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Category Archives: Lenten Journey

A series of posts across the 40 days of Lent, 2014.

Progress Report?

Report CardLong about the end of last year, I wrote a post called The Power of Red Ink, reacting to the habit of some self-styled “Christians” arrogating the right to judge others.

The points I brought up were that:

Jesus’ definition of a “Christian” as a disciple of His, hinged on how OTHER people perceived us… not we ourselves.  (By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  Jn 13:35)

While Jesus forbids us from judging and condemning anyone else, Scripture does strongly encourage that we judge ourselves. However, as a friend of mine once put it, judgment may be seen as “entirely a process of revealing truth in order to free from that which is diminishing to one’s life.  To ‘judge’ something is to understand and state the truth about it (like a judge at a music festival will actually mark the music being played for what the student did that was strong and note how he could perform it better).  This is called judging but it is entirely for the purpose of growth, not punishment.”

To such an end, one day Jesus challenged me to have a look at the extent to which I was “harmonious” with the “Him in me”, simply taking the elements of 1 Corinthians 13, and scaling my own sense of consistency with them, or inconsistency. Some elements are strengths for me, others… not so strong.

The tricky bit is not to let that “Report Card Anxiety” thing become part of the exercise. Just let the spirit flow through the words, and praise Him for the strengths, and relax into Him for the areas in which to become stronger.

The older post published the “list” in a usable form. But here is a Table that may be more convenient. No one should ever see this but you and God. And when the “new and scary” wears off, it’s actually kinda fun.

I think part of the “discomfort” here is the sense of being so transparent, so naked and vulnerable before Jesus. But, rather like the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus only makes such intimacy a matter of wonder and joy, never embarrassment or hurt. Our “cognition”, our “Sunday School minds”, readily and easily say… “Well, Jesus knows all about me, anyway. He sees everything.” True enough, yes. But that readily bypasses all those little nooks, crannies, and rugs beneath which we sweep all the uncomfortable dust bunnies so that even WE don’t look at them often.

I just had this really odd, and a bit funny, realization. This year, so far, I’ve had no urging towards any particular Lenten project here for ThePostmodernMystic (TPM). That struck me as a little odd, but not at all unwelcome. So many Roses open so frequently and beautifully, the last thing I need is a “schedule” for such things.

But as I just thought of the “dust bunnies”, it free associated with Spring Cleaning… like those times as a kid when you REALLY cleaned out your room. I don’t know if yours was like mine was, but while it could be said that since my parents owned the house, they “knew” everything inside of it… Like Jesus knows everything of me and mine… But somehow I could accumulate tons of “unknown” dust bunnies (particularly in closets and under the bed)… that even *I* knew nothing about.

Anyway, I’ve had an inquiry or two for this table… so I’ve wanted to put it up here. If the idea intrigues you… enjoy this. Play with it. Let you and the Lord play with it together. You’ll be amazed at how together ye already are, and you’ll be encouraged to see where you want to draw nearer yet.

There’s no Final Exam. And the purpose of the relationship is not the destination… it’s enjoyment of the trip.

Grace to thee — The Little Monk

Subject A B C D F +
Love is patient,
love is kind
is not jealous
love does not brag
is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly;
it does not seek its own,
is not provoked,
does not take into account a wrong suffered
does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but
rejoices with the truth;
bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
(1 Cor 13:4-7)
 

Gathering Together

jerusalem ruins“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” [Matthew 23:37-39]

When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches,
For You have been my help,
And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to You;
Your right hand upholds me. [Psalm 63:6-8]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

GrebesI love nature programming on Discovery Channel or PBS. Some shows are more interesting than others. Shark Week grabs my interest. Generally speaking Bird Watching does not.

But one evening long ago I happened across a program on the flora and fauna of the Holy Land. And for some reason, my attention was captured by an aquatic fowl called the “Grebe“.

