Sunday, January 31, 2010

That's MY God

Another Holy Spirit moment from my recent trip.

Both DiDi and I have family in the area that we visited, and so our week was broken up between relaxation together and time with mothers and sisters and neices and nephews of every size. I had not been to an ocean in years, and so one of our goals was to spend some time on the beach. Our flight home was not scheduled till late afternoon, and so on that day we packed up all our gear and decided to go for one last hour or two at a beach before heading to the airport.

It was beautiful, and turning away was hard.

So hard in fact, that we ended up staying later than we should, and our frantic drive to the airport included a bit of hysterics on my part along with much rushing and hustling and scrambling. I've struggled lately with time, and have repeatedly underestimated times I've expected to get back from the grocery store, or from church, or from this or that event. Returning home an entire day late really would have been the icing on my cake of lateness.

I was wracked with guilt. DiDi would undoubtedly say I was overboard with it. (Might have had something to do with the farewell wine I'd consumed. But that's another tale for another day.)

We eventually arrived and rushed up to the desk to check our bags and check in. I looked a sight; all mascara-smeared cheeks, wind-tangled hair, and reined-in hysteria. The two airline reps looked at eachother and muttered "These must be the ones." They knew we were rushing, knew the flight we must be looking for, and also knew the connection we needed to make. They were bracing for the conversation that was about to take place.

"You DO know that your flight has been delayed, don't you?", the closest one said.

My jaw literally dropped to my chest.

I was saved.

Somehow, I had been saved.

But looking at them, I could tell there was more they had to say.

The rep braced herself again, then informed us that the next flight out would be too late to make our connection back home. We could not leave until the following day.

So not only was I saved from being my usual, lame, late self, I was also given an extra day with no familial obligations and nothing to do but relax with my closest, dearest, and most beloved friend.

I gaped a slack-jawed gape at DiDi, and saw that she was wearing the smug look she reserves for occasions when our Lord does something fantastic and stunning that knocks me sideways. The look that says "Yeah, that's MY God. You know it. MMmm Hmm." All casual while simultaneously bursting with pride.

The airline reps, beleagured from having to give bad news to customer after customer all afternoon, looked bewildered and one of them asked:

"You're happy about this???"

DiDi, being the cool chick that she is, God's comrade, Daughter of Thunder, calmly tossed back

"Answered prayer."

So that's the story of how I got to stay another day, to drive a convertable back toward the beach, to eat a lovely, relaxed meal in a nice restaurant, and to huddle wrapped in a blanket with the friend of my heart watching the sun come up over the ocean.

Imagine: the maker of that sun and that ocean and that incredible miraculous sand, desired to give -me- these gifts.

Yep. That's MY God.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Joy to you and me

I spent a blissful five days in Florida this past week, basking in 70 degree weather and the presence of awesome love. It would be impossible to catalog all of the ways in which God moved during this trip, but I'm going to try in a series of posts.

First, about the church service we attended.

It is always interesting to compare other services within the same communion (ICCEC) as ours. Some are higher church, some are more charismatic, some are close to us in the style of worship. In this case, the style was pretty similar. Several prayer teams were available after the Eucharist, and DiDi urged me to ask for prayer about a physical condition. The Holy Spirit was heavily present, and I stood behind her for the prayer -she- was receiving, because she was swaying with the weight of it.

When it was my turn, the woman prayed for the physical stuff, and after pausing, prayed that God would remove the little scrap of sorrow from me and replace it with joy. I had my eyes closed, but DiDi reported that when she spoke the words, her hand flung out toward me first as if to pluck something from my chest, and then whipped back as if slamming something in.

Joy immediately bubbled up within my chest, and a giggle snuck out of my mouth. At the same time, both DiDi and the prayer warrior also began to chuckle, and gradually, the laughter grew and grew between the three of us until we could not control it. We laughed until tears ran down our cheeks and our stomachs ached. We laughed as the recessional music played and the dismissal was announced. And through our laughter I heard the laughs of people behind us. DiDi later told me that when she looked around, she saw the whole congregation laughing.

The church was filled with His joy.

It was an awesome gift, delivered before what was to be a hard afternoon and evening. A profound gift of joy and laughter, not only for us, visitors to this far-away church, but also for His family who regularly gathered there. And for the woman who stood in obedience to pray for those who come before Him, seeking.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Missing you

Life seems to travel faster than the speed of light. God continues to speak, and me to try to listen. I hope to post something of substance later today. Miss you, beloved reader.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The tears of one, the pain of three

Yesterday's contemplation about the pain of restraining homosexual desires led to another.

I wondered; can God experience pain?

The answer of course is yes, but only in the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus wasn't fully human and fully divine only while walking the earth. He didn't lose His humanity after His ascension. He remains fully both.

The hypostatic union continues.

This is how and why the Eucharistic celebration, the sacrifice of the Lamb, the transformation of bread and wine into His body and blood is perpetually celebrated.

