Posts Tagged ‘Divine Providence’

Seeing Joy Or Seeing Only Danger

Sunday, September 6th, 2015

There is a power here in this simple idea…..

God’s divine providence is trying to get rid of division in everything it does.  (Divine Providence, 16)

We live divided lives.  Often.

Divided, we seek one thing.  We do another.  Our compulsions time and again win at the expense of the best intentions our hearts.

We live between places, blessed and broken, saint and sinner.  Makes the division understandable.  And God’s point, perspective, providence leads us one way … by pushing aside the darkness in our lives we reach the Light. And live there – heaven – undivided.

The slow work of love.  Seeing joy.  Not only seeing danger.

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Imagine this fall and something being set free

Friday, August 28th, 2015

Imagine.  Imagine something set free this fall.  I imagine you know what that thing is for you, even if it is no more than a sense.  A piece, a part, that yearns to slide into its own skin.

And that freedom always entail a fall, a death of sorts.  Christ’s words fill wtih this truth.

I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24)

We discover a freedom – we think we discover a freedom – through ways we come to see, over time, as wanting and shallow.  The 20 year old who leaves home believing self indulgent indepedence forms the beginning and end of all wisdom.  The 30 year old with money and money on their mind. “$50,000 a year then I will be free!”… my mantra for a decade.  The 40 year old wiggling around in the discomforts of change, challenge, and children in middleage marriage sure something is “wrong.”  We could go on.

And I know this … we will be set free. That is God’s point. Divine providence pulling us towards an undivided life. Something dies there in that new life. Something greater, and precious lives there as well. And the call is painful many days.  Joyful on many others.

A prayer as we enter fall … may something be set free in your soul!

God is taking care of everything

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

One of the hardest roles of a pastor is finding a center in a moving space.  On one side lies a need to call people to greatness.  To call them to strive for lives of excellence, meaning and purpose.  On another side, lies a need to call people to the hard edge of sacrifice, suffering, and true giving.  To far one way, religion becomes little more than shallow cheer leading.  Too far the other, and religion becomes the darkness it hopes to extinguish.

Christ constantly spoke to us of a third way between polarities…  a unified field as it were.  In  that place, in that third way, there is simple trust.  Trust that the words will come when they need to come.  Trust that somehow God stirs us both to striving and stirs us to sacrifice.  That for me, is why the touchstone of suffering is so critical.

Drawing alongside of suffering quickly becomes an exercise in both/ and thinking.  Yes, he is an addict and yes, he is a man deeply connected to God.  Yes, she has cancer, and yes, she is a woman fully alive.   Yes, we can strive to grow a church beyond 1,000, and yes, the meaning of it all remains joyously hidden in the smallest of personal human interactions.

Because the fact remains God is taking care of it all.

Roger Ebert’s wife shared this thought on her husband’s recent passing. “The one thing people might be surprised about—Roger said that he didn’t know if he could believe in God. He had his doubts. But toward the end, something really interesting happened. That week before Roger passed away, I would see him and he would talk about having visited this other place. I thought he was hallucinating. I thought they were giving him too much medication. But the day before he passed away, he wrote me a note: “This is all an elaborate hoax.” I asked him, “What’s a hoax?” And he was talking about this world, this place. He said it was all an illusion. I thought he was just confused. But he was not confused. He wasn’t visiting heaven, not the way we think of heaven. He described it as a vastness that you can’t even imagine. It was a place where the past, present, and future were happening all at once.”

There is in the end an innate sense of something more, something greater.  God opens that for us as we regain our willingness to strive and to sacrifice, to find connection and stillness.   “He opens the skylights and then the windows … and enables us to see that heaven is real, that there is a life after death, and that there is eternal happiness.  By the spiritual light and spiritual love that then flow in together, he enables us to recognize that through Divine Providence God is taking care of everything.” (Divine Providence, 207)

Eternity in Our DNA

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

Eternity is in our DNA.  ”Everyone is created to live to eternity … [to] be conjoined with God.”  (Divine Providence, 324)  The challenge is that eternity  appears exhausting.  Who wants an eternity of traffic jams, bad coffee, and global warming?

But those temporal concerns are NOT eternity.

Eternity is that love and connection that fills our life with meaning and purpose.  I know with our children, as each one arrived, we were struck by the feeling that they had ALWAYS been with us. And would always be regardless of the ebb and flow of life.  The same has been true of my relationship with my wife.  There is something both impossible and inevitable about it all.  There is no way we should be able to discover these deeply loving relationships given how much they fly in the face of a great deal of human experience but we do, and when we do, it appears that was the way it was always meant to be.  Impossible and Inevitable.  Welcome to eternity, an eternity that should free us to have one heck of a good day!


Living Life vs. Managing Life

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

So easy to fall into a pattern in which our primary concerns center on managing life vs. actually living life.  It is easy to become deeply fearful within the lives we have created.  On a recent trip to Lancaster, it was frankly with a sign of envy that I watched carriages carrying Amish on their way.  Granted such a life of rigid uniformity is limited in ways of which I am unaware, yet, in watching those buggies I thought of issues such a culture does not create – global warming, war, avarice.