Contrary to the old saw… The Grebe looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and swims like a duck… but honest… it’s not a duck. It’s a Grebe. There are 5 different kinds in Israel, and beyond what I’m about to say, I can’t remember much about them. But here is what I found fascinating about the Grebe in Galilee…

Like most water fowl, Grebes nest on shore quite near the water’s edge. Adults cover their eggs with grasses, and spend most of their time in the water. They can dive for fish, and are much more comfortable in the water than on land. When their chicks hatch, they can swim almost immediately, and will follow their mother hither and yon. All this sounds like a duck so far, right? But here’s what’s different and propelled me into some moments of deep worship.

When duck chicks are threatened, as by a fox or other predator, they will head into the water and swim away, following their mother in a line. This is good… but still leaves them exposed individually, a bit vulnerable.

grebe 2But when a mother Grebe sees danger on shore, she races to her chicks and backs up to them, dipping her tail to make a ramp onto her back. Her chicks “climb aboard” her body itself, and she tucks their little bodies under her wings. She sails out to deep water like a viking ship, her offspring’s heads bobbing above the edge of her wings, as they ride as safe and secure as if buckled into a child seat.

The Grebe flees from danger at the full-blown speed of the adult, not the baby paddling of newborn ducklings. The Grebe maneuvers with the skill of the canny mother, not the naive duckling. And the protective Grebe mother moves them quickly out into deep water, far from the shallows of ducklings.

As I watched this program, I found myself hearing Psalm 63:7 echoing in my mind. In fact, there was a worship song I used to sing that contained the verse “Beneath the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice, to find a dwelling place secure”. (Blest Be the Lord). I thought of King David as a boy shepherd. I wondered how many times he had watched the Grebe save her chicks from a slinking cat, a slithering snake, or a sly fox. I could imagine him seeing the Grebe as a model of safety for her offspring, and this image returning to him years later as he wrote his praises to God for His protection and care.

Whenever I see Jesus speak of gathering His children as chicks… to this day, I never envision a chicken (as do most of my friends) covering her chicks in the barnyard with her flapping wings. I still see the Grebe, sailing serenely out to safety as she clamps them firmly within the hollow of her breasts.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Beneath the shadow of His wings we can rejoice. We have a dwelling place secure!

 

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Journey – Getting to Town

JerusalemOur Journey is drawing to a close. We are now in Holy Week. Different religious traditions deal in a variety of ways with the “rhythms” of the Liturgical Year. But no matter the tradition, there are few who fail to sense the increasing intensity and background hum of the Passion of Christ as we approach Easter Sunday.

Jesus, just ahead of us, has just made His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.

When He approached Bethphage and Bethany, near the mount that is called Olivet, He sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you; there, as you enter, you will find a colt tied on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of it.’” So those who were sent went away and found it just as He had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord has need of it.” They brought it to Jesus, and they threw their coats on the colt and put Jesus on it. As He was going, they were spreading their coats on the road. As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, shouting:

Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord;
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” [Luke 19:29-39]

It has been this last line that has captivated me in recent weeks. “Crying Stones”… “Talking Rocks”. I know that may sound strange, but that was what struck me about this passage. I mean, Jesus SAID that. I’m kind of used to just blowing past that in the text, but this time it stopped me dead. Usually, I just pass over it, unconsciously covering it with a “poetic license” or “hyperbole” label. But recently, I’ve learned not to do that. I’ve learned not to assume that Jesus could speak anything less than the truth.

So I found myself pondering how stones could cry out. To be honest, I haven’t figured it out. My brain, my mind, cannot comprehend how rocks… can speak. But there’s lots of things Jesus taught, that stretch my reasoning beyond the way words are typically used. Things like being born again, or dying to save one’s life, or worshiping in neither mountain nor temple. I believe Jesus utterly, but I also acknowledge that there are times He uses words differently than I do.

So I took this Truth, that stones could praise Jesus, and looked across scripture for other similar applications. In short, I came to realize that there are many times “inanimate creation” does “living things”. All the way back to Cain and Abel, blood can call out to the Lord. Many Old Testament passages state that the blood of the righteous call out to God. Balaam’s mount clearly spoke in defense of her actions. Trees and mountains will obey a command uttered in sufficient faith. All these thoughts and reflections blended together into what seemed a single truth.

