Archive | November, 2012

Austerity Measures?

25 Nov

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for Reign of Christ Sunday 25 November 2012

Austerity Measures?

I have felt really stumped (for days now) on what I could possibly say fresh for this Reflection.  The lectionary lessons are on God’s justice ruling the people (2 Sam 23:1-7), the flow of the way God works (Ps 132:1-18), when “an Ancient One took his throne” and the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened (Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14 [Why did the Lectionary Barons omit 11-12?]); the majesty of God’s strength (Ps 93); Revelation 1:4-8 where grace is dispensed on us by the blood of Christ and we are made a kingdom ~ priests serving His God and Father.  And the Gospel Lesson is from John 18:33-37 where Pilate asks, “Are you the King of the Jews?” (Jn 18:33)

Well?

God is not personal to Pilate.  The tragedy, however, is not lost on him that Jesus’ own homies handed Him over.  (v 35) 

“What have you done?” Pilate asks. (v 35)

My own situation is no different.  God is not personal to the Church-as-Institution.  Jesus did not seem to be King of the Jews to Pilate any more than He seems to be King of the Gentiles to the Church.  The Church-as-Institution has consistently replied, “I am not a Christian, am I?  Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” (Jn 18:35)  

This week, after yet another failed attempt to gain understanding from one of my old homies as we circled the wagons yet one more time on the original issue from the very beginning of my journey, suddenly a floodlight (not just a light bulb) went on in my own soul.  My whole quest condensed down into one statement.  I said: “I believe you may not understand me completely.  I am seeking sanctuary, not a savior.”  The Church, like the government, has the laws as structures already in place to provide and guide the natural and the physical.  The laws simply must be applied.  What the Church has not yet been able to provide is the spiritual and emotional sanctuary; the receptive, open, welcoming, loving, and merciful heart which is true sanctuary, and what then gives access to the physical sanctuary.

Jesus addresses this.  What amazes me from today’s Gospel lesson is that Jesus doesn’t answer Pilate’s (or our) question directly but speaks to His Father’s Kingdom (not just the Jewish kingdom, even though He was a Jew.)  How magnificent that even under such pressure Jesus still kept His focus on God’s Kingdom!  (Only Someone who had the Kingdom anointing within Himself, could keep His focus on the Kingdom that consistently.)

Pilate: “So you are a king?” (v 37)

Jesus: “You say that I am a king.” (v 37)

It strikes me as powerfully significant that in the last sentence in this verse, Jesus says, “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to My voice.”  Is that not what identifies a true king?  Anyone can call themselves a “king,” but the real truth in kingship is identified in the people who follow him (or cower from him.)  King Arthur and King David had great fan clubs because the people saw and recognized the authenticity and truth of their leaders.  And today?  We have no trustworthy leaders.  There are many (did I say MANY?) varieties of “Pilates” who seem to be running around like squirrels squeaking, “Who do you say that I am?  But I really am!  Look at my portfolio, but don’t look at the skeletons in my closet!  Surly, not I! (Mt 26)  If we just crush the people with more austerity measures, then we’ll instill submission into them, because we have the mysterious deep pockets and then we’ll make sure they have forced medical (and spiritual?) care so we can be their “savior” and keep them drugged through the effects of the stress and oppression, which we are putting them through!  Don’t you love it?  Pharaoh did the same thing and look at the pyramids he made on the backs of forced labor!”  The squirrels are not Christ.  The words of Christ breathe Spirit and Life.  (Jn 6:63)  They breathe Truth that is not forced.

I came across a wonderful reflection by Thomas Merton from “A Vow of Conversation:”

““Wherever I stand is all the truth.”  This [phrase] hit me with great force.  My meditation has been building up to this.  (Awareness, for instance, that doubt arises from projection of the self into the future or from retrospection and not grasping the present.  He who grasps the present does not doubt.)

     To be open to the nothingness which I am is to grasp the All in who I am.”[1]

What a contrast to the squirrels’ messages.  To be present in God’s presence without a shred of doubt is one of the greatest testimonies to His kingship!

Thomas Merton wrote about the Kingdom when he said:

“The judgment: those who have turned their hate against God have in reality destroyed themselves in striving, in their own manner, to assert themselves.  The way to “being” is then the way of non-assertion.  This is God’s way.  Not that He has a way in Himself, but it is the way He has revealed for us, revealing Himself as the way.  “I am the way,” said Christ.”[2]

This doesn’t mean we don’t assert ourselves at all and become doormats along the way.  The global scene of “Austerity Measures” gives living proof of what happens when good people do nothing.  However the way of “Non-assertion” means balance: It means not crossing the line into forceful bullying after one has tried and given their best.  It means surrendering to prayer and letting God do what He does best in the Eucharistic flow of Bless—Break—Share—Bless.  We are supposed to speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives FREEDOM (James 2:12) not by the law of austerity.  Mercy is central to the way of freedom.  My situation is no different than all the nations all over the world screaming “Relief!” from the endless “Austerity Measures” imposed on the nations by the institutions of every ilk.  According to Longman Business English Dictionary, ‘Austerity Measures’ is defined as:

“An official action taken by a government in order to reduce the amount of money that it spends or the amount that people spend.”

“The most common example of “austerity measures” occurs when a sovereign government’s bond rating is downgraded. This makes borrowing more expensive, and usually forces the government to impose these new measures.”[3]

If individual people would/could cross each other’s borders and barter their God-given gifts of what they were good at (and even the refugees, as I also include myself in this group,) then the yoke would be lifted and the politicians (and priests) would/could wake up and serve the people and not the gods of the institutions.  But this bartering may not be forced.  It must be shared.  Shared in mutual respect.  Money would not be done away with.  It would just serve at a different level to help the world heal in their appropriate markets.  In the meantime individual needs would be met person-to-person.  We can do this by following the Voice of Jesus the King within us. (Jn 18:37)

This applies not just to the world but to the Church as well.  For those who don’t know the ranking, the pecking order in the Church from bottom to top is: laity (ground floor servants of the Church,) monks, priest/pastor, bishop, (plus cardinals and pope for the Catholics, and the buck stops with the archbishop in the Anglican Church.)  This past week the Anglican bishops in England voted (again) NOT to allow women priests to be bishops[4] (regardless if they are called by God to be bishops.)  Now, for clarity’s sake, women are allowed to be bishops in the Episcopal Church in America.  In fact, the head bishop is a woman. However in the Catholic Church women cannot be priests let alone bishops.  (Before you get a bee in your bonnet, please note that there are different rules in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and even in various Jewish practices, where some allow women to be rabbis and other stricter branches do not.  Just so, there’s no finger-pointing.)  In the long run, it really doesn’t matter who’s at the top of the food chain.  If each individual person were living their divine, sacramental, holy ordinary life following the Voice of King Jesus within themselves, then we would be allowing Him to be in control.  When Christ’s voice is not the one in control of our lives, then the result is the spirit of Control being out-of-control. 

I can use myself as an example of what it is like to be on the receiving end of this ugly, controlling spirit.  Being a “bottom feeder” myself, I can vouch with my own life that due to the spirit of Control having gone awry, run amok, running interference, and exhausting all energy and enthusiasm, I can truthfully say, personally, by living example, that I have not received communion (the kind that makes my soul feel like I have had communion) since Easter Sunday 2012.  On the surface that may not seem like a big deal.  But to me it is a big deal.  To a priest it should be a big deal and should stir concern beyond the ego-self.  In truth, this hiatus since 08 April 12 is only because a spirit of Control is blocking the way.  The spirit is not human, but it does influence humans.  It is the same spirit that bit Pharaoh and wouldn’t allow him to follow his own desires to let Israel go unmolested as he had promised (Ex 12:31), but then changed his mind because of the influence of this spirit of Control, and he couldn’t follow through on that promise and chased them to the Red Sea [symbolic of blood?] saying, “What have we done?  We let them go and lost their services!” (Ex 14:5) 

In another relevant example, I hear more and more frequently a demonizing of technology.  Drawing this general concept to a personal, manageable level, I can say that the baseline premise here for me is this: What I write is sent out via technology.  But that doesn’t make me a demon.  Technology is a tool to get the message out, but the spirit of Control is blocking the way.  I have been told that the people themselves are starving for a spiritual word.  It’s not the media’s fault (as if there was a need to find fault for our state of affairs (and affairs going down in the State of the (Dis-) Union)) for this discrepancy between my writing and it not getting out to the people.  It is a spirit of Control that is out-of-control, which has thrown everything out of balance.  Fault-finding and finger-pointing deflects the internal pain, sorrow, and fear away from ourselves and projects it on to an external god who doesn’t care.  This god of Control relishes in austerity measures of every kind so that the life blood of Joy and the sweet measures of Abundance are oppressed.  True: There is an Art to losing control.  It takes balance and a lot of prayer.  To really love, we have to let go of what we love so that God has the opportunity to bring it back if it is good for us.  Simplistic?  Yeah.  We are the instruments of His love.  Love is not forced.  Together we are the Cosmic Christ because we learned it from Him and are His hands, feet, and heart.

