed, fallen or sinned in the past day. We’re talking about sins both known and unknown. Ask God to bring to mind any and every time you turned from his leading.

NOTICE :: Look back on your day again, each and every thing you did. Relive what you thought about, wanted and felt and desired during those moments. Begin to sense God’s activity. When were you cooperating most fully with God, and when were you not?

FORGIVE :: With confidence ask God, the one whose loving presence has been with you and is always with you, to forgive you for all the moments you went your own way. Remember the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).

RESPOND :: Ask yourself, “Going forward, how can I receive and participate in God’s grace, resolving to live as a cooperative partner with God for his glory and the good of my neighbor?

END :: Saint Ignatius recommends you end with The Lord’s Prayer, found in Matthew 6:9-13.

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This week in the Ordinary Time devo is on EXAMEN. And of course, The Examen of St. Ignatius is a big part of that. We need to examen our lives on a regular basis and do the work of daily discipleship in the way Jesus!
I also post this examen here for the student I’m hanging out with in Texas! I hope it helpful!!!

Peace

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Here are the questions for South Texas Small Group Leaders…

Day #2 :: EXAMEN

Do you ever look at your inner life, your life with God and ask “how’s it going?”
Read Psalm 139 – now make it your prayer.

Have you opened the deepest parts of your life to God?
Do you let the Spirit of God love and lead you on a daily basis?

Do you believe that you are loved by God?
Examen your life and action, now ask that question again.

What are you ambitions and desire about?
How could you turn your ambitions and desire toward God and for God?

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An Experiment in Virtue


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The following are some virtues you may feel lead to incorporate into your life this week.

My hope is that the virtues and vices listed here and that you see on the corresponding  cards can be helpful tools to identify areas in your life that maybe you want or need to grow in. Or maybe you see the vice that opposes the virtue and realize this is something you struggle with and now you know what virtue you need to begin to pray about and cultivate in your life with God’s help and grace.

Print out the card if you want. Stick it somewhere prominent to help you remember what you’re focusing on.

Remember, virtues are holy habits. To develop these virtues, these holy habits in your life you will need to be intentional, prayerful and relentless in your pursuit of Jesus, who perfectly lived each of these virtues.

NT Wright say that learning to live the virtious life is like learning a new language. Yep, it’s hard but will be exactly what you need in order to feel like your primary citizenship is in heaven, which it is if you’re a Christian.

* Virtue Banner

NOTE: Over this past year a team of folks at the Church I worked at lead our 6th grade students through a class we called Virtues.  A group of women who have been studying Christian Virtue for years developed this curriculum and we spent the year walking students through it. It was a smashing success! Room to grow and things to dial in but it was great. Most of what I will share here (specifically the cards) was taken from this resource.

I won’t give a really through explanation here. Do some more research, look up some scripture and thing about how these virtue play themselves out in your own life. And then most importantly, pray about God helping you to develop these virtues in your everyday, ordinary life!

Virtue Courage vprintVirtue Courage Back vprintCourage / Fear

We see this all over the scripture but I don’t think courage often crosses our mind as a virtue. But we think about fear A LOT!

This is one of those vices that might more properly highlight your need for the corresponding virtue, in this case courage.

So what are you afraid of? Are there fears that dominate you life? That freeze you and keep you from being bold in your faith, vulnerable in your relationships, committed in your community? Do you feel unsafe and insecure because of fear. Maybe it’s time you let Jesus begin to help you withthe virtue of courage!

Another note on courage. I don’t think courage is the absence of fear but it is the ability to stand in the face of fear and feel safe, secure and empower by the Holy Spirit of God. More on fear soon (it’s next week theme)!

