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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Music

It was as far back as the 18th century that European music was becoming increasingly popular in the United States. Thomas Jefferson, author of the American Declaration of Independence and two-term president of the United States referred to the Baroque classical of the 1700s as “a delightful recreation through life” and also “this favorite passion of my soul”.

This weekend I experienced two performances that stirred the passion of my soul. The ripple effects of a theater performance of “Jesus Christ Superstar” and a musical meditation given didn’t exactly blow me away……instead it deepened the vibration of the A note in my soul.

Festival of Arts Program

“Remember the A note,” violist Grace Byrd instructed us in the meditation audience. She was guiding us on the path to follow John Beall’s,  Variations on Wondrous Love 1942 composition. Grace united us with the centering effect love has as it ripples out into the world like  the rings created in the water when a pebble is thrown into it.

Follow the music of the strings, and you will see it always comes home to the solitary A note, she said. That is us. That is love. And you cannot love without vibrations and “rings” of it going out into the world, you know not where.

We listened. Sure enough, there was that A note the music returned to. Music sometime quiet and stirring, sometimes fusing into a dramatic fortissimo to where her partner accompanist on the Grand Piano, Joseph Byrd melded into one with the all octaves on the piano keys, and notes on the music sheets flying onto the next page.

I sensed he was only aware of the message of the music and the lead of the violo strings, which indeed, led us all back to the solitary A note of love.

The A note was heard between audience and performers. The grace received. The inspiration from it accompanying us into our week. One does not remain untouched by this beauty. This beauty is of God.

Kathleen - in charge of Jesus Christ Superstar

Passion overflowed at the Marshall Franke Center adult theater performance of Jesus Christ Superstar. As stated in the program, the play “loosely follows” the gospel accounts of the Passion Week of Jesus Christ, but it was close enough for us in the audience to feel the touchable presence of Christ, his apostles and the perplexed rulers of the day. Just what are we to do with this man-God Jesus?

The story came alive through the spectacular lyrics of the songs.  Under the direction of our daughter Kathleen, the musical compositions etched out the personalities and complexion of the whole story of the Passion.  The actors surrendered totally to the demands and nuances of their historical figures.

The play totally humanized the principle figures of that biblical time and the drama “got behind” the narrative to such an extent that you found yourself saying, “Yes, if I were there…..”

The A note was present throughout the play….Jesus was about love. People couldn’t understand this love, this divinity present in each of us. This was intensified in the character of Judas. They were so afraid of it in themselves, they could not stand to see it in Jesus.

Of course it is about power, but not the power of the land at the time. It was about the power of God’s love manifesting itself as human in the world. That could not be. The music  of love was off-key to the ancient politicians of the day. And so the cross became the answer….they thought.

But, as we know today,  the A note could not be ignored. The crescendo of the cross led to the Resurrection of Christ, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the growth of Christianity throughout the world.

Tribute to Kathleen

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Well, it is Holy Thursday, and in this holy season from this day until Easter Sunday, I get pretty quiet inside. I ponder the mysteries of Christ, his Passion, death and Resurrection, and like the apostles of His time, I can’t really say I understand it.

My clock points to about the hour I imagine Christ is asking his apostles to stay…and pray with him an hour, but alas sleep overcomes and soon Judas and the Roman soldiers are upon them all.

Now, shocked, the apostles are going to rise to Jesus’ defense, but Jesus, himself, tells them to calm their effort. Just as at the Last Supper, Jesus was telling them, they would not see him in a little while…yet he would be with them always…..

They didn’t “get it.”

In his short life Jesus lived and taught these three things over and over again: Love one another, forgive one another, and oh, by the way “You and I are One, just as the Father and I are One, and I’ve come to do His will.”

“Destroy the temple and in three days I will rebuild it again”? Speaking of life everlasting in so many ways. Yet, it couldn’t be understood. Imagine their total devastation when Jesus would not save himself from the cross! Every year as I enter the sacred scriptures, I want to warn Jesus, “they are coming, they will be here soon. Leave, and save yourself from a torturous night and death.”

But the story never changes.

I understand their need to hide in fear and try to figure out what had just happened and what their next step would be.

Who, today 2,000 years later, understands immortal life — life unending and glorious, not destroyed but transformed. Really, who does?

Jesus did and he did his best to tell us and be a way-shower and show us.  But there is still sadness and silence and soul-searching from Holy Thursday night, through Friday, the day of crucifixion, and the Holy Saturday, commemorating the burial.

Then– Easter dawn; the women and the angel — “He is gone!” Arisen.”

