LISTENING TO SCRIPTURE

Time and again Jesus instructs his disciples and others in his audience to listen.  “He who has ears to hear, let him hear,” Jesus repeats.  We have come to understand that for Scripture to have the greatest impact on our lives, we must ask ourselves, ‘what does it mean to me?’ Where is it touching me most deeply?  Where am I most affected, and perhaps made uncomfortable, by the Scripture passage?

As we ask these questions, we are better able to see how God might be a part of the situation in the text—and my situation as well.  We are invited to have a personal encounter with the verses we choose to read in the Bible, a prelude to the kind of encounter that God wants to have with each of us.

Look again at the parable of the sower and the soils.  Many interpretations have been given of the various kinds of soil, and even the sower and the grain that finally emerges from the good soil.  But this time you are invited to make your own personal interpretation.

Scripture: Matthew 13:3-8

A sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.  Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched; and since they had no root they withered away.  Other seeds fell upon thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.  Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Residents of Haven House, a residential treatment center for addition,  were asked to listen carefully as the story was read several times and then share whatever they would of the responses they had and the insights that came to them as they pondered at a deeper level what the story might be saying to them.  All of them related the story to their own stories.

One man noticed that the sower lost a lot of seed but gained a great deal in the end.

Another suggested that we need to plant ourselves around a church family so we don’t wither.

Still another suggested that the thorns in the story represent the wrong people we associate with.

One said it seemed to him that to do good, one has to give up something to gain something else.

Another said we must prepare our heart in a way that we have to prepare soil to receive the good seed.

And finally one said we don’t know how our crop will turn out but we want to be good soil so we can produce a good crop.

What varied and insightful responses!  And all from individuals who chose to listen to Scripture with new ears, and with a heart ready to receive and embrace.

What about you?  I invite you to choose a favorite Bible story and sit with it long enough to let it say new things to you.  I believe you will be enriched by what happens to you.

March 2017

(Note: A number of additional meditations are available on this website under Meditations.)

Ann Glover O’Dell

It’s Our Story!

To see the Jesus narrative as our story does not diminish the life and death of Jesus.  On the contrary, to see ourselves as God’s beloved child, with the capability of engaging in a unique relationship with God, just as Jesus was, can’t help but enrich his story.  To see in the story not only the human/divine nature of Jesus but also the human/divine nature of all human beings is to complete the picture.

Our interest in all classic stories is enhanced by seeing something of ourselves in one or more of the characters.  Both fiction and non-fiction give us opportunities to identify with real or imagined characters, to better  understand ourselves, to see new paths opening up for us, to gain new  tolerance and sensitivity to others’ situations, and to find comfort in sorrow.

The Bible doubles as Christian mythology where larger-than-life characters capture our imagination.  We identify with Abram as he is called to leave familiar surroundings, with Joseph as he is scorned by his siblings, with Jonah as he resents the change of heart that occurs with the Ninevites.  Classic literature and mythology always develop characters who embody some of our own traits.  Otherwise, we could never identify with the tragic heroes as we do.

The soul we credit with belonging to every human being is nothing less than the essence of our divinity, the piece of God planted in each of us, not to give us bragging rights but to give us the abundant life Jesus spoke of, the ability to be the person God begat us to be.

A story presents so many more possibilities if interpreted on multiple levels.  Can we not imagine that God wants us to glean the most possible from the stories told in Scripture?  That God wants us to learn from the stories and characters to understand more about who we are and how He loves us?  Oh, let us imagine greatly!

The Lamb of God

“ Behold the lamb of God that taketh away the sins. . . .” The consciousness of man, whereby God can be fully known in the flesh, is the lamb of God—God’s most precious gift to man (and with it his free will). This is what must be sacrificed—made sacred. For genuine intimate communion with God, man must be made sacred, must be transformed into God’s original design—not pre-consciousness but rather full conscious awareness.

This full conscious communion with God becomes possible as man freely offers his conscious will to God. God gives man his pure lamb of consciousness, hoping man will, after having made a demi-god of it in service to his ego, offer it back to God to be re-purified, made sacred, as only God can.

Our task in this God-man relationship is to “behold” our willful ego that can no longer provide for us what we most want— peace of mind and inner joy. “Behold” in ourselves what needs to die—what needs to become the blood sacrifice—the gift to God—made pure and sacred by his power and returned to us in a sanctified relationship—a communion of our spiritual essence with the essence of God. That communion of essences is indeed the holy meal that God wants to share with each of us.
Ann Glover O’Dell
23 December 2014

(note: The story of one person’s transformation experience may be read on this website under BOOK entitled Humpty Dumpty Hatched.)

