I returned yesterday from our annual cruise to the Caribbean. And as it always is - it was a time of rest and relaxation. A wonderful gift for me and Chuck to be together, with friends in beautiful surroundings.
What was different this year for me was that the cruise was preceded by a clergy conference on social justice issues. i was there as part of our BREAD organization here in Columbus. I blogged a bit about it and it really inspired me and prepared me for further involvement personally with Bread and a greater openness to the ways in which God always calls the church to be a voice for the voiceless and to work for justice for all people. Our church - like most churches - is really good with "mercy" - which is to say - compassionate care for individuals. We know how to be the Good Samaritan (caring for people in the moment of need) but God also wants us to "do something about the Jericho Road" which is a dangerous place. And that we cannot do by ourselves and the solutions take time. So, a challenge - a real challenge for all of us. Anyway, it was interesting this year to have these ideas as preliminary to the luxury of a cruise.
I also read some really interesting books in the past two weeks - "Season of Wonder" and "Bel Canto" by Anne Patchett (novels) and "The Blue Sweater" by Jacqueline Novogratz. (memoir) They were set in third world countries and all dealt with the complexity of this world - our racism, classism, injustice, etc. So, this week as my body was being well fed! - so too was my mind and soul.
Which brings me to this Sunday morning and as I prepare for this day and this week. We begin Lent on Wednesday with our Ash Wednesday service and I pray that this season will be a time of deepening spirituality for the whole church and real growth.
One of the gifts of a week away, was time for reading, writing and contemplation.
This morning in prayer I sat in the "both and" of this Christian walk.
Richard Rohr has written that "contemplation is the most radical form of self-abandonment that I can imagine. It is most difficult if there is not a profound truth that there is Someone to whom I can be abandoned! Such self forgetfullness paradoxically leads one to a firm and somewhat fearless sense of responsibility, Now i can risk resp[responsibility precisely because I know the buck does not stop here. There is co-creation going on, a life giving synergism that is found somewhere between surrender and personal responsibility. God is fully "cooperating with those who love God."
This is part of my prayer this morning.
"Lord, what I know is that I want peace and comfort.
I also want to serve you and have a life of meaning and purpose.
And these two desires are in tension with one another.\
Serving you means being willing to walk with others through the valley of the shadow of death.
Serving you means being awake and aware of the suffering of others
Serving you means recognizing my own gifts and call
Serving you means being willing to stand against injustice and evil
And so I sit here in prayer because i need you and I need to experience your love, your forgiveness and your healing
And I sit here because I need your call upon my life that moves me out of comfort
Into service and humility and discomfort and love
May I serve you today