Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Word Made Flesh retreat

I'd like to invite you to my next retreat on July 20-21. Each time I prepare for a retreat, I begin to get the sense it is the most important retreat I've done. I think this has to do with timing. At this point in time, a retreat on embodying the word of God in our lives is the most important thing for me. There is a deep stirring in my soul about about the gift and responsibility to be people of the Word.

If we look back through the history of our faith, we see how words continue to have power long after the speaker dies. God speaks the world into being. Moses wrote out the commands of God and the world still finds guidance in those words. David recorded his prayers, and we are still learning to pray from David. Isaiah proclaimed a vision of the world transformed into peace and his words still echo throughout the world thousands of years later. Paul wrote letters to his friends and the church continues to be shaped by those words. The Holy Spirit stirs and inspires His people across time to speak a true word, to proclaim His word and in so doing we change the world.

How can we be the people who speak rightly? How do we embody God's word? How do we follow the guidance of Solomon and James in our tongue? These are the kind of ideas we'll consider as we reflect upon speech through the eyes of the Celtic Christians.

Below is a little more about the retreat I am currently preparing. I invite you to come and spend a weekend with us.

The Word Made Flesh: Becoming witnesses in word and deed.
A retreat meditating upon the power of the word in our life and the lives of the Celtic Christians.
July 20-21

In our fourth Celtic Christianity retreat, we will consider the power of true speech to change the world. Jesus comes as the "Word made flesh" and speaks as one having authority. The Scriptures assure us that the "Word of God" will not return void. Yet our words often seem to fall to the ground. We live in a time and culture where images take precedence over true speech and words seem unreliable.

The ancient Hebrews and the Welsh both considered their language as a gift from God. They realized the power of speech to change the world. The writer of Proverbs reminds us that the power of life and death are in the tongue.

On the weekend of July 20 -21, Brad Getz and I will join with others to meditate upon the gift of speech, the power of words, and the call to tame our tongue. Drawing from the Bible and the fire of the Welsh poets, we'll spend the weekend considering how we ourselves might learn to cultivate a speech that lives beyond our time.

As with all Spring of Light retreats, there will be time for teaching, group interaction, personal reflection and eating. We'll meet at the Living Room (for directions email me). Since we're having at our building, there will be no registration fee.

If you'd like to come, please let me know (doug (a) springoflight.org) and I'll send you more information.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Walking in Many Worlds

Sometimes I dream about moving through different worlds. In one dream, I climb up a tree and as I climb higher the temperatures change, the day gives way to night and somehow I even climb up through a body of water. In another dream, I fly over a mountain and into a world where pinks and purples are the primary colors and the creatures look like dinosaurs.

After a night of traveling through multiple worlds, I awake. And oddly enough, I walk through different worlds.

As I enter the wonder of the day, I am inundated by the world of the new: new technologies, new market developments, new products. Hour by hour someone is tracking the latest, newest thing—from cell phones to software, and yesterday’s latest greatest development is already stale news.

This world is infatuated by progress, by new ideas, by new solutions, by new trends and new inventions. It makes bold pronouncements of mastering the world of the future and harnessing technologies to create a better world with supercomputers that will be smarter than humans ever dreamed. And this brave new world won’t have all the unsightly problems of current human world.

If the truth be told, the human worlds certainly are a bit messy. I see an outer world of human relationships that continually overflow with betrayal, anger, violence and destruction. Each day the newspapers recount the story of Cain and Abel: brother against brother, man against wife, son against father, nation against nation.

Even as I coolly observe the litany of human atrocities, I must acknowledge my own participation. If I saw the tally of pain caused by my own words and actions, I’d be shocked and possibly even horrified.

This ever extending circle of pain moves into the heart and back out again, infecting all people in its path. In it, I discover another world, an inner world of human heartache, loss and disappointment. From powerful CEOs to powerless babies, no one lives on this earth without pain and loss. Degrees and dollar signs and diamond rings often hide hearts filled with fear, depression, anxiety, and loneliness.

After moving through multiple worlds in the day, I return home to an ancient world. A world of things unseen: a world of story, of faith, of hope and of love; a world populated by a risen Lord, a host of angels and a communion of saints. This old world lives by a book where the youngest text is almost two thousand years old.

This old world can make some aspects of the new world look a bit suspect. If an idea is only one or two hundred years old, it is still in its infancy. It has yet to survive or impact through generation after generation. How can its value be determined? What might seem shiny and new and important, might not even be remembered in years to come. What might appear as the answer to all our problems might someday come to light as the beginning of all our problems.

This old world tells and retells the same stories. Prays and reprays the same prayers. This old world remembers. In this old world, I walk the same ancient paths again and again and again. In this old world, I eat bread, I drink wine, and I remember the body broken for me, the blood shed for me.

Remembering is not simply about recalling, it is about becoming what was, what is and what is to come. As I remember, the Spirit of God draws me into the communion of love:
He draws me into the story of Jesus who lays down his life for the world; into a communion of Jesus followers’ who also remember and in some way are engrafted together in the same story of sacrifice.

As I remember the story, I realize this is not simply an old world, but a new world. For this old world is always drawing me forward to a kingdom come, a wedding feast, a celebration of God’s love and goodness triumphing over evil and pain and oppression.

The Savior who dies and lives again is the sign, the first fruit of a new creation. By remembering this story again and again and again, I somehow, some way enter into the story, or it enters into me. It becomes a part of me. This old world extends into my inner world. The story works its way into my body: my eyes, my hands, my feet, my heart.

As I step out into the outer world of human striving, an ancient memory is still pulsing in my blood. As I look around, my eyes remember the Savior and I see past the fa├žade of titles and fashions and human bravado. I see a world of people created and loved by the heavenly Father.

In my hands, the memory of Jesus lives. His hands bless the children, heal the hurting and open to the pain of the cross. As the memory enters my hands, I feel the call to carry burdens, to embrace the needy, and to raise the grievance and the pains of the world around me to the Father of all creation.

My feet remember the Savior who walks to Jerusalem and onto to Golgotha. My feet remember and are constrained to walk into the pain, into the path of those who need love, and into the darkness. My feet cannot run away from a world in despair but must run toward it.

And even as I face the aching, dying, bleeding world infatuated by newness and latest, yet continually longing for life. I feel the tug of my heart, remembering the heart broken, pierced and crushed for the hurting. And from the cross, I hear the Savior saying, “Come and die with me.”

In the ancient world of the cross, I discover a Savior who redeems the worlds around me. His life, death and resurrection penetrate the inner world of hearts disfigured by the painful impact of sin. His redeeming power moves into the outer world of human conflict and division, offering hope in a cross-shaped peace that breaks down the barrier of love.

From ancient past to the end of time, His love extends and encompasses a world that thinks time is running out. But time is not running out but running toward the world’s one true lover. He is redeeming every moment, every second.

My sleeping and waking dreams of many worlds run toward this hope of redemption. For as I enter into the world of the cross, I come see all worlds, all things, all creation being brought to fulfillment in Christ alone.