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Tuesday, 20 June 2017

"Love... Surpasses Knowledge."

"I ask for the grace to pray and meditate faithfully.  I ask for patience, tolerance, empathy, compassion, and gentleness.  I ask to abstain from anger, anxiety, arrogance, compulsive behaviour, discouragement, and self-importance.  I ask to know and follow Jesus more closely, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly."


Ephesians 3:18-21
18I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.


1) "...the power to comprehend;" "...the breadth and length and height and depth;" "..the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge;" "...filled with all the fullness;" "...abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine;"


2) Paul uses small words to describe (inasmuch as it can be) the vastness of the love of Christ "the breadth and length and height and depth... that surpasses knowledge... all the fullness of God."  How often do we get so focused on the little part that is right before us and part of our immediate experience, mistaking that little expression for the whole.  The WHOLE.  THE WHOLE.  And do we remember that it is God's power working in us that "is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask of imagine"? or do we get caught up once again on our own limitation?  our own egos? our own way of thinking?  thinking it is us accomplishing, or trying to accomplish what cannot be done?  What does "comprehend" mean?  It strikes me as an act of the intellect, but that would not be consistent with this context.  "Comprehension" is more comprehensive that an intellectual act.  It is experiential, maybe prior to understanding.  Comprehension maybe brushes against the cloud of "unknowing," "that surpasses knowledge."


3) What is the invitation in all this?  To do what I can and let go of the rest.  To let God accomplish more than I can (or want to) accomplish.


"Holy one, help me let go of knowledge and comprehend the vastness of your love that surpasses knowledge."


Breathprayer: "Love... Surpasses Knowledge."



Monday, 19 June 2017

"Glory... Grounded in Love."

"I ask for the grace to pray and meditate faithfully.  I ask for patience, kindness, empathy, compassion, and gentleness of spirit.  I ask to abstain from anger, anxiety, arrogance, compulsive behaviour, cynicism, discouragement, and self-importance. I ask to know and follow Jesus more closely, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly."


Ephesians 3:14-17
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. 16I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.


1) "...every family;" "...the riches of his glory;" "...inner being;" "...that Christ may dwell in your hearts;" "...rooted and grounded in love."


2) I love the image of "being rooted and grounded in love."  I wonder if we remember on a daily basis as we move from one task to another that this is what we are supposed to be hosting, "being rooted and grounded in love."  Paul makes a universalizing statement in this prayer: "from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name."  There are no conditions set on that claim.  We all derive from the same source, that makes us all kindred (in Paul's case, he's referring to Gentile and Jew).  I find myself wondering is it at all possible that God wouldn't want us "strengthened in your inner being"?  Of course not.  Paul asks for something God wants.  God wants us strengthened in our inner being.  What are the obstacles that keep me from being ground in love?  hmm... what are the obstacles to feeling grounded in love?  could it be possible to be grounded in love, yet not feel the love?  What would help feel that grounding in love?


3) What is the invitation in all this?  To feel the love.  To breathe deeply and feel my body ground in the earth, getting heavier with each exhale and imagine love weighing down, grounding in the earth.


"Holy One, strengthen us in our inner being that Christ may dwell in our hearts, rooting and grounding us in love."


Breathprayer: "Glory... grounded in love."

Saturday, 17 June 2017

"The Mystery Hidden... the Wisdom of God."

"I ask for the grace to prayer and meditate faithfully.  I ask for patience, tolerance, empathy, compassion, and gentleness.  I ask to abstain from anger, anxiety, arrogance, compulsive behaviour, cynicism, discouragement, and self-importance.  I ask to know and follow Jesus more closely, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly."


Ephesians 3:7-13
7 Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the working of his power. 8Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, 9and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; 10so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him. 13I pray therefore that you may not lose heart over my sufferings for you; they are your glory.