Prayer:  Lord, in today’s world, we are flooded on all sides, surrounded by oppression and deception.  The floods have lifted up; the floods are lifting up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. (Ps 93:3)  In this Christmas season of consumption, gluttony, and excess, the seven vile spirits counter the seven spirits before God’s throne (Rev 1:4).  It is the favorite season for the spirit of Control to tighten an even more intense vice grip of control as it spins further into being out of control.  In this demented season, Discernment and Wisdom are typically replaced with rage and willful attitude.  Lord, I have no staff like Moses to put in the Red Sea of spiritual blood, but I do have a voice and I speak to the Black (and the Red).  I speak to the churning waters.  I speak to the death grip of Control: “Be not afraid, o Wisdom, come out; Be calm, o torrents of stress; Discernment, do not hide; Be at peace, o rivers of Truth.  Let us go, spirit of Control!  Let us go, spirit of Arrogance!  Let us go, spirit of Greed!  Let us go, you seven deadly vices!  Christ, O King, Your Voice is more majestic than the thunders of these other mighty waters, more majestic than the waters of these insurmountable “seas” we are all up against. (ref Ps 93:4) 

Lord, You have not just made FOR us a kingdom, but called us to BE a kingdom of priests; priests to honor and bless the sacred in the holy ordinary.  You have made us to be a kingdom, a priesthood serving our God and Father. (Rev 1:6)  You are the Faithful Witness. (v 5)  You’ve seen everything first-hand (and not by hearsay) because You are, You were, and You are to come. (v 4)  The seven spirits before Your throne (v 1) were also sent to the Seven Churches and they, too, bear witness: Perseverance to Ephesus and she did hang in there, Faithfulness to Smyrna and she kept her faith, Grace to Pergamum when action vaporized, Service to Thyatira when she lost her focus, Missions to Sardis when the “mission statement” became the driving motto (and the emphasis was on the driving,) Honesty to Philadelphia when her mind was made up, Faithful and True Witness to Laodicea, who saw it all.  Amen.  The seven spirits know, and so do the Seven Churches.  As with Pilate, we cannot just mouth the words, “So, You are a king?” (Jn 18:37)  It must be personal knowledge of Your kingly Spirit within; a personal encounter where Your Truth and Your realness is “heard” within our own souls.  Lord, Your very life bore witness and testified to the Truth of God’s eternal love in the Alpha and Omega (Rev 1:8) which circles and swoops around back into the present day one more time.  Man only knows the love of his Brotherhood and will give all he has to preserve his own skin. (Job 2:4)  Without the intervention and infusion of Your Spirit, the words mean nothing, and the spirit of Control has the vice grip.  Extract the spirit of Control and banish it to the abyss!  Please release the flood gates of Your Holy Spirit to set us free.  Lord, from Your own mouth You spoke these words:

John 6:63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.

These are more than just lively words.  Lord, as You proceed to “open the books” (ref today’s Lectionary from Daniel 7:10), please remember Your mercy.  The Seven Churches did a remarkable job of listening to the seven spirits before Your throne (Rev 1:4), and You were the One Who sent them to the Seven Churches.

Psalm 132:9 Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let your faithful shout for joy.

132:10 For your servant David’s sake do not turn away the face of your anointed one.

May Your act of redemption stir in our hearts Your forgiveness of us and us to each other as You make Love Your dwelling place in us. (Ps 132:5)  Make in us Your everlasting covenant which is ordering all things and making us secure. (2 Sam 23:5)  Even though the tides are turned now and You are the One asking us what Pilate had asked You: “What have you done?” (Jn 18:35), and this question was similar to what Pharaoh had asked when he let the Israelites go saying, “What have we done?  We let them go and lost their services” (Ex 14:5), so I speak to the Tides.  May courtesy, gentleness, kindness, mercy, sharing, and looking at the gifts each one is good at, be the focus of our generosity, and not the source of more abuse.  Redeem Your people again, O God.  May we always hold court in Your loving presence, and worship at Your footstool. (Ps 132:7)  As the Truth comes out, may everyone who belongs to the Truth, listen to Your Voice. (Jn 18:37) 

Lord, You promised that the “books would be opened.” (Dan 7:10, Rev 20:12)  Today is “The Reign of Christ Sunday” on the mainline Church calendar.  God, please shatter this dysfunctional, demonic, cruel, and sickening silence of the Church.  You have already announced Your Faithful and True Witness. (ref Rev 3:14)  And still the dysfunctional silence…

[cough] …

continues …

[Was that an elephant in the living room?] …

and continues … 

As we hold court in today’s red, green, blue, silver, gold, and black glitz with Your Truth staring us in the face, please break through with Your Voice, Your Revelation, and Your Justice IN ACTION, as You wear Your holy black court robes of a righteous Judge honored in the red blood of Your Son’s sacrifice and the offerings of Your martyrs, who gave up their lives not thinking about themselves but were completely in love with You at all cost to themselves.  Please heal the very real wounds of the Seven Churches.  Inspire us all to do what You have called us all to really do in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.  Inspire and show everyone that this is not just some ethereal, mythological, or philosophical journey, but that this journey is real.  Please show beyond a shadow of a doubt, Father, how You reign.  Amen.

 

Reign of Christ Sunday          25 November 2012                             Gospel: John 18:33-37

2 Samuel 23:1-7
23:1 Now these are the last words of David: The oracle of David, son of Jesse, the oracle of the man whom God exalted, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the favorite of the Strong One of Israel:

23:2 The spirit of the LORD speaks through me, his word is upon my tongue.

23:3 The God of Israel has spoken, the Rock of Israel has said to me: One who rules over people justly, ruling in the fear of God,

23:4 is like the light of morning, like the sun rising on a cloudless morning, gleaming from the rain on the grassy land.

23:5 Is not my house like this with God? For he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure. Will he not cause to prosper all my help and my desire?

23:6 But the godless are all like thorns that are thrown away; for they cannot be picked up with the hand;

23:7 to touch them one uses an iron bar or the shaft of a spear. And they are entirely consumed in fire on the spot.

Psalm 132:1-12, (13-18)
132:1 O LORD, remember in David’s favor all the hardships he endured;

132:2 how he swore to the LORD and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob,

132:3 “I will not enter my house or get into my bed;

132:4 I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids,

132:5 until I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”

132:6 We heard of it in Ephrathah; we found it in the fields of Jaar.

132:7 “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool.”

132:8 Rise up, O LORD, and go to your resting place, you and the ark of your might.

132:9 Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let your faithful shout for joy.

132:10 For your servant David’s sake do not turn away the face of your anointed one.

132:11 The LORD swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: “One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne.

132:12 If your sons keep my covenant and my decrees that I shall teach them, their sons also, forevermore, shall sit on your throne.”

132:13 For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his habitation:

132:14 “This is my resting place forever; here I will reside, for I have desired it.

132:15 I will abundantly bless its provisions; I will satisfy its poor with bread.

132:16 Its priests I will clothe with salvation, and its faithful will shout for joy.

132:17 There I will cause a horn to sprout up for David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed one.

132:18 His enemies I will clothe with disgrace, but on him, his crown will gleam.”

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
7:9 As I watched, thrones were set in place, and an Ancient One took his throne, his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, and its wheels were burning fire.

7:10 A stream of fire issued and flowed out from his presence. A thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him. The court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.

7:13 As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him.

7:14 To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed.

Psalm 93
93:1 The LORD is king, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed, he is girded with strength. He has established the world; it shall never be moved;

93:2 your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting.

93:3 The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring.

93:4 More majestic than the thunders of mighty waters, more majestic than the waves of the sea, majestic on high is the LORD!

93:5 Your decrees are very sure; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.

Revelation 1:4b-8
1:4b Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne,

1:5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood,

1:6 and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1:7 Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen.

1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

John 18:33-37
18:33 Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”

18:34 Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?”

18:35 Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?”

18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”

18:37 Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”


[1] Lawrence S. Cunningham, ed.; Thomas Merton: Spiritual Master, The Essential Writings; NY: Paulist Press, 1992; (from an excerpt from “A Vow of Conversation”) p 207

[2] Ibid; Thomas Merton: Spiritual Master, (from an excerpt from “A Vow of Conversation”) p 212

The Thanksgiving Flowers

22 Nov

Kathryn Hauser’s Special Reflection for Thanksgiving Day 22 November 2012

The Thanksgiving Flowers

Mt 6:30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you–you of little faith?

Since we have little faith, does that mean the grass has much faith?

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin,…” (Mt 6:28)  Now humans?  That’s a different story.  We know grinding servitude by serving idols.  Even the grind of escapism and torpor is just another form of grinding servitude of a different variety.  With serving God there is balance.

And the service of flowers?

Matthew 6:29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.

I offer you an excerpt from Thomas Merton: Spiritual Master, from the chapter entitled, “Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander:”

“Beauty of sunlight falling on a tall vase of red and white carnations and green leaves on the altar of the novitiate chapel.  The light and dark.  The darkness of the fresh, crinkled flower: light, warm and red, all around the darkness.  The flower is the same color as blood, but it is in no sense whatever “as red as blood.”  Not at all!  It is as red as a carnation.  Only that.

This flower, this light, this moment, this silence: Dominus est.  Eternity.  He passes.  He remains.  We pass.  In and out.  He passes.  We remain.  We are nothing.  We are everything.  He is in us.  He is gone from us.  He is not here.  We are in Him.

All these things can be said, but why say them?

The flower is itself.  The light is itself.  The silence is itself.  I am myself.  All, perhaps, illusion.  But no matter, for illusion is the shadow of reality and reality is the grace and gift that underlies all these lights, these colors, this silence.  Underlies?  Is that true?  They are simply real.  They themselves are His gift.

