233 – Water – Intention on the Spiritual Journey

Two things came together Sunday that have me thinking about water this week.

First, last Sunday was the celebrated as the “Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.” Many in church listened to the Scriptural accounts of Jesus’ baptism and were encouraged to consider their own baptism and the life that calls us into.

Second, this past Sunday was the running of the First Light Marathon here in Mobile. On that day some 3000 runners participated in a marathon that supports the work of the L’Arche community here. In addition to the runners there are many others who help with the event and on that Sunday I got to be one of those helping. Some very good friends, and family and some new friends were at a water stop near mile five of the run, handing out water and sports drink to the runners.

Scripture not only records for us Jesus’ baptism it also records his words “I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.” (Matthew 25.35). From Jesus’ baptism to our baptism to handing a drink of water to a thirsty runner.

What do you think Jesus had in mind when as he described the marks of his disciples and included in their actions “giving … something to drink”?

As disciples we enter the waters of baptism. Yes? As disciples we reach out to quench the thirst of those around us. Yes?

Water – what do you think it has to do with the Christ-like life? What does it have to do with being a disciple of Jesus?

Charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

 

232 – An Ordinary Day – Intention on the Spiritual Journey

How about you?  Are you back to your ordinary routine after the holidays?  As the first post-holiday week rolls around are you glad all the extra activity is past?  Does it feel good to be back to “normal”?  Or, are you a little let down?

Maybe we need an little encouragement to pay attention during these ordinary, normal, routine (maybe boring?) days.  Recently some words from Frederick Buechner gave me the encouragement I needed,

I discovered that if you really keep your eye peeled to it and your ears open, if you really pay attention to it, even such a limited and limiting life as the one I was living on Rupert Mountain opened up onto extraordinary vistas. Taking your children to school and kissing your wife goodbye. Eating lunch with a friend. Trying to do a decent day’s work. Hearing the rain patter against the window. There is no event so commonplace but that God is present within it, always hiddenly, always leaving you room to recognize him or not to recognize him, but all the more fascinatingly because of that, all the more compellingly and hauntingly. . . . If I were called upon to state in a few words the essence of everything I was trying to say both as a novelist and as a preacher, it would be something like this: Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.  ( http://www.frederickbuechner.com/content/life-itself-grace )

If you approached each day as a “fathomless mystery” what might you find in front of you?  What might you see? What might you hear?  What grace might you encounter? And what grace might you be able to bestow on another?

“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”

Where will grace next surprise you?

Charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

231 – Spirituality – Intention on the Spiritual Journey

When I came across these words of Frederick Buechner, I couldn’t help but think he correctly identified one of the real dangers associated with spiritual disciplines.  If we let our concern for our “spirituality” draw us away from our life as part of God’s creation, we have probably started to take the incarnation with less seriousness that it demands.

Where does Buechner’s challenge find you?

 “The Word became flesh,” wrote John, “and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). That is what incarnation means. It is untheological. It is unsophisticated. It is undignified. But according to Christianity it is the way things are.

All religions and philosophies which deny the reality or the significance of the material, the fleshly, the earth-bound, are themselves denied. Moses at the burning bush was told to take off his shoes because the ground on which he stood was holy ground (Exodus 3:5), and incarnation means that all ground is holy ground because God not only made it but walked on it, ate and slept and worked and died on it. If we are saved anywhere, we are saved here. And what is saved is not some diaphanous distillation of our bodies and our earth but our bodies and our earth themselves. Jerusalem becomes the New Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven like a bride adorned for her husband (Revelation 21:2). Our bodies are sown perishable and raised imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:42).

One of the blunders religious people are particularly fond of making is the attempt to be more spiritual than God.

From: Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking, p 55 ( www.frederickbuechner.com/content/wishful-thinking-page-55 )

Charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

230 – Manger and Kingdom – Intention on the Spiritual Journey

I saw these lines from a Christmas sermon of Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the Jesus Creed blog a couple of months ago.  I trust you don’t mind my sharing this on Christmas Eve.

Bonhoeffer covers a lot of ground in these few sentences.  As you read his words consider how he confirms your celebration of Advent and Christmas and how his words challenge you.

D. Bonhoeffer, Christmas Night sermon, 25 December 1940 (DBW 16.616).

It is no longer a worldly throne and kingdom as it once was but a spiritual throne and kingdom.

Where are Jesus’ throne and kingdom?

They are where he himself is present, reigns, and governs with his word and sacrament, in the church, in the congregation….

We are called into this kingdom. We can find it, within the church, in the community of the faithful, when we receive the word and sacrament of the Lord Jesus Christ and submit to his authority, when we recognize the child in the manger as our Savior and Redeemer and let him bestow on us a new life grounded in love.

From: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Works, v 16, p 616, “Christmas Night Sermon, 25 December 1940”.

Charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

229 – Imperfect – Intention on the Spiritual Journey

What do you want for Christmas?

