Primitive religion is not believed, it is danced!

Arthur Darby Nock

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Elizabeth Browning

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Wind of the Spirit

The wind played tag with me today
I didn’t see it coming
But suddenly it touched me
Dancing its way across my face
Dusting my eyes
and ruffling the unruly grey
I call my hair….

Off it skittered
Scattering debris along the way
hidden still
Imperceptible potency
Moving, shaping
Urgency personified

Unavoidable and Relentless

Sometimes the wind of the Spirit plays tag with me
It breezes through my mind
Disturbing, moving shaping
Palpable in its persistence

My mind is tossed
Thoughts like leaves in a whirlwind
Swirl in blurring velocity

Only to suddenly fall
Back down
God’s artistry

And then I see
God’s new thing

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Clinging to God!

Joy – the passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good.  A state of bliss.  Mirth, merriment, festivity!  Joy!

One of the major characteristics of the Christian, or so we are told
“Shout for joy to God all the earth, serve the Lord with gladness says the Psalmist (100:1,2).
“Be joyful always” insists Paul (I Thessalonians 5:16)w
“The fruit of the Spirit is love , joy, peace”  Galatians 5)

Christians are meant to be joyful.  But where is the joy?  All too often Christians are known not for their joy but for their grimness.  The story is told of the couple who went to the airport to pick up a visiting minister.  They had never met the person, but immediately picked out a likely suspect.  “Sir are you the visiting minister?”  “No” he replied, “It’s my ulcer that makes me look like this!”

How do we catch the joy?  We are bombarded with secular wisdom on the subject of joy.  There are video tapes, TV specials . . . Heck, you can buy the book!  Finding Joy: 101 Ways to Free Your Spirit and Dance with Life.  Charlotte Kasl, Ph.D, author.  Everyone has an opinion. Most of us have tried most of the advice.  Still the question remains.  How do we catch joy?  Today in John we hear the opinion of the expert on Joy – Jesus.  Hear his words.

Abide in me.

When it comes to the subject of joy one word seems to be essential.  That word is ABIDE.  If we would experience Jesus’ joy we must abide in Jesus.  We must place ourselves, continually, purposefully, in Jesus presence. We must rest in God’s love.  The image Jesus gives us here is powerful.  “I am the vine, you are the branches....Abide in me”  This image suggests that we need to be connected

Now we already know we can be connected to the wrong things... what we might call counterfeit vines.  A Lexus SUV.  Our jobs.  Our roles.  Success.  Wealth.  Jesus here reminds of what, or rather who is the right vine, the right thing to be connected to.  The vine is Jesus.  The vine is God.  You want joy?  Be connected to God.  Abide in Christ.  Rest in God’s love.

Now that is a simple thing to say… but not necessarily a simple thing to do.  God is not really all that easy to connect with.  Let’s face it . . . God is mysterious, awesome, BIG!  I mean really Big!  But it is more than that.  In the Bible, especially in the Old Testament we find the concept of “kabod” or transcendence.  God as the transcendent one.

Chiam Potok is a wonderful Jewish author.  In one of his books he offers a lyrical description of Kabod.
A quality of holiness, a quality of power
A quality of fearfulness, a quality of sublimity
A quality of trembling, a quality of shaking
A quality of terror, a quality of consternation
God of Israel
Who comes crowned to the Throne of His Glory
And of no creature are the eyes able to behold it. . .

Kabod.  Totally, Holy other.  It is hard to feel connected to something transcendent, infinite.  Someone once told me their major issue with faith was their concept of God.  They saw God as some sort of vague being, some great “other”… and kept picturing tapioca pudding.  The big guy in the white robe with the lightning bolt isn’t much better.

God, the infinite one is hard to connect to.  But there is another side to the God...  the immanent.  Immanence is not the opposite of transcendence, it is the correlative.  Immanence and transcendence are two sides of the same coin....

If transcendence is the infinite God, Immanence is the intimate God
This is the God who is present, and whom we “experience”,
I would say this is the Spirit within.  The teacher, helper, advocate, comforter that Jesus talks about.

And here is where we gain a clue about what it means to abide. . . We can’t grab hold of the infinite God.  By definition this God is too big for us… but we can connect to the intimate God, and in that way tap into the kabod, the transcendence of God
Like a branch taps into the living giving vine of the vineyard…’

So, how do we connect,  grab hold of God in such a way that the life giving presence is there and we can be fed loved, forgiven, nourished?

