Great Grace

28 Apr

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 5 After Easter on 28 April 2013
Great Grace
In the lectionary readings for today, St Peter shares with us a vision he had:
Acts 11:5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet [of grace] coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners [all over the earth from every direction: North, South, East, West]; and it came close to me.”
Visions have multiple layers of meaning, so that they can be applied to various situations and people at different times and in different ways, because they are part of the LIVING Word tapestry. The vision which came from God doesn’t change; we do. It comes close to us.
I took Peter’s vision into prayer and asked God to explain the list to me and how it related to us in our time:
Acts 11:6 As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air.
Me to Jesus: “What about the four-footed animals?”
Jesus: “Feed My lambs.” (ref Jn 21:15)
Me: “Excuse me, Lord, but upon reflection I can say that I did. My first year’s worth of Reflections were written to the “lambs” new in the faith. These Reflections were sweet and disarming as I shared my new journey through the lectionary readings. The idea was new. And the Scriptures were new and “alive” to me even though I’d read them all of my life. This whole metamorphosis was new for me. And it was new for all of us. I didn’t realize that I was writing to “lambs” at the time while I was writing, but we were all like lambs. We were innocent, but not guiltless. (Is there any good Jewish boy, Catholic mom, praying Imam, teaching rabbi, or preaching prophet who cannot personally attest to this truth that we are innocent but not guiltless? [Do Buddhists and Hindus suffer from guilt?]) Father, Your living Spirit of Truth unfolded through the words in the Reflections week after week, year after year. The book titles reflect the Truth within us:
The Truth is in Us Individually (Year One),
The Truth is in Us as a Community (Year Two),
The Truth is in Us as the Seven Churches (Year Three),
The Truth is in Us Collectively (Year Four), and
The Truth is in Us for Everyone (Year Five so far…).
Jesus: “Tend My sheep.” (ref Jn 21:16)
Me: “With all due respect, Honey, You know that I love You. I have been tending Your Church. These are Your own words (with meanings to those words, so that we can have a deeper conversation):
John 21:16 Again He said to him [Peter] the second time, Simon, son of John, do you love Me [with reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion, as one loves the Father]? He [Peter] said to Him, Yes, Lord, You know that I love You [that I have a deep, instinctive, personal affection for You, as for a close friend]. He said to him, Shepherd (tend) My sheep. (AMP)
Acts 11:9 But a second time the voice answered from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’
Me: Who’s profaning what? Or whom? The beasts of pray? Oh, excuse me, that was beasts of prey in Peter’s vision in Joppa. Lord, when You said to me, “Your people shall be My people,” (Ruth 1:16) I thought (silly me) that they’d be happy, but clearly they are Your People right out of the Book of Matthew. The issues You had with the Pharisees have played themselves out over the last six years in this Dance of the Seven Veils; oh, that was Seven Churches; same difference…
Jesus: ‘But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has cleansed and pronounced clean, do not you defile and profane by regarding or calling it common or unhallowed or unclean.’ (Acts 11:9 AMP)
Me: Ok.
Me: And the reptiles in Peter’s vision? I’ve been up against the “Dragon” from the Book of Revelation (Rev 12). I took the scroll from the angel (Rev 10) and it was bittersweet. (Rev 10:10) On 11 October 2012 I was so disgusted, repulsed, furious, and so over-done “cooked” with Satan’s tactics that I told Satan to his face while I was standing at the beach: “I will be your last meal!” And wouldn’t ya’ know, both the Church and the Prophets ended up “throwing me under the bus.” Now, isn’t that special? I don’t blame the people. I blame The Reptile. Back in the Garden of Eden, Eve had blamed the serpent for her choices:
Gen 3:13 The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
There’s no deception here today. I ate it.
And God promised Eve in Genesis 3:15 that one of her descendants would crush the enemy’s head.
Jesus quoted: “I also heard a voice saying to Me, ‘Get up, Kathryn; kill and eat.’ (Acts 11:7)
Me: Pardon me, Lord; respectfully: No. I don’t mean to contradict You, Lord, but to me this voice You heard, in this context through my experiences and in using the spiritual gifts You gave me, is watery and whappy and syrupy and almost, what’s the word?—seductive, with a tinge of red sparkles around the edges. I do not trust that voice, for it is not Your Voice. The Dragon (Rev 12) is a beast that no single mortal can kill, but we all certainly have ingested the spirit of the beast and it has made every one of us very sick, even if it has been by proxy. I say ‘by proxy’ because some don’t see themselves as prayer warriors, and yet they reap the benefits of the prayers of others. Still, we have all been infected with this spiritual virus in some form or another, whether we acknowledge it or not. So today, I cast my judgment on the Beast and I want to make it perfectly clear that the judgment is on the Beast and not on the humans! Men of Nineveh: Rise to bear witness now, today! (ref Mt 12:41)
