When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, "Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village. As they were going along the road, someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God." -Luke 9:51-62
Mysticism involves the awareness of interconnectedness, the intuitive knowledge or insight that everything is linked, and what humanity tends to call “the divine” is at the heart of all being.
I see this relational dynamic in Jesus' encounter with the would-be disciples. Jesus responds to the seeker who wishes to follow him this way - Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. In her commentary for this week in Feasting on the Word (Year C Volume 3, Westminster/John Knox Press) I loved Elaine Heath”s insight: “God incarnate is essentially homeless apart from the hospitality of others.”
Daring to let God into our lives we become authentically human and incarnational (Meditation One). The unfolding of God's revelation is dependent upon our creative response to God's love in us (Meditation Two) while God finds sanctuary in our caring for others (Meditation Three).
“You can survive on your own; you can grow strong on your own; you can prevail on your own; but you cannot become human on your own." (Frederick Buechner The Sacred Journey)
Have a hospitible meditation, -Suzanne
Meditation One (Introit) Invitation and Incarnation
In fact, his life (Francis of Assisi) bears witness to the fact that holiness is not by necessity a denial of one's humanity, or something added on to it. Holiness may in fact be the deepest achievement of what is authentically human. Here we are very close to the Christian mystery of the Incarnation. ...
...Francis was no theoretician of the spiritual life. He never spoke of God in any but experiential terms, because he was a witness to a living and acting God. He could speak only of what he saw, heard and felt. In this regard, he remains before us, across the centuries, as an example of what God can do - which is primarily to astonish, to alter radically the way we live and move. In the dramatic passages of his own life, and the remarkable ways in which a genial but rather shallow young playboy became a model of service to the world, he revealed that God is present in time and history. In other words, he has such credibility because he demonstrated that we are at our best when we dare to allow God into our lives.
-Donald Spoto Reluctant Saint: The Life of Francis of Assisi
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire for all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Thomas Merton 1915-1968 Thoughts in Solitude
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle !
Be a hero in the strife !
Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant !
Let the dead Past bury its dead !
Act,— act in the living Present !
Heart within, and God o'erhead !
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) Excerpt from A Psalm of Life (What the Heart of the Young Man Said to the Psalmist)
The church is like a “swimming pool in which all the noise comes from the shallow end.”
March, Limbourg Brothers, Tres Riches Heures
Meditation Two (Insight) Except Through Our Hospitality
So it is that the love of God, in waiting upon the response of recognition, waits upon its own celebration. ... ...Thus we may say that the creativity of God is dependent, for the completion and triumph of its work, upon the emergence of a responsive creativity - the creativity of recognition. Recognition is to be understood neither as a single psychological event nor as a state of mind brought about by such an event. It is to be understood as creativity directly and explicitly responsive to the creativity of God. We may say that the response of recognition celebrates the love of God. The final triumph of the love of God is the celebration of His love within that universe which has received that love. -W.H.Vanstone 1923-1999 The Risk of Love
Meditation Three (Integration) My Yoke Is Easy
Costly grace is the sanctuary of God; it has to be protected from the world, and not thrown to the dogs. It is therefore the living word, the Word of God, which he speaks as it pleases him. Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus. It comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945 The Cost of Discipleship
The Last Word
It is in community that we are tested and purified. It is in community that we learn what forgiveness and healing are all about. It is in community that we learn who our neighbor is. Community is the true school of love. -Henri J. M. Nouwen
The Hospitality of Attention - A Love Letter to Church Leaders
Church work - the endless minutia of it – can serve as a pretense, an avoidance, a foil, a distraction, and even a protection from loving God and neighbor.
Sometimes profound emergencies arise involving raw pain, guts and blood and naked bone (sometimes literally) unexpectedly exposed between the time-consuming froth.
There's minutiae. There's also conflict. Conflicts that draw all concerned away from loving God and neighbor. But sometimes conflicts draw you into the very crucible of loving God and neighbor. And also the weird in-between situations that are a tangled Babel-like confusion of the trivial and life-and-death.
With all the things coming at you, what will receive the hospitality of your attention? Now that I am retired, I'm thinking of you all: active ministers, pastors, church workers, leaders, elders, deacons, priests, laity trying to hold the church together – the passel of sinners that make a community, as well as brick, wood, shingle, dying furnace and peeling paint, technological challenges, video worship, long distance blessing, pastoring behind glass partitions. I'm loving you. Admiring you. Praying for you.
I remember praying in both frothy and fraught moments, “Reckon this to me as righteousness!” Or, “This counts, doesn't it?”
How are you praying?
In this Gospel, one person wants to follow but Jesus warns him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Two are called to follow. I just have to bury my father, says one. I just have to say goodbye to my relatives, says another. Let the dead bury their own dead, says Jesus. Put your hand to the plow.
The moments come too fast. And yet, attention is what deepens, extends, transfigures. Dead moments are ones without attention. Think of housework. One way to sweep, wash dishes, do laundry is to open to Divine Presence, rooting the moment in the eternal. Another way just wastes time frittering away the sacred moment by not paying attention (not to mention jettisoning along with the time the self-respect of a chore well done.) I can pay attention or not, but life is better when I do. Let the dead moments bury the dead moments. Now is a new moment.
When I look back at crazy church ministry, I don't remember a lot. Is it because of all that froth? Or, maybe because I offered the hospitality of my attention and therefore lost my own time for the sake of others? I hope so. And when I didn't ? Let those moments, too, be reckoned to me as righteousness.
I know that ministry can mask love of God and love of neighbor. But I hope something eternal seeped through in spite of me, as I hope it does for you.
And good luck raising money to replace that that old furnace. Especially in summer time.