Category Archives: Mid

Being Saved

We must be saved from immersion in the sea of lies in passions which is called “the world.” and we must be saved above all from the abyss of confusion and absurdity which is our own worldly self. The person must be rescued from the individual. The free son of God must be saved from the conformist slave of fantasy, passion, and convention. The creative and mysterious inner self must be delivered from the wasteful, hedonistic, and destructive ego that seeks only to cover itself with disguises.

~~~ Thomas Merton

When I was a college student someone asked me if I was Christian. I replied, yes. The conversation went further and, he then asked me if I was saved. Though I was vaguely familiar with the terminology, it did not go over too well with me. It was one thing to watch a Billy Graham service on TV and see all those people responding to being saved, than to be challenged to be saved myself. I was an avid churchman. I was friends with my pastor. I read scripture on Sundays. I helped with the distribution of Communion. I just had to be saved, but why did he ask?

This encounter set forth a search that would last for several years and end up with my leaving the church of my childhood and attending seminary. I wanted to be saved, but it seemed that their formula of being saved was too simple and “me” centered. This began what has been a lifelong search for the heart of God. Who is he and how does he relate to me? What do I have to do to discover him? Lets look at those questions for a little while.

Who is he and how does he relate to me? God is my creator, and he created me in his image. I was created to be God’s companion in the midst of the garden. He created me in his image, so that I would be comfortable with him. He put his image inside of me so that I would understand his love and his grace. I can relate to him because I bear his image.

What do I have to do to discover him? That was the hardest question of all. It seemed so simple to just ask him, and I did, but the more I thought about it the more confused I got. Is God really going to condemn so many people to eternal punishment because they did not ask him with a man made formula? They were that salt and light of the world Jesus spoke about with such conviction . At that point, I began to understand what people like Merton were talking about when they said, “We must be saved from immersion in the sea of lies in passions which is called ‘the world’” and that sea of lies could include Pharisaical Christians. That was the true challenge-simply not to be dragged along with the riptide of harshness and worldly pursuits that are so much a part of me.Midweek 11a

Being saved is not a man made formula, but a mysterious “God thing” that no one can control. He once again takes possession of His image in you. Then you see him in everything. It is not enough to simply ask him, you must learn to be his image for the world. His image is one of forgiveness, grace, non -judgementalism and so much more. We can all be saved, and it is much more than waiting for heaven one day.


Prayer

Lord, We all long to be saved. This life we have chosen for ourselves can get very difficult. You have created us in your own image, and we have buried it so deeply in passions, pursuits and hedonism that it is very difficult to find. Help me to let you in and find yourself in me, so that I might know the true meaning of being saved.

Amen

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Take Time to Breathe

Merton #3


Twentieth century existential psychologist Rollo May said, “It is an old and ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way.” The more I think about that statement, the closer I get to full agreement with Dr. May. We often think that the faster we work, the quicker we can solve a seemingly unsolvable problem. How many times do we find ourselves lost in our problems and never stop long enough to evaluate our options? In my life I can recall times that I did not know where I was or what I was doing there, but I continued to busy my life with frantic activity.

Much to our surprise that whole concept was changed about six weeks ago, and we still are trying to wrap our heads around the new normal. We now are staying at home and only doing essential things. I hope that you, as I have, take this time as a period of introspection and renewal. Just as we will be practicing social distancing for the foreseeable future, we should consider allowing ourselves breathing space to pray, think and renew. Let us clear our minds as well as our schedules. Jesus gives some advice.

After a very tiring day of ministry, Jesus said to his disciples, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” He had found himself in a situation where rest was necessary for more ministry to follow. In the same way, we can lose ourselves in good things, works that make a difference, and literally become exhausted and unable to accomplish our goals. In these times we are lost, and hurried activities will not solve our lostness.

We must allow ourselves not only social distancing but breathing space to think, to rest and to find ourselves. Never have I heard a story of a lost person who found his way by moving faster, but often we find our center as we slow down. If you find yourself feeling lost or overwhelmed, take time to do an inventory. Breathing space can make all the difference in the world. We all have been forcibly slowed. Let us not waste this precious time.

I will share a poem from Mary Oliver.

The Summer Day

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean-

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I do not know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall downMary Oliver Midweek #3

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

There has never been a better time to look at our lives than the situation we are in at this moment. Let us take the time to breathe and examine.


Prayer

LORD, I thank you for the breathing space that you have given to me. Let me not waste it being resentful of things that have been taken from me. Rather, let this be my time of discovery and growth. Lead me this day to find something new and grand that I can take with me the rest of my life.

Amen

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