Saturday, October 27, 2018

Community of the Lamb Basic 12 Session Course

The Community of the Lamb Basic 12 Session Course is being offered at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, Spokane Valley, beginning Wednesday, November 14.  

The Prayer of the Lamb is often introduced during a weekend seminar or through individual teaching sessions.  However undertaking this meditation practice is a spiritual discipline that can only be absorbed and integrated personally by practice over time.

Persons who discern a desire and calling to establish the Prayer of the Lamb in practice meet weekly for approximately a three month period.  Each of the twelve sessions includes:

·      Meditational practice of the Prayer of the Lamb together
·      Reflection on experience in practice
·      Study from text for further teaching
·      Gospel reflection
·      Offering intercessory prayers       Each session lasts no longer than two hours.

The Prayer of the Lamb in Community…

Being with others in the shared spirituality of the Prayer of the Lamb is a helpful way for each person to support commitment and to establish a regular pattern of practice. The twelve session period gives needed time for the Prayer to become established in the open heart, and for each person to discover through reflection on experience the mercy and grace of Jesus at work within.



At the first session:
¨      Participants schedule the 12 sessions
¨      The texts are distributed
¨      Discussion of group norms
  
Suggested donations:
$10-20 per session.
All are welcome regardless of financial ability to make a donation. 
Make checks payable to:
  The Community of the Lamb.



Personal use of the Prayer of the Lamb…


The practice recommended for establishing the Prayer in the heart is to sit in silence with the mental recitation of the Prayer for up to 1/2 hour twice a day in an environment as free from interruptions as possible.  Also one can use the Prayer in the midst of daily activities with increasing mindfulness about opportunities to engage the Prayer.  Being faithful to ourselves in practice honors our need for healing through this Prayer, offers service for the whole of creation, and makes application of the teaching we have received.

If you are interested in enrolling in this course, please contact the Rev. Beverly Hosea 
at 206-713-5321 or PrayeroftheLamb1@mac.com.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Sermon at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, Spokane Valley: An Invitation

I just recently moved to Spokane from Seattle.
            It has been 54 years since I’ve lived here.
Actually I was born here and grew up here,
            but I have spent most of my life living in a variety of places
                                    around the country.
There were five years back in the 90’s
            when I served congregations in the diocese
                        before I did something bold
                        and followed where I felt the Holy Spirit was leading me.

I took a sabbatical – for two full years –
            and spent that time meditating and reading scripture.
I did that because I had begun meditation practice
            and I was discovering how significant and powerful meditation is
                        as a transformative spiritual practice.
For me this was the way I could live out my relationship with Jesus
            most genuinely and faithfully.

And that is what brings me here today, to share with you about a meditational prayer practice that can be healing and transforming and is centered in Jesus.

Our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has talked non-stop
            about the Jesus Movement,
                        the way we Episcopalians can authentically
            put Jesus back in the center of conversation and of our faith
so that we can go out and express the love of Jesus to a hurting world.

Jesus is the reason we are Christians, right?
Otherwise we could be Jewish or Buddhist
                        or anything else as a demarcation of religious and faith affiliation.
But if you are going to be identified as a Christian,
            Jesus has to be in there some place.

            Having grown up in the Episcopal Church
I can say unequivocally that we Episcopalians don’t say the word “Jesus” much.
            Why is that?
Well, what if we had a greater understanding, or, better,
                                    a deeper experience of him?

You would think that understanding Jesus wouldn’t be that hard,
            but look at what the Gospel for today shows us about that.

James and John, you would think they would know better.
They had been with Jesus all this time,
            they had heard him preach, watched him heal,
            been sent out to do what he was doing, had some success with that,
and now what do they want?
            The two seats of power in the coming Reign of God
                                                            about which Jesus had been talking.
The seat on the right would go to the equivalent  in our modern parlance,
                        of the Secretary of State,
            and the one on the left would go to the Secretary of Defense,
assuming, that is,
                        as the disciples James and John seemed to have been assuming,
            that Jesus was going to take the head position of power
                                                                                                            in the Kingdom of God
            and that the Reign of God would be a divine version
                                                                        of political and military earthly kingdoms.

James and John had visions of grandeur.
Their idea about who the Messiah was is so influenced by
their cultural and religious assumptions
and hopes and expectations
and moral framework regarding justice and righteousness.

