I have to admit, I've always thought that mysticism was something that only weird people did. I thought that they have missed the point of Christianity by secluding themselves only to think. I read in my Texts and Traditions I class about mystics who would barely eat together, and some who would even refrain from taking part in communion because they wished to be alone with God. Walter Rauschenbusch, the father of the social gospel, said that mysticism was a waste of time, and that Jesus was not a mystic but rather a social revolutionary. Mystics dedicated their lives to the spiritual and sometimes to seclusion and being weird. I always thought that they were insane hermits living alone out in a desert somewhere. It was not until lately that I have become dissatisfied with my own "quiet time" that I have found beauty in the mystic tradition. Quiet times are taught to children in evangelical churches in order for a person to spend a few moments alone with God. In my own journey, I have found that I have become legalistic about my quiet time, and it became more of a law to fulfill rather than an organic alone time with God. Quite honestly, my quiet times were often pretty selfish, ending with prayers about what is going on in my life and not being quiet listening for the voice of God. Add to that my fascination with Greek, Hebrew, and preaching, my quiet times turned into what will preach time. At Truett, thanks to Dr. Talbert, I have been exposed to other forms of Spiritual formation that I have lacked in my journey up to this point. I would be lying if I told you that I have done each and every one of them or even liked all of them. I have not, but what they have taught me is to center my focus onto God. In my last post, I talked about the impact Thomas Merton is having on me. The more I get into mysticism and the poetry, silence, and beauty that comes with it, the more I realize that God is a mystery, and that without mystery, there is no beauty. G.K. Chesterton said, "Mysticism keeps men sane. As long as you have mystery, you have health; when you destroy mystery, you create morbidity." God is ultimately a mystery, and we need to be open to they mysterious part of God, because it keeps us at peace.
Recently, I have started to get into more of the mystical writings with my journey with God. I love scripture, and I have given my life to studying scripture. However, that often dominates my time with God, and so I am exploring other disciplines with my journey. I came across a book by Thomas Merton, who was an American monk. I had heard about Thomas Merton from Greg Boyd, a pastor in Minnesota who I listen to on Podcast. The book I am going through is "A Book of Hours." It is a book dedicated to praying the hours with Thomas Merton's reflections, poems, writings, and inward examinations. This quote is from today's reading during the "Day" portion of Monday: "Perhaps I would rather be guilty and weak in myself, than strong in Him whom I cannot understand." Wow. This statement has caused me to really look at myself. It is easy to proclaim God with your own strengths. But to truly rely on God, and be strong in God, who we can never fully understand. That is truly scary. And that's why God is Holy.
A few of you all have asked for updates to see how Memorial Day Service went over. We had a good service. As I expected, there were several songs honoring America, and our soldiers out there on the front line. Actually, the special music that day talked about the need for a few good men to be out there on the front lines for God. The judge gave a speech where everybody clapped about how we are losing our country to godless people, and how the government is trying to take God and Jesus Christ out of everything. Then I led the church in a time of pastoral prayer before reading the scripture. We prayed for our soldiers, their families, for people who have lost loved ones in the past year, and finally our enemies. It actually went over well. I had several people come up to me and tell me how powerful the prayer time was. I was happy about that. In the sermon I talked about how Paul was having an effect on the Roman Praetorian Guard, who were the most powerful men in the Roman world outside of Caesar and the senate. Overall, the service actually turned out pretty good, better than I thought it would. In other news, I was ordained this past weekend. It was a special time for me. My dad performed the service and did a phenomenal job as he always does. The ordination council was made up of men who I have had close relationships with for 12, almost 13 years. Several of them were my Sunday School teachers growing up, and I even worked with a couple when I was on staff at the church. My cousin Elise was married in Houston this weekend as well, so all my family was in town, which made it even more special. Sarah of course was there, and her parents were nice enough to come down to Beaumont for the service. It was a great and moving experience last night. I am really grateful for the people God has put in my life to mold me into the person I am today.