That all of creation is a unified whole. Everything “lives” in God, and He is God of All. We, His children, are a PART of that, but we are part of a greater life that is all of creation itself. All of creation praises and worships Him, and while we are blessed to be graced with free will, we are not the only creatures who inhabit His Kingdom.

This scripture seemed to echo:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. [Colossians 1:15-20]

“In Him all things hold together…”

That phrase arrested me as well. He is Life Himself.

I still cannot say I “understand”, in the sense of “comprehending”, or being able to contain and constrain this truth by my reasoning and logic. Nonetheless, I KNOW that Jesus spoke the truth of creation praising Him. There are moments, like in the quiet of the night or extremely early morning, where I can almost hear the praises of nature and stars as they sing to Him.

And beneath all of this, there is great joy in knowing… we are not alone. We are never alone. Not only does God Himself wrap us in the arms of His embrace, but we are surrounded by a creation that is held together at each and every moment in and by Him. We are inextricably woven into the fabric of Creation, and all of that, is woven in Him.

 

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Journey – Souvenir Hunting

Desert CaravanWhen I was a child my father engaged in business all over the world and took many trips. He would always bring something special back for me upon his return. Each was unique, quite characteristic of its country of origin, and often went with a story.

In recent days I have felt a need to assemble some “Pearls for the Box”. There are several things, simple things, gleaned from Scripture and from prayer and pondering, that I have discovered to be True and godly, but do not readily lend themselves to simple “proof texting”.

These are truths I should like to communicate, over time, to my grandchildren. “Souvenirs of my Travels”, so to speak. They are not scriptural texts, but insights synthesized and gleaned from text, prayer and experience of the journey.

I share them with you here, with the understanding that these are not scriptural texts themselves, and are not presented as representing what is universally true for all people. These are things I have discovered to be true for me, in my universe, to my conscience. Thus, if they bless you, wonderful! If you disagree, or they do not speak to your spirit, please cast them aside with my thanks.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Pearls

God created man as His child, to love him.

Love Himself, Alone, transforms, changing what is not like Him, into Him, His very Self.

People are sacred… ALL people… altogether holy. Not because of who we are, or what we do, or what we believe, or how we live. None of that. But people are sacred because of the Holy God who fashioned us from, by, and with His Love… by His will.

There is no handy dandy crib sheet report card checklist of sin. Sin is to deviate from the will of God, to violate the conscience and act in defiance or disobedience to Love Himself. Sin expresses itself in dealing with any other, God or man, as less than sacred.

All of Christian life could be simplified to one verb and two virtues: “To Love”, “Righteousness”, and “Holiness”. To exercise righteousness is to love all others as sacred children of God. To exercise holiness is to love God as sacred family. To love, to receive grace from God Alone as Source, and flow it through onwards to ALL that surrounds us, is Life Himself. Anything other, whether thought, word, or deed, is death, illusion, shadow, empty and meaningless.

Words are transcendent, eternally begotten from the Mind of God, flowing through us and uttered into Creation, penetrating others.

We are judged and held accountable to God, by exactly the standard to which we hold others. The words we generate through our minds and hearts, return to us as we stand before Him in His light inescapably.

To recognize the need of another, to assess its magnitude in order to meet that need, is necessary in order to love one another as Christ loves us. To assign a “value” to that neediness, relative or absolute, positive or negative, is to “judge” In the manner forbidden to us by Jesus.

To desire to fulfill the will of God with what we do, to act in a manner determined to honor and love God, IS to fulfill and honor His will in love for Him. It is not whether we turn left or right at a fork in the road that gives God joy. It is pausing at the fork to ask Him which way He prefers us to go. The moment we ask, because His pleasure is our basis for deciding, we give Him the fullness of His pleasure.

Our adoption as joint-heirs with Christ is our investiture to exercise the authority vested in us by the head of Our Family, as we now function in the fullness of the authority of the Father.