Seasonally Out of Sorts

We are seasonally out of sorts.

Winter did not come

and spring has usurped summer

o’erleaping gradual emergence

making handsprings of blossom

cancelling whatever June

might have had in mind.

Praise God for liturgically

wedding us to predictable chronology

where Easter follows Lent

regardless of the weather.

And after Resurrection plus five o

praise God again

for giving  feast of fire and air

grounding us afresh on Mother Earth.

Our wings are lifted up

Our spirits fanned to flame

Our breath the breath of God

We see ourselves as burning bush

And repeat our own “I Am.”

 

Ann Glover O’Dell

20 February 2017

The Window of My Mind

I  washed the window of my mind

and sitting on the sill, looked out

for views of inspiration from my muse.

Parades gave me nothing as they passed

and wondered I where else to cast my eyes.

Suddenly a fine wind blew the casement open

and circulated dizzingly within

upsetting applecarts of art work

and opinions collected

during years of trips and education

contributing to theologies tried and true.

This fine wind sifted through it all,

blowing the stale and stagnant

into ingenious incinerators

then distributed assorted rainbows

as it exited toward the sea.

 

Ann Glover O’Dell

13 February 2017

Where is Your Manger?

“Fear Not!  I bring you tidings of great joy!”—tidings too good not to be true—tidings all about you—tidings meant just for you.

“For unto you”—into you—within you—is waiting to be born this day right here in the city where you reside, in the home where you dwell, in this life where  you live—your new bring—the holy babe that is the essence of God—the God-in-you that is your soul—birthed forth into your consciousness.

For within you this very day is the God child you always were, waiting to be born unto you

“And this shall be a sign unto you: you shall find the babe!”  What assurance!  We shall find our babe—no hesitation, no trepidation, no uncertainty.  You shall find the babe—you, each of you, individually, shall find the babe—the babe that is you—the real you.  There is no question about the outcome ifif you want to find the babe—if you follow the signs to the manger.

You shall find the babe, wrapped in swaddling cloths, wrapped very carefully in very special swaddling cloths—the protective, nurturing bands made especially for newborns, for warmth and security, swaddling cloths that only you can provide, swaddling cloths that only you will know how to provide, swaddling cloths that will be  your top priority to provide for this new being which is the real you.

You shall find your babe lying in a manger.  Lying in a manger—a rough unfinished bin—an unswept stable—might we say the unredeemed depths of your being?  Lying in a manger—not just any manger—your manger, your rough bin, your unswept stable, your unsanctified depths.

And this will be a sign for you—you will find your babe lying in a manger—a place not far from here, in a place only you can find, in a place God is leading you to find, in a place you shall find.

Where is your manger?  Your rough bin? Your unswept stable?  Your unredeemed depths?  Just listen.  Listen and look with the ears and eyes of the heart.  Listen for the ache that stirs deep inside you, the longing to feel fulfilled, the yearning to be—to be glad just to be alive—to be free from anger, free from guilt—to be—a new being—fresh and whole and cleansed, to be real, to feel loved unconditionally.

Listen for the ache and go to that spot.  Listen for the message it has for you.  Heed its instructions and you will be led to the manger—your manger—where you shall find all you ever wanted to be—and more.

And then what happened in the story?  We’re told that those who went in search of the manger, after told by winged messengers not to fear, were transformed into laughing, dancing, shouting creatures who praised God for the miracle.  That miracle is you!

Ann Glover O’Dell

23 October 2011

The Zeal of the Lord

 

“The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” (Isaiah 9:7)

            Zeal indicates to me great energy, enthusiasm.  The “zeal of the Lord of hosts” says to me that God’s great desire is to bring forth something special—someones special—you and me.

            In spiritual terms this suggests the bringing forth of the new being in each being, the full being, combining both human and divine natures.

Scripture doesn’t say the Lord wishes this were so or hastens to ask man to effect the desired outcome.  No, Scripture says the Lord will do it—will do it through His zeal.  An additional promise from God, suggesting an additional covenant initiated by God.  A covenant with the articulated response on man’s part: that God be allowed to carry out His desire.  The individual  freely chooses to cooperate with the process. God asks us to give permission, just as did Mary in the Nativity story, out of our free will, to let Him use our spiritual womb.

The ‘Savior’ is the part of our personality that transforms us by dying.  The ‘Savior’ is the best we know ourselves to be—the part that needs to offer itself to God in order that God might accept it, purify it, and return it to us as part of the best He knows us to be.

23 December 2014