The simplicity that would have kept these flowers off this altar is perhaps less simple than the simplicity which enjoys them there, but does not need them to be there.

And for the rest, whatever is said about it is nothing.”[1]

I give great Thanks.

 

Thanksgiving Day                   22 November 2012                             Gospel: Matthew 6:25-33

Joel 2:21-27
2:21 Do not fear, O soil; be glad and rejoice, for the LORD has done great things!

2:22 Do not fear, you animals of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness are green; the tree bears its fruit, the fig tree and vine give their full yield.

2:23 O children of Zion, be glad and rejoice in the LORD your God; for he has given the early rain for your vindication, he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the later rain, as before.

2:24 The threshing floors shall be full of grain, the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.

2:25 I will repay you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent against you.

2:26 You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame.

2:27 You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I, the LORD, am your God and there is no other. And my people shall never again be put to shame.

Psalm 126
126:1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.

126:2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”

126:3 The LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.

126:4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the watercourses in the Negeb.

126:5 May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.

126:6 Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.

1 Timothy 2:1-7
2:1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone,

2:2 for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.

2:3 This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,

2:4 who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

2:5 For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human,

2:6 who gave himself a ransom for all–this was attested at the right time.

2:7 For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

Matthew 6:25-33
6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

6:27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?

6:28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin,

6:29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.

6:30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you–you of little faith?

6:31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’

6:32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

6:33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.


[1] Lawrence S. Cunningham, ed.; Thomas Merton: Spiritual Master, The Essential Writings; NY: Paulist Press, 1992; p 135-136

“…Something Borrowed, Something Blue”

18 Nov

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 25 After Pentecost 18 November 2012

“…Something Borrowed, Something Blue”

I’ve got the Wedding Motto Blues.  Lord?  Conversation, please.  

Me: Jesus, my Husband, may I have a word with You?

Jesus: Of course.  What’s on your heart?

Me: You know I love You.  Because I love You, I must be honest with You.  To tell You the truth, I am angry.

Jesus: Why?

Me: You’re smiling when You ask why!  Why?!  I’ll tell You why!  Because I am feeling jealous at the root of my anger, because [!] the sun has gone down.  (ref Eph 4:26)  You told the modern prophets the same wedding motto that You courted me with back at the beginning of our relationship:

“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”[1] 

Back at the beginning of this journey You’d asked me to share the whole courtship, the “Burning Bush,” the Tribunal, the fall in, the fall out, all of it, the whole relationship journey just as You told me to do.  Like Hannah at Shiloh (Lord, You remember Shiloh, the place of the seat of the Ark of the Covenant? (1 Sam 1:9; 1 Sam 4:3)) I poured out my heart to You!  I made my vows to You. (1 Sam 1:11)  I didn’t make my vows to poverty.  I made my vows to You!  (And You just led me down the path to meet Lady Poverty.)  I didn’t make my vows to the bishop or to anyone else but to You!  You heard me just as You heard Hannah.  I even received from my priest a similar blessing that Eli gave to Hannah:

1 Sam 1:17 Then Eli answered, “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.”

The “male child” in Hannah’s case (v 11) was birthed as Samuel out of her barren womb. In my case You “birthed” the “male child” that You immediately snatched up to God and to His throne. (Rev 12:5)  This was a spiritual/mystical thing that happened.  That doesn’t go down on a résumé very well.  I can’t borrow from something else to explain even to myself what You did back in those church gardens.  All I know is that I didn’t create the Church-as-Institution.  I didn’t “birth” it.  I didn’t even create this attitude of the Institution’s to “rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” (Rev 12:5)  The Institution had that attitude and mindset long before I came along!  And yet You still told me to “share the journey” starting in “Jerusalem.” (Acts 1:8)  Obviously my “Jerusalem” is Southern California, and it started at the Episcopal Church.  Lord, You gave me the same Great Commission that You gave to everyone else.  I complied to the best of my abilities.  I “worshiped You” and “shared the journey,” just like You told me to do.  And now?  Now I’m lucky if five people look at my Reflections each week and yet they go out to the whole world via the Internet.  How is that fulfilling Your Great Commission?  And on top of this, last week I laid Potential on the altar!  From my boots, Lord, the view doesn’t look very good.  Just saying…  I’ve done what You’ve asked.  I even reached out to eight out of the supposed ‘Seven Churches.’  I’ve gotten pretty beaten up by them, “something borrowed” from Your life and the Old and New Testaments.  My soul was made rather black and “something blue” from the whole journey.  But in the long run, it’s not the Church who did anything or simply that the prophets said “nothing” but it’s YOU, Lord!  You said NOTHING!  (Rev 8:1!) Sure, I did get angry because of people’s hypocrisy.  You experienced the same thing, Jesus.  No one likes to be called on their hypocrisy.  But how can one not get angry when one sees glaring discrepancies and injustice?  At the same time, even though I got angry at the Church for her hypocrisy, what about You?  All along You have talked about Your integrity.  At some point You have to make good on Your Word.

Jeremiah 5:31 The prophets prophesy lies [also translated ‘falsely’],
    the priests rule by their own authority,
and my people love it this way.
    But what will you do in the end? [NIV]

Yes, Lord.  What will You do in the end?  I know You’ve said many times that if I was the only person You had to die for, You would still have done it, and the same goes for everyone on the planet.  Thank You.  What else can one say to that?  Ok.  This is awkward.  Well, when do we get to the Living?  Pardon me, but right now I’m not altruistic.  I have my moments, but now is not one of them.  I’m still in my car-as-hermitage.  Since summer 2007!  I’ve given my life to You.  I made my vows to You.  It’s wrong to give my life and love to a people who don’t care or are just looking for entertainment.  I’m not a martyr.  I’m not You, Jesus.  I’m me.  I’m Your wife.  You remember.  YOU asked me to marry You on 14 May 2008.  You were there!  If I have any say in this relationship, then honesty is what I can give You.  So, what will You do in the end?  What will You do now?  I’m not waiting for something cataclysmic.  Are You?

You have been challenging the people to take a stand, to make their choices, to practice what they preach.  Well, what about You?  I ask this with utmost reverence and respect.  I also respect myself, and at the same time I can honestly say that surviving in my car-as-hermitage through one more season is enough to test the greatest of Iron Men.  I’m Your bride!  It is especially wrong when last week in the Lectionary You “said” to me that You would seek some security for me; Well?:

Ruth 3:1 Naomi her mother-in-law said to her [Ruth], “My daughter, I need to seek some security for you, so that it may be well with you.

Lord, how do You think this makes me feel when nothing happens, and still more nothing, and the months drag on into years which drag on into more Nothing, and yet I have continually put my faith in Your Word which is from You and You cannot go back on Your Word?  I say again: I am Your wife!  I realize there had been a curse put on me.  But the curse is over.  It’s been lifted.  Whatever is happening now to cause the Great Nothing in the Grand Silence to still continue is not related to the curse.  That is gone.  I suspect it is rooted in a spirit of stubbornness in the people, but I’m not absolutely certain.  Sometimes You can be just as stubborn as Your people.  You say to Your prophets, “A People Movement is Coming.”[2]  Well, where’s the shift of tangible love from this movement of people to move us from prophecy to reality?  You told us to spur one another on toward love and good deeds and not to neglect meeting together:

Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds,

10:25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Well, Lord, the Day IS approaching and, in fact, is here and we still can’t talk about “it.”  Neither can we talk about the monastic lifestyle, habits, rhythms, the “nazirite” orientation (1 Sam 1:11) and the life of simplicity of dedication to You, which ties into the scripture lessons the Lectionary Barons selected for this week.  Neither can we talk about how we process our relationship.  I don’t process things just through Light versus Darkness, or just energy movement, or just Nature, the way other cultures and religions seem to understand You, Lord.  I understand You through those things, too, and in the dynamic of interacting with body, mind, and spirit.  I process this understanding through a marriage relationship context and concept.  That’s how I relate to You, Lord.  But the Church and I can’t talk about it.  There’s more “provoking” going on than love and good deeds. (Heb 10:24)  No sanctuary for this Quasimodo.  To bring more absurdity into the mix, on the 14th of November, (and You have often shown me the fourteenth of any given month to carry significance,) the Israelis launched Operation “Pillar of Defense” against Hamas in an air strike “that the Islamist group vowed would “open the gates of hell”.”[3]  Hello?  Words have power.  What have we done?  And left undone?  The Yin/Yang contrast stuff is important!  God, nip this in the bud, NOW!  Open Your Gates of Heaven!!

Am I bitter like Naomi was? (Ruth 1:20)  Not exactly.  Frustrated, disappointed, saddened, neglected, ignored, dismissed, rejected; yes.  But I can honestly say that I am not bitter.  (Of course if I was in denial, I wouldn’t know that I was in denial.)   How can I describe this feeling?  It is similar to bitterness, but it is not exactly the same.  It is a type of focused sorrow but lacks the biting, acrid burn that accompanies bitterness, which desires to torch and flame entire landscapes and singeing oneself in the process.  Bitterness is caustic and destroys living and spiritual tissue.  I won’t deny that my tongue of ironic wit dips into sarcasm like sweet-sour sauce on the side for Sushi.  Having been skewered myself, this is familiar.  But more accurately, this feeling in the fiber of my life and soul is more like a violin string that is vibrating and waiting for the rest of the orchestra to join the melody but the Conductor keeps the baton suspended in the air.  I surrender to the suspension.  It’s true; the Church said she doesn’t need me.  I acknowledge that.  It is true.  She doesn’t need me.  She needs You, Lord.  That doesn’t mean I am not part of this symphony along with everyone else.    

