Hi Everyone, I pray that you, at this very moment are experiencing the presence of God in your day. Now is a good time to be still and let God speak to your heart.
I also pray you all have begun to settle into this Holy season of Advent as we prepare ourselves; heart, soul, mind and body to celebrate and to experience the birth of Christ on Christmas day as we simultaneously wait for Christ’s second coming.
This year our focus is on what we are calling “The Slowing.”
The Slowing (Part Two)
Several people have asked me why this series is not simply called “Slow Down.” The reason is because we can only slow down in a nominal fashion in and of our own abilities. The slowing of which we are speaking goes beyond our ability to achieve and must, at some point, be surrendered to the power of God. The slowing is a power from God that calls us to intentionally place ourselves before God, to experience God on God’s terms, void of time, agenda, past or forward thinking. This slowing is the timeless moment in which we feel God’s presence and just be. This can only ultimately be accomplished by the power of God. In a real sense the Slowing, is part of God’s heavenly realm that we experience at a liminal place between self-awareness and an awareness of God’s presence. To come to this place we must relax into the loving arms of God. I heard this feeling described as crawling up into the lap of Jesus, who just holds us warmly. It is a place of peace, or more accurately Shalom. As we give ourselves to God’s timeless love we allow ourselves to sink deeper and deeper into the mystery of timeless agape Love. As this occurs we then feel a sense of welcoming from God that tugs at our very soul. This sense of welcome, when responded to, comes over us as would a warm breeze or sunshine on our face in which we feel called to bask. The power of God’s love in the midst of the Slowing draws us in as a desire for God flows from the delight we feel as we rest in the mysterious connection with God and thus all things. In this we find ourselves wanting more of what God is giving us. This is not a hungry wanting to have or possess, as much as it is a peaceful desire for what God is giving us and which we allow to flow in and through us without any resistance or desto slow the flow of Love. This is a kenotic sensation of pure joy. We feel no need to grasp, only a desire to be very open and present to the timeless event. Gerald May in his wonderful book “Wisdom of the Wilderness” describes this sensation as “wanting to gently enter gentleness.” There is a power to The Slowing that draws us in, but it is never violent or coercive. It is as though our little intention to seek God’s peace, even with all our weaknesses and struggles, is rewarded by God. Maybe Thomas Merton was right when he stated his belief that our desire is pleasing to God, even when we don’t really have a clue that what we are actually doing is right or in line with God’s will. How much do we desire God’s Slowing this Advent season? Is there any indication of this desire in our lives right now? Is God offering to draw us closer to a deeper awareness of the divine presence as God is just waiting to see if we are willing to simply make an effort, indicating a bit more intentionality and desire on our part?
As we consider, on the following pages, this weeks’ daily Advent devotionals I would like to suggest a way to cultivate our initial step into the Slowing that God is inviting us to experience. As you consider this initial step remember we do not, we cannot, create the Slowing, as much as we can gently move into it. Once we do this we trust God to do the rest.
1. Find a quiet place
2. Sit comfortably
3. Listen to one or two beautiful hymns. You may play a CD, or MP3. I have found a great YouTube cite titled 1 Hour of Christmas Music/Instrumental Songs Playlist/Piano, Violin & Orchestra.
4. Then fade the music and sit for several minutes silently reflecting on Emmanuel, God with Us.
5. Read and meditate through the day’s Advent devotional.
Advent 2016 Daily Devotionals
Initial note: to make the most of these devotionals it is suggested that the disciple does their best to enter into the Scripture as if hearing it for the very first time, as if they are in the presence of the very first hearers. Allow yourself to feel the location, and the message in a sensory manner. In other words live God’s Word. I have found that this approach can move us into what can only be described as a timeless place, where we can truly experience the slowing we seek in God’s presence.
Monday, Day Eight, December 5th
Dear Lord Jesus, help me to feel the calm peacefulness of the slowing that You are inviting me into this Advent season. Kindle within me an ever deepening desire to rest before You that You may draw me into a deeper understanding and a deeper experience of Your Holy Presence. Lord I desire to know more of You in my life and I trust Your sacred Word to guide my way into an experience of inner peace in Your Holy Presence. In the precious name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen
Read Matthew 1:18-25 slowly: Do not rush. Savor each word. Listen attentively as the narrative unfolds. You may want to read it several times, with no agenda but to simply hear God’s Word spoken into your heart. Allow the words to reverberate in your mind. Be open and aware of any thoughts and feelings; physically and emotionally without dwelling on them. Let yourself slowdown in God’s presence. Feel the slowing. When you feel fully recollected consider the thought that follows. Finally consider the questions provided. You may be drawn to journal your thoughts as you move through God’s Word. Be open to this direction as it comes upon you.
Thought: The paradox of contrast and congruence with regard to heavenly and earthly things in this Scripture is striking. Herein we observe a movement of the Holy Spirit, against the pain and disappointment that Joseph must have felt and the compassion with which Joseph reacted. Then a heavenly Angel appears to Joseph, telling him to not be afraid, and explains to him what is happening. This is followed by the double entendre, “Joseph awoke”, indicating that he awoke from a natural sleep, while also awakening and responding to the movement of God all around him. The scene is fascinating and wonderful.
Questions to consider: How would you have felt if you were Mary or Joseph? How might you have responded to the heavenly activity that was going on all around you, especially in light of the earthily reality of the situation? In what way is God speaking to you right now? Joseph slowed down and went to sleep? What if by slowing God opened your eyes to the reality of the heavenly activity around you? How would you respond? What might be being revealed to you?