Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Thursday, May 1, 2003

The opening text will come from a book by Abraham Joshua Heschel (God in Search of Man - A Philosophy of Judaism). As you are able to see by the title, the language may be a bit dated and therefore, I will, when able, make the language inclusive.



The meaning of awe is to realize that life takes place under wide horizons, horizons that range beyond the span of an individual life or even the life of a nation, a generation, or an era. Awe enables us to perceive in the world intimations of the divine, to sense in small things the beginning of infinite significance, to sense the ultimate in the common and the simple; to feel in the rush of the passing the stillness of the eternal.



Each moment of this day we have the opportunity to step beyond the limits of how we see the world, evaluate what the world presents to us, and move into a new place with new impressions. Many try not to be surprised by the events and happenings of the day. To do that we must be very contained and must contain what is around us and how we allow ourselves to see the world. “Awe enables us to perceive in the world intimations of the divine.” Heschel’s comment disregards our attempts to contain what we see and what we experience…for the divine cannot be contained. The divine will always open us up to that which we cannot contain for it is both what we know and that which we do not know or have not experienced…yet. To be caught up in the “wide horizons” under which life sits is to be like a child who is beginning to walk. After that first step, watch out…the child then leans forward head and heart before feet and off s/he goes until there is a crash, a fall to the floor or a parent sweeps in to grab hold of the child.



Connection: May your day be awe-filled. May you begin to catch a glimmer of the wide horizon of God’s Reign that is beyond us and awaiting us.



Creator and Renewing Spirit, stretch us and hold us…pull us and guide us…send us and walk with us. Take us farther than we would let ourselves go if all things were left up to our decision. Open up our hearts that we might take baby steps within the wide and gracious expanse of your Reign. Amen

Wednesday, 30 April, 2003

The opening text will come from a book by Abraham Joshua Heschel (God in Search of Man - A Philosophy of Judaism). As you are able to see by the title, the language may be a bit dated and therefore, I will, when able, make the language inclusive.



Awe is a way of being in rapport with the mystery of all reality.

Awe is an intuition for the creaturely dignity of all things and their preciousness to God; a realization that things not only are what they are but also stand, however remotely, for something absolute. Awe is a sense for the transcendence, for the reference everywhere to (God) who is beyond all things. It is an insight better conveyed in attitudes than in words. The more eager we are to express it, the less remains of it.




“Awe is an intuition for the creaturely dignity of all things and their preciousness to God.” To have this mind among us would be the making of a peaceable reign for it would mean that we would honor one another even when we do not see something in them to honor. And when we honor others for being precious to God, who knows what creativity and love may begin to fill our day…who knows what life might begin to take shape within a community of people…who knows what variety of people will make up a community of awe?



Connection: We can talk much about what we like and how we see things…today would be a good time to talk less and live as though our words really mean something.



Lord of Love, you see in each of us a precious gift to the world. Open our eyes that we too might begin to see how precious are the people all around us and how our living among others brings us within the mystery of your gracious reign. Amen.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Tuesday, 29 April, 2003

The opening text will come from a book by Abraham Joshua Heschel (God in Search of Man - A Philosophy of Judaism). As you are able to see by the title, the language may be a bit dated and therefore, I will, when able, make the language inclusive.



Ultimate meaning and ultimate wisdom are not found within the world but in God, and the only way to wisdom is…through our relationship with God. That relationship is awe. Awe, in this sense, is more than an emotions; it is a way of understanding. Awe is itself an act of insight into a meaning greater than ourselves.

The question, therefore, where shall wisdom be found? is answered by the Psalmist: the awe of God is the beginning of wisdom. The Bible does not preach awe as a form of intellectual resignation; it does not say, awe is the end of wisdom. Its intention seems to be that awe is a way to wisdom. In Job we encounter a complete equation: the awe of God is wisdom.

The beginning of awe is wonder, and the beginning of wisdom is awe.




Today I was confronted by a simple question…maybe it was more a statement in the form of a question. It had to do with the vast and unlimited love of God…a love that cannot be contained or limited by any regulations or specifications. It is unbounded…it is just beyond anything we can comprehend…it is awe inspiring. How do we live and how do we make decisions when we are a people called into life by our God whose love is boundless and whose love is the essence of God’s creativity that has sewn together our own lives?!? Is that a question that can be answered or is it a statement that is meant to help us see beyond what is and begin that journey of trust that keeps pulling us into the radical love of God’s reign…a reign I would say is displayed in the life of Jesus and a life to which the prophets give witness?!? To be in awe of our God is to be within a time…and opportunity, to fly beyond what can be seen into that which is just over the border of sight. In the mist of that which inspires awe - the marvelous love of God – rests wisdom enough to fill the cosmos to overflowing. And yet, too often, we do not dare to walk into the domain of such awe inspiring wisdom.



