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Discipleship in Shorthand – by Biff Weidman

Posted by on Jun 22, 2020 in News | Comments Off on Discipleship in Shorthand – by Biff Weidman

Discipleship in Shorthand – by Biff Weidman

(Originally published in the newsletter of the St. Peter Claver Catholic Worker House.) Years ago, I spent eighteen months living and working at The Hermitage. I experienced a way of life that was “sane and simple”. I was nourished in solitude. I glimpsed a simplicity I’d never known before. Seemingly everything about the setting and our rhythm of life encouraged mindfulness, alertness to God’s presence. Again and again I was called back to Jesus’ words: “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me” (John 15:4). Each morning we gathered for prayer, reciting “The Hermitage Affirmation.” And these lines in the Affirmation have been written on my heart ever since: “The call to us here today are these words of Jesus: ‘Come, all who are weary and whose load is heavy; I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble-hearted; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to wear, my load is light.”’ [Matthew 11:28-30] These few verses, it seems to me, distill the way of Jesus— discipleship in shorthand: Come to meRemain with meLearn from meRest in me Come to me On the eve of his death, Jesus assures his friends: “I will not leave you orphans. You will not be left alone. I will come to you.” [John 14:18] Daily we’re invited to rest in this promise: “You are not alone”. We’re called out of isolation and into communion. Jesus calls us to come to him, to live in him, and to set aside any thought that we can “live the Christian life” apart from him. As disciples, we’re to live our lives in the very same way that Jesus lived his. He lived by the indwelling life of the Father, doing nothing in his own strength, but “only what he saw the Father doing” (John 5:19). We’re not meant to weary ourselves trying to live by Jesus’ example. We’re meant to enjoy his presence, to be yoked to him, to participate in his life. The call comes anew to us each morning: “Come to me. Journey with me. Listen to my voice. Let me show you the heart of the Father. Let me show you what I see.” Remain with me/Take my yoke We are bound to Christ, united with him. Yet how easily we turn our attention elsewhere. We can lose sight of the treasure of his presence. We can “wander into a far country”. Jesus invites the “weary and heavy laden” to come to him. What leaves me “heavy laden”? So often I grow weary when I forget that “the Lord is near”, when I lean on myself rather than on Jesus, when I live “as if orphaned”. Theologian Geordie Ziegler suggests that “to be a Christian is to be—here and now—in the company of the risen Lord.”[i]  And when I forget, I falter. And I begin to think that what’s needed is more earnest effort to “be Christlike,” to conform my life to Jesus’ example. Instead of staying close to Jesus, who is the way, I live as if Jesus was the way, but is no longer. The Christian life becomes a disheartening attempt to imitate Jesus’ exemplary life. And that’s a sure path to weariness and discouragement. Learn from me In Isaiah 50, the servant cries out: “Morning by morning the Lord God wakens—wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.” The...

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A Blessing from The Hermitage

Posted by on Apr 27, 2020 in News | Comments Off on A Blessing from The Hermitage

Blessing from “The Pattern of Our Days: Worship in the Celtic Tradition from the Iona Community” edited by Kathy Galloway.

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Contemplative photography/Visio Divina group

Posted by on Apr 16, 2020 in Blog, News | Comments Off on Contemplative photography/Visio Divina group

Contemplative photography/Visio Divina group

We are planning on starting an online contemplative photography/Visio divina gathering. Each gathering as a time of sharing, sitting, gazing, and reflecting.

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Lament on Holy Saturday 2020 – by Naomi R. Wenger

