Walking Toward Heaven

June 21st, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Richard Rohr

Thursday, June 21, 2018
Summer Solstice

Yesterday I explored the fundamental importance of discovering and living out of our True Self, our imago Dei, the image of God that we are. In the Center for Action and Contemplation’s most recent edition of Oneing, “Anger,” actor, filmmaker, writer, and personal friend Josh Radnor writes about how living from our inherent divinity contributes to creating a just and loving world.

In his book Carpe Jugulum, Terry Pratchett has a character define sin thusly: “Sin, young man, is when you treat people like things.” [1] . . .

We’re seeing the consequences of this everywhere these days: People are being objectified. . . .

The translation of Namaste is one of infinite depth. It means: The divinity in me . . . salutes the divinity in you.

Here we have an antidote to objectification. Something infinite, immortal, mysterious, loving, and alive abides in me and it is from this light that I bow toward that which is infinite, immortal, mysterious, loving, and alive in you. What if this was our set-point, our baseline, the fundamental assumption we had about every single person we encountered? All our reputations precede us: We’re divine. . . .

Mystics from every tradition testify to the aliveness and sentience of all things, that the natural world is lit up with the flame of divinity. This does and must include us. We’re not taught this. In fact, most of what we’re taught opposes this.

There’s an urgency to this moment. We must choose between a world of subjects and a world of objects. To acknowledge the divinity of another, we must first accept our own, which is not nearly as easy as it sounds. . . . Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield [writes]:

Our belief in a limited and impoverished identity is such a strong habit that without it we are afraid we wouldn’t know how to be. If we fully acknowledged our dignity, it could lead us to radical life changes. It could ask something huge of us. [2]

. . . So many of us carry a kind of unspoken assumption that something is very, very wrong with us, that we’re damaged, guilty, and unlovable. Stepping into our divinity—acknowledging and accepting our fundamental nobility—is the ultimate paradigm shift. Kornfield is right. We cannot continue with business as usual after this. . . .

Namaste asks something huge of us: If the divinity in me recognizes the divinity in you, how could I abuse, debase, violate, or harass? I would, after all, only be punishing myself. . . .

St. Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335-c. 394) offered another beautiful, succinct, and useful definition of sin. Sin, he [suggested], is a refusal to keep growing. [3]

This is a growing moment. Growth is painful.

I don’t believe hell or heaven to be post-life destinations. I believe they are states of consciousness largely visible here and now. A world of objects is a kind of hell. A world of subjects—divine beings honoring the divinity in the other—is surely heaven. May we point our feet toward this heaven and begin the hard and necessary work of walking there.

____________________________________________________

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling

June 21, 2018

WAIT PATIENTLY WITH ME while I bless you. Don’t rush into My Presence with time-consciousness gnawing at your mind. I dwell in timelessness: I am, I was, I will always be. For you, time is a protection; you’re a frail creature who can handle only twenty-four-hour segments of life. Time can also be a tyrant, ticking away relentlessly in your mind. Learn to master time, or it will be your master. Though you are a time-bound creature, seek to meet Me in timelessness. As you focus on My Presence, the demands of time and tasks will diminish. I will bless you and keep you, making My Face shine upon you graciously, giving you Peace.

MICAH 7:7; But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.

REVELATION 1:8; I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

ECCLESIASTES 3:1; A Time for Everything – There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

NUMBERS 6:24–26; “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you.

 

You Are the “Imago Dei”

June 20th, 2018 by Dave No comments »

You Are the “Imago Dei”
Wednesday, June 20, 2018 Richard Rohr

Searching for and rediscovering the True Self is the fundamentum, the essential task that will gradually open us to receiving and giving love to God, others, and ourselves, and thus to live truly just lives. Grace builds on nature; it does not avoid or destroy nature. You are created in the image of God from the very beginning (Genesis 1:26-27). This is the basis for God’s justice: Since everyone is made in the image of God, then we need to recognize, honor, and respect the image of God in everyone. No exceptions.

You (and every other creation of God) begin with your unique divine DNA, an inner destiny as it were, an absolute core that knows the truth about you, a true believer tucked away in the cellar of your being, an imago Dei that begs to be allowed, to be fulfilled, and to show itself. “You were chosen in Christ before the world was made—to stand before God in love—marked out beforehand as fully adopted sons and daughters” (Ephesians 1:4-5). This is your True Self or soul.

Jesus revealed and accepted a paradox: human and divine are not separate, but one! Why do we resist this destiny? For most of us, this seems just too good and too dangerous to be true. There is so much contrary evidence! Are we afraid to bear the burden of divinity? It is precisely the divine part of you that is great enough, deep enough, gracious enough to fully accept the human part of you. If you are merely human, you will tend to reject your embarrassingly limited humanity.

