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Let Your Light Shine

“No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket,
but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others,
so that they may see your good works
and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
(Mt. 5:16)

“Let your light shine.” If the light is true, not just my own self-promoting light, then it cannot help but bring blessing, even in small ways.  Each one of us is created to be a blessing for this world where, too often, it is the darkness that seems most evident: the prejudice, the racism, the violence, the greed—you name it.

But when the light is true, we are shedding not just our own light, but the divine light which has been poured out on us and into us.

In this troubled time, let us “shine like stars in the world” (Phil. 2:15). Let us shine by the light of hearts that know that we are all one in Christ.

 

 

Video: “Let Your Light Shine”

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Only Thou

At a time when the events of life—a fearful pandemic, for example, or even just the ordinary stresses of everyday life—may lead our thoughts and feelings away from God, it can be helpful to have a simple, repeated prayer. The Jesus Prayer is one such prayer—an ancient one. It is found in several similar forms, including this one: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

A variation on the Jesus Prayer might be simply to repeat slowly and reverently the holy name of Jesus as we go through the day.

Another prayer which I find helpful is this one, from an early Hasidic song.  (This version is found in the Oxford Book of Prayer):

Wherever I go, only Thou!
Wherever I stand, only Thou!
Just Thou, again Thou! always Thou!
Thou, Thou, Thou!
When things are good, Thou!
When things are bad, Thou!
Thou, Thou, Thou!

But I don’t try to repeat the whole prayer during the day. One word suffices: the word “Thou.”

Thou…
Thou…
Thou…

Or perhaps sometimes two words:

Only Thou…
Only Thou…
Only Thou…

This can be a help in allowing my awareness to be turned toward the presence of God, and away from empty routine or from whatever might convince me that God’s love is not offered in these difficult days.

God is present. God is present to all of us and to each of us. This is God with us as total love, in joy or in sorrow, beyond what we can imagine or conceive… God who accepts us, welcomes us, goes with us as we take each step.

Thou…
Thou…
Thou…

_____

Click on the image (or on the title below) if you would like to view my YouTube video, “Only Thou,” based on this Hasidic prayer.
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New Cenacle Publication

That God May Be All in All: Christian Life and Sacred Paradox is the title of my new book, recently published.

We might truly wonder about this mysterious Biblical phrase: "that God may be all in all" (from 1 Corinthians 15). What does it mean for God to be all in all? Is this a promise only for the end of time, or does it contain a call to us now?

How are we to let ourselves be transformed in the God who is Unknown, yet at the same time is our most intimate Knowing? And what about the wondrous mystery that the God who is supremely Other longs for us to share the divine life in Christ?

I invite you to take a look on Amazon.com, which will let you view samples of the book.  Just click on the picture of the cover, and you will be taken there.


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Peaceable Kingdom

The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
(Isaiah 11:6-9 NRSV)

Buddy and Ada holding paws

 

 

 

 

Buddy and Ada Holding Paws
– Photo by John Hoover

 

Isaiah’s beautifully poetic prophecy concerning the reign of the Messianic king foresees a world where all creatures live together in peace. But we might well ask: Is this age of peace, of harmony, of love among God’s creatures solely the responsibility of the Messiah? Do we human beings have no role to play in bringing about the peace and love described here?  Are we just to carry on business as usual—making war, damaging the environment on which we depend, hurting ourselves and others in multiple ways—in the conviction that there is nothing we can do now to bring about that time when there will be no more hurting or destroying?

On the contrary, if we are to live in the Spirit of Christ, if indeed it is true that we ourselves are called to “become participants of the divine nature” (1 Peter 1:4), then the peace that Christ brings must in some way be present in our relationships with each other and with God’s creation.

So we might ask: What small step can I take now to witness to that future when there will be no hurting or destroying in God’s creation? How can I allow God to work through me to hasten, even in a very limited way, the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea”?

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A Simple Act of Kindness

The other day I was feeling downhearted about a number of things—including the illness of loved ones and the acts of horrific bigotry and violence in our country. I decided to go outside for some fresh air. Actually I didn’t feel much like going outside, but I knew that wallowing in my discouragement was not helpful.

As I returned from my brief walk, a tall, thin man wearing a baseball cap was coming down the steps of our house. Perhaps he was making a retreat or was with a group meeting here. Neither of us spoke, but he smiled and took off his hat as we passed.

That’s all. A simple act of kindness and courtesy. But what a difference it made to my spirit—especially, for some reason, the lifting of his hat.

A simple act of kindness, especially on a difficult day, can feel like the touch of God—and perhaps it is indeed that. After all, our human kindness, I believe, has its source in the divine kindness. The wellspring of all our human goodness is the love and good will of God toward us.

“We love because [God] first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

We often don’t know the effect kindness can have on others. This may be particularly true when we show kindness when it has not been shown to us. But if we pay attention to the effect a simple act can have on us, we may be more inclined to show kindness ourselves. And if we take notice of the small kindnesses bestowed on us when we least expect them, we may also become more aware of Goodness at the heart of creation.

Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift,
is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
(James 1:17)

For several examples  of kindness bestowed during my years at the Cenacle in Gainesville, Florida, see:  "Random Acts of Kindness"

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Ordinary Time

What does it mean to be Ordinary?

Routine? Usual? Typical? The same as what has gone before? Is it dull, boring, without surprise? Does being ordinary make something labeled ordinary plain? Full or overly full of "the same old same old"?

But is that what the church means when it numbers weeks between Trinity Sunday and the First Sunday of Advent weeks in "Ordinary Time"?

During these weeks we listen to the Word of God found in the Sunday Gospels. Rooted in them we hear the call to make visible the Gospel path we hear and pray each Sunday. There is nothing dull, boring, or even routine about that.

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Love Has the Last Word

In spite of all that may tend to discourage us, in spite of all we read in the newspaper or on social media, Goodness and Light are stronger than evil.

We need not fear, because we know that love has the last word.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:5)

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