Here you will find musings gleaned from experiences gained as a fellow sojourner while leaning into the promised hope and reign of the Kingdom of God, now, in this time, everywhere and at once!
Thursday, February 27, 2020
ASH WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 26, 2020
with Humility...the Only Way to Live
A book of precepts was written by Benedict of Nursia in 516 AD, for the purpose of organizing the communal life of monks seeking to live a holy life dedicated to God and others. It came to be called the "Rule of St. Benedict" and has been widely adopted and adapted across many Christian traditions. Centered around a monastic day of work, prayer, and contemplation, it brought balance to the individual life and elevated the dignity of manual labor in the service of God. Covering nearly every aspect of life as experienced in community, it has proved incredibly insightful and inspiring for Christians across the centuries, both inside and outside of monastic life.
Chapter 7 of the "Rule" is concerned with humility. Benedict penned a 12 Step approach to living with humility which has also been adapted to fit the particular circumstance of those who would attempt to emulate its path of authentic Christian discipleship. The members of Christ Lutheran are focusing on several of these steps, or "keys" as we are adapting them, for our Lenten journey individually and corporately.
Our Lenten journey begins with contemplation on Keys 1 and 2: Fear of God & Self-Denial.
Fear of God reminds us that God alone is worthy to be praised and worshiped! Our daily lives have a tendency to be chaotic and filled with many distractions causing us to forget our place in the whole of creation - even who we are! Living within the construct of our painfully designed personas meant to insulate us from pain and failure in the eyes of others, we play at the dangerous game of being God. Fear of God works like a dose of smelling salts, waking us up to the reality of our true existence and this ultimate truth: WE are NOT God! It is humbling to embrace our humanity but such humility is absolutely essential if we are to become who, how and what we have been created to be. Having reverence for God and growing in our relationship with God opens the door to a world of limitless possibilities!
Self-Denial is rejecting the lie that deludes us into thinking we must be self-sufficient, meet every expectation we believe others demand from us, and conquer some illusory perfection on our own. The pseudo-self, the ego-self, is primarily concerned with measuring up, competing with others, and achieving success, power, and influence by the world's standards. Sadly, sooner or later, we end up feeling that we are never enough, defeated, and/or sorely exhausted.
Understandably, if we are constantly admonished by our inner critic and old tapes that play endlessly in our heads, our hearts become too heavy and hope eludes us. Plagued by doubts, insecurity, and fear our lived-experience also becomes very narrow as we retreat behind our many masks. However, masks tend to impair our vision and holy imagination causing us to retreat more and more into an ever-shrinking inner-world where we believe we are safe. Often our worst nightmare is being outed as a failure and a fraud!
The good news is that we can surrender our false-self, let go of our rebellion that defies who we have been created to be. Letting go of the burden of "what we are not", we can remember who we are and whose we are! Like shedding a crushing weight, we can step outside the impossible burden of falsehood into the light of Christ's promise that we have been set free indeed! Free to remember and discover our real self with all our limitations and unique gifts so critical for continuing Christ's mission in the world, and live the abundant life God wills for all.
Humility is no easy path. Our desire to be God is a deeply ingrained habit and way of being in the world, even though it leads to a painfully unfulfilled life. Scripture tells us, "The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10)." and truly IS the first step toward a a new life. Only then can we deny our false-self and live into the joy that awaits every Child of God.