Good morning, this is the meditation for August 27, 2017. My name is Carl and I am being coached by Grace. It is the Grace of God that stands behind us, is to the right of us, to the left of us and opens doors before us. (if you are comfortable repeat that statement using your own name.)
This process of providing a “religious” outlet for the members of the Sarcoidosis group began out of conflict. A few years ago there was a discussion about too much religion on Facebook. The conversation became quite animated. Within the first day over 275 members left the Sarcoidosis group. At first I thought the issue was about religious words. Then much to my surprise I discovered the frustration was about the word “drama.” Most people weren’t arguing about religion, they wanted the bickering to stop.
In light of that understanding I began working on words that led to nurturing the freedom to be expressing spirituality without imposing religious “head trips.”
The next controversy was about the use of the understanding of prayer. What is meant when someone asks for prayer or says I will pray for you?
I will now go into this meditation using a form, a process that I hope will give an understanding to nurturing Spirituality. You will discover a pattern that varies a bit each week but pretty much stays on target.
By reading to the end of this you will have a view of my own search to resolve this conflict within myself. At the same time as administrator of the group I hope there are words that give room for people to talk out of their spiritual pilgrimage.
PRAYER: The word prayer takes on different meanings to different people. For some it means centering, for some the word focus comes to mind, for others the concept of emptying the mind with hopes to receiving, for some it is a form of plea bargaining. For some it is a shotgun blast into the heavens hoping something magical will happen. Needless to say the word has a mixed history and a mixed usage. For me it is ultimately an act of communication. It is the use of words to speak of an “innerness” being expressed. At times it is a moment of silence asking that the emotions, thoughts, feelings etc be heard. Who will hear these words. I am a believer there is a God and this God hears.
Lord God there are four words that come to mind. The first is ADORATION. I am in awe of beauty, I am in awe of the creative nature of both humanity and creation itself. I am moved to believe I am only a part of what exists and what has existed and what will exist. Lord God I now CONFESS my place and activity in time. I confess I am a gifted person, I confess I am a broken person, I confess at times I do good, I confess at times I do not do good. I confess I need to confess. Lord God I simply say THANK YOU. I list off those benefits I have received and those things that nurture my life and the lives of those I love. Thank you. Once again not only do I believe you exist but I believe you seek to express yourself to me personally. Thank you. The next word in this prayer Lord is the prayer of SUPPLICATION. It is the confession of wants and needs. I want our people to experience a sense of wholeness, I want our people to experience healing. I need others healthy, I need healing stories and understandings that as I accept the truth of these moments they can be applied into my own life as well. I want to read the scripture and see history in action. I want to be a part of this holy history. Amen.
I borrow this outline from a stranger to me. I first read his work in my 20’s. It is known as the ACTS of prayer. Adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication all work into a format quite inclusive.
SCRIPTURE: Each week Scripture comes from the Bible. I am a Protestant. I use the Protestant Bible because it helps me focus on my own history and pilgrimage. I use what is called the Lectionary. I use the lectionary because it is a disciplined approach to reading the Bible. It is also the outgrowth of the work of many scholars, this causes me to put my own wisdom and knowledge into a conversational dialogue. Truth does not begin and end with me. I participate in truth as a historical process. Here now is the reading for this week.
Exodus 1:8-2:10 and Psalm 124 • Isaiah 51:1-6 and Psalm 138 • Romans 12:1-8 • Matthew 16:13-20
PLEASE READ ALL THE SCRIPTURE BEFORE PROCEEDING. You will find all scriptures posted on the link page above.
Great Is Thy Faithfulness https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKZ0xmkUtUo
Music is the language that crosses all lines. It seems to speak to our heart when our brains can’t grasp what is being said. Nurturing music soothes the soul.
MEDITATION: Evil exists but God desires good.
The setting in the book of Exodus is a common one, generation one does good. Success breeds comfort zones. Then self centeredness reads life circumstances as threatening. Then policies are changed to subvert society creating a class structure oppressive to one group while being excessive for others. Spirituality as defined by the first generation allowed for openness and working together for the good of all. Then the threat took control and spirituality was redefined into a form of nationalism, then classism then economic justifications.
What is, what was spirituality?
The King began to live out a rigid definition of words understanding society as he knew it was changing. Egypt had become an immigrant nation.
But what happens when the daughter spoke out against the evil doings of her Father.
It is my understanding Egypt had a Code to live by. When the Code was followed it was not just something of conscience. It was a call to behavior. Spirituality was nurtured by, for lack of a better word, religion. The code called for specific religious behavior.
Spirituality is not passive. It is a “doing.”
Evil exists but God celebrated good.
The Psalmist turns this story and other stories into a walk of faith. The reverse happens as religious duty, religious activity becomes spirituality. The words of the people celebrate how when they followed the ways of God the people then became spiritual. They readily understood spirituality was not passive. It was something “done.” The people understood evil existed but God chose good.
The prophet Isaiah echoed this understanding as he became the voice for God. Out of his bowels came an understanding. Justice was an act of spirituality. Spirituality nurtures justice.
There is in this series of scriptures a message. People living with long term illnesses find themselves at the mercy of the powers that be. How can we talk about spirituality when our prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling? How can we talk about spirituality when the system seems to make decisions that cause us to suffer more. How can we believe in spirituality when our efforts fall short of acceptance.
Egypt did not learn. Israel became a people vacillating and wavering, their message of spirituality and standing against evil got lost. Perhaps in the wanderings, in the grumbling and the groaning the message of focusing on spirituality, on doing good found yet another way to be heard. There is an alternative. God chooses to use each of us. Strong or weak. It is in the gift of life we have the opportunity to benefit from each other. The Apostle Paul talks about each of us being gifted. Even in our weakness we create opportunities for spirituality to be nurtured.
This week I begin training a group of people to coach others. We now have over 8500 members in the Sarcoidosis group. Our team of coaches will look at the concept of understanding not just the purpose of life but the purpose of living. By focusing on spirituality the pieces of the puzzle will begin to fall into place. Each person’s life is that of an individual. The King’s daughter learned that at an early age. When she faced evil she did not hesitate to do good.
Jesus builds on this understanding when he talks to Peter. He acknowledges that building your life on the rock “foundation” gives opportunity for the keys of the kingdom to be used. A little bit of heaven will be experience today. Spirituality is a walk of life.
Matthew West. Do Something