A Weekly publication of The Awakening Institute for Spiritual Formation,
Spiritual Direction and Soul Care
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.
Wisdom Part One
Over the coming week’s we will entertain some thoughts and observations with regard to wisdom. This week we begin with…
Wisdom and Epiphany
Read Matthew 2:1-12 slowly
Epiphany refers to a moment of sudden revelation or deep insight.
Friday January 6th, 2017, as I write this week’s letter is the day of Epiphany. Today we celebrate the ability to be aware of God’s presence with us. The Epiphany of God having come in the flesh as Jesus Christ is commonly known around the story of the Magi, also referred to as “wise men”, who were led by a star to Jerusalem where they would meet the Messiah.
We can however consider each and every moment when we become aware, or more deeply aware, of God’s presence in our lives an epiphany. Since a desire for such an awareness of God’s presence is inextricably connected to the Christian journey it behooves us to take a look at the way epiphanies occur and how we can become better predisposed to an awareness of God’s presence in our lives, thus able to be better guided by the realization that God is with us, and Jesus Christ is saying follow me. For this the story of the Magi is quite helpful when we seek the answers to three questions. 1) Who are these Magi? 2) Why are the Magi referred to as “wise”? 3) Does this wisdom predispose them, thus us if we can acquire such wisdom, to a better awareness of God’s presence here with us here and now?
Who Are the Magi?
The best way to approach an answer to this question is to ask, “How did they know to look for a star, and what that star indicated when it shone?”
Although we cannot be absolutely sure, I think we find clues to this mystery on the Book of Daniel. In Daniel we are introduced to four men who are among the Hebrew exiles in Babylon (an Eastern Empire). Note that the Magi are from the east (Matthew 2:1). These men were Daniel who was renamed Belteshazzar, Hananiah who was renamed Shadrach, Mishael who was renamed Meshach and Azariah who was renamed Abednego. We are told that King Ashpenaz ordered his chief official to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans, who were the wise men of Babylon (Dan. 1:4). The four men excelled in their learning and Daniel was eventually promoted to chief prefect over all the wise men in Babylon (Dan. 2:48).
It would be inconceivable for Daniel, who in other parts of the story risked his life to be faithful to God would not have taught the things of the Hebrew God to the wise men in Babylon, which would include the coming Messiah and the star.
I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near-- a star shall come out of Jacob,
Could it be that the Magi who followed the star to Jesus are descendants of the wise men of Babylon, who were taught by Daniel to keep watch for the coming Messiah and the star that would lead them to him?
Why Are the Magi referred to as “Wise”?
The obvious answer would be that they came from the lineage of the Chaldeans who were recognized as the wise men of Babylon. More to the point however is that they never stopped looking. They looked generation after generation with great intent and a great desire for what they sought, which led to revelation and the Epiphany of which we are speaking. It appears that wisdom includes willingness to look and to observe. Wisdom also flows out of great aspiration and desire to find what is being sought, even if that takes a long time and a lot of effort. It is here that fertile soil for revelation has been produced. But this is only the beginning of the journey, a journey which without exception includes perspiration. The Magi observed intently for the coming Messiah, their desire was great and the revelation given, but the wise person must take action and be ready to go wherever the revelation led them. For the Magi this meant a long journey to the place where the star pointed, the place where the Messiah would be found.
However, it doesn’t end there, as when the Magi arrived, they then entered into a state of prostration.
On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. NRS Matthew 2:11
Can Such Wisdom Predispose Us to A Better Awareness of God’s Presence With Us Here and Now?
Only we can answer this question for ourselves, but there is little doubt that the wise person must look for God in their midst, by slowing down and realizing the reality of God with us. This is the inward journey. The wise person possesses a hunger and a thirst for more of God in their life; aspiration and desire that grow regularly along the way. The wise person with not wilt at the first sign of struggle, hard work, or feelings that the search is taking too much time: perspiration is inevitable. Finally, the wise person is fully inclined to humbly fall before God in worship and sacrifice, as it has been said that sacrifice is the act of making something sacred in our lives. The wise person knows the sacred nature of God with us. The wise person will meditate on the how observation, aspiration, perspiration, and prostration are active in their spiritual journey to Truth, in Jesus Christ.
