Sunday, April 26, 2020

Surrendering to The Way - Ishvara Pranidhana

 In this week’s Easter 3 Year A readings we find the disciples trying to figure out what comes next.  Now that Jesus is resurrected what is their path? What do they do? These reading use words like “heart,” “love,” and “praise” in ways that draw you in to their inner thoughts, their love of their teacher – Jesus, their belief in his teachings, and their ultimate decision to surrender, to continue his work.  They make this decision out of great devotion. What follows is baptism, trust, faith, hope, and “love for each other from the heart.” 

Jesus continues to appear to them and teach. In Luke 24 we find two of the disciples walking together when unbeknownst to them, as their eyes were metaphorically closed, Jesus appears, walks with them and talks to them, continues to teach them, ultimately sharing supper with them, breaking the bread, upon which their eyes opened, they see him, and then Jesus vanishes. Their “hearts were burning.” The disciples ultimately surrender in devotion to The Way set by Jesus.  

But in the words of Deborah Adele*, “How do we begin to find the rhythm of surrender?...When we release our rigidity and our need to control, when we joyfully engage life as it comes to us, and when we place our egos in devotion to that which is greater, we can begin to taste the bounty of this jewel.” Adele uses these words to describe Ishvara Pranidhana or surrender.  Ishvara Pranidhana is part of the five observances called the Niyamas which also include Purity, Contentment, Self-Discipline, and Self-Study.  The Niyamas deal mainly with our inner life (I use the ‘i” in this word to help me remember n”i”yamas deal with my inner life).  Likewise, the Yamas or restraints deal with the outer world and include Non-violence, Truthfulness, Non-stealing, Non-excess, and Non-possessiveness.  The Yamas and Niyamas are a set of ten ethical practices and could be thought of as yoga’s ten commandments. The Yamas and Niyamas are the first two limbs of the eight limbs of yoga. 

Ishvara Pranidhana, surrender, is exactly what our disciples had to decide to do. I think we often take for granted that Christianity as a religion existed with Jesus’ birth.  We take for granted the struggles of the disciples in establishing, or engaging, things such as Holy Days like Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, and Pentecost, or Creeds of Belief, or Liturgy, or Radical Hospitality, or Apostolic Succession, or the Trinity.  All of this was still to be sorted out at the time of the resurrection and ascension. But before they could even sort all of that out a more basic question of releasing control needed to transpire from each individual student of The Way of Jesus.  Was this all a dream? A utopian moment in time? And now, what do we do? How much are we willing to surrender? They saw, their eyes were opened, they believed, their hearts were burning, they surrendered. Many surrendered their lives in devotion, never even witnessing the full expression of Christianity. Their surrender is what gives me faith.  How many things would you be willing to die for? How many people or things would you surrender your life for? How does Ishvara Pranidhana show up in your life? How do the disciples act as an example of surrender to you? I do not have the answers to these questions except for myself.  I hope you have your own unique answers.  

Easter 3 Year A

Acts 2:14a, 36-41
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, "Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified." Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, "Brothers, what should we do?" Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him." And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19

1 I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my supplications.
2 Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish.
4 Then I called on the name of the LORD: "O LORD, I pray, save my life!"
12 What shall I return to the LORD for all his bounty to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD,
14 I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful ones.
16 O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the child of your serving girl. You have loosed my bonds.
17 I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice and call on the name of the LORD.
18 I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD!

1 Peter 1:17-23

If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God. Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.

Luke 24:13-35

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, "What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?" They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?" He asked them, "What things?" They replied, "The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him." Then he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?" Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us? That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

*Deborah Adele, The Yamas and Niyamas Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practices Page 167.

Photo Credit to Nate Oxenfeld

No comments:

Post a Comment