Soul Rain ... Kelli Sorg

a little rain refreshes the soul

Tag: Holy Love (page 2 of 8)

Monday Morning Mindset – Thanksgiving, grace and creativity

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Whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything takes away from it. Ecclesiastes 3:14

Kelli: A new idea for me, a creative outpouring expressed in words, music or wool is not original to me. It is the uncovering of beauty that Holy Love has already created. This beauty has been disguised by human blindness and broken-ness. Working though my intentional will and gratitude, Holy Love manifests itself and makes itself more fully known. It is in this creative partnership with Holy Love that I find myself seeing more clearly and being more clearly seen.

Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it. – Michelangelo

Kelli: Our connection to Holy Love helps us clear away the sin and sadness in our lives. This creative connection must be intentional so that what doesn’t belong in our lives and our efforts can be removed. We must mean to do it. We must resolve to be connected to the Divine, to speak God’s name in public, even sometimes, according to St. Francis, to use words.

Intentional gratitude is a name for this practice. Remembering to be thankful isn’t simply an American holiday that has turned into a retail nightmare. Intentional gratitude is living holy days throughout our lives, seeking the sacred in the ordinary, being grateful for grace and trusting the Creator behind the created. Being grateful for grace means just doing the next right thing – having the wisdom to know what that is and the courage to attempt it.

“I will praise you in this storm,” says the song.

“Peace, be still,” calls Jesus to the winds and the waves and our beleaguered hearts hear him and find hope.

Psalm 65: 7 – “who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of the waves and the turmoil of the nations” (NIV)
Psalm 65:7 – “muzzler of sea storm and wave crash, of mobs in noisy riot” (MSG)

The Psalmist looks around in Israel and points for ward to Jesus. We look around in 21st century culture and praise God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit as an act of spiritual obedience. In the mystery of connection, commitment and creativity, we find comfort for our souls even in the midst of the storm.

Monday Morning Mindset

Mighty Oaks and Tiny Acorns

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Thomas Merton: I must – in my writing, my prayer, my life – take this further step and go beyond my limitations and the limitations of thought, art and religion of our time. And this requires effort and suffering. I simply cannot sit down and accept my limitations – that is impossible. But I must take care most of all not to be content with merely fanciful transcendence – going beyond my limitations in thought and imagination only. It must be a real transcendence. October 31, 1958, Journal III.227-28

II Corinthians 12:7-10 Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

Kelli: Our human weakness is that we become enchanted and enthralled with our own creative fruit, as if we could produce it all by ourselves. Our creativity, our thoughts and imagination, blossom within a larger framework. Just as “might oaks from tiny acorns grow”, the beauty is not in the acorn expressing itself in a tree but in the Creator that first imagined and created both the seed, the full-grown plant and the process of growth and fruitfulness. The acorn can’t take credit for the tree any more than we can take credit for the cosmos and the way it expressed the Holy Love and creativity of its Creator.

Being a Superhero

 

Superman is invincible except for the little matter of kryptonite. Wonder Woman has her magic bracelets that deflect bullets. Batman has the cowl that protects his identity, the Bat Cave, the Batmobile and his sidekick Robin. The Wonder Twins have each other and the ability to change into any animal, vegetable or mineral that is needed to save the world. When we think about Jesus the Christ , we assign him superpowers as well.

Jesus fed the hungry, healed the sick, and proclaimed the year of the Lord’s favor. He came to set the captives free, to cast out demons, and to save us from our sins. It seems a little offensive to lump Jesus in with the Saturday morning cartoons and the Justice League of America but our unexamined actions tell a different story.

We think so often as Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross, his giving up his life in that moment of eternal justification. What if that is a place we may be missing the point? Did Jesus live a daily life of sacrifice, giving up the things that other humans had? Did he give up the things that mark our humanness and can so easily be trusted? The things that Jesus seemed to live without are the things that can so easily be twisted into idols-money, sex and power.

