What God has made clean, you must not call profane. Acts 10:1-16 I am often reminded of the things I said I would never do like going back to school. As we grow and mature we change our minds about a lot of things when we realize our resistance hinders our own growth. What we make sacred and what God makes sacred are often entirely different. If we can subject our heart and mind to be led by what God makes sacred, through us, we make way for God’s faith and love to grow as well.
How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen… and you were not willing! Matthew 23:27-39 What’s a mother to do? It is often said that, “You can’t raise grown folk.” So much of who we are is out of the care and nurturing of the one who has raised us. Ultimately there comes a time when the responsibility of our consciousness becomes ours. Much of the challenge after that “raising up” is in becoming who we believe our selves to be and who God says we really are. The good news is that the spiritual life through Christ is not meant to be done alone. Being “spiritually grown” does not mean we have all the answers. Being “spiritually grown” means that we are ever stretching to be more fully grown. This requires a willingness of the spirit within to be gathered up by the one Spirit that draws us out of our own sense of maturity which limits us, into a maturity of Spirit where all things are possible.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! Luke 13:31-35 How much have we missed out because we refused to let God love us by insisting we go our own way? God help us to discern your Love; that we may experience it every day and in every way.
Lord in your mercy; here our prayer.
Who do you say that I am? In the Episcopal church we are days away from the season of Lent, a time when we are exploring this question for our selves. Although anytime is a good time to examine our spirituality and relationship with Christ, the forty day walk towards Jerusalem is a great place to start. Jesus asked this specifically of his disciples because I believe he needed to be sure they were at least clear about who he was even if they were not as clear about it’s meaning for their lives. This is the place many of us find our selves when dealing with the physical while trying to connect with the spiritual. However, to fully understand or recognize Christ’s life as our own one has to make way for the other; “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” Mark 8:27-9:1
As we grow from infancy to adulthood both physically and spiritually, learning to be content with God’s grace is a constant challenge for many of us. We spend a lot of time learning to be independent as children and as adults we spend a lot of time valuing the independence that we’ve gained and finding the balance between independence and dependence can take time, patience and most of all faith. To the world dependence can be nonsense. Most people worship power and strength that independence can provide. Having to depend on others is viewed as a weakness that is despised above all things. The world teaches us to conceal our vulnerability, or we will be hurt, and it teaches us to hide our weakness, or we will be taken advantage of. The world teaches us to camouflage our inadequacies with self-confidence, self reliance and self assurance, so that we can build a heaven for ourselves here on earth. The world teaches us that we can help ourselves, that we can do what we need to do on our own, and that all the answers we need we can find in ourselves. (But) The first time we find our selves in a situation where we really need help, we have already independently lived to a point where we have become so full of the self, that we are afraid to ask for the help we need or we reject help when it is offered because we fear what others might say about us. This can happen in every aspect of our lives, individually, socially, and professionally. Subsequently, we end up making difficult decisions and unfortunately we create our own thorns before we realize that all we had to do was acknowledge our weakness, admit our inability to change the situation on our own, and ask in faith for God’s grace and mercy to intervene. Regardless of the pain, we face reality and make a better decision to move forward. Why not move forward through God’s grace?
When Christ wanted us to heed what he had to say he told a story. Jesus called it a parable. Although all parables have meaning, they don’t always have benefit to the hearer. One must be able to understand its meaning. Jesus said, (Mark 4:26-29) “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” The harder we try in this journey to take the fate of our own lives into our own hands, when fall, the greater the redemption in our own eyes seems to be. (But) our redemption, becomes our testimony; our own story about the seed that was planted and the growth through our experiences in the world that needed to take place. God’s presence of that seed, allows us to see that our fate has always been in God’s hands and that our fate is destined for something larger and more valuable than even we could imagine. It is then that the parables of the Kingdom are no longer riddled with metaphors to be deciphered. When we realize that the parables have taken on different meanings for us at various times in our lives, no longer are we prodigal but instead reconciled in our understanding of who God is and has always been. As we examine our selves in this journey and our own “perfect” imperfectness with the world, sometimes it is difficult to see what God sees in us. But when we consider the earthly relationship and its ultimate cycle of realization, which brings us back to the knowledge that indeed our Father can do anything, the Kingdom becomes clearer as we are able to see our selves in the parables for the benefit our own learning and ultimate growth.
Do not have confidence in what we see when we look in the mirror, nor by what others see when they merely look at us. If we have confidence in nothing else, have confidence in the spirit of God within us, the measure of faith, which we inherit as children of God, and through the works, which demonstrate that faith. As children of God we know that from the beginning everything God made is good. We therefore know that God sees us as good. Have confidence in how God sees and do what is good in his sight. All glory be to God!
…if I find favor with you, then accept my present from my hand; for truly to see your face is like seeing the face of God… Genesis 32:22 – 33:17
…‘Is it not written in your law,“I said, you are gods”? …believe the works, so that you may know and understand– that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.’ John 10:31-42
…See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. 1 John 3:1-10
God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. Sound familiar (Genesis 1:28)? Let’s face it. Sometimes having to start over sucks! However, through Noah, God gives humankind another chance. Noah and his sons are once again given authority over all the earth and God goes one step further and promises never to flood the whole earth again and the sign of his promise is a rainbow. I am certainly appreciative that the whole earth won’t be flooded, but what about the floods in the basement of my home? What about the numerous other small disasters in my life? No one can argue that the rains will come, sometime tremendously washing away everything in its way. That’s a part of life. We also can’t argue that the rains help the fruit to multiply even if we must begin again tilling the soil and nurturing the earth to do so. The good news is that we can begin again. The rainbow was a sign for the earth but God in his understanding of human suffering knew that wouldn’t be enough. The sign he sends for us today is his son Jesus Christ and this time it’s different. What else could be left to give this world but the perfect example of God’s understanding of the suffering humankind must endure by giving the one thing to which anyone could relate; the life of a son, his death and resurrection; the promise of a life for a life being the gift itself. All we have to do is make the decision to receive this gift within our own being. So what if we have to drink milk again to gain the promise. Unlike so many other things we’ve depended on in this physical life, in this new reconciliation of our spiritual life, God is ever faithful. The gift is always there ready to be received. We can begin again and the fruit we then multiply will be the fruit of humankind in the Kingdom of God.