Lord, Your prophets continue to ask: “Who do you say that I AM?”[4]  Yahweh, the sons of Issachar[5] understood Who You are.  And they understood what to do: 

1 Chr 12:32 from Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do—200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command;

It was two years ago—two YEARS—that’s eight seasons in my car!—when I asked the Church, “What static is covering up God’s Voice?” (08 November 2010).  They denied it back then and it’s still being denied today.  I’m just a mortal, Lord.  I can’t fight Denial.  That’s Your job.  The question was asked eight days after my Discernment Committee Tribunal was over, the court jester was dismissed, and on 30 October 2010 I was told I was not an Anchoress, Prophet, or Apostle, and the Church completely washed her hands of me.  The titles were just labels.  I had to let them go.  The little mystic was burned again.  Sizzle and Fry.  Benihana’s.®  Chop.  Chop.  Dinner and a show –of dinner. 

The question (“What static is covering up God’s Voice?”) was never addressed in 2010, and it still has not been addressed today.  When the physical pain of the loud (Much Too LOUD) speakers continued giving amplifier feedback, I addressed it specifically with each of the Churches, saying in one way or another, “God is not hard of hearing; people are.”  I begged each one to turn down the amplification.  They, in turn, begged me via their uniform and consistent Silence and miming/ pantomiming to turn down my spiritual amplification.  They could not turn theirs down.  And neither could I.  And neither could I turn mine up for the spiritually “hard of hearing” because then the message would just get more distorted again. 

Something old:  The age-old issue of not being heard.  “Hear, O Israel.”  (Dt 6:4)  “Hear what the Spirit says to the Seven Churches.” (Revelation 2 and 3)  Lord Jesus, please let me express my feelings here again: I was awash with feelings of jealousy, betrayal, abandonment—all allowed by God—because He had given me the same words of the wedding motto four years ago and it seemed that He didn’t (wouldn’t? couldn’t?) bring them to pass to make the transformation from words into actuality.  Really, “not one stone” has been left unturned in the Temple of my soul and life.  All has been thrown down. (Mk 13:2)  Where are the “birthpangs” of loving-kindness in action in Your House? 

Zechariah 13:If someone asks, ‘What are these wounds on your body?’ they will answer, ‘The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.’

Where is real sanctuary in the House of the Lord and not just parking and praying in my car-as-hermitage?  I have been holding fast to the confession of my hope without wavering and You have promised to be faithful. (Heb 10:24)  Where is the reality of all this talk on integrity?  Something old? Something new? Something borrowed? Something (black and) blue?  And the Church (and the Prophets) continue to say …

NOTHING.

Nothing tangible. (ref James 2:14-17)  We all join Thomas Merton in Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander.  Lord, You have the power to break the dysfunctional Silence and YOU do Nothing?  I lay the dysfunctional silence on Your altar, Lord.  I realize that it was the Grand Silence that originated from Your altar in the first place. (Rev 8:1)  Are You ready now to bring closure to the Seventh Seal episode and to make the “half an hour” of silence in heaven over?

Rev 8:1 When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

Has it been a “half an hour” by Your clock?  I don’t have Your clock, so You are the One Who has to tell me.  If it is so, then please, take Your Silence back to Yourself.  Even the beach and the seashore have a boundary. (Proverbs 8)  Are we there yet?  Are we done suffering for Suffering’s sake?  Are the “Austerity Measures” austere enough?  Enough!  Enough, I say!  I am throwing them back at You, Lord.  Heaven is Your home and You are the one with the keys to the front door.  What kind of relationship is this?  Hospitality starts with You, Lord.

It’s a good thing that last week You repeated to me again that Archangel Michael has the books covered.  That’s so good to know.  It is truly VERY reassuring to me.  Knowing that fact that my books are covered has helped me to survive.  It’s helped me to get up in the morning. 

Dan 12:1 “At that time Michael, the great prince, the protector of your people, shall arise. There shall be a time of anguish, such as has never occurred since nations first came into existence. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book.”

Ya’know, God, I’m glad they’re Your people, because right now I don’t recognize them.  So now I ask You: What good is a book (or six?) if it is not read?  How can we progress through the “birthpangs” You talk about in the Lectionary Gospel Lesson if the books stay hidden?

Mark 13:8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birthpangs.

You said,

Dan 12:2 “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”

Well, Lord, I didn’t make the rules.  I followed where You led.  We are all made of “dust” (Gen 3:19), particle dust, housing the “God Particle,”[6] stardust, stars in Your crown.  You don’t make junk.  Some on this journey were spiritually “awake” and others were sleepwalking.  Even those who knew, didn’t know the whole story (even me) because we couldn’t talk about “it.”  Some were awestruck.  Some were dumbstruck.  And everyone to some degree or another was just stuck, stuck in Your embrace waiting for You to do something!  And You, Yourself, Lord, have been waiting! (Heb 10:13)  What a concept that You have been waiting.  You have been waiting until Your enemies would be a footstool for Your feet.  You told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. (Mt 5:44)  And when the enemy is not human?  When the “persecution” is a very real “illusion” rooted in truth?  We are the ones who are changed when we pray for our enemies.  You don’t change, Lord.  We do.  Well, with all this waiting, I come back to my previous question: What do You want to do?  What works for You?  What delights Your soul, Lord Jesus?  Since the enemy of men’s soul is defeated by prayer, and we have been praying, are we, as a society, finally ready now to be “birthed” as You talked about in Mark 13:8?  That would be Something!

Something New begins as a point of holy Nothingness, as Thomas Merton so eloquently describes. (An excerpt from Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander from the anthology Thomas Merton: Spiritual Master):

“Again, that expression, le point vierge, (I cannot translate it) comes in here.  At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will.  This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us.  It is so to speak His name written in us, as our poverty, as our indigence, as our dependence, as our sonship.  It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven.  It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely. …I have no program for this seeing.  It is only given.  But the gate of heaven is everywhere.”[7]

 

25 After Pentecost                  18 November 2012                             Gospel: Mark 13:1-8

1 Samuel 1:4-20
1:4 On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters;

1:5 but to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the LORD had closed her womb.

1:6 Her rival used to provoke her severely, to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb.

1:7 So it went on year by year; as often as she went up to the house of the LORD, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat.

1:8 Her husband Elkanah said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? Why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”

1:9 After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah rose and presented herself before the LORD. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the LORD.

1:10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD, and wept bitterly.

1:11 She made this vow: “O LORD of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants, and no razor shall touch his head.”

1:12 As she continued praying before the LORD, Eli observed her mouth.

1:13 Hannah was praying silently; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard; therefore Eli thought she was drunk.

1:14 So Eli said to her, “How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Put away your wine.”

1:15 But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD.

1:16 Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time.”

1:17 Then Eli answered, “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.”

1:18 And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your sight.” Then the woman went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband, and her countenance was sad no longer.

1:19 They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD; then they went back to their house at Ramah. Elkanah knew his wife Hannah, and the LORD remembered her.

1:20 In due time Hannah conceived and bore a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I have asked him of the LORD.”

1 Samuel 2:1-10
2:1 Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the LORD; my strength is exalted in my God. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory.

2:2 “There is no Holy One like the LORD, no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.

2:3 Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.

2:4 The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength.

2:5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry are fat with spoil. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn.

2:6 The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.

2:7 The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low, he also exalts.

2:8 He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.

2:9 “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness; for not by might does one prevail.

2:10 The LORD! His adversaries shall be shattered; the Most High will thunder in heaven. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king, and exalt the power of his anointed.”

Daniel 12:1-3
12:1 “At that time Michael, the great prince, the protector of your people, shall arise. There shall be a time of anguish, such as has never occurred since nations first came into existence. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book.

12:2 Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

12:3 Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Psalm 16
16:1 Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.

16:2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”

16:3 As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble, in whom is all my delight.

16:4 Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names upon my lips.

16:5 The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.

16:6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage.

16:7 I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.

16:8 I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

16:9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure.

16:10 For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit.

16:11 You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Hebrews 10:11-14, (15-18), 19-25
10:11 And every priest stands day after day at his service, offering again and again the same sacrifices that can never take away sins.

10:12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, “he sat down at the right hand of God,”

10:13 and since then has been waiting “until his enemies would be made a footstool for his feet.”

10:14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.

10:15 And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying,

10:16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds,”

10:17 he also adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

10:18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

10:19 Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus,

10:20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh),

10:21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,

10:22 let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

10:23 Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.

10:24 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds,

10:25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Mark 13:1-8
13:1 As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!”

13:2 Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”

13:3 When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately,

13:4 “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?”

13:5 Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray.

13:6 Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray.

13:7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come.

13:8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birthpangs.


