Beginning a Journey…

And so the journey begins…

I have decided to join EYSJ this year, a program offered by the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan for spiritual discernment and discovery. I have mulled over this decision for three years and I’m finally doing it. It’s a program required by the diocese before lay people are recommended for seminary school, but through the program you discover what God is really calling you to do, which may not be ordination but some other ministry. So I am open to whatever I discover and thrilled to meet some new friends along the way! Also excited and terrified in a good way! Wish me luck or prayers! ☺️

Thomas Merton: The Seven Storey Mountain

Finished it over the weekend. It was so good! I could have done without part one, but I guess it was useful to see how far he came from not giving any thought to the existence of God to becoming a Trappist monk. Wish I were still reading it. Merton is an excellent teacher, I feel like I finished a long journey with a dear friend. If any of you out there are in a discernment period to possibly go to seminary school, which is something I wrestle with often, you should definitely read this!💕

Halfway through the Bible. If you’re on Instagram follow this hashtag!

We are halfway through the Bible! Since the Fall of 2019, I have been writing really brief reviews of the books of the Bible. They are my own contemplative thoughts that no one has to agree with, but I hope speak only truth and leave room for your own contemplation.

The order I have been following is the below. Given to me by a priest and a friend. .

Genesis John

Exodus Matthew

Leviticus Galatians Numbers Colossians

Deuteronomy

Joshua Hebrews

Judges

Ruth Acts (of the Apostles)

1 Samuel

2 Samuel Mark

1 Kings

2 Kings 1 Corinthians

1 Chronicles

2 Chronicles 1 Peter 2 Peter

Ezra

Nehemiah Romans

Esther Philemon

Job Revelation

Psalms (I SUGGEST READING ONE A DAY THROUGHOUT)

Proverbs

Ecclesiastes 1 Timothy 2 Timothy

Song of Solomon 1 John 2 John 3 John

Isaiah Luke

Jeremiah Titus

Lamentations Philippians

Ezekiel Jude

Daniel 1 Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians

Hosea

Joel

Amos James

Obadiah

Jonah 2 Corinthians

Micah

Nahum

Habakkuk

Zephaniah

Haggai

Zechariah

Malachi Ephesians

The Book of Revelation

I’ve been looking forward to sharing this book. For many, the book of Revelation is one of the most frightening books of the Bible. I too was afraid to read it thinking it would destroy my faith out of fear. But I read it…carefully…and was fascinated by it. It is one of my favorite books now, because it is so colorful, dripping with allegory, and Jesus is alive & speaks again, so I’m immediately inspired. There is so much to study and make out if this book.

We have the Apostle John who has seen a vision of Christ and is told to write down all he will soon see as a prophecy of things to come. “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.” ( Revelation 1:17)

This quote said by Christ sums up everything: He said this to His faithful servant, John, someone who meditated and gazed on the face of Christ consistently, in everything he did and Christ tells him to not be afraid (because to you, John—we could insert) I am the First and the Last. We must begin our faith with Christ and continue our faith with Christ throughout our days, make Him first and make Him last, the first thought in the morning and the last thought at night. Make Christ and His truth your everyday, and you should not be afraid of anything you read in Revelation (or life’s trials), but only be in awe and marvel at the mystery of it yet to be truly understood

The Book of Esther

In what simple way is God calling you to act that would draw you closer to Him? For me it was spending a year to read and study the Bible. .

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These are my own contemplative thoughts. If you disagree with the below that’s ok! .

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Before Christ, in the Old Testament, under the old covenant, only priests were allowed near the altar, and they acted as the mediators between God and man. The book of Esther is symbolic to this as it describes her standing in the inner court in front of the king’s hall. The king sees Queen Esther just outside his inner court, HE FINDS FAVOR IN HER (a statement we read often in scripture when God’s relationship to his people is discussed) and holds out his scepter to her as a sign that it is ok to approach him. She moves towards him and touches the very tip of his scepter, a sign of her obedience and humility. To me her approach is like those hoping to come to God either for the first time or after a long hiatus. We have to approach with humility and an open heart, yet we do not have to be pure, or holy, or of a certain worldly stature. We are allowed to come as we are. Esther, who despite knowing she was doing something against the man-made laws of the day said she would approach the king to save her people the Jews from being slaughtered, “even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” In this statement she showed her bravery. This kind of bravery is what God wants to see from us, wants us to cut through all the worldly “laws” like our own expectations, guilt, rules, etc., right to Him. And He will find favor in us for this—we will become his special students in that moment, He will take us under His wing and show us wonderful miracles and bless us tremendously, especially show us how to find His kind of joy in this life if we keep our eyes open to Him. .

