Jacob dreamed

On Sunday, July 17th we read from the book of Genesis:

10    Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran.

11    He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place.

12    And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

13    And the Lord stood beside him and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring;

14    and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring.

15    Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

16    Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!”

17    And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

18    So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it.

19    He called that place Bethel. —Genesis 28:10-19a

How is this (Genesis 28) our story?

Consider these questions about Jacob’s dream.

  • Do you believe this story?
  • Do you think that God has ever spoken to “mere mortals” in dreams?
  • Do you think that God, to this day, uses dreams as one way to communicate with us?
  • Do you know anyone who has dreamed and in that dream has heard God? If yes, do you believe what you have heard from this person? What clue(s) did the person use to know it was of God?
  • Have you ever “heard” God in a dream? How did you know it was God?
  • When was the last time God spoke to you in a dream?

These are a few of the questions that occur to me as I hear Jacob’s story. In the Sunday Morning Forum we shared our answers to some of these questions. We invite you to share your answers here as we continue to live in the light of this reading from Genesis. –djr

For further consideration and reflection

Consider that Jacob encountered God (v. 13), “a very personal Being.” within his dream, and was transformed. Dreams are mysterious in their power because of the One who meets us there at just the right time. —djr

Nearly midway into life I had come into a dark woods, into a blind alley. I found my way out of that stalemate through an understanding of dreams. I worked with a Jungian analyst, a Jew who had escaped from a Nazi concentration camp. He believed that the Holy One still spoke to both sleeping and waking human beings in dreams in the silence of the day and in the night. With his help I discovered that my dreams were wiser than my well-tuned rational mind and that they gave me warnings when I was in danger. They also described in symbols the disastrous situations in which I found myself. These strange messengers of the night also offered suggestions on how to find my way out of my lostness. When I followed these symbolic suggestions, much of the darkness lifted, and my situation no longer seemed hopeless. Many of my psychological and physical symptoms of distress disappeared.

In addition to all this, I found a very personal Being at the heart of reality who cared for me; my theological dry bones were covered with sinew and flesh. And then, as I continued to listen to my dreams, I experienced the risen Christ in a way that I had not thought possible. And last of all, I realized that the Holy One continued to knock on the doorway of my inner being in my dreams even when I paid no attention to them, and he would also be waiting for me when I deliberately opened the door of my soul to the risen Christ. Prayer, contemplation, and meditation, then, became real and necessary aspects of my life as I journeyed toward fulfillment and wholeness.

Morton T. Kelsey, God, dreams, and revelation,
Kindle edition, Preface (search: stalemate)

Abba

“You have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Romans 8:15-16

A prayer for the week

Abba, Father,
in darkness and in light,
in trouble and in joy,
help us to trust your love,
to serve your purpose,
and to praise your name,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Copied. Source not known.

 

Poem for Romans 8:24-25

For in hope, we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen?
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Romans 8:24-25

Image source: http://www.poets.org

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

 

 

A Proper 12 Art for Readings July 24, 2011


 MICHELANGELO Buonarroti
(b. 1475, Caprese, d. 1564, Roma)
Click to open Web Gallery of Art Artist Biography and to explore other works by this artist.

Rachel and Leah
1545
Marble
San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome
Click to open Web Gallery of Art display page.
 Click on their image to enlarge/fit page etc.

Art for Feast of Mary of Magdala July 22, 2011


 ANGELICO, Fra
(b. ca. 1400, Vicchio nell Mugello, d. 1455, Roma)
Click to open Web Gallery of Art Artist Biography and to explore other works by this artist.

Noli Me Tangere (Cell 1)
1440-42
Fresco, 166 x 125 cm
Convento di San Marco, Florence
Click to open Web Gallery of Art display page.
 Click on their image to enlarge/fit page etc.

Church of Sudan offers Anglicans digital record of historic day

Check in on this. Perhaps on Sunday we’ll order one or more CDs for our library. –Dan

Anglicans around the world are being offered a slice of history in the form of a new CD of around 450 photos and films recording the independence weekend in South Sudan.

