In this broken city teeming with hurt and frustration a looming tragedy approaches. This tragedy is not new; we have seen it before and will most assuredly will again. On the horizon injustice and oppression are bearing down on some of Abbotsfords most vulnerable residents again.
An eviction notice has been posted for July 31, 2014 at 9 a.m. to displace dozens of hurting, sick, and forgotten humans who have sought fragile safety and community along the Gladys corridor. It is a street drenched in pain, exploitation, despair, and numerous other woes. Regardless of the conditions and behaviors, these are humans who need the Church of Abbotsford to respond and engage. The Church needs to walk down into that darkness and let its light bring the healing so desperately needed. Do not let more suffering come.
God asks His children, lovers of Christ, to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, and to set the oppressed free. We, the Church of Abbotsford, must rise united to halt the cycle of tyranny which decimates so many precious lives. We have an opportunity to bring the Kingdom to bear upon misguided and futile hostilities that cause great pain and misery on so many lost and hurting human beings.
It is true the Church of Abbotsford has stumbled many times when facing the challenges of the marginalized within her walls. However, it does not have to be this way. This does not have to be. It is our calling, our responsibility, our privilege to face these daunting challenges together as family of believers. Sisters and Brothers – our King calls blessed those who feed the hungry. Those who quench the thirst of the parched. Those who welcome the stranger as family. Those who wrap garments around the naked. Those who bring healing to the sick. Those who visit the prisoner locked in cages of steel. Jesus calls us blessed when we do for the least, for it is there that He is found. Christ is served when we offer these courageous loving gifts. The Kingdom is found in these simple acts of love, grace, and mercy. The King says if we do not love in these ways we will face punishment.
The time is now, today, to put aside empty self-gratifying activities and seek justice. Lend your voice, your hands, your heart, your possessions to reach out to the lost in our community and on our streets. July 31 is such an opportunity to serve our Lord. Pray, listen, and seek practical ways you and the Church can rise up and face these challenges that burn within our city. Together we can let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never failing stream.
There is this awful
bending towards God that
my soul takes of its own
a defiant motion set spinning
that like a swirling eddy
draws in – with gentle motion – all
the doubt, errors, frailties
This bending leaves me
aching and rent,
in heart and body.
But bend I must to this
Divine Love or
This poem is from one of my favorite poets, May Sarton, whose clarity and authenticity were Inspiring. EnJoy!
Now I become myself. It’s taken
Time, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people’s faces,
Run madly, as if Time were there,
Terribly old, crying a warning,
“Hurry, you will be dead before—”
(What? Before you reach the morning?
Or the end of the poem is clear?
Or love safe in the walled city?)
Now to stand still, to be here,
Feel my own weight and density!
The black shadow on the paper
Is my hand; the shadow of a word
As thought shapes the shaper
Falls heavy on the page, is heard.
All fuses now, falls into place
From wish to action, word to silence,
My work, my love, my time, my face
Gathered into one intense
Gesture of growing like a plant.
As slowly as the ripening fruit
Fertile, detached, and always spent,
Falls but does not exhaust the root,
So all the poem is, can give,
Grows in me to become the song,
Made so and rooted so by love.
Now there is time and Time is young.
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself and do not move.
I, the pursued, who madly ran,
Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!
We pray for another way of being: another way of knowing. Across the difficult terrain of our existence we have attempted to build a highway and in so doing have lost our footpath.
God lead us to our footpath: Lead us there where in simplicity we may move at the speed of natural creatures and feel the earth’s love beneath our feet.
Lead us there where step-by-step we may feel the movement of creation in our hearts. And lead us there where side-by-side we may feel the embrace of the common soul. Nothing can be loved at speed.
God lead us to the slow path; to the joyous insights of the pilgrim; another way of knowing; another way of being.
Amen [So BE it…].
Source: The Prayer Tree
Meister Eckhart once said “theologians may quarrel, but the mystics of the world speak the same language.” I believe that language to be Divine Love.
I find this quote tantalizing because the early followers of Jesus were known more for their radical love whereas today ‘Christians’ are known more for what we are against than for our expressions of unconditional (i.e. Divine) love. There is much talk amongst theologians and religious people in media about the nature of God and God’s love, but I confess, it all leaves me dry once we start pontificating on God’s ‘unconditional love’.
