Tuesday, 28 February 2017
7 Be patient, therefore, beloved,* until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. 8You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.* 9Beloved,* do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! 10As an example of suffering and patience, beloved,* take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
1) "Be patient;" "...the precious crop;" "...being patient;" "...be patient;" "...the coming of the Lord is near;" "...strengthen your hearts;" "...do not grumble against one another;" "...as an example;" "
2) I can hear the grumbling. I hear people grumbling about other people. I participate. I'm aware, sometimes over aware, of people grumbling against me. And I know how demoralizing it is to fear that others might be grumbling against me. How unappreciated I can feel. I can't imagine that it is any less demoralizing for others to know/fear that others are grumbling against them. It is unhelpful at best, it is undermining and destructive at worse. I don't want to tear down what doesn't need to be torn down. I want to build up. It is so easy to say, "be patient," harder to live patience in the moment of frustration and discouragement. So how do we be gentle with one another both abstaining from grumbling, but when we do hear grumbling to be gentle, not acquiescent, but still kind when pointing out the demoralizing grumbling, that we might keep hope and still give reason for moving forward in relationship together. We have so much to learn and learning is slow and hard for all of us. If only we could remember that we are all learning, making mistakes, going back to old ways, then gently returning to the new learning. How do we live in our appreciation of one another instead of grumbling?
3) What is the invitation in all this? To sit with patience, the concept if not the reality. To give God the opportunity, in silence to teach me something about nurturing a patient heart, and risk failing again, and being patient with my lack of patience.
"Holy One, strengthen our hearts. Teach us humility and patience and guard us again grumbling against one another, and one another's grumbling."
Breathprayer: "Be patient... beloved.
Monday, 27 February 2017
2Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. 2You say,* ‘We know that God’s judgement on those who do such things is in accordance with truth.’ 3Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgement of God? 4Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgement will be revealed. 6For he will repay according to each one’s deeds: 7to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. 9There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10but glory and honour and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11For God shows no partiality.
1) "...in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself;" "...do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience?" "...God's kindness;" "...God shows no partiality;" "...those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honour and immortality;" "...he will give eternal life;" "...you have no excuse;"
2) O boy, am I ever in trouble. It isn't my intention to judge, but I judge. I don't think I'm judging, just stating an observation, but even in making the observation, I'm judging. And I'm not free of my own judgement. I'm quick to condemn myself when I know better than to do, or say, or think what I've just done, or said, or thought. And it doesn't actually help. No one does what I want them to do while I'm judging them (not even me). So where is the space beyond judgment? How do I just stop judging myself and others? "...glory and honour and peace... for everyone who does good." "kindness and forbearance and patience." How do I nurture kindness, forbearance, patience, glory, honour and peace? I want to look up forbearance. I wonder if there is more to forbearance than tolerance. This morning, I also read about reaping what we sow. How do I sow kindness, forbearance, patience, glory, honour and peace so that I can reap them? How do we do this? We are so quick to judge. So quick to experience anger, discouragement, frustration, ingratitude... How do we slow down the triggers?
3) What is the invitation in all this? To breathe. To breathe in kindness, forbearance and patience. To give God time and space to bestow these on me. To give God time to bestow them on others.
"Holy One, may we seek treat ourselves, one another and everyone we meet with kindness, patience and honour."
Breathprayer: "Glory and honour... and peace."
Sunday, 26 February 2017
15 Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves; 16and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17He was teaching and saying, ‘Is it not written,
“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations”?
But you have made it a den of robbers.’
18And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. 19And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples* went out of the city.
1) "...for all the nations;" "...spellbound by his teaching;" "...a house of prayer for all the nations;"
2) I am actually struck by profound grief that there really are no temples that can be called "a house of prayer for all the nations." We have all become adept at creating "a house of prayer for us not them." What would it mean to build "a house of prayer for all nations?" Rather than a house of prayer for my kind of Christian, or my kind of whatever? We really do not understand service, let alone service "to the least of these." What kind of "spellbound" could turn us around? What kind of "spellbound" would have us change our ways to creating spaces that were a house of prayer for all nations, where the "least of these" could be served? This isn't just moralistic teaching. It's something that casts a spell on the heart and changes it, so that our desire becomes a desire for "the other" rather than for ourselves or our tiny little tribes. It doesn't seem to me that overturning the tables was particularly effective. I get it. I so get the anger, the frustration, the indignant outrage. But how many hearts were changed? Well... "the whole crowd was spellbound". So maybe it was more effective than I'm feeling right now. How do we instill that change again, in a world that is all about me, me, me and Make America Great Again... at the expense of every other person and nation?