[1] Jeremy Caris: “Ask Me for the Keys to the Next Two Years,” 07 Nov 12, Elijah List: http://www.elijahlist.com/words/display_word.html?ID=11547

[2] Kris Vallotton: “Don’t Look to the Political Climate – A People Movement is Coming,” 14 Nov 12:  Elijah List http://www.elijahlist.com/words/display_word.html?ID=11568

[4] Kim Hadaway: “Who Do You Say That I AM?”  Nov 17, 2012 Elijah List http://www.elijahlist.com/words/display_word.html?ID=11578

[5] Bob and Bonnie Jones: “Midwives Birth Children of Promise” Nov 16, 2012 Elijah List http://www.elijahlist.com/words/display_word.html?ID=11577

[6] The Higgs boson, or “God particle,” is believed to be the particle which gives mass to matter.  http://gotquestions.org/God-particle.html

[7] Lawrence S. Cunningham, ed.; Thomas Merton: Spiritual Master, The Essential Writings; NY: Paulist Press, 1992; p 146

Don’t Make Jesus the Idol

11 Nov

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 24 After Pentecost 11 November 2012

Don’t Make Jesus the Idol

There are some days when I wrestle with the Scriptures and other days when the scriptures wrestle with me.  I suppose that’s why they are called the Living Word.

Journal: Saturday, 03 November 2012          6:38 pm           All day long my prayers have been encouraging God in His blowing His Shofar [ram’s horn.]  I’ve prayed for the encouragement of the angels blowing their shofars.  I’ve asked Heaven to keep blowing.  Any time a thought came up that could make me sad, I prayed for God to keep blowing His shofar.  Blow the Shofar!!  Blow, baby, blow!  It’s been an all-day, on-going prayer.  It has to be from the Holy Spirit because the prayer has lasted all day.  I could not sustain this of my own efforts.  The prayer has kept me anchored, at peace, and aware of God’s grace surrounding me.

7:55 pm           Lord, may Your trumpet blast fill the void in us that continues working like a black hole with a fierce gravitational pull.  God, please reverse the energy by Your Light and power.  Amen.

Journal: Sunday, 04 November 2012            There is a dark energy looming.  How do I describe it?  It’s not pessimism.  It’s not emotional.  It’s impersonal.  It is a dark and ominous energy. 

11 am There is a phrase that has been floating and drifting around in my brain-cage for the last two days: “Don’t make Jesus the idol.”  I wrote about this in a Reflection once.  …

[Later I went back and looked it up: 14 February 2010, Transfiguration Sunday.  Isn’t that amazing!  What a beautiful message of love on that Valentine’s Day.  God is such a romantic!  I had said,

 “…Break the golden calf of DOCTRINE.  Christ’s desire is to draw His Church to Himself (Luke 13:34, Ephesians 4:3-6).”

And: “In order to be ready for Christ’s return, we must first rid ourselves of the preconceptions we have about His return.”

And: “Look at the strength we have when we come together with our gifts!”

And: “If each denomination in the Church and each individual church put down their “I’m right” spear and put on the crown of humility, then we would see what each other is good at.  We would see each other’s strengths within the inspiration that founded each denomination in the first place.”]

I had also said, in effect, that the Church had turned Jesus into an idol [Reflection for Thanksgiving Day 2010], although I didn’t use that exact phrase.  I still think this is true.  In fact, now I wonder if this is the Truth that is creating the dark, negative energy of the Abyss.  If Jesus is the idol, then the idol blocks the Light from revealing His authentic Self in full radiance, because we can only see the image and not the real Person of the Trinity.

Journal: Still Sunday, November 04, 2012     8:43 pm           I spent the afternoon in the public library.  It took me awhile to decompress afterward.  There is a STRONG “iron” energy there.  It is an institutional energy.  It is not evil but it is very heavy.  And it is very thick.  I was telling God on the drive back to my solitude spot this afternoon that the energy created a feeling in me (both spiritually and physically) of being in heavy water.  Like in a dream, I could breathe, but had to really concentrate.  And I was so terribly thirsty!  So parched!  I was drinking water but could not get hydrated.  This experience was like drinking lots of water and never having my thirst quenched.  This energy was way more than just because the building was air conditioned.  It sucked the moisture out of my spirit even more than out of my body, and both my body and spirit were left feeling painfully puckered, as if I had taken some mineral or spice that made my lips, cheeks, eyes, ears, and eyebrows all curl in on itself and tuck into the back of my skull.  How can I describe the thickness of air?  I could move, but I had to move slowly and deliberately.  Freedom was stifled.  I could almost “hear” the Spanish tile and modern rebar “speaking” through  the library building itself saying, “Shut up!  I’m saving your body’s life!” Isn’t that what the cancer radiation machine, “Apollo,” at the hospital had also “said”?  Mom had breast cancer.  Did the machine ‘save her life’?  Maybe.  I donno.  The iron, the tone, the message, the energy was so similar to “Apollo”!  And I was in the library to save my body’s life from the scorching, nuclear-like heat outside.  The result was that after my stint at the library, and even now four hours later, I am keenly aware of a feeling in the region of my guts and chest of being driven as if I was on a racing Pony Express horse.  Maybe it is more like an “iron horse.”  Wasn’t that what they used to call trains?  Am I sensing a “train wreck” up ahead?  I’m not going to entertain that.  I do know that this is a driving force.  It is not a feeling of “being chased by dogs.” It is a dark and ominous energy.  It did not bring doom, however.  I remember trying to ask this “Iron Horse” what it was doing and what it wanted.  I think it is too impersonal to care what I ask.  So, I am asking God to take the reins, to help me relax into Him, and to lead this “horse.”  I hate this driving energy!  It’s pounding and relentless.  It makes my body tense all over.  My psyche wants to shout: “Brace for impact!”  I’m jumpy but there are less and less loud sounds to cause a startle reflex within me.  My physical environment is quieter in this juxtaposition from earlier in the year (answer to prayer!), but now my own spirit is making up for the tension which heretofore the environment had supplied.  Please, God, nip this in the bud (or butt!)  Please restore the balance of YOUR kingdom!  Please do not allow everything to just get flipped on its exact opposite head yet one more time just for us to repeat another same old cycle!  Please intervene with Your grace and mercy!  Breathe in Your soothing Holy Spirit to set things right to Your way.  Amen.

Journal: From entry entitled “Blowing the Shofar:” Monday, 05 November 2012     11:08 am  

This morning while I was parked in my solitude spot I got a quick whiff of cedar.  This is the third time since Saturday that I’ve smelled it out of the blue.  It smelled wonderful!  Now, since that cedar scent keeps reappearing out of the blue with no humans (or cedar trees) around, I blurted out to God, “Did You just open the Ark of the Covenant?”  I could almost hear Him giggle.  It was like I “caught” Him doing something, but He was pleased to be “caught.”

God says not to worry.  I’m trying not to.  I’m begging Him for relief.

The Archangel Michael said again, “I’ve got the Books covered.”  Since he’s got them covered then I have to make sure on my end that my journals are in order and up to date.  The mystical stuff is important (even though it has been the mystical stuff that has caused the death of most martyrs.)

Monday, 05 November 2012 12:15 pm         I fell asleep and had a quick dream.  I looked down and in my hands was a small but very intricately-made, very old, ancient and ornate silver chalice.  In the bottom of the chalice was a spot of red wine.  (Literally a spot.)  The wine had already been consumed.  I looked at the empty chalice in my hands.  Had I just drunk the wine to its last drop?  I woke up. 

Journal: From Entry entitled “Falling Idols:”    Tuesday, November 06, 2012            12:33 pm

On the Elijah List this morning, Prophet Theresa Phillips had said that Jesus is bringing back the anointing.[1]  She wrote:

“He [Christ] went on to share that each office of the five-fold is about to be granted access to a fresh peace for the sake of the people: “This peace will bring many toward the healing from abusive and misguided leaders. Each officer holding the office will require peace to get the job done, for troubled times are upon the Church. I [Christ] am sending that peace even now. Man is betraying man. Betrayal and sabotage are amongst the leaders of the earth. I am about to give an ABRUPT intervention for ministers who have been abused by sheep and by media. I am a rescuer, not a divider. Divisions will be stopped.”

Yes, Lord!  Bring it on!!  There is a time for division as You have been separating the wheat from the chaff.  But if the wheat on the threshing floor continues to be sifted and sifted, then the good grain is pummeled to dust, and all benefits and nutritional value of the kernel is ground to nothingness and is of no use to anyone.  It can then only be swept up and tossed away along with the chaff and the dirt on the threshing floor.  Lord, please stop the divisions!  Bring Your wholeness!  Bring Your spiritual nutrition.  Please feed back to us Your anointing and break this demonic loop of worshiping our idols as we falsely expect them to rescue us from the darkness they have created while we were unaware.  Shed Your Light of Truth where Truth has been neglected.  Help us to talk about and engage in Your kingdom, so that Your Light will shine ever more brightly.

Isaiah 10:27 (KJ21)     And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.

Journal: From Entry entitled “What Happened?”       Tuesday, November 06, 2012           

Today is Election Day.  What (not just who) are the people electing?  Have they lowered Jesus Christ Himself into being just another idol?  Is that what is actually creating the Abyss?  Is this what has been creating this dark, ugly, iron horse-like, pounding energy?  Is this energy the prince of darkness?

Psalm 146:3 Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help.

