Monday, May 10, 2010

A Process for Growth

Monday, May 10, 2010 -- Week of 6 Easter
Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, Prophetic Witness, 1760

Today's Readings for the Daily Office
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 963)
Psalms 80 (morning)       77, [79] (evening)
Leviticus 25:35-55
Colossians 1:9-4
Matthew 13:1-16

First, a note about our new observance from the proposed calendar Holy Women, Holy Men:

Count Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf [1700-May 9, 1760] Founder of the Herrnhuter Br├╝dergemeinde or Moravian Brotherhood. A reformer of the Holiness Movement, who believed in religion of the heart, and worked to infuse new life into Protestant orthodoxy. (May 10)
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Our reading from Colossians is a wonderful prayer to begin the day:
We have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God.  May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.  He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

There is a pattern here that begins with spiritual wisdom and understanding.  When we know who we are and whose we are, we are grounded.  We are better able to know what God's will is for us each moment of the day.  Armed with that knowledge, we then need the strength to do what we are called to do -- to do God's will.  We are to bear fruit and we are to endure with patience what needs to be endured.  When we act in a way that is consistent with our conscience, when we do what we know we should do, we are to then be thankful and joyful.  We are sharing in the inheritance of the saints in the light.

The pattern that this prayer offers reflects a traditional understanding of our nature and humanity and of our spiritual growth.  One ancient way of understanding our being is to speak of human beings as a unity of intellect, will and emotion.  Our healthy spiritual progress moves, as this prayer suggests, from our intellect to our will to our emotions.  At each of these three stages, we can become stuck.

When our intellect is stuck, we do not understand.  We do not know what we should do.  We experience anxiety.  In times of anxiety, we need God's Holy Spirit to fill us with the spiritual gift of faith, deep trust in God, or the indwelling of God's spiritual knowledge.  Our trust in God leads us into truth, which overcomes anxiety.

When we know what we should do, but we cannot do it, our will is stuck.  We experience anger or depression -- the stuckness of our will directed either outward (anger) or inward (depression).  In times of anger or depression, we need the Holy Spirit to fill us with the spiritual gift of hope, strengthening us to do what we know we are called to do, to do God's will.  Our hope in God leads us into right action, which bears fruit, and allows us to endure with patience that which must be endured. 

When we know what we should do, and we are doing it, but we are not enjoying doing God's will, our emotions are stuck.  We experience resentment or hurt -- the stuckness of our emotions directed either outward (resentment) or inward (hurt).  In times of resentment or hurt, we need God's Spirit to fill us with the spiritual gift of charity, filling us with love so that we may be joyful and thankful as we act in ways consistent with our knowledge of the truth.

Healthy spiritual growth proceeds through just such a process of growth in faith, hope and love, stretching successively our intellect, will and emotions.  We grow, and reach a place of equilibrium when we enjoy doing what we know is right.  After a while, we will again be challenged and stretched to grow in wisdom, strength and joy in the process of moving through anxiety, anger/depression and resentment/hurt as God's Spirit fills us successively with more faith, hope and love.

Sometimes we can take our spiritual temperature by recognizing where our primary afflictive emotions are at the moment.  Are we experiencing anxiety?  We need the gift of deeper trust which brings understanding.  Are we experiencing anger or depression.  We need God's gift of hope, so we may be strengthened to act.  Are we experiencing resentment or hurt?  We need to Spirit's gift of love to heal and comfort us.

God is always working to give us what we need so that we may grow in knowledge, strength and joy.  May you may be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God.  May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.  He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Lowell

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Audio podcast: Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week. Click the following link: Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
Morning Reflections is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.


Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at www.missionstclare.com
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

Visit our web site at www.stpaulsfay.org

Our Rule of Life
We aspire to...
worship weekly
pray daily
learn constantly
serve joyfully
live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas

1 Comments:

At 8:45 AM, Anonymous janet said...

Lowell,

Beautiful morning fruit - it is wonderfully nice to have you back reflecting. I am going to pen a spiritual haiku -

Blessings and Peace,
Janet

 

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