[Breathing pause.]
Me: Lord, now that I think about it, it makes perfect sense that in Peter’s vision the birds of the air came in sequence after the reptiles. (Acts 11:6) In Rev 19 the birds of the air gather before the Beast and his armies are defeated (v 17) and then they gorged themselves afterward (v 21). And the birds of the air really HAVE BEEN gathering in truth. It’s bizarre; so bizarre that even my best friend has noticed on several occasions and commented! She jokingly asked, “You’re not going ‘Hitchcock-ian’ on me, are you?” It really has been rather creepy seeing wild birds gather around us seemingly for no reason on multiple occasions recently. On Friday, 26 April 13 we were walking her dog together on the beach and suddenly hundreds of birds blackened the sky around 3 pm [note the symbology in the day and hour] and they lighted upon a jetty. They stayed there even though a fishing vessel went by them and into the harbor, and they could have followed the boat for their dinner, but I “knew” in an instant of insight in my deep place of Knowing that You, God, were fulfilling Rev 19:17 on that Friday afternoon. I “knew” You were gathering the ‘birds flying in midair’ for the Great Feast:
Rev 19:17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God,”
On top of seeing this phenomenon at the beach, the crows have been so demonically possessed for the last month that they have been SCREAMING (not just cawing, and not just because they are defending their nests.) These screams have been strategic, methodical, and torturous. These screams have been interjected into periods of silence, so that my nervous system has experienced PTSD symptoms. Every scream has shot searing fire through every nerve in my body and exploded out of every nerve ending! The vile energy has been so bad that it has taken the life force out of my solitude spot where I have parked and prayed since August 2007 and that was before my Calling on Epiphany (January) 2008. This evil has grown to be such an abomination, that I have been forced to abandon the place, because it became so sterile, cold, hard, and void of Life. And this has been building up: For the last two years, not even crickets have been showing up to sing there any more. It was like I had my own Syria going on right in my own little orbit. But the dictator crushing joy and the spirit of Life out of my life was not a human, but the Dragon, the same wretched spirit, whom I’d had a stand-off with at the beach last fall. These major epic battle cycles have not just happened once or twice:
Acts 11:10 This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. (cf Rev 12:5)
It happened in my own metamorphosis with my own homies, then with the Seven Churches, and then with the school (like fish) of Prophets.
Acts 11:11 At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were.
And wouldn’t you know it, three men from the three camps arrived at the house of the Lord, where each was congregating in their own little orbits (because no one communicates directly with each other, so the communication is done by “Arc Speak,” where the Holy Spirit does the work, because the men are busy being engaged in battle and/or sharpening their tools and weapons in getting ready for the next battle. I understand that this IS what men do. After all, “iron sharpens iron” as was just quoted again this week in my inbox:
(“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another”, Proverbs 27:17)
and if the men keep sharpening their axes long enough, there won’t be a dull one in the tool shed! (And there won’t be any cedars left in Lebanon either! (Isaiah 2:13))
Acts 11:12 The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house.
And the Spirit told me to go with them, too, so I did. Now, for the record: The Church-as-Institution and I have had TWO conversations in the last TWO (-plus) YEARS and the Prophets and I have had ONE dialog in the last THREE-AND-A-HALF YEARS. Truth speaks for itself and actions speak louder than words. In Family Systems dynamics, the Silent Treatment is a destructive force. For me, being on the receiving end of this destructive force has left me feeling like an Untouchable in a caste system. How is this loving? We are to SHOW our love the way You, God, showed us Your love. Clearly, the only way these relationships with these two camps could have been maintained all these years (and kept my sanity whole) was through the work of the Holy Spirit! Truly, this way none of us can make a distinction between ‘us and them.’ And the other six “brothers” of the Seven Churches who also accompanied me? (v 12) We entered into the Institution’s House—the man’s “house.” (v 12) The collective “man”-as-Institution “told” the collective “us” by “Arc Speak” (since we can’t talk about it directly) how he had seen the angel standing in his [spiritual] house. (v 13) But nobody sent for Simon Peter this time. (v 13) So who will give us a message by which we and our entire household will be saved? (v 14) It must come through the Holy Spirit! (v 15) Yipee! This way there is truly no distinction between Church and Prophets and Jew and Christian (or Muslim). The playing field is neutral and level.
