Sacred Spaces of Transformation

Sacred Spaces of Transformation

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Who Is Listening? Mark 3:20-35

I read a story(1) about a woman who spent a weekend in New York City with her 14 year old daughter.  It was their first visit and they wanted to catch a Broadway show.   The discount ticket line in Times Square is extremely long.  Waiting in this line affords you the opportunity to take in the vast collision of opposites in Times Square.

Smiling families are taking pictures of themselves while standing next to an angry man extending a middle finger.  On one side of the street is Disney's "Beauty and the Beast," on the other side a “triple x" theater.  Men in $5000 suits walk next to men asking for a quarter for something to eat.

Peddlers sell dubious Rolex watches while street preachers claim the time has come and the end is near. Anything that can be found, will be found. The woman and daughter were listening to the conversations of those in line.  A couple was bragging as to the number of shows they have attended.  Elderly ladies were complaining about the line, the heat and their feet.

Men were making lewd comments toward the young female students standing a few feet in front.  It seemed a normal day in our society.  The woman pulled her daughter a bit closer, and then noticed a woman standing a few feet away. Plump, middle age, wearing a heavy coat and a tattered hat.  Her shoes were dirty and torn.

She was one of the invisible homeless. She seemed to be mumbling to herself while feeding the pigeons crumbs of bread.  All seem to look past her, most just turned their backs and ignored her.  Most did not give her the dignity of recognition as a human being. Only the insignificant pigeons paid her any notice.

Young girls giggled, and said “she is crazy” never lifting their eyes from their phones while texting.  I assume this is how people treated Jesus. This radical message was turning their world upside down and they could not accept it. He said “live in peace, forgive, accept, love” and they turned their backs on him.

He insisted to the religious leaders everyone mattered and no one was excluded from the God’s - they looked right through him.  Imagine the reaction when he ate with sinners, embraced men and woman with difficult pasts, how pulled people from the shadows.  They called him evil and mad.

When he told them to love and not to judge, when he told them the Fathers is good, the wanted to kill him.  Jesus was challenging all the knew about God.  They could not imagine the God he was describing.  In fact, they were quite comfortable with the convenient and predictable God the created.  One with simple answers and no mystery.

All they had to do was read scriptures, follow the rules, wait for judgement, offer a few things up for sacrifice, people, animals and ideals, and keep out of God’s way.  Easy to appease and please.  In fact, it was a great way to control God. Yet the problem with creating an simple God is that you never have to get to know God.

God is not allowed to truly transform your life.  Yet, this predictable God has a tendency to be unpredictable. God will astonish and amaze.  He sends Jesus with a crazy and transformative message of hope. Jesus pointing to a divine heart filled with Goodness. Jesus was attuned to the heart of God.  They called him crazy.

At Calvary, many turned their backs on him and abandoned him.  In the truth of Easter, hearts were claimed and lives emboldened. This wondrous life and message of Jesus began to go out into the world.  It spread not by the powerful of society, but through simple people like you and I. The excluded, powerless, the hurting, the sick.

All those in the desperate need of the love and acceptance of God.  And people found it in one another.  Living the message, seeking the sacred presence of God and then sharing it.  Heart spoke to heart, depth found depth.   Without power, weapons or force, this message changed the world. Yet over time and distance we forget. It became easy.

That crazy message soon sounded like the mumblings of a crazy man or woman.  People began to hear it without really listening.  All those things like self, wealth, power, and exclusion claimed more of ones times. That crazy becomes normal and loses the mystery.  We lose the connection to the Divine Heart and transformative life and words.

So we cobble together an easy version message and once again and create a convenient God of easy answers.  We quote a few words of scripture and know we understand the mind of God.  Do this and God will accept you, act like that and God hates. And once again we have created a predictable and distant God.

A God we can control. A God we never really allow ourselves to know.  It is the what Jesus warned us against doing. Every time Jesus' followers began making rules (like no children near Jesus, don't let the crowd get too close, don't touch that person), Jesus was clear.  Stop, listen to the heartbeat of God!  What matters most is to follow me.”

This is why they called him crazy. And this is why we need to be called crazy once again.  We have this incredible God who is constantly challenging us to live and pray differently.  A indescribable God who continually invites us into a mysterious Divine presence.  Heart speaks to heart, spiritual depth finds true transformation.  Don’t settle for anything less.  Seek the heart of God.

We are being offered so much more. Sit in divine silence  and acknowledge your dependence on Him.  Live in the sacred present and accept everything that comes your way as a blessing . Don’t define God,just sit in wonder.  Keep watching how he forgives, listen to his accepting words.  Learn how he loves, sense how easily he brings peace.

To the world, this is a crazy way of living yet we have a crazy and unpredictable God. Why would we want anything less incredible. Simple explanations and easy answers separate us from astonishment.  When we are hurting, excluded, sick, tired or even joyful and happy. Do we really want a simple and predictable God?

A God who can be controlled and interpreted.  No.  Our God spins ten thousand galaxies in the palm of His hand and in the same instant bends down and breaths life into the smallest red ant. Find our God who is in every moment, every being, every molecule in creation. The God who loved each one of us enough so intensely that he sent His son into this world for each one of  us.

Go beyond the easy answers. We need to increase our capacity for God.  When we press our faith and lives beyond simple routine, we can seek God over and over again.  When we are astounded and challenged by God, we can live into the fullness of our calling.  We can journey with the poor, help those sick in body and mind. We can bring about peace.

We can heal a hurting world with this crazy message about the Kingdom of God where everyone is welcome.   This is where the Kingdom begins.  That day in New York, something occurred.  The woman standing in line heard the mumbling and as she was turning her back noticed that the homeless women had the same round small nose as her daughter.   She felt a divine connection.

Easy answers simply would not do and she now had questions.   Why she was on the streets?  Could this happen to her daughter?  Heart spoke to heart and deep sought depth.  At that point she realized the woman was not mumbling, but talking to the birds.  With a soft voice she was telling them how much she and God loved them.

Of God's great love for the world.  She told them of God's deep sadness in seeing beautiful people dying of AIDS and mental illness. Of God’s true sadness how we ignore one another.  She spoke of God's heartbreak that we cannot seem to love one another in the way which God has loved us.  How Jesus came to show God’s love.

Only the pigeons were listening to this beautiful crazy message of forgiveness, love, and hope.  The crazy homeless woman truly understood the heart of God. Now, The woman standing in line was in tears.If only the entire world could hear this message.   My dear ones, the entire world can hear this message - through you and your lives.  Listen, seek and go deep.

Each moment of the day, challenge yourself to seek the heart of God and in doing so you will find your true heart.  Allow yourselves to be astonished and amazed.   People may think we are crazy, but maybe we are.  We believe in a God who is crazy in love with us.  And that heart, that love, that relationship,is worth more than anything this sane world has to offer. Seek it.

1.   I must apologize.  I cannot remember the source.  It is not my story and I paraphrased it.
2.      Anderson. Breaking the Rules: Trading Performance for Intimacy with God (Kindle Locations 1058-1060). Kindle Edition