Daily Reading for June 6
“Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration [the breathing-in] of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord.” (BCP 355)
That collect is what Christian spirituality is all about. To withstand this scrutiny and to live in the presence of this God to whom all hearts are open, we must ground our self-understanding and our growing self-knowledge in humility, the neglected virtue that simply means knowing who we are in the sight of God, knowing our place in the order of things. Such knowledge results, of course, in respect for the otherness of all persons.
More importantly, it fills us with awe at the otherness of God. God is God. I am not God. I can and must work diligently at my spiritual fitness program; asceticism, after all, is rooted in the concept of athletic training, not self-torture. But ultimately, I must rely on the action of the Holy Spirit. I still remember my relief when I learned in Systematic Theology I that it is God who saves us, not we ourselves. Awareness of this basic and quite simple fact makes all our ministries, lay and ordained, much more manageable. It also means that we are not alone in this work of living in and into the Spirit. It is not—ultimately—up to us.
From The Practice of Prayer by Margaret Guenther, Volume 4 of The New Church’s Teaching Series (Cambridge, Mass.: Cowley Publications, 1998).