Image.

Taken while on retreat at Sky Farm Hermitage in Sonoma, CA.

Taken while on retreat at Sky Farm Hermitage in Sonoma, CA.

Some Pharisees and Herodians were sent to Jesus to ensnare him in his speech. They came and said to him,
"Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you are not concerned with anyone's opinion. You do not regard a person's status but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or should we not pay?” Knowing their hypocrisy he said to them, “Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius to look at.”
They brought one to him and he said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They replied to him, “Caesar’s.” So Jesus said to them, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” They were utterly amazed at him.
– Mark 12:13-17

Whose image and inscription is this?” This response was so amazing to this crowd because they knew whose image and inscription was on the coin and Whose image and inscription is within them, Genesis 1.27, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them,” and Jeremiah 31.33, “Declares the Lord, ‘I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it.’"

When we objectify and over-identify ourselves with “Caesar”, country, status, emotion, or even opinion, thought, or theology, we give ourselves away to something that isn’t fitting of our true identity, made in God’s image with the Word inscribed on our hearts. “Whose image and inscription is this?” That is a question we should be asking of ourselves and our actions every moment of the day. “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

Hidden.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
– Jesus, Matthew 13.44

There are things hidden in the familiar, overgrown, and forgotten places in our lives that, if looked for and found, would overwhelm us with joy. We'd give up everything else because everything else is just an attempt to make for ourselves what is already waiting for us and can only be found. God's presence, the kingdom of heaven, is hidden but waiting to be found. Where can we start digging? How can we start searching beneath the surface? The answers to those questions should be deeply personal and intimate. Let's start there!

The Simple Way. - Wednesday Silent Prayer & Meditation

Wednesday mornings we're inviting people to meet with us at Taborspace in SE Portland at 7am, but we're also welcoming individuals to take part remotely. Tuesday evenings the plans for Wednesday mornings will be posted here. We believe that life is better together, however we can make that happen. Please consider making this a regular part of your weekly practice.

We know that it is tough to find communities centered on Contemplative Christianity and hope this serves as a support for individuals who don't feel like they fit inside or outside of the church, but still haven't given up their seeking and knocking.

 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

 

S A C R E D  R E A D I N G

R E A D - Without bias, assumption, or expectation; fully and simply listen, with your mind and heart; read through the passage at least twice

R E F L E C T - Is there a phrase, word, or impression that stands out to you? Sit with it for a minute (Refrain from overanalyzing; keep it simple)

R E S P O N D - Allow God’s inspiration to emerge as a brief prayer, even just one word (Again, keeping it simple, remaining centered on Christ rather than on your communication to Him)

R E S T - Simply be with God. Spend a few minutes practicing being as present to God as God is to you. Silently. Humbly. Lovingly.

 

The Lord and his disciples were traveling along and came to a village. When they got there, a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat down in front of the Lord and was listening to what he said. Martha was worried about all that had to be done. Finally, she went to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it bother you that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to come and help me!”
The Lord answered, “Martha, Martha! You are worried and upset about so many things, but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen what is best, and it will not be taken away from her.”
– Jesus, Luke 10.38-42

 

H O M I L Y

Worried about all that had to be done.” Our culture often praises and cultivates multiplicity. The more you’re doing, the more you accomplish, the more successful a person you are. It’s no wonder we’re a generation defined by anxiety. And many get distracted with thinking anxiety is the problem, rather than the mindset nurtured by the world around us. How often do we bring our justified worries and anxieties to Jesus and allow him the opportunity to tell us, “You are worried and upset about so many things, but only one thing is necessary,”? Jesus’ words and life direct us to a way of freedom and simplicity. To simplify our whole being down to on thing: Love. Unending, uncompartmentalized, and fearless Love for God, our neighbors, and ourselves; in all, and through all. There is hardly a single thing in our world encouraging us to live with this fullness; except for the voice of Christ calling out to each and every one of us. May we take the time to be simple today. To declutter our minds and schedules so that room can be made for simply loving God, our neighbors, and ourselves.

