Saturday, January 6, 2018

Epiphany: Beginning the New Year with Open Hands of Prayer

       Open, Receptive and Free

Free from demands
Others’ agendas
Pressure to perform
My own self-serving dreams
Even my inner unvoiced expectations

Yet open to expectancy
Without constraints or limits
Ready to be surprised
Hidden hand of God
Divine purposes beyond my comprehension

Open hands in prayer
Asking sincerely
Knocking loudly
Seeking with all that is in me
But not clinging

Then waiting
Always seems so long
Yet keeping hands open
Remaining confident
Never giving up

Hopeful expectancy
Secret excitement
Ready to accept
Kairos: heaven’s timing

The Almighty’s sudden appearance!
Spirit’s breath
Divine intervention

God’s goodness—pure goodness
Whether leading me forward
Or keeping me here
I’m ready for either
Free in God’s will!

© Glenn E. Myers

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring: Christmas Invitation to Soar to Uncreated Heights

“Prayer is the ascent of the spirit to God” –Evagrius Ponticus
This Christmas season Sharon and I have been listening to the new CD Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, published by the Dominican Sisters of Mary. What a joy it is! This is the first time in some years that I’ve listened to the words of the song by the same name:
Jesu, joy of man's desiring,
Holy wisdom, love most bright;
Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring
Soar to uncreated light.

Word of God, our flesh that fashioned,
With the fire of life impassioned,
Striving still to truth unknown,
Soaring, dying round Thy throne.
What an invitation this is! Our soul’s desires are drawn to Jesus who is himself Holy Wisdom—the Logos, the Word (John 1:1-2). That Word is true light (v. 9), uncreated and pure. Then that “Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us” in order to reveal God the Father to us (vv. 14, 18). Ultimately he came to lift us up to the Father, so that we might experience that glory and grace upon grace (v. 16).
Jesu is indeed Love Most Bright, come to earth. That event was not just the Incarnation over two millennia ago: it is a fresh invitation for us to soar anew in devotion to God’s Uncreated Light!
These twelve days of Christmas, especially as most of us have a few more days of leisure from work, let us set aside some of that time for unhurried devotion to the Lord. May our hearts be renewed “with the fire of life impassioned” as we prayer, worship and contemplate in silence. May we allow our souls to soar to the Throne of God and pass into his very Presence!
© 2017 Glenn E. Myers

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Third Sunday of Advent: From Fragmentation to Holy Wholeness

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” -Hebrews 13:8
Advent points us to the past, present and future.
First, the four weeks leading up to the Nativity focus our attention on the event of the Incarnation some 2000 years ago. The Son of God, the Logos, came to earth and took on flesh—as a fetus in Mary’s womb, developing and growing until Mary was “great with child” as she rode the donkey en route to Bethlehem with her finance Joseph.
Advent likewise points us to the future. Christ not only came to earth as a baby those two millennia ago, he will return at the end of the age as King of kings and Lord of lords. The time-space world in which we live has a telos—a goal, fulfillment, completion—toward which the centuries run. God will roll up the heavens and earth “like a robe; like a garment they will be changed” (Hebrews 1:12). We will receive a new heavens and earth, beyond our earthly language to describe. We will join the wedding feast of the Son and be joined forever with Christ, our Bridegroom.
Between these two advents of Christ, we exist today. Just as Jesus broke into the past and will come again with surprise in the future, he wants to break into our everyday lives. He is Emmanuel—God with us—in our human existence. We must live in light of Christ’s present-day presence, else we will be consumed by the materialism of the world and cave in on ourselves in self-focused preoccupation. The secular shopping season contributes all the more to the material fixation that steals our attention from active and living presence among us.
We must resist the temptation of materialism, however, in order to find our meaning by discovering our place in the larger Story. The past anchors us in the concrete events of God’s redemptive act of salvation as we celebrate the Incarnation. The future offers us hope as we wait for the consummation of this age and the consummation of the wedding feast of Christ as we pray, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).
The present, then, is a time of both remembering and waiting. Such is the message of Advent. He is here with us, as he promised, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). The season of Advent tutors us in how to live during this time. It attunes us to God’s divine action and his desire to come into the ups and downs of our earthly existence. We embrace the here and now, discovering the divine in the midst of daily life.
This Advent season we can ask ourselves: How is Jesus breaking into our day? Where is his glory filling the earth? How is he Emmanuel right here and right now?
Such a three-fold focus is difficult to maintain; it can even be unsettling. However, we must not neglect any of the three: past, present or future. Advent instructs us as it helps us to integrate all three into a meaningful whole—not only the overview of the ages but also a personal reality for each of us existentially. By juxtaposing past and future, Advent calls us to wait in present. Advent causes us to see Salvation History as a whole, and, doing so, helps to make our lives more whole as it invites us to see how our lives fit in.
© 2017 Glenn E. Myers

