Continuing Revelation

Lenten Practice: Lectio Divina
Daily Act: Pay attention to God’s continuing revelation. How is the Living Word being spoken today through loved ones, nature, and your life?
Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“LIVING WORD, LIVE THROUGH ME.”

By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

I desire and resist this deeper seeing. What is unresolved in me rushes to slam shut the awareness door. Gazing upon the divine presence written in all living things costs my transformation. It is also my liberation, but change doesn’t always feel that way at first.

I won’t lie. This God-life can be daunting and unpredictable. To live in the Spirit of the One who is continuously being revealed means something like I can’t get too comfortable in any one place for too long. I can’t put up fences around my beliefs for a while. I can’t lay a foundation around just one experience and call it faith enough. To imagine that I am created in the image of this God is too staggering to comprehend!

This may be overwhelming to consider, this immensity of mystery, but what is revealed is so intimately relational that there is assurance even as there is humility. What we find never says to us- you don’t matter. It is always an invitation to belong. It is always an invitation to enter more deeply into the marrow of this life. It is always an invitation to become more fully alive.

So many times in our heritage, our ancestors have been tempted to build campsites and altars around a place of holy encounter only to discover that the God they desired to see had moved along to another place, doing a new thing. We can stay stubborn in stagnation of ritual or belief, but if we want relationship we are called to be a people on the move- attentive to the Divine who is being written in all things.

Sometimes this requires some dying of old assumptions and attitudes and beliefs. It requires a releasing of anything you are holding too tightly. It may crash through your fences and wreck your foundations. It will cost your transformation, but is also your liberation. If you are seeking the Living God, you are in for a wild ride!

It is not a chase as much as it is a dance, swirling through the world with this holy partner, wrapped up in each movement as the beloved of God.

In relationship with the continuously revealing God, what is unresolved in me is named holy, creation, sacred mystery beckoning in love.

“God writes the Gospel, not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.”- Martin Luther

“Some people, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Read it. God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink. Instead, He set before your eyes the things that He had made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that?” –St. Augustine

“We bloomed in spring. Our bodies are the leaves of God.” St. Teresa of Avila

ANY BIT OF SPACE

Lenten Practice: Centering Prayer
Daily Act: Consider those who need to experience the peace of God’s presence. Schedule a time to visit someone who may be lonely or isolated. Repeat this week’s prayer phrase throughout your day.
Weekly Prayer Phrase:

I DWELL IN YOU AS THE SOURCE OF ALL LIFE.

Today’s post is a reflection on the practice of Centering Prayer written by Dustin Davis, a member of the Community of Christ Spiritual Formation Team. What are your reflections from this week’s practice?

by Dustin Davis

“God faithfully comes into any bit of space we create for [God].” – Ruth Barton

My time of centering prayer begins in the morning after I’ve eaten breakfast, showered and gotten dressed and packed my bag for work. (I find that I’m too distracted if I try to do this before I’m ready for the day.) I sit in my chair near a window and light a small candle. I get comfortable, feet on the floor, hands resting on the arms of the chair. I offer a two-sentence prayer before I begin. “God, thank you for this time of prayer into which I am about to enter. May I rest in your presence.” I set the timer on my phone for 18 minutes and set it aside. I close my eyes, breathe deeply and do my best to focus on my prayer words Be Still as my attention to God starts to drift or as other thoughts float past. Sometimes it takes longer on some days than on others, but what happens next, as I fall into the company of God and simply be, is a mystery.

When I go running in the mornings it changes the way I feel for the rest of the day. I’m more alert, have a better attitude and just generally feel better. I have noticed that Centering Prayer has largely the same effects. Our lives are so busy, so packed full of stimulation that we rarely take the time to just be. This is certainly not a new observation in the spiritual life, but how refreshing – and culturally subversive – to go against the norm and purposefully pause.

A favorite author of mine, Ruth Barton, talks about the importance of creating sacred space and sacred rhythms in our lives as part of Christian discipleship. One of the themes in her writings that I particularly like is this idea that God uses any time and space we create for God, no matter how big, no matter how small. What a freeing thought! For me I find release in this promise from my false expectations of many spiritual practices and even the larger picture of spiritual transformation. In the light of this promise I am free to let God work as long I make the space.

The Centering Prayer is a humble practice, and this, I think, is what makes it so rejuvenating and so different from other prayers. The fact that it doesn’t rely on my words is liberating and freeing for me. Words are powerful and important to me, and I have a tendency to get hung up on them. (I won’t tell you how many times I’ve re-written this paragraph!) Prayers with words can easily become literary exercises, carefully designed to impress or sound sophisticated even if that is not our intention. In sharp contrast, the Centering Prayer requires only my willingness to be still and instead relies most heavily on God. This is a humble stance to take, one we don’t often assume when we are sponsoring an event at the church or preaching or simply offering the invocation. Spiritual transformation isn’t something we can do by ourselves, despite our best efforts. We foster atmospheres and cultures where we are open to God, but at the end of the day spiritual transformation is the work of God. It is a mystery and a miracle.

As we journey through Lent to the promise of new life I am encouraged by the fact that it is God who creates the new life. Don’t misunderstand me in this. It takes work from me, too, hard work and discipline and often times courage to risk something new. But to surrender to the mysterious work of God is to surrender to the reality that something good is stirring within me. Just as a caterpillar enters into the chrysalis we, too, enter into a time of serious spiritual reflection, and if we simply rest in God’s presence and let God work, we will emerge transformed and as beautiful as the butterfly.

SLASH OF LIGHTNING GOD

Lenten Practice: Centering Prayer
Daily Act: Extend grace to yourself and others throughout the day. When distracted or unaware, feel God’s assuring presence with you. When others are not their best selves, surprise them with a response of grace and love.
Weekly Prayer Phrase:

I DWELL IN YOU AS THE SOURCE OF ALL LIFE.

Today’s post is written by Dave Brock, Community of Christ Presiding Evangelist. Who is this God in whom we dwell? How do you approach the divine mystery?

Slash of Lightning God
By David Brock

Slash of Lightning God,
sparking flame in aged Pine.
Shaft of Sunshine God,
flaring dust motes
afloat in lonely rooms.
Beam of Harvest Moon God,
bobbing for ripples in a mountain stream.

God in laser’s precision cut
burning to heal.
Quickened Insight God
crossing exhausted mind.
God Light through all things,
giving life to all things.
God Light now shining,
enlightening our eyes.
Presence proceeding, filling
immensity of expanding space.

Some days we savor You,
slowly. The couple on a porch swing
at the farm, memorizing every change
in sunset’s color; turning away
only as last light grays, fades,
and slips horizon’s grasp.

Some nights we are the criminal,
or the coward, hiding in shadows,
holding still, holding our breath.
Freeze framed in black,
we pray to escape
the steady, unwavering probe;
the searchlight
of Your pursuing love.

Maybe tomorrow we will seek You,
like the night watchman
on a tall tower,
eyes straining,
heart longing there in the dark
for the first sign of dawn.