 

S I L E N T  P R A Y E R

Make space for your mind to slow and be still. If thoughts grab for your attention, use a passage, prayer, phrase, or word to bring a focus and allow those distractions to pass without passing judgement on them or yourself. This time of “effortlessness,” which can feel like requires a lot of effort, is an act of trust in God that is engaging our whole heart, soul, mind, body, and strength. Simply aim to be as present to God as God is present to you and trust that that is more than enough.

When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. … And when you pray, do not keep on babbling …
– Jesus, Matthew 6:6-8

Pray without ceasing.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:17

 

 

T W E N T Y  M I N U T E S  O F  S I L E N T  P R A Y E R

 

C L O S I N G  P R A Y E R

Oh my God,
I want to love You;
Not that I might gain eternal heaven,
Nor escape eternal hell, but Lord,
To love You just because
You are my God.
Grant me to give to You
And not to count the cost;
To fight for You
And not to mind the wounds;
To labor and expect nothing in return,
Except for the knowledge that I serve my God.
– St Ignatius of Loyola

Joined to Christ - Wednesday Silent Prayer & Meditation

Wednesday mornings we're inviting people to meet with us at Taborspace in SE Portland at 7am, but we're also welcoming individuals to take part remotely. Tuesday evenings the plans for Wednesday mornings will be posted here. We believe that life is better together, however we can make that happen. Please consider making this a regular part of your weekly practice.

We know that it is tough to find communities centered on Contemplative Christianity and hope this serves as a support for individuals who don't feel like they fit inside or outside of the church, but still haven't given up their seeking and knocking.

 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

 

S A C R E D  R E A D I N G

R E A D - Without bias, assumption, or expectation; fully and simply listen, with your mind and heart; read through the passage at least twice

R E F L E C T - Is there a phrase, word, or impression that stands out to you? Sit with it for a minute (Refrain from overanalyzing; keep it simple)

R E S P O N D - Allow God’s inspiration to emerge as a brief prayer, even just one word (Again, keeping it simple, remaining centered on Christ rather than on your communication to Him)

R E S T - Simply be with God. Spend a few minutes practicing being as present to God as God is to you. Silently. Humbly. Lovingly.

 

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts away every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit. But he trims clean every branch that does produce fruit, so that it will produce even more fruit. You are already clean because of what I have said to you.
Stay joined to me, and I will stay joined to you. Just as a branch cannot produce fruit unless it stays joined to the vine, you cannot produce fruit unless you stay joined to me. I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to me, and I stay joined to you, then you will produce lots of fruit. But you cannot do anything without me. If you don’t stay joined to me, you will be thrown away. You will be like dry branches that are gathered up and burned in a fire.
Stay joined to me and let my teachings become part of you. Then you can pray for whatever you want, and your prayer will be answered. When you become fruitful disciples of mine, my Father will be honored.
– Jesus, John 15.1-8

 

H O M I L Y

The message of being joined to Christ cannot be emphasized enough here, but as often is the case with Jesus, we are given very little practical insight into the how: How do we stay joined to Christ? Maybe it is enough for us to just continuously ask that very question of ourselves throughout every day. Perhaps, if Jesus had given us practical steps we would have obsessed and idolized those practices rather than lived in abiding connection with God. A static god would be accessible through impersonalized and static practices, but God is not only alive, God is Life! So the practice of God’s presence and being joined with Christ will only be enjoyed with our own lives, fully engaged with our whole hearts, minds, souls, bodies, and strength. May be continuously ask ourselves throughout today: How can I be joined to Christ now and here?

 

S I L E N T  P R A Y E R

Make space for your mind to slow and be still. If thoughts grab for your attention, use a passage, prayer, phrase, or word to bring a focus and allow those distractions to pass without passing judgement on them or yourself. This time of “effortlessness,” which can feel like requires a lot of effort, is an act of trust in God that is engaging our whole heart, soul, mind, body, and strength. Simply aim to be as present to God as God is present to you and trust that that is more than enough.