Scripture to check out
Deuteronomy 31:61 John 4:18, Joshua 1:1-18

 

Virtue Forgive vprint

Virtue Forgive Back vprintForgiveness / Grudges

I remember reading Matthew 6:14 & 15 for the first time and looking up (as if God is up in the sky or something) and saying, “really”. It’s so harsh and emphatic but it’s there. Forgiveness isn’t something that is optional. NT Wright says that forgiveness is like breathing. We first must breath in the breath of God, the forgiveness and grace of God and then we are able to exhale forgiveness to other, even people who it may be hard to forgive or don’t deserve to be forgiven. But Jesus seems to tell us that forgiveness isn’t an optional virtue, it’s one we must constantly be developing in our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Forgiveness is also nuanced.
Forgiving isn’t necessarily forgetting.
It seems often forgiving  is more about the forgiver then the forgiven.
Forgiveness is something we have all been give but it’s also something that has been withheld from us at times. It would be helpful to think about how you feel when a friend forgave you and when a friend withheld forgiveness. Meditate on those feelings and see what it prompts in your heart and mind.

Then there is the vice = the one who holds a grudge.
Are you more know for forgiving or for holding onto a negative emotions and hurt feelings. Do you have a running scorecard in your head of all your friends and enemies. Tallying up wrongs against you and nice things done to you.
If you live by the scoreboard this is a virtue you need to learn to live and practice.

Scripture to check out
Matthew 6:7-15Luke 23:34Colossians 3:12-17

Virtue Prudence vprintVirtue Prudence Back vprint

Prudence / Impulsivity

Prudence was a fun one for me to dig into. It’s not a word we often use in our everyday vocabulary but it is something we do practice one way or an other. Because prudence is essentially wise and Godly decision making.

We are called to make wise and Godly decision in big things and also in the small things. I think we often forget about the small things and think we can save our relying on God, seeking God, being guided by God’s word for the big things, the real big things in life. But the virtue of prudence is about building a habit of seeking God in every decision, especially the small things so that when the big decisions come you already have a holy habit of practice a Godly, Spirit lead path of discernment and decision making.

Here are 2 tips I share with my students to practice and grow into the virtue of prudence in your everyday life.
#1. Know where you live, where your primary residence is.
If you were driving a car in England you but forgot and were driving like you were in the USA you would be in big trouble! Car would be honking and driving straight at you! But if you keep in mind that your in London, know that cars driving on the “wrong” or other side of the street you  would make the wise decision to drive like they drive. Or if you were in Mexico on a mission trip you wouldn’t go the kitchen sink and pour a glass of water. You’ve got to keep in mind where you are when making even the most normal everyday decisions.
Our primary citizenship is in heaven we are told. And when make decisions we must remember that. Let the rules and ethics of the Kingdom of God be our guide in how we treat people, how me eat with people, how we work with people, pretty much how we do everything.
#2. Know who your king is.
Your king is Jesus! No other rule or authority is more important that him in your life. We respect, honor and pray for our countries president or queen or ruling officials (depending on where you live) but always and every time we make our final decision based off what our king has told us through the scripture, community, tradition and Holy Spirit. First and foremost we live under the loving authority of King Jesus and all we say and do should be influence by that reality.

You will run into some of these idea in the weeks to come but if you want a sneak peak and great resource to growing in prudence or wise and Godly decision making skip ahead in your Ordinary Time devo to page 80 and check out the 8 steps for discerning the will of God and making good decisions.

If you want to go deeper into this I would suggest reading the following scripture and talking with some friends about how prudence and discernment was made in these Bible stories. Think about how the 2 tips above may have been implemented in these stories.

Mark 10:17-22 // Mark 1:16-20 //  Luke 10:30-35 // Luke 15:11-32 // Matthew 25:14-28 // Acts 5:27-42
(These stories all include some decision making, some prudence. But in some of these stories the decisions made are difficult and maybe not what we would have chosen. But in each of these stories prudence is exemplified in one way or another and we can learn from each story.)

Scripture to check out (more specifically on prudence)
Matthew 6:1,  Deuteronomy 6:31 Corinthians 2:12-14, (pretty much all of the Proverbs but these specifically) Proverbs 10 & Proverbs 14 (especially verse 15),  Amos 5:13

(I wasn’t planning on giving such through suggestions for the virtues above. For the rest of these I will just give the cards, a thought and a few verses to go with them. If you have question or want to have some conversation about these verses post a comment, I’d love the hash em’ out!) 