How many times lately have you been asked that question? Or, how many times have you asked that question of family, friends and co-workers?  What answers do you hear?

Recently these words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer came to my attention,

The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come.

So, if I ask what do you want for Advent, would you echo Bonhoeffer’s sentiment that you want to know yourself as troubled, poor and imperfect?  Want to know something is missing and something greater is to come?

It does not seem to me that our prevailing culture encourages such sentiment.  But does Advent encourage us to walk that path?  Does the Gospel encourage us to ask those questions of ourselves?

Bonhoeffer’s words bother me.  But also push me to acknowledge where I am, to seek what draws me on, and find a way to follow that path.

Where do his words find you?

Charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

Source of quotation: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons (and found at http://www.plough.com/en/daily-dig/even/december/daily-dig-for-december-2 )

228 – Worthiness – Intention on the Spiritual Journey

Of all the writers I have read and reread, Thomas Merton ranks for me as one of the most important, influential, and challenging.   Today is marked on many calendars as a day to remember Merton and consider what he can offer us today.

I invite you to make time today to give attention and consideration to these words of his,

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.

Charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

 

227 – Ordinary Acts – Intention on the Spiritual Journey

Thomas Moore suggests,

The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.

Thanksgiving Day has come and gone for another year.  Now our “sights” are set toward Christmas.  What does that do for us?  Does it get us distracted?  Distracted from the small things, the simple things that happen every day, very near us that can be filled with holiness?

Maybe Moore’s counsel is good for us to hear.

I wonder what “ordinary acts” today hold more than we typically notice?

Charles

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

 

226 – Praise – Intention on the Spiritual Journey

One day away from Thanksgiving Day, 2014. How are doing? Do you need to go to the store again? Any housecleaning yet to do? Will it all get done? Well, one way or the other Thanksgiving Day will arrive and we make of it what we will.

Over the past few weeks I hope you have been getting not just you panty ready but also your spirit. Maybe the quoutes and thoughts offered here (and at commonplacebook.discipleswalk.org) have helped some.

Consider for a few moments today these words from P. Joel Snider,

Praise differs from thanksgiving, which is offered for a specific reason or a particular gift. Praise does not depend on any single deed or gift of God. It is a prayer, chorus, or hymn directed to God out of endless wonder from our endless discovery of who God is.

Praise goes beyond thanksgiving to express our amazement at God’s concern for us that exceeds our expectation, merit, or imagination. Thus, praising God begins in surprise. God provides more. God is more than we had hoped or dared to imagine.

(From: P. Joel Snider, The Upper Room Disciplines 2015: A Book of Daily Devotions, reading for June 3, 2015, p 166)

Does that register with you? Is there a movement that can happen from being thankful for a thing or person or event to praise? to wonder? to endless discovery?

What surprises will you encounter today and tomorrow as you offer thanks and praise?

Charles

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

Follow all the posts for Thanksgiving 2014 at –
http://commonplacebook.discipleswalk.org/tag/thanksgiving-2014/

225 – Perspective – Intention on the Spiritual Journey

Have you found some time over the last few weeks to “prepare” for Thanksgiving Day this year?  You know I don’t mean making your menu and buying the “fixings” for the big day, don’t you?

Those things are important but so is a spirit of thankfulness and gratitude.  It helps us to recall what is meaningful in our lives and what makes our lives meaningful.  As we call those to mind, we can often see things in a better light.

I recently came across these words from Henri Nouwen,

Perhaps nothing helps us make the movement from our little selves to a larger world than remembering God in gratitude. Such a perspective puts God in view in all of life, not just in the moments we set aside for worship or spiritual disciplines. Not just in the moments when life seems easy.

What has helped you over the last weeks to make the move Nouwen describes?

What helps you see God “in all of life” and not just in those moments you set aside for God?
What helps you see God in both the easy and hard times and see God as more than a means out of the hard times?
When you remember “God in gratitude,” what fills your heart and mind?

Charles

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

Follow all the Thanksgiving 2014 posts at http://commonplacebook.discipleswalk.org/tag/thanksgiving-2014/

224 – The General Thanksgiving – Intention on the Spiritual Journey

In the Book of Common Prayer (p 101) at the close of Morning Prayer the following prayer is offered.

Some of you are familiar with liturgical prayers and for some it is something out of your usual experience. In fact, you may have come along (as I did) in a church that had few if any good words to offer about “written” prayers. If the latter was your case, I urge you try on these words and see what draws you.

Why don’t you offer this prayer each morning for the next week and notice which parts of it resonate in your soul. When you find that connection, stay with it and focus on that. If it does not draw you, offer a prayer of support for those who find it a natural part of their prayer language.

Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all whom you have made.

We bless you for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.

And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to your service,
and by walking before you
in holiness and righteousness all our days;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

Charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

Follow all the Thanksgiving 2014 posts at CommonPlace Book .