Reflecting: The Church has had such high expectations of Jesus Messiah’s Second Coming and returning in the clouds (Mk 13:26) that she has turned “Messiah” into an idol as an external Deliverer, a Rescuer, a stone idol, a “golden calf,” a stone (Dan 2:34) whizzing from the outer orbits of the cosmos to dash the cowardly and the evil to smithereens like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer (v 35), where she doesn’t have to engage with our Living God, here and now.  According to the author of Hebrews:

Heb 9:28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Since God is living and alive and Christ already bore the sins of many, then who are we to turn Him into a stone idol?  A form hanging from a crucifix?  What had started off as a reminder of His incredible sacrifice for us, morphed into an image of an idol and we kept Him there on the cross, even after Martin Luther took Him down off the Crucifix during the Reformation and gave us the naked, empty cross to remind us that He is risen!  So now, the whole Church-as-Body has a “split personality” of both keeping Him on the cross and waiting eagerly for Him to return.  If He’s still pegged on the cross in our hearts, then how can we “see” Him alive when He returns?  We are like the widow with two pennies giving all she had into the Temple Treasury with Jesus sitting there in the Temple Courtyard.  (Mark 12:41-44)  She gave everything she had.  She didn’t know Jesus saw what she did and the big heart with which she gave.  We are like her.  We are also like the rich contributors who give out of their abundance. (v 44)  It doesn’t cost us much.  Jesus sees that, too.  He sees both sides to every coin.  (And the filler stuff in the middle, too.)

What have we done with our contributions?  Are we tarrying so God is tarrying?  Are we impatient for His return, so we think God is impatient with us?  What spirit is stirring?  It was a spirit of rebellion that enticed the Israelites to become impatient when Moses seemed to tarry so long (forty days and nights on Mount Sinai (Ex 24:18)) because he was hanging out with God on the mountain.  It was a spirit of rebellion that led them to creating the golden calf in Moses’ absence. (Ex 32:1)  In a parallel, Jesus ascended to God forty days after His crucifixion and resurrection.

Acts 1:After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.

The good news is that while waiting during those forty days, the disciples spoke about the Kingdom of God; they conversed and discussed while they were waiting for the anointing of the Holy Spirit and Christ’s ascension.  That was then, this is now.  The Church-as-Culture [aka “Club Church”] still really likes her gold and the modern-day version of our contemporary “Golden Calf” and she still doesn’t talk much about the Kingdom of God.  The Church-as-Institution speaks about herself and her fears because that is what she knows.  The Church can’t risk giving everything she has and stepping beyond into what she doesn’t know.  That would be too scary.  So the Institution just keeps filling her own jars of “meal” and “oil” without fail until the Day that the Lord sends “rain” on the earth.  (1 Kings 17:14, 16)  As long as the Institution is in control of the Idol, then the people are at the mercy of the Institution.  And the Institution won’t talk about it.

A spirit of rebellion is part of human nature.  We can rebel against God or we can rebel against the spirit of rebellion and take a stand.  We humans are easily led astray by our very natures, which we take great pains to preserve!  After all, Jesus did tell us to be on our guard!  (Mt 16:6) And to be aware that no one would lead us astray. (Mk 13:5)  And so we must.  We must guard our hearts, minds, and spirits against deception and the enemy of men’s souls.  Spirits are real.  AND/BUT we don’t have to guard ourselves against our Lover! 

Journal: From entry entitled “Blowing the Shofar:” 

Wednesday, November 07, 2012       8:20 am   For a long time, maybe months, I have felt like I have just been in reporter-mode.  I have felt like an automaton repeating cycles over and over through body then mind then spirit: now repeat.  And again.  Separate this time.  Now come together.  Individual that time.  Pirouette.  And now lift that leg.  Point that toe.  Lift the torso.  Raise the shoulders and head.  Now glide… One, two, three.  One, two, three…  Maybe there is no difference between the radiation machine Apollo, the Iron Horse energy “Apollo,” the Apollo spacecraft, and the Greek god of Apollo, the sun god.  God said in Revelation 9:2 that the sun would be darkened, and there is no denying that we are all in a time of grave spiritual darkness.

Rev 9:When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss.

And there are so many other passages that address this, too!  (Isa 13:10, Ez 32:7, Joel 2:10, 31 and Joel 3:15, Amos 8:9, Micah 3:8, Mt 24:29, Mk 13:24)  Yahweh did say not to have any idols before Him.  Can’t we just go play on the playground?  And then go home?  Is there no sanctuary anywhere?  Both home and playground are supposed to be part of the dance. 

Journal: From entry entitled “Falling Idols:” 

Wednesday, 07 November 2012        12:15 pm

Last night I was blessed with being parked in my solitude spot. (I do not always have the place to myself.)  I think it was around 7:30 pm and it was already dark.  I heard this growing rumbling sound.  At first I thought it was a large jet (or two) flying overhead.  But the sound continued.  It must have lasted for ten minutes.  It was deep and resonant.  The weirdest part was that the large sound actually created an indigo blue aura within my being.  I can’t remember this happening before.  It was unmistakable how the sound went together with the blue aura.  I opened my eyes to see if it was outside of me as well as inside of me.  No.  The air was not this deep vibrating blue outside of me right then.  I closed my eyes again.  As long as the rumble persisted in the air waves, the indigo blue aura persisted within me.  For a moment I got scared because the sound was so large and powerful.  But God seemed to put His hand on my shoulder to steady me.

Does this tie into what Prophet Jeremy Caris had said this morning on The Elijah List, “…I kept hearing, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”?  I used to hear that same phrase all the time in the beginning of my calling.  It was God’s and my wedding motto.  Is God setting the stage to fulfill what He told Prophet Theresa Phillips?

 “…I am about to give an ABRUPT intervention for ministers who have been abused by sheep and by media. I am a rescuer, not a divider. Divisions will be stopped.”

Journal: From the “Naked Timeline:”

Thursday, 8 November 2012 [Timeless]  The spiritual Silence is crushing.  The silence is painful.

[“Gethsemane”] Thursday, Nov 8, 2012 at 9:28 AM “owie.  the silence hurts.  see my owie.”

[“Gethsemane”] Thursday, 8 November 2012, 17:35 ET      BBC Announces: “Justin Welby set to become new Archbishop of Canterbury” after becoming a bishop only a year ago. [2]   (This sounds like one of God’s “suddenlies” that He occasionally does.  This feels not only important but prophetic.  What are You up to, God?) 

[Another “Good”?] Friday, November 09, 2012         9 am  I thanked Prophet Catherine Brown for her word posted on the Elijah List this morning: “The Harvest Anointing.”  She said, “God sometimes asks us to do unusual or strange things, and whilst we must avoid unnecessary drama or drawing attention to one’s self, we must be earnest to flow with the Holy Spirit and obey His instructions.”

Journal: From entry entitled “Potential Crucified:”     [Sabbath rest at the beach];

[Golgotha-like] Friday, 09 November 2012    1:51 pm           We went from nuclear-like radiation heat earlier in the week to rain yesterday to crisp air, icy winds, frothy, teal-colored seas, and glorious storm clouds growing and billowing over the mountains today.  (Don’t think “Marshmallow Man” from “Ghostbusters;” I dare ya!)  All joking aside, I have been marveling at God and really wondering what He is up to.  When Boaz was winnowing barley at night at the threshing floor (Ruth 3:2), what time/season of the year was it?  When is barley harvested?  I just looked in my NIV Bible notes and it says April and May (and wheat a few weeks later; [NIV p 363]) Still sticking with the theme of seasons, Daniel talks about the rock cut out but not by human hands (Dan 2:34), and how this rock smashes Nebuchadnezzar’s dream statue and the stone breaks it to pieces like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer (v 35).  Jesus said to pray that the ‘abomination that causes desolation standing where it does not belong’ will not take place in winter (Mk 13:18).  We are now in the fall, which comes before winter, so I pray NOW.

Ya’know God, I’ve been praying down idols all week.  There is one thing I have never laid on Your altar.  It hadn’t occurred to me before.  It is the pest of Potential.  Potential has always pushed me forward with Hope.  In my heart-mind the two (Hope and Potential) were always inextricably linked.  You won’t take Hope and accept it on the altar; I’ve asked.  But the Church cannot live up to her potential.  I see that now.  I lay Potential at Your feet for You to “crucify,” so that You can breathe Your grace into her and resurrect her from her own ashes by Your mercy.  This is only something You can do, Lord.

One of the occupational hazards of my calling is that I get the pretty picture, the Potential of how You see things, Lord.  Then I get my heart repeatedly broken from doing what You tell me to do and say.  You’ve never stopped showing me the Potential in the pretty pictures.  On the human level, none of us can live up to Your picture.  I’m sorry, God.  Please forgive us.  We do love You.  We bow to Your Kingship for only You are worthy of worship.  On a personal level I am sorry that I inadvertently made the Potential of the Church an idol.  I didn’t even realize I had done that.  Forgive me, Lord.  Your Church is Your Body in the flesh, and we want to be imitators of You.  Somehow the image got distorted.  The image of the Church took on Your flesh and became an idol.  Now I understand why You said, “Do not make Jesus an idol.”  It’s the idol that had blocked me from seeing the real You, Jesus Christ, for a time.  What a strange journey this is.

Journal: Continued from entry entitled “Potential Crucified:” 

[Holy] Saturday, 10 November 2012 11:18 am        

I may not have physical or intellectual sanctuary today, but my emotions and soul have sanctuary in the silence, since I laid the Church’s and my Potential on the altar.  I am reading Thomas Merton: Spiritual Master,[3] and in his epilogue to his monastic journal, the Sign of Jonas (1953) he describes the reproachful silence, and I am grateful for a soul companion on my journey today:

“…The house is like a sick person who has recovered.  This is the Gethsemani that I entered, and whose existence I had almost forgotten.  …The very silence is a reproach.  The emptiness itself is my most terrible question.

