I started a new sermon series this week. It’s called “Beguiled by Beauty: Cultivation a Life of Contemplation and Compassion.” It has lots of beautiful imagery with it. I’m new to the online worship world. I’m learning something new every week! Here it is if you’d like to watch it.
If you’d just like to read the sermon, I’ll share it here and if not have a great day!
This past week, I spent a lot of time sitting outside on the patio. The wind this week has been a wonderful blessing. It has kept me cool in the shade when the temperatures began to soar higher than I like, it provided a beautiful rushing sound as it blew through the trees, and it gave me this awe inspiring sight as I watched the trees sway and dance in it. It’s been a beautiful week to sit outside. I hope you have been able to witness it for yourself whether it’s been by actually sitting outside, or taking a walk, or even just looking out at the beauty of creation through the window. It’s been a healing balm to me this week.
Susan and I have been getting out twice a day for a 30 minute walk. Earlier in the week, as we were just getting started on our walk, we came to a clearing at the corner and as I looked up at the beautiful blue sky, I said, ”it almost doesn’t seem right for it to be so beautiful out right now when we’ve been witnessing all this sadness, hurt, violence, and ugliness in our country.” We walked along in silence thinking about things for a moment and just let ourselves get caught up in the beauty of creation, with that thought heavy on our hearts.
Would you please pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts and minds be acceptable to you, O Lord, our rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
Beauty, they it’s in the eye of the beholder. As we heard the scripture read and watched the video of the tree and nature we saw so much beauty, but the book of Ezekiel is full of ugliness – exile, destruction, and crisis. Sounds a little familiar right now doesn’t it. It can be quite overwhelming as we watch the news and see what all is going on in our country and world right now. I won’t lie, it leaves me dumbfounded. I have found rest and calm though in nature this week. You guys know me, my allergies keep inside a lot but this week, thrown, my allergies to the wind and have decided to sit out here and just enjoy nature, letting it soothe and calm my soul. Letting it remind how good God really is, how he is in control. The beauty of nature of awe inspiring.
Dr. Wendy Farley has a book coming out later this fall that this series is based on entitled “Beguiled by Beauty.” She says, “Beauty reveals the relationship between the divine goodness and the world… Through the doorway of beauty, we walk into the divine realm and begin to perceive creation – to speak poetically – more the way the Beloved perceives it… When we love Divine Goodness more deeply, we love the world more passionately.” This all just struck me as so relevant to today. And I can say that this week, after the first little while out in nature, I was addicted and couldn’t get enough of it. I felt at peace and in awe of God’s handiwork. I felt his presence near me. I think being out in nature, seeking a closeness with God, leads to and is a part of a contemplative way of life.
Our author, Wendy Farley, says in her book, “A contemplative way of life is motivated by a devotion to the welfare of others… The feeling of tenderness toward others is rooted in the source of compassion, the Divine Beloved… The possibility of radical compassion arises as we deepen our relationship with ultimate reality, known to Christians by many names, but most often as God… Love, compassion, social justice, are the fruits of loving God… Set your heart on radical compassion – a living desire that the suffering of others be alleviated, no matter who they are.”
Our world seems to have been turned upside down. There is so much hurt and anger out there. There is so much absolutism out there. If you say “Black lives Matter” then you must hate the police. If you say Blue Lives Matter than you must not like people of color. If you disagree with the way the President is doing things, then you must hate the United States. If you love and support the President then you must be a bigot. These are all extremes and not very fair at all. I believe that Black Lives Matter and I believe that it’s important to say so because they are still not being treated fairly or justly by many but I also respect, support and care about our police. I love people who don’t like the President and those who do. It is all so very hard these days. But here is what I think is the secrete of it all. Love. Love everyone, be kind to everyone, have compassion, try to put yourself in each other’s shoes. Try to look through the eyes of our Creator and let yourself be “Beguiled By Beauty.” Amen.
This series is adapted from http://www.worshipdesignstudio.com/BeguiledByBeauty by Dr. Marcia McFee