On Readings for September 25, 2022

On Readings for September 25, 2022

Opening Question

What was one of the happiest moments of your childhood?

Scripture
Luke 16: 19-31

     “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.  And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores.  The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham.

     The rich man also died and was buried.  In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side.  He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’

     But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony.  Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’

     He said, ‘Then father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house – for I have five brothers – that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ 

     Abaham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’

     He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’

     He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Paired Readings

Today, I’d like to add to this parable several accounts of “life reviews” from people who have had near death experiences.  All these readings come from the book, The Gifts of Near-Death Experieinces: You Don’t’ Have to Die to Experience Your True Home, by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, and Matthew Linn.  My reason is not to frighten anyone, but to show that these life- reviews, in which these people experienced first-hand the injuries they had caused others, were always conducted within the incredible Light and unconditional Love people felt in their NDEs.  Here are some passages:

“Consider the story of a former Nazi who hurt people in big ways, by killing them in concentration camps.  He had an NDE while he was in a coma.  The coma lasted forty-eight hours, but it seemed to him that it lasted a lifetime.  He was in a dark cave with Nazi and Roman soldiers who had been responsible for mass killings.  After a while, he saw a different part of the place where light was shining, and there were the people he had killed.  He wanted to ask their forgiveness.  He heard that he had already been forgiven, and that now he only needed to forgive himself.  He felt unable to do this, and so he was allowed to feel the pain and suffering he had caused each of his victims.  Afterward, all these people comforted him. ‘He was bathed in unconditional love; it permeated his entire being.’  Then he awoke from his coma.

Whether we have hurt others in small ways, or in horrific ways, as the Nazi soldier did, our actions do have consequences, and at some point we will be asked to face whatever pain we have caused.  Yet accounts of NDEs consistently indicate that this has nothing to do with judgment or punishment. The life review takes place in an environment of unconditional love.  The NDEr can ask that the life review stop temporarily if it becomes overwhelming, and she or he can rest for a while in unconditional love before going on.  The reason for facing the harm we have done to others is so that we learn from our mistakes and grow in love and compassion, including compassion for ourselves.”  (pp. 105-106)

I…went back all the way to fourth grade when I was teasing a small girl, maybe second or third grade… She was up against a wall and I was calling her names.  But now I was inside her body, and I was receiving my own actions.  And not only was I feeling her pain, I was also seeing the future, how she as a person would become more shy and inward as a consequence to my actions.  And not only that, I would also feel the pain of her parents for realizing that their child would become inward, shy, and closed as a person.  So, I was basically experiencing the full consequences of my actions… It was not just that I was teasing this little girl and she was shy.  It was also her parents’ sadness, because everybody has hope and love for their children.  They want them to grow and bloom in life.  So, I experienced the full cycle, the chain of my actions (pp.127-8) 

————————————————————————————————-

He relived each incident in his life, including killing a mother bird when he was eight.  He was so proud of that single shot until he felt the pain the bird’s three babies went through when they starved to death without her.  It’s not true that only humans have souls. (p.109)

————————————————————————————————-

Mine was not a review, it was a reliving… No detail was left out… It was me judging me, and my judgment was most severe…but I took interest and satisfaction from one characteristic she (Phyllis) had repeatedly displayed, and that was her desire to try and try again..

She was relentless in her determination to make of herself a better person and to learn everything possible… This pleased me and at last I pronounced her personality good and the life she had lived worth its living.

