Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Praying the Scripture - Called by Name

Opening Prayer
Here I am Lord,
Speak to me
within my heart and soul.
I am listening.

John 20:15-16 (The Message)

Jesus spoke to her, "Woman, why do you weep? Who are you looking for?"
She, thinking that he was the gardener, said, "Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him."
Jesus said, "Mary."

Why was I weeping? It seems ridiculous. A person like me, supposedly adult, seemingly sensible, seemingly ‘together’, crying like a love-sick teenager.

But that’s what it felt like Lord; Love-sickness; sick of being in love with an image; an ideal; a vision of a God who is supposed to love me too. But it never seemed like you were there; not really there.

Who says that love is a two-way thing?

Sometimes it isn’t – sometimes it’s sitting on the stairs at parties waiting for ‘the one’ to walk by, sometimes it’s pretending to be interested in football or music so that you can join in the conversation; sometimes it’s hanging around to get a lift just to be in the same space. And the worst thing is that ‘the one’ is so out of reach that they don’t even realise, don’t know, they are absolutely oblivious. People like me can understand why. We think - who am I anyway? What do I have that will attract attention? What do I have to offer?

If that’s what loving another human being can be like, then what hope is there with you Lord? Why would you notice me? You who called the universe into being, who created night and day, who are so far above me that I must barely exist except as a footnote to a footnote?

But I have done my best. I have prayed, I have hoped, I have studied, I have tried to follow your teaching, I have tried to love my neighbour, I have searched my heart for a God who is not just an image, not just a few minutes on a Sunday, not just a 2000 year old fairy story. And I have sat ‘on the stairs’ in meditation seeking that place, that moment of ‘contact’.

And today I heard my name; clearly, lovingly, as deep within and as true as my heartbeat. I heard you Lord and I knew; I knew I had your love. I knew that you knew me as a Mother knows her child’s cry in playground full of children; that I was held in your eye, in your hand and in your heart. And if I never heard your voice again I would still know. And the joy of that made me weep – just like a love-sick teenager.
‘Called by name’

In all religious cultures there are people known as mystics. People who have a ‘real’, physical knowledge and awareness of the presence of God. Teresa of Avila was one, as was the Little Flower. It is a state of spirituality that seems to belong to the saints, to holy people. It seems too much for us ordinary folk. We can just about cope with our learned ritualised and cherished faith. Real contact with God is not really for us.

But why not? God knows all our names. He called Abraham and Samuel – he harassed Moses and Jeremiah. Jesus didn’t pick the good and holy to sit and eat with. He called Levi, Peter, Lazarus and Mary – all by name – all to be with him.

Our community of faith is important – we are the Body of Christ. But the Lord wants to spend time with each one of us as well. The relationship is personal not organisational. He knows us all, every hair on our heads, and he calls to us from our hearts.

From that place deep within he doesn’t need to shout – but we need to listen. Sometimes we have to be quiet, to be attentive. To feel that connection with a God who loves us, who wants us for himself.

In prayer and quiet contemplation call out to this God of love, of relationship, and then – just listen. And pay attention, expect the unexpected. As Mary thought she saw a gardener, God can come in many guises, you may not trust your eyes but you will know him in your heart.

Closing Prayer
May the blessing of the Sacred Three
The Father who gave us the Word
The Son who is the Word
The Spirit who opens the Word within us
Be with us today and evermore.

1 comment:

Bea said...

We know His voice as a whisper, and His light as a candle in the dark... I think it's when we expect thunder and fireworks that we lose God's communication with us... we are looking too hard, too high, and too far. I enjoy reading your devotions... they seem to follow my own seeking... we are fellows on the Road.