The Contemplative Companion for Saturday, December 3, 2016 in the First Week of Advent

“The light of the moon will be like that of the sun
and the light of the sun will be seven times greater
like the light of seven days.
On the day the LORD binds up the wounds of his people,
he will heal the bruises left by his blows.” – Isaiah 30.26

When it comes to the biblical prophets, such as Isaiah, and when it comes to the prophetic genre overall, we often get glimpses of the significant role cosmology plays in spirituality. If you doubt this, just read the book of Revelation.

In this passage from the Prophet Isaiah above, we see a hint that the universe, and especially our line of planets stemming off our sun – is developmental. Thus, time is involved. As time seems to unfold, possible development might also occur. But time and development are not guaranteed. Much time can pass with little development. Likewise much development can occur in a short amount of time.

The image of the moon developing into a sun and the sun developing into a super-sun isn’t that far-fetched. I have read elsewhere that some even think the earth will become a sun to the moon on the moon’s developmental journey into becoming a living planet. No doubt there is much to ponder as we look up into the heavens. The heavens are declaring and revealing much about our possibilities as a species on this planet. Perhaps it is wise just to say this: Christianity can’t be unwoven from cosmology. They need to be paired, and any Christianity without a cosmology is incomplete.

On a more personal, practical and present level, the Advent Remedy can be seen here in the binding of the wounds. In the grace of an Advent journey, something can happen to us inwardly that helps us move into a deeper wholeness, healing our inner fragmentation and transforming us into a more complete, developed Being. Suffering seems to be a part of this transformation process of development. In Christian terms, crucifixion leads to resurrection and resurrection leads to ascension – until we reach the full stature of Christ (Ephesians 4.13).

Note also that the prophets of Israel spoke their wisdom and words in the midst of great national and personal suffering, loss and discontinuity. It’s no wonder that wave after wave of these prophetic texts announces a future deliverance, healing and restoration – whether through the idealized office of a King in the of David, or through the direct intervention of Israel’s God.

Nevertheless, Israel’s hope (and now ours) was (and is) directed toward the unfolding future. This presents some challenges on the spiritual level if the hope gets uprooted from simply being present in the Presence.

On the other hand, without hope, and without the unfolding future emerging in cooperation with our participation, our spiritual life often coils and caves into a distorted narcissism of the moment – and flat-lines the dynamic movement of the Spirit that is Life itself birthing newness from a hidden love toward an unknown love that wishes to us as its partner, in this life and beyond.

I guess the best way to apply such mysteries, is this:

Don’t give up.

Whatever is happening in and to your life, use it as fuel for transformation.  Keep moving toward the emergent love of God coming toward you. Somewhere, somehow It meets us and heals us from one degree of glory to the next – until we are all “suns” of God in the Wholeness of the Resurrected Christ. 

 


© 2016  The Contemplative Companion

A Resource of ContemplativeChristians.com

The Contemplative Companion for Monday, November 28, 2016 in the First Week of Advent

The first Sunday of Advent opened my heart to worship. Perhaps it’s my favorite Sunday of the year. Dear ones of the Cross Roads Church – A PC(USA) Congregation, where I serve as interim pastor, gathered on Saturday morning to decorate the church – assembling a new Christmas tree, hanging new garland and readying the sanctuary to celebrate this season of preparation for Christmas. It looked more than beautiful on Sunday morning – lighted and glistening with the praise that only colors can sing. It’s a new beginning here, and I suspect elsewhere too.

I grew up mostly in Wisconsin, so I am used to Advent being cold, grey and snowy. Now, living in Texas, especially in San Antonio and Austin, we do get chilly days in Advent. Mostly, though, we just get big, cloudy days – that look cold – but actually are fairly mild, even warm. The big clouds rise up from the Gulf, just a two-hour drive to the south.