As I looked down at the body of Phyllis on the floor, I was so filled with love and forgiveness that I floated ever so gently back into her body.  I re-entered through the top of the head, feeling the need to shrink and then squeeze back into the tight form Phyllis’s body offered. (pp.109-110)

————————————————————————————————-What kills is judgment; what heals is love.  The Light itself is only love, and it never judges; instead it gently nudges you toward your essential self.  It wants you to realize that your core being is this Light – it is not somethings external to you.  When you become identified with this Light, you will have only love and compassion for yourself – and for everything – you will be able to let go of all judgment.  Self-condemnation, guilt, and other forms of self-laceration are vanquished.  When judgment – that ruthless sower of division – falls away, there is only acceptance – of everything.  And that is called love. (p. 110)

“Whether we have a long time left to live, or a short time, we can change our life now.  How might you live differently if you knew that when you die, you will experience your effect on everyone you interacted with in your life?  This will happen during the life review in an environment of infinite love.  Since the purpose of the life review is our own growth in love and compassion, it would seem that the more we reflect upon our effect on others here, the more we can live in the Light and as the Light.  We move in this direction every time we honestly face how we have hurt another, forgive ourselves, make amends, and use our self-awareness to grow.” (p.113)

Meditation

Relax your body in three stages from your toes to your head, breathing in God’s light and comforting darkness, God’s love, strength, and healing power.  Breathe out burdens and cares, handing them to God.

Imagine that you are entering Heaven.  What is it like?  Use all five sense in imagination.  What do you see, feel, hear, smell and taste?  Who do you see – relatives, friends, animals?  Experience the Light.  If you like, hold a conversation with a loved one or with whatever God-figure you encounter.  Ask questions.  Listen for answers.  Imagine the scene unfolding like a movie.

Writing or Sharing

If you are in a group, you may want to share what came up during the meditation time.  Or you might want to write a description or even a poem about your experience in Heaven.

Closing Poems and Prayers

Psalm 146

Praise the Lord!  Praise the LORD, O my soul!  I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help.  When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish.

Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry.

The LORD sets the prisoners free; the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.  The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.

The LORD watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations.  Praise the LORD!

NO ONE WILL BEGRUDGE ME

I talk about it sometimes with Him, all the suffering in the world.

“Dear God,” I have prayed, “how is it possible

all the horrors I have seen, all the atrocities you allow man

to commit when you – God – are ever standing

so near and could help us?

Could we not hear your voice say ‘No’

with such love and power

never again would

we harm?”

And my lord replied, “Who would understand if I said that I

cannot bear

to confine a wing, and not let it learn from the course it chooses.”

But what of a man walking lost in a forest

weeping and calling your name for help, and unknown to him he

 is heading for a covered pit with sharp spears in it

that will main his flesh when he crashes

through the trap?

“Yes, why don’t I remove every object form this world that could

cause someone to weep?  Yes, why don’t I speak in a way

that could save a life?

I opened up my hand and the Infinite ran to the edges of space –

and all possibilities are contained therein, all possibilities,

even sorrow.

In the end, nothing that ever caused one pain will exist.

No one will begrudge me.

The Absolute Innocence of all within my creation

takes a while to understand.”

Catherine of Sienna

LIVE WITHOUT THOUGHT OF DYING

We work so hard to fly

and no matter what heights we reach

our wings get folded near a candle,

at the end,

for nothing can enter God but Himself.

Our souls are some glorious substance of the divine

that no sentry wants to stop.

Live without thought of dying,

for dying is not a truth.

We have swayed on the sky’s limb together,

many years there the same leaves grow.

But then they get that look in their eyes

and bid farewell to what they disdained or cherished.

This life He gave the shell, the daily struggles we know,

sit quiet for a minute, dear, feel the wind,

let Light touch you.

Live without thought of dying,

for dying is not a

truth.

Catherine of Sienna

The Best is Yet to Be

I will also give to each one

who wins the victory a white stone

with a new name written on it.

Revelation 2: 17

…Makes sense.  Fathers are fond of giving their children special names.  Princess.  Tiger.  Sweetheart.  Bubba.  Angel…

          Isn’t it incredible to think that God has saved a name just for you?  One you don’t even know?  We’ve always assumed that the name we got is the name we will keep.  Not so. The road ahead is so bright a fresh name is needed.  Your eternity is so special no common name will do.

          So God has one reserved just for you.  There is more to your life than you ever thought.  There is more to your story than what you have read…

          And so I plead… Be there when God whispers you name.

                                                                   When God Whispers Your Name

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