Maybe we realize subconsciously that if we really recognized our True Self—which is the Divine Indwelling, the Holy Spirit within us—if we really believed that we are temples of God (see 1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16), then we would have to live up to this incredible dignity, freedom, and love.

Paradoxically, immense humility, not arrogance, characterizes the True Self. You simultaneously know you are a son or daughter of God, but you also know that you didn’t earn it and you are not worthy of it. You know it’s entirely a gift (see Ephesians 2:8-9 and throughout Paul’s writings). All you can do is thank Somebody Else, occasionally weep with joy, and kneel without any hesitation.

The single and true purpose of mature religion is to lead you to ever new experiences of your True Self. If religion does not do this, it is junk religion. Every sacrament, every Bible story, every church service, every sermon, every hymn, every bit of priesthood, ministry, or liturgy is for one purpose: to allow you to experience your True Self—who you are in God and who God is in you—and to live a generous and just life from that Infinite Source.

———————

JUNE 20 I SPEAK TO YOU CONTINUALLY. My nature is to communicate, though not always in words. I fling glorious sunsets across the sky, day after day after day. I speak in the faces and voices of loved ones. I caress you with a gentle breeze that refreshes and delights you. I speak softly in the depths of your spirit, where I have taken up residence. You can find Me in each moment, when you have eyes that see and ears that hear. Ask My Spirit to sharpen your spiritual eyesight and hearing. I rejoice each time you discover My Presence. Practice looking and listening for Me during quiet intervals. Gradually you will find Me in more and more of your moments. You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me above all else.

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? —PSALM 8:1–4

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. —PSALM 19:1–2

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own. —1 CORINTHIANS 6:19

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” —JEREMIAH 29:13

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling

Reclaiming Jesus

June 19th, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Reclaiming Jesus

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Earlier this year, I collaborated with a group of Christian leaders in the United States to write a statement to our churches, “Reclaiming Jesus: A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis.” [1] I invite you to meditate on three of our affirmations:
The church’s role is to change the world through the life and love of Jesus Christ. The government’s role is to serve the common good by protecting justice and peace, rewarding good behavior while restraining bad behavior (Romans 13). When that role is undermined by political leadership, faith leaders must stand up and speak out. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.” [2]
I. WE BELIEVE each human being is made in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26). That image and likeness confers a divinely decreed dignity, worth, and God-given equality to all of us as children of the one God who is the Creator of all things. Racial bigotry is a brutal denial of the image of God (the imago dei) in some of the children of God. Our participation in the global community of Christ absolutely prevents any toleration of racial bigotry. Racial justice and healing are biblical and theological issues for us, and are central to the mission of the body of Christ in the world. We give thanks for the prophetic role of the historic black churches in America when they have called for a more faithful gospel.
II. WE BELIEVE we are one body. In Christ, there is to be no oppression based on race, gender, identity, or class (Galatians 3:28). [I would add sexual orientation as well.] The body of Christ, where those great human divisions are to be overcome, is meant to be an example for the rest of society. When we fail to overcome these oppressive obstacles, and even perpetuate them, we have failed in our vocation to the world—to proclaim and live the reconciling gospel of Christ.
III. WE BELIEVE how we treat the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick, and the prisoner is how we treat Christ himself. “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). God calls us to protect and seek justice for those who are poor and vulnerable, and our treatment of people who are “oppressed,” “strangers,” “outsiders,” or otherwise considered “marginal” is a test of our relationship to God, who made us all equal in divine dignity and love. Our proclamation of the lordship of Jesus Christ is at stake in our solidarity with the most vulnerable. If our gospel is not “good news to the poor,” it is not the gospel of Jesus Christ (Luke 4:18).

________________________________________________________

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling

June 19, 2018

I AM THE FIRM FOUNDATION on which you can dance and sing and celebrate My Presence. This is My high and holy calling for you; receive it as a precious gift. Glorifying and enjoying Me is a higher priority than maintaining a tidy, structured life. Give up your striving to keep everything under control—an impossible task and a waste of precious energy. My guidance for each of My children is unique. That’s why listening to Me is so vital for your well-being. Let me prepare you for the day that awaits you and point you in the right direction. I am with you continually, so don’t be intimidated by fear. Though it stalks you, it cannot harm you, as long as you cling to My hand. Keep your eyes on Me, enjoying Peace in My Presence.

PSALM 5:11; But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice.

