St. Peter's Episcopal
A congregation that meets to worship God:
                               Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
     
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2012
The Heart of Christian Spirituality

The heart of Christian spirituality is prayer, a relationship with Christ in which we encounter God as a personal and intimate reality. Christian prayer is not just fostering and developing a specific condition of the soul, a mere spirituality. It is a relationship with Christ that ratifies our mysterious encounters with God, a God that is beyond our human comprehension to understand. It is our belief that in Christ we are open to God and to others. To be human, then, is to be rooted in Christ in such a way that all our being and doing flows from Him. In the end, our life is our prayer to Christ, self and others. One way to view prayer is that prayer is the acts in our life that flow from our relationship in Christ. Think of it as time is like paper and life is like a pen in which our actions flow like ink onto the paper of time. The actions we take are the words and sentences written to God as our final prayer. Therefore, how we understand Christ will make a difference in our prayer life and our actions and relationships.

I ask you to tackle the following questions: What is your picture of Christ? What sort of person is He? What does He look like? Think of all the different ways in which Christ has been portrayed in art and drama. What is your favorite picture or crucifix? Your answers will throw light on your prayer life and how you respond to yourself and to others. It will also throw light on the whole of your life. Look through books and find pictures and images of Christ. Take time to look at each picture carefully. What does it say to you about Christ and what does it say to you about yourself? Look at some crucifixes. Some have Christ crowned as a king, reigning from the Cross. Others have Christ twisted and torn in pain. Some modern crucifixes combine the two images of the reigning Christ and the suffering Jesus in one figure. Each image, each picture reveals a little of the mystery. Which image speaks to you the most deeply?

Have you ever thought of the doctrines that surround Christ not so much as rules or truths, but as statements of truth derived through prayer? Have you ever thought that Church doctrine is given to us by the Church as a means to invite us to a deeper, more reflective experience of Christ? Take for example the following question: What does it mean when we say Christ was fully human and fully God? Many see this as the central difficulty for our understanding of Christ. The question for them is how to hold together in one mind and one formula these two statements.

Take a moment and jot down your reflections on the statement that Christ is fully human and fully God. Please do not go on to the next paragraph before you do this.

The following is my personal reflection:

My prayer reflection on Christ is fully human provides me the assurance that Christ has experienced everything that I am currently experiencing, both pleasant and unpleasant. Since I know that Christ is fully human, I also know Christ can identify with every situation of mine. Consequently, I am assured Christ fully understands my situation. As a result of my belief that Christ is fully human, I am comforted that his forgiveness, mercy, and compassion toward me is unceasing. It is difficult for me to accept God has already experienced everything that I have experienced and also what I am currently experiencing. I believe since Christ is fully human that he knows me totally. This knowledge enables me to open my heart to Him. It is very difficult to realize when my life seems dark and I am blinded by life's events that my faith (Christ is fully God) provides me hope: the ability to walk in mystery with a sense of confidence.

In my darker moments, I prayerfully imagine I am like a deer standing on a cliff looking out into the mist and beyond the curtain of fog. God sees me though the mist that I cannot see through (fully God) and I know that I am seen. When God sees me I know that I am loved, and I am assured and strengthened by this love. How wonderful! The doctrinal statement is about both God and Man. Only prayer can bring them together. Efforts to explain the mystery by trying to fit them together like bits of a puzzle simply do not work; logic and scientific thinking fail.

The life of prayer that I am inviting you into enables us to make the important distinction between the Christ we grasp and the Christ who grasps us. The Christ we grasp is always changing. The Christ who grasps us is always hidden from us and is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Doctrinal statements and theological definitions can take on a new light through prayer and examination. They sometimes can say better what Jesus Christ is not. His is not simply a good man. He is not simply a divine being pretending to be a man. He is not half-man and half-God. The Scriptures and our Christian heritage present Him to us with the claim that he is "one with the Father," that he is truly God. How we respond to the images of Christ that are hidden within us makes all the difference to our spiritual life. Our response to these images of Christ shapes our whole life. It molds our spirituality.

Modern thinkers have presented Christ to us in new ways. Some see Jesus Christ as a liberator, as the one who frees human beings from social and political oppression. Others see Him as a fully developed person. Still others find meaning for their own lives by reflecting on the story of Jesus. The truth is, we all struggle on how to put words to our experience with Christ. At times I find it almost impossible to convey to people what Christ means to me in a way that others may understand. The reality is that words are insufficient to convey the mystery that surrounds our shadowy understanding of Christ. Prayer does find a way to bridge the gap between words and thoughts about God. Prayer is the meeting place in which we encounter the loving Christ.

Father Craig+

 

 

Rectory

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Rev Craig Hacker

Father Craig

Blessing of the Sign

Blessing of the Sign

Confirmation

Confirmation

Rt Rev Stephen Lane

Rt Rev Stephen Lane

 

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