As the deer panteth …

Touching words extracted from a post Touching the Stars by Michelle Franckl-Donnay

We describe prayer as talking to God or listening to God. Yet both these images of prayer let me keep a bit of distance between God and me. I sit on the sofa, God next to me. I look up to the altar or to the heavens, God before me, God above me. But I’m starting to wonder if to pray is in reality to touch and be touched by God. To move toward God, reaching out, and at the same time, to be still, allowing God’s hand to rest upon me. To let go of my boundaries, to be uncertain where I end and God takes up. To be willing to risk letting God within me.

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis urges us to get our hands into the mystery that is God and let it get into us: “If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them.” We are called not just to walk with Christ but to be clothed in Christ, to wrap ourselves up in God.

…    And what do I desire, if not the infinite, invincible, ineffable God, come to dwell within my very ordinary life?

As the deer panteth

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Soul searching

I came across this statement recently in a post by Adrianplass that has me wondering :

“The world is filled with desperate people.  They need Christ, not Christianity.”

Some soul searching going on here.   Am sure I have been one of those who has contributed to separate Christ from Christianity !!

Thank God for the reminder  which I hope will stick with me.   And  thank God for people like Pope Francis who helps us to refocus/re-align with the merciful Christ.

The world needs Jesus, not systems. A real person among real people doing real things. Informal, sometimes bewildering, often captivating and exciting, not very religious, frequently alienating.

Are you man enough …

I came across this poem that gives you ‘knots’ in your stomach.  I am sharing the full  post on http://soulofachristiantriathlete.blogspot.com/2009/03/adrian-plass-poem.html whom I thank profusely for sharing this.

Adrian Plass Poem

 If you are interested on learning more about Adrian Plass, please visit his site at www.adrianplass.com.

When I became a Christian I said, Lord, now fill me in,
Tell me what I’ll suffer in this world of shame and sin.
He said, your body may be killed, and left to rot and stink,
Do you still want to follow me? I said Amen – I think.
I think Amen, Amen I think, I think I say Amen,
I’m not completely sure, can you just run through that again?
You say my body may be killed and left to rot and stink,
Well, yes, that sounds terrific, Lord, I say Amen – I think.

But, Lord, there must be other ways to follow you, I said,
I really would prefer to end up dying in my bed.
Well, yes, he said, you could put up with the sneers and scorn and spit,
Do you still want to follow me? I said Amen – a bit.
A bit Amen, Amen a bit, a bit I say Amen,
I’m not entirely sure, can we just run through that again?
You say I could put up with sneers and also scorn and spit,
Well, yes, I’ve made my mind up, and I say, Amen – a bit.

Well I sat back and thought a while, then tried a different ploy,
Now, Lord, I said, the Good book says that Christians live in joy.
That’s true he said, you need the joy to bear the pain and sorrow,
So do you want to follow me, I said, Amen – tomorrow.
Tomorrow, Lord, I’ll say it then, that’s when I’ll say Amen,
I need to get it clear, can I just run through that again?
You say that I will need no joy, to bear the pain and sorrow,
Well, yes, I think I’ve got it straight, I’ll say Amen – tomorrow.

He said, Look, I’m not asking you to spend an hour with me
A quick salvation sandwich and a cup of sanctity,
The cost is you, not half of you, but every single bit,
Now tell me, will you follow me? I said Amen – I quit.
I’m very sorry Lord I said, I’d like to follow you,
But I don’t think religion is a manly thing to do.
He said forget religion then, and think about my Son,
And tell me if you’re man enough to do what he has done.

Are you man enough to see the need, and man enough to go,
Man enough to care for those whom no one wants to know,
Man enough to say the thing that people hate to hear,
To battle through Gethsemane in loneliness and fear.
And listen! Are you man enough to stand it at the end,
The moment of betrayal by the kisses of a friend,
Are you man enough to hold your tongue, and man enough to cry?
When nails break your body-are you man enough to die?
Man enough to take the pain, and wear it like a crown,
Man enough to love the world and turn it upside down,
Are you man enough to follow me, I ask you once again?
I said, Oh Lord, I’m frightened, but I also said Amen.

Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen; Amen, Amen, Amen,
I said, Oh Lord, I’m frightened, but I also said, Amen.

 

And from me Amen ten times and more … tough Lord but I’ll try.

(PS. In following protocol of sharing the post I mention that the highlights of last verses are mine )

At Calvary …

The years I spent in vanity and pride,
Caring not my Lord was crucified,
Knowing not it was for me He died
On Calvary.

    • Refrain:
      Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
      Pardon there was multiplied to me;
      There my burdened soul found liberty
      At Calvary.

Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span
At Calvary!

The Paradox of the Cross and Christian Freedom

I have posted before my thoughts and questions on Why the Cross in which I asked “What did Jesus come to save us from”.

Whereas I fumbled with my answers   – this post on an Ignatian Spirituality website  (quoted  in its entirety), gives a beautifully simple answer to the question I had posed.

road - freedom theme

Jesus came to set us free. From what?

The kind of freedom Ignatian spirituality preaches is freedom from the attachments, fears, and blockades that inhibit our human flourishing.

One of those blockades, sin, is more than choosing to do wrong. Sin includes operating our lives from a place of fear—preventing us from being our truest selves. Blockades to the freedom of our flourishing are those places in our lives that seem comfortable and safe but in truth keep us stagnant in faith and keep us from our dreams.

For instance, in marriage I might like to keep an escape hatch open so I can get out “just in case.” What seems to be the freedom of keeping options open prevents me from genuine commitment. When the thought of financial freedom keeps me in a job that drains the life from me and does not utilize my gifts, I’m impeded from the freedom of developing my gifts. The fear of change and endless “what-if” scenarios may cause me to freeze in the safety of my current life situation.

The paradox of Christian freedom is that when we take risks and make choices, we don’t restrict our freedom; we increase it. God calls us to have freedom from our fears and attachments so that we may have the freedom for a full life. When we cling to our comfort zone in fear we sin, a sign that the evil spirit is trying to prevent us from fully living out God’s call. We must allow Jesus to lift our burdens from us!

The genuine freedom that comes from following the call of God to let go of the illusory “safe path” leads to greater trust in God and one another. When we let go of unhealthy attachments, fears, and other blockades, we gain the freedom to be our best selves, our most whole selves. And then our dreams can unfold, our relationships can be more trusting, and we can cultivate our gifts and talents in new ways.

Source: The Paradox of Christian Freedom – Ignatian Spirituality

… I’ve found in you, My endless love

Beautiful thoughts and beautiful connection made on love that never ends

Salt of the Earth

undermarysmantledotorg endless love I’ve found in you, My Endless Love.

Today is VALENTINES Day! What a fuss we make of the day. What celebrations! What a lot we spend trying to convince someone we love them!

Have we ever stopped to think what love is all about. Is it the love of a boy for a girl? a husband for a wife? a mother for her child? a teacher for the student? a pastor for his flock. There are so many kinds of love,

The Jesuit Philosopher and Theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin spoke of Love as the energy that moves the universe.

“Love alone can unite Living Beings so as to complete and fulfill them…..for it  alone joins them by what is deepest in themselves. All we need is our ability to love developing until it embraces the totality of men and the earth.”

“Driven by the forces of love the fragments…

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Following Immanuel …

Another Christmas season has just ended.

With great nostalgia and sentiment we recalled the birth in Bethlehem.  We set up mini stables within our churches complete with statues of cattle and oxen and wise men.  For the twelve days of Christmas the baby Jesus lies in a manger to remind us of the Christmas story.

Epiphany – the visit of the Wise Men to the manger – is the official close of the Christmas season.  The decorations are taken down, the tree is packed, and the statues and the Baby Jesus wrapped in newspaper or bubble wrap and put away. We return to the Ordinary Time in the liturgical year whilst in our worship Jesus returns to the Tabernacle.

It often seems to me we are missing something. Something does not seem to fit.  

The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us – ” (John 1.14)

The Lord of all exchanged his glory above for humble surroundings. God desired to live amongst us – not in splendid isolation in the heavens. He did not even, in a sense, remain in the Holy of Holies – the Sanctum in the  temple at Jerusalem built according to His own decree for the Ark of the Covenant.

With the Incarnation, the glory of God -The Shekinah – now resides in Jesus Christ who walked amongst his people.

He had no fixed dwelling place – “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests,  but the son of Man has no place to lay his head” was Jesus’ response to the rich young man. (Luke 9.57).  The message is clear. If you wish to follow Him, you would find Him amongst his people.

Yet ironically we seem determined to put God back where we think He belongs – in cathedrals and temple  edifices. The wise men found him amidst his family and Creation;  Shepherds heeded the call to go to the manger.   We seek Him in buildings of stone.

I do not deny our need for sacred places, sacred spaces, to help us transcend our secular world.  Yet is there a vague possibility that we build our churches to satisfy OUR needs, rather than for the glory of God – the God  who gave up all grandeur  to get his feet dirty and walk amongst us?

As we put away the statue of Baby Jesus  carefully protected with bubble wrap until next year,  let us also not lock Him up in a box in a church.  Rather let us  go out and find him amongst this people  – for he dwells amongst us still.

