Radical Optimism and Message in a Bottle

OPENING PRAYER

Loving God, your spirit surrounds us in both light and darkness.  Like sunlight, you help us find our way and explore our world.  Like a dark night sky, you give us rest from all the worries of the day.  May we be light for people who need to see hope in this world.  May we be cozy darkness for those who need a safe place to rest. Help us to share your loving presence in the world.  Amen                                 

  RADICAL OPTIMISM

Beatrice Bruteau: Sin and Salvation

1 RADICAL OPTIMISM

2 HOW SHALL WE DEAL WITH EVIL? 

Contemplative is not in a ivory tower.  We are called seek the way out of evil and suffering, to help heal the world. Lots of evil in world, from petty and annoying to truly horrible.

Not enough to tweak a few laws, make punishments more dire.

Not enough to assigning blame, making theology about, mourning or marveling over it.

NATURE AND ROOTS OF EVIL

Good does not need to contrast with evil to exist.  But evil “has to react against something good that exists.”

4. THE DESCRIPTIVE SELF

When we look in the mirror, what do we see?

5. DESCRIPTIVE-SELF OUTCOMES

Speaking personally, I fall into thinking that I can’t just be a GOOD flutist, I need to be BETTER THAN lots of others. (I’m working on that!)  Or one can’t just have LOTS of money, power, or fame, one has to have MORE THAN most people.

TWO KINDS OF FREEDOM

Choice freedoms come from alternatives in the environment, from different types of food, to one’s inner needs and urgings.  With Choice Freedomboth the alternatives and the inner urgency come from the environment.

In Creative Freedom, you act from yourself as author, not in reaction to some stimulus. You start the action.  Also God’s freedom.  God does not love you or me because we are worthy, desirable, or attractive.  God’s love not a reactive love.

7 EVIL COMES FROM BELIEVING

This is the ‘Father of lies,’ the falsehood on which all sin is based.”There is a raw urgency to exist on levels of self-esteem, value and meaning, as well as security, nourishment, and relief from pain.  It is a flaw in KNOWLEDGE not of WILL  

SALVATION THROUGH LOVE 

“It is at the moment when you perceive this truth and really accept it, believe yourself to be loved – permit, agree, allow, consent to be loved and sustained by another – it is at this moment that salvationtake place.  It is when this deep metaphysical need to be loved and sustained is met and satisfied that one’s life is really saved, preserved, kept from destruction.”

SALVATION IS NOT 

These first two often get lumped together in the idea of Atonement – that Jesus died because God was angry.  Or that a substitutionary death had to take place for us not to be killed forever.  [Author says once in a great while real substitutionary death is offered.  Tell Holocaust story]

As Richard Rohr says, “Jesus didn’t die to change God’s mind about humans.  He died to change humans’ minds about God!”

10 Preaching and meditation should…

BOTTLE ON THE BEACH MEDITATION


“Imagine yourself on a beach, quite alone but feeling completely safe. There’s enough sunshine for you to feel pleasantly warm but not overly hot. You hear the waves lapping on the shore, the calling of seagulls, and the soft murmur of the wind in the pines. You’re walking at the water’s edge, watching the foam roll onto the sand at the leading border of the waves. You can feel your bare feet sinking into the damp sand as you walk. You can almost taste and smell the salt tang in the air. As you amble along, you notice that something has washed up on the shore just a few feet in front of you. You realize it’s a bottle, so you walk over to it and pick it up. Inside is a description, in words or pictures, of TWO THINGS – a comforting message from God, and your heart’s desireWhat is that message?  What is that desire?
This depiction is how I often lead people into a guided meditation on their deepest hopes and comfort from God.  The idea of the beach and a gift washing up came to me from my memories of Anne Morrow Lindberg’s book Gift from the Sea
I also use a bit of scripture as I guide this meditation, saying to the group. Psalm 37, verse 4 says, Take delight in God, who shall give you your heart’s desires.  Often our deepest heart’s desire is also God’s deepest desire for us.  That’s a huge comfort to me.  What other comforting message is in the bottle for you?  Look at what’s in your bottle, even if it is only question marks on a scrap of paper. Wonder about what your deepest desire might be and what God’s message might be to you this very day. 
Now notice that someone is approaching you on the beach. Perhaps it is some God-figure—perhaps a member of the Trinity—Father, Son or Holy Spirit, or Mother God, or Sister Spirit.  However, it could be a loved one, alive or passed on, or a person from history or from scripture, or any representation of the Divine that comes to you. Speak with that God-figure or loved one about your heart’s desire.”

 CLOSING PRAYER

Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated unto you; and then use us, we pray you as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

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