GarThoma

Contemplative Pentecostal

Fragrance

“Then Mary took a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume, she poired it on Jesus feet and wiped his feet with her hair and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” John 12:3

For we are to God, the pleasing aroma of Christ…” 2 Cor. 2:15

“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news…” Is. 52:7

Anointed with nard,
Beautiful feet
Bring good news from

Heaven’s door.
Your essence enfolds me;
Fragrance permeates me.

Floating on waves of your presence
Passing through my soul
Entering the midst of my spirit,

Your life intertwines with mine,
I am the fragrance of you in this life.
Wherever I step, the scent

Of your presence is released.

Entering Lent

On an ashen February day
A bird flys into the empty
white bedroom wall.
Its beak in the corner;
wings flap against the ceiling.

The sky makes her way into my living room
To warm herself by the fire.
She begins removing her clothes
Cloud by cloud.

Her nakedness attracts a murmuration of
Starlings who were on their way to the theater
Where hope was making an appearance.

The opening act was to begin soon
But the starlings couldn’t resist the sight
Of Spring making her way through the
Narrow doorway of winter.

I asked the sky if she would like a
Glass of water and she began to cry.

Her tears formed a pool in the middle of the floor which became rivers flowing into the sea of forgetfulness.

Morning Prayer

Lord, as I step into this day I offer myself to you.

Take my life and make it a sign and a sacrament of your presence.

Use me as a conduit of your mercy, grace and love.

Make my mind the habitation of your ways; my soul the habitation of your love; my spirit, the light of your Spirit to shine forth into the darkness of this world.

Amen.

To This End, a prayer of surrender

Lord, I offer all I understand about myself to all I understand about you. I am aware that the more I come to know you; the more I come to know myself; the more I will be asked to surrender until I know fully as I am fully known.

Once again, Lord, I release control to you.
I let go in to the unknown abyss you are calling me to.

I give up the right to choose my own way
I surrender my desire for comfort — for having my own say.

The Matter of my life is left fully to your hands.
I entrust my future hope to your gracious plan

I want to no longer live for myself –
My own life without you is so shallow

May my portrait, Lord, be painted in the image of God,
Taking each step toward my death, may the print I make
Be impressed with the weight of your glory.

All to you, Lord Jesus, I surrender
Though I know not what is around the next bend,
My life is hid in you,
my Master;
my Lord.

May it be lived to this end.

Lack of Art Numbs the Spirit

Making and appreciating the arts (poetry, visual art) is useful to formation of the soul. The arts enact certain aspects of the depth of the soul that cannot be engaged any other way. Art attunes the soul and makes it ready to receive the things of God through the channel of our spirit.

The human spirit is that deeper place residing the soul that is capable of connecting with God, our creator.

The spirit lies dormant in the soul, often lulled to sleep by the immediate gratification of cheap entertainment; the kind of entertainment designed simply for personal amusement. By the way, the word, amuse, literally means to not think. The soul, weakened by this kind of “a-musement” is anesthetized to the deep things of the spirit and cannot make the journey inward.

The body is the doorway to the soul; the eyes and ears provide the entrance. What one sees and hears either serve to awaken the soul to the things of the spirit or causes it to remain fast asleep.

A Prayer Before Preaching 

I am preaching at my church today. I always feel a weight of responsibility when I preach. I do not take this task lightly. Here is a prayer I pray in preparation: 

Lord, I open up my soul before you.
I bear no earthly agenda;
My only desire is for your grace,
To enable this clay vessel to become a microphone
Through which you may speak to your church.
I receive your message into my heart.
I study your word in order to show myself approved,
A workman who does not need be ashamed;
Who is also a member of
your church;
Your body;
Your Bride.
Let my words be your words,
My voice, yours.
Let me feel the love you feel for your church today,
And enable me to lovingly, gracefully,
Present the Good News in a way they will understand and receive;
And thus be transformed a little bit more into your image.
Through Christ I pray,
Amen.

Prayer Before Reading God’s Word

Father,
I come before your word as a humble servant, eager to receive instruction from your Spirit.

Holy Spirit, lead me into all truth; let me not attempt to force your word into my own design. Rather, let it shape and mold me into the image of Christ, who is my very life.

Father, I declare my dependance upon you in all my endeavors, especially this task of reading your word. Help me to see in it the treasure if great value. Give me grace to sell all that I have in order to hold formyself the precious gold hidden within.

May your word guide me this day, in love to show forth your love to every soul I encounter.

In Christ.
Amen.

Ways of the Heart and Mind

The heart is shy and hides behind walls errected by the mind.

The mind is sustained by answers, judging by assurances.

The heart finds its way in the dark by feeling the embrace of shadows.

The mind allows no mystery; darkness finds no rest in brightness of knowledge.

The heart dwells with hope; takes root in the soil of affliction.

The mind mechanically indulges thoughts, assurring no risk.

The heart produces flames that consume the mind’s indifference.

The mind has ears only for reason;
The heart listens to the Spirit.

The heart does not judge; it operates under the power of grace. 

Baptism of Fire: A Poem for Advent Week 3

John came dressed in rough array,
Preaching repentance any given day.

Many came to him to be made clean,
Some showed up merely to be seen.

He warned them, “Flee from fury
into arms of grace.”

The fruitless branch succumbs to fire
Under water acquaints one with desire

Death to the old
Raised anew

And then they asked,
“What should we do?”

“Steal no more,” he told them,
“Give to the one who has none;

Let complaining end,
Embrace loss as friend;
Be content with such things as you have.”

Expectation filled their hearts,
“Could this be the One?
Is this man a liar?”

John’s answer was true
“My baptism is water
But One comes after me for you;

Of Him I am unworthy;
He will baptize with fire.”

Art Class Benediction 

Following is the end if the semester benediction I give to my art classes: 

Your heart is the instrument through which creativity and beauty flows.
God desires to make your heart complete in Him;

to enable you to express beauty in your art

May you find wholeness and healing in Him; may His Spirit flow through you in order to bring connections to the disconnected places in your soul.

May your eyes connect to your heart in order see the beautiful

May your hands connect to your eyes in order to make beautiful things

May your soul connect to the world in order to show forth the beauty of Christ.

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