When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. … And when you pray, do not keep on babbling …
– Jesus, Matthew 6:6-8

Pray without ceasing.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:17

 

 

T W E N T Y  M I N U T E S  O F  S I L E N T  P R A Y E R

 

C L O S I N G  P R A Y E R

Oh my God,
I want to love You;
Not that I might gain eternal heaven,
Nor escape eternal hell, but Lord,
To love You just because
You are my God.
Grant me to give to You
And not to count the cost;
To fight for You
And not to mind the wounds;
To labor and expect nothing in return,
Except for the knowledge that I serve my God.
– St Ignatius of Loyola

Last day, Condemnation, Eternal Life, and Fear. - Wednesday Silent Prayer & Meditation

Wednesday mornings we're inviting people to meet with us at Taborspace in SE Portland at 7am, but we're also welcoming individuals to take part remotely. Tuesday evenings the plans for Wednesday mornings will be posted here. We believe that life is better together, however we can make that happen. Please consider making this a regular part of your weekly practice.

We know that it is tough to find communities centered on Contemplative Christianity and hope this serves as a support for individuals who don't feel like they fit inside or outside of the church, but still haven't given up their seeking and knocking.

 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

 

S A C R E D  R E A D I N G

R E A D - Without bias, assumption, or expectation; fully and simply listen, with your mind and heart; read through the passage at least twice

R E F L E C T - Is there a phrase, word, or impression that stands out to you? Sit with it for a minute (Refrain from overanalyzing; keep it simple)

R E S P O N D - Allow God’s inspiration to emerge as a brief prayer, even just one word (Again, keeping it simple, remaining centered on Christ rather than on your communication to Him)

R E S T - Simply be with God. Spend a few minutes practicing being as present to God as God is to you. Silently. Humbly. Lovingly.

 

Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me believer not only in me, but also in the one who sent me. I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness. And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but save the world. Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day, because I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So what I say, I say as the Father told me."
– Jesus, John 12.44-50

 

H O M I L Y

Last day, condemnation, and eternal life. These are all terms that have morphed into an entirely different meaning than to how they sounded to those who heard Jesus speaking. Today, these words sound like Greek Mythology and nonsensical. But that does not mean that that is what they are. If we only hear from within our own contexts, circumstances, and level of understanding, we will only ever hear at our own level of consciousness. We will not be capable of hearing Christ. We will be stuck hearing an idolized version of ourselves being projected onto Jesus.

May we remove the filter of fear from the words of Christ and listen fully to the Word of Love only. “Don’t be afraid,” Jesus said. When we remove fear, if we are not faithful, we can often remove the message too. Don’t be afraid to read, listen, hear, and respond. If fear, the opposite of love and God, is removed, what then do you hear? This is a lifelong practice.

 

S I L E N T  P R A Y E R

Make space for your mind to slow and be still. If thoughts grab for your attention, use a passage, prayer, phrase, or word to bring a focus and allow those distractions to pass without passing judgement on them or yourself. This time of “effortlessness,” which can feel like requires a lot of effort, is an act of trust in God that is engaging our whole heart, soul, mind, body, and strength. Simply aim to be as present to God as God is present to you and trust that that is more than enough.

When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. … And when you pray, do not keep on babbling …
– Jesus, Matthew 6:6-8

Pray without ceasing.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:17

 

 

T W E N T Y  M I N U T E S  O F  S I L E N T  P R A Y E R

 

C L O S I N G  P R A Y E R

Oh my God,
I want to love You;
Not that I might gain eternal heaven,
Nor escape eternal hell, but Lord,
To love You just because
You are my God.
Grant me to give to You
And not to count the cost;
To fight for You
And not to mind the wounds;
To labor and expect nothing in return,
Except for the knowledge that I serve my God.
– St Ignatius of Loyola

Be Bread. Be Broken - Wednesday Silent Prayer & Meditation

Wednesday mornings we're inviting people to meet with us at Taborspace in SE Portland at 7am, but we're also welcoming individuals to take part remotely. Tuesday evenings the plans for Wednesday mornings will be posted here. We believe that life is better together, however we can make that happen. Please consider making this a regular part of your weekly practice.