It would take the crucifixion and Resurrection
and the hurricane force of Holy Spirit setting them on fire
            and abiding in their hearts
                                    for them to fully know who Jesus is.

So this picture of Jesus, this version of him is not what he is talking about.
Here, instead, is the Jesus that each of the Gospels describes:
            In all the stories Jesus looks at all with love and compassion,
            every single person wherever he went, even those he argued with.
He saw, and sees, the condition of suffering for each one;
            he sees the helplessness they experience in the face of their suffering.
He knows it all.
Nothing escapes from his loving gaze –
            Peter denying him, you in your pain and me in mine,
            known and hidden,
            the suffering we admit to and the suffering we hide out of the shame
                        of not being self-sufficient,
                        of not having it all together.
And then there is the suffering we are not even aware of,
            the ways in which we are bound by the limitations of our perceptions
                        and the timidity of our faith.
We can make things so tough on ourselves without even realizing it.

Let me suggest to you a spiritual practice that has been around for millennia             a spiritual practice that can help dispel our cloudy way
                        of understanding and experiencing Jesus and responding to him.

This is a way that can help us be open
            to the healing, restorative and grace-filled Resurrection Presence
                                                                                                of Jesus within us.
It’s been around for millennia, what we can call meditation.

It is so counter-intuitive – meditation is primarily sitting awake.
            Sitting, that is, doing nothing, ceasing from our own activity
            which gets in the way of God’s saving action within us.
When we act, when we pray even,
            we bring our limited understanding to the situation.
We may do some good, much good,
            and yet we inhibit what the Holy Spirit could do through us.

Meditation is a primary spiritual practice for being a follower of Jesus,
            for entering into the process of discipleship –
            discipleship which is an action at work in us through the Holy Spirit.

In meditation we sit with openness to the Holy Spirit and trust in Jesus.
The more we sit in this trust, this faith, the more we may come to recognize
            that underneath the initial experiences of peace and relaxation
                        lie fears, anxieties, hopes, anger, despair –
all waiting to be recognized, acknowledged and compassionately addressed.

By sitting quietly one finally comes to the point
            of seeing through all the ego-constructs that we create
                        for defining ourselves and the world we live in,
                        and how we think it is all supposed to work.
Primarily meditation is simply sitting awake.

This coming Friday evening and Saturday morning I am offering
            an introduction to a form of Christian meditation
                        that has been around forever,
                        that is directly connected to scripture,
                        that has links with our liturgies, the way we worship,
                                                and the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist.

I invite you all to come and explore what this Prayer of the Lamb is,
            a short, simple prayer,
                        “Jesus, Lamb of God, have mercy on us.”

And then for those who discern that this would be a good spiritual practice
            to explore more deeply and establish as a personal practice,
we will follow up with a weekly course of 12 sessions
            where we will meditate together,
                        reflect on the experience of meditation,
                        and look at what our Bible, and the Gospels in particular,
                                                            says that relates to meditation.

Because meditation is not like ordering through Amazon Prime
            and having it arrive on your doorstep the next day.
Meditation is a life style,
            that is, it has to be incorporated into our daily lives,
                        and become a part of the infrastructure of our being,
            so that its effectiveness can then be seen and experienced.

And honestly, meditation is not a DIY project – you know,
            read the instructions and put it together all on your own
                        like an IKEA kit.
That’s why a group meditating together,
            reflecting on the experience of meditation ,
            and getting some guidance along the way,
makes it far easier to discover and recognize the fruits of meditating
                        and to sustain consistent meditation practice.

So if you have ever wondered about meditation,
            or questioned whether there was a Christian form of meditation,
            or felt that your spiritual life needed a boost or renewal or direction,
come this Friday evening and Saturday
                                                and find out what the Prayer of the Lamb is.

We are all in a life long process of growing in our faith,
            endeavoring to comprehend who Jesus is,
                        who he is for each of us,
just as James and John were finding out
                                    in how Jesus responded to their request.
Not in seats of power, James and John,
            but down on your knees washing feet and serving humbly,
                        and becoming like Jesus in loving service.

The collect for this Sunday is a prayer for the community of faith,
            for those who identify as followers of Jesus,
            those of us who admit to the need to know Jesus more clearly and fully,
            those of us who would be disciples and accept a call to mission.
Almighty and everlasting God, (we prayed)
            in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations:
            Preserve the works of your mercy,
                        preserve the works of your mercy,
            that your Church throughout the world
                        may persevere                        persevere
                        so that we can hang on, hang in there, stay the mile,
            with steadfast faith
                        steadfast in trusting and being faithful and acting on that faith
                        that confesses to be called by your Name,
                                                your Name, Jesus.  Amen.




