Discerning the Presence

“You have been staring at an obstacle not willing to consider that the obstacle was put there to show you the right path. You have been complaining about your losses, not realizing that these losses are there to enable you to receive the gift of life.”

We continue with the Henri Nouwen-little book study, following the Road to Emmaus-disciples and talking about the Eucharist/Communion; but now that we’ve “hooked” you with the first chapter yesterday, we’ll keep things uncluttered for you and put the rest under a cut!

In the practice of the Eucharist, after “Lord have mercy” comes “This is the Word of the Lord”. This whole chapter is about how God’s Word brings God’s presence to us. After Jesus has listened to the two disciples tell about their disappointment (mourn their loss), He begins to “open” the Word to them–using the scriptures they knew well and showing how their “little story” fits into The Big Story (our recent sermon series!) He doesn’t say there is not reason for sadness, but shows them why it was necessary. He doesn’t mince words–“Foolish people,” He says, “So slow to believe”; in spite of which, they find that their “hearts began to burn, that is to say, they experienced his presence”. What makes the word sacred, is that it creates what it expresses. In Genesis, the Hebrew words for “speaking” and “creating” are the same. What makes God’s Word sacred, is that it is full of God’s presence.

Isn’t it true that, long before we recognize Him, Jesus has been working in our lives, in our sorrow and disappointment? The challenge is to trust: “They didn’t trust that their experience was more than the experience of an irretrievable loss.”

Nouwen mentions that we often think of hearing God’s Word, and how we can apply it; but the first thing necessary (and where did we hear this before?) is that the Word transforms us, by becoming God present within us. Only then can we carry it out; in fact, otherwise it’s just not possible–we fail in the attempt.

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