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The Book of Romans

These are my contemplative thoughts, you might disagree and that’s OK!

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“The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:17

Faith in Latin is fides which was one of the highest and most honorable virtues in Ancient Rome among the people involved in public affairs. Fides was a form of trust and an unwavering reliability in someone. But this virtue was considered the foundation of partnerships. Now if we are to take Paul’s quote here which was originally stated in Habakkuk 2:4, and apply it to the term ‘fides’, we could easily change the verse to: the righteous will live by an unwavering partnership with God. The minute we turn our gaze to God, He turns his gaze to us. We both act as a mirror—with Him being the real image we are supposed to reflect. Swipe 👉to see two mirrors reflecting on to infinity—an unwavering, undistorted image as long as the original image remains undistorted.

Even if we sometimes feel He has left us, He has not. His gaze is on us and is unwavering so long as we always keep Him the main focus of our hearts, which, if done with love, should help us through all things in our day to day life.

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The Book of Ezra

I thought time in quarantine would allow me moments of quiet reflection, new creative projects, and the ability to find myself, but instead I seem to be lost. The anxious energy of the world is such that it has penetrated not only my home but my peaceful mind and spirit. The darkness has sought out and found all but one small flickering, spiritual light in me. And it is with this last bit that I am writing to you.

Ezra appears in Chapter 7 of 10 of his own book, the book of Ezra. His greatest dilemma seems to be ridding God’s holy nation of “pestilence”, the intermarriage of God’s holy people with pagans. But if we take out the human factor, (because we ought to love our neighbors, and I won’t get into Ezra’s mindset here) and look at this with allegory in mind, as we too are fighting a plague, these few chapters teach us that we must rid ourselves of all that separates us from God or may influence our retreat from our deep knowledge of His existence. We are indeed living a nightmare. I feel like I’ve been fighting and clawing my way back to God and to hope and to light. And I feel this fire in my heart, like anger, and a yearning to take up arms against evil and death, if only in prayer, to defeat, with my own will and diligence, this darkness that seems insistent to take God’s hope away from me. The darkness is taking over my creativity, my bright, colorful mind, and the bright, colorful people of this earth. Though I have not failed to notice the earth, in this northern hemisphere, is very much alive with hope and new life right now, I will pray for hope’s revival in the hearts and minds of the people. I will weep and pray like Ezra for the resurrection of peace. And I will rebuild my own temple of light, brick by brick, with the hope that its light will be a beacon to those who may need it.

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The book of Joshua

I have no authority to teach you about these stories, you might disagree with me and that’s OK! 👇👇👇

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I enjoyed reading Joshua. It’s filled with action, and I especially loved the story about Rehab the prostitute, an unexpected hero in worldly terms.

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In this book, Joshua takes the reins after Moses dies and leads the Israelites on the rest of the journey to conquer the promise land. They are able to do this if they keep God close. He will help them achieve their freedom. Much like what I spoke about last week in freedom from whatever may be oppressive in our lives, but now Joshua must finish the job Moses started. We are called to teach our children (younger generations) well to remain always with a sense of what freedom means and how it can be achieved: with God’s help or living in the Spirit of Love and mercy. We do not need to lean on our “parents” forever as someday we will have to be responsible for our own beliefs and actions and discern whether or not what we’ve been taught is even good or right.

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The book of Deuteronomy

I have no authority to teach you about the books in the Bible. You might disagree with me and that’s OK. 👇👇👇

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“Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordon to posses.” -Deuteronomy 11:8

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In Deuteronomy we hear from Moses himself about the journey into the promise land. But if we take this from a symbolic viewpoint, we see that he is telling that the journey is hard even for the ‘chosen’. Hardships and sacrifices will surely come when we decide to truly follow a holy path—not perfect, but living in the Holy Spirit, recognizing God’s presence in our own being. People will try to make ‘war’ against you when you live this way, because naturally you will become a more gentle and tender person. They might not think you’re fun anymore. They may try to make you feel like you’re lame or boring because you won’t join in with the gossip or masochistic recreation (whatever that may be; little acts of hate can damage the soul). We might have to kill many relationships that are damaging in order to truly follow a new clean path and live in the Spirit—“the land that we are trying to possess”. We may have to cut ties with relationships that may be unheathly and fight against what we’re trying to obtain in a clean mind, body, and spirit. We may have to cut ties with those who fight against a new ‘us’ even if it means cutting ties with parts of ourselves.

#bookish #bibleverse #biblejournaling #bible #bookphotography #bibliophile #christianity #love #episcopalchurch #episcopal #church #reading #writing #writingcommunity #readersofinstagram #writersofinstagram #bookstagrammer #bookstagram #book #reader #god