Disturbances

Disturb us Adonai Shabbat

Shabbat is over until Friday night, or Sunday – depending on your faith practice. That said, I found this graphic on my computer and it has been rubbing up against my consciousness, so I figured I better pay attention before the next sabbath sneaks up on me.

Honestly, I find Sunday to be one of the more stressful days of the week. Saturday feels more relaxed, even if I do more errands. And I typically attend mass on Saturday at 4PM. So what is it about Sunday that Continue reading

Advertisements

Going up, not taking sides

lamottA short Ascension post featuring the words of Anne Lamott. Apparently her priest friend said them to her, but since they were in her book, they kind of became hers. It doesn’t matter, it is simply true – no matter which “side” you are on. Having said that, diving deeply into God by letting go of our own images, symbols, desires, transference, projection, and more, at least to the best of our ability, is pretty key in this.

Simply put, it is pretty dangerous to assume that God takes sides. Especially when they all end up being yours.

hectorWhen Jesus ascended he reminded everyone that the Spirit would come. When Jesus ascended he was pretty clear that he would always be with us in that way. When Jesus ascended he said nothing about whose side he was on because there is only one side in this – God’s side. If you think that is about preserving your own life, it might be a good time to go back and revisit how we got to the Ascension in the first place, that whole cross and dying thing. I know I need to review it pretty regularly, because no matter what I might write or how I might sound out here, I know almost nothing other than that each day I simply must start anew.giotto_ascension

Go!

ascension-of-christ-large“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

This is Jesus’ command in today’s Gospel for Ascension Thursday. For some of us, this is a Holy Day; other dioceses have moved the feast to Sunday.

Whether or not this is a Holy Day depending on our address, Jesus’ words are an imperative. GO! How do we make disciples? It starts by how we live. As Pope Francis has indicated over and over again, in the model of Christ, we must evangelize with our lives. GO!

This past Sunday I was out of town and attended a particularly joyless Continue reading

Hopeful pessimist or hopeless optimist? Thoughts on Ascension Thursday

tumblr_m2ac30GRU61r35gi7o1_500“May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened,
that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call…” – Ephesians 1:18

A little lectio divina led me to savor this particular line of today’s Scripture, for Ascension Thursday. While I’m a little wistful that Easter draws to an end, I also find myself hopeful. Now I’ve been floundering around for something to say about my hope, and wouldn’t you know it, God pointed me to some words on the topic. Just yesterday, in the throes of my final floundering, I came across a post written by Bridget at Women in Theology, where she, among other things, reminds us of something very important:

“…hope is not optimism. In fact, in certain cases (I suspect most of the cases where it actually matters) optimism can be a vice opposed to hope. An optimist can discount and ignore evidence against her conviction that things will right themselves. An optimist is threatened by others’ pain. But someone acting in hope—the conviction not that things will right themselves, nor that we’ll be able to right them, but that God’s power will work to overturn whatever wrongs our systems can devise—that person can face pain. Without denying pain or being swept away by it, she can face her own and others’ suffering.”

Hope is not optimism. Do a little lectio with those words – they are most powerful!  I find this so helpful – and so hopeful, as I return to those words from Ephesians that open this post. I also appreciate that Bridget reminds us of the importance of language and of depth of reflection, something we can easily forget in the land of status updates and tweets, in the land of “optimistic opinionating” that social media can represent. (This is not a swipe at social media, without which there would be post today, but rather a call to reflection. Add to that a reminder that God uses all things for good – including social media, which provided the incubator for both this post and the WIT post that ultimately inspired it.)

Today my reflection, along with it my prayer, is to be anchored in hope and free from optimism. This does not make me a hopeful pessimist, any more than the opposite would be a hopeless optimist… although I can see the allure of the latter. No, it is the banality of optimism that I was reminded of at the last minute, and the power of great hope that grows out of faith.