We know that it is tough to find communities centered on Contemplative Christianity and hope this serves as a support for individuals who don't feel like they fit inside or outside of the church, but still haven't given up their seeking and knocking.

 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

 

S A C R E D  R E A D I N G

R E A D - Without bias, assumption, or expectation; fully and simply listen, with your mind and heart; read through the passage at least twice

R E F L E C T - Is there a phrase, word, or impression that stands out to you? Sit with it for a minute (Refrain from overanalyzing; keep it simple)

R E S P O N D - Allow God’s inspiration to emerge as a brief prayer, even just one word (Again, keeping it simple, remaining centered on Christ rather than on your communication to Him)

R E S T - Simply be with God. Spend a few minutes practicing being as present to God as God is to you. Silently. Humbly. Lovingly.

 

The crowd said to Jesus: “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”
So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
So they said to Jesus, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
– Jesus, John 6.30-35

 

H O M I L Y

We’ve not been called to simply believe in Jesus, but to more fully and progressively be Jesus. Where in our own lives can we be “bread” for someone who is hungry? What does that bread symbolize? Is someone we know feeling the pangs of loneliness or hopelessness or fear? Beginning with prayer, how can we bring life to their hearts? Also, where in our own lives is there hunger? What might be dividing us from Christ’s ability to satiate this? How can we create space in our hearts, lives, and schedules for Life to greet us?

Acknowledging these hungers in and around us is not to minimize those who are physically hungry and starving today. We are called to be the bread of life. Be bread. Be broken. Let’s feed those who are starving and make it a priority because it is Jesus’.

 

S I L E N T  P R A Y E R

Make space for your mind to slow and be still. If thoughts grab for your attention, use a passage, prayer, phrase, or word to bring a focus and allow those distractions to pass without passing judgement on them or yourself. This time of “effortlessness,” which can feel like requires a lot of effort, is an act of trust in God that is engaging our whole heart, soul, mind, body, and strength. Simply aim to be as present to God as God is present to you and trust that that is more than enough.

When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. … And when you pray, do not keep on babbling …
– Jesus, Matthew 6:6-8

 

Pray without ceasing.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:17

 

 

T W E N T Y  M I N U T E S  O F  S I L E N T  P R A Y E R

 

C L O S I N G  P R A Y E R

Oh my God,
I want to love You;
Not that I might gain eternal heaven,
Nor escape eternal hell, but Lord,
To love You just because
You are my God.
Grant me to give to You
And not to count the cost;
To fight for You
And not to mind the wounds;
To labor and expect nothing in return,
Except for the knowledge that I serve my God.
– St Ignatius of Loyola

Love Your Enemy. - Wednesday Silent Prayer & Meditation

Wednesday mornings we're inviting people to meet with us at Taborspace in SE Portland at 7am, but we're also welcoming individuals to take part remotely. Tuesday evenings the plans for Wednesday mornings will be posted here. We believe that life is better together, however we can make that happen. Please consider making this a regular part of your weekly practice.

We know that it is tough to find communities centered on Contemplative Christianity and hope this serves as a support for individuals who don't feel like they fit inside or outside of the church, but still haven't given up their seeking and knocking.

 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

S A C R E D  R E A D I N G

R E A D - Without bias, assumption, or expectation; fully and simply listen, with your mind and heart; read through the passage at least twice
R E F L E C TIs there a phrase, word, or impression that stands out to you? (Refrain from overanalyzing; keep it simple)
R E S P O N DAllow God’s inspiration to emerge as a brief prayer, even just one word (Again, keeping it simple, remaining centered on Christ rather than on your communication to Him)
R E S T - Simply be with God. Spend a few minutes practicing being as present to God as God is to you. Silently. Humbly. Lovingly.