International Co-ordinator for the Episcopal Church of Sudan Rebecca Coleman is hoping that people right around the Anglican Communion will want to own a CD filled with sights and sounds from the day a country was born. Not least because proceeds from the sale of these historical discs will help upgrade the communications systems in the Provincial Office.

“I have produced CDs of the photos and videos I took over the independence weekend in South Sudan,” she said. “There are 450 photos and films in total, all fantastic quality, and featuring scenes from the day such as the arrival of President Bashir, the lowering and raising of the flags, the national anthem sung by the enormous crowd, and close-ups, some humourous, of the delegates who attended.

“Bonus features include Independence Eve on Juba’s streets, the sound track of the national anthem and thanksgiving prayers in All Saints Cathedral.”

“The CD costs just 50SDG, 15USD or 15GBP,” said Rebecca, “and all proceeds go towards an urgent upgrade of the communications systems in the Episcopal Church of Sudan offices.

You can get a CD from the ECS Provincial Office, but they are also available in Juba, the USA and the UK. Contact Rebecca at international@sudan.anglican.org for more details.

via Anglican Communion News Service: Church of Sudan offers Anglicans digital record of historic day.

About flesh and body

As we continue to read in Paul’s Letter to the Romans we find a passage filled with words that made sense to the first audience without a lot of explanation, but which need some interpretation in 2011. Here is an excerpt opening the English words “flesh” and “body” as used by Paul in Greek in this letter and in his theology. Walter F. Taylor, Jr. is the Ernest W. and Edith F. Ogram Professor of New Testament Studies at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, OH.

Our text [Romans 8:1-11] uses several times the word flesh, making what seem to be almost nonsensical statements such as “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (verse 8).  If that is the reality, why even try to live in God-pleasing ways?  The key is what Paul means by flesh (sarks).  To understand his usage, we turn first to its apparent twin, body (soma).  For Paul the body is neither good nor bad in and of itself.  The issue is how the body is used.  When the body is used as God intended, the body is good.  But when the body is used inappropriately and opposed to God’s intention, it is for Paul a sinful body.  Paul’s shorthand expression for a body that is misused is the term flesh.  And so to live inappropriately is called living according to the flesh (kata sarka).  Read more about Paul’s theology. (Select “2nd Reading” tab)

What helps you to live fully for God? How has your living for God changed over the years? What kinds of “grown up” things do you do as you seek to know and do God’s will?

Leave a comment, reply to a comment, keep the Sunday conversation going. Thank you for participating in the Sunday Morning Forum.

The parable of the sower

And [Jesus] told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!” Matthew 13:3-9 See also Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Is it about the sower? the seed? the soil? How do you hear it? Consider these questions about the parable and Jesus’ interpretation of his parable.

  • Tell me more about the sower. Who is the sower? Is it only Jesus? Is it we who follow Jesus? Is it only the baptized? Can anyone sow “the word of the kingdom”? (v. 19)
  • Do you recognize these areas (path, rocky ground, thorn infested ground, good soil) in the world around you? In the people around you?
  • Do you recognize these areas in yourself? Is it possible that in ourselves, in our “field,” we will find these areas? Will we find a path, rocky ground, thorn infested patches, good soil? All 4, just 1, a combination?
  • Are we to understand that we are to sow the seed (word of the kingdom) as wildly and extravagantly as “the sower”?
  • Is it possible for soil to change? How? With what help? Over how long a time? How would you apply this knowledge to you? To the people around you?
  • Do you know anything about composting? Can the thorns be composted? Will this compost enrich the already “good soil”? Will clearing the thorns help that soil recover in order to receive seed (as good soil) the next time around? Will there be a “next time around”?

These are a few of the questions that occur to me as I hear the parable. I encourage to leave a comment. Let’s continue the conversation begun in the Forum on Sunday.

Have you ever heard of EYE?