Connection: What does it take to be a peace maker? It may take the gift of being swept off our feet when we notice the awe inspiring wisdom available to us in the ordinary things of this day that are really quite extraordinary. Even the working of a group…an office…a couple of people trying to get something done can bring us into the experience of awe…and then…who knows what peace makers we may become. For then, we may not need to hold so strongly to what we want and that which we can see.



Lord of what is not yet and all that is and has been, lift up our eyes that we may catch a glimpse of the vastness of your love and then, experience the beginning of the peace you have promised to all your beloved people. Praise to you O God. Amen.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Monday, 28 April, 2003

The opening text will come from a book by Abraham Joshua Heschel (God in Search of Man - A Philosophy of Judaism). As you are able to see by the title, the language may be a bit dated and therefore, I will, when able, make the language inclusive.



But where shall wisdom be found? Where is the place of understanding?

(Humanity) does not know the way to it; It is not found in the land of the living.

The deep says, “It is not in me”; the sea says, "It is not with me…”

Whence then comes wisdom? And where is the place of understanding?

It is hidden from the eyes of all living; And concealed from the birds of the air.

Destruction and Death say: “We have heard a rumor of it with our ears.” Job 28:12-14, 20-22




What have Job, Agur (a writer of proverbs), Ecclesiastes discovered in their search? They have discovered that the existence of the world is a mysterious fact. Referring not to miracles or startling phenomena, but to the natural order of things, they insist that the world of the known is a world unknown; hiddenness, mystery. What stirred their souls was neither the hidden nor the apparent, but the hidden in the apparent; not the order but the mystery of the order that prevails in the universe.



In all of this talk of mystery I simply want to say “look again.” Look again at what is all about us…and begin to see our souls stirred up to the point of amazement or adoration or praise. Part of the wonderful aspects of our daily lives is that we are given many opportunities to “look again” at what so often only receives a glance…as though it is too common…too ordinary…to even give a second glace. And yet, consider your hands as you sit and read this…their movement…the individual appearance of each finger and the uniform appearance of all the fingers together. And then…the ability to move and hammer out letters on the keyboard…the lines that make your hand distinctive…and yet the shape of fingers that look so much like others in your family. We could keep going on and on within the realm of mystery and wonder without leaving our own hands! Within the ordinary and common come the great mysteries of life that often help us to simply throw up our hands in praise of God.



Connection: My bet is that it would not take any of us very long to be caught at the end of all the wisdom we claim to posses…to then begin to enter into that which is present in, with, and under the actions and things that fill our day. What hidden piece of the everyday stuff of this day will be revealed to you along the journey you will travel today?



Creator of All, we are amazed at the wonder of your creation. As we meander through this day, give us ears to hear again what we call the usual and the same sounds of our day…give us eyes to see the same old same old…again. Praise to you O God, Most High, Creator of the Universe. Amen

Friday, April 25, 2003

Friday, 25 April, 2003

The opening text will come from a book by Abraham Joshua Heschel (God in Search of Man - A Philosophy of Judaism). As you are able to see by the title, the language may be a bit dated and therefore, I will, when able, make the language inclusive.



“I said, I will be wise, but it was far from me. That which is, is far off and deep, exceedingly deep. Who can find it out?” (Ecclesiastes 7:23-24). Ecclesiastes is not only saying that the world’s wise are not wise enough, but something more radical. What is, is more than what you see; what is, is “far off and deep, exceedingly deep.” Being is mysterious…

Wisdom is beyond our reach. We are unable to attain insight into the ultimate meaning and purpose of things. (A person) does not know the thoughts of (his/her) own mind nor is (s/he) able to under the meaning of (his/her) own dreams [see Daniel 2:27].




Being is mysterious…that’s for sure. From moment to moment it seems as though the whole world can change. How we see our life situation…how we handle the news of the day…how people we meet are able to have an impact on how we continue on with what we were planning on doing – something can break into our day and make for a new world. There is not a logical path to life. Nor is it possible to be wise or smart enough to face what is to come. I find that this notion of our being as mysterious at least puts us into the day facing it with some openness and appreciation for what is outside my control. I suppose my prayer would be that each of us would be open to the mysterious…to a glimpse of more than what is visible.



Connection: When during this day will you be able to be at peace with the notion that being is mysterious…and then…be at peace with what is being held out to you along the way?