 

Virtue Generosity vprint

Virtue Generosity Back vprint Generosity / Stinginess

I might say closed handed living. I love the picture of a person living with their hands open, receive all the gifts and graces of God but also giving as freely as they have received.
If you read the early chapters of Act and pay attention to the these early Christians and the kind of community they were participating in, you will see this virtue of generosity on display in some amazing ways. Act 2:42-47)

Scripture to check out
Romans 12:6-8, Luke 6:38, Leviticus 19:9-10, Isaiah 58:10-11, Luke 3:10-11, 1 John 3:17

Virtue Gratitude vprint

Virtue Gratitude Back vprint

Gratitude / Unthankful

Dictionary.com say the opposite of gratitude is ingratitude. In our culture I thing corresponding vice to gratitude might be entitlement. This sense that you deserve certain rights and privileges even if it is at the expense of other. Gratitude tries to help us see that everything is a gift. Thanks be to God!

Scripture to check out
Genesis 17, 1 Chron. 16:8, Hebrews 12:28, Psalm 100, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Psalm 95, Philippians 4:4-9

Virtue Humility vprint

Virtue Humility Back vprintHumility / Pride

I think humbly is a tricky one. If you think you got it you probably don’t and if you think you don’t you probably do. Hmmm. It’s one of those virtues to be cultivated in community and really rooted in love for God and love for your neighbor. When you do those things well through the power of the Holy Spirit you will them be able to love yourself in healthy and Godly ways. Humility isn’t hating yourself it’s Philippians 2, “counting others more significant than yourselves”.

Scripture to check out
Philippians 2:1-11, I Peter 5:5-6, Matthew 18:4, Matthew 23:12, Proverbs 15:33, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Psalm 25:9, Proverbs 3:34, Matthew 11:29, Ephesians 4:2, James 4:10

Virtue Joy vprint

Virtue Joy Back vprintHappiness & Joy / Sorrow

Some old timers like John Wesley often used the word happy as an equivalent to joy. Most time these days we would frown on that because of the shallow modern notion of being “happy”. This is also why I’m not sure sorrow is the best vice to connect to this virtue. Maybe a hopeful sorrow or a despairing sorrow. Think through this yourself, what is the vice that keeps you from a deep and profound joy, the kind of joy you can experience in the midst of difficulty and sadness.

Scripture to check out
Psalm 68:3, Psalm 21:6, Proverbs 12:20, Isaiah 35:10, Ecclesiastes 3:12, James 5:13, Hebrews 12:2, 1 Peter 1:8

Virtue Integrity vprintVirtue Integrity Back vprintIntegrity / Dishonesty

If there is a virtue that Christian leaders need to embrace and grow in these days it the virtue of integrity. We see pastors and leaders falling into sin and scandal around every corner. All of us have influence and leadership in some capacity, we all need to always be growing in integrity and honest. What we do in private should line us in an increasing way with what we do in public.

Scripture to check out
Romans 12:2, Philippians 3:12-21 (19), Colossians 3:1-17, Psalm 143:10, Matthew 6:1-4

Virtue Love vprint

Virtue Love Back vprint

Love / Selfishness

We just spent a week talking about love, growing in love and letting real, authentic, Christ centered love be a growing part of our life. This kind of growing, authentic love is a virtue, a holy habit we are all called to grow into. If you need some refreshers turn back a few pages in your Ordinary Time book but spend some time thinking about how love might be a growing holy habit in your life.