3) What is the invitation in all this? to reflect on how I can open up this house to be a house of prayer for all the nations. In John, this passage became a reflection on the resurrection, "tear down this temple and I will raise it up in three days." How is this body, my heart, a house of prayer for all the nations?
"Holy One, open my heart to pray for even my enemy with empathy and compassion."
Breathprayer: "A house of prayer... for all the nations."
Saturday, 25 February 2017
"I pray for the desire to continue praying and meditating regularly. I ask for patience, tolerance, compassion, empathy, gentleness and humility. I ask to abstain from anxiety, anger, shame, compulsive behaviour, and discouragement. I ask to know Jesus more intimately, love him more deeply and to follow him more closely. I ask to experience myself and others as made in the image and likeness of God."
63It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64But among you there are some who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. 65And he said, ‘For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.’
66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him.
1)"the spirit... gives life;" "...spirit and life;" "
2) If i seek to follow Jesus, it is because it has been "granted by the father." I sense deep sadness as I imagine the last verse, 'Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him." I do feel like the spirit has been with me these last weeks. I do feel that life has been good. Circumstances have not changed. But I don't feel weighed down by them. I feel like I move with hope, joy and optemism. I don't believe it is just because things are "going well." I've been praying and meditating daily for almost 80 consecutive days and I feel the difference. I feel spirit and life. There has been conflict. But the conflict is not robbing me of life as it can. I am very much drawn to the words, "...spirit and life." I want to sit with them. As I breathe the words, I feel myself become more grounded, and still.
3) What is the invitation in all this? to sit with the words, "spirit... and life." To obsserve and celebrate/honour how they are present in my life. It is a day to sit with gratitude.
"Holy One, thank you. Thank you for all the spirit and life."
Breathprayer: "Spirit... and life."
Friday, 24 February 2017
"I ask for the desire to pray and meditate regularly..."
1The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight” ’,
4John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’
1) "...prepare your way;" "...he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit;" "...see, I am sending;" "...who will prepare your way;" "...confessing their sins;" "...as it is written;" "...were going out to him."
2) I'm very distracted this morning by my environment. I'm struggling with the tools I'm using for my daily prayer, feeling defeated really. I want this process to be easier. Nothing is going the way it is supposed to flow and 15 minutes has gone by much too quickly.
3) what is the invitation in all this? Some days are not as productive as others. Next week, I will bring the proper tools home with me so I'm not struggling with posting blogs on my cellphone! I was not "prepared." I'm I'm going to pray daily, I need to prepare for daily prayer. it isn't just going to happen on its own.
"Holy One, help me be prepared."
Breathprayer: "Prepare... the way of the Lord."
Thursday, 23 February 2017
13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables. 15Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16He told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’ 17His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’ 18The Jews then said to him, ‘What sign can you show us for doing this?’ 19Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ 20The Jews then said, ‘This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?’ 21But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 22After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
23 When he was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. 24But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.
1) "Stop making my Father's house a market-place;" "Zeal... will consume me;" "...and in three days I will raise it up;" "...because they saw signs;" "...he himself knew;" "Zeal for your house will consume me;" "What sign..." "
2) it strikes me that we move from one literal reading to another: the Temple to "the temple of his body;" This is the Jesus that teaches constantly to look for the other meaning; 46 years of construction... how many things have we been trying for 46 years and it still isn't working? We've gotten distracted along the way, making a "market-place" of ourselves instead of a temple? A market place full of noise and distraction, self-interest, consumerism, injustice (charging for prayers, over charging), selling "faith;" turning faith into a consumer product; meeting individual needs rather than pursuing the will of God? What Temple does Jesus call us to destroy?
3) What is the invitation in all this? Stop building a market-place. Stop attempting to cater to individual wants and desires. Stop marketing Jesus. Listen more ardently for God. Return to building a temple that honours God. Do as Christ did, offering himself for the common good.
"Holy One, help me to trust that the only temple that matters is the heart that holds you close, the heart that seeks justice, loves kindness, and walks humbly with you. All other temples may be torn down, and you will raise up temples for yourself."
Breathprayer: "Destroy this temple... I will raise it up."
Wednesday, 22 February 2017
24including us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25As indeed he says in Hosea,
‘Those who were not my people I will call “my people”,
and her who was not beloved I will call “beloved”. ’
26 ‘And in the very place where it was said to them, “You are not my people”,
there they shall be called children of the living God.’
