Saturday, December 01, 2018


I am now in my third year of practicing the Ignatian daily Examen of Consciousness I must confess that every time that I begin with the awareness of being in His presence, I still am blown away by the reality that I express.
            “God, I believe that at this moment I am in Your presence and You are loving me.” I know that it is true and yet it seems so impossible as, being in His presence and aware of who He is, I am so acutely aware of my unworthiness to be the object of His love. Yet I am. 
            Perhaps I grasp a little of what it means when I see the face of my youngest grandchild light up with a huge smile as I open the door to admit her to “Gamma’s house”. My heart swells with love for her and for her older sister who, impatiently waiting behind her, reigns in her glee as she prepares to discover what new things await her at Grandma’s place. She knows there will be love offerings of some kind for these two treasures of mine. They know the joy I find in giving gifts to them to express my love. 
            At this time of year, as we think of gifts that we will give to each other I again realize that my daily examen permits me to examine and meditate on the love gifts that I am constantly receiving. This morning as I enjoyed my special time of prayer, my mind went back to a hymn written in the nineteenth century that puts into perspective to me some of the measure of that love that blows me away. 
            Written by Frederick William Faber, I found a modernized version of it online at:
            Let me share a few of my reflections on this with you as my love gift to you for this advent season: 
                       1 There's a wideness in God's mercy, 
                       like the wideness of the sea;
                       there's a kindness in his justice
                       which is more than liberty.

            For me, one of the greatest expressions of love is kindness. When someone shows kindness to me I sense their love. Justice with kindness seems to me to be the hallmark of God’s kingdom. We desire a just world, but not one in which we will have to pay the price exacted by justice and that is not what God requires of us. The cross shows us that He is Himself ready to pay the price demanded by justice because of His love. When offered in love, we give not the legalistic response to a demand but rather a carefully considered priceless gift. 

                        2 There is no place where earth's sorrows
                        are more keenly felt than heaven:
                        there is no place where earth's failings
                        have such gracious judgement given.

            We can only fathom the extent of that love when we are able to gain something of an eternal perspective. Our sorrows and our failings are often misunderstood in spite of our best efforts to support one another. Yet in Heaven is one who knows the extent of the sorrows we feel and who has seen with physical eyes the consequences of our failings and instead of His condemnation, we hear Him whisper to His Father, “Forgive them, Father, they don’t know what they are doing.” And He does. That is love.

                        3 There is plentiful redemption
                        through the blood that Christ has shed;
                        there is joy for all the members
                        in the sorrows of the head.

                        4 For the love of God is broader
                        than the measure of our mind;
                        and the heart of the eternal
                        is most wonderfully kind.

            In the irony of love, we discover that the sorrows He bore in taking upon Himself the weight of our sin, release to us the gift of joy as His love flows into our lives. Of course it is beyond our capacity to understand. It is not an intellectual exercise. Only the heart can truly grasp the faith spawned by love. Our minds are too small to hold the mystery of grace. 

                        5 If our love were but more simple,
                        we should take him at his word;
                        and our lives would be illumined,
                        by the glory of the Lord

         In all of the activities and joys of this season may our lives be illumined by the love that is beyond our understanding yet at the same time is at work transforming us into those who are kind as He is kind in all that we say and do.  May that kindness be reflected back to you in all of your    celebrations this Christmas.

Word Guild Award

Eleanor Shepherd, an award-winning writer is a retired Salvation Army officer and has published over 100 articles internationally. A speaker at conferences, in Canada, the USA, France, Belgium, Switzerland, South Africa, Australia, Haiti and Jamaica, her stories appeared in Hot Apple Cider and Christmas with Hot Apple Cider.  Her book More Questions than Answers, explains her style of evangelism by listening.
Word Guild Award
Word Guild Award

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

Thank you Eleanor for sharing these lovely insights from your Examen meditations and application of F. W. Faber's deeply thoughtful hymn.
May the holy joys of the season that you wish for others be yours and your family's also. ~~+~~

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