Scripture to check out
Deuteronomy 6:5-10 & 7:9, Romans 8:35; 37-40, 1 Corinthians 13 (of course), John 15:1-17, 1 John 2:1-17 & 3:11-24

Virtue Meekness vprint

Virtue Meekness Back vprint

Meekness / Uncontrolled Anger

I might put the vice to meekness as “last word-itis”. It’s kinda like arthritis but instead of your bones hurting you pride hurts if you don’t get the last word. There are a lot of nuances to meekness and a lot of interpretations as to what it means but my favorite and the one I think lines up the best with the sermon on the mount and the beatitude of  “blessed are the meek” is the interpretation that meekness is all about proclaiming you truth and not needing to have the last work or for everybody to think you are right about any given issue. Jesus was said be meek by many of the biblical authors. My perspective on this is that Jesus proclaimed his truth and with confidence and security in his fathers love, he left it at that. He didn’t need to win the argument or beat people over the head with this truth. He stated is, giving it to the hearer as a gift and then let them do with it as they will. This was his exemplification of meekness.

Scripture to check out
Matthew 5:5, 2 Corinthians 10:1, Matthew 11:29-30, Ephesians 4:1-2, Titus 3:2, Psalm 22:26, Psalm 37:9-11

Virtue Patience vprintVirtue Patience Back vprintPatience / Impatience 

It was pointed out to me that the scripture says more about patience then any other virtue, excluding love. I take that to mean patience is a pretty important virtue. I think that is only increasingly true in your fast-food, tech world. This idea that we must wait on the Lord, seek him and his will instead of just going out and getting and doing what we want when we want it. Patience is truly a virtue we all should desire to grow into. Sabbath would be an important part of this conversation. And if you’re a parent, try and see your kids as a gift—patient producers even—in your life! Lines and traffic could be seen the same way!

Scripture to check out
Exodus 34:5-9, 2 Peter 3:1-18, Colossians 1:9-14 & 3:12, 2 Corinthians 6:4-6, Luke 21:19, Romans 8:25, Revelation 1:9
(The scripture of patience are endless… just do a little searching on Bible Gateway and you’ll find a ton!)

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Maundy Thursday — Reflection


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holythursday_15c_rusToday is Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday. A lot goes on here but the primary scripture i’ve been thinking about is John 13:1-15, the story of Jesus washing his disciples feet. Many churches will have a eucharist / communion service that will include a foot washing ceremony. When I was living in Nashville and attending Church of the Redeemer I was able to participate in a few Maundy Thursday service that included foot washing. It was uncomfortable! It was awkward! It was thought provoking. And when all was said and done it was beautiful and deeply moving.

We don’t wash peoples feet. We often don’t love people well. In our culture these things aren’t related but for Jesus he tied these 2 together. Wanting to profoundly love and serve his friends and show them how important it was going to be for them to receive that love and then go and do the same.

Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 11.45.29 AMPray As You Go engages this passage in John today and asked a few poignant questions…

“have ever known that kind of love?”

“Is there someone whose love you find difficult to accept at the moment?”

(image yourself in this story…)
“What do you want to say to Jesus, and what does he want to say to you?”

They close with these two pieces…

“‘I have set you an example’ says Jesus, ‘that you also should do as I have done.’  Speak to Jesus about what this invitation means to you, and how it might become a reality in your life?”

“We adore you o’ Christ and we praise you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.”

The medition today from Pray As You Go struck me and I wanted to share it. Take 12 minutes today, listen and engage, you won’t regret.

I hope you’re abel to find a good Maundy Thursday service today. Let it prepare you tomorrow, Good Friday and the darkness that follows and the light that is right around the corner!

Grace and epace
ERik

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4 Marks of the Anglican Church


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Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 4.26.59 PMYesterday I watched / listened to the investiture of the Archbishop Foley Beach. He is the new Archbishop of the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA). I hear great things about him and he seems to bring some exciting vision and mission to the ACNA, which is the group I find myself apart of these days.

He shared a message during his investiture that I thought was worth sharing. I think the 4 things he identifies are 4 things any and all churches would benefit from focusing on and committing themselves to. They are 4 things I can get on board with for sure!