We assume that Jesus traipsed through Galilee and Samaria like some sort of Robin Hood with his band of Merry Men. Yet perhaps we don’t see are all the private daily temptations. We only see the big ones at the beginning of his life and at the end. Since we don’t have the power to multiply loaves and fished or cast out demons, we think we can give up on following Jesus because we just don’t have the right stuff. Jesus had no permanent home, no wife, no children, no steady source of food and financial security Those are all the things that we think are important in life. It seems that we assume that Jesus was above all that. The sermon to the Hebrews tells us that we have a high priest tested in every way just as we are. The daily tests and trials were part of Jesus life also. How does that realization shift our paradigm of Christ incarnate, Christ made human, just like us?

It’s easy to dismiss Christ’s earthbound life as if he had some sort of secret superpower. He was the son of God so ultimately he didn’t need to work and worry and wonder. Yet I think that’s too simplistic. Jesus said he relied on God for everything: for power and his ability to do miracles, his very life. Jesus didn’t command the father, it was the other way around. Just like us.

Jesus incarnation, being among us human as we are, changed everything. The resurrection and ascension finished and sealed the work. Then, the question becomes: how does the reality of the incarnation change our lives today?

It means that we don’t go anywhere that Jesus hasn’t already been. Even in our technological world of email and cell phones, smart phones that are smarter than we are and a 24/7 work life, the way of Jesus has much to offer us. The rhythms of work and rest, the comfort and intimacy of relationships that make us whole and make us holy, the companionship with God and with each other all bubble up from that spring of living water.

The life of Jesus Christ: his conception, birth, life, death, resurrection and continued life are not a work of fiction or of artful wishful thinking. God’s justice, God’s shalom is wiser and more courageous than human justice. God alone is Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of all that we are and all that we will be. We don’t need to hide behind masks, wear fancy jewelry or continually change to be what other people need and want. The superpower of life lived as a Jesus-follower comes from the grace that is Holy Love. It is the grace that calls us to a gentle and strong humanity. In partnership with Holy Love we don’t need to be anything that we are not and we have the opportunity to grow into more than we could ever ask or imagine.

Holding each other’s pain #nccumc #umc

 

 

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In the end, the thing that redeems us is how we hold each other’s pain. On the surface, it looks simple. It doesn’t require physical stamina or an extensive and expensive education. It looks like simply sitting, no busy hustling and bustling. The hustling and bustling is an avoidance mechanism. We scurry around making casseroles and cups of tea when what is required is stillness and serenity. Facing pain authentically means looking at it unflinchingly, unswervingly. Pain and grief demand that we go through. No matter how much we want to medicate it, or self-medicate, we can only go through the pain, not around it.

I thought for a while that it was only pastors who have to acquire this skill. I thought we were the only ones that had to stand at bedsides and grave sites. We balance awkwardly or delicately along the fine line between being present and being pompous. Delving more deeply, I realized that this is what relationships are made of: the uneasy task of trust and holding each other’s pain.

We are all broken and wounded. We live in the reality of Dante’s Divine Comedy – we sit at the table feeding one another with long handled spoons because we are unable to feed ourselves. We desperately need each other. We choose our friendships and partnerships based on the gut reaction of who we think will respect and nurture what is best in us and what is worst.

The why is obvious. Human beings were created for relationship. Even the most introverted introvert or wounded warrior finds a measure of healing and hope with someone other than themselves. The American icon of the cowboy riding alone into the sunset may be romantic but it glorifies a dangerous lie. Being independent and self-sufficient doesn’t mean strict solitude; it means you want control over the relationships you cultivate. The American War of Independence wasn’t fought so the people over here on this side of the Atlantic Ocean could be alone. It was fought so we could control their own destiny. Perhaps to our forefathers government could function as a set of thoughtfully balanced relationships and partnerships. Perhaps that is how democracy is supposed to work. From the halls of power to the pulpit to the dinner table-it seems we have lost our way.

The pain seems too great. None of us wants to face it and make the hard decisions and corrections that must occur for freedom to survive and thrive. Being distracted by bread and circuses simply delays the inevitable. Children may laugh and giggle at the mocking of death and false bravado of Halloween but the reality comes to each of us all too soon. Will we choose to live facing both the pain and the joy? Or will we sweep tragedy and terror under the rug and pretend they don’t exist?