Acts 11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning.
11:16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’
A huge part of receiving the Holy Spirit is listening. In the ebb and flow of the Church’s collective mindset over the centuries, she went from listening first to action second. But the reverse is more often the case now. I recently saw a bumper sticker that commanded in all capital letters: “OBEDIENCE, PRAY, TRUST!” I honored the person’s intentions, and fell to my knees in my heart. The words were right, but the order/ sequence of them has not rung true in my own experience. First I PRAY. Then I act in OBEDIENCE according to what I “hear” God say in our conversation. Then I TRUST that He is faithful to use my efforts for His own glory. (Rev 21:5) Over the centuries the Church has remained in such staunch rigidity over the sequence of Obedience, Pray, Trust, that she assumes that one must be baptized with water first to be “saved,” and citing Mark 16:16 to back up their iron-rod stance:
Mk 16: 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
Ummm…and the work of the Holy Spirit? That might get thrown into the argument as an afterthought (if at all.) It would appear that OBEDIENCE has become the idol and prayer is used to affirm one’s rigid obedience. Well, I name it for what it is: This is a mockery. I speak to this spirit of Mockery: “Be gone to the Abyss with you! Our obedience is to Jesus Christ. We honor what He says and what the Spirit is saying to the Churches. I breathe Belief back into the Churches. As one who stands with the people before God, I proclaim there are no divisions. There are no distinctions between “us” and “them!” (Acts 11:2) Satan, you have lied and oppressed us with your watery, serpentine voice for too long. If God gives us the same Gift that He gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, then who are we that we could hinder God? (v 17) God will not be mocked!”
Father, just as we teach our children to say sorry, thank you, please, so I come before You and speak on behalf of ALL [!] Your children: Sorry. Thank You. Please. I am sorry that we have been led astray. I am sorry that we have allowed divisions to come between us, divisions which You never intended. Please forgive us. You just wanted to have an ongoing conversation. And I guess that was new, at least new to Adam. I notice that in the Garden of Eden, Adam named the animals (Gen 2:19), he named Eve (Gen 3:20), there was plenty of blame going on after the fall from grace (Gen 3:12, 13), and Lord, You did a whole lot of talking back then: to the serpent (v 14), to the woman (v 16), to Adam (v 17), and then You made Adam and Eve garments of skin and clothed them (v 21)–(were they Light Beings before that?), but in all of that speaking, I don’t see a three-way conversation of Adam to Eve and Eve to God and back to Adam. I don’t see “Sorry. Thank you. Please.” They got dressed and went out to go farming. (Gen 3:23)
Lord, just as a bride and groom drink from the Common Cup at their wedding vows, so the Church has drunk from the common cup with Adam and Eve, and Peter and the disciples. I am truly sorry that we lost our focus. I thank You, God, that You are forgiving us and are merciful to us. Please restore us to our rightful relationship with You. By Your Holy Spirit, please breathe Your great, great grace into Your divine matrix, so that every heart can be touched, every person moved by the power of Your great Love and great grace, and may every eye behold the wonders of Your kingdom as we bow before You. Embolden us to get the conversation with You open. Then empower us to be obedient to what You tell us to do. Then seal us in Your womb of trust, just like the innocent trust we had as children. Please restore us to our innocence. And may all rejoice in what You have done! (Rev 21:6) We truly are innocent, but not guiltless. As far as I can tell, guilt seems to be wrapped up in a notion of worthiness. But none of us are worthy. The Lamb is worthy. (Rev 5) Worthiness has nothing to do with how God sees us. We are to simply love as God loves.
[Sigh. Breathing. Reflecting.]
