Beyond Our Wounds:
Are We Now Living Within God?
Twenty-Fifth Sunday After Pentecost •
November 11, 2018
COTV Minister of Care, Guest Preacher
Scripture Lesson: Colossians 3:2
New Revised Standard Version
How goes it with your souls, my brothers and sisters? Do you have enough love in your life to get you through these days of challenge? Do you have enough hope to see the election results this week as part of the long slow arc of the moral universe bending towards justice?
Do you have enough faith to trust that God will guide us to a shift from the newest wave of hateful white nationalism, blatant racism and violent anti-Semitism? …that God will guide us from the twistedness that encourages the violent mass murders now plaguing our country?
Do you have enough grace to follow John Wesley’s words of generosity, to “do all the good you can…?” Do you have enough forgiveness to forgive others? …to forgive yourself?
Do you feel the love of God as a balm for past injuries, past wounds? …or (if you reach for a totally honest answer) do you feel condemnation ….and maybe even hatred for yourself …and others?
NONE of these things are totally under our control.
We cannot force these changes on our own…We can’t, but God can.
I read our scripture reading with new eyes this week while reading my favorite theologian, Franciscan Priest Richard Rohr … especially the words, “your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
Fr. Richard suggests that whenever we feel self-hatred, we can ask ourselves, “Who am I?” … “Where do I abide?”
Paul answers that for us when he wrote to the Collosians: “We are hidden with Christ in God.”
How astounding to recognize that every single aspect of us… resides with us in God along with all the glory that is God! …every single aspect of us… even the festering wounds within us, the unending grief,
the shameful secrets.
How redeeming it is to recognize that if we and God are united, how can we hate ourselves if we truly love God?
If we are united, to hate ourselves would be to also hate God.
Okay… let’s go one step further: We are as lovable as can be! Believe it or not, it’s true!
Fr. Rohr points out, “God looks at us and always sees Christ, and God finds us always and entirely lovable.” Isn’t that awesome?!
Sooooo, what about all those shameful secrets we hold and the old wounds we’ve been lugging around with us from the past?
You know, and I know, some of them can be pretty ugly and weighty. At COTV, we’ve been dealing with those old wounds from different angles in our sermons the last couple of weeks. And theologians have been dealing with them for as long as… well, for as long as there have been theologians.
Julian of Norwich, English Christian mystic, philosopher and theologian of the 14th Century, spoke of the many wounds we carry. She said,
“Our wounds are our very trophies! They are the holes in the soul where the Light and the Life can break through.”
Unless we experientially feel God’s closeness, how do we accept this reality as our own? I want to suggest an exercise of prayer. Do you remember a few weeks ago when Pastor Jeff suggested an experiment for us… praying for a stranger? It can be done anywhere you are where there are other people, but I like the subway setting.
Discreetly, take notice of someone who appears to need prayer, and quietly pray for them.
I would take this a step further and view that person as Christ, through the eyes of God… as Christ, sacred and suffering. Consider the physical, mental, and spiritual wounds this person carries
that keeps them in a state of need.
Pray that those wounds open to healing. Pray light and life to those wounds, surrounding that person’s being with light, life and love.
As you say your Amen, bless them on their way.
What physical, mental, and spiritual wounds have you dealt with in your lives?
Which ones are still doing damage within you?
Many of you have heard parts of my story, of how I started my life over at age 40, moving from my family, coming out as a Lesbian, and leaving the church in anger and disillusionment.
With no financial or community security, and with my emotional wounds raw and raging, I made decisions that were damaging in so many ways. Picking up some behavior from my younger days,
I found that the good times I had could be enhanced with substances. I found more and more good times.
That seemed like a good idea at the time, but that behavior became a way of life… that soon had a life of its own. By the time I realized that the “fun” I was having wasn’t much fun anymore, I was not liking myself very much. My life had more problems than I could handle in a responsible way… in fact, responsibility seemed less and less a part of my life.