 

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and send rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
– Jesus, Matthew 5.43-48

 

H O M I L Y

How often do we allow our subconscious to turn our acts of kindness into acts of contracts? Where we expect kindness for kindness? It could be in the car, when we wait for another person and they don’t wave. It could be in our homes, when we do chores and don’t receive the reception we had expected. It could be in our faith, when we give what we believe is asked of us and don’t receive the fulfillment we imagined. Jesus points out that we’re missing the point: Love. Love is the point; not reward or punishment, not even balance, but Love. Where these “acts of contracts” feel broken, we can find ourselves out of Love, and out of union with Christ. May we learn to love our friends, neighbors, enemies, and everyone in-between today as we also seek to love God with our whole hearts, souls, minds, bodies, and strengths.

 

S I L E N T  P R A Y E R

Make space for your mind to slow and be still. If thoughts grab for your attention, use a passage, prayer, phrase, or word to bring a focus and allow those distractions to pass without passing judgement on them or yourself. This time of “effortlessness,” which can feel like requires a lot of effort, is an act of trust in God that is engaging our whole heart, soul, mind, body, and strength. Simply aim to be as present to God as God is present to you and trust that that is more than enough.

When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. … And when you pray, do not keep on babbling …
– Jesus, Matthew 6:6-8

Pray without ceasing.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:17

 

T W E N T Y  M I N U T E S
O F  S I L E N T  P R A Y E R

 

C L O S I N G  P R A Y E R

Oh my God,
I want to love You;
Not that I might gain eternal heaven,
Nor escape eternal hell, but Lord,
To love You just because
You are my God.
Grant me to give to You
And not to count the cost;
To fight for You
And not to mind the wounds;
To labor and expect nothing in return,
Except for the knowledge that I serve my God.
– St Ignatius of Loyola

The Sanctuary at Mt Tabor Presbyterian Church and Taborspace, where we meet on Wednesday Mornings.

The Sanctuary at Mt Tabor Presbyterian Church and Taborspace, where we meet on Wednesday Mornings.

April 19th - Wednesday Morning's Silent Prayer & Meditation

Wednesday mornings we're inviting people to meet with us at Taborspace in SE Portland at 7am, but we're also welcoming individuals to take part remotely. Tuesday evenings the plans for Wednesday mornings will be posted here. We believe that life is better together, however we can make that happen. Please consider making this a regular part of your weekly practice.

We know that it is tough to find communities centered on Contemplative Christianity and hope this serves as a support for individuals who don't feel like they fit inside or outside of the church, but still haven't given up their asking, seeking, and knocking. Let's ask, seek, and knock together.

 

S A C R E D  R E A D I N G

R E A D - Without bias, assumption, or expectation; fully and simply listen, with your mind and heart; read through the passage at least twice
R E F L E C T - Is there a phrase, word, or impression that stands out to you? (Refrain from overanalyzing; keep it simple)
R E S P O N D - Allow God’s inspiration to emerge as a brief prayer, even just one word (Again, keeping it simple, remaining centered on Christ rather than on your communication to Him)
R E S T - Simply be with God. Spend a few minutes practicing being as present to God as God is to you. Silently. Humbly. Lovingly.

My prayer is not for [the disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
– Jesus, John 17.20-23

 

H O M I L Y

When we add up all of our unanswered prayers, how does it affect our faith or opinion of God? For many, it is reason enough to walk away from the faith and discount Christ. When we consider Christ’s only recorded prayer for the future body of believers, being for full unity, and how it has gone unanswered, how does that inform our opinion of prayer? While prayer might be about more than call and response, requests and answers, perhaps we could make today about answering Christ’s prayer rather than looking for answers to our own prayers. May we be One just as He and the Father are One.

