Christ awaken us to ourselves: An offering from Eunice Cheshire

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Romans 8:9-11

Our God is not one who holds us at a distance, but a God whose Spirit comes to dwell within us.  Our God is a God who shares his very life with us!  This is exciting news even to us who are accustomed to hearing it, and I find it fascinating to imagine the looks on the faces of the members of the Roman community to whom Paul sent this letter.  In our busy world, the challenge in this scripture for us may be in first learning to be present to ourselves in whom God dwells.   Otherwise, could it seem that we are dead to Christ alive in us?  Our Easter prayer may be a sincere request that Christ awaken us to ourselves and to His presence alive within us.

(c) 2018 Eunice Cheshire
HeartPaths Core Faculty
Spiritual Director and Supervisor

Remembrance of the sacrifice: An offering from Nancy Jagmin

The precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.

1 Peter 1:17-20

It’s a pretty difficult image to live up to.

Peter reminds us that we have the responsibility to keep this image before us, however.  The sacrifice was too perfect to be remembered only today.

Our self-centered lives seem almost contemptible in comparison. It’s tempting to use the inspiration (or the guilt) to launch a spate of good intentions for more Christ-like living.  However misguided our self-reliance, we know it’s not time to start trying yet.  Today I am called merely to let the remembrance of the sacrifice settle deep into my consciousness.

(c) 2018 Nancy Jagmin
SMI Board of Directors
Heartpaths Faculty
Spiritual Director

Finding good in ALL things – An offering from Verlene Springer

Isaiah 49:8-9

“Come out,” to those who are in darkness, “Show yourselves.”

We live in a mixed reality.  Perfect people or perfect institutions don’t exist. Expecting perfectionism, in ourselves or others, may leave us resentful, judgmental, or dissatisfied. Jesus’ life was an example of non-judgmental inclusion. Paradoxically, the only people He seemed to exclude were those who judged and excluded others.  Our task may include a patient attempt to find the true, the good, and the beautiful part that exists in all, even the most problematic people or institutions…even ourselves.

(c) 2018 Verlene Springer

Desolation and confusion in Holy Week: An offering from Nancy Jagmin

How lonely sits the city that once was full of people!  – Lamentations 1:1-2

We have entered the most solemn week of the liturgical year.  This is a week when many Christians feel it’s okay to feel at least a bit sad.  If fact, it might be inappropriate to enjoy life too much for at least a few days.  Still, many of us must alternate attempts to intensify our Lenten practices and prayers with necessary preparations for the observances and festivities of next weekend.  It is simultaneously a somber and an unsettled time.   This verse, which references the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians, can evoke unsettling images in our imaginations.  It also seems to capture the mood of desolation and confusion that many of us experience as we enter Holy Week.  It’s kind of hard to stay here.

I urge myself into the darkness, trying not to anticipate the promise of the end of the week.

(c) 2018 Nancy Jagmin
SMI Board
HeartPaths DFW Faculty

My love shall never leave you: An offering from Eunice Cheshire

 For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you.

Isaiah 54: 9-10

“My love shall never leave you” – the words of a God of unmeasured, unconditional and never-ending love.  Perhaps because of its immensity, we struggle to wrap our arms around this Love and to take it in – we hesitate to trust it fully.  Yet if we can do so, it makes all the difference because it changes how we respond to God, to ourselves and to others.  Abbe Henri de Tourville (1842-1903) in a letter of spiritual direction advises: “Accustom yourself to the wonderful thought that God loves you with a tenderness, a generosity, and an intimacy which surpasses all your dreams.  Give yourself up with joy to a loving confidence in God and have courage to believe firmly that God’s action towards you is a masterpiece of partiality and love.  Rest tranquilly in this abiding conviction.”  Good advice still for today!

(c) 2018 Eunice Cheshire
HeartPaths Core Faculty
Spiritual Director and Supervisor

Let go and trust: An offering from Eunice Cheshire

Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.

