March 4, 2012

In keeping with our Lenten theme, “Taking Time to Be Holy,” this Sunday we’ll consider how Jesus instructs Peter to set his mind on Divine things, and that he must deny himself, lose his life, in order to rescue his true inner Self. Last week, we considered how “temptations” draw our minds away from holiness. This week, we will examine how preoccupation with “selfishness” robs our spirits of holiness. In preparation, please read Mark 8:31-37, and ponder the inner meaning of the text.

February 26, 2012

“Pray without ceasing.” What on earth could the Apostle Paul have meant by this? These three words have perplexed monks and nuns for centuries. How can one do this? During the day, we get engrossed in what we are doing; it is hard to pray and engage the world at the same time.

This seems to require a dual focus of attention … and psychologists believe we can only think about one thing at a time. Over the centuries, Christians (and devotees in other religions) have come up with various ways of doing this (mindfulness, meditative walking, the “Jesus” prayer, Brother Lawrence’s “Practicing the Presence of God,” entering the “Cloud of Unknowing,” Centering Prayer). This Sunday, we will begin with this question; “what does it mean to ‘pray without ceasing’.” Our focus through Lent is to ponder just how can we maintain a deep sense of the Holy amidst our daily activities – work, play, watching television, visiting with friends.

February 19, 2012

This Sunday is the last Sunday of Epiphany. Always, on the last Sunday of Epiphany, the lectionary considers the “Mount of Transfiguration.” This year, the text comes from Mark 9:2-9. This text is paralleled with 2 Kings 2:8-12, the story of Elijah’s “transfiguration,” being lifted to heaven in a chariot. These texts open a very mystical theme for consideration. They deal with the spiritual experience. Considered as metaphor, they deal with our own spiritual experiences, those in which we are transformed, transfigured, and made into new creations.

February 12, 2012

Religion is not just about outward performance, but inner purity. The outer life flows from the inner, as a tree that produces fruit of its own nature. Our study of the Sermon on the Mount has highlighted the importance of inner holiness. Our bodies are the temples of our spirits, and within our spirits is an inner “Holy of Holies.” Spiritual discipline is a special kind of “good housekeeping.” As important as they are, what makes a person religious is not as much the ideas he or she believes, nor the deeds he or she does. The hidden measure of a person’s religion is deep inner purity; a plum-line that only God can hold. The texts for Sunday will explore Naaman’s resistance and final surrender (2 Kings 5:1-14), and the healed leper who couldn’t keep his mouth shut (Mark 1:40-45).

February 5, 2012

In Corinthians, Paul talks about becoming a Jew for the Jews, Gentile for the Gentiles, and weak for those who are weak. He says he becomes “all things to all people.” He “identifies” with who they are. That’s a broad invitation. How do we become “all things to all people,” without losing integrity? Are there boundaries for such openness? And what is the “ground message” with which all people can identify? This Sunday, we will talk about “Thinking Outside the Box.”