Today’s Readings for the Daily Office
Psalm 93, 96 (Morning)
Psalm 34 (Evening)
2 Kings 4: 8-37
Acts 9: 10-31
Luke 3: 7-18
Singing a New Song
In today’s Gospel reading from Luke, John tells his listeners: “You brood of vipers! You are trying to escape hell without truly turning to God!” The Gospel is supposed to be Good News. But if that is the “good news,” then I don’t want to hear the bad news. This escaping hell without truly turning to God reminds me of a favorite passage in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous: “Half measures availed us nothing.” The third step of AA invites us to “turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand God.” What part of that don’t we understand?
I am continually amazed at how the truths in the Bible echo in the 12-step program that was created in the 1930s by Bill W. and others. As an Adult Child of an Alcoholic, the 12-steps have served as a guide in moving from a life of dysfunction to a life that is functional and happy. Dysfunction is caused by living out of the False Self which is fear-based. Thomas Keating defines the False Self as the “home-made” self that we were forced to create from infancy in order to survive and try to get our needs met. As one awakens there is awareness of another way to live. The transformation of the False Self is a life-long process that involves “turning to God” through a commitment to a spiritual practice (or practices).
My spiritual practices include centering prayer, the 12-step program, and being in a committed relationship. My wife, Carolyn, is an expert in eliciting my False Self. Thomas Keating says that all transformation occurs in relationship. Transformation is a grace-filled gift that we cannot make happen with our best efforts. We must “let go, and let God” as we surrender to the Divine Therapy.
As we move from living our lives out of fear to living our lives out of love, we experience the ability to “Sing a new song to the Lord.” Cowabunga!
Written by Nick Cole
Nick is a retired ophthalmologist who has found a vocation in sharing and teaching centering prayer since 1990. He serves meditation retreats in Colorado and Arkansas. He first attended St. Paul’s with Carolyn in November of 2004. When Lowell said, “All are welcome at God’s table!” Nick knew he had found a spiritual home in Arkansas.