First, I would like to express my joy that so are joining me on FaceBook Live each weekday morning at 7:30am and on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 for our Word and Worship Bible experience. Over the past 10 days we have had over 1000 views. Please join us each week day. We can be found at www.facebook.com/pastor.gene.7.
I would also like to announce that within the next 30 days The Awakening Institute will begin to post lessons, both live stream and recorded on YouTube. These will be classes designed to help Spiritual Directors become more effective in their ministries, as well as various Spiritual Formation and Soul Care topics for all who are seeking a closer, more aware, walk with Jesus Christ. I will be posting the channel and times next week.
We are also in the process of deciding how to best offer Continuing Education Units (CEU) for our courses.
In this week’s “Awakening” I would like to offer a preview of our March 22nd, tuition free community experience titled, “Hearing God; An Introduction to Holy Silence and Contemplative Listening. 1
Now, let us center ourselves in Christ Jesus. Allow yourself to take the present moment to know God’s presence with you. It is good to be still as we pray for the Lord to speak to our hearts.
To hear God we must listen and to listen we must become silent; spirit, soul, mind and body. In short the image of God, who we are, must become silent so as to hear God who is the Creator of the image. The image of Love must become still to hear Love who is God. Listening to God is therefore the positon that opens our entire being to the intimacy of knowing God, “Be still and know that I am God”, Psalm 46:10a. The listening of which we are speaking is therefore contemplative, with God, listening that flows out of silent prayer, and to be in the Holy Spirit. John speaks of this in Revelation 1:10.
“I was in the spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet…”
John heard the voice of God. This is not only the privilege of the holy John, nor of any person who we might consider extremely holy. No! The ability to hear God’s voice is available, by God’s grace, to all people, when we allow our restless hearts to rest in the Lord Jesus Christ. Out of, or perhaps simultaneous with this rest, stillness, silence, contemplative listening is born. This contemplative way of being is liminal, it is a holy threshold from which God draws us into an deep, intimate, apophatic, silent way knowing where we, by God’s grace, can hear God. This sounds deeply mysterious, but the truth is that it is quite easy, for God does all the work. It is God’s work, (Gk. energeia) energy that brings this all about, though the same power (du,namij dunamis) that raised Christ from the dead (see Eph. 1:19). All we have to do is choose, commit and surrender to God’s loving draw, which by the Holy Spirit is open to all people. For, it is the Holy Spirit who is calling all to Christ Jesus and it is in Christ Jesus that God is most profoundly known and heard. So, how can we be more receptive and responsive to God, who is drawing us into this way of being?
Simply stated, contemplation is a way to listen carefully, incline our ears, and come to a deeper awareness of God.”
Jean Stairs, Listening for the Soul, pg. 38
Interestingly enough it begins with us, and our intentional embracing of silence.
When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent. Selah NRS
Silence begins by becoming more aware of that which bothers, agitates, or disturbs us and pondering these in a quiet, comfortable, sacred place. This pondering, or meditation, is then followed by a period of silent listening.
The silent surrender we seek is then helped along as we then meditate on God’s steadfast love.
We ponder your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple. NRS
When the Psalmist wrote this he was, of course, referring to the building. Today, for Christians, we are referring to the deepest aspects of who we are, for we are the temple of God. This is true both collectively, as the body of Christ, and individually as those who live and breathe and have our being in Christ Jesus. Thus, when we ponder God’s love we ponder the reality of the image of God, the image of Love, who we are, seeking the Creator of Love, who is God, who is Love. The inner cry of the image of God is always directed to God. For us to begin hearing God in earnest we must know that which keeps us from hearing. In Christ Jesus we are purified, God has opened our eyes to, made known, perfect Love. The inner darkness, now recognized, combined with knowing the presence of God in Christ Jesus, allows us to become aware that the light of Christ has shown in the darkness that was once death (See Ephesians 5:14). With this we realize that what we seek is God alone, for our hope is in the Lord, and we do this in holy silence.
For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. NRS
For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. NRS
Thomas Merton in the following quote depicts, for me, the mystery of the image of Love crying out for union, Oneing, with God who is Love, the Creator of the image. You can almost feel the silence in Merton’s words.
“The union of the simple light of God with the simple light of the human spirit, in love, is contemplation”
Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation, p. 292
May God Bless You All, Gene Yotka
1 “Hearing God: An Introduction to Holy Silence and Contemplative Listening experience will be held on March 22nd from 2:30-5:30 at The Awakening Institute, 115 Broad Street, Titusville, Fla. This is a tuition free community event. See details on page 3
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