Monday, June 6, 2016

COMPILINGS ONE: THREE FABULOUS THINGS


     Guideline Number 37 of the Bloggers' Code -- Bloggers are allowed to make up words. Mmmmm, compilings.
     Now that we are finished with the school/program year, and I've completed Education for Ministry: Year One in which we read and reflected on the Old Testament, I have time to gather my various writings over the past few months in one place.  

    The following three posts appeared in Forward Movement's 50 Days of Fabulous edited by Rev. Laurie Brock during the Easter season. Check out the site and "subscribe" to make sure you receive the daily emails next Easter season. You can also follow 50 Days of Fabulous on Facebook. 

BROKEN BREAD


READ
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?" That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. – Luke 24:28-35
REFLECT
Today’s Gospel has spoken “deep acceptance” to me three different ways on three separate occasions.
On Brokenness -- Not so recently, some people broke my heart. They didn’t mean it. They were doing the best they could with the emotional tools they had available. At the time, I didn’t realize this, so I was deeply hurt and confused. The question that occupied me for months was, why did they break my heart? The answer came to me in baby steps along my spiritual journey. Because I let them. Because my own emotional tool box needed some heavy sorting.
Before I got to that place of understanding, I spent a lot of time angry and sad. And then I attended a youth workshop and had a conversation with the chaplain. We were discussing options for my future with the Church and I said, “I’m too broken. They won’t want me.”
His eyes got wide and he said, “We’re all broken. Jesus was broken on the Cross. He had to break to share his love. And remember that passage in Luke? They recognized him in the breaking of the bread. A beautiful loaf of bread is useless until it’s broken and shared.”
The next day, he preached a sermon on this passage to a room full of youth ministers, and my eyes weren’t the only ones filled with tears. My broken heart wasn’t the only one mended that day and every day we receive Holy Communion.
On Theology – Shortly after joining my new church, a retired priest/member preached a sermon on the importance of sharing scripture and she quoted the above passage from Luke focusing on the part where Jesus explains scripture to the two he met on the road to Emmaus.
First, my heart leapt at the recognition of this passage on brokenness, and then I settled in to absorb her message on how Jesus was recognized, not only in the breaking of bread, but in the act of teaching. I knew that Jesus wants us to emulate him in breaking of bread and in sharing meals and our gifts with others. 
But I didn’t think I was qualified to share my own thoughts on theology. The message I had received for years was, you are an uncredentialed, stay-at-home mom. Therefore, you are not to be taken seriously, except to pat you on the head or get annoyed when you disagree with my outlook.
Later, it so happened that at the beginning of the first faiths against gun violence meeting sponsored by my new church, another retired priest/member read aloud this passage from the back of the Book of Common Prayer:
“The ministry of lay persons is to represent Christ and his Church; to bear witness to him wherever they may be; and, according to the gifts given them, to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world; and to take their place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church.” Catechism 855
Boom. Mic drop. Credentials galore in that one, baby.
On Bread – Today I focus on how the Resurrected Christ used bread as a symbol of himself, and in that moment allows himself to be recognized. Jesus traveled a long, long way so that he could return home to our hearts. I seem to have traveled far, too:
Four years ago, when I started writing about saints and their recipes for spiritual living, I was particularly drawn to St. Francis of Assisi. He is my birthday saint, and in him I find the courage to be crazy in love with Jesus. More than animals, more than poverty, Francis loved Holy Eucharist because it connects us directly to Jesus breaking and sharing himself with us on the Cross. St. Francis highly respected those charged with the sharing of these gifts, and spoke often on the gifting of bread as a symbol of friendship, almsgiving, and Christ’s love for us.
When I tried to actually bake homemade bread myself, I failed two or three times in great frustration because I kept accidentally killing the yeast. Then I got it. And I wrote about my mistakes and what I learned from them. I studied, cooked, and wrote some more.
And so, I moved forward and over many boulders on my spiritual path. Eventually, I landed at my new church which serves homemade whole wheat bread for Communion and had an open spot on the team of bakers. I get to devote myself to the baking of bread to provide for the Sunday Holy Eucharist once a month and then experience the joy of receiving a piece of this same bread as a gift of love from my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
My heart is full.
RESPONSE
     Do you think your emotional tool box might need some sorting? Begin by reading DARING GREATLY by Brené Brown then work your way backwards and forward from there.
Many times, spiritual journeys, or awakenings, are launched via heartbreak. This is usually because you are already starting to change and people around you don’t like it so sometimes they lash out. Has this happened to you? Are you afraid to take that first step because of others people’s potential negative reactions?
If you know you’d be heading closer to Jesus, you’ve got to go for it. Although there may be some deep transitional hurt along the way, Jesus is there with you, holding you up and guiding the way.