Sunday, June 10, 2018

Farewell Sermon at Emmanuel

Here we are, my last sermon with you.

I remember back to my first sermon with you
            back in December of 2007.
It’s been a good time here together with you.  I really mean it.
            I have loved being here with you.

Over the years I have participated with you in joyful baptisms,
            I have watched children grow up and become young adults,
                        and that has been an absolute delight.
I have walked with a number of you through illnesses, surgeries,
                                                stints of being in rehab and physical therapy,
and Hunt and I have presided over the burial office
                                                                        of way too many parishioners,
            being there with you in the grief, but also with the love and consolation
                        of our Lord Jesus present to encourage faith.

Over the years I have also continuously encouraged us all
            to be ever engaged in faith formation and education,
and we have had some great Sunday morning adult forums, speakers,
            Lenten series, women’s gatherings, retreat opportunities,
and, of course, I can’t leave out mentioning meditation.

With my other hat of the Community of the Lamb
            I have offered here at Emmanuel meditation seminars,
                        the basic 12 week course
                        and numerous subsequent courses and series
            on a whole variety of topics relating scripture to meditation,
often times attended by those beyond this congregation.
But you, Emmanuel, have been the host in providing this space.
I leave behind two ongoing groups of meditators
            who are clear that they can continue without my presence.
That lets me know that I have done my job well.

You folks have also opened your doors to letting my Hindu friends           
                        use the facilities on occasion
            and even had a great fund raising dinner for my sabbatical,
            so that I could take a generous donation check to Amma in India
             for her humanitarian projects there.
Which is amazing because you were also good natured about my
                        “cabaret act” as we had some fun together that evening.

I have had a lot of fun with you all, which I treasure in my heart.
I have also shared a lot of tears with many of you,
            which I also treasure in my heart.
It is in the tears and the laughter as it says in Kate Wolfe’s song,
                                                            “Give Yourself to Love”
It is in the tears and the laughter
                                    that we are most intimate and experience the love.
As an aside, it’s worth going back and checking out that song from the 80’s
            that’s been an earworm with me this last week.

And it makes my heart extremely glad to know that just recently
            the Outreach Committee in your name
just gave the Jubilee Center at St. Matthew/San Mateo in Auburn
                        a wonderfully generous donation
            for the very vital ministry they do
especially in the areas of immigration advocacy and domestic violence intervention.

So thank you very much for that show of support,
    and I do hope that you will continue this connection with the Jubilee Center.

Thank you for the privilege and joy that it has been for me
            in the work of mutual ministry in this faith community.

So now I must say some words to you,
            a message from my heart, words I would like you to remember me by.

Jesus did that with his disciples the night before he died.
Each of the Gospels devote special chapters to that final conversation.
John’s Gospel gives it Chapters 13 through17, five whole chapters.
            There it starts off with the New Commandment.
Jesus said,
            “This is my commandment, that you love one another.
            Just as I have love you, so you love one another.”

That commandment was not just for those disciples there with him at the time,
            but it quickly became the distinguishing mark of all followers of Jesus                                                                                                                                    after that.
We are called to love –
            that New Commandment that Jesus gave his disciples            
                        on the night of violence when he was then betrayed
                        and taken and tortured and handed over for execution.

If that is what he asked of us
                        at that incredibly tense and challenging moment in his own life, how can we not take his words without absolute seriousness?

So how are we doing with that?
            Looking at the Church as a whole,
                        not just this congregation or denomination,
                        but the whole enterprise, the whole institution,
it looks like we’re dying.
In the eyes of the general society we are becoming irrelevant.

And so the Presiding Bishop for the Episcopal Church, Michael Curry,
            has been calling us to a renewal in the Jesus Movement.
That’s important for bringing us back to the realization
            that Jesus has to be at the center of the life and ministry of the Church.
Because if it’s all just our own efforts,
            we can’t put the world right in the politics of things.

