A Quiet Night and Peace at the Last
October 2, 2011The blessing of evening prayer is found in the reading of the Nunc Dimittis, the Canticle of Simeon. In the Gospel of Luke, Simeon is found in the Temple in Jerusalem. Luke tells us that Simeon is a "righteous and devout man." He is waiting for Israel to be consoled in the coming of the Messiah, and he is not disappointed. He knows Jesus immediately as the fulfillment of what is promised..... one who will save the people. In verse 34 of Luke 2, Simeon tells Mary and Joseph that Jesus is destined to reveal the inner thoughts of many and pierce their souls. Such eyes to see Jesus are a gift and a blessing beyond words. As I have reflected on the experience of the North Carolina 5-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation that ended Friday, I have come to a place of affirming the words of Simeon. This Jesus that pierced Simeon's heart has also pierced my own. In much of the past week, the present of Christ has been so evident that as I reflect on it, I hardly have words. At Trinity Center, a group of 60 souls gathered in hope of rest and renewal in Christ and in the teaching of Roberta Bondi and Bruce Rigdon. The gathered were different from one another. They were at different places in the journey. The arrived with different issues and different hopes. In the first couple of days, there were expressions of doubt about covenant groups and the schedule of options people would be invited into. I prayed we would not become those in the wilderness grumbling about manna. By Wednesday, the change began. The healing service did not disappoint. The Lord moved around the room and a peace settled over the blessings. The invitation to healing was met in the presence and grace of the Living God. Prayers were answered. Many who had come into the room less than hopeful were met in an embrace of blessing that was unmistakable. God was present and eyes were opened. On Thursday, the tide changed. There was a recognition that even though we are at different places on this journey of life, and even though we may not have the same ideas about God, or the same depth of faith and understanding about God, we are in this together. And in our togetherness, some push and some pull. We all forgive and accept the human condition we all share. We are one people called to love, accept, forgive, encourage, and uphold one another as we journey together. And so we will. Today, I put the picture of the 2011 Academy in the frame that sits on the window sill of my back hallway. It sits at the front of the past 5 years of Academy participants still in the frame of my prayers. I see this group picture every time I exit and enter the back door and say a prayer for my fellow sojourners in the faith. This group is important to my own faith. They are my community, those with whom I sit and wait to see Christ. I am never disappointed. My eyes have seen the promised salvation and I give thanks. Amen.