This week’s Authentic Freedom Virtual Church supplement explores the changeability of the human condition. Sometimes we experience times of abundance, and sometimes due to circumstances outside our control, we experience times of lack. St. Paul reminds us of the invitation to find equanimity in the constant changing nature of the human condition.
Agape’ Meditation Practices Newsletter
Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Service for Sunday, October 12, 2014
Brothers and sisters: I know how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I can do all things in him who strengthens me. Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress. My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father, glory forever and ever. Amen.
Phil 4: 12-14, 19-20
Is 25: 6-10
Ps 23: 1-6
Mt 22: 1-14
To Have or to Have Not
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he makes a very astute observation about the changeability of human circumstances. Due to circumstances outside of our control, sometimes we have an abundance of what we need and sometimes we do not. Reading between the lines of Paul’s letter, we also hear his acknowledgment of the typical human response to either circumstance. When we have an abundance of material wealth, we often take it for granted, spending it foolishly as our compulsive drives compel us to seek out the thrill of accumulation or seeking after other people’s approval as we try to “keep up with the Joneses.” When we do not have abundance, we slip into fear and dread – sure that this will forever be the circumstance of our life. This fear can also lead us, in our current credit-driven culture, to overspend in rebellion of the fear we are feeling inside, or to slip into depression over the paralyzing fear of lack.
What Paul discovered, however, is that through diligent attention to his spiritual practice (for him, turning to God in prayer), he found the inner peace he needed to navigate both worlds. Through his attention to prayer, he found the peace to weather the times of “humble circumstances” and the temperance to not get taken over by gluttony during times of abundance. This is Paul’s lesson for us this week.
Where are you tempted to take periods of abundance for granted?
Where are you tempted during times of abundance to be frivolous or gluttonous in your use of these resources?
Where are you tempted, during times of humble circumstances, to believe that this will ALWAYS be the circumstance of your life?
Where are you tempted to allow the fear to control you during times of lack?
Spiritual Practices – Turn, Turn, Turn
The key to living with both humble and abundant circumstances is to cultivate humility. Humility arises as a result of transcending our fears and remembering our Oneness with God in Love. Humility reminds us that God is present in all things, at all times – the rich and the poor, the good and the bad, the abundant and the lacking. God – the source of peace, is never absent and is always present giving us exactly what we need in each moment – even when it appears, by human standards, that our needs are not being met – God is there, carrying us along the ever-changing wheel of human experiences.
LISTEN to the song, Turn, Turn, Turn by the Byrds. (You Tube Link here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4ga_M5Zdn4 )
REFLECT on the words of the song.
READ Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
REFLECT on the movement in your own life between periods of abundance and “humble conditions.” How have you felt during those changing periods? Did you experience peaceful equanimity in either or both experience? During times of peace, how did you achieve that? If you felt anxiety or stress or found yourself using the times of abundance frivolously, what drove those behaviors?
WRITE your thoughts and reflections on the above.
REST in silence as you allow the meditation to become integrated within you. In this rest, allow yourself to feel the presence of God’s peace.
In Authentic Freedom, Humility is considered one of the seven virtues, specifically, the virtue that arises when we REMEMBER our Oneness with God in Love. Humility allows us to know peace during the challenging times of our lives and to practice temperance during the abundant periods of our lives. The path to humility is through diligent attention to our spiritual practice which helps us to remember our Oneness with God. In this, we come to know that the true source of all our needs is God – this is where we find nourishment, sustenance, and support – regardless of the external circumstances of our lives.
How are you being invited to surrender to God as the Source through which all of your needs are being met?