Wind Chimes: 12 Feb 2013

Then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”

Luke 9:35 NRSV

“Listen, listen, listen,” it is the music of the chimes this week. What do you hear?

What we most need to hear

Many voices ask for our attention. There is a voice that says, “Prove that you are a good person.” Another voice says, “You’d better be ashamed of yourself.” There also is a voice that says, “Nobody really cares about you,” and one that says, “Be sure to become successful, popular, and powerful.” But underneath all these often very noisy voices is a still, small voice that says, “You are my Beloved, my favor rests on you.” That’s the voice we need most of all to hear. To hear that voice, however, requires special effort; it requires solitude, silence, and a strong determination to listen. That’s what prayer is. It is listening to the voice that calls us “my Beloved.”

Nouwen, Henri J. M. (2009-03-17). Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith (p. 14). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Let us practice listening to the Chosen One this week.

keep-learning

You may want to read Beloved! Can you believe it? a previous post (with additional links) exploring both Scripture and what Henri Nouwen learned while listening for the still small voice.

Wind Chimes: 9 Feb 2013

Jimmy Carter at Mercer University, November 2012

Grace is freely given. Grace sings of expansive love. Grace sings of inclusive love. The chimes are singing of Grace today. What do you hear?

Anne Hutchinson would have liked Jimmy Carter

We’ll walk one more day with Anne Hutchinson. See the Wind Chimes for February 7 and February 8, 2013. Anne was at odds with the male leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  She courageously was true to her heart. Though she spoke well and presented a well-reasoned description of what she believed, in 1638 Anne Hutchinson was both excommunicated and banished from the Colony. Nearly 400 years later, in 2000, Jimmy Carter parted ways with the Southern Baptist Convention. I believe Anne would have liked Jimmy Carter.

As the US Congress once again decides whether (and how) to renew the Violence Against Women Act Anne’s witness and Jimmy Carter’s words and witness are reminders of a foundational Christian belief (shared by other world religions as well): “God saw that [all of creation and every part of creation and all that was and would be created by God] was very good.”

The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions – all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views. —Jimmy Carter

Source: Losing my religion for equality, The Age, July 15, 2009.

Image: Woody Marshall for The Telegraph, November 2012

Wind Chimes: 8 Feb 2013

“Listen carefully to my instructions …
With the good gifts which are in us,
we must obey God.”

From the Prologue in the Rule of St. Benedict and quoted in The Monastery of the Heart:
An Invitation to a Meaningful Life
(p. 3) by Joan Chittister

The chimes invite us to listen today. Pause and listen. What do you hear?

Walking another day with Anne Hutchinson

As I do understand it, laws, commands, rules and edicts are for those who have not the light which makes plain the pathway. He who has God’s grace in his heart cannot go astray.

Anne Hutchinson as quoted in Little Journeys to the Homes of Great Reformers (1907) by Elbert Hubbard (“Anne Hutchinson” on Wikiquote)

Anne Hutchinson on TrialAs shared yesterday: on February 6, 2013, in the “Spiritual Day Hike” (which wanders far and wide in the world without actually leaving St. Margaret’s in Palm Desert, CA) we walked with Anne Hutchinson for a time. Anne is now remembered by The Episcopal Church annually on February 5th.

Born and raised in the faith of the Church of England Anne accepted the teachings of the Puritans and added her own touch.

As you read the excerpt from the Prologue in the Rule of St. Benedict you can easily understand that Anne would have been right at home in the Rule of St. Benedict. Her ‘touch’ added to her Puritan faith was to listen with the “ear of her heart” for the voice and the wisdom of God.

Confident that God was constantly in dialogue with her, confident that she could hear and understand God within her own heart, Anne chose to follow the One who called to her, spoke to her, and led her in Love. She continues to offer her witness to us—listen, listen carefully, trust what you hear in your heart: “You are my beloved child. Always. Everywhere. In every circumstance. Beloved.”

Anne has left quite a legacy. Allow yourself to be amazed by her courage and her confidence in God as you read her story:

Image: Wikimedia Commons and JSS Gallery

Wind Chimes: 14 Jan 2013

Friends

What does a question sound like? What does friendship sound like? Today, I hear an important question in the sounding of the chimes. What do you hear?

