Jun. 3, 2017

It is a mystery! It may be an assumption on my part but there are a lot of people who enjoy a good mystery. You know, a kind of “who done it” where something has happened and it isn’t clear where or from whom this happening occurred. In a world where there seems to be non-stop bad news, bearing the weight of responsibility to find the guilty party can be overwhelming and frustrating, not to mention disheartening. 

But what if the mystery is centered around a happening that is absolutely wonderful? What if one day you and your community awaken to something that has been done for you that is so amazing and wonderful that it just left everyone speechless?  What if everyone tries to discover the responsible party but no one steps up to take the credit? So, there you are basking in the pleasure of this wonderful happening with seemingly no one to thank. 

This reflection has to do with awareness. Awareness is the key that unlocks mystery. Awareness can also be compared to an awakening. As I have journeyed along my path all of my lack of understanding, particularly pertaining to spiritual matters, is best described as a mystery. Let me hasten to say that awareness is not something I generated or contrived.

When I first made the discovery that my existence did not begin on planet earth I didn’t exactly know what to do with such awareness. When I discovered that my life is hidden with Christ in God, (Colossians 3:3) it was as though for a moment I got to peek behind the veil to view a reality so vast and overwhelming that all I could say was “wow!” When John penned his gospel he did not begin it as the other gospel writers began their’s. He wrote, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was “with” God and the Word was God.” I recognize the “Word” to be Jesus the Christ. The word “with” is the greek word pros meaning towards; face to face. In other words, to be face to face is to be intimately related. It is much like kissing. You can not kiss or be kissed by your lover simultaneously unless you are face to face. 

Then the discovery was made that yours and my beginning took place face to face with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When we first became conscience of our spiritual reality we did so face to face with our Creator. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in your mother’s womb I knew you.” We exist because God loves and likes us. It is most interesting to me that while meditating on such mysteries the Holy Spirit all of a sudden brought a familiar verse of scripture into my remembrance. The simplicity of it, in light of this new awareness, is what was so overwhelming. I Corinthians 13:12 reads as follows, “For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” Being “known” is what existence is all about. What is so wonderful about being known of God is that God knows us all by name.

Apr. 30, 2017

I have been places where the events that were occurring were of such a joyous nature that before I knew it I was overtaken by the joy being expressed. I’m sure you have been in similar places. Presently, I am serving as a chaplain in a children’s hospital. The sights and sounds that I witness and hear on a daily basis truly overwhelm me to tears. I think to myself, as I try to hide my emotions from those around me, “you need to get a handle on this Al or they are going to think something is really wrong with you.” Even though I think such things I haven’t found a way to control my emotional responses to those joyful tender occurrences. Allow me to share an observance I witnessed just the other day.  

As I walked through the atrium on my way to get a cup of coffee one morning I observed a parent and their very sick child seated near the front entrance to the hospital. It was obvious that there was something very wrong with this child. This mother was tenderly caring for her daughter and due to the condition she suffered from it appeared as though she could not respond to her mother’s care in a way that to me would seem normal, whatever normal is. The response the child did or did not give did not detour the mother from caring for her child. I paused a moment to simply watch this dedicated mother tenderly love and care for her very needy child. Then the thought occurred to me to ask myself, “where does such love come from?”

Now its easy to give the pat answer that this love comes from God, and I believe it does, but to watch such love being demonstrated before my very eyes had a sobering affect. I believe that we are all God’s children. One of my greatest joys is to reassure someone that they are loved by their and our heavenly Father. As a matter of fact, I tell them, you wouldn’t be present on this planet unless God’s love placed you here to begin with. This is the process of becoming aware of our genesis or our beginning. We began in Love. We are a product of Love. It is our function to reflect the Love from which we are sourced. To wake to this reality is why we are here!

I have entitled this reflection, “It must sadden God’s heart.” The contrasting reality to our being created in Love often surfaces in our ability to abuse and mistreat one another. We have all heard stories of horrendous crimes against humanity. Isn’t it interesting and sad that crimes against humanity comes from humanity? I’m reminded of the passage in Psalm 133:1 that says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to live in harmony.” I recall an encounter that I observed once where a couple of siblings were in conflict with one another. The conflict was so pronounced that when it finally came to a head the words, “go to hell!” was expressed from one to the other. I don’t know what your definition of hell is and I’m not sure what mine is either these days but what comes to mind is a frame of reference that has for its reality a "turning away" from Love!

If you had been the parent of the two siblings that ended their argument with an expression that was absent of Love would you have discarded the one that made such an expression? Would you have sided with the sibling for and to whom the expression was made? Would you cease to love them because of such an argument? What if that argument drove a wedge between them where they no longer communicated with each other? Would you seek to aid their predicament in being the go between seeking to reconcile them back together? Would you do that with force or with understanding?

These are difficult questions to answer but I believe this was what God sought to remedy in His only begotten knowing that His creation was suffering by sin’s damaging effects and we could not remedy our own predicament. The amazing fact about all of this is that we know Love when we experience it demonstrated before us. We may run from it for a season but I believe we know it because Love knows us by name. Just like that mother taking care of a very sick child. The child’s illness did not reduce her mother’s love in the least. If anything, the child’s illness caused love's demonstration to be greatly expanded. My guess is that God in Christ by the Power of the Holy Spirit tenderly and lovingly draws each of us to a place of awareness so we can once again enjoy the fellowship of our Source!