God blesses, empowers, calls, and pours grace upon all His children identically… infinitely… which is the only way He can be. People sort themselves out along a continuum according to the degree with which they will relax, receive, perceive, experience and embrace that infinite flow. God is fully and entirely present, intimately connected, totally “wired in” to Himself. Spiritual disciplines, devotions, prayer, and worship are all exercises of “turning down the background noise” in order to allow us to perceive what is already there.

Every person on earth has the same call and mission in Christ, to be vessel for Him that He live within us and walk among us again building His Kingdom. We are all the same rank. But each of us play out that mission and call on a stage “uniquely set” for the single actor, with the singular background, that we have. It is all “perfectly redemptive”.

We are frail. We are created to be loved by God, and it is His will that we come to enjoy that by returning that love in trusting relationship with Him. He knows our frailties and faults, and they do not limit His love or forgiveness or grace. He does not condemn us for our frailties. We need to learn to do the same, and embrace our frail selves as enthusiastically as He does.

We receive all good things from the Father without hesitation or qualification. We are to reflect those to Him, and focus those outwards to others, without expectation of return or condition from others.

We need not work to merit spiritual awareness or enlightenment. We need not “climb the mountain” to see the face of God, or persuade Him to bless us with His presence, or earn our way into His intimacy. He is already there/here. He already infinitely fills and pours all of that onto, and into, and over us, at each moment. The only “effort” needed is not to drag, or persuade, or beg Him to come. Awareness of Him does not depend on how effectively we can importune Him to make Himself known. Rather, awareness of Him depends on how effectively we can still the self, quiet the mind, calm the heart, quell the appetites, release our “stuff”, and calm our fears… that WE PERCEIVE and EXPERIENCE that which He has wrapped us in all along, from before the beginning.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

These are the items in my pack that I am to retain. Grace to thee, Gentle Reader — The Little Monk

 

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Journey – Disposing of Shadow Words

camelWords… words… words…

I am a wordsmith. Teaching, preaching, counseling, writing, one way or another the Lord’s primary use of me and my life is through the use of words.

Quite a while ago, I sat in an evening working on something or other, and Jesus interrupted, saying… “Go get your License to Preach and your Ordination Certificate for a moment.” It was an odd request, quite unexpected, but it was easy enough to comply and so I did.

“Now look at what you are…”

And my eyes focused on the center of the two pages… at their most meaningful phrases… “Minister of the Gospel”, “Gospel Ministry”. Then, as I stood and watched, God began to change the words before my eyes. “Minister”, “servant”, “doulos”, “bondservant”, “My servant”… “Gospel”, “Good News”, “Word”, “Word of God”, “My Word(s)”, “Logos”, “Rhema”, “Jesus”, “Holy Spirit”… then all the permutations and combinations of those. “Servant of the Word”, “Doulos Logoi”… for several minutes this went on as within me came the growing awareness that I had been “Renamed”, just as certainly as Simon became Peter, or Saul became Paul, God had now chosen to “rename” me from “whatever I was before”, to “whatever I am now”, and that deep within that was the truth that I was now voluntarily bondservant to the Word of God.

When did that happen? How did that happen? There was this very special moment, in front of a church and congregation, when hands were laid on me, when breath was breathed on me, when sacred words were entoned over me, and something quite… inexpressible… happened. But while that was “IT”, yes… “IT” was not a lone, isolated moment. There were other moments, earlier moments, hands laid on me, words spoken over me, breath breathed on me… other moments as much a part of this one as this one. Very private, very sacred, very intimate, unspeakably powerful.

But whatever that was, whenever that was, however that was… here is now where we had come. Here is now where I stood. Here is now me, in my new and additional name… “Doulos of the Word of God, the Good News”. Yes. But… but… what did that MEAN really? I was stricken quite mute, nearly senseless, as all this unfolded before me, and God had me sit quietly while He continued with a remarkable tableau…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” [John 1:1-3]

In my prayer, in my mind’s eye, it was as though I stood in the vastness, the silence, of the Void. God the Father was present, though I could not see, or hear, or feel Him. I simply knew He was present. And then He spoke… a single word, but said in “God Language”… beautiful beyond description or music, and… while it was but one word, it said a multitude of things… the Word was…

“Son…”

The word echoed and reverberated, with tones behind it that spoke vast and wondrous other words… Love, Mine, Jesus, Thou… and so beautiful, rendered in God-Speak. As if a word sung, and painted, and dancing, all at once.