1) "...including;" "...but also from the Gentiles;" "I will call my people;" "...I will call beloved;" "...children of the living God." "...my people;" "...beloved;" "...children of the living God;"
2) The list is long of people I have a hard time loving. And the list is long of people who, I feel, put me on their list of people hard to love. At least, I don't feel they are making any effort that I should feel loved. And those are the folk most likely to make it to my list. But here, God promises through Hosea and reiterated by Paul, those we believed were not beloved, they will be called beloved; those who were not God's, will become God's, "they will be called children of the living God." The stone that was cast away shall become the cornerstone... something to that effect. How do I become more loving towards the people on that hard to love list? How do I be deserving of love even when others place me on their hard to love list, rather than behaving in ways that make me even harder to love?
3) What is the invitation in all this? To lay down my list. When meeting folks I find hard to love, to remember that they are more than what is unlovable in them. And that I too, am more than what is unlovable in me, we are all called children of the Living God.
"Holy One, help me set aside my resentment and to receive all your people as children of the living God."
breathprayer: "Children... of the Living God."
Tuesday, 21 February 2017
2When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’ 12All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ 13But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’
1) "...together;" "...the rush of a violent wind;" "...each of them;" "...all of them;" "...the spirit gave them ability;" "...every nation;" "...amazed and astonished;" "...Jews and proselytes;" "amazed and perplexed."
2) I hear the universality of the text and the gift of the spirit - every last one of them gathered received the gift/ability. It caused amazement, astonishment and being perplexed. It came to Jews from every nation and proselytes alike. Everyone gathered in Jesus' name received and participated. Everyone is given some gift/ability. Not just "the leaders." How do I draw that out? How do we draw out leadership in our community? How do we help every member of our communion discern, own, and share their spirit given gifts: financial, intellectual, spiritual, physical, emotional, inspirational? How do we summon all we've been given to the table to be put to use in the service of God?
3) What is the invitation in all this? to continue sitting with these questions. To share these questions with Trinity and see what they have to say about them - these are some of the adaptive questions we've been talking about.
"Holy One, help us to bear witness to the abundant ways you have equipped us for service."
Breathprayer: "Amazed and astonished... amazed and perplexed."
Friday, 17 February 2017
18 Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him.
19 Truly, O people in Zion, inhabitants of Jerusalem, you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it, he will answer you. 20Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. 21And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ 22Then you will defile your silver-covered idols and your gold-plated images. You will scatter them like filthy rags; you will say to them, ‘Away with you!’
1) "...waits to be gracious to you;" "God of justice;" "...blessed are those who wait for him;" "...weep no more;" "...surely be gracious;" "...he will answer you;" "...your eyes shall see your Teacher;" "...this is the way; walk in it;" "He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry;" "The Lord waits to be gracious to you;"
2) I feel a desire to wait quietly for God to be gracious. I want to observe and witness the ways in which I know God is being gracious, has been gracious, will be gracious. I feel a longing to myself be gracious. I am aware of my lack of graciousness. I become anxious, angry, discouraged so easily. I'm impatient and easily distracted. The slightest obstacle and I forget my intentions and everything I do defeats the end of being gracious. I wish I were more trusting in God's graciousness and that the "adversity" and "affliction" had less impact on me. I wish I more fully understood that the adversity and affliction were little tests sent to grow the very traits I keep asking for: gentleness, tolerance, patience, empathy, compassion...
3) What is the invitation I all this? To wait on the graciousness of God. To exercise graciousness in a moment when I might otherwise compulsively react from anxiety, anger, discouragement...
"Holy One, help me wait graciously on your graciousness."
Breathprayer: "The Lord waits... to be gracious to you."
Thursday, 16 February 2017
1 John 4:7-11
7 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.
1) "love one another;" "...love is from God;" "...God is love;" "...so that we might live through him;" "...he loved us;" "...love one another;" "Beloved;" "...let us love one another;"
2) I want to react, "Blah, blah, blah" so many words about love, but what does it mean in the waking world? We say "love" but what does that look like? When is the love "tough" and when is it "kind"? Which actions are "loving" and which "enabling"? How do I love without affirming behaviour that alienates and harms? I know it is possible, but it is so hard. It is easier to hate the person with the action/behaviour or to simply lose sight of the love beyond the annoyance. Some days I love. Some days I want to love. Some days I want to want to want... and some days I don't want to love, my heart is simply hardened through fatigue, fear, frustration... There are simply people, and times, I don't want to love. I have no heart for it. That saddens and shames me.
3) What is the invitation in the midst of this? I hear a call to humility in the face of a love I'm not sure I can bear, knowing I am not always capable. I hear a call to trust that despite my inability to love, and my unloveability, I am still loved. To see today if I can muster some sense of genuine compassion and empathy for someone who angers me.
"Holy One, soften and expand my heart."
Breathprayer: "Beloved... let us love one another."