EPHESIANS 3:20–21;Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the.

JUDE V V. 24–25; Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless. Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25 To God our Savior,

JOSHUA 1:5; No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.

Be Peace and Justice

June 18th, 2018 by Dave No comments »

A View from the Bottom
Sunday, June 17, 2018

Jesus’ basic justice agenda was simple living, humility, and love of neighbor. We all have to live this way ourselves. From that position, God can do God’s work rather easily. Unfortunately, even many who claim to follow Jesus have deviated from this path.

In almost all of history, the vast majority of people understood the “view from the bottom” due to their life circumstance. Most of the people who have ever lived on this planet have been oppressed and poor. But their history was seldom written except in the Bible and in recent books. [1]

This relatively new thing called “the middle class” gives many of us just enough comfort not to feel the pinch or worry about injustice for ourselves. Many of us in the Northern Hemisphere have a view from the top even though we are nowhere near the top. Many Americans can afford to be politically illiterate, rarely vote, and be terribly naive about money, war, and power.

Only by solidarity with other people’s suffering can comfortable people be converted. Otherwise we are disconnected from the cross—of the world, of others, of Jesus, and finally of our own necessary participation in the great mystery of dying and rising. People who are considered outsiders and at the bottom of society—the lame, poor, blind, prostitutes, tax collectors, “sinners”—are the ones who understand Jesus’ teaching. It’s the leaders and insiders (the priests, scribes, Pharisees, teachers of the law, and Roman officials) who crucify him.

Power invariably coalesces and corrupts. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the first Christians went “underground,” meeting in the secrecy of the catacombs to avoid persecution. During this time, the Church was largely of the poor and for the poor, sharing resources equally.

When Constantine made Christianity the established religion of the Roman Empire starting in AD 313, the Church’s interests also started becoming imperial interests: power, money, status, control. Once aligned with power, it’s hard—if not almost impossible—to let it go.

Brian McLaren is not afraid to say directly that it is time for us to acknowledge Christianity’s past fraught with imperialism and colonialism:

About forty years before 1492, Pope Nicholas V issued an official document called Romanus Pontifex . . . which serves as the basis for what is commonly called the Doctrine of Discovery, the teaching that whatever Christians “discover,” they can take and use as they wish. . . . Christian global mission is defined as to “invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue” non-Christians around the world, and to steal “all movable and immovable goods” and to “reduce their persons to perpetual slavery”—and not only them, but their descendants. And notice the stunning use of the word convert: “to convert them to his and their use and profit.” [2]

In addition to this doctrine, selective use and interpretation of the Bible was used to justify slavery for centuries. Scripture is still used by some today to exclude and judge LGBTQIA individuals, even though Jesus said very little about sexuality and a great deal about other things we conveniently ignore. How could we have twisted Jesus’ example and teaching into something so inhumane and unjust? But we did.

———————————-

Be Peace and Justice Monday, June 18, 2018 Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM

Yesterday I shared how far Christianity has strayed from Jesus’ vision of justice, even though his teaching was crystal clear. Francis (1182-1226) and Clare (1194-1253) of Assisi understood his message and modeled a similar agenda: a simple lifestyle outside the system of production and consumption (the real meaning of the vow of poverty) and conscious identification with the marginalized of society (the communion of saints pushed to its outer edge). In this position, we do not “do” acts of peace and justice as much as our lifestyle itself is peace and justice. Think about that.

By “living on the edge of the inside” I mean building on the solid Tradition (“from the inside”) but doing it from a new and creative stance where you cannot be co-opted (“on the edge”) for purposes of security, possessions, or the illusions of power. Today, many of us try to find personal and individual freedom even as we remain inside a system of consumption that we are unable or unwilling to critique. We cannot remove the plank on which we are standing. Evil tends to hide even more in systems and institutions than in individuals. [1]

The way of radical Christianity is to stay outside of such systems—insofar as possible—so they cannot control our breadth of thinking, feeling, loving, and living out universal justice. We can only re-enter them from this new place of inner freedom. This has seldom been taught, and thus most of us are on bended knee to and codependent with almost all public institutions.

We lost our unique and prophetic way when we turned Jesus into a chummy best friend and Brother Francis into “Saint Francis,” and it was no longer considered foolish to say that you followed Jesus or Francis. A prophet’s lifestyle is never fashionable or safe.

When you agree to live simply, you do not consider the refugee, the homeless person, or the foreigner as a threat or competition. You have chosen their marginal state for yourself—freely and consciously becoming “visitors and pilgrims” in this world, as Francis put it (quoting 1 Peter 2:11). A simple lifestyle is an act of solidarity with the way most people have lived since the beginnings of humanity.

