April 8, 2011
A Song of Ascents.
Out of the depths I have cried to You, O LORD.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplications.
If You, LORD, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared.
I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait,
And in His word do I hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than the watchmen for the morning;
Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the LORD;
For with the LORD there is lovingkindness,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
And He will redeem Israel
From all his iniquities.
the cadence of this song
resonates with an intensity
like a porthole witnessing my own inertia
because this world often leaves me
in the dark depths
yet as my heart cries out
I find myself stirred to such sudden
awareness of an Undefiled Attention
that stokes my flame
entangled as it has become with
so-much-so that even in my darkest crevices
I can become deliciously abuzz with
the conundrum of fear and forgiveness
the enigma of Divine Intervention
as hope rests her delicate hand upon my shoulder
beckoning for me to evermore savor redemption
amid the echoing hush of wilderness awe
thus I find myself
watching and waiting
for each new day
and new mercies
whose touch enflames my heart
and whose fingers entwine with my own
summoning me to ascend to sanctuary
singing at their side
a wondrous song of deliverance
+O Lord, though the apple tree fade and the vineyard fail; though storms surge or the heavens dry up; redeem us with Your Presence and be with us on our way to gather with You-Who-Walks-Among-Us, because our lips – our tongues – they thirst for Living Water as we await Your Word like watchmen on the walls just before sunrise. Amen+
March 2, 2011
In this session from the Society of Vineyard Scholars conference in Seattle, Stanford Anthropologist DR. Tanya Luhrmann presents her findings after studying what and how Vineyard churches teach people to experience God. One of the fascinating pieces is her exploration of the spiritual disciplines implicit and explicit as a member of a Vineyard community, which help to form us, and it’s correlation to Ignatian spirituality. Enjoy!
February 25, 2011
Nigel Marsh riff-ing from St. Benedict
December 3, 2010
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
A psalm of the sons of Korah.
You restored the captivity of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of Your people;
You covered all their sin. Selah. (1-2)
Too often I’ve separated favor and forgiveness … yet here they’re intertwined. The mystery of the Lord’s favor/restoration and forgiveness/atonement indeed overwhelm our iniquity; not just mine, but ours. I’m humbled in such wonder at the encompassing goodness of our God, the strength of our Redeemer, the love and humility of Jesus, the very Lamb of God.
I will hear what God the LORD will say;
For He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones;
But let them not turn back to folly.
Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him,
That glory may dwell in our land.
Lovingkindness and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
Truth springs from the earth,
And righteousness looks down from heaven.
Indeed, the LORD will give what is good,
And our land will yield its produce.
Righteousness will go before Him
And will make His footsteps into a way. (8-13)
The voice of God rings anew as we return again to listen to His Incarnation. In the waiting of Advent, He speaks peace to us. Does not t the angel’s joyous chorus echo to us even now: Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.
He is pleased. He is pleased to shower His sacrificial and humble Love upon people. This Jesus — the way, the truth, the life; the One in whom Mercy, Truth, Righteousness and Peace come together, who has become the Way we have waited for, and in whose footsteps we now follow, so that a harvest beyond our imaginings would be yielded. Glory to God in the highest … redemption draws nigh.
+ O Lord, lead us – Thy People – in Your Way, into Truth and all Life. Life-Giver, You who live through us, we remember your humble heart in this season of waiting anew; we ever wait upon You, O Lord. Amen. +
November 1, 2010
20Looking at his disciples, he said:
”Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22Blessed are you when men hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.
23“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.
24“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
25Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26Woe to you when all men speak well of you,
for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.
Love for Enemies
- to lay down our rights?
- to seek first His Reign/Kingdom/Agenda?
- to love my neighbor as myself?
- to love my enemy?
July 20, 2010
Five leadership secrets of the Trappist monk
Stephen Martin, who explores leadership as a speechwriter and as a business columnist for the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer, has written for America, Commonweal and U.S. News & World Report.
Trappist monks live apart from the world. But their rich and ancient traditions also offer vital lessons on leadership for those of us living in it. The Roman Catholic order, founded in Citeaux, France, has practiced prayer nonstop for nearly a thousand years. Responsible for supporting themselves, they have been entrepreneurs for just as long.
As times and market conditions have changed, Trappists have kept up by reinventing their businesses continually. Since the founding of Mepkin Abbey near Charleston, S.C., in 1949, for example, the monks there have sold cinnamon buns, ventured into logging, run a large egg farm and, most recently, started selling native plants. How have Trappists thrived through the centuries? Here are five of their secrets:
1. Get (really) disciplined. As in waking up at 3 a.m. every day for the rest of your life. That’s when Trappists rise for Vigils, their first community prayer of the day. They will gather for worship five more times before turning in at 8 p.m. In between, they work, study and pray some more. Their schedule almost never varies. Their meals rarely change. They talk as little as possible. Everything about their lives is ordered toward their mission of praising God.
On the surface, this routine seems like a soul-killing exercise in boredom. But tremendous focus paves their path to salvation. “The monk has a feel for the stark and the spare,” writes Michael Downey in his book, Trappist. “Fasting, abstinence, and keeping vigil are disciplines embraced so as to stay alert, awake for the coming of God.”
2. Throw away the key . At Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville, Va., where I recently made a weekend retreat, the doors to the guest rooms lock only from the inside. When you go out, there’s no way to secure your laptop or Blackberry or car keys. It’s a rather discomfiting reminder of what makes the Trappist world go round: trust, in God and your brothers. Spiritual growth doesn’t happen when we’re holding back or playing defense. It takes openness.
