Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Our Jesus-shaped Center

Life is typically hectic for most of the people that I know. Very few in our culture live a life of what I would call "peace" and/or "contentment." We are forever moving and striving for more and greater, especially in our "American Dream" culture and society. Not that these things are always bad necessarily, but on occasion we slow down or sometimes are stopped, long enough to recognize that the activity has left us empty.

When we discover that emptiness, we inherently try to fill it, often with more activity, sometimes with friends or family, sometimes with habits or addictions. Rarely do we allow the time to explore the shape of our emptiness. There is a bible verse where God says to "be still and know that I am God." What a challenge for most of us. Stillness is so foreign to our lives that it usually takes an "act of God" to slow us down; a disaster that uproots us, a disease that diminishes us, a job loss or a family loss. Yet in our times of loss and disaster, we tend to find that we have a center. Perhaps we call on God for help. Perhaps in the "grinding halt" we discover a purpose - a reason for it: God's desire to know us and for us to know him.

It's not that God doesn't know us, he does! All too well. Thus the need to get our attention from time to time - to allow suffering to encroach as it naturally does in all our lives because of fallenness in our world; to allow our brokenness to overtake us in some way. God in his mercy, uses the bad things in life to take us by the face with both hands and get us to look into his eyes - into the face of Jesus. When we do we find compassion, we find help, we find mercy, we find a strength we did not have before - but most of all we find a God of love. And we find our center.

Take time to find your Jesus-shaped center. Stop long enough to listen. Close your outward eyes and open your inward eyes - or at least take time to ask God to help you in this endeavor. In this way, you will take the small steps that are needed to be Willing, Available & Obedient to God today.

Padre Phil+

Thursday, March 4, 2010

That One Day

Feels like a year since I've been here! Sorry.

A lot of events, crises, travel and whatnot seems to get in the way of taking the time to think and write.

We are already approaching the mid-way point of Lent, unbelievably! The Hamilton Study on 24 Hours that Changed the World is grabbing our hearts and our imaginations. That one day - the most significant day in the history of the planet -a day of pain and infinite love; a day of betrayal and tears; a day of blood and sweat; a day for me and for you.

One Day! Sundown Thursday to sundown Friday. The meal with friends: This is My body, broken for you; this is my Blood, of the New Covenant, poured out for you;

The washing of feet - lowest place of servanthood in the whole society - "If I, your master, wash your feet, you should also wash each other's feet!"

"Love one another, as I have loved you! "

Love in the face of betrayal by trusted friends. Perhaps the hardest test of love there is. Followed by the mock sham of a trial and another betrayal, by your best friend! The look - eyes meet - what was the unspoken message?

Peter! I love you. I'm sad, but I know your heart. I know your weakness ... and your strength. Weep now and through sorrow gain resolve. Repent and follow me. We have much to do.

Perhaps the unspoken language of this look from Jesus conveyed for Peter the stuff of life transformation. He was broken by it - and put back together by it. Jesus never betrayed or rejected Peter in return, even in his look across the courtyard as the cock crowed.

"He will never leave us or forsake us."

"Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross, that all the world might come within the reach of your saving embrace! So clothe us with your Spirit, that we, reaching out our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you, to the knowledge and love of you, for the honor of your Name. Amen"
(Book of Common Prayer, Morning Prayer, P. 101)