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Second Sunday of Advent: From Impatience to Holy Waiting

           “Wait for the Lord;
      be strong and take heart
     and wait for the Lord.”       
            -Psalm 27:14
Waiting. No one that I know likes to wait. Whether it is standing in a long checkout line during Christmas shopping or finding oneself stuck in a traffic jam, we usually find ourselves in a waiting situation much against our plans. If possible, we try to distract ourselves while the minutes tick away—texting being the most common method these days. If we are not able to find a suitable distraction, we simply go numb. Waiting, so often, is what we do against our will.
But what if waiting were a spiritual activity? What if waiting turned out to be God’s plan for our lives—not only for character development but for greater purposes than we are aware of at the time?
This is holy waiting. As well as cultivating patience in our lives, holy waiting molds us into God’s timing and purposes. Advent is a wonderful opportunity for such waiting. By following the church calendar we step out of the rush of our contemporary culture—with all its materialism and catering to immediate desires—and enter a holy rhythm. That rhythm of the church year begins the first Sunday of Advent, which continues for three more Sundays, preparing our hearts as we anticipate Christmas.
Instead of an instant but shallow satisfaction of singing Christmas carols on the first Sunday of Advent, we are called to again take the journey to Bethlehem, asking God to do whatever work he chooses in us in order to form us for fresh inner growth. The four-week wait of Advent stirs longing deep within us, so we appreciate the coming of Emmanuel on a whole new level.
Waiting is not easy. Our natural passions want fulfillment as soon as possible. Waiting enables us to deny those desires—at least for a time—so that our attention can move from the material to spiritual, from the outward-ness of our existence to the inner life of the soul. 
This Advent invites you and me to holy waiting. Will we embrace the discomfort to waiting in order to grow deeper in faith? Will we step away from busy distraction into a holy rhythm of anticipating Christ’s coming afresh into our lives?

