WONDERFUL COUNSELOR LORD OF LIFE, LORD OF ALL PRINCE OF PEACE MIGHTY GOD HOLY ONE "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14
The last promise and last prayer of the Bible
“He which testifieth these things saith, ‘Surely, I come quickly.’ Even so, come, Lord Jesus.’ The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”
From the book of Luke, chapter 1, verses 26-28
“And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in to her and said:
‘Hail, thou art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.‘”
AVE MARIA – Franz Schubert
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7: 14
Immanuel – God with us
The year 2020 has given to us innumerable opportunities to grow in faith and commitment to that way of life which we know to be right and true. This moral compass is known by many names. During the Christmas season “Immanuel” is celebrated as the North Star of our compass.
St. Francis of Assisi was raised by his wealthy father in luxury and social privilege. He loved to party with his young friends and remained isolated from the poverty which was the norm for most of society during the Middle Ages. His transformation occurred while riding away on horseback to join the Crusades, a worthy undertaking for a man desiring to prove himself to his family and friends back home.
Lepers were social outcasts who were feared, according to stories about Francis, greatly by the young man. Approaching a leper along the highway, he turned his horse and rode quickly the other direction not wanting to see or engage this man who was rejected by society. However, whether by conscience or whether by God, Francis could not remove the image of the diseased man from his mind, decided to turn around, determined to face this fear and spent time with the leper thus conquering his unfounded prejudice.
St. Francis, Jesus of Nazareth, Clare of Assisi, and documented mystics throughout history laid the foundations for a Christian philosophy which transcends popular belief that sin is the inherent nature of man and that ‘salvation’ is the goal of faith. Contrary to this contemporary Christian doctrine is the concept that mankind is a community of brothers and sisters who, in loving co-existence with the entirety of Creation, are designed to serve one another in peace and fellowship, engaging those at the bottom of the social ladder in service rather than aspiring to climb the ladder to a promised salvation in a far-away heavenly home thereby avoiding the ‘lepers’ of modern society, the disenfranchised.
In years past, blinders were put upon work horses to avoid distractions in the field or along the road. It seems that some of today’s Christians voluntarily put on blinders to avoid the dark side of today’s world, to avoid the distractions of intolerance, racism, hatred, white nationalism, homophobia, Islamophobia, homelessness, poverty.
Garth Brooks famously sang “Friends in Low Places” back in 1990. Could we (and I include myself at the top of this list) search the lowly places for those who have been cast by the wayside, commune with them, walk the talk with them, look beyond that which makes them different from us and somehow connect in solidarity with the One who makes us one humanity?
Perhaps we could get down into the nitty-gritty of humanity, love those whom St. Francis and Clare of Assisi loved, stand shoulder to shoulder with the ones Jesus addressed in the Beatitudes as “blessed”….perhaps then we could shun those Christian blinders (human and doctrinal) which prevent us from seeing the world as it is.
Maybe we need to look in the ‘low places’ rather than the heavens for Jesus?
If you are sober today, give yourself and your Higher Power a hand.
Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity – STEP 2
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God. – STEP 3
This is the miracle of restoration. It is not dependent on anything you or I could do to alleviate the addictions which controlled our lives. Yes, we had to talk the walk and then walk the talk, but ultimately the grace of a power greater than us brought us back to sanity, restored us to meaningful lives within families and communities – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.
God as we understood God is, for many of us, the premise which carries us over the hurdles of previous negative god experiences. No longer do we feel obligated to profess this faith or that in our daily faith walk. Surely, each religious philosophy of the world whether it be Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, etc. has nuggets of truth and wisdom; however, life changes when the God we follow is personal, loving and compassionate not corralled by any particular philosophy. As is human nature, we attempt to describe and define, but usually discover that our minds cannot comprehend the greatness or fathom the depths of that which we call Higher Power.
Whether your God or mine is a who, a what, a where, a when, male, female, genderless, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or simply the fellowship which supports our sobriety, give this Higher Power a round of applause today for keeping us clean and serene.
The lying which our parents strongly admonished with a good spanking is now labeled as ‘alternative facts.’ Those of us who were urged by parents, teachers and clergy to always take the high road are miserably lost in today’s social and religious babble. But, thankfully, there are still a few unmovable parameters with consistent guidelines that lead us through troubling times. It doesn’t really matter if we call those parameters values, morals, standards, God, spirit, wholeness, righteousness or moral compass. When the world is mucking along on the low road, we can always be assured of safe passage on the high road if we follow the inner voice speaking our truth.
Not always convenient and often frightening, this road leads us through the darkness of worldly concerns such as poverty, injustice, racism, hatred, corruption and untruth. It inevitably shows us to the other side where joy, peace and contentment dwell. It is a place where we know without doubt that all which is within us is bigger than anything the world can throw at us. We are capable of winning those battles with the world when we simply find that quiet space within and follow the directive of ancient prophets who said, “Be still and know.”