Pentecost will arrive on Sunday, May 19. In these days in between, we await the Holy Spirit. What will your prayer be during this powerful time? Suddenly, my own prayer which was centered around the ways that I “hoped” that God would shape my life, has shifted. Today – at least just today, just this moment – pray that hope grows more deeply in my heart. If I am able to string my prayer of hope from moment to moment, and day to day, between now and Pentecost, who knows what will happen? Maybe, just maybe, the “eyes of my heart will be enlightened.” And to that I say, amen, and amen, and amen.

In the meantime, don’t just go staring at the sky, waiting for Jesus to come back down. Open your heart and notice Jesus all around you, especially in the most pessimistic of places and in the people you would never imagine finding Jesus is, but where Jesus might be found with the open eyes of a willing heart.

ascension.jpg!Blog

Easter Reflections – June 2, 2011, Ascension Thursday – Why Are You Standing There Looking At The Sky?

Why are you standing there looking at the sky?

Jesus has ascended to heaven and if all we can do is look at the sky, we might be in trouble.

It is important to be aware of Jesus, but it seems, like the disciples themselves, we want to stand there, heads up, eyes fixed upon the great blue and beyond of the sky. Now I am willing to give the disciples some slack, can you imagine standing there and seeing this? However, not unlike the Resurrection, the instruction seems clear… He is not here. The angelic messengers are there to remind us to get up and go, there are things to be done in Jesus’ name.

It also seems that we are not to be focused on when Jesus will be back or how, but to live out the promise that being baptized in the Holy Spirit holds for us. Pentecost is a week from Sunday, they day we celebrate that baptism of fire and wisdom.These days in between Ascension and Pentecost are important ones, as we pray for the coming of that wisdom and our willingness to receive it.

The other day I read this post from Richard Rohr and it really struck me. He wrote,  “Prayer happened today—and I was there!”  I think that we are reminded in words such as those, not to just stand there and stare upwards but to be present and engage.

Jesus has ascended and we are called to show up in prayer and hope. We can’t just look at the sky! In living today’s Gospel we see that God invites us more deeply into the dynamism of Jesus’ transforming work. We need to “be there” when these things happen and as Jesus tells us “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…”

We don’t do this by craning our necks at the sky or by forcing people to follow Jesus. Transformation happens when we live as Christ in the world and the healing, saving, power of Jesus is made real.

In order to be disciples we must show up, have a look up as needed and then be there to show up for and live the prayer that is our mission. The mission is to unify and to heal, to restore the very Body of Christ.

I know I’d rather look up at the sky, but it seems we must do otherwise.

Ascension – Imagining The Unimaginable

Today is the Feast of the Ascension. I wish that I had more time to write about it, but I don’t.

What I will say is this… Imagine the unimaginable. That is part of the Ascension Thursday story.

Jesus dies and rises and all those who followed him were overjoyed. Now Jesus has spent this time among them in his resurrected form. What joy for those who believed and those who came to believe.

Then the day comes… and it seems that Jesus is gone. I can’t imagine what that might have felt like. Perhaps it seemed a cruel joke, perhaps it brought hope – and God knows what else.

I am more than a little bit obsessed with considering the days of the early church. We see through the lens of our own time, culture and experience. I will never be a First Century Jew or Gentile who followed Jesus – that much is clear. However, I do think about that a lot.

It seems like it must have been glorious to witness Jesus ascending into heaven, but I think it was also devastating.

Which reminds me that we are about to have nine powerful days of prayer ahead of us… In this time of confusion and potential devastation at having lost Jesus again, the Apostles and others were no doubt lost, confused, frightened.

Many years ago someone told me that these nine days between Ascension and Pentecost were a really powerful time of prayer and I agree. Jesus has ascended and we await the gift of the Holy Spirit.

So I invite you to join me in prayer for these days to come… A reminder that the unimaginable, the frightening, the confusing and the devastating gives way to hope over and over again.

Lest I sound flip… No, we all face horrors that will take us apart. And ultimately, we all have the hope of healing and redemption. Most of life takes place in the spaces in between these two poles.

And these days between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost are just that.

It is unimaginable, and yet, it is what we must imagine and then live.