Monday, December 13, 2010

Devotional 131210

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. We practiced communion this morning by washing one another’s feet during our prayer meeting. It was not natural in the beginning. But when we started doing it pair by pair, we felt a strong sense of bonding and blessing in the process. Recognizing that it is easier to wash one another’s feet as a ritual than speaking words of love and communion in our daily lives, we learn to do what Jesus has done for us. Jesus said, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:17).

There is an enormous communications industry in the world that is stamping out words like buttons. Words are transmitted by email, television, radio, telegraph, satellite, cable, newspaper, magazine. But the words are not personal. Implicit in this enormous communications industry is an enormous lie: if we improve communications we will improve life. It has not happened and it will not happen. Often when we find out what a person “has to say,” we like him or her less. Not more. Better communication often worsens international relations. We know more about each other as nations and religions than we ever have before in history, and we seem to like each other less. Counselors know that when spouses learn to communicate more clearly, it leads to divorce as often as it does to reconciliation. Paul reminded Timothy, “Stay clear of pious talk that is only talk. Words are not mere words, you know. If they’re not backed by a godly life, they accumulate as poison in the soul” (2 Timothy 2:16-17). Do we use words to hurt or do we use words to edify one another? And more importantly, do we back our words with godly life or integrity? If not, our words are not only empty but poisonous and stumbling. Have mercy on us, O Lord, save and revive us from the world of impersonal communications!

The gift of words is for communion. We need to learn the nature of communion. This requires the risk of revelation—letting a piece of myself be exposed, this mystery of who I am. If I stand here mute, you have no idea what is going on with me. You can look at me. Measure me, weigh me, test me, but until I start to talk you do not know what is going on inside, who I really am. If you listen and I am telling the truth, something marvelous starts to take place—a new event. Something comes into being that was not there before. God does this for us. We learn to do it because God does it. New things happen then. Salvation comes into being; love comes into being. Communion. Words used this way do not define as much as deepen mystery—entering into the ambiguities, pushing past the safely known into the risky unknown. The Christian Eucharist uses words, the simplest of words, “this is my body, this is my blood, that plunge us into an act of revelation which staggers the imagination, which we never figure out, but we enter into. These words do not describe, they point, they reach, they embrace. Every time we go to the ill, the dying, the lonely, it becomes obvious alter a few moments that the only words that matter are words of communion. What is distressing is to find out how infrequently they are used. Sometimes we find we are the only ones who bother using words this way on these occasions. Not the least of the trials of the sick, the lonely and the dying is the endless stream of clichés and platitudes to which they have to listen. Doctors enter their rooms to communicate the diagnosis, family members to communicate their anxieties, friends to communicate the gossip of the day. Not all of them do this, of course, and not always, but the sad reality is that there is not a great deal of communion that goes on in these places with these ill and lonely and dying people, on street corners, in offices, in work places, in schools. That makes it urgent that the Christian becomes a specialist in words of communion.

We were conditioned not feeling comfortable to say words of genuine communion. We used a lot of Christian jargons or clichés that may not truly communicate what we really mean. We are too used to pseudo-community. We covered up our genuine self with a mask of religious devotee. We know that if we take off the mask, we need to brave the risk of being criticized and plead for help from a impersonal community. Both possibilities do not give us good feelings. Thus, we prefer to speak less or use clichés to cover up. And we know that if we continue to cover up, we will not grow and will feel more miserable in our walk with Christ. Many gave up but some persevered and developed communion with other genuine seekers of Truth and Body Life. It is not an easy task but a worthy one…exercise your words to edify and build communion.

With love from my inner being,

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