 

S I L E N T  P R A Y E R

Make space for your mind to slow and be still. If thoughts grab for your attention, use a passage, prayer, phrase, or word to bring a focus and allow those distractions to pass without passing judgement on them or yourself. This time of “effortlessness,” which can feel like requires a lot of effort, is an act of trust in God that is engaging our whole heart, soul, mind, body, and strength. Simply aim to be as present to God as God is present to you and trust that that is more than enough.

When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. … And when you pray, do not keep on babbling …
– Jesus, Matthew 6:6-8

Pray without ceasing.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:17

 

T W E N T Y  M I N U T E S  O F  S I L E N C E

 

C L O S I N G  P R A Y E R

Oh my God,
I want to love You;
Not that I might gain eternal heaven,
Nor escape eternal hell, but Lord,
To love You just because
You are my God.
Grant me to give to You
And not to count the cost;
To fight for You
And not to mind the wounds;
To labor and expect nothing in return,
Except for the knowledge that I serve my God.

St Ignatius of Loyola

Wednesday Morning Silent Prayer & Meditation

Wednesday mornings we're inviting people to meet with us at Taborspace in SE Portland at 7am, but we're also welcoming individuals to take part remotely. Tuesday evenings, the plans for Wednesday mornings will be posted here. We believe that life is better together, however we can make that happen. Please consider making this a regular part of your weekly practice.

We know that it is tough to find communities centered on Contemplative Christianity and hope this serves as a support for individuals who don't feel like they fit inside or outside of the church, but still haven't given up their seeking and knocking.

 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

S A C R E D  R E A D I N G

R E A D - Without bias, assumption, or expectation; fully and simply listen, with your mind and heart; read through the passage at least twice

R E F L E C T - Is there a phrase, word, or impression that stands out to you? (Refrain from overanalyzing; keep it simple)

R E S P O N D - Allow God’s inspiration to emerge as a brief prayer, even just one word (Again, keeping it simple, remaining centered on Christ rather than on your communication to Him)

R E S T - Simply be with God. Spend a few minutes practicing being as present to God as God is to you. Silently. Humbly. Lovingly.

When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
– Jesus, Matthew 13.19-23

H O M I L Y

In this parable, Jesus characterizes God’s wild behavior of giving. There seems to be very little concern for where the seed is thrown, as well as, little judgement for the quality or condition of the soil. God is humble and generous. But who are we? Are we receptive? Or are we stuck in confusion, given to shallowness, or submitted to worry?

What kind of soil do you find in your heart today? What steps can you take toward being tender and receptive?

Sow righteousness for yourselves,
    reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;
    for it is time to seek the Lord,
until he comes
    and showers his righteousness on you.
– Hosea 10.12

S I L E N T  P R A Y E R

Take 20 minutes to sit attentively in silence. Make space for your mind to slow and be still. If thoughts grab for your attention, use a passage, prayer, phrase, or word to bring a focus and allow those distractions to pass without passing judgement on them or yourself. This time of “effortlessness,” which can feel like requires a lot of effort, is an act of trust in God that is engaging our whole heart, soul, mind, body, and strength. Simply aim to be as present to God as God is present to you and trust that that is more than enough.

When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. … And when you pray, do not keep on babbling …
– Jesus, Matthew 6:6-8

Pray without ceasing.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:17

C L O S I N G  P R A Y E R

Oh my God,
I want to love You;
Not that I might gain eternal heaven,
Nor escape eternal hell, but Lord,
To love You just because
You are my God.
Grant me to give to You
And not to count the cost;
To fight for You
And not to mind the wounds;
To labor and expect nothing in return,
Except for the knowledge that I serve my God.
– St Ignatius of Loyola

Seeking Balance in the Christian Pendulum

By love may God be gotten and holden, by thought never.
– The Cloud of Unknowing

There really is no more central a concept or message to Christianity than Love. So much so that Scripture finally culminates with the revelation in 1 John 4.16, “God is Love.” But today, the word “love” has become almost void of real meaning from so many various levels of meaning being pushed into it. Love is romance. Love is desire. Love is an emotional impulse. Love is an obligatory term for family. Love is brief excitement. Love is nostalgia. Love is sex. Love is fascination. Love is obsession. And so on.

