One with God

But until I am made one with God in my very essence, I will never have complete rest or true peace; that is to say, until I am so fastened to Him that there is absolutely no created thing between my God and me.

—Julian of Norwich

The desire to be one with God is the ultimate aim of all believers. If we are one with God, our struggles are lessened, our understanding is infinite, our compassion is beyond belief and our motivation is always pure. John Wesley gave up on that possibility of perfection in later life. The scripture tell us, “Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.” The simple fact that we cannot achieve perfection on this earth begs the question, why should the Julian-Quote-1believer seek oneness with God? Let’s use Julian’s three concepts (rest, peace & closeness) to unpack this question.

WE SEEK REST

We exist in a tumultuous, ever spinning world, of God’s own making. Julian asks for complete rest. In my assessment this is probably never going happen for us. Perhaps there may be an extremely rare, one in a billion, who experience true rest this side of heaven, but it should not be the goal that makes or breaks our walk with God. As we seek oneness we can fine joyous times of rest as we worship, pray and experience God’s spirit in our faith communities. If we expect perfect rest, we are like the people who used to tell me that “…if all of the bible is not true then none of it is.” Such an attitude lacks understanding of the Christian journey of renewal and redemption that we all travel. Seek rest in all ways possible, and God will give you wonderful times of rest and soul renewal.

WE SEEK PEACE

In this journey of oneness we find peace even in our failures, because we live in the hope of the better future. One who seeks this goal is a “never give up person.” No matter how difficult, how discouraging or impossible life seems, God is always near. This concept stirs in us a holy restlessness that steers our lives as surely as the currents of the ocean steer ocean liners. Our peace may not be the ultimate peace, but is an abiding sense of being on the journey with God. Peace is available to those who seek it.

CLOSENESS

Julian says,”… so fastened to Him that there is absolutely no created thing between my God and me.” I am going to use the word closeness to flesh out this idea. We experience closeness in many facets of our lives. We are close to our spouses, partners, children, parents and some special friends. In each of these relationships there are filters in place that determine how much we will give, share and trust one another. As our relationship grows stronger, the filters become lessened and we become “as one.” That is the closeness Julian refers to when she says that no created thing would be between her and God. We all know that until death there will be created things between us and God. Such reality does not preclude a closeness to our Creator that borders on supernatural. After all, He is our supernatural creator. The point here is not to hold back from our Creator. We must let Him into our dark places. Just as closeness is never achieved on earth until our significant others see us at our worst, the same is true with God. Let Him in and the results will be remarkable.

Keep these three things in mind and you may get closer to God than you ever dreamed.

CS-Lewis-Quote-1


A Prayer for Closeness

Dear Lord, Life has handed me my share of problems and distractions, but I know that you have it under control. I know that you love me in spite of who I am because that is what you do. My greatest desire is to focus on you in all that I do and say. Please give me that strength and desire to do so. May we grow closer from day to day.

Amen

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Advent–a coming

Advent comes from the Latin meaning “a coming” or “arrival”. The season begins on the Sunday nearest to November 30 and ends on Christmas Eve. Advent begins our new church year as Christ comes to us again with the peace and joy needed to take us through another year.

During the season of Advent, the church celebrates two comings of Christ. First, we remember his incarnation, the coming of the Image result for advent candlesMessiah, the world’s Savior. Second, we look forward to the second and final coming as reigning Lord and Judge. We thank him for His first Advent, prepare for his Second Advent, and celebrate His Presence through the Holy Spirit. It is a unique time when the past, the present, and the future realities of God are combined.

Advent gives voice to the joy and hope that the Christ Child brought to the earth and the expectation of the total restoration of God’s Kingdom when He comes again. The church looks forward to the completion of our salvation and the end of the world’s suffering when Christ comes again. The season forces spirituality into an increasingly secular Christmas and enriches our relationship to God, to each other, and those who have come before us.

The earliest recorded observances of Advent are from the fourth century. Monks set aside approximately six weeks before Christ’s Mass as a time of penitence and devotion and fasting. Advent became a time when new Christians prepared for baptism. For more than a thousand years, the church has set aside a four week period to recover Christmas as a holy time of expectation and preparation.

