Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Pain and gain

"There are places in the heart that do not exist.
Before they can be, pain must be

Are we willing to feel the pain we must experience to have those places in our hearts? It's a necessary part of growing up, no matter what age we finally begin to do that.

Am I willing to allow what might happen to myself and others (especially my kids) when the protections and anesthetics are removed and they have to learn to balance their emotion and their intellect for themselves? Can I really control anything anyway, even for myself?

Friday, June 23, 2006

In the light of the promise

Found this to be food for thought:

“I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you. You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new. Leviticus 26: 9-10

This is quite a promise since it was given to a people still camping in the desert eating manna day to day, and where they would be for some years to come. Things were a little less than perfect for them, but the winning phrase is in verses 11-12.

“I will put my dwelling place (literally, God’s tent in the middle of their tents) among you, … I will walk among you and be your God."

So although some of the promise will come in the future, the waiting is OK because of the company we have in His presence. “Fruitfulness” and ‘Increase” will come, because of the covenant promise, and Who made that promise. The temporary situation pales in the light of the future promise. ---Tom Balma (in his May/June newsletter)

Tom Balma works with InterVarsity in graduate and faculty ministry. We first met Tom "back in the day" during a summer project with 2100 Productions. Since then he and Nancy worked with IFES in Italy for 23 years before coming to CO and the Rocky Mtn. Region. We re-connected with the Balmas in our local church over a year ago.

Monday, June 19, 2006

What else does "communion" mean?

Many of us think of communion as the ritual begun at the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples before the crucifixion: "Take, eat, this is my body ... Take, drink, this is my blood ... " Jesus told his disciples, "Do this in remembrance of Me." (1 Cor 11:23-25)

"The Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ"; and likewise "the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ" (according to Anglican Articles of 1571)

The word "Eucharist" comes from the Greek noun εὐχαριστία (thanksgiving) and refers to both the rite and the consecrated elements. The Eucharistic celebrations of the early Christians were embedded in, or simply took the form of, a meal, called the Agape Feast. This ritual was apparently a full meal, with each participant bringing a contribution to the meal according to their means. The bread and wine were taken at the beginning or end of the meal.

But what else does communion mean besides taking the elements?

The term communion is derived from Latin communio (sharing in common). The corresponding term in Greek is κοινωνία, which is also translated as "fellowship". The basic meaning of the term communion is an especially close relationship of Christians, as individuals or as a Church, with God and with other Christians.
(excerpts taken from

When we commune we are enjoying a oneness with. This is an even larger picture than participating in a ritual. In our Tuesday group we were challenged to cast our net broadly in thinking about communion and oneness. Images came from the Old and New Testament. We looked at communion being linked to covenant.

The primary covenants mentioned in the Bible are the one between God and the Israelites and the one between Christ and the Church. The covenant was the basis for the Torah, and the status of the Israelites as God's "chosen people." According to the terms of the covenant, Israelites understand that God had promised to undertake certain things on behalf of the people of Israel, and that the Israelites owed God obedience and worship in return. The new covenant is based on the sacrificial life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ on behalf of those who "abide in Him." As people in covenant with Christ, we are accorded all that oneness with God means. He fights for us, protects us, counsels us, invites us close, calls us beloved, gives us life and productivity through the Vine, says we are a royal bride, and much more. God chooses to covenant with us.

We discussed the freedom in these images compared to the demands of legalism that we might harbor in our hearts from what we have heard and learned through religious tradition or family. We talked about the cup Jesus submitted to and the cup of blessing which is ours because of it.

Each person was asked to consider the scripture they brought or that they heard that impressed them that night about communion/oneness/covenant. They were then to turn that into a prayer for the person to their right. This became a rich personal ministry time for each one present. Afterwards we moved to the table where the communion elements were set up and we prayed in thanksgiving for what we learned or were reminded of. It was a new way to savor the experiential act of partaking of the bread and wine and was done with much "remembrance" of Him-- and of the larger implications of our oneness with Christ in God and with each other. (a musical soundtrack I had selected for this time was Dark Yet Lovely by Heather Clark which uses the poetry from Song of Solomon throughout the entire CD, but honestly we were so full we never turned on the music.)

The more I learn about communion, the deeper my understanding about the richness of this picture: his body broken and his blood poured out--for me.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Keep on practicing

Today's thought on authenticity seems to echo some recent conversation.
Ultimately, all I know is that we get to keep on practicing opening our hearts to the raw stuff of life that every human being experiences.....
continue reading here

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We need to practice things like opening our hearts (to God, to others, to emotions, to the suffering in the world.) We practice because we are learning something unfamiliar or because we forget.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

More love, less fear

Last night at our group we discussed and practiced becoming a good receiver. I started with this quote from Henri Nouwen:
You will discover that the more love you can take in and hold on to, the less fearful you will become. You will speak more simply, more directly, and more freely about what is important to you, without fear of other people's reactions. You will also use fewer words, trusting that you communicate your true self even when you do not speak much. The more you come to know yourself--spirit, mind, and body--as truly loved, the freer you will be to proclaim the good news. That is the freedom of the children of God.
We read excerpts from Mark Yaconelli's book (see previous posts) that continued the thoughts about Jesus being able to receive and accept that he was beloved and how that undergirded him for his life, mission, and suffering. We took a few minutes to do nothing--nothing but let ourselves connect with God's love. I played the track Heaven's Rain by Grace Williams while we soaked. We shared what we noticed during this experience and further discussed how we could participate in each other's experience of receiving God's love. This community aspect is something we will continue to pursue.

An aside: As I live more fully in love, in some situations, becoming less fearful for me means speaking more freely, using more words and even more creative expressions.

Monday, June 05, 2006


Watch out for that Honeymoon Chicken. I fixed it tonight in honor of our 25th anniversary, and wrote about it here.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Contemplative youth/everyone ministry (part 3)

Jesus lives as if there is a boundless, shameless love present and available within every moment. His life is rooted in an unseen world more spacious and forgiving than the harried world most of us inhabit. Jesus lives a life that is grounded in love. Within the reality of God's love, people and situations appear different to Jesus. His eyes and ears notice things others seem unable to perceive. Through the presence of God's love, Jesus is able to feel and respond to the inner truth of each situation.
Mark Yaconelli
(Contemplative Youth Ministry, chap. 4,
Becoming a good receiver)

How would our lives be different if we deliberately practiced receiving God's love into the depths of our being?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Contemplative youth/everyone ministry (part 2)

Bobbie posed some great questions to Mark Yaconelli, Tues., May 30 here. Go have a look and enjoy. (sorry I don't know how to link to the specific post in Blogger, so you have to look for the date.)