Here they are along with a few quotes & thoughts…

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4 Marks of the Anglican Church in North America

#1. We are a repenting church

“I call all people; bishops, priests ,vestry… everybody, REPENT.”
“It means changing your mind…”

#2. We are a reconciling church

“We’re called to be a reconciled and reconciling church.”
”To be at peace with God and one another.”
”We pass the peace every week. It symbolized we are at peace with our brothers and sisters.”
”The question that must be asked is, is there someone or a bunch of someone’s that you need to be reconciled with?”
Ephesians 4:30 – “forgiving each other as Christ has Forgive you.”

#3. We are a Reproducing Church

Matthew 28:29

“We’re called to be a reproducing church, a disciple making church.”
“This is a major reason why we are given the Holy Spirit.”
“The power of the Spirit is related to our go and make disciples.”
“We must go!”
“Draw a circle around your church, a 1 mile radius. And go meet your neighbors.”
“The fish are not going to jump into your boat.”
“Anglican Christians know both their Bible and their cat.”

#4. We are called to be a relentlessly compassionate church

2 Cor. 5:14,1 Tim. 1:5…

“I challenge you pray this prayer, “Lord open my eye to see the hurt and pain in the people around me.”
“People are craving the answer to their needs and we have it… Jesus.”
“Jesus expects his body to be his body.”
“We must be a living body engaged with the people around us. We must be the temple of the holy spirit…”

GOOD STUFF!

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Solitude is where community begins…


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I had the opportunity to join some folks I work with on a retreat over the last couple work days. Our family ministry team at Christ Church snuck away and spend some time together at a really cool log-cabin retreat / wedding venue just North East of Plano. The location was actually in McKinney, which is the town I live in. It was about 15 away from my house.

We had a great time of praying alone and together, talking about things ministry related and even more importantly, things related to our personal formation as people who follow Jesus. I am very thankful I work with folks who find this type of engagement important and “productive” in the most meaningful of ways.

Nouwen Quote

This is a quote I pulled from a little book we read during our personal prayer / retreat time and then talked about when we came back together. The book the quote is from is entitled A Spirituality of Living  by Henri J.M. Nouwen. I’ve read this book a couple time before and I’m sure I’ve shared a quote or 2 from it’s pages right here on this blog. Maybe even that quote I put in that picture… it’s resonates so deeply I could post it once a month for many months to come and it would do my soul, my inner life good! (the picture is one I took on location at the retreat.)

I even took a little spiritual temperament test (we all took it and chatted about it). Contemplative wasn’t my top temperament but just behind it. Hmmm… I’m not sure that test would have looked remotely similar a few years ago! That’s exciting to me. I think, with God’s help, my spiritual directors help, some good & godly relationships and the significant growth that only the Spirit of God can bring about I am learning to heard my monkeys and order my desires rightly around Jesus and the life he desires to live in and through me. I have lightyears to go, I am still totally and completely a novice (in the proper monastic sense) but I’m on the path and for this A.D.H.D. kid (recently diagnosed! 😉  that is a really big deal.

Screen Shot 2012-09-11 at 10.18.04 PMA few more from Nouwen… 

Solitude is being with God and God alone. Is there space for that in our lives?

In and through the Spirit we become participants in the communion of love that Jesus shares with his Father. That is the mystery of our redemption and the promise of the spiritual life.

The way I would like to define communion here is that Jesus spent the night listening to the Father calling him the Beloved. (Luke 3:22 & 9:35)…
It is with this knowledge of being Beloved that Jesus could walk freely into a world in which he was not treated as the Beloved.

To pray is to let that voice speak to the center of our being and permeate our whole life. Who am I? I am the beloved. If we are not claiming that voice as the deepest truth of our being, then we cannot walk freely in this world.

Real freedom to live in this world comes from hearing clearly the truth about who we are, which is that we are the beloved. That’s what prayer is about. And that’s why is is so crucial and not just a nice thing to do once in a while. It is the essential attitude that creates in us the freedom to love other people not because they are going to love us back but because we are so loved and out of the abundance of that love we want to give.
This is where ministry starts…

Why is it so important that solitude come before community? If we do not know we are the beloved sons and daughters of God, we are going to expect someone in the community to make us feel that we are. We will expect someone to give us that perfect, unconditional love. They cannot.

