Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Humility into Union

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 -- Week of 7 Easter
Nicolaus Copernicus and Johannes Kepler, Astronomers, 1543

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 965)
Psalms  101, 109:1-4(5-19)20-30 (morning)        //        19:121-144 (evening)
Isaiah 4:2-6
Ephesians 4:1-16
Matthew 8:28-34

[Go to for an online version of the Daily Office including today's scripture readings.]

The witness of scripture invites us into interconnectedness, union -- what Buddhist monk Thich Naht Hahn calls "interbeing" -- the reality that we are all connected with each other in an intimate relationship of unity and interdependence.  That's a theme found in every enduring religion.  This passage in Ephesians is one of our Christian treasures about that theme.  The upcoming Feast of Pentecost is one of our festivals about that theme.

For Americans, a deep sense of oneness with humanity may be somewhat counter-cultural.  We are taught to be independent and self-reliant.  We reserve our deepest forms of pride for individual accomplishment.

The writer of Ephesians seems to know this.  The appeal for unity begins with an exhortation on behalf of the virtues of humility, gentleness and patience -- the precursors to interconnectedness, the antidote to individualistic pride. 

It's not easy to live in a world with other people.  Only in a context of humility, gentleness and patience will we be willing to "maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." 

It is profound to say there is "one body and one Spirit, hope, Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all."  A mystery.  And I think it is a mistake to use this hymn of union to divide humanity into a religious "us" and "them,"  limiting the Spirit to only the one form of faith and the baptism of our particular religion.  I am convinced that there is a greater unity than can be employed by any single religion.  God's Spirit is ubiquitous.  With humility, gentleness and patience we can recognize the Spirit universally, in other faiths and baptisms, and honor our interconnectedness.

Our organic union with God's humanity is the context for the use of our individual gifts.  Our call is to grow up, to become mature, to help humanity evolve consciously together as a race.  The image is organic.  We belong to a body.  Each of us are members of that body.  We work together to help the body heal and mature.  All are included.

Go through this day with an intentional sense of organic unity with each person you encounter.  Claim every person you encounter, in person or online, and connect with everyone you read about in the news or see on the television as though they were part of your own body.  Begin with an ethos of humility, gentleness and patience.  See if you can deepen your connectedness into an experience of being one in union with all.  Then use your gifts for the good of the body.  See if you don't experience a more satisfying and deeper context for your own work and actions, in union with all.


Audio podcast:  Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week.  Go to:

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

Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site at this location

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church

is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at

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


At 1:08 PM, Blogger Michael Anglican said...

A good, thought provoking post as always.
For clarity please define "religion".

At 7:22 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

Thanks for the comment, Michael Anglican. I think for this post, I'm using the word "religion" in the sense of an institutionalized system of beliefs and practices -- like Tibetan Buddhism, Catholicism, Sunni Islam, etc.

At 12:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is good to have you back reflecting. I'm glad your week was beautiful and restful.

It seems a different kind of connection that you are talking about, because it is one where you are most vulnerable because others do not or can not respond, or they outright reject the perfect love of God - it is too much they say - echoed by the poet Herbert in Love. I think it is how God loves, with no strings, no demands, no boundaries, and I think part of my spiritual journey is to continue to learn to love like that, with no thought of love being returned. It is a very humble way to walk in the world. It is what I think Christ (and other spiritual masters) are teaching us.

We learn and grow as we can accept that radical love or grace from God and share it, let it flow from our being.

And it does bring healthy boundaries, demands, inspiration, because as you accept that you are perfectly loved just as you are and can also love and accept others in their own place.

It seems a very healing connection, but I don't see that we can understand or feel better the connection. All we can do is be open to the grace that allows such a perfect love in to another. I think even Jesus struggled with this - that the disciples and others just didn't get it - yet many were healed and freed instantly from accepting that love at a level of faith, not at all a feeling or thinking level.

You give much fodder for thought.


At 7:28 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

Thanks again for your thoughts, Janet. To absorb the reality of infinite love is a mystery. Your words, speaking of connection and vulnerability, remind me of the video we watched last Sunday during the adult forum. I've linked to it below. We'll watch the second of Brene Brown's Ted Talks this Sunday. (and next fall we're offering a 12 week class on her material)


At 11:17 AM, Blogger monkbit said...

I believe things come to us when we need them. I ran across your recommendatin to this TED talk today and the theme was poignant and the timing was perfect. Thank you, and thank TED!
Sorry I didn't get to speak to you Monday but I didn't want to interrupt your conversation and I needed to get back tot he kitchen.
See you soon,


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