"What does it mean to be chosen by God?"
The question derived from today's Gospel reading - a passage about being chosen by God and now being a friend of Christ, rather than a servant. Pastor J posed it to the congregation and then gave us five minutes to discuss it with our neighbors in the pew. Whoah. Huge! I put my head down - not ready to chat about this. The conversations around me wandered away from the topic.
I have no idea what it means... and I know it means so many things. What does it mean to me? Do I even believe it? (& how does it relate to last week's message about acceptance & pruning by God?)
Walking home I remembered reading some encouraging and challenging ideas about being chosen by God in Henri Nouwen's Life of the Beloved. I want to claim his words as my answer to the question... but really I'm still trying to understand & believe it.
"Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that call us the 'Beloved.' Being the Beloved expresses the core truth of our existence." p. 28
"Becoming the beloved is the great spiritual journey that we have to make." p. 32
"First of all, you have to keep unmasking the world about you for what it is: manipulative, controlling, power-hungry and, in the long run, destructive. The world tells you many lies about who you are, and you simply have to remain realistic enough to reminder yourself of this." p. 49
"Secondly, you have to keep looking for people and places where your truth is spoken and where you are reminded of your deepest identity as the chosen one. Yes, we must dare to opt consciously for our chosenness and not allow our emotion, feelings or passions to seduce us into self-rejection." p. 49-50
"Thirdly, you have to celebrate your chosenness constantly. This means saying 'thank you' to God for having chosen you, and 'thank you' to all who reminded you of your chosenness. Gratitude is the most fruitful way of deepening your consciousness that you are not an 'accident' but a divine choice." p. 50
"When we claim and constantly reclaim the truth of being the chosen ones, we soon discover within ourselves a deep desire to reveal to others their own chosenness. Instead of making us feel that we are better, more precious or valuable than others, our awareness of being chosen opens our eyes to the chosenness of others." p. 52-53
"The characteristic of the blessed ones is that wherever they go, they always speak words of blessing. It is remarkable how easy it is to bless others, to speak good things to and about them, to call forth their beauty and truth, when you yourselves are in touch with your own blessedness. The blessed one always blesses." p. 67
And I think this is the link between last week's message & this week's:
"Becoming the Beloved is pulling the truth revealed to me from above down into the ordinariness of what I am, in fact, thinking of, talking about an doing from hour to hour. ... When our deepest truth is that we are the Beloved and when our greatest joy and peace come from fully claiming that truth, it follows that this has to become visible and tangible in the ways that we eat and drink, talk and love, play and work." pp. 39-40
Nouwen, Henri. Life of the beloved: Spiritual living in a secular world. NY: Crossroads. 1993.