Posts Tagged ‘Joan of Arc’

Joan of Arc as played by Renee Jeanne Falconetti, 1928

The Lectionary readings for this day, the Second Sunday of Lent, are Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16; Psalm 22:23-31; Romans 4:13-25; and, Mark 8:31-38 or Mark 9:2-9.

From these readings comes a theme of covenant, promise, and faith. From it also comes this verse in Romans 4:16b-17: He [Abraham] is the father of us all. As it is written: “I [God] have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—-the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

The God who calls into being things that were/are not. For me, this phrase is worth holding onto forever, this is a game changing verse.

But, what is even more intriguing is the crossover of events and messages that I experienced today. First, in church, our pastor started a new series on praying boldly, which means to pray the big things, the larger than life prayers. If those prayers come to fruition, there is no doubt that God is in the results. Elijah was known for these kinds of prayers. And like Abraham’s faith, it’s believing God can bring things that are not, into existence.

Secondly, I went to Voices of Light: the Passion of Joan of Arc, an oratorio with Silent Film presented by the Baltimore Symphony, the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, and four soloists. The original music was composed by Richard Einhorn who was also present at the concert and introduced afterwards. The film, from 1928, was directed by Carol Theodor Dreyer and starred French actress, Renee Jeanne Falconetti, who, incidentally, never acted in another film after this one. The film was based on the actual court record of questions that religious authorities asked Joan D’Arc and her subsequent answers. And although her story ends in her death at the stake, her short life, driven by her voices and visions from God, crowned a king (Charles VII) and turned an army in despair into hope. Her faith was so authentically depicted, I could only weep at her inner battle. We saw her fears and faith seeking dominance.

Can I walk with such faith? Can I pray boldly? Can I challenge my fears and overcome them with my faith? Can I trust in the covenant I have made with God through the Christ?

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The temple in Jerusalem was built with very detailed specifications. There was an outer court, an inner court, and then the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant, a dwelling place for God, was hidden and visited only once a year. Who lives in your holy of holies?

I Corinthians 6:19
Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, . . .

When I became a believer, I invited the Christ to come and dwell within my holiest place. I received the Holy Spirit as a gift from God and that transaction was possible because of the sacrifice God made of His Son to repair the breach between human souls and God. Paul confirms this.

I think we have all become too cavalier about the presence of the Holy Spirit. We are the “host” of this presence; it is a symbiotic relationship. Symbiosis is defined as “the living together of unlike organisms.” What’s interesting to me is that there are different types of symbiosis. In some cases, it’s mutualistic where the relationship benefits both organisms. In other cases, the relationship is essential to the survival of one of the organisms (called obligate) but not the other. There are organisms that are symbiotic and only one organism benefits while the other one is simply not affected at all. And finally, others are parasitic, where one organism benefits while the other one suffers.

Now, I ask myself, which one of these types of symbiosis describes my relationship with the Holy Spirit within? Am I taking advantage of the Spirit’s presence without doing my part of keeping my body’s environment healthy and nurturing? Am I a parasite?

Clearly, the best relationship with the Holy Spirit is mutualistic, but there are grave responsibilities that go with that symbiosis. Fresh air and light (windows and doors open), communication (prayer), peace, love, joy, honesty, hope, laughter, and kindness are just a few of the nutrients that allow the Holy Spirit to thrive within.

Now, it’s not like the Holy Spirit is passive. In fact, when I screw up, I see the Holy Spirit as my personal Joan of Arc doing battle on my behalf. She is my white blood cells. She is my conscience. She has my back.

According to Paul, one of the greatest attacks on the symbiotic relationship between human body and Holy Spirit is sexual immorality. I find that fascinating. Apparently, there is some kind of osmosis that happens in sex, seeds are planted with thoughts about sex, and so forth, which directly affects the Holy Spirit’s environment. I don’t begin to understand this, but if it’s true, then our culture itself is quite toxic.

In the end, our personal Holy of Holies is not unlike the inner sanctuary of the Temple. When we invite the Holy Spirit into that secret place, we are sharing space from that point forward. But, some people have lost their way and don’t even know how to find their own Holy place within. The space is dark, closed off, and empty. In these cases, the Holy Spirit is a guide, leading the lost soul back to the center of being.

Oh Lord, keep me mindful of your Holy Spirit within this day.

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