Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging

Today’s guest post is from spiritual director Sam Rahberg

After I finish a good read and before I tuck it away on the shelf, I like to spend some time summarizing what was most important to me. I use the author’s own words, varied only slightly, and follow the themes that speak most strongly to me at this time. The example below remains a summary and serves only as my own interpretation, so I take responsibility for any deviation from the author’s original intent. Even so, may it be a helpful reflection for others and an encouragement to read a fine book in its entirety.


Abba’s Child:
The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging 

(a book by Brennan Manning, an interpretive synopsis by Sam Rahberg)

Book cover--Abba's ChildJesus’ relentless tenderness
invades the citadel
of your self.
Pause to reclaim your core
identity as Abba’s child.
Inner Imposter must be called
out of hiding, accepted, embraced.
God’s choice of you
constitutes your worth.
Dignity as Abba’s child—
your most coherent sense of self.
The denial, displacement, and
repression of feelings
thwarts self-intimacy.
Daily we are being
reshaped into the image of Christ.
Recovery of passion—
recovery of your true
self as beloved.
Become inner-directed
rather than outer-determined.
Let the Great Rabbi hold you
silently against his heart.

Manning, Brennan. Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2002.

Sam Rahberg is the Director of the Benedictine Center and a spiritual director. Sam has experience in parish education and administration and holds a master’s degree in theology from Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota. 

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Easter Prays / Easter Praise! blog and is reprinted here with the author’s permission.

 

100th post: Pondering Advent and Spiritual Hypothermia

Post it note--100th blog postWordPress tells me that this is the 100th post on Spiritual Drawing Board blog.  Wow. I had no idea.

Numbers like 100 form a sort of milestone, giving one pause to ponder

  • how did the past blogging go (such as, did I forget to write Part 2 of the post defining “Christian contemplative”?)
  • where one is at present with blogging (I’ve been so busy I’m forgetting to post very often — yikes!)
  • where will one be in the future with blogging (Do I want to continue? — yes!)

This time of year, with its emphasis on new beginnings (Advent=new church year, Christmas=new life in baby Jesus, New Year of 2014), is a good time to ponder our own lives past, present, and future in similar fashion:

  • In the past, how has God invited me to live and how have I responded?
  • What is God trying to communicate to me today?
  • What would God like for me in the future?

[I think here of the brilliance of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol:  Scrooge was forced to ponder the effect of his actions on others in the past and present, and what might result in the future if he remained on that path.] 

If you try this spiritual reflection for yourself and find yourself regretting things of the past or frustrated with the present, please do not berate yourself or lose hope. Classic spiritual writers agree that self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom. Use what you learn about yourself as an opportunity to make fresh choices for the future.

In the following 2-minute Advent reflection video, Pastor Paul Harris explores what he calls “spiritual hypothermia,” a condition of feeling disoriented, lost, confused, guilty, or spiritually weak.  He reminds us we are not alone, and offers a way to cry out to God for help.

 

(If you don’t see the video, copy and paste this YouTube link into your browser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Snr2v8YrAQo )

When we feel we are having a case of “spiritual hypothermia,” we can cry out to God in the words of Psalm 80:

Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.

          (Psalm 80:7, NRSV)

To paraphrase that, writing a similar prayer in my own words:

Bring us back to life, O Loving, Unseen God!
Let the radiant light and heat of your presence
Shine down on us, that we might not die in our sins
and mistakes of the past, but rather we might
live the compassionate, holy life Christ revealed

Until next time, Amen! 

The Waiting Heart

Mailboxes wait. . . and wait. . . and wait.

Mailboxes in snow--by Julie McCarty--Eagan MN USA

Mailboxes serve as the “waiters” of messages, providing a space for something specific to happen. They don’t appear to do anything, and yet mailboxes are serving the purpose for which they were created.

So, too, the contemplative heart waits upon the Lord, dwelling in prayer, being observant, listening, pondering the ways of God–doing precisely what the Lord intended.

Wait for the Lord, take courage;
          be stout-hearted, wait for the Lord.   
Psalm 27:14.

Will you pray with me?

Lord, we know you are always with us, listening to our prayers and guiding our ways. Help us and all who “wait” to do so with patience and courage. May we truly listen to others this day–not only with our ears but also our hearts. May the words we speak be filled with your compassion. Come, Holy Spirit, guide us in all your ways! 

Until next time, Amen!

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Theotokos–Carrying Christ our Light

 “Greetings,  favored one! The Lord is with you. . . Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.” –The angel Gabriel to Mary, in Luke 1:28, 30-31.

If you’ve ever been on crutches, you know that carrying things is a challenge. I broke my leg a few weeks ago, and find myself stuffing cans of pop into my sweater pockets, shuffling dishes along the countertop, and sliding books along the floor using my crutch as a hockey stick (apologies to librarians!). Objects tucked into my waistband tumbled to the floor so many times I wished I was a kangaroo with a built-in giant pocket.

In the midst of this, Advent began and I found myself thinking about the mystery of the Incarnation. It would not have mattered if Mary had used crutches: the baby Jesus was growing deep within her womb and naturally went with her everywhere she went.

Theotokos--detail from the Virgin of the Sign Icon

In the Eastern Christian Church, the mother of Jesus is often called Theotokos, a Greek title that means “God-Bearer.” Mary carried Christ, the second person of the Holy Trinity, within her being in a literal sense, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Early church fathers observed that while Christ was truly divine, his truly human side grew out of Mary’s flesh and blood.

That a woman of 2,000 years ago carried Christ within her, feeding him from her very body through the umbilical cord, is reason enough to be filled with awe and wonder. However, this amazing spiritual truth does not end there. For Mary, as premiere disciple, is a model or “spiritual type” of what we are also called to do. We are to carry Christ within our hearts and souls, to “give birth” by bringing his words of mercy and his compassionate presence to all those we encounter.

In this manner, the words of the angel Gabriel are also addressed to each one of us: “Greetings, favored one!” (“Hail, Mary, full of grace!”). Each one of us, and all of us together, are “favored” by God, shown by the superabundant love of Christ by his dying for the whole world.  As a result, we, too, are favored, that is, graced by God,  and chosen to bring the Christ our Light into the world.

May God bless you this Advent and Christmas season–and may the Spirit empower you more and more each day to “give birth” to Christ in the world.

Until next time, Amen!

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