Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Definition : a "stone of help," or a reminder of God’s Real, Holy Presence and Divine aid.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Prof: Dr. David Sherbino
This 3 days retreat truly deserve to be included as the compulsory component in this course. We went to Queens of the Apostles in Mississauga. Its outlook is less than ordinary, but I am delightfully impressed by some of the contemporary artworks it adopted in the interior. Daily communion and worship, 5 hours of solitude and silence, sessions of dream interpretation (sounds like one of the harry potter classes doesn't it!)... there is a part of me that yearns for a longer time to spend in such place.
Here are the briefs on the major areas.
In my own church of 3000, rather than referring the communion as a “routine”, it is a much privatized act. As trays are passing around the massive sanctuary, everyone holds on tight to their own little piece of bread and plastic cup of grape juice. Some are praying, some simply wait in silence. Each person seems to go forth to God individually, despite the fact that he is right beside his family, friends, and brothers and sisters. However, the communion experience in the retreat was significantly different. It occurred to me that communion is not merely an act of remembering Jesus or bringing yourself in front of God. It is, as the word suggests, “mutually participating” in this intimate act of sharing Him completed koinania. His despicable sufferings, his shed blood, his resurrection, his love and his salvation, are done for all. It is through this unconditional sacrifice, all that comes under his name are connected by a web of love thicker than blood. How could the remembrance of our Lord, be any less than this?
On the first night, we passed the bread around by saying “John/Jane, this is the body of Christ, broken for you”, while Dr. Sherbino served the cup. At the very end, our teacher was the only one who did not have the bread and wine yet. A fellow classmate offered the serving of the bread to him. The cup was sitting on the tabernacle by itself. It seemed natural to go up and serve the wine, but hesitation went through my mind: “Should it not be deacon or a pastor to serve the communion?” But my heart overrode my mind with a compelling “Go”, and I was just in time to extend him the cup with a smile, “this is the blood of Christ, shed for you.” It was as if Christ, with his body and blood, went around and completed the circle of love. In the following communions, as different people served communions and read scriptures, the sense of universal priesthood revealed itself stronger and stronger. What an overlooked identity in church and a role we are owed to one another!
Community was the surprising element in the retreat. In my stereotypical mind, retreat of this sort would have been wise enough to maximize the silence and solitude. Nonetheless, pleasantly astonished, there were good periods of time for community and fellowship, and they formed an important part of my retreat. People, whom I know or do not know from both sections, became family members who hadn’t seen each other for long at dinner table. Different topics rose up as each meal was served with different dishes, but there was a common theme: God and His works. The richness of exchange was inexplicable, although the limited eating hour only allowed us to share little. Perhaps it is exactly the point: because our time on earth is so little, our limited time shall focus on worthy topics.
My spiritual friend had a rough night sleeping. As we got together, she opened up and talked about her struggle and vulnerabilities. My heart went out for her yet no comforting words could be found. We dedicated much of our session to prayers. The Holy Spirit moved us both greatly, and he spoke words of healing and comforting through our lips. Praying for each other is indeed the creation of a meeting place for God and the others in our heart. It was very profound for both of us.
During the 5 hours of solitude and silence, my body called for a rest and I obeyed its request. What John Eudes mentioned was true: giving much energy to others in every encounter is exhaustive, and it does not favour a sustainable spiritual life. After 2 hours of sleep, the warm chapel seemed to be a better transition from the cozy bed than to the thought of snow. There were a few people there already. In these 3 hours of prayer, He and I both spoke very little. It was a little dull to start with, and I had to resist the idea of speaking for the speaking sake. It was like sitting together with your parent, and staring at each other in silence. After a period of time, He spoke. It was words of comfort for a family who recently lost their child. Perhaps, all these wordless time, was preparing me that so I can hear the most important words. Nouwen suggested that “God dwells only where man step back to give him room.” So is prayer that allows words to recede and make room for him to speak.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Note: a modified prayer inspired by Psalm 19:1-4 and John Eudes' conversation with Henri Nouwen in "The Genesee Diary".
Sunday, March 16, 2008
"A child in the cradle, if you watch it at leisure, has the infinite in its eyes." ~ Vincent Van Gogh.
然後﹐她煞有介事地對我說﹕「我懷疑我有Obsessive-compulsive disorder 。1」
註1﹕Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an illness that causes people to have unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and to repeat certain behaviors (compulsions) over and over again.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Course: Culture, gospel and church
Prof: Don Posterski (yes-- he is the author of this book)
When we are probing how to deal with diversity in this book, one of the section headings strike me: defend the cultural space of the others. As a Christian, we are often walled by oppositions that are against values in our religion: same sex marriage, law in place to prohibit languages with discrimination that might lead to making bible reading illegal in public. We are often so busy defending ourselves from all the bows and arrows from the liberalism. We are striving and voicing to be treated equally and justly in the name of freedom. However, while we attempts to protect our sacred ground and defending our own right, we as Christians have never thought of defending other cultures or religions’ right – it is not equivalent to “promoting other religions”, yet it is on the basis of doing what is just, as we loves others as ourselves and not lending a hand to oppress a group.
I wholeheartedly believe, giving space to the others keeps them within the smelling range -- keeps them in the smelling range of the fragrance of our Lord.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
究竟是祂要我們這樣鞠躬盡粹死而後已﹐還是我們心裡有鬼? 這隻鬼﹐躲在陰冷暗角的一旁﹐冷不防在你耳邊冷冷地說一句﹕「you don't worth it.」
祂說﹕「Be still, and know that I AM God.」 (Psalm 46:1) 當一切安靜下來﹐當我們以為群魔將洶湧而至時﹐祂已經在這裡﹐守候良久了。