He is.

It is this humanity that cried at Lazarus' tomb. It is this humanity that cries at all the injustice of the world. And it is this humanity that sorrows over the separation that we have from Him.

Can God feel pain?

Yes. In the person of Christ.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A mirror within a mirror...

My friend Laura recently blogged about homosexuality. Between the lines of what she wrote, I sense that she wants to trust in God's Biblically revealed truth about homosexual acts, but has trouble reconciling it with His love.

In thinking about this, it struck me that the pain that two people of the same sex who have fallen in love experience when committed to obeying God's word is the same as our Lord's pain for us.

It is the pain of self denial. The pain of restrained love. The pain of wanting to unleash love and comfort and giving and sharing but having to stop. Having to hold back out of a greater love, out of a greater desire for the best of the beloved. He could simply do it, simply unleash His love on all of us, and in doing so, remove our ability to chose to love Him in return. Instead, he gives us the opportunity to chose love ourselves, mimicking Him by also having to deny ourselves in order to fully accomplish that love.

And so our Lord aches to consummate, throughout the eons.

He must have a very special place set aside for those committed Christians who also ache to consummate with their mirror images, but do not.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

If I serve Thee...

From Lying Awake:

If I serve Thee in hopes of Paradise
deny me Paradise.
If I serve Thee in fear of hell,
condemn me to hell.
But if I love Thee for love of Thyself
then grant me Thyself.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Big Bang Redux

I was praying the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary last night on behalf of a friend, and was gifted with several interesting tidbits. I'll write about them in separate posts.

The first of the mysteries (and my favorite of all the mysteries) is the annunciation, the moment of Christ's conception. In previous meditations about the annunciation I focused on what must have been an ecstatic experience for Mary. It is beautiful to imagine what it must have been like to have the Holy Spirit fall on you in such a profound way.

But last night God asked me to wonder about what it had been like for Him.

And so I wonder; what must it have been like for our great and glorious God to become begotten? What was it like for Him to say a second time "Let there be light" and have the light of the world come in to existence?

Was this the second big bang?

Did He and the entire universe shudder in a great paroxysm of exultation and pleasure and wonder?

How much does our procreative process mimic His, and vice versa?

What must the ecstasy of God be like?

Isaiah on the Trinity

I've been thinking about this passage from Isaiah (9:6):

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

I've seen or heard it countless times, but never before realized that it so clearly presents the Trinitity.

Awesome when that happens...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Are you out there, Dr. Craven?

A blog that I loved (True West) was taken down a week or two ago, and I'm wondering if Dr. Ken Craven is still reading this, and if so, if all is well? I am missing reading his thoughts...
From Lying Awake:

Sister John opened a fresh notebook and began to write. Adoration welled up through the pain, closing of the gap between lover and Beloved. The force of his pesence curved eternity in on itself; it was not her love rising after all, but his love pulling her toward him. She fell upward into brilliance, where all suffering was released.

In the fire of his embrace, all that was her ceased to exist. Only what was God reamined.

I am

The cloister bell, the voice of Christ.

He spoke again:

I am

She tried to obey but was frozen in beauty, like a fly trapped in amber. She could not move.

Nothing exists apart from me.

Self had been an illusion, a dream.

God dreaming.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Nearly joy

From Lying Awake:

"Suffering borne by two is nearly joy."

Friday, January 8, 2010

Milk indeed

My beloved DiDi had some thoughts on milk and meat, one of which was particularly lovely.

She pointed out that Jesus instructed us to feed both sheep and lambs, and that spiritually young questioners are like baby lambs who need to be fed tenderly.

As babies, we are cradled and given milk at the soft breast. There is nothing more gentle than the suckling of a baby. She called what we do in feeding God's lambs "the caring and gentle guiding to the breast".

Lovely, no?

Hypostatic Reunion

Mass yesterday was powerful.

Weekday evening masses attract a small group, and BP's homilies in this setting tend toward the dialogic rather than the didactic. They are intimate; more family dinner than holiday feast.

It was in this setting that I sat, having just received the Eucharist, savoring His body melting into the precious blood in my mouth, and willing my taste buds to perceive beyond appearances.

It was then He made me to know that in coming to me, in entering my mouth, He experienced joy.

It was a holy reunion. Holy completion.

His body and blood were reunited with eachother, and with the Spirit residing within me. His body rejoining His body. A hypostatic reunion of the human and the divine.

It swept me off my feet, and to my knees.

And it is still sweeping me now.

(John 6:56)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Meat indeed

A woman in my discipleship group raised a question the other day, about how to respond to the query of if all roads lead to truth, why is Christianity any better? The question was posed graciously, perhaps by someone trying to satiate a hunger for truth with the pablum of new age spirituality.

It is a fair enough question. Reasonable.

All truth does come from God, and from Jesus more specifically, given that He -IS- truth.

