I got a gift from my long departed mother today – appropriately for Mother’s day weekend – words from a book she gave me on my birthday nearly sixty years ago.
Last night I went to sleep with the sense of a world totally out of sorts – the historic refugee crisis in the Middle East, politics gone vicious and nasty, a dictator in North Korea rattling his nuclear sabre, a whole city in Canada up in flames.
This morning I woke remembering how on Thursday – Ascension Day – I spent the day with younger friends in a time of quiet reflection and prayer.
We read together Paul’s words in Ephesians 1 (in The Message) that we live in the ascended Christ’s “endless energy, boundless strength … that Christ is in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments … He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything.”
Christ in charge? Of a world like this?
Then Paul goes on to say that since Christ rules the church “The church you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church.”Really? When the church is so largely dismissed as ignorant, intolerant, and out of touch?
Then I picked up off a shelf that book my mother – Thomas Kelly’s A Testament of Devotion – one I had not read in a long time. Kelly said that we live on two levels, the outward level of the affairs of everyday life, and the inner, deeper level, where the light of the Spirit moves.
“Facts remain facts,” he writes, but when they are “brought into the Presence” in that deeper level their significance is realigned. His words ring powerfullly today:
“Imposing powers? They are out of the Life, and must crumble. Lost causes? If God be for them, who can be against them? Rationally plausible futures? They are weakened or certified in the dynamic Life and Light. Tragic suffering? Already He is there, and we actively move, in His tenderness, toward the sufferers. Hopeless debauchees? These are children of God, His concerns and ours. Inexorable laws of nature? The dependable framework for divine reconstruction. The fall of a sparrow? The Father’s love. For faith and hope and love for all things are engendered in the soul, as we practice their submission and our own to the Light Within, as we humbly see all things, even darkly and as through a glass, yet through the eye of God.” Testament of Devotion
Reading that I can believe that “the world is peripheral to the church”, that living and serving by the light of Christ we can, in David Brooks’s image, help to “build a ladder of hope.”
So, many years later, thanks Mom for those words from that book.
Leighton Ford, May 7, 2016