Friday, February 4, 2011

Devotional Reading 040211

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. It was a blessing to have a longer quiet time before the Lord in reading and meditation this morning. I look forward to join a retreat in Pacifica with brothers and sisters from a East Bay church. This is the second time I speak to this congregation. Pray that the Holy Spirit reveals His Word to all of us, and nurture us with His own very presence.

Most religions believe that humanity is in touch with a nonphysical or quasi-physical realm of reality. We are in touch with a physical world of rocks and trees and enemy tribes-people. We are also in touch with a spiritual world inhabited by the spirits of the dead, by demonic and angelic power. Religious ritual, prayer and meditation were once ways that people used to deal with this spiritual reality, and being able to deal with that realm made a lot of difference about how life went with them... If there is no such realm, meditation at best is only talking to oneself, and at worst it verges on stupidity and illusion or outright madness. It is very difficult to open materialistic Western people’s eyes to the reality of the spiritual world. There is no way to find this reality except by trying something which they have been taught leads nowhere. This is one of the reasons why it so often requires desperation to get secular persons to try opening themselves to this reality which is new to them.

There can be little question about the way Jesus of Nazareth believed. He expressed quite clearly His understanding that we are in contact with two different worlds. This is seen in one after another of the parables where He often used some description of the physical world to illustrate what He was revealing about another realm of reality. It is seen in His various references to the angelic realm and in His teachings about the evil one, as well as in His understanding and healing of the one possessed by the demon, and also in His own experience on the Mount of Transfiguration. While Jesus certainly showed a thorough appreciation of the outer material world in all that He said and did. He also wanted men to know their relation to the world of spirit. This is assumed in all His teachings about prayer, which make sense only within such a framework. It is strange how seriously we take Jesus’ moral ideas and then ignore His world- view. Yet, if Jesus really was the incarnation of God, He probably has something to tell us about philosophy as well as morals.

The most vivid experience of the early Church was that of the Risen Christ. For these earliest Christians the experience was so real that when it came to setting down the record about Jesus Himself, they sometimes confused the teachings received by the Church from the Risen Christ with those that Jesus had given to the original disciples. The reality was so close to them that they did not even realize they were creating a problem…The great Fathers and Doctors of the Church who gave us our Trinitarian Christianity continued to express their knowledge of humankind as a bridge linking two worlds. They saw humanity with one side joined to the physical world of matter, and the other immersed in the nonmaterial but even more real world-of-spirit, and the human soul or psyche as the instrument of communication between the two.

Meditation is the practice, the art of letting down the barrier that separates one’s rational consciousness from the depth of one’s soul. In Christian meditation one is trying to come into touch with the spiritual world in a way that will open one’s whole being to the reality of this creative and integrating center, or the Risen Christ. The purpose is to allow the Christ to bring the split-off, conflicting parts of one’s being into fruitful relationship, and at the same time deliver one from destructive evil which seeks to keep the person fragmented and operating unconsciously. In this way one is brought together and given the single eye – that new center of being which allows a person to operate at more nearly full potential, creatively and freed from giving in to destructive impulses.

In reality, Christian prayer and meditation make sense only within some such framework. Unless we find a power like this beyond ourselves, we would do better to stay as conscious and rational as possible and try not to fool ourselves. But if prayer and meditation are what I have suggested, then few things that we can do are more important for our lives. Only in this way are we able to reach out to the reality that can make us whole and bringing us to maturity. This is the way we grant full reality to our sonship through Christ.

The “one eye” that Kelsey talks about is based on the teaching of Christ in Matthew6:22-23, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” God grant us the eye to the non-materialistic world, which is the ultimate reality of the world. The Western world believes human reality lies only on what we see. But Christians believe human reality lies on what is unseen to our human eyes. This “one eye” (human consciousness or spiritual perception) enables us to realize the reality of our whole being. Paul prayed for spiritual illumination for the Ephesians in similar way, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way (Ephesians 1:18-23). We will not be able to see the glorious reality of Christ if we do not exercise our “spiritual eyes” through meditation and prayer. This is not imagination per se but conscious awareness of this hidden reality through imagination or meditation. Hope your spiritual eyes will be enlightened by your deliberate abandonment of your whole being to the work of the Holy Spirit.

Have a blessed weekend,

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