As I’ve said many times, “the best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.” This approach guards against the most common criticism of religion in general and social-justice work in particular, which, frankly, has tended to produce many negative, oppositional, and judgmental people—from reactionary conservatives to limousine liberals.

We must move to the laboratory where radical change can occur—inside of our very mind, heart, and the cells of our body. Contemplative practice rewires our inner life, giving us a kind of “emotional sobriety.” It opens us to an inner sense of divine union so we can do the needed works of justice with peace and enduring passion.

Our spirituality forms our inner lives and is then lived outwardly in the world, which is to live a life of love and justice for others. True contemplation must become action.

JUNE 18
YOU ARE MY BELOVED CHILD.
I chose you before the foundation of the world, to walk with Me along paths designed uniquely for you. Concentrate on keeping in step with Me instead of trying to anticipate My plans for you. If you trust that My plans are to prosper you and not to harm you, you can relax and enjoy the present moment. Your hope and your future are rooted in heaven, where eternal ecstasy awaits you. Nothing can rob you of your inheritance of unimaginable riches and well-being. Sometimes I grant you glimpses of your glorious future, to encourage you and spur you on. But your main focus should be staying close to Me. I set the pace in keeping with your needs and My purposes.

Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. —EPHESIANS 1:4 NASB

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. —PROVERBS 16:9

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” —JEREMIAH 29:11

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. —EPHESIANS 1:13–14

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling

Wounded Healers

June 15th, 2018 by Dave No comments »

Wounded Healers
Friday, June 15, 2018

Bryan Stevenson (b. 1959) is a lawyer, social justice activist, and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. [1] In his book Just Mercy, Stevenson describes how being in touch with our own humanity and need for mercy helps give us the compassion needed for restorative justice. He is a real contemporary hero for many of us at the Center for Action and Contemplation.

My years of struggling against inequality, abusive power, poverty, oppression, and injustice had finally revealed something to me about myself. Being close to suffering, death, executions, and cruel punishments didn’t just illuminate the brokenness of others; in moments of anguish and heartbreak, it also exposed my own brokenness. You can’t effectively fight abusive power, poverty, inequality, illness, oppression, or injustice and not be broken by it. . . .

I guess I’d always known but never fully considered that being broken is what makes us human. We all have our reasons. Sometimes we’re fractured by the choices we make; sometimes we’re shattered by things we would never have chosen. But our brokenness is also the source of our common humanity, the basis for our shared search for comfort, meaning, and healing. Our shared vulnerability and imperfection nurtures and sustains our capacity for compassion.

We have a choice. We can embrace our humanness, which means embracing our broken natures and the compassion that remains our best hope for healing. Or we can deny our brokenness, forswear compassion, and, as a result, deny our own humanity. . . .

So many of us have become afraid and angry. We’ve become so fearful and vengeful that we’ve thrown away children, discarded the disabled, and sanctioned the imprisonment of the sick and the weak—not because they are a threat to public safety or beyond rehabilitation but because we think it makes us seem tough, less broken. I thought of the victims of violent crime and the survivors of murdered loved ones, and how we’ve pressured them to recycle their pain and anguish and give it back to the offenders we prosecute. I thought of the many ways we’ve legalized vengeful and cruel punishments, how we’ve allowed our victimization to justify the victimization of others. We’ve submitted to the harsh instinct to crush those among us whose brokenness is most visible.

But simply punishing the broken—walking away from them or hiding them from sight—only ensures that they remain broken and we do, too. There is no wholeness outside of our reciprocal humanity. . . .

Embracing our brokenness creates a need for mercy. . . . I began thinking about what would happen if we all just acknowledged our brokenness, if we owned up to our weaknesses, our deficits, our biases, our fears. Maybe if we did, we wouldn’t want to kill the broken among us who have killed others. Maybe we would look harder for solutions to caring for the disabled, the abused, the neglected, and the traumatized. . . . We could no longer take pride in mass incarceration, in executing people, in our deliberate indifference to the most vulnerable.