Today in the midst of so much despair Advent offers HOPE – the hope of the church, the hope of the restoration of creation to completeness upon Christ’s return, the hope of the salvation Christ brings. In the midst of so much war and death, Advent offers PEACE – the peace beyond our understanding, the peace that is more than the absence of conflict, the peace of Christ. In the midst of so much prejudice and hate, Advent offers LOVE – the perfect love of God, a way to love one another, the yearning to love His church. In the midst of so much sadness and loneliness, Advent offers JOY – the joy of salvation, the joy of new life, the joy of heaven

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This Thing Called Love

Loving TendernessHildeguard

Loving tenderness abounds for all

from the darkest

to the most eminent one beyond the stars,

Exquisitely loving all

she bequeaths the kiss of peace

upon the ultimate King.

– Hildegard of Bingen

Jesus tell us : Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ There is none greater. Many of us spend our lives searching for the best way to live a godly life but Jesus gives us a truly simplistic answer – love God , our neighbors and – just as important – ourselves. We are horrible at loving ourselves and finding neighbors to love is an almost impossible task.

Let us begin at the beginning – love God. If we are to love God we have to begin by acknowledging Him as our creator and the sustaining power of our lives. We must put aside the notion that was are masters of our own destiny and give Him credit for who He is. We love God by staying in touch with Him through prayer and listening His Spirit when He answers our prayers. That is a beginning of love for God.

Love our neighbors – We dream of the perfect neighbor and we never find them. That because we are looking in the wrong place. Our concept of neighbor is physical proximity but God has something much greater in mind. My wife told me a story about meeting a neighbor at McDonalds recently. She enter the restaurant and ordered food for herself and two of our grandchildren. There was a somewhat disheveled lady who later ordered a cup of coffee and a very small amount of ice cream. Soon it was evident that she was receiving her food out of the generosity of the restaurant staff. On her way out my wife asked her if she was hungry and needed help to buy a meal, her reply was “no.” as my wife proceeded to the car she noticed that she was followed by the lady who then approached her with these words, “Neighbor I didn’t really tell you the truth because I am hungry – Can you help me?” My wife accommodated and she replied, “Thanks, neighbor.” That is the kind of neighbor Jesus was talking about. A lady that is down and out by our standards understands God’s concept of neighbor. That lady is my neighbor as well and I didn’t say it was going to be easy to love your neighbor.

Love yourself – “..Love your neighbor AS YOURSELF.” People who cannot love themselves find it impossible love others. Did you know that suicide was the seventh leading cause of death among adolescents in 2013? (CDC stats) The National Institute Mental Health estimates that in the United States, 16 million adults had at least one major depressive episode in 2012. That’s 6.9 percent of the population. Wow! We are not loving ourselves very much. The key to self is recognizing our worth in God’s eyes. He created us, He redeems us, and He watches out for us. That makes you and your neighbor worth loving.

The challenge is simple learn to love God because of who He is and what He has done and I believe the rest of the puzzle will come together.


Prayer

Lord give me the vision to recognize your loving tenderness in the beauty that surrounds me. Allow me to see it in the life giving nature of the morning dew and the majesty of the setting sun. Such a realization will lead me to love You more and to love and care for myself and my neighbor. Might I see the majesty of all your creation – especially we humans who are the crown of all creation. Help me to discover Your brand of love and make it mind.

Amen


Adam-and-Eve

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What Would You Do?

I have heard this story shared many times and ways over the years. Let us take heart that there was greater good in the world then and that is still the case today. Here these words about the colorful Mayor LaGuardia of New York. (By the way, he was a Republican)

Fiorello LaGuardia was mayor of New York City during the Depression, and he  LaGuardia-picwas quite a character. He would ride the city fire trucks, take entire orphanages to baseball games and whenever the city newspapers went on strike, he would get on the radio and read the Sunday “funnies” to the children.

On a bitter cold winter’s night in 1935, Mayor LaGuardia turned up in a night court that served the poorest ward in the city, he dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself. After he heard a few cases, a tattered old woman was brought before him, accused of stealing a loaf of bread.

She told LaGuardia that her daughter’s husband had deserted her, her daughter was sick and her grandchildren were starving. But the shopkeeper, from whom the bread was stolen, insisted on pressing charges. “My store is in a very bad neighborhood, your honor,” he said. “She’s got to be punished in order to teach other people a lesson.”

