Connecting St. Barnabas to You

“Lord, Teach Us to Pray” Part VI

Or, Do You Know the Two Dimensions of Forgiveness?

“And forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us” throws just about everyone into the abyss. At some point along the way, and for many at too many points, some one does something to us or to someone we love and we simply cannot forgive. We know we need to. We know we want to, or we want to want to want to, but we can’t. We know we want forgiveness for our self, but we just cannot forgive this offense.

Virtually everyone struggles this struggle to forgive. It can last for years and even decades and sometimes a lifetime. The struggle itself transforms. But I want to focus on another dimension of forgiveness.

The second dimension of forgiveness emerges from and within the spacious spaciousness

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and the luminous luminosity

mtIMG_9930of Presence (see previous post). It’s not just that we experience the Presence of the Spirit within. We begin to find our self in Presence. This is the consummate fruit of our longings and desires being guided by “Your kingdom come.” And so, indeed, the kingdom (God’s Presence) has come and is coming within us, but even more, like a drop of rain is one with the ocean, so we are one in Presence.

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This Presence, this vast vastness with its luminous luminosity is impossible to describe but ever so important to name. We need to know there’s a deeper dimension of the Spirit, of Presence, into which we are being drawn. Like all the stages of human development, we can see them from afar but can’t know what they’re like until we’re in them. So this stage of spiritual progress, the fruit of our longings and yearnings offered to God and guided by Jesus’ instruction, emerges unexpectedly.

Suddenly, in this Presence, everything illumines differently. Compassion for the trauma of being human overwhelms … everything. We begin to understand how Jesus could look down from the cross at those who falsely condemned, beat, mocked, and crucified him, and plead for their forgiveness. How could he do this? Because he saw from a different place, a larger place. He knew they simply did not understand, could not understand. And from this place of spacious spaciousness, his largess of soul saw beyond their offenses to their innate goodness as God’s creation.

The struggle to forgive is a struggle we all must struggle. The answer, however, comes from a different place. But only as we actually and really bring our longings and yearnings and struggles to the One Jesus called Father. Over time, decades really, we discover “Your kingdom come” is the only prayer and the answer to all prayer.

Please engage Luke 11:1-13 yet again.  [If you are new to our blog, a description of our method of “engaging,” which is a method for reading and praying with the Bible, other literature, and life itself, can be found here.].

Ruminate on Jesus’ instruction. Let this prayer have its way with you until you hear and see and experience it differently. To your ruminations you might want to add Jesus’ cry from the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:32-38).

Grace and Peace,

Jim

More to come …

“Lord, Teach Us to Pray” Part V

Our last post ended with, “In this place of only faith and faith alone, we begin to realize only one thing is needed: God’s supply to live in God’s kingdom” – which is Jesus’ terminology for the Presence of God.

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The movement toward living by “only faith and faith alone” progresses by allowing our longings, questions, and yearnings to be guided by Jesus’ teaching, “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.”

BUT, do we really, actually …?

Please pause and ponder this.

Do you really keep bringing to God the truth of your self – the truth of your longings and yearnings, day by day, month by month, decade by decade? At 89 the celebrated monk Thomas Keating reported that he just learned how to learn! That’s a model of one who has kept asking, seeking, and knocking.

With the motivating force of our longings and yearnings being shaped by the prayer for God’s Presence, our iron grip on the world we desire and would make according to our will is loosened and, eventually, shattered. What can feel like devastation is actually the greatest of graces. We may not realize it, but we are being set free. We are being prepared for eternity, eternal Life now, right here right now.

This brings us to the next line of Jesus’ teaching, “Give us each day our daily bread,” and one of the great puzzles in the New Testament. The Greek word for “daily” (epiousion) is an unknown word. Its appearance in Luke and Matthew in the Lord’s Prayer are its first appearances in all of Greek literature, and these two are the only times the word is used in the New Testament. So what does it mean? We don’t know!!

The scholarly debate of the meaning of epiousion continues, and this blog is not the occasion to explore it. I’ll rather offer an understanding that sits in the middle of the discussion.

I think “epiousion bread” means “the bread of the coming kingdom, of the new aeon of your Presence.” Thus, the prayer is, “give to us the nourishment to live in your Presence, now …”

… the future age that has already started coming in Jesus, now.

