This week is again one of those very long weeks. I am starting the second year of my doctorate with a rather interesting course - Mysticism and Spirituality. It’s interesting to have a mysticism course at a Lutheran Seminary, especially since mystics were not always viewed through a favorable eye by the reformers of the church. Remember that one of the things that Luther railed against was secrets that were not available to others, especially in the realm of the church and Bible. The assumption is that some can and some cannot be a mystic.
Unfortunately, this has caused a lot of voices to not be heard - especially women. There was a great rise in women mystics in the Medieval/Middle Ages that spoke of their revelatory experiences with God. Some, rather remarkable.
Julian of Norwich, Catherine of Siena, and Mechthild of Magdeburg for example.
It is easy to criticize church leaders reforming the church from so many centuries ago with our 2020 vision and say they were wrong. Probably it might just be best to acknowledge this historical reality and move forward. It is not heretical to read these works and to contemplate our own spiritual and mystical experiences with God. We may not relate to the works or agree, but for some, it is worth a read.
After all, we are all seeking God. Some are seeking a more personal experience with God, and how do we do this? Many in the church are challenged with the question: “where have you seen God?” For many, the search for God in everyday life is an ongoing experience. It is, in itself, a sort of spiritual exercise.
I sit here wondering if our folks at St. Stephen’s are comfortable talking about mysticism? Is it easier to talk about spirituality? What have some of your experiences with spirituality been like in your faith life?
Perhaps as we begin to see the seasons change and re-enter into our regular worship time - perhaps as we prepare for the Autumn season at the church - we might consider talking a bit more about our spirituality. I encourage you to ponder a bit, and start up conversations with your fellow church goers and explore your spirituality together. It would be wonderful to talk about our relationship to Christ and God, and learn from one another how wonderfully diverse these experiences could be.
Yours in Christ,