Wednesday, 15 February 2017
"In particular today, I feel challenged by a number of individuals who seem set on blaming everyone else for all that is going ill in their world. I recognize my own fear that they will start blaming me for what challenges them and know that I cannot feel empathy when faced with that fear. I fear that I simply cannot help them. I ask to be present to their need and their pain and to not myself become defensive."
And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children—
‘My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
or lose heart when you are punished by him;
6 for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves,
and chastises every child whom he accepts.’
7Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? 8If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children. 9Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness. 11Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
1) "do not... lose heart;" "Endure trials for the sake of discipline;" "...be subject to the Father of spirits and live;" "...disciplines us for our good," "...that we may share his holiness;" "...it yields the peaceful fruit;"
2) My first impulse is to replace "discipline" with "practice." This text feels patronizing and I bristle against that. And, I have always been partial to "discipline" but have found "practice" to be more effective... and more in keeping with the prayer for "gentleness." So I am being practiced, and yes, some practices are taxing and even painful rather than pleasant at the time. I'm hearing a call to trust and endure. I am not finished yet. I am still growing, "the growth comes from God" from the Romans text I preached on last Sunday. Sometimes that growth is really difficult, frightening and sometimes I fail because I'm just not that good yet. And the scales keep getting harder!
3) What is the invitation in all this? to trust that God is practicing the very skills and dispositions I'm asking for: empathy, compassion, gentleness, patience, tolerance. I wish I was there already.
"Holy One, help me come to my practice with joy and enthusiasm for the peaceful fruit that is promised. And keep me from discouragement when I fail to meet my own (and others') expectations."
Breathprayer: "Practice... yields the peaceful fruit."
Tuesday, 14 February 2017
14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba!* Father!’ 16it is that very Spirit bearing witness* with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
1) "Led by the spirit;" "...children of God;" "...a spirit of adoption;" "bearing witness with our spirit;" "...children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ;" "that we may also be glorified with him;" "...you HAVE received a spirit of adoption:" "cry Abba!"
2) the very prayer itself is witness of the spirit of adoption; we have no reason to fear; yes, the way is hard and will take us through suffering; there is death, dissolution, grief along the way, but it leads to glory. I cringe at the cry "father", but this refers to any prayer, any reaching out to the cosmos, beyond or deep within ourselves for support, guidance, provision, discernment... every reaching out is an affirmation our inalienable connection to WHAT IS. "Joint heirs with Christ" we can expect the same support, provision, and affirmation that Christ received - joint heirs.
3) What is the invitation in all this? To be less fearful and anxious. To speak out humbly, but confidently. To not be so afraid of being wrong. To being less afraid of making a mistake or offending because to speak once isn't the end, I can change my mind and be corrected. I can learn and grow... a child of God, full of potential for growth and change and becoming. It is possible to engage respectfully if I remember the "all who are led... are children of God." even when we disagree, even when they are wrong, even when I am wrong. So be less afraid.
"Holy One, let me be less afraid of speaking out when I perceive injustice, in particular systemic racism and misogyny. Help me dismantle my own white male privilege even though it shames and scares me when it asserts itself. Make a new and right heart in me, O God."
Breathprayer: "Led by the spirit... glorified with Christ."
Monday, 13 February 2017
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The Lord will reign for ever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!
1) "The Lord... sets free... opens... eyes... lifts up... loves... watches over... upholds..." "prisoners... the blind... who are bowed down... the righteous... strangers... the orphan and the widow..." "the wicked he brings to ruin;"
2) At the moment, as current events in the world unfold, I have a hard time hearing this passage. The wicked seem to be the beneficiaries of blessing and God is silent. But this is not what my soul believes. There is a depth in me that believes otherwise, even though my eyes tell me that the wicked triumph. And there is something of a choice to not be bowed down by what I witness in the world. And despite the horrible actions of others, I can choose differently. I will not abandon what is right for what is easy. And some days, I'm better at that than others. And may my wickedness be forgiven and not bring anyone to harm. May I be honest in the face of my wickedness and complicit-ness in the way things are. May I let go of the privilege I experience that my eyes may be opened.
3) What is the invitation in all this? To continue to do my best to choose what is right: set the prisoners free, open the eyes of the blind, lift of those who are bowed down, watch over strangers and uphold the orphan and the widow. To seek companionship in doing these things. To remember that my actions, every one of them, is intended to witness that I praise a loving, just, and compassionate God.
"Holy One, let our actions sing your praise. May our words and actions set the prisoners free, open the eyes of the blind, lift up those who are bowed down, watch over strangers and uphold orphans and widows. Send us allies and companions along the way and may you reign in our lives forever. Amen."