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
– Jesus, Matthew 22.37-40

For the past few months, this simplification of faith given by Jesus has been on my mind a lot.

For the majority of my life until my mid-twenties, I had known a Christianity that identified far more with the “Love God Commandment.” We often looked down on people who we deemed as not loving God or not loving the real God or not loving God the right way. It was a clear-cut, somewhat comfortable faith, but ultimately very pious and Pharisaical way of living.

The eventual crisis point of that side of Christianity came as a result of paying little attention to Jesus’ connecting the Love God Commandment to the Love Neighbors Commandment when he says that the second is like the first. The Greek word that we’ve translated to “like” is Homoios, which means: like, similar to, resembling, of equal rank. Christianity has also largely ignored the third Love in these two commandments: as yourself. It is a compass for how to love neighbors which is like loving God.

When we love God without loving our neighbors or ourselves, we worship an idea of God that is incorrect and doomed.

Concepts create idols of God, whom only wonder and awe can teach us anything.
– Gregory of Nyssa, 6th century

I remember thinking years ago, “If my faith leads to less relationship in my life, it’s wrong.” Not because faith is a popularity contest, but because I should be loving my neighbors/enemies/friends/family more, rather than creating distance.

Now, since my mid-twenties (a decade ago), I’ve found myself swinging to the other side of the Christian pendulum, knowing a Christianity that identifies far more with the Love Neighbors Commandment. It is so needed and important and has brought much healing and depth into my life. If I am honest though, I still find a lacking.

There is a lack of sincere love for God on the other side of the pendulum. I realize it has largely to do with the bad taste in our mouths from the pious side of the pendulum, but the crisis point of this side of Christianity is that we end up using Christ’s Love Neighbor Commandment as a way to make us feel better about ourselves. We subconsciously distort loving our neighbor as ourselves (divine unity) into loving our neighbor for ourselves (objectification). It makes us feel better than the other side of the pendulum, which has hurt us. It makes us feel loved, appreciated, and valued by others. It makes us feel relevant in a time when Christianity seems far from it. We often attempt the appearance of love with the ambition of being admired.

That doesn’t only apply to Christians, it is a human condition. We want to be loving and accepting so that we will be loved and accepted, but we inadvertently allow our identities to dissolve. We grow a mile wide and an inch deep. We lack character, personal identity, and the magnificent depths of True Love. Nearly everyone is doing it without knowing or acknowledging it (even the other side of the pendulum, only in a theological manner). But as followers of Jesus, who modeled True faith, hope, and Love, which resulted in his unpopularity and murder, we need to pay more attention to our Teacher.

The importance of loving God with our whole hearts, our whole souls, and our whole minds is that it frees us from a self-centered distortion of true Love. It delivers us from worshiping an idealized version of ourselves or our lives and centers us on Love/Christ, in all and through all. Living in Love, in all and through all, allows us to see life as it really is rather than clamoring for how we’d like or expect to see it. When we lose sight of this, we begin acting out of an idea of who we could or should be and stop living in the freedom of who we are.

We need to wholly love God, our neighbors, and ourselves, not merely because it is a commandment, but because of the reason it is a commandment: it is good for us. If God is Love and we are all created in the image of God, then we are Love. So wherever we leave love out of the equation in our lives (ourselves, our neighbors, our enemies, or God), we leave a part of ourselves out of the equation. We divide and contradict our very selves, creating damage and brokenness.

Jesus points us to wholeness, that we may have life and life more abundantly, for his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Learning to follow Jesus in fully loving God, our neighbors, and ourselves is not easy, but once we get over mental and emotional conditions, fully loving God, our neighbors, and ourselves is easy. There is nothing more natural. Every moment of every day, I sincerely want and seek to remind myself of this revelation of Reality.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
– Jesus, Matthew 22.37-40