From that interchange, from that dialogue, from their relationship, from their harmony and Song, proceeds another… Another Word of God… the Rhema… the Spirit Between Them… Their Love.

THIS… THESE… are the Word(s) of God! Pater, Logos, Rhema, Love, Life!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

But what is a “word” really? Does it “exist”? Now, wait a moment. Stop and think about that for just a moment. What does a “word” weigh? Can you measure it, hold it, feel it? How long and wide is it? What color is it? What does it smell like, taste like? So, I ask again… does a “word” exist? Is it “real”?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Yes. Yes, “words” are “real”. They are transcendent. They emerge from ideas, which emerge from consciousness, which emerges from the Mind, Heart, Soul, Being of God Himself. God is ultimately the condition of all possibility. Words are amazing, in that they transcend time, space, and person.

Words express a unique human trait, our ability to express an idea from one mind, one person, to another, using words. Words, so uniquely human, are part of our legacy as created “in the image” of God Himself.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

God rolled all of this through me on this incredible morning. I was overwhelmed with the Power, the Dignity, the Holiness of “Words”.

Scripture is replete with warnings. Jesus spoke movingly and pointedly about words and their power.

Words can penetrate and permeate the sacred soul and mind and heart of another.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Where does this lead?

I have a choice of words.

I can use words, select words, release words… that penetrate another person with hurt, judgment, condemnation, false labels or accusations, abandonment… I can wound, denigrate, desecrate, devalue, and demean another. I can choose to do that, with words, if I choose to craft and utter words of darkness and shadow into another sacred person, diminishing them and taking life from them.

OR

I can use, select, and release words that penetrate another person with love, encouragement, edification, walking alongside them, growing them, treasuring and lifting them up into light, and fill them with increasing Life. I can chose to do that with words, if I choose to craft and utter words of Life, Light and Love.

I can utter words of darkness and the enemy, or words of Life, Light, and Jesus. My choice.

This was the challenge. And this was my choice. I go to the pack on my Journey, and separate the words of shadow and selfishness from the words of Light and Love. I leave in the evening fire, all the debris and words that take life from others, that judge and devalue others, that abandon and denigrate others.

I will keep only words of Light, Love, and grace. I will speak only the words that come from the heart of Jesus. I choose to let my voice express only the heart of Jesus. I release and forgive all “shadow words” ever spoken at me. I renounce and release all “shadow words” I’ve ever spoken at others.

I will leave them here, abandoned at the side of this trail, not to be encumbered by them as I move along towards Jerusalem, towards the Temple, towards the Passover, towards the Cross.

 

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Journey – Why the Sword?

sunAnd He said to them, “When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” They said, “No, nothing.” And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘And He was numbered with transgressors’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.”.  They said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.” [Luke 22:35-38]

So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I am He.” And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. So when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground. Therefore He again asked them, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am He; so if you seek Me, let these go their way,” to fulfill the word which He spoke, “Of those whom You have given Me I lost not one.” Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?” [John 18:4-11]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Have you ever tried to change someone’s mind?

Have you ever tried to change someone’s heart?

How, precisely, do we DO that?

How does change even happen in such things? Let me put this another way… how do we change our OWN minds and hearts? I could go into a discourse on this as long as a book, but I won’t.

If you follow this blog much, you know that I’ve learned it seems that all change of heart, all transformation, comes through the grace and power of God alone. I am utterly defeated when I try to change or transform myself. But, when I recognize a need for change, when I surrender in my own impotence to the will of God on that, when I contribute what diligence and attention I can to learning His will on the matter and meditating on the Truth of the matter, and then when I RELEASE it… and allow Him Alone to move in grace, to light up the dark or shadowy corners of my heart… BOOM! There it is! Change! Transformation! (See Romans 12:1-2). This is all I’ve ever found, in more than 60 years, that works with a mind, heart, and spirit as stubborn and headstrong as my own. But it does work!

