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For the past few days along with my daily reading and meditation in the Word, I have been reading the book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, by Brennan Manning. Let me share some reflections about living by grace, experiencing the love of God.

  • The disciple who is living by grace, rather than by some set of laws, has undergone a decisive conversion… turning from mistrust to TRUST. The foremost characteristic of living by grace is trust in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ on the cross… As a child of God, I am beloved, loved by the Father and am free to trust.
  • The tendency in legalistic religion of any sort is to mistrust god, to mistrust others and consequently to mistrust ourselves. Our focus then becomes an internal focus, rather than a focus on God.
  • We need a new kind of relationship with the Father that drives our fear and mistrust, anxiety and guilt. A relationship that permits us to be hopeful and joyous, trusting and compassionate.

The gospel of the grace of Jesus Christ calls us to sing of the everyday mystery of intimacy with God. To sing of the spiritual roots of such commonplace experiences as falling in love, telling the truth, raising a child, teaching a calss, forgiving each other after we have hurt each other, standing together in the bad weather of life, of the unexpected serendipitous moment, of the radiance of existence.

Of such is the kingdom of heaven. Of such is the homely mystery of genuine religion in which grace abounds and walks around the edges of our every day experiences

Trust defines the meaning of living by grace… the active expression of God’s love.

In ancient times, great fortresses were built on mountain tops. Many of those fortresses remain today in Europe and Asia. Few such places of protection can be found in the US. During this turbulent time of economic and spiritual crisis, most people around the world would wish to find a place of protection, a place of security.

A reading from Psalm 43 in The Message strikes me as a message of hope for all of us today.

Give me your lantern and compass, give me a map.
So I can find my way to the sacred mountain,
to the place of your presence,
To enter the place of worship,
meet my exuberant God,
Sing my thanks with a harp
(how about a guitar, keyboard or flute)
magnificent God, my God.

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God —
Soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face… He’s my God!

Simply spoken.. He’s my God. I can trust in Him, enter into a breathing space, a space of His presence. There I meet Him and sing my thanks. Basking in the light of His presence, my soul is lifted up, my spirit takes courage to face another day of the realities of life.

In my area of Augusta (30909 zipcode) I’ve discovered that there are loads of people who loves the arts… And if you read the Metro Spirit and follow the arts scene, you know that there are plenty of people who wish they could not only experience the arts, but actively participate in aspects of art.

I’ve only been back a short few months to Augusta, after living for nearly 8 years in NC, and once again I’m struck with how much interest and emphasis there is here on the arts scene. I’d like to connect with others of similar interest… to participate and experience the arts scene here, and explore how God can be experienced through art.

Last year I was not able to participate in the 2008 General Conference of the UMC, but I’ve discovered that many people and much work went into creating an experience of God’s presence through the arts. One of the co-directors of the worship plan for the conference was Marcia McFee of http://www.marciamcfee.com/. Her site is called “Creating Worship with Deep Soul.”

“She is known across the country for sensory-rich worship that appeals to “traditionalists” as well as “contemporary” and “emerging” congregants.  Her experience and expertise in coordinating musicians, visual designers, liturgists and technical personnel create an exciting and collaborative working environment.” (from her site, worship.htm)

A sensory-rich worship experience is what we hope and plan to create at Breathing | Space in the future. The beginning steps of such a worship experience will be part of the small group sessions of “Essence,” our first outreach small group offering. Experiencing God’s presence through art, music, visual and tactile participation will allow participants to begin to explore what is it to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

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