Come and make all things new...

The morning reading from the English Jesuits @ "Pray As You Go" (check it out @ http://www.pray-as-you-go.org/home/) was taken from Revelations 21. It is one of my favorite passages of Holy Scripture. It begins like this:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
‘See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;

mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.’


Some of the questions that were posed in this contemplative prayer were: what new creation is aching for renewal in you? What words captured your attention today - and why? What do you want to ask God to do for you based on this reading.  In between these questions and the Scripture, the music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo was playing "Khayelihle Khaya Lamie" - My Beautiful Home - words that mirror the promise of the Bible in Revelations.

Fr. Richard Rohr's weekly reflection on God's love included these words:

To be fully conscious would be to love everything on some level and in some way—even our mistakes. To love is to fall into full consciousness, which is contemplative, non-dualistic, and including everything—even “the last enemy to be destroyed, which is death itself” (1 Corinthians 15:26). That is why we must, absolutely must, love! And why we must not be afraid of death.

Didn’t Jesus tell us that we must love even our enemies? When we can on some level even love our sins and imperfections, which are our “enemies,” we are fully conscious and fully liberated. God, who is Universal Consciousness itself, knows all things, absorbs all things, and forgives all things—for being what they are. If Jesus commands us to love our enemies, then we know that God must and will do the same. What hope and joy that gives us all! It takes away all fear of admitting our mistakes, and allows us to forgive our primary enemy which is often our self.

Let’s end this wonderful week with one of my favorite quotes from the Catholic Bible:

Yes, you love all that exists, you hold nothing of what you have made in abhorrence, for had you hated anything, you would not have formed it.
And how, had you not willed it, would a thing persist 
in being? How could it be conserved if not called forth by you?
You spare all things, because all things are yours, Lord, lover of life, you whose imperishable spirit is in all.  

                                                                —Wisdom 11:24-12:1

It is so easy for me - maybe you, too - to forget that with God's call to love our enemies we are also being reminded that God does this to us: the things we hate about ourselves, our failings and brokenness, our sins they are ALL loved by the Lord. "What hope and joy INDEED is ours..." It is one of the ways ever tear shall be wiped away from our eyes right now. Not after this life is over, not in heaven (although I trust that, too) but right now. 

From time to time I find myself overwhelmed with the demands of ministry - especially as I own my grief. And when I get overwhelmed with both the hurts and needs of others - whom I truly love - it is so easy to slip into self-pity and resentment. I know that broken hiding place all too well. Not that there isn't foolishness and selfishness among some that would try the patience of a saint; but that's not going to change, right?  So rather than chuck it all - or get all bent out of shape - it is clear to me that (once again) I need to make certain to find contemplative time every day. Not just when I remember, but every day. 
In my worship notes for this Sunday - Advent I - I wrote that the hard words found in Mark 13 need some upside-down interpretation.These words appear just before Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem and faces his betrayal and death upon the Cross. As Christ and the disciples are walking into Jerusalem, those with Jesus look up at the grandeur of the Temple – the majesty of the city – and exclaim: isn’t this a beautiful and powerful tribute to the Lord our God? To which Jesus replies:  why do you STILL not get it? This Temple shall be destroyed – along with all the other symbols of traditional power and wisdom – because God’s grace is not revealed in the Temple or the Academy or the institutions of power and commerce.  

It is found most clearly in the Cross.  You are NOT going to find the wisdom of the Lord’s love inside the gates of the city.  You are going to have to leave and look on the periphery of things – among the poor and wounded – within the pain of living and the challenge presented by despair. Look to these things – the unexpected and hard places of life – for there God will be revealed.

So what I hear first as troubling words could be more of a restatement of the wisdom and folly of the Cross:  God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom and God’s weakness is stronger than all our power. I am being called to be alert and awake – to be impatient with distractions and diversions that seduce or deaden me to God’s small but very real presence in the world – so that I might be fully made new with the Lord.

One preacher put it like this:  in the apocalyptic words of Jesus in Mark’s gospel we find Jesus at his pastoral best. That which looks like devastation and defeat will be God's victory. Out of the theological turmoil and confusion surrounding the destruction of the temple will be a new presence of God. Out of the suffering and death of their Messiah will be new life. God's new way of being in the world will turn a cross into resurrection and a baby in a manger into salvation for the world.” (Karoline Lewis, Working Preacher)

As I keep learning over and over again, God is not and will never be where we expect to find God: isn’t that what we heard last Sunday on the feast of Christ the King? “Where did we see thee, Lord, hungry and feed thee, thirst and give thee drink, naked and clothe thee, alone and in need of comfort? Whenever you cared for one of the least of these, my sisters and brothers, you did it unto me.”

I am ready and waiting for Advent: come, Lord Jesus, come...
photo credits: James Lumsden, Dianne De Mott

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