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Posts Tagged ‘Julian of Norwich’

follower of ChristBecoming a follower of Christ was a choice. I did not choose under a haze of emotion or outside pressures or a well-meaning but overly enthusiastic “witness,” but upon completing my first cover to cover reading of the New Testament. The question that came to my mind was simple: Is Jesus the truth or a lie? And despite all my arguments, this one belief found root. Jesus is and was and is to come, the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end [Revelation 22:13]. And when the chapter (and the book) ends with these words, “Even so, come Lord Jesus,” I accepted this Way. Put aside the gods that your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates and in Egypt and serve the Lord. But if it seems wrong in your opinion to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Choose the gods whom your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But my family and I will serve the Lord. [Joshua 24:14b-15, CEB] I cannot convince anyone of anything. I cannot “make” you or anyone believe what I believe. I can only speak of this core of Spirit that was born that day and has blossomed into an integral part of myself. Are there things I don’t understand? Of course. Do I ask for clarification? I do. And one day, I believe, though I “see through a glass darkly” still, I will have the fullness of wisdom. But for now, I will hold fast to my God, my Jesus. One of my beloved and venerated church mystics is Julian of Norwich. Some of her sayings capture my meaning today:

Julian of Norwich and her cat

Julian of Norwich and her cat

See that I am God. See that I am in everything. See that I do everything. See that I have never stopped ordering my works, nor ever shall, eternally. See that I lead everything on to the conclusion I ordained for it before time began, by the same power, wisdom and love with which I made it. How can anything be amiss?” and

“Truth sees God, and wisdom contemplates God, and from these two comes a third, a holy and wonderful delight in God, who is love.” [from Revelations of Divine Love]
and most well known of all,
 “And all shall be well. And all shall be well. And all manner of things shall be exceeding well.”
So, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

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Advent : Day Two

Image by RHADS

Art by RHADS

I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge—God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. [I Corinthians 1:4-7, NIV]

I imagine what it would be like to have someone send me this message. There is so much promise in these worlds: the promise of someone praying on my behalf, the promise of God’s presence, the promise of God’s grace, the promise of God’s gifts, and the promise of a personal revelation of Jesus Christ. I am comforted and encouraged.

So often, I see myself sucked into a habit of self-condemnation and perfectionism. I feel inadequate and unable to accomplish anything. I am overwhelmed by the daily demands of my life, much less trying to add outreach and ministry to others. And in the midst of this comes the holidays and all those questions about trees and decorations and shopping. Even the church itself has its pressures to serve and plan. Julian of Norwich

If I could just hold on to this prayer for me. For you.

For this reason, I believe Julian of Norwich wrote, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”  It’s the grace. Everything will work out. As a friend of mine has always said: worry don’t work.

And so, for this day, I will take a breath and do what I can. I have everything I need to accomplish what is needed today. And God has tomorrow.

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Don’t worry, I’m not interested in the “blab it & grab it” prayers or the prosperity gospel, and yet, John’s statements must be addressed on one level or another. Key words here for me are “confidence,” “according to his will,” and “we know we have.”

I John 5:14-15
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

Confidence in approaching God implies a consistent and strong faith. It is a wholehearted acceptance that God is God, Christ is Christ, and the Holy Spirit is a gift, a living entity who shares my soul space, by invitation. As our pastor puts it, once we enter this new covenant, we are “under new management” full of grace and mercy.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you [me] free from the law of sin and death. [Romans 8:1-2]

To ask, however, according to God’s will is a little trickier, at least, in my experience. In some areas, biblical text is clear and identifies God’s will (the ten commandments are a strong example). But, unfortunately, the Bible, glorious and complete, beautiful in both poetry and truth, may not be so easily interpreted when it comes to the questions of post-modern society. Oh, there are lots of folks who believe they have the inside certainty of God’s will, but not me. Just parenting three teenagers has been enough to show me how little I know. There are no assurances about learning issues, mood disorders, private vs. public education, and so forth. Instead, my confidence must rest in the more general promises that God makes about his care and love for the children . . .

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. [Julian of Norwich]

But for me, the true key to John’s letter about God’s Will and asking (in prayer), is the timelessness of God. For God, there is no yesterday, today, or tomorrow: it’s all now. And it is in this context that all prayers and answers must be understood.

If I am a believer (and I am), then God hears me and if, in confidence, I have sought and believe my requests are within the realm of God’s loving will, then it is done. . . . not it “will” be done, but it is done. The answer has been given.

We, and no, not just we in general, but “me,” … I get caught up in looking for the manifestation of God’s answers. I believe in a healing God, so I am too often crushed by the continued illness of others. I believe in a saving God, and yet I am sorrowed when Christ is rejected by those in need. I believe in a loving God, but I am caught off guard by the cruelties of human to human, or worse, believer to believer.

But today, I am reminded: what I can see with my human eyes and understanding does not change the facts: God is, God hears, and God answers.

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Julian of Norwich

I had a personal epiphany this evening about Julian of Norwich’s famous line, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

It’s faith, simple faith, as written here in Hebrews 11, the famous “faith” chapter. But before the long list of examples begin, there is the basic definition of faith as this confidence in what we hope for coming to pass, no matter what or how things may appear now.

It’s a trajectory that I can begin each morning, before anything has happened in my day, I can speak this Norwich phrase with a deep sense of understanding that I do have this faith, I can have it today, I can enter my day with confidence . . . if I choose.

It’s when I head off the path of faith/wellness, that other prayers are needed. When I stumble be cause the way is hard, I can ask for help and when I err and hurt others because I’m trying to “make things well” on my own, I can ask forgiveness. When my confidence diminishes throughout a day, I can ask for assurance. When I am afraid of what is in my path, I can ask for revelation and wisdom. When I am angry or resentful about my relationships or my situation, I can ask for renewal and Spirit companionship.

This way of faith, this way of confidence in what I hope and believe in, the ever present God who promises that all things in my life will come out well in the end, this is “the” Way.

And for this reason, He can say, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” [Revelation 22:13] and I can say, I believe.

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