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Revelations of Divine Love

Revelations of Divine Love (Julian of Norwich)

A female English mystic from the 14th/15th century, Julian of Norwich became deathly ill at a young age. Everyone around her despaired for her life. She also believes she is dying. The last rites are administered to her.⁣ ⁣ Then a wonderful thing happens: Julian experiences what a future generation might describe as a near-death experience. At the crisis of her sickness, between 4 and 9 one afternoon, she receives fifteen “showings,” or revelations. She reports that heaven opens to her, she beholds Christ in his glory, and she sees the meaning and power of his sufferings. She also sees Christ’s mother, Mary, exalted and beloved.⁣ ⁣ In her thirteenth showing, Julian receives a comforting answer to a question that has long troubled her:⁣ ⁣ ⁣“In my folly, before this time I often wondered why, by the great foreseeing wisdom of God, the onset of sin was not prevented: for then, I thought, all should have been well. This impulse [of thought] was much to be avoided, but nevertheless I mourned and sorrowed because of it, without reason and discretion.⁣ But Jesus, who in this vision informed me of all that is needed by me, answered with these words and said: ‘It was necessary that there should be sin; but all shall be well, and 𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙨𝙝𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙗𝙚 𝙬𝙚𝙡𝙡, 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙢𝙖𝙣𝙣𝙚𝙧 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜𝙨 𝙨𝙝𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙗𝙚 𝙬𝙚𝙡𝙡.'⁣ These words were said most tenderly, showing no manner of blame to me nor to any who shall be saved.”⁣ ⁣ She recovers to live thirty-three years longer. Soon after her recovery, Julian records a short account of her revelations. Twenty years after her visions, having meditated long upon them, she will add additional thoughts as to their meaning. Both the short and the long accounts will be widely disseminated in manuscript form and, after the invention of the printing press, will be published in many editions.⁣ ⁣ Centuries later, Christians will still read her Showings with interest and wonder to what extent Julian of Norwich actually penetrated the mysteries of the unseen world.⁣ ⁣ -Excerpt by Dan Graves⁣

Julian of Norwich understood the central message for spiritual life: God is love and it is only if one opens oneself to this love, totally and with total trust, and lets it become one's sole guide in life, that all things are transfigured, true peace and true joy found and one is able to radiate it.

I have been reflecting this week upon the connection between love and suffering, how God finds purpose on both of these and invites us along a pathway of transformation upon which we must embrace both. To commit to love means that I expose myself to the risk of suffering because of our collective incompleteness. When pain comes, as inevitably it must, there is an invitation to stay with the pain so that we allow the Lord, because of His great love, to heal and change us. As much as we would like God to deal with all those 'other people' who need to get their act together, He wants me to major on "me", risking seeing myself as I am but without shame, without the need to run and hide in fear because I saw the naked truth (cf. Gen 3:10).

Just as love and suffering seem to go together, so do commitment and intimacy. I like to think of intimacy as "deep, mutual knowing for the purpose of care". This is a reflection of the nature of God both in terms of His willingness to be intimate with us, but also His commitment to us expressed through covenant love, a love that will not let us go! The covenant commitment creates a safe place for us to be real but also for us to vulnerably own our struggles with one another. This can only realistically be risked and discovered with a few people at any given time ... much like we see in God's design for the family, strengthened by the covenant commitment of marriage.

Now we are also invited to express this, as Jesus did with a small group of people, by opening ourselves up to the possibility of pain but also that of great joy and fulfillment. All shall be well ... all manner of things shall be well!With love and prayers,

Pastor Mike

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