Monthly Archives: May 2014

More Basin Theology

It was said of Abba John the Persian that when some evildoers came to him, he took a basin and wanted to wash their feet. But they were filled with confusion, and began to do penance.

— Sayings of the Desert

Sin and guilt are peculiar concepts. Evildoers expect to be treated as such, and when they are surprised, they become confused. The servant attitude of the Abba spoke louder than words, and threw the weight of their sin and guiltmotherteresahelping crashing down upon them. Simply following the example of Jesus and being their servant was too much for them. Evildoers are armed with smooth words and crafty schemes, but the gospel of love renders them helpless. Basin theology, as exemplified by Jesus, is one of the  most power tools for spreading the gospel.

OUR CHALLENGE – Learn to be ready with gospel love and service to all who come our way.

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It All Hangs Together

Someone will say: “You worry about birds. Why not worry about people?” I worry about both birds and people. We are in the world and part of it, and we are destroying everything because we are destroying ourselves spiritually, morally, and in every way. It is all part of the same sickness, it all hangs together.

——Thomas Merton from his Journals

I find Merton’s approach to creation care well worth considering. Far too often care of God’s creation is presented as an “either or choice,” but it is not so simple. We ALL share this planet that was created by God and entrusted, BY HIM, to our care. Many of us are frightened by the changes we see in our world around us. As a ”marsh dweller,” (I live in New Orleans and we are surrounded by marsh land), I find myself very disturbed by the constant loss of this land that protects from tides and hurricanes. There are various answers to the loss of wetlands, but one thread runs through them all, man messed this thing up. For us to properly worry about birds and people, we must take seriously our roles as stewards of the earth.

Stewards are never owners, but always caretakers. They are to exercise their roles for the true owner. In the case of the earth, God is the owner/creator. What is good for the land is always good for the people who dwell on that land.

environmental-cleanupHow different it would be if we saw creation care as vitally linked to our spirituality. Merton makes this link in short order when he tells us that as we go down the road of moral depravity, we destroy the land entrusted to us as well. This all seems to be a part of a “don’t care” attitude that descends upon us when we are in full rebellion against God. Merton seems to propose that as we turn toward God, we will become better stewards of His creation. Now that’s something to think about.

Matthew 6:26 – Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Prayer Thought — Lord make me aware of what I consume each day. Help me to see a link between my spiritual heath and care of your creation. Amen

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Necessary Humiliations

I share this piece from the Center for Action and Contemplation.

By Richard Rhor

Your Loyal Soldier tells you to be socially vigilant: How am I coming across? Will people like me? Will this be acceptable? Will this help me succeed? Your Loyal Soldier can serve you well by giving you some social niceties and protection. But after you’ve lived out of these niceties for years, they become your idealized self, your persona, your chosen public image, your False Self. To protect this image, all the contrary and negative aspects of yourself have to go underground, hidden from others and even from your own awareness. These forgotten and denied qualities make up what many call the “shadow” self.

Frankly, much of the movement from the first half of life to the second half of life is shadowboxing. Shadow work involves facing the negative part of yourself that you’re not proud of, like those hateful thoughts that you have once in a while that you hope nobody knows about. Or recognizing the log in your own eye when you’re confronted with the speck in someone else’s eye. This is humiliating, necessary work in every human life.

When you get your False Self (and the Loyal Soldier who is protecting this self) out of the way, the soul stands revealed. The soul, or True Self, cannot be created or worked for. It is, and it is already. The soul is God’s “I AM” continued in you, the part of you that already knows, desires, and truly seeks God. Ironically, the Loyal Soldier that you mistook for God actually defends you from God! I suspect this is exactly what the Dominican Meister Eckhart (c. 1260–c. 1327) meant when he said, “I pray God to rid me of ‘God’

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Wesley’s Covenant Prayer

In his covenant prayer, which he offered every year at midnight on New Year’s Eve, John Wesley prayed:PrayerEvent1

I am no longer my own but Thine, put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt, put me to doing, put me to suffering, let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee; let me be full, let me be empty; let me have all things, let me have nothing; I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.

As fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ, Wesley’s reminds us that we are not “free agents’ who go about doing whatever pleases us, but are part of something special. Our calling is to make a covenant with God and each other  that carries out the mission of Christ. How do you express your covenant relationship with God and others?

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Rhinos, Unicorns, Evolution, Gay Marriage, and Scripture

The Discerning Christian

Author: Jonathunder; used under GNU Free Documentation License. Author: Jonathunder; used under GNU Free Documentation License.

The odd collection of nouns in the title are related. I promise. Roll with the idea and examine a few related scenarios. If you’ll track with me, I hope you’ll see some inconsistent ways in which we use our reason when religion, especially our interpretation of Scripture, gets involved. In most cases, we apply our reasoning freely — unless we have prior commitments, which cause us to set aside otherwise-sound conclusions in favor of sticking to our guns.

