March 1, 2018, 3:57 PM

Shifting the Gravity...

p42 "Jesus does not speak about a change of activities, a change in contacts, or even a change of pace. He speaks about a change of heart..." Nouwen explains that Jesus intends for us relocate our center--away from self and away from worry and away from many things and toward the One Necessary Thing. We are not to withdraw from the world or seek to escape - but rather to reorient our lives and reprioritize. Think and try to remember what it was like when you fell in love--either with someone or even with a new activity or learning. You are consumed--and drawn as if by the force of gravity toward someone or even something. Now imagine (or remember) what that is like in relation to Jesus.

p 43 "To set our hearts on the kingdom therefore means to make the life of the Spirit within and among us the center of all we think, say, or do." Here Nouwen invites us consider or reconsider how everything that happens in our lives has relation to the Holy Spirit. That is--there is nothing apart from the presence and power of the love and purpose of God. That is a lot to take in - and especially difficult if you have had negative experiences with religion or somehow been hurt by a faith community - and as a result have pulled back or away from religion. Will we fight or flee or ignore the Spirit--or  may we live with the understanding that the Spirit is never far from us and that the Spirit of God is loving, forgiving, grace-filled, and life-affirming?

p 47 "His (Jesus') obedience means a total, fearless, listening to his loving Father. Between the Father and the Son there is only love." As Nouwen writes about the relationship between God as Father and Jesus as Son - it strikes me how wonderful this portrayal of the Trinity is! Rather than a theological abstraction or a calculated explanation - it is the essence of love shared within a community. Jesus' obedience to the Father is not acquiescence but rather the living out of trust and vulnerability with humility. 

p 50 "...listening to the Father in the intimacy of perfect love." Nouwen tell us that this is the One thing. Consider the love of a parent for her child. Consider the love of child for her father. Remember those in your life for whom their happiness and joy is your own happiness and joy--when serving or sacrificing or caring - feels like a privilege and not a burden--because of love.

I don't stop giving thanks to God for you when I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, will give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation that makes God known to you. I pray that the eyes of your heart will have enough light to see what is the hope of God's call, what is the richness of God's glorious inheritance among believers... Ephesians 1:16-18


Post a Comment

February 22, 2018, 1:29 PM

Week 2 - If I don't worry...

My overall impression after this week's reading is that we cannot we stop here in our reading! We've got to keep going beyond being unfulfilled towards what to do or experience next. On p36 Nouwen writes: "Worrying causes us to be 'all over the place,' but seldom at home." --and I find myself all over the place even as I read. Nevertheless, let's consider a few highlights and sparks to consider.

p29--"While busy and worried about many things, we seldom feel truly satisfied, at peace, or at home." The worry is or can be a vicious cyclical animal in our guts that feeds on itself until or unless we stop. So...Stop and remember that we are not alone and especially during this season of Lent we are invited to hold hands with Jesus as we walk through the wilderness. 

p30--"The great paradox of our time is that many of us are busy and bored at the same time." How are we willing to examine our busyness and let one or two things go? What can we say "No" to -- in order to reduce some of our anxious busyness?

p33--"...when we feel cut off from the human family, we quickly lose heart." With whom might you connect today--from your family circle of friends--in order to remember that you are not alone? This involves receiving as well as giving love.

Finally, at the end of the reading I kept hearing Jesus' voice from Luke 10: "Martha, sweet Martha, you are fretting and fussing about so many are worked up and I am offering you rest. Whether it all gets done is not the main thing or the most important thing and your value is not in what you produce - or even in who you are. You have worth and value and you are loved and held in strong arms because of who I am with you."

I know that's not a good translation of the text and I know I have added ideas and words out of Jesus' mouth that are not right there, but that's what I am hearing and leaning into right now.

peace & love,


Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that God may lift you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on God, because God cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7



02-27-2018 at 8:44 PM
Nan Krueger
Pat - I am using a Kindle version where the pages are numbered quite differently. Can you quote a sentence where you are referring, please? There are several places in here where it feels like Nouwen is speaking directly to us...
02-24-2018 at 7:05 PM
Pat VonHarten
The last paragraph on p. 34 makes me wonder about what is happening in America now.
Post a Comment

February 15, 2018, 2:42 PM

Week 1 - Beginning to make all things new!

Do not worry... so much easier said than done for so many of us. Like you I have heard and read Jesus' words: "Therefore I say to you, don't worry about your life, what you'll eat or what you'll wear. Isn't life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds in the sky...God takes care of them...Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life?" Of course I know the truth of the scripture and Jesus' words, yet realizing God's love and resting in God's care can be so difficult.

I love that Nouwen says: "...the spiritual life can only be real when it is lived in the midst of the pains and joys of here and now." (p21) It reminds me that the spritual life doesn't remove pains and joy or remove us from pains and joys. Instead the spiritual life helps us to find meaning in both joy as well as suffering.

Nouwen writes: "...having and occupation, has become one of the main ways, if not the main way, of identifying ourselves." (p25) I wonder what it would be like to ask people we meet--What do you love? instead of--What do you do?

Indeed - what WOULD happen of we stopped worrying?

peace & love,


O Lord, my heart is not lifted up,
   my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
   too great and too marvelous for me. 
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
   like a weaned child with its mother;
   my soul is like the weaned child that is with me. 
O Israel, hope in the Lord
   from this time on and for evermore.

~Psalm 131



02-20-2018 at 6:54 AM
Margaret Evans
"Look at a the birds in the sky... God takes care of them."

As a practical matter, I highly recommend bird watching as a way to quiet worry and experience God's peace, even in the midst of our current chaos. Put a bird feeder outside your kitchen window and suddenly, washing dishes becomes a meditation. Even a prayer.
02-19-2018 at 9:38 PM
Pat Von Harten
Love Nouwen's book.
02-19-2018 at 10:36 AM
stop worrying??? but what would I do with my time?? and who would keep the world turning...oh yes, we have the answer right in front of us, as you, Patrick, remind us...we just have to REMEMBER who's in charge!!
02-18-2018 at 8:55 PM
Nan Krueger
The last line of Psalm 131 - is such a treasure after a week like this past one. A loss of so many lives and the fear for parents and students, for those who attend concerts or even church is real. But we can’t live in that fear and function - the preoccupation becomes overwhelming unless we can truly “put our hope in the Lord from this time on and forevermore”
Post a Comment

Contents © 2018 First Presbyterian Church
Church Website Provided by mychurchwebsite.netPrivacy Policy
Latest Blog Entry