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Posted by Paul Edwards (Fr. Paul) on Dec 12, 2013 | Comments (0)


Advent IV: The Christmas Peace

Click here to go to the Bottom Line Meditations for Advent IV

Godly Abiding Spiritually in Jesus Changes the Meaning of What we See Worldly When Not Abiding in Jesus.

Spirituality is our innate ability to feel the difference worldly or godly thinking makes to the way scripture translates to our daily life and relationships.

All Scripture is a testimony to Jesus Christ, who is the Word of God. He is the complete revelation of God’s will of grace for salvation. Grace is the only unfailing rule of faith and practice for the Christian life.

The Gospel of grace is: rather than trying to be more faithful to become faithful, we become faithful by feeling the Faith God already has for and in us.

The Strength of Christianity is Grace

John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Another name for Jesus is "Grace". Another name for God is "Grace". We are saved by GRACE. "Love" is not Love if it is not grace. This is true for "Faith", "Hope", "Joy" and all other theological words of significance in the scripture.

Until someone experiences the grace gift in their lives, all other theological words have no real meaning. Why not begin to use the word "grace" in place of "Jesus", "God", "the Spirit", "Love" and so on? It might seem inappropriate to do so. However, until it is actually experienced it will make no sense at all.

That is what this year is all about. Grace, did you get it?

 

Praying Gracefully

Pray this prayer: "Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation."

Now quietly move into God's Presence and pray the prayer again: "Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation."

What was the difference?

 

Matthew 1:24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.

Advent is the season of preparation for Christmas.  It has four Advent Sunday and two Weeks after Christmas Sundays. In between the four and the two is Christmas Day.  We can take these weeks one by one or we can see them as a total experience of Christmas.  The message of Angels to the Shepherds is “Peace on Earth good will to all people”.

This is the last Sunday in Advent. We have been seeking the Peace of Christmas before the Christmas event comes. That is the way God acts. We get the Peace to move into the event. Our solutions have been to get into the event to feel the Peace. If things do not work out as we planned then how can we feel the Peace? What happens if we fail, let’s just worry about it. Be sure everyone is happy and filled with joy. We can over spend to be sure they feel well so we can feel well. It works, try it. It works sometimes. Let us not fool ourselves all of the time.

Joseph was lucky. He had a dream and the angels told him what to do. Anyone can do what the angel tells you to do. Why can’t God make it that easy every time?

Let us look at dreams for a moment. I mean the bad dreams we get, but the good ones count as well. It is the bad ones we remember more of however.

The first point about dreams is they are God sent. They just do not appear. The bad ones are about issues we have not yet dealt with. As a matter of fact they all seem to have one motive.

My difficult dreams are like when I am starting a service and completely prepared for anything. I have a great sermon, there is a crowd, the assisting crew, choir, alter guild, acolytes are standing ready. Then it all starts to spin apart for no reason. The choir starts to dissemble and to disappear, along with the other support team members. I get to the pulpit and give a few profound words. Then the words get turned around, the people are restless. They start to walk out. The lights go out in the church. Helter-skelter!

Even worse dreams are when I am in a battle with who knows? One thing I know is how to overcome the conflict. Suddenly I am slipping, losing out. I struggle fiercely but am losing. Sometimes there is an actual, physically violent struggle. I have on occasions actually fell from the bed.

They are all the same basic dream. The common theme is: I am trying to control things that are out of control. The message is “back off”.

I know something about dream analysis. I learned it from one of the best. I will listen to the person’s dream. Then I point out that every dream is God sent. Every dream is not about the other person, but about you. There is a battle going on between the two sides we are. When they are through with the dream I will ask them to complete it. It is not over with. Bring Jesus into the dream and what does He do? What does He say? How does the dream work out?

People deal all of the time with their children’s nightmares. They tell them to bring in a saving force of some kind. It tends to end well for both child and parent who need the rest.

We do not have to wait for a dream to hear the angel message. This Advent Season, take the one that has given you the worst time. It may have already happened, is happening now or perhaps will happen to destroy all your Christmas dreams. How do you feel about it? Now bring in Jesus.

Did you get it? Your worries are like a dream. They are not real. They are a product of your imagination. Feel the Presence of Jesus who you just brought in. In His Peace, what do you hear Him say to you. It is your dream and now you have two choices. One is to keep on dreaming and the other is to wake up from your sleep.

Joseph had a problem. He was a righteous man who followed the law. An unmarried pregnant young woman would be stoned as an adulteress according to the Law. He loved her and, being unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.

Just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife.

Joseph was at a fork in the road. What should he do? Does he follow the Law or does he follow the Spirit? For us it is a no brainer because we know what the outcome will be. Yet, neither Mary and nor Joseph had this advantage.

We come to the fork in the road many times. These forks appear to us many times in our relationships with others. We are given the choice: follow the Law to be right or be right to follow the law. There are times either one could be the proper response, but how can you tell the difference?

It is both a simple answer and a difficult one. It depends on what our problem solving might be. Either could take the right fork or the other the wrong one. How can we tell which one? The problem is we have two solutions and need only one answer.

Grace tells us that any time we have the same problem for more than an unwarranted time, we have the wrong solution. If we have the right solution, we would not have the problem. We need to make a shift from trying to find the answer to seeking the solution. We cannot depend on the same solution that got us into the problem to get us out.

We assume our choice is between two answers. The shift is in our assumption. We need to change our solution. Grace is based on the fact that we have within us an innate, self-correcting Wisdom. Our old solution is to solve the problem to feel God. Grace reverses this approach. We feel God to solve the problem. 

What we do not take into mind is the difference being in God’s Presence will make. It is assumed that both Joseph and Mary were in His Presence when they had to make their decisions. That is the big difference.

Joseph and Mary’s solution did not change the event. It gave them the strength and direction to get through it. What difference does it make when you tell yourself, “Let it Be” or “It’s no big deal” when you are out of the Peace and feeling driven or when you are in the Love and feel Peaceful. When you come to a fork in the road you cannot take both. Which one do you take? That is the fork in it all.

In order to access this Wisdom, we need to know it requires a paradigm shift. It is moving from our rational head to our conscious heart. The movement is from the rational to the conscious. The conscious is not rational. This is done by wondering, not by thinking. It can only be discovered by doing it. So do it!

Take the problem that has been with you the longest time. Realize it is there because you keep doing the same thing in the same way and are surprised because you always get the same response. Now wonder what difference it makes when you are feeling your inner Peace when you think of your issues. If you get the same answer you are thinking about wondering. Go back and do it again. You will receive a Wisdom you can never get when you are out of this Presence of Wisdom and feeling desperate.

The question is, “Do you do the right thing to follow the law or do you follow the law to do the right thing?” The experience of Joseph gives us the proper answer.


THE DISCIPLE-SHIFT: The Virtual Small Group: Members share once a week with their group through the internet when a shift from being out to being in the Presence made a difference.


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