Posted by on Apr 10, 2020 in News | 1 comment

Lament on Holy Saturday 2020 – by Naomi R. Wenger

(This essay is the second of two that together present some of the information that was to have been part of a day-long retreat on Holy Saturday, 2020, entitled “God in Deep Time: Showing Mercy to the Thousandth Generation.” This retreat was cancelled due to the Corona virus pandemic and related shelter-in-place order. It has since been recast as an online retreat experience. Both of these essays are available on the Hermitage Community Blog. This essay essay includes a confession and lament for Earth and the first,“Have you not heard? God in Deep Time,” provides some background on “deep time.”) INTRODUCTION This year, when we have suspended our normal daily operations for a pandemic that is affecting millions world-wide and ending in death for thousands, we gather in absentia to mourn for Earth. While it seems like we have more immediate concerns, the viral pandemic we are facing is part of a continual roll-out of disasters due to human mishandling of our planetary island. While the arguments are too complex to spell out here (see here for more information), ecologically, the planet is poised on a knife-edge. It does not take much imagination to take us into a downward spiral of disasters that end with much life on our planet wiped out. We are already aware of the massive extinctions of animal and plant species on Earth. We know about the immense challenges to the world-wide freshwater supply. We grieve with the continued burning of forests, both from natural and human-greed causes. We are concerned about the bleaching of coral reefs, the diminishing catch in the world’s fisheries, salinization of soils, and the effect of removal mining, fracking and oil extraction on the quality of all life on Earth. And yet, we still live our lives in comfortable bubbles. Perhaps the biggest symbol of “bubble living” is the buying of drinking water in plastic bottles that end up in our bloodstreams as microplastic residue and play havoc with our health. And that plastic which is so convenient for everything from shopping bags to house siding, is toxic waste of a greater magnitude than all the nuclear waste from our power plants. And where is God in all of this? Today, on this day when nothing happens in the Christian church year – the day between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection – we wait to see if Christ’s death counts for anything. We wait with hope but without knowledge. We wait in darkness, hopefully the kind of darkness that makes us long for more of God. We wait. And we grieve. We wait. And we beat our fists against our chests – ah me! – how can we change our lives to endure this catastrophe? And, we must change our lives. There is no endurance without change. Just as the early disciples found that the Resurrection made all the difference in the world and they left their nets and places of business to spread the Good News, so we must leave our safety nets and find the good news that is ours to spread. And that may just cost us our lives. Here, at The Hermitage, we have focused our attention on the issues of sustainable energy because of the gas and oil pipelines that cross this land. We are directly implicated in that industry, both unwillingly and willingly. But a healthy future of Earth depends on the sustainable production and consumption of energy, food, water, and air—all necessary supports to life. If we continue to pursue the same kind of life we are all used to living, then the...

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Have you not known? God in Deep Time – by Naomi R. Wenger

Posted by on Apr 10, 2020 in News | 1 comment

Have you not known? God in Deep Time – by Naomi R. Wenger

(This essay is the first of two that together present some of the information that was to have been part of a day-long retreat on Holy Saturday, 2020, entitled “God in Deep Time: Showing Mercy to the Thousandth Generation.” This retreat was cancelled due to the Corona virus pandemic and related shelter-in-place order. It has since been recast as an online retreat experience. Both of these essays are available on the Hermitage Community Blog. This essay provides some background on “deep time” and the second essay, “Lament on Holy Saturday 2020” includes a confession and lament for Earth.) INTRODUCTION As I was working on this essay, a children’s song kept going through my head. My God is so BIG, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do. My God is so BIG, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do .          The mountains are God’s the valleys are God’s           the stars are God’s handiwork, too. God is so BIG, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do. God in Deep Time We are going to focus on this “so BIG” God. If we understand the context of our lives in what scientists call “Deep Time,” we will begin to recognize that we no longer accept the Biblical writer’s, cosmology (what we sometimes refer to as “worldview,” though that term is too narrow when we talk about the universe). Rather, we all already have a cosmological consciousness that takes us outside what the Bible presents us. So, we will begin by looking at the conception of the universe that is presented in our Bibles. Then we will look at the cosmological picture of Deep Time. Finally, we will return to a text from Isaiah 40 to see if Deep Time can help us set our understanding of Isaiah’s words in our current context. The text from Isaiah is fruitful for reminding us that God is so much “bigger” than we usually picture God. THE THREE-TIER UNIVERSE God in Deep Time The Bible was written during a time when the earth was perceived as flat, bounded above by the heavens—where God dwells above among the sun, moon and stars—and below by the underworld— the place of the dead. This three-tier universe, limited on each side by the distances that humans had traveled by land, form the boundaries of what was known as “the ends of the earth,” in the mind of the Ancient Near Eastern writer. But, early in the second century after the birth of Christ, Ptolemy proved that Earth and the heavens were spherical and in motion. In the 14th and 15th centuries, Copernicus took up the idea again and proved mathematically, that Earth rotated around the Sun and not the other way around, as was assumed by the daily experience of seeing the “sun rise and set.” Declared heretical by the Church, which had finally been convinced of the “round earth” only after the great sea explorers of the 15th century ran into unexpected continents while trying to sail to China from Portugal, traveling westward. In another hundred years Galileo and Tyco Brahe assisted by Johannes Kepler reasserted Copernicus’ calculations and improved on them by actually observing the movement of the “heavenly bodies” through their newly improved telescopes. Then the Church finally, but reluctantly, capitulated by making space for scientific observation and inquiry but still holding fast to the worldview of the Scripture in its doctrines. This created a rupture between religion and science that has continued hemorrhaging to this day. Unfortunately for us, those old ideas...