JUNE 15
WHEN YOU APPROACH ME
in stillness and in trust, you are strengthened. You need a buffer zone of silence around you in order to focus on things that are unseen. Since I am invisible, you must not let your senses dominate your thinking. The curse of this age is overstimulation of the senses, which blocks out awareness of the unseen world. The tangible world still reflects My Glory to those who have eyes that see and ears that hear. Spending time alone with Me is the best way to develop seeing eyes and hearing ears. The goal is to be aware of unseen things even as you live out your life in the visible world.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. —2 CORINTHIANS 4:18

And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” —ISAIAH 6:3

Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law. —PSALM 119:18 NKJV

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. —PSALM 130:5

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling

Cultivating Justice

June 14th, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Justice: Week 1

Cultivating Justice
Thursday, June 14, 2018

Jack Jezreel describes three additional essential aspects of following Jesus and creating a world of justice and peace. [1]

Take Time to Pray

. . . Prayer is a way of connecting with our source. It is about being centered, grounded, mindful of the holy, the presence of the sacred and the precious. . . . Prayer can help us to connect with the poor with open eyes and hearts. It is prayer that can allow us to educate with patience, love and understanding. It is prayer that can enable us to move to a simpler lifestyle. And it is prayer that will allow us to do this with conviction and joy.

And whether or not we pray is as obvious as whether or not we have put our clothes on. For example, the compulsive, frantic, angry, cynical, unintegrated rambling from project to project—even from peace project to peace project—may speak of good intentions, but also of an uneasy and untended inner life. It is possible . . . to do much harm because we have not taken the time to pray. . . .

Commitment to Nonviolence

. . . Violence is awful. Violence is ugly. Violence is the saddest of human acts. As [Pope] John Paul stated, “War is a defeat for humanity.” [2] . . . It is so very difficult to lead people into a willing critique of their politics, their country, their allegiances, without some awareness of how violence is so often the handmaid of greed and power. . . .

We are nonviolent, not because we simply eschew violence; rather, we are nonviolent because we are people who love like Jesus. When our lives are active and occupied in the name of doing good, there is little space for violence and doing harm.

Community

. . . Community is the most neglected and probably the most difficult ingredient for us to hold to in the U.S. context. And for the most obvious of reasons—we have come to worship at the altar of independence, individualism and autonomy. As much as there is a deep hunger for connection, common purpose, and kindred hearts, there is a merciless, deep-rooted entrenchment in the forces of competition, freedom and self-rule. . . .

As you might guess, when I say community I do not mean the bowling community, or even the church bowling community. Rather, I mean a community that makes very intentional commitments, including those I have mentioned so far: engagement with those of the margins, justice education or formation, simplicity, prayer, and peacemaking. [3]

[In closing,] we must imagine what God’s peace and justice look like on this earth, and we must begin the work of crafting structures, institutions, human realities that are the antithesis to division, hate, greed and scarcity, that anticipate and cultivate justice and goodness and peace.

__________________________________________

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling

June 14, 2018

I HAVE LOVED YOU with an everlasting Love. Before time began, I knew you. For years you swam around in a sea of meaninglessness, searching for Love, hoping for hope. All that time I was pursuing you, aching to embrace you in My compassionate arms. When time was right, I revealed Myself to you. I lifted you out of that sea of despair and set you down on a firm foundation. Sometimes you felt naked—exposed to the revealing Light of My Presence. I wrapped an ermine robe around you: My robe of righteousness. I sang you a Love song, whose beginning and end are veiled in eternity. I infused meaning into your mind and harmony into your heart. Join Me in singing My song. Together we will draw others out of darkness into My marvelous Light.

JEREMIAH 31:3; The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

ISAIAH 61:10; delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

1 PETER 2:9 NKJV; 9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

 

Justice with Peace

June 13th, 2018 by Dave No comments »

Richard Rohr Wednesday, June 13, 2018

If you want peace, work for justice. —Pope Paul VI [1]
Jack Jezreel, the founder of JustFaith Ministries, writes about six crucial ingredients for Christianity to be an effective force for peace and justice, “peace with justice, justice with peace.” Today we’ll explore the first three and tomorrow the remaining elements.
Relationships with Those at Risk
First, the Church—the People of God—must always be deliberate about our relationships with those who are at risk in the world. . . . The single biggest obstacle to the church’s mission and vision of peace with justice is the fact of the segregation of the poor/the oppressed/the exploited/the neglected/the stranger from the comfortable/the secure/the satisfied. The result is a divide that convinces the comfortable and secure that all is well and persuades the poor that there is no hope. . . .
Regardless of what else we do, we must stay connected in some kind of face-to-face way with the persons and the places at risk. . . .
Justice Education
The second critical ingredient . . . is justice education. . . . The single most repeated phrase in the Gospels is [what] Jesus uses to describe the vision and focus of his ministry: the Reign of God. . . . This is the reign of service, reconciliation, justice, generosity, compassion and peacemaking. Jesus calls disciples to this vision. Is it fair to say that Jesus did not call disciples to follow him for the purpose of idolizing or honoring him? Rather, the reason to follow him is that he is pointing toward a new possibility—a holy possibility. . . .
Catholic social teaching speaks to dignity, solidarity, the option for the poor, the rights of workers, care of creation, peace and so on. It is, in fact, an extraordinary tradition. The only problem is that it is so often not integrated in the life of the local faith community, the parish. It is, to use a tiresome and now pathetic phrase, “our best kept secret.” . . .
Simpler Lifestyles
. . . The call to a simpler lifestyle is partially prompted by the observation that the world is at war because parts of the world are literally sucking the life out of the other parts. The history of affluence is the history of exploitation is the history of war. . . . For us to live as we live in this country, we need to dominate others so that they cannot use the limited resources that we want.
And our lifestyles not only put us at war with each other but with the natural order. The reality of global warming is sobering indeed. . . .
Authentic love will not allow us to continue to ask the rest of the world to put itself at the mercy of our conveniences.