“Anytime you get put together with 15 or 20 people you don’t know, you’ll find things about them that are objectionable, and they’ll find them about you,” said Daniel DeVoe, the guest master at Holy Cross Abbey who is seriously thinking of becoming a Trappist himself. The trick is learning to appreciate the strengths of others, to give them the benefit of the doubt, to acknowledge your own shortcomings and work to fix them. It’s all about building trust, the ancient glue that, against all odds, holds together monastic organizations to this day.
3. Know your customer. During a retreat several years ago at Mepkin Abbey, I found myself alone in the gift shop with Brother Stephen, an elderly, startlingly fit, lifelong monk. He rang up a few items, swiped my credit card and asked how I was doing. I asked customers the same thing all the time when I clerked at a grocery store in high school. Unlike me, however, he actually cared about the answer.
I confessed, frankly, to being tired with a busy job, grad school, a young son and another child on the way. There wasn’t a lot of time for prayer, which was what I probably needed most. He nodded and remarked that perhaps helping raise my family was a form of prayer in itself. We talked for another 10 minutes. More insights, tailored just for me, followed — and I shouldn’t have been surprised.
As Michael Downey explains, the work of monks “is not to be understood primarily as a product for consumers in a marketplace. …The fruits of the monk’s labor are sold as a means of livelihood, but they are sold to persons, real people with deep needs, not bottom-line consumers.”
4. Shut up. A monk’s life is a study in humility. It’s about setting aside personal plans and ambitions for the good of the community, saying goodbye to worldly pleasures and doing highly repetitive work with few tangible rewards. It’s a daily exercise in probing your flaws and coming to terms with your own insignificance. This adds up to a perpetual assault on pride, and it starts with quieting down and listening to what your brothers have to say.
“We’re all so impressed by what we know,” said DeVoe, the Holy Cross guest master. But rather than overestimating our own abilities, he said, real knowledge comes from paying attention to those around us. Monks have a longstanding tradition of turning to spiritual directors for guidance in the contemplative life. The feedback they get gives them a better sense of their strengths and weaknesses and serves as a spark for change. “You learn things about yourself that you wouldn’t know otherwise,” DeVoe said.
5. Live in the margins. In his book Leaders Make the Future, futurist Bob Johansen notes that “true innovations are likely to come from the margins that are stretched, rather than from the mainstream.”
Trappists make their home in the margins. They labor in obscurity, their chosen path makes little sense to most people, and they’re criticized, sometimes even by fellow Christians, for closeting themselves away when they could be out in the world helping people with urgent problems. They have Web sites and use e-mail judiciously, but they take care not to swamp themselves with information and distraction. They remain, in other words, as counter-cultural as ever, and therein is their strength.
Over the centuries, as Downey writes, monasteries around the world (and not just Trappist ones) have served as “renowned centers of peace and refuge, the focal points of culture and education.” That’s surely because they have stood beside the mainstream and observed it carefully but never immersed themselves in it. Their perspective is always a bit out of step with the times and refreshingly original as a result.
“The logic of worldly success rests on a fallacy: the strange error that our perfection depends on the thoughts and opinions and applause of other men,” Thomas Merton, America’s most renowned Trappist monk, wrote in his landmark autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain.
More than 60 years since its publication, and centuries since their founding, Trappists still go their own way, focused and unhurried, free of the need for the world’s approval. By training, they’re too modest to say their experience with leadership can teach us anything, but we’d be wise to learn all we can from them anyway.
April 8, 2010
March 26, 2010
March 7, 2010
1Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
6Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. 7So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
8” ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’ “
My view of repentance was dramatically altered several years ago when I read The Challenge of Jesus by NT Wright. I used to think of repentance in purely moral terms and cutting bad behaviors out of my life. Repentance was a fresh commitment to NOT drink, smoke or chew or go out with girls who do. You’ll have to read NT Wright for yourself if you want the fuller explanation (and it would be WELL worth the time and effort, I promise) but the short version is that repentance has more to do with changing allegiances and cutting ties from anything anti-Christ – and the original context was very political and military – and putting all your eggs in the “Christ is King” basket. So repentance has to do with our loyalty and where we pledge our allegiance as much or more than it has to do with changing a morally questionable behavior…. although that comes as part of the package… its just not where Christ and his original audience would put the emphasis. And here’s why. If we change our allegiance and where we trust then all the rest comes with it. If we simply change a behavior our heart can still be far from Christ.
So that brings into focus what Christ is saying here in this passage and how it hangs together. Christ is saying to the people standing there that if they don’t give up their agenda and alter their allegiance to him they will literally die when God comes in judgement… and God did exactly that shortly after Christ’s departure as Christ had foretold on several occasions (but that is a much longer, theological discussion for another time).
Last week I began asking myself: What would my life look like today if I were to live in complete loyalty to Christ and align with his agenda? And of course there is no one right answer to that but a lifetime of turning to him and shifting all my loyalty, pledging all my allegiance to him alone as areas of my life are uncovered and new idols to turn from are discovered. Repentance is the work of a lifetime not a simple event.
What allegiances need to be broken in your life so you are more free for loyalty to Christ?
+++ Lord, help me become a great repent-er! I know there are areas you want me to turn from so I can more fully be yours. Will you show them to me and help me know how to cut ties with them so I can follow you more fully, more faithfully in the days and years ahead. I am yours, all yours. Amen. +++
February 26, 2010