The word Jesus used to describe what we need to do is, again, abide . 
Abide - to wait for
to endure without yielding
to bear patiently
to accept without objection
to remain stable or fixed in a state
to continue in a place
Synonyms: Stay, continue, bear
To abide has to do with the concept of 'being' instead of 'doing'. Doing in relation to the Christian walk is: reading your Bible, going to church, praying, witnessing, doing good works, fleeing sin, etc. These are all good things to do as a Christian. These are things we should be doing.
However there is something we must remember.  This kind of lifestyle, of nurturing spirituality, being loving, patient, and giving…. This lifestyle is the result of abiding.  These acts are not “abiding.”  They are a consequence of abiding.  The natural fruit of a branch connected to the vine.  And we must remember we simply cannot live this way if we aren’t connected. If we try to live this way without abiding, without being connected…Then we shrivel up and burn out.  We are branches lying on the ground trying to bear fruit with no life giving power flowing into us.  Doesn’t work.  We end up dry and brittle, and there is no fruit.

At least no good fruit.  Just frustration.  Fear.  Rigidity.  Judgmentalism.  To abide in Christ is to be in the 'being' mode. We still are doing the things that God has called us to do. . . we are, as Jesus will say later in John 15… obeying. . . but we do what we do in the context of the connection we have with the intimate God.  It is this connection that is critical.  The relationship we have with Christ is more important than the things we do or don't do.

Abiding is experiencing God.  Abiding is feeling the presence of God more than intellectually exploring and examining, and coming to understanding God. . . .

Maybe a better word is the word cling.
We need to cling to God,
as when lonely and afraid, and  hurting
We cling to another

Clinging and finding in the holding
the touch
the experience of the other being there
the healing flow of love

Of course clinging doesn’t work if it is one sided

And that is the good thing about clinging to God
The nice thing is we don’t just cling to God
God clings to us… and as we desperately seek to love him
He seeks to love us back.  Jesus said, abide in me, AS I abide in you

We let God love us
And we love God back   Passionately, desperately….

And the more we need God, the more God is there.
The more we are stretched, challenged,
The more lonely and frightened we are
The more God is there, and the more important that connection is.
The more we love God, the more we experience the love of God back

The image that comes to my mind is that of a child, clinging to its mother in the middle of a thunderstorm… and then feeling the presence, feeling mom hugging back. . .

When we abide, we cling to God, and God clings back and through that connection flows the presence of God.  And in that presence… in that presence is power, potency, and yes, relief, and peace.

How do we cling?  Remember, it’s about presence, being connected.  How do we connect with other people?  We focus on them.   Think about them.  Talk to them. But mostly, its focus.  I was thinking about the concept of mindfulness.  Where you try to be, 100% present in the moment.  That is how I think about it.  Instead of being mindful, let’s say, of my breath, focusing, on breath in, breath out, in out….

I try to focus on God.  Can’t say I’m great at it, but I try.  I just keep turning my mind to God.  I have times when I stop (that is kind of what Sabbath is about), and I focus on God.  But mostly it is a matter of trying to do that all the time.  So, I just think about God, imagine God, listen for God’s voice no matter what I am doing. 

I walk through the woods… and think about God.  I thank God for the breeze, the trees, the snow, whatever is there is God’s creation.  I see God, I try visualize the God in each person I encounter.  Even the clerk in the store.  I practice as Brother Lawrence would put it, the Presence of God. That is how I think about it, and kind of how I try to do it.  We all have to find our own way to abide.  Meditating.  A half an hour alone by a fire with a cup of tea.  We all find our own way.  But we need to do this!

And what does life looks like when we abide in Jesus?  When we are connected to the true vine… when we cling to God.  It looks like – according to Jesus, joy. 

But this is the point.  What do we want to be?  Dried up?  Withered?  Powerless?  Or people who bear fruit and have joy?   The word to remember is ABIDE.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday

Although I do not hope to turn again
Although I do not hope
Although I do not hope to turn 

Wavering between the profit and the loss
In this brief transit where the dreams cross
The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying    TS Eliot


Today is Ash Wednesday
The beginning of Lent, a time of preparation leading toward Easter
It mirrors the time Jesus spent in the Wilderness before his public ministry.
Traditionally ashes are placed on peoples foreheads, as a sign of repentance,
marking the person as one who mourns his or her shortcomings, and wishes  to turn toward God

I grew up with a lot of Roman Catholic friends
They took Lent very seriously, we Presbyterians, not so much
I remember them "giving up" something for Lent
Chocolate.  Coke!  Cigarettes.  Alcohol.
 This "sacrifice" was, I guess, a sign of repentance and seriousness

I never quite got that.
I like to think about "doing"
What am I going to do for Lent... 
I mean think about relationships.
Do you prepare for marriage,
Do you seek to deepen a relationship, by depriving yourself of something?
But it seems more likely that I deepen my relationship by working on the relationship
by talking, listening, focusing, spending time....
by doing something that brings in to focus the one I love...