Too often the Church has fallen into the same trap as the people of Israel did
            in the reading from I Samuel 8
when they came to Samuel and asked him to get them a king
            so that they could be like all the other nations.
Give us the powerful ruler who will govern us and go out before us 
                        and fight our battles.
But it’s not a political answer or making the best deals or by wielding power.
Our society lives in that space
            and people suffer as a result:
                        the weak, the powerless, the alien, the marginalized,
                        women and children,
            all get exploited, taken advantage of,
while those at the top, the ones with the power,
                                    secure their power and wealth for themselves.

But Jesus was not a king, not a political presence,
            even though some have addressed him as a king,
            even though some have politicized his words,
and used their faith beliefs as a rationale for judgment and moral exclusiveness.
A king is so different from the liberating, healing power of Love
                        that a Crucified Savior brings.

No Jesus is out of his mind. 
That’s what they said about him in the Gospel reading for today.
            He’s crazy.  That’s how this society, this culture would characterize him.
Say he’s crazy and you can discredit that whole love one another thing.
That’s a familiar tactic used over the ages.
            Call your opponent a liar, discredit their work.
And the culture we live in today has such a pervasive effect on us
            that we unconsciously start to accept the whole political thing
                        that led the people of Israel to say to Samuel give us a king,
                        and reject God as their Sovereign Creator.

So I say to you today that here is what our problem as a faith community is:
It is our lack of yielding to the intimacy and awareness of the Presence of Jesus
            that is killing us off.

If we were to let down our guard
and our tight grip on a belief in a merit based morality,
            and instead take our suffering in all its many forms to Jesus
there would be a huge break through in the spiritual potency of the Church.
We would experience the stunning intimacy of Love in the Presence of Jesus
            and we would discover how to love one another
                        with authenticity and genuine intention.
And that would rock the world.

Crazy – The Cross of Jesus is a mass pardon. – Crazy.
            It stands between us and the condition of suffering in the world.
One might think Jesus was crazy to attempt that – saving the whole world –
            but then he went farther and in one huge Resurrection appearance,
there is then the Holy Spirit, the Resurrection Spirit and Presence of Jesus
                        put on us,
                        into which we were baptized
            which provides in us a continuous process of sanctification
                                    provided in that space of the Cross, which we call salvation.
This is the experience accessible to all in the Church,
            accessible through spiritual practice
                        spiritual practice such as prayer, meditation, the liturgy and                                                             sacraments, reading and hearing the scriptures,
                                    breaking bread together, forgiving one another.
That being in the Presence of Jesus Love
            is what liberates us to freely love others.

This is not the way of a king or any other type of political leader.
They called Jesus crazy, out of his mind.
And he didn’t do a thing to deny that.

He looked at those sitting around him and said,
            “These are my mother and my brothers and sisters.”
Those doing the will of God,
those yielding to experiencing that Divine Presence
            as it was coming to them through Jesus at that moment.
Brothers and sisters in the same craziness as Jesus.
And mother also, in whom the divine seed is planted and grows
            and is born and comes forth into the world.            Crazy.
Matthew chapter 25, the story Jesus told
about when the king would come and separate the sheep and the goats,
            you know the one:
“Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and             gave you something to drink?
And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you,
            or naked and gave you clothing?
And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?”

And the answer, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are brothers and sisters, you did it to me.”

Jesus tells us in this story that these are the people he identifies with.
            Crazy the world would say.            Those people?!            Those losers?!
Just look at how our society treats the homeless poor,
            the aliens seeking refuge and asylum at our borders,
            those needing to access health care and the incarcerated.
But I have seen that those people, the ones in need,
            are those who get it about Love.  That’s where Jesus is, really.
Crazy.

Our presiding bishop, Michael Curry, has referred to the followers of Jesus
            as crazy Christians.  He even wrote a book with that as the title.
This way of Love in the heart of Jesus is craziness to the world
            that will call it names and call what is good evil and of the devil
                        and seek to discount, discredit, ignore and push it aside.
But when you experience being loved by Jesus then you can get crazy too
            in that life-giving, liberating way for others.

That’s what I want to say to you,
            what I have said in one way or another over and over again,
            what I first said to you and last say to you now.
It’s crazy but Jesus is the Love of my life.

Don’t be afraid to get close to that Love, to get close to Jesus.
Give up resisting, give up the merit based theology and
            and accept the fact that you are just as much in need of a free gift of Love                         as anyone else.
Let yourself be loved by Jesus, and go crazy in that good way with him.

Give yourself to Love.