This is of course the nourishment of the Spirit’s Presence, which is the answer to our asking, seeking, and knocking: “How much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask” (Lk. 11:13).

But we need to be ever so careful here. Facile understandings of the Spirit’s Presence limit us greatly. In the freedom of letting go of the demands of our desiring a spectacular largess awaits us.

As we awaken and open ourselves to God’s kingdom, God’s Presence, what Martin Laird calls a spacious spaciousness and a vast vastness emerges within us. We are being set free from the small, limited world we make for ourselves and opened to abiding in the Presence of the One who simply is, … in eternity, now.

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All else in life becomes relativized. Decade by decade the kingdom comes in us. We become one with this humble, boundless Presence which just is.

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An ocean of peace emerges from within.

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Streams of joy spring from our innermost being.

However, this is where only faith and faith alone becomes so important. Our entire life we have longed for this peace and this joy. We know they are our birthright … but they emerge in and from the spacious benevolence of this Presence. They are not ours to own or possess. They are rather the gift of not clinging, of releasing our self into God’s kingdom, God’s Presence. The moment we yield to the desire to possess God’s goodness we shrink our world. Only by faith and faith alone do we abide in the boundless Presence which just is.

We discover that all our yearnings find their end in this Presence. This discovery comes not by theory or theology but by the actual practice of asking, seeking, and knocking, of actually bringing our desires and longings to the One Jesus calls Father, and letting them be guided by “Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.” And when the kingdom comes, when this boundless Presence emerges within us, we learn not to cling, not to posses, but to keep living by faith, by letting go and not possessing. This is ordinary life extraordinarily lived.

Along with this peace and joy emerges another gift: Insight into this life of faith, what Martin Laird calls a luminous luminosity.

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Please ponder these things as you again engage Luke 11:1-13. [If you are new to our blog, a description of our method of “engaging,” which is a method for reading and praying with the Bible, other literature, and life itself, can be found here.].

If you found this post meaningful, please consider sharing it by clicking on Facebook below. Thank you!

Grace and Peace,

Jim

More to come …

“Lord, Teach Us to Pray” Part IV

The longings, desires, and yearnings of our heart propel us to the God Jesus calls Father. As our God woos us, we discover that we are being changed, not God. Perhaps we did not realize that our energy was, perhaps, an attempt to change God … but …

… as we follow Jesus’ structure for prayer and pray “Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come,” we realize, often ever so gradually, that, indeed, we are praying for our own transformation. We are praying that God would work the hallowing of God’s name in me and the coming of God’s kingdom in me.

butterfly for ordinary lifeTo pray this prayer – that is, to continue asking, seeking, and knocking, and to let those yearnings and longings be guided by “Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come” – we must let go.

As we let go, our faith strengthens. If we are blessed not to get what we ask, we are left with only faith and faith alone. Faith that God is, even when there is no response or, at least, not the response I thought I needed. Though it does not feel like it, this is a great grace because …

This strengthened faith bears the fruit of freedom … freedom from the need to make the world as I want it … freedom to release myself into the world God is making. This faith and freedom bear the fruit of peace. Peace bears the fruit of joy.

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In this place of only faith and faith alone, we begin to realize only one thing is needed: God’s supply to live in God’s kingdom. More on this in the next post.

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Please engage Luke 11:1-13. See our translation in the first post on “Lord, Teach Us to Pray.” (“Engage” = tell God your response and listen for God’s response to you). [If you are new to our blog, a description of our method of “engaging,” which is a method for reading and praying with the Bible, other literature, and life itself, can be found here.].

Grace and Peace,

Jim

More to come …

“Lord, Teach Us to Pray” Part III

How Do We Address God?

Our asking, seeking, and knocking, our longings, desires, and yearnings are prayer’s energy. The Lord’s Prayer is prayer’s structure.

MOD.30_IMG_0890That there are two versions of the Lord’s Prayer suggests strongly that Jesus taught this prayer repeatedly, in different contexts, and with slightly different words. So, though the words in each version are important, we probably find deeper guidance in the themes. [Read more...]

“Lord, Teach Us to Pray” Part II

Only here is this request, “teach us to pray,” recorded in the Gospels. Around it Luke places the essentials of Jesus’ teaching on prayer.

