I am enjoying reading a collection of Emanuel Swedenborg’s writing, and contemplating deeply the Lord of Love and Wisdom.
My former pastor, Rev. Ann-Louise Haak, gave me a great image of Lent a few years back. Like plants who turn toward the sun for greater light, warmth and thriving we are called in seasons like Lent to make those intentional turns — those course corrections — that have been depriving us of Love, Light, and Lasting Nourishment. Any sacrifice or penance that is of God is for this.
On the way to the cross with Jesus, He enlivens my solidarity to care with increasing purity of affection about how the vessel which is my life serves Christ’s purposes of Love and Wisdom. Like a plant seeking Sun, this is what I long for.
May all who claim his name and his calling, look deeply within our hearts and minds this Lent.
Does the form and the content of our Christian life bless this creation through Love and Wisdom? Does our claim to the power of his life, death and resurrection make us more like him? Or, does our “faith” rationalize a separation from the needs of this world, a judgment even of the frailties and sins of this life? If truly enlivened by Christ, we long for the expansions of our hearts and minds and to be used fully by Wisdom and for Love. We grow in our capacity to serve others, to see people with God’s eyes, and to acknowledge the humanity of all (to name them neighbors, even, capable of God’s good no less than we are). That is the uncontestable victorious world-resurrecting power of his life.
Swedenborg writes in Divine Love and Wisdom about the self-love which manifests in behavior that is controlling, and how this is the furthest thing from Divine Love. In every season, confession about such self-love is redemptive. The self-love sins of the Church in this arena have been great, and are blemishes on its testimony to Christ. This is most manifestly reflected today in the lustful and scapegoating opposition to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons. A frenzy of lies and distortions keep many well-intentioned conservatives in a place of fear and fear’s temptation to control. When we stop trying to control others, we may be given the grace to truly see them as they are with all their frailties, shortcomings and gifts. We are given the privileged and Good News opportunity to repent, for so often when we think we are loving the Lord we are really loving ourselves.
As I look around at the religious voices aiming for more control (so different from liberty!) in the public square, I lament at the collective sin of so much of Christ’s church. As a lesbian Baptist minister and life coach, it is easy to name my horrors about the Religious Right and the pain these brothers and sisters cause. But conservative and liberals in different ways fail the test of love and wisdom. Where are the humble hearts who seek only to love the Lord (not so much our social idolatries)? What could we create if we could acknowledge Others’ fears, understand them with Divine perspective, and bless one another even as we stand against injustice and violence?
May we be granted the grace to repent — each in the measure of our own need — and animated by faith to turn ourselves like plants to the great Creator of True Love and True Wisdom.