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Saturday, September 1, 2012

naked, day 6

Come to Stillness:
Take a few minutes to allow your mind and heart to be still before God.

Opening Prayer:
O Lord my God, how I long to recapture the purity and joy of the Garden—when I was able to stand before you (and others) naked and unashamed. That, indeed, is what I was made for. But this side of heaven that is not my reality. My reality is filled with fear and shame; hiding and covering—terrified that I will be exposed, found out, not enough. How I genuinely long for true communion with you; total vulnerability; deep trust—to be fully known and fully loved. Have mercy on me! Amen. (JLB)

Psalm for the Week: Psalm 30

Scripture for the Day: Hosea 2:1-23

Reading for Reflection:

If there are a few contemplatives in our parishes it is because most are content to remain “conventional Christians.”  Conventional Christians secretly assure themselves that if they attend to the prescribed externals, go regularly to church, and don’t go off the deep end, they are pleasing to God (although in fact they are pleasing mostly to themselves).  Nonetheless, we are called to “go off the deep end” by abandoning ourselves to the Lord’s care and to risk everything by letting go of everything.  We are invited (though never demanded) to hang over an interior abyss in dark trusting faith where our security blanket of control is stripped away and we stand naked and defenseless before our Creator. (Why Not Be a Mystic? By Frank X. Tuoti)

She said, "I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water..."...She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them...So now I will expose her...no one will take her out of my hands...Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her...I will betroth you to me forever. (Hosea 2:5, 7, 10, 14,19)

Hosea 2 is such a challenging, convicting, and passionately tender chapter. It calls me to recognize the ways I have left the Lover of My Soul, and have chased after lovers that can never even begin to satisfy the deepest longings of my heart. It calls me to name them: affirmation, security, significance, recognition, esteem, etc., etc., etc., and to identify them as the cheap hookers that they really are. It calls me to repent, to turn, to stop chasing after these sorry substitutes and turn back to the One who knows me like no other and loves me like no other. It calls me to leave their flimsy, glittering arms and return the arms of Him who can hold me like no other, who made me uniquely and wonderfully for deep intimacy with Himself. It calls me to Him who continually asks me the question, "Are you chasing lovers, or are you chasing Me?"

O Lord, my God, what false lovers do I continually chase after for my food and my water; for my security and my significance; for my value and my worth; for affirmation and identity? Help me to recognize that when I chase after these "lovers," I have left you, my One True Love. Allure me now, O Lover-God, betroth me to You, and You alone...forever. Ravish me with your passionate love and capture my heart completely. Make it wholly yours, that I may chase ever and always only after You.

                                                                          ~Jim Branch
                                                                            September 2012

Reflection and Listening: silent and written

Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself

Song for the Week: Just As I Am

Just as I am without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me
And that Thou bidd'st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come. I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot.
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come. I come.

Just as I am, tho’ tossed about,
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings within, and fears without,
O Lamb of God, I come. I come.

Just as I am poor, wretched, blind—
Sight, riches, healings of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee I find,
O Lamb of God, I come. I come.

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve,
O yes Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come. I come.

Closing Prayer:
Lord Jesus, give me the grace and the strength and the courage to take off that which I use to cover myself; and to clothe myself only and always in you alone. Amen. (JLB)

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