Maybe this is part and  parcel why we need to continually ask question ourselves in terms characterized by deep thought and true candor  – what is God’s will?  As society runs towards limits, runs towards certain historical “stoppings”, alternative ways of holding the world I imagine will emerge.  In times of fear, we focus on accruing numerous forms of “insurance” that we believe will give us back control and safety.  Yet those efforts arguably will fail.  They will prove to be non-viable alternatives.  Forms of “preservation” rarely succeed – “He who saves his life will lose it.”

How then will Christianity step forward?    How will the Christian message form a viable alternative?  Jesus did not establish an economic, social or political “system” in the way we understand those words today.  He appears to allow those areas to be sidebars by effectively claiming “There is a bigger picture than what we see.  There is a bigger call, a bigger vision than what we know.”  And, in calling us into that bigger picture, He in turn calls right back down into the very human lives we live and the decisions we make, opening up alternatives of which we may have been blissfully unaware left to our own thoughts, ideas, rationalizations.

When we are thus called into life, we can then learn to live life vs. just manage it.

Labyrinth

Friday, October 29th, 2010

We recently completed the work on the series “UTurn.” It is easy to think of that in rather simplistic terms – the epiphany, the immediate realization of the reality of all life – leads to the immediate “UTurn.” That seldom occurs though. For most, UTurns are gradual.

Striking to consider that in the first 1,000 years of Christianity, Cathedrals incorporated Labyrinths into their architecture.  These were not mazes per se but winding paths all within a circle.

Labyrinth at Chartres

Miraculous!  How many “UTurns” can you count? Why was this image seen as so central to the Christian message?   What was it supposed to be telling us? What are the implications of it today?  Can such an image build compassion, for ourselves and for others?  What does it say about the mind of God?  What does it say about Divine Providence?

What the “Dark Night of the Soul” Reveals

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Many (all?) travel through what St. John of the Cross referred to as the “Dark Night of the Soul.”  What does that “night” accomplish?

I wonder at times if these dark nights are the only thing that actually will accomplish much in terms of starting us on the spiritual path.  That night clearly will show us, if we allow it, the thoughts, the attachments, the concepts that need to die for us to grow in a way that little else will.

Our limitations are perfectly camouflaged, perfectly blended with their surroundings.  We have cultivated them.  Many times they actually have served us well for an extended period of time.  Their death is painful, literally feeling like a part of us is dying, and in a sense it is.

That can be especially painful when a certain concept of God must go.  God is omnipotent – true – but as we grow we must develop a nuanced sense of what “all powerful” means.  To hold onto the concept of a muscular, all conquering, triumphal Christianity  might lead us to conclude that God is absent simply because we fail to see His actions as being in accord with our deepest desires.  Restated, from a New Church perspective, God’s goals are always eternal.  Clearly ours tend towards the more temporal – a very different agenda.  That means we must create space for a seemingly weak God, a weak and powerless Jesus, not fitting Himself to our temporal agenda, who acts quietly and with great patience, demonstrating a love that accepts life as-is and lives into life as-is always with an idea to what can be.  We simply lack the foresight to see it.  Our proper place then is the surrendered place of the dark night of the soul, trusting in the Knower.

Moments then of quiet desperation can in reality become turning points.

Some Comfort Along the Way

Friday, September 17th, 2010

In the book “Divine Providence”, Emanuel Swedenborg makes the following observation.  “We need to realize that God knows the kind of person we are and the kind person we want to be.”  A comforting thought.

God’s foreknowledge is far richer I believe than what we imagine.  He does know our path. He knows the choices we will make.  We of course have agency – we do the choosing.  However within that context, God knows the deepest of self identity.  Within the confines of His divine providence, He will place before us the opportunities to move towards what we truly want to become.

No doubt this process may never reach full fruition in this life.  That however does not mean that God will not plant the seeds along the way that we are open to nurture as we come more and more into our true selves, more and more into a life where the inner self and the outer self weave together in complimentary fashion.

Our job, in one sense, may come back to simply giving into the trust that there is a Knower holding us gently, seeking to move us more and more towards the blessedness of who we really are.

The Summoned Self

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

St. John of the Cross wrote that a transformed soul “stands at the center of its own humility.” What a beautiful, poetic phrase. Expect to hear it in a sermon!

What does it mean to stand at the center of humility? It means, first you have a soul. You have place of quiet knowing deep within you, a God given miracle of sorts. Of course, few of us live there but we do take the occasional vacation to that terrain.

Picturing your soul, quieting your mind to find your soul places us in the spot of humility, not humiliation. From there we can hear “The Summoned Self” because we can hear God’s voice. That is where, as the book “Divine Providence” states, we are truly human and where we can build the integrity where inwardly human as we appear to others.