Could it be true? How will you answer?

Today [Jan 12th] as Cistercians we celebrate the life and teaching of our own Saint Aelred of Rievaulx, a 12th-century monk of Great Britain. In his well-known treatise, Spiritual Friendship, Saint Aelred declares rather boldly that “God is friendship.” This is his own gloss on Saint John’s words, “God is love.” And clearly it expresses Aelred’s own experience of God’s intimacy.

Saint Aelred on the blog of St. Joseph’s Abbey, Spencer MA

Read the entire post (it’s short) to hear the question of the monks. Hear the question of the monks in the glorious sounds of the Good News proclaimed on Sunday (believing that what was true of Jesus and for Jesus is true of us and for us): “You are my Beloved.” (Luke 3:21-22)

Image: Clip art, photos, and animations on office.microsoft.com

Wind Chimes: 11 Jan 2013

Sometimes, God just wants to hang out with us

Listen. Do the chimes sound like the start of a conversation? Be still. Listen. What do you hear?

A God who is Friend

If you haven’t discovered inward/outward, today is a good day to change that. The site “is an ongoing, online conversation sponsored by The Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC.”

As preparation for hearing the Gospel this Sunday (Luke 3:15-17, 21-22) listen to these words from Oscar Romero:

This is the beauty of prayer and of Christian life: coming to understand that a God who converses with humans has created them and has lifted them up, with the capacity of saying “I” and “you.” What would we give to have such power as to create a friend to our taste and with a breath of our own life to make that friend able to understand us and be understood by us and converse intimately–to know our friend as truly another self? That is what God has done; human beings are God’s other self. He has lifted us up so that he can talk with us and share his joys, his generosity, his grandeur. He is the God who converses with us.

Quote: Oscar Romero in The Violence of Love as quoted by inward/outward 8/13/12

Image: dreamstime images

Beloved! Can you believe it?

This past Sunday we heard the story of Jesus’ baptism. The story has an ending filled with good news: “…a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.'” Mark 1:11

In the Forum discussion we shared our own stories of baptism and the faith within us. In the sharing  we wondered about the mystery of being “in Christ” and if we are in Christ then we, too, are “beloved.” It is almost too good to be true. It certainly is a grace, unmerited, but greatly needed. Several in the group remembered that “being the beloved” was at the center of the writing and teaching of Henri J.M. Nouwen (1932-1996).

To further the Sunday conversation here is Nouwen in his own words:

  • Note: the YouTube video (you will discover) has 8 parts. You will be able to find and select Parts 2-7 in the right hand panel of the YouTube screen when viewing Part 1. Alternatively you can search YouTube using “Nouwen” as your search term.
  • Visit the website Henri Nouwen Society for a wealth of resources
  • Beloved: Henri Nouwen in Conversation was a book read and recommended by some of our members

Being the Beloved

In the past couple of weeks we have read and heard thrilling, comforting, and amazing words about who and whose we are and what that means from the Apostle Paul (his letter wasn’t just to the Christians in Rome, but to you and me as well). In a variety of ways we have heard “You are my beloved child.” (See Mark 1:9-11 and understand you are in Christ, these words are words addressed to you)

From Romans 8

all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. (v. 14)

you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!”16it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God,17and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ (vv. 15-17)

God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spiritintercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (v. 27)

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (v. 28)

If God is for us, who is against us? (v. 31)

in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,39nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (vv. 37-39)

Begin and continue the conversation (leave a comment, reply to comments)

  • Do you believe this? Do you believe that you are God’s beloved child?
  • Is it “easy” to believe this? “Hard” to believe this? “Impossible” to believe this? How does this statement “You are God’s beloved child” sit with you?