Lord of the Whole Universe…and more, help us to dream and soar and fly into the day as though we trust in you alone and therefore we are open to the insights that will come to us by the power of your Holy Spirit. Let us rest in peace by leaving our burdens within your hands. Amen.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Thursday, 24 April, 2003

The opening text will come from a book by Abraham Joshua Heschel (God in Search of Man - A Philosophy of Judaism). As you are able to see by the title, the language may be a bit dated and therefore, I will, when able, make the language inclusive.



The sense for the “miracles which are daily with us,” the sense for the “continual marvels,” is the source of prayer… We are trained in maintaining our sense of wonder by uttering a prayer before the enjoyment of food. Each time we are about to drink a glass of water, we remind ourselves of the eternal mystery of creation, “Blessed be Thou…by Whose word all things come into being.”

This is one of the goals of the Jewish way of living: to experience commonplace deeds as spiritual adventures, to feel the hidden love and wisdom in all things.




I would have to say that Christians are also people who are invited to experience commonplace deeds as spiritual adventures. Remember how in the story of the sheep and goats in Matthew’s gospel the common everyday treatment of others is placed at the very center of what it is to be a follower of Jesus. A spiritual adventure is one in which the faith at the center of our lives leads us into a certain kind of interaction with those around us. The discipline of prayer is one that helps us breathe and look again at what is around us. It also provides the opportunity to listen to the reminder of who we are through our baptism and how being “in Christ” is the beginning of facing our lives in new ways. Within the simply discipline of prayer – however you may do that – connections begin to be made with the entire cosmos…with all creation…with the God we call Creator of all things. That’s powerful.



Connection: Go ahead, let yourself be connected today. There really is plenty of time…even in a hectic day…to pray and wonder and be amazed.



Creator of All that is, keep us from be isolated from the rest of the marvelous aspects of your creation. Inspire us to look again…touch again…remember again the story of your love for us in every place and time. Amen.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Tuesday, 22 April, 2003

The opening text will come from a book by Abraham Joshua Heschel (God in Search of Man - A Philosophy of Judaism). As you are able to see by the title, the language may be a bit dated and therefore, I will, when able, make the language inclusive.



As civilization advances, the sense of wonder declines. Such decline is an alarming symptom of our state of mind. (Humanity) will not perish for want of information; but only for want of appreciation. The beginning of our happiness lies in the understanding that life without wonder is not worth living. What we lack is not a will to believe but a will to wonder.

Awareness of the divine begins with wonder. It is the result of what (humanity) does with (its) higher incomprehension. The greatest hindrance to such awareness is our adjustment to conventional notions, to mental clich├ęs. Wonder or radical amazement, the state of maladjustment to words and notions, is therefore a prerequisite for an authentic awareness of that which is.

Radical amazement has a wider scope than any other act of (humanity). While any act of perception or cognition has as its object a selected segment of reality, radical amazement refers to all of reality; not only to what we see, but also to the very act of seeing as well as to our own selves, to the selves that see and are amazed at their ability to see.




Way back in another series of these devotions I quoted someone who suggested a turn on the phrase “Don’t just sit there, do something.” It was, “Sit there, don’t just do something.” Sitting there…or moving around and taking notice of what we would usually pass right by…are exercises in wonder. I love Heschel’s remark about what we do with our “higher incomprehension” as being a part of the wonder that makes us aware of the divine. What we can comprehend may lead us to many things…but what we cannot…well…who knows what may come out of that. So slow down…or simply let the talking heads of our media madness shows talk to an empty room while we go out and be amazed at what is all around us.



Connection: Looking again at the least among us…the insignificant…may bring before us an experience of radical amazement. Then again, it means dropping the routine of our lives…or at least turning our heads to take in that which so often simply flies by us without notice or appreciation.



Surprise us Lord with your wonderful creation. Let us hear the opening of the spring blossoms and see the cracking thunder of the storms of April…and then, amaze us with the complexity of your creation in a handful of garden dirt. Praise be to you O God Most High. Amen.

Monday, April 21, 2003

Monday, 21 April, 2003

The opening text will come from a book by Abraham Joshua Heschel (God in Search of Man - A Philosophy of Judaism). As you are able to see by the title, the language may be a bit dated and therefore, I will, when able, make the language inclusive.



Wonder is the prelude to knowledge; it ceases, once the cause of a phenomenon is explained.

But does the worth of wonder merely consist in its being a stimulant to the acquisition of knowledge? Is wonder the same as curiosity? To the prophets wonder is a form of thinking. It is not the beginning of knowledge but an act that goes beyond knowledge; it does not come to an end when knowledge is acquired; it is an attitude that never ceases. There is no answer in the world to (humanity’s) radical amazement.