Community is solitude greeting solitude: “I am the beloved; you are the beloved. Together we can build a home.”

The word discipleship and the word discipline  are the same word—that has always fascinated me. Once we have made the choice to say, “Yes, I want to follow Jesus,” the questions is, “What disciplines will help me remain faithful to that choice?” If we want to be disciples of Jesus, we have to live a disciplined life.

It takes real discipline to let God and not the world be the Lord of our mind.

A spiritual life without discipline is impossible.

Solitude, community, ministry—these disciplines help us to live a fruitful life. Remain in Jesus; he remains in you. You will bear many fruits, you will have great joy, and your joy will be complete.  (John 15)

(Just a few of the great quotes from the book! You should really check it out!)

 

Discuss

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To Be Doubted and Rejected…


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How did Jesus feel when he was rejected and shunned? In all the little moments of his life and ministry, when people wouldn’t listen to him or forced him out of  a town or figured he was a heretic or crazy or drunk or worse. How, in his normal, everyday life, did he react when people didn’t believe in him, doubted him and thought him to be lacking in wisdom and understanding and in obedience to the God of Torah? In the stillness of his heart and mind, what did he feel and think, and how did his spirit react to all of these situations, rejections and doubts?

We construct these false selves to avoid the very rejection and doubt of others that Jesus experienced on a regular basis. We make elaborate facebook profiles and strategic instgram lives so that we might present our best (and often false selves) so that people might accept us, “like” us and believe in us. And then there is your resume… don’t get me started.

The layers to which Jesus experienced this might be a bit deeper, but let’s be honest, we want people to believe in us as well. We want to be thought of as “enough” and as capable and cool and worth listening to and being friends with. Much of our living energy is spent attempting to earn acceptance or prove our worth or maybe even prove to ourselves that we don’t need to prove anything or earn acceptance from anybody, but let’s be honest.

Does Jesus’ call to take up our cross and die have anything to do with this?

The example Jesus set and the life the Spirit enables is one of confidence and safety. Jesus always felt safe in the Father’s care and kingdom in which he had his primary residence. 

That same acceptance, confidence and safety is offered to us if we will find our primary identity (let me use a word we won’t misinterpret and run wild with), if we will find our primary life and citizenship in the Kingdom of God. This is exactly how Jesus could be a centered and whole self despite rejection. This is how he could live calm in the midst of chaos and how he would let some folks nail him to a tree, not only without retaliating but with words like “forgive them, they don’t have a clue” on his lips.

Jesus, I’m not there. My inner life is often tossed about when I experience rejection or when a person doubts my ability and my good enough-ness, but I desire to follow you to the place of peace and confidence that exists only in your kingdom. Help me to reside so fully in this place of your rule and reign that my moments in this present evil age and corrupt old creation are moments of prophetic presence and new creation living, bringing and invitation sharing. May my life be lived praying “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” and also being used by you to be an answer, if only in part, to that very prayer you’ve taught me to pray and enabled me to live.

Amen.

These are the thoughts I had today in morning prayer. The text of the morning was Acts 22:30 — 23:11. This is Paul’s experience with some of the ideas above, his thoughts of rejection and persecution. I would wonder how Paul dealt with it as well, but as is true for Paul and also true for us, the ultimate example for living is Jesus.

I was led in morning prayer on this day by Pray As You GO, a great resource for your commute to work or for the few moments you have before your day gets going. The song they sang was “We live in the shelter of the almighty.” Fitting for these thoughts, for sure.

Grace and Peace

(PS :: The image above is a depiction of a story from Mark 10, the familiar story of The Rich Young Ruler. This was one of the many stories that came to my mind when I thought of little, everyday ways in which Jesus was rejected and thought of as not enough or doubted as sufficient. There are dozens of others… What story comes to your mind?)

Discuss