So, I often pretend it’s cold. Yesterday was one of those days – the clouds looked like northern clouds, even though it was sevnty-eight degrees by three in the afternoon. Another difference about a southern Advent is that the leaves on most of the trees are still green at Thanksgiving. But, soon after, in these parts, we too can expect some autumnal color and change. And by Christmas week, we usually get a strong cold front coming down from Canada, unhindered by the flat plain states to the north of Texas; that end of year wind typically dismounts all remaining leaves, except, of course, the live oaks and the junipers.

Advent is a remedy. It’s a four-fold count of grace, spinning us body and soul, deeper into the inner space of silence, where like a pool of stillness, the light of love touches our tongue with cleansing fire, so to speak and be spoken to with a goodness that heals.

A goodness that soaks into and releases even the earliest painful soul-stains.  The stain isn’t us. It just seems to mark us deeply, perhaps even never go away. What can remove this stain of pain? The remedy of Advent, which reveals and reminds us of our essential goodness. That utmost inner gift of God to self. You are beautiful. You are good. You are loved. And that which in you is loved is goodness itself since nothing can separate it from the love of God in Christ. The remedy of Advent heals even the deepest shadows of our being, where the pain still lingers, like a frozen bruise, blinding us to the deeper goodness hiding under the pain.

We tend to be strangers to such goodness, so it surprises us when we feel it upsurging through the cracks of beauty that Advent can awaken us to. We might even cry as the beauty and goodness come close, since our body and mental system don’t know how to process it. Advent is so tactile. So embodied. Its beauty helps us feel. The songs. The lights. The well lighted wreath that leads us week by week down the hallway of an ancient time, keeping its appointment to each of us, so to heal us a little bit more. These are all helpers to our healing. A helpful easing of the cramp that comes with being so self-bound and wound. A healing that reveals the original goodness, hidden under the shadows of our shame and pain.

I’m writing in the darkness of an early morning. It’s the very beginning of the Advent journey. I have no destination. All I know is that words somehow keep helping me  light the way. A way imbued with the Word. I’ve spent a good portion of my lifetime chasing and being chased by this Word.

Only in the silence, jumping in bare to the soul, have I discovered that the Word is more than any book; more than any earth or universe; more than any light or darkness. It is the Word beyond all words – that only silence can unwrap with its wisdom.

I don’t need to understand it. I welcome being understood by it, though. This is a contemplative speaking. And this shall be a contemplative Advent – perhaps an untired remedy for the severe swings drawing our attention between chaos and peace, heaven and earth, right and left, campaign and election, count and re-count, up and down, light and darkness…and everything in between.

Let’s take the Advent remedy together.


© 2016  The Contemplative Companion

A Resource of ContemplativeChristians.com

Advent and Christmas: A Contemplative Devotional by Peter Traben Haas

MyYesIsYoursFinalality

Amid all the fullness and festivity of this peak cultural and religious holiday season, I invite you to take a brief moment each day to rest and read through these brief daily reflections. I wrote the reflections when I lived in the rolling farmland of Iowa. I wrote them for my own journey through Advent, and also shared them with various members and friends at Westminster Presbyterian Church in the Cedar Valley, where I served as a pastor.

I now send these reflections out more widely in book form with the hope that something of my Advent journey might also be helpful to you, perhaps even connecting the inner story of Christmas in a deeper way this year for your continued flourishing in Christ. The book is available on Amazon.com or you may order one at your local bookstore.

The theme of this Advent journey is My Yes Is Yours. I chose that title, in part, because I was inspired by Mary’s response to the Angel’s visitation (Luke 1.38). There, the Angel invited Mary (and through her, us) to a deeper experience of God as a literal vessel for the birthing of Christ into the world. Her response, now so famous, was something like, “Yes, let it me in me as you say.”

On a deeper level, even Mary’s Yes was grounded in God’s grace, drawing her into the energy of acceptance versus resistance. Like Mary, without this grace acting in our lives, none of our Yes’s would endure or come to their fruition. In this way, our Yes’s are really God’s.  Not only are they inspired by God’s grace, they are also offered to God.