Is this the act that can turn doubt and fear and “not hearing” into understanding or acceptance on faith? Is this the act that will be recorded and travel forward through history that humankind will ponder perhaps to the end of time?

Many other spiritual leaders of our time speak to us of Oneness, a Divine Source, not “out there” but within and speak of immortality as a transformation of some kind. Many people today are listening, trying to understand, finding more agreement even between inter-faith dialogues — that there are Universal Spiritual Truths that are to be acted upon just as there are Laws of Physics and Mathematics.

In fact, the Spiritual Principles, are showing up and being recorded more often now in the fields of Physics, Mathematics and other research arenas.

One of these spiritual leaders is Buddist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, and I recently came across these words of his. Now it may be just me, but it sounds like he is speaking of the same immortality Christ spoke of. See if you agree:

“Some people might ask you, “When is your birthday?”
But you may ask yourself a more interesting question:
“Before that day which was my birthday, where was I?”

Ask a cloud, “What is your date of birth? Before you
were born, where were you?”

If you ask the cloud, “How old are you? Can you
give me your date of birth?” you can listen deeply
and you may hear a reply….

“Looking deeply, you do not see a real date of birth
and  you do not see a real date of death for the cloud.
All that happens is that the cloud transforms into
rain or snow.

There is no real death because there is always
a continuation.”
Thich Nhat Hanh

I think I will take these thoughts into quiet time with me, release them and open to the mysteries of life – and glorious life everlasting.

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One of the things I like about Mondays is that our small prayer group, the Christ Circle meets in the evening. Led by Rev. Karen Joy Gifford, we have been meeting for many years.

Christ Circle focuses around the importance of regular, committed prayer practice. The practice OF prayer. That prayer IS a way of life and that prayer is very powerful. We call the results of prayer our demonstrations, and in the history of the group, we have many and mighty demonstrations. More than enough to keep us believing.

In the Christ Circle we focus on Christ Consciousness and of course that brings us to the basic reality of Love, as the one, all-powerful and enduring quality in our lives. Christ was the Way-Shower for that. Forgiveness and healing are the paths to knowing ever-greater the joys of love.

The six members of this prayer group do not do a lot of other things with each other in the normal course of our daily lives, but the bond among us is strong and powerfully felt. The prayers for one another are graciously received. The struggles and challenges amongst us are confidently laid open to the healing balm of Christ’s presence.

My husband’s hospital room was the scene of one of these prayer demonstrations just two weeks ago. He was recovering from back surgery and was having significant troubles from unknown causes. He had been in distress for a day or so with a few more ahead of him before it would settle down.

He was very foggy, confused and in pain. It was a Sunday morning and a Eucharistic minister we did not know came into the room and asked if he wished to receive Jesus. He said yes.

She gave him communion, then turned to me and offered the consecrated host and I received. Then she appeared a bit shaken and admitted to us that she was. But she said she must tell us both something before she left.

“I cannot leave before I tell you something,” she said. “I’ve been doing this ministry for twenty years and I love this ministry, I truly do.” She said she’s met many wondrous people doing this. “But there is something about Tom and I am to tell you this.”

“When I came in the room, my eyes were drawn immediately to yours, Tom, and I saw the eyes of Jesus looking back at me. I saw the face of Jesus in your face and He wants you to know He is very close to you,” she continued. “And he wants you to know you are very close to him.”

She admitted feeling uncomfortable saying this, but she felt sure our paths were destined to cross and that it was because she was to tell him this. We told her we have a covenant we say daily for Christ Consciousness in our lives and that we brought a healing covenant to the hospital that we also prayed together.

All three of us, who were alone but together in the room, felt the Presence of Divine Love. I pointed out the statue of Jesus of the Divine Mercies propped up on Tom’s hospital bed-table. There was a time of quiet and gratitude.

And then she walked quietly out of our lives again. There is a comedian who used the line quite frequently, “I’m not making this up!”

That’s what I kept having to say to myself after experiencing that moment of grace in the hospital. I didn’t make this up. I didn’t know it was coming. I had no idea but the wonder of it soothed mine and Tom’s soul in the days to come and gave us both renewed courage that healing was assured and on its way this moment.

Tom had to stay awhile in another intensive rehab inpatient unit, but it was the perfect place for him made ready the day after the Holy Communion miracle. From there on, he made progress in leaps and bounds and was released two full weeks before they anticipated.

The power of prayer – the Presence of the Divine Christ — made it all possible.  The faithful practice of prayer fuels it.

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