So I am going to do something for Lent
I am going to seek to deepen my relationship with God
by writing something, a card, an email, a note
to one person each day
Telling them why they are special to me, and to my God!
Because God is very present in the people around me!
What are you going to do!

(You are welcome to share in the "comments" section below :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Finding our Way

Dazed and confused.
In this world, which right now seems complex and chaotic, even disintegrating… many of us feel this way
Last week I used a poem from TS Eliot
I would like to read it again, because I think it describes this condition in a remarkable way.   Eliot wrote

The endless cycle of idea and action,  Endless invention, endless experiment
Bring knowledge of words, and ignorance of The Word
All our knowledge brings us near to our ignorance, All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to God
Where is the life we have lost in the living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

Besieged by information and knowledge
Besieged by choices

We know about that!  Did you know that Starbucks offers consumers up to 87,000 drink combinations? Comcast, the nation's largest cable provider, offers up to 1,000 channels. Sirius offers 140 different satellite radio stations for your listening pleasure. 

Do you like your orange juice organic or regular, with or without calcium, or with minimal or maximal pulp?  And there are 400 types of bottled water.  How different can 400 types of bottle water be?  How about your toothpaste? Is it the herbal variety with added fluoride, the cavity-busting option with baking soda or the original formula with flavor crystals?  Think about it.  Even here in Wallowa County, and entire aisle at Safeway, nothing but potato chip choices.

And then we get to the really tough choices
About leaders. Choices for careers.  Relationship choices. Financial choices. Ethical choices. 

There so many voices ,coming at us from every side
Not just buy this.. but believe this.  Do this.  This is the way to success.  This is the way to happiness.  This is the way to God. These are American core values.  No, those are.
This creates mental, spiritual, and emotional chaos…

Muller, in his book “a life of being, having, and doing enough” says that we “lose our inner sense of what is the most nourishing or right action for us to take in this moment.  We gradually weaken the capacity of our inner thermostat to provide us with reliable, trustworthy information.”  In short we lose knowledge and wisdom in the midst of information overload.  We lose our vision of what life is meant to be all about.

Muller goes on to ask this question.  “When we envision our most beautifully perfect day, what do we dream about doing?  Who is with us, and what are the feelings or experiences we yearn for, how would we fill our day?”  Think about that for a moment.

He then notes, “most of us might describe essentially similar qualities in our one, sufficient day. We would speak of love, or of being loved, of being seen and known, appreciated for just who we are.”  And then he adds, “Perhaps we crave a sense of intrinsic value, knowing that we matter, that our lives, our work, our presence and companionship are important to others, to the world, perhaps even to God. “

But the point is this.  When we are confused, and overwhelmed, when we are drained, we tend to grab for whatever seems convenient in order to give ourselves ease, or fulfillment.  We do not choose wisely.  But we grab for substitutes.  Things that look “close enough”  For what Muller calls “quicker, easier version of love, satisfaction, sufficiency, or peace.

The problem is that the counterfeits don’t work.

Pride does not make us feel authentically important, but is a way of covering up our sense of deficit
Greed never leaves us feeling we have enough, we just want more
Lust cannot give us any feeling of being truly loved or cherished in our bodies and hearts. And often often ends up creating massive problems in our lives.

In short, these things are the wrong tools for the job.
Yet in America, perhaps in all the world, we have turned these unwise options into standard operating procedure.  Perhaps even into cultural values.  Think about it.  Is this not true?  We (America) are number one (pride).  You can have it all (Greed).  Sex sells (Lust)  I just want to be famous on TV (Envy). All you can eat! (Gluttony).  The world owes me (Sloth).  If any bad guys stand in my way, well bring it on (anger).

We constantly make choices based on this kind of thinking.  And when we are making these choices, and thus embracing values that don’t work, we are fast on the road to being people who are depleted.  Not just depleted.  Lost.

So what is the solution?  How do we move from being un-wise to wise?
In the Hebrew tradition there is a day called the Day of Atonement.  Or Teshuva.  This day invites self-examination, and a recommitment, in the context of God’s forgiveness, to a new, fresh, life.  Some scholars say that the word Teshuva can also mean “a return to clear seeing”.  I like that

So how do we return to “clear seeing”?  How do we sort through it all?  How do we choose what is right?  What will work, for us, for those we love?