If I have broken this silence, and if I have been to blame for talking so much about this emptiness that it came to be filled with people, who am I to praise the silence any more?  Who am I to publicize this emptiness? …

In this age of crowds in which I have determined to be solitary, perhaps the greatest sin would be to lament the presence of people on the threshold of my solitude.  Can I be so blind as to ignore that solitude itself is their greatest need?  And yet if they rush in upon the desert in thousands, how shall they be alone?  What went they out into the desert to see?  Whom did I myself come here to find but You, O Christ, Who have compassion on the multitudes?

Nevertheless, Your compassion singles out and separates the one on whom Your mercy falls, and sets him apart from the multitudes even though You leave him in the midst of the multitudes…” [p 115]

And the silence of the multitudes of the Church continues with me and my journey.  What a cruel directive God gave me at the beginning of my calling to “Worship Him” and to “Share the Journey.”  Whom do I share it with?  I am crucified with Christ.

I pick up Thomas Merton again,

“… But there is greater comfort in the substance of silence than in the answer to a question.  Eternity is in the present.  Eternity is in the palm of the hand.  Eternity is a seed of fire, whose sudden roots break barriers that keep my heart from being an abyss.

The things of Time are in connivance with eternity.  The shadows serve You.  The beasts sing to You before they pass away.  The solid hills shall vanish like a worn-out garment.  All things change, and die and disappear.  Questions arrive, assume their actuality, and also disappear.  In this hour I shall cease to ask them, and silence shall be my answer.  The world that Your love created, that the heat has distorted, and that my mind is always misinterpreting, shall cease to interfere with our voices.

Minds which are separated pretend to blend in to one another’s language.  The marriage of souls in concepts is mostly an illusion.  Thought which travel outward bring back reports of You from outward things: but a dialogue with You, uttered through the world, always ends by being a dialogue with my own reflection in the stream of time.  With You there is no dialogue unless You choose a mountain and circle it with cloud and print Your words in fire upon the mind of Moses.  What was delivered to Moses on tables of stone, as the fruit of lightning and thunder, is now more thoroughly born in our own souls as quietly as the breath of our own being.

The hand lies open.  The heart is dumb.  The soul that held my substance together, like a hard gem in the hollow of my own power, will one day totally give in. 

Although I see the stars, I no longer pretend to know them.  Although I have walked in those woods, how can I claim to love them?  One by one I shall forget the names of individual things.

You, Who sleep in my breast, are not met with words, but in the emergence of life within life and of wisdom within wisdom.  You are found in communion: Thou in me and I in Thee and Thou in them and they in me: dispossession within dispossession, dispassion within dispassion, emptiness within emptiness, freedom within freedom.  I am alone.  Thou art alone.  The Father and I are One.” [p 118-119]

[Holy Saturday] 5:36 pm  Such is it today with me.  I am alone.  God is alone.  We are alone in our oneness.  Potential has no substance.  I have held it like a hard gem in the hollow of my own hand, of my own power, and it has totally given in today, just as Merton had said would happen.

 “The hand lies open.  The heart is dumb.  The soul that held my substance together, like a hard gem in the hollow of my own power, will one day totally give in.”

Today is that day.  I cannot complete the directives God gave me with my calling to “share the journey,” any more than Francis of Assisi could fulfill his calling when Jesus told him to “repair My Church.”  Just as Francis thought God was being literal and tried to repair His church, so I thought God meant I was to “share the journey.”  But in this cavern of Deathly Silence there is no one left to share it with.  It is up to God to take it from here.  So now Silence is my companion.  And Jeremiah is my comforter.  (Jeremiah 5:30-31; 6:10; 11:19; 15:19-20

[“…Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them.”])

Prayer: Lord Jesus, King Jesus, speak to Your people with Your own Voice for You are alive in majesty and Truth.  No idol can speak for You, and neither can Your servant.  I do not serve idols.  I serve my Living God.  You must declare Your own sovereignty, O Lord.

 

24 After Pentecost                  11 November 2012                             Gospel: Mark 12:38-44

Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17
3:1 Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, I need to seek some security for you, so that it may be well with you.

3:2 Now here is our kinsman Boaz, with whose young women you have been working. See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor.

3:3 Now wash and anoint yourself, and put on your best clothes and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking.

3:4 When he lies down, observe the place where he lies; then, go and uncover his feet and lie down; and he will tell you what to do.”

3:5 She said to her, “All that you tell me I will do.”

4:13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When they came together, the LORD made her conceive, and she bore a son.

4:14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without next-of-kin; and may his name be renowned in Israel!

4:15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him.”

4:16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse.

4:17 The women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Psalm 127
127:1 Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain.

127:2 It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives sleep to his beloved.

127:3 Sons are indeed a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.

127:4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons of one’s youth.

127:5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them. He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

1 Kings 17:8-16
17:8 Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying,

17:9 “Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.”

17:10 So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.”

17:11 As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”

17:12 But she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”

17:13 Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son.

17:14 For thus says the LORD the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the LORD sends rain on the earth.”

17:15 She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days.

17:16 The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by Elijah.

Psalm 146
146:1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!

146:2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

146:3 Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help.

146:4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish.

146:5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God,

146:6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever;

146:7 who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free;

146:8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.

146:9 The LORD watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

146:10 The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the LORD!

Hebrews 9:24-28
9:24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.

9:25 Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own;

9:26 for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself.

9:27 And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment,

9:28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Mark 12:38-44
12:38 As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces,

12:39 and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets!

12:40 They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

12:41 He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums.

12:42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny.

12:43 Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury.

12:44 For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”


[1] Theresa Phillips: “The Restoration of the Five-Fold Ministry;” Elijah List: Tue, Nov 6, 2012

[3] Lawrence S. Cunningham, ed.; Thomas Merton: Spiritual Master, The Essential Writings; NY: Paulist Press, 1992, p 115

Hear, O Israel

4 Nov

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 23 After Pentecost 04 November 2012

Hear, O Israel

This past Wednesday morning I had a mystical experience while I was driving.  No worries.  Everyone was safe.  In fact, I didn’t know it was a mystical experience until it repeated itself.  Then my attention became more focused.  It was a sensation on my skin at my left temple and down my cheekbone of being wet with tears.  At first I ignored the sensation.  Then after it happened again, I took one hand off the steering wheel for a moment and touched my left temple, cheek, and eye, to see if my eye had been tearing while I was unaware.  It is allergy season.  My hand came back dry.  Later, after I had reached my destination and parked, I asked God what that was all about.  He gave me an internal picture of Himself standing next to me with the side of His face up against the side of my face.  He was the One Who was crying.  Instinctively I turned to Him and put my hand on His heart.  Then I held Him in a hug.  All His authority was still emanating from Him.  None of His kingliness was diminished by crying.  If nothing, He was even more kingly.  He felt strong, anchored, sure, and real, even with tears rolling down His face.  I looked up at Him and the sensation of moisture from His tears rolled passed my own left temple, hairline, and down into my ear.  I asked Him, “Why are You crying?”  Then I fell silent in my spirit, because I realized the question in that moment didn’t matter.  When He was ready He would tell me.  All I knew was that I loved my Lord with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind, and with all my strength. (Mk 12:30)  Our love made us one together. (v 29)  There was no mistaking Love.  I journaled the mystical experience, but I also knew I had to share it with you. (v 31)

I looked back at today’s Gospel lesson offered in the lectionary.  I had never noticed this before, but when one of the scribes asked Jesus, “Which commandment is the first of all?” the foremost word in the response was the verb “to hear:”

Mark 12:29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is One.

It is the same in the Old Testament passage:

Dt 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.

We can “hear” the love of God’s heartbeat, which becomes our motivation.  When there are no idols blocking the view of our Lord, we can “see” Him alone, our One and Only, our Lover.  Upon loving God, we learn to love ourselves and in turn love our neighbors as ourselves (Mk 12:31) as we see the Divine Flow interconnecting all things in God’s wholeness.

Hear, O Israel.

Love,

From Kathryn

 

23 After Pentecost                  04 Nov 2012                                       Gospel: Mark 12:28-34

Ruth 1:1-18
1:1 In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live in the country of Moab, he and his wife and two sons.

1:2 The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion; they were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there.

1:3 But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons.

1:4 These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. When they had lived there about ten years,

1:5 both Mahlon and Chilion also died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.

1:6 Then she started to return with her daughters-in-law from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the LORD had considered his people and given them food.

1:7 So she set out from the place where she had been living, she and her two daughters-in-law, and they went on their way to go back to the land of Judah.

1:8 But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back each of you to your mother’s house. May the LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me.

1:9 The LORD grant that you may find security, each of you in the house of your husband.” Then she kissed them, and they wept aloud.

1:10 They said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.”

1:11 But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters, why will you go with me? Do I still have sons in my womb that they may become your husbands?

1:12 Turn back, my daughters, go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. Even if I thought there was hope for me, even if I should have a husband tonight and bear sons,

1:13 would you then wait until they were grown? Would you then refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, it has been far more bitter for me than for you, because the hand of the LORD has turned against me.”

