“Without a coming there can be no leaving; and without a presence, absence is only emptiness. There is a ministry in which our leaving creates a space for God’s spirit and in which, by our absence, God can become present in a new way. The great mystery of the divine revelation is that God entered into intimacy with us not only by Christ’s coming, but also by his leaving. Indeed, it is in Christ’s absence that our intimacy with him is so profound that we can say he dwells in us, call him our food and drink and experience him as the center of our being” – Henri Nouwen
I was struck by the profundity of this passage as I read this in group worship earlier this week, and it instantly came to mind when I was informed in the early hours of this morning of my grandfather’s passing. The language Nouwen chooses vividly reminds us that we cannot create space for something new without re-moving something else. It is often in that time where we feel loss that we can find the grace and presence of Spirit. Creation or order is not followed by disorder but by re-order or re-creation. One of the mysteries I often reflect on is that we are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but rather we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Even when we struggle to understand or accept the presence of Spirit in our lives—in our being, we are nonetheless changed by its encounter. May my grandfather’s passing teach me something new, and may he be remembered and loved, forever. +
With it’s incredibly complex theological mystery it is no wonder that many people tend to gravitate toward one of the three parts of the Trinity. Something speaks to their soul that causes them to identify with either the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit, and while this association may certainly change over time given the context of our lives, we find strength and inspiration in this relationship. I often seem very drawn to the Holy Spirit. It’s not that I don’t feel close to the Father or the Son, but there is something about the descriptors in the Bible around the Holy Spirit that moves me. Sadly, the immaturity of the human soul often misrepresents the true persona of God (the Father) leaving him much smaller, more calculating, vengeful and angry. Even Jesus the Christ is misunderstood by the people, the authorities and even his own disciples! But, there is a clarity found in the Holy Spirit. She empowers wisdom (Daniel 4:9), voice (Mark 12:36) and even life itself (Luke 1:35). I like to think the Holy Spirit is the verb of God… She is the very real action of God in creation as well as His presence. Beautifully described as a dove, breath, wind, fire, water and guide, we invite this Spirit within us as Christians knowing that we cannot achieve our true potential in God without it. Just as our bodies long for air to live, the Holy Spirit longs to fill us with purpose and love, but in both cases, we must create a space for air and Spirit to dwell.
There’s a wolf among the flock. It’s an unsettling reality. I read the news, daily– I think it’s important to know what is happening in the world and in some strange way it helps me focus my energy and prayer life. The challenge (as most of you know) is that much of the news is negative and heartbreaking. It’s a constant reminder of the brokeness (sin) that exists in human relationships, and the very real need for prayer and compassion. The “wolf” I’m speaking of is the pervasive and horrifying presence of violence among the inocent people of this world. Next to violence against children, the suffering endured by (opressed) women is one of the hardest things for me to read about. The seemingly unending rape/murders occuring in India has weighed heavily on my mind as has the continued campus shootings in America. I am reminded of the Rogers and Hammerstein song, “You’ve Got to Be Taught”, because the real issue is that our culture, collectively, allows a space for this kind of violence, and it is taught. Somewhere we have forgotten the important place of women in our society. We have neglected our mothers and our sisters and forced them into hidding and fear. To quote a recent article by Bishop Robinson (ret.), “Not all men are abusive or violent, but not enough men are willing to look at how the world is set up to benefit them at the expense of women.” The church has a role to play in this conversation and in supporting women equally. We are called to love… God and one another, yet “whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother or sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” (1 John 4:20 NIV) The wolf among the flock can be driven out, but only if the flock is willing to trust in the shepherd and love one another.
The article mentioned was shared with me by my dear friend Sophia, please check it out. #YesAllWomen