The Morning Call, May 20, 2018
A spiritual journey is a relationship. It’s a metaphor. No two journeys are the same. No authentic journey begins before God somehow speaks. "In the beginning was the Word..." (John 1:1).
God speaks first. Theologians call this revelation. God may speak through the created world, the prophets of old and new, our experiences, and the Jewish and Christian scriptures.
God may speak through our families and friends, the wisdom of the ages, our critical faculties and our desires, the Word made flesh, our religious communities, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Through so many ways and people -- most of all, for Christians, in Jesus -- we continually discover who God is, who we are, and how we are related to God and with one another.
Yet, we see "in a mirror, dimly” or, from an earlier translation, “through a glass, darkly.” (1Cor. 13:12)
“I squint at God’s glory,” someone said, "through a smokescreen called the real world.”
I hear Jesus say: Don’t let others tell you what is real. Don’t let anyone de-fine and re-duce reality for you. Don’t allow anyone to imprison you in that most secure prison without walls, the prison we don’t know we’re in. Imagine what is really real. See things differently.
Jesus challenges us to dream. As we pray, he draws the dream from deep within us. To pray is to dream, to hope, to expect, to imagine. Whether worshiping with a community, reading alone, reflecting on the bible, considering a personal experience, a story or a movie, we can be at prayer, that research and development aspect of the church.
“Only the contemplative,” Thomas Merton used to say, only the pray-er “knows what the scoop is.” Only the pray-er knows that the really real is God breaking into human history -- God breaking through our prejudices and preferred notions with discomforting questions about poor and powerless persons, about justice and peace, about personal and systemic transformation – God breaking into human history so we might break out with new God given hearts to pursue God’s heart’s desires.
Through questions we ask and evidence we interpret, we experience insights. We sometimes see the light. We make judgments. We discover meaning.
God gave us a mind to wonder, put a yearning in our hearts, and sent his Word to lead us on and light our way.
Does our lifestyle celebrate the incredible revelation of God? Do we give thanks by our lifestyle for who we are as a result of God's reaching out to us?
St. Paul tells us in effect to conduct ourselves in certain ways not because law hangs over us but because life dwells within us.
You are a new creation in Christ. Celebrate the gift. Celebrate life. You won't find precisely those words in any one verse of Paul's letters. In many chapters, however, you will find what some biblical scholars have called the Pauline "Indicative-Imperative.”
The indicative is the statement of fact, i.e., "You are a new creation in Christ." The statement of fact is followed by a moral command, the imperative, i.e., "Therefore, be... (Live accordingly)." The imperative's authority is not law above but life within.
The day after this is published, I will be 81. Though we do see always through a glass darkly, I wish I had seen decades ago, even dimly, however unlikely, what I think I see today. My spiritual journey might have been more focused, less clouded by irrelevance.
Canon Bill Lewellis, firstname.lastname@example.org, an Episcopal priest, retired since 2010 served on the bishop’s staff of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem for 24 years and on the bishop’s staff of the RC Diocese of Allentown for 13 years before that. His newSpin newsletter may be found at http://diobeth.typepad.com/diobeth_newspin/