The Heart of the “Word”

Good Sunday morning to beloved friends and family in Facebookland. social media and the internet universe. Isn’t it fascinating that in the twenty-first century we have a new community not defined by geographic boundaries, open to all regardless of man-made barriers -a new place to share and to learn. This “new community” is simultaneously exhilarating and frightening.

I am listening to Atwai (deceased to those who do not know the term) Dr. Ron Mehl–a mentor who I miss dearly. His teachings are shared on the Compassion Ministries website in a program called Heart of the Word. There is something so refreshing about listening to “old school” pastors who deliver the Word so genuinely after significant living, walking the walk and without ego. It is rare these days–because too many spirit brokers have “an angle.” I am learning as I grow older real wisdom comes from real living, discernment from patience. It is important to meditate upon a concept that may at-times be difficult but critical to fully understand. Discernment does not always come from the head or sheer intellect. Preachers need to be careful before blurting it out in print or blasting it on Sunday mornings as the proverbial “thought of the week.” People go to church, people listen to the teachings of so-called enlightened leaders for bona fide direction and too many theologians are careless with their calling. It is a privilege to be called to guide people, human beings are so thirsty for answers. TV preachers, multi-billionaire evangelists and so-called holy leaders who broker back room deals with politicians never capture my attention at all. I steer clear of those guys. In fact, I break out in hives just thinking about them.

In my experience, it is the quiet ones who actually risk traveling from reservation to reservation, inner city to inner city, nation to nation engaging with the people in a genuine, heartfelt compassionate way–that catch my eye and ear. It is in the real living, the real suffering and the real overcoming in the community you serve that will enlighten you to become discerning. I am honored to know pastors like that–you will rarely (if ever) read about them on the jacket of a book cover or see them on the nightly news articulating the latest revelation or “gang banging preacher style” with other pastors arrogantly battling about whose rap is more “authentic.” Nah beloved— sometimes the authentic may not look flashy at all. One preacher–I am acquainted recently proclaimed his job was to administrate, travel the world and lead those in power but you rarely see this gentlemen knee deep in genuine service to the people. He feels that it is the role of the congregation to deliver mission and service–what? Oddly enough–his flock does exactly what he exemplifies and not what he preaches. Ministry, missions and even individual callings are messy, sometimes painful, quite often– lonely but loved ones you will know what is authentic by their service.

In my lifetime, I have had the experience of serving alongside the leadership of “the church” on various levels and capacities. The very first thing I did after being called away from a life of study in Buddhism and meditative practice was working at the International level. I worked for a relief and development organization called Church World Service whose focus was/is eradicating hunger and homelessness throughout the world. I will never forget the discussions I witnessed serving on boards and committees through the National Council of Churches USA with the right-right reverends and the synod presidents. I have served in international indigenous ministries with charismatic and brilliant theologians of our time. I have broken bread with famous theologians and shared communion with the best and the brightest. I have witnessed a great deal. The nonsensical political maneuvering and the individual lifestyles of those I served alongside was anything but holy. I am no longer impressed with the fancy parchment of your degree or the brilliance of your theories born through a bottle of even the finest Pinot. I am impressed when you get out regularly in to the community and serve the people with compassion and love.

Genuine service is not a pre-planned sound bite or a pre-scheduled photo op to add to your library of photos or to sell your books. If you do not illustrate in action the example of Jesus “the Christ” or walk in the Jesus-way as many in Native ministries describe—I am not interested. If you do not embrace the heart of the word/gospel solidly planted in your soul–I want nothing— absolutely nothing to do with you. Anybody can get up on the stage or shout out from the podium your rendition of righteousness or truth but bullying me in to believing what you yourself do not exemplify is nothing but wasted time. There are just too many distractions and too much crap to step around in life. My soul, my spirit and my heart are worth more than compromising my time or my calling to serve people. Life is simply too precious and I encourage you beloved people of this world–no matter what religion, faith perspective, ideology or belief system–please do the same. Think about it—meditate upon it–better yet, pray about it.

From the heart,

Elizabeth Asahi Rising Sun Sato

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