Stay Connected – Pastoral Letter – July 7, 2020

Stay Connected while we are apart

Dear Members and Friends of CCEH,

I recently received this meditation from my UCC colleague, Rev. Jen Campbell. It fed my soul. I share it in the hope that it might feed yours too.

In Christlove,
Rev. Jim

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How is it with your soul today?

Sixteenth-century theologian Ignatius of Loyola, who founded the Jesuit order, wrote and taught that God desires an intimate, personal, and mutual relationship with each human being and is always actively inviting us into just that.

Read that again: God desires an intimate, personal, and mutual relationship with you and is always actively inviting you into just that.

We human beings engage in relationship with God through intentional spiritual practice: prayer and worship, and through service to the world in the way of Jesus Christ. That is, through loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving our neighbor as our self.

It all starts with the deep and personal love God has for every human soul, and God’s longing to be in that intimate, personal, mutual relationship with those God loves, which is everyone.

Hold that truth in your heart and mind as you ponder the beautiful words of Psalm 139 (found below)

Savor it. Pray with it. Write it on your heart. Trust that God is with you.

After the scripture, you’ll find some suggestions for using it to engage in the ancient spiritual practice of Lectio Divina (or “Sacred Reading”)

Light a candle; take your time; create space to encounter the holy.

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(Psalm 139, from the Saint Helena Breviary)

O God, you have searched me and known me; you know my sitting down and my rising up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You trace my journeys and my resting-places, and are acquainted with all my ways. Indeed, there is not a word on my lips, but you, O God, know it altogether. You press upon me behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain to it. Where can I go then from your Spirit; where can I flee from your presence? If I climb up to heaven, you are there; if I make the grave my bed, you are there also. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand will lead me, and your right hand hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will cover me, and the light around me turn to night,” Darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day; darkness and light to you are both alike. For you, yourself, created my inmost parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will thank you because I am marvelously made; your works are wonderful, and I know it well. My body was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret and woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes beheld my limbs, yet unfinished in the womb; all of them were written in your book;
They were fashioned day by day, when as yet there was none of them.
How deep I find your thoughts, O God; how great is the sum of them!
If I were to count them they would be more in number than the sand;
To count them all, my life span would need to be like yours.

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Respond to the Scripture –

1. Sit quietly for a few minutes, allowing the silence to surround you.
2. Read the text slowly; read it again; ponder; read it again.
3. Allow a word or image to choose you. You will be drawn to a phrase or a verse. Repeat it, ponder it in your heart, allow it to wash over you, to touch your being, your present, your memories, your desires. Be still.
4. Talk with God about this text. There are no right and wrong ways to speak with God. Speak from your heart, your reality, your truth. Then listen in the silence. Be still.
5. Rest in the presence of God. Just be still.
6. You may be slowly drawn to some response in your life.
7. See where the Spirit leads you.

Finish your time of Lectio Divina by praying the Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

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