Would you like to hear a “good” story about the generation of (Episcopal) Christians now finding their voice and their gifts? Read on, here is an excerpt and a link to the larger story.

EYE: the Episcopal Youth Event is a triennial gathering of youth and adults from every Province of the Episcopal Church. EYE 2011 took place June 22-26 in St. Paul, MN. I have been able to attend and participate in 2 of these events and can tell you the energy and enthusiasm is life-changing.

For three solid days — from early morning to late night — 730 Episcopal youth, supported by more than 300 adult advisors and 50 bishops, were immersed in a comprehensive program designed to enrich and empower the next generation of leaders in the Episcopal Church. More than 50 workshops shared knowledge, stories and skills on subjects such as prayer and spirituality, effective Bible study, youth ministry and mission trip planning. Presenters included church leaders like Maryland Bishop Eugene Sutton; the Rev. Angela Ifill, Episcopal Church black ministries officer; the Rev. Winfred Vergara, Episcopal Church Asian American ministries officer; and the Rev. Bob Honeychurch, Episcopal Church officer for congregational vitality.

Two daily plenary sessions presented keynote speakers that included Sutton, Rodger Nishioka of Columbia Theological Seminary, Episcopal missionary Cameron Graham Vivanco and the Rev. Luke Fodor, Episcopal Relief & Development’s network coordinator.

Fodor challenged the participants to “reframe the way we think about mission and our role in it,” suggesting it “is not possible for us to do mission” but that rather “mission is something that God does through us. God is the missional agent in this world.”

“My brothers and sisters, fear not. We all fall short of the glory of God, but God always works through us. Mission is not about us, but is about God and the others we meet when God is using us to build the Reign of God,” he said. “When we begin to think about mission in this way, mission becomes less and less about us. As we shed our baggage of fear, anxiety and the silent lies that suggest we don’t matter, then mission becomes more and more about God and our fellow humans.”

What was said to these young leaders is equally true for us: “reframe the way we think about mission and our role in it, for it is not possible for us to do mission, rather mission is something that God does though us. God is the missional agent in this world.” In the closing service of Holy Communion participants (young and old) heard an exhortation which is as true for us as it was for them.

Explaining that lay persons, like bishops, priests and deacons, are “the ministers of the church” (Book of Common Prayer, page 855), Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies, invited participants to “jump into the waters of baptism.” [A video of Anderson’s address is available here.]

“We are the baptized. And the true claim of baptism, as our courageous ancestor JennieWylie Kellerman said, ‘is to wade in the water and be immersed in our Lord’s perverse ethic of vulnerability and gain through loss.'”

“He was not passive. Jesus troubled the waters. That’s our job if we are to follow Jesus. Our job is to upset any status quo that stands in the way of peace and justice, to question and do something about anything that stands in the way of a reconciled world,” said Anderson. “That’s why we are committed to mission. It’s our job to turn this world upside down; to turn over the tables; to look outside ourselves with fresh eyes and then help others see the kingdom of God.”

Read the ENS article: Episcopal youth enriched and empowered for mission

View and listen to Bonnie Anderson’s Address here

Reflect further – leave a comment

  • What do you think about God working through you to build the “Reign of God?” Are you ready? Do you need to be ready? Do you need to trust God for the grace to accomplish things through you?
  • In what ways do you “upset any status quo that stands in the way of peace and justice?
  • In what ways have you invited God (Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier) into your life so that you may, word and example, benefit others?
  • What aspect of the Baptismal Covenant do you find challenging? comforting? easy? difficult?

Start a conversation, keep a conversation going, leave a comment.

A Proper 11 Art for Readings 7/17/2011

VAN GOGH, Vincent
Click to open The Vincent van Gogh Gallery Artist Biography

The Sower
Oil on canvas
32.0 x 40.0 cm.
Arles: November, 1888
Click here to open The Vincent van Gogh Gallery display page. Click Next Painting to see seven additional Van Gogh treatments of the Sower.

Click here and scroll down for thumbnails of all eight Van Gogh Sowers.

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