Thus, we can authentically say in the depth of prayerful intercession or silent contemplation, “My God, My God, My Yes is Yours.” Truly, giving our Yes to God is just another way of summing up the heart of the Christian pattern of life revealed by Jesus near the end of his beautiful yet brief life: not my will, but thy will be done.

Yes. Three letters. One little word with infinite potential.

Read the reflections.

Ponder and pray about the ideas.

Perhaps share them with others.

Open each day’s reflection as a personal gift. Throughout a lifetime, our journey into God is a journey into Yes – learning and cultivating a disposition of feeling a Yes to life. Paradoxically, we may often discover the personal power of Yes as we feel into the powerlessness of all the times we have encountered No’s. While Advent is a season for Yes, it’s not always easy. There are many No’s that we confront each day.

No to God.

No to health.

No to love.

No to life.

No to others.

No to healing.

No to abundance.

No to giving.

It seems in our world we are surrounded by and perhaps even shaped by many No’s. That is all the more reason to anticipate and welcome the quickening light that awakens sleepers from the state of resistance so energized around the word “No.” Advent is a season to recognize that for every No we have received in life, we may also declare and participate in that No’s transformation into a Yes – for our ultimate good and ongoing growth. And so we declare:

Yes to God.

Yes to being you.

Yes to others, especially those we live and work with.

Yes to the past, present and future.

Yes to flourishing.

Yes to surrender.

Yes to hope.

Yes to faith.

Yes to love.

Yes to giving.

Yes to receiving.

Yes even to our life difficulties.

Yes – whether simply, quietly or loudly – just yes.

Learning how to say Yes to whatever is occurring in our life without needing to change or resist anything is the art of grace – a grace that also teaches us the skills of hope, faith and love; skills, along with grace, that we will need; skills we will also acquire more completely as we journey through the fullness of gifts this Advent season holds in store for us.

Only Love. Only Christ.

Peter Traben Haas


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A Resource of  ContemplativeChristians.com

The Contemplative Companion for Thursday, December 24, 2015 – Christmas Eve

“When King David was settled in his palace, and the LORD had given him rest from his enemies on every side, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God dwells in a tent!”  – 1 Samuel 7. 1-5

Friends in the Silence,

On this sacred Eve, may you feel the Presence of Divine Grace as a response to your searching heart.

Perhaps with King David, there will be a moment after all the preparation, after all the shopping, travel and readying, where you can take a moment to rest. To be still. And in that moment Remember the Divine Presence.

Together, we are the Temple.

Merry Christmas.


© 2015  The Contemplative Companion

A Resource of ContemplativeChristians.com

The Contemplative Companion for Wednesday, December 23, 2015

“Thus says the Lord GOD: I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me…” – Malachi 3.1

John the Baptist represents the first stage of our spiritual development: the foundational level of the Written Word of God. It’s summation as the Law of God teaches us to listen for God’s wisdom and instruction and invites us to obey and thus flourish (Psalm 1). John represents this first step of spiritual growth, which is a kind of faith toward the Written Word of God, a phase many new converts experience as one of zealousness and literalism: for example Saul’s zealousness for the Law of God which led him to justify killing some who disagreed with him (Acts 7).

Like Saul who became Paul, the foundational level is not our destination though. It is our foundation, from which we grow and develop. And that next level of development is what Jesus represents: the Living Word of God embodied. Christ is our destination. The Written Word of God is moving into the Living Word of God as you and as me and as all who consent, with Mary, to be ongoing locations for the Word’s Incarnation.

In this way, Jesus shows us the Way. Whereas Jesus the Christ was this Living Word of God in his Essence, we partake in and through faith with that Essence by means of the Energies of God through the Spirit, receiving a share of the Living Word into our lives, and because of the Nature of the Living Word of God, it can’t help but to transform, heal and yes, save us – in the literal sense: making us whole and completing us.