Wonder may not bring us any new data – but it causes us to look again at what we think we already have seen and heard. Wonder does not give up on that which seems insignificant for nothing is insignificant when we become amazed at its very being. I may be that our ability to look with wonder upon life is a part of the great adventure of shalom – peace – wholeness. For once we begin to be thrilled with something…to see it again as we previously may not have seen it, we may be less willing to see to its destruction or waste. Wonder brings us into more than the nature of things. We begin gaze upon the grand connectedness of all things…or…at least, the possibility of such a connection. Peace is a wonder-filled adventure.



Connection: Wondering how things fit together or don’t fit together may be the beginning of the exploration of a new part of our day. It may be that we simply see the same old things of our day…with new eyes and in new ways.



Wonderful Lord, lead us. Open our eyes and let us be refreshed by the ordinary and taken up by that which is nothing more than the mundane parts of our lives. With new eyes help us to gaze into the very depths of your creation and never tire of taking another look and seeing more connections between all things. Amen.



Thursday, April 17, 2003

Friday, 18 April, 2003

Due to switching computers and all that goes with such transfers of information, I have not been able to send out the devotions. It appears as though everything is now functioning so that I can work with it.



The opening text will come from a book by Abraham Joshua Heschel (God in Search of Man - A Philosophy of Judaism). As you are able to see by the title, the language may be a bit dated and therefore, I will, when able, make the language inclusive.



Among the many things that religious tradition holds in store for us is a legacy of wonder. The surest way to suppress our ability to understand the meaning of God and the importance of worship is to take things for granted. Indifference to the sublime wonder of living is the root of sin.



Some people do not like the use of the word “sin.” And yet, I don’t know of another word that carries such weight among us. I know that it has a bunch of baggage for many people – probably all of us – but it can help to stop us in our tracks…pause…and reflect on our place in creation. I don’t think we need to focus on the concept of sin as much as I think it is so important to be creatures who are caught up in the wonder of things – all sorts of things. We will never stop killing and harming one another if we do not allow ourselves to take note of the wonder of how we each are so marvelously created. Maybe one person would hesitate to tear down another person if we honored the wonderful bit of creative energy that God has placed within the center of each person. When we cannot or will not pause to wonder…to consider the lily in all its splendor – who knows what we will be willing to do to one another and our creation. Brokenness – sin – is a part of who we are when we are not full of wonder.



Connection: Did you ever give yourself the time to wonder about…? Go for it. It may make you see yourself and others in a whole new light.



Lord of Creation, thrill us with the many wonders of this world. Help us to consider the worth of others and the value of nature’s beauty and power. Let us never be so caught up in what we know that we lose the opportunity to wander into new and strange wonders of your making. Amen.





Monday, April 14, 2003

Tuesday, 15 April, 2003

WE'RE BACK!

The opening text will come from a book by Abraham Joshua Heschel (God in Search of Man - A Philosophy of Judaism). As you are able to see by the title, the language may be a bit dated and therefore, I will, when able, make the language inclusive.



It is not the sublime as such of which the Biblical (person) is aware. To (this one), the sublime is but a way in which things react to the presence of God. It is never an ultimate aspect of reality, a quality meaningful in itself. It stands for something greater; it stands in relation to something beyond itself that the eye can never see. The sublime is not simply there. It is not a thing, a quality, but rather a happening, an act of God, a marvel. Thus even a mountain is not regarded as a thing. What seems to be stone is a drama; what seems to be natural is wondrous. There are no sublime facts; there are only divine acts.



"It stands for something greater." The question we must all ask of ourselves is whether or not we are able to see the "something greater" in the matter of fact things of our day? I remember a science teacher in seventh grade who told us he once became completely overwhelmed by the simple beating of his heart. When I think back at him, he was one of the coaches who seemed to eat and breath sports. But he was also a person who was amazed by simple often unnoticed bodily action. The beats took him beyond the moment into the running of the heart again...again...again...without thought...despite thoughts. He was a science teacher and not a theologian but...he started talking about what must make such things as our hearts...keep going...a muscle that does not tire like chest and arm muscles while doing push ups...it keeps going. I can only say that he helped me contemplate more than what is...to look again and look beyond. There is an unlimited way in which our God tickles us and woos us and bid us to come and see more than we could ever imagine.



Connection: What will be the drama that comes into play in your day today? What little or big "thing" will make you see what the eye cannot? It doesn't take long to begin the journey.



Lord God of the Great and Small, how wonderful it is when we are grasped by your blessed grace and begin to have our lives expand and grow from what is into what might be....and then...again. Be with us in our ongoing adventures that we may learn to see all things - again. Amen.