Willingness to Die

crucifixion2For though the dear humanity of Christ could only suffer once, his goodness would always make him willing to do so — every day if need be. If he were to say that for love of me he would make a new heaven and a new earth, this would be a comparatively simple matter; something he could do every day if he wanted, with no great effort. But for love of me to be willing to die times without number — beyond human capacity to compute — is, to my mind, the  greatest gesture our Lord God could make to the human soul. This is his meaning: ‘How could I not, out of love for you, do all I can for you? This would not be difficult, since for love of you I am ready to die often, regardless of the suffering.’

— From Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich (1342-1416)

 

Nearer Than My Soul

john-beloved-discipleGod is nearer to us than our own soul, for he is the ground in which it stands, and he is the means by which substance and sensuality are so held together that they can never separate. Our soul reposes in God its true rest, and stands in God, its true strength, and is fundamentally rooted in God, its eternal love. So if we want to come to know our soul, and enjoy its fellowship as it were, it is necessary to seek it in our Lord God in whom it is enclosed… These are the foundation for our development and perfection. We have our life and our being in nature: we develop and reach fulfilment through mercy and grace.

— From Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich (1342-1416)

 

Surrounded By Love

Sermon for Sunday, May 17, 2015
Easter 7B
John 17:6-19

I remember the first time my parents met our kids.  Shaw was six, maybe eight, weeks old and was asleep.  My parents entered quietly, tiptoed up the stairs and gently opened the door.  Then – never mind that he was asleep – my mother couldn’t help herself.  She leaned over the crib and scooped him up.  It had been over twenty years since she’d held an infant with any regularity, but she hadn’t forgotten the moves; she held him like an old pro.  Olivia met my parents at their home.  They came out when we pulled in the driveway.  Ashley eased Olivia out of her car carrier and passed her to my mother, who held her close and futzed over her with grandmotherly cooing.  Since she’s my mother, I could see in her eyes and hear in her voice the love she had for my kids.  If infants could talk, I bet my kids would have said how wonderful it was to meet their grandparents, how much they loved being held, and how much they loved being loved. Continue reading

Suffering For Love

For though the dear humanity of Christ could only suffer once, his goodness would always make him willing to do so – every day if need be. If he were to say that for love of me he would make a new heaven and a new earth, this would be a comparatively simple matter; something he could do every day if he wanted, with no great effort. But for love of me to be willing to die times without number – beyond human capacity to compute – is, to my mind, the greatest gesture our Lord God could make to the human soul. This is his meaning: ‘How could I not, out of love for you, do all I can for you? This would not be difficult, since for love of you I am ready to die often, regardless of the suffering.’

And here I saw that the love which made him suffer is as much greater than his pain as heaven is greater than earth. For his suffering was a noble and most worthy deed worked out by love in time — and his love has no beginning, but is now, and ever shall be. It was because of this love he said, ‘If I could possibly have suffered more, I would have done so.’ I saw Christ’s complete happiness; his happiness would not have been complete if it were at all possible to have done it better.

— From Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich (1342-1416)

 

The Desire of the Soul

Icon of Christ Not-Made-By-Human-Hands

And therefore I say that we never cease from sighs or tears. Tears do not mean physical tears of the eye only, but also the inner weeping of the spirit. For the natural desire of the soul is so vast and immeasurable that were it to be given for our comfort and solace all the finest that God has made in heaven and earth, but could not see the beautiful and blessed face of himself, our sighs and spiritual tears and painful longing would never cease until we saw the blessed countenance of our Maker. On the other hand, were we to be in the utmost pain that tongue and heart can think or tell, if then we could see his blessed face, none of this pain would distress us. So it is that the Beatific Vision is the end of every pain to the loving soul, and the fulfilment of every joy and blessing.

– From Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich (1342-1416)

 

Our Capacity to be Disturbed

Sermon for Sunday, May 11, 2014
Easter 4

Not that there’s ever a “good” week in the news, but this week has been an especially tough week in the news for me.  For example, with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev back in the news, and the bungled execution in Oklahoma, I find myself thinking about and being disturbed by capital punishment.  After hearing an NPR interview about a single, 24 year-old mother of three in rural New York State, who is essentially trapped in a Catch-22 of poverty – she’d like to go back to school, but doesn’t have the money; if she gets a job, she’d have to pay for child care, and then also lose her food stamp money – I find myself disturbed by the widening divide between rich and poor in our country.  I am deeply disturbed, too, by the recent findings of the National Climate Assessment, which report that the mean temperatures in part of the United States have already risen more then 3 degrees since mid-century and which predicts more and more severe floods and droughts. And who couldn’t be disturbed by the searing story in Nigeria of an entire school of girls kidnapped to be sold off into forced marriages or slavery?  (Even Al Quaeda could not condone the attack!)  As I consider these events, I am reminded of the words of the Psalmist, which still ring true today, over 2,000 years later:  “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” What is our hope, when we live in such a world?

In a way, the Easter season is a great time to be disturbed. Easter is a great time to be disturbed not only because Easter – celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – reminds us that even though we live in a world filled with death, yet life will have the last word, but also because Easter reminds us that we the Baptized have the capacity to be disturbed. Continue reading