1) "...the gift of God's grace;" "...the boundless riches of Christ;" "...the mystery hidden for ages;" "...the wisdom of God;"  "... rich variety;" "...eternal purpose;" "...they are your glory;"


2) I fear we have cheapened the riches, and culled the variety of the wisdom of God in the traditions that the church has passed on.  Paul waxes poetic whenever he talks about "the boundless riches of Christ" and "the eternal purpose" of God and what gets handed on is black and white, right and wrong, do this, don't do that, believe this or go to hell, though shalt not... none of that sounds like "boundless riches," or "rich variety,"  let alone "mystery" or "wisdom."  What Paul describes sounds like something I might want to participate in. And to remember that he writes all this from prison... granted, a relatively comfortable house arrest, rather than an institution of walls, gates, locks and surveillance... he has ample access to parchment and pen... but his life is threatened because of what he feels compelled to share and yet he continues to share it and takes joy in sharing them message.  What if what Paul is describing really is as he describes it?  What is life in loving community compared to the violent, competitive, precarious culture of first century Rome?  What is life in loving community compared to the violent, competitive, consumptive culture of today?  What is life like when you look into the eyes of a neighbour and see a brother/sister/lover made in the same image and likeness of God as you, compared to seeing an alien, a stranger, an enemy?  "boundless riches of Christ... the wisdom of God in its rich variety... they are your glory."


3) What is the invitation I all this?  To witness the boundless riches of Christ in my neighbours, my friends, my lovers.


"Holy One, reveal to us your eternal purpose."


Breathprayer: "The mystery hidden... the wisdom of God."

Friday, 16 June 2017

"Christ Jesus... the Mystery."

"I ask for the grace to pray and meditate faithfully.  I ask for patience, tolerance, empathy, compassion, and gentleness.  I ask to abstain from anger, anxiety, arrogance, compulsive behaviour, cynicism, discouragement, and self-importance.  I ask to know and follow Jesus more closely, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly."


Ephesians 3:1-6
3This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— 2for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, 4a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. 5In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: 6that is, the Gentiles have become fellow-heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.


1) "...sharers in the promise;" "...prisoner for Christ Jesus;" "...you Gentiles;" "...God's grace;" "...the mystery;" "...the mystery of Christ;" "...in former generations this mystery was not made known;" "...by the Spirit;" "...the Gentiles have become fellow-heirs;"


2) If only we had maintained the revelation of "fellow-heirs."  Paul's point was that the promise God had made to Israel, through Christ was now available to everyone.  God did not replace the Israelites with the Gentiles, but extended the promise to be all inclusive.  I feel a desire to go back to read what Paul, "wrote above in a few words."  As the liturgy states, "Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again."  But Paul said more than that.  We too have died to how we were and have been raised with Christ.  Is it possible that we can die to 2,000 years of trespass? of violence between pagans and Christians?  Christians and Jews?  Christians and indigenous peoples?  Christians and Muslims?  Maybe if Christians actually followed the teachings of Jesus and Paul.  Maybe if we genuinely sought humility, justice and kindness instead of being right.  Mystery is right.  A mystery that anyone might be willing to die to their own way of thinking and being so that something new could be born.  Paul has been arrested because he is trying to serve the very people he once persecuted.


3) What is the invitation in all this?  Who do I currently persecute?  How can I serve them instead?


"Holy One, continue to reveal your mystery to us, until we get it, and make peace."


Breathprayer: "Christ Jesus... the mystery."

Thursday, 15 June 2017

"Citizens... with the Saints."

"I ask for the grace to pray and meditate faithfully.  I ask for patience, tolerance, empathy, compassion, and gentleness.  I ask to abstain from anger, anxiety, arrogance, compulsive behaviour, cynicism, discouragement, and self-importance.  I ask to know and follow Jesus more closely, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly."


Ephesians 2:17-22
17So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God.


1) "...proclaimed peace;" "...in one Spirit;" "...no longer strangers and aliens;" "...citizens with the saints;" "...members of the household;" "...the cornerstone;" "...a holy temple in the Lord;" "...built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God;" "


2) I guess it is somewhat reassuring to realized that Paul, 2,000 years ago was struggling constantly to bring peace to the communities that were constantly experiencing conflict within themselves.  Some things never change.  I do appreciate the poetry of his prose, one biblical reference layered upon another seamlessly.  "Citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God."  Does it feel like we are citizens with the saints and members of the household of God?  Every day?  All day?  Some days, for sure.  But some days... less so.  It is a tall calling to be "citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God."  I wonder if the day to day tasks might be lighter if we took this calling seriously, every day, reminding ourselves that we are not earning our way into citizenship, but that we are already citizens and the work is what citizens do, we serve.