Need more prompting? Henri J.M. Nouwen presented a Sermon Series “Being the Beloved” at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, CA. I’m not sure what year this was presented (Henri Nouwen died in 1996), but the message is timeless. The series consists of 8 videos on YouTube (the link is to the first in the series; just above the video you will find a menu item “8 videos” which you can click and all 8 video links will be presented to you). I commend this series to you. –djr

LISTEN AND VIEW
Being the Beloved by Henri J.M. Nouwen

Whoever welcomes you, welcomes me

Jesus said “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” Matthew 10:40

This verse is important because it explains the nature of the apostolic office on the legal principle governing a Jewish emissary: “A man’s agent is like himself.” It deepens the religious basis of the apostolate by deriving it ultimately from God himself in a cascading succession mediated by Jesus, who is himself the apostle of the Father.  New Jerome Biblical Commentary (NJBC)

In the Outline of the Faith in our Book of Common Prayer we tell the world and each other what we believe about ministry and ministers (and you will find the basis of these expressions in the scriptures we use, like the verses in the Gospel this Sunday):

Q. What is the mission of the Church?
A. The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.

Q. How does the Church pursue its mission?
A. The Church pursues its mission as it prays and worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love.

Q. Through whom does the Church carry out its mission?
A. The Church carries out its mission through the ministry of all its members

Q. Who are the ministers of the Church?
A. The ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons.

Q. What is the ministry of the laity?
A. The ministry of lay persons is to represent Christ and his Church; to bear witness to him wherever they may be and, according to the gifts given them, to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world; and to take their place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church

The Book of Common Prayer 1979, p. 855

In the light of our Gospel reading today and what we say about ourselves:

  • • The mission of the church is presented in terms of relationship, not dogma; as a church we are to restore “all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.”
  • • This mission is pursued as a community, not as independent contractors;
  • • However, since the Church is composed of various individuals, “all its members” are responsible for ministry so that the Church can carry out its mission (of building and restoring relationships);
  • • Lay persons (by far the majority of members in the Church) are ministers (in fact, lay persons are the first-named ministers);
  • • “The ministry of lay persons is to represent Christ….” Here, a further commentary on Matthew 10:40 may be quite instructive

Expanding on the notion that we are “to represent Christ,” (whether a lay person or ordained) each of us is not just an ambassador, but “like [Jesus] himself.”

“Whoever welcomes you,” Jesus said, “welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me” (Mt. 10:40). The disciple, wherever she or he might be, actually “embodies” Jesus as a Kingdom-bearer.

Jesus was big on the concept of “agentry.” That is, he believed strongly that the disciple who went out in his name was not just a “representative,” but, in fact, an extension of his own being and authority. In other words, when the world encountered a disciple of Jesus, they were encountering Jesus himself.

To borrow from the well-known passage—and to amend it slightly—we, the agents of Christ, are “the way, the truth, and the life” to the world. For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health … until death do us part. Jesus is judged through us, by how the faith flowers or fades in us.
“Postscript” in Synthesis, June 29, 2008

This raises some intriguing questions for us. Assuming that the statement about embodying Jesus wherever we might be is a true statement (and biblically sound), and accepting that we are ministers restoring all people to unity with God and each other:

  • What gifts of Christ do you “embody” as you minister? (Remember: lay persons “bear witness to [Christ] wherever they may be and, according to the gifts given them,”)
  • Do you “feel” like “an extension of [Christ’s] own being and authority”?
  • How are you working to be a better “extension” of Christ’s being and authority?
  • When “the world” encounters you what do they learn about Jesus (since you “embody” and have been given the authority of Jesus as you go into the world)?

It is humbling to understand that we have been invited by God “maker of all that is, seen and unseen” to know Jesus Christ. It is exciting to understand that we have accepted this invitation. It is humbling to understand that Jesus, the Son of God, has chosen us and sent us out. It is a challenge to our creativity and discipline to live up to and into this ministry. It is necessary to come together often to confess that we have not lived up to our end of the covenant, ask forgiveness, receive forgiveness and be fed to go back into the world to be the disciple that Christ knows us to be.

Believe that God has indeed “gifted” you for this ministry.

Believe that God has “graced” you in ways known and yet to be discovered so that you may “embody” him (God’s love, the Good News) in the 21st century places you live and work and play in.

Believe that you make a difference as God’s beloved child.