The preparation that occurs is interior. We are to let the Written Word of God dwell abundantly in us, so that our minds are renewed to the point that we are “born again” as sons and daughters of God, co-heirs with and by the Living Word of God, which is Christ, the Union of the Divine and Human.

Yes, the Union was established in Jesus the Christ. But it may continue in you and me. Jesus and Christmas are not just for the historical celebration remembering what has been; a shrine or museum just for Mary, Jospeph and Jesus. They are historical pointers to what also might be in the future: to what the Divine Love is wishing for humankind, which seems to be the consummation of Life into Love. Such a process takes time. Thankfully, God’s patience is time-less. God’s plan is developmental, one stage unfolding to the next, like petals opening on a beautiful Rose.

Thus, be brief in wandering beyond prudence and long in enduring time’s abuses. The Law and The Gospel are wed in John and Jesus for our birth as New Ark’s of the Covenant; Temples of the Spirit; continuing incarnations; a living community of Christmases. This Miracle must be prepared for. Wait. Consent to the Presence underneath the Written Word. Listen for the Hidden Word beyond the page – the first Word of God is Silent Love.

 


© 2015  The Contemplative Companion

A Resource of ContemplativeChristians.com

The Contemplative Companion for Tuesday, December 22, 2015

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior for God has looked upon me, a lowly servant.” – Luke 1.46

Long bewitch the skin of man, to touch the Art of Angels.

Thankfully, their Light-Art touches us. Descends to us. Visits us. We can rest from our striking and striving: Give up. Fall down. Cry for help. Be silent in surrender.

And these days of darkness and light remind us of the central miracle of Light taking on skin. And not just a human appearance – rather, the completeness of human nature.

Here is what is Good about the Good News: A union of the Fully Divine with the Fully Human has occurred in human history through the Being Jesus, for our healing. As we partake in the Union, we become participants of the Divine Nature (2 Peter 1.4), rightly bearing the names, co-heirs with Christ (Rom 8.17).

 


© 2015  The Contemplative Companion

A Resource of ContemplativeChristians.com

The Contemplative Companion for Monday, December 21st, 2015 – The Winter Solstice

“Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” – Luke 1. 42

Today, the 21st of December, is the Winter Solstice. Solstice comes from the Latin sol stetit, which literally means “sun stood still.” For six days in the northern hemisphere the sun seems to cease its southerly journey on the horizon and appears to  rise and set in the same spot. From sacred sites such as Stonehenge, England and Tulum, Mexico, we know our ancient human forebears watched this event, perhaps wondering if the light would return? If the sun would begin to move again? If warmth would return and bring back life?

Due to a calander mix up, the ancient Romans celebrated the Winter Solstice on December 25th. As the Roman Empire assimilated Christianity, the Roman church adapted such pre-existing “pagan” festivals of light for their own liturgical, Christian purposes: thus the Christmas festival of the birth of Christ, light of the world and Son of God on December 25th. The days surrounding the Winter Solstice were already symbolic for the people: the day the sun seems to be born from its sleep, and begin its journey, rising again higher on the horizon till its zenith on June 21st, the Summer Solstice.

The symbolism of the earth and heavens does not lessen the meaning of the Christ-event. It illustrates it. It demonstrates in an embodied way what the spiritual dimension is revealing: As above, so below.  Mary, represents the New Eve, the New-Earth – the womb of life, birthing forth the fruit of her consent, which is the Son of God, Light of the World. Similarly, the Earth births forth the Winter Sun, rising again from the Earth-Womb to a new season of life.

These are days for the silence to speak to us in the stillness of the earth. These are days to be at rest – if not externally, then certainly, to the extent possible, at least within our own heart. Become a continuation of the drama: consent, so to be a participant in the light of Spirit birthing in and through and for human beings; transforming us and our planet into love – which is the warm-heart of the reign of God.

 

 

*The solstice graphic is from Sue Gaviller at  www.NotAnotherGardeningBlog.com 


© 2015  The Contemplative Companion

A Resource of ContemplativeChristians.com

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