JUNE 13
I AM CREATING
something new in you: a bubbling spring of Joy that spills over into others’ lives. Do not mistake this Joy for your own or try to take credit for it in any way. Instead, watch in delight as My Spirit flows through you to bless others. Let yourself become a reservoir of the Spirit’s fruit. Your part is to live close to Me, open to all that I am doing in you. Don’t try to control the streaming of My Spirit through you. Just keep focusing on Me as we walk through this day together. Enjoy My Presence, which permeates you with Love, Joy, and Peace.

“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” —JOHN 3:8

I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. —PROVERBS 4:11–12

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. —GALATIANS 5:22–23

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling

Restorative Justice

June 12th, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Justice: Week 1

Restorative Justice
Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Almost all religion and cultures that I know of have believed in one way or another that sin and evil are to be punished and that retribution is to be demanded of the sinner in this world—and usually the next world, too. Such retributive justice is a dualistic system of reward and punishment, good guys and bad guys, and makes perfect sense to the ego. I call it the economy of merit or “meritocracy.” This system seems to be the best that prisons, courtrooms, wars, and even most of the church (which should know better) appear equipped to do.

Jesus, many mystics, and other wisdom traditions—such as the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous—show that sin and failure are, in fact, an opportunity for the transformation and enlightenment of the offender. Mere counting and ledger-keeping is not the way of the Gospel. Our best self wants to restore relationships, and not just blame or punish. This is the “economy of grace.” (The trouble is that we defined God as “punisher in chief” instead of Healer, Forgiver, and Reconciler and so the retribution model was legitimized all the way down!)

What humanity really needs is an honest exposure of the truth and accountability for what has happened. Only then can human beings move ahead with dignity. Hurt needs to be spoken and heard. It does not just go away on its own. This can then lead to “restorative justice,” which is what the prophets invariably promise to the people of Israel (e.g., Ezekiel 16:53; Isaiah 57:17-19) and is exemplified in Jesus’ story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) and throughout his healing ministry. We lose that and we lose the Gospel itself.

The aim of restorative justice is to return the person to a useful position in the community. Thus, there can be healing on both sides. Such justice is a mystery that only makes sense to the soul. It is a direct corollary of our “economy of grace” and yet the term restorative justice only entered our vocabulary in the last few decades. How can we deny that there is an evolution of consciousness, even consciousness of where the Gospel is leading us?

As any good therapist will tell you, you cannot heal what you do not acknowledge. What you do not consciously acknowledge will remain in control from within, festering and destroying you and those around you. In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus teaches, “If you bring forth that which is within you, it will save you. If you do not bring it forth, it will destroy you” (logion 70). [1]

Only mutual apology, healing, and forgiveness offer a sustainable future for humanity. Otherwise, we are controlled by the past, individually and corporately. We all need to apologize, and we all need to forgive or this human project will surely self-destruct. No wonder that almost two-thirds of Jesus’ teaching is directly or indirectly about forgiveness. Otherwise, history devolves into taking sides, bitterness, holding grudges, and the violence that inevitably follows. As others have said, “Forgiveness is to let go of our hope for a different past.” Reality is what it is, and such acceptance leads to great freedom, as long as there is also both accountability and healing forgiveness.

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Young, Sarah.

Jesus Calling

June 12, 2018

LET ME HELP YOU get through this day. There are many possible paths to travel between your getting up in the morning and your lying down at night. Stay alert to the many choice-points along the way, being continually aware of My Presence. You will get through this day one way or the other. One way is to moan and groan, stumbling along with shuffling feet. This will get you to the end of the day eventually, but there is a better way. You can choose to walk with Me along the path of Peace, leaning on Me as much as you need. There will still be difficulties along the way, but you can face them confidently in My strength. Thank Me for each problem you encounter, and watch to see how I transform trials into blessings.