I gave her the response that I use; agreement with the central premise of religions containing truth, but pointing out that each contains varying degrees and I want the most possible.

And then she asked the harder question: should she specifically raise the name of Jesus Christ.

That one is a toughee.

We are to be as wise as serpents and gentle as doves, and that means strategy. For some people, the concept of a "God" is embraceable, but the concept of Jesus just too much to handle. If we are wise about what will help these people grow closer to Him, we must discern that, and tell them enough to allow them to take another step forward. Then we pray for them, and rest in the hope that our Lord will water the seed and bring more opportunities as it germinates.

This all got me thinking about the scriptural concept of milk and meat. Some people are spiritual babies. They can only digest what they can digest. To such as these, we must provide milk. For now. Our God incarnate, Jesus the Christ, is meat.

This struck me as funny. In-carn-ate. Meat. I love all the humor our Lord included in His Word.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tsunami please...

More on the spirit coming forth rather than falling...

I thought about how some people seem to be channels, to be conduits of the Spirit's power. The physician/surgeon who leads our healing ministry at church is one such soul. People love to receive prayer from her because the Holy Spirit's presence is often very tangible.

You can feel it.

In certain charismatic settings the Spirit often acts powerfully. Our teens recently attended the Joshua Revolution in Niagara Falls, and came back with stories about people being knocked off their feet. I've seen it happen at retreats myself; people falling as if a wave strikes and takes them all down in a swoop. And I wondered about that. Why there and then?

I think He can and does choose times and places to fall, particularly when they have been set aside for the purpose of worshiping and experiencing Him.

But I think it may also have to do with those who are praying, even if they are not aware of what they are doing.

I think that some people, like our healing team leader, are able to draw the Spirit up and out of themselves, to unleash it on the people there for prayer. In a larger setting, like at Joshua Revolution, a bunch of people with these gifts are all in place, and so it happens on a broader, grander scale.

He probably also chooses to fall at these moments. I'm not discounting that. But I can't dismiss this new idea, this idea that He is rising up from them, and then from many of the attendees as well, till He swells like an ocean wave, and crashes in among them...

Let's pray for a tsunami.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Yet

by Switchfoot

(Listen here.)

All attempts have failed
All my heads are tails
She's got teary eyes
I've got reasons why

I'm losing ground and gaining speed
I've lost myself or most of me
I'm headed for the final precipice

But you haven't lost me yet
No, you haven't lost me yet
I'll sing until my heart caves in
No, you haven't lost me yet

These days pass me by
I dream with open eyes
Nightmares haunt my days
Visions blur my nights

I'm so confused
What's true of false
What's fact or fiction after all
I feel like I'm an apparition's pet

But you haven't lost me yet
No you haven't lost me yet
I'll run until my heart caves in
No, you haven't lost me yet

If it doesn't break
If it doesn't break
If it doesn't break
If it doesn't break your heart
It isn't love
If it doesn't break your heart
It's not enough
It's when you're breaking down
With your insides coming out
That's when you find out what your heart is made of

And you haven't lost me yet
No you haven't lost me yet
I'll sing until my heart caves in
No, you haven't lost me yet
Cause you haven't lost me yet

Monday, January 4, 2010

Let God Arise!

I am exulting in the action and presence of the Spirit in recent weeks. Since confirmation He has showered me with His presence and power.

My church is both liturgical and charismatic, offering validly consecrated Eucharist, healing prayer teams, and everything in between. While my own leanings have been toward the sacramental end, I have had quite a bit of exposure to charismatic worship and prayer.

What I have traditionally seen in charismatic settings is for the one who prays to "call down" the Holy Spirit, asking it to fall.

But we may have this backwards. Or if not exactly backwards, we may be missing a vital opportunity:

We should be asking the Spirit to come forth from us. To come out from the temple. We should be asking for it not to simply fall, but also to arise.

Such a fundamental thing to overlook; that we are God's temple, and that He dwells within us. We say it and believe it without actually understanding it. We forget that He is there, and that He wants to act in and through us. He loves working through His creation. He formed us in His own image and likeness, to do His work.

He wants to breathe on the world as He breathed on the disciples, sending out His Spirit through our very breath...

More on this to come.

Always

by Switchfoot

(Listen here.)

This is the start
This is your heart
This is the day you were born
This is the sun
These are your lungs
This is the day you were born

And I am always
always
always
yours.

And I am always
always
always
yours.

These are the scars
Deep in your heart
This is the place you were born
This is the hole
Where most of your soul
Comes ripping out
From the places you've been torn

And it is always
always
always
yours.

But I am always
always
I'm always
I'm always
yours.

Hallelujah!
I'm caving in
Hallelujah!
I'm in love again
Hallelujah!
I'm a wretched man
Hallelujah!
Every breath is a second chance

And it is always
always
always
yours.

And I am always
always
always
yours.