We access the Spirit of truth.  Jesus in John 14 talks about the Spirit, the Helper, who will be in us and lead us into "all truth."  What we need to do is pay attention to the Spirit, which is “in here”, which dwells in us, and then we seek to make what Wayne Muller calls the “next right choice” 

Muller insists that each day we are confronted with choices, over and over again, each day.  These choices shape our moments, our days, our years.  The goal is to make the right choice.  The best choice!  But how do we do that?  When is that possible?  Only, he notes, when those choices are inspired by our deepest heart’s wisdom and authentic knowing.  I would suggest, that our hearts deepest wisdom comes when we are paying attention to the Spirit within.  When we allow God, through this Spirit, to inspire and guide us. 

This is the opposite of being driven by the externals.  All of those external cultural and organizational requirements and values, all those external demands, fears and coercions.  This is the opposite of just being reactive, and letting all those other things drive us.

Muller talks about this way of being, living moment by moment, listening to the spirit within, making one choice at a time, walking through life one step at a time this way.  “Our choices become small quiet intimate things that flow from us as water from a mountain spring, simple, endless, each thimble of water tumbling into the next, creating a small stream that somehow with neither map nor a plan, through surprising twists, while curving around unforeseen obstacles, somehow inevitably finds it way down the mountain to the sea”

In other words, moment by moment we follow the bread crumbs, and we get where God wants us to go.  But notice. The path is not straight.  There are twists and turns, and unforeseen obstacles.  Sometimes, we look way out there and decide where we think we should go, and create our own path, generally not a good idea.  Sometimes we make a choice that is not the best, and we start off on a wrong direction.  Thankfully God is creative and innovative.  And as we keep looking for the bread crumbs, with the help of that Spirit of truth, God will nudge us where we need to go. 

Sometimes we may get a little off the path, and just need a gentle nudge.  Sometimes we may get way off the path, and God may, as the innovator, may have to nudge us less gently…. Or God may even change destinations for us.  I think that’s possible.  Plan A becomes plan B (I think I am on Z5)

Sometimes, it is really confusing, because we have gotten ourselves in a place where it seems that there are only bad choices.  That there is no way forward.  But God can lead us to the least “bad”, least damaging choice, and soon we will be on our way again.

And again, and this is what is cool
Not just that God is placing the breadcrumbs
God is in us, directing our eyes, our thoughts, our being, to the breadcrumbs.  God is helping us pick that right next choice.

And this is all in the context of God’s amazing love.  His scandalous love.  God never gives up on us
Ever.  Its better than that, he never thinks of it that way.. God just loves us…period.  And works to help us find ourselves, and our path.  God is always there, or rather here, in side us.  Loving, prompting guiding.

I often say, when talking about the Bible… that the Spirit in us interfaces with the Spirit in the Word, and it comes alive.  If moves from being God’s word, to being  God’s word to us !!!

If we are willing to listen carefully to the voice of God, to the powerful influence of God’s Spirit in us, as it informs our heart, then we will interact with life in a new way. God will use life itself to speak to us.  And then we will find truth, wisdom.  We will find our path

And no matter how torturous that path may be at times, no matter how often we will seem to have hit a dead end.  No matter how often we hit spots where there seem to be not good choices,  God will love us.  And guide us.  And we will find our way to the sea
To that place of peace.
That is what this passage promises.  Peace
A sense of being who and what, and where we are supposed to be….

What an amazing gift, this peace
Because it means, that ultimately, as Jesus says over and over and over again
We do not have to be afraid!

We are not hopeless
We are not helpless
We are not trapped
We are not doomed to make the same mistakes over and over again
We are not defined by our failure….

Instead we can follow the breadcrumbs
We can let the Spirit of Truth show us the breadcrumbs of God
And, as Paul puts it…

Forget what is past, and press on, press on

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What makes a good life?

What makes a good life
We celebrated the life of my brother-in-law today

Born and raised in Wallowa County, and an really nice guy, he was well loved
and the church was packed, more than packed.....

He was touted as a man who, though smaller in stature, was a great man
and he was...

which is what this blog is about today.  What makes for a great life?  What makes a great person.

It was a cool service.  I was calm and cool too, until the slides.
And then the tears came.
And I thought about Dan.....and what made him special
for he was special
a person who humbles me.

