Open the Heart as a Flower to the Sun

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I know a lot of fancy words.  I tear them from my heart and my tongue.  Then I pray.   Mary Oliver, section 1 of “Six Recognitions of the Lord”

Episcopalians  know a lot of fancy words, especially in the many beautiful prayers we use from The Book of Common Prayer.    “We humbly beseech thee, O Heavenly Father, so to assist us with Thy grace,” we pray after communion in our Rite 1 service.   Yes, with humility we ask God to help us serve God in this world.   On our own, absent grace, it is much harder to love our neighbors as ourselves, let alone our enemies.  

If one wants to set off debate or disturb people in worship, suggest another version of the Lord’s Prayer.   Shift “trespasses” to “debts” or to “sins” or use our alternative which begins: Our Father in heaven.    The words of this prayer are dear to our hearts and learned when we were very young. 

The fancy words on our tongues and the prayers we know by heart are gifts in our life with God, but these can become shields over our hearts and selves which prevent us from a deeper relationship with God. 

Prayer is creating space for God in our lives as a flower opens to the sun.  Setting aside – or as Oliver puts it – tearing our fancy words from heart and tongue offers the opportunity to expose our full selves to God intentionally.   Yes, God knows us, but we come to know God and ourselves when we allow both God and ourselves an unobstructed path to the soul, or our trues selves.   

During this season after Epiphany and before Lent, I will explore Mary Oliver’s “Six Recognitions of the Lord”.   This week I invite each one of us to rip off, set aside the fancy words and prayers we know and offer up at least one desire or pain which we hold right now, today.  Share it with God.  Wait. Listen. 

Walk as a Child of the Light

imagesWhat an exciting time to be watching the heavens.   We now have images of Ultima Thule, the farthest away object in the universe we have seen — and how fitting it looks like a snowman.  Then earlier today the Chinese landed on the far side of the moon, and for the first time we see pictures of from that perspective.   Expanded moon exploration will help us know more about our own planet even as the view of Ultima Thule shows us more of the broad universe. 

As we come to join the Magi this Sunday on Epiphany in following the Star to Jesus, we again have the opportunity to explore more deeply within our own hearts and see the wider perspective of an entire world – or even universe – connected in God’s love.   The journey the Magi took to find the special child indicated by the star, took focus, perseverance and help from others.   

So it is with our own spiritual journeys.   Our focus is the star of our life: Jesus.*

In the midst of uncertainty in the world, consequences of selfishness and wrong use of power, we are to keep our eyes on Jesus and to persevere in loving God and neighbor as the primary purpose of our lives.  To help us along the way we have the communion of saints, including those from other regions and faiths, just as the Magi came from a different tradition and relied on others.    

The Star illuminates God’s great love for all creation, all peoples, this planet and the universe.  All of it is connected and woven together in God’s Love, God the Source of all Life.  When we turn toward, welcome and acknowledge Christ in all human beings, and the Creator in all life, we have found our destination, the place where the Star has led us. 

Sunday we shall again receive Star Words, those words which the Holy Spirit has prepared for us.  Mine was guidance and what a rich experience I have had, with many lessons learned about guidance.   I wonder what is in store for me and for you in the year ahead.  

Sunday, too, we have the chance to join the Magi in following the Star.   May we reach our destination. 

With every blessing, 

Mother Elizabeth

*Hymn “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light”

Way of Love – that Joy May Complete

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This is My Commandment that You Love One Another that Your Joy May be Full

(Bible song based on John 15:11-12)

Christmas nearly is here when we celebrate Love becoming human, God born as any human child.    What beautiful, vulnerable Love God offers us for God was not born into easy circumstances and at least a few people had to say “yes” to God’s way for this to happen:   

Mary – unwed teenager, engaged, a virgin, agreed to what could lead to becoming a social outcast or death

Joseph – engaged and finding his fiancee pregnant and telling a rather fantastic story to explain; seeks to be kind in divorce; says “yes” to being a social outcast and caring man.

Innkeeper – we do not often consider him, but he offered refuge, however rough, to a young couple expecting a child; others said “no”.   

In these last days before Christmas may we consider ways to say “yes” to the Way of Love which God showed in Jesus Christ.   We have pondered the hope we find in trusting God in all things; we have sought the deep peace when we allow God to enter our hearts; we know the joy that can embrace sorrow and rejoicing because God is in the midst of all.    We move in Advent 4 to light the candle of love and recall that only love transforms our lives and frees us from fear and from self-focus.   We only are complete in God’s love.   

That your joy may be full means complete, perfect whole.   When we are completed in God’s love with hearts transformed toward God’s heart, we have full joy, peace and offer hope.   

Yes to the Way of Love:

— in all things point to God, God within, and God Creator of all

— step out from oneself and see this world with God’s eye

  remember God cares for each one of God’s children as a parent 

and does not play favorites

  look at the stranger and listen with the heart, seeing God’s child

     wait before speaking words that are harsh and unwelcoming

  consider first the best interpretation of someone else’s views

  in all things give thanks. 

With blessings for a Holy Advent on the Way of Love, 

Mother Elizabeth

Living Peace

UnknownPeace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  John 14:27

Jesus already has given us peace, deep peace within.   It is now our time to allow this peace to end our fear and anxieties whenever they wish to creep back in.  This week in Advent we focus on the peace candle we lit last Sunday and continue to light through this week.   

Living the peace of Christ looks like trust in God’s Way, the Way lit by love when our hearts are focused on love of God and love of neighbor –  period.   Peace and harmony within ourselves, with others and with God begin when we first set aside worries and fears about ourselves.

Consider setting aside:

  — the sharp elbows which seek to help us come out ahead of someone else whether it is first in line at the store or a position of worldly status. 

— the frenzy to make oneself look good, appear well and happy

— the avoidance of seeing others’ and our own pain

— time spent in mindless entertainment

Consider living:

— concrete care for others whether providing food, clothing, a loving card for those in need or who feel alone;

— empathy in imagining oneself into the daily life of a person in an entirely different situation, perhaps someone in prison, in a war-torn or violence-ridden country; someone who feels/is alone;

— time in silence with God each day, perhaps during a walk or from one’s favorite chair.

Jesus gave us the gift of peace, a deep peace which rests within and radiates out to others.   May we clear our hearts of the boulders and pebbles, the fears and worries which push away this gift.  

Let us pray.

O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed; Give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; that our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments, and also that by thee, we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

With blessings and peace,

Mother Elizabeth