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    Spiritual Practice: Look at the stars

    Sunday, January 6, 2013, 5:06 PM [General]

    On a clear night look at the stars and dream.  See if you agree with Vincent Van Gogh, “For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.”

    Peace and Blessings!
    Bob 

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    Spiritual practice: Take Inventory

    Sunday, December 30, 2012, 6:47 PM [General]

    In the twelve-step tradition, step 4 involves taking “a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves”  Taking such an inventory is a way to stop the story of your life long enough to make a review and revise it and plan for the next chapters.

    During this week take some time to reflect on your life, to take a “searching and fearless moral inventory.”

    Peace and blessing.

    Bob

    3.2 (1 Ratings)

    Happy New Year

    Saturday, December 29, 2012, 1:42 PM [General]

    Behind the greeting “Happy New Year” lays a wish for a new beginning, laden with potential for a different, a better, a richer, fuller life.

    Starting over, imagining possibilities of a new beginning is a common spiritual theme.  The Christian Scriptures are filled with images that suggest new beginnings.  We are still in the twelve days of Christmas, reflecting on the birth of Jesus.  Christians pin the hopes of the world on his birth.  The angels sang their vision:  “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to all.”  Shepherds were astounded when they heard the news and they went to tell their friends of the amazing possibilities.  Mary watched all of this with wonder and pondered what was happening.

    Other births of biblical characters suggest significant change and bright possibilities.  Luke weaves the stories of Jesus’ birth, toggling between the two, in a way that makes the significance of birth a clear signal that something new and significant is about to happen.  Both births are announced by an angel.  Both are unlikely.  Luke portrays people and even angels breaking out in song singing their hope for each child.  Jesus’ birth is reminiscent of Moses’ birth.  Samuel’s birth prefigures John’s.  In each case, birth elicits hope for the new possibilities that the child brings.

    The evangelist John uses the image of birth to suggest new beginnings.  He writes that those who heard Jesus were made children of God, born by the will of God.  Jesus echoes this notion when he tells Nicodemus, “You must be born again” or be born from above.

    The New Testament Greek word which we translate “repentance” suggests a new beginning.  Literally it means a change of mind or a change of perspective and a change of the way one lives.  St. Paul expresses this same notion using different words.  He admonishes the Christians at Rome, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

    The concept of forgiveness also has the hope of a new start embedded in it.  Jesus tells a story we refer to as “The Prodigal Son.”  A young man asks for his inheritance before his father dies.  He squanders it in a foreign land on a life style antithetical to his father’s.  When he runs out of money, he returns home to a lavish welcome from his father who promises him a fresh start.

    Further, St. Paul writes about baptism as a way of dying to the old and being raised to the new.  “When we went under the water,” he writes, “we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!” (Romans 6:3, The Message).  St. Paul summarizes new life in his second letter to the Corinthians:  “if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”

    The wish for a clean slate, for a second chance, for a new start is a universal human longing.  Images abound to express this hope.  While January first is a day like any other and arbitrarily in the sequence of days the beginning of a new year, it still gives us an opportunity to remind each other of the possibility of beginning anew.  Happy New Year!

     

    Peace and Blessings!

    Bob

     

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    Spiritual practice: Live the Rhythm of Luke’s Hymns

    Sunday, December 23, 2012, 5:15 PM [General]

    Luke includes three hymns at the beginning of his gospel.  These hymns set a daily rhythm of life for all Christians.  During this week live this rhythm.  In the morning, expect to see God in your life (Zachariah’s song). In the evening, give thanks for God’s coming (Mary’s song).  Before going to sleep, acknowledge that you have seen God manifesting in your life (Simeon’s song).

    Peace and Blessings!

    Bob

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    I'm living in a "thin place"

    Friday, December 21, 2012, 10:04 PM [General]

    I’m living vicariously through my mother in what my Celtic ancestors called the “thin places.”  It is that place between two worlds, this world and the next.  My mother is making the transition we call death. It has been an interesting experience for me.  In a sense, I have felt as if I am dying.  Two nights ago, I felt my mother’s presence, as if she were visiting me.  She didn’t say anything.  I didn’t really see her.  I just felt her with me.  Physically she is over 2,000 miles away.

    The Hebrew tradition, reflected in the psalms, speaks of the “valley of the shadow of death.” Until now, I’ve not connected that phrase with “thin places.”  Now the connection seems obvious.

    Many times I have stood beside the graveside of a parishioner or one of their family members and have recited words from The Book of Common Prayer, “While we are in life, we are in death.”  Now I’m hearing these words for myself.  They are another reminder of the thin line between this realm and the next.  Or, again, the words of another prayer come to mind, “whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”  I’m finding great comfort in these words of our liturgy. 

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

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