The mayor sighed. He turned to the old woman and said, “I’ve got to punish you,” he said. “The law makes no exception – ten dollars or ten days in jail.”
But even as he spoke, LaGuardia was reaching into his pocket and pulling out a ten dollar bill. “Here is the woman’s fine,” he said, “and furthermore, I’m going to fine everyone in this court room fifty cents for living in a city where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat. Mr. Bailiff, collect the fines and give them to the defendant.”

The following day, the New York Times reported that $47.50 was turned over to the bewildered old woman. It was given by the red-faced store owner, some seventy petty criminals, people with traffic violations and city policemen – and they all gave their mayor a standing ovation as they
handed over their money.

What a great story!

That’s how it should be with Jesus followers. Jesus said: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” After he uttered these words they ran him out of Nazareth. I wonder what would happen Jesus-Captivesif a Mayer of New York would do what La Guardia today? Would he be applauded? Would there be negative headlines in the NYT? In our “me” society, I ask you to consider the way YOU treat the poor and the disenfranchised? Let us practice true compassion in our daily walk.

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Bigger than Christianity

I share this meditation from Richard Rhor the founder and director of The Center for Action and Contemplation. I hope you find it as stimulating as I did.

Irvin

The “Christ Mystery” is much bigger than Christianity as an organized religion. If we don’t understand this, Christians will have little ability to make friends 00058_christ_pantocrator_mosaic_hagia_sophia_656x800with, build bridges to, understand, or respect other religions or the planet. Jesus did not come to create a country club or a tribe of people who could say, “We’re in and you’re out. We’ve got the truth and you don’t.” Jesus came to reveal something that was true everywhere, for everyone, and all the time.

Many Christians have a very limited understanding of Jesus’ historical or social message, and almost no understanding of the Cosmic Christ—even though it is taught clearly in Scripture (see John 1, Colossians 1, Ephesians 1, 1 John 1, Hebrews 1:1). Christ is often taught at the very beginning of Paul’s and other New Testament authors’ writings, yet we still missed it. But you can’t see what you were never told to look for. Once you do see the shape and meaning of this cosmic mystery of Divine Incarnation, you’ll be able to see that the Presence is everywhere—and the archetypal Jesus will not be such an anomaly, accident, or surprise.

God is saving everything and everybody, it is all God’s emerging victory, until, as Paul says, “God will be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28). If Christ is truly the “savior of the world” (see John 4:42), then God’s shape, form, meaning, and message are all far bigger than any single religion. Talking to the intellectual Athenians, Paul is wise enough to say: “God is not far from any of us. It is in him [sic] that we live and move and have our very being” (Acts 17:28).

St. Augustine writes that through love we come to be in “the frame of the body of Christ” so that in the end “there shall be one Christ, loving himself.” [1] You are chosen in Christ (see Ephesians 1:4), and the purpose of being chosen is to let everyone else know that they too are chosen! We are not making a triumphal statement about the Christian religion here, but we are making a triumphal statement about the nature of Divine Love—which will finally win the day!

Loving both Jesus and the Christ is essential to a Christian’s growth and transformation. You might begin with one or the other, but eventually you should be drawn to love both. Too many Christians have started and stopped with Jesus, never coming to know the Universal Christ. Many who are not Christian have started with the Christ by some other name—after all, there is only One God, One Love. I have met Hindus and Jews who live happily and fruitfully inside this hidden Christ Mystery, and I have met many Roman Catholics and Protestants who are running away from any notion of an all-pervading, loving Presence. Their stinginess and exclusivity gives it away.

You can have the right words and not the right experience, whereas if you enjoy the right experience, the right words are of much less importance. God did not become Incarnate Love in the universe to create “word police” and debating societies.

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The Wonder of a Prayerful Soul

A soul which gives itself to prayer, either much or little, should on no account be kept within narrow bounds. Since God has given it such great dignity, permit it to wander at will through the rooms of the castle, from the lowest to the highest.

……Teresa of Avila (Interior Castles)

The writings of the mystic Teresa of Avila are centered on the desire of the soul to reach the heart of the celestial creator. In this short saying, we can gain an insight into her wisdom and thinking. Any Christian Soul journey must be centered in prayer, because prayer is communication with the Almighty. She points out some interesting aspects of our soulful prayer nature.

