Lenten Devotional – THURS, Mar 18: SEE (revisited)

Who has seen Godself? How do we see God? Do we see Godself in human form, as described here, or as something else?

In scripture, few people could come directly into the presence of Godself. The great prophet Moses did so. Others could not look upon the radiance of his face afterward. A few other Biblical prophets also reported meeting God in person.

Famously, in Hebrew Scriptures, Jacob wrestled with a stranger at night on his way to Canaan. Though dawn was approaching, neither person could prevail. Jacob refused to give up the struggle, so the stranger touched his hip, and hi joint came out of place. Afterward Jacob limped.  By remaining stubbi=orn and continuing to wrestle, he won for himself a blessing and the new name Israel. Jacob named the place by the river where he had wrestled with Godself Peniel or Penuel. (פְּנוּאֵל) Trabnslated, this means “face of God” or “facing God”.

Later, in a tender passage, Jacob then says to his brother Esau, “For I have, after all, seen your face, as one sees the face of God…” He sees Godself in his sibling’s face. It is a fleeting experience. The connection doesn’t endure, perhaps because humans cannot sustain such awareness in each other’s company. Theologian Steve Watson writes, “He has just had this profound spiritual experience – he knows a thing or two about seeing the face of God. And he looks at his brother, face to face, and thinks that is what is happening. To see you accepting me, for us to be at peace – without walls, without fear, person to person, is for me to see in your face the face of God.  … this proves to be too much. The intimacy of full personhood, brother to brother, is somehow so unfamiliar, so threatening, that within a day, he’s moved on… But for a moment, he had that connection, that peace to see the face of God in his brother.”

Yet for a brief time, they both experienced a profound sense of once more being in God’s company. They found God in each other.

Of course, the followers of Jesus walked in the embodied presence of the child of God. Most Christians recognize him as part of the holy trinity: Godself.

Jesus also, powerfully, reminded people that when they attended to the needs of others, they attended to the needs of God. They met Jesus in the form of other people to whome they offered compassion. How often, then, might you have been meeting the needs of Godself, even sat or kept vigil in the presence of Godself, by responding to human needs?

In our times, how do we see Godself in the world around us?

Has any person ever brought you into the presence of God? Perhaps at thesholds, such as birth or death, or life moments such as making promises to each other?

Or have you, like Moses, find Godself out in nature? On top of a mountain? Inside the the branches of a bush? At the ocean’s edge? In a quiet woodland? A spring meadow? A winter storm? A summer rainfall? In the midst of birdsong? Surrounded by wild creatures? In the presence of your own pet?

Remember that Godself saw your face first. And loved you, even if you didn’t recognize Godself.  — Rev Gail

MEDITATIONS

Trust and value your own divinity as well as your connection to nature. Seeing God’s work everywhere will be your reward.  — Wayne Dyer

Love is seeing God in the person next to us, and meditation is seeing God within us. Votes: — Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Seeing God face to face is to feel that He is enthroned in our hearts even as a child feels a mother’s affection without needing any demonstration. — Mahatma Gandhi

Challenge or Question: Where do you experience God’s self-revelation in the world?

Advent Daily Devotional, Day 9

Mon, Dec 7 – DAY 9

Peace grows out of contemplative practices. Set apart time for stillness, centering, or movement as a form of meditation or focus.

Sometimes this requires becoming motionless: holding a yoga pose, maintaining a prayer position, or observing utter silence. Sometimes it involves movement of the body such as walking or knitting, and permission to unleash a restless mind through journaling or creative expression. One way or another, we are urged to set apart time and nurture the inner spiritual being.

Along the way, we aim to develop internal equilibrium. Become comfortable knowing ourselves more deeply. Gain insight. Renew energy and creativity.

Altogether, contemplative practices strengthen the spiritual muscles upon which we draw. They create resilience and balance in our bodies, hearts and minds. — Rev Gail

The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. Isaiah 32:17

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. — John 14:27

Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset. — Saint Francis de Sales

No person, no place, and no thing has any power over us, for ‘we’ are the only thinkers in our mind. When we create peace and harmony and balance in our minds, we will find it in our lives. —Louise Hay

Tue, Nov 17 Gratitude Reflection

Pause and focus on water. Give thanks for this element that sustains life. In fresh form, untainted by toxins, it becomes a potable promise of surviving and thriving.

            Jesus’ first miracle transformed water into wine. He called himself the Living Water for the woman at the well, who offered him refreshment, though she was from a despised ethnicity that he would traditionally have shunned.

