The World is about to Turn

My soul cries out with a joyful shout that the God of my heart is great,
and my spirit sings of the wondrous things that you bring to the ones who wait.
You fixed your sight on your servant’s plight, and my weakness you did not spurn,
so from east to west shall my name be blest.  Could the world be about to turn?
My heart shall sing of the day you bring. Let the fires of your justice burn. Wipe away all tears,
for the dawn draws near, and the world is about to turn. ~ Rory Cooney, b. 1951 (ELW #723)
Based on the Magnificat

So it begins in two days – the second part of the Love Story.  But it is not only a story; it is a remembrance.   Advent starts on Sunday.  We know that Part 1 –The Old Testament, tells us that God made us after (or during) he made a place for us to live.  The Bible doesn’t really tell us why God made us; God hardly ever tells us why; but does why really matter?  There may, however, be a hint.  We read in Genesis that when God made humans, he called them his best and it was God’s custom to come and visit with them in the evening.  God being Love desired a Lover and He wanted that relationship with those he had made. But he gave humans free will, so the relationship became broken.  See Genesis. After a period of time…..

Love Story, Part II – Being without the restraints of time, God always knew that he would come as a human being, himself, to show us how life is supposed to be lived and to live with us as he once did in Eden.  Jesus’ coming into the world was not Plan B. Disobedience had changed the world and obedience will change it again in the fullness of time.

God looks for the young woman he loves and when he sees her, he says, “Ah, there she is.  It’s time.” (My interpretation).  And suddenly…!  Suddenly, an angel appears to Mary and says, “I have news for you, you lucky girl.  God has chosen you….”  Mary, though confused says, I am God’s faithful servant.  Let it be done to me as you say.”   Where Adam and Eve’s disobedience brought evil into paradise by following the tempter’s suggestions, Mary’s obedience to God’s plan allows a change and the world begins to turn.  Later she sings a song of praise.  Perhaps of thanksgiving. This is the beginning of our return to a relationship with God who has pursued us since the beginning.  Advent is a time of waiting for this in hope.

I wonder about this story as I sit here.  Someone said, and I don’t remember who, that when we say yes to God’s plan for us, our obedience changes the universe.  That is awesome and scary and oh so many more adjectives that I can begin to name, but I plan to ponder this as an Advent discipline. Maybe the reverse is also still true.  What does this say to me?  Will I hear the suddenly of God’s call?  How will I respond?  What will this say to you if you were to ponder with me?

Brian Morykon, in the devotional book Traveling Unfamiliar Pathways said, “But that morning in the coldness of a cave, the blackness of a womb, God traveled somewhere new.  God whose word spoke the world into existence became the Word that was spoken.  The Spirit of God who brooded over the deep entered the deep.  The One who ‘beholds our unformed substance’ emptied himself and became the unformed substance.  Creation was turned on its head.”

Light enters the darkness.  And the Word became flesh….

 ~ Donna

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Holy Day or holiday?

I will give thanks to Thee O Lord among the people. I will sing praises to Thee among the nations. For Thy steadfast love is great.  It is great to the heavens. And Thy faithfulness, Thy faithfulness to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Thy glory be over all the earth. ~ Brent Chambers

I had lunch this week with my great-granddaughter and her mother.  She will be three in a few months and just received her first “big girl” bed – a lovely Minnie Mouse bed.  I had to see this because isn’t she  still a baby? How is this possible? We had a great lunch and enjoyed our time together even though Sarah wasn’t feeling quite up to par.  Good day.  Thank you, Lord.

The drive to visit them always gives me pause if I go slowly enough to notice.  It’s not that I drive over the speed limit, it’s that my mind goes 100 miles an hour.  I try to pay attention so that I can see and, sometimes, hear God’s voice. I want to stay present to the moment as that is the only time we really have.  The past leaves only a memory and the present word has not been spoken.  But in this moment, perhaps I will hear.

Today, there is smog around the edges of the landscape.  An outline of snowcapped mountains can be seen through the haze and vegetation is mostly brown.  The fields are bare and a few patches of snow still remain. At times, in our spiritual lives, smog clouds our vision and we feel barren.  1 Corinthians 13:19 says, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”   The old King James Bible says that “we see through a glass, darkly.” I think of that dark glass. It and the smog cloud my vision.  But the brown fields, although they look barren, are restfully waiting in order to be fruitful when it is time.  I feel their restful waiting in my own soul as I listen, even though I can’t clearly see.

This week is Thanksgiving, so I think about “holidays.” The holidays, and preparation for them have been rushing toward us since shortly after Labor Day and they won’t end until sometime after January 1st, depending if the home team is playing in the Super Bowl. We tend to rush along with the culture in our busy preparations without ever staying in the moment long enough to enjoy the preparations, the day, or without setting any day apart as a “Holy Day” where we can stop, celebrate, and listen for the voice of God.

