Captivated by Christ – Part 2

 footprints     We have clues to the spirit, his spirit in the life left behind. In the traces, the footpath, that he marked in his earthly life and upon his return. Down the road to Emmaus, beside the lake, in the garden, in an upper room that could not bar the entrance of his spirit upon them. Tongues of fire. To set them aflame with a task that would lead many of them to an end like his. But with the full realization that theirs would not be an end, but merely an entrance to the life he showed them comes to those who find him and follow him, across the landscape of their lives, in the horizon of being just ahead that draws us, beyond ordinary things to do extraordinary things, but mostly that all too ordinary task of telling his story, telling him, telling Jesus, whom they now knew to be the Christ, because he came back. Because he did not leave them, because liberation was not from kings and oppressors, but the liberation of the heart that dwells in peace and seeks peace, prosperity and abundance for all, even ones enemies. Risky business this.
He continues in the symbols used to carry on his Spirit – in the story, his words and in the imagination of those who would remember the changes that he brought to their lives. We find him where our souls and psyches from which rise the timeless images of humankind. When we become the mangers in which he was laid at his birth, he is the becoming thing in us. He is born in the world and in us. This becoming thing is the Christ-Self within us – that which can become itself in God.
The poet Rilke says the advent of the coming thing in us is always just ahead, not behind. Rilke was a poet and a mystic. His sensibility of some deeper reality that he tries to convey appears in his poetry and his writing. Like Paul he shows us another way of seeing, another way of seeing reality. Yet very much the way of the natural world. It is the leadings, the promptings of his Spirit, and the gospel of our lives where Jesus the Christ becomes the author, a principle actor, agent, and the stories conclusion.
Albert Schweitzer said at the conclusion of his search for the real (i.e. the historical Jesus).
He comes to us as One unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lakeside. He came to those who knew Him not. He speaks to us the same words: ‘Follow me’ and sets us to the task which He has to fulfill for our time. He commands. And to those who obey Him, whether they be wise or simple, He will reveal Himself in the toils, the conflicts, the suffering which they shall pass through in His fellowship, and as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience who He is.

All the writing, quotes, artwork and photography are the work of the author unless otherwise stated. Scripture readings are from the Jerusalem Bible.
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Thank you to my viewers

All things are eventually redeemed in the heart of God.

The Guarded Heart

Thank you to all of you all over the world who are viewing this blog and following along. Lent is finished, but I am not finished with Paul. Forty days is not enough time to read and reflect on his letters. There are a few more letters to read. Paul’s wisdom for a lifetime.  I trust you will continue with me and spread the word. We could spend a lifetime sifting through letters for all the gems that are there for us to take with us each day. Treasures to support us on our journey. I am thinking these letters should appear first in the New Testament because they were written earlier than the gospels and also because give incite into the life of Jesus. Paul is, as we are now, living and writing after the resurrection. But Jesus’ heart and soul, life and mission shine out from Paul to all of us today.

In his farewell to the Philippians, Paul has some endearing and encouraging words for all of us. He says I want you to be happy, happy in the Lord. Reading the passage that follows this (chapter 4:5-9) I am struck once again of Paul’s affection and care for the first Christians. Paul’s very positive good wishes for his listeners. And I am also struck that the churches as they formed over the past two thousands years failed to teach and preach the God, the Christ Jesus, that wants our happiness and well-being first and foremost.

Scholars and Preachers, take heed.  It is not too late to get the message right.

Paul, like God,  doesn’t want us to worry. He says if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving and that peace of God…will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.

As we go forward on our journey, allowing Paul to accompany us and dialogue with us in his letters, he asks that we remember what he has taught and lived. These are values that will enrich our lives, as we pray for what we need, thanking God for all our blessings. Virtues that grace and guard our hearts, and to continue to be mindful of:

Fill your minds with everything that is true,

everything noble and pure,

everything we love and honor,

those things that are virtuous and worthy of praise.

I would say with Paul, the truest, noblest, most virtuous and worthy of praise is the Christ life that guards, loves and honors us and wants to be kept in our hearts and lives.

P.S. Paul is writing this letter from prison. Which makes his faith, hope and good wishes for his audience even more remarkable.



                                                     He is Risen!

Horrell - Lilies Detail

His beginnings were humble. His end seemingly a humiliation. The story of Jesus’ beginnings like his life is clearly a narrative of paradox and reversal.  For those who first touched Jesus, the very ordinariness into which he comes admits Yahweh’s extraordinary new deed into their midst, into a world waiting for Yahweh to keep his promise to them.

            They were those who hoped for what could not be seen, only envisioned, dreamed of, the restoration of Israel – standing in the empty temple of Yahweh, in the gracious space of his presence, open, where promise is the only adornment, and age-weary prayers an incense rising, carrying their hopes to the unseen God. Silent for generations, then breaking open the laws of nature to grace and giving the world his only begotten, a small hope vested with great promise.

            Only  by God’s spirit moving upon the body of the earth, bringing substance from the void, a child from the womb of a virgin, the cross become an alter, life from the tomb, an empty manger once more. A soldier stands beneath him and looks up.  He blesses the son of God and another advent begins.  Waiting for the Lord to come again – a small hope grown in a life time, experienced, followed, loved, blessed with a woman’s life, a life of joy and sorrow that followed him from the moment of his conception until he stood in another garden, where once buried like the myth of Eve, searching now not for knowledge but for love. And he stood beside her and beckoned her to rise.  As Elizabeth rose up to greet Mary – women bearing the Christ to one another – he bore himself to this other Mary who would bear witness to his return – come back to a woman as he had originated by the power of the spirit from his mother’s womb, leaving the world an empty manger where with each season we await the improbably advent of his return.

And he went before them into Galilee…to his mother.