John 8: 46-47

It seems as social media and the internet expands, what we can really trust as truth diminishes.  However, of this we can be confident:  we can believe the truth of who Jesus is and what Jesus says and does.  And yet, so often we struggle to trust Jesus – to place our lives, circumstances and consequences solely in his hands.  Instead we impatiently take charge to try to make “something” happen – sometimes we are so impatient we will settle for “anything” we can make happen.  The closer we get to Palm Sunday our invitation may be to let go, to again trust Jesus’ truth and to join the procession of the followers to Jerusalem who trust and to put our lives in Jesus’ hands.

(c) 2018 Eunice Cheshire
HeartPaths Core Faculty
Spiritual Director and Supervisor

Setting my mind on surrender: An offering from Nancy Jagmin

Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.
Mark 8:31-33

I am very aware of some of the things I want to put behind me.  There are regrets, of course, which I want to resign to the past. However, this Lent, I am much more aware of the other things I want to put behind me:  the way I often think about my life in the present.  I fall into habitual ways of perceiving events that drive my priorities, and I’m not always happy with where those priorities take me.  Can ways of seeing the world which seem as comfortable as my own skin really be counter to God?  Does my desire to make things happen the way I want them (as Peter did) sometimes run counter to the divine?  Are my priorities really all that bad?  Maybe not, but I won’t know unless I surrender them to God. I ask for the grace to set my mind on that.

(c) 2018 Nancy Jagmin
SMI Board
HeartPaths DFW Faculty

Do not cause anyone to stumble – An offering from Rev. Lil Smith

1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1 (NIV)

31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. 11 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

I find some of the most compelling images are the selfless acts of competitive athletes: helping a competitor cross the finish line, stopping mid-race to render aid, carrying an injured player on the other team around the bases because she hit the ball out of the park and earned the run.

I find these acts so compelling not just because of the good that is being shared with the other, but because of the selfless act of giving up the dream of winning to be in service to another.

For it is in these moments my earthly dream is overshadowed by the kingdom-come dream God has for all of God’s children:  following the way of Christ.

May we be your followers today and help others who stumble.

(c) 2018 Rev. Lil Smith
Spiritual Director and Supervisor
Retreat House Spirituality Center

Grace in Our Failing – An offering from Diane Pennington

Psalm 51: 1-4 NRSV

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
    and blameless when you pass judgment.

In our current cultural and political climate, we can barely determine truth, let alone justice. It is both a comfort and a horror to know that God sees through our public exterior to the truth of our hearts.  I am both grateful for and terrified of this fact, depending on the state of my heart and mind any given day, hour or moment.
It’s interesting to note that David wrote this psalm after he had been with Bathsheba and was wracked with guilt over his transgression. He says, “Against you, and you ALONE have I sinned, and done what is evil in his sight”… He doesn’t factor in any other relationship or consequence than his relationship to the Almighty. He knows he is SEEN and that there is no fooling God. What a gift that forces us to see ourselves then with such clarity and authenticity, humility and vulnerability.
How hard is it for us to speak to God when we know how completely we have failed in loving, in our thinking and behavior?
How glorious that, because the Lord desires relationship with US, he invites us to be in his presence and see ourselves.  Not just in the light of guilt or failing, but awash in the knowledge of his love, his fairness and above all his mercy. In the presence of His great grace, how can be help but be humble, grateful and to then extend His mercy to others?
Jesus, merciful Savior, thank you for your grace and love that goes far ahead of your justice. We are not worthy, but we are deeply grateful. AMEN
(c) 2018 Diane Pennington

Invite freedom and healing – An offering from Rev. Lil Smith

Psalm 146:3-4

Do not put your trust in princes,
    in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
    on that very day their plans perish.

I retreat from a world in which leaders are disconnected from the body of their people.

I retreat from a world that anesthetizes pain and suffering.

I retreat to a place that I can befriend my pain and suffering.

I invite freedom and healing.

In this space, judgment of the world has no power over me.

In this space, I can find a deeper breath.

In this space, I feel more authentically the person God created me to be.

In this space, I praise you.

Oh God, lead us to the healing life of your Breath.  Free us from the plans of the world to place our hope and trust in you.  AMEN

(c) 2018 Rev. Lil Smith
Spiritual Director and Supervisor
Retreat House Spirituality Center