And not for me alone. My ministry makes for strange bedfellows. I have been known to serve some severely “unlovely” sheep… including wife-beaters, child-beaters, child-molesters, thieves, arsonists, and even murderers. Their victims and survivors as well! The ONLY thing I’ve ever discovered that truly ushers change… is the assertive grace and love of God through the immediate and intimate presence of Jesus Christ. (No apologies for that view, Gentle Reader. It’s just the bald statement of my experience. Take it or leave it.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Which is what brings us to the point here, Gentle Reader and Fellow Traveller.

Everyone who loves Christ longs for change. I don’t know a single reader of this post who does not “hunger and thirst after righteousness”. My words just don’t appeal to others.

So we love. We pray. We teach. We write. We care. We embrace the broken and hurting souls around us and we weep… longing to see CHANGE! We want to relieve their hurts, pains, and emptiness. We long to “agent” for Christ, to “promote” Christ, or to “protect” Christ. We want to see hearts, minds, and souls change and transform… and we are willing to do or say almost anything to bring about such life!

And… truth be told… when we try our hardest… we fail dismally. It almost seems like the harder we try, the quicker and more dramatically we fail. The more intense and assertive we become, the further and faster we will see the object of our attentions flee from the presence of God and Christ.

Why? Why can’t the passion of our desire to do good, and the intensity of our efforts, succeed in bringing about change in the hearts and minds of others we want to help?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Take another look at the passages opening this post.

Have you ever looked at these really closely? Have you ever had the Lord stop you in your study and ask… “Why? WHY? Why in the world would I say such a thing here to the Disciples? At such a time? At such a strange time? Why would I tell them to find and take swords to the Garden, and then berate them for using a sword? Does that make any kind of sense?”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Well, look at one other passage and see if the parallel lights up…

When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem; and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem. When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them, [and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”] And they went on to another village. [Luke 9:51-56]

Now bear in mind that this chapter of Luke opens with the foundation of our Swords teaching…

And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing. And He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that city. And as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them. Departing, they began going throughout the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. [Luke 9:1-5]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So, here in this post is this HUGE “Introduction”… which is about to come to a crashing conclusion. It may even seem anti-climactic.

There is a simple pattern here. Jesus is about to execute the most massive “change” in all of history, redeeming Creation Itself. He is about to execute the most incredible “conquest” of all time, conquering darkness, evil, and even death itself. He is about to rescue, to express the ultimate action of Love, towards all who are or shall ever be…

Jesus will hold all authority and power as He does that. He will proclaim that should He ask, the Father would send Legions of Angels to His protection. Even His mockers will cry out, “You… Son of God… Come down from the Cross!” And He COULD HAVE!!! But He DID NOT!

Why? WHY??

It’s all this same lesson. It’s all this same truth. It’s all this same realization and teaching that He shared with His Disciples, and with all of us.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Unconditional love, delivered in the submissive meekness of Christ, transforms and generates change by His very power and authority.” (And nothing else does.)

“Meekness is not Weakness. Weakness is to lack the means or resources to defend oneself or to force someone to act against their will. Meekness is to HAVE those means, but to exercise the restraint and self-control to refrain from using them.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

How does all this tie together?

Jesus empowered the Disciples with the authority to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, and yes… even to rain down fire and brimstone on an inhospitable village for rejecting Jesus’ presence. When the affronted Disciples, James and John, pondered exercising their authority in this way, Jesus castigated them for the thought. He turned and rebuked them, declaring they didn’t know His spirit yet. They didn’t understand how He worked, what His mission was, yet. They had to know they HAD the power to destroy, but REFRAIN from its exercise. Only this restraint, this expression of unconditional love and acceptance, could ultimately communicate Christ and bring about true change.

