“Glowing In the Dark”
. . . . . .
February 10, 2013
Here, in this space where we gather,
My hope is that each is touched by the Sacred
Not by my words
But through the compassion shared
May THE Light of life be yours.
Islam has a lot of things right. One of the many things they really get right is the laws that do not allow images of The Prophet, Mohammed, to be displayed anywhere. Of course, there are admonitions against creating “images” of God but we, of the Judeo-Christian heritage, have not found it convenient to adhere to those laws. As with notable exceptions, we have not adhered to most laws of the Hebrew Scriptures because of what Paul says here in Corinthians, “that constricting legislation is seen as obsolete.”
I want to talk a little about images . . . how many have seen near photo-perfect images of Jesus depicted as a fit, tall, slender white guy? Of course! We have all seen paintings of Jesus depicted as a handsome guy with that chiseled chin and perfect posture — they are so pleasant to look at that we want to cozy up and sit next to him to chat for a while. If, however, we were asked, totally free of the context of religion at all, to conjure up in our minds the image of a first century individual from the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea — a small town native in sandals and sackcloth, these images of flowing robes, long well-brushed hair and chiseled features – would probably not be what came to mind!
Islamic law that forbids people from making images of the prophet Mohammed forces Muslims to focus on the inner images, the spiritual images, the images they conjure up in mind rather than what they have seen. The focus becomes the teaching – not the person — and this is huge because the images we see, the ones that get recorded in our minds, play such an important role — our feelings, our thoughts, and the mental construct of what we believe.
Peggy has this great picture of Jesus that she has hanging on the wall of her office. Of course, it has a lot of facial features that we otherwise might have seen — if not, we might not recognize him as Jesus. We might think it was some other long-haired guy from the sixties. This particular drawing shows Jesus with his head thrown back in uproarious laughter. I love it! That is what I want faith to be about. I want us to be free to laugh, free to have fun in church, free to allow the glow of friendship to show through like a lighthouse in a storm, glowing freely in the dark night of the soul, because life can really be rotten sometimes and we need to be able to laugh.
Being human, we experience a range of emotions. We feel the sadness and grief when we lose someone close or when we share the loss that someone close to us has experienced. We must, at times, struggle to fight off the fear and depression that can assault us when life does not seem to go our way. But in our humanity, we can find community. We find others who share the pain and who have experienced similar pain. Here in this place, where this community of faith gathers, we experience the joy of being together, the commonality of tears and laughter, of magnificent sounds from the organ and piano, and of knowing that here, we can find the peace of God that is expressed in the sacred when we reach out to one another sharing the joys and concerns of our hearts. Here, in this space, we have the freedom to laugh at our own mistakes and freedom to cry. We have the freedom to clap in celebration, meditate in peace or calmly hear the joy of our own hearts.
Eknath Easwaran (1910-1999) wrote, “One last point brings the Bhagavad Gita (sacred text of the Buddhists) directly into our times. The central message of the Gita is that life is an indivisible whole — a concept that contemporary civilization flouts at every turn. Until we learn the principles of unity and how to live in harmony with them, the Gita would say, we cannot have abiding peace or live in harmony with each other and the planet; we cannot even enjoy the real and lasting progress that is the hallmark of civilization.”
But as we do experience the wholeness, or the oneness of the universe, as we do connect across personal lines and lines of religious differences, as we do grow closer to the Sacred One, we can begin to glow with the presence and essence of God. The metaphorical speech from the ancient Hebrew Scriptures speak of the face of Moses glowing with the light of God so much that a veil had to hide the light lest it blind the Hebrew people. This is a light, a joy, a glowing that is ours for the connecting with the spirit for which we strive. It is personal, deeply personal, and the laws that govern behavior, the “training wheels” for our behavior that are the laws, need not restrict us and bind us. We can see and feel and be one with the beauty that is the sacred by loving, caring for, and reaching out to, everyone else. Then, we are with all goodness and grace and all goodness and grace is with us. Seyyed Hossein Nasr said The Quranic verse, “God is with the good” (29:69) can also be translated “God is with those enmeshed in beauty.”
Here, in this place, we come to be close to the beauty of each heart. Here, we gather to become enmeshed in the beauty of the souls of each other person who gathers. Here, we can come to awaken the glow within us all and become one with all that is. Here, we become more and more filled with the Sacred Essence learning to become more loving people, reaching out to others in all we do. Here, we can laugh and be one with the image of a laughing Christ Spirit. Here, we can be comfortable, compassionate, caring people as we glow more and more with the spirit of the essence of the Sacred.
Here, we can gather and share the love of God with all people for here we are secure in that love having been shared with us.
Here, we can harbor in our hearts images of the sacred essence in laughter and with tears. Here, we can be with one another and share the glow of the essence of the sacred in all we do.
Here, we are filled with the grace and the glory of the sacred and here, we receive the power poured out in wisdom and courage for facing each new hour of life.
Blessings Friends, Amen.