Please read Luke 11:1-13. See our translation in the previous post.

For Luke, a concise Lord’s Prayer provides the structure for prayer (more on this in an upcoming post).

But the energy for prayer springs from the longings, desires, and yearnings of the heart.

However, will we persist? Will we keep asking, seeking, and knocking? Will we not give up, not go away, and not give in?

tM_IMG_7897In the face of apparently unanswered prayer, amidst the vicissitudes, natural disasters, injustices, deaths, our own ever present foibles, and the horrors humans inflict on one another,

is God really good?

Can we sustain belief that our “effort,” that is,
the expenditure of our life’s energy, will make a difference?

Can we sustain belief that our prayers and effort will result in a positive outcome?

Will we not give up, not go away, and not give in? [Read more...]

“Lord, Teach Us to Pray”

Ever wondered why the disciple asked this question? Why did this disciple think they needed Jesus to teach them to pray?

t3mIMG_2611How about you?

Do you think you know how to pray?
Do you feel you know how to pray?

Please take a quick moment. What’s your immediate response to these questions? [Read more...]

Whose Fault Is It, Anyway?

Sunrise on Camelback mtn. St. Barnabas in the background

Sunrise on Camelback mountain. St. Barnabas in the background

The question of fault, when honestly and openly asked, tends not to go away. It has a way of leading to the Ultimate Mystery. In a sense, blame is the quick and easy answer to the question, “Whose fault is this?” [Read more...]

Who Do You Blame?

Or, “Whose Fault Is It, Anyway?”

Jesus Mary Martha - VermeerPlease read the Martha and Mary Story in Luke 10:38-42 [Read more...]

“What is Truth?” Part IV

Or, “I AM”

tm44IMG_3930When Moses asked God’s name at the burning bush, he received an answer that wasn’t exactly an answer, more a riddle.

Simply “I AM” or “I AM the Existing One.” [Read more...]

“What is Truth?” Part III

Or, “The All in Life”

.80MOD_IMG_4052“What is truth?” Pilate asked Jesus, the last of 26 times the word truth is used in John’s Gospel. By comparison, Mark and Luke each use it 3 and Matthew once.

The great irony? Pilate was looking at “the Truth.” The previous 25 uses of the word had made this clear. [Read more...]

What is Truth? Part II

Or, “The Perfect Cast”

For those who are not fly fishing enthusiasts, I hope to make this relevant.

mt33IMG_4210The Awakened Enthusiast has carefully made his way up the wrong side of the river. Wrong because it required backhanded casting across his body, tough to master. Extra diligence required to maintain “line management.” [Read more...]

What is Truth? Part 1

When you hear the word truth, what comes to mind? Please pause a moment and consider this question: What is the topic of truth about for you?

Mountain and lake

Please read John 16:12-15 (this was the Gospel reading for Sunday, May 26th, the first Sunday of “Ordinary/Extraordinary” time). [Read more...]

What’s the “Normal” Christian Life?

Please notice the Circle of the Church Year diagram below. The Church Year begins with the first Sunday of Advent; it’s at about 11:00 on the diagram. From Advent to Christmas to Epiphany to Lent to Easter to the Ascension, everything in our story is a preparation for Pentecost – the day the Holy Spirit was poured into humanity. Even the Old Testament looked forward to this moment: “I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes” (Ezekiel 36:27), and “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh” (Joel 2), and many more.

Fascinating to me: Following Pentecost we call it “Ordinary Time.” Why fascinating? Because, on the one hand, there’s nothing “ordinary” about it. It’s life infused with the Spirit of the living God. But on the other hand, our faith imagines that this, that is, life infused with the Spirit, will be “ordinary” or “the norm.”

OLEL logo-no C2youSo, I call it “Ordinary Life Extraordinarily Lived.” And this will be the title of the blog from now to the First Sunday of Advent.

Now, what’s the normal” Christian life?

Life led — 

guided, empowered, consoled, encouraged, etc. by the Holy Spirit.

Life not driven — 

by anxiety, performance, goals, fear, shame, blame, anger, competition, revenge, etc.

Does this mean the Spirit led life does not have goals, ambitions, the pursuit of excellence, competition, and the like? Not at all! [Read more...]

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