Friday, January 7, 2011

Devotional reading 070111

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. I have not fully recovered from jetlag and exhaustion from my Asian trip. It was filled with much fun and activities. In 11 days, I covered Hong Kong, Shanghai and Macau. In each of those places, I walked a lot and ate a lot. It felt like nonstop traveling. I did not realize how exhausted I was until I came back. I really need another vacation to recover from my vacation. If you have time to visit my Google Album, you will understand what I meant. I took almost 2000 pictures in total. Two weddings in two different cities are nothing but joyous celebration. God is gracious to all His children all over the earth. There are so much to give thanks and remember…Praise God for giving us such a finale for 2010.

After much prayer and consideration, I decided to re-read the book on “The other side of Silence” by Morton Kelsey as my devotional reading. During our prayer time this morning, our staff agreed that we need to spend more time to “wait upon the Lord in meditation and prayer.” A lot of time, we consider prayer as a discipline to tell God about us and our needs. We did not spend time to quietly wait upon the Lord in contemplative prayer – listening to what God has to say to us through our mediation and reading of God’s words. I hope to use this book to remind myself of this practice, and expose you to this exercise in 2011. Let start reading it…

Many people seem to feel that meditation is not for everyone, particularly Christian Meditation. In fact more and more people, seeking a way of getting down to cases spiritually, have turned to Eastern ways of meditating in the hope of finding some discipline that the ordinary individual can follow. Much has been written about these Eastern disciplines. But neither the Western novices in Zen or Yoga or transcendental Meditation nor the more experienced writers about them seem to realize that there is a powerful and unique Christian method of meditation available to any ordinary person who wishes to use it. This Christian way of meditating can bring many people a whole new vision of reality and new effectiveness in their living…Simple people and beginners can have a genuine encounter with God. It is a matter of learning to respond to the presence and love of God which He already offers us. It is very much like Dante’s conception of heaven, in which each person has a particular place, while everyone who enters at all also has some basic experience of the whole of the heavenly spheres.

This is quite a different idea from that found in most Eastern meditation. On the one hand, the idea is to respond to the loving concern of God so well expressed in Jesus of Nazareth. Most people can learn this response…Our part is mostly to accept the hand already stretched out to us. Eastern religions, on the other hand, usually stress the painstaking discipline by which one detaches oneself from the world, losing personhood or individuality and merging with the Cosmic Mind to become one with pure consciousness. The basic difference between the two is whether one sees ultimate reality as a Lover to whom one responds, or as a pool of cosmic consciousness in which one seeks to lose identity.

Thomas Merton was one writer about the life of prayer who came to realize that imagination (or mediation) has creative and constructive uses in the contemplative life…He noted that imagination can discover real meanings. Not just produce distractions and delusions, and he stressed reading the Bible imaginatively, both as a way of exercising imagination and also to find the full meaning contained in the Bible... His ideas open the way to discover how imagination can be developed to lead one into a deep and fulfilling relationship with God.

The encounter with God and the Risen Christ is a present possibility. This is verified by those who turn toward Him, find new meaning and hope and love, and are then transformed by this experience. What this author is trying to offer is an understanding of one neglected method of meditation in general use in the days when Christianity was most alive and creative. This is a practical manual for those who would like to try out this method of finding the encounter with God, learning what it is like and practicing it.

I hope to embark this journey of encountering God with you. Do share with me your experience when you gradually pick up this habit of silence and contemplative prayer in your daily life.

With love in Christ,

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