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!

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

Doxology

Praise to Thee, O Lord, Creator of the Universe,

Who brings forth from your earth womb all life.

Praise to Thee, O God, Sustainer of the Universe,

who gives life the abundance Thou designed for it.

Praise Him who places godhood

in the center of our being.

Blow Holy Spirit, Wayward Wind,

with all thy special power

come stir again the old desire

in us who yearn to flower.

Rain into us the fullness

of the morning dew

made into streams

that penetrate our roots.

Make green the carpet of our days

that we, lured into verdancy,

might sprout new buds

and bloom as never even

once upon a time we dreamed.

Press down upon us sunshine

of the vision in your mind

of who we were and are and yet to be,

always within the firm embrace

of thy mysterious trinity.

Ann Glover O’Dell

30 May 2002

THE ERA OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

Many clergy and biblical scholars are busy researching the cultural context of the four Gospels and the source material used. We even have reports, based on serious scholarship, of what Jesus probably did and did not say. Eager readers seem to want to know what is fact and what is fiction in the four accounts of the life of Jesus.

What seems to be ignored is this new era of holiness. Our individual and collective level of conscious awareness has risen to the point where we are ready for something more. Our inner Self yearns for a new manifestation of the Sacred—a personal revelation.

We have moved into the era of the Holy Spirit. An era to complete the other two. An era in which we are not consumed with research into the written word. An era in which the energy and spirit of the universe is available and eager to move in and through us if we but will it. This energy can reveal to us a truth stronger than words, a new reality that cannot be denied, and potential that is eager to be realized.

Let us consciously invite this amazing phenomenon to come to us, abide with us, and use us as instruments of peace, creativity, and joy.