In God’s irony the top half of the archetypal Church of “Thyatira” (Rev 2:18-23) understands “Love as God loves” now better than most. In the beginning of my journey she was heavily preaching the way of The Secret (v 24) and the principle of “Name it and claim it! Blab it and grab it! It’s yours if you can imagine it!” And the principles are true. The collective “we” found out how powerful the mind can be. Then in 2008 came the stock market crash followed by the housing market crash, and then the global economic crash. The whole world has been humbled. “Thyatira” in particular learned that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. (Rom 12:2) Worthiness (or feelings of unworthiness) is a heart issue, which influences the mind. The top half of “Thyatira” came with her heart open and spoke honestly about her feelings and didn’t say, “You must believe what I believe or be condemned.” The bottom half of “Thyatira,” however, is still holding on to her burden (Rev 2:24) and ram-rodding others with the Law; loving the Law, conformity to the Law, working hard at keeping the Law, droning on for months in fist-raising obedience to the Law, and, I must admit that all of this is necessary. I mean, we really do need all of that for a society to function in an orderly manner. And order happens by putting the love of God first. My point is: Where’s the Love in the tone? They bully others and then look around rather exhausted and marvel that God’s peace seems so illusive. The Bottom Half of Thyatira asks the Top Half of Thyatira at spear-point:
“Are you a Christian?!”
And the Top Half of Thyatira barks back:
“Are YOU?!”
So, there you have it, Church-as-Body, there’s your morning star. (Rev 2:28) It’s not so much the words, but the tone behind the words. Tone reveals the spirit. And even a softer tone means nothing if there is no touch incarnate to bring meaning to the words which are preached. Ya’ know, the whole “sounding gong..” thing?
1 Corinthians 13:1 “If I speak in tongues of human beings and of angels but I don’t have love, I’m a clanging gong or a clashing cymbal.”
The top half of Thyatira embraced Love. She is now spiritually robed in purple “made of fine linen, bright and clean.” (Rev 19:8) She is standing just like the freshly inspired Gentiles of old who came to the early Church. They were bright and “awake.” They’d learned to love as God loves. They’d grown into Peter’s shoes. They’d learned that when Jesus said, “Feed My sheep” to Peter on the third and last round (Jn 21:17), that that “feeding” was the flock “feeding” each other, and they went where they did not want to go. (v 18) They’d realized that grace and loving-kindness must be brought into the practices which we preach:
John 13:35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Acts 11:18 When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”
And now another loop in ‘The Time of the Gentiles’ is complete. (Luke 21:24) Amen.
Rev 21:6 Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.

5 After Easter 28 April 2013 Gospel: John: 13:31-35
Acts 11:1-18
11:1 Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God.

11:2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him,

11:3 saying, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?”

11:4 Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying,

11:5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me.

11:6 As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air.

11:7 I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’

11:8 But I replied, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’

11:9 But a second time the voice answered from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’

11:10 This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven.

11:11 At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were.

11:12 The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house.

11:13 He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter;

11:14 he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.’

11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning.

11:16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’

11:17 If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?”

11:18 When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”

Psalm 148
148:1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights!

148:2 Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host!

148:3 Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars!

148:4 Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!

148:5 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created.

148:6 He established them forever and ever; he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

148:7 Praise the LORD from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps,

148:8 fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command!

148:9 Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!

148:10 Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds!

148:11 Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!

148:12 Young men and women alike, old and young together!

148:13 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven.

148:14 He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his faithful, for the people of Israel who are close to him. Praise the LORD!

Revelation 21:1-6
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.”

21:6 Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.

John 13:31-35
13:31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him.

13:32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.

13:33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’

13:34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.

13:35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

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