Photos taken at Fairhaven Memorial Park and Mortuary in Santa Ana, CA and at Living Spring Christian Fellowship in Garden Grove, CA.
Jesus was loved by ordinary people; not the religious people, or the church experts.
This morning a thought crystallized in a new way that I've been experiencing, reading about, and studying for a few years now: sin, as we often think about it (i.e., lying, cheating, etc.), is the manifestation of the real sin in our heart; and love is the cure for our deformed hearts.
Raised to be a very good girl the concept of sin has been difficult for me to grasp. I've been a very good Pharisee, so to speak. Even in seminary, leaning about the ugliness of my own heart was a rude awakening. But now I am not so much ashamed of it as I desire healing for it, because I've had a taste of what it's like to be the beloved of God.
As I read in Mark 11 how the people adored Jesus, I was struck how there were no church officials there to praise him or welcome him. And I got to thinking that's likely because the common people knew something about themselves the relious folk didn't: they needed, and specifically they needed what he was offering - love.
Jesus loved them where they were at, offends love changed them from the depths of their hearts to the actions that sprung from them. I bet the same thing would have happened if a scribe or Pharisee was willing to receive Jesus' gift of love and acceptance - the problem was they didn't see their need, and even if they did admitting it was too painful or costly. In the end it kept them, and us, from what we need most.
For me, seeing my need was difficult, but admitting it out loud and living in the reality of my insufficiency to be who I wanted others to think I was even more painful. The mask had to come off to get the healing love I desperately need. It's painful, but its worth it. In my life this means saying yes to friends who actually ask "How are you?" and mean it. It means saying no to serving when I'm out of capacity to care for others well. It means risking vulnerability with those who've proven safe to share with. It means asking for what I need from my husband, friends, and community. It means learning to be okay with failure - I will drop the ball. It will be okay. It means choosing not to take others' responsibility from them so I feel safe, but allowing them to fail - even when it's painful for me.
Jesus, thank you for gently revealing my need and sin, and helping me see my need for you not only in my actions, but in my soul where they spring from. Help me more and more to open my hands to the love you offer me as your beloved. And help me to share that gift with others in a way that represents your heart for me and them.
I'm curious if you've ever struggled like I do in the area of receiving Jesus' love:
How difficult or easy is it for you to recognize your need for Jesus?
What stops you from receiving his gift?
How might guilt or shame hinder you from embracing Jesus' passionate love for you?
Thank you for reading. :)
In one of my other roles I edit for an academic journal called the Journal for Spiritual Formation and Soul Care. Well, it's production time and I'm reading (a lot...a lot) of great articles and cleaning them up for Turabian/Chicago style along the way. This morning I found myself reading an article on Amish spirituality. I've been challenged and respected by the article's author as he explicates Amish spirituality in theology, Scripture, and in practice. While reading I ran across the following quote:
"Rhythms are not about progress, and life is less about progressing toward some end point than observing, learning and loving well on the journey itself. Rhythms renew us . . . And all are sacred. Attending to rhythms gives contentment room to expand into our life.”
Really: Rhythms allow contentment to grow? How is this possible. Nonetheless, having questions left unanswered, my intrigue lingered. What could this mean for me as an artist? Is this why Julia Cameron has us writing three pages every morning in The Artist's Way? Was St. Ignatius on to this when he formulated the daily Spiritual Exercises?
It seems to imply the mere practice of creating, being still, acting, or showing up enough to make room for the sacred. Wow. And further, when the sacred shows up contentment seems to follow closely behind. My own experience speaks to this (and I didn't even realize it at first). Since graduating from Talbot School of Theology's Institute for Spiritual Formation I've lived in a sort of simple monkish life: wake up, breakfast, Hulu, prayer journaling (when I'm not avoiding God or myself), make the bed, lunch... you get the picture. And as I've relaxed into this rhythm of a simple life I've found myself content. I don't desire to "get out of the house" quite as often, and when I do I enjoy it but it's not something I "need." I like doing simple chores like washing the dishes or making the bed. I look forward to when hubby comes home from work and spending the evening together. Even going to the dog beach with Courage feels extravagant in a healthy-delicious way.
Now I find myself wondering how these types of rhythms, applied to my creativity, would impact me.
Let's connect. Leave a comment:
What rhythms do you have in your life?
How does the presence, or lack of presence, of rhythms impact your inner peace?
Which habits draw you closer to the lover of your soul? Which ones pull you away?