Caught Between Two – Desiring to See Beyond

This coming Sunday marks the fifth Sunday of our Great 100 Day Retreat and Festival on our way to a new Pentecost. And the text is familiar to many – a father with two sons and the younger one asking for and squandering his inheritance. Then he returns to his parent who extends more than mercy while his older brother is seemingly resentful of his father’s generosity and compassion.

Two pieces change our reflection from the usual. Through the Quadratos lens – we understand that this parable is one about our maturing in service. Second – since it is placed deep within our communal retreat – we also know it is intended to serve a reflection and examination of “us” – and our willingness to be servants to each other and all.

Think of the text as an “opera” where each character speaks to a part of us – individually and together. Who in you and amongst us acts the wise, compassionate and generous parent? Who acts like a total free and impulsive spirit? Who acts rule bound and burdened by responsibility? What is the tenor of your “discussion” between free spirit and rule bound?

This parable deepens us in the Transfiguration text that opened our Great 100 Days. Here we have the younger and older on either side of the Christ. We might consider how we each and collectively need to keep our eyes and heart on the Christ’s compassion and generosity. Otherwise we fall into a trap that moves us away from Love – impulsive living only for today – or becoming rule bound expecting an overburdened sense of responsibility to be rewarded.

How has this opera played in your heart, your marriage, your family and of course your spiritual community?

Thoughts, sharings, reflections – yes, no and maybe are welcome here.

Line from our communal prayer for this week: “…and to thirst for Truth beyond what we believe.”

For those in sermon/homily prep – recall that each of these Sunday texts refer to the Sunday text in Cycle A. This Sunday in Cycle A is about inner blindness and the Legal Ones (Pharisee) who do not thirst to see beyond their own belief system.

Return to Reflections

It has been a long sojourn since the last Quadratos reflection. There are three reasons – a need for our Quadratos bloggers to put energy into other areas, Alexander’s varied internet challenges as he lives in New Zealand and Australia, and then his 60 day pilgrimage walking the ancient Camino. He covered some 1100 km or about 700 miles beginning at St. Jean Pied de Port in France, crossing Spain to Santiago de Compestella, and ending at the sacred stones of Muxia on Spain’s Atlantic coast.

Today Alexander is again between New Zealand (Auckland) and Australia (Melbourne) – where if visa issues resolve – he may live and work over the next few years. Also he is posting about every other day on the Quadratos Facebook page. His posts are a series of short reflections on these days Christians call Lent. However, he is reflecting on these days through Quadratos not through the Jesus Story we have known it. Another way of saying this – he is reflecting on theosis rather than atonement perspectives. Theosis is the belief that we are made in the image and likeness of God and each of us is in a gradual process of being made ever more into that likeness. We would you to “Like” the Quadratos Facebook page and join the conversation.

And if you have are in the neighborhood, have frequent flyer miles or are just ready to take the next step in Christian prayer-join us for a Quadratos expression of Easter. Last week of March near Auckland and repeated the first week of May in Melbourne. See Calendar page for details.

Now the Festival – Celebrate Our Gifts

It’s that time of year, Springime and the Festival that follows weeks of retreat and our 72 Hours of rejoicing. Yet for many this is also a time to get away and relax. Sun and warmth are returning. The garden blooms (Northern Hemisphere). And the long intense reflections of the retreat (lent) are behind. To add to our daydreaming, the gospel texts in this Festival Season (Eastertide) are largely poetic and mystical. This week’s text from Luke is a lone exception. So using the Quadratos lens – how are we to understand our spiritual life in this Festival Season and through this Sunday’s text?

Let’s remember that through Quadratos we are noting a pattern of grace undergirds our lives. If our weeks of retreat and the 72 Hours of rejoicing have been true – then what naturally follows is a moment where we name and affirm our gifts and giftedness. This week’s text asks us to look at ourselves as Jesus. And to use what Jesus does as a way to see and understand our gifts – individually and collectively.

In the retreat (Lent) we reflected on that within and amongst us that is broken, hurt and separated. Now in the Festival season, we look at what in us is gift and gift offered to others. To see these more clearly – we need to reflect on how Jesus ministers – and how we are like ministers in our daily life. To see the Festival texts as a mirror to how we act as Jesus is a large change for us. And in part this new focus is what I mean by looking at the text as it informs the season rather than the text’s meaning in the scripture. As I continue to raise up for clergy. Through Quadratos, we preach the text as the meaning it has in this Season and its spiritual practice. This is far different than preaching the message of the text as it appears in the scripture.

With a Quadratos focus – let us consider the passage for this coming Sunday. How might we see our giftedness in what Jesus does, says and how he acts? The core piece here is that Jesus stands amidst confusion and fear – perhaps even disbelief and anxiety and offers “shalom.” Recall that we are understanding shalom as a greeting that says: We welcome your wrestling and if held in respect – see wrestling as the fertile soil of wider harmony with each other and with the One Breath of All – our God.

Another piece of this text – the resurrected Jesus is “ordinary.” He has hands and feet and is hungry. This is an important lesson for we who perhaps touched some form of exaltation at Easter. Our work now is to see that “exalted joy” as a grace that lives in the lowly ordinary and humdrum work of life.