1 CORINTHIANS 10:10; And do not grumble, as some of them did —and were killed by the destroying angel.

LUKE 1:79; to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.

2 SAMUEL 22:29–30; You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light. 30 With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.

 

Week Twenty-four … Justice

June 11th, 2018 by Dave No comments »

An Unequivocal Call to Justice
Sunday, June 10, 2018

Throughout this year’s meditations we’re exploring how the divine image and dignity is inherent in every being. We have the freedom and honor of choosing to grow (or not) in our unique likeness of this image. Jesus is one clear example of this path, a visible incarnation of the union between human and divine, matter and spirit. He models inclusive, nondual, compassionate thinking and being.
Why then does Jesus tell stories that show harsh judgment, casting the rejected into “outer darkness” and “eternal punishment” (see Matthew 25:46)? This seems to undo all the mercy and forgiveness Jesus demonstrates in the rest of his life and teaching. Let me explain how I see it.
Clear-headed dualistic thinking must precede any further movement into nondual responses, especially about issues that people want to avoid. We cannot make a nonstop flight to nondual thinking or we just get fuzzy thinking. First use your well-trained and good mind, and then find your response in a holistic (body, mind, soul, and heart) response. This is the heart of spirituality.
Note that Jesus reserves his most damning and dualistic statements for matters of social justice where power is most resistant: “You cannot serve both God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24); “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24); or the clear dichotomy in Matthew 25 between sheep (who feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and visit the imprisoned) and goats (who don’t). The context is important. Jesus’ foundational and even dualistic bias is against false power and in favor of the powerless. If you do not make such points absolutely clear (and even if you do, as Jesus did), history shows that humans will almost always compromise on issues of justice, power, money, and inclusion.
Let’s bring it home: The United States always has all the money it needs for war, weapons, and bailing out banks, but never enough for good schools, low cost housing, universal health care, or welcoming refugees. Has this not become obvious? No wonder Jesus dared to be dualistic and dramatic first! He offers clear, contrasting statements about issues of ultimate significance and calls us to decide between them. His point is always transformation.
Unfortunately, Christians have managed to avoid most of what Jesus taught so unequivocally: nonviolence, sharing, simplicity, loving our enemies. Thankfully many Christians are returning to Jesus’ foundational messages and seeking to follow his example. They are not shying away from the embarrassments and evils of our churches, politics, and economy and the ways we each contribute to and are complicit in them. Over the next couple weeks, I will explore how we might embrace Jesus and the prophets’ calls to “do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with God” in this world (see Micah 6:8).

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Protecting and Also Bridging Differences Monday, June 11, 2018

As we saw earlier this year, humans need concrete and particular experiences to learn the ways of love. [1] We don’t learn to love through abstract philosophy or theology. That’s why Jesus came to show God in human form, revealing a face we could recognize and relate to. Let’s first call justice giving everything its full due. Thus, it must begin with somehow seeing the divine (ultimate value) in the other. If we really see someone in their fullness, we cannot help but treat them with kindness and compassion.
Even as we know that every human’s being is inherently and equally good, dignified, and worthy of respect, we cannot ignore our very real differences. The problem is that the ego likes to assign lesser and greater value based on differences. Until all people everywhere are treated with dignity and respect, we must continue calling attention to imbalances of privilege and power. Arbitrary, artificial hierarchies and discrimination are based on a variety of differences: for example, gender, sexuality, class, skin color, education, physical or mental ability, attractiveness, accent, language, religion, and so on.
“Intersectionality” is a rather new concept for most of us to help explain how these attributes overlap. You can be privileged in some areas and not in others. A poor white man has more opportunities for advancement than a poor black man. [2] A transgender woman of color has an even higher risk of being assaulted than a white heterosexual woman. [3] Someone without a disability has an easier time finding a job than an equally qualified candidate who has a disability.
Pause for a moment and think about the areas in which you benefit, not because of anything you’ve done or deserve but simply because of what body you were born with, what class privilege you enjoy, what country or ethnicity you find yourself in.
In the book Intersectionality in Action, experienced educators recognize that “admitting one’s privilege can be very difficult,” especially for those who consider themselves tolerant and prefer to not use labels, “calling themselves color-blind, for instance.” [4] When we finally recognize our unearned benefits—at the expense of others—we may feel ashamed and that may lead us to make excuses for ourselves or overly identify with a less privileged aspect of our identity (for example as Jewish or female). Yet as we move beyond these attachments and emotions, “[We] learn that [our] privileges and disadvantages can coexist, intersect, and impact the way [we] move through different environments.” [5]
We must work to dismantle systems of oppression while at the same time honoring our differences and celebrating our oneness! This takes a great deal of spiritual maturity. Unity, in fact, is the reconciliation of differences, not the denial of them. Our differences must first be maintained—and then overcome by the power of love (exactly as in the three persons of the Trinity). We must distinguish and separate things before we can spiritually unite them, usually at cost to ourselves, especially if we are privileged (see Ephesians 2:14-16).
God is a mystery of relationship, and the truest relationship is love. Infinite Love preserves unique truths, protecting boundaries while simultaneously bridging them.

