From the Rector’s Study
Sunday, December 20th, Advent IV, Birth
2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16, Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26, Romans 16:25-27, Luke 1:26-38
What am I a man doing talking about this pregnancy and birth today? Nancy is preaching next Sunday, so I will be the one today.
Yet Brian McLaren in his book Finding our way again, lets me off the hook by quoting Paul in Galatians 4:19; My little children, for whom I am again in the pain of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, and
Galatians 5:21-22 21 envy,[a] drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
The Fruit of the Spirit
22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,
So with the indwelling of the Spirit, the seed of the Spirit coming within us moves us from the things which will not inherit the kingdom of God to the fruits of the Spirit.
So how do we move from one side to the other? McLaren gives us some insight by suggesting three stages of spiritual development.
-The Via Purgativa or Katharsis
-The Via Illuminativa or Fotosis
-The Via Unitiva or Theosis.
There is more to each that I can talk about here, but some thoughts:
-The Via Purgativa or Katharsis
My first thought is one of emptying, or moving away from.
This one is summarized by moving away from greed, lust and pride. This is why monastics take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
I cannot help thinking that greed and lust are similar, as greed is about an intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power or food, and lust is more specific and directed at one person.
Pride is about feeling good about what we have already achieved and are achieving and protecting and defending our reputations.
As we move away from these with intention and prayer, the idea is to move toward…..
The idea of emptying is then what do we do to fill?
The second step is: -The Via Illuminativa or Fotosis
This is expressed as coming into the light. Last week we said the opening sentence together three times; The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted. Isaiah 61.1
and this week: I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to
his word. Luke 1.38
Intentionally coming in to the presence of God, not that we a never out of God’s presence but us being aware that we are doing so.
Also bible reading either alone or in group, reading the passage three times slowly, and in between, taking the time to see what God is showing us. Moving from head to heart.
The third stage is what happens after or because of the first two.
-The Via Unitiva or Theosis. This is Spirit of God and light within and around us.
The example Brian McLaren gives is a fire poker put into a blazing fire. We are the poker and God the fire. The fire doesn’t turn black from the iron of the poker, the poker turns red from the fire, and the poker gets hot and not the other way around.
So we just have to be there in all that means and God takes care of the rest.
I would like to close with the idea that the giving up in the first part is not all about a sense of the negative. Maybe I am wrong in this but, when I came across the notions of pride and obedience. Monks are under obedience, under the authority of another, and God. And the thought of yes, giving up authority, but along with authority comes responsibility. So I don’t have to worry about success and failure, the line from a Keith Green song comes to mind: Do your best, and pray that it’s blessed and God will take care of the rest.