No crib for a bed ….

Credit : https://manyalaphotography.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/the-son-of-man/#comment-158

Bury me in ….

Seems like a strange topic to write on … but a post by Annarashbrook on the death of her friend Paggy set me thinking.

Anna’s question on the fate of our possessions, reminded me of one of my pet peeves … how I wish to be buried !! 🙂

But let me deal with Anna’s question first.  I have a twin plus two siblings who have six children between them.  Since my twin and I have no direct heirs, we leave everything in trust for ‘the six’ to share as they think fit. ‘Everything’ for me consists of a property and some ‘investments’ to live on since I retired.  Not a fortune but sufficient for the day …

I have no idea how my other day to day possessions will be disposed of.  I do not have much in any case except books, books and more books – theology mainly.  Maybe they might give them to a library or keep them as keepsakes of their aunt, who they teased would be a ‘popess’ 🙂  … MAYBE !!!

Now to my idiosyncrasy – my anathema of local tradition to bury females in a long dress with socks on!  I do not wear long dress and can’t stand to think of being so dressed with white socks.  Uggghs!  But I am yet to see a female corpse in – denims or pants. (It did make me wonder how they dress women in other countries?)

So I have said I would like to be dressed in a sarong: viz. a couple of yards of cloth wrapped round me somewhat like this:  the first an olde world style, and the next a trendier version.

My siblings say it is “not allowed/ nice/ practical/ polite/ ’done’ ” for a corpse to have her shoulders and legs bare … and toes sticking out …  so I have said, in that case, wrap the sarong like a shroud. That should take care of both shoulders and toes 🙂   I could not find a picture to show this except this ‘sculpture’ – which my sister says won’t work either as I will have to die in a seating position!  I suspect she is laughing, but you get the idea …

Option to sarong

Then put me in the cheapest box you can find with no frills or fancy work – just straight chip board box …. and lay me down in the family grave.

That is how I would like to be buried.

Oh …  I took for granted the Catholic rites but with more ‘upbeat’ hymns.  I’ve been thinking that it would  be nice to have a marching band with cymbals clanging and trumpets blowing.  Or at least a whole lot of voices singing lustily and heartily something like Glory Glory Hallelujah – for my life’s hope is that I will be in the presence of my Creator, My Lord  … Transcendent Almighty Triune God.

And I will be finally and totally ONE  – “May all be one.  As you, Father are in me and I in you”  John 17:21

And that I believe is a moment for the greatest celebration of all.

Picture credits : 1worldsarongs.com;   www.3dartistonline.com/

Letting God work on us

Prayer has far more to do with what God wants to do in us than with our trying to “reach” or “realize,” still less “entertain,” God in prayer.

This truth eliminates anxiety and concern as to the success or non-success of our prayer, for we can be quite certain that, if we want to pray and give the time to prayer, God is always successful and that is what matters.

What we think of as our search for God is, in reality, a response to the divine Lover drawing us to himself.  There is never a moment when divine Love is not at work.

This work is nothing other than a giving of the divine Self in love.

The logical consequence for us must surely be that our part is to

let ourselves be loved,
—let ourselves be given to,
let ourselves be worked upon by this great God
and made capable of total union with Him. “

This reflection extracted from Ruth Burrows Essence of Prayer  so closely resembles my Advent wish ‘Receive His Love’  from a different perspective that I thought I would share it as my Christmas post.

My wish for my Christian brothers and people of all faiths is that we will let God – whoever you conceive Him to be – to work on us this Christmas so there is peace on earth,  good will and love amongst men.

See more at: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-spiritual-exercises/an-ignatian-prayer-adventure/week-1/#sthash.4vWR0i0k.dpuf

Why the Cross? A Postscript …

Velazquez_Christ

Philip Yancey in his book ‘The Jesus I never knew’ refers  to speculation by  John Howard Yoder on what might have happened if God had intervened to grant the request “take this cup from me.”

‘ As Yoder reminds us, the cross, the “cup that now seemed so terrifying was the very reason Jesus had come to earth.  Here at the cross is the man who loves his enemies, the man whose righteousness is greater than that of the Pharisees, who being rich became poor, who gives his robe to those who took his cloak, who prays for those who despite-fully use him.  The cross is not a detour or a hurdle on the way to the kingdom.  Nor is it even the way to the kingdom; it is the kingdom come.

Awesome words !!!!

Can we ever  say enough on the wonder of the Cross?  We can only grasp slivers of the truth as we meditate on 1  Corinthians 1.17 cf) .

Photo Credit : http://www.jesus-story.net/painting_crucifixion.htm