Psalm 46, verse 10 tells us that God will be known in the stillness of our souls. Forgo the chatter and chaos of an insane world system. Trust an alternative world order which promotes love and peace. That is the truth which history’s prophets and wise men/women discovered within. Believe the ancient and contemporary mystics who knew God dwelled within them and in all of Creation. Be still and know.
Those who claim that the only God is the one whom they profess in their particular faith are missing the universality of an energy force which permeates every cell of every body regardless of theology. Muslim brothers and sisters know God, brown-skinned neighbors know God, neighborhood Hindu shop keepers know God, Buddhist monks living in the Himalayas know God. They name this energy according to their traditions, but God is God. Be still, learn, and know.
I once loved slinging the mud just as much as the next guy. Lord knows that today we have enough ammunition to be slinging 24/7. From religion to Hollywood to elections to politicians there is an endless supply of trash talk that can fill the airwaves with unworthy news, innuendo, gossip, and outright lies. Even the sailor in me who many years ago drank too much beer with the rowdies in the local Navy hangout blushes like an innocent schoolgirl at some of what these ears hear today.
But, know what? Sling mud and you’re going to get muddy. Or to put it in terms an old salt would appreciate, “Sling shit and you will get shitty.” Slinging becomes an acceptable way to communicate, a vocalization of the anger and disgust residing within the cranium and slinging is infectious. Have you ever noticed that when you share the first cuss word in a conversation, the other person also takes more freedom with cussing. When you talk trash about another person, those around you feel free to throw their trash into that conversation also. It’s a socially transmissible dis-order. I fear that our society has been infected with a terminal case of slinging.
This is on my mind because Trump will be in Orlando, one of my favorite cities. I know the trash talk, the bullshit, the lies will flow freely in that arena. Middle fingers will be pointed at journalists, insults will be leveled, lies will be told, and Trump will smile victoriously from the podium because he knows he has stirred up yet another crowd of supporters into hysteria. Lord knows he doesn’t know how to run a country or keep us safe or play with other children nicely, or speak truth. The only thing he can do effectively is stir the shit pot. Aw hell, here I go again slinging. I truly want to give it up. Help!
My grandpa always said, “If you can’t talk nicely, then just keep your damned mouth shut.” I sure wish he was still with us. We could go to Orlando and spread some nice conversation. Well, maybe not. Grandpa also said, “Don’t try to reason with holier-than-thou Christians, the IRS, and Republicans. They have hearing problems.”
Grandpa was a wise man.
A heckler yelling Sodom and Gomorrah at a Buttigieg rally in Des Moines, Iowa, was drowned out by supporters chanting, “Pete, Pete, Pete.” Then from the podium came a response from the candidate. Looking toward the heckler he said simply,
“The good news is the condition of my soul is in the hands of God, ”
and then back across the crowd to his supporters, “but the Iowa caucuses are up to you.”
The amazing rise of the latest of Democrats to declare his candidacy for President in 2020, Pete Buttigieg has stunned pollsters by coming in 4th behind Bernie, Biden, and Beto. Commentators have marveled that this scenario could never have happened just 10 years ago. An openly gay man in a committed marriage standing in front of millions of viewers nationwide with the audacity to believe he has a chance to win the Presidency. Unheard of! Oh, how the literalists, infallibles, and inerrants must be flapping jaws . Sodom and Gomorrah indeed.
“Did you see it, ” the thumpers must be muttering, “his husband had the nerve to give Pete a peck on the cheek in front of the cameras with the world watching? What will people think?”
Just my personal and biased opinion, but I think the world might exclaim in gasps of relief, “Thank God those folks across the water have finally come to their senses. The Yanks could possibly elect in 2019 an intelligent class act, a monogamous married man, a Rhodes scholar who served his country as a Naval officer in Afghanistan and then returned home to dedicate to public service.”
Yeah, I’m sure that’s what our European friends are saying because Pete Buttigieg, the gay mayor who publicly introduced his husband on national TV with a kiss does not rock their sensibilities nor ours nearly as much as the current political regime in the USA which protects a draft-dodger, a racist, a womanizer, and a liar.
The good news is that the condition of my soul (and yours) is in the hands Of God. No man, no religion, no theology, no President, no world leader, no spouse, no friend, no pastor has a claim on what we know to be our truth. Just let that resonate for a moment. Do you feel the freedom, the assurance, the joy? The chains are broken not because a priest or minister says so, but because the master of your life, and the God of my life have stepped into the picture and overruled all those who tell us that we are immoral, evil, misguided, unworthy and headed for hell’s fires. That human assessment simply is not true. If the book which you read for inspiration and instruction condemns you and if the people you choose as spiritual leaders condemn you, then you need to give up that funny book and its associated church, mosque or temple to find a fellowship that speaks love and compassion.