Breathprayer: "The Lord opens... the eyes of the blind."
Sunday, 12 February 2017
5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith for ever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.
1) "...hope is in the Lord;" "...who keeps faith for ever;" "...who executes justice;" "who gives food to the hungry;" "Happy are those;" "...whose hope;" "...hope;" "...who made...who keeps faith...who executes justice... who gives food..." "...help...hope;" "
2) I sense this longing to trust in this God of Jacob who is help and hope. This God of Jacob who made everything, keeps faith, executes justice for the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. It is good to be on the "side" of this God. But there is resistance to trusting this God. What if this God doesn't want things the way I want them. What if I am not the hungry, but the one who causes the hunger? What if I am not the oppressed, but the oppressor?
3) What is the invitation in all this? I hear an invitation to deeper humility. An invitation to trust more deeply in God's hope than in the hope of people. To trust that God's hope is recognizable by justice for the oppressed and food for the hungry. Can I hear the oppression experienced by the people around me who are feeling burdened? like too much has been asked of them? like they are spread too thin and doing too much? Can I hear there exhaustion and discouragement? That is not where God is.
"Holy One, help us to discern your presence and be mindful of it. Help us to experience your help and your hope. Free us from the shackles of our discouragement and exhaustion. Help us to discern a new way. Amen."
Breathprayer: "Hope... in the Lord"
Saturday, 11 February 2017
Praise for God’s Help
1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
2 I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God all my life long.
3 Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortals, in whom there is no help.
4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
on that very day their plans perish.
1) "Praise the Lord!" "...as long as I live;" "...all my life long;" "...mortals;" "...in mortals... there is no help;" "...their plans perish" "...O my soul!"
2) What plans do I have? What plans do we have as a congregation? Plans that will perish when our breath stops. Which plans are God's? How does our life praise God our whole life long, as long as we live? We have so may projects, so many "ministries," so many "good works." But when are we actually praising God? Certainly not when doing our "good works" we become bitter, angry, and resentful, or when we come to our "works" with anger, shame, anxiety, and discouragement. If we remembered to "Praise God" or that we are "Praising God" with our works we would be less discouraged and lighter of heart. But that means getting ego out of the way. And it is from the depths of the souls... not just in our minds or on our lips or from our hands... "O my soul!"
3) What is the invitation in all this? to return to praising God with our works instead of putting our trust in our own works. To remember that the "works" aren't ours. And if we can't do them the way we used to, then perhaps God is calling us to something new. There is something about letting go of outcome in there. Our actions must praise God. That is the only outcome that matters. We praise God by raising one another up, not bearing one another down, by seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly.
"Holy One, help us to praise you in word, thought, and action. Let that praise rise up from the depths of our souls in gratitude for all we have received and for all that we can do. Let us proclaim your glory throughout creation. This day, may others know through my words and actions that I find glory in your from the depth of my soul. Amen."
Breathprayer: "Praise the Lord... O my soul!"
Thursday, 9 February 2017
I'm Rev David Cathcart, currently serving Trinity United Church in Port Coquitlam, BC.
This blog is an invitation to daily prayer. Lectio Divina or sacred reading has been part of my daily practice off and on for 20 years. Currently, I have been practicing 15 minutes of Lectio Divina each day. I use it in my preaching as well as in my personal coping with what life brings to me. At home, the prayer is personal. I ask for what I need in the day/week. At work, the prayer is corporate. I ask for what my congregation and wider community need as we navigate a time of significant change in the world and the church. This blog will focus on the later. It is my hope that a few congregation members may choose to journey regularly with me.
I begin by taking a few deep breaths and lighting a candle. I set a timer for 15 minutes and center myself with a simple prayer asking for what I believe I need for the day. Often this prayer is the same invocation for several days, weeks or even months (There are somethings for which I've been praying for a long time: patience, tolerance, compassion, empathy...). Then I use a text for lectio divina.
There is no right or wrong way to do sacred reading. The practice I will be using for this blog follows. I select a short text, usually no more than 5 to 8 verses. I'll talk more about text selection later. I then read that short text slowly, several times. I do the following three steps in the order given, as I continue to read and re-read the text slowly:
1) I jot down the words or phrases that seem to stand out to me.
2) I journal random thoughts and images evoked by the text.
3) I answer the question, "What is the text inviting of me, right now."
I conclude with a short prayer (The result often looks much like what one might find in a daily devotional publication).
Following 15 minutes of Lectio Divina, I usually sit for 20 minutes in Centering Prayer, often using a few words from my lectio as a mantra or breath prayer.
You are invited to read along with me.
Blessings in the name of Christ,
Rev David Cathcart