We must return to Holy Love. Holy Love created us for relationship. Not for judicial or punitive reasons did Jesus Christ die on the cross. In some mystery we don’t completely understand, Jesus Christ died holding our pain. He walked out of the empty tomb scarred but alive, resurrected in a kind of life that for now isn’t completely ours.

We can taste it and live it, as we walk and work together. What is prayer but carrying our hopes and fears to the place of Holy Love, the kingdom of heaven, so our burdens are shared and lightened? The image that comes to me is of cupped hands. Two hands carrying water from the stream to pour into the arid places. A lot of the water dribbles away or is sloshed out in the carrying. Some of the water makes it to its destination-a dry, cracked place in the heart of another.

It is all I can do to offer this living water, carrying it to the broken places that are pointed out to me. Someone else will carry water and let it rain in my tired soul. Holy Love-Father, Son and Holy Spirit-is the Source of the water. The Samaritan woman asked Jesus “You would ask me for water? The well is the and you have no bucket.” (John, chapter 4) It was Jesus who poured living water into her life that day. The living water soothes as our pain, bathes our wounds, and revives our souls. Sometimes, we drink straight from the well. At other times we rely on the cupped hands of others when we are too broken, too tired or too crippled to get it ourselves. “Wounded healers”, Henri Nouwen called us, knowing our broken and healed places are the scars through which Holy Love flows into the world.

Holding each other’s pain is a gift, and an art, a blessing and a suffering. We would much rather rejoice that weep. Yet it is an honor and a burden to live with both. And living with both means we are truly alive.

Inspiration September 12, 2014 #nccumc #weare3dm

“Where your life and God’s will intersect for maximum Kingdom impact” Jeff Greenway

“The problem with talking about theology is that you have to say everything all at once.” Tom Wright

“Beware of F.A.E” Toddy Holeman

F.A.E. – fundamental attribution error. That basically means you think you know what the other person is thinking or feeling and you proceed with flawed understanding and, usually dire, consequences.

For example, for at least 900 years there has been one set of voices interpreting what Jesus was really saying and what that meant for the rest of us.  Don’t get me wrong, I am as much committed to Biblical authority as the next person.  But often, we twist the words of Jesus so they will say what we want them to. And when we try to see God usually we just see whatever it is that appears when we look into the bathroom mirror. God of Creation, the burning bush, the Exodus, the Babylonian exile, the birth, like, death, resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit has become, to us, just like us.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a God that’s just like me. I am limited, broken, usually confused or distracted and have just a few moments of Holy Love and clarity strung along the trajectory of my life. I want to live in Holy Love that is bigger, stronger, more compassionate, more wise and courageous than I am. Ever since my beloved son went into the US Air Force, I have held on to the fact that God (or Holy Love) loves him even more than I do and can take care of him a whole lot better than I can.

We worry so much about what other people think, or what they really mean or why they did what they did. When we can’t or don’t get answer, we’ll just make one up for ourselves, thank you very much. As a result,  mis-understandings abound. We have wars and rumors of war between people, between nations, between hemispheres.

So here, at the end of this post, I’m not going to leave you hanging. Sometimes we feel like Wayfaring Strangers (you can hear that song on the music page of this site) As corny, cheesy and thin as “Christian” music can sound, I believe we are all expressing the same kinds of things. We are loved by a love so Holy we cannot fully comprehend it. That same Holy Love meets us exactly where we are but loves us to much to leave us there. That’s the good news. Easy to understand, impossible to live out all by yourself.

Come as you are to a community of folk who will do their best to love you in that Holy way and leave changed so the world around you will be changed and the planet itself will have the chance to be transformed and set free. Free from the fear of dying, free from the fear of a meaningless life. In partnership with Holy Love and each other, the borders of heaven, where Holy Love rules) will expand to encompass all the earth.

God bless us every one, Kelli+

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