For me, the major lack of integrity presented in dishonesty whenever I had to protect my use of alcohol and drugs. I recognized that I really DID have a problem, my life had become unmanageable… and the problem was Addiction.
Thank God, a friend in recovery came with me to my first 12-step meeting, and thank God, I have not had a drink or drug since then, 22 years ago this past Thursday.
Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, wrote of his spiritual awakening while he was hospitalized for the fourth time for the treatment of alcoholism in December, 1934.
“I fell into a very deep depression, the blackest that I had ever known. And in that desperation, I cried out, “If there is a God, will He show Himself?” Then came a sudden experience in which it seemed the room lit up. It felt as though I stood on the top of a mountain, that a great clean wind blew, that I was free. The sublime paradox of strength coming out of weakness.” ~ Bill W. (June 1945)
“The sublime paradox of strength coming out of weakness.”
Bill Wilson had the vision and wisdom to recognize that if he was to share this new way of healing with others, those people had to own their brokenness.
Within our worldly society, the usual trophies of success are seen as based in wealth and power.
But within the kin-dom, those in need had trophies to be discovered… hidden in the wounds they carried. Within the kin-dom, salvation is based on woundedness, giving everyone equal and universal access to God.
I was 50 yrs old before facing my desperate need for healing. My connection with God had broken years before, during the time of my using.This was the worst wound that I carried, but when one devotes time and energy to another “small-g” god, it blocks the sacred connection with our loving God, our true God.
The very first commandment is “You shall have no other gods before Me…” I have new understanding for that teaching, for sure.
While I struggled through those first months of recovery, in confusion, rage, arrogance, and a will that had not yet released itself to God, I was sure that I could do this… I could be one who made it happen…
once I learned how to do it my way… but that way all failed as I white-knuckled myself into staying clean and sober.
Using my will didn’t work as I sought serenity, but I discovered there was another way.
It was not until the middle of one long night,when in desperation I sobbed into prayer, and I cried out for God’s help… the words clearly came to me, “It’s about change!”
Change…Yes, change… what a novel idea!
My way of doing things, under the power of my will, had led me to an undeniable wasting of my life…
and I knew I was ready to change… and I could change with God’s help.
My life in addictive thinking could not change to a life in recovery thinking until My Will invited God’s Will as my guide. My mind opened to 12-step wisdom… and my heart opened in gratitude as my relationship with God became closer than ever.
The 12-step program is not a solitary experience.
Rather, it is done within a community of caring people who identify with your story…
because on some level, it is their own story. We identify with one another… we do not compare.
It is done within a community of caring people who support one another in whatever ways they can.
You receive and you give within this community. God is present, with each person connecting with the God of their own understanding.
It was because of my 12-step experience that I was able to reconcile with the church, and for that I am grateful. It was because of my 12-step experience that I met Katie 12 years ago and legally married her 7 years ago today, on 11/11/11, by Church of the Village’s Pastor Vicki… and for that I am also grateful.
Life is good, and because of my 12-step experience, I can experience it as good, individually and in community. I can now live a life of gratitude.
In community, we learn to experience empathy. Empathy for another brings us to a sacred place
where we can experience God’s closeness and God’s healing… just as we experienced in our earlier exercise, in the healing prayer for the person in need.
Today, what about pouring that love to yourself?
Let’s close our eyes for a short prayerful meditation …
be in a quiet place within yourselves…
recognize and experience your life hidden within Christ in God.
Consider the physical, mental, and spiritual wounds you carry that keep you in a state of need.
Invite God to show you those that are most hurtful, especially those you may try to hide.
Pray that those wounds open to God, to sacred healing in whatever way is best.
Pray light and life to those wounds… surrounding your whole being with light, life, love.
Know that God will guide you to wholeness as you stay open to God’s love and seek God’s help.
Give thanks to God with all your heart, for God is Good. God is Grace. God is Light, Life, Love.
As you say your Amen, ask blessings on yourself.
Copyright © 2018 by Anne Hughes-Hinnen
All rights reserved.