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The Spiritual Journey – A Reflection

PC(USA) Cross in the Sanctuary

It has been an exhausting day for my sweetheart and partner in ministry and for me. This journey we are on with COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus is truly emotionally and spiritually exhausting. As we walk with our community and parish through this unknown Valley of the Shadows, we wonder at times where God is in the midst of this. But then the gentle whisper of the Spirit reminds us that we are not alone. She is with us and will guide us through this wilderness.

Now as we fall exhausted into bed, I find comfort in Her presence and in these words of Thomas Merton from his Asian Journals: Our real journey in life is interior: it is a matter of growth, deepening, and of an ever greater surrender to the creative action of
love and grace in our hearts.

May the Spirit guide us through these times and may we follow Her through this Wilderness and may She lead us into the sunrise of a new day where the creative action of God’s love may transform us.

Progressive Christian Reflections by Chris Glaser: Rage to Ecstasy: Praying the Psalms

Facing the COVID-19 pandemic and the requirement to “shelter in place,” I believe this post from three years ago might be helpful.
— Read on chrisglaser.blogspot.com/2020/04/rage-to-ecstasy-praying-psalms.html

Evening Prayer – 31 March 2020

The sun has set and the Vesper Lights flicker and glow

It has been another full day of ministry and worship planning

Yikes! Lent is nearly over and Holy Week is upon us

In the midst of all the preparations

Thank you for some sacred and quiet moments

Now as my eyelids grow heavy

I lift this humble prayer to you

Dona Nobis Pacem

Grant Us Peace

A wee prayer from the heart of your Padre…

Faith and Life – A Reflection

A statue of Saint Ignatius in the Church of St Ignatius on the campus of the University of San Francisco

During these challenging times for our communities, state, nation, and world faith has been something that is being tested and transformed. In a conversation I had tonight with a friend, we discussed how these times are terrifying for the church yet also transformative. With church buildings standing empty and pastors preaching from the pulpit in an empty sanctuary or from an office or from home, I believe this is a moment for the Church to transform itself. Too often the Church is thought of by parishioners as the building. Nothing could be further from the truth. While it is a meeting place for worship and other gatherings, the true church has no walls.

In the age of technology and the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus, the Church is being forced to think outside of the box. As Dickens said, these are the best of times and the worst of times. The tragedy of so many people dying from this virus and the growing number of deaths among the Medical Professionals and First Responders, along with employees of business that are key and essential can be overwhelming. Life is essentially being redefined and one wonders what it will look like, post-pandemic (whenever that might be).

In our discussion we talked about how our faith is being challenged and even transformed. Our prayer is that post-pandemic we will see a transformation in the faith and the actions of individuals. Instead of a divisive, and fear/hate filled response, perhaps we will see more compassion, understanding, and mutual cooperation amongst people and countries. I know that my own faith is being tested as I walk with our congregation and so many others through this dark valley. Platitudes never really worked for me and they sure as all heck don’t work now! We are in the midst of the messiness of life and God is meeting us there to walk with us and guide us through.

The Spirit continues to challenge me and comfort me at the same time with Her guidance and wisdom. Despite the incredibly hectic schedule of additional virtual worship opportunities that are planned, virtual meetings where decisions have to be made, and the approach of Holy Week in this time of uncertainty, I have had a few occasions at night (if I can keep my eyes open) to reflect and to read. The past few nights all I have managed to post is an evening prayer.

Tonight’s conversation and my readings from Thomas Merton’s No Man is an Island I began to reflect in silence. Merton says the following in his forward to the book: In a world where every lie has currency, is not anxiety the more real and the more human reaction? He continued to reflect on anxiety, life, and transformation for several paragraphs. The next quote speaks to me of hope and a transformation of life and our way of thinking. For it seems to me that the first responsibility of a{n individual} of faith is to make {their} faith really a part of {their} own life, not by rationalizing it, but by living it. (pp. xiii and xiv)

Perhaps we are being challenged to make faith more than doctrine or theology or discussion points in a debate. Perhaps we are being called during this time to re-evaluate our faith and put it into action. St Teresa of Avila said that Christ has no body now on earth but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which He looks compassion into the world. Yours are the feet with which Christ walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which Christ blesses the world.

In this time of challenge dear reader, may we seek to integrate our faith in a deep and meaning-filled way by living it. And may we truly embrace Teresa’s challenge to be the hands and feet of Christ. Through it all the Spirit will guide us with Her gentle wisdom and compassion.

Always We Begin Again – Christine Valters Paintner

“In his Rule, St. Benedict wisely writes that ‘always we begin again.’  I have found these four simple words to be of endless comfort in my own journey, a gentle reminder that I am called to recommit myself to the spiritual path again and again.”

 Christine Valters Paintner, PhD,The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom

When was the last time you began anew?

Evening Prayer – 30 March 2020

The sun has set and the Vesper Lights flicker and glow

A long and exhausting day, Lord

Filled with Zoom meetings, Worship and Worship preparation

Emails and phone conversathins

Now, as we fall exhausted into bed

I don’t know what to pray

Yet even my deepest sighs are heard and understood

To you, Lord, I lift the prayers of my heart

Now as my eyelids grow heavy

I lift this humble prayer to you

Dona Nobis Pacem

Grant Us Peace

A wee prayer from the heart of your Padre…

Evening Prayer – 29 March 2020

The sun has set and the Vesper Lights flicker and glow

It has been a long day, Lord

It has been a day filled with emotions

It has been a day of ministry and fellowship

It has been a time of reflection

Now as my eyelids grow heavy

I lift this humble prayer to you

Dona Nobis Pacem

Grant Us Peace

A wee prayer from the heart of your Padre…