Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Holy People

"The crucial insight and realization, which opens up a whole new dimension of personal growth, is this: Something in me - my attitudes, my vision of reality - determines all my actions and reactions, both emotional and behavioral.
 Something in me is writing the story of my life, making it sad and sorrowful or glad and peaceful.
Something in me will ultimately make the venture of my life a success or a failure.
The sooner I acknowledge this, taking responsibility for my actions and reactions, the faster I will move toward my destiny: the fullness of life and peace.
This fullness of life and peace is our legacy from the Lord. "  The Christian Vision: The Truth That Sets Us Free by John Powell.

This quotation seemed like a good introduction to one of the readings of today - 1 Peter 2: 4-10.  It reminds me of how important it has been to me to be anchored in the word of God because there is where my vision of myself, others, and God becomes clear.  There is where I begin to find that fullness of life, identity, purpose and freedom.

And so, this text has been very important to me over the years as I have grown in my faith.  It is in so many ways the antidote to loneliness, loss of identity, disconnection that can overwhelm us. .  It is a reminder of the possibility of a  life of knowing who you are and whose you are.

I love this: "you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nations, God's own people."  There area couple of things I particularly notice this morning.

Holy - I remember the first time that Sister Breda called me a "Holy" woman.  And at first that sounded strange to me, but now I live in that identity.  Holy does not mean pure of perfect but it means being "set apart."  And to follow Jesus and try to live into a way of life that is centered on love, hope, peace and trust in the invisible God does set us apart.  We are holy as we are entering into this relationship in which we are opening ourselves to being changed by God.  I always quote Frederick Buechner who said we are in a process of being changed from a sows ear to a silk purse.  And so this relationship with God is writing the story of my life - which is a holy person who is becoming Christlike.

Connected - Today as I read this text I noticed this phrase: "like living stones, LET YOURSELVES be built into a spiritual house."  Again and again God is wanting us to be part of something bigger than ourselves.  Let us be built together into a spiritual house.  Does this mean a church?  A Christian movement?  I don't know - I only know that there is power and encouragement in community and unity.  I know that the work of justice cannot be done by individuals alone but we have to work together.  I know that we need each other but it is a decision to be connected.

Living Stone - This is one of my favorite images - and part of it is because my given name at birth was "Margaret Livingstone Gersen."  It was much later in life that I came to embrace the Living Stone of 1 Peter.  It almost sounds like an oxymoron - a LIVING stone.  However the living part is what God does for us - he makes us alive.  A favorite quote by Iraneaus - "The glory of God is man fully alive."  These days I come every morning to my prayer room and in some sense I am saying to God - "Wake me up, bring me back to life again."  It is so easy to be numb or asleep and miss out on what God has for us in our days.   A LIVING Stone.  And the stone part for me speaks to something real and solid and steadfast.  I WANT to be a living stone. 

As I write this every morning I fear I sound holier and more faithful and sure than I am.  I truly stumble around in wonder and doubt and belief.   But I know it is helpful to begin the day with the word that always leads me into reflection and rumination about this life I have been given.  And helps me again to say YES to God today.

Here is another quote from John Powell:

"When Jesus asks us to pray "Thy Kingdom come," he is instructing us to ask for the grace to say "yes" to the loving invitation of God who opens wide his arms to gather to himself our human family.  Just as there are stages of intervention and invitation described in the New Testament, so there are various stages of intervention and inviation in your life and in mine.  Your life and mine are like microcosms of the long gradual coming of the Kingdom in history.  Each life, your life and my life, is a series of interventions inviting a response of love.  In his book Prayers, Michel Quoist writes:

Help me to say "yes"
I am afraid of saying "yes" Lord
Where will you take me?
I am afraid of the "yes" that entails other "yeses."
I am afraid of putting my hand in yours,
    for you hold onto it...

O Lord, I am afraid of your demands,
   but who can resist you?
That your Kingdom may come and not mind,
that you will be done and not mine,
Help me to say "yes."

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