Dan was caring.  He really did care about other people, and he focused on them
He was giving.  He would do most anything for anybody
He loved his wife, my sister.  Was there relationship perfect?  No!  Was it good?  Yes!
They gave to each other.  They adapted.  It was a good thing

He loved his kids.  Dave and Rob were blessed to have a superb dad
who played with them, care for them, teased them, was there for them

He loved his grand kids
He loved God
He lived in the moment, and was free to play!  My did he play!
He smiled, a lot
He was a presence 

Words are inadequate.  But this was a special guy
I will miss him.

And this is what I will take away from his life.
It is what is inside that counts.
Dan didn't care much about outward success
When buffeted by life, he smiled
He seemed to understand that the power comes from within
that the Christ in him was the most important thing, and if he had that inner connection with God, nothing else counted.

External success, no big deal
External pain and failure.   Not a big deal
But that inner connection.
Finding the Christ within.... everything
And so when ALS ravaged his body, he smiled
When the rains didn't nurture the crops, he smiled

Thank you Dan, for teaching me, that the secret is indeed this, Christ in us!
Rest in peace

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Thoughts about love

Well it is Valentines Day.  Its a day when we cannot help but think about love, because we almost have no choice.  TV ads push the day, and prompt us to "show our love" through everything from diamonds, to chocolate (ok that might make some sense) to life insurance policies.

But I sometimes wonder if we even know what love is all about?  Frankly it can all be pretty confusing.  And then there are those for whom love has seemed very elusive.  Women for whom Valentines day has been a day when men who have dominated and minimized them give, mostly in a quid pro quo, "and now that I have been nice to you, this is what I expect from you," kind of way.  Women, and men, who have no one on this day whom they can call "My Valentine."  Nothing like being in a sea of overdone sentimentality to feel your aloneness. 

Love is a tricky thing. Even those of us who have people in our lives who love us, and whom we love, know that this is true.  As I have mentioned before in this blog, the Greeks couldn't wrap the concept of love up in just one word.  They needed four.  Storge, natural affection that comes when we are connected in, lets say, a family.  Phileo, the state of really connecting with another due to common values and beliefs.  Eros, the love of Valentines day, erotic love.  And agape, the kind of love demonstrated and lavishly given by God.  

The thing we have to remember that all of these are love.  The love we have for sons and daughters.  The love we have for people in our church.  That romantic love we have for those unique and special people in our lives that sends us out to buy chocolate.  And of course that value giving love modeled by God.  All of them.  It is this full range of love that brings meaning into our lives.  We need them all.  Valentines day focuses on the one that is the most transient, and probably shortest lived of all.  This is "the feeling we feel when we feel like we are going to get a a feeling we never felt before."  Perhaps is it mostly hormones.  But when this part of love can be combined with friendship, and a real commitment to give to the other (not just take), and with that kind of natural affection that comes when people have been connected a long time.  Well, then love takes on a whole new shape.

I hope, that I can be, in the lives of the people I love, a person who is present with  the full width and depth of love.  That my model for love can be that of the Father in the story of the prodigal son.  That when I see a friend coming, a child coming, a love coming down the road to greet me.  No matter where they have been, no matter what they have done, that I can run and greet them and say, "Ah, this is one I love!  One I value and treasure.  You are amazing and wonderful!  Thank you for being in my life.  Here, have some chocolate!"

Thank you God for loving me that way
Thank you to all of you who are in my life
Happy Valentines Day

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Running on empty

I have been thinking about emptiness.  That emptiness that comes when we have driven ourselves too hard, too long.  When we have worked, and played, and hurried – when we have given, and related, and studied, and struggled, and parented to the point that we have run out of resources . . . and are fast becoming “crispy critters”

About the raw emptiness that comes when we ignore the danger signals -  frustration, despair, and tiredness - and just keep on. . . keep striving and struggling until we stagger, and stumble, and sometimes, tragically, even fall – flat on our faces, and come to a complete stop.

TS Eliot once described this condition in a remarkable way.  He wrote

The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment
Bring knowledge of words, and ignorance of The Word
All our knowledge brings us near to our ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to God
Where is the life we have lost in the living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

Where is the life we have lost in living?  The wisdom we have lost as we are besieged not only by tasks, but by input.  Good question.  What has happened when we end up without passion, or vision, or strength - dried up and withered – when we have a void at the center of our souls.

The modern American experience! 

It is a condition we as humans cannot tolerate.  “Nature abhors a vacuum” we are told.  So does the human soul.  And so in our emptiness we seek to be filled.  We reach out, often desperately, looking for ways to be filled, to satisfy the emptiness within. 