3) What is the invitation in all this?  Maybe I'm making a few posters for around the office and church, "You are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God."


"Holy One, come and proclaim your peace among us."


Breathprayer: "Citizens... with the saints."

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

"Christ... Is Our Peace."

"I ask for the grace to pray and meditate faithfully.  I ask for patience, tolerance, empathy, compassion, and gentleness.  I ask to abstain from anger, anxiety, arrogance, compulsive behaviour, cynicism, discouragement, and self-importance.  I ask to know and follow Jesus more closely, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly."


Ephesians 2:14-16
14For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, so that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.


1) "...he is our peace;" "...broken down... the hostility between us;" "...one new humanity;" "...reconcile both groups to God in one body;" "...putting to death that hostility;" "


2) Do I really want an end to that hostility?  hmm... there is a divide within myself over whether or not I want that hostility to really end.  One part says, "Yes, I have no more energy for that hostility, I want it over, I want to move on, and it is what God calls me to." And the other part says, "But I'm right and he's a jerk! Again and again, he's a jerk.  And he just won't stop.  I'm right!  I'm right!  I'm right!"  The first part says, "I don't care if I'm right or he's right, or if we are both right or neither of us are right.  I'm too tired for the hostility to go on.  It is time for peace."  The second part says, "But what about when he's a jerk again!"  A third part (most like likely something like "self-in-presence") observes that I am big enough to hold the difference of opinion between these two parts.  There is lots of space in me... I'm made in the image and likeness of God (so is he).  There's room for hostility; there's room for peace.  Knowing/trusting that feels more peaceful.  He's going to keep doing what he's doing.  I can only choose not to react.


3) What is the invitation in all this?  To do nothing.  To breath into the open spaces.  To let Christ stand between us.  To choose peace.


"Holy One."


Breathprayer: "Christ... is our peace."

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

"Commonwealth... of Promise."

"I ask for the grace to pray and meditate faithfully.  I ask for patience, tolerance, empathy, compassion, and gentleness.  I ask to abstain from anger, anxiety, arrogance, compulsive behaviour, discouragement, cynicism, and self-importance.  I ask to know and follow Jesus more closely, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly."


Ephesians 2:11-13
11 So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by those who are called ‘the circumcision’—a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— 12remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.


1) "...aliens from the commonwealth of Israel;" "...strangers to the covenants of promise;" "...without God in the world;" "...But now;" "...brought near by the blood of Christ;" "...remember;" "...at one time;" "...remember that at one time;" "...remember that you were at that time;" "...aliens from the commonwealth... strangers to the covenants;" "...no hope;"


2) I love the poetry of Paul's expression, the way he layers statements to emphasis his point.  It can be so easy to forget that things have not always been the way they currently are.  In fact, its easy to forget that things aren't currently the way they seem.  Paul is calling on the Gentiles for some humility.  It seems someone may have been proclaiming that these "Gentile Christians" or "uncircumcised Christians" are God's new favorites, and God has abandoned the Jews, or those who have been "circumcised."  "I'm a better Christian that you" is neither a new game, nor one that we've grown out of.  It is a thing of the "flesh" or human action that has us creating hierarchies of who's better than anyone else.  Paul asserts that by the blood of Christ, we all become the same.  I'm usually not fond of emphasizing "the blood and body of Christ," I think folks tend to take it way too literally.  But when congregation members complain that the bread is gluten free this week, I like to remind them that Jesus died, alone, an excruciating, shameful death on a cross, and they are complaining about bread that isn't to their liking.  It's so easy to think we are all that, while grumbling about trivialities.


3) What is the invitation in all this?  To consciously practice some humility and gratitude.


"Holy One, thank you for the commonwealth of hope and promise."


Breathprayer: "Commonwealth... of promise."