Advent: We Nurture hope in Waiting

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Advent is a season of expectation! In hope, through faith, love divine, Emmanuel whispers;

In hope we wait…..peace is coming!

We remember, the Christmas drama: an unplanned pregnancy, an imperial summons to Bethlehem, nowhere but a stable to give birth….

Yet… in the midst of these challenges…. a promise comes into view and is greeted with: singing angels, praise-filled shepherds, and gift giving wise men.

In hope we wait…Peace is coming!

The Prophets longed for messiah’s arrives. Not quit as expected…

Still…. the refrain has entered human history………

In hope we wait…peace is coming!

It comes in sermons…. it comes in healing’s….. it comes in emancipation great and small…………

In hope we wait…Peace is coming!

It was demonstrated with Christ’s life……. it suffered…died….was buried with him ….then resurrected………..

In hope we wait…Peace is coming!

It is imparted to all who believe……..

In hope we wait…Peace is coming!

All who are Children of God….who are created in the divine image….who understand that whatever you do to the least you do so to God.

 

In hope we are coming in….Peace 

But when it comes to you……it must also flow from you…..for in it… is life!

For the lonely, the anxious, the fearful, the troubled, the broken…..

In hope let peace come

 

This advent season, I exhort you to look beyond wars, personal and public, beyond anxieties…. beyond the uncertainties that surround us……..And raise your voice……. this advent season…in hope….through faith…..let divine love…..announce again with singing angels…. praise filled shepherds…… and gift giving wise men!

Peace is coming!

 

 

Making meaning of prayer

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The Apostle Paul wrote to the early Christian community in Thessalonica the following words.

“We urge you, sisters and brothers, to warn the idlers, cheer up the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure no one repays one evil with another. Always seek what is good for each other, and for all the people. Rejoice always and pray constantly and give thanks in all circumstances…” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

We have a need to pray.  Paul says – “Pray constantly.” I tried to “pray constantly” and frankly it was daunting.   I thought my best praying happened on retreats or those days that I managed to spend hours praying, isolated with God reading singing and praying.  Today, I understand the reason why we pray differently.

How should we make meaning of prayer? I believe Jesus showed us by modeling for us our interconnectedness, as individuals in relationship with God, other and creation. We best understand the role prayer plays in a community of caring.  Not long ago I talked about Facebook as a community of caring where it has become common place to ask or to offer prayer.   I am convinced a face to face community of caring, a healthy church, allows people to engage in ways that Facebook falls short.  In the prayer Jesus taught us he says,” Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  When one thinks of heaven, one would describe it as a place where there is no more pain or tears, everyone knows love and peace and experiences a deep sense of belonging minus hunger, dis-ease, oppression and injustice.  To pray, we are inviting God’s will in heaven to become goodness experiences here on earth.  In its purest form, prayer opens our hearts to God’s eternal presence which interconnects all living things in a spirit of oneness.

John Shelby Spong’s 2001 book, A New Christianity for a New World he writes:

He said: “My actions, my engagement with people, the facing of concrete issues – these became for me the real time of prayer. Prayer came to be identified with my living, my loving, my being, my meeting, my confronting, my struggles for justice, my desire to be an agent of transformation…If prayer is the act of engaging God and if God is the source of life, then my prayer time became my time of engaging life.”

Now here is Spong’s definition of prayer which I now claim for myself.  “Prayer is the way I live, love, struggle and dare to be.” I would add, “We pray for ourselves and each other because of our deep sense of belonging to God and others beckons us.”

Prayer invites us to be awake and aware within and without. The act of prayer is how we become agents of transformation of life, love and being.  Spong says, “For the God I see in Jesus of Nazareth, is revealed in the personhood of everyone. This God is present in the love of everyone. This God is encountered in the being of everyone…This God calls me constantly to be the incarnation of God’s love. I do this…to free the life present in every person, to increase the love available to every person, and to celebrate the being of every person. It is in those actions that I discern the very presence of divine footprints and know that God has been in this place before me and sometimes because of me.”

Prayer then is much more asking and answers.  When we pray we engage in “LOVE” who is God! Rumi said, “We must get out of the circle of time into the circle of LOVE.”  Prayer does just that!  Out of love comes compassion, empathy, a need for justice and peace which opens doors for action. It is written in Scripture: “let us not love in words and speech but in deeds and truth. (1 john: 3:18) The truest form of prayer then is in our actions not just the words that we speak.   In many cases praying is the only way we can respond to life and being.  Prayer is our ability to respond which reveals itself as our “response-ability”.