Jesus told the Disciples to arm themselves just as He prepared to enter the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew exactly what was coming… His betrayal, arrest, abuse, trial, and execution. How strange, no? They all entered the Garden, Jesus was assaulted, Peter tried to defend Him and severed Machus’ ear. Jesus HEALED Malchus and REBUKED Peter! Why? Why all of this? Jesus needed for the Disciples to know that they HAD the weapons, the power to destroy and injure, but to REFRAIN from its exercise. Only this restraint, this expression of unconditional love and acceptance, could ultimately communicate Christ and bring about true change.

The Cross itself was coming. Jesus had the power and authority to save Himself and fulfill the desires He expressed that “this cup pass” from Him. He could have done all that. But He Himself laid down His life, none took it from Him, He submitted to death in order to conquer it. Jesus on the Cross is the ultimate expression that only this restraint, this expression of unconditional love and acceptance, ultimately communicates Love and brings about true change.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

What am I to leave by the wayside on this Journey through Lent?

My right to “draw my sword” to effect change. I am to understand that “those who live by it, die by it”. To use aggression, assertiveness, adrenalin, “stuff” that imposes upon the will or dignity of another… only results in their defensive response, aggressive riposte, or snapping up of defensive shields. Worst of all, it may result in their being wounded or even maimed. At that point, the Lord Himself has to heal them, perhaps in a moment when He was trying to focus on far more important issues.

Are we to go “armed” through our Kingdom journeys? Yes. Yes absolutely. We are not to be seen as weak, powerless, or irrelevant. But, astonishingly, we are ever to constrain that “implied threat” by the power of our self-control, our understanding of our spirit and our mission, and by the power of our love and willingness to suffer.

We do not generate change and healing by our force of will upon another. We generate change and healing by our force of will in submission and surrender to love and suffering.

It is the force of that Love Himself that radiates outwards like the heat of the sun, and generates change… transforming that which is NOT like itself… INTO itself.

It’s Radiation.

 

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Remember: The Path of Descent

Reblogged from: Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation

The Path of Descent

Sabbath Meditation

Saturday, April 5, 2014


Remember
: The Path of Descent

The Path of Descent is the Theme of Themes of the Bible. (Sunday)

Until we admit that we are powerless, the Real Power will not be recognized, accepted, or even sought. (Monday)

The Gospel was able to accept that life is tragic, but then graciously added that we can survive and will even grow from this tragedy. (Tuesday)

We don’t come to God by doing it right; we come to God by doing it wrong! (Wednesday)

We don’t break through and transform history from the top, but from the bottom. (Thursday)

Real transformation happens when people have lost their foundation and ground, and then experience God upholding them so that they come out even more alive on the other side. (Friday)

Rest: Falling and Failing into Union

In many ways prayer—certainly contemplative prayer or meditation—is planned and organized failure. If you’re not prepared for failure, you’ll avoid prayer, and that’s what most people do. Prayer is typically not an experience of immediate union, satisfaction, or joy; in fact, quite the opposite. Usually you meet your own incapacity for and resistance to union. You encounter your thinking, judging, controlling, accusing, blaming, fearing mind. So why pray?

Julian of Norwich, my favorite mystic, uses the word “sin” to mean a state of separateness or disunion. She writes that you become aware of your state of resistance or separateness, and then when you try to sink into the experience of one-ing—Julian’s word for unitive consciousness—you realize you can’t get there by yourself. You can’t make it happen. You can’t make yourself one.

Julian writes in Revelations of Divine Love (Chapter 78), “Only in the falling apart of your own foundation can you experience God as your total foundation and your real foundation.” Otherwise you keep creating your own foundation, by your own righteousness, by your own intelligent and holy thoughts. Julian describes this reality in terms of what God does: God reveals God’s-self as your authentic foundation.

What we’re doing in prayer is letting our self-made foundation (or False Self) crumble so that God’s foundation can be our reality. Prayer is a practice in failure that overcomes our resistance to union with Love. Let’s fall into and rest in that Love one more time. . . .

From an unpublished talk, September 19, 2011

Gateway to Silence:
When I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

 

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