25 September 2014

(Un)worthiness

In my Spiritual Director’s class, we’re reading a book titled, Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life, by Marjorie Thompson. In chapter 3, she gave an example of prayer as conversation:

Another exercise is to write a dialogue with a person from scripture. The following example imagines Jesus as a conversation partner; the writer is identifying with Simon Peter after the miraculous catch of fish (Luke 5:1-11).

ME: Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful person!

JESUS: Don’t be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.

M: No, you don’t understand, Lord. You are holy, pure. I’m just a common person with a lot of weaknesses. I don’t belong with you.

J: Remember, you didn’t choose me, I chose you.

M: But why, Lord? I’m not worthy of you!

J: Did I say you had to be worthy? I only ask you to follow me in trust.

This really hit me.

Hard.

I’ve said this often — I feel so unworthy of my calling. When I was about to be ordained, I was given an opportunity to say a few things. I said something like, “I always thought running from God meant sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. You know, the classics! But that’s not necessarily true. In my case, it meant not surrendering to God’s call on my life. When I look at my life, all I see are the mistakes, all the skeletons in the closet and under the bed and shoved in any space I can find. I have a lot of skeletons, in my estimation, anyway.”

Just recently I told someone, through tears, how I just don’t feel worthy of following the calling of God. And then, today, I read that passage above.

That last bit is very helpful. That’s my heart’s cry. That’s how I feel about myself. But then the words attributed to Jesus are like a healing balm — “Did I say you had to be worthy? I only ask you to follow me; to trust me.”

I needed to hear that. I need to hear that. I’m going to use that as a reminder in my daily practice.

I hope it helps you, too.



~~~
In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC

22 September 2014

Meditation — 22 September 2014

“Or what woman, if she owns ten silver coins and loses one of them, won’t light a lamp and sweep the house, searching her home carefully until she finds it? When she finds it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me because I’ve found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, joy breaks out in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who changes both heart and life.”

“Celebrate with me because I’ve found my lost coin.”

I see a woman in a dark green dress — thick fabric, like denim or hemp — searching desperately through a one room house — rustic, prairie style.

She’s moaning deeply. Hurting. Her pain, very tangible.

She’s searching for the coin.

The room’s getting darker and darker.

She’s becoming more frantic.

She’s spinning, turning over everything, spinning down…

down…

d
o
w
n
.
.
.

the room gets darker

darker

spinning

darker

darker

spinning

collapsing

almost complete darkness.

She’s weeping in a crumpled mess in the middle of the floor.

.
.
.

To the right, a small glint of light

then a glimmer

a sparkle

a beam of light.

The room growing brighter.

The woman starts to rise...

the room getting brighter

she begins to laugh,

her sorrow turning into joy.

She walks over to the coin

the room is completely lit

laughing fully now…

Now she’s spinning again

dancing

clutching the coin to her breast

spinning

dancing

laughing

singing

dancing

She flings open the door and sways outside to the sounds of nature in the morning...

~~~
I see me in this story. I am the woman…searching. I’m searching for the light of Christ within me.

Knowing it’s there.

Knowing that I’ve buried it beneath layers of falseness.

I’m searching, frantically.

Knowing that the true light is there

knowing that my true self is buried somewhere deep there.

Then the U2 song plays inside me…

but I still
haven't found
what I'm looking for…



~~~
In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC

21 September 2014

Weekly Gospel Reflection — 21 September 2014

“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. After he agreed with the workers to pay them a denarion [a day’s wage — j+], he sent them into his vineyard.

“Then he went out around nine in the morning and saw others standing around the marketplace doing nothing. He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I’ll pay you whatever is right.’ And they went.

“Again around noon and then at three in the afternoon, he did the same thing. Around five in the afternoon he went and found others standing around, and he said to them, ‘Why are you just standing around here doing nothing all day long?’

“‘Because nobody has hired us,’ they replied.

“He responded, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the workers and give them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and moving on finally to the first.’ When those who were hired at five in the afternoon came, each one received a denarion. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more. But each of them also received a denarion. When they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, ‘These who were hired last worked one hour, and they received the same pay as we did even though we had to work the whole day in the hot sun.’

“But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I did you no wrong. Didn’t I agree to pay you a denarion? Take what belongs to you and go. I want to give to this one who was hired last the same as I give to you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with what belongs to me? Or are you resentful because I’m generous?’ So those who are last will be first. And those who are first will be last.”

Ah! Here’s a parable about G-d’s Realm we can agree with! As I noted last week, a lot of us don’t really like thinking of the parables about G-d’s Realm as a picture of how Yahweh deals with people. Especially when the images can be too scary or borderline on “evil.” But this one might be okay.

Might be...

This story is about Yahweh’s mercy. Or grace. Or love. Honestly, it could be about any of G-d’s gifts or all of them. The point of the parable is made by the landowner — Yahweh has the right “to do what I want with what belongs to me.”

But then there’s the follow up question. And that question stings like ice cold water on the face first thing in the morning, “[Are] you resentful because I’m generous?”

Ouch.

There are some people who we really don’t think deserve G-d’s love. In fact, some of us would go so far to say that, not only do they not deserve G-d’s love, we “know” they won’t possibly receive it!

Adolf Hitler.

Saddam Hussein.

Timothy McVeigh.

The abusive spouse.

The kid who tortures animals.

The person who sexually assaulted a child.

The politician who stole the money away from widows.

Those are just the obvious ones. Why do we think Yahweh shouldn’t love them? Because they’re “evil” or “mean”? Because they’ve done horrific and unspeakable things?

But which one of us hasn’t been mean to someone else? Which one of us is “without sin” (John 8.1-11)?

When we start grumbling, like the first workers chosen by the landowner, we’re thinking more highly of ourselves that we ought (Romans 12.3). The truth is, G-d really does love everyone. There will be some people, though, who come into the family at the very last. But that’s not our concern. Our main vocation is to help implement G-d’s Realm here; now.

And, really, this whole “who got here first and worked the longest” is relative. I mean, there have been faithful followers of The Way of Jesus for a long, long time (Hebrews 11). And there will be many more. More than anyone can count:

After this I looked, and there was a great crowd that no one could number. They were from every nation, tribe, people, and language. They were standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They wore white robes and held palm branches in their hands. They cried out with a loud voice:

“Victory belongs to our God
       who sits on the throne,
           and to the Lamb.”



~~~
In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC