A Good Little Dialogue for Lent

This just in from one of my students, Lisa Whitlow from Kansas:

Hi Cynthia –
I hope this Lent finds you well and thriving.
I am teaching a class at the Episcopal Cathedral here in Kansas City on the Gospel of Thomas. Last night we looked at Logion 23, and some class members were understandably disturbed by its “exclusivity.”  I know how I would like to interpret it – that essentially we are all “chosen” because we were all made in the image of God. But what it sounds like there is just a small exclusive club that is singled out by Jesus. Of course it does seem apparent that few “wake up and stand up,” but does it follow that only a few are called? I’d love to hear your thoughts if you have time.


Jesus said, “I shall choose you, one from a thousand and two from ten thousand, and they will stand as a single one.”

–The Gospel of Thomas, Logion 23


Here’s my response to Lisa:

Rose Cynthia aI would say that we basically self-choose; we opt in or out — not according to our preference or our fantasies about ourselves (in which case we’d all be in!), but by how we actually put teeth in our intentions as demonstrated in our capacity for self-knowledge, commitment, and inner consistency. Exactly the point Jesus was trying to make with Peter just before the betrayal. “Really, Peter, really??? You say you are one of my elect, but the cock will not crow three times before you have betrayed me.” We have such little self-knowledge, so little real will, that most of us are content with vicariously experiencing salvation by imagining ourselves already there.

The road belongs to those who can actually walk it—begging God for mercy and assistance with every breath, but still marching on. And these people are few, very few.

Now as to being called, yes, I think the call is universal, reverberating in every breath we take, every heartbeat: the call to universal life, to all that “is alive, is real, is YES” (to paraphrase e.e.cummings.) Part of the problem here is that we hold the word “call” too tightly, equating it with a religious vocation or participation in a particular denomination or order, in response to a direct invitation from Big Daddy in the Sky (which of course, makes us very, very, special.) The call is to life, to love, to greater reality, and it is universal;  it resounds through and in the marrow of life itself. We just need to learn to listen better.



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4 thoughts on “A Good Little Dialogue for Lent

  1. A couple of week go, I partook in an Indigenous Worldview Workshop led by Brander McDonald, Indigenous Justice Coordinator for the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster, BC. Indigenous people have traditionally and for the most part see themselves as directly connected to the Creator, so being called into life, into being itself, is and always has been ‘being called’ as you so eloquently wrote Cynthia. “The call is to life, to love, to greater reality, and it is universal; it resounds through and in the marrow of life itself.” Thus our identity lies and from this perspective we ‘know’ ourselves and ar able to ‘stand up’ with all of Creation…

  2. I think God gives each of us the opportunity to surrender to his way. He gives it freely to everyone who is willing to stop and take it in. When you surrender your will to him and begin to spend quiet, silent, prayerful time in his presence your life begins to unfold into a new presence of God. I have seen this in my own life over the past years and I have asked myself this very question. I have dear friends who are good people. They go to church, read daily devotions, try to live right, but my life is different from theirs.
    I spend many hours a day in prayer to God. I talk, I listen, I sit quietly in his presence and absorb his spirit. I am not smarter, or more chosen than my friends, the difference in me and them is my willingness to devote my time to God. Others are not willing. It is a surrender to God. It is a willingness to slow down, to put want too’s or have too’s away and give time to God and the Holy Spirit. God is not going to share time with other things going on in our lives. He wants his own time and if you are willing to create a quiet space, he will come. Some people may consider this wasted time. Ask why you are willing to sit in the same place for so long and wait to hear from God. The only way to answer this question is to practice spending time with God. As you quiet your mind and your space and open your soul and let God come in you will find the answer.
    God will only come when we are willing to surrender to his will and create the space for his silent arrival

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