1:14 Then they wept aloud again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

1:15 So she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”

1:16 But Ruth said, “Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; Where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.

1:17 Where you die, I will die– there will I be buried. May the LORD do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!”

1:18 When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.

Psalm 146
146:1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!

146:2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

146:3 Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help.

146:4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish.

146:5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God,

146:6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever;

146:7 who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free;

146:8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.

146:9 The LORD watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

146:10 The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the LORD!

Deuteronomy 6:1-9
6:1 Now this is the commandment–the statutes and the ordinances–that the LORD your God charged me to teach you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy,

6:2 so that you and your children and your children’s children, may fear the LORD your God all the days of your life, and keep all his decrees and his commandments that I am commanding you, so that your days may be long.

6:3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe them diligently, so that it may go well with you, and so that you may multiply greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, has promised you.

6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.

6:5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.

6:6 Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart.

6:7 Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.

6:8 Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead,

6:9 and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Psalm 119:1-8
119:1 Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD.

119:2 Happy are those who keep his decrees, who seek him with their whole heart,

119:3 who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways.

119:4 You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.

119:5 O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!

119:6 Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.

119:7 I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous ordinances.

119:8 I will observe your statutes; do not utterly forsake me.

Hebrews 9:11-14
9:11 But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation),

9:12 he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.

9:13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified,

9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!

Mark 12:28-34
12:28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?”

12:29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one;

12:30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’

12:31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

12:32 Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’;

12:33 and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’ –this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

12:34 When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.

 

For All Saints, First Things Have Passed Away

1 Nov

Kathryn Hauser’s Special Reflection for All Saints’ Day 01 Nov 2012

For All Saints, First Things Have Passed Away

Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.”

In a profound way the entire Book of Revelation is about the grieving cycle on a cosmic scale between the Church and God.  I am convinced that the Church does “see” that she was led astray like sheep and we have all carried the burden of this iniquity just as the Lord did. (Isa 53:6)  God is destroying this mountain of grief with its shroud that was cast over all people; the “sheet” that has been spread over all the nations. (v 7)  The soul does go through a “second death” (Rev 2:11, 21:8) which is the Grieving Cycle.  The “second death”  is when one “wakes up” and realizes that God has been wronged.  I believe the only difference between the Grieving Cycle of the personality and the Repentance Cycle in the faith journey, is that in the psych world, healing can proceed without necessarily forgiving the offence or the offender.  In the Repentance Cycle, forgiveness is critical to experiencing the full funnel of heaven’s banquet being poured out on to earth.

These are the Stages of Grief:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. (+) Forgiveness
  6. Acceptance

In the lectionary passage from Rev 21:1-6a for today, All Saints’ Day, it is no coincidence that this portion of scripture has been selected by the Lectionary Barons along with Isaiah 25:6-9.  Both Old and New Testaments reveal the Grieving and Repentance Cycles of God’s people.  Once forgiveness is experienced in the heart, the first order of things passes away and the sea [of anguish] is no more. (Rev 21:1)  After forgiveness is experienced, God wipes away every tear from our eyes. (v 4)  The “death” at the bottom of the cycle, along with depression, mourning, crying and pain, passes away. (v 4)  Only someone who has truly grieved can really grasp what this is like.  After we come through from the bottom of Alpha and Omega curve into Acceptance, then we really do begin to “see” how God is making all things new. (v 5)  In the depths of the pain we cannot see it.  We cannot feel it.  We cannot save ourselves and no one can save us either.  It is Christ with the Holy Spirit Who sets us free.

Church, all saints, hear, — ALL saints! — God says, “It is done!” He IS the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. (v 6)  He knows the grieving and repentance cycles intimately!  He’s gone through them Himself!

We may wish with Mary at Lazarus’ tomb: “Lord, if You’d been here, my brother would not have died,” (Jn 11:32) but Jesus has been here with us.  And He has still been greatly disturbed in Spirit and deeply moved. (v 33)  God is not distant and removed from us in our pain and suffering and grieving.  Jesus asks, “Where have you laid him?” (v 34)  Where have we laid the bones of our griefs and remorses?  There are no skeletons in God’s closet.  He still wants to know and see.  Just as Mary and her friends said to Jesus, “Lord, come and see,” so we must invite Him to come and see our owies.  It is mostly true that “time heals all wounds” (unless one suffers from untreated Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD,) but time cannot create complete and whole healing without forgiveness.  If forgiveness is absent then it is only a matter of time before the scars of the old wounds break open, re-fester, and the next war erupts.  It is the same with individuals, as with clans and tribes, with church denominations, with political parties, and with countries.

When Jesus got to Lazarus’ tomb He wept.  (Jn 11:35)  The Jews marveled that He wept: “See how He loved him!”  (See, it is OK for grown men to cry!!)  On the other hand, Macho Men go straight to their analytical brains and rationalize the situation.  They come up with sterilized logic saying that since Jesus opened the eyes of a blind man, then why couldn’t he have kept this man from dying?  (v 37)  It is a rational question, but rationale provides ice cold “comfort” when people are grieving.  No wonder Jesus got greatly disturbed again! (v 38)  Jesus was a brilliant man with the sharpest mind.  He could catch the wiliest of coyotes who tried to trip Him up, and He would shut them down to where they could ask Him no more questions. (Mk 12:34; Mt 22:46; Lk 20:40)  The world wasn’t (and isn’t today) lacking in smart people.  What Jesus had that these rationalistic scoffers didn’t have was compassion.  It is very disturbing to be around grieving people and to have your own heart wide open for the people you are with, only to then be “assaulted” by the presence of Logic who enters the room at that moment.  Logic usually struts in with Arrogance, who wants to control the situation.  What can one do in a situation like this?  Come to the tomb. (v 38)  It is best not to say anything, but simply maneuver through the prickly energy and go straight to the “tomb.” 

There are all kinds of “tombs” in our lives in every nook and cranny.  Some of our owies may have cobwebs and dead fly wings on them, because they have been mummified in the tombs of our souls for so long.  Other owies are so fresh that the mere thought of them causes our face to flush and then suddenly drain as if it was happening in the present moment all over again.  The catacombs of our soul-wounds can be amazingly complex and intricate.  Sometimes we pay homage to the most worthy of our wounds, where other owies get relegated to the hintergrund where one day they may be forgotten, outgrown, or perhaps turned into legend to serve a different purpose.  No matter what the owies are, they are the meat of every (and all) saints’ journeys.  A saint isn’t super-über-pious.  A saint knows Christ through having walked through suffering with Him.  And we all have, to one degree or another!  What matters is where we’ve kept our eyes focused in the dark catacombs of our soul-pain and whose voice we’ve listened to in the dark.  Possibly the toughest question in the dark is “Why?”  Why, God, did You allow this to happen?  The other questions directed at humans can be rationalized and reasoned and explained most of the time, even if insanity is the reason for the inexplicable.  But the existential questions?  Only God can answer them, and He takes us into the Tomb to show us.  Then Jesus calls us out.  (Jn 11:43)  But He doesn’t send us out alone.  He says to others, “Unbind him and let him go.” (v 44)  Our wounds are unbound by listening and caring and compassionate friends who come alongside us.

The Church needs friends, too.  She has wounded and been wounded.  She needs friends to come alongside her and unbind her – not “Yes Men” who will tell her what she wants to hear, not controlling Macho Men to punish her, not brilliant men to remind her of the stench of the tomb (Jn 11:39), but compassionate men, strong men and women well-acquainted with sorrows and the power of Forgiveness.  These are the spiritual friends, nurses, and midwives following the Great Physician who can help the Church to heal.  As these saints step forward, we really will “see, the home of God is among mortals.  He will dwell with them as their God; they will be His peoples, and God Himself will be with them.” (Rev 21:3)  It is true: The “first things” pass away (v 4) to make room for the New Things God is making. (v 5)

 

All Saints’ Day                         01 Nov 2012                                       Gospel: John 11:32-44

Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9
3:1 But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them.

3:2 In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be an affliction,

3:3 And their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace.

3:4 For though in the sight of men they were punished, their hope is full of immortality.

3:5 Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself;

3:6 like gold in the furnace he tried them, and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them.

3:7 In the time of their visitation they will shine forth, and will run like sparks through the stubble.

3:8 They will govern nations and rule over peoples and the Lord will reign over them forever.

3:9 Those who trust in him will understand truth, and the faithful will abide with him in love, because grace and mercy are upon his elect, and he watches over his holy ones.

Isaiah 25:6-9
25:6 On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.

25:7 And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever.

25:8 Then the Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.

25:9 It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the LORD for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

Psalm 24
24:1 The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it;

24:2 for he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers.

24:3 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?

24:4 Those who have clean hands and pure hearts, who do not lift up their souls to what is false, and do not swear deceitfully.

24:5 They will receive blessing from the LORD, and vindication from the God of their salvation.

24:6 Such is the company of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah

24:7 Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in.

24:8 Who is the King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle.

24:9 Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in.

24:10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah

Revelation 21:1-6a
21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

21:2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them;

21:4 he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.”

21:5 And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

21:6a Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.

John 11:32-44
11:32 When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

11:33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.

11:34 He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.”

11:35 Jesus began to weep

11:36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

11:37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

11:38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it.

11:39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.”

11:40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

11:41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me.

11:42 I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.”

11:43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus come out!”

11:44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him and let him go.”