When we read Luke’s text of Jesus showing his hands and feet – we need to remember that this text is composed at least ten years before the text of John. We too easily confuse Jesus showing hands and feet to mean the physical scars left from his cruxifixion. In context of this passage – there is nothing here to say that. What we see here is Jesus affirming ordinary bodily life including hunger. Those with him probably knew his hands and his feet. They were body parts well observed. So the focus here is on the usual and the bodily – not necessarily the “marks” which are only pointed out in John.

Now some two weeks from our great rituals of rejoicing – has our Alleluia turned stale from our return to everyday ordinary life. This text asks us to look beneath the veneer of the ordinary to see the glorious. It also asks us to reflect on how we are Jesus. Where are the places of fear and confusion and anxiety – that we are called to calmly step into and speak “shalom”? The peace that we are to bring is not a peace of another time or day – but rather that we can be well in the very midst of our wrestlings.

As we chant in The 72 Hours of Easter – over and over – “Jesus is Risen. Death is No More.” Yes, in the midst of contentious days in spiritual traditions, in Christianity, in great political strife and confusion – we sing, “Shalom” to every wrestling. It is not the wrestling that removes us from the Harmony of our God – but it is our anxiety and confusion over the wrestling. How may you be Jesus this week in the midst of startle, fright, terror and doubt? In the way you bring Shalom to such – this is your gift. Celebrate it – celebrate us!

Luke 24:36b-48 (NRSV translation)
While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish,and he took it and ate in their presence. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you–that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

Being Loosened from Constriction and Fear

We have arrived at the fifth week of our retreat focusing on renewing our relationships with each other, our community and our communion with Spirit/God. As we reflect on this Sunday’s text, remember it is given to us as a prayer meditation that our relationships and community life might be a more vital and expansive – ever growing with Spirit’s radiance and wisdom.

As we are re-discovering these weeks as the community retreat – remind yourself that each of these Sunday’s is about the prayer of self-emptying and noticing where in our thinking/feeling each of us is caught/attached rather than spacious and freely bending toward harmony and relatedness. Week by week we of the retreat, we seek to still and empty our minds. To move in this direction, we pull back from discussing world, cultural and even church events/issues. The retreat is an emptying from these contents. In the early Church – the retreat began with the bishop laying down the Crosier. Might we think again on this fifth Sunday of our retreat – what Crosier do I still need to lay down so that the community may be more one, more vital, more in harmony?

As you read the text, remember that John’s use of the term “world” is better translated as “less awareness or unreflective action.” Also recall that each instance in John that refers to “Jesus” or “I Am” is not a reference primarily to the Jesus of history, but rather to – Logos/Christ/One Breath/Dynamic Breathing of God – that has always been – even before the beginning of time.

Also recall that the core pattern of the retreat is the sequence of texts found in the Year of Matthew/Year A. This Sunday’s text continues the imagery from the Raising of Lazarus and its impact of calling us to be a person and a community of less fear and constriction. As you read the text through this lens, what are your reflections? We would love to hear from you.

Our prayer for the fifth week:
O Breath of Our Oneness, by your grace, may we receive every loosening of our thoughts, feelings and attitudes – from constriction and fear.

John 12:20-33
Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say–‘ Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.

To See Our Own Blindnesses

We have arrived at the fourth week of our retreat focusing on renewing our relationships with each other, our community and our communion with Spirit/God. And our text for reflection this week is one that has been so badly interpreted that the words out of context have wounded, enslaved and actually led to murder in the name of God. As we reflect on this text, remember it is given to us as a prayer meditation that we might be a more vital, expansive and growing community filled with Spirit’s radiance and wisdom.

Below is the traditional (NRSV) translation of this Sunday’s gospel text. Scroll further down and you will find my Quadratos translation.

If so moved, take this contemporary translation into the heart of your community, whether it be the intimacy of two or hundreds.

Our prayer for this fourth week of retreat:
O Breath of Our Oneness – give us the grace of true vision, so that we might see our own blindnesses and have the courage to grow in The Way (attitude and action) of Your One Breath.

How might our prayer that we see our own blindnesses to Spirit and to each other, change and expand our relationships with each other and with Spirit?

4th Sunday of Community Retreat: Gospel Text – John 3:14-21
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”

Quadratos translation as understood by Alexander:
“And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must God’s Breath be lifted up, that whoever believes in the God’s dynamic breathing may know eternal life beyond the life just in time. For God so loved our lesser awareness that God gave God’s very breath that everyone who believes in the one Breath that fills the Cosmos may not perish in time but may know eternal life. Indeed, God did not send The Christ – the full manifestation of God’s Breathing – into lesser awareness to condemn our unawareness, but in order that our lesser awareness might expand through God’s breathing. Those who believe in God’s breath are not condemned to live just in time. But those who do not know of Spirit and timelessness are condemned already, because they do not know God’s Breath. And this is the judgment, that expansion-radiance has come into our lesser awareness, and people loved unawareness rather than expansion because their deeds were unreflective. For all who are unreflective hate transformation-expansion and do not choose to live in The Way of God’s Breathing so that their attitudes/actions may not be raised to awareness. But those who do what is true come to the dynamic expansion of God’s breathing, so that it may be clearly seen that their life expands in the manner of God’s breathing”