Prayer is not measured by its length or style. God hears all who come to Him in the simplicity of their approach. The core value is that are we giving our souls to this endeavor. We are living souls, and all souls are called to ongoing and constant communication with God. Whether our prayer is little or much it is dedicated to God and brings blessings.

By its very nature prayer is boundless. Our prayers are not limited by the confines of this world. Desolation fills our souls when we believe that our cause is impossible. God wants us to bring the impossible to Him so that he can show a way to the other side.

We are creations of high regard and should know that God is giving His best to us. Created souls are not limited or relegated to mere existence until we die and find the glory of the kingdom. The kingdom is in the here and now and we are living in the majestic court of the King.

Souls (you and me) who live in the court of the king have “wandering rights” which allow us to soak up the majesty of it all. As we live we see the wonder of nature, the majesty of the sunrise, the awesome nature of our own bodies and the compelling cerebral drive to understand the unknown we thus become fully alive and engaged with God and man. God allows His created souls (you and me) to wander in His majestic court and experience life to the fullest.

Give yourself a chance to wander in the wonder of it all.


Prayer

Lord I come to you today and I am awed by the reality that I am a special creation of your hands. My being is both known by you and treasured by you. Allow me the wisdom to let this wondrous soul that I am wander in your kingdom and search the world over for You.

May I see you in nature!

May I see you in my neighbor!

May I see you in me!

May I rest my soulful eye on the Divine.

Amen

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Celtic Prayer 1

Author Unknown

Author Unknown

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Thoughts on Compassion

Compassion is the ultimate expression of your highest self.

—-Russell Simmons

Verb


My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.

——-Maya Angelou


The Bible on Compassion

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:32

Albert-Einstien

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;

Colossians 3:12

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Prayer

Lord allow me to catch a glimpse of what life would be if we truly had compassion upon one another, Open our minds to the new concept of being a truly compassion. Let us take the advice of the master and engage in compassionate actions this and every day as

AMEN

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My Take on Julian of Norwich

In our world of narrowing down what God does or who he loves, I share with you some of my observations from Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love.

  • God still does miracles. He intervenes actively in our lives. These are usually preceded by very rough times.
  • God cannot be manipulated by prayer. Asking the intercession of saints, and trying to make prayer more effective by citing arguments or mentioning special things or events, are not helpful. Prayer is effective when it is the result of God wanting a person to receive something, and putting the content of the prayer into the person’s mind. Julian seems well-aware that this sounds as problematic as all other accounts of the power of prayer.
  • God still issues calls to individuals. Apparently He does not call the “beautiful people”, whose lives and abilities seem perfect, for special assignments. Instead, he chooses the obviously flawed individuals, peopleJulian-All-is-well who get ridiculed for some reason by others through no fault of their own.
  • Christ reveals Himself to living persons.  When He does, He is always a warm, intimate, and “courteous” friend. This increases their faith tremendously, and they in turn are called to share this revelation with others. Julian was one such person, and she expressed the hope that people would not consider her a celebrity or focus on her, but on Christ.
  • The Jewish people will be saved. Julian asked about the good Jewish people and whether they would be saved. It is clear that she was told “Yes”, because right after she mentions this, she adds a few paragraphs saying how she was sure that nothing in the revelation contradicted anything she’d been taught in church

    Prayer

     

    Lord give us hearts of inclusiveness that allow us to live with people as you love them. The world seeks to splinter and divide your creation and  we know that you came to bring us together and show us a better way.

    You want all who are called to serve you.

    You offer miracles of grace and healing to those who seek them.

    Lets us open our eyes and just see.

     

    Amen


“And in this he showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazel nut, lying Julian-in-her-cell-1in the palm of my hand, as it seemed. And it was as round as any ball. I looked upon it with the eye of my understanding, and thought, ‘What may this be?’ And it was answered generally thus, ‘It is all that is made.’ I marveled how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothing for littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and ever shall, for God loves it. And so have all things their beginning by the love of God.

 

In this little thing I saw three properties.

  • The first is that God made it.
  • The second that God loves it.
  • And the third, that God keeps it.”

—–Julian of Norwich

Read more of about Julian of Norwich

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Sunday Lectionary

Luke 18:1-8

The Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, ‘In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to himtest and saying, “Grant me justice against my opponent.” For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.” ’ And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?’

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