© 2017 Glenn E. Myers

Sunday, November 26, 2017

First Sunday of Advent: From Ordinary Time to Holy Time

Advent—the arrival of something new.
The four Sundays leading up to the feast of Christ’s birth are set aside to prepare our hearts for the arrival of the Son of God come to earth—Emmanuel, God with us. Historically this event took place some 2000 years ago, but we are invited to participate afresh in our Lord’s coming, as we join Christians around the world and over the centuries to observe Advent each year. We have the opportunity to personalize the events of holy history—Heilsgeschichte—as we prepare our hearts anew to embrace the Lord in our lives.
The first Sunday of Advent moves us from ordinary time into holy time. Two-thirds of the church year are lived in ordinary time. That is as it should be—for the majority of life is lived with daily chores, normal jobs and school, and commonplace pleasures and challenges of existence. We serve the Lord in everyday relationships and responsibilities. We love God and others through our unnoticed faithfulness to our calling in life.
With the upcoming first Sunday of Advent, however, we move into holy time—“holy days” that have often become in our culture mere “holidays.” Yet, we can reclaim their significance in the life of faith. We can regain their original purpose in this season of the church.
“Holy”—Latin “sanctus”—means to set aside or consecrate to God. Rather than simply a season for shopping, Advent is a time set aside for the Lord. These weeks are an opportunity for us to recommit ourselves to lives of faith, focused on our relationship with our loving Creator. They are an invitation to prepare our hearts for a fresh encounter with Christ—the Eternal Logos, God’s Word—who condescended to come into our world, our lives, our suffering, our struggle with sin, our shame, our human situation.
As we enter Advent, we move out of mere chronological time—that simply ticks by the minutes, hours and days—and we step into kairos time. The Greek term kairos refers to the appointed time for something. As Galatians 5:6 asserts, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”
Advent is the appointed time for dedicating ourselves anew to the Lord. Advent is the appointed time for setting aside some special time of devotion, whether a weekend retreat, a daily devotional or some extra time of silent listening to God. Advent is the appointed time for stillness, stepping back from the bustle of buying gifts and baking cookies to still our hearts. Advent is the appointed time for attentive waiting, as we anticipate the celebration of Christ’s birth on Christmas day.
© 2017 Glenn E. Myers

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Surveying the Garden by Listening to Our Lives

In the stillness of the garden we are given space to take an honest look at our life. Here we observe our activities, relationships, attitudes, frustrations and inner longings. We pause to listen to our own life.
If setting aside time for solitude is difficult in contemporary culture, listening is even more so. It is much easier to keep busy and avoid looking too closely. Often we have an inner sense that we will not like all that we see. We do not really want to hear what our life, our bodies, our friendships, our hearts are telling us. Yet, listen we must, if we want to grow spiritually.

In order to listen to our lives, we must take the time to stand back and observe. Observation needs to be objective. I must be willing to look at reality, not what I would like reality to be. What do I see when I look at my life?
Where are the activities of my day life-giving? What situations or commitments are life-draining for me?
Where do I sense hope? In what areas do I feel stuck, disappointed or in despair?
Who are the friends in my life with whom I can share my hopes and dreams and disappointment? Do I feel safe and secure? Where are there lonely holes in my life?
What is our physical body saying to us? It might be a simple message of the need to take more time for exercise or sleep. Or, perhaps the weight we have gained is pointing to an inner ache that we are trying to medicate by eating too much comfort food. What does the pain tell us? Maybe we are pushing too hard, trying to find fulfillment—or approval from someone—by our accomplishments. Maybe the physical pain is a manifestation of inner grief that we have suppressed too long.
As we ask these questions, we sometimes discover that we are alienated from ourselves.
Here we listen to our own life, our own heart. If we are silent and attentive, we will begin to hear what is inside us—sometimes joyful cries of thanksgiving, other times loud cries of anger, still other times silent cries for help.
2017 © Glenn E. Myers

This series is Creation Proclaiming God’s Divine Nature, as Romans 1:20 declares, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.”

Monday, July 3, 2017

Nurturing Stillness in our Inner Garden

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”
            -Mark 1:35
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
            -Luke 5:16
Physical gardens offer us unique doorway into the secret garden of our souls—that inner sanctuary where our true relationship with God blossoms. Physical gardens offer external stillness, which in turn helps us to enter a still place within. Like any garden, however, our inner garden must be nurtured.
One way we nurture the inner garden is by cultivating stillness. Stillness seldom happens on its own. In our hyperactive world, we must give ourselves permission to pull apart from what we consider to me a more productive use of our time. We disconnect from technology of any kind. We settle our racing thoughts.
To do so, we must truly value our time alone with God and be intentional about setting such time apart in the midst of our hectic days.
Without sufficient stillness, our spiritual growth will always remain superficial. If Jesus needed regular solitude and stillness for prayer in his life and ministry, how much more do we? Only by cultivating the deep soil of stillness can our roots reach down.
2017 © Glenn E. Myers

This series is Creation Proclaiming God’s Divine Nature, as Romans 1:20 declares, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.”