JUNE 11 TRUST ME
and don’t be afraid, for I am your Strength and Song. Do not let fear dissipate your energy. Instead, invest your energy in trusting Me and singing My Song. The battle for control of your mind is fierce, and years of worry have made you vulnerable to the enemy. Therefore, you need to be vigilant in guarding your thoughts. Do not despise this weakness in yourself since I am using it to draw you closer to Me. Your constant need for Me creates an intimacy that is well worth all the effort. You are not alone in this struggle for your mind. My Spirit living within you is ever ready to help in this striving. Ask Him to control your mind; He will bless you with Life and Peace.

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. —ISAIAH 12:2

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. —ROMANS 8:9

The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. —ROMANS 8:6

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling

Creativity

June 8th, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Creativity
Evolving the Universe
Friday, June 8, 2018

Contemplation hastens the evolution of the human species. Whoever finds this out and practices it will hasten the evolutionary future of the human family. —Thomas Keating [1]
Consider what Franciscan scientist and sister Ilia Delio, a scholar of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, has to say about the technology that comes from human creativity and ingenuity:
In Teilhard’s view, the world is not . . . hurtling itself into aimless expansion . . . but is moved by Christ to Christ that God may be all in all. . . . The future of the material universe is intimately linked to the fulfillment [i.e., the evolutionary completion] of human beings in whom the world has come to consciousness. What we do matters to the “matter” of the universe, because by our choices we influence the life of the universe. [2] . . . The Parousia, or second coming of Christ, will ultimately be determined by the choices of the human community. . . .
Teilhard indicated that “the total Christ is only attained and consummated at the end of universal evolution.” [3] . . . That is, the Christ of the physical universe, the Christ of all humanity, the Christ of all religions. In this respect, Christ is not a static figure, like a goal post with a gravitational lure, toward which the universe is moving. Rather, Christ is in evolution because we, human and nonhuman creation, are in evolution. . . . We must take seriously the impact technology and science are causing on the shape of life in the universe. . . .
Technology can be defined as the organization of knowledge for the achievement of practical purposes. We may also describe it as the development of mechanical devices by the human community in its efforts to control or exploit the forces of nature. Throughout history, humans have been inventive in various ways, enhancing human life through means of technology. . . . The development of technology expresses the human’s self-development and self-expression through matter [i.e., the human capacity to be creative]; it is integral to being the image of God and thus integral to authentic self-realization. . . .
The notion of the human as a dynamic image of God, with a vocation to develop this image by evolving dialogue with the material cosmos, sets technology in a wider framework that provides strong religious, moral, and humanistic controls on its exploitation. . . . [4]
Teilhard saw that creativity and invention would forge the modern path of evolution, but he also saw that science alone cannot fulfill the cosmic longing for completion. God rises up at the heart of cosmic evolution through the power of love, which science and technology can facilitate but not surpass. The future of the earth, therefore, lies not in science and technology, but in the spiritual power of world religions and the power of love. We are born out of love, we exist in love, and we are destined for eternal love. . . . It is time to reinvent ourselves in love. [5]
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Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling
June 8, 2018
I WANT YOU TO BE ALL MINE, filled with the Light of My Presence. I gave everything for you by living as a man, then dying for your sins and living again. Hold back nothing from Me. Bring your most secret thoughts into the Light of My Love. Anything you bring to Me I transform and cleanse from darkness. I know everything about you, far more than you know of yourself. But I restrain My yearning to “fix” you, waiting instead for you to come to Me for help. Imagine the divine restraint this requires, for I have all Power in heaven and on earth. Seek My Face with a teachable spirit. Come into My Presence with thanksgiving, desiring to be transformed.

JOHN 12:46 NKJV; I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

PSALM 90:8;You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.

MATTHEW 28:18; Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

PSALM 100:4;Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.