Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Attuning our Hearts

Matthew 2:1-12

Isaiah 60:1-6

This is a wearying time, a trying time.  This day to day grind is a bit of a relentless slog, friends.  And there have been worse times, for sure. There have been more trying times and more brutal slogs. That doesn’t mean what we are enduring isn’t hard. And it doesn’t mean we should buck up and ignore how it feels, or stay positive and refuse to acknowledge how hard it is. 

But even in the midst of the most wearying and trying times, God is with us. God is here. Right here. For us; for the whole world. As God has always been and will always be. God came in; God comes in. Christ is with us, alongside us, inhabiting it all.

 The season of Epiphany celebrates the Magi, the scholars from the East who came to find the Jewish Messiah because the universe nudged them to do so.  They were scientists who sought the truth in the stars. They were those who pursued knowledge, those who lived with curiosity and delved into mystery, those who were not afraid to not know, not afraid to find out, not afraid to fail, or to risk, or to search, or to find.

Why did God involve these strangers from very far away in this moment? Why are they drawn into the story in such a particular way?

God coming into the world to share this life and redeem us all is a promise for the whole world, so the story can’t just contain these people, the familiar, those raised to watch for this promise, anticipate this coming. The story must also contain those people, the others, outsiders, foreigners, who don’t know the prophesies, and aren’t looking for a Messiah.

But why them, specifically? 

I suspect they were brought into the story because they were looking. They were seeking. They were open. They were paying attention. They were ready to be surprised by God.  They may not know what they were watching for, but they knew it when they saw it.  


Maybe like the shepherds, the Magi too heard the song of the universe, the music of the cosmos, only they saw it, and they followed the shimmering, and they let it guide them into the unknown toward the deeper real.  They were ready to respond to something outside themselves. They heard the calling to join in, and they let it shape them, they let it propel them into the world to seek what transcends the world right here in the most ordinary of places.


Arise, shine your light has come!

Lift up your head and look around!


Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could see the shimmering music of the cosmos too? If we could hear the song of the universe? If we could feel transcendence in the ordinary?  When the inbreaking of God happens, wouldn’t you like to be one who lifts your head and looks around and recognizes it?  I would.


So for the next few months, we’re going to take our cue from the Magi and we are going to practice seeking. We are going to take it back to the basics: Being open. Paying attention. Readying ourselves to hear the music of the cosmos, to see the shimmering of transcendence in the ordinary. What I mean by all this is, we are going to pray.


Prayer is attuning our hearts to communicating with God. 

Praying involves both listening and speaking, sometimes with words.  

Often prayer is deep listening while being deeply listened to, 

with no speaking at all.

We can pray with all our senses, and in many different ways. 

When we are trusting God is present, and we are present ourselves, we are praying.


Like the Magi, we will watch for God – not knowing what we’re watching for, but trusting that we will know it when we see it. 

We will wait for God, not knowing how God will come to us, but knowing when God arrives in our lives it usually surprises us anyway. 


The birth of the Divine into this life never ends. Our ordinary lives are invaded by God-with-us again and again and again. And when it happens and we recognize it, we are moved, we are invited into new directions, we are called deeper into this life, we are shaped in unexpected ways, and we are propelled into the world to tenaciously seek transcendence in the ordinary.  


You and I will become those who are not afraid to not know, and not afraid to find out, not afraid to fail, or risk, or search, or find.  We will become those not afraid to live, really live, no matter what the circumstances we find ourselves in.


As we said a few weeks ago: we can’t make any of this happen. 

What we can do, what we will practice doing together, (as Meister Eckhart reminds us) is to assume the inner stance of least resistance to being overtaken by transcendence.  By assuming the inner stance of least resistance to the Divine, we are making ourselves accessible to the moments of intimacy and immediacy when they flash in our lives.  We are readying ourselves for moments of resonance, when life reverberates with aliveness.


So together we will practice assuming the inner stance of least resistance to God-with-us being with us, 

to the Spirit moving us, and moving through us, 

to the Christ coming to us in the face of another, in the needs, and joys, and grief, and hope of one another.  

We will practice assuming the inner stance of least resistance to the Holy One calling us to join in love in this world, however it comes to us, and wherever it leads us.  

Which is to say, we will practice praying.

And we’ll see what God involves us in when we do.

Welcome to Epiphany.

God is not what you think

or even what you believe,

because God is

a word unspoken,

a thought unthought,

a belief unbelieved.

So if you wish to know

this God, practice wonder,

do what is good, and

cultivate silence.

 (Meister Eckhart, 13th c)

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