Break your heart wide open and let Him in.
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WANDER IN WONDER


READ
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. -- Jeremiah 29:11-13
REFLECT
The Angels deliver messages to me from God. Here’s an example of how it works:
Recently, while walking my regular three-mile neighborhood route with the goal of getting it done and getting back to work, a penny appeared on my path. I knew that copper is the color associated with St. Gabriel the Messenger Archangel, so I picked it up and held it in my hand as I walked on. I thought about what this sign might be saying about some of my recent communications and stayed on high alert for any incoming messages.
And then I walked into the neighborhood of a woman who says mean things to people as they pass her house if she happens to be outside. After she spoke to me, I could tell by her smile that this act gives her great pleasure.
I walked on and thought, what the heck is the message in that?
Go to the beach. Why are walking in a neighborhood of negativity when you could be walking at the beach where positivity permeates?
     Because I’ve been exercising this way for years, and I’m used to it.
Stop it. Go to the beach. You deserve the time, mileage, parking fees, sunshine, cleansing breezes, pelican and dolphin sightings, message-filled-beach-meandering treasures, and the ever-changing beauty of the horizon.
Trust me. It’s safe to release dysfunctional habits and thought patterns. It’s safe to go forth. “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Oh. That’s a good message.
When I think of the term “spiritual journey,” I usually visualize a rocky mountain path curving upward. But today my path seems straight and true, “Then you will call on me and come pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
I don’t know what I’ll come upon as I journey along, but I know who travels with me, and I know to whom I’m going.
RESPOND
Spiritual Journeys aren’t always rigorous mountain climbs. Sometimes the trail runs downhill to a rocking-chair porch with people who love you, or unwinds at home on a cozy couch with family and felines, or rambles by a shoreline where the sea whispers sweet somethings to your heart.
During those times when your spiritual journey levels off, where does your path lead you? How does God show up for you there?
................
PERSPECTIVE


READ
     “The fruit of the bee is the Son of the Virgin. ‘Blessed is the fruit of thy womb’ it says in Luke 1:42; and ‘His fruit was sweet to my palate’ in Canticles 2:3. This fruit is sweet in its beginning, middle, and end. It was sweet in the womb, sweet in the crib, sweet in the temple, sweet in Egypt, sweet in his Baptism, sweet in the desert, sweet in the word, sweet in miracles, sweet on the ass, sweet in the scourging, sweet on the Cross, sweet in the tomb, sweet in hell, and sweet in heaven. O sweet Jesus, what is more sweet than you are? ‘Jesu-the very thought is sweet . . . sweeter than honey far.’”  -- St. Anthony of Padua and Lisbon, SUNDAY SERMONS
REFLECT
I’m a sermon connoisseur. Whether they are satisfying a particular question, serving up something completely new to me, or reviving my faith, I love sermons. For me, sermons are as much a part of a Holy Communion Service as the bread and wine because they feed my hunger for spiritual wisdom.
My favorite sermons are those that show me a new way of looking at a situation that completely changes my understanding and gives me hope for the future.
Of course, there are those Sundays in which the sermon doesn’t speak to me at all. No worries, I can usually find a good one to read on social media. Or I can go to the saints, such as my family’s patron, St. Anthony of Padua and Lisbon.
Anthony (formerly Fernando Martins de Bulhoes) was raised in Lisbon, Portugal, where he studied theology and was ordained a priest. Later he became a Franciscan Friar who served quietly with deep humility in Italy.
Eventually, Anthony’s superiors, including the head of his order, St. Francis of Assisi, discovered his theological knowledge and gift for preaching. They encouraged him to speak his heart and spread the word.
Overjoyed to receive this permission, Anthony became a teacher of friars preparing for priesthood and a life of preaching.
The above passage seems like an entire sermon in one paragraph – he quotes scripture, explains, suggests, and even ends by quoting a popular song of his day (Jesu Dulci Memoria). His advice is to read the gospels and remember that in all moments of His life on earth and in heaven, Jesus Christ is pure goodness.
In other words, there is no historical moment when Jesus became Christ on earth, he was the complete package his whole life. God’s gift of the baby Jesus contains the Crucifixion of Christ, and the Resurrection of Christ includes the death of the baby Jesus.  Christmas and Easter are meaningless without each other. Together, they mean everything.
That’s a perspective I can get behind in much the same way that we stand, metaphorically, behind the saints as they guide us, through their examples and teachings, ever closer to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
RESPOND
In what ways has your understanding of God deepened by listening to or reading someone else’s perspective? Who was your guide?
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I have three more compilings to go. Sign up to follow me here and on Facebook at Saints and Recipes.  


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