Advent begins the following Sunday. We can—I can—if I continue to stay in the moment instead of letting my soul be bombarded with hurry, worry and stress, make “Holy Days” out of “holidays.” I can begin with Thanksgiving Day.  We are having dinner with part of our big family which includes many lovely, busy children.  It’s guaranteed to be crazy even as we pause to thank God in all things for his blessings of this past year.  Even so, I hope to rest in the present moment.  I hope to see God in every face, every child’s smile or cry, every barren field and dark glass. I hope that in my resting soul, I will hear his voice.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstance; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” ~  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

A restful, blessed Thanksgiving Day be yours, ~ Donna

Tattered Man Two

I have been meditating on the vision that I wrote about last week.  The “tattered man” has been on my mind.  Often, there are so many meanings to visions. Almost as soon as I pushed the Send button on the computer another image came to me. I saw an image of Jesus as the “Tattered Man.”  Not only do I see a homeless man needing so many things; not only do I search for homeless spaces in my soul, not only do I wonder if you might have spaces, too,  but I see Jesus laying propped against the wall needing bread and water and  a home.

This last week was the feast day of St. Martin of Tours.  Martin was a military man who converted to Christianity and was preparing (a long process) for baptism.  The book, HOLY WOMEN, HOLY MEN, says this about him.  “According to an old legend, while Martin was still a catechumen [preparing for baptism], he was approached by a poor man, who asked for alms in the name of Christ.  Martin, drawing his sword, cut off part of his military clock and gave it to the beggar.  On the following night, Jesus appeared to Martin, clothed in half a cloak, and said to him, ‘Martin, a simple catechumen, covered me with this garment.’”  Martin was eventually baptized, ordained and consecrated Bishop of Tours.  He continued to defend the poor and helpless around him.

The Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 40:34-39) has Jesus telling this story.  I give it with a couple of modifications.  “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”  Jesus might have said, “I was leaning on a wall by a restaurant door and you stopped by to help.”

 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ [When did we see you by the door?]  “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

When I was at Seminary, I was trained by the Vincentians.  The Vincentians believed that God had called them to serve the poor, but not just those that we would call poor – the whole person poor.  They see the “poor” as anyone whose options are limited, not just those who have no money.  Examples:  You need to go to the doctor, but you can’t drive, you’re poor.  You are blind and have limitations, you are poor.  You had surgery and can’t get around – you are poor for the moment.  You are in prison; you are elderly; paralyzed with lots of money – poor.  Alzheimer’s – poor. Can’t walk; bound by addiction; abused – poor.  Grieving – poor.  Don’t know Jesus loves you – poor.  You get the idea.  These are also the tattered people.  These are our neighbors.  These are the ones we are to serve.  Through discernment and prayer we will be able to know how to do this. And we will see the face of Jesus as we serve them.

I wonder what else Tattered Man has to tell me.

Peace and Love,

Donna

Tattered Man

On Wednesday, I met with my monthly “Check-in” group. We talk, in this group, about how it’s going for us as an apprentice of Jesus – what is going well, where we struggle, where God may be calling us, etc. We help each other stay accountable to the journey. Afterwards, we go to lunch.

That morning in Centering Prayer, I tried to still my mind, or at least ignore its chatter for 20 minutes. I struggled to keep from following my mind down numerous rabbit trails, but I got caught on one. I started wondering if I had enough money for lunch. (Sort of an aside – I carry $20 in my purse whose sole purpose is to be given to a beggar who may be asking. When I give this money away, I tell the person that Jesus loves them, and then I let go. It’s God’s problem where it goes. Rarely, I get a check not to do it. I often get a little nudge that I need to give.)

But, as I was considering my purse’s financial situation (I could use that $20), a “movie” started playing in my head. It just dropped in and kept going. This is how it played: My friends and I were leaving the restaurant when I noticed that outside the door, sitting propped against the wall, was a man. He was skinny, ragged and looked in pretty bad shape. His hands lay on his lap where he held a small empty cup. He looked like he hadn’t eaten for some time. I got my money, squeezed it into his hand and said, “Jesus loves you.” I started to leave but I knew I couldn’t. I knelt close to ask if he had a place to go. He shook his head, so I knew he was homeless and I could not leave, but I didn’t know what to do. I asked my friends to go inside and get water and bread. He needed more help than $20 could provide.

I wondered, frantically, if there was anyone I could call to take him to the hospital or a shelter. Should I call the police? I wondered if there was room anywhere for him. I thought, “Is there any room at all in the inn?” I almost felt panicky. I started crying and became aware that, over my shoulder, Jesus was crying, too. Then, as suddenly as it started, the “movie” came to an end.

I sat in my prayer chair and pondered. What does this vision mean? I thought of Lazarus and the rich man, when the rich one walked on by. Is that me? I pondered bread and water. Why not bread and wine—Eucharistic symbols? I heard “the water is living water” like with Jesus and the Samaritan woman in John 4. “Jesus answered [her], ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst…[it] will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 7:38 says, “let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’”

A thought came: “Perhaps the tattered man is you” (meaning me). Do I need living water and bread right now? Are there empty spaces where I need water from the Spirit? Is it getting hard to let Living Water flow from me? Is there room in the inn? Is there room in me? What can I do? I only know to sit silently with Jesus, let him fill me with Spirit water, and never neglect meeting in community—the body of Christ, so I will.

Finally, one last thought, “Maybe the tattered man is you” (meaning you).

Bless you, dear ones.

~ Donna