With reference to Exodus 3: 1-15 and Romans 12:9-21
God, apparently got Moses’ attention with a burning bush. In the summer of 2017, with the worst wildfire season on record for British Columbia, and with the awareness that my younger brother is sleeping in his boat by night and battling the monster fire at Sheridan lake by day… the whole burning bush thing takes on little different… meaning. How I pray, that any bush that is burning would not be consumed. And while I pray for water, my cousin in Texas is surely praying that the water stop coming.
But I know the story of Moses, isn’t about fire or flood, it’s about an awareness of what catches our attention, what calls us to pay attention. Besides paying attention to fire and flood this week, there are a few other things that have caught my eye, or my heart.
One – driving past a church in Kamloops on Thursday, I read their marque which said “Burden Bearing 101.” I’ll come back to that…
Two – the comment my daughter made about the state of the world and how we respond. We lamented together the madness of nuclear threat and counter threat between North Korean and the US and we lamented the spiraling rise of hatred and division among peoples.
We felt heartened by peaceful protests vowing respect and justice for all peoples, wondered why we weren’t hearing more.
Miriam said something like ‘then there are the millions of people like me who just feel helpless to change anything and are silently terrified. That got my attention. Who wants their loved ones to feel lost and terrified?
This brings me back to the sign on the church “Burden Bearing 101.” How do we bear one another’s burdens? How do we make life more bearable for others? Well… if there was an easy answer, I’d be on a speaking tour across the country, making lots of money.
But really, how do we offer good news in the midst of that? Maybe there is no good news, but rather the steady `standing-with.’ Like that old poem `footprints’ where the person reviewing their life looks at two sets of footprints in the sand, and notes that during the most difficult times, there is only one set of prints and concludes that they were abandoned by God. The response is, `No my darling child, it was during those times, that I carried you.’
The danger is that may you may find that reassuring or you may think –Ya right, that’s just wishful thinking. But what does it really mean? I do believe that Holy Love is the ground and source of our being. But how do we tap into that? How is that lived out? How do we live out the wisdom of Romans – counter hatred with love, and let that love come from the centre of you. Vs 18 NRSV If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, love peaceably with all.
Andrew Harvey in his book ‘The Hope: A Guide To Sacred Activism’, tells a story of traveling to Assisi, Italy and being transformed by the beautiful Prayer of St. Francis. He writes:
“I remember that afternoon, reading the prayer over and over, savouring every word, how astonished I was at its spiritual truth and beauty. The more I contemplated the prayer and the holy passions behind it, the deeper my joy became, until I, the sunlit afternoon, and the wind moving in the brilliant flowers seemed to become one vast sustained movement of adoration within the being of God.”
Andrew encourages the spiritual practice of memorizing the prayer and saying it/savoring it over and over again, finding that our mind and heart will be made more joyful and peaceful, until our whole being will begin to fill with the strengths and virtues the prayer celebrates. “As all mystical systems know that we become what we think, this exercise is a wonderful way of saturating the heart and mind with holy truth and passion.”
Here is the prayer of St. Francis for your savouring and strengthening:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
May our lives be a prayer that transforms our hearts and heals the hurt and fear of the world. Amen.