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“Give me a drink:” Longing for the Presence of Christ – Part 4

Posted by on Mar 20, 2020 in News | Comments Off on “Give me a drink:” Longing for the Presence of Christ – Part 4

“Give me a drink:” Longing for the Presence of Christ – Part 4

—a Meditation by Naomi Wenger, Lent 3, 2020 This meditation is based on the Lenten Retreat given at The Hermitage on March 7, using the scriptures for the third Sunday in Lent for 2020. It will be posted over four days this week, Monday (3/16), Tuesday (3/17), Thursday, (3/19), and Friday (3/20). Each day includes a meditation and suggestions for practice. In this time when the whole world is focused on a virus, my hope is that you will be encouraged to keep thirsting for Christ. Quench We come now to the end of the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman. In this section of the story, the woman is gone. She’s in her home place testifying to Jesus’ gift of “living water,” (that is, acknowledging her own deep truth and living from that place into the forgiveness of God). What remains are two scenes, one with the puzzled disciples and one with the townspeople. Read the story in John 4:31-42. Jesus refuses the food that the disciples have gotten in town. Rather, he insists that he has other food—doing the will of God. I wonder if you have ever experienced the loss of appetite after a particularly enriching experience.  Jesus explains this experience by inviting the disciples to imagine. Imagine, he says, that all of these green fields are golden and dry, ready for harvest. Just so, the sower and the reaper can work together in one field in God’s agronomy. He then points to the lunch they brought, “see,” he says, you brought (reaped) what you did not sow. It is the work of all the people who bring in the harvest that you carry in your hands. Thus, you have entered into the labor, even though you did not do the work.” This is amazing. Jesus is expanding the labor of one to include the labor of all. He is at the same time contracting seasonal growth, making all seasons compress into the harvest. Have you ever held an acorn in  your hand? If so, you have experienced this kind of compression. You have held a tree, possibly a house or furniture, perhaps the warmth of a fire or heat for cooking. In that one small nut, lies not only potential but all that will become real out of that nut. I think that is what Jesus is teaching here. He also describes the timelessness of eternity. When there is no time, that is no “beginning, middle and end” to the story of life, then all things happen simultaneously, out of time. The sowing and the reaping are done together, so that all may “rejoice together.” This is a picture of the eternal kin-dom of God in which all is joy and only joy. Jesus’ thirst is fully quenched by the true living water he had to offer. The woman’s thirst was fully quenched by owning her own truth and receiving the gift of life from Jesus’ acceptance. The townspeople’s thirst was fully quenched by hearing the word for themselves. The disciples remain puzzled and thirsty. They are thirsty and hungry. They are blessed. They will be filled. The psalmist tells of this experience in a different voice. Ps 42:7–11.   7     Deep calls to deep  at the thunder of your cataracts;  all your waves and your billows  have gone over me.  8     By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,  and at night his song is with me,  a prayer to the God of my life.  9     I say to God, my rock,  “Why have you forgotten me?  Why must I walk about mournfully because the enemy oppresses...

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