Suppose it is 300 years ago, and there is a European expedition heading into Africa. It has been several centuries, if not longer, since Europeans have ventured beyond the African cities on the Mediterranean coastline. No one quite knows what all lives in the interior of the continent, so this group of explorers sets out to learn about this mysterious land. As…

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God’s Handiwork

If we seek Jesus, the word, we must be able to see Him in the created things around us—in the hills, the fields, the flowers, the birds and animals that He created, in the sky and the trees. We must be able to see him in our contact with nature. Nature is no obstacle to our contact with Him, if we know how to use it.

— Thomas Merton

Seeing God in creation is very natural for some and most challenging for others. The early church had a real problem with pantheism- the worship of nature as God. Fear of pantheism, fostered by well-meaning Christians, tends to negate the contribution of God’s creation to our spiritual development. Merton asserts that the created earth must be a vital part of our pilgrimage.

His most important statement is that nature is not an obstacle to our contact with God if we know how to use it. An essential challenge for us today is to relate God to His creation without making His creation our god. Far too manySwamp Christians see creation care as contrary to their spirituality. There is an unmerited fear that truly seeing God in a sunset or a beautiful flower is contrary to orthodox Christianity. Next time you see something beautiful, give God the glory.

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

–Psalm 19:1

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A Blessing

Candle PrayerMay the peace of the Lord Christ go with you,
wherever He may send you.
May He guide you through the wilderness,
protect you through the storm.
May He bring you home rejoicing
at the wonders He has shown you.
May He bring you home rejoicing
once again into our doors.

—– Northumbria Abbey

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A Sense of Forgiveness

One nun came to Blessed Sarah and said to her: Pray for me, my lady.  – The blessed one said to her: Neither will I have mercy on you nor will God unless you have mercy on yourself, fulfilling the virtues as the Fathers have commanded us.

——-Amma Sarah of the Desert

depressedThe ability to forgive yourself is key to your psychological well-being. Unforgiveness of self causes a wide range of problems. Suicide, addictions and depression are just a few of the many things associated with self-condemnation. Psychologists struggle to develop creative ways to address this issue. Many suffer from a lack of awareness of their problem with this issue. Behavioral professionals, religious and irreligious, know the importance of self-forgiveness. Many corporate hours are spent in seminars that stress the necessity of learning the importance of forgiveness. This endeavor is tremendously costly for the corporate world.

Amma Sara knew about such forgiveness 1500 years ago, and said it was the place to start. God is a God of forgiveness and grace, and we must forgive ourselves in order to receive forgiveness. Our problem with self-forgiveness is that we don’t really believe in grace – that marvelous property of God that allows Him to forgive us even though we are most undeserving. Amma Sarah called the forgiving of ourselves a fulfillment of the virtues that were bestowed upon us by the Creator. Forgiveness, even of our own faults, is a virtue.

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Basin Theology 1

One day a young, newly ordained priest, was having a conversation with a member of his congregation when the parishioner said, “You priests and preachers talk a lot about ‘do unto others,’ but when you get right down to it, it comes down to basin theology.”

The young priest, now very curious, asked, “Basin theology? What’s that?”

The insightful parishioner said, “Remember what Pilate did when he had the chance to acquit Jesus? He called for a basin and washed his hands of the whole thing. But Jesus, the night before his death, called for a basin and proceeded to wash the feet of the disciples. It all comes down to basin theology.”  From Wisdom Stories Blog

Basin theology, what an intriguing though! Life has two choices, one of giving your all to a situation. The other, is avoiding all responsibility. The basins mentioned in the story oJesus and the Basinf Holy Week are diametrically opposed. Jesus took the basin in order to humble Himself and serve others. Pilate used the basin to shirk responsibility.

Our challenge is how do we use our basins? Do we try to cleanse ourselves of responsibility or do we, like Jesus, use them to be servants to others. Take upon yourself the humble servant mentality of Jesus and follow His example as your journey through life.

PRAYER — Lord help me to see the importance of taking up the basin and experiencing the true spirit of Jesus.

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BASIN THEOLOGY

I just could not pass this one up. I plan to comment on it more later.

WISDOM STORIES TO LIVE BY

One day a young, newly ordained priest, was having a conversation with a member of his congregation when the parishioner said, “You priests and preachers talk a lot about  ‘do unto others,’  but when you get right down to it, it comes down to basin theology.”

The young priest, now very curious, asked, “Basin theology?  What’s that?”

The insightful parishioner said, “Remember what Pilate did when he had the chance to acquit Jesus?  He called for a basin and washed his hands of the whole thing.  But Jesus, the night before dis death, called for a basin and proceeded to wash the feet of the disciples.  It all comes down to basin theology.”

Source | Adapted from Craig Larson,
Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching from Leadership Journal
Baker Book House (1997)

CONSIDER THIS

I wonder which basin you and I use most often? Is it the basin of disengagement or…

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