We reach out to other people, to husbands, wives, children and friends.  But it doesn’t work. We don’t get filled, we get frustrated, because all too often they are empty too.  And what we have is two empty people trying to suck the last bit of life and vitality out of one another.  I read an author a while put it beautifully.  “You can’t love out of need, you need to love out of fullness.”  Same thing is true of so many of the other things we reach out to.  Jobs, success, “things”, causes.  We think our job will help, a promotion will help.  But if the key thing is, missing, again, those things won’t work.  We can have a wonderful car, a great house, a new carpet so deep we have to tie a bell on the baby, the perfect job, and we can still be empty.

What ultimately happens is that sometimes we find ourselves in a terrifying downward spiral.  For in our emptiness, in our wild searchings, we begin to lose control.  Then tragically we get controlled.  Those things we have reached out to in our quest for fullness begin to dominate us.  As depleted as we are we find ourselves at the mercy of the world around us. The people, the situations, the roles, the possessions we thought would rescue us begin to run our lives.  And often, all too often, that is not good. 

I like the way Paul puts in Romans 12:2.  The world begins to “squeeze us into its mold.”  Being empty we have no strength to resist.  And we begin to live out our empty condition.  And one day we wake up and look at ourselves in the mirror and say “who is this person?”  Eeeeew!

So, what is the solution?  What is the one thing that can create that sense of inner fullness that makes our lives different?  How can we reach out in love and have that work, really work?  How can we fulfill our chosen role in the world, and have that be truly meaningful?  How can we live so that our possessions are tools we use, rather than burdens that control us?

The solution is God.  More specifically the solution is God in us.  The solution is the Spirit.

Let us go back to the words of Jesus to the disciples.  He knows the disciples are troubled, scared, and empty.  He knows that left on their own they will make a mess of things.  Jesus has already told the lead disciple, Peter, that he was going to fail and deny him, not once, not twice, but three times.  That was just a palate pleaser of what could and would go wrong if the disciples went out there and tried to move forward on their own.

So he says to them:  (John 14:23-24)  "If anyone loves me, that person will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. . . . (John 14:26-27)  and the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

This means the key to fullness is not out there, anywhere.  It is in here, inside us.  Because of how we may at times feel, we as God’s people are never truly empty.  For we have an incredible resource within.  That is what Jesus was trying to tell his disciples.  “I will not leave you orphans, alone, empty.  On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you

“I am in you.”  Think about that.  Christ in the person of the Spirit dwells in us.  He is present in the form of that one he calls the “parakletos.”   My bible translates that word as “counselor”.  In the most literal sense it means “the one called alongside…the one who will journey with you.”    The Spirit bring us a sense of God’s presence

He is present in the  “pneuma” , which is another word for the Spirit.  His breath, his life power, for that is what pneuma means, now resides in us.  The Spirit is the power of God, in us.

And what does this Spirit do?  Well, according to this discourse, it teaches.  “It will teach you all things and remind you of what I have said.”  Remember, we are all too often dazed and confused.  The Spirit gives us much needed guidance, direction, focus.

And all this gives us  peace.  Makes it so we are not always unsettled, dissatisfied.  Empty

And this sense of “peace” gives us a sense of safety so we do not have to be afraid.  Jesus concluded his comments with these words – do not be afraid. Let’s face it, fear really messes things up.  It makes us defensive, greedy, angry, closed, irrational, obsessive… I can’t think of enough adjectives to describe the impact of fear.

So, as the inner presence of God that guides us, and gives us peace and security, the Spirit – bottom line - enables us to live life. . . and it gives us the freedom t0 find our true selves

Sam Keen in his book “To A Dancing God” writes about the impact of allowing the Spirit to dance in our hearts. . . “I have discovered”, he says, “a new dimension of freedom and potency .  I have had to switch from seeming myself as a quasi-determined victim to seeing myself as a responsible agent. With this change has come a sense that the future is open.”

When we are filled we are free to go with God
We are free to be loving people, people who can make a difference
When we are filled the future is full of potential… so much is possible. . . 
More than we can ask or imagine

As people who are filled, we have love to give
As people who are filled, we have joy to express
As people who are filled we have healing to offer
As people who are filled we have peace to impart
Fullness and emptiness cannot exist together
And fullness changes everything!  It changes our lives.
The future is open

I like to close with some words from Paul, in Ephesians chapter 3.  He offers a prayer for the Ephesians.  It is the Perfect prayer for us

I pray that out of his glorious riches God may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.