Because many speak and write of unconditional love in the abstract, but when it comes down to it, we humans interpret and express divine love through the lens of dogma and cultural bias. Do you believe what I believe? Do you subscribe to my particular finite branch on the Tree of Life? If you do, then you are a recipient of the unconditional love of God; if not, then you are danced around with trite phrases like “love the sinner but hate the sin.”
Let me state my ideas unequivocally: it is impossible for fallible humans to separate the “sin” from the sinner and thus we “throw out the baby with the bath water” – meaning when we despise the sin we are despising the very sinner that is loved unconditionally by God. And lest I forget, all have sinned and all are fallible, and all are loved unconditionally.
It would seem that we are quite uncomfortable with unconditional love. We need to codify it, commodify it, qualify it and regulate it. And in so doing, we put a fence around the limitless and all embracing love of God. We find it virtually impossible to just simply, lavishly and indiscriminately share and “throw” around God’s love with reckless abandon. God forbid…even though that is all God asks of us.
If we gave love so freely, without judgment or dogma, our faith would become dangerous like a feral lion but instead we are afraid to truly love and embrace everyone as they are without any reservations and thus our love becomes a domesticated, declawed house cat.
We blatantly disregard the words of Jesus (thereby placing nationalism, patriotism and politics above the love of God): we do not love our enemies (real and/or supposed); we cannot even show unconditional love to Christians of differing denominations; we show no love or compassion to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters; we hate Muslims; we ignore and patronize Buddhist and Hindus; we loathe atheists; we cannot even show love to our red state/blue stated neighbors and family members. ‘Christians’ rage against children coming across borders and even threaten politicians who speak of limiting access to assault weapons. And in all of this, the greatest power ever – the burning love of God – gets swept aside by religion viewed through the lens of whichever flag we hold dear.
In all truth, and this is my truth and experience, we have absolutely no earthly idea just how unconditional God’s love is. If I am honest, it scares me, it scares all of us.
I struggle and stutter, I stammer and falter in truly fleshing out God’s lavish and dangerous Love: a Love that emanates from God’s very Being; a Love that whispers perpetually throughout all of Creation, saying “All are loved. All is forgiven. All are welcome. All are brothers and sisters. All is well. And all the way to heaven is indeed heaven.”
P.S. 12 years ago today, my son Quinn, died. I grieve hard. I celebrate fully. I am grateful to his Mama and to God for the Gift that experience holds for me. I miss you every day and see you in the butterflies and hear your laughter in the breeze…
I’ve been musing on grace a bit lately, most likely because I am ‘feeling’ so fragile-ugly-not-even-a-speck-of-dust-in-the-universe-but-oh-do-I-NEED-God’s-grace.
So, more musings.
I have said previously that I felt grace was hard to define. But being me — an obssessive control freak who has to have the last word, I think I do have a Word definition of grace, namely that grace could be defined as the place and space where God’s Fullness meets up with and fills my emptiness. And in that space there is a miraculous culmination of God’s being completing, stretching, tearing apart, and healing my being; and simultaneously living in and through me.
When I say ‘there but for the Grace of God go I’, I am saying there I go and God – Who dwells in me – goes with me as well. Everywhere I am is the moment of grace, given and received, because it is no longer I who live “but Christ who lives in me.” So as the spiritual equation goes, Jesus said he and God were one, and now Christ dwells in me and because he dwells in me, therefore the utter fullness of God dwells in me always.
Mind blowing isn’t it; downright heretical as well.
If you knew me the way God does, it would seem heresy for me to say that God and I are one; and that because God and I are one (remember, the same is true for you), everywhere I go, God and his infinite grace go. I have the power as it were to release and surrender to grace at any chosen moment. Unfortunately for me, and many others in my life, I am not always choosing to release God’s grace.
Most of the time, God’s grace is perpetually operating not because of but rather in spite of my conscious efforts.
The good news of grace is that not only is it available to anyone, anytime, anywhere, but that we can be filled and refilled with grace daily. God’s grace is like the ‘free’ refills of soda at restaurants – all I have to do is ask for it and it happens.
So, God’s grace dwells in me (as both recipient and giver) and the power of his grace is limited only by my open-mindedness and open heart. In this we should be humbled, for God has actually given us quite a bit of power. And even though I am powerless over my addictions, I am not powerless to choose to be a vessel and recipient of grace.
I am called to be filled and to fill, then be re-filled and to refill…grace is all there is and in the end Love.
So…anyone need a refill?