Next week: wisdom within the context of righteous action and a compassionate heart.
Coming in 2017
Enneagram Training Courses
Introduction to the Enneagram Seminar
A Six hour seminar,
February 18th, 9:30-3:00,
1 hour break from 12:00nonn to 1:00pm
At Epworth UMC
7651 Johnson Street
Hollywood, Florida, 33024
During this seminar we offer the following as an introduction the amazing enneagram.
The Three Part Symbol and Its Nine Points
Body, Heart, and Head
Initial Exploration Into Discovering Your Space
Subtypes (Self-Preservation, Social and One-to-One)
Arrows (growth through stress points and healing the child heart)
Self-care (vice to virtues)
Cost for this seminar is $25 prepaid before February 1st
and $35 after February 1st
Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 321-298-8801
for further details
Coming in the Fall of 2017
Introduction to the Enneagram Eleven Week Course
This is an Eleven week (27.5 hour) course into the fantastic world
of the Enneagram.
This class will include an in-depth look into all nine spaces as well as their subtypes, wings, triads and Holy ideas, with emphasis on its usefulness within the context of spiritual direction and self-care.
Syllabus is now available; email@example.com
Want to learn more about the important practice of spiritual direction, or are looking for a spiritual director to walk with you in your spiritual journey?
Contact “The Awakening Institute”
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website www.theawakeninginstitute.com
Have Something You Would Like to Share?
Awakening would be blessed to receive original articles, poems, or artistic work that would be helpful and edifying for those interested in Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Direction, and/or Soul Care for future publication.
Please submit via email to email@example.com
Upcoming Classes and Seminars
Introduction to Spiritual Direction
Exploring Spiritual Dispositions
Introduction to the Enneagram
And much more…
Request a free syllabus today: firstname.lastname@example.org
To register please call 321-298-8801
Or visit our website www.theawakeninginstitute.com for a complete listing of available classes and a free syllabus for a class of your choice.
Community Bible Experience
This is an encounter with God’s Word designed for those who wish to experience the Scriptures at a deep heart level, as a way to inner transformation.
Coming in the summer of 2017
The Gospel of John
Watch for details
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Send us their email address and we will make it happen
Some recommendations for excellent spiritual guidance…
If you have others to share with our readers please send them to email@example.com
Something to Ponder
A person who worships in Spirit and Truth no longer honors God because of God’s works, but praises God because of God’s self.
Evagrius Ponticus, 4th century desert father, Chapters on Prayer, 59
A Gathering of Spiritual Directors
This coming spring The Awakening Institute will host a gathering of spiritual directors. The reason for the gathering is to come together in prayer and to seek discernment regarding ways we can, together, raise awareness within the church of how spiritual direction can be a vehicle by which God’s presence and voice can be more deeply felt and more clearly heard, at both individual and congregational levels. If you are a spiritual director and would like to join in this conversation please contact Gene Yotka at 321-298-8801 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for additional details.
May you experience God’s loving and guiding presence throughout the New Year.
(Additional to our daily Scripture reading)
Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer, by David-Steindl Rast
I Am A Follower, by Leonard Sweet
Becoming Human, By Jean Vanier
Knowing As We Are Known, by Eugene T. Yotka
Let Your Life Speak, by Parker Palmer
Desiring God’s Will, by David Benner
Walking In The Light, by Steve Harper
Thoughts in Solitude, by Thomas Merton
Incarnation: The Surprising Overlap of Heaven & Earth, by Will Willimon
The Mystic Way of Evangelism, by Elaine A. Heath
A Hidden Wholeness, by Parker Palmer
The Return of the Prodigal Son, by Henri Nouwen
Way of Love: Recovering the Heart of Christianity, by Norman Wirzba
Falling Upward, by Richard Rohr
Between the Dark and the Daylight, by Joan Chittister
New Seeds of Contemplation, by Thomas Merton
New! Love Henri, by Henri Nouwen