We make our whole life a prayer when greeting the day awake and aware that “God has been in this place before me and sometimes because of me.” This new understanding allows us to be alert and responsive.  We matter in the big scheme of our interconnectedness with people moving through their day. Prayer allows us to engage in the chaos and creativity of life. Whether encountering  disease, oppression and injustice or the beauty found at the birth of a child, the blooming of a rose, a rainbow after a storm,  all things  help us experience life providing  opportunities to rejoice, pray and give thanks.

LOVE’S POWER MANIFEST

This week Phoenix Affirmation 2: Listening for God’s Word which comes through daily prayer and meditation, through studying the ancient testimonies which we call Scripture, and through attending to God’s present activity in the world;  I invite you to look up these two bible verses: 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 13:12

heart-hands-2When it was time to begin his public ministry, Jesus went into the local synagogue and went forward to read from the Talmud (the Old Testament) .  He opened the scroll and ready from book of Isaiah 35: 4-6:

“Say to those with anxious heart, “Take courage, fear not,   Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save you. Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.”

Jesus went on to show us what can happen when Love is allowed to show itself in its fullness.  Not only were the eyes and ears of the infirmed opened in the physical sense, but eyes and ears are opened in the Spiritual sense transforming lives to this very day.    My personal history has been filled with joys, wonders and overcoming as well as sorrow, pain and struggle.  Over the years I have grown Keenly aware of my interdependent relationship with God and others.  With my spiritual eyes and ears open I can say with confidence, “All things work together for the good, for those who love God and who are called according to His [the Divine] purpose.” (Romans 8:28) My relationship with God empowers me to press on knowing there is a plan with a “future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)  This truth encourages me and allows me to be awake and intentional so that I can discover purpose and meaning, with God, my family of origin, the faith community and the world.

My relationship with God allows me to reflect on the episodes of my life where I can see how ‘LOVE’s [GOD’S] power has been manifesting in me more devotion and more love and compassion.  I Love God and believe God’s revelation of Love is at the core of the Divine nature; out of which flows the truth that leads to justice and mercy and the profound sense of community.

My personal story with all its ups and downs, sufferings and celebrations are a testament to a God who looks upon me as a “beloved daughter.  This revelation is what drives my passion in ministry to be an instrument whereby others may come to realize their own belovedness and dignity as human persons.  Ultimately, if we understand ourselves as belonging to God and that God belongs to us and we belong to each other,  we can remain hopeful when we are in the midst of adversity, loss and betrayal.

What is it that feeds my faith? It is the Holy Scriptures.  I am  fascinated and amazed  by the fact that they are a compilation of legends, myths, histories, prophesies, poems and personal stories, all relating to the reality of God and human existence.  The fact that Jesus went to the scriptures to inform the world of his ministry further gives weight to their importance. When I study the ways people have discerned and interpreted God’s  presence with them, I am often impressed and surprised how the authenticity of  their encounters affirm and confirm what I perceive to be my own encounters with the One who loves beyond measure.  It is for this reason I accept and call the Books of the Bible sacred text.

When I first began reading the Bible, it was daunting because in my ignorance, I had assumed a single person wrote it, in a single lifetime. Then when I found out that It is the only compilation that has many authors and was written over 4000 years of history.  I see God in it because it is still here, still intact and still changing people’s lives.  I see the text from the point of view that God’s greatest desire is for the human family to rediscover that we belong to each other in a community of oneness.  It is with this perspective, that I approach Scripture with a ‘God is still speaking’ mindset. Ultimately, I am looking for the DNA of God where God’s Love is manifested in power and transformation.

What are your sacred texts?  What have been your impressions of the Bible?     All Questions, Doubts and Inquires welcome!!!!

Following the Path of Jesus is a new way of living

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The books in the New Testament were a radically new way of following God than from the Old Testament. In the Old Testament people lived by the law with black and white consequences.  In the New Testament people live by the great commandment: to love God with all your heart… your neighbor as yourself.   When we do this we offer grace, forgiveness and inclusion.  The Old Testament says: If your child disobeys you take them out and publically stone them to death;  or it is an abomination to eat shell fish; or mix two kinds of cloth this was the law. Today we look at these laws in the light of the Good News of Christ.  Thank God! I wouldn’t have survived my adolecent years and I do just love Shrimp!!!  Jesus not only paid the ultimate sacrifice in his death, He paved the way, towards the truth and the life so that we can come into the reality of our belonging and discover what being in relationship with God is truly all about.   The author to second Corinthians 3:6 said it this way, “ The letter of the law kills but the spirit gives life and meaning.” 

Question:  When God looks at us we are not seen as we are but as we shall be. How do you do you understand yourself in the eyes of God?