            In times of drought, such as we have experienced this season, wells run dry. Water collects detritus. Riverbeds become barren. Thirst parches throats, simply due to the idea of running out. Of not having enough.

            Give thanks for the abundance of water when it’s available. And for its precious presence, when it is scarce. — Rev Gail

You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
    you provide the people with grain,
 for so you have prepared it.
 You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges,
    softening it with showers, and blessing its growth.
You crown the year with your bounty;
    your wagon tracks overflow with richness.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
    the hills gird themselves with joy,
      the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
    the valleys deck themselves with grain,
they shout and sing together for joy.

  • Psalm 65

The Dead Sea in the Middle East receives fresh water, but it has no outlet, so it doesn’t pass the water out. It receives beautiful water from the rivers, and the water goes dank. I mean, it just goes bad. And that’s why it is the Dead Sea. It receives and does not give. In the end generosity is the best way of becoming more, more, and more joyful. ― Desmond Tutu

Mon, Nov 16 Gratitude Reflection

Consider the earth. Give thanks for the ground beneath your feet. The glacier-driven cliffs and outcroppings, twisted into waterfalls and ledges, that shape our landscape. Imagine the rich soil that yields summer and autumn harvests. The fierce and ancient mountains, upthrust and worn low, that frame our valley.

            Stone. Soil. Rock. Dirt. May we appreciate the holy ground on which we stand, reside, play, work and learn. May we pause to recognize that she is more than mere rock, but an interconnected part of creation. She holds us up. Gives us a home. Groans, and continues to live. — Rev Gail

… you are the hope of all the ends of the earth
    and of the farthest seas.
By your strength you established the mountains;
    you are girded with might.
You silence the roaring of the seas,
    the roaring of their waves,
    the tumult of the peoples.

—    Psalm 65


Fill the earth with your songs of gratitude.
— Charles Spurgeon

There are three requisites to the proper enjoyment of earthly blessings: a thankful reflection, on the goodness of the giver; a deep sense of our own unworthiness; and a recollection of the uncertainty of our long possessing them. The first will make us grateful; the second, humble; and the third, moderate. – Hannah More

Nov 1 Gratitude: Intro & First Reflection

INTRODUCTION

For the month of November, we offer you a daily meditation on gratitude. Use this to help create a positive, resilient framework of hope and healing for yourself, your relationships, your community, your nation and world. Gratitude changes perspectives and even makes the impossible become more possible!

We are grateful for each of you, and the unique ways in which you contribute to our community. You have probably leaned heavily on special gifts, experiences and strengths to flourish through these days and times, so we offer you a blessing from the church.

We have prepared these daily reflections for you. We invite you to turn to these sacred texts and poems, and brief commentaries by different people, to lift up one thing for which to be grateful. When you make gratitude an every-day habit, it soon becomes a spiritual practice and mindfulness discipline. Giving thanks, for one simple thing, helps create greater bodily, emotional, psychological and spiritual wellbeing.

Begin or end each day with the advice of the poet that follows. — Rev Gail

START HERE — Steve Garnaas Holmes

Those mornings when you wake up burdened,
already thinking Oh why bother,
start here:

thank God for one thing.

One person whom you love will do,
though even a remarkable coincidence is acceptable.
You don’t even need to go into peaches,
the color blue, or migratory birds,
or a child’s laugh you heard the other day,
let alone the angelic speech of nerve synapses
or the inscrutable ballet of spiral galaxies,
or God’s outlandish love for you.

Just one thing to give thanks for.

Then resolve to live the day
in adequate gratitude for that one thing,

and begin.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 1

Today is the first day of the month. We could get wrapped up in the calendar, the upcoming holidays, the need to make plans for the weeks ahead balanced with so many uncertainties that making planning tough. We could focus on tomorrow, instead of taking the opportunity to be present to now. To focus on today.
            Also, in addition to being the first day of the month, it’s Sunday. For some people, this marks the beginning or end of a busy week. While Sunday is a recreational day for some people, out of necessity it’s a work day for others. Yet within our faith tradition, we are encouraged to set aside this day — or some other day which we claim as a sabbath — for respite and renewal.
            So let’s begin the whole month, and this spiritual exercise, by simply being grateful for this measure of life and consciousness. Give thanks for today — for this 24 hours — for one more day — for this gift of time. — Rev Gail

This is the Lord’s doing;
    it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it.
— Psalm 118: 23-24

Whoever says “I have lived” receives a windfall every morning he gets up. — Virgil, Aeneid

“Death is certain; the time of death is uncertain.” That reflection awakens in us the precious gift of the present moment—to seize this chance to be alive right now on Planet Earth. — Joanna Macy

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